RAIN AFTER A VAUDEVILLE SHOW
by: Stephen Vincent Benét (1898-1943)
- he last pose flickered, failed. The screen's dead white
- Glared in a sudden flooding of harsh light
- Stabbing the eyes; and as I stumbled out
- The curtain rose. A fat girl with a pout
- And legs like hams, began to sing "His Mother".
- Gusts of bad air rose in a choking smother;
- Smoke, the wet steam of clothes, the stench of plush,
- Powder, cheap perfume, mingled in a rush.
- I stepped into the lobby and stood still
- Struck dumb by sudden beauty, body and will.
- Cleanness and rapture excellence made plain
- The storming, thrashing arrows of the rain!
- Pouring and dripping on the roofs and rods,
- Smelling of woods and hills and fresh-turned sods,
- Black on the sidewalks, gray in the far sky,
- Crashing on thirsty panes, on gutters dry,
- Hurrying the crowd to shelter, making fair
- The streets, the houses, and the heat-soaked air,
- Merciful, holy, charging, sweeping, flashing,
- It smote the soul with a most iron clashing!...
- Like dragons' eyes the street-lamps suddenly gleamed,
- Yellow and round and dim-low globes of flame.
- And, scarce-perceived, the clouds' tall banners streamed.
- Out of the petty wars, the daily shame,
- Beauty strove suddenly, and rose, and flowered....
- I gripped my coat and plunged where awnings lowered.
- Made one with hissing blackness, caught, embraced,
- By splendor and by striving and swift haste
- Spring coming in with thunderings and strife
- I stamped the ground in the strong joy of life!
MORE POEMS BY STEPHEN VINCENT BENÉT
|"Rain After a Vaudeville Show" is reprinted from Young Adventure. Stephen Vincent Benet. New York: Yale University Press, 1918.