POETRY: The Night Train by Thomas Merton

The Night Train by Thomas Merton

In the unreason of a rainy midnight
France blooms along the windows
Of my sleepy bathysphere,
And runs to seek in a luxuriance of curious lights.

Escape is drawn straight through my dream
And shines to Paris, clean as violin string,
While spring tides of commotion,
(The third-class pianos of the Orient Express)
Fill up the hollow barrels of my ears.

Cities that stood, by day, as gay as lancers
Are lost, in the night, like old men dying.
At a point where polished rails branch off forever
The steels lament, like crazy ladies.

We wake, and weep the deaths of the cathedrals
That we have never seen,
Because we hear the jugulars of the country
Fly in the wind, and vanish with a cry.

At once the diplomats start up, as white as bread,
Buckle the careless cases of their minds
That just fell open in the sleeper:

For, by the rockets of imaginary sieges
They see to read big, terrible print,
Each in the other’s face,

That spells the undecoded names
Of the assassins they will recognize too late:
The ones that seem to be secret police,
Now all in place, all armed, in the obvious ambush.

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