William Carlos Williams

Jean Sans Terre at the Final Port

to Claire Sans Lune           

Landless John on a keelless boat
Having sailed many oceans without shore
A dawnless day at a townless port
Knocks with his boneless hand at a houseless door

He knows this woman without face who combs
Her faded hair across a silverless mirror
The restless bed the fireless embrace
That fear at dawn of evening’s early terror

And on the wharves where ancient silence rots
And weary suns, too early picked, grow worse
The sea-gulls all their patience gone
Head for another universe

What joy or pain the longshoremen unload
Imported cradles or exported biers
Casks without oil or fabrics without wool
They whistle vainly sad tunes on the piers

These hides will never sole a shoe
This cotton never clothe the naked
This wood will never give off sparks
This wheat to holy bread be baked

What is this port at which none lands?
Where is this cape without a continent?
Which is this beacon without pity?
Who is this traveler without chastisement?

spoken = Leon Branton