Everyone I know is asking me why we are going to bomb Syria. There is a rarely a simple answer to such questions, but if we look closely at the would-be bombers–the leaders of Turkey and France for example, perhaps we can gain some insight. The latest coalition of the willing might be more accurately described as the conspiracy to kill Christians.
Horace Odes II.10 translated by Maria Frances Cecilia Cowper
Horace. Book II. Ode 10
Sail not too rashly out to sea,
My friend, nor, fearful of the roar
Of winds and waters, hug too close
The rocky shore.
Among the least remembered poets of World War I was Edmund Blunden, who lived to a miraculously ripe old age, spending some of it in Japan teaching English literature. His verse is quiet, patient, descriptive, often taking a side look at what might have been the cause of terror and grief. Here’s a poem I don’t recall having read before, though I have leafed through a good deal of his work.
A.E. Housman was one of the finest Latin scholars of the 20th century and one of the most distinguished classicists of the Anglo-American world. He is better known, however, as a poet. He had suffered disappointments in life, and his response was the melancholy stoicism that permeates so much of his work. His poems are superficially simple but elegantly wrought. In honor of a later Queen’s Jubilee, let us begin with Housman’s tribute–rather uncharacteristically patriotic–to Victoria.