In the latest issue:

Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Fifteen days from now

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The Yorkists

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

Caligula on the subject of namesD.J. Enright
Close
Close
Vol. 15 No. 23 · 2 December 1993
Poem

Caligula on the subject of names

D.J. Enright

236 words

Though he had little Latin
He seemed to like his title
I named him Incitatus
Meaning to run swiftly
But also to excite, to incite
Or so to speak spur on
Me they dubbed Baby-Boots
I gave him iron ones
He was born in a tailored toga
I hoped he would spur on the others
So I made him a consul
There’s a Pole called ‘I think’ who thought
He performed his duties perfectly
‘That is, he didn’t perform them at all’
Which is not entirely accurate
At times he intervened in the proceedings
He applauded with his hooves
His neigh was his nay
And invariably well timed
His droppings were neat and odourless
Unlike most of the magistrates
And invaluable to market gardeners
As I pointed out when taking their money
He rode roughshod
He spurred on the others
Many of whom left the Senate hurriedly
Small committees I always argue
Are preferable to large ones
I found it quite exciting
‘My kingdom for a horse’ I would say
Visiting him in his stable afterwards
(Yes, it was made of the finest marble)
His hay was his yea
What happened later I was not alive to tell
And the pertinent books of Tacitus
(Not too badly named) are lost
I like to think he trotted off to Thessaly
And joined the centaurs
(No, not akin to senators)
He was partial to the wine-trough.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences