Slurfing to Bygonzium

Carey Rowland
3 min readMay 28, 2024

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Back in the 1970’s when I was a sophomoric literary dweeb at LSU, we read a poem by well-known Irish poet, William Butler Yates. He had presented Sailing to Byzantium to the world in 1927.

Byzantium was an ancient city in Thrace, a region where Europe meets ancient Anatolia, now Turkey.

In 4th Century AD, Roman Emperor Constantine, having professed the Christian faith, moved his base of operations eastward, from Rome to the the southern end of the Black Sea. Located on a peninsula where the Black Sea flows southward through the Straits of Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, Constantine’s chosen spot became the re-located capital of the Roman Empire.

Later, when Russian emperors professed Greek Orthodoxy, Constantinople was promoted as a hub for Christian faith in Eastern Europe and northward to Russia.

The Turks took the city in 1453 and transformed it into their capital of the Ottoman empire. It was called Istanbul thereafter.

Even so, along came windswept English poets of the Romantic Age — early 1800’s; they romanticized the city — don’t ask me why — preferring to garnish their fantasies with the ancient name idea of a very special Capital, adorned with gold and precious legacies, Byzantium!.

In his 1927 poem, Yeats is sailing to that ancient city of hopes and dreams. He contemplates the passing of his own life from present into past; he fancies what might become of his own life’s work, his legacy as a star-crossed poet.

You can read the poem here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43291/sailing-to-byzantium.

Here is the last verse:

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Inspired with the long-gone poet’s meditations, I have composed a new poem that contemplates this cyber-world wherein we now live and move and have our slip-sailing being through silicon strands of the worldweb and beyond. . .

This is no century for old men. The young

in cyber world enthralled, instograms in the breeze,

— those twittering iterations — at their throng,

the rapid rise, so digitally comprised,

bits, bytes, or packets, ascend the Net along

whatever is devised, typewritten and flies.

Caught in that whirling Web, all neglect

Monuments of unaging intellect.

An aged man’s just a boomer thing,

Past-prime dream of TV bling, unless

King of Soul rise up and sing, and lately fling

Every matter into a web address.

Gone is the singing school and studying

Monuments of parchment magnificence:

And meanwhile I surf the web, cluttering

These slick streams of significance.

O sages, sporting history’s attire

Now in the stacked dustbin of a shelf,

Rise from that grave library mire,

And stir again , like some long-lost elf.

Take hold of us anew, ‘though now askew,

And fasten our eyes to an Age-stained page.

We know not what we do view

In this torrent of thrills and rage.

Once beyond this web, I shall never take

My writerly identity from any webbish thing,

but such a form as ancient poets make

Of printed page and dead-black bling

To keep a drowsy babyboomer awake;

Or set upon a glowing Web to sing

To freaks and geeks of Bygonzium

And weary websmiths of Siliconium.

King of Soul

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Carey Rowland

Author and Publisher of 4 novels: Glass half-Full, Glass Chimera, Smoke, King of Soul; 1200+ blogs, musician, songwriter, poet, 43-year husband and father.