To mark the 1900th birthday of Marcus Aurelius, Modern Stoicism challenged readers to write a short tribute to the great Stoic Emperor in 250 words or less. The winning entry will be announced during Modern Stoicism’s online conference celebrating his birthday, held on Sunday April 26th.
The competition drew 50 entries, many of a high standard. As requested, by no means all were “odes” – the entries included blank verse, limericks, letters and haikus.
All 14 finalists will be published here in the Stoicism Today blog in these days leading up to Marcus’s birthday on April 27th and also on Modern Stoicism’s You Tube channel.
Today we have the second installment of finalists – the entries ranked from 11th place to 9th, determined by our panel of judges.
#9 Mindful Fire by Thomas Savino
I will end badly I know
Beaten by illness or my own body or a foe
I’m no Greek hero and I’ve lived long enough to see the end of better men
I know this now, as I stand unbeaten and unbowed
And take mental note that “I” am not now my victory nor will I then be my defeat
I am more I am virtue made manifest if I but embrace the knowledge of it
So bring smiling victory or snarling defeat to me dressed in silk or rags
The latest fashions interest me little
There is an eternally blazing fire right here in my chest that I must mindfully husband
Now as I hope to then
The easy one being but mere training for the hard one just there on the horizon
#10 Ode For Marcus Aurelius by Alison McCone
Mind my own business instead of worrying about that of others
Attend to myself so I can be there to tend for other
Reason with my inner daimon so I can be rational with others
Cherish my freedom whilst ensuring I grant it to others
Understand I have many faults and accept so do others
Show my love for everyone but never demand it from others
Accept I’m only human and I’ll often screw up on all of the above
Understand many around me may find Stoicism a bit weird
Realize the world is not perfect and I can’t change it overnight
Enjoy dancing, singing, laughing, having fun and being silly
Lie when necessary to protect someone from suffering
Impossible is just a word but possibility is a choice
Upheaval is a normal part of life and I can’t avoid it
Smile, socialize and see the beauty and safety all around you
#11 Zooming with Marcus by Clare Flynn
When Zoom meetings get in a stew,
I consider “What would Marcus do?”,
He’d take a deep breath,
Meditate on death,
And offer a stoical view.
For a while I’ll be tolerant and amiable,
Just like Marcus, my virtue unshakable,
But when colleagues drone on,
Or the wifi has gone,
Ataraxia seems unobtainable!