THE CITY REVISITED
by: Stephen Vincent Benét (1898-1943)
- he grey gulls drift across the bay
- Softly and still as flakes of snow
- Against the thinning fog. All day
- I sat and watched them come and go;
- And now at last the sun was set,
- Filling the waves with colored fire
- Till each seemed like a jewelled spire
- Thrust up from some drowned city. Soon
- From peak and cliff and minaret
- The city's lights began to wink,
- Each like a friendly word. The moon
- Began to broaden out her shield,
- Spurting with silver. Straight before
- The brown hills lay like quiet beasts
- Stretched out beside a well-loved door,
- And filling earth and sky and field
- With the calm heaving of their breasts.
- Nothing was gone, nothing was changed,
- The smallest wave was unestranged
- By all the long ache of the years
- Since last I saw them, blind with tears.
- Their welcome like the hills stood fast:
- And I, I had come home at last.
- So I laughed out with them aloud
- To think that now the sun was broad,
- And climbing up the iron sky,
- Where the raw streets stretched sullenly
- About another room I knew,
- In a mean house and soon there, too,
- The smith would burst the flimsy door
- And find me lying on the floor.
- Just where I fell the other night,
- After that breaking wave of pain.
- How they will storm and rage and fight,
- Servants and mistress, one and all,
- "No money for the funeral!"
- I broke my life there. Let it stand
- At that.
- The waters are a plain,
- Heaving and bright on either hand,
- A tremulous and lustral peace
- Which shall endure though all things cease,
- Filling my heart as water fills
- A cup. There stand the quiet hills.
- So, waiting for my wings to grow,
- I watch the gulls sail to and fro,
- Rising and falling, soft and swift,
- Drifting along as bubbles drift.
- And, though I see the face of God
- Hereafter this day have I trod
- Nearer to Him than I shall tread
- Ever again. The night is dead.
- And there's the dawn, poured out like wine
- Along the dim horizon-line.
- And from the city comes the chimes
- We have our heaven on earth sometimes!
MORE POEMS BY STEPHEN VINCENT BENÉT
|"The City Revisited" is reprinted from Young Adventure. Stephen Vincent Benet. New York: Yale University Press, 1918.