Poetry Corner

[The city breaks in houses to the sea, uneasy with waves,]

By Charles Reznikoff

The city breaks in houses to the sea, uneasy with waves,

And the lonely sun clashes like brass cymbals.

In the streets truck-horses, muscles sliding under the steaming hides,

Pound the sparks flying about their hooves;

And fires, those gorgeous beasts, squirm in the furnaces,

Under the looms weaving us.

At evening by cellars cold with air of rivers at night,

We, whose lives are only a few words,

Watch the young moon leaning over the baby at her breast

And the stars small to our littleness.

The slender trees stand alone in the fields

Between the roofs of the far town

And the wood far away like a low hill.

In the vast open

The birds are faintly overheard.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 8, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem: “[The city breaks in houses to the sea, uneasy with waves,]” appeared in Poems (Samuel Roth at the New York Poetry Book Shop, 1920).

About this Poet: Charles Reznikoff, born August 31, 1894, in Brooklyn, New York, was a poet and novelist from the Objectivist movement. The author of many collections, including Testimony: The United States (1885-1890): Recitative (New Directions, 1965), he was awarded the 1971 Morton Dauwen Zabel Prize by the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He died on January 22, 1976.

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