January 7, 2007

"brought from the springs of the Nile..."


This was a city once, that’s now a copse
Of lusty privet: she had twice five years
Of war and killing and the destroyer, fire.
She bore great chieftains once: hazelnuts now.
It bewilders her, crouching there with her doomed head low,
To see a wood has grown out of her: how the corn
Grows yellow about Priam’s judgement seat,
And cattle dung where Hecuba suckled kings.
Men lived in her houses once, that were sweet with Syrian nard,
They house the tiger now and the deadly snake...

Alas, what war can do! The delicate column
Lies broken, and in Jove’s shrine
Is bedded here a sheep, and yonder a kid.
The ground is shaggy with rushes and thistles and briars,
And stumps of trees and thorns and wild growing thyme.
And the heart turns sick to look on her squalor
That once rayed out like the sun with jewels and bronze,
Topaz, emerald, onyx, sard,
That Trojan victories brought from the springs of the Nile,
Now shabby in the dust...

O Troy, enough! When I remember thee,
Remember thy beginning and thy end,
I cannot hold my weeping,
Until in mercy comes the night for sleeping.

    -- Hugh Priams of Orleans (c1094 - 1160)
    translated by Helen Waddell
Posted by John Weidner at January 7, 2007 6:40 AM
Weblog by John Weidner