Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ballade of Dead Cities. To E. W. Gosse

Syrian dead city. By Bo Lovschall

The ballade was an old French form of verse in France, revived by Theodore de Banville, and restored to an England which had long forgotten the Middle Ages, by Mr. Austin Dobson and Mr. Edmund Gosse. They were the first to reintroduce these pleasant old French nugae, while an anonymous author let loose upon the town a whole winged flock of ballades of amazing dexterity.

The dust of Carthage and the dust
Of Babel on the desert wold,
The loves of Corinth, and the lust,
Orchomenos increased with gold;
The town of Jason, over-bold,
And Cherson, smitten in her prime -
What are they but a dream half-told?
Where are the cities of old time?

In towns that were a kingdom's trust,
In dim Atlantic forests' fold,
The marble wasteth to a crust,
The granite crumbles into mould;
O'er these--left nameless from of old -
As over Shinar's brick and slime,
One vast forgetfulness is roll'd -
Where are the cities of old time?

The lapse of ages, and the rust,
The fire, the frost, the waters cold,
Efface the evil and the just;
From Thebes, that Eriphyle sold,
To drown'd Caer-Is, whose sweet bells toll'd
Beneath the wave a dreamy chime
That echo'd from the mountain-hold, -
"Where are the cities of old time?"


Prince, all thy towns and cities must
Decay as these, till all their crime,
And mirth, and wealth, and toil are thrust
Where are the cities of old time.

Reference: from the 1911 Longmans, Green and Co. Ballads in Blue China and Verses and Translations. By Andrew Lang

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