I hear an army
charging upon the land,
And the thunder of horses
plunging, foam about their knees:
, in black armour, behind them stand,
Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the charioteer
They cry unto the night their battle-name
in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter.
They cleave the gloom
of dreams, a blinding flame,
Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil.
They come shaking in triumph their long, green hair:
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore.
My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?
My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone
- James Joyce, Chamber Music.
Written in Paris during December 1902. W. B. Yeats, whose work partially inspired this poem, in correspondance with Joyce wrote on December 18th, 1902 that it "(had) a charming rhythm in the second stanza, but... (that it was) not one of (his) best lyrics as a whole... the thought is a little thin... the poetry of a young man who is practicing his instrument, taking pleasure in the mere handling of the stops..." but years later in July 1915 after having allowed it some time to mellow he would refer to it as "a technical and emotional masterpiece." In the meantime it had been shown to Ezra Pound in December of 1913, who then purchased it for inclusion in his anthology Des Imagistes.