Sarton, May. Collected Poems, 1930-1993. New York, NY: Norton, 1993: 67-68.
1I looked behind you for the towers of music,
2And for the remembered words, blue hills of childhood;
3What human mind had touched yours to the quick?
4What passions, hungers streamed through your blood?
5Had you been Marie Curie or Keats or some sad queen
6Dying in great pomp and pride alone?
7Your grandfathers were huge with dreams,
8Crossed an ocean and half a continent, breathing hope;
9When corn failed further North after a drought,
10Migrated down to this hot and fertile land
11And named it Little Egypt, Bible in hand;
12Brought with them a tradition of fierce work,
13Saw cities rise in the wilderness, Thebes and Cairo,
14Governed themselves, invented States and rules,
15Imagined the marvelous rich life sure to grow
16When the ground was cleared, the hard work done,
17And on summer evenings, sitting Bible in hand,
18Dreamed of a great teacher or poet grandson.
19I looked behind you for the towers of music
20And found only the broken jazz record
21And last week's magazine gone stale,
22An old moan and a blurred word,
23A flat face with no deepening scene behind it:
24You remember the portraits of the Renaissance,
25The face and then behind it the mysterious scene---
26The secret river, the soft green unemphatic hill
27Where everyone has been and no one has been.
28Literature is like this, you know, philosophy
29And music have this effect on the personality,
30Set behind it a magical, a marvelous world,
31Open it up, enlarge it, fill it with wild excitement---
32But ignorant of man's long ecstasy and pain,
33You come to books as to a strange dull town
34Where you know no one by name and do not care,
35And never recognize the Waste Land as your own.
36I looked behind you and saw nothing, nothing at all,
37But a flat empty wall,
38I saw you lonely and bored walking in a dull town;
39I saw you letting the books fall.
40And then because there was nothing else to do,
41I saw you turning on the radio.
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