The Talk of far-off Forums
Some cities were built on solid rock,
Some cities were built on marsh,
Some cities were built on shifting sands,
Or fault-lines sleeping in filigree strands –
And some cities brought their own earthshock
By building themselves in wilderness harsh,
Or building themselves on the very lands
That other tribes sought in their conquering hands.
But no matter how long ago,
And no matter how brute their overthrow,
And no matter how the northwinds blow –
Not all their dust shall dissipate
Upon the breezes’ sarabands –
For all a city’s kiss-of-fate,
A glimpse remains, a trace withstands.
Through their footings bared and carvings old,
Through their buried pot and coins of gold,
And through their ev’ry mention in the tellers’ tales still told.
Some cities were held in high esteem,
Some cities were held in spite,
Some cities were held as shining states
To journeymen seeking their golden gates –
And some cities gave a lustrous gleam
That prophets implored their gods to smite,
That preachers condemned with envious hates
As other men praised for their glorious freights.
Ambition or apocalypse,
Each name upon their distant lips
As the place where sin and fortune grips –
The place, the home of orgies grand,
The nest of countless sirens’ baits,
Where ev’ry taste it shall command,
As ev’ry thirst it satiates.
Through their legends past and heroes bold,
Through their poets’ songs and glamours sold,
And still their very mention breathes them life that we behold.