To an Old Latin Teacher

Snow fell all night and suddenly there was morning:
a startling vision from a familiar window,
   while yet an ordinary sight: a
         neighboring hill had become itself more

completely, thrusting forward in all that sunlight
as having donned a secular alb with which to
   set out along the gleaming paths of
         vision extending in all directions

and so what one had always been quite aware of
had shown a new significance now—or merely
   revealed what it had always meant (this
         must have been slowly accumulating).

I know this keeps on happening all the time with
what one has lived with knowledge about but never,
   until now only, knowledge of, then
         suddenly seeing it one bright morning . . .

as if like some Chocorua or Monadnock
I'd left alone for others to climb, I saw the
   hill as a text I'd only known in
         pieces; and such was my understanding

of Horace. Never having him as a schoolboy,
for I'd come late to Latin in any case, since
   an introduction back in sixth grade,
         nothing amounted to more than hearsay.

Then I acquired some more later on, yet not in
an overheated classroom some winter morning
   but rather, warm in bed, beside you
         clasped by the Latin you'd always loved, in

the way we're told vernaculars best are studied
in undemanding, intimate pedagogy,
   you answered all the simple questions
         sending me back to old Suetonius

and Robert Graves and others for all the raunchy
and easily retold imperial scandals,
   and all the while the scraps of grammar,
         stories of syntax—a kind of folklore—