What if?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
Recent research on Roman coins has shown that Hannibal's defeat resulted in a huge boost to the Roman economy and marked its transition from regional power to Empire. This reminded me of a poem I wrote during my Latin studies when I first came to Nelson in 1982. Called 'What if?' it speculates how things might have been had Hannibal conquered Rome.

Submitted: August 14, 2017

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Submitted: August 14, 2017



What if?

You weave yourself a fantasy

postulating how

if Hannibal had conquered Rome

there would now

be no roads,

no Hadrian’s Wall,

no Samian ware

found factory-fresh

beneath a ruined market stall.

No beads would fall

from slender wrists

to soldiers’ bathhouse floor

posing problems for


And philologists

say we would not speak this tongue

but something Arabic would come

babbling from dark-skinned faces.


But Hannibal could no more conquer Rome

than the stars move in their places.

He might as well have stayed at home

as bring his elephants to tumble

from ice-worn peaks

down mountain passes

into crevasses,

their bones to crumble

in an alien land.


Destiny led him by the hand.

He could not run another way

than that which She had planned.

He thought he had the victory

until She turned the tide.

When he went out to fight one day

he found Her on the other side

with all the omens changed.

And he went forward to

a meeting that had been arranged.


© Copyright 2019 Geraldine Firequeen. All rights reserved.

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