New York at Night

- 1874-1925
          A near horizon whose sharp jags
           Cut brutally into a sky
          Of leaden heaviness, and crags
          Of houses lift their masonry
           Ugly and foul, and chimneys lie
          And snort, outlined against the gray
           Of lowhung cloud. I hear the sigh
          The goaded city gives, not day
          Nor night can ease her heart, her anguished labours stay.

          Below, straight streets, monotonous,
           From north and south, from east and west,
          Stretch glittering; and luminous
           Above, one tower tops the rest
           And holds aloft man's constant quest:
          Time!  Joyless emblem of the greed
           Of millions, robber of the best
          Which earth can give, the vulgar creed
          Has seared upon the night its flaming ruthless screed.

          O Night!  Whose soothing presence brings
           The quiet shining of the stars.
          O Night!  Whose cloak of darkness clings
           So intimately close that scars
           Are hid from our own eyes. Beggars
          By day, our wealth is having night
           To burn our souls before altars
          Dim and tree-shadowed, where the light
          Is shed from a young moon, mysteriously bright.

          Where art thou hiding, where thy peace?
           This is the hour, but thou art not.
          Will waking tumult never cease?
           Hast thou thy votary forgot?
           Nature forsakes this man-begot
          And festering wilderness, and now
           The long still hours are here, no jot
          Of dear communing do I know;
          Instead the glaring, man-filled city groans below!


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?

The Letter

Little cramped words scrawling all over the paper
Like draggled fly's legs,
What can you tell of the flaring moon
Through the oak leaves?
Or of my uncertain window and the bare floor
Spattered with moonlight?
Your silly quirks and twists have nothing in them
Of blossoming hawthorns,
And this paper is dull, crisp, smooth, virgin of loveliness
Beneath my hand.

I am tired, Beloved, of chafing my heart against
The want of you;
Of squeezing it into little inkdrops,
And posting it.
And I scald alone, here, under the fire
Of the great moon.