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Tacitus

“We would have lost memory too as well as voice, if it had been in our power to forget as it was to keep silent (tacere).”
Tacitus, Agricola

Too many silences crowd upon
Each other like applause.
Keep still, and when the tyrant’s gone
Write then of what he was.

Save memory with sacrifice
Of your strangled voice.
Be pliant, willing, weak and nice
You haven’t got a choice.

What lives of Agamemnon’s war?
Only hexameters.
They stretched the poem out with gore,
But make your epic terse—

The words like those we now share
In delator-bred fear.
The briefest snatch is all you dare
Among those you hold dear.

Sing, Muse, at last, of what we knew,
Of what we could not say,
But as to what we didn’t do—
Forget that void, we pray.

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