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Thomas Hardy

(2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928 / Dorchester / England)

Aquae Sulis


The chimes called midnight, just at interlune,
And the daytime talk on the Roman investigations
Was checked by silence, save for the husky tune
The bubbling waters played near the excavations.


And a warm air came up from underground,
And a flutter, as of a filmy shape unsepulchred,
That collected itself, and waited, and looked around:
Nothing was seen, but utterances could be heard:


Those of the goddess whose shrine was beneath the pile
Of the God with the baldachined altar overhead:
'And what did you get by raising this nave and aisle
Close on the site of the temple I tenanted?


'The notes of your organ have thrilled down out of view
To the earth-clogged wrecks of my edifice many a year,
Though stately and shining once - ay, long ere you
Had set up crucifix and candle here.


'Your priests have trampled the dust of mine without rueing,
Despising the joys of man whom I so much loved,
Though my springs boil on by your Gothic arcades and pewing,
And sculptures crude…. Would Jove they could be removed!'


' - Repress, O lady proud, your traditional ires;
You know not by what a frail thread we equally hang;
It is said we are images both - twitched by peoples desires;
And that I, as you, fail as a song that men time agone sang!' . . . . . . .

And the olden dark hid the cavities late laid bare,
And all was suspended and soundless as before,
Except for a gossamery noise fading off in the air,
And the boiling voice of the waters' medicinal pour.

Submitted: Saturday, April 10, 2010

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