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´╗┐Title: Men, Women and Ghosts
Author: Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925
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 "Men, Women and Ghosts" ***

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MEN, WOMEN AND GHOSTS

by Amy Lowell


by Amy Lowell [American (Massachusetts) poet and critic--1874-1925.]


[Note on text:  Lines longer than 78 characters are broken
and the continuation is indented two spaces.  Some obvious errors
have been corrected.]



  "'... See small portions of the Eternal World that ever groweth':...
  So sang a Fairy, mocking, as he sat on a streak'd tulip,
  Thinking none saw him:  when he ceas'd I started from the trees,
  And caught him in my hat, as boys knock down a butterfly."
                                 William Blake.  "Europe.  A Prophecy."

            'Thou hast a lap full of seed,
            And this is a fine country.'
                                     William Blake.



Preface


This is a book of stories.  For that reason I have excluded all purely
lyrical poems.  But the word "stories" has been stretched to its fullest
application.  It includes both narrative poems, properly so called;
tales divided into scenes; and a few pieces of less obvious
story-telling import in which one might say that the dramatis personae
are air, clouds, trees, houses, streets, and such like things.

It has long been a favourite idea of mine that the rhythms of 'vers
libre' have not been sufficiently plumbed, that there is in them a power
of variation which has never yet been brought to the light of
experiment. I think it was the piano pieces of Debussy, with their
strange likeness to short vers libre poems, which first showed me the
close kinship of music and poetry, and there flashed into my mind the
idea of using the movement of poetry in somewhat the same way that the
musician uses the movement of music.

It was quite evident that this could never be done in the strict pattern
of a metrical form, but the flowing, fluctuating rhythm of vers libre
seemed to open the door to such an experiment.  First, however, I
considered the same method as applied to the more pronounced movements
of natural objects.  If the reader will turn to the poem, "A Roxbury
Garden", he will find in the first two sections an attempt to give the
circular movement of a hoop bowling along the ground, and the up and
down, elliptical curve of a flying shuttlecock.

From these experiments, it is but a step to the flowing rhythm of music.
In "The Cremona Violin", I have tried to give this flowing, changing
rhythm to the parts in which the violin is being played.  The effect is
farther heightened, because the rest of the poem is written in the seven
line Chaucerian stanza; and, by deserting this ordered pattern for the
undulating line of vers libre, I hoped to produce something of the
suave, continuous tone of a violin.  Again, in the violin parts
themselves, the movement constantly changes, as will be quite plain to
any one reading these passages aloud.

In "The Cremona Violin", however, the rhythms are fairly obvious and
regular. I set myself a far harder task in trying to transcribe the
various movements of Stravinsky's "Three Pieces 'Grotesques', for String
Quartet". Several musicians, who have seen the poem, think the movement
accurately given.

These experiments lead me to believe that there is here much food for
thought and matter for study, and I hope many poets will follow me in
opening up the still hardly explored possibilities of vers libre.

A good many of the poems in this book are written in "polyphonic prose".
A form about which I have written and spoken so much that it seems
hardly necessary to explain it here.  Let me hastily add, however, that
the word "prose" in its name refers only to the typographical
arrangement, for in no sense is this a prose form. Only read it aloud,
Gentle Reader, I beg, and you will see what you will see. For a purely
dramatic form, I know none better in the whole range of poetry. It
enables the poet to give his characters the vivid, real effect they have
in a play, while at the same time writing in the 'decor'.

One last innovation I have still to mention.  It will be found in
"Spring Day", and more fully enlarged upon in the series, "Towns in
Colour".  In these poems, I have endeavoured to give the colour, and
light, and shade, of certain places and hours, stressing the purely
pictorial effect, and with little or no reference to any other aspect of
the places described.  It is an enchanting thing to wander through a
city looking for its unrelated beauty, the beauty by which it captivates
the sensuous sense of seeing.

I have always loved aquariums, but for years I went to them and looked,
and looked, at those swirling, shooting, looping patterns of fish, which
always defied transcription to paper until I hit upon the "unrelated"
method.  The result is in "An Aquarium". I think the first thing which
turned me in this direction was John Gould Fletcher's "London
Excursion", in "Some Imagist Poets". I here record my thanks.

For the substance of the poems--why, the poems are here. No one
writing to-day can fail to be affected by the great war raging in Europe
at this time.  We are too near it to do more than touch upon it.  But,
obliquely, it is suggested in many of these poems, most notably those in
the section, "Bronze Tablets".  The Napoleonic Era is an epic subject,
and waits a great epic poet.  I have only been able to open a few
windows upon it here and there.  But the scene from the windows is
authentic, and the watcher has used eyes, and ears, and heart, in
watching.

                                             Amy Lowell
July 10, 1916.



Contents



      Figurines in Old Saxe

  Patterns
  Pickthorn Manor
  The Cremona Violin
  The Cross-Roads
  A Roxbury Garden
  1777


      Bronze Tablets

  The Fruit Shop
  Malmaison
  The Hammers
  Two Travellers in the Place Vendome


      War Pictures

  The Allies
  The Bombardment
  Lead Soldiers
  The Painter on Silk
  A Ballad of Footmen


      The Overgrown Pasture

  Reaping
  Off the Turnpike
  The Grocery
  Number 3 on the Docket


      Clocks Tick a Century

  Nightmare:  A Tale for an Autumn Evening
  The Paper Windmill
  The Red Lacquer Music-Stand
  Spring Day
  The Dinner-Party
  Stravinsky's Three Pieces "Grotesques", for String Quartet
  Towns in Colour
   Red Slippers
   Thompson's Lunch Room--Grand Central Station
   An Opera House
   Afternoon Rain in State Street
   An Aquarium



The two sea songs quoted in "The Hammers" are taken from
'Songs:  Naval and Nautical, of the late Charles Dibdin', London,
John Murray, 1841.  The "Hanging Johnny" refrain, in "The Cremona Violin",
is borrowed from the old, well-known chanty of that name.



MEN, WOMEN AND GHOSTS



FIGURINES IN OLD SAXE



Patterns



   I walk down the garden paths,
   And all the daffodils
   Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
   I walk down the patterned garden-paths
   In my stiff, brocaded gown.
   With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
   I too am a rare
   Pattern.  As I wander down
   The garden paths.

   My dress is richly figured,
   And the train
   Makes a pink and silver stain
   On the gravel, and the thrift
   Of the borders.
   Just a plate of current fashion,
   Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
   Not a softness anywhere about me,
   Only whalebone and brocade.
   And I sink on a seat in the shade
   Of a lime tree.  For my passion
   Wars against the stiff brocade.
   The daffodils and squills
   Flutter in the breeze
   As they please.
   And I weep;
   For the lime-tree is in blossom
   And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

   And the plashing of waterdrops
   In the marble fountain
   Comes down the garden-paths.
   The dripping never stops.
   Underneath my stiffened gown
   Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
   A basin in the midst of hedges grown
   So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
   But she guesses he is near,
   And the sliding of the water
   Seems the stroking of a dear
   Hand upon her.
   What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
   I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
   All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

   I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
   And he would stumble after,
   Bewildered by my laughter.
   I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles
     on his shoes.
   I would choose
   To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
   A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover,
   Till he caught me in the shade,
   And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
   Aching, melting, unafraid.
   With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
   And the plopping of the waterdrops,
   All about us in the open afternoon--
   I am very like to swoon
   With the weight of this brocade,
   For the sun sifts through the shade.

   Underneath the fallen blossom
   In my bosom,
   Is a letter I have hid.
   It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
   "Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
   Died in action Thursday se'nnight."
   As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
   The letters squirmed like snakes.
   "Any answer, Madam," said my footman.
   "No," I told him.
   "See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
   No, no answer."
   And I walked into the garden,
   Up and down the patterned paths,
   In my stiff, correct brocade.
   The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
   Each one.
   I stood upright too,
   Held rigid to the pattern
   By the stiffness of my gown.
   Up and down I walked,
   Up and down.

   In a month he would have been my husband.
   In a month, here, underneath this lime,
   We would have broke the pattern;
   He for me, and I for him,
   He as Colonel, I as Lady,
   On this shady seat.
   He had a whim
   That sunlight carried blessing.
   And I answered, "It shall be as you have said."
   Now he is dead.

   In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
   Up and down
   The patterned garden-paths
   In my stiff, brocaded gown.
   The squills and daffodils
   Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
   I shall go
   Up and down,
   In my gown.
   Gorgeously arrayed,
   Boned and stayed.
   And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
   By each button, hook, and lace.
   For the man who should loose me is dead,
   Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
   In a pattern called a war.
   Christ!  What are patterns for?



Pickthorn Manor



       I

   How fresh the Dartle's little waves that day!
    A steely silver, underlined with blue,
   And flashing where the round clouds, blown away,
    Let drop the yellow sunshine to gleam through
   And tip the edges of the waves with shifts
    And spots of whitest fire, hard like gems
       Cut from the midnight moon they were, and sharp
    As wind through leafless stems.
   The Lady Eunice walked between the drifts
   Of blooming cherry-trees, and watched the rifts
       Of clouds drawn through the river's azure warp.


       II

   Her little feet tapped softly down the path.
    Her soul was listless; even the morning breeze
   Fluttering the trees and strewing a light swath
    Of fallen petals on the grass, could please
   Her not at all.  She brushed a hair aside
    With a swift move, and a half-angry frown.
       She stopped to pull a daffodil or two,
    And held them to her gown
   To test the colours; put them at her side,
   Then at her breast, then loosened them and tried
       Some new arrangement, but it would not do.


       III

   A lady in a Manor-house, alone,
    Whose husband is in Flanders with the Duke
   Of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, she's grown
    Too apathetic even to rebuke
   Her idleness.  What is she on this Earth?
    No woman surely, since she neither can
       Be wed nor single, must not let her mind
    Build thoughts upon a man
   Except for hers.  Indeed that were no dearth
   Were her Lord here, for well she knew his worth,
       And when she thought of him her eyes were kind.


       IV

   Too lately wed to have forgot the wooing.
    Too unaccustomed as a bride to feel
   Other than strange delight at her wife's doing.
    Even at the thought a gentle blush would steal
   Over her face, and then her lips would frame
    Some little word of loving, and her eyes
       Would brim and spill their tears, when all they saw
    Was the bright sun, slantwise
   Through burgeoning trees, and all the morning's flame
   Burning and quivering round her.  With quick shame
       She shut her heart and bent before the law.


       V

   He was a soldier, she was proud of that.
    This was his house and she would keep it well.
   His honour was in fighting, hers in what
    He'd left her here in charge of.  Then a spell
   Of conscience sent her through the orchard spying
    Upon the gardeners.  Were their tools about?
       Were any branches broken?  Had the weeds
    Been duly taken out
   Under the 'spaliered pears, and were these lying
   Nailed snug against the sunny bricks and drying
       Their leaves and satisfying all their needs?


       VI

   She picked a stone up with a little pout,
    Stones looked so ill in well-kept flower-borders.
   Where should she put it?  All the paths about
    Were strewn with fair, red gravel by her orders.
   No stone could mar their sifted smoothness.  So
    She hurried to the river.  At the edge
       She stood a moment charmed by the swift blue
    Beyond the river sedge.
   She watched it curdling, crinkling, and the snow
   Purfled upon its wave-tops.  Then, "Hullo,
       My Beauty, gently, or you'll wriggle through."


       VII

   The Lady Eunice caught a willow spray
    To save herself from tumbling in the shallows
   Which rippled to her feet.  Then straight away
    She peered down stream among the budding sallows.
   A youth in leather breeches and a shirt
    Of finest broidered lawn lay out upon
       An overhanging bole and deftly swayed
    A well-hooked fish which shone
   In the pale lemon sunshine like a spurt
   Of silver, bowed and damascened, and girt
       With crimson spots and moons which waned and played.


       VIII

   The fish hung circled for a moment, ringed
    And bright; then flung itself out, a thin blade
   Of spotted lightning, and its tail was winged
    With chipped and sparkled sunshine.  And the shade
   Broke up and splintered into shafts of light
    Wheeling about the fish, who churned the air
       And made the fish-line hum, and bent the rod
    Almost to snapping.  Care
   The young man took against the twigs, with slight,
   Deft movements he kept fish and line in tight
       Obedience to his will with every prod.


       IX

   He lay there, and the fish hung just beyond.
    He seemed uncertain what more he should do.
   He drew back, pulled the rod to correspond,
    Tossed it and caught it; every time he threw,
   He caught it nearer to the point.  At last
    The fish was near enough to touch.  He paused.
       Eunice knew well the craft--"What's got the thing!"
    She cried.  "What can have caused--
   Where is his net?  The moment will be past.
   The fish will wriggle free."  She stopped aghast.
       He turned and bowed.  One arm was in a sling.


       X

   The broad, black ribbon she had thought his basket
    Must hang from, held instead a useless arm.
   "I do not wonder, Madam, that you ask it."
    He smiled, for she had spoke aloud.  "The charm
   Of trout fishing is in my eyes enhanced
    When you must play your fish on land as well."
       "How will you take him?" Eunice asked.  "In truth
    I really cannot tell.
   'Twas stupid of me, but it simply chanced
   I never thought of that until he glanced
       Into the branches.  'Tis a bit uncouth."


       XI

   He watched the fish against the blowing sky,
    Writhing and glittering, pulling at the line.
   "The hook is fast, I might just let him die,"
    He mused.  "But that would jar against your fine
   Sense of true sportsmanship, I know it would,"
    Cried Eunice.  "Let me do it."  Swift and light
       She ran towards him.  "It is so long now
    Since I have felt a bite,
   I lost all heart for everything."  She stood,
   Supple and strong, beside him, and her blood
       Tingled her lissom body to a glow.


       XII

   She quickly seized the fish and with a stone
    Ended its flurry, then removed the hook,
   Untied the fly with well-poised fingers.  Done,
    She asked him where he kept his fishing-book.
   He pointed to a coat flung on the ground.
    She searched the pockets, found a shagreen case,
       Replaced the fly, noticed a golden stamp
    Filling the middle space.
   Two letters half rubbed out were there, and round
   About them gay rococo flowers wound
       And tossed a spray of roses to the clamp.


       XIII

   The Lady Eunice puzzled over these.
    "G. D." the young man gravely said.  "My name
   Is Gervase Deane.  Your servant, if you please."
    "Oh, Sir, indeed I know you, for your fame
   For exploits in the field has reached my ears.
    I did not know you wounded and returned."
       "But just come back, Madam.  A silly prick
    To gain me such unearned
   Holiday making.  And you, it appears,
   Must be Sir Everard's lady.  And my fears
       At being caught a-trespassing were quick."


       XIV

   He looked so rueful that she laughed out loud.
    "You are forgiven, Mr. Deane.  Even more,
   I offer you the fishing, and am proud
    That you should find it pleasant from this shore.
   Nobody fishes now, my husband used
    To angle daily, and I too with him.
       He loved the spotted trout, and pike, and dace.
    He even had a whim
   That flies my fingers tied swiftly confused
   The greater fish.  And he must be excused,
       Love weaves odd fancies in a lonely place."


       XV

   She sighed because it seemed so long ago,
    Those days with Everard; unthinking took
   The path back to the orchard.  Strolling so
    She walked, and he beside her.  In a nook
   Where a stone seat withdrew beneath low boughs,
    Full-blossomed, hummed with bees, they sat them down.
       She questioned him about the war, the share
    Her husband had, and grown
   Eager by his clear answers, straight allows
   Her hidden hopes and fears to speak, and rouse
       Her numbed love, which had slumbered unaware.


       XVI

   Under the orchard trees daffodils danced
    And jostled, turning sideways to the wind.
   A dropping cherry petal softly glanced
    Over her hair, and slid away behind.
   At the far end through twisted cherry-trees
    The old house glowed, geranium-hued, with bricks
       Bloomed in the sun like roses, low and long,
    Gabled, and with quaint tricks
   Of chimneys carved and fretted.  Out of these
   Grey smoke was shaken, which the faint Spring breeze
       Tossed into nothing.  Then a thrush's song


       XVII

   Needled its way through sound of bees and river.
    The notes fell, round and starred, between young leaves,
   Trilled to a spiral lilt, stopped on a quiver.
    The Lady Eunice listens and believes.
   Gervase has many tales of her dear Lord,
    His bravery, his knowledge, his charmed life.
       She quite forgets who's speaking in the gladness
    Of being this man's wife.
   Gervase is wounded, grave indeed, the word
   Is kindly said, but to a softer chord
       She strings her voice to ask with wistful sadness,


       XVIII

   "And is Sir Everard still unscathed?  I fain
    Would know the truth."  "Quite well, dear Lady, quite."
   She smiled in her content.  "So many slain,
    You must forgive me for a little fright."
   And he forgave her, not alone for that,
    But because she was fingering his heart,
       Pressing and squeezing it, and thinking so
    Only to ease her smart
   Of painful, apprehensive longing.  At
   Their feet the river swirled and chucked.  They sat
       An hour there.  The thrush flew to and fro.


       XIX

   The Lady Eunice supped alone that day,
    As always since Sir Everard had gone,
   In the oak-panelled parlour, whose array
    Of faded portraits in carved mouldings shone.
   Warriors and ladies, armoured, ruffed, peruked.
    Van Dykes with long, slim fingers; Holbeins, stout
       And heavy-featured; and one Rubens dame,
    A peony just burst out,
   With flaunting, crimson flesh.  Eunice rebuked
   Her thoughts of gentler blood, when these had duked
       It with the best, and scorned to change their name.


       XX

   A sturdy family, and old besides,
    Much older than her own, the Earls of Crowe.
   Since Saxon days, these men had sought their brides
    Among the highest born, but always so,
   Taking them to themselves, their wealth, their lands,
    But never their titles.  Stern perhaps, but strong,
       The Framptons fed their blood from richest streams,
    Scorning the common throng.
   Gazing upon these men, she understands
   The toughness of the web wrought from such strands
       And pride of Everard colours all her dreams.


       XXI

   Eunice forgets to eat, watching their faces
    Flickering in the wind-blown candle's shine.
   Blue-coated lackeys tiptoe to their places,
    And set out plates of fruit and jugs of wine.
   The table glitters black like Winter ice.
    The Dartle's rushing, and the gentle clash
       Of blossomed branches, drifts into her ears.
    And through the casement sash
   She sees each cherry stem a pointed slice
   Of splintered moonlight, topped with all the spice
       And shimmer of the blossoms it uprears.


       XXII

   "In such a night--" she laid the book aside,
    She could outnight the poet by thinking back.
   In such a night she came here as a bride.
    The date was graven in the almanack
   Of her clasped memory.  In this very room
    Had Everard uncloaked her.  On this seat
       Had drawn her to him, bade her note the trees,
    How white they were and sweet
   And later, coming to her, her dear groom,
   Her Lord, had lain beside her in the gloom
       Of moon and shade, and whispered her to ease.


       XXIII

   Her little taper made the room seem vast,
    Caverned and empty.  And her beating heart
   Rapped through the silence all about her cast
    Like some loud, dreadful death-watch taking part
   In this sad vigil.  Slowly she undrest,
    Put out the light and crept into her bed.
       The linen sheets were fragrant, but so cold.
    And brimming tears she shed,
   Sobbing and quivering in her barren nest,
   Her weeping lips into the pillow prest,
       Her eyes sealed fast within its smothering fold.


       XXIV

   The morning brought her a more stoic mind,
    And sunshine struck across the polished floor.
   She wondered whether this day she should find
    Gervase a-fishing, and so listen more,
   Much more again, to all he had to tell.
    And he was there, but waiting to begin
       Until she came.  They fished awhile, then went
    To the old seat within
   The cherry's shade.  He pleased her very well
   By his discourse.  But ever he must dwell
       Upon Sir Everard.  Each incident


       XXV

   Must be related and each term explained.
    How troops were set in battle, how a siege
   Was ordered and conducted.  She complained
    Because he bungled at the fall of Liege.
   The curious names of parts of forts she knew,
    And aired with conscious pride her ravelins,
       And counterscarps, and lunes.  The day drew on,
    And his dead fish's fins
   In the hot sunshine turned a mauve-green hue.
   At last Gervase, guessing the hour, withdrew.
       But she sat long in still oblivion.


       XXVI

   Then he would bring her books, and read to her
    The poems of Dr. Donne, and the blue river
   Would murmur through the reading, and a stir
    Of birds and bees make the white petals shiver,
   And one or two would flutter prone and lie
    Spotting the smooth-clipped grass.  The days went by
       Threaded with talk and verses.  Green leaves pushed
    Through blossoms stubbornly.
   Gervase, unconscious of dishonesty,
   Fell into strong and watchful loving, free
       He thought, since always would his lips be hushed.


       XXVII

   But lips do not stay silent at command,
    And Gervase strove in vain to order his.
   Luckily Eunice did not understand
    That he but read himself aloud, for this
   Their friendship would have snapped.  She treated him
    And spoilt him like a brother.  It was now
       "Gervase" and "Eunice" with them, and he dined
    Whenever she'd allow,
   In the oak parlour, underneath the dim
   Old pictured Framptons, opposite her slim
       Figure, so bright against the chair behind.


       XXVIII

   Eunice was happier than she had been
    For many days, and yet the hours were long.
   All Gervase told to her but made her lean
    More heavily upon the past.  Among
   Her hopes she lived, even when she was giving
    Her morning orders, even when she twined
       Nosegays to deck her parlours.  With the thought
    Of Everard, her mind
   Solaced its solitude, and in her striving
   To do as he would wish was all her living.
       She welcomed Gervase for the news he brought.


       XXIX

   Black-hearts and white-hearts, bubbled with the sun,
    Hid in their leaves and knocked against each other.
   Eunice was standing, panting with her run
    Up to the tool-house just to get another
   Basket.  All those which she had brought were filled,
    And still Gervase pelted her from above.
       The buckles of his shoes flashed higher and higher
    Until his shoulders strove
   Quite through the top.  "Eunice, your spirit's filled
   This tree.  White-hearts!"  He shook, and cherries spilled
       And spat out from the leaves like falling fire.


       XXX

   The wide, sun-winged June morning spread itself
    Over the quiet garden.  And they packed
   Full twenty baskets with the fruit.  "My shelf
    Of cordials will be stored with what it lacked.
   In future, none of us will drink strong ale,
    But cherry-brandy."  "Vastly good, I vow,"
       And Gervase gave the tree another shake.
    The cherries seemed to flow
   Out of the sky in cloudfuls, like blown hail.
   Swift Lady Eunice ran, her farthingale,
       Unnoticed, tangling in a fallen rake.


       XXXI

   She gave a little cry and fell quite prone
    In the long grass, and lay there very still.
   Gervase leapt from the tree at her soft moan,
    And kneeling over her, with clumsy skill
   Unloosed her bodice, fanned her with his hat,
    And his unguarded lips pronounced his heart.
       "Eunice, my Dearest Girl, where are you hurt?"
    His trembling fingers dart
   Over her limbs seeking some wound.  She strove
   To answer, opened wide her eyes, above
       Her knelt Sir Everard, with face alert.


       XXXII

   Her eyelids fell again at that sweet sight,
    "My Love!" she murmured, "Dearest!  Oh, my Dear!"
   He took her in his arms and bore her right
    And tenderly to the old seat, and "Here
   I have you mine at last," she said, and swooned
    Under his kisses.  When she came once more
       To sight of him, she smiled in comfort knowing
    Herself laid as before
   Close covered on his breast.  And all her glowing
   Youth answered him, and ever nearer growing
       She twined him in her arms and soft festooned


       XXXIII

   Herself about him like a flowering vine,
    Drawing his lips to cling upon her own.
   A ray of sunlight pierced the leaves to shine
    Where her half-opened bodice let be shown
   Her white throat fluttering to his soft caress,
    Half-gasping with her gladness.  And her pledge
       She whispers, melting with delight.  A twig
    Snaps in the hornbeam hedge.
   A cackling laugh tears through the quietness.
   Eunice starts up in terrible distress.
       "My God!  What's that?"  Her staring eyes are big.


       XXXIV

   Revulsed emotion set her body shaking
    As though she had an ague.  Gervase swore,
   Jumped to his feet in such a dreadful taking
    His face was ghastly with the look it wore.
   Crouching and slipping through the trees, a man
    In worn, blue livery, a humpbacked thing,
       Made off.  But turned every few steps to gaze
    At Eunice, and to fling
   Vile looks and gestures back.  "The ruffian!
   By Christ's Death!  I will split him to a span
       Of hog's thongs."  She grasped at his sleeve, "Gervase!


       XXXV

   What are you doing here?  Put down that sword,
    That's only poor old Tony, crazed and lame.
   We never notice him.  With my dear Lord
    I ought not to have minded that he came.
   But, Gervase, it surprises me that you
    Should so lack grace to stay here."  With one hand
       She held her gaping bodice to conceal
    Her breast.  "I must demand
   Your instant absence.  Everard, but new
   Returned, will hardly care for guests.  Adieu."
       "Eunice, you're mad."  His brain began to reel.


       XXXVI

   He tried again to take her, tried to twist
    Her arms about him.  Truly, she had said
   Nothing should ever part them.  In a mist
    She pushed him from her, clasped her aching head
   In both her hands, and rocked and sobbed aloud.
    "Oh!  Where is Everard?  What does this mean?
       So lately come to leave me thus alone!"
    But Gervase had not seen
   Sir Everard.  Then, gently, to her bowed
   And sickening spirit, he told of her proud
       Surrender to him.  He could hear her moan.


       XXXVII

   Then shame swept over her and held her numb,
    Hiding her anguished face against the seat.
   At last she rose, a woman stricken--dumb--
    And trailed away with slowly-dragging feet.
   Gervase looked after her, but feared to pass
    The barrier set between them.  All his rare
       Joy broke to fragments--worse than that, unreal.
    And standing lonely there,
   His swollen heart burst out, and on the grass
   He flung himself and wept.  He knew, alas!
       The loss so great his life could never heal.


       XXXVIII

   For days thereafter Eunice lived retired,
    Waited upon by one old serving-maid.
   She would not leave her chamber, and desired
    Only to hide herself.  She was afraid
   Of what her eyes might trick her into seeing,
    Of what her longing urge her then to do.
       What was this dreadful illness solitude
    Had tortured her into?
   Her hours went by in a long constant fleeing
   The thought of that one morning.  And her being
       Bruised itself on a happening so rude.


       XXXIX

   It grew ripe Summer, when one morning came
    Her tirewoman with a letter, printed
   Upon the seal were the Deane crest and name.
    With utmost gentleness, the letter hinted
   His understanding and his deep regret.
    But would she not permit him once again
       To pay her his profound respects?  No word
    Of what had passed should pain
   Her resolution.  Only let them get
   Back the old comradeship.  Her eyes were wet
       With starting tears, now truly she deplored


       XL

   His misery.  Yes, she was wrong to keep
    Away from him.  He hardly was to blame.
   'Twas she--she shuddered and began to weep.
    'Twas her fault!  Hers!  Her everlasting shame
   Was that she suffered him, whom not at all
    She loved.  Poor Boy!  Yes, they must still be friends.
       She owed him that to keep the balance straight.
    It was such poor amends
   Which she could make for rousing hopes to gall
   Him with their unfulfilment.  Tragical
       It was, and she must leave him desolate.


       XLI

   Hard silence he had forced upon his lips
    For long and long, and would have done so still
   Had not she--here she pressed her finger tips
    Against her heavy eyes.  Then with forced will
   She wrote that he might come, sealed with the arms
    Of Crowe and Frampton twined.  Her heart felt lighter
       When this was done.  It seemed her constant care
    Might some day cease to fright her.
   Illness could be no crime, and dreadful harms
   Did come from too much sunshine.  Her alarms
       Would lessen when she saw him standing there,


       XLII

   Simple and kind, a brother just returned
    From journeying, and he would treat her so.
   She knew his honest heart, and if there burned
    A spark in it he would not let it show.
   But when he really came, and stood beside
    Her underneath the fruitless cherry boughs,
       He seemed a tired man, gaunt, leaden-eyed.
    He made her no more vows,
   Nor did he mention one thing he had tried
   To put into his letter.  War supplied
       Him topics.  And his mind seemed occupied.


       XLIII

   Daily they met.  And gravely walked and talked.
    He read her no more verses, and he stayed
   Only until their conversation, balked
    Of every natural channel, fled dismayed.
   Again the next day she would meet him, trying
    To give her tone some healthy sprightliness,
       But his uneager dignity soon chilled
    Her well-prepared address.
   Thus Summer waned, and in the mornings, crying
   Of wild geese startled Eunice, and their flying
       Whirred overhead for days and never stilled.


       XLIV

   One afternoon of grey clouds and white wind,
    Eunice awaited Gervase by the river.
   The Dartle splashed among the reeds and whined
    Over the willow-roots, and a long sliver
   Of caked and slobbered foam crept up the bank.
    All through the garden, drifts of skirling leaves
       Blew up, and settled down, and blew again.
    The cherry-trees were weaves
   Of empty, knotted branches, and a dank
   Mist hid the house, mouldy it smelt and rank
       With sodden wood, and still unfalling rain.


       XLV

   Eunice paced up and down.  No joy she took
    At meeting Gervase, but the custom grown
   Still held her.  He was late.  She sudden shook,
    And caught at her stopped heart.  Her eyes had shown
   Sir Everard emerging from the mist.
    His uniform was travel-stained and torn,
       His jackboots muddy, and his eager stride
    Jangled his spurs.  A thorn
   Entangled, trailed behind him.  To the tryst
   He hastened.  Eunice shuddered, ran--a twist
       Round a sharp turning and she fled to hide.


       XLVI

   But he had seen her as she swiftly ran,
    A flash of white against the river's grey.
   "Eunice," he called.  "My Darling.  Eunice.  Can
    You hear me?  It is Everard.  All day
   I have been riding like the very devil
    To reach you sooner.  Are you startled, Dear?"
       He broke into a run and followed her,
    And caught her, faint with fear,
   Cowering and trembling as though she some evil
   Spirit were seeing.  "What means this uncivil
       Greeting, Dear Heart?"  He saw her senses blur.


       XLVII

   Swaying and catching at the seat, she tried
    To speak, but only gurgled in her throat.
   At last, straining to hold herself, she cried
    To him for pity, and her strange words smote
   A coldness through him, for she begged Gervase
    To leave her, 'twas too much a second time.
       Gervase must go, always Gervase, her mind
    Repeated like a rhyme
   This name he did not know.  In sad amaze
   He watched her, and that hunted, fearful gaze,
       So unremembering and so unkind.


       XLVIII

   Softly he spoke to her, patiently dealt
    With what he feared her madness.  By and by
   He pierced her understanding.  Then he knelt
    Upon the seat, and took her hands:  "Now try
   To think a minute I am come, my Dear,
    Unharmed and back on furlough.  Are you glad
       To have your lover home again?  To me,
    Pickthorn has never had
   A greater pleasantness.  Could you not bear
   To come and sit awhile beside me here?
       A stone between us surely should not be."


       XLIX

   She smiled a little wan and ravelled smile,
    Then came to him and on his shoulder laid
   Her head, and they two rested there awhile,
    Each taking comfort.  Not a word was said.
   But when he put his hand upon her breast
    And felt her beating heart, and with his lips
       Sought solace for her and himself.  She started
    As one sharp lashed with whips,
   And pushed him from her, moaning, his dumb quest
   Denied and shuddered from.  And he, distrest,
       Loosened his wife, and long they sat there, parted.


       L

   Eunice was very quiet all that day,
    A little dazed, and yet she seemed content.
   At candle-time, he asked if she would play
    Upon her harpsichord, at once she went
   And tinkled airs from Lully's 'Carnival'
    And 'Bacchus', newly brought away from France.
       Then jaunted through a lively rigadoon
    To please him with a dance
   By Purcell, for he said that surely all
   Good Englishmen had pride in national
       Accomplishment.  But tiring of it soon


       LI

   He whispered her that if she had forgiven
    His startling her that afternoon, the clock
   Marked early bed-time.  Surely it was Heaven
    He entered when she opened to his knock.
   The hours rustled in the trailing wind
    Over the chimney.  Close they lay and knew
       Only that they were wedded.  At his touch
    Anxiety she threw
   Away like a shed garment, and inclined
   Herself to cherish him, her happy mind
       Quivering, unthinking, loving overmuch.


       LII

   Eunice lay long awake in the cool night
    After her husband slept.  She gazed with joy
   Into the shadows, painting them with bright
    Pictures of all her future life's employ.
   Twin gems they were, set to a single jewel,
    Each shining with the other.  Soft she turned
       And felt his breath upon her hair, and prayed
    Her happiness was earned.
   Past Earls of Crowe should give their blood for fuel
   To light this Frampton's hearth-fire.  By no cruel
       Affrightings would she ever be dismayed.


       LIII

   When Everard, next day, asked her in joke
    What name it was that she had called him by,
   She told him of Gervase, and as she spoke
    She hardly realized it was a lie.
   Her vision she related, but she hid
    The fondness into which she had been led.
       Sir Everard just laughed and pinched her ear,
    And quite out of her head
   The matter drifted.  Then Sir Everard chid
   Himself for laziness, and off he rid
       To see his men and count his farming-gear.


       LIV

   At supper he seemed overspread with gloom,
    But gave no reason why, he only asked
   More questions of Gervase, and round the room
    He walked with restless strides.  At last he tasked
   Her with a greater feeling for this man
    Than she had given.  Eunice quick denied
       The slightest interest other than a friend
    Might claim.  But he replied
   He thought she underrated.  Then a ban
   He put on talk and music.  He'd a plan
       To work at, draining swamps at Pickthorn End.


       LV

   Next morning Eunice found her Lord still changed,
    Hard and unkind, with bursts of anger.  Pride
   Kept him from speaking out.  His probings ranged
    All round his torment.  Lady Eunice tried
   To sooth him.  So a week went by, and then
    His anguish flooded over; with clenched hands
       Striving to stem his words, he told her plain
    Tony had seen them, "brands
   Burning in Hell," the man had said.  Again
   Eunice described her vision, and how when
       Awoke at last she had known dreadful pain.


       LVI

   He could not credit it, and misery fed
    Upon his spirit, day by day it grew.
   To Gervase he forbade the house, and led
    The Lady Eunice such a life she flew
   At his approaching footsteps.  Winter came
    Snowing and blustering through the Manor trees.
       All the roof-edges spiked with icicles
    In fluted companies.
   The Lady Eunice with her tambour-frame
   Kept herself sighing company.  The flame
       Of the birch fire glittered on the walls.


       LVII

   A letter was brought to her as she sat,
    Unsealed, unsigned.  It told her that his wound,
   The writer's, had so well recovered that
    To join his regiment he felt him bound.
   But would she not wish him one short "Godspeed",
    He asked no more.  Her greeting would suffice.
       He had resolved he never should return.
    Would she this sacrifice
   Make for a dying man?  How could she read
   The rest!  But forcing her eyes to the deed,
       She read.  Then dropped it in the fire to burn.


       LVIII

   Gervase had set the river for their meeting
    As farthest from the farms where Everard
   Spent all his days.  How should he know such cheating
    Was quite expected, at least no dullard
   Was Everard Frampton.  Hours by hours he hid
    Among the willows watching.  Dusk had come,
       And from the Manor he had long been gone.
    Eunice her burdensome
   Task set about.  Hooded and cloaked, she slid
   Over the slippery paths, and soon amid
       The sallows saw a boat tied to a stone.


       LIX

   Gervase arose, and kissed her hand, then pointed
    Into the boat.  She shook her head, but he
   Begged her to realize why, and with disjointed
    Words told her of what peril there might be
   From listeners along the river bank.
    A push would take them out of earshot.  Ten
       Minutes was all he asked, then she should land,
    He go away again,
   Forever this time.  Yet how could he thank
   Her for so much compassion.  Here she sank
       Upon a thwart, and bid him quick unstrand


       LX

   His boat.  He cast the rope, and shoved the keel
    Free of the gravel; jumped, and dropped beside
   Her; took the oars, and they began to steal
    Under the overhanging trees.  A wide
   Gash of red lantern-light cleft like a blade
    Into the gloom, and struck on Eunice sitting
       Rigid and stark upon the after thwart.
    It blazed upon their flitting
   In merciless light.  A moment so it stayed,
   Then was extinguished, and Sir Everard made
       One leap, and landed just a fraction short.


       LXI

   His weight upon the gunwale tipped the boat
    To straining balance.  Everard lurched and seized
   His wife and held her smothered to his coat.
    "Everard, loose me, we shall drown--" and squeezed
   Against him, she beat with her hands.  He gasped
    "Never, by God!"  The slidden boat gave way
       And the black foamy water split--and met.
    Bubbled up through the spray
   A wailing rose and in the branches rasped,
   And creaked, and stilled.  Over the treetops, clasped
       In the blue evening, a clear moon was set.


       LXII

   They lie entangled in the twisting roots,
    Embraced forever.  Their cold marriage bed
   Close-canopied and curtained by the shoots
    Of willows and pale birches.  At the head,
   White lilies, like still swans, placidly float
    And sway above the pebbles.  Here are waves
       Sun-smitten for a threaded counterpane
    Gold-woven on their graves.
   In perfect quietness they sleep, remote
   In the green, rippled twilight.  Death has smote
       Them to perpetual oneness who were twain.



The Cremona Violin



       Part First

   Frau Concert-Meister Altgelt shut the door.
   A storm was rising, heavy gusts of wind
   Swirled through the trees, and scattered leaves before
   Her on the clean, flagged path.  The sky behind
   The distant town was black, and sharp defined
   Against it shone the lines of roofs and towers,
   Superimposed and flat like cardboard flowers.

   A pasted city on a purple ground,
   Picked out with luminous paint, it seemed.  The cloud
   Split on an edge of lightning, and a sound
   Of rivers full and rushing boomed through bowed,
   Tossed, hissing branches.  Thunder rumbled loud
   Beyond the town fast swallowing into gloom.
   Frau Altgelt closed the windows of each room.

   She bustled round to shake by constant moving
   The strange, weird atmosphere.  She stirred the fire,
   She twitched the supper-cloth as though improving
   Its careful setting, then her own attire
   Came in for notice, tiptoeing higher and higher
   She peered into the wall-glass, now adjusting
   A straying lock, or else a ribbon thrusting

   This way or that to suit her.  At last sitting,
   Or rather plumping down upon a chair,
   She took her work, the stocking she was knitting,
   And watched the rain upon the window glare
   In white, bright drops.  Through the black glass a flare
   Of lightning squirmed about her needles.  "Oh!"
   She cried.  "What can be keeping Theodore so!"

   A roll of thunder set the casements clapping.
   Frau Altgelt flung her work aside and ran,
   Pulled open the house door, with kerchief flapping
   She stood and gazed along the street.  A man
   Flung back the garden-gate and nearly ran
   Her down as she stood in the door.  "Why, Dear,
   What in the name of patience brings you here?

   Quick, Lotta, shut the door, my violin
   I fear is wetted.  Now, Dear, bring a light.
   This clasp is very much too worn and thin.
   I'll take the other fiddle out to-night
   If it still rains.  Tut! Tut! my child, you're quite
   Clumsy.  Here, help me, hold the case while I--
   Give me the candle.  No, the inside's dry.

   Thank God for that!  Well, Lotta, how are you?
   A bad storm, but the house still stands, I see.
   Is my pipe filled, my Dear?  I'll have a few
   Puffs and a snooze before I eat my tea.
   What do you say?  That you were feared for me?
   Nonsense, my child.  Yes, kiss me, now don't talk.
   I need a rest, the theatre's a long walk."

   Her needles still, her hands upon her lap
   Patiently laid, Charlotta Altgelt sat
   And watched the rain-run window.  In his nap
   Her husband stirred and muttered.  Seeing that,
   Charlotta rose and softly, pit-a-pat,
   Climbed up the stairs, and in her little room
   Found sighing comfort with a moon in bloom.

   But even rainy windows, silver-lit
   By a new-burst, storm-whetted moon, may give
   But poor content to loneliness, and it
   Was hard for young Charlotta so to strive
   And down her eagerness and learn to live
   In placid quiet.  While her husband slept,
   Charlotta in her upper chamber wept.

   Herr Concert-Meister Altgelt was a man
   Gentle and unambitious, that alone
   Had kept him back.  He played as few men can,
   Drawing out of his instrument a tone
   So shimmering-sweet and palpitant, it shone
   Like a bright thread of sound hung in the air,
   Afloat and swinging upward, slim and fair.

   Above all things, above Charlotta his wife,
   Herr Altgelt loved his violin, a fine
   Cremona pattern, Stradivari's life
   Was flowering out of early discipline
   When this was fashioned.  Of soft-cutting pine
   The belly was.  The back of broadly curled
   Maple, the head made thick and sharply whirled.

      The slanting, youthful sound-holes through
      The belly of fine, vigorous pine
      Mellowed each note and blew
      It out again with a woody flavour
      Tanged and fragrant as fir-trees are
      When breezes in their needles jar.

      The varnish was an orange-brown
      Lustered like glass that's long laid down
      Under a crumbling villa stone.
      Purfled stoutly, with mitres which point
      Straight up the corners.  Each curve and joint
      Clear, and bold, and thin.
      Such was Herr Theodore's violin.

   Seven o'clock, the Concert-Meister gone
   With his best violin, the rain being stopped,
   Frau Lotta in the kitchen sat alone
   Watching the embers which the fire dropped.
   The china shone upon the dresser, topped
   By polished copper vessels which her skill
   Kept brightly burnished.  It was very still.

   An air from 'Orfeo' hummed in her head.
   Herr Altgelt had been practising before
   The night's performance.  Charlotta had plead
   With him to stay with her.  Even at the door
   She'd begged him not to go.  "I do implore
   You for this evening, Theodore," she had said.
   "Leave them to-night, and stay with me instead."

   "A silly poppet!"  Theodore pinched her ear.
   "You'd like to have our good Elector turn
   Me out I think."  "But, Theodore, something queer
   Ails me.  Oh, do but notice how they burn,
   My cheeks!  The thunder worried me.  You're stern,
   And cold, and only love your work, I know.
   But Theodore, for this evening, do not go."

   But he had gone, hurriedly at the end,
   For she had kept him talking.  Now she sat
   Alone again, always alone, the trend
   Of all her thinking brought her back to that
   She wished to banish.  What would life be?  What?
   For she was young, and loved, while he was moved
   Only by music.  Each day that was proved.

   Each day he rose and practised.  While he played,
   She stopped her work and listened, and her heart
   Swelled painfully beneath her bodice.  Swayed
   And longing, she would hide from him her smart.
   "Well, Lottchen, will that do?"  Then what a start
   She gave, and she would run to him and cry,
   And he would gently chide her, "Fie, Dear, fie.

   I'm glad I played it well.  But such a taking!
   You'll hear the thing enough before I've done."
   And she would draw away from him, still shaking.
   Had he but guessed she was another one,
   Another violin.  Her strings were aching,
   Stretched to the touch of his bow hand, again
   He played and she almost broke at the strain.

   Where was the use of thinking of it now,
   Sitting alone and listening to the clock!
   She'd best make haste and knit another row.
   Three hours at least must pass before his knock
   Would startle her.  It always was a shock.
   She listened--listened--for so long before,
   That when it came her hearing almost tore.

   She caught herself just starting in to listen.
   What nerves she had:  rattling like brittle sticks!
   She wandered to the window, for the glisten
   Of a bright moon was tempting.  Snuffed the wicks
   Of her two candles.  Still she could not fix
   To anything.  The moon in a broad swath
   Beckoned her out and down the garden-path.

   Against the house, her hollyhocks stood high
   And black, their shadows doubling them.  The night
   Was white and still with moonlight, and a sigh
   Of blowing leaves was there, and the dim flight
   Of insects, and the smell of aconite,
   And stocks, and Marvel of Peru.  She flitted
   Along the path, where blocks of shadow pitted

   The even flags.  She let herself go dreaming
   Of Theodore her husband, and the tune
   From 'Orfeo' swam through her mind, but seeming
   Changed--shriller.  Of a sudden, the clear moon
   Showed her a passer-by, inopportune
   Indeed, but here he was, whistling and striding.
   Lotta squeezed in between the currants, hiding.

   "The best laid plans of mice and men," alas!
   The stranger came indeed, but did not pass.
   Instead, he leant upon the garden-gate,
   Folding his arms and whistling.  Lotta's state,
   Crouched in the prickly currants, on wet grass,
   Was far from pleasant.  Still the stranger stayed,
   And Lotta in her currants watched, dismayed.

   He seemed a proper fellow standing there
   In the bright moonshine.  His cocked hat was laced
   With silver, and he wore his own brown hair
   Tied, but unpowdered.  His whole bearing graced
   A fine cloth coat, and ruffled shirt, and chased
   Sword-hilt.  Charlotta looked, but her position
   Was hardly easy.  When would his volition

   Suggest his walking on?  And then that tune!
   A half-a-dozen bars from 'Orfeo'
   Gone over and over, and murdered.  What Fortune
   Had brought him there to stare about him so?
   "Ach, Gott im Himmel!  Why will he not go!"
   Thought Lotta, but the young man whistled on,
   And seemed in no great hurry to be gone.

   Charlotta, crouched among the currant bushes,
   Watched the moon slowly dip from twig to twig.
   If Theodore should chance to come, and blushes
   Streamed over her.  He would not care a fig,
   He'd only laugh.  She pushed aside a sprig
   Of sharp-edged leaves and peered, then she uprose
   Amid her bushes.  "Sir," said she, "pray whose

   Garden do you suppose you're watching?  Why
   Do you stand there?  I really must insist
   Upon your leaving.  'Tis unmannerly
   To stay so long."  The young man gave a twist
   And turned about, and in the amethyst
   Moonlight he saw her like a nymph half-risen
   From the green bushes which had been her prison.

   He swept his hat off in a hurried bow.
   "Your pardon, Madam, I had no idea
   I was not quite alone, and that is how
   I came to stay.  My trespass was not sheer
   Impertinence.  I thought no one was here,
   And really gardens cry to be admired.
   To-night especially it seemed required.

   And may I beg to introduce myself?
   Heinrich Marohl of Munich.  And your name?"
   Charlotta told him.  And the artful elf
   Promptly exclaimed about her husband's fame.
   So Lotta, half-unwilling, slowly came
   To conversation with him.  When she went
   Into the house, she found the evening spent.

   Theodore arrived quite wearied out and teased,
   With all excitement in him burned away.
   It had gone well, he said, the audience pleased,
   And he had played his very best to-day,
   But afterwards he had been forced to stay
   And practise with the stupid ones.  His head
   Ached furiously, and he must get to bed.


       Part Second

      Herr Concert-Meister Altgelt played,
      And the four strings of his violin
      Were spinning like bees on a day in Spring.
      The notes rose into the wide sun-mote
      Which slanted through the window,
      They lay like coloured beads a-row,
      They knocked together and parted,
      And started to dance,
      Skipping, tripping, each one slipping
      Under and over the others so
      That the polychrome fire streamed like a lance
      Or a comet's tail,
      Behind them.
      Then a wail arose--crescendo--
      And dropped from off the end of the bow,
      And the dancing stopped.
      A scent of lilies filled the room,
      Long and slow.  Each large white bloom
      Breathed a sound which was holy perfume from a blessed censer,
      And the hum of an organ tone,
      And they waved like fans in a hall of stone
      Over a bier standing there in the centre, alone.
      Each lily bent slowly as it was blown.
      Like smoke they rose from the violin--
      Then faded as a swifter bowing
      Jumbled the notes like wavelets flowing
      In a splashing, pashing, rippling motion
      Between broad meadows to an ocean
      Wide as a day and blue as a flower,
      Where every hour
      Gulls dipped, and scattered, and squawked, and squealed,
      And over the marshes the Angelus pealed,
      And the prows of the fishing-boats were spattered
      With spray.
      And away a couple of frigates were starting
      To race to Java with all sails set,
      Topgallants, and royals, and stunsails, and jibs,
      And wide moonsails; and the shining rails
      Were polished so bright they sparked in the sun.
      All the sails went up with a run:
          "They call me Hanging Johnny,
             Away-i-oh;
          They call me Hanging Johnny,
             So hang, boys, hang."
      And the sun had set and the high moon whitened,
      And the ship heeled over to the breeze.
      He drew her into the shade of the sails,
      And whispered tales
      Of voyages in the China seas,
      And his arm around her
      Held and bound her.
      She almost swooned,
      With the breeze and the moon
      And the slipping sea,
      And he beside her,
      Touching her, leaning--
      The ship careening,
      With the white moon steadily shining over
      Her and her lover,
      Theodore, still her lover!

      Then a quiver fell on the crowded notes,
      And slowly floated
      A single note which spread and spread
      Till it filled the room with a shimmer like gold,
      And noises shivered throughout its length,
      And tried its strength.
      They pulled it, and tore it,
      And the stuff waned thinner, but still it bore it.
      Then a wide rent
      Split the arching tent,
      And balls of fire spurted through,
      Spitting yellow, and mauve, and blue.
      One by one they were quenched as they fell,
      Only the blue burned steadily.
      Paler and paler it grew, and--faded--away.
            Herr Altgelt stopped.

   "Well, Lottachen, my Dear, what do you say?
   I think I'm in good trim.  Now let's have dinner.
   What's this, my Love, you're very sweet to-day.
   I wonder how it happens I'm the winner
   Of so much sweetness.  But I think you're thinner;
   You're like a bag of feathers on my knee.
   Why, Lotta child, you're almost strangling me.

   I'm glad you're going out this afternoon.
   The days are getting short, and I'm so tied
   At the Court Theatre my poor little bride
   Has not much junketing I fear, but soon
   I'll ask our manager to grant a boon.
   To-night, perhaps, I'll get a pass for you,
   And when I go, why Lotta can come too.

   Now dinner, Love.  I want some onion soup
   To whip me up till that rehearsal's over.
   You know it's odd how some women can stoop!
   Fraeulein Gebnitz has taken on a lover,
   A Jew named Goldstein.  No one can discover
   If it's his money.  But she lives alone
   Practically.  Gebnitz is a stone,

   Pores over books all day, and has no ear
   For his wife's singing.  Artists must have men;
   They need appreciation.  But it's queer
   What messes people make of their lives, when
   They should know more.  If Gebnitz finds out, then
   His wife will pack.  Yes, shut the door at once.
   I did not feel it cold, I am a dunce."

   Frau Altgelt tied her bonnet on and went
   Into the streets.  A bright, crisp Autumn wind
   Flirted her skirts and hair.  A turbulent,
   Audacious wind it was, now close behind,
   Pushing her bonnet forward till it twined
   The strings across her face, then from in front
   Slantingly swinging at her with a shunt,

   Until she lay against it, struggling, pushing,
   Dismayed to find her clothing tightly bound
   Around her, every fold and wrinkle crushing
   Itself upon her, so that she was wound
   In draperies as clinging as those found
   Sucking about a sea nymph on the frieze
   Of some old Grecian temple.  In the breeze

   The shops and houses had a quality
   Of hard and dazzling colour; something sharp
   And buoyant, like white, puffing sails at sea.
   The city streets were twanging like a harp.
   Charlotta caught the movement, skippingly
   She blew along the pavement, hardly knowing
   Toward what destination she was going.

   She fetched up opposite a jeweller's shop,
   Where filigreed tiaras shone like crowns,
   And necklaces of emeralds seemed to drop
   And then float up again with lightness.  Browns
   Of striped agates struck her like cold frowns
   Amid the gaiety of topaz seals,
   Carved though they were with heads, and arms, and wheels.

   A row of pencils knobbed with quartz or sard
   Delighted her.  And rings of every size
   Turned smartly round like hoops before her eyes,
   Amethyst-flamed or ruby-girdled, jarred
   To spokes and flashing triangles, and starred
   Like rockets bursting on a festal day.
   Charlotta could not tear herself away.

   With eyes glued tightly on a golden box,
   Whose rare enamel piqued her with its hue,
   Changeable, iridescent, shuttlecocks
   Of shades and lustres always darting through
   Its level, superimposing sheet of blue,
   Charlotta did not hear footsteps approaching.
   She started at the words:  "Am I encroaching?"

   "Oh, Heinrich, how you frightened me!  I thought
   We were to meet at three, is it quite that?"
   "No, it is not," he answered, "but I've caught
   The trick of missing you.  One thing is flat,
   I cannot go on this way.  Life is what
   Might best be conjured up by the word:  'Hell'.
   Dearest, when will you come?"  Lotta, to quell

   His effervescence, pointed to the gems
   Within the window, asked him to admire
   A bracelet or a buckle.  But one stems
   Uneasily the burning of a fire.
   Heinrich was chafing, pricked by his desire.
   Little by little she wooed him to her mood
   Until at last he promised to be good.

   But here he started on another tack;
   To buy a jewel, which one would Lotta choose.
   She vainly urged against him all her lack
   Of other trinkets.  Should she dare to use
   A ring or brooch her husband might accuse
   Her of extravagance, and ask to see
   A strict accounting, or still worse might be.

   But Heinrich would not be persuaded.  Why
   Should he not give her what he liked?  And in
   He went, determined certainly to buy
   A thing so beautiful that it would win
   Her wavering fancy.  Altgelt's violin
   He would outscore by such a handsome jewel
   That Lotta could no longer be so cruel!

   Pity Charlotta, torn in diverse ways.
   If she went in with him, the shopman might
   Recognize her, give her her name; in days
   To come he could denounce her.  In her fright
   She almost fled.  But Heinrich would be quite
   Capable of pursuing.  By and by
   She pushed the door and entered hurriedly.

   It took some pains to keep him from bestowing
   A pair of ruby earrings, carved like roses,
   The setting twined to represent the growing
   Tendrils and leaves, upon her.  "Who supposes
   I could obtain such things!  It simply closes
   All comfort for me."  So he changed his mind
   And bought as slight a gift as he could find.

   A locket, frosted over with seed pearls,
   Oblong and slim, for wearing at the neck,
   Or hidden in the bosom; their joined curls
   Should lie in it.  And further to bedeck
   His love, Heinrich had picked a whiff, a fleck,
   The merest puff of a thin, linked chain
   To hang it from.  Lotta could not refrain

   From weeping as they sauntered down the street.
   She did not want the locket, yet she did.
   To have him love her she found very sweet,
   But it is hard to keep love always hid.
   Then there was something in her heart which chid
   Her, told her she loved Theodore in him,
   That all these meetings were a foolish whim.

   She thought of Theodore and the life they led,
   So near together, but so little mingled.
   The great clouds bulged and bellied overhead,
   And the fresh wind about her body tingled;
   The crane of a large warehouse creaked and jingled;
   Charlotta held her breath for very fear,
   About her in the street she seemed to hear:
       "They call me Hanging Johnny,
          Away-i-oh;
       They call me Hanging Johnny,
          So hang, boys, hang."

   And it was Theodore, under the racing skies,
   Who held her and who whispered in her ear.
   She knew her heart was telling her no lies,
   Beating and hammering.  He was so dear,
   The touch of him would send her in a queer
   Swoon that was half an ecstasy.  And yearning
   For Theodore, she wandered, slowly turning

   Street after street as Heinrich wished it so.
   He had some aim, she had forgotten what.
   Their progress was confused and very slow,
   But at the last they reached a lonely spot,
   A garden far above the highest shot
   Of soaring steeple.  At their feet, the town
   Spread open like a chequer-board laid down.

   Lotta was dimly conscious of the rest,
   Vaguely remembered how he clasped the chain
   About her neck.  She treated it in jest,
   And saw his face cloud over with sharp pain.
   Then suddenly she felt as though a strain
   Were put upon her, collared like a slave,
   Leashed in the meshes of this thing he gave.

   She seized the flimsy rings with both her hands
   To snap it, but they held with odd persistence.
   Her eyes were blinded by two wind-blown strands
   Of hair which had been loosened.  Her resistance
   Melted within her, from remotest distance,
   Misty, unreal, his face grew warm and near,
   And giving way she knew him very dear.

   For long he held her, and they both gazed down
   At the wide city, and its blue, bridged river.
   From wooing he jested with her, snipped the blown
   Strands of her hair, and tied them with a sliver
   Cut from his own head.  But she gave a shiver
   When, opening the locket, they were placed
   Under the glass, commingled and enlaced.

   "When will you have it so with us?"  He sighed.
   She shook her head.  He pressed her further.  "No,
   No, Heinrich, Theodore loves me," and she tried
   To free herself and rise.  He held her so,
   Clipped by his arms, she could not move nor go.
   "But you love me," he whispered, with his face
   Burning against her through her kerchief's lace.

   Frau Altgelt knew she toyed with fire, knew
   That what her husband lit this other man
   Fanned to hot flame.  She told herself that few
   Women were so discreet as she, who ran
   No danger since she knew what things to ban.
   She opened her house door at five o'clock,
   A short half-hour before her husband's knock.


       Part Third

   The 'Residenz-Theater' sparked and hummed
   With lights and people.  Gebnitz was to sing,
   That rare soprano.  All the fiddles strummed
   With tuning up; the wood-winds made a ring
   Of reedy bubbling noises, and the sting
   Of sharp, red brass pierced every ear-drum; patting
   From muffled tympani made a dark slatting

   Across the silver shimmering of flutes;
   A bassoon grunted, and an oboe wailed;
   The 'celli pizzicato-ed like great lutes,
   And mutterings of double basses trailed
   Away to silence, while loud harp-strings hailed
   Their thin, bright colours down in such a scatter
   They lost themselves amid the general clatter.

   Frau Altgelt in the gallery, alone,
   Felt lifted up into another world.
   Before her eyes a thousand candles shone
   In the great chandeliers.  A maze of curled
   And powdered periwigs past her eyes swirled.
   She smelt the smoke of candles guttering,
   And caught the glint of jewelled fans fluttering

   All round her in the boxes.  Red and gold,
   The house, like rubies set in filigree,
   Filliped the candlelight about, and bold
   Young sparks with eye-glasses, unblushingly
   Ogled fair beauties in the balcony.
   An officer went by, his steel spurs jangling.
   Behind Charlotta an old man was wrangling

   About a play-bill he had bought and lost.
   Three drunken soldiers had to be ejected.
   Frau Altgelt's eyes stared at the vacant post
   Of Concert-Meister, she at once detected
   The stir which brought him.  But she felt neglected
   When with no glance about him or her way,
   He lifted up his violin to play.

      The curtain went up?  Perhaps.  If so,
      Charlotta never saw it go.
      The famous Fraeulein Gebnitz' singing
      Only came to her like the ringing
      Of bells at a festa
      Which swing in the air
      And nobody realizes they are there.
      They jingle and jangle,
      And clang, and bang,
      And never a soul could tell whether they rang,
      For the plopping of guns and rockets
      And the chinking of silver to spend, in one's pockets,
      And the shuffling and clapping of feet,
      And the loud flapping
      Of flags, with the drums,
      As the military comes.
      It's a famous tune to walk to,
      And I wonder where they're off to.
      Step-step-stepping to the beating of the drums.
      But the rhythm changes as though a mist
      Were curling and twisting
      Over the landscape.
      For a moment a rhythmless, tuneless fog
      Encompasses her.  Then her senses jog
      To the breath of a stately minuet.
      Herr Altgelt's violin is set
      In tune to the slow, sweeping bows, and retreats and advances,
      To curtsies brushing the waxen floor as the Court dances.
      Long and peaceful like warm Summer nights
      When stars shine in the quiet river.  And against the lights
      Blundering insects knock,
      And the 'Rathaus' clock
      Booms twice, through the shrill sounds
      Of flutes and horns in the lamplit grounds.
      Pressed against him in the mazy wavering
      Of a country dance, with her short breath quavering
      She leans upon the beating, throbbing
      Music.  Laughing, sobbing,
      Feet gliding after sliding feet;
      His--hers--
      The ballroom blurs--
      She feels the air
      Lifting her hair,
      And the lapping of water on the stone stair.
      He is there!  He is there!
      Twang harps, and squeal, you thin violins,
      That the dancers may dance, and never discover
      The old stone stair leading down to the river
      With the chestnut-tree branches hanging over
      Her and her lover.
      Theodore, still her lover!

   The evening passed like this, in a half faint,
   Delirium with waking intervals
   Which were the entr'acts.  Under the restraint
   Of a large company, the constant calls
   For oranges or syrops from the stalls
   Outside, the talk, the passing to and fro,
   Lotta sat ill at ease, incognito.

   She heard the Gebnitz praised, the tenor lauded,
   The music vaunted as most excellent.
   The scenery and the costumes were applauded,
   The latter it was whispered had been sent
   From Italy.  The Herr Direktor spent
   A fortune on them, so the gossips said.
   Charlotta felt a lightness in her head.

   When the next act began, her eyes were swimming,
   Her prodded ears were aching and confused.
   The first notes from the orchestra sent skimming
   Her outward consciousness.  Her brain was fused
   Into the music, Theodore's music!  Used
   To hear him play, she caught his single tone.
   For all she noticed they two were alone.


       Part Fourth

   Frau Altgelt waited in the chilly street,
   Hustled by lackeys who ran up and down
   Shouting their coachmen's names; forced to retreat
   A pace or two by lurching chairmen; thrown
   Rudely aside by linkboys; boldly shown
   The ogling rapture in two bleary eyes
   Thrust close to hers in most unpleasant wise.

   Escaping these, she hit a liveried arm,
   Was sworn at by this glittering gentleman
   And ordered off.  However, no great harm
   Came to her.  But she looked a trifle wan
   When Theodore, her belated guardian,
   Emerged.  She snuggled up against him, trembling,
   Half out of fear, half out of the assembling

   Of all the thoughts and needs his playing had given.
   Had she enjoyed herself, he wished to know.
   "Oh! Theodore, can't you feel that it was Heaven!"
   "Heaven!  My Lottachen, and was it so?
   Gebnitz was in good voice, but all the flow
   Of her last aria was spoiled by Klops,
   A wretched flutist, she was mad as hops."

   He was so simple, so matter-of-fact,
   Charlotta Altgelt knew not what to say
   To bring him to her dream.  His lack of tact
   Kept him explaining all the homeward way
   How this thing had gone well, that badly.  "Stay,
   Theodore!" she cried at last.  "You know to me
   Nothing was real, it was an ecstasy."

   And he was heartily glad she had enjoyed
   Herself so much, and said so.  "But it's good
   To be got home again."  He was employed
   In looking at his violin, the wood
   Was old, and evening air did it no good.
   But when he drew up to the table for tea
   Something about his wife's vivacity

   Struck him as hectic, worried him in short.
   He talked of this and that but watched her close.
   Tea over, he endeavoured to extort
   The cause of her excitement.  She arose
   And stood beside him, trying to compose
   Herself, all whipt to quivering, curdled life,
   And he, poor fool, misunderstood his wife.

   Suddenly, broken through her anxious grasp,
   Her music-kindled love crashed on him there.
   Amazed, he felt her fling against him, clasp
   Her arms about him, weighing down his chair,
   Sobbing out all her hours of despair.
   "Theodore, a woman needs to hear things proved.
   Unless you tell me, I feel I'm not loved."

   Theodore went under in this tearing wave,
   He yielded to it, and its headlong flow
   Filled him with all the energy she gave.
   He was a youth again, and this bright glow,
   This living, vivid joy he had to show
   Her what she was to him.  Laughing and crying,
   She asked assurances there's no denying.

   Over and over again her questions, till
   He quite convinced her, every now and then
   She kissed him, shivering as though doubting still.
   But later when they were composed and when
   She dared relax her probings, "Lottachen,"
   He asked, "how is it your love has withstood
   My inadvertence?  I was made of wood."

   She told him, and no doubt she meant it truly,
   That he was sun, and grass, and wind, and sky
   To her.  And even if conscience were unruly
   She salved it by neat sophistries, but why
   Suppose her insincere, it was no lie
   She said, for Heinrich was as much forgot
   As though he'd never been within earshot.

   But Theodore's hands in straying and caressing
   Fumbled against the locket where it lay
   Upon her neck.  "What is this thing I'm pressing?"
   He asked.  "Let's bring it to the light of day."
   He lifted up the locket.  "It should stay
   Outside, my Dear.  Your mother has good taste.
   To keep it hidden surely is a waste."

   Pity again Charlotta, straight aroused
   Out of her happiness.  The locket brought
   A chilly jet of truth upon her, soused
   Under its icy spurting she was caught,
   And choked, and frozen.  Suddenly she sought
   The clasp, but with such art was this contrived
   Her fumbling fingers never once arrived

   Upon it.  Feeling, twisting, round and round,
   She pulled the chain quite through the locket's ring
   And still it held.  Her neck, encompassed, bound,
   Chafed at the sliding meshes.  Such a thing
   To hurl her out of joy!  A gilded string
   Binding her folly to her, and those curls
   Which lay entwined beneath the clustered pearls!

   Again she tried to break the cord.  It stood.
   "Unclasp it, Theodore," she begged.  But he
   Refused, and being in a happy mood,
   Twitted her with her inefficiency,
   Then looking at her very seriously:
   "I think, Charlotta, it is well to have
   Always about one what a mother gave.

   As she has taken the great pains to send
   This jewel to you from Dresden, it will be
   Ingratitude if you do not intend
   To carry it about you constantly.
   With her fine taste you cannot disagree,
   The locket is most beautifully designed."
   He opened it and there the curls were, twined.

   Charlotta's heart dropped beats like knitting-stitches.
   She burned a moment, flaming; then she froze.
   Her face was jerked by little, nervous twitches,
   She heard her husband asking:  "What are those?"
   Put out her hand quickly to interpose,
   But stopped, the gesture half-complete, astounded
   At the calm way the question was propounded.

   "A pretty fancy, Dear, I do declare.
   Indeed I will not let you put it off.
   A lovely thought:  yours and your mother's hair!"
   Charlotta hid a gasp under a cough.
   "Never with my connivance shall you doff
   This charming gift."  He kissed her on the cheek,
   And Lotta suffered him, quite crushed and meek.

   When later in their room she lay awake,
   Watching the moonlight slip along the floor,
   She felt the chain and wept for Theodore's sake.
   She had loved Heinrich also, and the core
   Of truth, unlovely, startled her.  Wherefore
   She vowed from now to break this double life
   And see herself only as Theodore's wife.


       Part Fifth

   It was no easy matter to convince
   Heinrich that it was finished.  Hard to say
   That though they could not meet (he saw her wince)
   She still must keep the locket to allay
   Suspicion in her husband.  She would pay
   Him from her savings bit by bit--the oath
   He swore at that was startling to them both.

   Her resolution taken, Frau Altgelt
   Adhered to it, and suffered no regret.
   She found her husband all that she had felt
   His music to contain.  Her days were set
   In his as though she were an amulet
   Cased in bright gold.  She joyed in her confining;
   Her eyes put out her looking-glass with shining.

   Charlotta was so gay that old, dull tasks
   Were furbished up to seem like rituals.
   She baked and brewed as one who only asks
   The right to serve.  Her daily manuals
   Of prayer were duties, and her festivals
   When Theodore praised some dish, or frankly said
   She had a knack in making up a bed.

   So Autumn went, and all the mountains round
   The city glittered white with fallen snow,
   For it was Winter.  Over the hard ground
   Herr Altgelt's footsteps came, each one a blow.
   On the swept flags behind the currant row
   Charlotta stood to greet him.  But his lip
   Only flicked hers.  His Concert-Meistership

   Was first again.  This evening he had got
   Important news.  The opera ordered from
   Young Mozart was arrived.  That old despot,
   The Bishop of Salzburg, had let him come
   Himself to lead it, and the parts, still hot
   From copying, had been tried over.  Never
   Had any music started such a fever.

   The orchestra had cheered till they were hoarse,
   The singers clapped and clapped.  The town was made,
   With such a great attraction through the course
   Of Carnival time.  In what utter shade
   All other cities would be left!  The trade
   In music would all drift here naturally.
   In his excitement he forgot his tea.

   Lotta was forced to take his cup and put
   It in his hand.  But still he rattled on,
   Sipping at intervals.  The new catgut
   Strings he was using gave out such a tone
   The "Maestro" had remarked it, and had gone
   Out of his way to praise him.  Lotta smiled,
   He was as happy as a little child.

   From that day on, Herr Altgelt, more and more,
   Absorbed himself in work.  Lotta at first
   Was patient and well-wishing.  But it wore
   Upon her when two weeks had brought no burst
   Of loving from him.  Then she feared the worst;
   That his short interest in her was a light
   Flared up an instant only in the night.

   'Idomeneo' was the opera's name,
   A name that poor Charlotta learnt to hate.
   Herr Altgelt worked so hard he seldom came
   Home for his tea, and it was very late,
   Past midnight sometimes, when he knocked.  His state
   Was like a flabby orange whose crushed skin
   Is thin with pulling, and all dented in.

   He practised every morning and her heart
   Followed his bow.  But often she would sit,
   While he was playing, quite withdrawn apart,
   Absently fingering and touching it,
   The locket, which now seemed to her a bit
   Of some gone youth.  His music drew her tears,
   And through the notes he played, her dreading ears

   Heard Heinrich's voice, saying he had not changed;
   Beer merchants had no ecstasies to take
   Their minds off love.  So far her thoughts had ranged
   Away from her stern vow, she chanced to take
   Her way, one morning, quite by a mistake,
   Along the street where Heinrich had his shop.
   What harm to pass it since she should not stop!

   It matters nothing how one day she met
   Him on a bridge, and blushed, and hurried by.
   Nor how the following week he stood to let
   Her pass, the pavement narrowing suddenly.
   How once he took her basket, and once he
   Pulled back a rearing horse who might have struck
   Her with his hoofs.  It seemed the oddest luck

   How many times their business took them each
   Right to the other.  Then at last he spoke,
   But she would only nod, he got no speech
   From her.  Next time he treated it in joke,
   And that so lightly that her vow she broke
   And answered.  So they drifted into seeing
   Each other as before.  There was no fleeing.

   Christmas was over and the Carnival
   Was very near, and tripping from each tongue
   Was talk of the new opera.  Each book-stall
   Flaunted it out in bills, what airs were sung,
   What singers hired.  Pictures of the young
   "Maestro" were for sale.  The town was mad.
   Only Charlotta felt depressed and sad.

   Each day now brought a struggle 'twixt her will
   And Heinrich's.  'Twixt her love for Theodore
   And him.  Sometimes she wished to kill
   Herself to solve her problem.  For a score
   Of reasons Heinrich tempted her.  He bore
   Her moods with patience, and so surely urged
   Himself upon her, she was slowly merged

   Into his way of thinking, and to fly
   With him seemed easy.  But next morning would
   The Stradivarius undo her mood.
   Then she would realize that she must cleave
   Always to Theodore.  And she would try
   To convince Heinrich she should never leave,
   And afterwards she would go home and grieve.

   All thought in Munich centered on the part
   Of January when there would be given
   'Idomeneo' by Wolfgang Mozart.
   The twenty-ninth was fixed.  And all seats, even
   Those almost at the ceiling, which were driven
   Behind the highest gallery, were sold.
   The inches of the theatre went for gold.

   Herr Altgelt was a shadow worn so thin
   With work, he hardly printed black behind
   The candle.  He and his old violin
   Made up one person.  He was not unkind,
   But dazed outside his playing, and the rind,
   The pine and maple of his fiddle, guarded
   A part of him which he had quite discarded.

      It woke in the silence of frost-bright nights,
      In little lights,
      Like will-o'-the-wisps flickering, fluttering,
      Here--there--
      Spurting, sputtering,
      Fading and lighting,
      Together, asunder--
      Till Lotta sat up in bed with wonder,
      And the faint grey patch of the window shone
      Upon her sitting there, alone.
      For Theodore slept.

   The twenty-eighth was last rehearsal day,
   'Twas called for noon, so early morning meant
   Herr Altgelt's only time in which to play
   His part alone.  Drawn like a monk who's spent
   Himself in prayer and fasting, Theodore went
   Into the kitchen, with a weary word
   Of cheer to Lotta, careless if she heard.

      Lotta heard more than his spoken word.
      She heard the vibrating of strings and wood.
      She was washing the dishes, her hands all suds,
      When the sound began,
      Long as the span
      Of a white road snaking about a hill.
      The orchards are filled
      With cherry blossoms at butterfly poise.
      Hawthorn buds are cracking,
      And in the distance a shepherd is clacking
      His shears, snip-snipping the wool from his sheep.
      The notes are asleep,
      Lying adrift on the air
      In level lines
      Like sunlight hanging in pines and pines,
      Strung and threaded,
      All imbedded
      In the blue-green of the hazy pines.
      Lines--long, straight lines!
      And stems,
      Long, straight stems
      Pushing up
      To the cup of blue, blue sky.
      Stems growing misty
      With the many of them,
      Red-green mist
      Of the trees,
      And these
      Wood-flavoured notes.
      The back is maple and the belly is pine.
      The rich notes twine
      As though weaving in and out of leaves,
      Broad leaves
      Flapping slowly like elephants' ears,
      Waving and falling.
      Another sound peers
      Through little pine fingers,
      And lingers, peeping.
      Ping!  Ping!  pizzicato, something is cheeping.
      There is a twittering up in the branches,
      A chirp and a lilt,
      And crimson atilt on a swaying twig.
      Wings!  Wings!
      And a little ruffled-out throat which sings.
      The forest bends, tumultuous
      With song.
      The woodpecker knocks,
      And the song-sparrow trills,
      Every fir, and cedar, and yew
      Has a nest or a bird,
      It is quite absurd
      To hear them cutting across each other:
      Peewits, and thrushes, and larks, all at once,
      And a loud cuckoo is trying to smother
      A wood-pigeon perched on a birch,
      "Roo--coo--oo--oo--"
      "Cuckoo!  Cuckoo!  That's one for you!"
      A blackbird whistles, how sharp, how shrill!
      And the great trees toss
      And leaves blow down,
      You can almost hear them splash on the ground.
      The whistle again:
      It is double and loud!
      The leaves are splashing,
      And water is dashing
      Over those creepers, for they are shrouds;
      And men are running up them to furl the sails,
      For there is a capful of wind to-day,
      And we are already well under way.
      The deck is aslant in the bubbling breeze.
      "Theodore, please.
      Oh, Dear, how you tease!"
      And the boatswain's whistle sounds again,
      And the men pull on the sheets:
          "My name is Hanging Johnny,
             Away-i-oh;
          They call me Hanging Johnny,
             So hang, boys, hang."
      The trees of the forest are masts, tall masts;
      They are swinging over
      Her and her lover.
      Almost swooning
      Under the ballooning canvas,
      She lies
      Looking up in his eyes
      As he bends farther over.
      Theodore, still her lover!

   The suds were dried upon Charlotta's hands,
   She leant against the table for support,
   Wholly forgotten.  Theodore's eyes were brands
   Burning upon his music.  He stopped short.
   Charlotta almost heard the sound of bands
   Snapping.  She put one hand up to her heart,
   Her fingers touched the locket with a start.

   Herr Altgelt put his violin away
   Listlessly.  "Lotta, I must have some rest.
   The strain will be a hideous one to-day.
   Don't speak to me at all.  It will be best
   If I am quiet till I go."  And lest
   She disobey, he left her.  On the stairs
   She heard his mounting steps.  What use were prayers!

   He could not hear, he was not there, for she
   Was married to a mummy, a machine.
   Her hand closed on the locket bitterly.
   Before her, on a chair, lay the shagreen
   Case of his violin.  She saw the clean
   Sun flash the open clasp.  The locket's edge
   Cut at her fingers like a pushing wedge.

   A heavy cart went by, a distant bell
   Chimed ten, the fire flickered in the grate.
   She was alone.  Her throat began to swell
   With sobs.  What kept her here, why should she wait?
   The violin she had begun to hate
   Lay in its case before her.  Here she flung
   The cover open.  With the fiddle swung

   Over her head, the hanging clock's loud ticking
   Caught on her ear.  'Twas slow, and as she paused
   The little door in it came open, flicking
   A wooden cuckoo out:  "Cuckoo!"  It caused
   The forest dream to come again.  "Cuckoo!"
   Smashed on the grate, the violin broke in two.

   "Cuckoo!  Cuckoo!" the clock kept striking on;
   But no one listened.  Frau Altgelt had gone.



The Cross-Roads



A bullet through his heart at dawn.  On the table a letter signed with a
woman's name.  A wind that goes howling round the house, and weeping as
in shame.  Cold November dawn peeping through the windows, cold dawn
creeping over the floor, creeping up his cold legs, creeping over his
cold body, creeping across his cold face. A glaze of thin yellow
sunlight on the staring eyes.  Wind howling through bent branches.  A
wind which never dies down.  Howling, wailing. The gazing eyes glitter
in the sunlight.  The lids are frozen open and the eyes glitter.


The thudding of a pick on hard earth.  A spade grinding and crunching.
Overhead, branches writhing, winding, interlacing, unwinding,
scattering; tortured twinings, tossings, creakings.  Wind flinging
branches apart, drawing them together, whispering and whining among
them.  A waning, lopsided moon cutting through black clouds.  A stream
of pebbles and earth and the empty spade gleams clear in the moonlight,
then is rammed again into the black earth.  Tramping of feet.  Men and
horses. Squeaking of wheels.

"Whoa!  Ready, Jim?"

"All ready."

Something falls, settles, is still.  Suicides have no coffin.

"Give us the stake, Jim.  Now."

Pound!  Pound!

"He'll never walk.  Nailed to the ground."

An ash stick pierces his heart, if it buds the roots will hold him. He
is a part of the earth now, clay to clay.  Overhead the branches sway,
and writhe, and twist in the wind.  He'll never walk with a bullet in
his heart, and an ash stick nailing him to the cold, black ground.


Six months he lay still.  Six months.  And the water welled up in his
body, and soft blue spots chequered it.  He lay still, for the ash stick
held him in place.  Six months!  Then her face came out of a mist of
green. Pink and white and frail like Dresden china, lilies-of-the-valley
at her breast, puce-coloured silk sheening about her.  Under the young
green leaves, the horse at a foot-pace, the high yellow wheels of the
chaise scarcely turning, her face, rippling like grain a-blowing, under
her puce-coloured bonnet; and burning beside her, flaming within his
correct blue coat and brass buttons, is someone.  What has dimmed the
sun? The horse steps on a rolling stone; a wind in the branches makes a
moan. The little leaves tremble and shake, turn and quake, over and
over, tearing their stems.  There is a shower of young leaves, and a
sudden-sprung gale wails in the trees.

The yellow-wheeled chaise is rocking--rocking, and all the branches
are knocking--knocking.  The sun in the sky is a flat, red plate, the
branches creak and grate.  She screams and cowers, for the green foliage
is a lowering wave surging to smother her.  But she sees nothing. The
stake holds firm.  The body writhes, the body squirms. The blue spots
widen, the flesh tears, but the stake wears well in the deep, black
ground.  It holds the body in the still, black ground.


Two years!  The body has been in the ground two years.  It is worn away;
it is clay to clay.  Where the heart moulders, a greenish dust, the
stake is thrust.  Late August it is, and night; a night flauntingly
jewelled with stars, a night of shooting stars and loud insect noises.
Down the road to Tilbury, silence--and the slow flapping of large
leaves. Down the road to Sutton, silence--and the darkness of
heavy-foliaged trees. Down the road to Wayfleet, silence--and the
whirring scrape of insects in the branches.  Down the road to
Edgarstown, silence--and stars like stepping-stones in a pathway
overhead.  It is very quiet at the cross-roads, and the sign-board
points the way down the four roads, endlessly points the way where
nobody wishes to go.

A horse is galloping, galloping up from Sutton.  Shaking the wide, still
leaves as he goes under them.  Striking sparks with his iron shoes;
silencing the katydids.  Dr. Morgan riding to a child-birth over Tilbury
way; riding to deliver a woman of her first-born son.  One o'clock from
Wayfleet bell tower, what a shower of shooting stars!  And a breeze all
of a sudden, jarring the big leaves and making them jerk up and down.
Dr. Morgan's hat is blown from his head, the horse swerves, and curves
away from the sign-post.  An oath--spurs--a blurring of grey mist. A
quick left twist, and the gelding is snorting and racing down the
Tilbury road with the wind dropping away behind him.

The stake has wrenched, the stake has started, the body, flesh from
flesh, has parted.  But the bones hold tight, socket and ball, and
clamping them down in the hard, black ground is the stake, wedged
through ribs and spine. The bones may twist, and heave, and twine, but
the stake holds them still in line.  The breeze goes down, and the round
stars shine, for the stake holds the fleshless bones in line.


Twenty years now!  Twenty long years!  The body has powdered itself
away; it is clay to clay.  It is brown earth mingled with brown earth.
Only flaky bones remain, lain together so long they fit, although not
one bone is knit to another.  The stake is there too, rotted through,
but upright still, and still piercing down between ribs and spine in a
straight line.

Yellow stillness is on the cross-roads, yellow stillness is on the
trees. The leaves hang drooping, wan.  The four roads point four yellow
ways, saffron and gamboge ribbons to the gaze.  A little swirl of dust
blows up Tilbury road, the wind which fans it has not strength to do
more; it ceases, and the dust settles down.  A little whirl of wind
comes up Tilbury road.  It brings a sound of wheels and feet. The wind
reels a moment and faints to nothing under the sign-post. Wind again,
wheels and feet louder.  Wind again--again--again. A drop of rain,
flat into the dust.  Drop!--Drop!  Thick heavy raindrops, and a
shrieking wind bending the great trees and wrenching off their leaves.

Under the black sky, bowed and dripping with rain, up Tilbury road,
comes the procession.  A funeral procession, bound for the graveyard at
Wayfleet.  Feet and wheels--feet and wheels.  And among them one who
is carried.

The bones in the deep, still earth shiver and pull.  There is a quiver
through the rotted stake.  Then stake and bones fall together in a
little puffing of dust.

Like meshes of linked steel the rain shuts down behind the procession,
now well along the Wayfleet road.

He wavers like smoke in the buffeting wind.  His fingers blow out like
smoke, his head ripples in the gale.  Under the sign-post, in the
pouring rain, he stands, and watches another quavering figure drifting
down the Wayfleet road.  Then swiftly he streams after it.  It flickers
among the trees.  He licks out and winds about them.  Over, under,
blown, contorted.  Spindrift after spindrift; smoke following smoke.
There is a wailing through the trees, a wailing of fear, and after it
laughter--laughter--laughter, skirling up to the black sky.
Lightning jags over the funeral procession.  A heavy clap of thunder.
Then darkness and rain, and the sound of feet and wheels.



A Roxbury Garden



       I

     Hoops

   Blue and pink sashes,
   Criss-cross shoes,
   Minna and Stella run out into the garden
   To play at hoop.

   Up and down the garden-paths they race,
   In the yellow sunshine,
   Each with a big round hoop
   White as a stripped willow-wand.

   Round and round turn the hoops,
   Their diamond whiteness cleaving the yellow sunshine.
   The gravel crunches and squeaks beneath them,
   And a large pebble springs them into the air
   To go whirling for a foot or two
   Before they touch the earth again
   In a series of little jumps.

   Spring, Hoops!
   Spit out a shower of blue and white brightness.
   The little criss-cross shoes twinkle behind you,
   The pink and blue sashes flutter like flags,
   The hoop-sticks are ready to beat you.
   Turn, turn, Hoops!  In the yellow sunshine.
   Turn your stripped willow whiteness
   Along the smooth paths.

   Stella sings:
      "Round and round, rolls my hoop,
      Scarcely touching the ground,
      With a swoop,
      And a bound,
      Round and round.
      With a bumpety, crunching, scattering sound,
      Down the garden it flies;
      In our eyes
      The sun lies.
      See it spin
      Out and in;
      Through the paths it goes whirling,
      About the beds curling.
      Sway now to the loop,
      Faster, faster, my hoop.
      Round you come,
      Up you come,
      Quick and straight as before.
      Run, run, my hoop, run,
      Away from the sun."

   And the great hoop bounds along the path,
   Leaping into the wind-bright air.

   Minna sings:
      "Turn, hoop,
      Burn hoop,
      Twist and twine
      Hoop of mine.
      Flash along,
      Leap along,
      Right at the sun.
      Run, hoop, run.
      Faster and faster,
      Whirl, twirl.
      Wheel like fire,
      And spin like glass;
      Fire's no whiter
      Glass is no brighter.
      Dance,
      Prance,
      Over and over,
      About and about,
      With the top of you under,
      And the bottom at top,
      But never a stop.
      Turn about, hoop, to the tap of my stick,
      I follow behind you
      To touch and remind you.
      Burn and glitter, so white and quick,
      Round and round, to the tap of a stick."

   The hoop flies along between the flower-beds,
   Swaying the flowers with the wind of its passing.

   Beside the foxglove-border roll the hoops,
   And the little pink and white bells shake and jingle
   Up and down their tall spires;
   They roll under the snow-ball bush,
   And the ground behind them is strewn with white petals;
   They swirl round a corner,
   And jar a bee out of a Canterbury bell;
   They cast their shadows for an instant
   Over a bed of pansies,
   Catch against the spurs of a columbine,
   Jostle the quietness from a cluster of monk's-hood.
   Pat! Pat! behind them come the little criss-cross shoes,
   And the blue and pink sashes stream out in flappings of colour.

   Stella sings:
      "Hoop, hoop,
      Roll along,
      Faster bowl along,
      Hoop.
      Slow, to the turning,
      Now go!--Go!
      Quick!
      Here's the stick.
      Rat-a-tap-tap it,
      Pat it, flap it.
      Fly like a bird or a yellow-backed bee,
      See how soon you can reach that tree.
      Here is a path that is perfectly straight.
      Roll along, hoop, or we shall be late."

   Minna sings:
      "Trip about, slip about, whip about
      Hoop.
      Wheel like a top at its quickest spin,
      Then, dear hoop, we shall surely win.
      First to the greenhouse and then to the wall
      Circle and circle,
      And let the wind push you,
      Poke you,
      Brush you,
      And not let you fall.
      Whirring you round like a wreath of mist.
      Hoopety hoop,
      Twist,
      Twist."

   Tap! Tap! go the hoop-sticks,
   And the hoops bowl along under a grape arbour.
   For an instant their willow whiteness is green,
   Pale white-green.
   Then they are out in the sunshine,
   Leaving the half-formed grape clusters
   A-tremble under their big leaves.

   "I will beat you, Minna," cries Stella,
   Hitting her hoop smartly with her stick.
   "Stella, Stella, we are winning," calls Minna,
   As her hoop curves round a bed of clove-pinks.
   A humming-bird whizzes past Stella's ear,
   And two or three yellow-and-black butterflies
   Flutter, startled, out of a pillar rose.
   Round and round race the little girls
   After their great white hoops.

   Suddenly Minna stops.
   Her hoop wavers an instant,
   But she catches it up on her stick.
   "Listen, Stella!"
   Both the little girls are listening;
   And the scents of the garden rise up quietly about them.
   "It's the chaise!  It's Father!
   Perhaps he's brought us a book from Boston."
   Twinkle, twinkle, the little criss-cross shoes
   Up the garden path.
   Blue--pink--an instant, against the syringa hedge.
   But the hoops, white as stripped willow-wands,
   Lie in the grass,
   And the grasshoppers jump back and forth
   Over them.


       II

     Battledore and Shuttlecock

   The shuttlecock soars upward
   In a parabola of whiteness,
   Turns,
   And sinks to a perfect arc.
   Plat! the battledore strikes it,
   And it rises again,
   Without haste,
   Winged and curving,
   Tracing its white flight
   Against the clipped hemlock-trees.
   Plat!
   Up again,
   Orange and sparkling with sun,
   Rounding under the blue sky,
   Dropping,
   Fading to grey-green
   In the shadow of the coned hemlocks.
   "Ninety-one."  "Ninety-two."  "Ninety-three."
   The arms of the little girls
   Come up--and up--
   Precisely,
   Like mechanical toys.
   The battledores beat at nothing,
   And toss the dazzle of snow
   Off their parchment drums.
   "Ninety-four."  Plat!
   "Ninety-five."  Plat!
   Back and forth
   Goes the shuttlecock,
   Icicle-white,
   Leaping at the sharp-edged clouds,
   Overturning,
   Falling,
   Down,
   And down,
   Tinctured with pink
   From the upthrusting shine
   Of Oriental poppies.

   The little girls sway to the counting rhythm;
   Left foot,
   Right foot.
   Plat!  Plat!
   Yellow heat twines round the handles of the battledores,
   The parchment cracks with dryness;
   But the shuttlecock
   Swings slowly into the ice-blue sky,
   Heaving up on the warm air
   Like a foam-bubble on a wave,
   With feathers slanted and sustaining.
   Higher,
   Until the earth turns beneath it;
   Poised and swinging,
   With all the garden flowing beneath it,
   Scarlet, and blue, and purple, and white--
   Blurred colour reflections in rippled water--
   Changing--streaming--
   For the moment that Stella takes to lift her arm.
   Then the shuttlecock relinquishes,
   Bows,
   Descends;
   And the sharp blue spears of the air
   Thrust it to earth.

   Again it mounts,
   Stepping up on the rising scents of flowers,
   Buoyed up and under by the shining heat.
   Above the foxgloves,
   Above the guelder-roses,
   Above the greenhouse glitter,
   Till the shafts of cooler air
   Meet it,
   Deflect it,
   Reject it,
   Then down,
   Down,
   Past the greenhouse,
   Past the guelder-rose bush,
   Past the foxgloves.

   "Ninety-nine," Stella's battledore springs to the impact.
   Plunk!  Like the snap of a taut string.
   "Oh!  Minna!"
   The shuttlecock drops zigzagedly,
   Out of orbit,
   Hits the path,
   And rolls over quite still.
   Dead white feathers,
   With a weight at the end.


       III

     Garden Games

   The tall clock is striking twelve;
   And the little girls stop in the hall to watch it,
   And the big ships rocking in a half-circle
   Above the dial.
   Twelve o'clock!
   Down the side steps
   Go the little girls,
   Under their big round straw hats.
   Minna's has a pink ribbon,
   Stella's a blue,
   That is the way they know which is which.
   Twelve o'clock!
   An hour yet before dinner.
   Mother is busy in the still-room,
   And Hannah is making gingerbread.

   Slowly, with lagging steps,
   They follow the garden-path,
   Crushing a leaf of box for its acrid smell,
   Discussing what they shall do,
   And doing nothing.

   "Stella, see that grasshopper
   Climbing up the bank!
   What a jump!
   Almost as long as my arm."
   Run, children, run.
   For the grasshopper is leaping away,
   In half-circle curves,
   Shuttlecock curves,
   Over the grasses.
   Hand in hand, the little girls call to him:
      "Grandfather, grandfather gray,
      Give me molasses, or I'll throw you away."

   The grasshopper leaps into the sunlight,
   Golden-green,
   And is gone.

   "Let's catch a bee."
   Round whirl the little girls,
   And up the garden.
   Two heads are thrust among the Canterbury bells,
   Listening,
   And fingers clasp and unclasp behind backs
   In a strain of silence.

   White bells,
   Blue bells,
   Hollow and reflexed.
   Deep tunnels of blue and white dimness,
   Cool wine-tunnels for bees.
   There is a floundering and buzzing over Minna's head.

   "Bend it down, Stella.  Quick!  Quick!"
   The wide mouth of a blossom
   Is pressed together in Minna's fingers.
   The stem flies up, jiggling its flower-bells,
   And Minna holds the dark blue cup in her hand,
   With the bee
   Imprisoned in it.
   Whirr! Buzz! Bump!
   Bump! Whiz! Bang!
   BANG!!
   The blue flower tears across like paper,
   And a gold-black bee darts away in the sunshine.

   "If we could fly, we could catch him."
   The sunshine is hot on Stella's upturned face,
   As she stares after the bee.
   "We'll follow him in a dove chariot.
   Come on, Stella."
   Run, children,
   Along the red gravel paths,
   For a bee is hard to catch,
   Even with a chariot of doves.

   Tall, still, and cowled,
   Stand the monk's-hoods;
   Taller than the heads of the little girls.
   A blossom for Minna.
   A blossom for Stella.
   Off comes the cowl,
   And there is a purple-painted chariot;
   Off comes the forward petal,
   And there are two little green doves,
   With green traces tying them to the chariot.
   "Now we will get in, and fly right up to the clouds.
      Fly, Doves, up in the sky,
      With Minna and me,
      After the bee."

   Up one path,
   Down another,
   Run the little girls,
   Holding their dove chariots in front of them;
   But the bee is hidden in the trumpet of a honeysuckle,
   With his wings folded along his back.

   The dove chariots are thrown away,
   And the little girls wander slowly through the garden,
   Sucking the salvia tips,
   And squeezing the snapdragons
   To make them gape.
   "I'm so hot,
   Let's pick a pansy
   And see the little man in his bath,
   And play we're he."
   A royal bath-tub,
   Hung with purple stuffs and yellow.
   The great purple-yellow wings
   Rise up behind the little red and green man;
   The purple-yellow wings fan him,
   He dabbles his feet in cool green.
   Off with the green sheath,
   And there are two spindly legs.
   "Heigho!" sighs Minna.
   "Heigho!" sighs Stella.
   There is not a flutter of wind,
   And the sun is directly overhead.

   Along the edge of the garden
   Walk the little girls.
   Their hats, round and yellow like cheeses,
   Are dangling by the ribbons.
   The grass is a tumult of buttercups and daisies;
   Buttercups and daisies streaming away
   Up the hill.
   The garden is purple, and pink, and orange, and scarlet;
   The garden is hot with colours.
   But the meadow is only yellow, and white, and green,
   Cool, and long, and quiet.
   The little girls pick buttercups
   And hold them under each other's chins.
   "You're as gold as Grandfather's snuff-box.
   You're going to be very rich, Minna."
   "Oh-o-o!  Then I'll ask my husband to give me a pair of garnet earrings
   Just like Aunt Nancy's.
   I wonder if he will.
   I know.  We'll tell fortunes.
   That's what we'll do."
   Plump down in the meadow grass,
   Stella and Minna,
   With their round yellow hats,
   Like cheeses,
   Beside them.
   Drop,
   Drop,
   Daisy petals.
      "One I love,
      Two I love,
      Three I love I say..."
   The ground is peppered with daisy petals,
   And the little girls nibble the golden centres,
   And play it is cake.

   A bell rings.
   Dinner-time;
   And after dinner there are lessons.



1777



       I

     The Trumpet-Vine Arbour

   The throats of the little red trumpet-flowers are wide open,
   And the clangour of brass beats against the hot sunlight.
   They bray and blare at the burning sky.
   Red!  Red!  Coarse notes of red,
   Trumpeted at the blue sky.
   In long streaks of sound, molten metal,
   The vine declares itself.
   Clang!--from its red and yellow trumpets.
   Clang!--from its long, nasal trumpets,
   Splitting the sunlight into ribbons, tattered and shot with noise.

   I sit in the cool arbour, in a green-and-gold twilight.
   It is very still, for I cannot hear the trumpets,
   I only know that they are red and open,
   And that the sun above the arbour shakes with heat.
   My quill is newly mended,
   And makes fine-drawn lines with its point.
   Down the long, white paper it makes little lines,
   Just lines--up--down--criss-cross.
   My heart is strained out at the pin-point of my quill;
   It is thin and writhing like the marks of the pen.
   My hand marches to a squeaky tune,
   It marches down the paper to a squealing of fifes.
   My pen and the trumpet-flowers,
   And Washington's armies away over the smoke-tree to the Southwest.
   "Yankee Doodle," my Darling!  It is you against the British,
   Marching in your ragged shoes to batter down King George.
   What have you got in your hat?  Not a feather, I wager.
   Just a hay-straw, for it is the harvest you are fighting for.
   Hay in your hat, and the whites of their eyes for a target!
   Like Bunker Hill, two years ago, when I watched all day from the house-top
   Through Father's spy-glass.
   The red city, and the blue, bright water,
   And puffs of smoke which you made.
   Twenty miles away,
   Round by Cambridge, or over the Neck,
   But the smoke was white--white!
   To-day the trumpet-flowers are red--red--
   And I cannot see you fighting,
   But old Mr. Dimond has fled to Canada,
   And Myra sings "Yankee Doodle" at her milking.
   The red throats of the trumpets bray and clang in the sunshine,
   And the smoke-tree puffs dun blossoms into the blue air.


       II

     The City of Falling Leaves

   Leaves fall,
   Brown leaves,
   Yellow leaves streaked with brown.
   They fall,
   Flutter,
   Fall again.
   The brown leaves,
   And the streaked yellow leaves,
   Loosen on their branches
   And drift slowly downwards.
   One,
   One, two, three,
   One, two, five.
   All Venice is a falling of Autumn leaves--
   Brown,
   And yellow streaked with brown.

   "That sonnet, Abate,
   Beautiful,
   I am quite exhausted by it.
   Your phrases turn about my heart
   And stifle me to swooning.
   Open the window, I beg.
   Lord!  What a strumming of fiddles and mandolins!
   'Tis really a shame to stop indoors.
   Call my maid, or I will make you lace me yourself.
   Fie, how hot it is, not a breath of air!
   See how straight the leaves are falling.
   Marianna, I will have the yellow satin caught up with silver fringe,
   It peeps out delightfully from under a mantle.
   Am I well painted to-day, 'caro Abate mio'?
   You will be proud of me at the 'Ridotto', hey?
   Proud of being 'Cavalier Servente' to such a lady?"
   "Can you doubt it, 'Bellissima Contessa'?
   A pinch more rouge on the right cheek,
   And Venus herself shines less..."
   "You bore me, Abate,
   I vow I must change you!
   A letter, Achmet?
   Run and look out of the window, Abate.
   I will read my letter in peace."
   The little black slave with the yellow satin turban
   Gazes at his mistress with strained eyes.
   His yellow turban and black skin
   Are gorgeous--barbaric.
   The yellow satin dress with its silver flashings
   Lies on a chair
   Beside a black mantle and a black mask.
   Yellow and black,
   Gorgeous--barbaric.
   The lady reads her letter,
   And the leaves drift slowly
   Past the long windows.
   "How silly you look, my dear Abate,
   With that great brown leaf in your wig.
   Pluck it off, I beg you,
   Or I shall die of laughing."

   A yellow wall
   Aflare in the sunlight,
   Chequered with shadows,
   Shadows of vine leaves,
   Shadows of masks.
   Masks coming, printing themselves for an instant,
   Then passing on,
   More masks always replacing them.
   Masks with tricorns and rapiers sticking out behind
   Pursuing masks with plumes and high heels,
   The sunlight shining under their insteps.
   One,
   One, two,
   One, two, three,
   There is a thronging of shadows on the hot wall,
   Filigreed at the top with moving leaves.
   Yellow sunlight and black shadows,
   Yellow and black,
   Gorgeous--barbaric.
   Two masks stand together,
   And the shadow of a leaf falls through them,
   Marking the wall where they are not.
   From hat-tip to shoulder-tip,
   From elbow to sword-hilt,
   The leaf falls.
   The shadows mingle,
   Blur together,
   Slide along the wall and disappear.
   Gold of mosaics and candles,
   And night blackness lurking in the ceiling beams.
   Saint Mark's glitters with flames and reflections.
   A cloak brushes aside,
   And the yellow of satin
   Licks out over the coloured inlays of the pavement.
   Under the gold crucifixes
   There is a meeting of hands
   Reaching from black mantles.
   Sighing embraces, bold investigations,
   Hide in confessionals,
   Sheltered by the shuffling of feet.
   Gorgeous--barbaric
   In its mail of jewels and gold,
   Saint Mark's looks down at the swarm of black masks;
   And outside in the palace gardens brown leaves fall,
   Flutter,
   Fall.
   Brown,
   And yellow streaked with brown.

   Blue-black, the sky over Venice,
   With a pricking of yellow stars.
   There is no moon,
   And the waves push darkly against the prow
   Of the gondola,
   Coming from Malamocco
   And streaming toward Venice.
   It is black under the gondola hood,
   But the yellow of a satin dress
   Glares out like the eye of a watching tiger.
   Yellow compassed about with darkness,
   Yellow and black,
   Gorgeous--barbaric.
   The boatman sings,
   It is Tasso that he sings;
   The lovers seek each other beneath their mantles,
   And the gondola drifts over the lagoon, aslant to the coming dawn.
   But at Malamocco in front,
   In Venice behind,
   Fall the leaves,
   Brown,
   And yellow streaked with brown.
   They fall,
   Flutter,
   Fall.



BRONZE TABLETS



The Fruit Shop



   Cross-ribboned shoes; a muslin gown,
   High-waisted, girdled with bright blue;
   A straw poke bonnet which hid the frown
   She pluckered her little brows into
   As she picked her dainty passage through
   The dusty street.  "Ah, Mademoiselle,
   A dirty pathway, we need rain,
   My poor fruits suffer, and the shell
   Of this nut's too big for its kernel, lain
   Here in the sun it has shrunk again.
   The baker down at the corner says
   We need a battle to shake the clouds;
   But I am a man of peace, my ways
   Don't look to the killing of men in crowds.
   Poor fellows with guns and bayonets for shrouds!
   Pray, Mademoiselle, come out of the sun.
   Let me dust off that wicker chair.  It's cool
   In here, for the green leaves I have run
   In a curtain over the door, make a pool
   Of shade.  You see the pears on that stool--
   The shadow keeps them plump and fair."
   Over the fruiterer's door, the leaves
   Held back the sun, a greenish flare
   Quivered and sparked the shop, the sheaves
   Of sunbeams, glanced from the sign on the eaves,
   Shot from the golden letters, broke
   And splintered to little scattered lights.
   Jeanne Tourmont entered the shop, her poke
   Bonnet tilted itself to rights,
   And her face looked out like the moon on nights
   Of flickering clouds.  "Monsieur Popain, I
   Want gooseberries, an apple or two,
   Or excellent plums, but not if they're high;
   Haven't you some which a strong wind blew?
   I've only a couple of francs for you."
   Monsieur Popain shrugged and rubbed his hands.
   What could he do, the times were sad.
   A couple of francs and such demands!
   And asking for fruits a little bad.
   Wind-blown indeed!  He never had
   Anything else than the very best.
   He pointed to baskets of blunted pears
   With the thin skin tight like a bursting vest,
   All yellow, and red, and brown, in smears.
   Monsieur Popain's voice denoted tears.
   He took up a pear with tender care,
   And pressed it with his hardened thumb.
   "Smell it, Mademoiselle, the perfume there
   Is like lavender, and sweet thoughts come
   Only from having a dish at home.
   And those grapes!  They melt in the mouth like wine,
   Just a click of the tongue, and they burst to honey.
   They're only this morning off the vine,
   And I paid for them down in silver money.
   The Corporal's widow is witness, her pony
   Brought them in at sunrise to-day.
   Those oranges--Gold!  They're almost red.
   They seem little chips just broken away
   From the sun itself.  Or perhaps instead
   You'd like a pomegranate, they're rarely gay,
   When you split them the seeds are like crimson spray.
   Yes, they're high, they're high, and those Turkey figs,
   They all come from the South, and Nelson's ships
   Make it a little hard for our rigs.
   They must be forever giving the slips
   To the cursed English, and when men clips
   Through powder to bring them, why dainties mounts
   A bit in price.  Those almonds now,
   I'll strip off that husk, when one discounts
   A life or two in a nigger row
   With the man who grew them, it does seem how
   They would come dear; and then the fight
   At sea perhaps, our boats have heels
   And mostly they sail along at night,
   But once in a way they're caught; one feels
   Ivory's not better nor finer--why peels
   From an almond kernel are worth two sous.
   It's hard to sell them now," he sighed.
   "Purses are tight, but I shall not lose.
   There's plenty of cheaper things to choose."
   He picked some currants out of a wide
   Earthen bowl.  "They make the tongue
   Almost fly out to suck them, bride
   Currants they are, they were planted long
   Ago for some new Marquise, among
   Other great beauties, before the Chateau
   Was left to rot.  Now the Gardener's wife,
   He that marched off to his death at Marengo,
   Sells them to me; she keeps her life
   From snuffing out, with her pruning knife.
   She's a poor old thing, but she learnt the trade
   When her man was young, and the young Marquis
   Couldn't have enough garden.  The flowers he made
   All new!  And the fruits!  But 'twas said that he
   Was no friend to the people, and so they laid
   Some charge against him, a cavalcade
   Of citizens took him away; they meant
   Well, but I think there was some mistake.
   He just pottered round in his garden, bent
   On growing things; we were so awake
   In those days for the New Republic's sake.
   He's gone, and the garden is all that's left
   Not in ruin, but the currants and apricots,
   And peaches, furred and sweet, with a cleft
   Full of morning dew, in those green-glazed pots,
   Why, Mademoiselle, there is never an eft
   Or worm among them, and as for theft,
   How the old woman keeps them I cannot say,
   But they're finer than any grown this way."
   Jeanne Tourmont drew back the filigree ring
   Of her striped silk purse, tipped it upside down
   And shook it, two coins fell with a ding
   Of striking silver, beneath her gown
   One rolled, the other lay, a thing
   Sparked white and sharply glistening,
   In a drop of sunlight between two shades.
   She jerked the purse, took its empty ends
   And crumpled them toward the centre braids.
   The whole collapsed to a mass of blends
   Of colours and stripes.  "Monsieur Popain, friends
   We have always been.  In the days before
   The Great Revolution my aunt was kind
   When you needed help.  You need no more;
   'Tis we now who must beg at your door,
   And will you refuse?"  The little man
   Bustled, denied, his heart was good,
   But times were hard.  He went to a pan
   And poured upon the counter a flood
   Of pungent raspberries, tanged like wood.
   He took a melon with rough green rind
   And rubbed it well with his apron tip.
   Then he hunted over the shop to find
   Some walnuts cracking at the lip,
   And added to these a barberry slip
   Whose acrid, oval berries hung
   Like fringe and trembled.  He reached a round
   Basket, with handles, from where it swung
   Against the wall, laid it on the ground
   And filled it, then he searched and found
   The francs Jeanne Tourmont had let fall.
   "You'll return the basket, Mademoiselle?"
   She smiled, "The next time that I call,
   Monsieur.  You know that very well."
   'Twas lightly said, but meant to tell.
   Monsieur Popain bowed, somewhat abashed.
   She took her basket and stepped out.
   The sunlight was so bright it flashed
   Her eyes to blindness, and the rout
   Of the little street was all about.
   Through glare and noise she stumbled, dazed.
   The heavy basket was a care.
   She heard a shout and almost grazed
   The panels of a chaise and pair.
   The postboy yelled, and an amazed
   Face from the carriage window gazed.
   She jumped back just in time, her heart
   Beating with fear.  Through whirling light
   The chaise departed, but her smart
   Was keen and bitter.  In the white
   Dust of the street she saw a bright
   Streak of colours, wet and gay,
   Red like blood.  Crushed but fair,
   Her fruit stained the cobbles of the way.
   Monsieur Popain joined her there.
   "Tiens, Mademoiselle,
         c'est le General Bonaparte, partant pour la Guerre!"



Malmaison



I

How the slates of the roof sparkle in the sun, over there, over there,
beyond the high wall!  How quietly the Seine runs in loops and windings,
over there, over there, sliding through the green countryside!  Like
ships of the line, stately with canvas, the tall clouds pass along the
sky, over the glittering roof, over the trees, over the looped and
curving river. A breeze quivers through the linden-trees.  Roses bloom
at Malmaison. Roses!  Roses!  But the road is dusty.  Already the
Citoyenne Beauharnais wearies of her walk.  Her skin is chalked and
powdered with dust, she smells dust, and behind the wall are roses!
Roses with smooth open petals, poised above rippling leaves...  Roses
... They have told her so.  The Citoyenne Beauharnais shrugs her
shoulders and makes a little face.  She must mend her pace if she would
be back in time for dinner.  Roses indeed!  The guillotine more likely.


The tiered clouds float over Malmaison, and the slate roof sparkles in
the sun.


II

Gallop!  Gallop!  The General brooks no delay.  Make way, good people,
and scatter out of his path, you, and your hens, and your dogs, and your
children.  The General is returned from Egypt, and is come in a
'caleche' and four to visit his new property.  Throw open the gates,
you, Porter of Malmaison.  Pull off your cap, my man, this is your
master, the husband of Madame.  Faster!  Faster!  A jerk and a jingle
and they are arrived, he and she.  Madame has red eyes.  Fie!  It is for
joy at her husband's return.  Learn your place, Porter.  A gentleman
here for two months?  Fie!  Fie, then!  Since when have you taken to
gossiping. Madame may have a brother, I suppose.  That--all green, and
red, and glitter, with flesh as dark as ebony--that is a slave; a
bloodthirsty, stabbing, slashing heathen, come from the hot countries to
cure your tongue of idle whispering.


A fine afternoon it is, with tall bright clouds sailing over the trees.


"Bonaparte, mon ami, the trees are golden like my star, the star I
pinned to your destiny when I married you.  The gypsy, you remember her
prophecy! My dear friend, not here, the servants are watching; send them
away, and that flashing splendour, Roustan.  Superb--Imperial, but..
. My dear, your arm is trembling; I faint to feel it touching me!  No,
no, Bonaparte, not that--spare me that--did we not bury that last
night! You hurt me, my friend, you are so hot and strong.  Not long,
Dear, no, thank God, not long."

The looped river runs saffron, for the sun is setting.  It is getting
dark. Dark.  Darker.  In the moonlight, the slate roof shines palely
milkily white.

The roses have faded at Malmaison, nipped by the frost.  What need for
roses? Smooth, open petals--her arms.  Fragrant, outcurved
petals--her breasts. He rises like a sun above her, stooping to touch
the petals, press them wider. Eagles.  Bees.  What are they to open
roses! A little shivering breeze runs through the linden-trees, and the
tiered clouds blow across the sky like ships of the line, stately with
canvas.


III

The gates stand wide at Malmaison, stand wide all day.  The gravel of
the avenue glints under the continual rolling of wheels. An officer
gallops up with his sabre clicking; a mameluke gallops down with his
charger kicking.  'Valets de pied' run about in ones, and twos, and
groups, like swirled blown leaves.  Tramp!  Tramp!  The guard is
changing, and the grenadiers off duty lounge out of sight, ranging along
the roads toward Paris.

The slate roof sparkles in the sun, but it sparkles milkily, vaguely,
the great glass-houses put out its shining.  Glass, stone, and onyx now
for the sun's mirror.  Much has come to pass at Malmaison. New rocks and
fountains, blocks of carven marble, fluted pillars uprearing antique
temples, vases and urns in unexpected places, bridges of stone, bridges
of wood, arbours and statues, and a flood of flowers everywhere, new
flowers, rare flowers, parterre after parterre of flowers.  Indeed, the
roses bloom at Malmaison.  It is youth, youth untrammeled and advancing,
trundling a country ahead of it as though it were a hoop.  Laughter, and
spur janglings in tessellated vestibules.  Tripping of clocked and
embroidered stockings in little low-heeled shoes over smooth
grass-plots. India muslins spangled with silver patterns slide
through trees--mingle--separate--white day fireflies flashing
moon-brilliance in the shade of foliage.

"The kangaroos!  I vow, Captain, I must see the kangaroos."

"As you please, dear Lady, but I recommend the shady linden alley and
feeding the cockatoos."

"They say that Madame Bonaparte's breed of sheep is the best in all
France."

"And, oh, have you seen the enchanting little cedar she planted when the
First Consul sent home the news of the victory of Marengo?"

Picking, choosing, the chattering company flits to and fro.  Over the
trees the great clouds go, tiered, stately, like ships of the line
bright with canvas.

Prisoners'-base, and its swooping, veering, racing, giggling, bumping.
The First Consul runs plump into M. de Beauharnais and falls. But he
picks himself up smartly, and starts after M. Isabey.  Too late, M. Le
Premier Consul, Mademoiselle Hortense is out after you.  Quickly, my
dear Sir!  Stir your short legs, she is swift and eager, and as graceful
as her mother.  She is there, that other, playing too, but lightly,
warily, bearing herself with care, rather floating out upon the air than
running, never far from goal.  She is there, borne up above her guests
as something indefinably fair, a rose above periwinkles.  A blown rose,
smooth as satin, reflexed, one loosened petal hanging back and down. A
rose that undulates languorously as the breeze takes it, resting upon
its leaves in a faintness of perfume.


There are rumours about the First Consul.  Malmaison is full of women,
and Paris is only two leagues distant.  Madame Bonaparte stands on the
wooden bridge at sunset, and watches a black swan pushing the pink and
silver water in front of him as he swims, crinkling its smoothness into
pleats of changing colour with his breast. Madame Bonaparte presses
against the parapet of the bridge, and the crushed roses at her belt
melt, petal by petal, into the pink water.


IV

A vile day, Porter.  But keep your wits about you.  The Empress will
soon be here.  Queer, without the Emperor!  It is indeed, but best not
consider that.  Scratch your head and prick up your ears. Divorce is not
for you to debate about.  She is late?  Ah, well, the roads are muddy.
The rain spears are as sharp as whetted knives. They dart down and down,
edged and shining.  Clop-trop!  Clop-trop! A carriage grows out of the
mist.  Hist, Porter.  You can keep on your hat. It is only Her Majesty's
dogs and her parrot.  Clop-trop! The Ladies in Waiting, Porter.
Clop-trop!  It is Her Majesty.  At least, I suppose it is, but the
blinds are drawn.

"In all the years I have served Her Majesty she never before passed the
gate without giving me a smile!"

You're a droll fellow, to expect the Empress to put out her head in the
pouring rain and salute you.  She has affairs of her own to think about.

Clang the gate, no need for further waiting, nobody else will be coming
to Malmaison to-night.


White under her veil, drained and shaking, the woman crosses the
antechamber. Empress!  Empress!  Foolish splendour, perished to dust.
Ashes of roses, ashes of youth.  Empress forsooth!

Over the glass domes of the hot-houses drenches the rain.  Behind her a
clock ticks--ticks again.  The sound knocks upon her thought with the
echoing shudder of hollow vases.  She places her hands on her ears, but
the minutes pass, knocking.  Tears in Malmaison.  And years to come each
knocking by, minute after minute.  Years, many years, and tears, and
cold pouring rain.

"I feel as though I had died, and the only sensation I have is that I am
no more."

Rain!  Heavy, thudding rain!


V

The roses bloom at Malmaison.  And not only roses.  Tulips, myrtles,
geraniums, camelias, rhododendrons, dahlias, double hyacinths. All the
year through, under glass, under the sky, flowers bud, expand, die, and
give way to others, always others.  From distant countries they have
been brought, and taught to live in the cool temperateness of France.
There is the 'Bonapartea' from Peru; the 'Napoleone Imperiale'; the
'Josephinia Imperatrix', a pearl-white flower, purple-shadowed, the
calix pricked out with crimson points.  Malmaison wears its flowers as a
lady wears her gems, flauntingly, assertively.  Malmaison decks herself
to hide the hollow within.

The glass-houses grow and grow, and every year fling up hotter
reflections to the sailing sun.

The cost runs into millions, but a woman must have something to console
herself for a broken heart.  One can play backgammon and patience, and
then patience and backgammon, and stake gold napoleons on each game won.
Sport truly!  It is an unruly spirit which could ask better.  With her
jewels, her laces, her shawls; her two hundred and twenty dresses, her
fichus, her veils; her pictures, her busts, her birds.  It is absurd
that she cannot be happy.  The Emperor smarts under the thought of her
ingratitude. What could he do more?  And yet she spends, spends as never
before. It is ridiculous.  Can she not enjoy life at a smaller figure?
Was ever monarch plagued with so extravagant an ex-wife.  She owes her
chocolate-merchant, her candle-merchant, her sweetmeat purveyor; her
grocer, her butcher, her poulterer; her architect, and the shopkeeper
who sells her rouge; her perfumer, her dressmaker, her merchant of
shoes. She owes for fans, plants, engravings, and chairs.  She owes
masons and carpenters, vintners, lingeres.  The lady's affairs are in
sad confusion.

And why?  Why?

Can a river flow when the spring is dry?


Night.  The Empress sits alone, and the clock ticks, one after one. The
clock nicks off the edges of her life.  She is chipped like an old bit
of china; she is frayed like a garment of last year's wearing. She is
soft, crinkled, like a fading rose.  And each minute flows by brushing
against her, shearing off another and another petal. The Empress crushes
her breasts with her hands and weeps.  And the tall clouds sail over
Malmaison like a procession of stately ships bound for the moon.


Scarlet, clear-blue, purple epauletted with gold.  It is a parade of
soldiers sweeping up the avenue.  Eight horses, eight Imperial
harnesses, four caparisoned postilions, a carriage with the Emperor's
arms on the panels. Ho, Porter, pop out your eyes, and no wonder.  Where
else under the Heavens could you see such splendour!

They sit on a stone seat.  The little man in the green coat of a Colonel
of Chasseurs, and the lady, beautiful as a satin seed-pod, and as pale.
The house has memories.  The satin seed-pod holds his germs of Empire.
We will stay here, under the blue sky and the turreted white clouds. She
draws him; he feels her faded loveliness urge him to replenish it. Her
soft transparent texture woos his nervous fingering.  He speaks to her
of debts, of resignation; of her children, and his; he promises that she
shall see the King of Rome; he says some harsh things and some pleasant.
But she is there, close to him, rose toned to amber, white shot with
violet, pungent to his nostrils as embalmed rose-leaves in a twilit
room.

Suddenly the Emperor calls his carriage and rolls away across the
looping Seine.


VI

Crystal-blue brightness over the glass-houses.  Crystal-blue streaks and
ripples over the lake.  A macaw on a gilded perch screams; they have
forgotten to take out his dinner.  The windows shake.  Boom!  Boom! It
is the rumbling of Prussian cannon beyond Pecq.  Roses bloom at
Malmaison. Roses!  Roses!  Swimming above their leaves, rotting beneath
them. Fallen flowers strew the unraked walks.  Fallen flowers for a
fallen Emperor! The General in charge of him draws back and watches.
Snatches of music--snarling, sneering music of bagpipes.  They say a
Scotch regiment is besieging Saint-Denis.  The Emperor wipes his face,
or is it his eyes. His tired eyes which see nowhere the grace they long
for.  Josephine! Somebody asks him a question, he does not answer,
somebody else does that. There are voices, but one voice he does not
hear, and yet he hears it all the time.  Josephine!  The Emperor puts up
his hand to screen his face. The white light of a bright cloud spears
sharply through the linden-trees. 'Vive l'Empereur!'  There are troops
passing beyond the wall, troops which sing and call.  Boom!  A pink rose
is jarred off its stem and falls at the Emperor's feet.

"Very well.  I go."  Where!  Does it matter?  There is no sword to
clatter. Nothing but soft brushing gravel and a gate which shuts with a
click.

"Quick, fellow, don't spare your horses."

A whip cracks, wheels turn, why burn one's eyes following a fleck of
dust.


VII

Over the slate roof tall clouds, like ships of the line, pass along the
sky. The glass-houses glitter splotchily, for many of their lights are
broken. Roses bloom, fiery cinders quenching under damp weeds.  Wreckage
and misery, and a trailing of petty deeds smearing over old
recollections.

The musty rooms are empty and their shutters are closed, only in the
gallery there is a stuffed black swan, covered with dust.  When you
touch it, the feathers come off and float softly to the ground.  Through
a chink in the shutters, one can see the stately clouds crossing the sky
toward the Roman arches of the Marly Aqueduct.



The Hammers



       I

     Frindsbury, Kent, 1786

   Bang!
   Bang!
   Tap!
   Tap-a-tap!  Rap!
   All through the lead and silver Winter days,
   All through the copper of Autumn hazes.
   Tap to the red rising sun,
   Tap to the purple setting sun.
   Four years pass before the job is done.
   Two thousand oak trees grown and felled,
   Two thousand oaks from the hedgerows of the Weald,
   Sussex had yielded two thousand oaks
   With huge boles
   Round which the tape rolls
   Thirty mortal feet, say the village folks.
   Two hundred loads of elm and Scottish fir;
   Planking from Dantzig.
   My!  What timber goes into a ship!
   Tap!  Tap!
   Two years they have seasoned her ribs on the ways,
   Tapping, tapping.
   You can hear, though there's nothing where you gaze.
   Through the fog down the reaches of the river,
   The tapping goes on like heart-beats in a fever.
   The church-bells chime
   Hours and hours,
   Dropping days in showers.
   Bang!  Rap!  Tap!
   Go the hammers all the time.
   They have planked up her timbers
   And the nails are driven to the head;
   They have decked her over,
   And again, and again.
   The shoring-up beams shudder at the strain.
   Black and blue breeches,
   Pigtails bound and shining:
   Like ants crawling about,
   The hull swarms with carpenters, running in and out.
   Joiners, calkers,
   And they are all terrible talkers.
   Jem Wilson has been to sea and he tells some wonderful tales
   Of whales, and spice islands,
   And pirates off the Barbary coast.
   He boasts magnificently, with his mouth full of nails.
   Stephen Pibold has a tenor voice,
   He shifts his quid of tobacco and sings:
       "The second in command was blear-eyed Ned:
          While the surgeon his limb was a-lopping,
       A nine-pounder came and smack went his head,
          Pull away, pull away, pull away!  I say;
          Rare news for my Meg of Wapping!"
   Every Sunday
   People come in crowds
   (After church-time, of course)
   In curricles, and gigs, and wagons,
   And some have brought cold chicken and flagons
   Of wine,
   And beer in stoppered jugs.
   "Dear!  Dear!  But I tell 'ee 'twill be a fine ship.
   There's none finer in any of the slips at Chatham."

   The third Summer's roses have started in to blow,
   When the fine stern carving is begun.
   Flutings, and twinings, and long slow swirls,
   Bits of deal shaved away to thin spiral curls.
   Tap!  Tap!  A cornucopia is nailed into place.
   Rap-a-tap!  They are putting up a railing filigreed like Irish lace.
   The Three Town's people never saw such grace.
   And the paint on it!  The richest gold leaf!
   Why, the glitter when the sun is shining passes belief.
   And that row of glass windows tipped toward the sky
   Are rubies and carbuncles when the day is dry.
   Oh, my!  Oh, my!
   They have coppered up the bottom,
   And the copper nails
   Stand about and sparkle in big wooden pails.
   Bang!  Clash!  Bang!
       "And he swigg'd, and Nick swigg'd,
          And Ben swigg'd, and Dick swigg'd,
       And I swigg'd, and all of us swigg'd it,
          And swore there was nothing like grog."
   It seems they sing,
   Even though coppering is not an easy thing.
   What a splendid specimen of humanity is a true British workman,
   Say the people of the Three Towns,
   As they walk about the dockyard
   To the sound of the evening church-bells.
   And so artistic, too, each one tells his neighbour.
   What immense taste and labour!
   Miss Jessie Prime, in a pink silk bonnet,
   Titters with delight as her eyes fall upon it,
   When she steps lightly down from Lawyer Green's whisky;
   Such amazing beauty makes one feel frisky,
   She explains.
   Mr. Nichols says he is delighted
   (He is the firm);
   His work is all requited
   If Miss Jessie can approve.
   Miss Jessie answers that the ship is "a love".
   The sides are yellow as marigold,
   The port-lids are red when the ports are up:
   Blood-red squares like an even chequer
   Of yellow asters and portulaca.
   There is a wide "black strake" at the waterline
   And above is a blue like the sky when the weather is fine.
   The inner bulwarks are painted red.
   "Why?" asks Miss Jessie.  "'Tis a horrid note."
   Mr. Nichols clears his throat,
   And tells her the launching day is set.
   He says, "Be careful, the paint is wet."
   But Miss Jessie has touched it, her sprigged muslin gown
   Has a blood-red streak from the shoulder down.
   "It looks like blood," says Miss Jessie with a frown.

   Tap!  Tap!  Rap!
   An October day, with waves running in blue-white lines and a capful of wind.
   Three broad flags ripple out behind
   Where the masts will be:
   Royal Standard at the main,
   Admiralty flag at the fore,
   Union Jack at the mizzen.
   The hammers tap harder, faster,
   They must finish by noon.
   The last nail is driven.
   But the wind has increased to half a gale,
   And the ship shakes and quivers upon the ways.
   The Commissioner of Chatham Dockyard is coming
   In his ten-oared barge from the King's Stairs;
   The Marine's band will play "God Save Great George Our King";
   And there is to be a dinner afterwards at the Crown, with speeches.
   The wind screeches, and flaps the flags till they pound like hammers.
   The wind hums over the ship,
   And slips round the dog-shores,
   Jostling them almost to falling.
   There is no time now to wait for Commissioners and marine bands.
   Mr. Nichols has a bottle of port in his hands.
   He leans over, holding his hat, and shouts to the men below:
   "Let her go!"
   Bang!  Bang!  Pound!
   The dog-shores fall to the ground,
   And the ship slides down the greased planking.
   A splintering of glass,
   And port wine running all over the white and copper stem timbers.
   "Success to his Majesty's ship, the Bellerophon!"
   And the red wine washes away in the waters of the Medway.


       II

     Paris, March, 1814

   Fine yellow sunlight down the rue du Mont Thabor.
   Ten o'clock striking from all the clock-towers of Paris.
   Over the door of a shop, in gilt letters:
   "Martin--Parfumeur", and something more.
   A large gilded wooden something.
   Listen!  What a ringing of hammers!
   Tap!
   Tap!
   Squeak!
   Tap!  Squeak!  Tap-a-tap!
   "Blaise."
   "Oui, M'sieu."
   "Don't touch the letters.  My name stays."
   "Bien, M'sieu."
   "Just take down the eagle, and the shield with the bees."
   "As M'sieu pleases."
   Tap!  Squeak!  Tap!
   The man on the ladder hammers steadily for a minute or two,
   Then stops.
   "He!  Patron!
   They are fastened well, Nom d'un Chien!
   What if I break them?"
   "Break away,
   You and Paul must have them down to-day."
   "Bien."
   And the hammers start again,
   Drum-beating at the something of gilded wood.
   Sunshine in a golden flood
   Lighting up the yellow fronts of houses,
   Glittering each window to a flash.
   Squeak!  Squeak!  Tap!
   The hammers beat and rap.
   A Prussian hussar on a grey horse goes by at a dash.
   From other shops, the noise of striking blows:
   Pounds, thumps, and whacks;
   Wooden sounds:  splinters--cracks.
   Paris is full of the galloping of horses and the knocking of hammers.
   "Hullo! Friend Martin, is business slack
   That you are in the street this morning?  Don't turn your back
   And scuttle into your shop like a rabbit to its hole.
   I've just been taking a stroll.
   The stinking Cossacks are bivouacked all up and down the Champs Elysees.
   I can't get the smell of them out of my nostrils.
   Dirty fellows, who don't believe in frills
   Like washing.  Ah, mon vieux, you'd have to go
   Out of business if you lived in Russia.  So!
   We've given up being perfumers to the Emperor, have we?
   Blaise,
   Be careful of the hen,
   Maybe I can find a use for her one of these days.
   That eagle's rather well cut, Martin.
   But I'm sick of smelling Cossack,
   Take me inside and let me put my head into a stack
   Of orris-root and musk."
   Within the shop, the light is dimmed to a pearl-and-green dusk
   Out of which dreamily sparkle counters and shelves of glass,
   Containing phials, and bowls, and jars, and dishes; a mass
   Of aqueous transparence made solid by threads of gold.
   Gold and glass,
   And scents which whiff across the green twilight and pass.
   The perfumer sits down and shakes his head:
   "Always the same, Monsieur Antoine,
   You artists are wonderful folk indeed."
   But Antoine Vernet does not heed.
   He is reading the names on the bottles and bowls,
   Done in fine gilt letters with wonderful scrolls.
   "What have we here?  'Eau Imperial Odontalgique.'
   I must say, mon cher, your names are chic.
   But it won't do, positively it will not do.
   Elba doesn't count.  Ah, here is another:
   'Baume du Commandeur'.  That's better.  He needs something to smother
   Regrets.  A little lubricant, too,
   Might be useful.  I have it,
   'Sage Oil', perhaps he'll be good now; with it we'll submit
   This fine German rouge.  I fear he is pale."
   "Monsieur Antoine, don't rail
   At misfortune.  He treated me well and fairly."
   "And you prefer him to Bourbons, admit it squarely."
   "Heaven forbid!"  Bang!  Whack!
   Squeak!  Squeak!  Crack!
   CRASH!
   "Oh, Lord, Martin!  That shield is hash.
   The whole street is covered with golden bees.
   They look like so many yellow peas,
   Lying there in the mud.  I'd like to paint it.
   'Plum pudding of Empire'.  That's rather quaint, it
   Might take with the Kings.  Shall I try?"  "Oh, Sir,
   You distress me, you do."  "Poor old Martin's purr!
   But he hasn't a scratch in him, I know.
   Now let us get back to the powders and patches.
   Foolish man,
   The Kings are here now.  We must hit on a plan
   To change all these titles as fast as we can.
   'Bouquet Imperatrice'.  Tut!  Tut!  Give me some ink--
   'Bouquet de la Reine', what do you think?
   Not the same receipt?
   Now, Martin, put away your conceit.
   Who will ever know?
   'Extract of Nobility'--excellent, since most of them are killed."
   "But, Monsieur Antoine--"
   "You are self-willed,
   Martin.  You need a salve
   For your conscience, do you?
   Very well, we'll halve
   The compliments, also the pastes and dentifrices;
   Send some to the Kings, and some to the Empresses.
   'Oil of Bitter Almonds'--the Empress Josephine can have that.
   'Oil of Parma Violets' fits the other one pat."
   Rap!  Rap!  Bang!
   "What a hideous clatter!
   Blaise seems determined to batter
   That poor old turkey into bits,
   And pound to jelly my excellent wits.
   Come, come, Martin, you mustn't shirk.
   'The night cometh soon'--etc.  Don't jerk
   Me up like that.  'Essence de la Valliere'--
   That has a charmingly Bourbon air.
   And, oh! Magnificent!  Listen to this!--
   'Vinaigre des Quatre Voleurs'.  Nothing amiss
   With that--England, Austria, Russia and Prussia!
   Martin, you're a wonder,
   Upheavals of continents can't keep you under."
   "Monsieur Antoine, I am grieved indeed
   At such levity.  What France has gone through--"
   "Very true, Martin, very true,
   But never forget that a man must feed."
   Pound!  Pound!  Thump!
   Pound!
   "Look here, in another minute Blaise will drop that bird on the ground."
   Martin shrugs his shoulders.  "Ah, well, what then?--"
   Antoine, with a laugh:  "I'll give you two sous for that antiquated hen."
   The Imperial Eagle sells for two sous,
   And the lilies go up.
         A man must choose!


       III

     Paris, April, 1814

   Cold, impassive, the marble arch of the Place du Carrousel.
   Haughty, contemptuous, the marble arch of the Place du Carrousel.
   Like a woman raped by force, rising above her fate,
   Borne up by the cold rigidity of hate,
   Stands the marble arch of the Place du Carrousel.
   Tap!  Clink-a-tink!
   Tap!  Rap!  Chink!
   What falls to the ground like a streak of flame?
   Hush!  It is only a bit of bronze flashing in the sun.
   What are all those soldiers?  Those are not the uniforms of France.
   Alas!  No!  The uniforms of France, Great Imperial France, are done.
   They will rot away in chests and hang to dusty tatters in barn lofts.
   These are other armies.  And their name?
   Hush, be still for shame;
   Be still and imperturbable like the marble arch.
   Another bright spark falls through the blue air.
   Over the Place du Carrousel a wailing of despair.
   Crowd your horses back upon the people, Uhlans and Hungarian Lancers,
   They see too much.
   Unfortunately, Gentlemen of the Invading Armies, what they do not see,
     they hear.
   Tap!  Clink-a-tink!
   Tap!
   Another sharp spear
   Of brightness,
   And a ringing of quick metal lightness
   On hard stones.
   Workmen are chipping off the names of Napoleon's victories
   From the triumphal arch of the Place du Carrousel.

   Do they need so much force to quell the crowd?
   An old Grenadier of the line groans aloud,
   And each hammer tap points the sob of a woman.
   Russia, Prussia, Austria, and the faded-white-lily Bourbon king
   Think it well
   To guard against tumult,
   A mob is an undependable thing.
   Ding!  Ding!
   Vienna is scattered all over the Place du Carrousel
   In glittering, bent, and twisted letters.
   Your betters have clattered over Vienna before,
   Officer of his Imperial Majesty our Father-in-Law!
   Tink!  Tink!
   A workman's chisel can strew you to the winds,
   Munich.
   Do they think
   To pleasure Paris, used to the fall of cities,
   By giving her a fall of letters!

   It is a month too late.
   One month, and our lily-white Bourbon king
   Has done a colossal thing;
   He has curdled love,
   And soured the desires of a people.
   Still the letters fall,
   The workmen creep up and down their ladders like lizards on a wall.
   Tap!  Tap!  Tink!
   Clink!  Clink!
   "Oh, merciful God, they will not touch Austerlitz!
   Strike me blind, my God, my eyes can never look on that.
   I would give the other leg to save it, it took one.
   Curse them!  Curse them!  Aim at his hat.
   Give me the stone.  Why didn't you give it to me?
   I would not have missed.  Curse him!
   Curse all of them!  They have got the 'A'!"
   Ding!  Ding!
   "I saw the Terror, but I never saw so horrible a thing as this.
   'Vive l'Empereur!  Vive l'Empereur!'"
   "Don't strike him, Fritz.
   The mob will rise if you do.
   Just run him out to the 'quai',
   That will get him out of the way.
   They are almost through."
   Clink!  Tink!  Ding!
   Clear as the sudden ring
   Of a bell
   "Z" strikes the pavement.
   Farewell, Austerlitz, Tilsit, Presbourg;
   Farewell, greatness departed.
   Farewell, Imperial honours, knocked broadcast by the beating hammers
     of ignorant workmen.
   Straight, in the Spring moonlight,
   Rises the deflowered arch.
   In the silence, shining bright,
   She stands naked and unsubdued.
   Her marble coldness will endure the march
   Of decades.
   Rend her bronzes, hammers;
   Cast down her inscriptions.
   She is unconquerable, austere,
   Cold as the moon that swims above her
   When the nights are clear.


       IV

     Croissy, Ile-de-France, June, 1815

   "Whoa!  Victorine.
   Devil take the mare!  I've never seen so vicious a beast.
   She kicked Jules the last time she was here,
   He's been lame ever since, poor chap."
   Rap!  Tap!
   Tap-a-tap-a-tap!  Tap!  Tap!
   "I'd rather be lame than dead at Waterloo, M'sieu Charles."
   "Sacre Bleu!  Don't mention Waterloo, and the damned grinning British.
   We didn't run in the old days.
   There wasn't any running at Jena.
   Those were decent days,
   And decent men, who stood up and fought.
   We never got beaten, because we wouldn't be.
   See!"
   "You would have taught them, wouldn't you, Sergeant Boignet?
   But to-day it's everyone for himself,
   And the Emperor isn't what he was."
   "How the Devil do you know that?
   If he was beaten, the cause
   Is the green geese in his army, led by traitors.
   Oh, I say no names, Monsieur Charles,
   You needn't hammer so loud.
   If there are any spies lurking behind the bellows,
   I beg they come out.  Dirty fellows!"
   The old Sergeant seizes a red-hot poker
   And advances, brandishing it, into the shadows.
   The rows of horses flick
   Placid tails.
   Victorine gives a savage kick
   As the nails
   Go in.  Tap!  Tap!
   Jules draws a horseshoe from the fire
   And beats it from red to peacock-blue and black,
   Purpling darker at each whack.
   Ding!  Dang!  Dong!
   Ding-a-ding-dong!
   It is a long time since any one spoke.
   Then the blacksmith brushes his hand over his eyes,
   "Well," he sighs,
   "He's broke."
   The Sergeant charges out from behind the bellows.
   "It's the green geese, I tell you,
   Their hearts are all whites and yellows,
   There's no red in them.  Red!
   That's what we want.  Fouche should be fed
   To the guillotine, and all Paris dance the carmagnole.
   That would breed jolly fine lick-bloods
   To lead his armies to victory."
   "Ancient history, Sergeant.
   He's done."
   "Say that again, Monsieur Charles, and I'll stun
   You where you stand for a dung-eating Royalist."
   The Sergeant gives the poker a savage twist;
   He is as purple as the cooling horseshoes.
   The air from the bellows creaks through the flues.
   Tap!  Tap!  The blacksmith shoes Victorine,
   And through the doorway a fine sheen
   Of leaves flutters, with the sun between.
   By a spurt of fire from the forge
   You can see the Sergeant, with swollen gorge,
   Puffing, and gurgling, and choking;
   The bellows keep on croaking.
   They wheeze,
   And sneeze,
   Creak!  Bang!  Squeeze!
   And the hammer strokes fall like buzzing bees
   Or pattering rain,
   Or faster than these,
   Like the hum of a waterfall struck by a breeze.
   Clank! from the bellows-chain pulled up and down.
   Clank!
   And sunshine twinkles on Victorine's flank,
   Starting it to blue,
   Dropping it to black.
   Clack!  Clack!
   Tap-a-tap!  Tap!
   Lord!  What galloping!  Some mishap
   Is making that man ride so furiously.
   "Francois, you!
   Victorine won't be through
   For another quarter of an hour."  "As you hope to die,
   Work faster, man, the order has come."
   "What order?  Speak out.  Are you dumb?"
   "A chaise, without arms on the panels, at the gate
   In the far side-wall, and just to wait.
   We must be there in half an hour with swift cattle.
   You're a stupid fool if you don't hear that rattle.
   Those are German guns.  Can't you guess the rest?
   Nantes, Rochefort, possibly Brest."
   Tap!  Tap! as though the hammers were mad.
   Dang!  Ding!  Creak!  The farrier's lad
   Jerks the bellows till he cracks their bones,
   And the stifled air hiccoughs and groans.
   The Sergeant is lying on the floor
   Stone dead, and his hat with the tricolore
   Cockade has rolled off into the cinders.  Victorine snorts and lays back
     her ears.
   What glistens on the anvil?  Sweat or tears?


       V

     St. Helena, May, 1821

   Tap!  Tap!  Tap!
   Through the white tropic night.
   Tap!  Tap!
   Beat the hammers,
   Unwearied, indefatigable.
   They are hanging dull black cloth about the dead.
   Lustreless black cloth
   Which chokes the radiance of the moonlight
   And puts out the little moving shadows of leaves.
   Tap!  Tap!
   The knocking makes the candles quaver,
   And the long black hangings waver
   Tap!  Tap!  Tap!
   Tap!  Tap!
   In the ears which do not heed.
   Tap!  Tap!
   Above the eyelids which do not flicker.
   Tap!  Tap!
   Over the hands which do not stir.
   Chiselled like a cameo of white agate against the hangings,
   Struck to brilliance by the falling moonlight,
   A face!
   Sharp as a frozen flame,
   Beautiful as an altar lamp of silver,
   And still.  Perfectly still.
   In the next room, the men chatter
   As they eat their midnight lunches.
   A knife hits against a platter.
   But the figure on the bed
   Between the stifling black hangings
   Is cold and motionless,
   Played over by the moonlight from the windows
   And the indistinct shadows of leaves.

   Tap!  Tap!
   Upholsterer Darling has a fine shop in Jamestown.
   Tap!  Tap!
   Andrew Darling has ridden hard from Longwood to see to the work in his shop
     in Jamestown.
   He has a corps of men in it, toiling and swearing,
   Knocking, and measuring, and planing, and squaring,
   Working from a chart with figures,
   Comparing with their rules,
   Setting this and that part together with their tools.
   Tap!  Tap!  Tap!
   Haste indeed!
   So great is the need
   That carpenters have been taken from the new church,
   Joiners have been called from shaping pews and lecterns
   To work of greater urgency.
   Coffins!
   Coffins is what they are making this bright Summer morning.
   Coffins--and all to measurement.
   There is a tin coffin,
   A deal coffin,
   A lead coffin,
   And Captain Bennett's best mahogany dining-table
   Has been sawed up for the grand outer coffin.
   Tap!  Tap!  Tap!
   Sunshine outside in the square,
   But inside, only hollow coffins and the tapping upon them.
   The men whistle,
   And the coffins grow under their hammers
   In the darkness of the shop.
   Tap!  Tap!  Tap!

   Tramp of men.
   Steady tramp of men.
   Slit-eyed Chinese with long pigtails
   Bearing oblong things upon their shoulders
   March slowly along the road to Longwood.
   Their feet fall softly in the dust of the road;
   Sometimes they call gutturally to each other and stop to shift shoulders.
   Four coffins for the little dead man,
   Four fine coffins,
   And one of them Captain Bennett's dining-table!
   And sixteen splendid Chinamen, all strong and able
   And of assured neutrality.
   Ah!  George of England, Lord Bathhurst & Co.
   Your princely munificence makes one's heart glow.
   Huzza!  Huzza!  For the Lion of England!

   Tap!  Tap!  Tap!
   Marble likeness of an Emperor,
   Dead man, who burst your heart against a world too narrow,
   The hammers drum you to your last throne
   Which always you shall hold alone.
   Tap!  Tap!
   The glory of your past is faded as a sunset fire,
   Your day lingers only like the tones of a wind-lyre
   In a twilit room.
   Here is the emptiness of your dream
   Scattered about you.
   Coins of yesterday,
   Double napoleons stamped with Consul or Emperor,
   Strange as those of Herculaneum--
   And you just dead!
   Not one spool of thread
   Will these buy in any market-place.
   Lay them over him,
   They are the baubles of a crown of mist
   Worn in a vision and melted away at waking.
   Tap!  Tap!
   His heart strained at kingdoms
   And now it is content with a silver dish.
   Strange World!  Strange Wayfarer!
   Strange Destiny!
   Lower it gently beside him and let it lie.
   Tap!  Tap!  Tap!



Two Travellers in the Place Vendome

   Reign of Louis Philippe



   A great tall column spearing at the sky
   With a little man on top.  Goodness!  Tell me why?
   He looks a silly thing enough to stand up there so high.

   What a strange fellow, like a soldier in a play,
   Tight-fitting coat with the tails cut away,
   High-crowned hat which the brims overlay.

   Two-horned hat makes an outline like a bow.
   Must have a sword, I can see the light glow
   Between a dark line and his leg.  Vertigo

   I get gazing up at him, a pygmy flashed with sun.
   A weathercock or scarecrow or both things in one?
   As bright as a jewelled crown hung above a throne.

   Say, what is the use of him if he doesn't turn?
   Just put up to glitter there, like a torch to burn,
   A sort of sacrificial show in a lofty urn?

   But why a little soldier in an obsolete dress?
   I'd rather see a Goddess with a spear, I confess.
   Something allegorical and fine.  Why, yes--

   I cannot take my eyes from him.  I don't know why at all.
   I've looked so long the whole thing swims.  I feel he ought to fall.
   Foreshortened there among the clouds he's pitifully small.

   What do you say?  There used to be an Emperor standing there,
   With flowing robes and laurel crown.  Really?  Yet I declare
   Those spiral battles round the shaft don't seem just his affair.

   A togaed, laurelled man's I mean.  Now this chap seems to feel
   As though he owned those soldiers.  Whew!  How he makes one reel,
   Swinging round above his circling armies in a wheel.

   Sweeping round the sky in an orbit like the sun's,
   Flashing sparks like cannon-balls from his own long guns.
   Perhaps my sight is tired, but that figure simply stuns.

   How low the houses seem, and all the people are mere flies.
   That fellow pokes his hat up till it scratches on the skies.
   Impudent!  Audacious!  But, by Jove, he blinds the eyes!



WAR PICTURES



The Allies

August 14th, 1914



Into the brazen, burnished sky, the cry hurls itself.  The zigzagging
cry of hoarse throats, it floats against the hard winds, and binds the
head of the serpent to its tail, the long snail-slow serpent of marching
men. Men weighed down with rifles and knapsacks, and parching with war.
The cry jars and splits against the brazen, burnished sky.

This is the war of wars, and the cause?  Has this writhing worm of men a
cause?

Crackling against the polished sky is an eagle with a sword.  The eagle
is red and its head is flame.


In the shoulder of the worm is a teacher.

His tongue laps the war-sucked air in drought, but he yells defiance at
the red-eyed eagle, and in his ears are the bells of new philosophies,
and their tinkling drowns the sputter of the burning sword.  He shrieks,
"God damn you!  When you are broken, the word will strike out new
shoots."

His boots are tight, the sun is hot, and he may be shot, but he is in
the shoulder of the worm.


A dust speck in the worm's belly is a poet.

He laughs at the flaring eagle and makes a long nose with his fingers.
He will fight for smooth, white sheets of paper, and uncurdled ink. The
sputtering sword cannot make him blink, and his thoughts are wet and
rippling.  They cool his heart.

He will tear the eagle out of the sky and give the earth tranquillity,
and loveliness printed on white paper.


The eye of the serpent is an owner of mills.

He looks at the glaring sword which has snapped his machinery and struck
away his men.

But it will all come again, when the sword is broken to a million dying
stars, and there are no more wars.


Bankers, butchers, shop-keepers, painters, farmers--men, sway and
sweat. They will fight for the earth, for the increase of the slow, sure
roots of peace, for the release of hidden forces.  They jibe at the
eagle and his scorching sword.

One!  Two!--One!  Two!--clump the heavy boots.  The cry hurtles
against the sky.

Each man pulls his belt a little tighter, and shifts his gun to make it
lighter.  Each man thinks of a woman, and slaps out a curse at the
eagle.  The sword jumps in the hot sky, and the worm crawls on to the
battle, stubbornly.

This is the war of wars, from eye to tail the serpent has one cause:
PEACE!



The Bombardment



Slowly, without force, the rain drops into the city.  It stops a moment
on the carved head of Saint John, then slides on again, slipping and
trickling over his stone cloak.  It splashes from the lead conduit of a
gargoyle, and falls from it in turmoil on the stones in the Cathedral
square. Where are the people, and why does the fretted steeple sweep
about in the sky? Boom!  The sound swings against the rain.  Boom,
again!  After it, only water rushing in the gutters, and the turmoil
from the spout of the gargoyle. Silence.  Ripples and mutters.  Boom!


The room is damp, but warm.  Little flashes swarm about from the
firelight. The lustres of the chandelier are bright, and clusters of
rubies leap in the bohemian glasses on the 'etagere'.  Her hands are
restless, but the white masses of her hair are quite still.  Boom!  Will
it never cease to torture, this iteration!  Boom!  The vibration
shatters a glass on the 'etagere'.  It lies there, formless and glowing,
with all its crimson gleams shot out of pattern, spilled, flowing red,
blood-red.  A thin bell-note pricks through the silence.  A door creaks.
The old lady speaks:  "Victor, clear away that broken glass."  "Alas!
Madame, the bohemian glass!"  "Yes, Victor, one hundred years ago my
father brought it--"  Boom!  The room shakes, the servitor quakes.
Another goblet shivers and breaks.  Boom!


It rustles at the window-pane, the smooth, streaming rain, and he is
shut within its clash and murmur.  Inside is his candle, his table, his
ink, his pen, and his dreams.  He is thinking, and the walls are pierced
with beams of sunshine, slipping through young green.  A fountain tosses
itself up at the blue sky, and through the spattered water in the basin
he can see copper carp, lazily floating among cold leaves.  A wind-harp
in a cedar-tree grieves and whispers, and words blow into his brain,
bubbled, iridescent, shooting up like flowers of fire, higher and
higher.  Boom! The flame-flowers snap on their slender stems.  The
fountain rears up in long broken spears of dishevelled water and
flattens into the earth.  Boom! And there is only the room, the table,
the candle, and the sliding rain. Again, Boom!--Boom!--Boom!  He
stuffs his fingers into his ears. He sees corpses, and cries out in
fright.  Boom!  It is night, and they are shelling the city!  Boom!
Boom!


A child wakes and is afraid, and weeps in the darkness.  What has made
the bed shake?  "Mother, where are you?  I am awake."  "Hush, my
Darling, I am here."  "But, Mother, something so queer happened, the
room shook." Boom!  "Oh!  What is it?  What is the matter?"  Boom!
"Where is Father? I am so afraid."  Boom!  The child sobs and shrieks.
The house trembles and creaks.  Boom!


Retorts, globes, tubes, and phials lie shattered.  All his trials oozing
across the floor.  The life that was his choosing, lonely, urgent,
goaded by a hope, all gone.  A weary man in a ruined laboratory, that is
his story.  Boom!  Gloom and ignorance, and the jig of drunken brutes.
Diseases like snakes crawling over the earth, leaving trails of slime.
Wails from people burying their dead.  Through the window, he can see
the rocking steeple.  A ball of fire falls on the lead of the roof, and
the sky tears apart on a spike of flame.  Up the spire, behind the
lacings of stone, zigzagging in and out of the carved tracings, squirms
the fire.  It spouts like yellow wheat from the gargoyles, coils round
the head of Saint John, and aureoles him in light.  It leaps into the
night and hisses against the rain.  The Cathedral is a burning stain on
the white, wet night.


Boom!  The Cathedral is a torch, and the houses next to it begin to
scorch. Boom!  The bohemian glass on the 'etagere' is no longer there.
Boom!  A stalk of flame sways against the red damask curtains. The old
lady cannot walk.  She watches the creeping stalk and counts.
Boom!--Boom!--Boom!


The poet rushes into the street, and the rain wraps him in a sheet of
silver. But it is threaded with gold and powdered with scarlet beads.
The city burns. Quivering, spearing, thrusting, lapping, streaming, run
the flames. Over roofs, and walls, and shops, and stalls.  Smearing its
gold on the sky, the fire dances, lances itself through the doors, and
lisps and chuckles along the floors.


The child wakes again and screams at the yellow petalled flower
flickering at the window.  The little red lips of flame creep along the
ceiling beams.


The old man sits among his broken experiments and looks at the burning
Cathedral.  Now the streets are swarming with people. They seek shelter
and crowd into the cellars.  They shout and call, and over all, slowly
and without force, the rain drops into the city. Boom!  And the steeple
crashes down among the people.  Boom!  Boom, again! The water rushes
along the gutters.  The fire roars and mutters.  Boom!



Lead Soldiers



The nursery fire burns brightly, crackling in cheerful little explosions
and trails of sparks up the back of the chimney.  Miniature rockets
peppering the black bricks with golden stars, as though a gala flamed a
night of victorious wars.

The nodding mandarin on the bookcase moves his head forward and back,
slowly, and looks into the air with his blue-green eyes.  He stares into
the air and nods--forward and back.  The red rose in his hand is a
crimson splash on his yellow coat.  Forward and back, and his blue-green
eyes stare into the air, and he nods--nods.


    Tommy's soldiers march to battle,
    Trumpets flare and snare-drums rattle.
    Bayonets flash, and sabres glance--
    How the horses snort and prance!
    Cannon drawn up in a line
    Glitter in the dizzy shine
    Of the morning sunlight.  Flags
    Ripple colours in great jags.
    Red blows out, then blue, then green,
    Then all three--a weaving sheen
    Of prismed patriotism.  March
    Tommy's soldiers, stiff and starch,
    Boldly stepping to the rattle
    Of the drums, they go to battle.


Tommy lies on his stomach on the floor and directs his columns. He puts
his infantry in front, and before them ambles a mounted band. Their
instruments make a strand of gold before the scarlet-tunicked soldiers,
and they take very long steps on their little green platforms, and from
the ranks bursts the song of Tommy's soldiers marching to battle. The
song jolts a little as the green platforms stick on the thick carpet.
Tommy wheels his guns round the edge of a box of blocks, and places a
squad of cavalry on the commanding eminence of a footstool.


The fire snaps pleasantly, and the old Chinaman nods--nods.  The fire
makes the red rose in his hand glow and twist.  Hist!  That is a bold
song Tommy's soldiers sing as they march along to battle.

Crack!  Rattle!  The sparks fly up the chimney.


    Tommy's army's off to war--
    Not a soldier knows what for.
    But he knows about his rifle,
    How to shoot it, and a trifle
    Of the proper thing to do
    When it's he who is shot through.
    Like a cleverly trained flea,
    He can follow instantly
    Orders, and some quick commands
    Really make severe demands
    On a mind that's none too rapid,
    Leaden brains tend to the vapid.
    But how beautifully dressed
    Is this army!  How impressed
    Tommy is when at his heel
    All his baggage wagons wheel
    About the patterned carpet, and
    Moving up his heavy guns
    He sees them glow with diamond suns
    Flashing all along each barrel.
    And the gold and blue apparel
    Of his gunners is a joy.
    Tommy is a lucky boy.
        Boom!  Boom!  Ta-ra!

The old mandarin nods under his purple umbrella.  The rose in his hand
shoots its petals up in thin quills of crimson.  Then they collapse and
shrivel like red embers.  The fire sizzles.


Tommy is galloping his cavalry, two by two, over the floor.  They must
pass the open terror of the door and gain the enemy encamped under the
wash-stand. The mounted band is very grand, playing allegro and leading
the infantry on at the double quick.  The tassel of the hearth-rug has
flung down the bass-drum, and he and his dapple-grey horse lie
overtripped, slipped out of line, with the little lead drumsticks
glistening to the fire's shine.

The fire burns and crackles, and tickles the tripped bass-drum with its
sparkles.

The marching army hitches its little green platforms valiantly, and
steadily approaches the door.  The overturned bass-drummer, lying on the
hearth-rug, melting in the heat, softens and sheds tears.  The song
jeers at his impotence, and flaunts the glory of the martial and still
upstanding, vaunting the deeds it will do.  For are not Tommy's soldiers
all bright and new?


    Tommy's leaden soldiers we,
    Glittering with efficiency.
    Not a button's out of place,
    Tons and tons of golden lace
    Wind about our officers.
    Every manly bosom stirs
    At the thought of killing--killing!
    Tommy's dearest wish fulfilling.
    We are gaudy, savage, strong,
    And our loins so ripe we long
    First to kill, then procreate,
    Doubling so the laws of Fate.
    On their women we have sworn
    To graft our sons.  And overborne
    They'll rear us younger soldiers, so
    Shall our race endure and grow,
    Waxing greater in the wombs
    Borrowed of them, while damp tombs
    Rot their men.  O Glorious War!
    Goad us with your points, Great Star!



The china mandarin on the bookcase nods slowly, forward and
back--forward and back--and the red rose writhes and wriggles,
thrusting its flaming petals under and over one another like tortured
snakes.

The fire strokes them with its dartles, and purrs at them, and the old
man nods.


Tommy does not hear the song.  He only sees the beautiful, new,
gaily-coloured lead soldiers.  They belong to him, and he is very proud
and happy.  He shouts his orders aloud, and gallops his cavalry past the
door to the wash-stand.  He creeps over the floor on his hands and knees
to one battalion and another, but he sees only the bright colours of his
soldiers and the beautiful precision of their gestures. He is a lucky
boy to have such fine lead soldiers to enjoy.


Tommy catches his toe in the leg of the wash-stand, and jars the
pitcher. He snatches at it with his hands, but it is too late.  The
pitcher falls, and as it goes, he sees the white water flow over its
lip.  It slips between his fingers and crashes to the floor.  But it is
not water which oozes to the door.  The stain is glutinous and dark, a
spark from the firelight heads it to red.  In and out, between the fine,
new soldiers, licking over the carpet, squirms the stream of blood,
lapping at the little green platforms, and flapping itself against the
painted uniforms.


The nodding mandarin moves his head slowly, forward and back. The rose
is broken, and where it fell is black blood.  The old mandarin leers
under his purple umbrella, and nods--forward and back, staring into
the air with blue-green eyes.  Every time his head comes forward a
rosebud pushes between his lips, rushes into full bloom, and drips to
the ground with a splashing sound.  The pool of black blood grows and
grows, with each dropped rose, and spreads out to join the stream from
the wash-stand.  The beautiful army of lead soldiers steps boldly
forward, but the little green platforms are covered in the rising stream
of blood.


The nursery fire burns brightly and flings fan-bursts of stars up the
chimney, as though a gala flamed a night of victorious wars.



The Painter on Silk



   There was a man
   Who made his living
   By painting roses
   Upon silk.

   He sat in an upper chamber
   And painted,
   And the noises of the street
   Meant nothing to him.

   When he heard bugles, and fifes, and drums,
   He thought of red, and yellow, and white roses
   Bursting in the sunshine,
   And smiled as he worked.

   He thought only of roses,
   And silk.
   When he could get no more silk
   He stopped painting
   And only thought
   Of roses.

   The day the conquerors
   Entered the city,
   The old man
   Lay dying.
   He heard the bugles and drums,
   And wished he could paint the roses
   Bursting into sound.



A Ballad of Footmen



   Now what in the name of the sun and the stars
   Is the meaning of this most unholy of wars?

   Do men find life so full of humour and joy
   That for want of excitement they smash up the toy?

   Fifteen millions of soldiers with popguns and horses
   All bent upon killing, because their "of courses"

   Are not quite the same.  All these men by the ears,
   And nine nations of women choking with tears.

   It is folly to think that the will of a king
   Can force men to make ducks and drakes of a thing

   They value, and life is, at least one supposes,
   Of some little interest, even if roses

   Have not grown up between one foot and the other.
   What a marvel bureaucracy is, which can smother

   Such quite elementary feelings, and tag
   A man with a number, and set him to wag

   His legs and his arms at the word of command
   Or the blow of a whistle!  He's certainly damned,

   Fit only for mince-meat, if a little gold lace
   And an upturned moustache can set him to face

   Bullets, and bayonets, and death, and diseases,
   Because some one he calls his Emperor, pleases.

   If each man were to lay down his weapon, and say,
   With a click of his heels, "I wish you Good-day,"

   Now what, may I ask, could the Emperor do?
   A king and his minions are really so few.

   Angry?  Oh, of course, a most furious Emperor!
   But the men are so many they need not mind his temper, or

   The dire results which could not be inflicted.
   With no one to execute sentence, convicted

   Is just the weak wind from an old, broken bellows.
   What lackeys men are, who might be such fine fellows!

   To be killing each other, unmercifully,
   At an order, as though one said, "Bring up the tea."

   Or is it that tasting the blood on their jaws
   They lap at it, drunk with its ferment, and laws

   So patiently builded, are nothing to drinking
   More blood, any blood.  They don't notice its stinking.

   I don't suppose tigers do, fighting cocks, sparrows,
   And, as to men--what are men, when their marrows

   Are running with blood they have gulped; it is plain
   Such excellent sport does not recollect pain.

   Toll the bells in the steeples left standing.  Half-mast
   The flags which meant order, for order is past.

   Take the dust of the streets and sprinkle your head,
   The civilization we've worked for is dead.

   Squeeze into this archway, the head of the line
   Has just swung round the corner to 'Die Wacht am Rhein'.



THE OVERGROWN PASTURE



Reaping



   You want to know what's the matter with me, do yer?
   My! ain't men blinder'n moles?
   It ain't nothin' new, be sure o' that.
   Why, ef you'd had eyes you'd ha' seed
   Me changin' under your very nose,
   Each day a little diff'rent.
   But you never see nothin', you don't.
   Don't touch me, Jake,
   Don't you dars't to touch me,
   I ain't in no humour.
   That's what's come over me;
   Jest a change clear through.
   You lay still, an' I'll tell yer,
   I've had it on my mind to tell yer
   Fer some time.
   It's a strain livin' a lie from mornin' till night,
   An' I'm goin' to put an end to it right now.
   An' don't make any mistake about one thing,
   When I married yer I loved yer.
   Why, your voice 'ud make
   Me go hot and cold all over,
   An' your kisses most stopped my heart from beatin'.
   Lord!  I was a silly fool.
   But that's the way 'twas.
   Well, I married yer
   An' thought Heav'n was comin'
   To set on the door-step.
   Heav'n didn't do no settin',
   Though the first year warn't so bad.
   The baby's fever threw you off some, I guess,
   An' then I took her death real hard,
   An' a mopey wife kind o' disgusts a man.
   I ain't blamin' yer exactly.
   But that's how 'twas.
   Do lay quiet,
   I know I'm slow, but it's harder to say 'n I thought.
   There come a time when I got to be
   More wife agin than mother.
   The mother part was sort of a waste
   When we didn't have no other child.
   But you'd got used ter lots o' things,
   An' you was all took up with the farm.
   Many's the time I've laid awake
   Watchin' the moon go clear through the elm-tree,
   Out o' sight.
   I'd foller yer around like a dog,
   An' set in the chair you'd be'n settin' in,
   Jest to feel its arms around me,
   So long's I didn't have yours.
   It preyed on me, I guess,
   Longin' and longin'
   While you was busy all day, and snorin' all night.
   Yes, I know you're wide awake now,
   But now ain't then,
   An' I guess you'll think diff'rent
   When I'm done.
   Do you mind the day you went to Hadrock?
   I didn't want to stay home for reasons,
   But you said someone 'd have to be here
   'Cause Elmer was comin' to see t' th' telephone.
   An' you never see why I was so set on goin' with yer,
   Our married life hadn't be'n any great shakes,
   Still marriage is marriage, an' I was raised God-fearin'.
   But, Lord, you didn't notice nothin',
   An' Elmer hangin' around all Winter!
   'Twas a lovely mornin'.
   The apple-trees was jest elegant
   With their blossoms all flared out,
   An' there warn't a cloud in the sky.
   You went, you wouldn't pay no 'tention to what I said,
   An' I heard the Ford chuggin' for most a mile,
   The air was so still.
   Then Elmer come.
   It's no use your frettin', Jake,
   I'll tell you all about it.
   I know what I'm doin',
   An' what's worse, I know what I done.
   Elmer fixed th' telephone in about two minits,
   An' he didn't seem in no hurry to go,
   An' I don't know as I wanted him to go either,
   I was awful mad at your not takin' me with yer,
   An' I was tired o' wishin' and wishin'
   An' gittin' no comfort.
   I guess it ain't necessary to tell yer all the things.
   He stayed to dinner,
   An' he helped me do the dishes,
   An' he said a home was a fine thing,
   An' I said dishes warn't a home
   Nor yet the room they're in.
   He said a lot o' things,
   An' I fended him off at first,
   But he got talkin' all around me,
   Clost up to the things I'd be'n thinkin',
   What's the use o' me goin' on, Jake,
   You know.
   He got all he wanted,
   An' I give it to him,
   An' what's more, I'm glad!
   I ain't dead, anyway,
   An' somebody thinks I'm somethin'.
   Keep away, Jake,
   You can kill me to-morrer if you want to,
   But I'm goin' to have my say.
   Funny thing!  Guess I ain't made to hold a man.
   Elmer ain't be'n here for mor'n two months.
   I don't want to pretend nothin',
   Mebbe if he'd be'n lately
   I shouldn't have told yer.
   I'll go away in the mornin', o' course.
   What you want the light fer?
   I don't look no diff'rent.
   Ain't the moon bright enough
   To look at a woman that's deceived yer by?
   Don't, Jake, don't, you can't love me now!
   It ain't a question of forgiveness.
   Why!  I'd be thinkin' o' Elmer ev'ry minute;
   It ain't decent.
   Oh, my God!  It ain't decent any more either way!



Off the Turnpike



   Good ev'nin', Mis' Priest.
   I jest stepped in to tell you Good-bye.
   Yes, it's all over.
   All my things is packed
   An' every last one o' them boxes
   Is on Bradley's team
   Bein' hauled over to th' depot.
   No, I ain't goin' back agin.
   I'm stoppin' over to French's fer to-night,
   And goin' down first train in th' mornin'.
   Yes, it do seem kinder queer
   Not to be goin' to see Cherry's Orchard no more,
   But Land Sakes!  When a change's comin',
   Why, I al'ays say it can't come too quick.
   Now, that's real kind o' you,
   Your doughnuts is always so tasty.
   Yes, I'm goin' to Chicago,
   To my niece,
   She's married to a fine man, hardware business,
   An' doin' real well, she tells me.
   Lizzie's be'n at me to go out ther for the longest while.
   She ain't got no kith nor kin to Chicago, you know
   She's rented me a real nice little flat,
   Same house as hers,
   An' I'm goin' to try that city livin' folks say's so pleasant.
   Oh, yes, he was real generous,
   Paid me a sight o' money fer the Orchard;
   I told him 'twouldn't yield nothin' but stones,
   But he ain't farmin' it.
   Lor', no, Mis' Priest,
   He's jest took it to set and look at the view.
   Mebbe he wouldn't be so stuck on the view
   Ef he'd seed it every mornin' and night for forty year
   Same's as I have.
   I dessay it's pretty enough,
   But it's so pressed into me
   I c'n see't with my eyes shut.
   No.  I ain't cold, Mis' Priest,
   Don't shut th' door.
   I'll be all right in a minit.
   But I ain't a mite sorry to leave that view.
   Well, mebbe 'tis queer to feel so,
   An' mebbe 'taint.
   My!  But that tea's revivin'.
   Old things ain't always pleasant things, Mis' Priest.
   No, no, I don't cal'late on comin' back,
   That's why I'd ruther be to Chicago,
   Boston's too near.
   It ain't cold, Mis' Priest,
   It's jest my thoughts.
   I ain't sick, only--
   Mis' Priest, ef you've nothin' ter take yer time,
   An' have a mind to listen,
   Ther's somethin' I'd like ter speak about
   I ain't never mentioned it,
   But I'd like to tell yer 'fore I go.
   Would you mind lowerin' them shades,
   Fall twilight's awful grey,
   An' that fire's real cosy with the shades drawed.
   Well, I guess folks about here think I've be'n dret'ful onsociable.
   You needn't say 'taint so, 'cause I know diff'rent.
   An' what's more, it's true.
   Well, the reason is I've be'n scared out o' my life.
   Scared ev'ry minit o' th' time, fer eight year.
   Eight mortal year 'tis, come next June.
   'Twas on the eighteenth o' June,
   Six months after I'd buried my husband,
   That somethin' happened ter me.
   Mebbe you'll mind that afore that
   I was a cheery body.
   Hiram was too,
   Al'ays liked to ask a neighbor in,
   An' ev'n when he died,
   Barrin' low sperrits, I warn't averse to seein' nobody.
   But that eighteenth o' June changed ev'rythin'.
   I was doin' most o' th' farmwork myself,
   With jest a hired boy, Clarence King, 'twas,
   Comin' in fer an hour or two.
   Well, that eighteenth o' June
   I was goin' round,
   Lockin' up and seein' to things 'fore I went to bed.
   I was jest steppin' out t' th' barn,
   Goin' round outside 'stead o' through the shed,
   'Cause there was such a sight o' moonlight
   Somehow or another I thought 'twould be pretty outdoors.
   I got settled for pretty things that night, I guess.
   I ain't stuck on 'em no more.
   Well, them laylock bushes side o' th' house
   Was real lovely.
   Glitt'rin' and shakin' in the moonlight,
   An' the smell o' them rose right up
   An' most took my breath away.
   The colour o' the spikes was all faded out,
   They never keep their colour when the moon's on 'em,
   But the smell fair 'toxicated me.
   I was al'ays partial to a sweet scent,
   An' I went close up t' th' bushes
   So's to put my face right into a flower.
   Mis' Priest, jest's I got breathin' in that laylock bloom
   I saw, layin' right at my feet,
   A man's hand!
   It was as white's the side o' th' house,
   And sparklin' like that lum'nous paint they put on gate-posts.
   I screamed right out,
   I couldn't help it,
   An' I could hear my scream
   Goin' over an' over
   In that echo be'ind th' barn.
   Hearin' it agin an' agin like that
   Scared me so, I dar'sn't scream any more.
   I jest stood ther,
   And looked at that hand.
   I thought the echo'd begin to hammer like my heart,
   But it didn't.
   There was only th' wind,
   Sighin' through the laylock leaves,
   An' slappin' 'em up agin the house.
   Well, I guess I looked at that hand
   Most ten minits,
   An' it never moved,
   Jest lay there white as white.
   After a while I got to thinkin' that o' course
   'Twas some drunken tramp over from Redfield.
   That calmed me some,
   An' I commenced to think I'd better git him out
   From under them laylocks.
   I planned to drag him in t' th' barn
   An' lock him in ther till Clarence come in th' mornin'.
   I got so mad thinkin' o' that all-fired brazen tramp
   Asleep in my laylocks,
   I jest stooped down and grabbed th' hand and give it an awful pull.
   Then I bumped right down settin' on the ground.
   Mis' Priest, ther warn't no body come with the hand.
   No, it ain't cold, it's jest that I can't abear thinkin' of it,
   Ev'n now.
   I'll take a sip o' tea.
   Thank you, Mis' Priest, that's better.
   I'd ruther finish now I've begun.
   Thank you, jest the same.
   I dropped the hand's ef it'd be'n red hot
   'Stead o' ice cold.
   Fer a minit or two I jest laid on that grass
   Pantin'.
   Then I up and run to them laylocks
   An' pulled 'em every which way.
   True es I'm settin' here, Mis' Priest,
   Ther warn't nothin' ther.
   I peeked an' pryed all about 'em,
   But ther warn't no man ther
   Neither livin' nor dead.
   But the hand was ther all right,
   Upside down, the way I'd dropped it,
   And glist'nin' fit to dazzle yer.
   I don't know how I done it,
   An' I don't know why I done it,
   But I wanted to git that dret'ful hand out o' sight
   I got in t' th' barn, somehow,
   An' felt roun' till I got a spade.
   I couldn't stop fer a lantern,
   Besides, the moonlight was bright enough in all conscience.
   Then I scooped that awful thing up in th' spade.
   I had a sight o' trouble doin' it.
   It slid off, and tipped over, and I couldn't bear
   Ev'n to touch it with my foot to prop it,
   But I done it somehow.
   Then I carried it off be'ind the barn,
   Clost to an old apple-tree
   Where you couldn't see from the house,
   An' I buried it,
   Good an' deep.

   I don't rec'lect nothin' more o' that night.
   Clarence woke me up in th' mornin',
   Hollerin' fer me to come down and set th' milk.
   When he'd gone,
   I stole roun' to the apple-tree
   And seed the earth all new turned
   Where I left it in my hurry.
   I did a heap o' gardenin'
   That mornin'.
   I couldn't cut no big sods
   Fear Clarence would notice and ask me what I wanted 'em fer,
   So I got teeny bits o' turf here and ther,
   And no one couldn't tell ther'd be'n any diggin'
   When I got through.
   They was awful days after that, Mis' Priest,
   I used ter go every mornin' and poke about them bushes,
   An' up and down the fence,
   Ter find the body that hand come off of.
   But I couldn't never find nothin'.
   I'd lay awake nights
   Hearin' them laylocks blowin' and whiskin'.
   At last I had Clarence cut 'em down
   An' make a big bonfire of 'em.
   I told him the smell made me sick,
   An' that warn't no lie,
   I can't abear the smell on 'em now;
   An' no wonder, es you say.
   I fretted somethin' awful 'bout that hand
   I wondered, could it be Hiram's,
   But folks don't rob graveyards hereabouts.
   Besides, Hiram's hands warn't that awful, starin' white.
   I give up seein' people,
   I was afeared I'd say somethin'.
   You know what folks thought o' me
   Better'n I do, I dessay,
   But mebbe now you'll see I couldn't do nothin' diff'rent.
   But I stuck it out,
   I warn't goin' to be downed
   By no loose hand, no matter how it come ther
   But that ain't the worst, Mis' Priest,
   Not by a long ways.
   Two year ago, Mr. Densmore made me an offer for Cherry's Orchard.
   Well, I'd got used to th' thought o' bein' sort o' blighted,
   An' I warn't scared no more.
   Lived down my fear, I guess.
   I'd kinder got used to th' thought o' that awful night,
   And I didn't mope much about it.
   Only I never went out o' doors by moonlight;
   That stuck.
   Well, when Mr. Densmore's offer come,
   I started thinkin' 'bout the place
   An' all the things that had gone on ther.
   Thinks I, I guess I'll go and see where I put the hand.
   I was foolhardy with the long time that had gone by.
   I know'd the place real well,
   Fer I'd put it right in between two o' the apple roots.
   I don't know what possessed me, Mis' Priest,
   But I kinder wanted to know
   That the hand had been flesh and bone, anyway.
   It had sorter bothered me, thinkin' I might ha' imagined it.
   I took a mornin' when the sun was real pleasant and warm;
   I guessed I wouldn't jump for a few old bones.
   But I did jump, somethin' wicked.
   Ther warn't no bones!
   Ther warn't nothin'!
   Not ev'n the gold ring I'd minded bein' on the little finger.
   I don't know ef ther ever was anythin'.
   I've worried myself sick over it.
   I be'n diggin' and diggin' day in and day out
   Till Clarence ketched me at it.
   Oh, I know'd real well what you all thought,
   An' I ain't sayin' you're not right,
   But I ain't goin' to end in no county 'sylum
   If I c'n help it.
   The shiv'rin' fits come on me sudden like.
   I know 'em, don't you trouble.
   I've fretted considerable about the 'sylum,
   I guess I be'n frettin' all the time I ain't be'n diggin'.
   But anyhow I can't dig to Chicago, can I?
   Thank you, Mis' Priest,
   I'm better now.  I only dropped in in passin'.
   I'll jest be steppin' along down to French's.
   No, I won't be seein' nobody in the mornin',
   It's a pretty early start.
   Don't you stand ther, Mis' Priest,
   The wind'll blow yer lamp out,
   An' I c'n see easy, I got aholt o' the gate now.
   I ain't a mite tired, thank you.
   Good-night.



The Grocery



   "Hullo, Alice!"
   "Hullo, Leon!"
   "Say, Alice, gi' me a couple
   O' them two for five cigars,
   Will yer?"
   "Where's your nickel?"
   "My!  Ain't you close!
   Can't trust a feller, can yer."
   "Trust you!  Why
   What you owe this store
   Would set you up in business.
   I can't think why Father 'lows it."
   "Yer Father's a sight more neighbourly
   Than you be.  That's a fact.
   Besides, he knows I got a vote."
   "A vote!  Oh, yes, you got a vote!
   A lot o' good the Senate'll be to Father
   When all his bank account
   Has run away in credits.
   There's your cigars,
   If you can relish smokin'
   With all you owe us standin'."
   "I dunno as that makes 'em taste any diff'rent.
   You ain't fair to me, Alice, 'deed you ain't.
   I work when anythin's doin'.
   I'll get a carpenterin' job next Summer sure.
   Cleve was tellin' me to-day he'd take me on come Spring."
   "Come Spring, and this December!
   I've no patience with you, Leon,
   Shilly-shallyin' the way you do.
   Here, lift over them crates o' oranges
   I wanter fix 'em in the winder."
   "It riles yer, don't it, me not havin' work.
   You pepper up about it somethin' good.
   You pick an' pick, and that don't help a mite.
   Say, Alice, do come in out o' that winder.
   Th' oranges c'n wait,
   An' I don't like talkin' to yer back."
   "Don't you!  Well, you'd better make the best o' what you can git.
   Maybe you won't have my back to talk to soon.
   They look good in pyramids with the 'lectric light on 'em,
   Don't they?
   Now hand me them bananas
   An' I'll string 'em right acrost."
   "What do yer mean
   'Bout me not havin' you to talk to?
   Are yer springin' somethin' on me?"
   "I don't know 'bout springin'
   When I'm tellin' you right out.
   I'm goin' away, that's all."
   "Where?  Why?
   What yer mean--goin' away?"
   "I've took a place
   Down to Boston, in a candy store
   For the holidays."
   "Good Land, Alice,
   What in the Heavens fer!"
   "To earn some money,
   And to git away from here, I guess."
   "Ain't yer Father got enough?
   Don't he give yer proper pocket-money?"
   "He'd have a plenty, if you folks paid him."
   "He's rich I tell yer.
   I never figured he'd be close with you."
   "Oh, he ain't.  Not close.
   That ain't why.
   But I must git away from here.
   I must!  I must!"
   "You got a lot o' reason in yer
   To-night.
   How long d' you cal'late
   You'll be gone?"
   "Maybe for always."
   "What ails yer, Alice?
   Talkin' wild like that.
   Ain't you an' me goin' to be married
   Some day."
   "Some day!  Some day!
   I guess the sun'll never rise on some day."
   "So that's the trouble.
   Same old story.
   'Cause I ain't got the cash to settle right now.
   You know I love yer,
   An' I'll marry yer as soon
   As I c'n raise the money."
   "You've said that any time these five year,
   But you don't do nothin'."
   "Wot could I do?
   Ther ain't no work here Winters.
   Not fer a carpenter, ther ain't."
   "I guess you warn't born a carpenter.
   Ther's ice-cuttin' a plenty."
   "I got a dret'ful tender throat;
   Dr. Smiles he told me
   I mustn't resk ice-cuttin'."
   "Why haven't you gone to Boston,
   And hunted up a job?"
   "Have yer forgot the time I went expressin'
   In the American office, down ther?"
   "And come back two weeks later!
   No, I ain't."
   "You didn't want I should git hurted,
   Did yer?
   I'm a sight too light fer all that liftin' work.
   My back was commencin' to strain, as 'twas.
   Ef I was like yer brother now,
   I'd ha' be'n down to the city long ago.
   But I'm too clumsy fer a dancer.
   I ain't got Arthur's luck."
   "Do you call it luck to be a disgrace to your folks,
   And git locked up in jail!"
   "Oh, come now, Alice,
   'Disgrace' is a mite strong.
   Why, the jail was a joke.
   Art's all right."
   "All right!
   All right to dance, and smirk, and lie
   For a livin',
   And then in the end
   Lead a silly girl to give you
   What warn't hers to give
   By pretendin' you'd marry her--
   And she a pupil."
   "He'd ha' married her right enough,
   Her folks was millionaires."
   "Yes, he'd ha' married her!
   Thank God, they saved her that."
   "Art's a fine feller.
   I wish I had his luck.
   Swellin' round in Hart, Schaffner & Marx fancy suits,
   And eatin' in rest'rants.
   But somebody's got to stick to the old place,
   Else Foxfield'd have to shut up shop,
   Hey, Alice?"
   "You admire him!
   You admire Arthur!
   You'd be like him only you can't dance.
   Oh, Shame!  Shame!
   And I've been like that silly girl.
   Fooled with your promises,
   And I give you all I had.
   I knew it, oh, I knew it,
   But I wanted to git away 'fore I proved it.
   You've shamed me through and through.
   Why couldn't you hold your tongue,
   And spared me seein' you
   As you really are."
   "What the Devil's the row?
   I only said Art was lucky.
   What you spitfirin' at me fer?
   Ferget it, Alice.
   We've had good times, ain't we?
   I'll see Cleve 'bout that job agin to-morrer,
   And we'll be married 'fore hayin' time."
   "It's like you to remind me o' hayin' time.
   I've good cause to love it, ain't I?
   Many's the night I've hid my face in the dark
   To shut out thinkin'!"
   "Why, that ain't nothin'.
   You ain't be'n half so kind to me
   As lots o' fellers' girls.
   Gi' me a kiss, Dear,
   And let's make up."
   "Make up!
   You poor fool.
   Do you suppose I care a ten cent piece
   For you now.
   You've killed yourself for me.
   Done it out o' your own mouth.
   You've took away my home,
   I hate the sight o' the place.
   You're all over it,
   Every stick an' stone means you,
   An' I hate 'em all."
   "Alice, I say,
   Don't go on like that.
   I can't marry yer
   Boardin' in one room,
   But I'll see Cleve to-morrer,
   I'll make him----"
   "Oh, you fool!
   You terrible fool!"
   "Alice, don't go yit,
   Wait a minit,
   I'll see Cleve----"
   "You terrible fool!"
   "Alice, don't go.
   Alice----"  (Door slams)



Number 3 on the Docket



   The lawyer, are you?
   Well!  I ain't got nothin' to say.
   Nothin'!
   I told the perlice I hadn't nothin'.
   They know'd real well 'twas me.
   Ther warn't no supposin',
   Ketchin' me in the woods as they did,
   An' me in my house dress.
   Folks don't walk miles an' miles
   In the drifted snow,
   With no hat nor wrap on 'em
   Ef everythin's all right, I guess.
   All right?  Ha!  Ha!  Ha!
   Nothin' warn't right with me.
   Never was.
   Oh, Lord!  Why did I do it?
   Why ain't it yesterday, and Ed here agin?
   Many's the time I've set up with him nights
   When he had cramps, or rheumatizm, or somethin'.
   I used ter nurse him same's ef he was a baby.
   I wouldn't hurt him, I love him!
   Don't you dare to say I killed him.  'Twarn't me!
   Somethin' got aholt o' me.  I couldn't help it.
   Oh, what shall I do!  What shall I do!
   Yes, Sir.
   No, Sir.
   I beg your pardon, I--I--
   Oh, I'm a wicked woman!
   An' I'm desolate, desolate!
   Why warn't I struck dead or paralyzed
   Afore my hands done it.
   Oh, my God, what shall I do!
   No, Sir, ther ain't no extenuatin' circumstances,
   An' I don't want none.
   I want a bolt o' lightnin'
   To strike me dead right now!
   Oh, I'll tell yer.
   But it won't make no diff'rence.
   Nothin' will.
   Yes, I killed him.
   Why do yer make me say it?
   It's cruel!  Cruel!
   I killed him because o' th' silence.
   The long, long silence,
   That watched all around me,
   And he wouldn't break it.
   I tried to make him,
   Time an' agin,
   But he was terrible taciturn, Ed was.
   He never spoke 'cept when he had to,
   An' then he'd only say "yes" and "no".
   You can't even guess what that silence was.
   I'd hear it whisperin' in my ears,
   An' I got frightened, 'twas so thick,
   An' al'ays comin' back.
   Ef Ed would ha' talked sometimes
   It would ha' driven it away;
   But he never would.
   He didn't hear it same as I did.
   You see, Sir,
   Our farm was off'n the main road,
   And set away back under the mountain;
   And the village was seven mile off,
   Measurin' after you'd got out o' our lane.
   We didn't have no hired man,
   'Cept in hayin' time;
   An' Dane's place,
   That was the nearest,
   Was clear way 'tother side the mountain.
   They used Marley post-office
   An' ours was Benton.
   Ther was a cart-track took yer to Dane's in Summer,
   An' it warn't above two mile that way,
   But it warn't never broke out Winters.
   I used to dread the Winters.
   Seem's ef I couldn't abear to see the golden-rod bloomin';
   Winter'd come so quick after that.
   You don't know what snow's like when yer with it
   Day in an' day out.
   Ed would be out all day loggin',
   An' I set at home and look at the snow
   Layin' over everythin';
   It 'ud dazzle me blind,
   Till it warn't white any more, but black as ink.
   Then the quiet 'ud commence rushin' past my ears
   Till I most went mad listenin' to it.
   Many's the time I've dropped a pan on the floor
   Jest to hear it clatter.
   I was most frantic when dinner-time come
   An' Ed was back from the woods.
   I'd ha' give my soul to hear him speak.
   But he'd never say a word till I asked him
   Did he like the raised biscuits or whatever,
   An' then sometimes he'd jest nod his answer.
   Then he'd go out agin,
   An' I'd watch him from the kitchin winder.
   It seemed the woods come marchin' out to meet him
   An' the trees 'ud press round him an' hustle him.
   I got so I was scared o' th' trees.
   I thought they come nearer,
   Every day a little nearer,
   Closin' up round the house.
   I never went in t' th' woods Winters,
   Though in Summer I liked 'em well enough.
   It warn't so bad when my little boy was with us.
   He used to go sleddin' and skatin',
   An' every day his father fetched him to school in the pung
   An' brought him back agin.
   We scraped an' scraped fer Neddy,
   We wanted him to have a education.
   We sent him to High School,
   An' then he went up to Boston to Technology.
   He was a minin' engineer,
   An' doin' real well,
   A credit to his bringin' up.
   But his very first position ther was an explosion in the mine.
   And I'm glad!  I'm glad!
   He ain't here to see me now.
   Neddy!  Neddy!
   I'm your mother still, Neddy.
   Don't turn from me like that.
   I can't abear it.  I can't!  I can't!
   What did you say?
   Oh, yes, Sir.
   I'm here.
   I'm very sorry,
   I don't know what I'm sayin'.
   No, Sir,
   Not till after Neddy died.
   'Twas the next Winter the silence come,
   I don't remember noticin' it afore.
   That was five year ago,
   An' it's been gittin' worse an' worse.
   I asked Ed to put in a telephone.
   I thought ef I felt the whisperin' comin' on
   I could ring up some o' th' folks.
   But Ed wouldn't hear of it.
   He said we'd paid so much for Neddy
   We couldn't hardly git along as 'twas.
   An' he never understood me wantin' to talk.
   Well, this year was worse'n all the others;
   We had a terrible spell o' stormy weather,
   An' the snow lay so thick
   You couldn't see the fences even.
   Out o' doors was as flat as the palm o' my hand,
   Ther warn't a hump or a holler
   Fer as you could see.
   It was so quiet
   The snappin' o' the branches back in the wood-lot
   Sounded like pistol shots.
   Ed was out all day
   Same as usual.
   An' it seemed he talked less'n ever.
   He didn't even say 'Good-mornin'', once or twice,
   An' jest nodded or shook his head when I asked him things.
   On Monday he said he'd got to go over to Benton
   Fer some oats.
   I'd oughter ha' gone with him,
   But 'twas washin' day
   An' I was afeared the fine weather'd break,
   An' I couldn't do my dryin'.
   All my life I'd done my work punctual,
   An' I couldn't fix my conscience
   To go junketin' on a washin'-day.
   I can't tell you what that day was to me.
   It dragged an' dragged,
   Fer ther warn't no Ed ter break it in the middle
   Fer dinner.
   Every time I stopped stirrin' the water
   I heerd the whisperin' all about me.
   I stopped oftener'n I should
   To see ef 'twas still ther,
   An' it al'ays was.
   An' gittin' louder
   It seemed ter me.
   Once I threw up the winder to feel the wind.
   That seemed most alive somehow.
   But the woods looked so kind of menacin'
   I closed it quick
   An' started to mangle's hard's I could,
   The squeakin' was comfortin'.
   Well, Ed come home 'bout four.
   I seen him down the road,
   An' I run out through the shed inter th' barn
   To meet him quicker.
   I hollered out, 'Hullo!'
   But he didn't say nothin',
   He jest drove right in
   An' climbed out o' th' sleigh
   An' commenced unharnessin'.
   I asked him a heap o' questions;
   Who he'd seed
   An' what he'd done.
   Once in a while he'd nod or shake,
   But most o' th' time he didn't do nothin'.
   'Twas gittin' dark then,
   An' I was in a state,
   With the loneliness
   An' Ed payin' no attention
   Like somethin' warn't livin'.
   All of a sudden it come,
   I don't know what,
   But I jest couldn't stand no more.
   It didn't seem 's though that was Ed,
   An' it didn't seem as though I was me.
   I had to break a way out somehow,
   Somethin' was closin' in
   An' I was stiflin'.
   Ed's loggin' axe was ther,
   An' I took it.
   Oh, my God!
   I can't see nothin' else afore me all the time.
   I run out inter th' woods,
   Seemed as ef they was pullin' me;
   An' all the time I was wadin' through the snow
   I seed Ed in front of me
   Where I'd laid him.
   An' I see him now.
   There!  There!
   What you holdin' me fer?
   I want ter go to Ed,
   He's bleedin'.
   Stop holdin' me.
   I got to go.
   I'm comin', Ed.
   I'll be ther in a minit.
   Oh, I'm so tired!
         (Faints)



CLOCKS TICK A CENTURY



Nightmare:  A Tale for an Autumn Evening

       After a Print by George Cruikshank



   It was a gusty night,
   With the wind booming, and swooping,
   Looping round corners,
   Sliding over the cobble-stones,
   Whipping and veering,
   And careering over the roofs
   Like a thousand clattering horses.
   Mr. Spruggins had been dining in the city,
   Mr. Spruggins was none too steady in his gait,
   And the wind played ball with Mr. Spruggins
   And laughed as it whistled past him.
   It rolled him along the street,
   With his little feet pit-a-patting on the flags of the sidewalk,
   And his muffler and his coat-tails blown straight out behind him.
   It bumped him against area railings,
   And chuckled in his ear when he said "Ouch!"
   Sometimes it lifted him clear off his little patting feet
   And bore him in triumph over three grey flagstones and a quarter.
   The moon dodged in and out of clouds, winking.
   It was all very unpleasant for Mr. Spruggins,
   And when the wind flung him hard against his own front door
   It was a relief,
   Although the breath was quite knocked out of him.
   The gas-lamp in front of the house flared up,
   And the keyhole was as big as a barn door;
   The gas-lamp flickered away to a sputtering blue star,
   And the keyhole went out with it.
   Such a stabbing, and jabbing,
   And sticking, and picking,
   And poking, and pushing, and prying
   With that key;
   And there is no denying that Mr. Spruggins rapped out an oath or two,
   Rub-a-dub-dubbing them out to a real snare-drum roll.
   But the door opened at last,
   And Mr. Spruggins blew through it into his own hall
   And slammed the door to so hard
   That the knocker banged five times before it stopped.
   Mr. Spruggins struck a light and lit a candle,
   And all the time the moon winked at him through the window.
   "Why couldn't you find the keyhole, Spruggins?"
   Taunted the wind.
   "I can find the keyhole."
   And the wind, thin as a wire,
   Darted in and seized the candle flame
   And knocked it over to one side
   And pummelled it down--down--down--!
   But Mr. Spruggins held the candle so close that it singed his chin,
   And ran and stumbled up the stairs in a surprisingly agile manner,
   For the wind through the keyhole kept saying, "Spruggins!  Spruggins!"
     behind him.
   The fire in his bedroom burned brightly.
   The room with its crimson bed and window curtains
   Was as red and glowing as a carbuncle.
   It was still and warm.
   There was no wind here, for the windows were fastened;
   And no moon,
   For the curtains were drawn.
   The candle flame stood up like a pointed pear
   In a wide brass dish.
   Mr. Spruggins sighed with content;
   He was safe at home.
   The fire glowed--red and yellow roses
   In the black basket of the grate--
   And the bed with its crimson hangings
   Seemed a great peony,
   Wide open and placid.
   Mr. Spruggins slipped off his top-coat and his muffler.
   He slipped off his bottle-green coat
   And his flowered waistcoat.
   He put on a flannel dressing-gown,
   And tied a peaked night-cap under his chin.
   He wound his large gold watch
   And placed it under his pillow.
   Then he tiptoed over to the window and pulled back the curtain.
   There was the moon dodging in and out of the clouds;
   But behind him was his quiet candle.
   There was the wind whisking along the street.
   The window rattled, but it was fastened.
   Did the wind say, "Spruggins"?
   All Mr. Spruggins heard was "S-s-s-s-s--"
   Dying away down the street.
   He dropped the curtain and got into bed.
   Martha had been in the last thing with the warming-pan;
   The bed was warm,
   And Mr. Spruggins sank into feathers,
   With the familiar ticking of his watch just under his head.
   Mr. Spruggins dozed.
   He had forgotten to put out the candle,
   But it did not make much difference as the fire was so bright...
   Too bright!
   The red and yellow roses pricked his eyelids,
   They scorched him back to consciousness.
   He tried to shift his position;
   He could not move.
   Something weighed him down,
   He could not breathe.
   He was gasping,
   Pinned down and suffocating.
   He opened his eyes.
   The curtains of the window were flung back,
   The fire and the candle were out,
   And the room was filled with green moonlight.
   And pressed against the window-pane
   Was a wide, round face,
   Winking--winking--
   Solemnly dropping one eyelid after the other.
   Tick--tock--went the watch under his pillow,
   Wink--wink--went the face at the window.
   It was not the fire roses which had pricked him,
   It was the winking eyes.
   Mr. Spruggins tried to bounce up;
   He could not, because--
   His heart flapped up into his mouth
   And fell back dead.
   On his chest was a fat pink pig,
   On the pig a blackamoor
   With a ten pound weight for a cap.
   His mustachios kept curling up and down like angry snakes,
   And his eyes rolled round and round,
   With the pupils coming into sight, and disappearing,
   And appearing again on the other side.
   The holsters at his saddle-bow were two port bottles,
   And a curved table-knife hung at his belt for a scimitar,
   While a fork and a keg of spirits were strapped to the saddle behind.
   He dug his spurs into the pig,
   Which trampled and snorted,
   And stamped its cloven feet deeper into Mr. Spruggins.
   Then the green light on the floor began to undulate.
   It heaved and hollowed,
   It rose like a tide,
   Sea-green,
   Full of claws and scales
   And wriggles.
   The air above his bed began to move;
   It weighed over him
   In a mass of draggled feathers.
   Not one lifted to stir the air.
   They drooped and dripped
   With a smell of port wine and brandy,
   Closing down, slowly,
   Trickling drops on the bed-quilt.
   Suddenly the window fell in with a great scatter of glass,
   And the moon burst into the room,
   Sizzling--"S-s-s-s-s--Spruggins!  Spruggins!"
   It rolled toward him,
   A green ball of flame,
   With two eyes in the center,
   A red eye and a yellow eye,
   Dropping their lids slowly,
   One after the other.
   Mr. Spruggins tried to scream,
   But the blackamoor
   Leapt off his pig
   With a cry,
   Drew his scimitar,
   And plunged it into Mr. Spruggins's mouth.

   Mr. Spruggins got up in the cold dawn
   And remade the fire.
   Then he crept back to bed
   By the light which seeped in under the window curtains,
   And lay there, shivering,
   While the bells of St. George the Martyr chimed the quarter after seven.



The Paper Windmill



The little boy pressed his face against the window-pane and looked out
at the bright sunshiny morning.  The cobble-stones of the square
glistened like mica.  In the trees, a breeze danced and pranced, and
shook drops of sunlight like falling golden coins into the brown water
of the canal.  Down stream slowly drifted a long string of galliots
piled with crimson cheeses.  The little boy thought they looked as if
they were roc's eggs, blocks of big ruby eggs.  He said, "Oh!" with
delight, and pressed against the window with all his might.


The golden cock on the top of the 'Stadhuis' gleamed.  His beak was open
like a pair of scissors and a narrow piece of blue sky was wedged in it.
"Cock-a-doodle-do," cried the little boy.  "Can't you hear me through
the window, Gold Cocky?  Cock-a-doodle-do!  You should crow when you see
the eggs of your cousin, the great roc."  But the golden cock stood
stock still, with his fine tail blowing in the wind. He could not
understand the little boy, for he said "Cocorico" when he said anything.
But he was hung in the air to swing, not to sing. His eyes glittered to
the bright West wind, and the crimson cheeses drifted away down the
canal.


It was very dull there in the big room.  Outside in the square, the wind
was playing tag with some fallen leaves.  A man passed, with a dogcart
beside him full of smart, new milkcans.  They rattled out a gay tune:
"Tiddity-tum-ti-ti.  Have some milk for your tea.  Cream for your coffee
to drink to-night, thick, and smooth, and sweet, and white," and the
man's sabots beat an accompaniment:  "Plop! trop! milk for your tea.
Plop! trop! drink it to-night."  It was very pleasant out there, but it
was lonely here in the big room.  The little boy gulped at a tear.


It was queer how dull all his toys were.  They were so still. Nothing
was still in the square.  If he took his eyes away a moment it had
changed.  The milkman had disappeared round the corner, there was only
an old woman with a basket of green stuff on her head, picking her way
over the shiny stones.  But the wind pulled the leaves in the basket
this way and that, and displayed them to beautiful advantage. The sun
patted them condescendingly on their flat surfaces, and they seemed
sprinkled with silver.  The little boy sighed as he looked at his
disordered toys on the floor.  They were motionless, and their colours
were dull. The dark wainscoting absorbed the sun.  There was none left
for toys.


The square was quite empty now.  Only the wind ran round and round it,
spinning.  Away over in the corner where a street opened into the
square, the wind had stopped.  Stopped running, that is, for it never
stopped spinning.  It whirred, and whirled, and gyrated, and turned. It
burned like a great coloured sun.  It hummed, and buzzed, and sparked,
and darted.  There were flashes of blue, and long smearing lines of
saffron, and quick jabs of green.  And over it all was a sheen like a
myriad cut diamonds.  Round and round it went, the huge wind-wheel, and
the little boy's head reeled with watching it.  The whole square was
filled with its rays, blazing and leaping round after one another,
faster and faster.  The little boy could not speak, he could only gaze,
staring in amaze.


The wind-wheel was coming down the square.  Nearer and nearer it came, a
great disk of spinning flame.  It was opposite the window now, and the
little boy could see it plainly, but it was something more than the wind
which he saw.  A man was carrying a huge fan-shaped frame on his
shoulder, and stuck in it were many little painted paper windmills, each
one scurrying round in the breeze.  They were bright and beautiful, and
the sight was one to please anybody, and how much more a little boy who
had only stupid, motionless toys to enjoy.


The little boy clapped his hands, and his eyes danced and whizzed, for
the circling windmills made him dizzy.  Closer and closer came the
windmill man, and held up his big fan to the little boy in the window of
the Ambassador's house.  Only a pane of glass between the boy and the
windmills.  They slid round before his eyes in rapidly revolving
splendour.  There were wheels and wheels of colours--big, little,
thick, thin--all one clear, perfect spin.  The windmill vendor dipped
and raised them again, and the little boy's face was glued to the
window-pane.  Oh!  What a glorious, wonderful plaything! Rings and rings
of windy colour always moving!  How had any one ever preferred those
other toys which never stirred.  "Nursie, come quickly.  Look! I want a
windmill.  See!  It is never still.  You will buy me one, won't you? I
want that silver one, with the big ring of blue."


So a servant was sent to buy that one:  silver, ringed with blue, and
smartly it twirled about in the servant's hands as he stood a moment to
pay the vendor.  Then he entered the house, and in another minute he was
standing in the nursery door, with some crumpled paper on the end of a
stick which he held out to the little boy.  "But I wanted a windmill
which went round," cried the little boy.  "That is the one you asked
for, Master Charles," Nursie was a bit impatient, she had mending to do.
"See, it is silver, and here is the blue."  "But it is only a blue
streak," sobbed the little boy.  "I wanted a blue ring, and this silver
doesn't sparkle."  "Well, Master Charles, that is what you wanted, now
run away and play with it, for I am very busy."


The little boy hid his tears against the friendly window-pane.  On the
floor lay the motionless, crumpled bit of paper on the end of its stick.
But far away across the square was the windmill vendor, with his big
wheel of whirring splendour.  It spun round in a blaze like a whirling
rainbow, and the sun gleamed upon it, and the wind whipped it, until it
seemed a maze of spattering diamonds.  "Cocorico!" crowed the golden
cock on the top of the 'Stadhuis'.  "That is something worth crowing
for." But the little boy did not hear him, he was sobbing over the
crumpled bit of paper on the floor.



The Red Lacquer Music-Stand



  A music-stand of crimson lacquer, long since brought
  In some fast clipper-ship from China, quaintly wrought
  With bossed and carven flowers and fruits in blackening gold,
  The slender shaft all twined about and thickly scrolled
  With vine leaves and young twisted tendrils, whirling, curling,
  Flinging their new shoots over the four wings, and swirling
  Out on the three wide feet in golden lumps and streams;
  Petals and apples in high relief, and where the seams
  Are worn with handling, through the polished crimson sheen,
  Long streaks of black, the under lacquer, shine out clean.
  Four desks, adjustable, to suit the heights of players
  Sitting to viols or standing up to sing, four layers
  Of music to serve every instrument, are there,
  And on the apex a large flat-topped golden pear.
  It burns in red and yellow, dusty, smouldering lights,
  When the sun flares the old barn-chamber with its flights
  And skips upon the crystal knobs of dim sideboards,
  Legless and mouldy, and hops, glint to glint, on hoards
  Of scythes, and spades, and dinner-horns, so the old tools
  Are little candles throwing brightness round in pools.
  With Oriental splendour, red and gold, the dust
  Covering its flames like smoke and thinning as a gust
  Of brighter sunshine makes the colours leap and range,
  The strange old music-stand seems to strike out and change;
  To stroke and tear the darkness with sharp golden claws;
  To dart a forked, vermilion tongue from open jaws;
  To puff out bitter smoke which chokes the sun; and fade
  Back to a still, faint outline obliterate in shade.
  Creeping up the ladder into the loft, the Boy
  Stands watching, very still, prickly and hot with joy.
  He sees the dusty sun-mote slit by streaks of red,
  He sees it split and stream, and all about his head
  Spikes and spears of gold are licking, pricking, flicking,
  Scratching against the walls and furniture, and nicking
  The darkness into sparks, chipping away the gloom.
  The Boy's nose smarts with the pungence in the room.
  The wind pushes an elm branch from before the door
  And the sun widens out all along the floor,
  Filling the barn-chamber with white, straightforward light,
  So not one blurred outline can tease the mind to fright.

    "O All ye Works of the Lord, Bless ye the Lord; Praise Him, and Magnify Him
      for ever.
    O let the Earth Bless the Lord; Yea, let it Praise Him, and Magnify Him
      for ever.
    O ye Mountains and Hills, Bless ye the Lord; Praise Him, and Magnify Him
      for ever.
    O All ye Green Things upon the Earth, Bless ye the Lord; Praise Him,
      and Magnify Him for ever."

  The Boy will praise his God on an altar builded fair,
  Will heap it with the Works of the Lord.  In the morning air,
  Spices shall burn on it, and by their pale smoke curled,
  Like shoots of all the Green Things, the God of this bright World
  Shall see the Boy's desire to pay his debt of praise.
  The Boy turns round about, seeking with careful gaze
  An altar meet and worthy, but each table and chair
  Has some defect, each piece is needing some repair
  To perfect it; the chairs have broken legs and backs,
  The tables are uneven, and every highboy lacks
  A handle or a drawer, the desks are bruised and worn,
  And even a wide sofa has its cane seat torn.
  Only in the gloom far in the corner there
  The lacquer music-stand is elegant and rare,
  Clear and slim of line, with its four wings outspread,
  The sound of old quartets, a tenuous, faint thread,
  Hanging and floating over it, it stands supreme--
  Black, and gold, and crimson, in one twisted scheme!

  A candle on the bookcase feels a draught and wavers,
  Stippling the white-washed walls with dancing shades and quavers.
  A bed-post, grown colossal, jigs about the ceiling,
  And shadows, strangely altered, stain the walls, revealing
  Eagles, and rabbits, and weird faces pulled awry,
  And hands which fetch and carry things incessantly.
  Under the Eastern window, where the morning sun
  Must touch it, stands the music-stand, and on each one
  Of its broad platforms is a pyramid of stones,
  And metals, and dried flowers, and pine and hemlock cones,
  An oriole's nest with the four eggs neatly blown,
  The rattle of a rattlesnake, and three large brown
  Butternuts uncracked, six butterflies impaled
  With a green luna moth, a snake-skin freshly scaled,
  Some sunflower seeds, wampum, and a bloody-tooth shell,
  A blue jay feather, all together piled pell-mell
  The stand will hold no more.  The Boy with humming head
  Looks once again, blows out the light, and creeps to bed.

  The Boy keeps solemn vigil, while outside the wind
  Blows gustily and clear, and slaps against the blind.
  He hardly tries to sleep, so sharp his ecstasy
  It burns his soul to emptiness, and sets it free
  For adoration only, for worship.  Dedicate,
  His unsheathed soul is naked in its novitiate.
  The hours strike below from the clock on the stair.
  The Boy is a white flame suspiring in prayer.
  Morning will bring the sun, the Golden Eye of Him
  Whose splendour must be veiled by starry cherubim,
  Whose Feet shimmer like crystal in the streets of Heaven.
  Like an open rose the sun will stand up even,
  Fronting the window-sill, and when the casement glows
  Rose-red with the new-blown morning, then the fire which flows
  From the sun will fall upon the altar and ignite
  The spices, and his sacrifice will burn in perfumed light.
  Over the music-stand the ghosts of sounds will swim,
  'Viols d'amore' and 'hautbois' accorded to a hymn.
  The Boy will see the faintest breath of angels' wings
  Fanning the smoke, and voices will flower through the strings.
  He dares no farther vision, and with scalding eyes
  Waits upon the daylight and his great emprise.

  The cold, grey light of dawn was whitening the wall
  When the Boy, fine-drawn by sleeplessness, started his ritual.
  He washed, all shivering and pointed like a flame.
  He threw the shutters open, and in the window-frame
  The morning glimmered like a tarnished Venice glass.
  He took his Chinese pastilles and put them in a mass
  Upon the mantelpiece till he could seek a plate
  Worthy to hold them burning.  Alas!  He had been late
  In thinking of this need, and now he could not find
  Platter or saucer rare enough to ease his mind.
  The house was not astir, and he dared not go down
  Into the barn-chamber, lest some door should be blown
  And slam before the draught he made as he went out.
  The light was growing yellower, and still he looked about.
  A flash of almost crimson from the gilded pear
  Upon the music-stand, startled him waiting there.
  The sun would rise and he would meet it unprepared,
  Labelled a fool in having missed what he had dared.
  He ran across the room, took his pastilles and laid
  Them on the flat-topped pear, most carefully displayed
  To light with ease, then stood a little to one side,
  Focussed a burning-glass and painstakingly tried
  To hold it angled so the bunched and prismed rays
  Should leap upon each other and spring into a blaze.
  Sharp as a wheeling edge of disked, carnation flame,
  Gem-hard and cutting upward, slowly the round sun came.
  The arrowed fire caught the burning-glass and glanced,
  Split to a multitude of pointed spears, and lanced,
  A deeper, hotter flame, it took the incense pile
  Which welcomed it and broke into a little smile
  Of yellow flamelets, creeping, crackling, thrusting up,
  A golden, red-slashed lily in a lacquer cup.

    "O ye Fire and Heat, Bless ye the Lord; Praise Him, and Magnify Him
      for ever.
    O ye Winter and Summer, Bless ye the Lord; Praise Him, and Magnify Him
      for ever.
    O ye Nights and Days, Bless ye the Lord; Praise Him, and Magnify Him
      for ever.
    O ye Lightnings and Clouds, Bless ye the Lord; Praise Him, and Magnify Him
      for ever."

  A moment so it hung, wide-curved, bright-petalled, seeming
  A chalice foamed with sunrise.  The Boy woke from his dreaming.
  A spike of flame had caught the card of butterflies,
  The oriole's nest took fire, soon all four galleries
  Where he had spread his treasures were become one tongue
  Of gleaming, brutal fire.  The Boy instantly swung
  His pitcher off the wash-stand and turned it upside down.
  The flames drooped back and sizzled, and all his senses grown
  Acute by fear, the Boy grabbed the quilt from his bed
  And flung it over all, and then with aching head
  He watched the early sunshine glint on the remains
  Of his holy offering.  The lacquer stand had stains
  Ugly and charred all over, and where the golden pear
  Had been, a deep, black hole gaped miserably.  His dear
  Treasures were puffs of ashes; only the stones were there,
  Winking in the brightness.
                              The clock upon the stair
  Struck five, and in the kitchen someone shook a grate.
  The Boy began to dress, for it was getting late.



Spring Day


Bath

The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and
narcissus in the air.

The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the
water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white.  It
cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright
light.

Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance,
dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir
of my finger sets them whirring, reeling.  I move a foot, and the planes
of light in the water jar.  I lie back and laugh, and let the
green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me.  The day is
almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright
day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots.

The sky is blue and high.  A crow flaps by the window, and there is a
whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.


Breakfast Table

In the fresh-washed sunlight, the breakfast table is decked and white.
It offers itself in flat surrender, tendering tastes, and smells, and
colours, and metals, and grains, and the white cloth falls over its
side, draped and wide.  Wheels of white glitter in the silver
coffee-pot, hot and spinning like catherine-wheels, they whirl, and
twirl--and my eyes begin to smart, the little white, dazzling wheels
prick them like darts. Placid and peaceful, the rolls of bread spread
themselves in the sun to bask. A stack of butter-pats, pyramidal, shout
orange through the white, scream, flutter, call:  "Yellow!  Yellow!
Yellow!"  Coffee steam rises in a stream, clouds the silver tea-service
with mist, and twists up into the sunlight, revolved, involuted,
suspiring higher and higher, fluting in a thin spiral up the high blue
sky.  A crow flies by and croaks at the coffee steam. The day is new and
fair with good smells in the air.


Walk

Over the street the white clouds meet, and sheer away without touching.

On the sidewalks, boys are playing marbles.  Glass marbles, with amber
and blue hearts, roll together and part with a sweet clashing noise.
The boys strike them with black and red striped agates. The glass
marbles spit crimson when they are hit, and slip into the gutters under
rushing brown water.  I smell tulips and narcissus in the air, but there
are no flowers anywhere, only white dust whipping up the street, and a
girl with a gay Spring hat and blowing skirts.  The dust and the wind
flirt at her ankles and her neat, high-heeled patent leather shoes.
Tap, tap, the little heels pat the pavement, and the wind rustles among
the flowers on her hat.

A water-cart crawls slowly on the other side of the way.  It is green
and gay with new paint, and rumbles contentedly, sprinkling clear water
over the white dust.  Clear zigzagging water, which smells of tulips and
narcissus.

The thickening branches make a pink 'grisaille' against the blue sky.

Whoop!  The clouds go dashing at each other and sheer away just in time.
Whoop!  And a man's hat careers down the street in front of the white
dust, leaps into the branches of a tree, veers away and trundles ahead
of the wind, jarring the sunlight into spokes of rose-colour and green.

A motor-car cuts a swathe through the bright air, sharp-beaked,
irresistible, shouting to the wind to make way.  A glare of dust and
sunshine tosses together behind it, and settles down.  The sky is quiet
and high, and the morning is fair with fresh-washed air.


Midday and Afternoon

Swirl of crowded streets.  Shock and recoil of traffic.  The stock-still
brick facade of an old church, against which the waves of people lurch
and withdraw.  Flare of sunshine down side-streets.  Eddies of light in
the windows of chemists' shops, with their blue, gold, purple jars,
darting colours far into the crowd.  Loud bangs and tremors, murmurings
out of high windows, whirring of machine belts, blurring of horses and
motors.  A quick spin and shudder of brakes on an electric car, and the
jar of a church-bell knocking against the metal blue of the sky.  I am a
piece of the town, a bit of blown dust, thrust along with the crowd.
Proud to feel the pavement under me, reeling with feet.  Feet tripping,
skipping, lagging, dragging, plodding doggedly, or springing up and
advancing on firm elastic insteps. A boy is selling papers, I smell them
clean and new from the press. They are fresh like the air, and pungent
as tulips and narcissus.

The blue sky pales to lemon, and great tongues of gold blind the
shop-windows, putting out their contents in a flood of flame.


Night and Sleep

The day takes her ease in slippered yellow.  Electric signs gleam out
along the shop fronts, following each other.  They grow, and grow, and
blow into patterns of fire-flowers as the sky fades.  Trades scream in
spots of light at the unruffled night.  Twinkle, jab, snap, that means a
new play; and over the way:  plop, drop, quiver, is the sidelong sliver
of a watchmaker's sign with its length on another street. A gigantic mug
of beer effervesces to the atmosphere over a tall building, but the sky
is high and has her own stars, why should she heed ours?

I leave the city with speed.  Wheels whirl to take me back to my trees
and my quietness.  The breeze which blows with me is fresh-washed and
clean, it has come but recently from the high sky.  There are no flowers
in bloom yet, but the earth of my garden smells of tulips and narcissus.

My room is tranquil and friendly.  Out of the window I can see the
distant city, a band of twinkling gems, little flower-heads with no
stems. I cannot see the beer-glass, nor the letters of the restaurants
and shops I passed, now the signs blur and all together make the city,
glowing on a night of fine weather, like a garden stirring and blowing
for the Spring.

The night is fresh-washed and fair and there is a whiff of flowers in
the air.

Wrap me close, sheets of lavender.  Pour your blue and purple dreams
into my ears.  The breeze whispers at the shutters and mutters queer
tales of old days, and cobbled streets, and youths leaping their horses
down marble stairways.  Pale blue lavender, you are the colour of the
sky when it is fresh-washed and fair... I smell the stars... they
are like tulips and narcissus... I smell them in the air.



The Dinner-Party



       Fish

   "So..." they said,
   With their wine-glasses delicately poised,
   Mocking at the thing they cannot understand.
   "So..." they said again,
   Amused and insolent.
   The silver on the table glittered,
   And the red wine in the glasses
   Seemed the blood I had wasted
   In a foolish cause.


       Game

   The gentleman with the grey-and-black whiskers
   Sneered languidly over his quail.
   Then my heart flew up and laboured,
   And I burst from my own holding
   And hurled myself forward.
   With straight blows I beat upon him,
   Furiously, with red-hot anger, I thrust against him.
   But my weapon slithered over his polished surface,
   And I recoiled upon myself,
   Panting.


       Drawing-Room

   In a dress all softness and half-tones,
   Indolent and half-reclined,
   She lay upon a couch,
   With the firelight reflected in her jewels.
   But her eyes had no reflection,
   They swam in a grey smoke,
   The smoke of smouldering ashes,
   The smoke of her cindered heart.


       Coffee

   They sat in a circle with their coffee-cups.
   One dropped in a lump of sugar,
   One stirred with a spoon.
   I saw them as a circle of ghosts
   Sipping blackness out of beautiful china,
   And mildly protesting against my coarseness
   In being alive.


       Talk

   They took dead men's souls
   And pinned them on their breasts for ornament;
   Their cuff-links and tiaras
   Were gems dug from a grave;
   They were ghouls battening on exhumed thoughts;
   And I took a green liqueur from a servant
   So that he might come near me
   And give me the comfort of a living thing.


       Eleven O'Clock

   The front door was hard and heavy,
   It shut behind me on the house of ghosts.
   I flattened my feet on the pavement
   To feel it solid under me;
   I ran my hand along the railings
   And shook them,
   And pressed their pointed bars
   Into my palms.
   The hurt of it reassured me,
   And I did it again and again
   Until they were bruised.
   When I woke in the night
   I laughed to find them aching,
   For only living flesh can suffer.



Stravinsky's Three Pieces "Grotesques", for String Quartet



       First Movement

   Thin-voiced, nasal pipes
   Drawing sound out and out
   Until it is a screeching thread,
   Sharp and cutting, sharp and cutting,
   It hurts.
   Whee-e-e!
   Bump!  Bump!  Tong-ti-bump!
   There are drums here,
   Banging,
   And wooden shoes beating the round, grey stones
   Of the market-place.
   Whee-e-e!
   Sabots slapping the worn, old stones,
   And a shaking and cracking of dancing bones;
   Clumsy and hard they are,
   And uneven,
   Losing half a beat
   Because the stones are slippery.
   Bump-e-ty-tong!  Whee-e-e!  Tong!
   The thin Spring leaves
   Shake to the banging of shoes.
   Shoes beat, slap,
   Shuffle, rap,
   And the nasal pipes squeal with their pigs' voices,
   Little pigs' voices
   Weaving among the dancers,
   A fine white thread
   Linking up the dancers.
   Bang!  Bump!  Tong!
   Petticoats,
   Stockings,
   Sabots,
   Delirium flapping its thigh-bones;
   Red, blue, yellow,
   Drunkenness steaming in colours;
   Red, yellow, blue,
   Colours and flesh weaving together,
   In and out, with the dance,
   Coarse stuffs and hot flesh weaving together.
   Pigs' cries white and tenuous,
   White and painful,
   White and--
   Bump!
   Tong!


       Second Movement

   Pale violin music whiffs across the moon,
   A pale smoke of violin music blows over the moon,
   Cherry petals fall and flutter,
   And the white Pierrot,
   Wreathed in the smoke of the violins,
   Splashed with cherry petals falling, falling,
   Claws a grave for himself in the fresh earth
   With his finger-nails.


       Third Movement

   An organ growls in the heavy roof-groins of a church,
   It wheezes and coughs.
   The nave is blue with incense,
   Writhing, twisting,
   Snaking over the heads of the chanting priests.
      'Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine';
   The priests whine their bastard Latin
   And the censers swing and click.
   The priests walk endlessly
   Round and round,
   Droning their Latin
   Off the key.
   The organ crashes out in a flaring chord,
   And the priests hitch their chant up half a tone.
      'Dies illa, dies irae,
      Calamitatis et miseriae,
      Dies magna et amara valde.'
   A wind rattles the leaded windows.
   The little pear-shaped candle flames leap and flutter,
      'Dies illa, dies irae;'
   The swaying smoke drifts over the altar,
      'Calamitatis et miseriae;'
   The shuffling priests sprinkle holy water,
      'Dies magna et amara valde;'
   And there is a stark stillness in the midst of them
   Stretched upon a bier.
   His ears are stone to the organ,
   His eyes are flint to the candles,
   His body is ice to the water.
   Chant, priests,
   Whine, shuffle, genuflect,
   He will always be as rigid as he is now
   Until he crumbles away in a dust heap.
      'Lacrymosa dies illa,
      Qua resurget ex favilla
      Judicandus homo reus.'
   Above the grey pillars the roof is in darkness.



Towns in Colour



    I

 Red Slippers

Red slippers in a shop-window, and outside in the street, flaws of grey,
windy sleet!


Behind the polished glass, the slippers hang in long threads of red,
festooning from the ceiling like stalactites of blood, flooding the eyes
of passers-by with dripping colour, jamming their crimson reflections
against the windows of cabs and tram-cars, screaming their claret and
salmon into the teeth of the sleet, plopping their little round maroon
lights upon the tops of umbrellas.

The row of white, sparkling shop fronts is gashed and bleeding, it
bleeds red slippers.  They spout under the electric light, fluid and
fluctuating, a hot rain--and freeze again to red slippers, myriadly
multiplied in the mirror side of the window.


They balance upon arched insteps like springing bridges of crimson
lacquer; they swing up over curved heels like whirling tanagers sucked
in a wind-pocket; they flatten out, heelless, like July ponds, flared
and burnished by red rockets.

Snap, snap, they are cracker-sparks of scarlet in the white, monotonous
block of shops.

They plunge the clangour of billions of vermilion trumpets into the
crowd outside, and echo in faint rose over the pavement.


People hurry by, for these are only shoes, and in a window, farther
down, is a big lotus bud of cardboard whose petals open every few
minutes and reveal a wax doll, with staring bead eyes and flaxen hair,
lolling awkwardly in its flower chair.

One has often seen shoes, but whoever saw a cardboard lotus bud before?


The flaws of grey, windy sleet beat on the shop-window where there are
only red slippers.



    II

 Thompson's Lunch Room--Grand Central Station

    Study in Whites


   Wax-white--
   Floor, ceiling, walls.
   Ivory shadows
   Over the pavement
   Polished to cream surfaces
   By constant sweeping.
   The big room is coloured like the petals
   Of a great magnolia,
   And has a patina
   Of flower bloom
   Which makes it shine dimly
   Under the electric lamps.
   Chairs are ranged in rows
   Like sepia seeds
   Waiting fulfilment.
   The chalk-white spot of a cook's cap
   Moves unglossily against the vaguely bright wall--
   Dull chalk-white striking the retina like a blow
   Through the wavering uncertainty of steam.
   Vitreous-white of glasses with green reflections,
   Ice-green carboys, shifting--greener, bluer--with the jar of moving water.
   Jagged green-white bowls of pressed glass
   Rearing snow-peaks of chipped sugar
   Above the lighthouse-shaped castors
   Of grey pepper and grey-white salt.
   Grey-white placards:  "Oyster Stew, Cornbeef Hash, Frankfurters":
   Marble slabs veined with words in meandering lines.
   Dropping on the white counter like horn notes
   Through a web of violins,
   The flat yellow lights of oranges,
   The cube-red splashes of apples,
   In high plated 'epergnes'.
   The electric clock jerks every half-minute:
   "Coming!--Past!"
   "Three beef-steaks and a chicken-pie,"
   Bawled through a slide while the clock jerks heavily.
   A man carries a china mug of coffee to a distant chair.
   Two rice puddings and a salmon salad
   Are pushed over the counter;
   The unfulfilled chairs open to receive them.
   A spoon falls upon the floor with the impact of metal striking stone,
   And the sound throws across the room
   Sharp, invisible zigzags
   Of silver.



       III

    An Opera House


   Within the gold square of the proscenium arch,
   A curtain of orange velvet hangs in stiff folds,
   Its tassels jarring slightly when someone crosses the stage behind.
   Gold carving edges the balconies,
   Rims the boxes,
   Runs up and down fluted pillars.
   Little knife-stabs of gold
   Shine out whenever a box door is opened.
   Gold clusters
   Flash in soft explosions
   On the blue darkness,
   Suck back to a point,
   And disappear.
   Hoops of gold
   Circle necks, wrists, fingers,
   Pierce ears,
   Poise on heads
   And fly up above them in coloured sparkles.
   Gold!
   Gold!
   The opera house is a treasure-box of gold.
   Gold in a broad smear across the orchestra pit:
   Gold of horns, trumpets, tubas;
   Gold--spun-gold, twittering-gold, snapping-gold
   Of harps.
   The conductor raises his baton,
   The brass blares out
   Crass, crude,
   Parvenu, fat, powerful,
   Golden.
   Rich as the fat, clapping hands in the boxes.
   Cymbals, gigantic, coin-shaped,
   Crash.
   The orange curtain parts
   And the prima-donna steps forward.
   One note,
   A drop:  transparent, iridescent,
   A gold bubble,
   It floats... floats...
   And bursts against the lips of a bank president
   In the grand tier.



       IV

    Afternoon Rain in State Street


   Cross-hatchings of rain against grey walls,
   Slant lines of black rain
   In front of the up and down, wet stone sides of buildings.
   Below,
   Greasy, shiny, black, horizontal,
   The street.
   And over it, umbrellas,
   Black polished dots
   Struck to white
   An instant,
   Stream in two flat lines
   Slipping past each other with the smoothness of oil.
   Like a four-sided wedge
   The Custom House Tower
   Pokes at the low, flat sky,
   Pushing it farther and farther up,
   Lifting it away from the house-tops,
   Lifting it in one piece as though it were a sheet of tin,
   With the lever of its apex.
   The cross-hatchings of rain cut the Tower obliquely,
   Scratching lines of black wire across it,
   Mutilating its perpendicular grey surface
   With the sharp precision of tools.
   The city is rigid with straight lines and angles,
   A chequered table of blacks and greys.
   Oblong blocks of flatness
   Crawl by with low-geared engines,
   And pass to short upright squares
   Shrinking with distance.
   A steamer in the basin blows its whistle,
   And the sound shoots across the rain hatchings,
   A narrow, level bar of steel.
   Hard cubes of lemon
   Superimpose themselves upon the fronts of buildings
   As the windows light up.
   But the lemon cubes are edged with angles
   Upon which they cannot impinge.
   Up, straight, down, straight--square.
   Crumpled grey-white papers
   Blow along the side-walks,
   Contorted, horrible,
   Without curves.
   A horse steps in a puddle,
   And white, glaring water spurts up
   In stiff, outflaring lines,
   Like the rattling stems of reeds.
   The city is heraldic with angles,
   A sombre escutcheon of argent and sable
   And countercoloured bends of rain
   Hung over a four-square civilization.
   When a street lamp comes out,
   I gaze at it for fully thirty seconds
   To rest my brain with the suffusing, round brilliance of its globe.



       V

    An Aquarium


   Streaks of green and yellow iridescence,
   Silver shiftings,
   Rings veering out of rings,
   Silver--gold--
   Grey-green opaqueness sliding down,
   With sharp white bubbles
   Shooting and dancing,
   Flinging quickly outward.
   Nosing the bubbles,
   Swallowing them,
   Fish.
   Blue shadows against silver-saffron water,
   The light rippling over them
   In steel-bright tremors.
   Outspread translucent fins
   Flute, fold, and relapse;
   The threaded light prints through them on the pebbles
   In scarcely tarnished twinklings.
   Curving of spotted spines,
   Slow up-shifts,
   Lazy convolutions:
   Then a sudden swift straightening
   And darting below:
   Oblique grey shadows
   Athwart a pale casement.
   Roped and curled,
   Green man-eating eels
   Slumber in undulate rhythms,
   With crests laid horizontal on their backs.
   Barred fish,
   Striped fish,
   Uneven disks of fish,
   Slip, slide, whirl, turn,
   And never touch.
   Metallic blue fish,
   With fins wide and yellow and swaying
   Like Oriental fans,
   Hold the sun in their bellies
   And glow with light:
   Blue brilliance cut by black bars.
   An oblong pane of straw-coloured shimmer,
   Across it, in a tangent,
   A smear of rose, black, silver.
   Short twists and upstartings,
   Rose-black, in a setting of bubbles:
   Sunshine playing between red and black flowers
   On a blue and gold lawn.
   Shadows and polished surfaces,
   Facets of mauve and purple,
   A constant modulation of values.
   Shaft-shaped,
   With green bead eyes;
   Thick-nosed,
   Heliotrope-coloured;
   Swift spots of chrysolite and coral;
   In the midst of green, pearl, amethyst irradiations.

   Outside,
   A willow-tree flickers
   With little white jerks,
   And long blue waves
   Rise steadily beyond the outer islands.



Some Books by Amy Lowell



   Poetry


   What's O'Clock
   Legends
   Pictures of the Floating World
   Can Grande's Castle
   Men, Women and Ghosts
   Sword Blades and Poppy Seed
   A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass    (already online)
   A Critical Fable

   Fir-Flower Tablets:  Poems Translated from the Chinese
     (In collaboration with Florence Ayscough)


   Prose

   Tendencies in Modern American Poetry
   Six French Poets:  Studies in Contemporary Literature
   John Keats





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