T.S. Eliot: Poems

Sweeney Among the Nightingales

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Apeneck Sweeney spreads his knees Letting his arms hang down to laugh, The zebra stripes along his jaw Swelling to maculate giraffe.

The circles of the stormy moon Slide westward toward the River Plate, Death and the Raven drift above And Sweeney guards the horned gate.

Gloomy Orion and the Dog Are veiled; and hushed the shrunken seas; The person in the Spanish cape Tries to sit on Sweeney's knees

Slips and pulls the table cloth Overturns a coffee-cup, Reorganized upon the floor She yawns and draws a stocking up;

The silent man in mocha brown Sprawls at the window-sill and gapes; The waiter brings in oranges Bananas figs and hothouse grapes;

The silent vertebrate in brown Contracts and concentrates, withdraws; Rachel née Rabinovitch Tears at the grapes with murderous paws;

She and the lady in the cape Are suspect, thought to be in league; Therefore the man with heavy eyes Declines the gambit, shows fatigue,

Leaves the room and reappears Outside the window, leaning in, Branches of wisteria Circumscribe a golden grin;

The host with someone indistinct Converses at the door apart, The nightingales are singing near The Convent of the Sacred Heart,

And sang within the bloody wood When Agamemnon cried aloud, And let their liquid droppings fall To stain the stiff dishonoured shroud.