City Nightfall

SMOKE upon smoke; over the stone lips
Of chimneys bleeding, a darker fume descends.
Night, the old nun, in voiceless pity bends
To kiss corruption, so fabulous her pity.
All drowns in night. Even the lazar drowns
In earth at last, and rises up afresh,
Married to dust with an Infanta's flesh—
So night, like earth, receives this poisoned city,
Charging its air with beauty, coasting its lanterns
With mains of darkness, till the leprous clay
Dissolves, and pavements drift away,
And there is only the quiet noise of planets feeding.
And those who chafe here, limed on the iron twigs,
No greater seem than sparrows, all their cries,
Their clockwork and their merchandise,
Frolic of painted dolls. I pass unheeding.

by Kenneth Slessor

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Comments (4)

'Over the stone lips'! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
Limed or limbed? And a comma after dolls in the last line? Night, the old nun, bends in voiceless pity to kiss corruption—great and original image. This poem makes me appreciate night which I usually wouldn’t rate as my favorite time of day. GK
So beautifully composed with implied comparison, metaphor, image and hope makes it an outstanding piece..............thanks for sharing
This is what poetry should be and what I aspire to Great writing and metaphor sparse every word tailored to fit in exquisite form