Rhapsody on a Windy Night

T. S. Eliot

 
Twelve 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 toward 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 the child, automatic,
Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the quay.
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 smooths 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 eau de 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.
Memory!
You have the key,
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair.
Mount.         
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 This Author

La Figlia Che Piange by T. S. Eliot
Stand on the highest pavement of the stair
Aunt Helen by T.S. Eliot
Miss Helen Slingsby was my maiden aunt
Conversation Galante by T.S. Eliot
I observe:
Cousin Nancy by T.S. Eliot
Miss Nancy Ellicott
Gerontion by T.S. Eliot
Here I am, an old man in a dry month
Hysteria by T. S. Eliot
As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it
Morning at the Window by T. S. Eliot
They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens
Portrait of a Lady by T. S. Eliot
Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon
Preludes by T.S. Eliot
The winter evening settles down
Sweeney among the Nightingales by T.S. Eliot
Apeneck Sweeney spreads his knees
The Boston Evening Transcript by T.S. Eliot
The readers of the Boston Evening Transcript
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot
Let us go then, you and I
The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot
April is the cruellest month
Whispers of Immortality by T.S. Eliot
Webster was much possessed by death


Further Reading

Poems about Night
A Clear Midnight
by Walt Whitman
Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight
by Vachel Lindsay
Acquainted with the Night
by Robert Frost
At Deep Midnight
by Minnie Bruce Pratt
At Night
by Yone Noguchi
At Night the States
by Alice Notley
Breaking Across Us Now
by Katie Ford
Flying at Night
by Ted Kooser
Hard Night
by Christian Wiman
Hellish Night
by Arthur Rimbaud
Here and Now
by Stephen Dunn
Hymn to the Night
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In the City of Night
by John Gould Fletcher
La Noche
by Anselm Hollo
Last
by Maxine Scates
Late Night Ode
by J. D. McClatchy
Let Evening Come
by Jane Kenyon
Meeting at Night
by Robert Browning
Mother Night
by James Weldon Johnson
Night
by Carsten René Nielsen
Night Air
by C. Dale Young
Night Blooming Jasmine
by Giovanni Pascoli
Night Drafts
by Tony Sanders
Night Funeral in Harlem
by Langston Hughes
Night Songs
by Thomas Kinsella
Nights On The Peninsula
by D. Nurkse
On a Night Like This
by Michael Teig
One Night
by Mathias Svalina
Radar Data #12
by Lytton Smith
Sawdust
by Sharon Bryan
Ships That Pass in the Night
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Summer Night, Riverside
by Sara Teasdale
Summer Stars
by Carl Sandburg
The First Night
by Billy Collins
The Sun Has Long Been Set
by William Wordsworth
To Night
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Unity
by Pablo Neruda
Window
by Carl Sandburg
Poems about Wind
Death By Wind
by Gerald Stern
Four Winds
by April Bernard
Four Winds
by Sara Teasdale
Ode to the West Wind
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The Aerodynamics
by Rick Bursky
To the Roaring Wind
by Wallace Stevens
Windy Nights
by Robert Louis Stevenson