The City, by Lord Dunsany
In time as well as space my fancy roams far from here. It led me
once to the edge of certain cliffs that were low and red and rose
up out of a desert: a little way off in the desert there was a city. It
was evening, and I sat and watched the city.
Presently I saw men by threes and fours come softly stealing out
of that city's gate to the number of about twenty. I heard the hum
of men's voices speaking at evening.
"It is well they are gone," they said. "It is well they are gone. We
can do business now. It is well they are gone." And the men that
had left the city sped away over the sand and so passed into the
"Who are these men?" I said to my glittering leader.
"The poets," my fancy answered. "The poets and artists."
"Why do they steal away?" I said to him. "And why are the people
glad that they have gone?"
He said: "It must be some doom that is going to fall on the city,
something has warned them and they have stolen away. Nothing
may warn the people."
I heard the wrangling voices, glad with commerce, rise up from
the city. And then I also departed, for there was an ominous look
on the face of the sky.
And only a thousand years later I passed that way, and there was
nothing, even among the weeds, of what had been that city.