Cavafy: Nero's Term

Poem by Len Krisak

On hearing Delphi's prophecy, Nero was not

Alarmed at what the Oracle foretold:


"Let him beward the age of seventy-three years."

Time to enjoy himself? He had a lot

Still, being only thirty years of agemore than

Enough, the span of time the god allots

To be prepared to vanquish any future danger. 


Only a little tired now, he will return to Rome

A little tired from this visit, but exquisitely made so

By days filled full of pleasure he's enjoyed

In theatres, in gardens, in gymnasia...

Those evenings in the cities of Achaea...

Delighting in the naked bodies more than anything...


This is what Nero thinks, while Galba, off in Spain

Is mustering and drilling troops. He plans and plots,

That aged man who is seventy-three years old. 


American Arts Quarterly, Spring 2012, Volume 29, Number 2