Books > Old Books > Poetry Northwest (1959)


Page 26

Michael Hamburger
AT DAWN

Where the paint cracks, refracted in his gaze
A red geranium in the window-box
Of any terrace house, means more than meadows,
A single flame kindled against the grime,
Element of his kind, means more than sunrise
Blazing as ever on bare indifferent hills.

A lighted window three streets away -
Or one small ray that sets the glass on fire? -
London at dawn the broken man reflects,
A hint of summer frocks, brightness contained,
Before day's prism breaks her grey composure,
Housefronts assume their numbers, disgorge their ghosts.

Time in the park, within the traffic's roar,
Pattern of light and shade the tall trees make,
The dead friend met -or time in the sea's waves
That has no patience with the dead or living?
Only what men have broken and men repaired,
Time, light and landscape mastered, he approves.

A red geranium against familiar grime,
Where the paint cracks, and once another watered
Carnations in a window-box more green
Deflected from his gaze, he draws the curtains.

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