When I was a King and a Mason -- a Master proven and skilled -- I cleared me ground for a Palace such as a King should build. I decreed and dug down to my levels. Presently, under the silt, I came on the wreck of a Palace such as a King had built.
There was no worth in the fashion -- there was no wit in the plan -- Hither and thither, aimless, the ruined footings ran -- Masonry, brute, mishandled, but carven on every stone: "After me cometh a Builder. Tell him, I too have known."
Swift to my use in my trenches, where my well-planned ground-works grew, I tumbled his quoins and his ashlars, and cut and reset them anew. Lime I milled of his marbles; burned it, slacked it, and spread; Taking and leaving at pleasure the gifts of the humble dead.
Yet I despised not nor gloried; yet, as we wrenched them apart, I read in the razed foundations the heart of that builder's heart. As he had risen and pleaded, so did I understand The form of the dream he had followed in the face of the thing he had planned.
* * * * *
When I was a King and a Mason -- in the open noon of my pride, They sent me a Word from the Darkness. They whispered and called me aside. They said -- "The end is forbidden." They said -- "Thy use is fulfilled. "Thy Palace shall stand as that other's -- the spoil of a King who shall build."
I called my men from my trenches, my quarries, my wharves, and my sheers. All I had wrought I abandoned to the faith of the faithless years. Only I cut on the timber -- only I carved on the stone: "AfterT me cometh a BuilderT. Tell him, I too have known!"