Bells in the Rain

- 1885-1928

Sleep falls, with limpid drops of rain,
Upon the steep cliffs of the town.
Sleep falls; men are at peace again
While the small drops fall softly down.

The bright drops ring like bells of glass
Thinned by the wind; and lightly blown;
Sleep cannot fall on peaceful grass
So softly as it falls on stone.

Peace falls unheeded on the dead
Asleep; they have had deep peace to drink;
Upon a live man’s bloody head
It falls most tenderly, I think.

More by Elinor Wylie

Atavism

I always was afraid of Somes's Pond:
Not the little pond, by which the willow stands,
Where laughing boys catch alewives in their hands
In brown, bright shallows; but the one beyond.
There, when the frost makes all the birches burn
Yellow as cow-lilies, and the pale sky shines
Like a polished shell between black spruce and pines,
Some strange thing tracks us, turning where we turn.

You'll say I dream it, being the true daughter
Of those who in old times endured this dread.
Look! Where the lily-stems are showing red
A silent paddle moves below the water,
A sliding shape has stirred them like a breath;
Tall plumes surmount a painted mask of death.

Escape

When foxes eat the last gold grape,
And the last white antelope is killed,
I shall stop fighting and escape
Into a little house I'll build.

But first I'll shrink to fairy size,
With a whisper no one understands,
Making blind moons of all your eyes,
And muddy roads of all your hands.

And you may grope for me in vain
In hollows under the mangrove root,
Or where, in apple-scented rain,
The silver wasp-nests hang like fruit.

Beauty

Say not of Beauty she is good,
Or aught but beautiful,
Or sleek to doves’ wings of the wood
Her wild wings of a gull.

Call her not wicked; that word’s touch
Consumes her like a curse;
But love her not too much, too much,
For that is even worse.

O, she is neither good nor bad,
But innocent and wild!
Enshrine her and she dies, who had
The hard heart of a child.

Related Poems

March Evening

Blue through the window burns the twilight;
  Heavy, through trees, blows the warm south wind.
Glistening, against the chill, gray sky light,
  Wet, black branches are barred and entwined.

Sodden and spongy, the scarce-green grass plot
  Dents into pools where a foot has been.
Puddles lie spilt in the road a mass, not
  Of water, but steel, with its cold, hard sheen.

Faint fades the fire on the hearth, its embers
  Scattering wide at a stronger gust.
Above, the old weathercock groans, but remembers
  Creaking, to turn, in its centuried rust.

Dying, forlorn, in dreary sorrow,
  Wrapping the mists round her withering form,
Day sinks down; and in darkness to-morrow
  Travails to birth in the womb of the storm.