Poems: Six O’Clock

Today, two poems on the same theme, the first by Joe Stickney, published in 1905.   The image is a famous Australian painting, Collins St, 5pm, by John Brack, painted in 1955 and now in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Six O’Clock

Now burst above the city’s cold twilight
The piercing whistles and the tower-clocks:
For day is done. Along the frozen docks
The workmen set their ragged shirts aright.
Thro’ factory doors a stream of dingy light
Follows the scrimmage as it quickly flocks
To hut and home among the snow’s gray blocks.-
I love you, human labourers. Good-night!
Good-night to all the blackened arms that ache!
Good-night to every sick and sweated brow,
To the poor girl that strength and love forsake,
To the poor boy who can no more! I vow
The victim soon shall shudder at the stake
And fall in blood: we bring him even now.

Brack Collins Street, 5 pm

The second poem, by TS Eliot, was published in 1917, and is number I from the Preludes:

The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o’clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
 
And then the lighting of the lamps.

References:

T. S. Eliot [1917]:  Prufrock and Other Observations.  From: Collected Poems 1909-1962. London, UK: Faber and Faber, 1963.   (Prelude I, page 23.)

Trumbull Stickney [1966]: The Poems of Trumbull Stickney. Selected and edited by Amberys R. Whittle.  New York, NY, USA:  Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. (Poem XXXI, page 174.)

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