Hart Crane





The Broken Tower

The bell-rope that gathers God at dawn 
Dispatches me as though I dropped down the knell 
Of a spent day - to wander the cathedral lawn 
From pit to crucifix, feet chill on steps from hell. 

Have you not heard, have you not seen that corps 
Of shadows in the tower, whose shoulders sway 
Antiphonal carillons launched before 
The stars are caught and hived in the sun's ray? 

The bells, I say, the bells break down their tower; 
And swing I know not where. Their tongues engrave 
Membrane through marrow, my long-scattered score 
Of broken intervals¦ And I, their sexton slave! 

Oval encyclicals in canyons heaping 
The impasse high with choir. Banked voices slain! 
Pagodas, campaniles with reveilles out leaping- 
O terraced echoes prostrate on the plain!¦ 

And so it was I entered the broken world 
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice 
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled) 
But not for long to hold each desperate choice. 

My word I poured. But was it cognate, scored 
Of that tribunal monarch of the air 
Whose thigh embronzes earth, strikes crystal Word 
In wounds pledged once to hope - cleft to despair? 

The steep encroachments of my blood left me 
No answer (could blood hold such a lofty tower 
As flings the question true?) -or is it she 
Whose sweet mortality stirs latent power?- 

And through whose pulse I hear, counting the strokes 
My veins recall and add, revived and sure 
The angelus of wars my chest evokes: 
What I hold healed, original now, and pure¦ 

And builds, within, a tower that is not stone 
(Not stone can jacket heaven) - but slip 
Of pebbles, - visible wings of silence sown 
In azure circles, widening as they dip 

The matrix of the heart, lift down the eye 
That shrines the quiet lake and swells a tower¦ 
The commodious, tall decorum of that sky 
Unseals her earth, and lifts love in its shower.