This pattern of mythic-allusive rhapsody immediately counterpointed by the narrator's realistic deflation-cum-explicit - disapproval striates the story, climaxing in that moment when Aschenbach seeks to justify his erotic besottedness
with a boy as the sort of infatuation that even the greatest ancient heroes had suffered when the love god took possession of them.
The final lines stress Babylon's solitude rather than her "pride / And foulness and besottedness
" that open the poem: "Alas for her!" / She hath no comforter: / In solitude of fire she sits alone." While this poem condemns Babylon to the fire of hell less ambiguously than "Babylon the Great" or "The World," it emphasizes the selfishness of those who are too fearful to comfort her and does not sexualize her sin like the other two poems.
There is a difference, however, between companionable gaiety and besottedness
, as Travis well knew.
However that may be, as the danger to Poniatowski of his besottedness
over Catherine (and hers over him) became clear, the ambassador took steps to protect his private secretary.
One longs here for a Pasternak, a Mandelstam, a Ginzburg; for the savagery of Solzhenitsyn, the phantasmagorias of Aksyonov, the higher linguistics and Hobbesian yawp of Zinoviev, the besottedness
of Dovaltov, Bulgakov's dog-man Sharik, even a Voinovich guffaw.