The road continues to the Rubicon,
While Caesar’s ghost in scarf and beret
Urges a cycle into history;
The fog receives him with a surly
Fall of derisive minor tears:
Far off, Ravenna disappears.
So much for setting; let us estimate
More closely now the goose who welcomes
Any and all beyond the barrier,
Unseen as yet, which he who still comes
Home to dear things worries at: ‘Sell
Before the pitiless poor rebel?’
Their wretched houses in a huddlement,
Like lost sheep flocked together stonily,
Stand off; from there the maddened trespassers
Have come and chanted atonally
And fought above a martyr’s bones,
While twelve sheep watched from small bright stones.
Pale goose at the door, white guardian,
Past whom the vandals, princes, bankers,
Cheats, connoisseurs, and commonality
Enter the ancient ship that anchored
Where Caesar’s stranded powers sank:
And all the walls but one are blank.
What do those saints in classic draperies
Make of the famished hearts that flutter
A sudden moment in the imperial
Twilight, like the sea birds which skitter
Between wide open windows? What
Frightened rebel are they staring at?
God, in the highest, as eternally,
Points to the circled Cross that centres
Also the local starving martyrdoms;
And pity like the white goose enters
Even the stone-cold common sense:
The terror of the poor relents.