Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
By Emanuel Carnevali
From “The Day of Summer”
To Waldo Frank

HOW long ago was it
The dawn pleased Homer?
And Petrarca—was it among flowers
Dew-full, tearful for the love of the dawn,
That he sang his best song        5
For Laura?
Did the eyes of joy of Prince Paul Fort
See it well once,
And was it then that he
“Took pleasure in being a Frenchman?”        10
In New York,
These summer days,
It’s a swollen-faced hour,
Sick with a monstrous cold,
Gasping with the death of an expectance.        15
Houses there
In a thick row
Militarily shut out the sky;
Another fence
In the east;        20
Over this one a shameful blush
Strives upward.
            Nevertheless I go to perform the ceremony
            Of purification—to wash myself….
            Oh, dear water …. dear, dear soap….        25
Because I am poor
No ceremony will clean me;
In this crowded room
All the things touch me,
Soil me.        30
To start a day
Feeling dirty
Is to go to war
            A little happy pause here        35
            For me to think of what I shall be doing in the day.
Now has the deep hot belly of the night
Given birth to noises.
The noises pass
Over me,        40
I lie
Work, milk, bread, clothes, potatoes, potatoes…..
            This is        45
            The big
            Beauty rumbling on.
            Is this
            The world’s
            Music forevermore?        50
This and the irrevocable peddlers
Who will come in an hour
To hurl loose:
“Pota-a-a-a-t-o-u-s, yeh-p-l-s, waa-ry meh-l-n?”
Little apocalyptic faces,        55
Faces of the end of all faces—
Are these the chief musicians?
Please, listen, I have a small, dear soul, and all I want is a noiseless beauty, any little thing, I was born for a sylvan century, may I claim to be left alone?…. I will not even expect you to understand—only….
Under this, like a cold hating prostitute,
I lie        60
And my face is sad because
There was….
Ah, there was a time…..        65
Now go look for the mail—
Go glean the thoughts they drop before your door,
You eternal gleaner.
Love thoughts, too…..?
            Out in the hall        70
            The gas jet
            Doesn’t give a damn that it is day already.
            Of drenched clothes
            And snore        75
            Of married men.
            Who shall ask the furnished-room poets to write
            A song for the dawn?
Ah, beggars:
                    “I-am-though-I-refrain-from-saying-it-better-than-you-in-the-end. I-am-perfectly-honest-evidently-nothing-up-my-sleeves….. It-is-out-of-my-bounteous-goodness-that-I-like-you-a-little-in-spite-of…..”
These scanty rights to live—
A clear day, an articulate moment, may take them from us;
So we advance
At every chance
Our stuttering claim and reference.        85
Dragging my soul along
I go to the window.
The sun-fingers reach slowly
Over the face of the house in front.
This is the hour they go to their work        90
Eastward and westward—
Two processions,
Shapeless the hats,
Too large the jackets and shoes—        95
Grotesques walking,
Grotesques for no one to laugh at.
Are they happy perhaps?—
For, of course …. but do they
Really know where they’re going?        100
Has the first of them
Down there
Something for his happiness?
And has he telephoned or telegraphed to the others        105
That they are going,
Without looking around,
Without knowing one another,
TOGETHER        110
Eastward and westward?
The world has decreed:
These men go
Eastward and westward.        115
            Sit down and take the rest of your life,
            O poets!
All my days
Are in this room
Pressing close against me.        120
I know what I have done, misdone, mistaken, misunderstood, forgotten, overlooked,
And I have lost my youth.
Everybody knows me,
No one wonders at me;
They have placed me in their minds, made me small and tied me up        125
To throw me in a little dusty corner of their minds.
All my days are huddled
Close against me;
My youth is but a regret and a madness—
A madness …. Jesus Christ! I am not old yet, never mind what I have told you, what I have been!        130
I have not irremediably committed myself, I am not lost—
For pity’s sake
Let me go,
Let me go free!
For pity’s sake        135
Let me go
With my youth!
            Ah, the old days are huddled
            So close against my chest
            That no great freeing gesture        140
            Is possible.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .
After the tears,
Cool, new, sensitive,
Under my body hushed and stiff,
I open the door        145
I close the door behind me
The street’s greeting:
I’m out of work—        150
Damn work—to work and come home in the evening hungry for all the things that could have been done instead!
            But to go
            Without hunger
            At all!        155
Oh, listen, O Street,
Let your word to me be a delicate whisper:
I am young,
Nice day,
I look        160
Straight ahead,
Staccato steps,
Stiff and cool,
I walk.
(Sweet morning, soeur de charité!)        165
It is the light mood in the streets of the morning,
Bouncing on the roofs, kicked
By the rosy foot of the wind.
Ah, we—ah, we are chained to the sidewalk but we hold our eyes upward,
Lightly, lightly.        170
Do blow away the dust of our dead,
And save us all from them who are smouldering inside our houses!
See the fine dust from those windows, see the dust angry at the sun!
Who threw these kids here among us, them and their fun and war, “GIMME!—GIMME!”
King of the triumphing mood, the iceman cracks easy puns with a landlady of the dust!        175
Kaiser of the lightness of the morning, the policeman, swinging his stick, writes sacred hieroglyphs.
            Furtively I steal,
            From what and whom
            I know,
            A little youth        180
            For myself.
            I know nothing,
            I forget nothing,
            I’m glad enough to live
            In the morning.        185

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