They’ve visited all the monuments and castles;
The road was smooth, yes, and the chatter facile;
There’s the narrator handing out some samples;
The tortuous past is passing into passé simple.
Translators on tour: Each earnest learnèd traveler
Studies in turn the evanescent and the massive,
And out of whole cloth — as weaver and unraveler —
Picks bits of gold from lost past participles passive.
Gerunds being rare as cobbles, go with tiles;
Cut down on half-timber; say “you” for thee and thou;
Certainly modern Bildung codes allow
Amalgam and anachronistic styles.
A pilgrim who will never be the architect
Builds a simulacrum of the palace —
Desecration by infatuated intellect —
A feeble love, an impotence, a malice.
And every member of the entourage
Will point the mortar and refine the mortise;
The verbal scaffold sways like a mirage,
And renders up with irony and fortis
Some iron hulk, some ponderous sunken fortress,
As bright pavilions on a beau rivage.