The Poetry Corner

The Decameron

By Aldous Leonard Huxley

Noon with a depth of shadow beneath the trees Shakes in the heat, quivers to the sound of lutes: Half shaded, half sunlit, a great bowl of fruits Glistens purple and golden: the flasks of wine Cool in their panniers of snow: silks muffle and shine: Dim velvet, where through the leaves a sunbeam shoots, Rifts in a pane of scarlet: fingers tapping the roots Keep languid time to the music's soft slow decline. Suddenly from the gate rises up a cry, Hideous broken laughter, scarce human in sound; Gaunt clawed hands, thrust through the bars despairingly, Clutch fast at the scented air, while on the ground Lie the poor plague-stricken carrions, who have found Strength to crawl forth and curse the sunshine and die.