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Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER XIII

by Eleanor H. Porter

CYRIL AND A WEDDING
The twelfth was a beautiful day.  Clear, frosty
air set the blood to tingling and the eyes to sparkling,
even if it were not your wedding day; while
if it were–

It _was_ Marie Hawthorn’s wedding day, and
certainly her eyes sparkled and her blood tingled
as she threw open the window of her room and
breathed long and deep of the fresh morning air
before going down to breakfast.

“They say `Happy is the bride that the sun
shines on,’ ” she whispered softly to an English
sparrow that cocked his eye at her from a
neighboring tree branch.  “As if a bride wouldn’t
be happy, sun or no sun,” she scoffed tenderly,
as she turned to go down-stairs.

As it happens, however, tingling blood and
sparkling eyes are a matter of more than weather,
or even weddings, as was proved a little later
when the telephone bell rang.

Kate answered the ring.

“Hullo, is that you, Kate?” called a despairing
voice.

“Yes.  Good morning, Bertram.  Isn’t this
a fine day for the wedding?”

“Fine!  Oh, yes, I suppose so, though I must
confess I haven’t noticed it–and you wouldn’t,
if you had a lunatic on your hands.”

“A lunatic!”

“Yes.  Maybe you have, though.  Is Marie
rampaging around the house like a wild creature,
and asking ten questions and making twenty
threats to the minute?”

“Certainly not!  Don’t be absurd, Bertram.
What do you mean?”

“See here, Kate, that show comes off at twelve
sharp, doesn’t it?”

“Show, indeed!” retorted Kate, indignantly.
“The _wedding_ is at noon sharp–as the best man
should know very well.”

“All right; then tell Billy, please, to see that it
is sharp, or I won’t answer for the consequences.”

“What do you mean?  What is the matter?”

“Cyril.  He’s broken loose at last.  I’ve been
expecting it all along.  I’ve simply marvelled at
the meekness with which he has submitted himself
to be tied up with white ribbons and topped
with roses.”

“Nonsense, Bertram!”

“Well, it amounts to that.  Anyhow, he thinks
it does, and he’s wild.  I wish you could have
heard the thunderous performance on his piano
with which he woke me up this morning.  Billy
says he plays everything–his past, present,
and future.  All is, if he was playing his future
this morning, I pity the girl who’s got to live it
with him.”

“Bertram!”

Bertram chuckled remorselessly.

“Well, I do.  But I’ll warrant he wasn’t
playing his future this morning.  He was playing his
present–the wedding.  You see, he’s just waked
up to the fact that it’ll be a perfect orgy of women
and other confusion, and he doesn’t like it.  All
the samee,{sic} I’ve had to assure him just fourteen
times this morning that the ring, the license, the
carriage, the minister’s fee, and my sanity are
all O. K.  When he isn’t asking questions he’s
making threats to snake the parson up there an
hour ahead of time and be off with Marie before a
soul comes.”

“What an absurd idea!”

“Cyril doesn’t think so.  Indeed, Kate, I’ve
had a hard struggle to convince him that the
guests wouldn’t think it the most delightful
experience of their lives if they should come and
find the ceremony over with and the bride gone.”

“Well, you remind Cyril, please, that there
are other people besides himself concerned in
this wedding,” observed Kate, icily.

“I have,” purred Bertram, “and he says all
right, let them have it, then.  He’s gone now to
look up proxy marriages, I believe.”

“Proxy marriages, indeed!  Come, come, Bertram,
I’ve got something to do this morning
besides to stand here listening to your nonsense.
See that you and Cyril get here on time–that’s
all!”  And she hung up the receiver with an
impatient jerk.

She turned to confront the startled eyes of the
bride elect.

“What is it?  Is anything wrong–with
Cyril?” faltered Marie.

Kate laughed and raised her eyebrows slightly.

“Nothing but a little stage fright, my dear.”

“Stage fright!”

“Yes.  Bertram says he’s trying to find some
one to play his r<o^>le, I believe, in the ceremony.”

“_Mrs. Hartwell!_”

At the look of dismayed terror that came into
Marie’s face, Mrs. Hartwell laughed reassuringly.

“There, there, dear child, don’t look so horror-
stricken.  There probably never was a man yet
who wouldn’t have fled from the wedding part
of his marriage if he could; and you know how
Cyril hates fuss and feathers.  The wonder to me
is that he’s stood it as long as he has.  I thought I
saw it coming, last night at the rehearsal–and
now I know I did.”

Marie still looked distressed.

“But he never said–I thought–”  She
stopped helplessly.

“Of course he didn’t, child.  He never said
anything but that he loved you, and he never
thought anything but that you were going to be
his.  Men never do–till the wedding day.  Then
they never think of anything but a place to run,”
she finished laughingly, as she began to arrange
on a stand the quantity of little white boxes
waiting for her.

“But if he’d told me–in time, I wouldn’t have
had a thing–but the minister,” faltered Marie.

“And when you think so much of a pretty
wedding, too?  Nonsense!  It isn’t good for a
man, to give up to his whims like that!”

Marie’s cheeks grew a deeper pink.  Her
nostrils dilated a little.

“It wouldn’t be a `whim,’ Mrs. Hartwell, and
I should be _glad_ to give up,” she said with decision.

Mrs. Hartwell laughed again, her amused eyes
on Marie’s face.

“Dear me, child! don’t you know that if men
had their way, they’d–well, if men married
men there’d never be such a thing in the world
as a shower bouquet or a piece of wedding cake!”

There was no reply.  A little precipitately
Marie turned and hurried away.  A moment
later she was laying a restraining hand on Billy,
who was filling tall vases with superb long-stemmed
roses in the kitchen.

“Billy, please,” she panted, “couldn’t we
do without those?  Couldn’t we send them to
some–some hospital?–and the wedding cake,
too, and–”

“The wedding cake–to some _hospital!_”

“No, of course not–to the hospital.  It
would make them sick to eat it, wouldn’t it?”
That there was no shadow of a smile on Marie’s
face showed how desperate, indeed, was her state
of mind.  “I only meant that I didn’t want them
myself, nor the shower bouquet, nor the rooms
darkened, nor little Kate as the flower girl–and
would you mind very much if I asked you not
to be my maid of honor?”

“_Marie!_”

Marie covered her face with her hands then and
began to sob brokenly; so there was nothing for
Billy to do but to take her into her arms with
soothing little murmurs and pettings.  By degrees,
then, the whole story came out.

Billy almost laughed–but she almost cried,
too.  Then she said:

“Dearie, I don’t believe Cyril feels or acts
half so bad as Bertram and Kate make out, and,
anyhow, if he did, it’s too late now to–to send
the wedding cake to the hospital, or make any
other of the little changes you suggest.”  Billy’s
lips puckered into a half-smile, but her eyes were
grave.  “Besides, there are your music pupils
trimming the living-room this minute with evergreen,
there’s little Kate making her flower-girl
wreath, and Mrs. Hartwell stacking cake boxes
in the hall, to say nothing of Rosa gloating over
the best china in the dining-room, and Aunt
Hannah putting purple bows into the new lace
cap she’s counting on wearing.  Only think how
disappointed they’d all be if I should say:  `Never
mind–stop that.  Marie’s just going to have a
minister.  No fuss, no feathers!’  Why, dearie,
even the roses are hanging their heads for grief,”
she went on mistily, lifting with gentle fingers
one of the full-petalled pink beauties near her.
“Besides, there’s your–guests.”

“Oh, of course, I knew I couldn’t–really,”
sighed Marie, as she turned to go up-stairs, all
the light and joy gone from her face.

Billy, once assured that Marie was out of
hearing, ran to the telephone.

Bertram answered.

“Bertram, tell Cyril I want to speak to him,
please.”

“All right, dear, but go easy.  Better strike
up your tuning fork to find his pitch to-day.
You’ll discover it’s a high one, all right.”

A moment later Cyril’s tersely nervous “Good
morning, Billy,” came across the line.

Billy drew in her breath and cast a hurriedly
apprehensive glance over her shoulder to make
sure Marie was not near.

“Cyril,” she called in a low voice, “if you care
a shred for Marie, for heaven’s sake call her up
and tell her that you dote on pink roses, and pink
ribbons, and pink breakfasts–and pink wedding
cake!”

“But I don’t.”

“Oh, yes, you do–to-day!  You would–if
you could see Marie now.”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing, only she overheard part of Bertram’s
nonsensical talk with Kate a little while ago, and
she’s ready to cast the last ravelling of white satin
and conventionality behind her, and go with you
to the justice of the peace.”

“Sensible girl!”

“Yes, but she can’t, you know, with fifty
guests coming to the wedding, and twice as many
more to the reception.  Honestly, Cyril, she’s
broken-hearted.  You must do something.  She’s
–coming!”  And the receiver clicked sharply
into place.

Five minutes later Marie was called to the
telephone.  Dejectedly, wistful-eyed, she went.
Just what were the words that hummed across the
wire into the pink little ear of the bride-to-be,
Billy never knew; but a Marie that was anything
but wistful-eyed and dejected left the telephone
a little later, and was heard very soon in the room
above trilling merry snatches of a little song.
Contentedly, then, Billy went back to her roses.

It was a pretty wedding, a very pretty wedding.
Every one said that.  The pink and green of the
decorations, the soft lights (Kate had had her
way about darkening the rooms), the pretty frocks
and smiling faces of the guests all helped.  Then
there were the dainty flower girl, little Kate, the
charming maid of honor, Billy, the stalwart,
handsome best man, Bertram, to say nothing of
the delicately beautiful bride, who looked like
some fairy visitor from another world in the floating
shimmer of her gossamer silk and tulle.  There
was, too, not quite unnoticed, the bridegroom;
tall, of distinguished bearing, and with features
that were clear cut and-to-day-rather pale.

Then came the reception–the “women and
confusion “of Cyril’s fears–followed by the
going away of the bride and groom with its merry
warfare of confetti and old shoes.

At four o’clock, however, with only William
and Bertram remaining for guests, something like
quiet descended at last on the little house.

“Well, it’s over,” sighed Billy, dropping
exhaustedly into a big chair in the living-room.

“And _well_ over,” supplemented Aunt Hannah,
covering her white shawl with a warmer blue one.

“Yes, I think it was,” nodded Kate.  “It
was really a very pretty wedding.”

“With your help, Kate–eh?” teased William.

“Well, I flatter myself I did do some good,”
bridled Kate, as she turned to help little Kate
take the flower wreath from her head.

“Even if you did hurry into my room and scare
me into conniption fits telling me I’d be late,”
laughed Billy.

Kate tossed her head.

“Well, how was I to know that Aunt Hannah’s
clock only meant half-past eleven when it struck
twelve?” she retorted.

Everybody laughed.

“Oh, well, it was a pretty wedding,” declared
William, with a long sigh.

“It’ll do–for an understudy,” said Bertram
softly, for Billy’s ears alone.

Only the added color and the swift glance
showed that Billy heard, for when she spoke she
said:

“And didn’t Cyril behave beautifully?  ‘Most
every time I looked at him he was talking to some
woman.”

“Oh, no, he wasn’t–begging your pardon,
my dear,” objected Bertram.  “I watched him,
too, even more closely than you did, and it was
always the _woman_ who was talking to _Cyril!_”

Billy laughed.

“Well, anyhow,” she maintained, “he listened.
He didn’t run away.”

“As if a bridegroom could!” cried Kate.

“I’m going to,” avowed Bertram, his nose in
the air.

“Pooh!” scoffed Kate.  Then she added
eagerly:  “You must be married in church, Billy,
and in the evening.”

Bertram’s nose came suddenly out of the air.
His eyes met Kate’s squarely.

“Billy hasn’t decided yet how _she_ does want
to be married,” he said with unnecessary emphasis.

Billy laughed and interposed a quick change of
subject.

“I think people had a pretty good time, too,
for a wedding, don’t you?” she asked.  “I was
sorry Mary Jane couldn’t be here–’twould have
been such a good chance for him to meet our
friends.”

“As–_Mary Jane?_” asked Bertram, a little
stiffly.

“Really, my dear,” murmured Aunt Hannah,
“I think it _would_ be more respectful to call him
by his name.”

“By the way, what is his name?” questioned
William.

“That’s what we don’t know,” laughed Billy.

“Well, you know the `Arkwright,’ don’t you?”
put in Bertram.  Bertram, too, laughed, but it
was a little forcedly.  “I suppose if you knew his
name was `Methuselah,’ you wouldn’t call him
that–yet, would you?”

Billy clapped her hands, and threw a merry
glance at Aunt Hannah.

“There! we never thought of `Methuselah,’ ”
she gurgled gleefully.  “Maybe it _is_ `Methuselah,’
now–`Methuselah John’!  You see, he’s told
us to try to guess it,” she explained, turning to
William; “but, honestly, I don’t believe, whatever
it is, I’ll ever think of him as anything but `Mary
Jane.’ ”

“Well, as far as I can judge, he has nobody
but himself to thank for that, so he can’t do any
complaining,” smiled William, as he rose to go.
“Well, how about it, Bertram?  I suppose you’re
going to stay a while to comfort the lonely–eh,
boy?”

“Of course he is–and so are you, too, Uncle
William,” spoke up Billy, with affectionate
cordiality.  “As if I’d let you go back to a forlorn
dinner in that great house to-night!  Indeed,
no!”

William smiled, hesitated, and sat down.

“Well, of course–” he began.

“Yes, of course,” finished Billy, quickly.
“I’ll telephone Pete that you’ll stay here–both
of you.”

It was at this point that little Kate, who had
been turning interested eyes from one brother
to the other, interposed a clear, high-pitched
question.

“Uncle William, didn’t you _want_ to marry my
going-to-be-Aunt Billy?”

“Kate!” gasped her mother, “didn’t I tell
you–”  Her voice trailed into an incoherent
murmur of remonstrance.

Billy blushed.  Bertram said a low word under
his breath.  Aunt Hannah’s “Oh, my grief and
conscience!” was almost a groan.

William laughed lightly.

“Well, my little lady,” he suggested, “let
us put it the other way and say that quite probably
she didn’t want to marry me.”

“Does she want to marry Uncle Bertram?”
“Kate!” gasped Billy and Mrs. Hartwell together
this time, fearful of what might be coming
next.

“We’ll hope so,” nodded Uncle William,
speaking in a cheerfully matter-of-fact voice, intended
to discourage curiosity.

The little girl frowned and pondered.  Her
elders cast about in their minds for a speedy
change of subject; but their somewhat scattered
wits were not quick enough.  It was little Kate
who spoke next.

“Uncle William, would she have got Uncle
Cyril if Aunt Marie hadn’t nabbed him first?”

“Kate!”  The word was a chorus of dismay
this time.

Mrs. Hartwell struggled to her feet.

“Come, come, Kate, we must go up-stairs–to
bed,” she stammered.

The little girl drew back indignantly.

“To bed?  Why, mama, I haven’t had my
supper yet!”

“What?  Oh, sure enough–the lights!  I
forgot.  Well, then, come up–to change your
dress,” finished Mrs. Hartwell, as with a despairing
look and gesture she led her young daughter
from the room.

Unreturning

by Emily Dickinson

‘T was such a little, little boat
That toddled down the bay!
‘T was such a gallant, gallant sea
That beckoned it away!

‘T was such a greedy, greedy wave
That licked it from the coast;
Nor ever guessed the stately sails
My little craft was lost!

by Emily Dickinson

If you were coming in the fall,
I’d brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I’d wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I’d count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I’d toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time’s uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

by Emily Dickinson

I asked no other thing,
No other was denied.
I offered Being for it;
The mighty merchant smiled.

Brazil? He twirled a button,
Without a glance my way:
“But, madam, is there nothing else
That we can show to-day?”

The Waste Land

by T. S. Eliot

I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,        
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,              
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.        
     Frisch weht der Wind
     Der Heimat zu
     Mein Irisch Kind,
     Wo weilest du?
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
“They called me the hyacinth girl.”
- Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,        
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Od’ und leer das Meer.

Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situations.      
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.

Unreal City,                                  
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying “Stetson!
“You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!       
“That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
“Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
“Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?

Line 42 Od’] Oed’ – Editor.

“Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
“Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!
“You! hypocrite lecteur! – mon semblable, – mon frere!”

II. A GAME OF CHESS

The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,
Glowed on the marble, where the glass
Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines
From which a golden Cupidon peeped out            
(Another hid his eyes behind his wing)
Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra
Reflecting light upon the table as
The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it,
From satin cases poured in rich profusion;
In vials of ivory and coloured glass
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,
Unguent, powdered, or liquid – troubled, confused
And drowned the sense in odours; stirred by the air
That freshened from the window, these ascended        
In fattening the prolonged candle-flames,
Flung their smoke into the laquearia,
Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling.
Huge sea-wood fed with copper
Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone,
In which sad light a carved dolphin swam.
Above the antique mantel was displayed
As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene
The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king
So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale  
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice
And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
“Jug Jug” to dirty ears.
And other withered stumps of time
Were told upon the walls; staring forms
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.
Footsteps shuffled on the stair.
Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair
Spread out in fiery points
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.      

“My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
“Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak.
“What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
“I never know what you are thinking. Think.”

I think we are in rats’ alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.

“What is that noise?”
                             The wind under the door.
“What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?”
                             Nothing again nothing.     
                                                                 
“Do
“You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
“Nothing?”

   I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
“Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?”
                                                                   
But
O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag -
It’s so elegant
So intelligent                                     
“What shall I do now? What shall I do?”
I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
“With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?
“What shall we ever do?”
                                     The hot water at ten.
And if it rains, a closed car at four.
And we shall play a game of chess,
Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.

When Lil’s husband got demobbed, I said -
I didn’t mince my words, I said to her myself,
HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME
Now Albert’s coming back, make yourself a bit smart.
He’ll want to know what you done with that money he gave you
To get yourself some teeth. He did, I was there.
You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set,
He said, I swear, I can’t bear to look at you.
And no more can’t I, I said, and think of poor Albert,
He’s been in the army four years, he wants a good time,
And if you don’t give it him, there’s others will, I said.
Oh is there, she said. Something o’ that, I said.      
Then I’ll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look.
HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME
If you don’t like it you can get on with it, I said.
Others can pick and choose if you can’t.
But if Albert makes off, it won’t be for lack of telling.
You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.
(And her only thirty-one.)
I can’t help it, she said, pulling a long face,
It’s them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.
(She’s had five already, and nearly died of young George.) 
The chemist said it would be alright, but I’ve never been the same.
You are a proper fool, I said.
Well, if Albert won’t leave you alone, there it is, I said,
What you get married for if you don’t want children?
HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME
Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon,
And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot -
HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME
HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME
Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.  
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.
Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.

III. THE FIRE SERMON

The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.
And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors;  
Departed, have left no addresses.

Line 161 ALRIGHT. This spelling occurs also in
the Hogarth Press edition – Editor.

By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept . . .
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
But at my back in a cold blast I hear
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.
A rat crept softly through the vegetation
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank
While I was fishing in the dull canal
On a winter evening round behind the gashouse     
Musing upon the king my brother’s wreck
And on the king my father’s death before him.
White bodies naked on the low damp ground
And bones cast in a little low dry garret,
Rattled by the rat’s foot only, year to year.
But at my back from time to time I hear
The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring
Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring.
O the moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter
And on her daughter                  
They wash their feet in soda water
Et O ces voix d’enfants, chantant dans la coupole!

Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc’d.
Tereu

Unreal City
Under the brown fog of a winter noon
Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant
Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants
C.i.f. London: documents at sight,
Asked me in demotic French
To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel
Followed by a weekend at the Metropole.

At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives  
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun’s last rays,
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest -
I too awaited the expected guest.     
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house agent’s clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
Exploring hands encounter no defence;     
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.
(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
Bestows one final patronising kiss,
And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit . . .

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;              
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
“Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.”
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone.

“This music crept by me upon the waters”
And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street.
O City city, I can sometimes hear
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street,
The pleasant whining of a mandoline
And a clatter and a chatter from within
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls
Of Magnus Martyr hold
Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.

     The river sweats
     Oil and tar
     The barges drift
     With the turning tide
     Red sails                      
     Wide
     To leeward, swing on the heavy spar.
     The barges wash
     Drifting logs
     Down Greenwich reach
     Past the Isle of Dogs.
          Weialala leia
          Wallala leialala

     Elizabeth and Leicester
     Beating oars                  
     The stern was formed
     A gilded shell
     Red and gold
     The brisk swell
     Rippled both shores
     Southwest wind
     Carried down stream
     The peal of bells
     White towers
          Weialala leia               
          Wallala leialala

“Trams and dusty trees.
Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew
Undid me. By Richmond I raised my knees
Supine on the floor of a narrow canoe.”

“My feet are at Moorgate, and my heart
Under my feet. After the event
He wept. He promised ‘a new start’.
I made no comment. What should I resent?”
“On Margate Sands.                        
I can connect
Nothing with nothing.
The broken fingernails of dirty hands.
My people humble people who expect
Nothing.”
     la la

To Carthage then I came

Burning burning burning burning
O Lord Thou pluckest me out
O Lord Thou pluckest      

burning

IV. DEATH BY WATER

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.
                                         A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
                                       Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,          
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

V. WHAT THE THUNDER SAID

After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience              

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit 
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mudcracked houses
                                                        
If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water  
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water

Who is the third who walks always beside you? 
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
- But who is that on the other side of you?

What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth 
Ringed by the flat horizon only
What is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air
Falling towers
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
Vienna London
Unreal

A woman drew her long black hair out tight
And fiddled whisper music on those strings
And bats with baby faces in the violet light      
Whistled, and beat their wings
And crawled head downward down a blackened wall
And upside down in air were towers
Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours
And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.

In this decayed hole among the mountains
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind’s home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,                            
Dry bones can harm no one.
Only a cock stood on the rooftree
Co co rico co co rico
In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
Bringing rain

Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder                                            
DA
Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment’s surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms                                              
DA
Dayadhvam: I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
Only at nightfall, aetherial rumours
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus
DA
Damyata: The boat responded
Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar                        
The sea was calm, your heart would have responded
Gaily, when invited, beating obedient
To controlling hands

                                     I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?
London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down
Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam ceu chelidon – O swallow swallow
Le Prince d’Aquitaine a la tour abolie                     
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
                           Shantih    shantih    shantih

The Village Street

by Edgar Allan Poe
  In these rapid, restless shadows,
    Once I walked at eventide,
  When a gentle, silent maiden,
    Walked in beauty at my side.
  She alone there walked beside me
  All in beauty, like a bride.

  Pallidly the moon was shining
    On the dewy meadows nigh;
  On the silvery, silent rivers,
    On the mountains far and high,–
  On the ocean’s star-lit waters,
    Where the winds a-weary die.

  Slowly, silently we wandered
    From the open cottage door,
  Underneath the elm’s long branches
    To the pavement bending o’er;
  Underneath the mossy willow
    And the dying sycamore.

  With the myriad stars in beauty
    All bedight, the heavens were seen,
  Radiant hopes were bright around me,
    Like the light of stars serene;
  Like the mellow midnight splendor
    Of the Night’s irradiate queen.

  Audibly the elm-leaves whispered
    Peaceful, pleasant melodies,
  Like the distant murmured music
    Of unquiet, lovely seas;
  While the winds were hushed in slumber
    In the fragrant flowers and trees.

  Wondrous and unwonted beauty
    Still adorning all did seem,
  While I told my love in fables
    ‘Neath the willows by the stream;
  Would the heart have kept unspoken
    Love that was its rarest dream!

  Instantly away we wandered
    In the shadowy twilight tide,
  She, the silent, scornful maiden,
    Walking calmly at my side,
  With a step serene and stately,
    All in beauty, all in pride.

  Vacantly I walked beside her.
    On the earth mine eyes were cast;
  Swift and keen there came unto me
    Bitter memories of the past–
  On me, like the rain in Autumn
    On the dead leaves, cold and fast.

  Underneath the elms we parted,
    By the lowly cottage door;
  One brief word alone was uttered–
    Never on our lips before;
  And away I walked forlornly,
  Broken-hearted evermore.

  Slowly, silently I loitered,
    Homeward, in the night, alone;
  Sudden anguish bound my spirit,
    That my youth had never known;
  Wild unrest, like that which cometh
    When the Night’s first dream hath flown.

  Now, to me the elm-leaves whisper
    Mad, discordant melodies,
  And keen melodies like shadows
    Haunt the moaning willow trees,
  And the sycamores with laughter
    Mock me in the nightly breeze.

  Sad and pale the Autumn moonlight
    Through the sighing foliage streams;
  And each morning, midnight shadow,
    Shadow of my sorrow seems;
  Strive, O heart, forget thine idol!
    And, O soul, forget thy dreams!

A Soldier’s Valentine

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

Just from the sentry’s tramp
  (I must take it again at ten),
I have laid my musket down,
  And seized instead my pen;
For, pacing my lonely round
  In the chilly twilight gray,
The thought, dear Mary, came,
  That this is St. Valentine’s Day.

And with the thought there came
  A glimpse of the happy time
When a school-boy’s first attempt
  I sent you, in borrowed rhyme,
On a gilt-edged sheet, embossed
  With many a quaint design,
And signed, in school-boy hand,
  “Your loving Valentine.”

The years have come and gone,–
  Have flown, I know not where, –
And the school-boy’s merry face
  Is grave with manhood’s care;
But the heart of the man still beats
  At the well-remembered name,
And on this St. Valentine’s Day
  His choice is still the same.

There was a time– ah, well!
  Think not that I repine
When I dreamed this happy day
  Would smile on you as mine;
But I heard my country’s call;
  I knew her need was sore.
Thank God, no selfish thought
  Withheld me from the war.

But when the dear old flag
  Shall float in its ancient pride,
When the twain shall be made one,
  And feuds no more divide,–
I will lay my musket down,
  My martial garb resign,
And turn my joyous feet
  Toward home and Valentine.

Picasso

Age

by Walter de la Mare
This ugly old crone–
Every beauty she had
When a maid, when a maid.
Her beautiful eyes,
Too youthful, too wise,
Seemed ever to come
To so lightless a home,
Cold and dull as a stone.
And her cheeks–who would guess
Cheeks cadaverous as this
Once with colours were gay
As the flower on its spray?
Who would ever believe
Aught could bring one to grieve
So much as to make
Lips bent for love’s sake
So thin and so grey?
O Youth, come away!
As she asks in her lone,
This old, desolate crone.
She loves us no more;
She is too old to care
For the charms that of yore
Made her body so fair.
Past repining, past care,
She lives but to bear
One or two fleeting years
Earth’s indifference: her tears
Have lost now their heat;
Her hands and her feet
Now shake but to be
Shed as leaves from a tree;
And her poor heart beats on
Like a sea–the storm gone.

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘T is some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–
                                          Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow:–vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow–sorrow for the lost Lenore–
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
                                          Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“‘T is some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;–
                                          This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”–here I opened wide the door;–
                                          Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”
                                          Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore–
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;–
                                          ‘T is the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door–
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door–
                                          Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore,–
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning–little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door–
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
                                          With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered–not a feather then he fluttered–
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before–
On the morrow _he_ will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
                                          Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore–
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
                                          Of ‘Never–nevermore.’”

But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore–
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
                                          Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er
                                          _She_ shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee–by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite–respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!–
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted–
On this home by Horror haunted–tell me truly, I implore–
Is there–_is_ there balm in Gilead?–tell me–tell me, I implore!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil–prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above, us–by that God we both adore–
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting–
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!–quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                                          Shall be lifted–nevermore!

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