A View of the City

Canto XVII

"If I shouldst this mote to thee unhide,
Bend thy way up to this brook's head;
And I, anent thee on this side,
Shall follow till thou seest a hill bestead."
Then would I no longer 'bide
But lurched thru lindens lovely leaved
Till on a hill I it espied
And sighted the city as forth I moved,
Beyond the brook where low I stood.
Brighter than with shafts of sun it shone;
In Apocalypse is it fashion proved,
As described it is by the Apostle John.


As John the Apostle saw the sight,
I saw that city of great renown,
Jerusalem so new and royal bedight,
As it from heaven had alighted down.
The city was all of spotless gold bright,
As gleaming glass that's burnished all 'round
With gentle gems beneath set tight.
Twelve tiers at the base bound
The twelve foundations do richly compound.
Each tier was a separate stone,
As dearly described is this very town
In Apocalypse by the Apostle John.


Since John these stones in writing did name,
I knew the names from his account:
Jasper 'tis called, the first of the gems
That on the first base I found out--
It glistened green on the lowest course.
Sapphire was the second, no doubt.
Chalcedony then, without weakness,
In the third table was pearly pale.
The emerald was fourth, so green of scale.
Sardonyx was the fifth stone.
The sixth, the ruby--he did it hail
In Apocalypse, did the Apostle John.


Yet joined John the chrysolite,
The seventh gem in the fundament;
The eight, the beryl clear and white.
Topaz, twin-hued, in ninth was set.
Chrysoprase the tenth bedight.
Jacinth the eleventh ennobled.
The twelfth--the gentlest in every light
Was purple amethyst with indigo blent.
Move the tiers the battlements bent,
Of jasper as glass that glistening shown.
I knew it by its devisement
In the Apocalypse of the Apostle John.


As John divined, yet saw I there
That these twelve tiers were like a stair.
The city stood above four square,
As long, as broad, as high, full fair.
The streets of gold were as glass all bare.
The walls of jasper did glint and glare.
The wainscotings within adorned were
With all precious stones that they could bear.
Then held each line of the city square
To twelve furlongs as it ran on
In height, in breadth, in length given o'er,
For so saw it measured the Apostle John.

Copyright (c) 1983