Sweeney Among the Nightingales

 ὤμοι, πέπληγμαι καιρίαν πληγὴν ἔσω.

   Apeneck Sweeney spreads his knees
   Letting his arms hang down to laugh,
   The zebra stripes along his jaw
   Swelling to maculate giraffe.

   The circles of the stormy moon
   Slide westward toward the River Plate,
   Death and the Raven drift above
   And Sweeney guards the hornèd gate.

   Gloomy Orion and the Dog
   Are veiled; and hushed the shrunken seas;
   The person in the Spanish cape
   Tries to sit on Sweeney's knees

   Slips and pulls the table cloth
   Overturns a coffee-cup,
   Reorganized upon the floor
   She yawns and draws a stocking up;

   The silent man in mocha brown
   Sprawls at the window-sill and gapes;
   The waiter brings in oranges
   Bananas figs and hothouse grapes;

   The silent vertebrate in brown
   Contracts and concentrates, withdraws;
   Rachel née Rabinovitch
   Tears at the grapes with murderous paws;

   She and the lady in the cape
   Are suspect, thought to be in league;
   Therefore the man with heavy eyes
   Declines the gambit, shows fatigue,

   Leaves the room and reappears
   Outside the window, leaning in,
   Branches of wisteria
   Circumscribe a golden grin;

   The host with someone indistinct
   Converses at the door apart,
   The nightingales are singing near
   The Convent of the Sacred Heart,

   And sang within the bloody wood
   When Agamemnon cried aloud,
   And let their liquid siftings fall
   To stain the stiff dishonoured shroud.