Howard Nemerov

Here you will find the Poem The View From An Attic Window of poet Howard Nemerov

The View From An Attic Window

Among the high-branching, leafless boughs 
Above the roof-peaks of the town, 
Snowflakes unnumberably come down. 

I watched out of the attic window 
The laced sway of family trees, 
Intricate genealogies 

Whose strict, reserved gentility, 
Trembling, impossible to bow, 
Received the appalling fall of snow. 

All during Sunday afternoon, 
Not storming, but befittingly, 
Out of a still, grey, devout sky, 

The snowflakes fell, until all shapes 
Went under, and thickening, drunken lines 
Cobwebbed the sleep of solemn pines. 

Up in the attic, among many things 
Inherited and out of style, 
I cried, then fell asleep awhile, 

Waking at night now, as the snow- 
flakes from darkness to darkness go 
Past yellow lights in the street below. 

I cried because life is hopeless and beautiful. 
And like a child I cried myself to sleep 
High in the head of the house, feeling the hull 
Beneath me pitch and roll among the steep 
Mountains and valleys of the many years 
That brought me to tears. 

Down in the cellar, furnace and washing machine, 
Pump, fuse-box, water heater, work their hearts 
Out at my life, which narrowly runs between 
Them and this cemetery of spare parts 
For discontinued men, whose hats and canes 
Are my rich remains. 

And women, their portraits and wedding gowns 
Stacked in the corners, brooding in wooden trunks; 
And children?s rattles, books about lions and clowns; 
And headless, hanging dresses swayed like drunks 
Whenever a living footstep shakes the floor; 
I mention no more; 

But what I thought today, that made me cry, 
Is this, that we live in two kinds of thing: 
The powerful trees, thrusting into the sky 
Their black patience, are one, and that branching 
Relation teaches how we endure and grow; 
The other is the snow, 

Falling in a white chaos from the sky, 
As many as the sands of all the seas, 
As all the men who died or who will die, 
As stars in heaven, as leaves of all the trees; 
As Abraham was promised of his seed; 
Generations bleed, 

Till I, high in the tower of my time 
Among familiar ruins, began to cry 
For accident, sickness, justice, war and crime, 
Because all died, because I had to die. 
The snow fell, the trees stood, the promise kept, 
And a child I slept.