Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles,
       Miles and miles
   On the solitary pastures where our sheep
   Tinkle homeward thro' the twilight, stray or stop
       As they crop--
   Was the site once of a city great and gay,
       (So they say)
   Of our country's very capital, its prince
       Ages since
   Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far
       Peace or war.

   Now the country does not even boast a tree,
       As you see,
   To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rills
       From the hills
   Intersect and give a name to, (else they run
       Into one)
   Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires
       Up like fires
   O'er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall
       Bounding all
   Made of marble, men might march on nor be prest
       Twelve abreast.

   And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass
       Never was!
   Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o'er-spreads
       And embeds
   Every vestige of the city, guessed alone,
       Stock or stone--
   Where a multitude of men breathed joy and woe
       Long ago; 
   Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame
       Struck them tame;
   And that glory and that shame alike, the gold
       Bought and sold.

   Now--the single little turret that remains
       On the plains,
   By the caper overrooted, by the gourd
   While the patching houseleek's head of blossom winks
       Through the chinks--
   Marks the basement whence a tower in ancient time
       Sprang sublime,
   And a burning ring, all round, the chariots traced
       As they raced,
   And the monarch and his minions and his dames
       Viewed the games.

   And I know, while thus the quiet-coloured eve
       Smiles to leave
   To their folding, all our many-tinkling fleece
       In such peace,
   And the slopes and rills in undistinguished grey
       Melt away--
   That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair
       Waits me there
   In the turret whence the charioteers caught soul
       For the goal,
   When the king looked, where she looks now, breathless, numb
       Till I come.

   But he looked upon the city, every side,
       Far and wide,
   All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades'
   All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts,--and then
       All the men!
   When I do come, she will speak not, she will stand,
       Either hand
   On my shoulder, give her eyes the first embrace
       Of my face,
   Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech
       Each on each.

   In one year they sent a million fighters forth
       South and North,
   And they built their gods a brazen pillar high
       As the sky
   Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force--
       Gold, of course.
   O heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
       Earth's returns
   For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
       Shut them in,
   With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
       Love is best. 

- Robert Browning

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