The Way

Amy Lowell - 1874-1925
          At first a mere thread of a footpath half blotted out by the grasses
          Sweeping triumphant across it, it wound between hedges of roses
          Whose blossoms were poised above leaves as pond lilies float on the water,
          While hidden by bloom in a hawthorn a bird filled the morning with singing.

          It widened a highway, majestic, stretching ever to distant horizons,
          Where shadows of tree-branches wavered, vague outlines invaded by sunshine;
          No sound but the wind as it whispered the secrets of earth to the flowers,
          And the hum of the yellow bees, honey-laden and dusty with pollen.
          And Summer said, "Come, follow onward, with no thought save the longing
            to wander,
          The wind, and the bees, and the flowers, all singing the great song
            of Nature,
          Are minstrels of change and of promise, they herald the joy of the Future."

          Later the solitude vanished, confused and distracted the road
          Where many were seeking and jostling. Left behind were the trees
            and the flowers,
          The half-realized beauty of quiet, the sacred unconscious communing.
          And now he is come to a river, a line of gray, sullen water,
          Not blue and splashing, but dark, rolling somberly on to the ocean.
          But on the far side is a city whose windows flame gold in the sunset.
          It lies fair and shining before him, a gem set betwixt sky and water,
          And spanning the river a bridge, frail promise to longing desire,
          Flung by man in his infinite courage, across the stern force of the water;
          And he looks at the river and fears, the bridge is so slight,
            yet he ventures
          His life to its fragile keeping, if it fails the waves will engulf him.
          O Arches! be strong to uphold him, and bear him across to the city,
          The beautiful city whose spires still glow with the fires of sunset!

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


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?