Percival, Alexander, and other great names…

whats-in-a-nameThe Bard of Avon may have been wrong… or simply got it backwards… “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – who believes such specious-species logic is enough to trump the violence (or blessing) of names given with sovereign solemnity?

Percival, Of Course
I have never known a Percival,
but I believe I should like to one day,
if only to ask of the difficulties of traveling
through life with such an odd forename,
and whether as a child he was called Percy,
or if, does this Percival believe the name
was something to grow in-to,
a prophecy of ostentatiousness
like a stately gentleman sitting stiffly
in a tearoom reading a leather-bound
history of the Bantu people of Madagascar,
unawares that the cruelty of his given name
exerted a significant pedagogical influence
yielding profit or an air of respect
carrying him along and transforming
his odd and awkward appearance
into something praised, such as,
I never thought of him as handsome
until I got to know him, and another
asks, Who? and the answer is, Percival,
of course.

The Great
Names are fine and good
until they become larger than life,
like Alexander born to be Great,
and made to bear the weight,
of everything – every strife,
heartbeat, footfall and all
there is to be known about a
someone – just one someone
who once folded in Lanike’s arms,
exhausted with laughter,
let alone stumbling across Asia,
tucking a Homer under his pillow
to dream of another city bearing
his name; legends are made
of such dreams – Olympias’ visions
of lightning bolts en utero
for the boy born to serve as
defender of man to the ends
of this earth, and another.

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