Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Fortune, Empress of the World

The stately magnificence of the hymn to Fortune (Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi: “Fortune, Empress of the World”) with which Carl Orff's 1935-6 pagan oratorio, Cármina Burana, both begins and ends, either belies, or comments ironically, on the over-the-top quality of the lyrics.

In this not-very-literal rendering, I've attempted to forefront this tone of self-parody. The speaker is a poet who's down on his luck, and in response hits back with both fists.

For all the good it does.


O Dame Fortune


O Dame Fortune, Queen

of it all: like the Moon

you wax and wane,

always in flux.

 Despicable life

she either hurts or heals,

as fancy takes her.

It’s guaranteed:

wealth and power

will melt away like snow.


Dame Fortune—

you hollow bitch—

you’re a Wheel that spins

but goes nowhere.

Anything good

is bound to evaporate.

So, Veiled One, Shadow,

since it seems

you always plague

me in particular,

go ahead, take up your whip.

Here’s my bare back:

beat me!


That Dame Fortune—

she’s always against me,

no matter what I think or do.

I’m crushed, I’m broken,

always in chains;

always, she strikes down

strength. So somebody

strike a chord—one, two

—and let’s all

whine together!


Above: Nigel Jackson, Wheel of Fortune







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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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