The nights, the railway-arches, the bad sky,
His horrible companions did not know it;
But in that child the rhetorician's lie
Burst like a pipe: the cold had made a poet.
Drinks bought him by his weak and lyric friend
His senses systematically deranged
To all accustomed nonsense put an end;
Till he from lyre and weakness was estranged.
Verse was a special illness of the ear;
Integrity was not enough; that seemed
The hell of childhood: he must try again.
Now, galloping through Africa, he dreamed
Of a new self, a son, an engineer,
His truth acceptable to lying men.