Poetry of Amy Lowell
Sword Blades and Poppy Seed

The Last Quarter of the Moon

How long shall I tarnish the mirror of life,
A spatter of rust on its polished steel!
 The seasons reel
 Like a goaded wheel.
Half-numb, half-maddened, my days are strife.

The night is sliding towards the dawn,
And upturned hills crouch at autumn's knees.
 A torn moon flees
 Through the hemlock trees,
The hours have gnawed it to feed their spawn.

Pursuing and jeering the misshapen thing
A rabble of clouds flares out of the east.
 Like dogs unleashed
 After a beast,
They stream on the sky, an outflung string.

A desolate wind, through the unpeopled dark,
Shakes the bushes and whistles through empty nests,
 And the fierce unrests
 I keep as guests
Crowd my brain with corpses, pallid and stark.

Leave me in peace, O Spectres, who haunt
My labouring mind, I have fought and failed.
 I have not quailed,
 I was all unmailed
And naked I strove, 'tis my only vaunt.

The moon drops into the silver day
As waking out of her swoon she comes.
 I hear the drums
 Of millenniums
Beating the mornings I still must stay.

The years I must watch go in and out,
While I build with water, and dig in air,
 And the trumpets blare
 Hollow despair,
The shuddering trumpets of utter rout.

An atom tossed in a chaos made
Of yeasting worlds, which bubble and foam.
 Whence have I come?
 What would be home?
I hear no answer.  I am afraid!

I crave to be lost like a wind-blown flame.
Pushed into nothingness by a breath,
 And quench in a wreath
 Of engulfing death
This fight for a God, or this devil's game.