Aeneid, Book 21, 11. 270-291


Then the old paragon rose and spoke: “Until this week we had the luxury of playing with language. Now, everything is suddenly the same. We must use words, my compañeros, to construct towering forms, juggernauts of play. We must dismantle the family—you know which one—using these edifices. Only then will our children’s earnings and our

well-muscled young men be safe. Until this week we could play in the fields of bombs. Now we crenellate or die.” Thus he spoke, and thus the initialed generals responded: “Under my tree is a swing set. Read me back the rain and I will hope to join the quest. In the underworld it is not like this. In the underworld we make faces on cold windowpanes

and crave hot chocolate and grass. Take us back where we are allowed to use the word loam. And no special effects!” The old paragon walked back inside the Temple Theater, where The Girl of the Sunny South was in rehearsal, with Dido playing the lead. “Prepare my Courvoisier, for the gods decree an attack of the bends at daybreak.”

Then spoke Dido, unlucky in love: “Show me a terrorist and I will show you a bibliography of calluses. Render your shining bosses if you like, but my religion no longer answers to the quick service of fire. Show me another way to read the dance, and I promise to spend my old age tearing into ribbons of alternative energy the desert altars.”