Verse > Anthologies > Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. > The Second Book of Modern Verse
See also: Conrad Aiken Biography
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Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. (1869–1948).  The Second Book of Modern Verse.  1922.
 
Evening Song of Senlin
 
Conrad Aiken (1889–1973)
 
 
IT is moonlight. Alone in the silence
I ascend my stairs once more,
While waves, remote in a pale blue starlight,
Crash on a white sand shore.
It is moonlight. The garden is silent.        5
I stand in my room alone.
Across my wall, from the far-off moon,
A rain of fire is thrown …
 
There are houses hanging above the stars,
And stars hung under a sea:        10
And a wind from the long blue vault of time
Waves my curtains for me …
 
I wait in the dark once more,
Swung between space and space:
Before my mirror I lift my hands        15
And face my remembered face.
Is it I who stand in a question here,
Asking to know my name? …
It is I, yet I know not whither I go,
Nor why, nor whence I came.        20
 
It is I, who awoke at dawn
And arose and descended the stair,
Conceiving a god in the eye of the sun,—
In a woman’s hands and hair.
It is I whose flesh is grey with the stones        25
I builded into a wall:
With a mournful melody in my brain
Of a tune I cannot recall …
 
There are roses to kiss: and mouths to kiss;
And the sharp-pained shadow of death.        30
I remember a rain-drop on my cheek,—
A wind like a fragrant breath …
And the star I laugh on tilts through heaven;
And the heavens are dark and steep …
I will forget these things once more        35
In the silence of sleep.
 

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