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The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
—L. P. Hartley

While drums pounded and cymbals
Drove men mad and bronze siege cannon
Pulverized walls built to last till the day
Of judgment, Fatih Mehmet—Shadow and Spirit of God
Among men, Monarch of the Terrestrial Orb,
Lord and Master of the Three Worlds—
Commanded for music to be played in his tent,
Had Herodotus read to him in Greek by candlelight,
The poems of Rumī and Hafez recited in Persian.

His hobby, his leisure, his relaxation, this Lord
Of Two Continents and Two Seas, was gardening.
Finding one day that one of his prized cucumbers
Was missing from the vine, and suspecting his head gardener,
He seized the man, drew from his belt a dagger
Ornamented with rubies, and ripped the man’s belly open.
Chunks of cucumber, half-digested, tumbled out
Mixed with the dark blood of the gardener’s entrails.
Students of human nature, help me take this in.

—Richard Tillinghast

Image by U.S. Department of Agriculture, licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.