Study Guide

Beware of Ruins

by A. D. Hope

Beware of Ruins eText - eText

Text of the Poem

Beware of ruins: they have a treacherous charm;
Insidious echoes lurk among their stones;
That scummy pool was where the fountain soared;
     The seated figure, whose white arm 
Beckons you, is a mock-up of dry bones 
And not, as you believe, your love restored.

The moonlight lends her grace, but have a care:
Behind her waits the fairy Melusine.
The sun those beams refract died years ago.
     The moat has a romantic air 
But it is choked with nettles and obscene 
And phallic fungi rot there as they grow.

Beware of ruins; the heart is apt to make 
Monstrous assumptions on the unburied past; 
Though cleverly restored, the Tudor tower
     Is spurious, the facade a fake 
Whose new face is a death-mask of the last 
Despairing effort before it all went sour.

There are ruins, too, of a less obvious kind; 
I go back; cannot believe my eyes; the place 
Is just as I recall: the fire is lit,
    The table laid, bed warmed; I find 
My former world intact, but not, alas, 
The man I was when I was part of it.