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  • Date :
  • 2/5/2011

Sweeney among the Nightingales

t.s. eliot

T. S. Eliot

APENECK SWEENEY spreads his knees 

Letting his arms hang down to laugh, 

The zebra stripes along his jaw 

Swelling to maculate giraffe. 

The circles of the stormy moon         5

Slide westward toward the River Plate, 

Death and the Raven drift above 

And Sweeney guards the hornèd gate. 

Gloomy Orion and the Dog 

Are veiled; and hushed the shrunken seas;         10

The person in the Spanish cape 

Tries to sit on Sweeney’s knees 

Slips and pulls the table cloth 

Overturns a coffee-cup, 

Reorganised upon the floor         15

She yawns and draws a stocking up; 

The silent man in mocha brown 

Sprawls at the window-sill and gapes; 

The waiter brings in oranges 

Bananas figs and hothouse grapes;         20

The silent vertebrate in brown 

Contracts and concentrates, withdraws; 

Rachel née Rabinovitch 

Tears at the grapes with murderous paws; 

She and the lady in the cape         25

Are suspect, thought to be in league; 

Therefore the man with heavy eyes 

Declines the gambit, shows fatigue, 

Leaves the room and reappears 

Outside the window, leaning in,         30

Branches of wistaria 

Circumscribe a golden grin; 

The host with someone indistinct 

Converses at the door apart, 

The nightingales are singing near         35

The Convent of the Sacred Heart, 

And sang within the bloody wood 

When Agamemnon cried aloud, 

And let their liquid siftings fall 

To stain the stiff dishonoured shroud.         40

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