Hypatia and the Ruined Serapeum. A Poem by Ian Irvine Hobson

Excerpt from:
Awake in the Chamber of Darkness
(The Egyptian Sequence)

(Inspired by Alejandro Amenabar’s Agora)

Broken statues, torn scrolls,
shattered pottery, piles of ash,
and smoke (gently rising)
in the early morning quiet.

‘The mob have roasted knowledge, 
          silenced the Muses, stamped everything
          with God-infested words!’
mutters Theon.
          ‘And where now, oh father’ she whispers,
          ‘to speak the remnants of our world?’

Hypatia, too bright in the city
for the one God sun of Christ,
watches the skies lighten over Alexandria
          (unreal stillness).
Her Wanderers – Jupiter, Venus and the others -
          smashed or shorn of power,
this dawn, this new day for the writing

Is it here, in the clarity of her grief,
that she begins to see them 
          as if for the first time?
Not ‘circles’ but ‘curves’,
          not Ptolemy but Aristarchus. 

Soon enough the zealots will object
          to her and her knowledge, 
will attempt to erase this philosopher ‘witch’
from history, from discourse, from the dreams
          of troubled men.

They succeed for a time -
they do not succeed -
for the heavens are precise
          and stomach no faulty permutations.

My ‘curving’ planets, my
          celestial musicians,
my elliptoid wanderers
          (future astronomers will discover)
are welded 
          (of course she knows it thus!)
each to each
          in the slow 
orbits 
          of the possible.

 
About the Author
 
Ian Irvine (Hobson) is an Australian-based poet/lyricist, fiction writer and non-fiction writer. His work has featured in publications as diverse as Humanitas (USA), The Antigonish Review (Canada), Tears in the Fence (UK), Linq (Australia) and Takahe (NZ), among many others. His work has also appeared in two Australian national poetry anthologies: Best Australian Poems 2005 (Black Ink Books) and Agenda: ‘Australian Edition’, 2005. He is the author of three books and co-editor of a number of literary journals – Scintillae 2012, The Animist ezine (7 editions, 1998-2001) and Painted Words (10 editions 2005-2014). He coordinates the Professional Writing and Editing program at Bendigo Kangan Institute (Bendigo & Melbourne, Australia) and has taught in the same program at Victoria University, St. Albans, Melbourne. He has also taught history and social theory at La Trobe University (Bendigo, Australia) and holds a PhD for his work on creative, normative and dysfunctional forms of morbid ennui. Web site: http://www.authorsden.com/ianirvine

 
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