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[Index to poems in the collection by Don Marquis]

So let them pass, these songs of mine

    SO LET them pass, these songs of mine,
    Into oblivion, nor repine;
    Abandoned ruins of large schemes,
    Dimmed lights adrift from nobler dreams,

    Weak wings I sped on quests divine,
    So let them pass, these songs of mine.
    They soar, or sink ephemeral--
    I care not greatly which befall!

    For if no song I e'er had wrought,
    Still have I loved and laughed and fought;
    So let them pass, these songs of mine;
    I sting too hot with life to whine!

    Still shall I struggle, fail, aspire,
    Lose God, and find Gods in the mire,
    And drink dream-deep life's heady wine--
    So let them pass, these songs of mine.

    Don Marquis

A Plan

    YOUTH is the season of revolt; at twenty-five
    We curse the reigning politicians,
    Wondering that any man alive
    Stands for such damnable conditions.
    Whatever is, to us, is wrong,
    In economics, life, religion, art;
    The crowned old laureates of song
    Are pikers, and accepted sages
    Appear devoid of intellect and heart;
    Continually, the ego in us rages;
    Our sense of universal, rank injustice
    Swells till it's like to bust us;
    We love to see ourselves as outcast goats
    Browsing at basement tobbledotes,
    The while we forge the mordant bolt
    That is to give society its jolt;
    And any man who wears two eyes upon his face
    Contentedly and unashamed,
    And glories in the pose
    And makes a virtue of his having just one nose,
    We curse as dull, conventional, and tamed
    And commonplace.
    Thirty finds us a trigle sobered, with a doubt
    Whether we'll turn the cosmos inside-out,
    Reform the earth, regild the moon
    And make the Pleiads sing a modern tune;
    Some of the classics are not bores, we think,
    And barbers have their uses;
    We grow more choice in what we eat and drink,
    Less angry at abuses;
    We work a little harder, want more pay,
    Grab on to better jobs,
    And learn to make excuses
    For certain individuals erstwhile condemned as snobs;
    We do not worry nine hours every day
    because the world in its traditional, crool way            [sic]
    Continues to roll calmly on and crush
    The worthier myriads into bloody mush;
    And yet, at thirty, on the whole,
    If analyzed we still would show a trace of soul.
    At forty--well, you know:
    Chins, bank accounts, and stomachs start to grow;
    The world's still wrong in spite of all we've tried
    To do for it, and we're no longer broken hearted--
    We sit on it and ride,
    We're willing, now, to let the darned thing slide
    Along in just about the way it stated.
    Of course, we're anxious for reforms,
    And all that sort of stuff,
    Unless they cause too many economic storms--
    But really, on the whole it's well enough:
    We hold by standards, rules and norms.
    But when I'm eighty I intend
    To turn a fool again for twenty years or so;
    Go back to being twenty-five,
    Drop cautions and conventions, join some little group
    Fantastically rebel and alive,
    And resolute, from soup
    To nuts; I'll reimburse myself
    For all the freak stuff that I've had to keep upon the shelf;
    Indulge my crochets, be the friend of man,
    And pull the thoughts I've always had to can--
    I'm looking forward to a rough, rebellous, unrespectable old age,
    Kicking the world uphill
    With laughter shrill
    And squeals of high-pitched, throaty rage.

    Don Marquis

"They Had No Poet . . ."

    "Vain was the chief's, the sage's pride!
    They had no poet and they died."
    -- POPE.

    BY TIGRIS, or the streams of Ind,
         Ere Colchis rose, or Babylon,
    Forgotten empires dreamed and sinned,
         Setting tall towns against the dawn,

    Which, when the proud Sun smote upon,
         Flashed fire for fire and pride for pride;
    Their names were . . . Ask oblivion! . .
         "They had no poet, and they died."

    Queens, dusk of hair and tawny-skinned,
         That loll where fellow leopards fawn . . .
    Their hearts are dust before the wind,
         Their loves, that shook the world, are wan!

    Passion is mighty . . . but, anon,
         Strong Death has Romance for his bride;
    Their legends . . . Ask oblivion! . . .
         "They had no poet, and they died."

    Heroes, the braggart trumps that dinned
         Their futile triumphs, monarch, pawn,
    Wild tribesmen, kingdoms disciplined,
         Passed like a whirlwind and were gone;

    They built with bronze and gold and brawn,
         The inner Vision still denied;
    Their conquests . . . Ask oblivion! . . .
         "They had no poet, and they died."

    Dumb oracles, and priests withdrawn,
         Was it but flesh they deified?
    Their gods were . . . Ask oblivion! . . .
         "They had no poet, and they died."

    Don Marquis

This is Another Day

    I AM mine own priest, and I shrive myself
    Of all my wasted yesterdays. Though sin
    And sloth and foolishness, and all ill weeds
    Of error, evil, and neglect grow rank
    And ugly there, I dare forgive myself
    That error, sin, and sloth and foolishness.
    God knows that yesterday I played the fool;
    God knows that yesterday I played the knave;
    But shall I therefore cloud this new dawn o'er
    With fog of futile sighs and vain regrets?
    This is another day! And flushed Hope walks
    Adown the sunward slopes with golden shoon.
    This is another day; and its young strength
    Is laid upon the quivering hills until,
    Like Egypt's Memnon, they grow quick with song.
    This is another day, and the bold world
    Leaps up and grasps its light, and laughs, as leapt
    Prometheus up and wrenched the fire from Zeus.
    This is another day--are its eyes blurred
    With maudlin grief for any wasted past?
    A thousand thousand failures shall not daunt!
    Let dust clasp dust; death, death--I am alive!
    And out of all the dust and death of mine
    Old selves I dare to lift a singing heart
    And living faith; my spirit dares drink deep
    Of the red mirth mantling in the cup of morn.

    Don Marquis

This Earth, It is Also a Star

    WHERE the singers of Saturn find tongue,
        Where the Galaxy's lovers embrace,
    Our world and its beauty are sung!
        They lean from their casements to trace
        If our planet still spins in its place;
    Faith fables the thing that we are,
        And Fantasy laughs and gives chase:
    This earth, it is also a star!

    Round the sun, that is fixed, and hung
        For a lamp in the darkness of space
    We are whirled, we are swirled, we are flung;
        Singing and shining we race
        And our light on the uplifted face
    Of dreamer or prophet afar
        May fall as a symbol of grace:
    This earth, it is also a star!

    Looking out where our planet is swung
        Doubt loses his writhen grimace,
    Dry hearts drink the gleams and are young;--
        Where agony's boughs interlace
        His Garden some Jesus may pace,
    Lifting, the wan avatar,
        His soul to this light as a vase!
    This earth, it is also a star!

    Great spirits in sorrowful case
        Yearn to us through the vapors that bar:
    Canst think of that, soul, and be base?--
        This earth, it is also a star!

    Don Marquis

A Mood of Pavlova

    THE soul of the Spring through its body of earth
        Bursts in a bloom of fire,
    And the crocuses come in a rainbow riot of mirth....
        They flutter, they burn, they take wing, they aspire....
    Wings, motion and music and flame,
    Flower, woman and laughter, and all these the same!
    She is light and first love and the youth of the world,
    She is sandaled with joy ... she is lifted and whirled,
    She is flung, she is swirled, she is driven along
        By the carnival winds that have torn her away
        From the coronal bloom on the brow of the May....
    She is youth, she is foam, she is flame, she is visible Song!

    Don Marquis

The Pool

    REACH over, my Undine, and clutch me a reed--
    Nymph of mine idleness, notch me a pipe--
    For I am fulfilled of the silence, and long
    For to utter the sense of the silence in song.

    Down-stream all the rapids are troubled with pebbles
        That fetter and fret what the water would utter,
    And it rushes and splashes in tremulous trebles;
        It makes haste through the shallows, its soul is aflutter;

    But here all the sound is serene and outspread
        In the murmurous moods of a slow-swirling pool;
        Here all the sounds are unhurried and cool;
    Every silence is kith to a sound; they are wed,
    They are mated, are mingled, are tangled, are bound;
    Every hush is in love with a sound, every sound
    By the law of its life to some silence is bound.

    Then here will we hide; idle here and abide,
    In the covert here, close by the waterside--
    Here, where the slim flattered reeds are aquiver
    With the exquisite hints of the reticent river,
        Here, where the lips of this pool are the lips
    Of all pools, let us listen and question and wait;
        Let us hark to the whispers of love and of death,
    Let us hark to the lispings of life and of fate--
    In this place where pale silences flower into sound
    Let us strive for some secret of all the profound
    Deep and calm Silence that meshes men 'round!
    There's as much of God hinted in one ripple's plashes--
        There's as much of Truth glints in yon dragon-fly's flight--
    There's as much Purpose gleams where yonder trout flashes
        As in--any book else!--could we read things aright.

    Then nymph of mine indolence, here let us hide,
    Learn, listen, and question; idle here and abide
    Where the rushes and lilies lean low to the tide.

    Don Marquis

Nicholas of Montenegro


    HE SPEAKS as straight as his rifles shot,
        As straight as a thrusting blade,
    Waiting the deed that shall trouble the truce
        His savage guns have made.

    "You have dared the wrath of a dozen states,"
        Was the challenge that he heard;
    "We can die but once!" said the grim old King
        As he gripped his mountain sword.

    "For I paid in blood for the town I took,
        The blood of my brave men slain,--
    And if you covet the town I took
        You must buy it with blood again!"

    Stern old King of the stark, black hills,
        Where the lean, fierce eagles breed,
    Your speech rings true as your good sword rings--
        And you are a king indeed!

    Don Marquis


    (The Ghost Speaks)

    A GHOST is the freak of a sick man's brain?
        Then why do ye start and shiver so?
    That's the sob and drip of a leaky drain?
        But it sounds like another noise we know!
        The heavy drops drummed red and slow,
    The drops ran down as slow as fate--
        Do ye hear them still?--it was long ago!--
    But here in the shadows I wait, I wait!

    Spirits there be that pass in peace;
        Mine passed in a whorl of wrath and dole;
    And the hour that your choking breath shall cease
        I will get my grip on your naked soul--
        Nor pity may stay nor prayer cajole--
    I would drag ye whining from Hell's own gate:
        To me, to me, ye must pay the toll!
    And here in the shadows I wait, I wait!

    The dead they are dead, they are out of the way?
        And a ghost is the whim of an ailing mind?
    Then why did ye whiten with fear to-day
        When ye heard a voice in the calling wind?
        Why did ye falter and look behind
    At the creeping mists when the hour grew late?
        Ye would see my face were ye stricken blind!
    And here in the shadows I wait, I wait!

    Drink and forget, make merry and boast,
        But the boast rings false and the jest is thin--
    In the hour that I meet ye ghost to ghost,
        Stripped of the flesh that ye skulk within,
        Stripped to the coward soul 'ware of its sin,
    Ye shall learn, ye shall learn, whether dead men hate!
        Ah, a weary time has the waiting been,
    But here in the shadows I wait, I wait!

    Don Marquis

A Nightmare

    LEAGUES before me, leagues behind,
        Clamor warring wastes of flood,
    All the streams of all the worlds
        Flung together, mad of mood;
    Through the canon beats a sound,
        Regular of interval,
    Distant, drumming, muffled, dull,
        Thunderously rhythmical;

        Crafts slip by my startled soul--
    Soul that cowers, a thing apart--
        They are corpuscles of blood!
    That's the throbbing of a heart!
        God of terrors!--am I mad?--
    Through my body, mine own soul,
        Shrunken to an atom's size,
    Voyages toward an unguessed goal!

    Don Marquis

The Sailor's Wife Speaks

    YE ARE dead, they say, but ye swore, ye swore,
        Ye would come to me back from the sea!
    From out of the sea and the night, ye cried,
    Nor the crawling weed nor the dragging tide
        Could hold ye fast from me:--
        Come, ah, come to me!

    Three spells I have laid on the rising sun
        And three on the waning moon--
    Are ye held in the bonds of the night or the day
    Ye must loosen your bonds and away, away!
        Ye must come where I wait ye, soon--
        Ah, soon! soon! soon!

    Three times I have cast my words to the wind,
        And thrice to the climbing sea;
    If ye drift or dream with the clouds or foam
    Ye must drift again home, ye must drift again home--

    Wraith, ye are free, ye are free;
        Ghost, ye are free, ye are free!

    Are the coasts of death so fair, so fair?
        But I wait ye here on the shore!
    It is I that ye hear in the calling wind--
    I have stared through the dark till my soul is blind!
        O lover of mine, ye swore,
        Lover of mine, ye swore!

    Don Marquis


    CEASE to call him sad and sober,
    Merriest of months, October!
    Patron of the bursting bins,
    Reveler in wayside inns,
    I can nowhere find a trace
    Of the pensive in his face;
    There is mingled wit and folly,
    But the madcap lacks the grace
    Of a thoughtful melancholy.
    Spendthrift of the seasons' gold,
    How he flings and scatters out
    Treasure filched from summer-time!--
    Never ruffling squire of old
    Better loved a tavern bout
    When Prince Hal was in his prime.
    Doublet slashed with gold and green;
    Cloak of crimson; changeful sheen,
    Of the dews that gem his breast;
    Frosty lace about his throat;

    Scarlet plumes that flaunt and float
    Backward in a gay unrest--
    Where's another gallant drest
    With such tricksy gaiety,
    Such unlessoned vanity?
    With his amber afternoons
    And his pendant poets' moons--
    With his twilights dashed with rose
    From the red-lipped afterglows--
    With his vocal airs at dawn
    Breathing hints of Helicon--
    Bacchanalian bees that sip
    Where his cider-presses drip--
    With the winding of the horn
    Where his huntsmen meet the morn--
    With his every piping breeze
    Shaking from familiar trees
    Apples of Hesperides--
    With the chuckle, chirp, and trill
    Of his jolly brooks that spill
    Mirth in tangled madrigals
    Down pebble-dappled waterfalls--
    (Brooks that laugh and make escape
    Through wild arbors where the grape

    Purples with a promise of
    Racy vintage rare as love)--
    With his merry, wanton air,
    Mirth and vanity and folly
    Why should he be made to bear
    Burden of some melancholy
    Song that swoons and sinks with care?
    Cease to call him sad or sober,--
    He's a jolly dog, October!

    Don Marquis


    MY DUST in ruined Babylon
        Is blown along the level plain,
    And songs of mine at dawn have soared
        Above the blue Sicilian main.

    We are ourselves, and not ourselves ...
        For ever thwarting pride and will
    Some forebear's passion leaps from death
        To claim a vital license still.

    Ancestral lusts that slew and died,
        Resurgent, swell each living vein;
    Old doubts and faiths, new panoplied,
        Dispute the mastery of the brain.

    The love of liberty that flames
        From written rune and stricken reed
    Shook the hot hearts of swordsmen sires
        At Marathon and Runnymede.

    What are these things we call our "selves"? ...
        Have I not shouted, sobbed, and died
    In the bright surf of spears that broke
        Where Greece rolled back the Persian tide?

    Are we who breathe more quick than they
        Whose bones are dust within the tomb?
    Nay, as I write, what gray old ghosts
        Murmur and mock me from the gloom....

    They call ... across strange seas they call,
        Strange seas, and haunted coasts of time....
    They startle me with wordless songs
        To which the Sphinx hath known the rhyme.

    Our hearts swell big with dead men's hates,
        Our eyes sting hot with dead men's tears;
    We are ourselves, but not ourselves,
        Born heirs, but serfs, to all the years!

    I rode with Nimrod ... strove at Troy ...
        A slave I stood in Crowning Tyre,
    A queen looked on me and I loved
        And died to compass my desire.

    Don Marquis

The Piltdown Skull

    [The Piltdown Man was an infamous hoax - "discovered" in 1912 - fragments of a well-developed skull supposedly found in an English quarry with a primitive jawbone - suggesting a previously unknown branch of evolution. When Don Marquis wrote this poem it was still a mystery. Forty-one years later the jawbone was found to belong to a more distant cousin, an orangutan. --Steve]

    WHAT was his life, back yonder
        In the dusk where time began,
    This beast uncouth with the jaw of an ape
        And the eye and brain of a man?--
    Work, and the wooing of woman,
        Fight, and the lust of fight,
    Play, and the blind beginnings
        Of an Art that groped for light?--

    In the wonder of redder mornings,
        By the beauty of brighter seas,
    Did he stand, the world's first thinker,
        Scorning his clan's decrees?--
    Seeking, with baffled eyes,
    In the dumb, inscrutable skies,
    A name for the greater glory
        That only the dreamer sees?

    One day, when the afterglows,
        Like quick and sentient things,

        With a rush of their vast, wild wings,
    Rose out of the shaken ocean
        As great birds rise from the sod,
    Did the shock of their sudden splendor
    Stir him and startle and thrill him,
    Grip him and shake him and fill him
        With a sense as of heights untrod?--
    Did he tremble with hope and vision,
        And grasp at a hint of God?

    London stands where the mammoth
        Caked shag flanks with slime--
    And what are our lives that inherit
        The treasures of all time?
    Work, and the wooing of woman,
        Fight, and the lust of fight,
    A little play (and too much toil!)
        With an Art that gropes for light;
    And now and then a dreamer,
        Rapt, from his lonely sod
    Looks up and is thrilled and startled
        With a fleeting sense of God!

    Don Marquis

David to Bathsheba

    VERY red are the roses of Sharon,
    But redder thy mouth,
    There is nard, there is myrrh, in En Gedi,
    From the uplands of Lebanon, heavy
    With balsam, the winds
    Drift freighted and scented and cedarn--
    But thy mouth is more precious than spices!

    Thy breasts are twin lilies of Kedron;
    White lilies, that sleep
    In the shallows where loitering Kedron
    Broadens out and is lost in the Jordan;
    Globed lilies, so white
    That David, thy King, thy beloved
    Declareth them meet for his gardens.

    Under the stars very strangely
    The still waters gleam;
    Deep down in the waters of Hebron

    The soul of the starlight is sunken,
    But deep in thine eyes
    Stirs a more wonderful secret
    Than pools ever learn of the starlight.

    Don Marquis

Early Autumn

    WITH half-hearted levies of frost that make foray, retire, and refrain--
    Ambiguous bugles that blow and that falter to silence again--

    With banners of mist that still waver above them, advance and retreat,
    The hosts of the Autumn still hide in the hills, for a doubt stays their feet;--

    But anon, with a barbaric splendor to dazzle the eyes that behold,
    And regal in raiment of purple and umber and amber and gold,

    And girt with the glamor of conquest and scarved with red symbols of pride,
    From the hills in their might and their mirth on the steeds of the wind will they ride,

    To make sport and make spoil of the Summer, who dwells in a dream on the plain,
    Still tented in opulent ease in the camps of her indolent train.

    Don Marquis


    THEY haunt me, they tease me with hinted
    Withheld revelations,
    The songs that I may not utter;
    They lead me, they flatter, they woo me.
    I follow, I follow, I snatch
    At the veils of their secrets in vain--
    For lo! they have left me and vanished,
    The songs that I cannot sing.

    There are visions elusive that come
    With a quiver and shimmer of wings;--
    Shapes shadows and shapes, and the murmur
    Of voices;--
    Shapes, that out of the twilight
    Leap, and with gesture appealing
    Seem to deliver a message,
    And are gone 'twixt a breath and a breath;--
    Shapes that race in with the waves
    Moving silverly under the moon,

    And are gone ere they break into foam on the rocks
    And recede;--
    Breathings of love from invisible
    Blown somewhere out in the tender
    That die on the bosom of Silence;--
    And fleeter than thought,
    Vaguer than thought or emotion,
    What are these visitors?

    Out of the vast and uncharted
    Realms that encircle the visible world,
    With a glimmer of light on their pinions,
    They rush ...
    They waver, they vanish,
    Leaving me stirred with a dream of the ultimate beauty,
    A sense of the ultimate music,
    I never shall capture;--

    They are Beauty,
    Formless and tremulous Beauty,

    Beauty unborn;
    Beauty as yet unappareled
    In thought;
    Beauty that hesitates,
    Withdraws from the verge of birth,
    Retreats from the portals of life;--
    O Beauty for ever uncaptured!
    O songs that I never shall sing!

    Don Marquis

An Open Fire

    THESE logs with drama and with dream are rife,
        For all their golden Summers and green Springs
    Through leaf and root they sucked the forest's life,
        Drank in its secret, deep, essential things,
    Its midwood moods, its mystic runes,
        Its breathing hushes stirred of faery wings,
    Its August nights and April noons;
    The garnered fervors of forgotten Junes
    Flare forth again and waste away;
        And in the sap that leaps and sings
        We hear again the chant the cricket flings
    Across the hawthorn-scented dusks of May.

    Don Marquis


    WE ARE deceived by the shadow, we see not the substance of things.
    For the hills are less solid than thought; and deeds are but vapors; and flesh
    Is a mist thrown off and resumed by the soul, as a world by a god.
    Back of the transient appearance dwells in ineffable calm
    The utter reality, ultimate truth; this seems and that is.

    Don Marquis

The Rebel

    NO DOUBT the ordered worlds speed on
        With purpose in their wings;
    No doubt the ordered songs are sweet
        Each worthy angel sings;
    And doubtless it is wise to heed
        The ordered words of Kings;

    But how the heart leaps up to greet
        The headlong, rebel flight,
    Whenas some reckless meteor
        Blazes across the night!
    Some comet--Byron--Lucifer--
        Has dared to Be, and fight!

    No doubt but it is safe to dwell
        Where ordered duties are;
    No doubt the cherubs earn their wage
        Who wind each ticking star;

    No doubt the system is quite right!--
        Sane, ordered, regular;

    But how the rebel fires the soul
        Who dares the strong gods' ire!
    Each Byron!--Shelley!--Lucifer!--
        And all the outcast choir
    That chant when some Prometheus
        Leaps up to steal Jove's fire!

    Don Marquis


    THE things that I can't have I want
        And what I have seems second-rate,
    The things I want to do I can't
        And what I have to do I hate,
        The things I want at once come late,
    I am not feeling gay nor gleg,
        I'm really in an awful state,
    My life is like a scrambled egg.

    If I should order elephant
        They'd put camel on my plate,
    If I should seek a wealthy aunt
        A poor old uncle'd be my fate,
        If I should say, "You amputate
    My foot, and bring me a wooden peg,"
        They'd probably cut off my pate;
    My life is like a scrambled egg.

    The things I want most of are scant
        The girls I really love won't mate,
    The times when rage would make me rant
        My larynx won't articulate;
        Should I arrange some morn at eight
    To bear my brains out with my leg
        I'd probably forget the date;
    My life is like a scrambled egg.

    The simplest matters won't come straight,
        For once I wood a maid named Meg
    And very nearly married Kate;
        My life is like a scrambled egg.

    Don Marquis


    A CUBIST and a Futurist were walking out one day
    And came upon an Imagist engaged in frying hay;--

    "You think it's grass?" said he. "Ah, that's the way with Art!
    Sometimes it's made of leather but it's always Apple Tart!

    "Centripetal emotion, delicately swirled,
    Spins nothing round on nothing, like an axis and a world!"

    "So that's your little secret?" the Futurist replied,
    But the Cubist only murmured, and the Cubist only sighed,
    A-counting of his fingers, the Cubist only sighed.

    "Subliminal extractions," the Imagist explained,
    Are apt to run around in rings--unles they're trained!

    "A pychopathic maelstrom may hurt your cerebrum,
    Bur remember in the middle there's but a vacuum!

    "When esoteric cyclones whirl along your brain
    There's nothing at the vortex except a sense of pain!"

    "So that's your little secret?" the Futurist remarked
    But the Cubist only squiffled, the Cubist only barked,
    A-Chasing of his shadow, the Cubist only barked.

    Said the Imagist, "When tempests go whirling round and round
    There's nothing in the teapot excepting Ezra Pound.

    "The less there is of nothing, the more it gains in speed,
    And starting on that basis, I've founded me a creed;--

    "I all it Vorticism, but the name is just a pin
    To serve it for an axis when the words begin to spin."

    "So that's your little sectet?--I call it rather neat!"
    But the Cubist only muttered, a-wondring at his feet,
    A-sitting by the haystack, a-counting of his feet

    Don Marquis

A Seaside Romance

    "MY NAME," I said, "is Peleg Doddleding,
        And Doddleding has been my name since birth."
    And having told this girl this shameful thing
        I bowed my head and waited for her mirth.

    She did not laugh. I looked at her, and she,
        With wistful gladness in her yellow eyes,
    Swept withher gradual gaze the mocking sea.
        Then dried her gaze and swept the scornful skies.

    I thought perhaps she had not heard aright.
        "My name," I said again, "is Doddleding!"
    Thinking she would reply, "Ah, then, goodnight--
        no love of mine round such a name could cling!"

    We'd met upon the beach an hour before,
        And our loves lept together, flame and flame.
    I loved. She loved. We loved. "She'll love no more,"
        I moaned, "when she learns Doddleding's my name!"

    She was not beautiful, nor did she seem
        The sort of person likely to be good;
    Her outcast manner 'twas that bade me dream
        If any one could stand my name she could.

    She seemed a weakly, sentimental thing,
        Viscious, no doubt, and dull and somewhat wried.
    I said once more, "I'm Mister Doddleding!"
        Feebly she smiled. I saw she had no pride.

    The westering sun above the ocean shook
        With ecstasy, the flushed sea shook beneath . . . .
    I trembled too . . . She smiled! . . . . and one long look
        Showed something queer had happened to her teeth.

    O world of Gladness! World of gold and flame!
        "She loves me then, in spite of all!" I cried.
    "Though Peleg Doddleding is still my name,
        Yet Peleg Doddleding has found a bride!"

    I stroked her hair . . . . I found it was a wig . . . .
        And as I slipped upon her hand the ring
    She said, "My name is Effie Muddlesnig--
        Oh, thank you! Thank you Mister Doddleding!"

    In all the world she was the only one
        For me, and I for her . . . . lives touch and pass,
    And then, one day beneath a westering sun,
        We find our own! One of her eyes is glass.

    Don Marquis

April Song

    FROM God-forsaken suburbs streaked with soot
    And miserable with mud,
    Past twisted trees that lack the sap to bud,
    Come Spring, with shuffling gait,
    Red eyes, and squelching boot,
    Rheumatic, ragged, wretched, sour as hate--
    Comes Spring a-sneaking, slinking,
    Comes sore-eyed Spring a-blinking,
    Comes Spring with clay upon her draggled gown.
    She makes a furtive sally,
    A tramp's attempt, and limps into the town
    Through some unguarded alley.

    Do dancing fauns, do wreathèd nymphs attend her?
    Not currently, I fear--
    I watched her come this year--
    And in her train lept cats uncouth and blear,
    Moth-eaten, gauntly slender:
    And frisked (to pipings of no cleanly Pan)
    From garbage can to thawing garbage can
    And passionately dug for fish heads there--
    These are her chosen sprites
        And through the damp, unhealthy nights
    They tear the damp, unhealthy air
    With that saw-toothed and feline voice that blights
        Amd withers all things fair.

    Now icy pavements turn to thick, black grease,
    For melting Spring has come:
    And all the prisoned germs of all disease
    Now gambol in release,
        Now kick and frolick like wild goats
    And creep into a million gaping throats,
        For poisonous, wheezing spring has come;
    Discouraged window boxes sadly strive
    To make last year's poor, sickly blooms revive;
    Displeasing Spring has come;
    And huddled subway crowds in sodden clothing
    Steam with a mutual loathing,
    For Spring, disgusting Spring has come.

    Don Marquis

[Index to poems in the collection by Don Marquis]

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