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.
MORE POEMS BY JOHN MASEFIELD
|"Fragments" is reprinted from Poems of Today. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., 1921.