For the New Railway Station in


Those who said God is praised

By hurt pillars, who loved to see our brazen lust

Lie down in rubble, and our vaunting arches

Conduce to dust;

Those who with short shadows

Poked through the stubbled forum pondering on decline,

And would not take the sun standing at noon

For a good sign;

Those pilgrims of defeat

Who brought their injured wills as to a soldiers’ home;

Dig them all up now, tell them there’s something new

To see in Rome.

See, from the travertine

Face of the office block, the roof of the booking-hall

Sails out into the air beside the ruined

Servian Wall,

Echoing in its light

And cantilevered swoop of reinforced concrete

The broken profile of these stones, defeating

That defeat

And straying the strummed mind,

By such a sudden chord as raised the town of Troy,

To where the least shard of the world sings out

In stubborn joy,

“What city is eternal

But that which prints itself within the groping head

Out of the blue unbroken reveries

Of the building dead?

“What is our praise or pride

But to imagine excellence, and try to make it?

What does it say over the door of Heaven

But homo fecit?”

– Richard Wilbur. Things of This World. Harcourt Brace, 1956.


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