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Plain Greek


Fate’s wind can be cold it is true.

What is the wind to you

But an impression of wind


A phantasia

As Epictetus puts it

In his Handbook


A fact you must weather

Like any other fact

Such as daylight adultery taxes


And naturally death.

Face the facts.

They do not matter.


What matters is the use

You put them to.

The Iliad consists of nothing but facts.


Epictetus wipes his nose

And explains this

To the students growing restless at his feet.


Fact prompted Paris.

Fact prompted Helen to follow.

If fact had prompted Menelaus


To count his blessings

In the face of Helen’s absence

Not only the Iliad


Would have been lost to us

But the Odyssey too.

When the wind blows


Do not long for warmer climes.

Epictetus puts it

In plain Greek.


Wipe your nose

And do not accuse God.

If all is fire


You may warm your hands

By thrusting them here

Into this burning book.

from The IrrationalistFind more by Suzanne Buffam at the library

Copyright © 2010 Suzanne Buffam
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.

Published in Poems Suzanne Buffam

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