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Poem by Christopher Morley


The Wakeful Husband


How blue the moonlight and how still the night.
Silent I ramble through the whole dear house
Setting aright in happy ownership
Whatever may lie out of its due place.
Books in the living room I rearrange,
Then in the dining room my pewter mugs,
And put her little brown nasturtium bowl
Where she can see it when she telephones.
Up in my den the papers are a-sprawl
And litter up my desk: these too I sort
Thinking, to-morrow I will rise betimes
And do my work neglected.... Tiptoe then
I pass into the Shrine. She is asleep,
Dark hair across the moon-blanched pillow slip.
Her eyes are sealed with peace, but as I touch
The girlish cheek, her lips are tremulous
With secret knowing smiles. In her boudoir
(Her "sulking room" I call it: did you know
It means that?) I wind up the tiny clock
And stand at her Prayer Window where the fields
Lie listening to the crickets and the stars....
Alas, I only hear the throb of pain
That echoes from the moonlit fields of France.

Into our kitchen, too, I love to go,
Straighten the spoons against our break of fast,
Share secrets with our dog, the drowsy-eyed,
Surprise the kitten with some midnight milk.
The pantry cupboard, full of pleasant things,
Attracts me: there I love to place in line
The packages of cereals, or fill up
The breakfast sugar bowl; and empty out
The icebox pan into the singing night.

Then, as I fixed the cushions on the porch,
I wondered whether God, while wandering
Through his big house, the World, householderwise,
Does also quietly set things aright,
Gives sleep to sleepless wives in Germany
And gently smooths the battlefields of France?
Dear Father God, the children in their play
Have tossed their toys in saddest disarrayЧ
Wilt Thou not, like a kindly nurse at dusk,
Pass through the playroom, make it neat again?

September, 1914

Christopher Morley


Christopher Morley's other poems:
  1. Peter Pan
  2. Mar Quong, Chinese Laundryman
  3. The 5:42
  4. The Cedar Chest
  5. Animal Crackers


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