Robert Lowell

(1917 - 1977 / Boston / United States)

Children of Light


Our fathers wrung their bread from stocks and stones
And fenced their gardens with the Redmen's bones;
Embarking from the Nether Land of Holland,
Pilgrims unhouseled by Geneva's night,
They planted here the Serpent's seeds of light;
And here the pivoting searchlights probe to shock
The riotous glass houses built on rock,
And candles gutter by an empty altar,
And light is where the landless blood of Cain
Is burning, burning the unburied grain.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Peter Falina (12/5/2006 10:36:00 AM)

    I first encountered this poem as a frontspiece to Robert Stone's novel, 'A Hall of Mirrors.' Interestingly, Stone took his title from the line that he quoted as, 'And candles gutter in a hall of mirrors.' Does anybody know how he came to quote the line this way? It's an interesting image, but not, perhaps, Lowell's. (Report) Reply

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