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IV The Ivory Steeple

James Reaney


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The Bird of Paradise

The bird of Paradise fades
And gray grows the Ace of Spades.
Cracked is the once loud bell
And low fall the fires of Hell.

The bird of Paradise, when wet
With dew, seemed a flying sunset;
And the Ace of Spades was blacker
Than a negro dipped in lacquer.
The bell summoned some to Heaven,
Told others it was half past eleven.
The fires of Hell burnt a swarm of sinners,
In their heyday, and all the winners
Of bets on horses and sweepstakes, tch!
Tch! So my tongue like a wick
Of a lamp shall someday fail
Of any glinting words and pale
Shall falter with a sigh and pout
That all Fire, all Hell, all Poetry is out.