by Dorothy Wellesley

Dorothy Wellesley

Their skulls were more beautiful than ours,
Their teeth finer, greater their fighting powers,
The cavities of their eyes beheld such skies,
Such trees, such flowers,
At which we in our infancy wonder;

The cavities of those great eyes knew all
That man can know.
And I think that those who wrote their runes
Were older than their stones.
For the wise are destroyed by fools.

As the same end comes ever
As to the wise men of Avebury,
I do not know if the wise men,
Who wrote runes on the stones
With flint tools,
Are of any worth to humanity.
For the wise are destroyed by fools.

I do not believe,
Musing on Socrates and his great wisdom,
And the Alexandrian schools,
That wise men are worth survival.
I see only in the dusk of these great stones
That the wise are destroyed by fools.

These great stones
Lead up to a temple all men have forgotten,
Since all mankind comes to the same end,
Leaving in Egypt a little, in England nothing;

I have no faith in the wisdom of the ancients begotten,
Do not believe in the wise men of Avebury,
For the wise are without worth
On an earth destroyed by fools.

I think that the wise men of Avebury
Are better left unborn;
I think that those who wrote runes on the stones,
Intoning at evening, labouring at dawn,
Knew this also.

Yet I hail the law of intellectual constancy!
The man who tamed, not by chance, the fire,
The man who invented the wheel,
The man who first feared the moon,
Writing her madness in a rune,
In the man who first named a star.

I believe in the agony, in the sweat of the wise,
And in the crucifixion of Solomon.

Last updated September 14, 2017