By Whittaker Chambers
December 31, 1924

He waited and, as he waited, grew less eager.
He had come first, believing he was anxious.
The quag lay buried in the darkness at his feet.
The village lights shone far between and meager.
Me must not whistle here. His nerves grew tauter.
A wind, that rose among the woods behind him,
Died through the fields. Then silence-broken only
By turtles puddling the invisible bog water.
Then, through a stillness, listening, he heard
Her running on the path, night-terrified —
Or eager. And he watched her body slacken
And look for him. She stopped. He never stirred.
But saw how credulously, hour by hour, she stood.
And when, at last, the longing woman went,
He set his face to make the nearest light,
And marched to beat the silence through the woods. 1 2


  1. “Quag-Hole,” Poems, The Nation, December 31, 1924
  2. Chambers’s favorite teacher at Columbia College, Mark Van Doren, was at this time literary editor of The Nation and had published this poem.

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