Lights go out
And the young men shut their eyes,
But life turns in them...
Life in the cramped ova
Tearing and rending asunder its living cells...
Wars, arts, discoveries, rebellions, travails, immolations,
Pent in the shut flesh.
And the young men twist on their beds in languor and dizziness
Their eyes—heavy and dimmed
With dust of long oblivions in the gray pulp behind—
Staring as through a choked glass.
And they gaze at the moon—throwing off a faint heat—
The moon, blond and burning, creeping to their cots
Softly, as on naked feet...
Lolling on the coverlet... like a woman offering her white body.
Nude glory of the moon!
That leaps like an athlete on the bosoms of the young girls stripped
of their linens;
Stroking their breasts that are smooth and cool as mother-of-pearl
Till the nipples tingle and burn as though little lips plucked at them.
They shudder and grow faint.
And their ears are filled as with a delirious rhapsody,
That Life, like a drunken player,
Strikes out of their clear white bodies
As out of ivory keys.
Lights go out...
And the great lovers linger in little groups, still passionately debating,
Or one may walk in silence, listening only to the still summons of Life—
Life making the great Demand...
Calling its new Christs...
Till tears come, blurring the stars
That grow tender and comforting like the eyes of comrades;
And the moon rolls behind the Battery
Like a word molten out of the mouth of God.
Lights go out...
And colors rush together,
Fusing and floating away...
Pale worn gold like the settings of old jewels...
Mauves, exquisite, tremulous, and luminous purples
And burning spires in aureoles of light
Like shimmering auras.
They are covering up the pushcarts...
Now all have gone save an old man with mirrors—
Little oval mirrors like tiny pools.
He shuffles up a darkened street
And the moon burnishes his mirrors till they shine like phosphorus...
The moon like a skull,
Staring out of eyeless sockets at the old men trundling home the pushcarts.
A sallow dawn is in the sky
As I enter my little green room.
Sadie’s light is still burning...
Without, the frail moon
Worn to a silvery tissue,
Throws a faint glamour on the roofs,
And down the shadowy spires
Lights tip-toe out...
Softly as when lovers close street doors.
Out of the Battery
A little wind
Stirs idly—as an arm
Trails over a boat’s side in dalliance—
Rippling the smooth dead surface of the heat,
And Hester street,
Like a forlorn woman over-born
By many babies at her teats,
Turns on her trampled bed to meet the day.