Louis MacNeice

The Rest House

The thick night fell, the folding table unfolded,
The black men cooked a meal on the thatched verandah,
The hissing lamp had hypnotized the lizards
That splayed their baby hands on the wired window
While crickets fiddled and sizzled to drown the river
Who, bowling his age long bias out of Uganda,
Was curdling and burbling his nightlong way to the rapids
Tipsy with goggled hippo and drifting lilies.

And on the dark the voices of unknown children,
So shrill they might be white, sifted and splintered
And shivered away till, noisy lamps extinguished,
The bed beneath the ghostly netting beckoned
To chrysalid or sepulchral sleep. But such
Was now the river’s dominance that he filtered
Through even the deepest sleep, weaving his journey
Out of too little history into too much.