After Hearing a Waltz by Bartok
But why did I kill him? Why? Why?
In the small, gilded room, near the stair?
My ears rack and throb with his cry,
And his eyes goggle under his hair,
As my fingers sink into the fair
White skin of his throat.
It was I!
I killed him! My God! Don't you hear?
I shook him until his red tongue
Hung flapping out through the black, queer,
Swollen lines of his lips.
And I clung
With my nails drawing blood, while I flung
The loose, heavy body in fear.
Fear lest he should still not be dead.
I was drunk with the lust of his life.
The blood-drops oozed slow from his head
And dabbled a chair.
And our strife
Lasted one reeling second, his knife
Lay and winked in the lights overhead.
And the waltz from the ballroom I heard,
When I called him a low, sneaking cur.
And the wail of the violins stirred
My brute anger with visions of her.
As I throttled his windpipe, the purr
Of his breath with the waltz became blurred.
I have ridden ten miles through the dark,
With that music, an infernal din,
Pounding rhythmic inside me.
One! Two! Three! And my fingers
To his flesh when the violins, thin
And straining with passion, grow stark.
One! Two! Three! Oh, the horror
While she danced I was crushing his throat.
He had tasted the joy of her, wound
Round her body, and I heard him gloat
On the favour.
That instant I smote.
One! Two! Three! How the dancers
He is here in the room, in my arm,
His limp body hangs on the spin
Of the waltz we are dancing, a swarm
Of blood-drops is hemming us in!
Round and round! One! Two! Three! And
Is red like his tongue lolling warm.
One! Two! Three! And the drums
are his knell.
He is heavy, his feet beat the floor
As I drag him about in the swell
Of the waltz.
With a menacing roar,
The trumpets crash in through the door.
One! Two! Three! clangs his funeral bell.
One! Two! Three! In the chaos
Rolls the earth to the hideous glee
Of death! And so cramped is this place,
I stifle and pant.
One! Two! Three!
Round and round! God! 'Tis he throttles
He has covered my mouth with his face!
And his blood has dripped into my heart!
And my heart beats and labours.
Three! His dead limbs have coiled every part
Of my body in tentacles.
My ears the waltz jangles.
His dead body holds me athwart.
One! Two! Three! Give me air! Oh! My
One! Two! Three! I am drowning
One! Two! Three! And his corpse,
like a clod,
Beats me into a jelly! The chime,
One! Two! Three! And his
dead legs keep time.
Air! Give me air! Air! My God!
by Amy Lowell
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