The Congressional Library
The earth is a coloured thing.
See the red clays, and the umbers and salt greys of the mountains;
See the clustered and wandering greens of plains and hillsides,
The leaf-greens, bush-greens, water-plant and snow-greens
Of gardens and forests.
See the reds of flowers — hibiscus, poppy, geranium;
The rose-red of little flowers — may-flowers, primroses;
The harlequin shades of sweet-peas, orchids, pansies;
The madders, saffrons, chromes, of still waters,
The silver and star-blues, the wine-blues of seas and oceans.
Observe the stars at night time, name the colour of them;
Count and recount the hues of clouds at sunset and at dawn.
And the colours of the races of men —
What are they?
And what are we?
We, the people without a race,
Without a language;
Of all races, and of none;
Of all tongues, and one imposed;
Of all traditions and all pasts,
With no tradition and no past.
A patchwork and an altar-piece,
Vague as sea-mist,
Myriad as forest-trees,
Living into a present,
Building a future.
Our colour is the vari-coloured world.
No colours clash,
All clash and change,
And, in changing, new colours come and go and dominate and remain,
And no one shall say which remain,
Since those that have vanished return,
And those no man has seen take the light and are.
Where else in all America are we so symbolized
As in this hall?
White columns polished like glass,
A dome and a dome,
A balcony and a balcony,
Stairs and the balustrades to them,
Yellow marble and red slabs of it,
All mounting, spearing, flying into colour.
Colour round the dome and up to it,
Colour curving, kite-flying, to the second dome,
Light, dropping, pitching down upon the colour,
Arrow-falling upon the glass-bright pillars,
Mingled colours spinning into a shape of white pillars,
Fusing, cooling, into balanced shafts of shrill and interthronging light.
This is America,
This vast, confused beauty,
This staring, restless speed of loveliness,
Mighty, overwhelming, crude, of all forms,
Making grandeur out of profusion,
Afraid of no incongruities,
Sublime in its audacity,
Bizarre breaker of moulds,
Laughing with strength,
Charging down on the past,
Glorious and conquering,
Invincible pith and marrow of the world,
An old world remaking,
Whirling into the no-world of all-coloured light.
But behind the vari-coloured hall?
The entrails, the belly,
The blood-run veins, the heart and viscera,
What of these?
Only at night do they speak,
Only at night do the voices rouse themselves and speak.
There are words in the veins of this creature,
There are still notes singing in its breast:
Silent voices, whispering what it shall speak,
Frozen music beating upon its pulses.
These are the voices of the furious dead who never die,
Furious with love and life, unquenchable,
Dictating their creeds across the vapours of time.
This is the music of the Trumpeters of the Almighty
Weeping for a lost estate,
Sounding to a new birth which is tomorrow.
Hark! This hurricane of music has no end,
The speech of these voices has neither end nor beginning;
They are inter-riven as the colours of the sky
Over the graveyards of ten thousand generations.
When we are as Nineveh, our white columns thrown and scattered,
Our dome of colours striped with the crawling of insects,
Spotted with the thrust of damp clay —
Our words, our music, who will build a dome to hive them?
In whose belly shall we come to life?
A new life,
Beyond submergence and destruction,
The implacable life of silent words,
Of tumultuous stillness of never-ceasing music,
Lost to being that so it may triumph
And become the blood and heat and urge
Of that hidden distance which forever whips and harries the static present
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