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Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935). Collected Poems. 1921.

V. The Town Down the River

12. The White Lights

(BROADWAY, 1906)

WHEN in from Delos came the gold

That held the dream of Pericles,

When first Athenian ears were told

The tumult of Euripides,

When men met Aristophanes,

Who fledged them with immortal quills—

Here, where the time knew none of these,

There were some islands and some hills.

When Rome went ravening to see

The sons of mothers end their days,

When Flaccus bade Leuconoë

To banish her chaldean ways,

When first the pearled, alembic phrase

Of Maro into music ran—

Here there was neither blame nor praise

For Rome, or for the Mantuan.

When Avon, like a faery floor,

Lay freighted, for the eyes of One,

With galleons laden long before

By moonlit wharves in Avalon—

Here, where the white lights have begun

To seethe a way for something fair,

No prophet knew, from what was done,

That there was triumph in the air.