October 21st, 1926

October 21st, 1926
By Whittaker Chambers
October 21, 1926

The moving masses of clouds, and the standing
Freights on the siding in the sun, alike induce in us
That despair which we, brother, 1 know there is no withstanding. 2

Nothing but the moving masses of clous has any meaning
For this tortured world now; or only motionless as of the cars,
In being of substance, remains undemeaning.

Only the momentum of the motion of masses,
Being or substance, has any meaning — or their cessation
Upon the perfect turn of the experience motion amasses.

We see all about us how, in creation,
Flower from the dark gathering in their roots, with one motion,
Thrust themselves perfect, O God, perfect, from increation.

And you know, brother, it is the same with cessation;
You know how perfect must be the ways of anything
Designing its return to cessation.

You know it is the cessation of the motion in me I am waiting:
And not lack of love, or love of the sun’s generation, and the motion
Of bodies, or their stasis, that keeps me — but my perfection for death I am waiting. 3


  1. “Brother”: Richard Godfrey Chambers (1903-1926), younger brother of Whittaker Chambers
  2. This first stanza appears in Witness, p. 183
  3. “October 21st, 1926” from Poetry Magazine, Vol. XXXVII, No. V, February 1931, pp. 258-259

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