Friday, August 2, 2013

Canto I

I, Lemurpants, halfway along life’s path, in my fifth year at Southeast Tuscany University and preparing for a tenure bid, find myself lost in a dark wood of over-trimmed juniper and boxwood hedges. After being set upon by three monstrous NCAA mascots— a Nittany Lion, a Saluki, and a Hoosier (a frightening beast to behold!), I am delivered to safety by Virgil, a pagan emeritus faculty member from the defunct Classics Department (a low-completion program eliminated in a misdirected money-saving purge). He professes to have been sent to by rescue by my long departed love Beatrice (we met at a May Day protest while we were both visiting assistants at West Umbria State U. She was promised an interview would materialize when a tenure-track line was approved, but alas. . . )

Virgil leads me along crumbling pavement set in slow labyrinthine right angles across a large campus; more direct paths have been trampled into the yellowing grass by the reluctant shuffling feet of thousands. We pass among ancient stone buildings, their entrances announced by looming Doric columns emerging from the thick canopy of ivy, pediments empty of ornament, entablatures bearing the engraved names of ancient pedagogues: “PLATO”; “NEWTON”; “SCHOPENHAVER”.

We finally arrive at a grand, patinated gate, its hinges resisting our push, rusted with the damp of centuries. I ineptly sound out the verses inscribed above: ‘Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate’. . . alas, I have only grad school German and French. Regrets I have many.


  1. Finally, I've found the reason to justify taking that intro to Medieval humanities course in college.