The Poets

September 02, 2010

The Kingbird's Omen

Click the picture, gory but appropriate ...

Spurinna knew all to well the coming fate of that great leader- how couldn't he, for he was one of Rome’s chief soothsayers and interpreters of signs, and all the signs of that fated day besieged him about.

He warned Caesar that an impending danger loomed over him, that he ought to be on his guard and to brace himself through to the coming Ides of March. Caesar would have none of it.

Then came the Ides of March.

Caesar, as he passed the soothsayer on his way to the senate chambers, mocked and called Spurinna a false prophet- for the Ides of March had come to pass and he remained unscathed. But the prophet warned that though it had indeed come, it had not passed. Then Caesar, entering the senate conclave, headlong into the hands of fate did violently perish.


The Kingbird's Omen

A king-bird flew in Pompey’s Hall
Pursued by others from the grove
With laurel sprig in hand it strove
To hard elude the brawl

But overcome by violence wide
It fell the victim of its foes
And as they there in triumph rose
On purple floors it died

These symbols in Spurinna stirred
And warnings out to Caesar went
But fruitless was the message sent
The omen went unheard

Then there he was near Pompey’s Hall
Pursued by fate and too by Jove
And as he toward the senate strove
There Caesar met his fall

For overcome by violence wide
He fell the victim of his foes
And as they there in triumph rose
On scarlet floors he died


Of the Poem (Poetic Parameters):

Stanza: Italian quatrain

Meter: The first three lines of each quatrain are done in tetrameter (or 8 syllables per line), while the last lines in each quatrain are in trimeter (or 6 syllables)

Rhyme Scheme: abba (per stanza)

For a little more about the poem check out the comments area.

Thanks for stopping by.


John W. May said...


Because the poem pertains to Gaius Julius Caesar (a Roman) I decided to render it in Italian verse (i.e. abba per stanza). Also, you’ll notice that of all the lines in the poem the trimeters in it hold a negative import- this was intentional and was meant to establish a bleak mood to the poem.

Inasmuch as the poem itself is concerned, I structured it in such a way that it may be divided into three parts:

Stanzas 1 and 2: The plight of the bird and its demise as an omen
Stanza 3: The omen acknowledged (by Spurinna) and denied (by Caesar)
Stanzas 4 and 5: The materialization of the omen, and consequently the demise of Julius

Also, I wanted to make some deliberate contrasts- for example, there’s the contrast of response. Despite its fate, the kingbird at least attempts to elude its enemies; whereas Caesar, as if to inadvertently invite his demise, toward the senate strove.

Anyhow, with that said, I hope that what you’ve read here was worthy of your time. Until then …

John W. May said...


The idea and inspiration for this particular poem was heavily influenced by the following quote:

"On the day before the ides of that month a little bird called the king-bird flew into the Hall of Pompey with a sprig of laurel, pursued by others of various kinds from the grove hard by, which tore it to pieces in the hall".

The original inspiration for the present poem was from an incomplete work I came across yesterday, a work that I began in 2008 that pertained to Nero and his mother, Agrippina.

The endeavor of mine to complete or add to it led me to the consideration of a new idea … the poem we have here.

As of April 9th, 2010