Song Tournament: New Style
by Louis Untermeyer (1885-1977)
Rain, said the first, as it falls in Venice
Is like the dropping of golden pennies
Into a sea as smooth and bright
As a bowl of curdled malachite.
Storm, sang the next, in the streets of Peking
Is like the ghost of a yellow sea-king,
Scooping the dust to find if he may
Discover what earth has hidden away.
The mist, sighed the third, that lies on London
Is the wraith of Beauty, betrayed and undone
By a world of dark machines that plan
To splinter the shaken soul of man.
The rush of Spring, smiled the fourth, in Florence
Is wave upon wave of laughing torrents,
A flood of birds, a water-voiced calling,
A green rain rising instead of falling.
The wind, cried the fifth, in the Bay of Naples
Is a quarrel of leaves among the maples,
A war of sunbeams idly fanned,
A whisper softer than sand on sand.
Then spoke the last: God’s endless tears,
Too great for Heaven, anoint the spheres,
While every drop becomes a well
In the fathomless, thirsting heart of Hell.
And thus six bards, who could boast of travel
Fifty miles from their native gravel,
Rose in the sunlight and offered their stanzas
At the shrine of the Poetry Contest in Kansas.