The Drover of Souls…
Beyond the bounds of all mortality
the drover waited there quite patiently.
The dead would trickle in most every day.
It was his task to marshal them away.
In ages past the pantheon saw fit
and gave to him the duty to transmit
unfettered souls from bodies newly fled.
He was the shrouded shepherd of the dead.
The will of Jupiter he’d not refute;
a thrall of Janus, just a mere recruit.
The Gods upspake. He acted on decree.
His meager pay was immortality.
When righteous bodies withered unto dust
Elysium awaited for the just.
When crucifixion ended evil aim
the realms of Pluto would the bandit claim.
And so it was the drover led them all
unto their fate far from the world’s call.
The lamentations of their loved ones dear
was music to the drover’s eager ear.
He hummed the ululations like a tune.
The obsequy’s dark dirge came none too soon.
The mourning meant his labor would ensue
and to his calling he was ever true.
There came a day the drover bided time
just waiting for another gowned in lime.
Then to the shepherd came a flock of sheep
innumerable in number, legions deep.
A host of souls the likes not seen before,
a phalanx of the dead arrived in score
with cinder-folk of Vulcan’s ire as van,
apostles of the ash Vesuvian.
No matter conscript father or a slave,
a baseborn plebe or Roman praetor brave
beyond all recognition they had burned
the humbleness of mort they all had learned.
The donna mingled with the brothelite.
Centurions who’d fought their final fight
conjoined with mystagogic augers riled.
They’d not foreseen their very lives defiled.
Chapleted poet, laurel twined thy brow.
My laureate, ’tis only ashes now.
Once glory-graced by Caesar tainted pride
along with all thy words has burnt and died.
The drover shuddered for his thundering heart
intrusive awe sought hard to rend apart.
Mistrusting eyes were loath to then survey . .
the carbonized assemblage of Pompeii.
For aeons had kind Somnus kept her still.
She slept in peaceful slumber by his will.
He turned his back. Vesuvius awoke
and turned his august temple into smoke.
Carrara monuments to heroes past
were to turned to shards that darted in the blast.
Erotic frescos bled a molten paint
as Hades loosed it’s wrath with no restraint.
Confarreations once the temples graced.
The Hymen and the Oath were now displaced
with fiery prose penned deep in Trophet’s bowel
the wedding veil replaced with funeral cowl.
All antemortem beauty was laid low
as were patricians buried in the snow
of soot and ash that would not deliquesce
entombing them in ageless ancientness.
Malapropos their cinerary fate,
untimely death their lives to abrogate,
the throng of souls no quietus had found.
Confused and angry were the firebound.
Such was the woe Vesuvius had wrought.
The drover called to Gods who answered not
for even they could not restrain the tide
of souls that might resort to deicide.
Beyond mortality he battles yet,
the drover for eternity beset.
Forever he the hateful souls will fight
who envy him his life’s undying light.
5.12.14 A Noah Trifle
ISBN 10: 0-9815846-8-3