I have discovered that most of
the beauties of travel are due to
the strange hours we keep to see them:
the domes of the Church of
the Paulist Fathers in Weehawken
against a smoky dawn -- the heart stirred --
are beautiful as Saint Peters
And then I said, That's what it means
to testify: to sit in the locked dark muttering
when you should be dead to the world. The muse
just shrugged and shaded his blue eyes. So naturally
I followed him down to his father's house
by the river, a converted factory in the old
industrial park: somewhere to sit
on threadbare cushions eating my words
and his promises, safe as milk
that dries the throat. If I had a home,
My shadow --
I woke to a wind swirling the curtains light and dark
and the birds twittering on the roofs, I lay cold
in the early light in my room high over London.
What fear was it that made the wind sound like a fire
so that I got up and looked out half-asleep
at the calm rows of street-lights fading far below?
Only the wind blew.
But in the dream I woke from, you
The days will rally, wreathing
Their crazy tarantelle;
And you must go on breathing,
But I'll be safe in hell.
Like January weather,
The years will bite and smart,
And pull your bones together
To wrap your chattering heart.
I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.
I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
(16th January 1949)
I thank whatever gods may be
For all the happiness that's mine;
That I am festive, fit and free
To savour women, wit and wine;
That I may game of golf enjoy,
And have a formidable drive:
In short, that I'm a gay old boy
Though I be
I have done with love and lust,
I reck not for gold or fame;
I await familiar dust
These frail fingers to reclaim:
Not for me the tiger flame.
Not for me the furnace glow,
Rage of fire and ashen doom;
To sweet earth my bones bestow
Where above a lowly tomb
Here is this vale of sweet abiding,
My ultimate and dulcet home,
That gently dreams above the chiding
of restless and impatient foam;
Beyond the hazards of hell weather,
The harceling of wind and sea,
With timbers morticed tight together
My old hulk havens happily.
The dawn exultantly discloses
I know a Jew fish crier down on Maxwell Street with a voice like a north wind blowing over corn stubble in January.
He dangles herring before prospective customers evincing a joy identical with that of Pavlowa dancing.
His face is that of a man terribly glad to be selling fish, terribly glad that God made fish, and customers to whom he may call his wares, from a pushcart.
LAST night a January wind was ripping at the shingles
over our house and whistling a wolf song under the
I sat in a leather rocker and read to a six-year-old girl
the Browning poem, Childe Roland to the Dark
And her eyes had the haze of autumn hills and it was
beautiful to her and she could not understand.
A man is crossing a big prairie, says the poem, and
nothing happens--and he goes on and on--and it's