Was the cry of the wind at a window-pane

On an Autumn night of sobbing rain.

Then it would run like a steady stream

Under pinnacled bridges where minarets gleam,

Or lap the air like the lapping tide

Where a marble staircase lifts its wide

Green-spotted steps to a garden gate,

And a waning moon is sinking straight

Down to a black and ominous sea,

While a nightingale sings in a lemon tree.

I walked as though some opiate

Had stung and dulled my brain, a state

Acute and slumbrous. It grew late.

We stopped, a house stood silent, dark.

The old man scratched a match, the spark

Lit up the keyhole of a door,

We entered straight upon a floor

White with finest powdered sand

Carefully sifted, one might stand

Muddy and dripping, and yet no trace

Would stain the boards of this kitchen-place.

From the chimney, red eyes sparked the gloom,

And a cricket's chirp filled all the room.

My host threw pine-cones on the fire

And crimson and scarlet glowed the pyre

Wrapped in the golden flame's desire.

The chamber opened like an eye,

As a half-melted cloud in a Summer sky

The soul of the house stood guessed, and shy

It peered at the stranger warily.

A little shop with its various ware

Spread on shelves with nicest care.

Pitchers, and jars, and jugs, and pots,

Pipkins, and mugs, and many lots

Of lacquered canisters, black and gold,

Like those in which Chinese tea is sold.

Chests, and puncheons, kegs, and flasks,

Goblets, chalices, firkins, and casks.

In a corner three ancient amphorae leaned

Against the wall, like ships careened.

There was dusky blue of Wedgewood ware,

The carved, white figures fluttering there

Like leaves adrift upon the air.

Classic in touch, but emasculate,

The Greek soul grown effeminate.

The factory of Sevres had lent

Elegant boxes with ornament

Culled from gardens where fountains splashed

And golden carp in the shadows flashed,

Nuzzling for crumbs under lily-pads,

Which ladies threw as the last of fads.

Eggshell trays where gay beaux knelt,

Hand on heart, and daintily spelt

Their love in flowers, brittle and bright,

Artificial and fragile, which told aright

The vows of an eighteenth-century knight.

The cruder tones of old Dutch jugs

Glared from one shelf, where Toby mugs

Endlessly drank the foaming ale,

Its froth grown dusty, awaiting sale.

The glancing light of the burning wood

Played over a group of jars which stood

On a distant shelf, it seemed the sky

Had lent the half-tones of his blazonry

To paint these porcelains with unknown hues

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