Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WATERS OF BABYLON, by LOUIS UNTERMEYER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

WATERS OF BABYLON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What presses about us here in the evening
Last Line: Let the night be. Close the window, beloved. . . . Come here.
Alternate Author Name(s): Lewis, Michael
Subject(s): Love; Religion; Theology

WHAT presses about us here in the evening
As you open a window and stare at a stone-gray sky,
And the streets give back the jangle of meaningless movement
That is tired of life and almost too tired to die.

Night comes on, and even the night is wounded;
There, on its breast, it carries a curved, white scar.
What will you find out there that is not torn and anguished?
Can God be less distressed than the least of His creatures are?

Below are the blatant lights in a huddled squalor;
Above are futile fires in freezing space.
What can they give that you should look to them for compassion
Though you bare your heart and lift an imploring face?

They have seen, by countless waters and windows,
The women of your race facing a stony sky;
They have heard, for thousands of years, the voices of women
Asking them: "Why . . . ?"
Let the night be; it has neither knowledge nor pity.
One thing alone can hope to answer your fear;
It is that which struggles and blinds us and burns between us. . . .
Let the night be. Close the window, beloved. . . . Come here.

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