Monday, July 6, 2020


Every Sunday they left a circus of dust behind them,
as they poured out on the turnpike in stately, overcowded
and the showers found nobody at home,
and trampled through the bedroom windows.

It was a custom at these staid Sunday dinners
to serve courses of rain instead of roast-beef;
on the baroque sideboard, by the Sunday silver,
the wind cut corners like a boy on a new bicycle.

Upstairs, the curtain-rods whirled, untouched;
the curtains rose like a salvo to the ceiling.
Outside the burghers kept losing themselves,
they showed up chewing straws by cow-ponds.

Later, when the long cortege of carriages
approached the city wall,
the horses shied
from the shadow of the Gothic gallows.

The devil in blood-red stockings with rose rosettes
danced along the sunset-watered road—
he was as red
as a boiling lobster.

One thought a snort of indignation
had ripped the lid of Heaven
from the skyline’s low vegetation;
the devil’s ribbons fluttered and danced.

The carriages swam through his eyes like road-signs;
he scarcely lifted a finger in greeting.
He rolled on his heels, he rumbled with laughter,
he sidled off hugging Faust, his pupil.

If you enjoyed this poem, why not read …

The Paris Review - Issue 26 (Fall 1961)

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