A Short Course in Stoicism

The stoic says the universe
Is leagued to try the sage’s virtue.
If evil smites you, look for worse,
And if it hurts you, let it hurt you.

Let Nature, with its crowd of woes,
In vain endeavor to defeat us;
Impassive, let us bear its blows
Like Seneca and Epictetus.

I met a stoic in a bar
Who argued much for resignation.
He pushed the stoic faith so far
That he proposed a demonstration.

I’m tough,” he said, “and I defy
Fate’s angry effort to provoke me.
I’ll take a breath, and any guy
Can hit me. Step right up and poke me!”

But no one present wanted much
A demonstration so heroic.
Fell circumstance refused to clutch.
I never saw a madder stoic.

— Morris Bishop, The New Yorker