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This poem is taken from PN Review 199, Volume 37 Number 5, May - June 2011.

Five Poems Alison Brackenbury
Off Piccadilly

Byzantium has come to London.
How? Greece gave a weary nod. Syria yawned.
The packing cases, trundled off in heat,
Were wheeled in, draped by snow like graves at dawn.
The young dark waiter tells me at a run
'Much better when Byzantium has gone.'

What is Byzantium? It is gold, gold, gold,
Gilt flecks the saints' pursed lips, swims each bent head.
Great collars clasped a woman's throat, fine links
Nuzzled her hips, inviting as a bed.
One hand, which carved a dark wood siege, has found
A soldier's bare face pressed into the ground.

Elephants died to deck Byzantium.
But Slavs marched from the North. The Turks swept East.
The crowded saints, their sufferings stilled in shapes,
...


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