by: Mary Aldis
- watch the Eastern sky
- For a sign of dawn
- Long delayed.
- Such stillness is around
- That every separate sense
- Is twice-attuned, twice powerful,
- And loneliness enwraps me like a sea
- Into whose unplumbed depths I must go down:
- A sea unsatisfied
- Where drifting shapes, wan-eyed,
- Reach forth wan arms
- Towards them who pause to look at their own souls
- Mirrored upon the sea.
- Somewhere a loon
- Sends forth its weary cry across the dark.
- Oh, wailing bird, I know, I know!
- I think tonight the soul of the world is desolate
- And you and I its watchers.
- Yet cease! oh cease!
- The night air quivers and resounds
- To bear your cry across the sleeping lake,
- And I would have your silence
- While I make
- My own complaint.
- For I would ask why we who have so little space
- To live and love and wonder
- Must go down into eternal mystery
- And I would know
- Why, since that awful loneliness must be,
- We go about as strangers here on earth
- And meet and laugh and mock and part again
- With never a look into each other's eyes,
- With never a question of each others' pain.
- So, even as I hear your melancholy plaint
- Across the sleeping lake,
- I send my questing cry across the world--
- And as I watch and listen,
- Through the stillness
- There comes to me an echoing and a far reverberation
- Of the many who have gone
- Into the limitless mystery,
- And thus they speak--
- "We too have known your questing,
- We too have stretched our arms forth to the night
- And clasped its nothingness,
- We too have lived and loved and wondered
- For a little space
- And then gone onward,
- And we seek across the silence
- To send our voices
- Out, out, across the dark."
- Is it your voice I hear, oh far, strange bird,
- Or is it theirs--
- Theirs who have gone onward
- Alone and unafraid?
- Is there an answer I may sometime find,
- Or is it that our lips are dumb,
- Our eyes are blind,
- When love would come?
- * * *
- Now faint light comes upon the shadowy sky,
- The East is waking and the day begins.
- You send your cry across the quivering lake,
- I send my question out across the world,
- We watch, we two,
POEMS BY MARY ALDIS
"Watchers" is reprinted from Flashlights. Mary Aldis. New York: Duffield & Company, 1916.