To mark the 1900th birthday of Marcus Aurelius, Modern Stoicism ran a competition which challenged readers to write a short tribute to the great Stoic Emperor in 250 words or less.
Entries had to be in the form of prose or poetry (for example, haikus or limericks) and be focused in some way on Marcus Aurelius. Creativity and humour were encouraged in the entries. As examples, an entry could be a verse “to the tune of …,” or a piece written in the style of a well-known writer, or even written as an obituary.
The following was my effort and I was grateful to learn it placed joint-third in the competition!
If… Only Commodus Had Remembered These Things by Marcus Aurelius (channeling Rudyard Kipling)
If you remember to be strict with yourself
But tolerant with everyone else
If you remember to direct your thoughts to common good
And help your people like a leader should
If you remember not to seek revenge
But to be unlike him who did you harm
And further that there’s nothing to avenge
If the mind sounds not its own alarm
If you remember the power you hold
Not over people but your own mind
If you remember that courage is to be bold
In the face of trials and all hard times
If you remember that little is needed for a happy life,
That it’s all within your way of thinking,
And to dwell on the beauty of that life,
To watch the stars each night unblinking
If you remember it’s a privilege just to be alive
To think, to love, to hear and see
If you remember what’s good for the hive
Is forever good too for the bee
If you remember that the rest doesn’t matter,
Only that the right thing is always done
You’ll be remembered as a Good Emperor,
And-which is more-you’ll be a virtuous man, my son!
And here’s the poem read by Modern Stoicism’s Tim LeBon: