Ancient Beauty

Emperors bowed before her, kings were led
Behind her chariot, conquered, though they won
Half of the earth regarded by the sun;
Great dreams were made alive, were stricken dead
According to the way her quest was sped.…
And still, unless she give her benison,
The work falls incomplete, the task, undone—
As rivers fall, when fails their fountainhead.

For kingdoms based on rock are shaken through
And through to nothing in a single hour,
And conquerors drop their victory at one blow:
But, held as passing as a drop of dew,
As frail as the existence of a flower,
Beauty leads armies emperors cannot know!
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