O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
Which is a coincidence, because the novel currently keeping me company in my backpack and on my bedside table contains a prose hymn to the city of Moscow eerily similar in spirit to the Bates quatrain –
"If we acknowledge that a city is a living organism, we must acknowledge its place in creation. And in so doing, we shall be obliged to cede our priority and accept that it is not we human beings who are the crowns of creation, but the city. Because although we are also organisms, we are only small particles of the city, and a part cannot transcend the whole. It is not we who are godlike, but our city. It is the arbiter of our destinies and the master of our wills. Without it we will perish, or, at best, revert to the wild. Without it we would not be who we are."
– Happiness is Possible by Oleg Zaionchkovsky