Museum Thoughts
Portrait of a Lady (c. 75 AD)

Julia to the barber went
And got herself a permanent.
Since the perm was unsurpassed,
“Fine,” she said, “but will it last?”

(I approximate the sense
of “estne vere permanens?”)
Then the vehement coiffeur,
Warmly reassuring her,
Guaranteed with confidence
The permanence of permanents.

Rome is gone and all her pride,
Still the dainty curls abide.
Venus, Mars and Jove are dead,
Still remains the lovely head.

Let a thousand years go by,
Let our gods and empires die,
Time will never set a term
To the life of Julia’s perm.
Mundo semper erit gratus
Iste capitis ornatus.

Morris Bishop
copyright 1953 The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.