To the Editor:
Here I was thinking that John LaGattuta was a post office pal. But now it would appear he’s been co-opted by the good people of Sustainable Litchfield as a stealth operative to inveigle me into participating in one of its 2,000-plus best practices. It seems, however, that applications—let alone nominations—for the Litchfield Poet Laureateship had to be submitted by the Ides of March and today is Ides Plus One. What a pity.
But as a consolation to all the folks who won’t have the chance to fall asleep or shout raspberries at my lectures and recitations, here’s a little limerick (the highest form of poetry after the villanelle) I wrote in genuine chalk on a genuine slate blackboard some six decades ago before a seminar on patristic literature. We were discussing St. Augustine of Hippo (as opposed to St. Augustine of Canterbury, who, of course, founded the school in New Milford and then had his name shortened to Austin and made cars) because he was quite a guy.
(Augustine of Hippo, by the way, is probably best known for begging God, “Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo,” because everybody knows that God favored Latin over all other languages before English came along. These days Augustine, although a brilliant Latinist, would nevertheless beg God, “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” Before he was a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, of course. Or even a priest.)
So here’s the limerick as etched in my senescent memory:
Augustine the saint, while in Hippo,
Was always misusing his Zippo.
When lighting a smoke
This episcopal bloke
Burnéd his beard and his lippo.
Paul Mordecai Rosenberg