Conrad Potter Aiken

(5 August 1889 – 17 August 1973 / Savannah, Georgia)

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.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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