Under what withering leprous light The very grass as hair is grey, Grass in the cracks of the paven courts Of gods we graved but yesterday. Senate, republic, empire, all We leaned our backs on like a wall And blessed as stron as strong and blamed as stolid-- Can it be these that waver and fall? And what is this like a ghost returning, A dream grown strong in the strong daylight? The all-forsaken, the unforgotten, The ever-behind and out of sight. We turned our backs and our blind flesh felt it Growing and growing, a tower in height.
Ah, not alone the evil splendour And not the insolent arms alone Break with the ramrod, stiff and brittle, The sceptre of the nordic throne; But things of manlier renown Reel in the wreck of throne and crown, With tyrannous tyranny, tyrannous loyalty Tyrannous liberty, all gone down.
(There is never a crack in the ivory tower Or a hinge to groan in the house of gold Or a leaf of the rose in the wind to wither And she grows young as the world grows old. A Woman clothed with the sun returning to clothe the sun when the sun is cold.)
Ah, who had guessed that in a moment Great Liberty that loosed the tribes, the Republic of the young men's battles Grew stale and stank of old men's bribes; And where we watched her smile in power A statue like a starry tower the stone face sneers as in a nightmare Down on a world that worms devour. (Archaic incredible dead dawns breaking Deep in the deserts and waste and wealds, Where the dead cry aloud on Our Lady of Victories, Queen of the Eagles, aloft on the shields, And the sun is gone up on the Thundering Legion On the roads of Rome to the Battlefields.)
Ah, who had known who had not seen How soft and sudden on the fame Of my most noble English ships The sunset light of Carthage came And the thing I never had dreamed could be In the house of my fathers came to me Through the sea-wall cloven, the cloud and dark, A voice divided, a doubtful sea. (The light is bright on the Tower of David, The evening glows with the morning star In the skies turned back and the days returning She walks so near who had wandered far And in the heart of the swords, the seven times wounded, Was never wearied as our hearts are.)
How swift as with a fall of snow New things grow hoary with the light. We watch the wrinkles crawl like snakes On the new image in our sight. The lines that sprang up taut and bold Sag like primordial monsters old, Sink in the bas-reliers of fossil And the slow earth swallows them, fold on fold, But light are the feet on the hills of the morning Of the lambs that leap up to the Bride of the Sun, And swift are the birds as the butterflies flashing And sudden as laughter the rivulets run And sudden for ever as summer lightning the light is bright on the world begun.
Thou wilt not break as we have broken The towers we reared to rival Thee. More true to England than the English More just to freedom than the free. O trumpet of the intolerant truth Thou art more full of grace and ruth For the hopes of th world than the world that made them, The world that murdered the loves of our youth. Thou art more kind to our dreams, Our Mother, Than the wise that wove us the dreams for shade. God if more good to the gods that mocked Him Than men are good to the gods they made. Tenderer with toys than a boy grown brutal, Breaking the puppets with which he played.
What are the flowers the garden guards not And how but here should dreams return? And how on hearths made cold with ruin the wide wind-scattered ashes burn-- What is the home of the heart set free, And where is the nesting of liberty, And where from the world shall the world take shelter And man be matter, and not with Thee? Wisdom is set in her throne of thunder, The Mirror of Justice blinds the day-- Where are the towers that are not of the City, Trophies and trumpetings, where are they? Where over the maze of the world returning The bye-ways bend to the King's highway.