Elegy; The Always Coming On; Two Meditations on Stone; Love’s Shadow; Quarant’anni fa

Two Meditations on Stone

for Donald Davie, i.m.

I. Montreux

And there beyond the tended paths
And flower borders shadowed by the lamps
Of white magnolia, pear, camellia, plum,
Beyond the grand hotels and chocolate shops,

Across the lake, the Gods.
Silent, near, their hair marbled with snow,
The Gods stare downward as if lost in thought,
But what their judgments are, we never know.
II. Rome

There it stands, the Pantheon,
The same as ever: shallow dome,
Pillars shouldering the pediment
Which for millennia declared
Agrippa fecit. So
Stand the Colosseum,
Titus’ Arch and Constantine’s,
The Wall Aurelian raised:
Waiting, it seems, for us
When we return at last.

But look at those blank faces,
The eyeless brow, the hand,
The flank, the granite ledge.
Though we recall each splendid
Ostinato, what they stood for
Fifty years ago, or
Twenty centuries, our great
Progenitors in stone
Cannot remember us,
Or chasten, or forget.