Edmund Griffiths  

E d m u n d   G r i f f i t h s

‘Perhaps I should have...’

Perhaps I should have
hammered out a song for you
in the forgotten
Phoenician manner,

extracting clanging
consonantal melodies
from the relics of
a language spoken

by sailors, merchants,
and the priesthood of Moloch—
Tyrian chords, with
sour flashes of ore

wrenched from the quartz of
a seam worked out long ago—
like the song they sang
for Carthage fallen,

when a few peasants
stood in the light of the flames,
soldiers marched all day,
and salt stung the fields.

        first published in Oxford Poetry XIV.1
        and reproduced here with the editors’ permission