For how long now have we not nibbled
At the immediate past in this fashion, words,
Regretting our ignoble faculty of failing,
Slipping between whose fingers?
Melting between whose lips?
The disabused ruins of history’s many
Many costumes we discarded.
The little shop has been pulled down
Where we bought stamps, tobacco, Easter ribbons.
A sort of little face now uprooted which
Once determined a whole order of joy,
Ruled over a pulse-rate, made so imperative
And magical the re-reading of a forgotten epic.
How everything in nature diminished
Or increased when it simply spoke!
We did not spot the scaffolding of bone
Until the last winter, the immense despondency
Once more gained full control, the immense despondency.
Old walls wrinkle into dust, windows
Poked out to render sightless
A city loyal to those handsome minds,
Her squares and parks designed for someone’s loving.
The masons’ picks have touched with their derision,
Unspare the whitewash of the old disorders,
Say what you like it’s gone.
One blow can shatter the heroic vision.