II Kal. Nov.
A hundred years ago and more in Hibernia,
a queen with thighs scented like mead
traded draughts of that heady treasure of nostrils
for the blood of heroes spilled on the ground
by a Hound of Holly-Wood, over the taking of a bull.
That Hound made the river rise to protect his people;
but the Nile has not risen right for years.
A thousand years and more ago,
the gods of my people fought the giants of the isle
and took its possession from them
before their descendants in human form
drove them under the hills and lakes for good.
The land is married to the ruler ever after;
so as the Emperor ails, the land of Egypt’s crops fail.
They say the Greek heroes fought at Ilium
at the same time that the gods fought in Hibernia,
and when the bull was taken, and lost, and born again.
The Greek gods fought their giants long before mine did.
The ways of the nations differ, but their stories are distant echoes.
At the other corner of the Empire, and beyond it further,
a sacred drama plays out, and plays out here again in another form.
A new god is amongst the gods now—
whether it is the Romans’ gods, or the Gauls,
or the Greeks, or the Egyptians,
or even the gods of the Judeans, or of Hibernia.
Would this new god do as my people did to me,
selling me into the hands of foreigners cruelly?
No, for I knew him when he walked upon the earth:
he had not a cruel bone in his young body.
I will sing his praises, and will make a feast for him,
no matter how meager it might be,
for we were both wanderers, exiles in foreign lands
even when we were among friends or lovers.
He is my brother, though we were not of one blood,
he is my brother, though he is now a god:
he will be remembered and honored today and every year.