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´╗┐Title: Poems
Author: Hensley, Sophia Margaret, 1866-1913
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Poems" ***

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(For Private Circulation.)

_April, 1889:_

_Printed for the Author by J. J. Anslow._

_Windsor, N. S._



            There is no God.
            A Shallow.

       *       *       *       *       *


            I Will Forget.
            When Summer Comes.
            It Might Have Been.
            Brother and Friend.
            For our Love's Sake.

       *       *       *       *       *

            Slack Tide.
            An Evening in October.
            Tout pour L'Amour.


They stream across the fading western sky
    A sable cloud, far o'er the lonely leas;
    Now parting into scattered companies,
Now closing up the broken ranks, still high
And higher yet they mount, while, carelessly,
    Trail slow behind, athwart the moving trees
    A lingering few, 'round whom the evening breeze
Plays with sad whispered murmurs as they fly.

A lonely figure, ghostly in the dim
    And darkening twilight, lingers in the shade
    Of bending willows: "Surely God has laid
His curse on me," he moans, "my strength of limb
    And old heart-courage fail me, and I flee
    Bowed with fell terror at this augury."


What of our life when this frail flesh lies low
    A withered clod, and the free soul has burst
    Through the world-fetters? Not of souls accursed
With cherished lusts that mar them, those who sow
Evil and reap the harvest, and who bow
    At Mammon's golden shrine, but those who thirst
    For Truth, and see not,--spirits deep immersed
In doubt and trouble,--hearts that fain would know?

The soul is satisfied. The spirit trained
  For the divine, because the beautiful,
Now with the body gone, free and unstained,
  Doubts swept away like clouds of scattering wool
    Before a blast,--e'er Heaven's pure paths are trod
    Is perfected to understand its God.


There is no God? If one should stand at noon
    Where the glow rests, and the warm sunlight plays,
    Where earth is gladdened by the cordial rays
And blossoms answering, where the calm lagoon
Gives back the brightness of the heart of June,
    And he should say: "There is no sun"--the day's
    Fair shew still round him,--should we lose the blaze
And warmth, and weep that day has gone so soon?

Nay, there would be one word, one only thought,
    "The man is blind!" and throbs of pitying scorn
       Would rouse the heart, and stir the wondering mind.
    We _feel_, and _see_, and therefore _know_,--the morn
  With blush of youth ne'er left us till it brought
       Promise of full-grown day. "The man is blind!"


The light has left the hill-side. Yesterday
    These skies shewed blue against the dusky trees,
    The leaves' soft murmur in the evening breeze
Was music, and the waves danced in the bay.
Then was my heart, as ever, far away
    With you,--and I could see you as one sees
    A mirrored face,--and happiness and ease
And hope were mine, in spite of long delay.

After these months of waiting, this is all!
    Hope, dead, lies coffined, shrouded in despair,
    With all the blessings of the outer air
Forgot, 'neath the black covering of a pall.
    Only the darkening of the woodland ways,
    A heart's low moaning over wasted days.


The world to-day is radiant, as I ne'er
    Could picture it in wildest dreaming, when
    For long, long hours I lay in flowery glen
Or wooded copse, and tried in vain to tear
The glamour from my eyes, and face the glare
    And tumult of the busy world of men.
    I staked my all, and won! and ne'er again
Can my blest spirit know a heart's despair.

And yet--and yet--why should it be that now,
    When all my heart has longed for is at last
      Within my grasp, and I should be at rest,
A ghostly Something rising in the glow
      Of Love's own fire, an uninvited guest,
    Taunts me with just one memory of the past!


The sky, grown dull through many waiting days,
    Flashed into crimson with the sunrise charm,
    So all my love, aroused to vague alarm,
Flushed into fire and burned with eager blaze.
I saw thee not as suppliant, with still gaze
    Of pleading, but as victor,--and thine arm
    Gathered me fast into embraces warm,
And I was taught the light of Love's dear ways.

This day of triumph is no longer thine,
    Oh conqueror, in calm exclusive power.--
As evermore, through storm, and shade, and shine,
      Your woe my pain, your joy my ecstasy,
    We breathe together,--so this blessed hour
      Of self-surrender makes my jubilee!


I will forget those days of mingled bliss
    And dear delicious pain,--will cast from me
    All dreams of what I know can never be,
Even the remembrance of that parting kiss.
I knew that some day it would come to this
    In spite of all our sworn fidelity,
    That I must banish even memory,
And, sorrowing, learn to say, nor say amiss
            I will forget.

I register this vow, and am content
    That it be so. Ah me!--yet, if the door
Shut on our heaven might be asunder rent
Even now, and I could see the way we went,
    I might retract my vow, and say no more
            I will forget.


When summer comes, and when o'er hill and lea
The sun's strong wooing glow hath patiently
  Shed o'er the earth long days his golden dower,
  And then, by force of his own loving power,
Drawn the hard frost, and left it passive, free
To give forth all its sweets untiringly,
Shall not the day rise fair for thee and me,
  And all life seem but as an opening flower
            When summer comes?

The days move slowly, young hearts yearn to be
Together always, cannot brook to see
  Their love-days pass, and void each sunny hour,
  Yet may we smile, e'en when fate's storm-clouds lower,
Waiting fulfilment of our hearts' decree
            When summer comes.


It might have been so different a year
  To what _has_ been; the summer's guileless play
  Not all a jest, comes back to me to-day
In added sweetness, and provokes a tear.
Strange pictures rise, pass on, and disappear.
  Drawn from your tender words of yesterday
  When, looking in my eyes in the old way
You told me of your life, how passing dear
    It might have been.

Useless to dream, more useless to regret!
  We might have lived and loved, nor lost the glow
Of Love's first sweet intensity;--to let
These foolish fancies die I strive,--and yet
  I still must count it happiness to know
    It might have been.


Brother and friend I found thee in the hour
  Of need and day of trouble, strong and true.--
  In June's fair mirth, and when the sunrise hue
Shewed bright where joy had built his thoughtless bower,
Thou wert a child to sport with, something lower
  Than a friend's need. I gave, methought, thy due,--
  An elder sister's gentleness, nor knew
That ere Spring dawned my soul would feel thy power.
    Brother and Friend!

A man, with a man's strength, and will, and fire,
  I know thee, my Alcides; thus a god
For some fair soul to reverence, and desire
To own and worship. _I_ can place thee higher
  To-day, in naming thee,--pain's paths just trod--
    Brother and Friend.


"Pourquoi," she breathed, then drooped her head,
(Pure snow-drifts to the sunset wed)
    As all my weakness I confessed.
    I shewed how I had done my best,
Though long ago I should have fled,
Knowing all hope, for me, was dead;
And now my heart would die, unfed.
    She murmured low, (was it in jest?)

That winsome face, all rosy red,--
I turned towards me,--gone was dread!
    She came as birdlings to their nest
    At eventide; so was I blest
By that one precious, softly-said


For our Love's sake I bid thee stay,
Sweet, ere the hours flee away,
    Beneath the old acacia tree
    That waves its blossoms quiveringly,
And think awhile of early May:

Of how the months have fled away,
And sunrise hour turned twilight gray,
    While we have suffered smilingly
          For our Love's sake.

It may not be--that which we pray
For tearfully--but dare not say.
    And yet if, Sweet, it may not be,
    We still may suffer silently,
Watching our sunlight fade away,
          For our Love's sake.


A breath                |         A breath
    And a sigh,--       |             And a sigh,--
    How we fly          |             How we fly
From Death!             |         From Death!--
A palm                  |         Sing on
    Warm pressed,       |             O our bird!
    As we guessed       |             Thou art heard
Love's psalm.           |         Alone.
A word                  |         We know
    Breathed close,     |             No life,
    And then rose       |             Neither strife,
The bird                |         Nor woe,
That cowers             |         Nor aught
    In the wood         |             But this hour,--
    'Mid a flood        |             Love's dower
Of flowers,             |         Dear bought.--
Till Love's             |         Death's voice
    Heart sighs,        |             Is away,
    Like the cries      |             And we may
Of doves,--             |         Rejoice.
Then sings              |         The bird
    His song,           |             Of our song
    Beating strong      |             May be long
White wings,--          |         Unheard,
Heart clear             |         But, Dear,
    Though faint,       |             Bend low;
    Like a saint        |             It is now
In prayer.--            |         We hear.
He reigns               |         Dear Heart
    In power,           |             Your kiss!--
    And Love's hour     |             After this
Disdains.               |         We part.
Forget                  |         A breath
    For a day           |             And a sigh,--
    All his sway,       |             How we fly
Life's fret.            |         From Death!


No ripple stirs the water,
    No song-bird wakes the grove,
Calm noon-tide sways his sceptre,
    And hushes even love.

On earth the sun-god bending
    Poureth his wondrous store;
The soft-tongued tide, advancing,
    Laps the unconscious shore.

The long, low isle of marsh-land
    Stretches in weary waste,
By sloping sand-banks guarded,
    By winding weeds embraced.

Comes clearly from the open
    The plash of distant oars,--
Over the rocky headland
    The snow-white sea-gull soars.

I see as if through dream-clouds,
    I hear from far away.
The scorched air breathes its opiate,
    The drowsy fancies stay;

I have no hopes or longings,
    I scarce can feel your kiss,--
For thought, and joy and worship,
    Another hour than this!


The full-orbed Paschal moon; dark shadows flung
On the brown Lenten earth; tall spectral trees
Stand in their huge and naked strength erect,
And stretch wild arms towards the gleaming sky.
A motionless girl-figure, face upraised
In the strong moonlight, cold and passionless.

       *       *       *       *       *

A proud spring sunset; opal-tinted sky,
Save where the western purple, pale and faint
With longing for her fickle Love,--content
Had merged herself into his burning red.
A fair young maiden, clad in velvet robe
Of sombre green, stands in the golden glow,
One hand held up to shade her dazzled eyes,
A bunch of white Narcissus at her throat.

       *       *       *       *       *

November's day, dark, leaden, lowering,--
Grey purple shadows fading on the hills;
Dreary and desolate the far expanse
And gloomy sameness of the open plain.
A peasant woman, in white wimpled hood,
White vest, and scarlet petticoat, surveys
The meadow, with rough hands crossed on her breast.

       *       *       *       *       *

A shining, shimmering, gracious, golden day;
The sated summer's all-pervading hush;
Warm luscious tints, glowing in earth and sky.
On a low mossy bank, a little child,
His golden curls twined in the reedy grass,
Clutching within his tear-stained feverish hands
The yellow blossoms of the Celandine,
Sobs out his heart in passionate childish grief.


Oh come, Eurydice!
    The Stygian deeps are past
    Well-nigh; the light dawns fast.
Oh come, Eurydice!

The gods have heard my song!
    My love's despairing cry
    Filled hell with melody,--
And the gods heard my song.

I knew no life but thee;
    Persephone was moved;
    She, too, hath lived, hath loved;
She saw I lived for thee.

I may not look on thee,
    Such was the gods' decree;--
    Till sun and earth we see
No kiss, no smile for thee!

The way is rough, is hard;
    I cannot hear thy feet
    Swift following; speak, my Sweet,--
Is the way rough and hard?

"Oh come, Eurydice!"
    I turn: "our woe is o'er,
    I will not lose thee more!"
I cry: "Eurydice!"

O father Hermes, help!
    I see her fade away
    Back from the dawning ray;
Dear Father Hermes, help!

One swift look,--all is lost!
    Wild heaven-arousing cries
    Pierce to the dull dead skies;
My heaven, my all is lost!

The unrelenting gods
    Refuse me. "No," say they,
    "Thy chance is thrown away."
Fierce unrelenting gods!

The sky is blue no more,
    The spring-tide airs are bleak,
    I find not her I seek,
The earth is fair no more!

I loathe all earth, all life!
    These Thracian women gaze
    And whispering, go their ways,
Seeing I loathe my life.

Only my song remains.
    I may not cease to sing,
    Though hot tears start and sting,
The song that still remains,

Even--"Come Eurydice!"
    The sea rolls on in pain,
    Echoing the note again:
"Lost, lost Eurydice!"

And still the sea moves on,
    The woods give back the thrill
    "Eurydice!" and still
The quiet sea moves on.

The years, Eurydice,
    The long unquiet years
    Heed not or sighs or tears,
Oh Heart, Eurydice!


My boat is still in the reedy cove
Where the rushes hinder its onward course,
For I care not now if we rest or move
O'er the slumberous tide to the river's source.

My boat is fast in the tall dank weeds
And I lay my oars in silence by,
And lean, and draw the slippery reeds
Through my listless fingers carelessly.

The babbling froth of the surface foam
Clings close to the side of my moveless boat,
Like endless meshes of honeycomb,--
And I break it off, and send it afloat.

A faint wind stirs, and I drift along
Far down the stream to its utmost bound,
And the thick white foam-flakes gathering strong
Still cling, and follow, and fold around.

Oh! the weary green of the weedy waste,
The thickening scum of the frothy foam,
And the torpid heart by the reeds embraced
And shrouded and held in its cheerless home.

The fearful stillness of wearied calm,
The tired quiet of ended strife,
The echoed note of a heart's sad psalm,
The sighing end of a wasted life.--

The reeds cling close, and my cradle sways,
And the white gull dips in the waters' barm,
And the heart asleep in the twilight haze
Feels not its earth-bonds, knows not alarm.


Evening has thrown her hushing garment round
This little world; no harsh or jarring sound
Disturbs my reverie. The room is dark,
And kneeling at the window I can mark
Each light and shadow of the scene below.
The placid glistening pools, the streams that flow
Through the red earth, left by the hurrying tide;
The ridge of mountain on the farther side
Shewing more black for many twinkling lights
That come and go about the gathering heights.
Below me lie great wharves, dreary and dim,
And lumber houses crowding close and grim
Like giant shadowed guardians of the port,
With towering chimneys outlined tall and swart
Against the silver pools. Two figures pace
The wharf in ghostly silence, face from face.
O'er the black line of mountain, silver-clear
In faint rose-tint of vaporous evening air,
Sinketh the bright suspicion of a wing,
The slim curved moon, who in shy triumphing
Hideth her face. Above, the rose-tint pales
Into a silver opal, hills and dales
Of cloudy glory, fading high alone
Into a tender blue-grey monotone.--
And then I thought: "ere that fair, slender moon
Has rounded grown and full, (so soon, so soon!)
Our hearts' desire accomplished we shall see
Dear one, all light, and joy, and ecstasy!"


My spirit holds you, Dear,
    Though worlds away,"--
This to their absent ones
    Many can say.

"Thoughts, fancies, hopes, desires,
    All must be yours;
Sweetest my memories still
    Of our past hours."

_I_ can say more than this
    Now, lover mine,--
Here can I feel your kiss
    Warmer than wine,

Feel your arms folding me,
    Know that quick breath
That aye my soul would stir
    Even in death.

'Tis not a memory, Love,
    Thoughts of the past,
Fleeting remembrances
    Which may not last,--

But, as I shut my eyes
    Know I the sign
That you are here, yourself,
    Bodily, mine.--

So, Love, I cannot say
    "My spirit flies
Over the widening space,
    Under dull skies,

To where _your_ spirit is,"--
    Though I may know
Seas part us, earth divides,
    It is not so

Here to me, now, for you
    Lean on my heart.
Who says that you and I
    Ever can part?--


The world may rage without,
    Quiet is here;
Statesmen may toil and shout,
    Cynics may sneer;
The great world,--let it go,--
June warmth be March's snow,
I care not,--be it so
    Since I am here.

Time was when war's alarm
    Called for a fear,
When sorrow's seeming harm
    Hastened a tear.
Naught care I now what foe
Threatens, for scarce I know
How the year's seasons go
    Since I am here.

This is my resting-place
    Holy and dear,
Where pain's dejected face
    May not appear;
This is the world to me,
Earth's woes I will not see,
But rest contentedly
    Since I am here.

Is't your voice chiding, Love,
    My mild career,
My meek abiding, Love,
    Daily so near?--
"Danger and loss," to me?
Ah, Sweet, I fear to see
No loss but loss of _thee_,
    And I am here.


I aimless wandered thro' the woods, and flung
My idle limbs upon a soft brown bank,
Where, thickly strewn, the worn-out russet leaves
Rustled a faint remonstrance at my tread.
The yellow fungi, shewing pallid stems,
The mossy lichen creeping o'er the stones
And making green the whitened hemlock-bark,
The dull wax of the woodland lily-bud,
On these my eye could rest, and I was still.
No sound was there save a low murmured cheep
From an ambitious nestling, and the slow
And oft-recurring plash of myriad waves
That spent their strength against the unheeding shore.
Over and through a spreading undergrowth
I saw the gleaming of the tranquil sea.
The woody scent of mosses and sweet ferns,
Mingled with the fresh brine, and came to me,
Bringing a laudanum to my ceaseless pain;
A quietness stole in upon me then,
And o'er my soul there passed a wave of peace.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Poems" ***

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