A Japanese Wood-Carving

- 1874-1925
          High up above the open, welcoming door
          It hangs, a piece of wood with colours dim.
          Once, long ago, it was a waving tree
          And knew the sun and shadow through the leaves
          Of forest trees, in a thick eastern wood.
          The winter snows had bent its branches down,
          The spring had swelled its buds with coming flowers,
          Summer had run like fire through its veins,
          While autumn pelted it with chestnut burrs,
          And strewed the leafy ground with acorn cups.
          Dark midnight storms had roared and crashed among
          Its branches, breaking here and there a limb;
          But every now and then broad sunlit days
          Lovingly lingered, caught among the leaves.
          Yes, it had known all this, and yet to us
          It does not speak of mossy forest ways,
          Of whispering pine trees or the shimmering birch;
          But of quick winds, and the salt, stinging sea!
          An artist once, with patient, careful knife,
          Had fashioned it like to the untamed sea.
          Here waves uprear themselves, their tops blown back
          By the gay, sunny wind, which whips the blue
          And breaks it into gleams and sparks of light.
          Among the flashing waves are two white birds
          Which swoop, and soar, and scream for very joy
          At the wild sport. Now diving quickly in,
          Questing some glistening fish. Now flying up,
          Their dripping feathers shining in the sun,
          While the wet drops like little glints of light,
          Fall pattering backward to the parent sea.
          Gliding along the green and foam-flecked hollows,
          Or skimming some white crest about to break,
          The spirits of the sky deigning to stoop
          And play with ocean in a summer mood.
          Hanging above the high, wide open door,
          It brings to us in quiet, firelit room,
          The freedom of the earth's vast solitudes,
          Where heaping, sunny waves tumble and roll,
          And seabirds scream in wanton happiness.

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?