They use the strongest men to cut,
The fleet to carve, the weak to smooth,
The dying breathe the dust and choke
On leaden lodes and metal veins.
They pile the spent in pits of lime,
Their bodies covered quick and deep.
The ones who make eternal works –
The slaves and workers – pay their tax.
The maze beneath the palace walls:
In marble, onyx, granite, bones.
The mines behind the Empire’s rise:
The tailings heaps which hide its graves.
They mark the cost of their success:
These kings and heroes, rich and blessed.