Et in Arcadia Ego

by Rosalie Frost

Such intense and persistent longings
for what we did or who we were
before this pandemic:
wasn’t life more antic,
with less panic?
Such nostalgic longings may be unwise —-
long-ago, old tales in many lands
tell of preturnatural worlds where
irrevocable acts cannot be unmade.

Orpheus, the magician and musician
escaping upward from hell, Eurydice
in his wake, turned around
and gazed back, losing all.

Eden’s benevolent god in a deathless
neverland banished disobedient creatures
whose descendants idealize a sinless existence
set within a false pleasure garden
where benevolence masked
truths spoken by a snake.

Mortals yearning to escape from
their unhappy, all too much
damaged world, are lured away by
Arcadia’s pastoral, idyllic landscape
seen within a shimmering sound
growing at the corner of one eye.
Into this unspoiled world dreamed
into being by gods and demi-urges,
mortals find refuge elusive:
rugged mountains with no footholds,
vast green forests where
light has little purchase,
roaring rivers and streams
never calm enough to ford.

Entering Arcady by misadventure, mortals
are drawn everywhere and nowhere by
a strange music played by Pan, who rules here —-
a rustic god with body neither
goat nor man but both, yet so
beloved by all on Olympus for playing
such sweet songs on his reed pipe —-
songs that if heard by trespassing mortals
cause them to walk in endless circles
with no way back but madness.


My creative writing is not tied to anything in any of the professional lives that I have lived. Writing comes out of my life-long devotion to reading beginning at about 7 years of age. That was when my parents took me for the first time to enroll in the local library, where they had to sign a form promising the librarian that they would be responsible for the privilege accorded me of taking care of books, including borrowing and returning them on time. Sometimes, I would stay in the library to peruse those curious adult books without any pictures, just pages of big words I could sound out but never really comprehend. My imaginative life grew and just seamlessly morphed into writing —-