Sunday, February 4, 2018

Winter Night / John Reed


Winter Night

High hangs the hollow, ringing shield of heaven,
Embossed with stars. The thin air wounds like steel,
Stark and resilient as a Spanish blade.
Sharp snaps the rigid lake's mysterious ice,
And the prim, starchy twigs of naked trees
Crackle metallic in an unfelt wind.
A light-poised Damoclean scimitar
The faintly-damascened pale moon. Benumbed
Shrinks the racked earth griped in the hand of Cold.
O hark! Swift, anvil-ringing iron hoofs
Drum down the boreal interstellar space:
The Blue Knight rides, spurring his snorting stallion
Out of the dark side of the frozen moon —
Eyes crueller than a beryl-sheathed crevasse,
Breath like the chilly fog of polar seas,
Glaciers for armor on his breast and thighs,
A polished Alp for helmet, and for plume
The league-long Northern Lights behind him floating,
Wave on wave of prismatic blazoning,
Glorious up the sky!
                                       The Blue Knight rides
With his moon-shimmering, star-tipped lance at rest, —
Drives at the world — Crash ! and the brittle globe
Bursts like a crystal goblet, — shivering, falling, —
Shivers, splinters brustling, tinkling, jarring,
Jingling in fading dissonance down the void —
Jangling down the unplumbed void forever.  .  .  .

~~
John Reed (1887-1920),  1906
from Tamberlaine, and other verses, 1917

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

John Reed biography

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