The Tower Of Famine
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Amid the desolation of a city,
Which was the cradle, and is now the grave
Of an extinguished people, -- so that Pity
Weeps o'er the shipwrecks of Oblivion's wave,
There stands the Tower of Famine. It is built
Upon some prison-homes, whose dwellers rave
For bread, and gold, and blood: Pain, linked to Guilt,
Agitates the light flame of their hours,
Until its vital oil is spent or spilt.
There stands the pile, a tower amid the towers
And sacred domes; each marble-ribbàd roof,
The brazen-gated temples, and the bowers
Of solitary wealth, -- the tempest-proof
Pavilions of the dark Italian air, --
Are by its presence dimmed -- they stand aloof,
And are withdrawn -- so that the world is bare;
As if a spectre wrapped in shapeless terror
Amid a company of ladies fair
Should glide and glow, till it became a mirror
Of all their beauty, and their hair and hue,
The life of their sweet eyes, with all its error,
Should be absorbed, till they to marble grew.
Source:The Lyrics and Shorter Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley
Copyright 1907, reprinted 1913
London: J.M. Dent and Sons, Ltd.
New York: E.P. Dutton and Co.