Sad to read of the death of the Australian-born poet Peter Porter. Obituaries in today's Telegraph and Guardian. One of my favourite poems is The Last Hours of Cassiodorus. Porter captures late antiquity in a way that very few poets have been able to. Auden and, perhaps inevitably, Cavafy, come to mind as others who come close.
The Last Hours of Cassiodorus was first printed in the TLS in 2000.
God is laying his last slate to the roof,
The ceiling of my death is near complete,
The Vivarium now must live up to its name.
Fish in my stewponds circle silently,
Their free captivity is like the soul,
An endless round, then thrashing in a net.
Our state days pinioned in official letters,
The Variae of sound administration,
But Boethian birds still shun my volary.
Home to the South, to sad Scolacium,
From Civilisation and a Library,
The sea spray drying on acacia leaves.
After me what further barbarisms?
My pose is prayer, but yet my head is filled
With the terrifying dissonance of God.
I have lived well past my statutory days,
The mapping pen has fallen from my hand,
A hundred years or more of beating wings.
You can hear Porter read the Pines of Rome, another Roman poem, at The Poetry Archive. RIP.