The Poetry Corner

Constantinople - The Greek Han

By Victoria Mary Sackville-West

A sunny court with wooden balconies, And wool hung out to dry in gaudy skeins, A fountain, and some pigeons murmuringly Picking up yellow grains. Pass through a little tumble-down green door Into the dark and crowded shop; the Turk Crouching above the brasier, smiles and nods; 'Tis all his daily work. Here marble heads and alabaster jars, Fragments of porphyry and Persian tiles, Lie heaped in ruin, and at our dismay The old Turk shrugs and smiles, And sips his coffee, reaching out a hand To throw upon the brasier at his feet A handful of dried herbs, whose sudden smoke Rises up incense-sweet.