Ship-building emperors commanded
these night-obscuring giant beams,
with open-work like ribs defended
what is from what merely seems,
among those timbers old
the young sea-captains sailed.
Storms of a classical illusion
broke open, bit by bit, the mind
in oceans where a bleak confusion
on a ruined shore has left behind
dead Plato, litter of broken wood,
redefining moral good.
Some broken stone, sublimely quiet
poses against an open sky,
(the subject populations riot,
the discipline of the troops is high),
now in the officers’ mess
they mention happiness.
And young men in romantic places
curbing an adolescent rage
reform the lines of their cold faces
in a dead father’s still image,