Why do you play
that long beautiful adagio,
that archaic air,
Will it never end?
Or is it the beginning,
some prelude you seek?
Is it a tale you strum?
Have you no more for us?
There is nor hope
I am four monkeys.
One hangs from a limb,
chattering at the earth;
another is cramming his belly with cocoanut;
the third is up in the top branches,
quizzing the sky,
and the fourth—
he’s chasing another monkey.
How many monkeys are you?
When trees have lost remembrance of the leaves
that spring bequeaths to summer, autumn weaves
and loosens mournfully — this dirge, to whom
does it belong — who treads the hidden loom?
When peaks are overwhelmed with snow and ice,
and clouds with crepe bedeck and shroud the skies —
nor any sun or moon or star, it seems,
can wedge a path of light through such black dreams —
All motion cold, and dead all traces thereof:
What sudden shock below, or spark above,
starts torrents raging down till rivers surge —
that aid the first small crocus to emerge?
The earth will turn and spin and fairly soar,
that couldn’t move a tortoise-foot before —
and planets permeate the atmosphere
till misery depart and mystery clear! —
And yet, so insignificant a hearse? —
who gave it the endurance so to brave
such elements? — shove winter down a grave? —
and then lead on again the universe?