Beware of Ruins

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Beware of ruins: they have a treacherous charm;
Insidious echoes lurk among their stones;
That scummy pool was where the fountain soared;
     The seated figure, whose white arm
Beckons you, is a mock-up of dry bones
And not, as you believe, your love restored.

The moonlight lends her grace, but have a care:
Behind her waits the fairy Melusine.
The sun those beams refract died years ago.
     The moat has a romantic air
But it is choked with nettles and obscene
And phallic fungi rot there as they grow.

Beware of ruins; the heart is apt to make
Monstrous assumptions on the unburied past;
Though cleverly restored, the Tudor tower
     Is spurious, the facade a fake
Whose new face is a death-mask of the last
Despairing effort before it all went sour.

There are ruins, too, of a less obvious kind;
I go back; cannot believe my eyes; the place
Is just as I recall: the fire is lit,
     The table laid, bed warmed; I find
My former world intact, but not, alas,
The man I was when I was part of it.

~ A. D. Hope

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