6 Tamerlane Old
To wake some midnight, on that instant senile,
clasping clay knees... in such warlike posture
found by your grandsons, a sheeted, shivering mound,
pressed race car hideously scared, agog with headlight,
professor in glasses - this is Timur reliving
his pyramid of ninety thousand heads,
not skulls these human heads still fresh as flowers -
an architect to make Vitruvius age.
A thing well done, even a pile of heads
modesty planned to wilt before the builder,
is art, if art is anything won from nature...
We weep for the eyestroke inscrutable not his victims.
The holidays in his journal are mostly massacre -
fealty affirmed when friendship is a myth.
Robert Lowell - Notebook