by: John Masefield (1878-1967)

      ROY TOWN is covered up with weeds,
      The rabbits and the pismires brood
      On broken gold, and shards, and beads
      Where Priam's ancient palace stood.

      The floors of many a gallant house
      Are matted with the roots of grass;
      The glow-worm and the nimble mouse
      Among her ruins flit and pass.

      And there, in orts of blackened bone,
      The widowed Trojan beauties lie,
      And Simois babbles over stone
      And waps and gurgles to the sky.

      Once there were merry days in Troy,
      Her chimneys smoked with cooking meals,
      The passing chariots did annoy
      The sunning housewives at their wheels.

      And many a lovely Trojan maid
      Set Trojan lads to lovely things;
      The game of life was nobly played,
      They played the game like Queens and Kings.

      So that, when Troy had greatly passed
      In one red roaring fiery coal,
      The courts the Grecians overcast
      Became a city in the soul.

      In some green island of the sea,
      Where now the shadowy coral grows
      In pride and pomp and empery
      The courts of old Atlantis rose.

      In many a glittering house of glass
      The Atlanteans wandered there;
      The paleness of their faces was
      Like ivory, so pale they were.

      And hushed they were, no noise of words
      In those bright cities ever rang;
      Only their thoughts, like golden birds,
      About their chambers thrilled and sang.

      They knew all wisdom, for they knew
      The souls of those Egyptian Kings
      Who learned, in ancient Babilu,
      The beauty of immortal things.

      They knew all beauty -- when they thought
      The air chimed like a stricken lyre,
      The elemental birds were wrought,
      The golden birds became a fire.

      And straight to busy camps and marts
      The singing flames were swiftly gone;
      The trembling leaves of human hearts
      Hid boughs for them to perch upon.

      And men in desert places, men
      Abandoned, broken, sick with fears,
      Rose singing, swung their swords agen,
      And laughed and died among the spears.

      The green and greedy seas have drowned
      That city's glittering walls and towers,
      Her sunken minarets are crowned
      With red and russet water-flowers.

      In towers and rooms and golden courts
      The shadowy coral lifts her sprays;
      The scrawl hath gorged her broken orts,
      The shark doth haunt her hidden ways.

      But, at the falling of the tide,
      The golden birds still sing and gleam,
      The Atlanteans have not died,
      Immortal things still give us dream.

      The dream that fires man's heart to make,
      To build, to do, to sing or say
      A beauty Death can never take,
      An Adam from the crumbled clay.

"Fragments" is reprinted from Poems of Today. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., 1921.




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