The sun is an orange ball,
A Japanese flag. The hills
Barely visible; never mind
The mountain. Nel mezzo del cammin…
In a recent quarrel over a lady
My daughter shouted at me, not
Entirely without reason—
She was the better judge
In the end—“I’m Hamlet!
You’re treating me like Hamlet.”
Which stung, but imperfectly,
In the manner of the teenage taunt,
Almost-stabbing to the heart.
No, my child, the case is clear:
The bag you hold is Miranda.
“These speculations sour in the sun.”
If only I could wave my staff
And whiff this smoke away…
My island burns like a bitch
But the fire is far over the mountain;
A refugee, a hated man, a man
Who has rowed and may row again
From any Milan he is found in,
Nel mezzo del cammin di mi vita
I find myself surrounded,
Choked and homebound,
Sunset and heavy-troubled
By the ash of my old state,
Ash of my old lives: for
“Like a beast, with his horn,”
I have gone through one or three—
(Nor does this displease me;
Who has reached such isles?
I had all the luck in Milan)—
It has unnaturally aged me.
And old men are all pyros,
Impatient with a rotted world.
Senility makes it easy to see
The worm in every tree—
The reason it needed to burn.
What even is wood, but smoke
Begging to be set free?
The air smells good—the smoke
Of sacred sacrifice; of the ram
That was offered and delivered—
What God burns was meant
From the morning it was born to burn.