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This poem is taken from PN Review 96, Volume 20 Number 4, March - April 1994.

'ARE 499 Quintilius Varus' Frank Kuppner

from Now Now: A Rationalist Epic

Let me, however, here slip aside to contemplate,
oh Muse, if you would kindly be good enough
to put your dress back on, sit down in that chair
like a good girl, and watch the television,
the Governor of Syria, one Quintilius Varus.
The same who, after several highly profitable years,
returned to Rome, for the emperor Augustus
to entrust to him the introduction of
civilization, or something broadly similar,
to the newly conquered territory of Germany;
a huge, uncharted jungle east of the Rhine.
Where, as he marched his many thousand men -
three legions of them - (a legion, since you ask,
is something about 5,000 soldiers, usually
including cavalry) - through a pass in the hills
...


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