"The House of Dust:  A Symphony" by Conrad Aiken

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Part IV

I. Clairvoyant

'This envelope you say has something in it
Which once belonged to your dead son--or something
He knew, was fond of?  Something he remembers?--
The soul flies far, and we can only call it
By things like these . . . a photograph, a letter,
Ribbon, or charm, or watch . . . '

. . . Wind flows softly, the long slow even wind,
Over the low roofs white with snow;
Wind blows, bearing cold clouds over the ocean,
One by one they melt and flow,--

Streaming one by one over trees and towers,
Coiling and gleaming in shafts of sun;
Wind flows, bearing clouds; the hurrying shadows
Flow under them one by one . . .

' . . . A spirit darkens before me . . . it is the spirit
Which in the flesh you called your son . . . A spirit
Young and strong and beautiful . . .

He says that he is happy, is much honored;
Forgives and is forgiven . . . rain and wind
Do not perplex him . . . storm and dust forgotten . . .
The glittering wheels in wheels of time are broken
And laid aside . . . '

'Ask him why he did the thing he did!'

'He is unhappy.  This thing, he says, transcends you:
Dust cannot hold what shines beyond the dust . . .
What seems calamity is less than a sigh;
What seems disgrace is nothing.'

'Ask him if the one he hurt is there,
And if she loves him still!'

'He tells you she is there, and loves him still,--
Not as she did, but as all spirits love . . .
A cloud of spirits has gathered about him.
They praise him and call him, they do him honor;
He is more beautiful, he shines upon them.'

. . . Wind flows softly, the long deep tremulous wind,
Over the low roofs white with snow . . .
Wind flows, bearing dreams; they gather and vanish,
One by one they sing and flow;

Over the outstretched lands of days remembered,
Over remembered tower and wall,
One by one they gather and talk in the darkness,
Rise and glimmer and fall . . .

'Ask him why he did the thing he did!
He knows I will understand!'

                            'It is too late:
He will not hear me:  I have lost my power.'

'Three times I've asked him!  He will never tell me.
God have mercy upon him.  I will ask no more.'

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