Attentive readers of this blog may already have picked up on the fact that Mercury is my patron deity, so I need no particular excuse to include him in my suite of votive sonnets in the event that my LASIK surgery was a success. What’s more, however, the particular divinatory instrument that I was using to gage whether I ought to go ahead with the procedure is specially dedicated to Hermes according to some of the Anatolian inscriptions from which it’s known. I refer to Hellenistic astragalomancy (which I practise using the knuckle-bones of a white-tailed deer that I ordered from Etsy from somebody in Utah or thereabouts who seemed to have plenty of unwanted deer knuckle-bones lying about…).
This is (of course!) the most tongue-in-cheek and self-referential of the sonnets I’ve written for this purpose. I present it to my readers today (Wednesday, the day of Mercury) in the hope that they, like the deity to whom it was offered, won’t find it too contemptible for their perusal.
Thy votary, by troubles laden down,
from anxious doubts humbly seeks relief,
to thee offering gesture, verb, and noun,
a wisp of frankincense, an oaken leaf—
as if to render visible internal grief
and place before the god an earnest note
to buy the loyalty of the sainted thief
(contented, dare we think, with so mean a groat).
But nay, the lusty nuncio with cock and goat
unstintingly bestows, with merry laugh,
abundant gifts to keep his throng afloat
and flits away, in hand his serpent staff.
Thus behind unnumbered successful schemes
the eye of Mercury sneakily gleams.