RHAPSODY ON A WINDY NIGHT
by: T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
- WELVE o'clock.
- Along the reaches of the street
- Held in a lunar synthesis,
- Whispering lunar incantations
- Dissolve the floors of memory
- And all its clear relations,
- Its divisions and precisions,
- Every street lamp that I pass
- Beats like a fatalistic drum,
- And through the spaces of the dark
- Midnight shakes the memory
- As a madman shakes a dead geranium.
- Half-past one,
- The street lamp sputtered,
- The street lamp muttered,
- The street lamp said, "Regard that woman
- Who hesitates towards you in the light of the door
- Which opens on her like a grin.
- You see the border of her dress
- Is torn and stained with sand,
- And you see the corner of her eye
- Twists like a crooked pin."
- The memory throws up high and dry
- A crowd of twisted things;
- A twisted branch upon the beach
- Eaten smooth, and polished
- As if the world gave up
- The secret of its skeleton,
- Stiff and white.
- A broken spring in a factory yard,
- Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left
- Hard and curled and ready to snap.
- Half-past two,
- The street lamp said,
- "Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,
- Slips out its tongue
- And devours a morsel of rancid butter."
- So the hand of a child, automatic,
- Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the
- I could see nothing behind that child's eye.
- I have seen eyes in the street
- Trying to peer through lighted shutters,
- And a crab one afternoon in a pool,
- An old crab with barnacles on his back,
- Gripped the end of a stick which I held him.
- Half-past three,
- The lamp sputtered,
- The lamp muttered in the dark.
- The lamp hummed:
- "Regard the moon,
- La lune ne garde aucune rancune,
- She winks a feeble eye,
- She smiles into corners.
- She smoothes the hair of the grass.
- The moon has lost her memory.
- A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
- Her hand twists a paper rose,
- That smells of dust and old Cologne,
- She is alone
- With all the old nocturnal smells
- That cross and cross across her brain."
- The reminiscence comes
- Of sunless dry geraniums
- And dust in crevices,
- Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
- And female smells in shuttered rooms,
- And cigarettes in corridors
- And cocktail smells in bars."
- The lamp said,
- "Four o'clock,
- Here is the number on the door.
- You have the key,
- The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,
- The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
- Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life."
- The last twist of the knife.
POEMS BY T.S. ELIOT
"Rhapsody on a Windy Night"
was originally printed in Blast, July 1915.