Saturday, 28 July 2018


This was one of those peculiar poems which started on another track and then went off down its own path. It was going to be a variant of "The Road Less Travelled" and then become a kind of alternative timeline poem. I wasn't sure what the city was - an old city, and I had various names in mind - Babylon, Jerusalem, London, Rome, Tanelorn - but in the end I left it unknown, for any city you care to imagine.

The pattern of stanzas, by the way, follows a well known hymn - "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken", and to some extent it is a dark mirror of that hymn, a prophetic blast against triumphalism.


Listen, the softest word is spoken
Of a turning on that other road
Crumbling, fragmented, broken
To ruins desolate, lost abode

Once a mighty empire founded
Of peace, calm and sweet repose
Until one say it came surrounded
Army of fell warriors, deadly foes

Time has flown away like waters
Wearing away in river’s groove
Generations, all sons and daughters
Time comes take, to all remove

The once mighty flowing river
Dry banks, and thirst to assuage
Once was life, now death the giver
Falling, breaking, every age

Fleeting clouds, white and hovering
Thunder, cloud, and fire appear
In their glory, in their covering
Change and decay is very near

Armies marching under banner
Light by night and shade by day,
On to fight, so cold their manner
Footsteps on destructions way

Now besieged, eternal city
Dancing in the burning flame
Crying out for desperate pity
Glory falling in her name

Reflections are the saddest pleasures,
Of all past city’s pomp and show;
Justice, peace are lasting treasures
That is truth that all should know.

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