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Title: Mice & Other Poems
Author: Bullett, Gerald
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 "Mice & Other Poems" ***

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Internet Archive)


 by Gerald Bullett

 _With a General Note by
 Sir Arthur Quiller Couch_

 ONE FLORIN           1921




 by Gerald Bullett

 Perkin Warbeck
 9 Market Hill

 _Uniform with this volume_






If the mental attitude of any critic has ever, in his approach to a
first book of verse, been conciliated by an appreciative notice from
some older pen, I should say (speaking out of no little experience) that
either the author was dead and the fact advertised in the preface, or,
alternatively, that the critic was possessed by a gentler spirit than
mine. I am sure at any rate that artistic work, great or small, should
be sternly judged on what it is rather than on what it promises. The
late J. Comyns Carr, in the days when he wrote dramatic criticism, let
loose this restive truth in a couple of short sentences--'We are told
that So-and-so is a promising young actor. Personally I don't care how
much he promises so long as he never again performs.'

Let me, then, pass over Mr Gerald Bullett's verses with the simple
remark that I believe in them (he himself calls them 'MICE'--no
overweening title, however boldly printed. Yet mice were dear to Apollo
Smintheus, and his proper emblem): and let me come to the general
purpose of this Note.

It is meant to preface a series of small volumes of verse by young
writers, mostly Cambridge men. That, since the War, young men in
extraordinary numbers have taken to expressing themselves in verse is a
plain fact, not to be denied: that they choose, as often as not, to
express themselves in 'numbers' extraordinary to us can as hardly be
contested. But the point is, they have a crowding impulse to say
something; and to say it with the emotional seriousness proper to
Poetry. For my part, I love the discipline of verse: but I love the
impulse better. Time will soften--I hope not too soon, lest it sugar
down and sentimentalise--a certain bitterness of resentment observable
in this booklet and its next followers: but, as nothing in verse is
nobler than true tradition, anything is more hopeful than convention.

So these booklets have been planned to give youth its chance to make
spoons or spoil horns. If anyone object that the print and page
over-dignify the content of any one volume in the proposed series, why,
that must be a particular criticism, which cannot honestly (I think) be
enlarged to blame the publisher's wish, and the care he has taken, that
what pretends, however modestly, to be a work of the Muse, should step
forth to the public in honourable dress.

                                                ARTHUR QUILLER-COUCH


    Mice                                       9

    Rest                                      10

    'The Strength, the Mellow Music,
        and the Laughter'                     11

    Ashes                                     12

    'Du bist wie eine Blume'                  13

    Home                                      14

    'Maître de Ballet'                        15

    The Grudge                                16

    Wedding Day                               17

    Crucifixion                               18

    Spring in Winter                          19

    The Exile                                 20

    Sonnet for Helen                          21

    Song                                      22

    Musings                                   23

    The Poet                                  24

    'If all the trees were magic trees'       26

    'Alone with these my poems...'            28

_'The Exile' is reprinted by courtesy of the Proprietors of Punch_


    I see the broken bodies of women and men,
    Temples of God ruined; I see the claws
    Of sinister Fate, from the reach of whose feline paws
    Never are safe the bodies of women and men.

    Almighty Cat, it sits on the Throne of the World,
    With paw outstretched, grinning at us, the mice,
    Who play our trivial games of virtue and vice,
    And pray--to That which sits on the Throne of the World!

    From our beginning till all is over and done,
    Unwitting who watches, pursuing our personal ends,
    Hither and thither we scamper....The paw descends;
    The paw descends and all is over and done.


    Here is tranquillity and silvan shade;
    For now, emerging from that waste of sand
    Which was my life, I reach a fruitful glade,
    A pool of water in a thirsty land.

    Your gentle soul a well of beauty is,
    And crystal clear the sunlit deeps thereof;
    And from that fountain of unmeasured bliss
    I draw the living water of your love.

    Here is the goal of all my wandering,
    Here is oblivion of my bitterness,
    And here the temple where my heart shall sing
    Your eyes that light me and your lips that bless.

_The strength, the mellow music, and the laughter_

    The steadfast beauty of her eyes is balm,
    And in her touch there's healing for my hurt;
    She is unshaken as a vessel girt
    Mid waters of unutterable calm.

    The years grow fragrant with her fragrance: they,
    Sipping her sweetness, leave her yet more sweet.
    Laden with divers colours, at her feet
    They shed their motley silks and go their way

    Like withered dreams. So youth must follow after,
    Youth that is brief and beauty that is grass;
    But from her gentle soul shall never pass
    The strength, the mellow music, and the laughter.


    Bury the ashes. The life, the gleam
    Of love is gone: we have killed with kisses
    The fragile soul of rapture: this is
    Only the hollow husk of a dream,
    The bitter waking, the end thereof.
    Come, bury the ashes of love.

    The music falters; the flame is spent;
    The vision is gone, the splendour faded,
    Leaving only a pitiful jaded
    Half-desire, and a discontent.
    The end of love is a weary kiss--
    Surely hate were better than this!

_Du bist wie eine Blume_

    So like a flower, so gentle,
    So fair, so pure thou art,
    That musing on thy beauty
    Brings sadness to my heart.

    I lay my hands, in spirit,
    Upon thy gleaming hair,
    Praying that God may keep thee
    So sweet, so pure, so fair.

                                          _From the German of Heine_


    Five weary days...and I shall creep
    Into the shadow of her hair
    And of her loveliness drink deep

    And lose my desolation there,
    Feeling her cool lips quench my own.
    Lying so still, we shall not dare

    To let one murmur like a stone
    Into the pool of silence fall.
    All senses will be fused in one:

    Peace will surround us with a wall
    Of visible music, moments go
    Melodiously by, and all

    The stillness brim with beauty; so
    Our hearts will whisper, throbbing fast:
    'Must time undeviating flow
    And bear this fragile moment past?'

_Maître de Ballet_

    On a gossamer thread
    Of light that stretches
    From dark to dark
    Over the void
    We giddily jig
    To the mad music
    The Master makes.

    From the Green Room
    He calls us forth,
    Sensitive puppets,
    Live automata,
    And with a gesture
    Sets us jerkily
    Dancing the tightrope.

    From a seat in the stalls
    Of the cosmic theatre
    He watches our antics.

    When we call to him
    'Master, Master!
    Help, we are falling!'
    Out of the darkness
    Comes no word
    ....Only a chuckle.

The Grudge

    _We grudged not those that were dearer than all we possessed,
    Lovers, brothers, sons.
    Our hearts were full, and out of a full heart
    We gave our beloved ones._                     (Laurence Binyon)

    We are of baser quality: we have been
    Tried by fire and judged a spurious gold.
    We are little of soul; and yet in our pigmy way
    We have suffered and loved with a love that cannot be told.

    Being less than you, we did not eagerly quaff
    The cup of gall: we prayed that it might pass.
    We are not gods: we are pitiful human stuff;
    And the blood of our passion has stained Gethsemane's grass.

    We were not blind to the vision. We heard the call
    And followed, or watched our belovèd steadfastly go.
    But our grief is naked, and shivers, and will not be soothed
    By splendid phrases, or clothed in a moral glow.

    We cannot say for our comfort: 'Losing them,
    We gain a glimpse of noble terrible heights,
    A cleansing exquisite pain, a sacred grief,
    A dream to cherish'--we think of the vanished lights;

    We think of the fine nerves shattered, the warm blood chilled,
    The laughter silenced, the zest and the beauty gone,
    The desolation of wasted wonderful dreams
    That will never be lived, of work that cannot be done.

Wedding Day

    Was it for this we loved: to settle down
    (Having once paid the necessary fee)
    In some nice suburb not too far from town,
    To eat and sleep and kiss complacently,
    Loving by rote as decent people do:
    Was it for this we hungered, I and you?

    A lover's vows are gossamer, they say;
    But we have registered our mutual vow
    For seven and sixpence, dearest. Yesterday
    There was but love to bind our hearts, but now
    We owe it to the Vicar to be good
    And love each other as we said we would.

    That promise at the altar is a link
    (Which only death can break) between us two;
    For every time I kiss you I shall think:
    'How this would please the Vicar if he knew!'
    And we shall put our youthful dreams to bed,
    And so live on--long after we are dead.

    We are made one. One mind will serve us both.
    ('Oh yes, we think Locke's novels rather sweet!')
    In ever-living witness of our troth
    You'll serve the vegetables, I the meat...
    O happiness! It is our wedding day!
    Embrace me, dear: the Prayer Book says you may.


    We wage eternal war on the losing side;
    Ever defeated we by the sinister foe
    That only pathetic piety seeks to hide
    In a theological costume of long ago.

    The goal we seek to attain will never be ours:
    All our hopes will end in ashes and dust;
    All our dreams will be dead desolate flowers,
    Plucked by the pitiless Hand we were taught to trust.

    Doomed to eternal defeat in the endless strife,
    Scornful of Chance the Almighty, we worship with pride
    The divine, frail, terrible Beauty of Life
    On the Cross of Fate incessantly crucified.

Spring in Winter

    My memories of you are singing birds
    In the green forest of my mind, where I
    May roam, recapturing your whispered words,
    Or on a bank of glowing bluebells lie,
    Listening for ever. Spring is come again
    In all her glory; the erst withered trees
    That creaked, like living skeletons in pain,
    Defying the wind, have donned green garments: these
    New shoots, these blossoms and these buds, the springing
    Grass, and the sky where many colours blend,
    My songsters by the magic of their singing
    Have in a moment made. My thoughts of you
    Are music which to all my spirit's rue
    Is the ineffable answer and the end.

The Exile

    Now I return to my own land and people,
    Old familiar things so to recover,
    Hedgerows and little lanes and meadows,
    The friendliness of my own land and people.

    I have seen a world-frieze of glowing orange,
    Palms painted black on the satin horizon,
    Palm-trees in the dusk and the silence standing
    Straight and still against a background of orange;

    A gorgeous magical pomp of light and colour,
    A dream-world, a sparkling gem in the sunlight,
    The minarets and domes of an Eastern city;
    And in the midst of all the pomp of colour

    My heart cried out for my own land and people;
    My heart cried out for the lush meadows of England,
    The hedgerows and little lanes of England,
    And for the faces of my own people.

Sonnet for Helen

    When you're very old, when in the candlelight your hair
    Silver shews--when by the fire you spinning sit and weaving,
    You will croon my verses, but in wonder, scarce believing
    'Ronsard hymned my beauty in the days when I was fair.'

    Never servant could you have, tho' half-asleep she were,
    But would rouse herself to listen to your lyric grieving,
    Wake to hear my name and your glory, my achieving,
    My immortal praise of your beauty past compare.

    I shall be beneath the earth, an unsubstantial shade;
    Where the myrtles throw their shadow will my bones be laid.
    You will be a squatting crony sighing by the fire,

    Sighing for the love you scorned, recalling it with sorrow.
    Live, O live and love to-day; delay not till the morrow:
    Gather now the roses of youth and desire.

                                        _From the French of Ronsard_


    How did we dim that wistful dream,
    That shy first love without caress,
    That breathless wonder, that supreme
    Vision of all love's loveliness?

    For surely had we parted then,
    Kissed once with tears and said Good-bye,
    We had been speaking truly when
    We said our love could never die.

    Because we did a moment cling,
    With trembling senses cling and kiss--
    Does it not seem a bitter thing
    That bliss should die of too much bliss?

    Love is a fair and fragile flower
    Which Youth must needs, poor foolish boy,
    Pluck greedily....Within the hour
    He weeps to see his withered joy.


    Be calmer, O my Grief, be quieter:
    The dusk you craved enfolds us; everywhere
    The twilight veil of blue-grey gossamer
    Falls, bringing peace to some, to others care.

    While thralls of Pleasure, that most merciless
    Of tyrants, hasten to his board (although
    His wine is gall, and his fruit, bitterness),
    Come with me, O my Grief, and let us go

    Far from them. See the bygone years that throng
    Heaven's balconies; see smiling Sorrow, strong
    In fortitude, rise from the waters; see

    The dying sun, low sinking, disappear
    Beyond the verge. The rustling mystery
    Of night approaches--hear, beloved, hear.

    _From the French of Baudelaire_

The Poet

    Where the flowers are most tall,
    Heedless of his mother's call,
    Wooden sword in his hand
    Tightly clasped, I see him stand.

    He is pondering with eyes
    Full of four-year-old surmise
    Two great hollyhocks that sway
    This way, that way,
    Till they almost touch his cheek.
    Queer, solemn souls they seem,
    Spell-bound, lost in dream,
    Always just about to speak...

    Then he with thirsty eyes
    Drinks the intoxicating skies.
    Done with earth, he bestrides
    The galloping white horses, rides
    The blue valleys and the red hills
    Of sunset, and his pocket fills
    With golden apples. Days pass,
    Long full days...

                    The grass
    Suddenly stirs, and he plunges
    Into the perilous wood and lunges
    Stoutly at the dragon's head
    Till the fiery beast is dead...

    Now that dusk is fast falling
    He'll obey his mother's calling.
    Out of Fairyland with slow
    Thoughtful steps he turns to go.
    Yet there's just time to float
    In the water-butt his boat
    Made of cork and spent matches:
    So, at the last he snatches
    Great adventure from the dread
    Unrelenting jaws of Bed.
    Round the magic world rides he,
    And lives a breathless Odyssey.

_If all the trees were magic trees_

    If all the trees were magic trees
    And talked among themselves,
    If kings could sleep in daffodils
    And bishops danced on window-sills,
    If all the valleys changed to hills
    And all the tens to twelves,
        The world would be nonsensical,
        And we should all be elves.

    If every street in Camden Town
    Were paved with precious stones,
    If modest souls began to drape
    Their table-legs in decent crape,
    If every squirrel wore a cape
    And had the name of Jones,
        I'd weave a robe of beetles' eyes
        And jellyfishes' bones.

    If kingcups blossomed in the sky
    And fell like golden rain
    In grey half-light shot through and through
    With shafts of green and shafts of blue,
    If pink and purple chickweed grew
    On every window pane,
        All truly tidy folk would deem
        The universe insane.

    If we were sensible enough
    To hear the bluebells ring,
    Were sight so true and hearts so wise
    That we could see with glowing eyes
    Enchantment flaming from the skies
    And joy in everything,
        Then every girl a queen would be,
        And every boy a king.

_Alone with these my poems..._

    Alone with these my poems, when night is still,
    Earth seems but a speck of fluttering dust,
    Moth-like, in a waste of eternity.

    Alone with these symbols of human thought,
    All our measureless system of whirling worlds
    Seems itself a symbol, a chance phrase
    In a poem wrought by the hand of a brooding god,
    Where we ourselves are less than commas and dots.
    And had he smeared out with careless thumb
    All life, from its first birth in the waters
    To the ultimate dissolution of stars and suns,
    He had made no more than an ill-timed caesura.

    Alone with these my poems, when night is still,
    I am less than a speck of dust on the wing of a moth
    Fluttering in a waste of eternity.

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