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Robert Graves (1895–1985). Fairies and Fusiliers. 1918.

8. Babylon

THE CHILD alone a poet is:

Spring and Fairyland are his.

Truth and Reason show but dim,

And all’s poetry with him.

Rhyme and music flow in plenty

For the lad of one-and-twenty,

But Spring for him is no more now

Than daisies to a munching cow;

Just a cheery pleasant season,

Daisy buds to live at ease on.

He’s forgotten how he smiled

And shrieked at snowdrops when a child,

Or wept one evening secretly

For April’s glorious misery.

Wisdom made him old and wary

Banishing the Lords of Faery.

Wisdom made a breach and battered

Babylon to bits: she scattered

To the hedges and ditches

All our nursery gnomes and witches.

Lob and Puck, poor frantic elves,

Drag their treasures from the shelves.

Jack the Giant-killer’s gone,

Mother Goose and Oberon,

Bluebeard and King Solomon.

Robin, and Red Riding Hood

Take together to the wood,

And Sir Galahad lies hid

In a cave with Captain Kidd.

None of all the magic hosts,

None remain but a few ghosts

Of timorous heart, to linger on

Weeping for lost Babylon.