Ostia        


The brutal sunshine gives no light
    Except to weary eyes.
How can one see this market-place
    Save with a dead surprise?

Here fish were sold; here wine was drunk.
    The fish shop and the bar
Have changed as little as oneself
    After a long war.

One climbs the steps and thinks the thoughts
    Suggested by the fact
That other further flights are gone,
    But grateful for their lack.

A mutilated god surveys
    An atrium of air.
There worshipped by the tourists, who,
    Godless, greedy, stare.

The trees put back can give no shade
    At noon to one who reads
Augustine’s deep-cut marble words
    Above the rampant weeds.

Mother and son were here and saw
    Eternity stretch out
Beyond a window looking on
    The open docks of doubt.

And here she died and here he wept,
    And where they were is dust
Most carefully sifted - tears
    Causing bronze to rust.

Also the theatre. well rebuilt.
    Also the church, decayed;
And look, mosaic fish denote
    A stall where money stayed.

So many rooms with nothing there
    Such silence and such peace.
If that’s the word for absent life,
    For Rome as gone as Greece.

One moves away to eat and drink
    Among the better junk
A bar just like the one one saw.
    And the grain ships? All are sunk.