Robert Graves

Nebuchadnezzar's Fall

Poem by Robert Graves

Frowning over the riddle that Daniel told,
Down through the mist hung garden, below a feeble sun,
The King of Persia walked: oh, the chilling cold!
His mind was webbed with a grey shroud vapour-spun.

Here for the pride of his soaring eagle heart,
Here for his great hand searching the skies for food,
Here for his courtship of Heaven's high stars he shall smart,
Nebuchadnezzar shall fall, crawl, be subdued.

Hot sun struck through the vapour, leaf strewn mould
Breathed sweet decay: old Earth called for her child.
Mist drew off from his mind, Sun scattered gold,
Warmth came and earthy motives fresh and wild.

Down on his knees he sinks, the stiff-necked King,
Stoops and kneels and grovels, chin to the mud.
Out from his changed heart flutter on startled wing
The fancy birds of his Pride, Honour, Kinglihood.

He crawls, he grunts, he is beast-like, frogs and snails
His diet, and grass, and water with hand for cup.
He herds with brutes that have hooves and horns and tails,
He roars in his anger, he scratches, he looks not up.