Latin is a magic key.

When you are in school,

And you reveal at last

A Latin word in your work,

Like a jasp among shite,

The teacher will love you,

Recognising in you something 

Of her younger self.


And at The College,

Your speeches will be richly

Redolent of the old leaders.

When you sing arme virumque,

The young men and the old masters

will happily conflate the centurion 

and the heroic drone pilot.


For Latin is indeed the magic key.

To know it is to wield a sacred power 

over the minds of the little men and women,

who will follow you, like charmed rats

Knowing surely and absolutely

that you are their leader.

And you will lead them,

Per mare, ad aurum,

ad infinitum.

One thought on “Latin

  1. I used to teach Latin- it is an empowering subject in many ways- and I am still angry that it was removed from curriculum in state schools so that only those who could afford to pay for private education have access to Latin.The disappearance of Latin from state schools is symbolic of the talents lost and wasted, generation after generation by an unfair system. (see Jimmy Reid’s Address after being installed as Rector of Glasgow University)
    However, at the moment I am much more haunted by the predictive abilities of Shakespeare in “Twelfth Night”.
    “Twelfth Night or What you Will” is based on the notion of the Lord of Misrule taking control of the world. It has a bunch of clowns led by Sir Toby Belch – who is ruthlessly selfish. With supreme confidence in his superior intelligence he exploits the goodwill of family and extorts money from his slower-witted but wealthy pal – to pay for his debauched lifestyle.
    Sir Toby habitually slithers out of straight answers to difficult questions by spouting nonsensical Latin phrases, an easy way of putting listeners off their stride while they try to work out whether he has made any sense at all.
    Sir Toby concocts one ruse after another in order to have his way, always over-flowing with self belief. And then the unexpected happens- he didn’t know quite as much as he thought he did and disaster looms.
    Today is 24th July 2019- Twelfth Night in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

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