On his ebony bed adorned with coral eagles,
Comfortable in the vigour of his flesh,
The prime of his youth,
Callous, unheeding, imperial,
On sleeps Nero.
But out in the marble hallway
The lares, the little household gods
Of his ancestors, the Aenobarbi,
Stand shuffling in their shrine,
They have heard that dreaded sound
The din of doom ascending,
The tramp of iron shaking the stairs.
Then one moves, and the next,
Scurrying to the back of their shrine
Pushing and tripping, falling over each other,
All the lares, the tiny gods,
Trying to hide as best they can.
They have learned the footfall of the Furies.
(This is a translation of a 1909 poem by C.P. Cavafy.)