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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Princeton poetry

Like William Faulkner’s verse, many of his poems served as a training ground for his prose

  • The Staying Up All Night
  • The warm fire.
  • The comfortable chairs.
  • The merry companions.
  • The stroke of twelve.
  • The wild suggestion.
  • The good sports.
  • The man who hasn’t slept for weeks.
  • The people who have done it before.
  • The long anecdotes.
  • The best looking girl yawns.
  • The forced raillery.
  • The stroke of one.
  • The best looking girl goes to bed.
  • The stroke of two.
  • The empty pantry.
  • The lack of firewood.
  • The second best looking girl goes to bed.
  • The weather-beaten ones who don’t.
  • The stroke of four.
  • The dozing off.
  • The amateur ‘life of the party.’ 
  • We Leave Tonight
  • We leave to-night . . . 
  • Silent, we filled the still, deserted street, 
  • A column of dim gray, 
  • And ghosts rose startled at the muffled beat 
  • Along the moonless way; 
  • The shadowy shipyards echoed to the feet 
  • That turned from night and day. 
  • And so we linger on the windless decks, 
  • See on the spectre shore 
  • Shades of a thousand days, poor gray-ribbed wrecks . . . 
  • Oh, shall we then deplore 
  • Those futile years! 
  • See how the sea is white! 
  • The clouds have broken and the heavens burn 
  • To hollow highways, paved with gravelled light 
  • The churning of the waves about the stern 
  • Rises to one voluminous nocturne, 
  • . . . We leave to-night.
  • Princeton: The Last Day
  • The last light wanes and drifts across the land, 
  • The low, long land, the sunny land of spires. 
  • The ghosts of evening tune again their lyres 
  • And wander singing, in a plaintive band 
  • Down the long corridors of trees. Pale fires 
  • Echo the night from tower top to tower. 
  • Oh sleep that dreams and dream that never tires, 
  • Press from the petals of the lotus-flower 
  • Something of this to keep, the essence of an hour! 
  • No more to wait the twilight of the moon 
  • In this sequestrated vale of star and spire; 
  • For one, eternal morning of desire 
  • Passes to time and earthy afternoon. 
  • Here, Heracletus, did you build of fire 
  • And changing stuffs your prophecy far hurled 
  • Down the dead years; this midnight I aspire 
  • To see, mirrored among the embers, curled 
  • In flame, the splendor and the sadness of the world.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), an American novelist and short story writer, was the unofficial artistic spokesman for the Jazz Age (1920s-1930s). His fiction is filled with the excess and exaggerated exuberance that defined this era—although his own style, crafted with precision and discipline, and edged with a tragic tone, served as a perfect counterpoint to (and thereby transcended) the age about which he wrote. A victim of the these same excesses, however, he died of complications of “the bottle.” His early death precluded any firm estimation of his full potential as a writer; nonetheless, the work he did accomplish (especially The Great Gatsby (1925)) earned him a place among the great modern American novelists, including Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner. Like Faulkner’s verse, many of his poems (written during his days as a Princeton student), served as a training ground for his prose, and like Hemingway’s verse, it was occasional but often pointed up the thematic concerns he also explored in his fiction.

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  • The Staying Up All Night
  • The warm fire.
  • The comfortable chairs.
  • The merry companions.
  • The stroke of twelve.
  • The wild suggestion.
  • The good sports.
  • The man who hasn’t slept for weeks.
  • The people who have done it before.
  • The long anecdotes.
  • The best looking girl yawns.
  • The forced raillery.
  • The stroke of one.
  • The best looking girl goes to bed.
  • The stroke of two.
  • The empty pantry.
  • The lack of firewood.
  • The second best looking girl goes to bed.
  • The weather-beaten ones who don’t.
  • The stroke of four.
  • The dozing off.
  • The amateur ‘life of the party.’ 
  • We Leave Tonight
  • We leave to-night . . . 
  • Silent, we filled the still, deserted street, 
  • A column of dim gray, 
  • And ghosts rose startled at the muffled beat 
  • Along the moonless way; 
  • The shadowy shipyards echoed to the feet 
  • That turned from night and day. 
  • And so we linger on the windless decks, 
  • See on the spectre shore 
  • Shades of a thousand days, poor gray-ribbed wrecks . . . 
  • Oh, shall we then deplore 
  • Those futile years! 
  • See how the sea is white! 
  • The clouds have broken and the heavens burn 
  • To hollow highways, paved with gravelled light 
  • The churning of the waves about the stern 
  • Rises to one voluminous nocturne, 
  • . . . We leave to-night.
  • Princeton: The Last Day
  • The last light wanes and drifts across the land, 
  • The low, long land, the sunny land of spires. 
  • The ghosts of evening tune again their lyres 
  • And wander singing, in a plaintive band 
  • Down the long corridors of trees. Pale fires 
  • Echo the night from tower top to tower. 
  • Oh sleep that dreams and dream that never tires, 
  • Press from the petals of the lotus-flower 
  • Something of this to keep, the essence of an hour! 
  • No more to wait the twilight of the moon 
  • In this sequestrated vale of star and spire; 
  • For one, eternal morning of desire 
  • Passes to time and earthy afternoon. 
  • Here, Heracletus, did you build of fire 
  • And changing stuffs your prophecy far hurled 
  • Down the dead years; this midnight I aspire 
  • To see, mirrored among the embers, curled 
  • In flame, the splendor and the sadness of the world.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), an American novelist and short story writer, was the unofficial artistic spokesman for the Jazz Age (1920s-1930s). His fiction is filled with the excess and exaggerated exuberance that defined this era—although his own style, crafted with precision and discipline, and edged with a tragic tone, served as a perfect counterpoint to (and thereby transcended) the age about which he wrote. A victim of the these same excesses, however, he died of complications of “the bottle.” His early death precluded any firm estimation of his full potential as a writer; nonetheless, the work he did accomplish (especially The Great Gatsby (1925)) earned him a place among the great modern American novelists, including Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner. Like Faulkner’s verse, many of his poems (written during his days as a Princeton student), served as a training ground for his prose, and like Hemingway’s verse, it was occasional but often pointed up the thematic concerns he also explored in his fiction.

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