The Road to Avignon

Amy Lowell - 1874-1925
          A Minstrel stands on a marble stair,
          Blown by the bright wind, debonair;
          Below lies the sea, a sapphire floor,
          Above on the terrace a turret door
          Frames a lady, listless and wan,
          But fair for the eye to rest upon.
          The minstrel plucks at his silver strings,
          And looking up to the lady, sings: —
             Down the road to Avignon,
             The long, long road to Avignon,
             Across the bridge to Avignon,
             One morning in the spring.

          The octagon tower casts a shade
          Cool and gray like a cutlass blade;
          In sun-baked vines the cicalas spin,
          The little green lizards run out and in.
          A sail dips over the ocean's rim,
          And bubbles rise to the fountain's brim.
          The minstrel touches his silver strings,
          And gazing up to the lady, sings: —
             Down the road to Avignon,
             The long, long road to Avignon,
             Across the bridge to Avignon,
             One morning in the spring.

          Slowly she walks to the balustrade,
          Idly notes how the blossoms fade
          In the sun's caress; then crosses where
          The shadow shelters a carven chair.
          Within its curve, supine she lies,
          And wearily closes her tired eyes.
          The minstrel beseeches his silver strings,
          And holding the lady spellbound, sings: —
             Down the road to Avignon,
             The long, long road to Avignon,
             Across the bridge to Avignon,
             One morning in the spring.

          Clouds sail over the distant trees,
          Petals are shaken down by the breeze,
          They fall on the terrace tiles like snow;
          The sighing of waves sounds, far below.
          A humming-bird kisses the lips of a rose
          Then laden with honey and love he goes.
          The minstrel woos with his silver strings,
          And climbing up to the lady, sings: —
             Down the road to Avignon,
             The long, long road to Avignon,
             Across the bridge to Avignon,
             One morning in the spring.

          Step by step, and he comes to her,
          Fearful lest she suddenly stir.
          Sunshine and silence, and each to each,
          The lute and his singing their only speech;
          He leans above her, her eyes unclose,
          The humming-bird enters another rose.
          The minstrel hushes his silver strings.
          Hark!  The beating of humming-birds' wings!
             Down the road to Avignon,
             The long, long road to Avignon,
             Across the bridge to Avignon,
             One morning in the spring.

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?