Anthony Weir

Rookie (13th September 1941)

Erech/Uruk - Iraq - Poem by Anthony Weir

We're told that writing was invented here:
lists of weapons, foodstuffs, kings, kinsmen,
laws and penalties.
Here lived the first Man-God, Gilgamesh.
Here children beg for ballpoint pens.
Here there is no fence around the ruins,
no turnstile, booklet, shop or guide.
Here there are no tourists, toilets, postcards
or Keep Off notices.
Here is the first city.
Here urban evil started
to gyre its tentacles across a world
which now it strangles.
Here was the New York and Washington
of seven thousand years ago -

the best of man is his ruins.

Not far away is Hamurabi's Babylon
whose ruins were so recently reconquered
by American Marines,
and turned into a huge base
with helipad and roads wide enough
for trucks, the shards of pottery
and threshing-floors
covered with hardcore and gravel
dug up from elsewhere.

The best of man is his ruins.

Comments about Erech/Uruk - Iraq by Anthony Weir

  • (4/23/2006 6:31:00 AM)

    Powerful and chilling. Makes me think of Shelley's Ozymandias: '...Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/The lone and level sands stretch far away.' (Report) Reply

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  • Lawrence Beck (4/23/2006 5:43:00 AM)

    This is a fine, spare, melodic poem. (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, April 23, 2006

Poem Edited: Monday, April 24, 2006

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