I saw on the strand the strangest of sights:
A gleaming pageant that passed from the sea,
Their foremost borne, that fine-bearded king,
Through sculpted chambers skeined with sea-weed,
Mute twirling trumpets trailing his wake.
Sailing beside him, his silent white lords
Were marred by the maulings of millions of wars.
Light on the shoreline, their lonely race
Watched and waited wordless ages
For imminent signs. Silence drained heaven,
Then a dry rustle like rain in ascent:
The whitecaps boiled bone-dry, leaving
deserts unplundered, plains without end.
Long they beheld here horrors of old:
Ravenous monsters, maws ringed with arms,
Pried their bulk blindly from beds of muck
As nobles sternly stiffened their spines,
For all was lost. The lords yielded,
Shedding their swords and shields of gold,
Hurling their helms hard on the dune,
Laying their war-gear now lightly aside,
Once-bright armor bristling with rust.
With no last cry they cracked their spears;
No howling braced their broken ranks;
Insensibly stone-eyed as statues at dawn,
Their remnant sank in the sand where they stood.
Then forth from the snare of a fisherman’s nets
In their relics reborn I rose to my shrine
To wait for water. Their world is dust,
And so is this matter. Now say what I am.