Insistently through sleep -- a tide of voices --
They meet you listening midway in your dream,
The long, tired sounds, fog-insulated noises:
Gongs in white surplices, beshrouded wails,
Far strum of fog horns...signals dispersed in veils.
And then a truck will lumber past the wharves
As winch engines begin throbbing on some deck;
Or a drunken stevedore's howl and thud below
Comes echoing alley-upward through dim snow.
And if they take your sleep away sometimes
They give it back again. Soft sleeves of sound
Attend the darkling harbor, the pillowed bay;
Somewhere out there in blankness steam
Spills into steam, and wanders, washed away
-- Flurried by keen fifings, eddied
Among distant chiming buoys -- adrift. The sky,
Cool feathery fold, suspends, distills
This wavering slumber....Slowly --
Immemorially the window, the half-covered chair
Ask nothing but this sheath of pallid air.
And you beside me, blessèd now while sirens
Sing to us, stealthily weave us into day --
Serenely now, before day claims our eyes
Your cool arms murmurously about me lay.
While myriad snowy hands are clustering at the panes --
your hands within my hands are deeds;
my tongue upon your throat -- singing
arms close; eyes wide, undoubtful
drink the dawn --
a forest shudders in your hair!
The window goes blond slowly. Frostily clears.
From Cyclopean towers across Manhattan waters
-- Two --three bright window-eyes aglitter, disk
The sun, released -- aloft with cold gulls hither.
The fog leans one last moment on the sill.
Under the mistletoe of dreams, a star --
As though to join us at some distant hill --
Turns in the waking west and goes to sleep.
From The Bridge, the first part of Powhatan's Daughter, The Harbor Dawn. Hart Crane sometimes met up with sailors along the docks of Lower Manhattan. In the poem, The Harbor Dawn, Crane's waking up one morning in some dock hotel or flop house in the arms of a sailor he had picked up, both of them drunk and stumbling. Not a promising premise, but the poem is about the dawn, and that’s a promise, a new beginning, somewhere between waking and sleep, knowing without knowing, eyes opening and listening, the language of a lover, beautiful words said beautifully, intimate and sharing, offering a welcome vision of morning.
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