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Poetry Magnum Opus

Ave Atque Vale


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(Ave Atque Vale – Hail and Farewell - is the title of a poem by Gaius Valerius Catullus, c. 84-54 BC, and was written upon visiting the grave of his brother, who had been slain in war. This version is a reference to more recent times.)


No blinding light of tropical day

nor secrecy of northern night

can mask this desolation:


but ideas are not responsible

for the lives of those who hold them.


Death was kind to you:

a polite gathering of mourners,

myself among them.


Flotsam, jetsam,

such ribald, archaic terms.


The garbled service

was dismal. Predictably so.

I could hear your dry chuckle.


I shall attend your funeral,

or you shall attend mine.


I remember you saying that,

as if laying down two cards

and picking up two more.


People live

as long as their friends live

and remember.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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a polite gathering of mourners


That line alone could be the title of another poem! The last 2 stanzas are, despite appearances, NOT coldly unemotional but tender. If meant to be so, a nice tribute.

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