In the Naked Bed, in Plato’s Cave
by Delmore Schwartz
In the naked bed, in Plato's cave,
Reflected headlights slowly slid the wall,
Carpenters hammered under the shaded window,
Wind troubled the window curtains all night long,
A fleet of trucks strained uphill, grinding,
Their freights covered, as usual.
The ceiling lightened again, the slanting diagram
Slid slowly forth.
Hearing the milkman's clop, his striving up the stair, the bottle's chink,
I rose from bed, lit a cigarette,
And walked to the window.
The stony street
Displayed the stillness in which buildings stand,
The street-lamp's vigil and the horse's patience.
The winter sky's pure capital
Turned me back to bed with exhausted eyes.
Strangeness grew in the motionless air.
The loose Film grayed.
Shaking wagons, hooves' waterfalls,
Sounded far off, increasing, louder and nearer.
A car coughed, starting.
Morning softly Melting the air, lifted the half-covered chair
From underseas, kindled the looking-glass,
Distinguished the dresser and the white wall.
The bird called tentatively, whistled, called,
Bubbled and whistled, so!
Perplexed, still wet With sleep, affectionate, hungry and cold.
So, so, O son of man, the ignorant night, the travail
Of early morning, the mystery of the beginning
Again and again,
while history is unforgiven.