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Poetry: History


Deep in the forest, the legions are lost.
The clamour of armour and brass,
the joyful perfection of youth and geometry,
of order and open space, is muffled beneath
the obscure chaos of indifferent branches
and enveloping gloom:      deep in the forest,
the legions are lost.

                       How young we were,
and glorious, when in the full sun of
Roman days, we sought an Empire of Reason,
rather than a reason for Empire.
How old we are now, with arms too leaden
to embrace either a man or an ideal.

The forest is inscrutable, and whispers
the foreign words of wind through insensible leaves.
An occasional messenger, lame and thin,
brings news of battles, but in another place,
sometime already past.

                           His eyes are filled
with shadows.  He says little we do not already
know:    deep in the forest, the legions are lost.
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