When I turned fifty I bought myself
all eight volumes of Gibbon because I thought
that at the end of my life I would read them.
Sometimes I go over to where they stand,
and simply touching them with my hand calms me.
I haven’t read them, but they keep me company.
Now, an imperceptible voice tells me
it’s high time I started reading Gibbon:
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
is this History known as Universal,
the only kind that consoles.
As useless and magnificant as an aerial view.