Caledonia

Caledonia

Alone in Glasgow Central Station
On a cool day in July I went
Into a coffee-house and ordered cappuccino.

As I sat there waiting with time
On my hands how welcome and consoling
That happy mixture of warm milk –
The first taste of all – and strong coffee was.

Looking round the cheerful crowded room
My eye was caught by a bust,
Porphyry and cream,
Whose baroque curls and philosopher’s
Beard I recognized, from coffee table
Books on Rome, and the illustrations
In serious histories, to be those of
The Emperor Marcus.

And I thought how almost nineteen
Hundred years earlier he himself may
Have stood at this very dear green place
And watched the legionaries build
The Antonine wall from Forth to Clyde.

I remembered reading in a book, or a book review,
How for centuries after his death
The peasants on the great Antonine
Estate at Lanuvium celebrated his
Birthday still and lit lamps before
An ancestral Image such as this.

Born Annius Verus, nicknamed by Hadrian
Verissime, the most true, he was an index
There for me of Scotland’s happy return
To that great realm of wide humanity,
Brotherhood, Freedom and Equality
And all the schemes of English Oligarchs
Their bastard and unrightful kings undone.

– Sundar Dalton.

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