After Hearing a Waltz

by Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell

But why did I kill him? Why? Why?

In the small, gilded room, near the stair?

My ears rack and throb with his cry,

And his eyes goggle under his hair,

As my fingers sink into the fair

White skin of his throat. It was I!

I killed him! My God! Don't you hear?

I shook him until his red tongue

Hung flapping out through the black, queer,

Swollen lines of his lips. And I clung

With my nails drawing blood, while I flung

The loose, heavy body in fear.

Fear lest he should still not be dead.

I was drunk with the lust of his life.

The blood-drops oozed slow from his head

And dabbled a chair. And our strife

Lasted one reeling second, his knife

Lay and winked in the lights overhead.

And the waltz from the ballroom I heard,

When I called him a low, sneaking cur.

And the wail of the violins stirred

My brute anger with visions of her.

As I throttled his windpipe, the purr

Of his breath with the waltz became blurred.

I have ridden ten miles through the dark,

With that music, an infernal din,

Pounding rhythmic inside me. Just Hark!

One! Two! Three! And my fingers

sink in

To his flesh when the violins, thin

And straining with passion, grow stark.

One! Two! Three! Oh, the horror

of sound!

While she danced I was crushing his throat.

He had tasted the joy of her, wound

Round her body, and I heard him gloat

On the favour. That instant I smote.

One! Two! Three! How the dancers

swirl round!

He is here in the room, in my arm,

His limp body hangs on the spin

Of the waltz we are dancing, a swarm

Of blood-drops is hemming us in!

Round and round! One! Two! Three! And

his sin

Is red like his tongue lolling warm.

One! Two! Three! And the drums

are his knell.

He is heavy, his feet beat the floor

As I drag him about in the swell

Of the waltz. With a menacing roar,

The trumpets crash in through the door.

One! Two! Three! clangs his funeral bell.

One! Two! Three! In the chaos

of space

Rolls the earth to the hideous glee

Of death! And so cramped is this place,

I stifle and pant. One! Two! Three!

Round and round! God! 'Tis he throttles


He has covered my mouth with his face!

And his blood has dripped into my heart!

And my heart beats and labours. One! Two!

Three! His dead limbs have coiled every part

Of my body in tentacles. Through

My ears the waltz jangles. Like glue

His dead body holds me athwart.

One! Two! Three! Give me air! Oh! My


One! Two! Three! I am drowning

in slime!

One! Two! Three! And his corpse,

like a clod,

Beats me into a jelly! The chime,

One! Two! Three! And his

dead legs keep time.

Air! Give me air! Air! My God!