Monday, July 12, 2010

Rome by Ezra Pound

O thou newcomer who seek'st Rome in Rome
And find'st in Rome no thing thou canst call Roman;
Arches worn old and palaces made common
Rome's name alone within these walls keeps home.

Behold how pride and ruin can befall
One who hath set the whole world 'neath her laws,
All-conquering, now conquered, because
She is Time's prey, and Time conquereth all.

Rome that art Rome's one sole last monument,
Rome that alone hast conquered Rome the town,
Tiber alone, transient and seaward bent,

Remains of Rome. O world, thou unconstant mime!
That which stands firm in thee Time batters down,
And that which fleeteth doth outrun swift Time.

— Ezra Pound
Reading this poem, I could see it being applied, in a way, to China today -- especially its' first stanza.  The China that I see in the Tang Poetry, seems to be only in Tang Poetry.  Whatever I see in what is called China now is a best a shell or a husk of that spirit.  Certainly, China isn't on a Roman-type decline anytime soon, but recent times have done something to it that would make it apt to replace "China" with "Rome" in the above poem's opening passages.

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