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Conrad Aiken - Morning Song Of Senlin

from Senlin: A Biography 


It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning 
When the light drips through the shutters like the dew, 
I arise, I face the sunrise, 
And do the things my fathers learned to do. 
Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops 
Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die, 
And I myself on a swiftly tilting planet 
Stand before a glass and tie my tie. 
Vine leaves tap my window, 
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones, 
The robin chips in the chinaberry tree 
Repeating three clear tones. 
It is morning. I stand by the mirror 
And tie my tie once more. 
While waves far off in a pale rose twilight 
Crash on a white sand shore. 
I stand by a mirror and comb my hair: 
How small and white my face!—
The green earth tilts through a sphere of air 
And bathes in a flame of space. 
There are houses hanging above the stars 
And stars hung under a sea. . . 
And a sun far off in a shell of silence 
Dapples my walls for me. . . 
It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning 
Should I not pause in the light to remember God? 
Upright and firm I stand on a star unstable, 
He is immense and lonely as a cloud. 
I will dedicate this moment before my mirror 
To him alone, and for him I will comb my hair. 
Accept these humble offerings, cloud of silence! 
I will think of you as I descend the stair. 
Vine leaves tap my window, 
The snail-track shines on the stones, 
Dew-drops flash from the chinaberry tree 
Repeating two clear tones. 
It is morning, I awake from a bed of silence, 
Shining I rise from the starless waters of sleep. 
The walls are about me still as in the evening, 
I am the same, and the same name still I keep. 
The earth revolves with me, yet makes no motion, 
The stars pale silently in a coral sky. 
In a whistling void I stand before my mirror, 
Unconcerned, I tie my tie. 
There are horses neighing on far-off hills 
Tossing their long white manes, 
And mountains flash in the rose-white dusk, 
Their shoulders black with rains. . . 
It is morning. I stand by the mirror 
And suprise my soul once more; 
The blue air rushes above my ceiling, 
There are suns beneath my floor. . . 
. . . It is morning, Senlin says, I ascend from darkness 
And depart on the winds of space for I know not where, 
My watch is wound, a key is in my pocket, 
And the sky is darkened as I descend the stair. 
There are shadows across the windows, clouds in heaven, 
And a god among the stars; and I will go 
Thinking of him as I might think of daybreak 
And humming a tune I know. . . 
Vine-leaves tap at the window, 
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones, 
The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree 
Repeating three clear tones.

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Added: Feb 21 2003 | Viewed: 5438 times | Comments and analysis of Morning Song Of Senlin by Conrad Aiken Comments (2)

Morning Song Of Senlin - Comments and Information

Poet: Conrad Aiken
Poem: Morning Song Of Senlin
Poem of the Day: Jun 12 2004

Comment 2 of 2, added on May 29th, 2007 at 8:39 AM.

Quite brilliant. Excellent choice of both adjectives and rhyme gives the poem a wonderful flowing simplistic
quality

Leslie from Australia
Comment 1 of 2, added on June 29th, 2005 at 3:12 PM.

This was one of Michael Braziller's favorite poems when he was in high school. He introduced it to me and I had to agree - it is right up there with the Eliot we would toss back and forth while walking in Central Park around the apartment he then lived in with his parents.

Michael's taste was exquisite back then and is so now, judging from whom he has chosen to publish at Persea Books, which he coruns with his wife.

David Halitsky



David Halitsky

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