John Masefield, Poems (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1945): 62-64.
1Troy Town is covered up with weeds,
2 The rabbits and the pismires brood
3On broken gold, and shards, and beads
4 Where Priam's ancient palace stood.
5The floors of many a gallant house
6 Are matted with the roots of grass;
7The glow-worm and the nimble mouse
8 Among her ruins flit and pass.
9And there, in orts of blackened bone,
10 The widowed Trojan beauties lie,
11And Simois babbles over stone
12 And waps and gurgles to the sky.
13Once there were merry days in Troy,
14 Her chimneys smoked with cooking meals,
15The passing chariots did annoy
16 The sunning housewives at their wheels.
17And many a lovely Trojan maid
18 Set Trojan lads to lovely things;
19The game of life was nobly played,
20 They played the game like Queens and Kings.
21So that, when Troy had greatly passed
22 In one red roaring fiery coal,
23The courts the Grecians overcast
24 Became a city in the soul.
25In some green island of the sea,
26 Where now the shadowy coral grows
27In pride and pomp and empery
28 The courts of old Atlantis rose.
29In many a glittering house of glass
30 The Atlanteans wandered there;
31The paleness of their faces was
32 Like ivory, so pale they were.
33And hushed they were, no noise of words
34 In those bright cities ever rang;
35Only their thoughts, like golden birds,
36 About their chambers thrilled and sang.
37They knew all wisdom, for they knew
38 The souls of those Egyptian Kings
39Who learned, in ancient Babilu,
40 The beauty of immortal things.
41They knew all beauty---when they thought
42 The air chimed like a stricken lyre,
43The elemental birds were wrought,
44 The golden birds became a fire.
45And straight to busy camps and marts
46 The singing flames were swiftly gone;
47The trembling leaves of human hearts
48 Hid boughs for them to perch upon.
49And men in desert places, men
50 Abandoned, broken, sick with fears,
51Rose singing, swung their swords agen,
52 And laughed and died among the spears.
53The green and greedy seas have drowned
54 That city's glittering walls and towers,
55Her sunken minarets are crowned
56 With red and russet water-flowers.
57In towers and rooms and golden courts
58 The shadowy coral lifts her sprays;
59The scrawl hath gorged her broken orts,
60 The shark doth haunt her hidden ways.
61But, at the falling of the tide,
62 The golden birds still sing and gleam.
63The Atlanteans have not died,
64 Immortal things still give us dream.
65The dream that fires man's heart to make,
66 To build, to do, to sing or say
67A beauty Death can never take,
68 An Adam from the crumbled clay.
Publication Start Year:
The Poems and Plays of John Masefield (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1918).
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh