Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
London Night
By John Rodker
In the Strand
      Desperately and disdainfully showed his wares….
          Stupid things … laces, studs….
      I bought … his look … and … this verse.
      Still the void turns
      And creaks,        5
      And spatters me
      With spume of gaunt fatuity …
      And again turns
      Till the quiet burns.        10
      The night is full, with laughter in its wings,
      And faint wan faces ouched in yearning sky,
      Laughter that weals the face of night
      And stings. The anguished soul drifts by.
      I will not go …        15
      Still the void turns …
      And sickening thuds …
      Still the quiet burns …
      With flame that floods        20
      The secret inner sky,
      And yearns to the sound
      And the laughter.
      I am called,
      Hesitant.        25
      Still the void turns.
In the bus
      Hum of the town!
      Splashes of faces
      In garish places
      Drive ever down.        30
In the park
      The gaunt trees grope to the night …
      The distant magic …
      They touch the sky.
      The faces linger to the light,
      And endlessly drift by,        35
      With shuffle of far feet,
      Like leaves that strike
      And flicker on the way
      With little ripples of dry sound.
The band
      Noise of the band … and the wind asleep.
      Over the wind I mount on wings,
      And swing and gleam and sheer and float.
      How chill it is grown .. and how remote the faces …
      And thin and very faint … and the wind sings …
      Shop girl, poor clerk—
      Ephemerons .. wing your swift way.
      A little love .. it will not mark
      The soul unused to day.
      So cold, so far away you seem,
      Shop girl, poor clerk.        50
      I am the dreamer… Are you the dream?
      How the noise mocks me .. and the pain!
      And they laugh about me … while the trees unheard …
      Though not to one or three …
      The water calls in vain.        55
      For she is much more amorous then,
      And will not prize her sweets too dear …
      For after all we are poor men
      And love we may not know;
      Though here …        60
Hyde Park Corner
      Stress of the crowd … and the whole of it mute …
      Tunics that thrill in the light till you look at his face
      With a rush of hate .. and hate for the grace
      Of the slavey wooing the brute.
      Stress of the crowd!        65
Picture Palace
      Breathless… The giggles cease …
      The ruddled alcove …
      The clicking of the reel … peace.
      Flicker … light.
      We thrill to the rush and the clatter …        70
      And spatter the night with our souls …
      And steal the soul of the night.
      The girl at the box was very sweet …
      Manicured nails, and massaged smile, and teeth
      Resplendent … Flicker … light.        75
      The rush and the clatter,
      With dust of fatuity
      Out of the void.
      Always the street and the giggle of girls,        80
      Women from where?
              God, but the night must be full of them …
Anarchist Club
      Quiet at last … she here …
      The babble of hot voices strangely soothes …
      The coffee is black … Avernus’ waters where        85
      The soul’s disquiets flare,
      And she… Her face is like half-old ivory,
      A something past in its whiteness,
      With cheeks a-hollow… Smoking ever she talks
      And disdains me … quite …        90
              This is not the place …
      Later, perhaps, she’ll not deny me.
      And now and then some one will say,
      “A bas!”… “Saboter!”
      How came we here?        95
      The sybaritic waiter brings us drink …
      Thick lips and mottled face …
      And gazes at her.
      I think his eyes swoon back
      To ancient arcadies        100
      In her black, secret eyes.
      She is the beauty at the feast …
      My friends and their friends flock,
      With words well greased.
      Oh! but the babble wearies me        105
      And the lights …
      And rococo …
      One lotus bud swings to the harbor of my soul
      And bursts …
      And each glad petal … thirsts        110
      Unto all heaven … Far
      Insinuating roots …
      Wondrous fruits
      Creating, becoming of all things,
      And God singing!        115
      “My moon, my almond-eyed delight goes from me
      And I am old …
      I am far older than she is …
      And now she laughs at my gray hairs …
      Yet may I not stretch out to chasten her lest she rebel.        120
      I will use songs and fair words …
      To bring her to me.
      Then she shall languish forever
      In the prison of my infinite mercy.”
      Night, speak me soft—        125
      I have sipped but the rim of “her” cup …
      Horror of vastness dripped
      From star to star—
      And even you
      Could not help me.        130
      I am afraid.

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