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This poem is taken from PN Review 191, Volume 36 Number 3, January - February 2010.

King Socrates Chris Preddle


Brother armarius,
lend me a certain book from your armary,

not a missal or book of hours
by which the assurances of Christ have been made ours,

no Rule (Benedictus qui venit)
for living in common since all is vanity,

no life of a saint
to whose high-sky certitudes I should make an assent,

lend me the book that ascertains
human certainties,

from which I may divine myself, certes,
The Prognostications of King Socrates.


The frontispiece of this book of fate (the Bodleian’s
MS Ashmole 304, folio 31 verso),
drawn by Matthew Paris of St Albans,

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