RIVERS TO THE SEA
BY SARA TEASDALE
Over the Roofs
- IH chimes set high on the sunny tower
- Ring on, ring on unendingly,
- Make all the hours a single hour,
- For when the dusk begins to flower,
- The man I love will come to me! . . .
- But no, go slowly as you will,
- I should not bid you hasten so,
- For while I wait for love to come,
- Some other girl is standing dumb,
- Fearing her love will go.
- Oh white steam over the roofs, blow high!
- Oh chimes in the tower ring clear and free !
- Oh sun awake in the covered sky,
- For the man I love, loves me I . . .
- Oh drifting steam disperse and die,
- Oh tower stand shrouded toward the south,--
- Fate heard afar my happy cry,
- And laid her finger on my mouth.
- The dusk was blue with blowing mist,
- The lights were spangles in a veil,
- And from the clamor far below
- Floated faint music like a wail.
- It voiced what I shall never speak,
- My heart was breaking all night long,
- But when the dawn was hard and gray,
- My tears distilled into a song.
- I said, "I have shut my heart
- As one shuts an open door,
- That Love may starve therein
- And trouble me no more."
- But over the roofs there came
- The wet new wind of May,
- And a tune blew up from the curb
- Where the street-pianos play.
- My room was white with the sun
- And Love cried out in me,
- "I am strong, I will break your heart
- Unless you set me free."
- OH, there are eyes that he can see,
- And hands to make his hands rejoice,
- But to my lover I must be
- Only a voice.
- Oh, there are breasts to bear his head,
- And lips whereon his lips can lie,
- But I must be till I am dead
- Only a cry.
- How many times we must have met
- Here on the street as strangers do,
- Children of chance we were, who passed
- The door of heaven and never knew.
- SO soon my body will have gone
- Beyond the sound and sight of men,
- And tho' it wakes and suffers now,
- Its sleep will be unbroken then;
- But oh, my frail immortal soul
- That will not sleep forevermore,
- A leaf borne onward by the blast,
- A wave that never finds the shore.
- NOW while my lips are living
- Their words must stay unsaid,
- And will my soul remember
- To speak when I am dead?
- Yet if my soul remembered
- You would not heed it, dear,
- For now you must not listen,
- And then you could not hear.
- I SAID, "I will take my life
- And throw it away;
- I who was fire and song
- Will turn to clay."
- "I will lie no more in the night
- With shaken breath,
- I will toss my heart in the air
- To be caught by Death."
- But out of the night I heard,
- Like the inland sound of the sea,
- The hushed and terrible sob
- Of all humanity.
- Then I said, "Oh who am I
- To scorn God to his face?
- I will bow my head and stay
- And suffer with my race."
- I GAVE my first love laughter,
- I gave my second tears,
- I gave my third love silence
- Thru all the years.
- My first love gave me singing,
- My second eyes to see,
- But oh, it was my third love
- Who gave my soul to me.
On to the next poem.