καὶ κραναᾶς Βαβυλῶνος ἐπίδρομον ἅρμασι τεῖχος
καὶ τὸν ἐπ᾽ Ἀλφειῷ Ζᾶνα κατηυγασάμην,
κάπων τ᾽ αἰώρημα, καὶ Ἠελίοιο κολοσσόν,
καὶ μέγαν αἰπεινᾶν πυραμίδων κάματον,
μνᾶμά τε Μαυσώλοιο πελώριον ἀλλ᾽ ὅτ᾽ ἐσεῖδον
Ἀρτέμιδος νεφέων ἄχρι θέοντα δόμον,
κεῖνα μὲν ἠμαύρωτο † δεκηνιδε νόσφιν Ὀλύμπου
ἅλιος οὐδέν πω τοῖον ἐπηυγάσατο.

I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, “Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.” Antipater of Sidon—Greek Anthology IX.58 (Translator Unknown)

I.

Atop the walls of lofty Babylon
A road so broad that chariots could pass,
With hanging gardens green as springtime grass;
A scene most fair to set my eyes upon.
The sculpted Zeus beside Alpheus’ stream;
The pyramids by mighty labor done;
Mausolus’ tomb; Colossus of the Sun;
(And Pharos); each entrancing as a dream.
But when I saw the house of Artemis
That mounted to the clouds as if in flight,
Those other marvels crumbled into sand;
Their glory dimmed by such a sight as this.
But for Olympus, bathed in golden light,
The Sun has never looked on aught so grand.

II.

Ephesian Artemis—In ancient days
Great multitudes of pilgrims travelled from
The farthest reaches of the earth to come
And offer you their sacrifice and praise.
Your shrine renowned, it’s beauty unsurpassed,
Each day caressed by rosy-fingered dawn,
A wonder of the ancient world, now gone;
A fallen ruin whose glory did not last.
Today a mismatched column stands alone—
Your cenotaph encircled by a mire.
The aerie of a stork your abject crown.
How quickly Time erodes immortal stone.
And snatches from our eyes what we admire;
Whose hand grasps even gods and throws them down.

 

James A. Tweedie is a recently retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He likes to walk on the beach with his wife. He has written and self-published four novels and a collection of short stories. He has several hundred unpublished poems tucked away in drawers.

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9 Responses

  1. James Sale

    Love the wonder and grandeur of this James. Very evocative indeed – that last line is especially wonderful. Well done.

    Reply
  2. C.B. Anderson

    Never underestimate the power of a schwa to undermine correct spelling.

    Reply
  3. David Watt

    James, the theme and style also reminded me of Ozymandias. I like how you have maintained a high standard throughout, and form a firm linkage between the two sonnets.

    Reply
  4. James A. Tweedie

    It is interesting to me how many of you are reminded of Ozymandias. Even Evan mentioned it when I submitted the poems. It crossed my mind as well, but not until after I had completed both poems. I wrote the poems several weeks ago in an attempt to reflect on, and capture in words, the feelings I experienced when I visited Ephesus five years ago. The photos of the temple site that illustrate the post were among many I took that day.

    Reply

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