A Reminiscence

Held in a late season

At a shifting of worlds,

In the golden balance of autumn,

Out of love and reason

 

We made our peace;

Stood still in October

In the failing light and sought,

Each in the other, ease

 

And release from silence,

From the slow damnation

Of speech that is weak

And falls from silence.

 

In the October sun

By the green river we spoke,

Late in October, the leaves

Of the water maples had fallen.

 

But whatever we said

In the bright leaves was lost,

Quick as the leaf-fall,

Brittle and blood red.    

 

"A Reminiscence" - Richard O. Moore

Low Barometer

The south-wind strengthens to a gale,

Across the moon the clouds fly fast,

The house is smitten as with a flail,

The chimney shudders to the blast.

 

On such a night, when Air has loosed

Its guardian grasp on blood and brain,

Old terrors then of god or ghost

Creep from their caves to life again;

 

And Reason kens he herits in

A haunted house. Tenants unknown

Assert their squalid lease of sin

With earlier title than his own.

 

Unbodied presences, the pack’d

Pollution and remorse of Time,

Slipp’d from oblivion reënact

The horrors of unhouseld crime.

 

Some men would quell the thing with prayer

Whose sightless footsteps pad the floor,

Whose fearful trespass mounts the stair

Or burts the lock’d forbidden door.

 

Some have seen corpses long interr'd

Escape from hallowing control,

Pale charnel forms—nay ev’n have heard

The shrilling of a troubled soul,

 

That wanders till the dawn hath cross’d

The dolorous dark, or Earth hath wound

Closer her storm-spredd cloke, and thrust

The baleful phantoms underground.

 

"Low Barometer" - Robert Bridges

Nuit Blanche

I want no horns to rouse me up to-night,   

And trumpets make too clamorous a ring   

To fit my mood, it is so weary white   

I have no wish for doing any thing.

 

A music coaxed from humming strings would please;   

Not plucked, but drawn in creeping cadences   

Across a sunset wall where some Marquise

Picks a pale rose amid strange silences.

 

Ghostly and vaporous her gown sweeps by   

The twilight dusking wall, I hear her feet   

Delaying on the gravel, and a sigh,

Briefly permitted, touches the air like sleet

 

And it is dark, I hear her feet no more.   

A red moon leers beyond the lily-tank.   

A drunken moon ogling a sycamore,   

Running long fingers down its shining flank.

 

A lurching moon, as nimble as a clown,

Cuddling the flowers and trees which burn like glass.

Red, kissing lips, I feel you on my gown—

Kiss me, red lips, and then pass—pass.

 

Music, you are pitiless to-night.

And I so old, so cold, so languorously white.

 

"Nuit Blanche" - Amy Lowell

A Letter in October

Dawn comes later and later now,   

and I, who only a month ago

could sit with coffee every morning   

watching the light walk down the hill   

to the edge of the pond and place   

a doe there, shyly drinking,

 

then see the light step out upon   

the water, sowing reflections   

to either side—a garden

of trees that grew as if by magic—

now see no more than my face,   

mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,

 

startled by time. While I slept,   

night in its thick winter jacket   

bridled the doe with a twist

of wet leaves and led her away,

then brought its black horse with harness   

that creaked like a cricket, and turned

 

the water garden under. I woke,   

and at the waiting window found   

the curtains open to my open face;   

beyond me, darkness. And I,

who only wished to keep looking out,   

must now keep looking in.

 

"A Letter in October" - Ted Kooser

Night on the Mountain

The fog has risen from the sea and crowned

The dark, untrodden summits of the coast,

Where roams a voice, in canyons uttermost, 

From midnight waters vibrant and profound.

High on each granite altar dies the sound,

Deep as the trampling of an armored host, 

Lone as the lamentation of a ghost, 

Sad as the diapason of the drowned. 

 

The mountain seems no more a soulless thing,

But rather as a shape of ancient fear, 

In darkness and the winds of Chaos born

Amid the lordless heavens' thundering -

A Presence crouched, enormous and austere, 

Before whose feat the mighty waters mourn. 

 

"Night on the Mountain" - George Sterling

One the Eve of a Birthday

As my Scotch, spared the water, blondly sloshes

About its tumbler, and gay manic flame

Is snapping in the fireplace, I grow youthful:

I realize that calendars aren’t truthful

And that for all of my grand unsuccesses

External causes are to blame.

 

And if at present somewhat destitute,

I plan to alter, prove myself more able,

And suavely stroll into the coming years

As into rooms with thick rugs, chandeliers,

And colorfully pyramided fruit

On linened lengths of table.

 

At times I fear the future won’t reward

My failures with sufficient compensation,

But dump me, aging, in a garret room

Appointed with twilit, slant-ceilinged gloom

And a lone bulb depending from a cord

Suggestive of self-strangulation.

 

Then, too, I have bad dreams, in one of which

A cowled, scythe-bearing figure beckons me.

Dark plains glow at his back: it seems I’ve died,

And my soul, weighed and judged, has qualified

For an extended, hyper-sultry hitch

Down in eternity.

 

Such fears and dreams, however, always pass.

And gazing from my window at the dark,

My drink in hand, I’m jauntily unbowed.

The sky’s tiered, windy galleries stream with cloud,

And higher still, the dazed stars thickly mass

In their long Ptolemaic arc.

 

What constellated powers, unkind or kind,

Sway me, what far preposterous ghosts of air?

Whoever they are, whatever our connection,

I toast them (toasting also my reflection),

Not minding that the words which come to mind

Make the toast less toast than prayer:

 

Here’s to the next year, to the best year yet;

To mixed joys, to my harum-scarum prime;

To auguries reliable and specious;

To times to come, such times being precious,

If only for the reason that they get

Shorter all the time.

 

"On the Eve of a Birthday" - Timothy Steele

End of Summer

An agitation of the air,

A perturbation of the light

Admonished me the unloved year

Would turn on its hinge that night.

 

I stood in the disenchanted field

Amid the stubble and the stones,

Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me

The song of my marrow-bones.

 

Blue poured into summer blue,

A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,

The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew

That part of my life was over.

 

Already the iron door of the north

Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows

Order their populations forth,

And a cruel wind blows.

 

"End of Summer" - Stanley Kunitz