A sonnet for Socrates

Socrates, snub-nosed, wall-eyed, paunchy, squat,

stood before his accusers and confessed

to being a gift from god—a gadfly, a pest

sent to save the city from moral rot

by stinging it out of its torpor.  He was not

believed.  The Athenians could not think themselves blessed

to be bitten by philosophy.  Unimpressed,

they silenced their gadfly with a judicial swat.

 

Today, we keep our would-be pests inside

a jar, contentedly droning away from the world.

But should one ever get free and buzz about seeking

to sink a sharp question into society’s hide,

then the nation yelps, newspapers are furled,

and packs of good citizens clamber up flailing and shrieking.

 

by Emrys Westacott

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