Debits and Credits

The Survival

HORACE, Ode 22, Bk. V

Rudyard Kipling

SECURELY, after days
    Unnumbered, I behold
Kings mourn that promised praise
    Their cheating bards foretold.

Of earth-constricting wars,
    Of Princes passed in chains,
Of deeds out-shining stars,
    No word or voice remains.

Yet furthest times receive,
    And to fresh praise restore,
Mere flutes that breathe at eve,
    Mere seaweed on the shore;

A smoke of sacrifice;
    A chosen myrtle-wreath;
An harlot’s altered eyes;
    A rage ’gainst love or death;

Glazed snow beneath the moon;
    The surge of storm-bowed trees—
The Caesars perished soon,
    And Rome Herself: But these

Endure while Empires fall
    And Gods for Gods make room . . .
Which greater God than all
    Imposed the amazing doom?

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