Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CITIES OF ELD, by RICHARD EUGENE BURTON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CITIES OF ELD, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: In the orient uplands afar
Last Line: And even their gods unknown.
Subject(s): Asia; Cities; Dancing & Dancers; Fate; Life; Love; Soul; Far East; East Asia; Orient; Urban Life; Destiny

IN the Orient uplands afar,
Beyond the roof of the world,
Strange buried cities are,
Where over the winds have whirled
And the Sky's black stormings swirled
For century-sweeps of time.
They lie deep in their slime,
Or frore in their ancient shroud,
Careless of clear or cloud, --
But dimly imagined of man.

There once the opulent East,
With sumptuous caravan
And blithe bazaar and feast,
Rejoiced in the gifts of life;
And love allured, and strife
Was wine to the conquering strong.
There women with ardent eyes
Drew souls to sacrifice,
And the day of work seemed long
Till it brought the night of rest,
When the instruments of the dance
Made the hours a happy trance;
And jewels were thrown to the best
In wit or story or song.

The silver of temple bells
Clove through the sunset gold,
Or else, in these cities old,
Called the early to prayer,
When the swart, unhurrying throng
Paced to their altars there;
The splendid pillars upsoared,
Circled with painted scenes
From the midst of the forest greens;
And marbled fountains plashed
And swords processional flashed,
When the gaping crowds stood fast,
Beholding some mighty lord
Go by, with his pomp of state.

Alas, for the fall of fate!
Look! there is nothing there;
Listen! no sound is heard,
Save haply a vagrant bird
Or a wind-wail, or the blare
Of merchandise, no mirth,
No lyric word of love;
Great, savage seams of earth
Cover the marks thereof.
'Tis only but now and then
That venturesome modern men
Set forth on a hard-won quest
From the fresher world of the West,
To stand in that silent Vast
And remember them of the Past.
'Tis scarcely more than a dream,
This olden worship and lust,
This fragrance smothered in rust,
This beauty of transient gleam;
A symphony sunk to a moan,
A famine after a feast;
The most are like to the least;
The towers are razed, are prone,
Yea, all of the folk are dust
And even their gods unknown.

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