The Prisoner's Road

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There is a road where silence stalks,Where man, since his first dawn arose,Out as upon an ocean walksInto the desert, where who goesAs one of a long captive train,May share the thoughts of them that weptBy Babylonian waters, and againBow down in sorrow where they slept.

The bitter waters of the Assyrian wasteStill mock the prisoners' raging thirst,After three thousand years their tasteIs not less bitter and accurst.All is as yesterday where timeMakes no account of years, and changeIs only marked where bricks and limeRecord long gaps in history's range.

Only the road remains, as whereThe corpse is dragged aside and liesUnburied to pollute the air,Luring no vulture with its eyes.Woe to the sick or weakling thenWho falls away in grim despairBehind the moving line of men!For none rejoins who lingers there.

© Julius Stanley de Vere Alexander