Show themes

Parts III, IV and V

John Riley and Czargrad

is this the language can compass death
for all else fails and language of transparent love
to conquer / let this
be meditation formed of exactitude
the City’s walls . gloriously fail

(John Riley, from a draft of Part IV of Czargrad)

The French poet Paul Valéry’s well-known dictum, ‘Un ouvrage n’est jamais achevé … mais abandonné’ (‘A work is never finished … but abandoned’) might apply particularly aptly to Czargrad. It appears from his correspondence that Riley was himself uncertain as to when his work on the poem had been completed, and it was never printed in full during his lifetime.