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.
Amy Lowell - 1874-1925
Softly the water ripples Against the canoe's curving side, Softly the birch trees rustle Flinging over us branches wide. Softly the moon glints and glistens As the water takes and leaves, Like golden ears of corn Which fall from loose-bound sheaves, Or like the snow-white petals Which drop from an overblown rose, When Summer ripens to Autumn And the freighted year must close. From the shore come the scents of a garden, And between a gap in the trees A proud white statue glimmers In cold, disdainful ease. The child of a southern people, The thought of an alien race, What does she in this pale, northern garden, How reconcile it with her grace? But the moon in her wayward beauty Is ever and always the same, As lovely as when upon Latmos She watched till Endymion came. Through the water the moon writes her legends In light, on the smooth, wet sand; They endure for a moment, and vanish, And no one may understand. All round us the secret of Nature Is telling itself to our sight, We may guess at her meaning but never Can know the full mystery of night. But her power of enchantment is on us, We bow to the spell which she weaves, Made up of the murmur of waves And the manifold whisper of leaves.