The Reign of Hadrian
It’s about, above all, a theory of knowledge,
of the manner in which a man steals himself little by
little from the ideas of his time which he rejects.
Marguerite Yourcenar, [on Zeno], Letter to Alain Bosquet,
January 1, 1964
The reign of Hadrian
is like the October the Japanese
celebrate. But the nostalgia
I feel from those years isn’t a result
of the absence of gods. Nor is it due to
the joyful government of this monarch.
Nor to the Hellenic culture, his trips
or the stability of the borders
of his empire. I recognize
that as my homeland,
as my own time,
because I sense that then I wouldn’t have
this feeling of deepening
exile that wakes
in me the age that I have been given,
the anguishing culture
dictated by some who don’t love,
of the middle class, those
who are neither poets nor philosophers,
the cloudy future,
the uncertain situation of my country.
Translated by Curtis Bauer
“The Reign of Hadrian” was published in Eros Is More (Alice James Books, 2014).
You can read and listen the poem in the original Spanish here.