Poetry in Honor of Epicureanism

  • Hi Everyone!

    I wanted to create a thread for anyone to post poetry which honors, uplifts, and enlightens Epicureanism, Epicurean philosophy, and the Epicurean lifesyle.

    Here is a poem I started a week ago or so...it finally feels finished, so wanted to share :)

    Kingdom of Epicurus

    You are far back in time,

    In dreams I try to fly to you.

    I seek and will not give up till I find you,

    You, who are the original master of the Garden,

    I knock to enter, obscurations of a new moon,

    No way to impress my questions upon you,

    For my understanding is that of a novice,

    I call out to you:

    Oh Epicurus! Are you there?

    And all at once,

    The garden gate is thrust open!

    You stand tall and handsome,

    How beloved you do appear!

    And I see how many did follow you,

    With your teaching they were fully taken,

    Your students who drew near,

    Gathered round to learn,

    Century after century

    With gentle eager minds,

    Your ever unfolding philosophical legacy.

    Couragous minds lingered and endured,

    Some followers either followed closely or departed,

    And those who were the most devoted,

    Oh how they did love you!

    For you became their liberator,

    The innkeeper of the house of joy,

    And the high priest of atoms and void,

    Banishing fear and unfulfilled desires,

    You fed them all with figs, and love, and wisdom.

    Oh Epicurus! You live on in our hearts and minds,

    As you sit at the feet of Venus,

    (Just as we do)

    As you forever study the beauty of everything,

    (Just as we do)

    As you everlastingly observe, wonder, and contemplate,

    (Just as we do)

    And so the Garden still grows verdant,

    Full of every kind of fragrant flower,

    And all the many joyous sensations of our natural world.

  • I wrote a poem last year for one of the EP FB groups.

    Hear these words O children of Nature’s swerve.

    Let us rejoice in the freedom we surely deserve.

    Of prudent wisdom long obscured by shame.

    Professed by Epicurus of noble fame.

    Lucretius penned in days of old.

    Across the gap of time, a truth so bold.

    Arise the days of hedonic measure.

    Restoring the truth of humankind’s pleasure.

    Dispel the fears of death’s illusion.

    Release humankind from all confusion.

    Again I say, O children of Nature’s swerve.

    Be frank in speech and keep your nerve.

    Be ready now to strike your blow.

    For Epicurus, his Garden, and all who know.

    The days shall come when the world will extol.

    That pleasurable living was indeed the goal.

  • Quote

    The innkeeper of the house of joy

    Kalosyni, I love this line! And particularly the way it hits you as the poem builds up to it.

    And I think this thread is a great idea as well. I won't repost all my old stuff here, which those curious can find at this thread; but I'll be happy to post my new verses here going forward. Cassius will have to find a proper place for this one so we can find it!



    The days shall come when the world will extol.

    That pleasurable living was indeed the goal.

    One may indeed hope!


  • Oddly enough, while I was surveying a house foundation today a framing carpenter I had spoken to briefly came up to me a little later and said to me, "You may not believe this, but I'm a poet"...and he showed me a copy of his published book! He also gave me a few ideas about how the process works. I shared with him the title of my favorite poetry anthology, and slightly regret not asking for his email address.

  • We do have this forum on poetry, and I will move this thread there now. But in general we have far too many subforums to keep track of so when I have time I am going to have to prune down the number by a lot and somehow make them easier to sort through.

  • Matt and Joshua

    Some feedback regarding readability of above posts:

    I am using the website default theme radiant light blue.

    Matt: your poem used a "white" typeface, which I could still read but there was very litte contrast to the background.

    Joshua: when you pasted and copied part of Matt's poem (written in white) into a dialog bubble it completely disappeared.

    (So not sure what to do about this theme problem)

  • OH NO! I did not notice Matt's post had a color encoded. It is fixed now.

    This is a reason that we need to highlight that "best practices" list of ways to use the forum.

    People are always going to be pasting text from other programs, and that's the problem. We'll just have to stay alert to catch these posts as they occur.

  • A Small Ode to Epicurus

    You have welcomed us all to your Garden,

    no matter the gender or class.

    Pleasantness you offer - with simple fare,

    friendship, tranquility and ease.

    We can leave our burdens in the byway

    with the clutch of traffic and dust,

    find respite in a homey oasis

    whose invitation is open,

    conveying conviviality, peace,

    and time to draw a common breath;

    to relish the freshening fragrance

    of lemons, marjoram and sage;

    cool water or bloodred wine, rough brown bread,

    salad greens, dark olives and cheese:

    unadorned pleasures, sans the toil and strain

    of over-fed extravagance;

    lively talk of philosophy, laughter

    at nagging follies we once learned

    from our elders by strictest rote - and fear.

    Under your eaves, we can relax:

    embrace the evolving turnstile seasons,

    heartbeat of the earth, rain and sun;

    celebrate the fullness of the senses

    and feelings that inform our way.

    Under your eaves, we can abide: happy

    in the naturalness of ourselves.

    ~ ~ ~

    You have welcomed us all to your Garden,

    which we now carry with us as we go …

  • Volupta Dawn

    Dawn shatters the brittle husk of night—

    as cracked shards fall, an amphora sun

    generously pours orange-blossom honey—

    nimble-footed Domina Volupta

    with bountiful golden cornucopia

    dances gaily from the vernal east—

    festive agora fragrances of oregano,

    ginger, black peppercorns and sage,

    olives, lemons and lusty fermented grapes

    are conjured on the rising breeze:

    now redolent with citrus, wine and spice—

    drowsing heartbeats are mellowly awakened

    by melodious imaginal byzantine chimes;

    flurries of bees cavort in your veins,

    an undulous hum enraptures your spine—

    the grace-infused, sun-hallowed celebration

    of freshening day draws breath—and begins.


    Volupta: a variant of Voluptas, Roman counterpart to the Greek Hedone, goddess of pleasure.

    agora: Greco-Roman marketplace.

  • Opulent Hours

    Tart-cherry blossoms have burst in full bloom,

    perfuming our backyard orchard garden;

    and the Maythorn flowers umbrella me

    as I lounge on a bench in mottled shade,

    frail back braced against gnarly brindled bark

    with flecks of gray like an aging man’s beard.

    A thousand thousand sun-honeyed gold bees

    hum feverish aphrodisiac hymns,

    vibrant arias that tingle my veins—

    and tease me away from my daydream drowse,

    arousing erotic sweet reveries

    resurrected from a livelier youth.

    Feast of fragrances, lush amorous choirs,

    magical memories: opulent hours.


    “Maythorn”: another name for a hawthorn tree.

    (Prompted by a discussion of bees and honey in ancient Greece and Rome by Kalosyni.)

  • Templum Librarium

    I love the smell of old books, leather-bound

    or well-worn hardcover cloth, beckoning

    from dark-oak library stacks – passageways

    to the heirloom temple of humanitas.

    I take down a gaunt volume at random –

    title illegible; pale patina

    of dust I could imagine as ancient

    as peripatetic Aristotle;

    brittle pages I could pretend were cut

    from papyrus scrolls of Epicurus

    first scribed in his Athenian Garden,

    copied and preserved by Philodemus

    in his villa at Herculaneum

    till encrusted in Vesuvian ash –

    and discover archaic lettering

    in majuscule Greek that I cannot read.

    Still, the inscrutable inked glyphs beguile

    the imagination’s mesmering muse

    into a maze of bustling galleries

    through a spice-pungent agora bazaar

    under a Mediterranean sun.

    There, for a few alchemical moments,

    I rest in my own lavish reverie –

    before touching the book to my forehead

    and placing it back on its sacred shelf

    among the other siren oracles,

    preserved in this labyrinthine sanctum –

    to continue my wayward pilgrimage,

    absorbed in the luring balm of old books.


    “humanitas”: coined by Cicero; to the Romans it meant everything relating to civilized humanity – culture, refinement, humaneness, the humanities, humanism, etc.

    Note: The 3rd and fourth stanzas should be indented -- but that can't display here: just my poet's obsessiveness.

  • Pro Coquis Simplicibus


    I am but a humble galley-kitchen cook,

    no tall-hat chef of haute cuisine.

    Herbs are grown on the balcony in clay pots:

    parsley, oregano, basil and sage—

    or, such as bay leaves, preserved in a jar.

    Vegetables—sometimes frozen, sometimes fresh—

    are foraged from local grocery aisles,

    the farmers’ market and organic co-op shelves.

    (We used to grow our own, before we moved to town:

    leaf lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, onions;

    garlands of garlic, braided and hung on the stair.)

    We have small crocks of dried beans: great northern,

    pinto, dark red kidney and black—to be soaked

    overnight and pressure-cooked in a pot;

    but on lazier days we just open a can.

    Our bread is no longer home-baked: but baguettes,

    or rounds of sourdough rye, from paper bags,

    served oven-warm straight to the rough-grained table.

    Olive oil is sacred: virgin, green, robust,

    with pepper that lingers, pungent on the tongue.

    The wine is cheaper than it used to be

    (save for the dry-as-bone elderberry brew

    Vivian once vinted and bottled for winter):

    petite syrah and malbec most recently favored,

    with pinot grigio or a crisp rosé—

    depending on the fare and the weather.


    Tomorrow, I plan a seafood gumbo

    with okra, onions, scallops and shrimp, sautéed

    in a mushroom roux; simmered in bone broth

    with sassafras filé, bay and my own

    finely ground creole seasoning concoction—

    all ladled over mounds of arborio rice.

    (I seldom measure as I make things up:

    add a little, then taste—and taste again.

    Stir well to incite shy single flavors

    to mingle, flirt, betroth themselves and marry.)

    Shake on some vinegar-tabasco sauce:

    a dash or so to awaken the palate.

    After dinner, a glass of tawny port—

    or snifter of brandy aged in oaken sherry casks;

    backgammon or cribbage to beguile the sunfall hours,

    and a romantic murder to read before bed.


    I compose poetry the way I cook:

    I seldom measure as I make things up—

    one is a rumpus of flavors,

    one a rumpus of sound and shape.


    Pro Coquis Simplicibus: “For the Simple Cooks.”

    “rumpus of shapes”: how Dylan Thomas once described his poetry.

  • Autumn Ferment

    A red-bandanaed sun dances barefoot

    on the summer-ripened earth of autumn

    as wine-maidens gaily tread swollen grapes

    in wooden vats to mash yeast, skins and juice –

    to waken the ferment that will be racked

    from oak to oak, and aged in barrel-casks.

    Corks are pulled from hand-blown bottles: youthful

    vintage stored in the bodega cellar,

    plucked to celebrate this year’s harvest end.

    Rough-grained tables are stacked with rustic fare:

    ham, black olives, apples, Manchego cheese

    and thick loaves of lusty pungent brown bread.

    Village musicians play wild pagan tunes

    from ancient memory – never scripted

    or scored in ink – to call upon their gods

    to bless the yield, ward off the winter cold.

    Flowered maidens dance barefoot with the sun

    to transubstantiate fruit into wine.


    Image: “Women Stomping the Grapes” – oil painting by Eric Michaels; used with permission.


    The "calling on their gods" is not quite Epicurean, I admit ...

  • The "calling on their gods" is not quite Epicurean, I admit ...

  • Epicurus’ Dance – A Doggerel Whimsy

    I wonder if Epicurus e’er danced

    – for pleasure and robust vigor –

    as Socrates was wont to do at dawn?

    “Friendship capers round the world,” he averred,

    “heralding our ‘rousal to joy.”

    Why should he not have thrown a frisky jig

    in the walkways of his Garden?

    Did the festive air of Eikas resound

    with pan flute, palm-struck tympanum,

    spritely-fingered tortoise-shell lyre

    and lyrical seven-stringed kithara?

    Did the friends and guests of ho Kepos dance?

    ~ ~ ~

    O, I imagine Epicurus danced!

    as I am sometimes wont to crudely do

    past noon – with raw impromptu abandon –

    when the pulse quickens in my feet.

    Yea, I fancy our exuberant sage,

    who bequeathed to us more than wizened words,

    heartily and happily – danced!

    ~ ~ ~

    So may we, with a Garden boogie, groove!

    – no matter how gawkily we might move …


    Image is of Anthony Quinn as Zorba the Greek, dancing.

  • I have shared here in the past about recognizing, accepting and even celebrating my “catawampus” (and imaginal) ADHD mind (most recently on Kalosyni’s thread “Practical Epicurean Therapeutics: Tips on dealing with worry”).

    This poem is an example of how that sometimes translates into poetry (which is my joy and avocation), as something akin to Dylan Thomas describing his poems as a “rumpus of shapes” (and sounds).

    Even though I hesitate (with some trepidation), I post it here because I didn’t want to derail any other threads (though it may not be strictly “in honor of Epicureanism”). I had to post the link because everything otherwise copy-pasted on here left-justifies, which defeats the jangle-tangle spacing (which hopefully generates the jouncy rhythms I wanted); I tried to just do a jpg picture, but gave up in frustration.

    Anyway, I hope it is at least an enjoyable, playful read.