Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SEVEN TWILIGHTS: 2, by CONRAD AIKEN



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SEVEN TWILIGHTS: 2, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Now by the wall of the ancient town I lean
Last Line: And something that may be leaves or may be sea.
Variant Title(s): Twilight: Rye, Sussex
Subject(s): Night; Rye, England; Sea; Bedtime; Ocean


Now by the wall of the ancient town I lean
Myself, like ancient wall and dust and sky,
And the purple dusk, grown old, grown old in heart.
Shadows of clouds flow inward from the sea.
The mottled fields grow dark. The golden wall
Grows gray again, turns stone again, the tower,
No longer kindled, darkens against a cloud.
Old is the world, old as the world am I;
The cries of sheep rise upward from the fields,
Forlorn and strange; and wake an ancient echo
In fields my heart has known, but has not seen.
"These fields" -- an unknown voice beyond the wall
Murmurs -- "were once the province of the sea.
Where now the sheep graze, mermaids were at play,
Sea-horses galloped, and the great jeweled tortoise
Walked slowly, looking upward at the waves,
Bearing upon his back a thousand barnacles,
A white acropolis . . ." The ancient tower
Sends out, above the houses and the trees,
And the wide fields below the ancient walls,
A measured phrase of bells. And in the silence
I hear a woman's voice make answer then:
"Well, they are green, although no ship can sail them. . . .
Sky-larks rest in the grass, and start up singing
Before the girl who stoops to pick sea-poppies.
Spiny, the poppies are, and oh how yellow!
And the brown clay is runneled by the rain. . . ."
A moment since, the sheep that crop the grass
Had long blue shadows, and the grass-tips sparkled:
Now all grows old. . . . O voices strangely speaking,
Voices of man and woman, voices of bells,
Diversely making comment on our time
Which flows and bears us with it into dusk,
Repeat the things you say! Repeat them slowly
Upon this air, make them an incantation
For ancient tower, old wall, the purple twilight,
This dust, and me. But all I hear is silence,
And something that may be leaves or may be sea.





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