The Room


Conrad Aiken

Through that window — all else being extinct

Except itself and me — I saw the struggle

Of darkness against darkness. Within the room

It turned and turned, diving downward. Then I saw

How order might — if chaos wished — become:

And saw the darkness crush upon itself,

Contracting powerfully; it was as if

It killed itself slowly: and with much pain.

Pain. The scene was pain, and nothing but pain.

What else, when chaos draws all forces inward

To shape a single leaf?...

For the leaf came

Alone and shining in the empty room;

After a while the twig shot downward from it;

And from the twig a bough; and then the trunk,

Massive and coarse; and last the one black root.

The black root cracked the walls. Boughs burst the window:

The great tree took possession.

Tree of trees!

Remember(when time comes)how chaos died

To shape the shining leaf. Then turn, have courage,

Wrap arms and roots together, be convulsed

With grief, and bring back chaos out of shape.

I will be watching then as I watch now.

I will praise darkness now, but then the leaf.

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