Petrarch read it, lent it, lost it,
And it has never since been seen:
Word upon word, in flights
Of sentences, flung down,
Diminished, ruined, gone -
Work of those Roman summer nights.
What did that climber know of glory?
Nothing until he died,
Dispatched by soldiers jeering
Of an austere
Patron of art, since deified.
Words, words, nothing but perfect words
Wrung from the darkness, told to slaves:
‘Let the poet know that fame is . . .’
Lost, lost, the glory game is
Up - but somewhere in vellum caves
Words wait for Petrarch again.