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Louise Imogen Guiney (Луиза Имоджен Гвини)

Romans in Dorset

    To A. B.

A stupor on the heath,
And wrath along the sky;
Space everywhere; beneath,
The flat and treeless wold for us, with darkest noon on high.

Sullen quiet below,
But storm in upper air!
A wind from long ago,
In mouldy chambers of the cloud, had ripped an arras there,

And singed the triple gloom,
And let through, in a flame,
Crowned faces of old Rome:
Regnant, o’er Rome’s abandoned ground, processional they came.

Uprisen like any sun,
Through vistas hollow gray,
Aloft, and one by one,
In brazen casque, the Emperors loomed large, and sank away.

In ovals of wan light,
Each warrior eye and mouth:
A pageant brutal bright,
As if, once over, loudly passed Jove’s laughter in the south;

And dimmer, these among,
Some cameo’d head aloof,
With ringlets heavy-hung,
As golden stone-crop comely grows around the castle roof.

An instant; gusts again,
Then heaven’s impacted wall,
The hot insistent rain,
The thunder-shock: and of the Past, mirage no more at all.

No more the alien dream
Pursuing, as we went,
With glory’s cursèd gleam;
Nor sins of Cæsar’s ruined line engulphed us, innocent.

The vision, great and dread,
Corroded; sole in view
Was empty Egdon spread,
Her crimson summer weeds a-shake in tempest: but we knew

What Tacitus had borne
In that wrecked world we saw;
And what, thine heart uptorn,
My Juvenal! distraught with love of violated Law.

Louise Imogen Guiney's other poems:
  1. Changes in the Temple
  2. Writ in my Lord Clarendon’s “History of the Rebellion”
  3. A December Walk
  4. On Leaving Winchester
  5. On First Entering Westminster Abbey

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