When the white flame in us is gone,
And we that lost the world's delight
Stiffen in darkness, left alone
To crumble in our separate night;
When your swift hair is quiet in death,
And through the lips corruption thrust
Has stilled the labour of my breath --
When we are dust, when we are dust! --
I was hoping to be happy by seventeen.
School was a sharp check mark in the roll book,
An obnoxious tuba playing at noon because our team
Was going to win at night. The teachers were
Too close to dying to understand. The hallways
Stank of poor grades and unwashed hair. Thus,
A friend and I sat watching the water on Saturday,
Neither of us talking much, just warming ourselves
By hurling large rocks at the dusty ground
And feeling awful because San Francisco was a postcard
It seemed that out of the battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which Titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall;
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle,
Out of the Ninth-month midnight,
Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond, where the child
leaving his bed wander'd alone, bareheaded, barefoot,
Down from the shower'd halo,
Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as
if they were alive,
Out from the patches of briers and blackberries,
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
And when, in the city in which I love you,
even my most excellent song goes unanswered,
andI mount the scabbed streets,
the long shouts of avenues,
and tunnel sunken night in search of you...
That I negotiate fog, bituminous
rain rining like teeth into the beggar's tin,
or two men jackaling a third in some alley
weirdly lit by a couch on fire, that I
where I go you shall follow
Balconies of Babylon - where, within a lucid dream,
A vivid memory was born anew.
Grammar structure obsolete.
Rules and obedience forgotten.
Save the shadow of a ginger head,
A ginger hair
In a ginger land...
Of Samson origin or of Helen of Troy
It smells not of ginger,
Two knights rode forth at early dawn
A-seeking maids to wed,
Said one, "My lady must be fair,
With gold hair on her head."
Then spake the other knight-at-arms:
"I care not for her face,
But she I love must be a dove
For purity and grace."
When I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Though you shall lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.
I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough;
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.
I cannot heed the words they say,
The lights grow far away and dim,
Amid the laughing men and maids
My eyes unbidden seek for him.
I hope that when he smiles at me
He does not guess my joy and pain,
For if he did, he is too kind