poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this Poem 

“Dancing Adairs” was originally published in Conrad Aiken’s 1916 collection Turns and Movies. 

Dancing Adairs

Conrad Aiken, 1899 - 1973

Behold me, in my chiffon, gauze, and tinsel,
Flitting out of the shadow into the spotlight,
And into the shadow again, without a whisper!—
Firefly’s my name, I am evanescent.

Firefly’s your name. You are evanescent.
But I follow you  as remorselessly as darkness,
And shut you in and enclose you, at last, and always,
Till you are lost,—as a voice is lost in silence.

Till I am lost, as a voice is lost in silence. . .
Are you the one who would close so cool about me?
My fire sheds into and through you and beyond you:
How can your fingers hold me? I am elusive.

How can my fingers hold you? You are elusive?
Yes, you are flame, but I surround and love you,
Always extend beyond you, cool, eternal,
To take you into my heart’s great void of silence.

You shut me into your heart’s great void of silence. . .
O sweet and soothing end for a life of whirling!
Now I am still, whose life was mazed with motion.
Now I sink into you, for love of sleep.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Conrad Aiken

Conrad Aiken

Conrad Potter Aiken was born in Savannah, Georgia, on August 5, 1889.

by this poet



Dead Cleopatra lies in a crystal casket,	
Wrapped and spiced by the cunningest of hands.	
Around her neck they have put a golden necklace,	
Her tatbebs, it is said, are worn with sands.	
Dead Cleopatra was once revered in Egypt—	        
Warm-eyed she was, this princess of the south.	
Now she

Now the great wheel of darkness and low clouds
Whirs and whirls in the heavens with dipping rim;
Against the ice-white wall of light in the west
Skeleton trees bow down in a stream of air.
Leaves, black leaves and smoke, are blown on the wind;
Mount upward past my window; swoop again;


The parrot, screeching, flew out into the darkness,
Circled three times above the upturned faces
With a great whir of brilliant outspread wings,
And then returned to stagger on her finger.
She bowed and smiled, eliciting applause…
The property man hated her dirty birds.
But it had