Stone Age

 
How appropriate

All the marble of antiquity:

Parian, Pentelic marble;

Porphyry from beyond the Nile;

And the snowlike kind,

Carrara, lining the porticoes.

 

For men then

Lived in a state

Of imperial cold.

Summer was winter:

Even the Epicurean baths

Had arctic undertows.

 

The times were old,

Worn out,

Undone.

For most

Love was lust;

Truth, a form of doubt;

And there was a world-wide dearth

Of trust.

 

In those insulae of fear

Ten storeys high,

What followed death?

In those palaces along the Aventine

Did the banquet wreath

Signify?

Was it worth

More than brittle leaves

Or life lost?

 

The cults of Dionysus,

Isis -

Were they not a sign

Of the great cold

Which appalled

The Augustan age of gold?

 

In the brutal slum

Of the Subura,

In the glacial peristyles

Of Senatorial Rome,

How incandescent, then,

Would seem

The triumph of those men,

Patricians, plebs and slaves,

Who loved each other,

Following One

Who said: ‘I have come

To cast fire upon

The earth.’