If the zenith holds the best of beauty
There is something left to admire
In its ruin, in its loss,
As the shell the sea has tossed
Is nothing but a skeletal spire
That lacking life yet charms the eye.

For I imagine there in the fire
Ptolemy’s scrolls were never so bright.
What a wonder was the Tigris
Black with wastes of ink!
And reborn was Atlantis
When forever it did sink.

Cortés won himself an empire
Turned to rubbled ruin; fire
Torching the summit of his dreams.
The Emperor found his end
In the ashes of glory, yet redeemed
In Elba’s tedious torment.

Leave all to decay, leave all to night,
Put out the stars, blow out the lights.
Let all beauties become hags,
Reflect on satins turned to rags:
A pyramid is a monument,
A melted garden is a legend.


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