poem index

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

About this poet

Djuna Barnes was born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York on June 12, 1892. She was an American novelist, poet, playwright, journalist, and visual artist, as well as an important figure in the Modernist movement. Her works include The Book of Repulsive Women (1915), Ladies Almanack (1928), and Nightwood (1937). Barnes died in New York City on June 18, 1982.

First Communion

The mortal fruit upon the bough
Hands above the nuptial bed.
The cat-bird in the tree returns
The forfeit of his mutual vow.

The hard, untimely apple of
The branch that feeds on watered rain,
Takes the place upon her lips
Of her late lamented love.

Many hands together press,
Shaped within a static prayer
Recall to one the chorister
Docile in his sexless dress.

The temperate winds reclaim the iced 
Remorseless vapours of the snow.
The only pattern in the mind
Is the cross behind the Christ. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

Djuna Barnes

Djuna Barnes

Djuna Barnes was born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York on June 12, 1892. She was an American novelist, poet, playwright, journalist, and visual artist, as well as an important figure in the Modernist movement. Her works include The Book of Repulsive Women (1915), Ladies Almanack (1928), and Nightwood (1937). Barnes died in New York City on June 18, 1982.

by this poet

poem

What loin-cloth, what rag of wrong
Unpriced?
What turn of body, what of lust
Undiced?
So we’ve worshipped you a little
More than Christ.

poem
The night comes down, in ever-darkening shapes that seem—
To grope, with eerie fingers for the window—then—
To rest to sleep, enfolding me, as in a dream
            Faith—might I awaken!
 
And drips the rain with seeming sad, insistent beat.
Shivering across the pane, drooping tear-wise,
And softly patters by,
poem

Dark, and the wind-blurred pines,
           With a glimmer of light between.
Then I, entombed for an hourless night
           With the world of things unseen.

Mist, the dust of flowers,
           Leagues, heavy with promise of snow,
And a beckoning road ‘twixt vale and hill,