The Sunburnt Terraces

The sunburnt terraces which swans make home
with water purling, Macchu Pichu died
like Delphi long ago
a message to Justinian closing it out,
the thousand years’ authority, although
tho’ never found exactly wrong

political patterns did indeed emerge;
the Oracle was conservative, like Lippmann,
roared the winds on the height,
The Shining Ones behind the shrine, whose verge
saw the impious plunged, 6000 statures
above the Temple shone

plundered, centuries plundered, first the gold
then bronze & marble, then the plinths,
then the dead nerve
root-canal-work, ugh. I still hold
for the saviour of teeth, & I embrace
only he threw me a vicious

by John Berryman

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