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"THE PALACE" (1902)

When I was a King and a Mason — a Master proven and skilled —

I cleared me ground for a Palace such as a King should build.

I decreed and dug down to my levels. Presently, under the silt,

I came on the wreck of a Palace such as a King had built.

There was no worth in the fashion — there was no wit in the plan —

Hither and thither, aimless, the ruined footings ran —

Masonry, brute, mishandled, but carven on every stone:

"After me cometh a Builder. Tell him, I too have known."

Swift to my use in my trenches, where my well-planned ground-works grew,

I tumbled his quoins and his ashlars, and cut and reset them anew.

Lime I milled of his marbles; burned it, slacked it, and spread;

Taking and leaving at pleasure the gifts of the humble dead.

Yet I despised not nor gloried; yet, as we wrenched them apart,

I read in the razed foundations the heart of that builder's heart.

As he had risen and pleaded, so did I understand

The form of the dream he had followed in the face of the thing he had planned.

When I was a King and a Mason — in the open noon of my pride,

They sent me a Word from the Darkness. They whispered and called me aside.

They said — "The end is forbidden." They said — "Thy use is fulfilled.

"Thy Palace shall stand as that other's — the spoil of a King who shall build."

I called my men from my trenches, my quarries, my wharves, and my sheers.

All I had wrought I abandoned to the faith of the faithless years.

Only I cut on the timber — only I carved on the stone:

"After me cometh a Builder. Tell him, I too have known!"