Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Fate
By Harold Monro
 
I
I HAVE so often
Examined all this well-known room
That I inhabit.
 
There is the open window;
There the locked door, the door I cannot open,        5
The only doorway.
 
When at the keyhole often, often
I bend and listen, I can always hear
A muffled conversation.
 
An argument:        10
An angry endless argument of people
Who live behind;
 
Now loudly talking,
Now dimly to their separate conflict moving
Behind the door.        15
 
There they seem prisoned,
As I, in this lone room that I inhabit:
My life; my body.
 
You, of the previous being,
You who once made me and who now discuss me,        20
Tell me your verdict, and I will obey it!
 
You, long ago,
With doubting hands and eager trembling fingers,
Prepared my room.
 
Before I came,        25
Each gave his token for remembrance, brought it,
And then retired behind the bolted door.
 
There is the pot of honey
One left, and there the jar of vinegar
On the same table.        30
 
Who poured that water
Shining beside the flask of yellow wine?
Who sighed so softly?
 
Who brought that living flower to the room?
Who groaned, that I can ever hear the echo?        35
You do not answer.
 
Meanwhile from out the window
Sounds penetrate of building other houses:
Men building houses.
 
And so it may be        40
Some day I’ll find some doorway in the wall—
What shall I take them?
 
What shall I take them
Beyond those doorways, in the other rooms?
What shall I bring them,        45
That they may love me?
 
Fatal question!
For all the jangling voices rise together;
I seem to hear:
 
“What shall he take them?”…        50
Beyond their closed door there’s no final answer.
They are debating.
 
II
O Fate! Have you no other gift
Than voices in a muffled room?
Why do you live behind your door,        55
And hide yourself in angry gloom?
 
And why, again, should you not have
One purpose only, one sole word,
Ringing forever round my heart,
Plainly delivered, plainly heard?        60
 
Your conversation fills my brain
And tortures all my life, and yet
Gives no result. I often think
You’ve grown so old that you forget;
 
And having learnt man’s fatal trick        65
Of talking, talking, talking still,
You’re tired of definite design,
And laugh at having lost your will.
 
 
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