You see the Tower of Babel
In the stained window of the chapel
And, under it, yourself, a knight recumbant
Upon a cold sarcophagus? How the light slumbers
Like dreams in summer haunting glassy shallows
Lazily fingered by the willows
One quiet afternoon!
Those colours you see strewn
Are lyrics from the Tower of Babel,
Once magic phrases, words unheard, unable
To rouse the marble knight from his too awful calm,
Who never stirs on hearing any psalm
Or music through ten thousand years,
So much stone blocks your ears,
So much stone seals your eyes.
Or are you petrified with lies,
A spell-bound victim of the Tower of Babel,
With no mind of your own, a cold corpse on a table
Under a bright light, under such a weight
God knows how many years? Too late
To change things now, the Tower
Of Babel has no power
Nor will to raise you from the dead
And yet you think you think he moved his head?
Was it some trick of that deceptive Tower of Babel,
Whose language alters like the sun, unstable
And shifting in its accents, or
What was it that you saw
Within the stone awakened,
What flower stirring in the vacant
Space of a heart encased in such surrender
That it can feel no poetry however tender
Unless it rains down from a Tower of Babel,
Unsure if all you hear is babble
Or if you see the light?
How hard to get things right
When all the time we have is short,
When so much lies beyond our powers of thought,
Here underneath the towers that watch and rule the world,
Believers or, with some rock picked up and hurled,
Fugitives from the Tower of Babel
‘s broken dream, childish fable!
The colours fade, night falls.
The glass is dark now like the walls.
Pity the beggars in their marble shrouds,
The ash of vanished dreams patrolled by listless crowds,
Eyes rummaging the laneways for a fire,
Flames in a dustbin rising higher
Than the lost Tower of Babel.
This draft looks OK to me for now.
Current edit: 14 June 2014