Colloquy in Black Rock Connecticut

Robert Lowell

Fall 1944

Here the jack-hammer jabs into the ocean;
My heart, you race and stagger and demand,
More blood-gangs for your nigger-brass percussions,
Till I, the stunned machine of your devotion,
Clanging upon this cymbal of a hand,
Am rattled screw and footloose. All discussions

End in the mud-flat detritus of death.
My heart beat faster, faster. In Black Mud
Hungarian mechanics give their blood
For Martyre Stephen who was stoned to death.

Black Mud, a name to conjure with: O mud
For watermelons gutted to the crust,
Mud for the mole-tide harbor, mud for mouse,
Mud for the armored Diesel fishing tubs that thud,
A year and a day, to wind and tide; the dust
Is on this skipping heart that breaks my house,

House of Our Savior, who was hanged till death.
My heart, beat faster, faster. In Black Mud
Martyre Stephen was broken down to blood:
Our ransom is the rubble of his death.

Christ walks on water. In Black Mud,
Darts the Kingfisher. On Corpus Christi, heart,
Over the drum-beat of St. Stephen’s choir
I heard Him, Stupor Mundi, and the mud
Flew from His burning wings and beak, my heart,
The blue Kingfisher dives on you through fire.

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