Sara Teasedale: From the Woolworth Tower

From the Woolworth Tower

Vivid with love, eager for greater beauty Out of the night we come Into the corridor, brilliant and warm. A metal door slides open, And the lift receives us. Swiftly, with sharp unswerving flight The car shoots upward, And the air, swirling and angry, Howls like a hundred devils. Past the maze of trim bronze doors, Steadily we ascend. I cling to you Conscious of the chasm under us, And a terrible whirring deafens my ears.
The flight is ended.
We pass thru a door leading onto the ledge— Wind, night and space Oh terrible height Why have we sought you? Oh bitter wind with icy invisible wings Why do you beat us? Why would you bear us away? We look thru the miles of air, The cold blue miles between us and the city, Over the edge of eternity we look On all the lights, A thousand times more numerous than the stars; Oh lines and loops of light in unwound chains That mark for miles and miles The vast black mazy cobweb of the streets; Near us clusters and splashes of living gold That change far off to bluish steel Where the fragile lights on the Jersey shore Tremble like drops of wind-stirred dew. The strident noises of the city Floating up to us Are hallowed into whispers. Ferries cross thru the darkness Weaving a golden thread into the night, Their whistles weird shadows of sound.
We feel the millions of humanity beneath us,— The warm millions, moving under the roofs, Consumed by their own desires; Preparing food, Sobbing alone in a garret, With burning eyes bending over a needle, Aimlessly reading the evening paper, Dancing in the naked light of the café, Laying out the dead, Bringing a child to birth— The sorrow, the torpor, the bitterness, the frail joy Come up to us Like a cold fog wrapping us round. Oh in a hundred years Not one of these blood-warm bodies But will be worthless as clay. The anguish, the torpor, the toil Will have passed to other millions Consumed by the same desires. Ages will come and go, Darkness will blot the lights And the tower will be laid on the earth. The sea will remain Black and unchanging, The stars will look down Brilliant and unconcerned.
Beloved, Tho' sorrow, futility, defeat Surround us, They cannot bear us down. Here on the abyss of eternity Love has crowned us For a moment Victors.