Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CITY: 2. THE CITY, by STIRLING BOWEN



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THE CITY: 2. THE CITY, by            
First Line: And now I roam the wide and thronging square
Last Line: One listening, for what no one can say.
Subject(s): Cities; Solitude; Urban Life; Loneliness


And now I roam the wide and thronging square;
And now a street where dingy houses stare
In silence on me as I hurry by,
Their shades drawn close against the friendly sky,
Drawn close against the trees, forbidding me.
But I have never known desire to see
Behind those blinds, content to speculate
On things that could not be.

So satiate
With beauty do I grow in crowded places
That in my sleep I count a thousand faces
Viewing me with enigmatic eyes.
And I have never cared to realize
What mysteries compressed the lips that passed,
What secrets moved them, smiling or aghast.
For I have been too lost within the crowd,
This unreality that speaks aloud
No word, but whispers, whispers on, and seems
A cloud of sleep with rainy eyes of dreams.

So often still I wonder where she went,
She whom I followed, whom the city sent
To find me, whom I sought and could not find.
I wonder who she is, of what strange mind
Or spirit, in what place or mood she dwells.
Yet she is gone, no longer now compels
Pursuit of her, although I think her near
Within this city that I love and fear,
Just as I loved and feared so long ago
The music that she sang, that haunted so.

I see the throngs go in a room to dine,
I start away alone to enter mine.
But always I return to watch the faces,
Have them sweep me on to other places,
Close to me, far-off, and close again,
Women, little children, and the men.

And then at night, at night, I love to walk
Where buildings rise like pale white towers of chalk
And where below my shadow creeps with me,
When down the street as far as I can see
There is no living thing and I alone
Am lost within this labyrinth of stone.
I love to wander where the ways are dark
And where there is no light or sign to mark
Where I am going hither, whence I came,
And where there is no voice or any name.

And so it shall be always to the last.
Whoever come for me, however fast
They follow where I go, they must return
Without me in the end. And they shall learn
That I shall be henceforward just a pale
Remembrance of a face, with lips that fail
To answer and with eyes that turn away,
One listening, for what no one can say.





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