Here’s another poem written during the five days I walked from London to Canterbury. This was inspired by Roman dice in Maison Dieu in Ospringe, near Faversham, and ones in Canterbury Roman Museum too. I looked at some dice with Ellen Swift at Kent, and she told me that they are sometimes found to be loaded. The ones on the left are at Maison Dieu, and are balanced – unlike the ones the Roman gambler in this poem uses!
Oh Fortuna! Be good to me tonight
make my dice land the right way up
and the wrong way for my enemies
show me your beautiful many-sided face
so I can honour each in turn.
We’re only here through luck
so you might as well continue to play the odds
chance has brought you this far my friends
tonight I throw bones
because someday that’s all we’ll be
so make use of the body whilst we have it
drink, eat, gamble – all three ideally.
Live! play that game we’re all playing.
But listen: you can’t rely on the gods
especially one as fickle as Fortuna
so I’ll take precautions for myself
these dice, my friends
are not ordinary dice
no cheap bone for me
solid, beautiful ivory
who wouldn’t want to play with them?
Let me tell you a secret:
you wouldn’t want to play against them
I mean, sure, they look legitimate
but they’ll throw high every time
now they’re odds I like.