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Poetry: History

 

We live among trees.  Our Kings
kept amber palaces, with
retinues of soldiers, and of
naked boys.  For them, it was warm.
Their garments were light, the fields
yielded twofold harvests.  We were
a warrior race, and that remains.

Look northward:   we will come
from the forests.

Remember what we teach: all gods
are cruel.  We kept a calendar,
sacrificed promptly to all: the sea,
the seasons, and the sun.  Our priests
wore blue cloaks: we paid them heed.

It was not enough.  Without omen,
except the merest trembling of
the sacred grove, the water came.

No one in the ports remained.
No one in the palaces escaped.  First,
they were there: we heard the screaming.
Then, they were not.  Only  a vast and
grey ocean, unbroken by tower or tree.

This curse we carry with us:
the angry sea, the cold sky, bare rock.
Our swords conspire against civilised
peoples: our armies lay waste
the temples of cruel gods.  Southward,
we have heard, the vines grow
thick as oak trees. Southward,
the cities are rich with boys.
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