Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
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Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
 
The Ballade of Dead Cities
By Edmund Gosse
 
WHERE are the cities of the plain?
  And where the shrines of rapt Bethel?
And Calah built of Tubal-Cain?
  And Shinar whence King Amraphel
Came out in arms and fought, and fell,        5
  Decoyed into the pits of slime
By Siddim and sent sheer to hell;
  Where are the cities of old time?
 
Where now is Karnak, that great fane,
  With granite built, a miracle?        10
And Luxor smooth without a stain,
  Whose graven scripture still we spell?
The jackal and the owl may tell;
  Dark snakes around their ruins climb,
They fade like echo in a shell;        15
  Where are the cities of old time?
 
And where is white Shushan, again,
  Where Vashti’s beauty bore the bell,
And all the Jewish oil and grain
  Were brought to Mithridath to sell,        20
Where Nehemiah would not dwell,
  Because another town sublime
Decoyed him with her oracle?
  Where are the cities of old time?
 
Envoi
Prince, with a dolorous, ceaseless knell,
        25
  Above their wasted toil and crime
The waters of oblivion swell:
  Where are the cities of old time?
 
 
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