Rome in the Jubilee (1950)        

The Goths in all the bars are drinking

Bourbon and soda, Danish beer;

The Dalai Lama’s legate, blinking

Before the monsignori, assays

His ounce or two of charm; and near

As near can be, the Jesuits, thinking

Vast majestic thoughts, and ways

And means and ends, contrive a mere

Amendment to the rite of Travancore.


At Ara Coeli they are singing

Despite their years of ignorance,

Are asking mercy on the ringing,

Names of those who knew too much;

And half an age away, a glance

Brings cardinals to the airport, flinging

Aside the world; and there is such

A fast car everywhere, and chance

Of meeting saints alive or under glass.


O Rome, concentrix of the trains,

Whether of watered silk or steel,

The domed pendentive sky contains

Both sun and moon together, holds,

O martyr city, ancient, real,

Time and the dawning world, explains

The bishops in their whites and golds

To one another as they kneel,

And signifies, O Rome, the will of Heaven.