Defiled by Fate, the wondrous masonry,
All city dwellings diminished, the hand-
Wrought work of giants decayed. Bereft,
The roofs, once majestic; the gate unhinged;
The toppled towers, no longer mighty;
The crystalline mortar bright shines with hoar,
Ruined, all scarred, ev’rything undermined,
Rendered useless with the passage of time.
The noble builders have perished, choked by
The Earth’s stone grip, here no more, long since gone,
A hundred generations departed.
Dusted with lichen and stained, streaked with rust,
Outlasting kingdoms and kings and fierce
Driving storms, despite all, stands tall, the wall.
Strong-bodied, skilled men, resolute in mind;
They fortified the walls with hand-forged rods,
Framing them neatly together.
The city once shone bright with many fine
Public baths, lofty gables stretching skyward.
Great army’s noise below filled mead-halls
With rousing, until the cruel day that Fate
Came crashing down. Men fell, lay slaughtered all
About as the days of pestilence came,
All the brave were captured by death. Strongholds
Destroyed. The mighty architects and their
Sanctuaries tumbled toward the ground.
And then, in the way the structures decayed
Earthen-red tiles too, fast, fell earthward,
No longer gracing high-reaching domes.
The whole ruin pulverized into piles
Of stone. Here, ranks once stood, in days of old
Gleaming, bodies gilded and adorned, flushed
Faces toned from the fruit-of-the-vine,
Armor pouring forth brilliance, looking out
Upon vast treasures; abundant silver,
Valuable gems, bounteous wealth and realm,
The brightest city in this widespread kingdom.
Stone halls once stood where fervent water flowed
From the earth, the wall enveloping all,
Bath-pools there, hot at its heart; how fitting
That was. Hot streams then poured over blocked hoar
Into the circular hold, and hot;.............
There the baths were............., a regal thing, ............
.................this building ,..............this city.
(Copyright © Marcus S. Berndt, 2001)