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
covered with hardcore and gravel
dug up from elsewhere.
The best of man is his ruins.
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