8/2/14

Poem: The Buried City

You that go forth on the buried cities,
  Whose witchcraft holds the withered kings together,
Seals up the very air of ancient seasons,
  Like secret skies walled up from the world’s weather.
You that dig up towns—arise and strive:
Strike through the slums and save the towns alive!

Dig London out of London; pierce the cavern
  Where Manchester lies lost in Manchester.
You that re-chart the choked-up squares and markets,
  Retrace the plan our blindness made a blur:
Until a name no more, but wide and tall,
Arise and shine the shield of London Wall.

Strike you the stones of these most desert places,
  Huge warehouses the lonely watchmen tread,
Where ringed in noise the hollow heart of London
  Lies all night long a city of the dead.
Or does One watch high o’er this maze that sprawls,
High on the varnished spire of Old St. Paul’s?

Lift up your heads, ye gates of our remembrance,
  Be lifted up, ye everlasting walls,
The gates revolve upon their giant hinges,
  The guilds return unto their ancient halls.
Tell Bishopsgate a Bishop rides to town,
Not only come to pull the churches down.

You that let light into the sunken cities,
  Let life into the void where light is vain
Ere vandals wreck the temples, porch and pillar,
  Bring back the people to the porch again,
Who find in tombs strange flowers, flattened and dried,
Quicken the incredible seed of London Pride.

If our vain haste has smothered home in houses
  As our vain creeds have smothered man in men,
Though in that rock-tomb sleeps the King less deeply
  Than in this brick-tomb sleeps the Citizen,
What will not God achieve if Man awake,
Since a rock-tomb was rended for our sake?

~G.K. Chesterton

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