The Bell


ABOVE the murmur of the night there come
The lonely tones of a sad distant bell,
One, two, and three, they seem quietly to swell
And die amid the drowsy city’s hum.
Just three soft drops of dew upon the slum,
But each of them falls like a warning knell!
Who knows if it a message strove to tell
And in its labourings was stricken dumb?
There comes an alien sound, a drunken fight,
A woman’s shriek, harsh words, and cries of hell,
To shatter in a stroke the solemn night –
Till the lone tones of a sad distant bell
Above the clangour and the strife clear come
To swell and die amid the city’s hum.

17. 2. 1928
Fifty-fifth Sonnet