I called up Myrtis from the dead
to be my friend and lover.
She placed both hands upon my head
and burned me with a fever,
and said, “Strange man, why do you hope
to make your peace with evil days,
with vermin who infect your land
and soil the beauty of its ways?
Withdraw, and leave them to their filth.
Their illness is not yours to cure
who’ve drawn your strength from ancient things
and healed your own despair—
withdraw into the secret life!”
Gently she touched my face—
then faded, leaving me to mourn
and call up Talos in her place.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 10 Number 9, on page 42
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