So this is an end. Lean Duty
has eaten two poppets. I have not been fed, not even by
these madnesses. The city ground under my heel. I alone
am a city; and my walls are falling. I am becoming the sea.
Crash of waves. Our frail pods are leaved by this green blackness;
to be a farmer again: wheat rolling over bland hills
and the occasional sacrifice. This doe I give to thee, great Jove:
the gutted corpse thumps into the fire. My companions, my beloved wife,
dear Dido, on an altar I shall draw your blood. I am outcast, I drown
in your red sea. For my stiff father we box and run:
for a certain love we bore him. I bore him on my shoulders.
There is another under the waves now. I bore them
up to land, the sybil, who spoke. A scraggy branch in hand, I tread
amongst shades. Father, what do you show me? A certain spirit,
husbanded by the unrecognisable, turns away and will not speak to me.
Dido, I did not mean to love you...
A procession of those
to follow me, and there are many. None burn. One burns, in hell...
Flame is about me, without the cold heat of hell.
I have made my house in it. My clothes are flame,
and I think - oh, if you must speak, speak now, idiot!
I think that I may walk the recesses of my head.
Green-sickness carrion, the char-black flesh of battle.
These have been killed by us and are made a part of us.
Provision for the loved. There is one more rapt
troublesome doll, a key. Some would ignore true prophecy,
but die. The fires again, as nests catch and burn
beneath our bloodstained bronze. Breathe - there is nothing to
breathe, only the smoke and the butcher's scent. I hurt - it
hurts. What shows me this mist? My head pains me. The armies
march in my skull. And all for the hand of a woman, no Helen
or Aphrodite; still, I fight, as one must in these matters.
I have been given a shield by my mother. Look on it, oval
and bronze, the sun's disc, but embossed with the battles of the world.
See here, the bloodstained Hercules (and still I cannot
scrape it from the ruts) strangles, as a baby, serpents.
Or my own final victory, the bloody sword hanging,
a horror, above the hero's corpse. The shield will die,
rusting green in the foul runnels of Alba's black armoury;
and I shall be preserved, embalmed by the glib Gaul's verse.