Sibyl’s Leaves

One of my favorite authors is Michel de Montaigne, author of Essays. In Montaigne’s final essay, “Of Experience,” he traces his experience with the disease of kidney stones. He wrote about his anxiety and fears, his expectation of death, which became monsters, chimeras, in his mind. The fear was often overwhelming. Then he would turn to his notes and essays written previously, in which he discussed the symptoms of the disease, the fear, and how he dealt with it. Often he would feel better after consulting these “Sibyl’s Leaves” (the words of the prophetess).

I like Montaigne have often experienced crushing fear. And I sometimes turn to my own “Sibyl’s Leaves.” Indeed, I once wrote a poem about them, which follows:

Sibyl’s Leaves

Sibyls’ leaves,
tattered, scattered,
upon the shelves
of old ideas;
Dusty, musty,
mine alone,
chronicle of anguish.

Ancient prophecy,
History, personal mystery,
Events, long ago
through them I know,
What will be–
What’s in me.

Prophetess speaks,
Hidden oracle
veiled in words–
and thought—but not
the truth,
so silently out of reach.

Monsters approach,
The darkness
of my mind,
there to find
my error–
Cause of terror.

Utter fear,
The parchment’s near
for me to consult,
The answer’s there
(if not, somewhere),
Amid the riddles
​Of Sibyl’s leaves.

About theamericanplutarch

Writer, thinker, historian.
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