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The Grimoire

Baron Munchausen pulls himself and his horse out of a swamp by his own hair

Behind closed doors nine sheeted oracles interpret

the ancient book of spells bequeathed us

by step-forefathers whom we never knew.

Those gentlemen'd think us poltroons,

glimpsing the way we behave today!

Teasers once asked a Roman oracle:

"Sibyl, what do you want?"

and, suspended in her bubble, she replied: "I want to die."*

What, then, says the Grimoire?

It's a matter of opinion—but beyond its bounds we dare not step.

So cunningly devised, it's impossible to be changed

unless we really want to change, and I guess we don't.

We'll escape the mire by pulling on our pigtails.

That's what we always do when all else fails.

"T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land quotes as epigraph Petronius's Satyricon 48.8: "Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumīs ego ipse oculīs meīs vīdī in ampullā pendere, et cum illī puerī dīcerent: Σίβυλλα τί θέλεις; respondēbat illa: ἀποθανεῖν θέλω" / "I with my own eyes once saw the Sibyl at Cumae hanging in her jar, and when the boys asked her, 'Sibyl, what do you want?' she answered, 'I want to die.'"


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