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Best Famous Ai Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Ai poems. This is a select list of the best famous Ai poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Ai poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Ai poems.

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See also: Best Member Poems

by Conrad Aiken | |

Chance Meetings

In the mazes of loitering people, the watchful and furtive, 
The shadows of tree-trunks and shadows of leaves, 
In the drowse of the sunlight, among the low voices, 
I suddenly face you, 
Your dark eyes return for a space from her who is with you, 
They shine into mine with a sunlit desire, 
They say an 'I love you, what star do you live on?' 
They smile and then darken, 
And silent, I answer 'You too--I have known you,--I love you!--' 
And the shadows of tree-trunks and shadows of leaves 
Interlace with low voices and footsteps and sunlight 
To divide us forever.

by Conrad Aiken | |


Here on the pale beach, in the darkness; 
With the full moon just to rise; 
They sit alone, and look over the sea, 
Or into each other's eyes.
She pokes her parasol into the sleepy sand, Or sifts the lazy whiteness through her hand.
'A lovely night,' he says, 'the moon, Comes up for you and me.
Just like a blind old spotlight there, Fizzing across the sea!' She pays no heed, nor even turns her head: He slides his arm around her waist instead.
'Why don't we do a sketch together-- Those songs you sing are swell.
Where did you get them, anyway? They suit you awfully well.
' She will not turn to him--will not resist.
Impassive, she submits to being kissed.
'My husband wrote all four of them.
You know,--my husband drowned.
He was always sickly, soon depressed.
' But still she hears the sound Of a stateroom door shut hard, and footsteps going Swiftly and steadily, and the dark sea flowing.
She hears the dark sea flowing, and sees his eyes Hollow with disenchantment, sick surprise,-- And hate of her whom he had loved too well.
She lowers her eyes, demurely prods a shell.
We might do an act together.
That would be very nice.
' He kisses her passionately, and thinks She's carnal, but cold as ice.

by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot | |

Dans le Restaurant

 LE garçon délabré qui n’a rien à faire
Que de se gratter les doigts et se pencher sur mon épaule:
“Dans mon pays il fera temps pluvieux,
Du vent, du grand soleil, et de la pluie;
C’est ce qu’on appelle le jour de lessive des gueux.
” (Bavard, baveux, à la croupe arrondie, Je te prie, au moins, ne bave pas dans la soupe).
“Les saules trempés, et des bourgeons sur les ronces— C’est là, dans une averse, qu’on s’abrite.
J’avais sept ans, elle était plus petite.
Elle était toute mouillée, je lui ai donné des primevères.
” Les taches de son gilet montent au chiffre de trentehuit.
“Je la chatouillais, pour la faire rire.
J’éprouvais un instant de puissance et de délire.
” Mais alors, vieux lubrique, à cet âge.
“Monsieur, le fait est dur.
Il est venu, nous peloter, un gros chien; Moi j’avais peur, je l’ai quittée à mi-chemin.
C’est dommage.
” Mais alors, tu as ton vautour! Va t’en te décrotter les rides du visage; Tiens, ma fourchette, décrasse-toi le crâne.
De quel droit payes-tu des expériences comme moi? Tiens, voilà dix sous, pour la salle-de-bains.
Phlébas, le Phénicien, pendant quinze jours noyé, Oubliait les cris des mouettes et la houle de Cornouaille, Et les profits et les pertes, et la cargaison d’étain: Un courant de sous-mer l’emporta très loin, Le repassant aux étapes de sa vie antérieure.
Figurez-vous donc, c’était un sort pénible; Cependant, ce fut jadis un bel homme, de haute taille.

More great poems below...

by J R R Tolkien | |


 Ai! laurië lantar lassi súrinen,
Yéni únótimë ve rámar aldaron!
Yéni ve lintë yuldar avánier
Mi oromardi lissë-miruvóreva
Andúnë pella, Vardo tellumar
Nu luini yassen tintilar i eleni
Omaryo airetári-lírinen.
Sí man i yulma nin enquantuva? An sí Tintallë Varda Oiolossëo Ve fanyar máryat Elentári ortanë Ar ilyë tier undulávë lumbulë Ar sindanóriello caita mornië I falmalinnar imbë met, Ar hísië untúpa Calaciryo míri oialë.
Sí vanwa ná, Rómello vanwa, Valimar! Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar! Nai elyë hiruva! Namárië! Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind, Long years numberless as the wings of trees! The long years have passed like swift draughts Of the sweet mead in lofty halls Beyond the West, beneath the blue vaults of Varda Wherein the stars tremble In the voice of her song, holy and queenly.
Who now shall refill the cup for me? For now the Kindler, Varda, the Queen of the stars, From Mount Everwhite has uplifted her hands like clouds And all paths are drowned deep in shadow; And out of a grey country darkness lies On the foaming waves between us, And mist covers the jewels of Calacirya for ever.
Now lost, lost to those of the East is Valimar! Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar! Maybe even thou shalt find it! Farewell!

by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 02: 03: Interlude

 The warm sun dreams in the dust, the warm sun falls
On bright red roofs and walls;
The trees in the park exhale a ghost of rain;
We go from door to door in the streets again,
Talking, laughing, dreaming, turning our faces,
Recalling other times and places .
We crowd, not knowing why, around a gate, We crowd together and wait, A stretcher is carried out, voices are stilled, The ambulance drives away.
We watch its roof flash by, hear someone say 'A man fell off the building and was killed— Fell right into a barrel .
' We turn again Among the frightened eyes of white-faced men, And go our separate ways, each bearing with him A thing he tries, but vainly, to forget,— A sickened crowd, a stretcher red and wet.
A hurdy-gurdy sings in the crowded street, The golden notes skip over the sunlit stones, Wings are upon our feet.
The sun seems warmer, the winding street more bright, Sparrows come whirring down in a cloud of light.
We bear our dreams among us, bear them all, Like hurdy-gurdy music they rise and fall, Climb to beauty and die.
The wandering lover dreams of his lover's mouth, And smiles at the hostile sky.
The broker smokes his pipe, and sees a fortune.
The murderer hears a cry.

by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 03: 13: The half-shut doors through which we heard that music

 The half-shut doors through which we heard that music
Are softly closed.
Horns mutter down to silence.
The stars whirl out, the night grows deep.
Darkness settles upon us.
A vague refrain Drowsily teases at the drowsy brain.
In numberless rooms we stretch ourselves and sleep.
Where have we been? What savage chaos of music Whirls in our dreams?—We suddenly rise in darkness, Open our eyes, cry out, and sleep once more.
We dream we are numberless sea-waves languidly foaming A warm white moonlit shore; Or clouds blown windily over a sky at midnight, Or chords of music scattered in hurrying darkness, Or a singing sound of rain .
We open our eyes and stare at the coiling darkness, And enter our dreams again.

by Conrad Aiken | |

The Window

 She looks out in the blue morning
and sees a whole wonderful world
she looks out in the morning
and sees a whole world

she leans out of the window
and this is what she sees
a wet rose singing to the sun
with a chorus of red bees

she leans out of the window
and laughs for the window is high
she is in it like a bird on a perch
and they scoop the blue sky

she and the window scooping
the morning as if it were air
scooping a green wave of leaves
above a stone stair

and an urn hung with leaden garlands
and girls holding hands in a ring
and raindrops on an iron railing
shining like a harp string

an old man draws with his ferrule
in wet sand a map of Spain
the marble soldier on his pedestal
draws a stiff diagram of pain

but the walls around her tremble
with the speed of the earth the floor
curves to the terrestrial center
and behind her the door

opens darkly down to the beginning
far down to the first simple cry
and the animal waking in water
and the opening of the eye

she looks out in the blue morning
and sees a whole wonderful world
she looks out in the morning
and sees a whole world.

by Conrad Aiken | |

Turns And Movies: Dancing Adairs

 Behold me, in my chiffon, gauze, and tinsel, 
Flitting out of the shadow into the spotlight, 
And into the shadow again, without a whisper!— 
Firefly's my name, I am evanescent.
Firefly's your name.
You are evanescent.
But I follow you as remorselessly as darkness, And shut you in and enclose you, at last, and always, Till you are lost,—as a voice is lost in silence.
Till I am lost, as a voice is lost in silence.
Are you the one who would close so cool about me? My fire sheds into and through you and beyond you: How can your fingers hold me? I am elusive.
How can my fingers hold you? You are elusive? Yes, you are flame, but I surround and love you, Always extend beyond you, cool, eternal, To take you into my heart's great void of silence.
You shut me into your heart's great void of silence.
O sweet and soothing end for a life of whirling! Now I am still, whose life was mazed with motion.
Now I sink into you, for love of sleep.

by Conrad Aiken | |

Turns And Movies: Duvals Birds

 The parrot, screeching, flew out into the darkness, 
Circled three times above the upturned faces 
With a great whir of brilliant outspread wings, 
And then returned to stagger on her finger.
She bowed and smiled, eliciting applause.
The property man hated her dirty birds.
But it had taken years—yes, years—to train them, To shoulder flags, strike bells by tweaking strings, Or climb sedately little flights of stairs.
When they were stubborn, she tapped them with a wand, And her eyes glittered a little under the eyebrows.
The red one flapped and flapped on a swinging wire; The little white ones winked round yellow eyes.

by Conrad Aiken | |

The Room

 Through that window—all else being extinct
Except itself and me—I saw the struggle
Of darkness against darkness.
Within the room It turned and turned, dived downward.
Then I saw How order might—if chaos wished—become: And saw the darkness crush upon itself, Contracting powerfully; it was as if It killed itself, slowly: and with much pain.
The scene was pain, and nothing but pain.
What else, when chaos draws all forces inward To shape a single leaf? .
For the leaf came Alone and shining in the empty room; After a while the twig shot downward from it; And from the twig a bough; and then the trunk, Massive and coarse; and last the one black root.
The black root cracked the walls.
Boughs burst the window: The great tree took possession.
Tree of trees! Remember (when time comes) how chaos died To shape the shining leaf.
Then turn, have courage, Wrap arms and roots together, be convulsed With grief, and bring back chaos out of shape.
I will be watching then as I watch now.
I will praise darkness now, but then the leaf.

by Conrad Aiken | |

Turns And Movies: Rose And Murray

 After the movie, when the lights come up, 
He takes her powdered hand behind the wings; 
She, all in yellow, like a buttercup, 
Lifts her white face, yearns up to him, and clings; 
And with a silent, gliding step they move 
Over the footlights, in familiar glare, 
Panther-like in the Tango whirl of love, 
He fawning close on her with idiot stare.
Swiftly they cross the stage.
O lyric ease! The drunken music follows the sure feet, The swaying elbows, intergliding knees, Moving with slow precision on the beat.
She was a waitress in a restaurant, He picked her up and taught her how to dance.
She feels his arms, lifts an appealing glance, But knows he spent last evening with Zudora; And knows that certain changes are before her.
The brilliant spotlight circles them around, Flashing the spangles on her weighted dress.
He mimics wooing her, without a sound, Flatters her with a smoothly smiled caress.
He fears that she will someday queer his act; Feeling his anger.
He will quit her soon.
He nods for faster music.
He will contract Another partner, under another moon.
Meanwhile, 'smooth stuff.
' He lets his dry eyes flit Over the yellow faces there below; Maybe he'll cut down on his drinks a bit, Not to annoy her, and spoil the show.
Zudora, waiting for her turn to come, Watches them from the wings and fatly leers At the girl's younger face, so white and dumb, And the fixed, anguished eyes, ready for tears.
She lies beside him, with a false wedding-ring, In a cheap room, with moonlight on the floor; The moonlit curtains remind her much of spring, Of a spring evening on the Coney shore.
And while he sleeps, knowing she ought to hate, She still clings to the lover that she knew,— The one that, with a pencil on a plate, Drew a heart and wrote, 'I'd die for you.

by Conrad Aiken | |

Turns And Movies: The Cornet

 When she came out, that white little Russian dancer, 
With her bright hair, and her eyes, so young, so young, 
He suddenly lost his leader, and all the players, 
And only heard an immortal music sung,—

Of dryads flashing in the green woods of April, 
On cobwebs trembing over the deep, wet grass: 
Fleeing their shadows with laughter, with hands uplifted, 
Through the whirled sinister sun he saw them pass,—

Lovely immortals gone, yet existing somewhere, 
Still somewhere laughing in woods of immortal green, 
Young he had lived among fires, or dreamed of living, 
Lovers in youth once seen, or dreamed he had seen.
And watched her knees flash up, and her young hands beckon, And the hair that streamed behind, and the taunting eyes.
He felt this place dissolving in living darkness, And through the darkness he felt his childhood rise.
Soft, and shining, and sweet, hands filled with petals.
And watching her dance, he was grateful to forget The fiddlers, leaning and drawing their bows together, And the tired fingers on the stops of his cornet.

by Conrad Aiken | |

Turns And Movies: Violet Moore And Bert Moore

 He thinks her little feet should pass 
Where dandelions star thickly grass; 
Her hands should lift in sunlit air 
Sea-wind should tangle up her hair.
Green leaves, he says, have never heard A sweeter ragtime mockingbird, Nor has the moon-man ever seen, Or man in the spotlight, leering green, Such a beguiling, smiling queen.
Her eyes, he says, are stars at dusk, Her mouth as sweet as red-rose musk; And when she dances his young heart swells With flutes and viols and silver bells; His brain is dizzy, his senses swim, When she slants her ragtime eyes at him.
Moonlight shadows, he bids her see, Move no more silently than she.
It was this way, he says, she came, Into his cold heart, bearing flame.
And now that his heart is all on fire Will she refuse his heart's desire?— And O! has the Moon Man ever seen (Or the spotlight devil, leering green) A sweeter shadow upon a screen?

by Conrad Aiken | |

Turns And Movies: Zudora

 Here on the pale beach, in the darkness; 
With the full moon just to rise; 
They sit alone, and look over the sea, 
Or into each other's eyes.
She pokes her parasol into the sleepy sand, Or sifts the lazy whiteness through her hand.
'A lovely night,' he says, 'the moon, Comes up for you and me.
Just like a blind old spotlight there, Fizzing across the sea!' She pays no heed, nor even turns her head: He slides his arm around her waist instead.
'Why don't we do a sketch together— Those songs you sing are swell.
Where did you get them, anyway? They suit you awfully well.
' She will not turn to him—will not resist.
Impassive, she submits to being kissed.
'My husband wrote all four of them.
You know,—my husband drowned.
He was always sickly, soon depressed.
' But still she hears the sound Of a stateroom door shut hard, and footsteps going Swiftly and steadily, and the dark sea flowing.
She hears the dark sea flowing, and sees his eyes Hollow with disenchantment, sick surprise,— And hate of her whom he had loved too well.
She lowers her eyes, demurely prods a shell.
We might do an act together.
That would be very nice.
' He kisses her passionately, and thinks She's carnal, but cold as ice.

by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 03: 01: As evening falls

 As evening falls,
And the yellow lights leap one by one
Along high walls;
And along black streets that glisten as if with rain,
The muted city seems
Like one in a restless sleep, who lies and dreams
Of vague desires, and memories, and half-forgotten pain .
Along dark veins, like lights the quick dreams run, Flash, are extinguished, flash again, To mingle and glow at last in the enormous brain And die away .
As evening falls, A dream dissolves these insubstantial walls,— A myriad secretly gliding lights lie bare .
The lovers rise, the harlot combs her hair, The dead man's face grows blue in the dizzy lamplight, The watchman climbs the stair .
The bank defaulter leers at a chaos of figures, And runs among them, and is beaten down; The sick man coughs and hears the chisels ringing; The tired clown Sees the enormous crowd, a million faces, Motionless in their places, Ready to laugh, and seize, and crush and tear .
The dancer smooths her hair, Laces her golden slippers, and runs through the door To dance once more, Hearing swift music like an enchantment rise, Feeling the praise of a thousand eyes.
As darkness falls The walls grow luminous and warm, the walls Tremble and glow with the lives within them moving, Moving like music, secret and rich and warm.
How shall we live tonight? Where shall we turn? To what new light or darkness yearn? A thousand winding stairs lead down before us; And one by one in myriads we descend By lamplit flowered walls, long balustrades, Through half-lit halls which reach no end.

by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 03: 03: Haunted Chambers

 The lamplit page is turned, the dream forgotten;
The music changes tone, you wake, remember
Deep worlds you lived before,—deep worlds hereafter
Of leaf on falling leaf, music on music,
Rain and sorrow and wind and dust and laughter.
Helen was late and Miriam came too soon.
Joseph was dead, his wife and children starving.
Elaine was married and soon to have a child.
You dreamed last night of fiddler-crabs with fiddles; They played a buzzing melody, and you smiled.
To-morrow—what? And what of yesterday? Through soundless labyrinths of dream you pass, Through many doors to the one door of all.
Soon as it's opened we shall hear a music: Or see a skeleton fall .
We walk with you.
Where is it that you lead us? We climb the muffled stairs beneath high lanterns.
We descend again.
We grope through darkened cells.
You say: this darkness, here, will slowly kill me.
It creeps and weighs upon me .
Is full of bells.
This is the thing remembered I would forget— No matter where I go, how soft I tread, This windy gesture menaces me with death.
Fatigue! it says, and points its finger at me; Touches my throat and stops my breath.
My fans—my jewels—the portrait of my husband— The torn certificate for my daughter's grave— These are but mortal seconds in immortal time.
They brush me, fade away: like drops of water.
They signify no crime.
Let us retrace our steps: I have deceived you: Nothing is here I could not frankly tell you: No hint of guilt, or faithlessness, or threat.
Dreams—they are madness.
Staring eyes—illusion.
Let us return, hear music, and forget .

by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 03: 05: Melody In A Restaurant

 The cigarette-smoke loops and slides above us,
Dipping and swirling as the waiter passes;
You strike a match and stare upon the flame.
The tiny fire leaps in your eyes a moment, And dwindles away as silently as it came.
This melody, you say, has certain voices— They rise like nereids from a river, singing, Lift white faces, and dive to darkness again.
Wherever you go you bear this river with you: A leaf falls,—and it flows, and you have pain.
So says the tune to you—but what to me? What to the waiter, as he pours your coffee, The violinist who suavely draws his bow? That man, who folds his paper, overhears it.
A thousand dreams revolve and fall and flow.
Some one there is who sees a virgin stepping Down marble stairs to a deep tomb of roses: At the last moment she lifts remembering eyes.
Green leaves blow down.
The place is checked with shadows.
A long-drawn murmur of rain goes down the skies.
And oaks are stripped and bare, and smoke with lightning: And clouds are blown and torn upon high forests, And the great sea shakes its walls.
And then falls silence .
And through long silence falls This melody once more: 'Down endless stairs she goes, as once before.
' So says the tune to him—but what to me? What are the worlds I see? What shapes fantastic, terrible dreams? .
I go my secret way, down secret alleys; My errand is not so simple as it seems.

by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 02: 09: Interlude

 The days, the nights, flow one by one above us,
The hours go silently over our lifted faces,
We are like dreamers who walk beneath a sea.
Beneath high walls we flow in the sun together.
We sleep, we wake, we laugh, we pursue, we flee.
We sit at tables and sip our morning coffee, We read the papers for tales of lust or crime.
The door swings shut behind the latest comer.
We set our watches, regard the time.
What have we done? I close my eyes, remember The great machine whose sinister brain before me Smote and smote with a rhythmic beat.
My hands have torn down walls, the stone and plaster.
I dropped great beams to the dusty street.
My eyes are worn with measuring cloths of purple, And golden cloths, and wavering cloths, and pale.
I dream of a crowd of faces, white with menace.
Hands reach up to tear me.
My brain will fail.
Here, where the walls go down beneath our picks, These walls whose windows gap against the sky, Atom by atom of flesh and brain and marble Will build a glittering tower before we die .
The young boy whistles, hurrying down the street, The young girl hums beneath her breath.
One goes out to beauty, and does not know it.
And one goes out to death.

by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Introduction

A Symphony


To Jessie


Parts of this poem have been printed in "The North American Review, Others, Poetry, Youth, Coterie, The Yale Review".
I am indebted to Lafcadio Hearn for the episode called "The Screen Maiden" in Part II.
This text comes from the source available at Project Gutenberg, originally prepared by Judy Boss of Omaha, NE.

by Conrad Aiken | |

Hatteras Calling

 Southeast, and storm, and every weathervane 
shivers and moans upon its dripping pin, 
ragged on chimneys the cloud whips, the rain 
howls at the flues and windows to get in, 
the golden rooster claps his golden wings 
and from the Baptist Chapel shrieks no more, 
the golden arrow in the southeast sings 
and hears on the roof the Atlantic Ocean roar.
Waves among wires, sea scudding over poles, down every alley the magnificence of rain, dead gutters live once more, the deep manholes hollow in triumph a passage to the main.
Umbrellas, and in the Gardens one old man hurries away along a dancing path, listens to music on a watering-can, observes among the tulips the sudden wrath, pale willows thrashing to the needled lake, and dinghies filled with water; while the sky smashes the lilacs, swoops to shake and break, till shattered branches shriek and railings cry.
Speak, Hatteras, your language of the sea: scour with kelp and spindrift the stale street: that man in terror may learn once more to be child of that hour when rock and ocean meet.

by Conrad Aiken | |

Music I Heard

 Music I heard with you was more than music, 
And bread I broke with you was more than bread; 
Now that I am without you, all is desolate; 
All that was once so beautiful is dead.
Your hands once touched this table and this silver, And I have seen your fingers hold this glass.
These things do not remember you, beloved, And yet your touch upon them will not pass.
For it was in my heart that you moved among them, And blessed them with your hands and with your eyes; And in my heart they will remember always, —They knew you once, O beautiful and wise.

by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 01: 03: One where the pale sea foamed at the yellow sand

 One, where the pale sea foamed at the yellow sand,
With wave upon slowly shattering wave,
Turned to the city of towers as evening fell;
And slowly walked by the darkening road toward it;
And saw how the towers darkened against the sky;
And across the distance heard the toll of a bell.
Along the darkening road he hurried alone, With his eyes cast down, And thought how the streets were hoarse with a tide of people, With clamor of voices, and numberless faces .
And it seemed to him, of a sudden, that he would drown Here in the quiet of evening air, These empty and voiceless places .
And he hurried towards the city, to enter there.
Along the darkening road, between tall trees That made a sinister whisper, loudly he walked.
Behind him, sea-gulls dipped over long grey seas.
Before him, numberless lovers smiled and talked.
And death was observed with sudden cries, And birth with laughter and pain.
And the trees grew taller and blacker against the skies And night came down again.

by Conrad Aiken | |

Evening Song Of Senlin

 from Senlin: A Biography 

It is moonlight.
Alone in the silence I ascend my stairs once more, While waves, remote in a pale blue starlight, Crash on a white sand shore.
It is moonlight.
The garden is silent.
I stand in my room alone.
Across my wall, from the far-off moon, A rain of fire is thrown .
There are houses hanging above the stars, And stars hung under a sea: And a wind from the long blue vault of time Waves my curtain for me .
I wait in the dark once more, Swung between space and space: Before my mirror I lift my hands And face my remembered face.
Is it I who stand in a question here, Asking to know my name? .
It is I, yet I know not whither I go, Nor why, nor whence I came.
It is I, who awoke at dawn And arose and descended the stair, Conceiving a god in the eye of the sun,— In a woman's hands and hair.
It is I whose flesh is gray with the stones I builded into a wall: With a mournful melody in my brain Of a tune I cannot recall .
There are roses to kiss: and mouths to kiss; And the sharp-pained shadow of death.
I remember a rain-drop on my cheek,— A wind like a fragrant breath .
And the star I laugh on tilts through heaven; And the heavens are dark and steep .
I will forget these things once more In the silence of sleep.

by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 01: 02: One from his high bright window in a tower

 One, from his high bright window in a tower,
Leans out, as evening falls,
And sees the advancing curtain of the shower
Splashing its silver on roofs and walls:
Sees how, swift as a shadow, it crosses the city,
And murmurs beyond far walls to the sea,
Leaving a glimmer of water in the dark canyons,
And silver falling from eave and tree.
One, from his high bright window, looking down, Peers like a dreamer over the rain-bright town, And thinks its towers are like a dream.
The western windows flame in the sun's last flare, Pale roofs begin to gleam.
Looking down from a window high in a wall He sees us all; Lifting our pallid faces towards the rain, Searching the sky, and going our ways again, Standing in doorways, waiting under the trees .
There, in the high bright window he dreams, and sees What we are blind to,—we who mass and crowd From wall to wall in the darkening of a cloud.
The gulls drift slowly above the city of towers, Over the roofs to the darkening sea they fly; Night falls swiftly on an evening of rain.
The yellow lamps wink one by one again.
The towers reach higher and blacker against the sky.

by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 01: 04: Up high black walls up sombre terraces

 Up high black walls, up sombre terraces,
Clinging like luminous birds to the sides of cliffs,
The yellow lights went climbing towards the sky.
From high black walls, gleaming vaguely with rain, Each yellow light looked down like a golden eye.
They trembled from coign to coign, and tower to tower, Along high terraces quicker than dream they flew.
And some of them steadily glowed, and some soon vanished, And some strange shadows threw.
And behind them all the ghosts of thoughts went moving, Restlessly moving in each lamplit room, From chair to mirror, from mirror to fire; From some, the light was scarcely more than a gloom: From some, a dazzling desire.
And there was one, beneath black eaves, who thought, Combing with lifted arms her golden hair, Of the lover who hurried towards her through the night; And there was one who dreamed of a sudden death As she blew out her light.
And there was one who turned from clamoring streets, And walked in lamplit gardens among black trees, And looked at the windy sky, And thought with terror how stones and roots would freeze And birds in the dead boughs cry .
And she hurried back, as snow fell, mixed with rain, To mingle among the crowds again, To jostle beneath blue lamps along the street; And lost herself in the warm bright coiling dream, With a sound of murmuring voices and shuffling feet.
And one, from his high bright window looking down On luminous chasms that cleft the basalt town, Hearing a sea-like murmur rise, Desired to leave his dream, descend from the tower, And drown in waves of shouts and laughter and cries.