With nothing to brag about but the size of their hearts,
Tearing boar-flesh and swilling ale,
A fermenting of huge-chested braggarts.
Got nowhere by sitting still
To hear some timorous poet enlarge heroisms,
To suffer their veins stiffle and swell —
Soon, far easier, imagination all flames,
In the white orbit of a sword,
Their chariot-wheels tumbling the necks of screams,
In a glory of hair and beard,
They thinned down their fat fulsome blood in war,
Replenish both bed and board,
Making their own good news, restuffing their dear
Fame with fresh sacks-full of heads,
Roaring, burdened, back over the wet moor.
When archaeologists dig their remainder out —
Bits of bone, rust —
The grandeur of their wars humbles my thought.
Even though I can boast
The enemy capital will jump to a fume
At a turn of my wrist
And the huge earth be shaken in its frame —
I am pale.
When I imagine one of those warriors in the room
And hear his heart-beat burl
The centuries are a stopped clock; my heart
Is cold and small.