The Soul of a Poet

By Derrick Norman Lehmer

There is a tower standing bleak and high
Beside the sea. Its turrets touch the sky.
Beneath the sea its deep foundations lie.

On every side but one it fronts the sea;
Behind it in a grey eternity  
Marshes and marshes stretch out endlessly.

Five grated windows, each a narrow slit,
Cut in the solid wall look down from it.
Behind the bars strange lights and shadows flit.

There is an entrance upward through the base,
A cave which sluggish creatures sometimes trace
With slimy coil or shining carapace.

There is another entrance high in air
Above the sea, and when the day is fair
Strange birds of passage sometimes enter there.

Is it a prison; or the rendezvous
Of mocking  spirits; some fantastic crew
Holding strange carnival the whole night through?

Sometimes a hand outstretched toward the stars
Beckons for help, or torn with bloody scars
Beats at the wall, or wrenches at the bars.

Or wafted downward from that Tower of stone
Above the seabird's cry, the sea-wind's moan
Comes a faint song of triumph—then a groan.

Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine, December 1927, Volume LXXXV, Number 12, pg 372.