Monday, November 17, 2008

743. Brueghel: The Triumph of Time - Howard Nemerov

Passing a Flemish village and a burning city
possible Babylon the Great, bringing the Spring
from Winter and any beginning to its end, there go
the actors in the ramshackle traveling show
that does whatever's done and then undoes it:
the horses of the sun and moon, stumbling on plate
and bullion, patiently pull the flat-bed wagon
where Cronos munches a child and the zodiac-encircled world
bears up a tree that blossoms half and withers half;
Death on a donkey follows, sloping his scythe,
and last a trumpeter angel on an elephant
is puffing the resurrection and the end of days.

Under the wheels, and under the animals' feet,
palette and book are broken with the crowns of kings
and the instruments of music, intimating to our eyes
by means of many examples the Triumph of Time,
which everything that is, with everything that isn't,
as Brueghel patiently puts it down, exemplifies.