The royal word goes forth, and armies do
The work of devils. Agony and waste
Are on the world, and the grim legions haste
Untouched by crimson or by gold,
Its pure and fleeting marble rose
Beyond the wall of eastern snows —
Ethereal, Pentelic, cold.
Far up the mountain-side today
The slopes are baked and hot;
I find no shade upon my way,
And water-springs are not.
Aloof upon the day's immeasured dome,
He holds unshared the silence of the sky.
Far down his bleak, relentless eyes descry
The eagle's empire and the falcon's home --
Slowly among the wounded and the slain
The gleaners take the harvest of the kings,
But harvest-song no joyous maiden sings,
Mother, in some sad evening long ago,
From thy young breast my groping lips were taken,
Their hunger stilled, so soon again to waken,
But nevermore that holy food to know.
The children of the flesh of men,
They pass from night to night;
They weep and laugh and labor, then
Are lost to human sight.
Cast round me now your arms' cool wreath of white
Forget the day's far wakening, and lie
More close! Without, the weary world goes by,
There seems no wind in all the land.
Austere against the fading light
I see a lonely cypress stand,
As carved from steel and malachite.
Eve, and the stainèd pinions of the day,
Far-sinking as an eagle to her nest
On some encrimsoned isle beyond the West.