AT the barren heart of midnight,
When the shadow shuts and opens
As the loud flames pulse and flutter,
I can hear a cistern leaking.
Dripping, dropping, in a rhythm,
Rough, unequal, half-melodious,
Like the measures aped from nature
In the infancy of music;
Like the buzzing of an insect,
Still, irrational, persistent.
I must listen, listen, listen
In a passion of attention;
Till it taps upon my heartstrings,
And my very life goes dripping,
Dropping, dripping, drip-drip-dropping,
In the drip-drop of the cistern.
Henley, W. E. "In Hospital." Poems. 2nd edition. London: David Nutt, 1889. P. 41.
Last modified 26 November 2004