Mired in history, coiled around by cheap reflections
On previous ramshackle glory,
Roman armies camped in valleys,
Swords trickling with blood from the battle
On the heath. Bodies covering the bracken
Like a foreshortened locust swarm, wingless
Over the town. The triumphant Italians had there
On the high ground, above the sinuous Col,
And baths. Marble hauled in from Sicilian quarries,
Loaded on to Carthaginian ships by fierce North African slaves-
Themselves beaten warriors.
They were in the town when the tribes struck,
Dying in chains.
Before their own savage deaths, they slaughtered
Others, cut them into ragged pieces, decapitated, raped,
Choralling songs of victory, leaving none alive.
That day, the dun hills smelt better!
They torched the temples and wasted the proud theatre,
The slender apogee of culture.
Now the town slumbers in the present,
Burying its past under beautiful gardens, purple flowers and
Raffish gladioli peeking out from unobtrusive suburbs
Stinking of ancient corpses.