In the City of Night, by John Gould Fletcher | Poets.org

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In the City of Night

by John Gould Fletcher

 

(To the Memory of Edgar Allan Poe)

 

City of night,

Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of twilight,

City that projects into the west,

City whose columns rest upon the sunset, city of square,

threatening masses blocking out the light:

City of twilight,

Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of midnight, city that the full moon overflows, city where

the cats prowl and the closed iron dust-carts go rattling

through the shadows:

City of midnight,

Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of early morning, cool fresh-sprinkled city, city whose

sharp roof peaks are splintered against the stars, city that unbars tall haggard gates in pity,

City of midnight,

Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of rain, city where the bleak wind batters the hard drops

once and again, sousing a shivering, cursing beggar who clings amid the stiff Apostles on the cathedral portico;

City where the glare is dull and lowering, city where the

clouds flare and flicker as they pass upwards, where sputtering lamps stare into the muddy pools beneath them;

City where the winds shriek up the streets and tear into the

squares, city whose cobbles quiver and whose pinnacles waver before the buzzing chatter of raindrops in their flight;

City of midnight,

Drench me with your rain of sorrow.

City of vermilion curtains, city whose windows drip with

crimson, tawdry, tinselled, sensual city, throw me pitilessly into your crowds.

City filled with women’s faces leering at the passers by,

City with doorways always open, city of silks and swishing

laces, city where bands bray dance-music all night in the plaza,

City where the overscented light hangs tepidly, stabbed with

jabber of the crowd, city where the stars stare coldly, falsely smiling through the smoke-filled air,

City of midnight,

Smite me with your despair.

City of emptiness, city of the white façades, city where one

lonely dangling lantern wavers aloft like a taper before a marble sarcophagus, frightening away the ghosts;

City where a single white-lit window in a motionless

blackened house-front swallows the hosts of darkness that stream down the street towards it;

City above whose dark tree-tangled park emerges suddenly,

unlit, uncannily, a grey ghostly tower whose base is lost in the fog, and whose summit has no end.

City of midnight,

Bury me in your silence.

City of night,

Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of restlessness, city where I have tramped and

wandered,

City where the herded crowds glance at me suspiciously, city

where the churches are locked, the shops unopened, the houses without hospitality,

City of restlessness,

Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of sleeplessness, city of cheap airless rooms, where in

the gloom are heard snores through the partition, lovers that struggle, couples that squabble, cabs that rattle, cats that squall,

City of sleeplessness,

Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of feverish dreams, city that is being besieged by all the

demons of darkness, city of innumerable shadowy vaults and towers, city where passion flowers desperately and treachery ends in death the strong:

City of night,

Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

About This Poem

John Gould Fletcher’s “In the City of Night” appeared in Fletcher’s collection Breakers and Granite (1921). As a young writer, Fletcher often turned to Edgar Allan Poe’s poems and stories for inspiration.

John Gould Fletcher, the first Southern poet to win the Pulitzer Prize, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1886. He is closely associated with the Imagist movement and the Fugitive poets. Fletcher died in 1950.