Palmyra

 
Almost for a moment

The total city looms.

The colonnades and temples

Beyond the roadside tombs,

Like time extend away,

Below a moon so vast

It might be meant for day.

 

Coldly the light imperils

The present, seems to cast

Up all the quarried quarters.

The merchants’ marble dust

Resumes their naked pride.

And where the arches spring

Are palaces inside.

 

The silence is uncertain.

A moment, and they sing

Along the temple terrace;

The silver sistra ring

Within the courts; and where

The moonlight falters, sound

Flutes on the desert air.

 

The coruscade of chariots

Batters the stolid ground.

The soldiers stamp imperially

As the tall princes cry around

Zenobia victrix of Rome.

The trumpets, braying, hurl

Echoes from dome to dome.

 

This palmy splendour wavers.

The miles of columns furl

Themselves in shadow, leaving

Their city lost. The pearl

Tinged moon, untethered, floats

Over the Arab castle

That guards the wandering goats.