Frankincense and Myrrh

Amy Lowell - 1874-1925
          My heart is tuned to sorrow, and the strings
           Vibrate most readily to minor chords,
           Searching and sad; my mind is stuffed with words
          Which voice the passion and the ache of things:
          Illusions beating with their baffled wings
           Against the walls of circumstance, and hoards
           Of torn desires, broken joys; records
          Of all a bruised life's maimed imaginings.
           Now you are come! You tremble like a star
          Poised where, behind earth's rim, the sun has set.
             Your voice has sung across my heart, but numb
           And mute, I have no tones to answer.  Far
          Within I kneel before you, speechless yet,
             And life ablaze with beauty, I am dumb.

More by Amy Lowell

A London Thoroughfare. 2 A.M.


They have watered the street,
It shines in the glare of lamps, 
Cold, white lamps, 
And lies
Like a slow-moving river,
Barred with silver and black.
Cabs go down it,
One,
And then another,
Between them I hear the shuffling of feet.
Tramps doze on the window-ledges,
Night-walkers pass along the sidewalks.
The city is squalid and sinister,
With the silver-barred street in the midst,
Slow-moving,
A river leading nowhere.

Opposite my window,
The moon cuts,
Clear and round,
Through the plum-coloured night.
She cannot light the city:
It is too bright.
It has white lamps,
And glitters coldly.

I stand in the window and watch the
   moon.
She is thin and lustreless,
But I love her.
I know the moon, 
And this is an alien city.

Opal

You are ice and fire,
The touch of you burns my hands like snow.
You are cold and flame.
You are the crimson of amaryllis,
The silver of moon-touched magnolias.
When I am with you,
My heart is a frozen pond
Gleaming with agitated torches.

The Taxi

When I go away from you
The world beats dead 
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?