I. THE BEGINNING
They asked me to build them a city
where the people could be measured and defined,
but because there were too few of them
to measure what was needed—
and who would measure them, the measurers?—
I told them that I would not build their city,
though I did.
II. FUTILE ARGUMENTS
Cities are not built at all, but grow
like Prague; that is, not gray but green,
and who can measure green?
However great precision, imprecision is still greater.
III. MINOR REBELLIONS
Other slopes extend, extend,
and when the slopes extend,
the young and strong climb cliffs
and build their Pragues within the caves of cliffs.
Their bodies dart among the crevices outside of cities,
and who can measure outside from the inside,
or determine what is suitable for purpose of defense?
IV. BREEDING IN CAPTIVITY
People breed, even in captivity, are
tested for fertility
by large, precise machines, though dreams spill out
like little springs
in fragmentary loves.
V. THE NEXT GENERATION
I do not want
to build the city any larger,
but because the wolves devour homeless children in the dark,
it is my duty.
A light rain falling
nourishes the crops stolen by barbarians.
Do they not understand
ancient traditions recommend?
Conflict was inevitable;
if they had not begun the inevitable,
it would have been, nevertheless, inevitable.
of ours, but measurable, precise, certain.
And yet the crude barbarians
could not understand.
VIII. THE END
Inside and outside, awakened barbarians
stood on the edge
of the wall, so precise, so measurable
and pulled me up
and I was