Delos

By

Abandonment is written on the bones Of Appolo's birthplace. What more disconsolate Than a set of roadways leading to nothing? For what Are these seven noble lions waiting, Carved from white Naxian marble, stretched Like a reviewing line along the border, Earless and eyeless from long wind and rain? Why this odd feeling of expectancy? The air, fine-grained with brightness, policies With a lost glory all the lavish wreck Of what was here. Bewitched, in readiness -- That's what one is struck by -- the long quiescence Not of a spot abandoned and deserted But of an infinitely patient waiting, As if some promise left here held a power Centuries of desertion could not break. An air almost festive haunts the deserted courtyards, Dolphins in graceful titles, a lion Escaped from a dream, sea-gods and goddesses Tritons and shells and leaping water-monsters, A gate ajar, as if its expected someone, Shells, flowers, fruit, spelled out in fine mosaic. Almost you hear the fountains begin to play, Almost you hear light footfalls in the garden. A marble foot from a long-vanished body Stands planted vast and perfect as a star -- The foot of a god, who could walk from island to island As if on stepping-stones. Swift-flowering in his prints Came spring -- and never such another, When a god lived here, and earth and sea were young And shone together in the morning light -- All other springs were copies of this first

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