[A poem written many years ago, more relevant every year]
Tired, Isolated Romans
They fell, finally, those old Romans,
Surrounded by hostile foreigners who were
Prodded by envy and long memories and
Appetite and contemptuous hatred of
What these people had become.
Even their enemies remembered
When these Romans, as the old Republic,
Had been respected as well as feared; had brought
Law as well as order; had spread new possibilities
As well as never-ending disruption.
The simple republican virtues, forgotten
Or dismissed as myths of a simpler time,
Had left those Romans free within the law,
Tending their small farms and businesses,
Supporting small armies with small taxes.
Time and empire produced only order without law,
A system perfected beyond hope of change,
A few men owning everything and everyone.
What was to the benefit of few found few to defend it,
And only fools, at last, to die for it.
Of course, no possible analogy implied.