Ode to Hammurabi

6 10 2006

A penitent, this desk bows low beneath the weight of many pages,
Sighs and groans with each addition, every added book of law;
Texts of proverbs, books of poems, lines of verse like rows of sages;
Books that rise in arcane towers like the citadels of yore
Hammurabi, “pious prince”, his lawcode witness to the ages
Rants of his divinity from several copies of A4

In columns, his cuneiform, like pigeon footprints in the sand,
Bears witness to the fate of kings; to those who have been slain by time
All things must pass, these sheets declare, so still and silent in my hands
That were engraved on hearts and stones; a basalt obelisk sublime
Now on display for photographs and criticised in foreign lands
It speaks of laws long since deceased, and nought can salvage them but rhyme

Where are your cities, pious prince? Where are the forces that you trained?
Where is the throne you sat upon, the sceptre you so tightly grasped?
You share a space, now, with your foes; your work exists on pages stained
The armies that you once commanded, like a fleeting cloud have passed
The world does not recall your name, and all the secrets you explained
Are nothing but amusements now; your reign was never built to last

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One response

6 10 2006
S.

Nice. I know this isn’t a couplet, but I like this “a basalt obelisk sublime
Now on display for photographs and criticised in foreign lands.”

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