Weldon Kees

(1914 - 1955 / Nebraska / United States)

The Bell From Europe - Poem by Weldon Kees

The tower bell in the Tenth Street Church
Rang out nostalgia for the refugee
Who knew the source of bells by sound.
We liked it, but in ignorance.
One meets authorities on bells infrequently.

Europe alone made bells with such a tone,
Herr Mannheim said. The bell
Struck midnight, and it shook the room.
He had heard bells in Leipzig, Chartres, Berlin,
Paris, Vienna, Brussels, Rome.
He was a white-faced man with sad enormous eyes.

Reader, for me that bell marked nights
Of restless tossing in this narrow bed,
The quarrels, the slamming of a door,
The kind words, friends for drinks, the books we read,
Breakfasts with streets in rain.
It rang from europe all the time.
That was what Mannheim said.

It is good to know, now that the bell strikes noon.
In this day's sun, the hedges are Episcopalian
As noon is marked by the twelve iron beats.
The rector moves ruminantly among the gravestones,
And the sound of a dead Europe hangs in the streets.


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Read poems about / on: paris, sad, rain, alone, sun, friend



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



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