the complete review Quarterly
Volume II, Issue 2   --   May, 2001

Marcus Aurelius: a limerick sequence
On Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and his Meditations


Ernest d'Urfé

Marcus Aurelius reflected
In the Meditations his thoughts he collected
He was quite the Stoic
And semi-heroic
And the meaning of life he dissected

He seems an admirable man
Though I'm not really a fan
His well-meant advice
Doesn't strike me as nice
And I avoid it whenever I can

For the good life he always did strive
While I'd rather into excess dive
Look where it got him
Buried and rotting
While I'm exuberantly alive

He writes: "Thy doom hangs over thee"
As though that were life's key
Doom be damned
It should be banned
And carefree we should be

Each daybreak he rose like a jerk
Saying: "I am rising for a man's work"
While I every night
Rise firmly upright
For a far more enjoyable perk

Virtue was high on his list
A lesson I hope that I missed
Such admirable restraint
Would leave me quite faint
At least while there are girls to be kissed

He set out to save all mankind
It's an ambition I don't really mind
One admires his mores
But I prefer whores
And that's where salvation I'll find

His philosophy is almost austere
Basically saying: death do not fear
And that when life was shattered
Nothing else mattered
Well, I'd still rather steer clear

Of course, we're always at death's door
But to harp on that is really a bore
Death comes when it will
As do I, daily, still
With the women I happily gore

He said that with luck good or rotten
We'd still all soon be forgotten
He hadn't a clue
For were it but true
We wouldn't have these thoughts so misbegotten

Marcus wore the philosopher's crown
Justification for putting us down
His unusual notion
Is we're a drop in the ocean
An idea upon which I frown

Despite what the Emperor said
I can't get it out of my head
My world is just me
What else could it be ?
While the Emperor ... well, he's just dead

We always stand at death's portal
Aurelius reminding us: We are mortal !
But if my life's a success
Then I couldn't care less
And I read his words and just chortle

As far as I can tell
To him a life lived well
Meant doing good deeds
And following creeds
Which to me sounds exactly like hell

He took life as it came
And I do much the same
But my great verve
Outdoes his reserve
So I have more fun at the game

That's all it is, you know
No matter where you go
In ancient Rome
Or back at home
One very frivolous show

To me the Emperor is too serious
And his sayings are bafflingly mysterious
So I'll just ignore
The works by that bore
His highness Marcus Aurelius

"Away with thy books" he decreed
It's not a command I can heed
Well, there's one I could toss
And it wouldn't be a loss
Yes, the Meditations: godspeed !

- Return to top of the page -


- Return to top of the page -

Current Issue | Archive | about the crQuarterly | the complete review

to e-mail us:

© 2001 the complete review Quarterly
© 2001 the complete review