Conrad Potter Aiken

My heart is an old house, and in that forlorn old house,

Is a locked room where an enchanted princessLies sleeping.But sometimes, in that dark house,As if almost from the stars, far away,Sounds whisper in that secret room —Faint voices, music, a dying trill of laughter?And suddenly, from her long sleep,The beautiful princess awakes and dances.Who is she? I do not know.Why does she dance? Do not…

Well,—it was two days after my husband died—

And I was sweeping the carpet in their hall.In number four—the room with the red wall-paper—Some chorus girls and men were singing that song‘They’ll soon be lighting candlesRound a box with silver handles’—and hearing them sing itI started to cry. Just then he came alongAnd stopped on the stairs and turned and looked at me,And…

The lamplit page is turned, the dream forgotten;

Deep worlds you lived before,—deep worlds hereafterOf leaf on falling leaf, music on music,Rain and sorrow and wind and dust and laughter.Helen was late and Miriam came too soon.Joseph was dead, his wife and children starving.Elaine was married and soon to have a child.You dreamed last night of fiddler-crabs with fiddles;They played a buzzing melody,…

Red is the color of blood, and I will seek it:

It is the color of steep sun seen through eyelids.It is hidden under the suave flesh of women-Flows there, quietly flows.It mounts from the heart to the temples, the singing mouth-As cold sap climbs to the rose.I am confused in webs and knots of scarletSpun from the darkness;Or shuttled from the mouths of thirsty spiders.Madness…

XXIV

out of the silence, the stillness, the preceding—speaking clearly, speaking slowly, measuring calmlythe heavy syllables of doubt, or of despair—speaking passionately, speaking bitterly, hunger or hopeordering the words, that are like sounds of flame—:if one speaks first, before that other or the third,out of the silence bringing the dark message,the grave and great acceptance of…

Beloved, let us once more praise the rain.

For this, the often praised; and be ourselves,The rain, the chickweed, and the burdock leaf,The green-white privet flower, the spotted stone,And all that welcomes the rain; the sparrow too,—Who watches with a hard eye from seclusion,Beneath the elm-tree bough, till rain is done.There is an oriole who, upside down,Hangs at his nest, and flicks an…