Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership



Best Famous Conrad Aiken Poems

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

Search for the best famous Conrad Aiken poems, articles about Conrad Aiken poems, poetry blogs, or anything else Conrad Aiken poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See also:

Famous poems below this ad
Written 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.


Written by Conrad Aiken | |

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.
'Yes.
We might do an act together.
That would be very nice.
' He kisses her passionately, and thinks She's carnal, but cold as ice.


Written 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.


More great poems below...

Written 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.


Written by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 04: 01: Clairvoyant

 'This envelope you say has something in it
Which once belonged to your dead son—or something
He knew, was fond of? Something he remembers?—
The soul flies far, and we can only call it
By things like these .
.
.
a photograph, a letter, Ribbon, or charm, or watch .
.
.
' .
.
.
Wind flows softly, the long slow even wind, Over the low roofs white with snow; Wind blows, bearing cold clouds over the ocean, One by one they melt and flow,— Streaming one by one over trees and towers, Coiling and gleaming in shafts of sun; Wind flows, bearing clouds; the hurrying shadows Flow under them one by one .
.
.
' .
.
.
A spirit darkens before me .
.
.
it is the spirit Which in the flesh you called your son .
.
.
A spirit Young and strong and beautiful .
.
.
He says that he is happy, is much honored; Forgives and is forgiven .
.
.
rain and wind Do not perplex him .
.
.
storm and dust forgotten .
.
The glittering wheels in wheels of time are broken And laid aside .
.
.
' 'Ask him why he did the thing he did!' 'He is unhappy.
This thing, he says, transcends you: Dust cannot hold what shines beyond the dust .
.
.
What seems calamity is less than a sigh; What seems disgrace is nothing.
' 'Ask him if the one he hurt is there, And if she loves him still!' 'He tells you she is there, and loves him still,— Not as she did, but as all spirits love .
.
.
A cloud of spirits has gathered about him.
They praise him and call him, they do him honor; He is more beautiful, he shines upon them.
' .
.
.
Wind flows softly, the long deep tremulous wind, Over the low roofs white with snow .
.
.
Wind flows, bearing dreams; they gather and vanish, One by one they sing and flow; Over the outstretched lands of days remembered, Over remembered tower and wall, One by one they gather and talk in the darkness, Rise and glimmer and fall .
.
.
'Ask him why he did the thing he did! He knows I will understand!' 'It is too late: He will not hear me: I have lost my power.
' 'Three times I've asked him! He will never tell me.
God have mercy upon him.
I will ask no more.
'


Written by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 04: 02: Death: And A Derisive Chorus

 The door is shut.
She leaves the curtained office, And down the grey-walled stairs comes trembling slowly Towards the dazzling street.
Her withered hand clings tightly to the railing.
The long stairs rise and fall beneath her feet.
Here in the brilliant sun we jostle, waiting To tear her secret out .
.
.
We laugh, we hurry, We go our way, revolving, sinister, slow.
She blinks in the sun, and then steps faintly downward.
We whirl her away, we shout, we spin, we flow.
Where have you been, old lady? We know your secret!— Voices jangle about her, jeers, and laughter.
.
.
.
She trembles, tries to hurry, averts her eyes.
Tell us the truth, old lady! where have you been? She turns and turns, her brain grows dark with cries.
Look at the old fool tremble! She's been paying,— Paying good money, too,—to talk to spirits.
.
.
.
She thinks she's heard a message from one dead! What did he tell you? Is he well and happy? Don't lie to us—we all know what he said.
He said the one he murdered once still loves him; He said the wheels in wheels of time are broken; And dust and storm forgotten; and all forgiven.
.
.
.
But what you asked he wouldn't tell you, though,— Ha ha! there's one thing you will never know! That's what you get for meddling so with heaven! Where have you been, old lady? Where are you going? We know, we know! She's been to gab with spirits.
Look at the old fool! getting ready to cry! What have you got in an envelope, old lady? A lock of hair? An eyelash from his eye? How do you know the medium didn't fool you? Perhaps he had no spirit—perhaps he killed it.
Here she comes! the old fool's lost her son.
What did he have—blue eyes and golden hair? We know your secret! what's done is done.
Look out, you'll fall—and fall, if you're not careful, Right into an open grave.
.
.
.
but what's the hurry? You don't think you will find him when you're dead? Cry! Cry! Look at her mouth all twisted,— Look at her eyes all red! We know you—know your name and all about you, All you remember and think, and all you scheme for.
We tear your secret out, we leave you, go Laughingly down the street.
.
.
.
Die, if you want to! Die, then, if you're in such a hurry to know!— .
.
.
.
She falls.
We lift her head.
The wasted body Weighs nothing in our hands.
Does no one know her? Was no one with her when she fell? .
.
.
We eddy about her, move away in silence.
We hear slow tollings of a bell.


Written by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 04: 04: Counterpoint: Two Rooms

 He, in the room above, grown old and tired,
She, in the room below—his floor her ceiling—
Pursue their separate dreams.
He turns his light, And throws himself on the bed, face down, in laughter.
.
.
.
She, by the window, smiles at a starlight night, His watch—the same he has heard these cycles of ages— Wearily chimes at seconds beneath his pillow.
The clock, upon her mantelpiece, strikes nine.
The night wears on.
She hears dull steps above her.
The world whirs on.
.
.
.
New stars come up to shine.
His youth—far off—he sees it brightly walking In a golden cloud.
.
.
.
Wings flashing about it.
.
.
.
Darkness Walls it around with dripping enormous walls.
Old age—far off—her death—what do they matter? Down the smooth purple night a streaked star falls.
She hears slow steps in the street—they chime like music; They climb to her heart, they break and flower in beauty, Along her veins they glisten and ring and burn.
.
.
.
He hears his own slow steps tread down to silence.
Far off they pass.
He knows they will never return.
Far off—on a smooth dark road—he hears them faintly.
The road, like a sombre river, quietly flowing, Moves among murmurous walls.
A deeper breath Swells them to sound: he hears his steps more clearly.
And death seems nearer to him: or he to death.
What's death?—She smiles.
The cool stone hurts her elbows.
The last of the rain-drops gather and fall from elm-boughs, She sees them glisten and break.
The arc-lamp sings, The new leaves dip in the warm wet air and fragrance.
A sparrow whirs to the eaves, and shakes his wings.
What's death—what's death? The spring returns like music, The trees are like dark lovers who dream in starlight, The soft grey clouds go over the stars like dreams.
The cool stone wounds her arms to pain, to pleasure.
Under the lamp a circle of wet street gleams.
.
.
.
And death seems far away, a thing of roses, A golden portal, where golden music closes, Death seems far away: And spring returns, the countless singing of lovers, And spring returns to stay.
.
.
.
He, in the room above, grown old and tired, Flings himself on the bed, face down, in laughter, And clenches his hands, and remembers, and desires to die.
And she, by the window, smiles at a night of starlight.
.
.
.
The soft grey clouds go slowly across the sky.


Written 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.


Written 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.


Written 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.


Written by Conrad Aiken | |

The House Of Dust: Part 04: 07: The sun goes down in a cold pale flare of light

 The sun goes down in a cold pale flare of light.
The trees grow dark: the shadows lean to the east: And lights wink out through the windows, one by one.
A clamor of frosty sirens mourns at the night.
Pale slate-grey clouds whirl up from the sunken sun.
And the wandering one, the inquisitive dreamer of dreams, The eternal asker of answers, stands in the street, And lifts his palms for the first cold ghost of rain.
The purple lights leap down the hill before him.
The gorgeous night has begun again.
'I will ask them all, I will ask them all their dreams, I will hold my light above them and seek their faces, I will hear them whisper, invisible in their veins.
.
.
.
' The eternal asker of answers becomes as the darkness, Or as a wind blown over a myriad forest, Or as the numberless voices of long-drawn rains.
We hear him and take him among us like a wind of music, Like the ghost of a music we have somewhere heard; We crowd through the streets in a dazzle of pallid lamplight, We pour in a sinister mass, we ascend a stair, With laughter and cry, with word upon murmured word, We flow, we descend, we turn.
.
.
.
and the eternal dreamer Moves on among us like light, like evening air .
.
.
Good night! good night! good night! we go our ways, The rain runs over the pavement before our feet, The cold rain falls, the rain sings.
We walk, we run, we ride.
We turn our faces To what the eternal evening brings.
Our hands are hot and raw with the stones we have laid, We have built a tower of stone high into the sky.
We have built a city of towers.
Our hands are light, they are singing with emptiness.
Our souls are light.
They have shaken a burden of hours.
.
.
.
What did we build it for? Was it all a dream? .
.
.
Ghostly above us in lamplight the towers gleam .
.
.
And after a while they will fall to dust and rain; Or else we will tear them down with impatient hands; And hew rock out of the earth, and build them again.


Written 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.
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.


Written 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.
'


Written 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.


Written 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?