Cincinnatus de Luna (for Neil Armstrong)

Cincinnatus was a Romans’ Roman. So the legend goes, he was made Dictator in a moment of crisis which he promptly solved and then immediately surrendered his title and returned to his farm despite legally having absolute power for another six months. George Washington was thinking of Cincinnatus when he stepped down from the Presidency after two terms. Neil Armstrong embodied this spirit of selfless service; he was living proof that the American Dream in its deepest expression is not the crass materialism and cheap fame  of the shallow babblers and self servers that surround us. Although the word ‘hero’ is all too often applied to the undeserving in the case of Neil Armstrong the word might be too small. I was sitting in a park on Saturday afternoon reading Alice in Wonderland when I heard the news and was glad that I was in such an idyllic place for I was immensely saddened. My condolences to his family and loved ones.


When he walked upon the Moon I was in my mother’s womb;
the conceit of the moment is all mine
but it was then that the human race set foot in a place
beyond which it could climb

Cincinnatus de Ohio flew across the void with his crew
navigating by stars and slide ruler
He brought the Eagle to land by his own sure hand
without the overloaded computer

As he prepared for his walk he knew he would talk
to the world with his first step
So he spent some time thinking up a first line
that he couldn’t forget

Then his foot on the ground his mouth made the sound
signifying mankind’s great step forward
leaving in the sky above the footprint of
Cincinnatus the scientist and explorer

One Response to “Cincinnatus de Luna (for Neil Armstrong)”

  1. Our family legend is that I was taking my first steps as Mom was watching him take his steps on the moon. Great poem, Winston; great comparison to Cincinnatus.

    Armstrong was a great man. We learn a bit about bravery and the ability to stay calm when the world is exploding around you when we read that his heart rate never went above 110 during the Apollo 11 launch. Hell, mine gets up towards 150 and I have to be sedated just to have an MRI! Imagine staying that calm with a large chemical explosion happening just short of 400 feet below you!

    Another thing that is important to me is his attitude that he was “just doing his job.” When I hear a firefighter, police officer, soldier. teacher, doctor or indeed any public servant use that phrase to downplay their great works of service, I know I am in the presence of a true hero.

    In his reporting of Armstrong’s death, NBC News’ Brian Williams pined that we will never have another hero like him. I disagree, it is not the heroes who have disappeared, it is our ability to appreciate them. Perhaps our memories of Neil Armstrong will rekindle that appreciation. If so, that would add another layer to his glorious legacy!

    -Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
    And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.


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