La Petite Mort

It’s not hard to found a town in sorrow.
The barren expanse hints at a blueprint
until brick by brick, day by day by day,
a city grew around me. Each new street
houses an insomniac’s sterile dreams
but here in my exile, I built strong walls. ...

About the poem

This poem appeared in Brittle Starissue 37.

This poem is the first in a sequence written as a reimagining of the story of Aeneas and Dido in Virgil's Aeneid. It's a story that has fascinated me since I first read it during my A Level Latin class and although I did study the original text to complete the sequence, I didn't want to create a direct translation and enjoyed the challenge of developing the story for a modern audience. To do so, I took out the idea both the author and of the gods, whose interference creates this doomed love. Instead, three voices tell the story - Dido, as in this poem, Aeneas, and Dido's concerned sister Anna. I also chose to remove the gods as the agents of the action and use the story as a means to examine the intricacies of human relationships and, in particular, why they may fail. I feel that the tenderness and psychological insight Virgil displays in telling this story suggests that heartbreak is not perhaps the fault of the gods, but of our own mortal failings.

You can read more poems from this sequence on my website: