though our longest sun sets at right declensions and

makes but winter arches,

it cannot be long before we lie down in darkness, and

have our light in ashes. . .

Browne, Urn Burial


Stones only, the disjecta membra of this Great House,

Whose moth-like girls are mixed with candledust,

Remain to file the lizard’s dragonish claws.

The mouths of those gate cherubs shriek with stain;

Axle and coach wheel silted under the muck

Of cattle droppings.

                 Three crows flap for the trees

And settle, creaking the eucalyptus boughs.

A smell of dead limes quickens in the nose

The leprosy of empire.

                  ‘Farewell, green fields,

                   Farewell, ye happy groves!’


Marble like Greece, like Faulkner’s South in stone,

Deciduous beauty prospered and is gone,

But where the lawn breaks in a rash of trees

A spade below dead leaves will ring the bone

Of some dead animal or human thing

Fallen from evil days, from evil times.


It seems that the original crops were limes

Grown in that silt that clogs the river’s skirt;

The imperious rakes are gone, their bright girls gone,

The river flows, obliterating hurt.

I climbed a wall with the grille ironwork

Of exiled craftsmen protecting that great house

From guilt, perhaps, but not from the worm’s rent

Nor from the padded calvary of the mouse.

And when a wind shook in the limes I heard

What Kipling heard, the death of a great empire, the


Of ignorance by Bible and by sword.


A green lawn, broken by low walls of stone,

Dipped to the rivulet, and pacing, I thought next

Of men like Hawkins, Walter Raleigh, Drake,

Ancestral murderers and poets, more perplexed

In memory now by every ulcerous crime.

The world’s green age then was rotting lime

Whose stench became the charnel galleon’s text.

The rot remains with us, the men are gone.

But, as dead ash is lifted in a wind

That fans the blackening ember of the mind,

My eyes burned from the ashen prose of Donne.


Ablaze with rage I thought,

Some slave is rotting in this manorial lake,

But still the coal of my compassion fought

That Albion too was once

A colony like ours, ‘part of the continent, piece of the 


Nook-shotten, rook o’erblown, deranged

By foaming channels and the vain expense

Of bitter faction.

                   All in compassion ends

So differently from what the heart arranged:

as well as if a manor of thy friend’s. . . ‘


Several links are to figures on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [You will need to use your UGA ID to access this database from off-campus. ]