Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NUPTIALS, by JOHN ORLEY ALLEN TATE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

NUPTIALS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When noon-time comes the whistle blows
Last Line: Hauled away.
Alternate Author Name(s): Tate, Allen
Subject(s): Marriage; Weddings; Husbands; Wives

To J.C.R.

She is a public deity;
And were't not very odd
She should dispose herself to be
A petty household god.

When noon-time comes the whistle blows.
Down the straight street in jagged rows
The multitudinous workmen shamble
Past Mike's saloon through swarming flies
To the weedy lot where they may gamble
With crooked dice and gorge stale pies.
It is the hour when stink and sweat
Subside to let the flesh forget
Affinity for brick and lathe,
The cold necessity to bathe --
And certain things one would forget.

The bones rattle, the nickels jingle,
Nuts and Sevens alternate,
A pair of shoes balance fate,
And Brady's tongue and finger tingle.
Let shoes be lost or shoes be won
This night shall be a night of fun:
Two dollars now prognosticate
An image supine and elate
For Jenny sweet will keep the date
Early or late.

The clock has struck a dismal clack.
They tread the same well-trodden track,
A hunger flashing in the eye
Which jutting bellies would belie.
A song is loosed, a fleck of jazz
I am the captain of my soul
I will climb a greasy pole
When six o'clock turns round again
And street lamps light the Dark Siren.

Along the muddy river's rocky brink
A troop of titans trudges in the dusk,
No stench rises of hyacinth and musk
Nor any pillars of the Athenians,
The dusk trails farther down the wharf
O darkness of impenetrable might!
The clink of empty dinner pails, the thud
Of feet, chatter of teeth, fetid eyes:
I have lived many years and many lies
But not before on the dull stroke of seven.
Have I heard whispers on the rickety stair
And rain upon the cracked window-pane,
Suddenly had visions of beautiful dead hair.
Eight nine ten eleven,
The arc of justice is the twist of truth
Achilles nine times dragged in the mud
Wearing my new amethystine ring
Mumbling phrases from the Book of Ruth
Down to the straight street in luminous quest of truth
I go to hear the ladies laugh and sing.
Jenny opens the door and grins serenely,
Laughs like a sparrow, chirps, recedes, is queenly.

The whistle blows for five o'clock.
He rubs an eye, pulls on a sock,
Observes his bride still in bed,
Wonders: Now is she in bed dead?
She went to bed after I went to bed ...
The dawn sifts through the casement, foggy,
Lips are dank and eyes are soggy,
But leaps into his overall,
Puts on his hat, goes down the hall.

Buzzards float upon the sky
Shrilling a metaphysic cry,
Machines hum, midgets play,
Another corpse is hauled away
Hauled away.

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