It is a Roman wall,
Left-over and forgotten.
Beyond the Cathedral Close
Yelp and mutter the discontents of people not mellow,
People who care more for bread than for beauty,
Who would break the tombs of saints,
And give the painted windows of churches
To their children for toys.
People who say:
"They are dead, we live!
The world is for the living."
Fools! It is always the dead who breed.
Crush the ripe fruit, and cast it aside,
Yet its seeds shall fructify,
And trees rise where your huts were standing.
But the little people are ignorant,
They chaffer, and swarm.
They gnaw like rats,
And the foundations of the Cathedral are honeycombed.
The Dean is in the Chapter House;
He is reading the architect's bill
For the completed restoration of the Cathedral.
He will have ripe gooseberries for supper,
And then he will walk up and down the path
By the wall,
And admire the snapdragons and dahlias,
Thinking how quiet and peaceful
The garden is.
The old wall will watch him,
Very quietly and patiently it will watch.
For the wall is old,
It is a Roman wall.
Spread on the roadway,
With open-blown jackets,
Like black, soaring pinions,
They swoop down the hillside,
Birds, after carrion,
Careening and circling,
Over the dying
She lies with her bosom
Beneath them, no longer
The Dominant Mother,
The Virile--but rotting
The smell of her, tainted,
Has bitten their nostrils.
Exultant they hover,
And shadow the sun with
Sunshine through a Cobwebbed Window
What charm is yours, you faded old-world tapestries,
Of outworn, childish mysteries,
Vague pageants woven on a web of dream!
And we, pushing and fighting in the turbid stream
Of modern life, find solace in your tarnished broideries.
Old lichened halls, sun-shaded by huge cedar-trees,
The layered branches horizontal stretched, like Japanese
Dark-banded prints. Carven cathedrals, on a sky
Of faintest colour, where the gothic spires fly
And sway like masts, against a shifting breeze.
Worm-eaten pages, clasped in old brown vellum, shrunk
From over-handling, by some anxious monk.
Or Virgin's Hours, bright with gold and graven
With flowers, and rare birds, and all the Saints of Heaven,
And Noah's ark stuck on Ararat, when all the world had sunk.
They soothe us like a song, heard in a garden, sung
By youthful minstrels, on the moonlight flung
In cadences and falls, to ease a queen,
Widowed and childless, cowering in a screenDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>