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Bottum: Some Buried Caesar

7:03 AM, Jan 16, 2008 • By JOSEPH BOTTUM
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I often wonder what the pollsters buy, one half so precious as the goods they sell. How did it get so bad? Obama a lock in New Hampshire, McCain rising in Michigan - it's some sad curse to be beloved by the pollsters with their clipboards.

The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes - or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two - is gone.

You know, once you start in on Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat, it's almost impossible to stop. A new game this season: for every candidate a stanza. For Dennis Kucinich, for instance:

Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth's sweet-scented manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the branches sang,
Ah whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

For Hillary Clinton:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

For Mike Huckabee:

Of threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain - This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

For Duncan Hunter:

But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

For Mitt Romney, I thought maybe Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before / I swore - but was I sober when I swore? But it didn't seem quite right. Maybe:

Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet's Paradise to come;
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!

For my lost leader, Fred Thompson? How about:

For some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That from his Vintage rolling Time hath prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest.

And what for Rudy Giuliani? You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse / I made a Second Marriage in my house? No, too mean. Better:

Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way.

Indeed, the stanza for them all to sing:

We are no other than a moving row
Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go
Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held
In Midnight by the Master of the Show.