The Streets

M ARLBORO ' and Waterloo and Trafalgar,
Tuileries, Talavera, Valenciennes,
Were strange names all, and all familiar;

For down their streets I went, early and late
(Is there a street where I have never been
Of all those hundreds, narrow, skyless, straight?) —

Early and late, they were my woods and meadows;
The rain upon their dust my summer smell;
Their scant herb and brown sparrows and harsh shadows.

Were all my spring. Was there another spring?
I knew their noisy desolation well,
Drinking it up as a child drinks everything,

Knowing no other world than brick and stone,
With one rich memory of the earth all bright.
Now all is fallen into oblivion —

All that I was, in years of school and play,
Things that I hated, things that were delight,
Are all forgotten, or shut all away.

Behind a creaking door that opens slow.
But there's a child that walks those streets of war,
Hearing his running footsteps as they go.

Echoed from house to house, and wondering
At Marlboro', Waterloo and Trafalgar;
And at night, when the yellow gas lamps fling

Unsteady shadows, singing for company;
Yet loving the lighted dark, and any star
Caught by sharp roofs in a narrow net of sky.
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