I slept in the frenzy
And delirium of men and their cities.

Close by the streets and the cross-ways of traffic,
Deep in the waste of houses
Where multitudes unsmiling are homeless,
Mouldered the hut of my life, care-deserted,
Of a haven of slumber and open-eyed sleep,
Of peace for my soul.

To the world and its whirling of men in disorder,
To the riot of manifold unvaried activities
From the pain of birth to the pleasure of death.
I lived not,
I slept for the peace of my soul.

Ears I had but I heard not
The clamor of bells from churches and towers of stone,
I heard not the clink of metal,
The groaning of iron
With the weight of passengers and wheels of iron,
The whistle from long-throated chimneys,
The siren of sound and smoke from the piers.

To the clanking of steel,
To the hissing of vapor from pent-up boilers
In the shops on the street, in the ships on the stream,
To the thud of machines against factory walls,
And of trucks on the adamant road in the open,
To the motley news-boys shrieking,

And the rabble of crowds on the street, on the square,
In a rush of commotion and fury
To the sounds, discordant, erratic, out of tune,
Cadenceless, out of time,
I was rock, unresponsive, alien, remote,
They were silence
And echoes sepulchral of silence in tombs.

Life that stirred from the vitals of creatures
Howling and wakeful in graves . . . .
Death that returned with the ebb and recession
Of life-refusing love
These to me meant nothing, when confusion was all they could mean.

Love that was hatred merely,
Hatred begotten of love unrequited,
Pity self-seeking, self-centered, selfish,
Friendship of hearts that were hollow of feeling,
Passions let loose
And cravings run wild,
These were the forces of fire and power titanic
Oppressing the flesh of a spirit rebellious
For freedom of pleasure,
For freedom from pain.

I slept forgetful of self,
Unconcerned about others living for their own
In a half-mad world.

Of desire unmindful,
Forgetting care and canker and chaos,
I slept with Endymion, loved of the moon, perpetual,
In the wilderness of cities,
In the wasteland of war.


From Manila: A Collection of Verse (Imp. Paredes, Inc., 1926) by Luis Dato. This poem is in the public domain.