poem 353

Come here and place your hand across my mouth

When I said you were beautiful it was true

You took an old cat and drowned it

How anybody could I really don’t know

But death is the friend of your frenzy

What meaning comes from meaningless words

more than words you meant to say?

far down within the ends of the world

where the good and the bad and the worst and the best

There shrines and palaces and towers

(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)

Death is beauty

Silence my whispers

but I didn’t mean it

I just had to tell you.

you said you meant not to

Lo! Death is beauty

in a strange city lying alone

have gone to their eternal rest.

Resemble nothing that is ours.

Around, by lifting winds forgot,

Resignedly beneath the sky

The melancholy waters lie.

But light from out the lurid sea

Streams up the turrets silently —

No rays from the holy heaven come down

On the long night-time of that town;

Gleams up the pinnacles far and free —

Up domes — up spires — up kingly halls —

Up fanes — up Babylon-like walls —

Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers

Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers —

Up many and many a marvelous shrine

Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.

Resignedly beneath the sky

the melancholy waters lie.

So blend the turrets and shadows there

that all seem pendulous in air,

While from a proud tower in the town

Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves

Yawn level with the luminous waves;

But not the riches there that lie

In each idol’s diamond eye —

Not the gaily-jeweled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;

For no ripples curl, alas!

Along that wilderness of glass —

No swellings tell that winds may be

upon some far-off happier sea —

No heaving hint those winds have been

on seas less hideously serene.

But lo death is beauty; a stir is in the air!

The wave — there is a movement there!

As if the towers had thrust aside,

in slightly sinking, the dull tide —

As if their tops had feebly given

a void within the filmy Heaven.

The waves have now a redder glow —

The hours are breathing faint and low —

And when, amid no earthly moans,

Down, down that town shall settle hence.

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