September 7: “Home Thoughts”

Oh something just now must be happening there!
That suddenly and quiveringly here,
Amid the city’s noises, I must think
Of mangoes leaning o’er the river’s brink,
And dexterous Davie climbing high above,
The gold fruits ebon-speckled to remove,
And toss them quickly in the tangled mass
Of wis-wis twisted round the guinea grass;
And Cyril coming through the bramble-track
A prize bunch of bananas on his back;
And Georgie–none could ever dive like him–
Throwing his scanty clothes off for a swim;
And schoolboys, from Bridge-tunnel going home,
Watching the waters downward dash and foam.
This is no daytime dream, there’s something in it,
Oh something’s happening there this very minute!

— Claude McKay

May 19: “Night Thought”

Trying to fall asleep
is like trying the catch
yourself unawares, or trying
not to think of something,
or trying to fall
in love or out of love.
Some things will not yield.
Trying not to think of something
is like trying to fall
asleep, or trying to catch
yourself unawares, or trying
to fall in or out of love
with someone who will not yield.
Yielding is like not thinking
of something or someone,
and without yielding
there is no catching yourself
unawares, and no falling
in love or out of love,
and trying to yield
is like trying to fall
asleep, or trying not to.

— Gerald Jonas

January 10: “In the Night”

Out of the shadow late at night I gape
And see the stars but do not watch them really,
And hear the trains but do not listen clearly;
Inside my mind I turn about to keep
Myself awake, yet I am not there entirely;
Something of me is out in the dark landscape.

How much am I then what I think, how much what I feel,
How much the eye that seems to keep stars straight?
Do I control what I can contemplate
Or is it my vision that’s amenable?
I turn in my mind; my mind is a room whose wall
I can see the top of but never completely scale.

All that I love is, like the night, outside,
Good to be gazed at, looking as if it could
With a simple gesture be brought inside my head,
Or in my heart, but my thoughts about it divide
Me from my object. Now, deep in my bed,
I turn and the world turns on the other side.

— Elizabeth Jennings