Machiavelli’s letter to Vettori. . . .
In the Vettori letter, Machiavelli had written the following, “The evening being come, I return home and go to my study; at the entrance I pull off my peasant clothes, covered with dust and dirt and put on my noble court dress and thus becomingly reclothed, I pass into ancient courts of the men of old, where being lovingly received by them, I am fed with that food which is mine alone; where I do not hesitate to speak with them and to ask for the reason of their actions and they in their benignity answer me and for four hours I feel no weariness, I forget every trouble, poverty does not dismay, death does not terrify me; I am possessed entirely by those great men.”
(I have said so often to those who care about me, that when my evening comes and my world sleeps, I get a second wind and take to my books. And it is within the solitude of my self, I have the conversations and learn of great things that I, in this very humble human body, have not been able to afford either the lessons or time to dedicate my life to. It is only within the dark ending hours of the day that time is mine and my advocates take me into their charmed circle and from them come the arguments and chants of lifetimes of learning. These are served to me on dishes of great beauty and is the food which feeds the starving mind. It is a charmed circle I enter and I am a cherished participant. I could not write these words and mean them if they were not true and if this had not been my life. It would be impossible for me to conjure this scene unless I was part of it.
There will be those who ask what is it she smokes? And I only smoked the legal stuff when I smoked until my heart stopped twice and then I stopped. I do not drink so my writing is sober. But when I write it is with a heart beating to full capacity and words spilling onto the paper that I find compelling. They have been faithful friends through my years and here I am at the closing hours of a lifetime grateful for so many good things. And with gratitude that lessons were taught that have stood me in good stead when things were not good to my thinking. I pause and let the poetry speak.)
(excerpted from The Ancestor . . )
Mine (world) is shadowed by memories,
searching for a haunting place.
I make room for memories. They will live and move
and have their being in me.
They may forget my name but somewhere in time,
a memory will rise and a child will make room for me.
I will welcome her and assure her that I live
and that life is everlasting.
(excerpted from We Can Go Home Again. .)
I’ve taken the long way home and
nearing the gate, please catch me, I say
and pull me on through.
I will answer c’est moi, it is I,
to prove we can go home again and again.
Plato pronounced two thousand years ago, the reply he puts into the mouth of Socrates while waiting to drink the Hemlock. “I would not positively assert that I shall join the company of those good men who have already departed from this life; but I cherish a good hope.”