Richard Wilbur





After the Last Bulletins

After the last bulletins the windows darken   
And the whole city founders readily and deep,   
Sliding on all its pillows
To the thronged Atlantis of personal sleep,

And the wind rises. The wind rises and bowls   
The day’s litter of news in the alleys. Trash   
Tears itself on the railings,
Soars and falls with a soft crash,

Tumbles and soars again. Unruly flights   
Scamper the park, and taking a statue for dead   
Strike at the positive eyes,
Batter and flap the stolid head

And scratch the noble name. In empty lots   
Our journals spiral in a fierce noyade   
Of all we thought to think,
Or caught in corners cramp and wad

And twist our words. And some from gutters flail   
Their tatters at the tired patrolman’s feet,
Like all that fisted snow
That cried beside his long retreat

Damn you! damn you! to the emperor’s horse’s heels.   
Oh none too soon through the air white and dry   
Will the clear announcer’s voice
Beat like a dove, and you and I

From the heart’s anarch and responsible town   
Return by subway-mouth to life again,   
Bearing the morning papers,
And cross the park where saintlike men,

White and absorbed, with stick and bag remove   
The litter of the night, and footsteps rouse   
With confident morning sound
The songbirds in the public boughs.