Cairo 1941

Here in the slouching gloom, dusky with nooses,
horror the rat-catcher parades
this mockery of fecund glades,
threading the whistling laughs and flagrant kisses,
the awkward nightlife of the running company:
the miserable rat-catcher, the ghost
of what is given or lost;
the stalking menace of the castaway.

Four elements, black angels, walk this ground;
no god; no beckoning halo roams
these empty cold and captive tombs
arid as rock, as the split bone beyond;
four elements and their possessing Moloch, battle
of blind or innocent, the wasting fire
whose murderous embers bar
the hopeless turning in the ring of metal.

But here there is the shadow of the ring,
motes of darkness that will blind
our senses, have our pity chained;
cadaverous falcons that on sterile wing
stoop to the glamour and gaudiness and seize apart 
the broken light; brown carrion of horror,
the sidling nightmare surer
than love, corrupting life, or the stabbed heart.

Deciduous almanacs snow out the year,
and a cathedral chill is cast
over despair and thought and lust:
hell in the aisles and in the belfry fear.
The uncertain daffodil of our inordinate pity
may never bloom again; the earth is spread
rusty and heavy with dead
past hearing, past spring's instigating beauty.

Now only blood and a black wind; and cold 
that is not of clean growing things
- March in the moorland's planted wings,
or unleashed muscle in the dancing field.
Oh it is death's invasion of no innocence,
the crumbling fall of Now.  Our chartless soul
wasting about the Pole,
the city of love's bruised magnificence.