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 .Last Wishes

    NOT mine alone and never wholly mine
    Can your heart be;
    I share you with a jealous world,
    With children, stars, a tree.

    And with what quick and generous recompense
    They turn to you.
    You give them love: they give you love
    And tributes, too.

    You seem to cling to me, but they alone
    Will hold you fast.
    Each look you give them is as long
    As though it were your last.

    Such love should be my living monument:
    Let others see
    In your unconquerable delight
    How you delighted me,

    Louis Untermeyer

 .Windy Days

    THE red wind tears and the bright leaves are hurled
    Down to their death. A rain of crimson spots
    The rusty-colored earth; the young fruit rots,
    Killed by the fiery gusts that sweep the world.
    There is a treacherous poison in the year
    That withers every branch and delicate fern;
    Even the cloudy heavens smoke and burn . . .
    And what, beloved, are we doing here?

    There's no escape; this tiny stretch of park
    Echoes the clash and thunder of the town.
    We cannot lose the world; it tracks us down
    And spreads its wars till even peace grows dark,
    Here where no bird dares lift a frightened wing
    To try new heights or find a place to sing.

    Louis Untermeyer

 .Mozart

    HOW calmly this beauty falls,
    Confident, careless and futile;
    Like rain upon troubled waters
    Or stars on a field of battle.

    The night, this music, these times
    And you are clashing within me.
    I am bruised and broken with visions,
    A dark wood where sunlight is splintered.

    Louis Untermeyer

 .Haunted House

    A DRAB old house on the meadow
    Seen from the train;
    Its color eaten by sunlight,
    Its years washed in by the rain.

    In the tarnished dusk it stands there,
    Emptied of all delight;
    Its windows, like eyeless sockets,
    Stare on an endless night.

    Suddenly one raw sunbeam
    Writhes like a thing in pain,
    And the eyes of that grim house sparkle
    And go dead again.

    Louis Untermeyer

 .The Wanderer

    IS IT a tribute or betrayal when,
    Turning from all the sweet, accustomed ways,
    I leave your lips and eyes to seek you in
        Some other face?

    Why am I searching after what I have?
    And going far to find the near at hand?
    I do not know. I only know I crave
        To find you at the end.

    I only know that love has many a hearth,
    That hunger has an endless path to roam,
    That beauty is the ghost that haunts the earth
        And leads me home.

    Louis Untermeyer

 .Infidelity

    YOU have not conquered me; it is the surge
    Of love itself that beats against my will;
    It is the sting of conflict, the old urge
        That calls me still.

    It is not you I love, it is the form
    And shadow of all lovers who have died
    That gives you all the freshness of a warm
        And unfamiliar bride.

    It is your name I breathe, your hands I seek;
    It will be you when you are gone.
    And yet the dream, the name I cannot speak
        Is that that lures me on.

    It is the golden summons, the bright wave
    Of banners calling me anew;
    It is all passion, perilous and graveó
        It is not you.

    Louis Untermeyer

 .Dust

    LISTEN--the dust at our feet whispers and breathes.
    It speaks in a voiceless air that is delicate but august.
    Hurry, it says, for the wave that rushes and seethes
    Will spend itself on the rocks and crumble with you in the dust.

    I turn from the earth to your eyes; they are bright as before.
    Your ears can hear nothing grave. That is merciful and just.
    Thank God that you are not burdened with knowledge and useless lore;
    You can dance through a world that surrenders to murder, to squalor and lust.

    Thank God, your eyes are screened from the day that I see
    When your laugh is a bony grimace and the gold in your hair is rust;
    When your flowery hand, with its five white petals, will be
    A sensitive flower, turned yellow, that withers and droops in the dust. . . .

    And we will be lying apart, but compassionate winds will blow,
    Mingling our little separateness, a handful of doubt and distrust.
    And the years will come thundering by; triumphantly they will go
    To creep back broken and join us, with the night, in the frail dust.

    Louis Untermeyer

 .Love

    YOU close your book and put it down,
    As one might drop a tiresome task;
    And, with what tries to be a frown,
        You turn and ask:

    " How can you care one hour for me
    Unless your love is all a sham? '
    Childish and cheap '--but can I be
        More than I am?

    " Your poet knows that love delights
    Only its equals, near or far ... '
    We love the things we love,' he writes,
        ' For what they are.'"

    You serious child, how can you place
    Such utter credence in a song?
    It is, I grant, a lovely phrase;
        But it is wrong.

    Why look, my darling, at the world
    Rolling in blood and murderous flame.
    And what's this life? A brief torch hurled
        To darkness, whence it came.

    The world is easy to revile
    Where much is false and little true.
    And yet we live in it, and smile.
        --And love it, too.

    Cease, then, to talk of wrong or right;
    Finalities are cold and far.
    We love the things we love in spite
        Of what they are.

    Louis Untermeyer

 .The New Adam

    HER body is that glorious gate
    Opening on fresh and surging skies,
    The door of flesh that holds a late
    And larger Paradise.

    Through this I plunge with hungry haste
    Down the old garden, stock and root.
    Nothing is barred; I touch and taste
    Its unforbidden fruit.

    The amorous jungle spreads its feasts,
    The lion fawns about my knee;
    A new strength dawns; and all the beasts
    Are risen and contained in me.

    Soft thunders gather as the glen
    Unfolds the tree from which she shakes
    Her heart for me--and once again
    The wave of lightning breaks. . . .

    Oh shut the gate! Let me be driven
    Down the drab byways of the past.
    What right have I in such a heaven
    To whom earth clings so fast!

    Louis Untermeyer

 .Hands

    STRANGE, how this smooth and supple joint can be
    Put to so many purposes. It checks
    And rears the monsters of machinery
    And shapes the idle gallantries of sex.

    Those hands that light the fuse and dig the trap,
    Fingers that spin the earth or plunge through shame--
    And yours, that lie so lightly in your lap,
    Are only blood and dust--all are the same.

    What mastery directs them through the world
    And gives these delicate bones so great a power? . . .
    You drop your head. You sleep. Your hands are curled
    Loosely, like some half-opened, perfumed flower.

    An hour ago they burned in mine and sent
    Armies with banners charging through my veins.
    Now they are cool and white; they rest content,
    Curved in a smile. The mystery remains.

    Louis Untermeyer

 .Asleep

    THESE hands, two nimble butterflies--
    I never saw them at rest;
    Nor knew a tide so regular
    Could move through your stormy breast.
    You loved to meet life dancing
    With glistening steps, till all
    Your fluent body seemed a curve
    In a restless waterfall.

    And now you lie here so coldly,
    So unbelievably still;
    A stone on a marble river,
    Ice on a wintry hill.
    Something has made your beauty
    Inscrutable and grave;
    Holding your once warm body
    In the curve of a frozen wave.

    Louis Untermeyer

 .Walls Against Eden

    NOW Adam, dazzled, ill at ease,
    Inspects the copper-colored skies;
    Ringed with the roar of strange machineries,
    He thinks of Paradise.

    Yes, this is better. Here, at least,
    Is speed and struggle, not the old
    Languor of Eden and the lukewarm beast--
    Here life is hot and cold!

    Released for action, Adam is
    God in these swift complexities;
    He laughs and leaps from cliff to precipice,
    Lurches through toppling seas.

    New grain is always his to thresh,
    Through him all energy is hurled;
    He rides triumphant on the tides of flesh,
    Pride of a gaping world.

    Yet Adam, hero of all he sees,
    Remains untamed, unreconciled;
    And, in the midst of swaggering victories,
    Turns like a wayward child;

    Hungers for all he spurned, and shrinks
    From clamor and the applauding cries;
    Lost in a storm of dreams, he sinks
    Remembering Paradise.

    Louis Untermeyer

 .A Marriage

    I TELL you it is over and I mean it.
    You have been tugging at my joy too long.
    The coming of the end--you must have seen it--
    Finds us still struggling, stubborn but not strong.

    You light your darkness on me, you rekindle
    Things long burnt out upon my warmth in vain.
    Your flicker fails; the gusty fires dwindle.
    And though you use me up, what do you gain?

    If you could only drink some buoyance from me
    Or draw me up, like blood, to be transfused.
    But all your heavy broodings overcome me,
    And leave us both bewildered and misused.

    Well, let us try once more this magnifier
    Of pride and passions. Let it burn us through.
    Come, take of me whatever you require;
    I shall not tell you what I steal from you.

    Thus, feeding but not fed, we waste each other,
    And war with weapons never understood;
    And win, with each new ending, one another;
    And take up arms again . . . and find it good.

    Louis Untermeyer


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