Ixions of the slow wheel of the day
They had come down at last, but not to stay,
And at the fall of night, with even sway,
Were slowly wheeling up the other way.
Putting his hat on — with a hissed ‘good night — ’
(As an old cobra hoods himself with spite)
The Doctor left. The Nuns had dimmed the light
And the grey walls rose sighing out of sight.
And he who felt the finest in the Ward
Was scarcely better than a broken stick;
His spine ran through him like a rusty sword
Rasping its meagre scabbard to the quick.
Through the dim pane he saw the stars take flight
Like pigeons scattered by the crash and groan
Of the great world, with pendulum of stone
Dingdonging in the steeple of the Night.
He heard, far off, the people stream their course
Whipped by their pleasures into frantic tops —
As the grey multitude (when twilight drops)
Goes out to trade its boredom for remorse.
The Moon, a soldier with a bleeding eye,
Returning to the war, beheld these things.
And long grey tom-cats crept across the sky
Between the chimneys where the wireless sings.
Never seemed anything so steep or tall
(Sierra, iceberg, or the tower of noon),
As what he saw when turning from the moon —
The bloody Christ that hung upon the wall!
Great Albatross, of every storm the Birth! —
His bleeding pinions bracketed a Night
Too small for His embrace; and from his Height,
As from an Eagle’s, cowered the plaintive Earth!