Come down the road and do not speak.
You cannot know how strange it is
To walk upon a grey firm road again,
To feel the noiseless waves of air break on one's flesh.
You do not speak, you do not look at me;
Just walk in silence on the grey firm road
Guessing my mood by instinct, not by thought—
For there is no weapon of tongue or glance
So keen that it can stir my apathy,
Can stab that bitterness to hope,
Can pierce the humour to despair.
Silence fits the mood then—silence and you.
The trees beside the road—can you interpret
These fragments of leaf music,
Here a phrase, here a sort of melody
That dies to silence or is broken
By a full rustling that is discord?
Can you interpret such a simple thing?
Can I interpret this blank apathy,
This humourous bitterness?
Lean on the bridge now—do not speak—
And watch the coloured water slipping past,
While I struggle with myself,
Confront half-impulses, half-desires,
Grapple with lusterless definitions,
Grin at my inarticulate impotence
And so fall back on—apathy!
The bridge has three curved spans,
Is made of weathered stones,
And rests upon two diamond-pointed piers—
(I have not lost all touch and taste for life,
See beauty just as keenly, relish things.)
The water here is black and specked with white;
Under that tree the shallows grow to brown,
Light amber where the sunlight straggles through—
But yet, what colour is it if you watch the reeds
Or if you only see the trees' reflection?
Flat on the surface rest the lily leaves
(Some curled up inwards, though, like boats)
And yellow heads thrust up on fine green throats.
Two—three—a dozen—watch now—demoiselle flies
Flicker and flutter and dip and rest
Their beryl-green or blue, dark Prussian blue, frail wings
On spits and threads of water-plant.
Notice all carefully, be precise, welcome the world.
Do I miss these things? Overlook beauty?
Not even the shadow of a bird
Passing across that white reflected cloud.
And yet there's always something else—
The way one corpse held its stiff yellow fingers
And pointed, pointed to the huge dark hole
Gouged between ear and jaw right to the skull …
Did I startle you? What was the matter?
Just a joke they told me yesterday,
Really, really, not for ladies ears.
Forgive me; I'll not laugh so suddenly again.