Virgil’s Hand

The battle’s slow and sinuous,
a stormy fire on the hilltops.
The enemy’s spears and darts
have decimated,
at such a snail’s pace,
our once-protecting parents,
that, almost unawares, we’re caught,
wordless, shield-less, in the blazing
tumult of the frontline.
Up till now, Virgil’s hand.
From this day forward,
the world will be utterly different:
we’ll combat the fire
totally on our own.
Guideless, spurred by a secret
quest for common sense,
perhaps, in the long run, we’ll realize
the ramparts,
the enemy, the war itself,
are trumped-up shadows
of a fire that’s merely
light and ash;
we’ll realize: purgatory
and paradise are located
within us.


Copyright © 2013 by Cyrus Cassells. Used with permission of the translator. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 22, 2013. Browse the Poem-a-Day archive.

About this Poem


"One of Parcersias’s most famous poems, this is a terse, spirited, amusing celebration of the moment when we leave our well-meaning parents and trusted guides behind in favor of our own epiphanies. The classical allusions in Parcerisas’s affable poems are never merely ornamental: they’re signature gestures of his abiding sense of a timeless Mediterranean world where contemporary and ancient life are magically fused."
—Cyrus Cassells