Secret History

After reading the Diaries of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

Riderless horses galloping onwards,

Above the flashing cities come to grief;

And where the nobles counted in their hoards,

A solitary aged bandit-chief

Waters his dogs. The river towers stand

Abandoned in the new-made desert. All

The vaulted banking places fill with sand;

And from the conqueror’s tombs the jackals call.


Alone in the late Edwardian afternoon,

You watched the wolves at work among the roses;

And, as the darkness lowered, heard the tune

Whistled by legions leaving the cathedral closes.


Laughter at sunset, when you would forestall

Night and the Saxon ships’ silent landfall.