Wrætlic is þes wealstan, wyrde gebræcon;
burgstede burston, brosnað enta geweorc.
Hrofas sind gehrorene, hreorge torras,
hrungeat berofen, hrim on lime,
scearde scurbeorge scorene, gedrorene,
ældo undereotone. Eorðgrap hafað
waldend wyrhtan forweorone, geleorene,
heardgripe hrusan, oþ hund cnea
werþeoda gewitan. Oft þæs wag gebad
ræghar ond readfah rice æfter oþrum,
ofstonden under stormum; steap geap gedreas.
Wonað giet se …num geheapen,
…g orþonc ærsceaft
...g lamrindum beag
mod mo… …yne swiftne gebrægd
hwætred in hringas, hygerof gebond
weallwalan wirum wundrum togædre.
Beorht wæron burgræced, burnsele monige,
heah horngestreon, heresweg micel,
meodoheall monig dreama full,
oþþæt þæt onwende wyrd seo swiþe.
Crungon walo wide, cwoman woldagas,
swylt eall fornom secgrofra wera;
wurdon hyra wigsteal westen staþolas,
brosnade burgsteall. Betend crungon
hergas to hrusan. Forþon þas hofu dreorgiað,
ond þæs teaforgeapa tigelum sceadeð
hrostbeages hrof. Hryre wong gecrong
gebrocen to beorgum, þær iu beorn monig
glædmod ond goldbeorht gleoma gefrætwed,
wlonc ond wingal wighyrstum scan;
seah on sinc, on sylfor, on searogimmas,
on ead, on æht, on eorcanstan,
on þas beorhtan burg bradan rices.
Stanhofu stodan, stream hate wearp
widan wylme; weal eall befeng
beorhtan bosme, þær þa baþu wæron,
hat on hreþre. þæt wæs hyðelic.
Leton þonne geotan
ofer harne stan hate streamas
…þþæt hringmere hate
þær þa baþu wæron.
…re; þæt is cynelic þing,
huse …… burg….
Press your cheek to scalloped stone and see how
giants fastened these walls, these gaping gashes
now plastered with moss once plastered by hands:
how knuckles leveled ruby tiles, shoulders carried
slabs for miles, palms moonscooped marbled arches,
inhuman fingers shaped this walstead.
Trace the crooked gables and try to see these gates
unbroken, kneedeep in nightfog rusted red and
blanketing enemies laid to bed.
Rub the crumbling grains and try, try to see these walls
untouched — thriving, soaking, growing in battle’s blood
before fate’s arm turned iron to mud.
Lie on your back, spine to stone and feel the echo
of a ceiling crashed. In that lit city, slaughter probed
the foundations laid by those who by then too
had fallen in earth.
The builders have been buried, people passed
through a grave dampened by baths now
gripped in gray and gurgling ash, swallowed
in wells of the past — one hundred generations
But when that goldbright hall is called, its vaulted
ceilings curved in gems, drawing prisms of sun, its
warriors wrapped in victory songs of that first joy,
its wise courts rimmed in newgreen,
my mouth fills with the earth of that place, where
wine-flushed skin and floods that gleamed, where
those twin pearls might be slipped beneath
stony shadows shading over hot streams.