Out of it all but this remains:
I was with one who crossed wide chains
Of the Cordilleras, whose peaks
Lock in the wilds of Yucatan,
Chiapas and Honduras. Weeks
And then a city that no man
Had ever seen; so dim and old,
No chronicle has ever told
The history of men who piled
Its temples and huge teocallis
Among mimosa-blooming valleys;
Or how its altars were defiled
With human blood; whose idols there
With eyes of stone still stand and stare.
So old the moon can only know
How old, since ancient forests grow
On mighty wall and pyramid.
Huge ceïbas, whose trunks were scarred
With ages, and dense yuccas, hid
Fanes 'mid the cacti, scarlet-starred.
I looked upon its paven ways,
And saw it in its kingliest days;
When from the lordly palace one,
A victim, walked with prince and priest,
Who turned brown faces toward the east
In worship of the rising sun:
At night ten hundred temples' spires
On gold burnt everlasting fires.
Uxmal? Palenque? or Copan?
I know not. Only how no man
Had ever seen; and still my soul
Believes it vaster than the three.
Volcanic rock walled in the whole,
Lost in the woods as in some sea.
I only read its hieroglyphs,
Perused its monster monoliths
Of death, gigantic heads; and read
The pictured codex of its fate,
The perished Toltec; while in hate
Mad monkeys cursed me, as if dead
Priests of its past had taken form
To guard its ruined shrines from harm.


About Madison Julius Cawein


Madison Cawein (23 March 1865 – 8 December 1914) was a poet from Louisville, Kentucky, whose poem "Waste Land" has been linked with T. S. Eliot's later The Waste Land. Cawein's father made patent medicines from herbs. Cawein thus became acquainted with and developed a love for local nature as a child. He worked in a Cincinnati pool hall as an assistant cashier for six years, saving his pay so he could return home to write. His output was thirty-six books and 1,500 poems. He was known as the "Keats of Kentucky." In 1912 Cawein was forced to sell his... Read more...

Poet of the day

Richard Chenevix Trench was born on September 9, 1807, North Frederick Street, Dublin, Ireland. His father was Richard Trench, his mother Melesina, only grandchild and heiress of Richard Chenevix, Bishop of Waterford, and widow of Colonel St. George. Trench’s home in childhood was Elm Lodge, close to the village of...
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Poem of the day


I have come far enough
from where I was not before
to have seen the things
looking in at me from through the open door

and have walked tonight
by myself
to see the moonlight
and see it as trees

and shapes more fearful Read more...