Hannibal leaves Rome

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the end, Hannibal walked out of his city
saying the Romans wanted only him. Why should
his soldiers make love to their swords?
He walked out alone, a small figure in
the great field, his elephants dead at
the bottom of the Alps’ crevasses. So might we
go to our Roman death in triumph. Our love
is of marble and large tawny roses,
in the endless harvests of our defeat.
We have slept with death all our lives.
It will grind out its graceless victory,
but we can limp in triumph over the cold
intervening sand.

“Seen from Above,” Jack Gilbert

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