After C. P. Cavafy's "Η διορία του Νέρωνος"
(based upon an anecdote in Seutonius’s Life of Nero)
His fear dispersed at once when he had heard
The Delphic Oracle’s prophetic word:
“Beware, my lord, the age of seventy-three”
(For Delphi was renowned for verity).
“I’m thirty now with years to plan for knives
Before the gods’ appointed day arrives.”
Reclining in his litter, bound for home,
Delighted Nero journeyed back to Rome.
When he returned, he felt a little drained;
With news like this, how could he be restrained?
Surrendering to pleasure on the way —
To gardens and gymnasia by day,
By night to dance and poetry and drink
In torchlit theatres where bodies slink
Whose dancing ever animates and soothes,
The naked bodies of Achaean youths.
Thus Nero rests, while on an arid plain
Far to the west of Rome, in distant Spain,
Old Galba drills his legions secretly,
Old Galba who was spry for seventy-three.
Drew Nathaniel Keane (PhD St And) teaches in the English Department at Georgia Southern University. His verse has appeared in Lighten Up, Better Than Starbucks, Earth & Altar, and The Slumbering Host (Little Gidding Press 2019). More of his work is available at drewkeane.com