The Great War

from Retrogression and Other Poems: Electronic Edition

The Mossgrown Porches

WHEN, as of old in Rome's imperial world,

Fair, conquered gods are from their temples


And some rude, vehement Peter puts to flight

Some serene Phœbus, lord of lore and light,

In wastes and wilds, by fount and caverned hill,

Secretly, furtively, are worshipped still.

With the sad zeal of vainly pious knees,

The ancient, the deposed divinities,

Heaven's outcasts, the great exiles of the sky.

Once mighty to do all things, save to die.

So, though in kingdoms of the Lyre to-day

I see the new faiths push the old away—

See the hot hierophants of each strange shrine

Offer oblation to all gods but mine,

And proudliest build their sanctuary and home

Where broods, on England's Tiber, England's


Yet, mid a revel of change, unchanged I turn

To the lorn haunts where older altars burn,—

There seek, companioned by the lessening few

Whose faith is as mine own, the gods I knew;

Seek in deep clefts, and hushed in forests find,

The far-withdrawn Olympians of the mind,

Nor ever doubt, that among wondering men

These deathless will in triumph come again,

As sure as the droop'd year's remounting curve,

And reign anew, when I no more shall serve.