Mary Beard draws her hair behind her ears
Like curtains or like putting glasses on,
Intent upon her lecture notes, a homespun
Gesture, a prof respected by her peers,
While pulling back the layers of veneer
Rome’s masters wore, the marble gaze or frown
That without effort stared the whole world down,
Dynastic lines few artists dared draw near.
And yet these images of measured power
Are borrowed from a common mannerism,
The casual look that crowds us at peak hour
Into the stations of our nihilism.
Augustus reads the paper, Nero wears
A headset and Tiberius just stares.
Current edit: 23 June 2015
October 11 2015
Still needs work I think.
I wrote this Petrarchan sonnet in response to Mary’s second lecture. Traditional forms like the sonnet are only old if we don’t do anything new with them. All six will be sonnets. I’m still identifying her with the emperors, so that they seem more human and we seems more like them.