Beauty fallen into decay
End of Empire
The lion of St Mark’s flutters bravely,
Flying above the Grand Canal alone;
A curving row of palaces gravely
Salutes the day in symphony of stone.
Yet the sun shines on barred and shuttered walls;
In the breeze tattered awnings loosely swing
Over fetid water, until the calls
Of hawkers give way to silence, the ring
Of last tourist’s feet. Unpeopled city!
Empire for thirteen hundred years and more;
Now your blank and empty halls rouse pity
For grandeur lost. But here an unlocked door –
Inside, a nave, a wondrous faint-lit space,
And from the wall, dim, the Madonna’s face.
End of empire
Copyright © Matthew Harrison, 2009