The Fall of Rome


(for Cyril Connolly)The piers are pummelled by the waves;

In a lonely field the

Lashes an abandoned train;

Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns;

Agents of the Fisc

Absconding tax-defaulters

The sewers of provincial towns.

Private rites of magic

The temple prostitutes to sleep;

All the literati

An imaginary friend.

Cerebrotonic Cato

Extol the Ancient Disciplines,

But the muscle-bound

Mutiny for food and pay.

Caesar's double-bed is

As an unimportant

Writes I DO

OT

KE MY

On a pink official form.

Unendowed with wealth or pity,

Little birds with scarlet legs,

Sitting on their speckled eggs,

Eye each flu-infected city.

Altogether elsewhere,

Herds of reindeer move

Miles and miles of golden moss,

Silently and very fast.

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