African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Benjamin Griffith Brawley, "Ephesus" (1907)


A mighty temple raised in the air,
   With piles of jewels, heaps of stone,
Ionic columns large and fair 
    And great Diana on her throne -- 
Such splendor did Demetrius
Bestow on ancient Ephesus.

And this was once the glorious scene 
    Of miles on miles of gilded things;
But now where once a famous queen
    Did reign, dull Silence sits and sings;
Of all the pomp that once was known 
Scarce lingers now one stone on stone. 

         Once here on this benighted spot
    Whose living live less than its dead,
A multitude did pray and plot, 
    Urged on by what a preacher said;
And men before God's throne did fall
When once they heard the words of Paul.

A heathen emperor's stern behest,
    Seven Christian brothers doomed to die,
Two hundred years in Coelian's breast,
    No thought of time that flitted by--
Such was the wonder of the spell
These youth awoke one day to tell.

A kingdom of the ancient world,
    The arms of Persia and of Rome,
Ten thousand souls to Hades hurled,
    And a world-conqueror's dream of home--
Such glory once the world did see;
But Alexander-- where is he?

And where is all the mighty host 
    That on Olympus sang and strove? 
Where are the gods those peaks did boast?
    Where now is Dian? Where is Jove?
All- all in Time's great bosom sleep;
Such secrets doth Oblivion keep. 

Published in The Voice of the Negro, July 1907


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