Viroconium

Original Text: 
Poems and The Spring of Joy, intro. Walter de la Mare (London: Jonathan Cape, 1928): 53-4. PR 6045 .E2 A17 1929 . Cf. http://www3.shropshire-cc.gov.uk/webb.htm
2Still the ancient name rings on
3And brings, in the untrampled wheat,
4The tumult of a thousand feet.
5Where trumpets rang and men marched by,
6None passes but the dragon-fly.
7Athwart the grassy town, forlorn,
9The poppy standards droop and fall
10Above one rent and mournful wall:
11In every sunset-flame it burns,
12Yet towers unscathed when day returns.
13And still the breaking seas of grain
14Flow havenless across the plain:
15The years wash on, their spindrift leaps
16Where the old city, dreaming, sleeps.
17Grief lingers here, like mists that lie
18Across the dawns of ripe July;
19On capital and corridor
20The pathos of the conqueror.
21The pillars stand, with alien grace,
22In churches of a younger race;
23The chiselled column, black and rough,
24Becomes a roadside cattle-trough:
25The skulls of men who, right or wrong,
26Still wore the splendour of the strong,
27Are shepherds' lanterns now, and shield
28Their candles in the lambing field.
29But when, through evening's open door,
30Two lovers tread the broken floor,
31And the wild-apple petals fall
32Round passion's scarlet festival;
33When cuckoos call from the green gloom
35When foxes bark beside the gate,
36And the grey badger seeks his mate --
37There haunts within them secretly
38One that lives while empires die,
39A shrineless god whose songs abide
40Forever in the countryside.

Notes

1] Virocon: Roman city whose ruins stand at the Wroxeter, Shropshire. Back to Line
8] dor-beetle: black dung-beetle. Back to Line
34] shelving: sloping. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2004