Etruscan Sarcophagus


Seianti Hanunia Tlesana

Now wants to protest. But the lack of

Her jaw-bone and loss of her front-teeth

(As well as her flesh) means that she is

Unable to speak for herself and

Is glad to accept this scribe’s service.


When still in her prime she foresaw in

Her wisdom decay would prevail. Thus

Some clay was amassed, and instructions

Were given to artists to model

Her image seductive and buxom,

All tinted in natural colours.

Thus she was shown forth as a gift to

The future, that this work of beauty

Might sound a soft echo of pleasures

That she brought to men. The fine lady,

This done, could put up with old age and

The dribbling of lips that in youth were

Adorned with love’s whispers and kisses

Before her sweet breath became foetid.

And so her life’s shade could endure the

Denial of sunlight, content that

Her beauty shone over her coffin,

Preserved just as she had decided.

But cruel necromancers, the priests of

Your science, put flesh on the time when

She did not have beauty, so they could

Enjoy some cold cerebral pleasure. In

The impotence that death has imposed, her

Indignant remonstrance can not be

Sustained without pity’s assistance

In place of the promptings of love. But

True praise, she asserts, must derive from

Erections desired, not from duty.


Behold this effigy, and while you have a tongue

Pronounce out loud once more my long-lost name.