The Porch over the River
In the dusk of the river, the wind
gone, the trees grow still–
the beautiful poise of lightness,
the heavy world pushing toward it.
Beyond, on the face of the water,
lies the reflection of another tree,
inverted, pulsing with the short strokes
of waves the wind has stopped driving.
In a time when men no longer
can imagine the lives of their sons
this is still the world–
the world of my time, the grind
of engines marking the country
like an audible map, the high dark
marked by the flight of men,
lights stranger than stars.
The phoebes cross and re-cross
the openings, alert
for what may still be earned
from the light. The whippoorwills
begin, and the frogs. And the dark
falls, again, as it must.
The look of the world withdraws
into the vein of memory.
The mirrored tree, darkening, stirs
with the water’s inward life. What has
made it so? –a quietness in it
no question can be asked in.
THE DRY SALVAGES
(No. 3 of ‘Four Quartets’)
I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities—ever, however, implacable.
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
His rhythm was present in the nursery bedroom,
In the rank ailanthus of the April dooryard,
In the smell of grapes on the autumn table,
And the evening circle in the winter gaslight.
“Paterson lies in the valley under the Passaic Falls
its spent waters forming the outline of his back. He
lies on his right side, head near the thunder
of the waters filling his dreams! Eternally asleep,
his dreams walk about the city where he persists
incognito. Butterflies settle on his stone ear.
Immortal he neither moves nor rouses and is seldom
seen, though he breathes and the subtleties of his machinations
drawing their substance from the noise of the pouring river
animate a thousand automations. Who because they
neither know their sources nor the sills of their
disappointments walk outside their bodies aimlessly
for the most part,
locked and forgot in their desires-unroused.‘