Carthage Nights

Nunc medea Aenean secum per moenia ducit
Sidoniassque ostentat opes urbemque paratam,
incipit effari mediaque in voce resistit…
– IV.74-76

This sword of honor leaves you unimpressed
And beds were made for peaceful war because,
My Dido, beauty bares a naked breast

Against the hilted scabbard’s fitness test,
These Carthage nights. But love at last withdraws —
Its sword of honor leaves you unimpressed.

You watch me, crucified by lust, but blessed
Enough to know. I grasp for words like straws:
“My Dido’s beauty bares a naked breast,”

I say as we, two stars the dark undressed,
Are drifting, driven, set apart by laws
My sword of honor leaves. You, unimpressed,

Sought to sound the distance with bitter jest:
“Carthage hides from light yet shines its flaws
In Dido. Beauty bares its naked breast

But Dido spreads her legs for any guest
Who promises to lie before he draws
His sword for beauty. Leave me. Unimpressed,
So did — o honor — bare its naked breast.”

Aeneas mistook her little black dress
For armor. Queen of cocktails, so precise,
This princess, green-eyed, was a hot mess
Amid the hors d’oeuvers and the cracked ice.
A royal battle ensued – he overdrank
Her lethal concoction of ruby lips
And slender arms until he failed to rank
His forces and dribbled out easy quips
About the night that glows like amethyst,
The whole city lit like a shaking torch –
Then let slip Carthago delenda est
Between kissing sips on her painted porch.
His word of honor left her unimpressed —
So Dido’s beauty bared a naked breast.


  1. Big Jon Bully says

    Good poem. Recalls the best of the Gray Wolf that stalks the forest at dawn:

  2. Louisa Orrock says

    Sorry, I am reading very little at the moment because depressed and unable to secure a decent food supply. Nor do I read poems very often. I have read a few pages in the last month or so of Four Frenchwomen and am onto the second, Madame Roland, who apparently reminisced in a childish way about her childhood when in prison awaiting execution, as far as I have grasped it for supporting her husband against LOuis XVI. Before that there was Madame Corday, who assassinated Marat. I don’t take in much of what I read unfortunately, despite these details.

  3. Louise Orrock says

    I assume I’m ‘imprisoned’ because of my views about microscopes. but it oes surprise me that in 7 years no-one has said, yes, I agree, are you being harassed at all because of it, are the drones and cars and the really useful theatre group for you – they can’t do it to everybody can they? As Madame Roland also said, death is not worse than a lie, although I haven’t had that literally tested yet.

  4. Louise Orrock says

    Or life is not worth a lie, although I haven’t got the book next to the computer.

  5. Louise Orrock says

    that’s less true for young people or those responsible for them.

  6. Louise,

    The French have an expression no doubt for what you say, or mean to say; however, for the moment, and unlike Madame Roland from King Louis, it escapes me.



  7. Quin Finnegan says

    “Queen of cocktails” … nice!

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