Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Sweeney among the Nightingales

Apeneck Sweeney spreads his knees	
Letting his arms hang down to laugh,	
The zebra stripes along his jaw	
Swelling to maculate giraffe.	
 
The circles of the stormy moon
Slide westward toward the River Plate,	
Death and the Raven drift above	
And Sweeney guards the horned gate.	
 
Gloomy Orion and the Dog	
Are veiled; and hushed the shrunken seas;
The person in the Spanish cape	
Tries to sit on Sweeney’s knees	
 
Slips and pulls the table cloth	
Overturns a coffee-cup,	
Reorganized upon the floor
She yawns and draws a stocking up;	
 
The silent man in mocha brown	
Sprawls at the window-sill and gapes;	
The waiter brings in oranges	
Bananas figs and hothouse grapes;
 
The silent vertebrate in brown	
Contracts and concentrates, withdraws;	
Rachel née Rabinovitch	
Tears at the grapes with murderous paws;	
 
She and the lady in the cape
Are suspect, thought to be in league;	
Therefore the man with heavy eyes	
Declines the gambit, shows fatigue,	
 
Leaves the room and reappears	
Outside the window, leaning in,
Branches of wistaria	
Circumscribe a golden grin;	
 
The host with someone indistinct	
Converses at the door apart,	
The nightingales are singing near
The Convent of the Sacred Heart,	
 
And sang within the bloody wood	
When Agamemnon cried aloud,	
And let their liquid droppings fall	
To stain the stiff dishonoured shroud.

Credit


This poem is in the public domain.

Author


T. S. Eliot

Born in Missouri on September 26, 1888, T. S. Eliot is the author of The Waste Land, which is now considered by many to be the most influential poetic work of the twentieth century.

Date Published: 1920-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/sweeney-among-nightingales