Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In the naked bed, in Plato’s cave, by Delmore Schwartz


In the naked bed, in Plato’s cave,

In the naked bed, in Plato’s cave,
Reflected headlights slowly slid the wall,   
Carpenters hammered under the shaded window,   
Wind troubled the window curtains all night long,   
A fleet of trucks strained uphill, grinding,   
Their freights covered, as usual.
The ceiling lightened again, the slanting diagram   
Slid slowly forth.
                            Hearing the milkman’s chop,   
His striving up the stair, the bottle’s chink,   
I rose from bed, lit a cigarette,
And walked to the window. The stony street   
Displayed the stillness in which buildings stand,   
The street-lamp’s vigil and the horse’s patience.   
The winter sky’s pure capital
Turned me back to bed with exhausted eyes.

Strangeness grew in the motionless air. The loose   
Film grayed. Shaking wagons, hooves’ waterfalls,   
Sounded far off, increasing, louder and nearer.   
A car coughed, starting. Morning, softly   
Melting the air, lifted the half-covered chair   
From underseas, kindled the looking-glass,   
Distinguished the dresser and the white wall.   
The bird called tentatively, whistled, called,   
Bubbled and whistled, so! Perplexed, still wet   
With sleep, affectionate, hungry and cold. So, so,   
O son of man, the ignorant night, the travail   
Of early morning, the mystery of beginning   
Again and again,
                         while History is unforgiven.


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