The Curse

by John Berryman

Cedars and the westward sun.
The darkening sky. A man alone
Watches beside the fallen wall
The evening multitudes of sin
Crowd in upon us all.
For when the light fails they begin
Nocturnal sabotage among
The outcast and the loose of tongue,
The lax in walk, the murderers:
Our twilight universal curse.

Children are faultless in the wood,
Untouched. If they are later made
Scandal and index to their time,
It is that twilight brings for bread
The faculty of crime.
Only the idiot and the dead
Stand by, while who were young before
Wage insolent and guilty war
By night within that ancient house,
Immense, black, damned, anonymous.

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