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Title: The Dales of Arcady
Author: Ratcliffe, Dorothy Una
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 "The Dales of Arcady" ***

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THE

DALES OF ARCADY



BY

DOROTHY UNA RATCLIFFE



ERSKINE MACDONALD, LTD.

LONDON, W.C.1



_All Rights Reserved_

_First published November 1918_



DEDICATED TO

THE FIRST YORKSHIREMAN I SET EYES ON

DADDY



  CONTENTS


  Prologue
  Daleshire
  On Otley Chevin
  The Song of Nidderdale
  Song of the Mists
  Wander-Thirst
  The Road
  The Swaling of the Moor
  The Moors in Summer
  My Herbary
  Rushes
  Satan and I
  To the Wind
  Saadi and the Rose
  The Difference
  Song of the Primroses
  Lilies
  The Pear-Tree
  Beggar's Gold
  On Early Rising
  Jewels
  Bargaining
  Song of Good-Bye
  King Yesterday
  Kissing
  Philosophy
  A Thrush's Song
  A February Day
  Laus Deo
  "Past-Ten-O'Clock-Land"
  To Memory
  A War Prayer for a Little Boy
  Star-Scandal
  The First of July
  "The Ideal Man"
  To the Coming Spring
  Question
  The Dales of Arcady
  A War-time Grace
  Queen Mab's Awakening



PROLOGUE

_The youngest Goddess sat in a corner of the Universe and sulked.

For æons, she had watched the older Goddesses play each in turn with
the Earth-Ball, and every time the Ball passed her way, someone said,

"She is too young, and, if she played with the Ball, might injure it."

Another added,

"Even our honourable Sister E---- created baleful Etna in her ardent
desire to give a beauteous mountain to flowering Sicily, and C----,
when she designed the azure Mediterranean, raised her little finger all
too hurriedly, causing the whirlpool so dreaded by Grecian sailors."

But the youngest Goddess had waited long and was becoming mutinous.

Her great grey eyes, like silent moorland tarns fringed with shadowy
larches, were fixed on the handiwork of the Goddess who at that moment
held the Ball.

She noticed the blue line thoughtfully traced across a vast tract of
land, the line men call the River Amazon, and she watched the Designer
proudly hold the Ball aloft to show her handiwork to her sisters.

"Surely it is the finest river we have yet traced!"

"Nay! let me see it."

"Can it be greater than that which Mortals call the Ganges?"

Then, as the Designer of the Amazon threw the Ball above the head of
the youngest Goddess toward the lap of a weary, responsible-looking
sister, the youngest Goddess leapt above the little silvern stars, and
caught it in her lithe white arms.

A look of consternation went round the Universe.

"She is too young to play!"

But the youngest Goddess claspt the Ball to her breast.

"Let me play, just once," she pleaded.  "I will make no earthquakes, no
volcanoes, no geysers, nothing that could spoil the beauty of the Ball."

Then an old Goddess--so old that she could remember God calling order
out of chaos, hobbled towards her.

"Child! thou hast seized the Ball, and play with it thou wilt, but
disturb not the handiwork of thine elder sisters.  Thou canst pattern
only where they have not worked."

So the youngest Goddess held the Ball up to the glance of God to get a
great light upon it, and by chance found one small space covered with
heather and bilberry, a wild sad waste.

"Here, I may play!  Oh! my sisters, I would make something rarer and
more beautiful of my little wild heath than any of you have dreamed of
for other parts of the Ball."

Lovingly she laid her outstretched hand upon the bosom of the moorland,
and when she lifted it the uplands bore the soft imprint, and a little
river flowed where each finger had rested.

Thus were created

  Airedale,
  Wharfedale,
  Nidderdale,
  Wensleydale, and
  Swaledale.

And because the fingers of the youngest Goddess quivered with pleasure
they are merry little dancing rivers, and even play underground as they
ripple to the Ouse.

In this wise she fulfilled her desire to make something rarer and more
beautiful of her moorland waste than her sisters had ever dreamed of
for any other part of the Ball.

But, being very young, she boasted of her wondrous achievement, and, as
a punishment, the other Goddesses prevented her from ever playing with
the Ball again.

That is the reason there is only one Daleshire._



  DALESHIRE

  To E. A. B.

  When sad home-longings, like little waifs,
    Come to my heart, in a stranger-land,
  No thought of a house sweeps over me,
    No pleasant thorp does my heart demand;
      For the great blue open wold it cries,
      For the road that over the moorland lies.

  For heather lands where the plovers wing,
    Where frail mists gather about the hills
  Like mystic shapes that eerily cling,
    Where the air is hushed for the snipe-loved rills:
      All these my tired heart greets as "Home,"
      When and wherever I'm forced to roam.

  In the dales the pollarded willows flower:
    I hear the wings of a mating thrush;
  The river has gained its spated hour,
    Its mad, magnificent, tumbling rush;
      Ready to break their hearts or sing,
      My own sweet dales are expecting spring.

  No flower-girt cottage means home to me,
    No stately, splendid ancestral pile,
  No cosy house builded pleasantly
    Does my wandering-weary heart beguile,
      But the homesick heart of me longs to hail
      My county of lovering moor and dale!

  BEAMSLEY BEACON.



  ON OTLEY CHEVIN

  Over the rough-hewn limestone wall,
  I watched the serpenting river crawl
  Adown the dale, thro' dimpled fields,
  Daisy-brimmed, where Almscliffe shields
      With rocky crest
  The lambs that play on the old Earth's breast.

  Gently I felt God's hand in mine,
  As the sun came forth with a strength benign:
  "_I have one request to make, dear God:
  That when my body is 'neath the sod,
      My spirit still
  May over this country roam at will._"

  On the wings of the wind I heard Him sigh:
  "Unheedingly many--so many--pass by,
  Tho' the world is full of My fairest thought,
  Of all that My servant Time hath wrought,
      It is so rare
  To hear that My work is surpassing fair."

  "_O!  Grant my prayer, and let me stay
  In this land where Thy little rivers stray,
  For I love them, God, with a love so true,
  Remembering they are a part of You.
      O!  Speak and bless!_"
  And the wind from the uplands echoed "Yes."

  WHARFEDALE.



  THE SONG OF NIDDERDALE

  As I came past the Brimham Rocks
    I heard the thrushes calling,
  And saw the pleasant, winding Nidd
    In peaty ripples falling.
  Its banks were gay with witching flowers,
    And all the folk did hail
  Me back again so cheerily
    To bonnie Nidderdale.

  The blackbirds in the birchen holts
    The live-long day were singing,
  Where countless azure hyacinths
    Their perfumed bells were ringing.
  And Guisecliff stands in loneliness
    Between the moor and vale,
  Protecting with its rocky scaur
    My bonnie Nidderdale.

  And as I passed thro' Pateley Brigg,
    A woman carolled blithely,
  And up and down the cobbled streets
    The bairnies skipped so lithely.
  The sky was blue, and silken clouds,
    Each like an elfin sail,
  Swept o'er the waking larchen woods
    Of bonnie Nidderdale.

  Where grey-stone dykes, and greyer garths
    Look down on Ramsgill village,
  The thieving, gawmless, gay tomtits
    The little gardens pillage.
  Grey Middlesmoor is perched upon
    The fellside azure pale,
  A mist-girt, lonely sentinel
    O'er bonnie Nidderdale.

  Above the dowly intake lands
    The great wide moor is calling,
  Of heathered bens and brackened glens,
    Where peat-born rills are brawling.
  O! land of ever-changing skies,
    Where wild winds storm and wail,
  There is nowhere a land more loved
    Than bonnie Nidderdale.

  NIDDERDALE.



  SONG OF THE MISTS

  When Twilight beckons from the ghyll
  We follow, follow up the hill;
  Garth, holt, and meadow we caress,
  Enwreathing all with loveliness;
  Small, silver, mauve-blue butterflies
  Are born of our brief summer sighs;
  Frail harebells in our arms we bring,
  To curtsey to the reigning ling;
  Bairnies who watch for us to rise
  Steal azure from us for their eyes;
  And poets find their Land of Dreams
  Lost in the moonlight of our streams.

  THE HOLE OF HORCUM, NEAR WHITBY.



  WANDER-THIRST

  There's a drop of Romany blood in me,
    And days there are when it swirls and leaps
  Like a river's race or a surging sea,
    Stirring to life all my calmer deeps.
      Then wandering, wandering must I go
      And the great, wide, open places know.

  For out in the world the woods are awake,
    And I hear the voice of the calling Wind,
  My wonderful wooer, my rough, sweet mate,
    And follow I must!  Perchance I'll find
      His whip that drives the clouds o'er the fells,
      And cracks in the corrie, like short, sharp bells.

  The wild Ever-during is calling for me,
    A missel's song and a curlew's cry,
  Blent with a rivulet's minstrelsy,
    And the crooning voice of the fir-top's sigh.
      'Tis the great god Pan that I seek to find
      Borne on the wings of my lover Wind.

  "O! make me one with the wondrous earth,
    God of the woods and the laughing rills!
  Make me one with the lucent mirth
    Of the Sun as he rides o'er the gorse-loved hills.
      When I am gone and my singing is mute
      Give to my Lover my silent lute."

  ROSEBERRY TOPPING.



  THE ROAD

  Over the moor in the velvet dusk
    Mysteriously it lies.
  White thro' the heath and the swart fir woods
    White 'neath the twilit skies.

  'Tis hid in the folds of the purple hills,
    Seeking a fern-fringed burn:
  But it mounts again, then is lost once more,
    With a tremulous, misting turn.

  Where blue mists gather beneath the moon
    It shows as a silvern stream.
  O Path of Life, you are out of sight,
    And lost in a wistful dream.

  JUGGER HOWE DALE.



  THE SWALING* OF THE MOOR

  Oh!  Moorland in September
  To love and to remember.

  The air is still and sunlit,
    The moor's a russet bed,
  The bracken's turning beryl,
    The whortle leaves are red.

  Here stand five sister pine-trees,
    Gold-nimbussed by the sun;
  And near, a slender rowan,
    Its scarlet reign begun.

  A runnel near is singing
    A song of liquid glee,
  A saucy, joyous blackbird
    Tilts bubbling notes at me.

  Then in a magic circle
    Seven thick white smokes upcurl,
  And forks of flame triumphant
    Like crimson flags unfurl.

  They rise with grace, and slowly--
    Flower incense from the ling,
  Repaying summer splendour
    By an autumn offering.

  Oh!  Moorland in September
  To love and to remember.

  WEST END, BLUBBERHOUSES.

* The annual burning of the heather.



  THE MOORS IN SUMMER

  Up to the moorlands a lingtit has flown--
  (Another meadow has yet to be mown
  Before the sun goes under the hill).
  I will hie me down, for a drink, to the rill:
  A wheatear mimics the whinchat's call,
  And a cuckoo cries from the Woods of Wath
  As a heron soars over the verdant strath,
  And an ousel pipes from the grey stone wall.
          I drink in a dream--
  The water flows from a Fairy Stream.
      For the smell of the ling my heart is a-yearn,
      And the sharp, sweet tang of a moorland burn.

  The lingtit waited anent a gate
  Where foxgloves held their midsummer fête,
  Then on she sped o'er the feathery green
  Of the bracken fronds, flying beneath and between,
  Till she reached a dyke where the bents and moors
  Stretched out to the sky in a rolling sea
  Of wave upon wavelet of purpling glee,
  O'er a land where the wistful lapwing lures.
          I sought to rest
  On the moorland's soft, sweet, heathery breast,
      When out of the bilberries, spick and clean,
      A small man stepped, in a coat of green.

  He bowed to the earth, with an old-world grace,
  Then lifted his eyes to my sun-tanned face:
  "_So you are the Mortal who drank from our rill,
  A cordial welcome to Bilberry Hill!_"
  He peered again, and he watched mine eyes,
  Then turning, he whistled the lapwing's note.
  For a moment the melody seemed to float
  O'er the heather; and then with increased surprise
          I saw a troop
  Of little green men around me group.
      They all bowed low, "I thought you had fled
      The Yorkshire Uplands, green men!" I said.

  They smiled at each other.  Their leader broke
  The hush of the heather, and thus he spoke:
  "_Ling-men! her eyes are the eyes of the fells,
  Grey as the clouds and blue as the bells
  Of the harebell.  See! how they flash and play
  As the rivulet does 'neath the rowan and birk;
  'Tis a glance in which there's loving a-lurk;
  A glance that only is born on the brae.
          Ling-men!  I am sure
  A changeling is she, and belongs to the moor.
      Her way she lost as a weeny bairn.
      Men found her, and town-ways they made her learn.
  Capture her heart so she cannot roam
  Far away from her grouse-loved home,
  Weave from the cottony grasses a chain
  That will pull at her heart with a wild, dear pain;
  Fashion a gyve from the wings of the lark,
  Manacles make from the bumble-bees' croon,
  To keep her a captive from June to June,
  To render her ours in the light, in the dark!_"

          They wove a spell
  Which encircled me round from fell to fell.
      O! it bound my heart for ever and aye,
      To the lands where the Bilberry Ling-men play.

  DALLOWGILL MOOR.



  MY HERBARY

  I know a little garden very old,
    High-walled, with wandering paths of greenest box;
  Beyond the doorway lies the rolling wold,
    The open moorland, and the Brimham Rocks.

  Here find a home all nigh-forgotten herbs;
    The sage and rosemary nod side by side;
  A giant lavender no pruning curbs,
    With us each year the honesties abide.

  Under a hawthorn, ruby-gemmed in May,
    A bank of marjorams lie at their ease;
  Here, lad's-love sigh their fragrant hearts away,
    Whilst rippling lieds of water never cease.

  Beside the cherry-tree the balsams flower,
    The rue and mint bloom out a life-time meek;
  A pleasant place it is at sunrise hour,
    When sportful finches wing in hide-and-seek.

  And where the aged, moss-grown sundial lies,
    The peacock pert unfolds his wheel-rim tail,
  Showing a hundred jewelled Argus eyes:
    With harsh, shrill cry he bids the day "All hail."

  More is he fitted for the fountained sward
    Than for my herbary of butterflies;
  No!  I proclaim the lovelier throstle, Lord,
    The only one my simples recognise.

  PATELEY BRIDGE, NIDDERDALE.



  RUSHES

  Rushes by the river
    Rear their heads of brown;
  In the wind they quiver
    With a warning frown.
  "Do you want them, Fairest?
    At thy feet they lie;
  They were guarding, Rarest,--
    Sentinels!--They die."

  Wild things are not willing
    To be captive ta'en:
  "Cutting's almost killing,"
    Is their sad refrain.
  "Rushes in their beauty
    Greenly-proud should stand:
  Guarding is their duty--
    River from the land."

  DARLEY, NIDDERDALE.



  SATAN* AND I

  To-day there is no one as happy as I,
  Who am free of the hills, of the dales, of the sky,
  As I ride o'er the moors while the lapwings cry.

  I ride thro' the whin, watch the rabbits run,
  Then slowly I turn to bask in the sun--
  Then gallop away o'er the crest, like fun.

  And Satan, you fiend, with your knowing ways
  And tricks, that you dream of for days and days,
  And mem'ries of maddening hours of the chase;

  Do you feel the liberty of the wind,
  That wakes the fern-land with kisses kind,
  And seeks with caresses our lips to find?

  To-day, for us both to be out is joy,
  Tho' I am a girl with the soul of a boy,
  And you are a horse, whom the spurs annoy.

  To just be alive is a blessing rare,
  In a world of beauty, endlessly fair;
  For Satan and I, we have no care.

  ALMSCLIFFE CRAG, WHARFEDALE.

* The name of my horse.



  TO THE WIND

  Strong, powerful Sweetheart-Wind,
    In tireless love-storm surging;
  Great, bold, tempestuous Wind,
    Ever thy passion urging.

  Hold me close in thine arms,
    O! strengthening ecstasy:
  Wild, sweet, capturing arms--
    Love!  I am yearning for thee.

  Eyes, hair, bosom caress,
    My rowan-red lips now kiss;
  Life-giving, wilful caress,
    O! marvellous moorland bliss.

  Great, strong lover o' mine,
    I long for thy grand embrace;
  Fierce, brave lover o' mine,
    I yield to thee my heart's grace.

  GREENHOW HILL.



  SAADI AND THE ROSE

  O summer, with thy magic gift of flowers
    And soft bird voices, musicking the breeze,
    While yet thy roses stir the lazy air
  My soul wings back thro' centuries, as hours.

  It journeys till it 'lights within a court
    Where roses riot o'er veined-marble walls,
    Where peacocks strut along the broad white steps,
  Or over broideries by fair hands wrought.

  Within the palace, divanned, rests a king,
    Who watches listlessly the fountain's jet;
    And at his feet the poet Saadi stands
  And hears intent th' captured bulbuls sing.

  A slave with soul on freedom bent he stands,
    His eyes ablaze with restless ecstasy,
    While all around him breathes magnificence
  Of power imperial over many lands.

  Within his slender hand he holds a rose;
    Raising his head, he murmurs, "_Mighty King!
    Do good unto thy servant while thou canst:
  Thou may'st not always mitigate his woes._

  "_Like to this fleeting glory, carmined deep,
    The season of thy power is transient:
    Do good, whilst yet thou canst--'before thine eyes
  Close in thy last, forgetting, silent sleep._"

  O blood-red rose!  Thy petals bring to me
    The sunlit beauty of the Persian Court,
    The voice of Saadi, pleading with the king
  His freedom granted on thy crimson plea.

  A ROSE-GARDEN IN AIREDALE.



  THE DIFFERENCE

  When the factories all are silenced,
    And night brings her balm of sleep,
  What are your last dear waking thoughts
    Ere you drift into slumber deep?

  Why, Darling Mine! they are all of work,
    As your mind reviews the day:
  Of the men you meet, of progress made,
    Of struggles to make your way.

  But I--when I nestle among the sheets,
    Ere sleep my tired eyes woo,
  Just count and repeat the loving words
    That have fall'n to-day from you!

  AIREDALE.



  SONG OF THE PRIMROSES

  Listen to the infant breeze,
  Clutching at the nippled trees,
    Where our yellow flowers are blowing,
    Where the rivulet is flowing.

  Over all the blue-cupped sky
  Silver brooding clouds swim by;
    See!  The firstling swallow flying,
    Later, owlets will be crying.

  Come and mark the painter sun
  Daub the earth with golden fun;
    Hear the larches' fingers snapping,
    As if goblin hands were clapping.

  Smell the rain-sweet, thymy earth,
  Feel the wonder of rebirth!
    Far away a cuckoo's calling,
    Notes that sound like twin bells falling.

  Then a clearer voice replies
  To his echo ere it dies,
    And the blackbirds' voices mingle
    With th' Eistedfodd in the dingle.

  Gold-green poplars slowly wave
  O'er the Winter's mossy grave;
    Ferns are pointing curly fingers
    Where the dead year's bracken lingers.

  We have seen a hedgehog hide
  Prickle-less to greet his bride;
    Watched the baby otter shiver
    Ere he plunged into the river.

  We are critics of the bees,
  Watch how they despoil and seize
    From each cowslip saffron bounty;
    Uncaught robbers of the county!

  All the keenings of the bat,
  Whimperings of the water-rat;
    All the hopes of sister flowers
    Come to us by gossip showers.

  Tortoise-shelled butterflies,
  On their dew-pearl'd wingful sighs,
    Bear the news of elfin squabbles;
    "Wounded Oberon still hobbles."

  We are darlings of the Spring,
  All her secrets she doth bring,
    Runes of magic she discloses
    To her confidant-Primroses.


  ENVOI

  We shall feel her joy-winged sigh,
  When she hears the Summer's cry:
    We shall droop and die of grieving,
    When our lovely Spring is leaving.

  LITTONDALE.



  LILIES

  When I am old, so very old
    That all my own have passed away,
  And I await Life's evening-gold,
    A little figure, lone and grey;
      I'll keep a garden, green and bright,
      Then I'll forget approaching night.

  A garden dear--with quaint-cut yews--
    Bound by a hedge of bronzing beech,
  And just before them I shall choose
    The great white lilies that beseech,
      With upturned faces, pure and staid,
      Love from the little Mother Maid.

  And close beside the lichened wall,
    Lilies, aflame like scarlet fire,
  Shall watch the little swallows fall
    From out their nestlet in the byre;
      And where the path strays to the stream,
      The golden ones shall dying dream.

  Then where the garden greets the wood,
    A host of lily-bells shall ring
  Their message clear that "all is good
    Where God reigns over everything."
      My garden-beauty, all shall see,
      Is mirrored from Eternity.

  A GARDEN IN AIREDALE.



  THE PEAR-TREE

  A rain of petals the pear-trees give,
  As a pearly toll for the right to live.

  Fragile petals that gently fall,
  Like tears down the face of the old grey wall.

  Around the bole, where the grasses grow,
  Is a circle white as of melting snow.

  An enchanted circle, flower-entwined,
  Where hyacinth fingers the grasses bind.

  The youngling thrushes soon learn how
  To alight and shake the flowers from each bough.

  The swallows tell their babes such tales!
  That the tree is a ship with flower-white sails,

  Anchored to Earth in the harbour of May;
  But one moonless night she will sail away,

  And a prim green tree will take the place
  Of the phantom ship with its sails of lace.

  Then in autumn the Orchardist Time will come,
  And bear the fruit away to his home.

  And later on he will heave a sigh,
  That the little white tree some day must die.

  So I write this verse to the little Pear-tree,
  That both be remembered--it and me.

  COXWOLD.



  BEGGAR'S GOLD

  I

  Around me sounded effort manifold,
    As creaking cranes swung ponderously slow,
  At intervals I heard the hiss of steam,
    The rhythmic beating of an iron's blow:
  I thought,--this energy will sometime be
    Transmuted into that which all men crave,
  The magic metal, Gold, great Titan Gold,
    Whom men make monarch when he should be slave.
  And as I mused, above the jarring clang,
    I heard a faint sweet sound of flutterings,
  A tender movement, musical and low,
    As of a fledgeling trying its young wings.
  A gentle zephyr blew the casement wide,
    A woman glided past the tapestry,
  With russet golden hair, all gowned in gold.
    She looked about her hesitatingly;
  I heard her voice as if thro' beechen boughs,
    Caressive as a moor-born singing burn,
  And thro' it ran the lisping of the pines,
    The lovely lilt of some gold-dying fern.


  II

  (She sang):
    "Ye seek the gold of the city;
      Ye cheat, ye brag, ye lie;
    In quest of its sordid yellow
      Ye hunger until ye die.
    I offer ye gold for the having:
      The mint of October's glow,
    To warm your souls with its wonder,
      Your souls, in their greed-bound snow.
    Gold of the hedges I offer,
      Marvellous gold of the ghyll,
    Rowan-red gold from the forest,
      Take from me, ye who will.
    Gold ye need for your bodies,
      O men of the smoke-chained town.
    But know, that my gold's for the asking,
      Gold for a Beggar's Crown."


  III

    She silently sped
      As a star at morn
    In the saffron track,
      Of the day, dew-born,
    Leaving a longing
      Intensely strong
    To own for myself
    The gold of the song.
    The city I'll leave
    With footstep bold,
    To seek for myself
      The Beggar's Gold.


  IV

  I woke and found a leaf upon the floor,
  And two more golden leaves outside the door.

  AIREDALE.



  ON EARLY RISING

  THE LOVER:

    Why not rise with dawn, my Lady?
      Why miss these sweet hours?
    Come with me: the ghyll is shady,
      Carpeted with flowers;
      Why miss these sweet hours?

    Now thou liest a-bed, my jewel,
      How canst thou still sleep?
    To encase thyself is cruel--
      Beauty thus to keep.
      How canst thou still sleep?

  HIS LADY:

    At this hour, my simple lover,
      I prefer to rest
    Than to watch the tireless plover
      Rise from dewy nest;
      I prefer to rest.

    Beauty such as mine, my lover,
      (This I know is right)
    Even thou wilt soon discover
      Is more meet for night
      (This I know is right).

  THE SONG-MAKER:

    In the daytime chirp the thrushes;
      But the nightingale
    Waits until the moonlit hushes
      To pour forth her tale;
      Wiser nightingale!



  JEWELS

  O!  Gold I lack; I am a man
  Who cannot give as others can;
  No costly gems of value rare
  Are mine to give, my Lady Fair!

  Yet would I give, and of my best,
  So delve the kingdom of mine eyes:
  What say'st thou to a rope of pearls
  Strung from the cirro-clouded skies?

  A sunlit beck, just after rain,
  Should from its ripples lend a chain
  Of sparkling diamonds, very meet
  To grace thy wrist, my Lady Sweet.

  A peaty tarn, lost 'mong the hills,
  Of beryl tint should make a ring;
  The moors should yield a coronet
  Of amethyst, from summer ling.
        *      *      *      *      *
  _Rubies?_  Already thou hast two!
  They are the gems for which I sue.

  RIBBLESDALE.



  BARGAINING

  There are many, many forests lying north, south, east, and west,
    There are many, many rivers moving slowly to the sea,
    But there's a wood of budding beech that claims the heart of me,
  And there's a little singing beck that falls from heathered crest.

  O! I would give the universe to own that singing stream,
    And watch the stars a-hiding from the rosy-fingered morn,
    While cuckoos wake the fellside, and daffodils are born--
  O! any one can have the world, so I may keep my stream--

  Yet would I barter beechen wood and little singing beck
  If I could fold my arms once more around my sweetheart's neck.

  NIDDERDALE.



  SONG OF GOOD-BYE

  The ship is speeding fast from out the bay,
  Instead of thine, I feel a kiss of spray;
  My face is lashed by salt winds from the sea,
  My eyes are wet with parting now from thee.
    O Husband Sweetheart! send to me a thought--
    Some loving word, perchance my lips have taught!

  The evening fades to purple, darkly blue,
  The air is chill, a few white stars creep through
  The steely buckler of the northern sky;
  One lonely sound recurs--a sew-mew's cry.
    O Husband Sweetheart! send thy heart to me
    Across this tireless, surging, tossing sea!

  To-night we're severed, many miles apart:
  I wonder, canst thou rest, my Dearest Heart?
  In Court of Dreams perhaps we'll briefly meet
  And kiss upon the Borderland of Sleep.
    O Husband Sweetheart! say for me a prayer--
    God give you peace, and have you in His care!

  OFF THE YORKSHIRE COAST.



  KING YESTERDAY

  You and King Yesterday both have fled
  To the Land-of-the-beautiful-days-that-are-dead.

  How full of bird music the dewy-fair Morn
  When Yesterday, King of the Past, was born;

  How rosy with roses the passionate noon
  When you and King Yesterday ruled sweet June;

  How royal with splendour the crimsoning west
  As Yesterday bravely grew old with zest;

  And eve was a glamour of emerald light
  When Yesterday greeted the world "Good-night."

  Oh!  You and King Yesterday gently wean
  My thoughts to the Country-it-might-have-been.



  KISSING

  Thou canst not kiss without consent,
  For know, dear Thief, a kiss is lent;
  And if thou takest one to-day,
  With interest must thou repay:
  One now, next week I'll count in fives,--
  Thou'lt owe some scores in Paradise!

  TANFIELD, WENSLEYDALE.



  PHILOSOPHY

  Some tell me "_Life is a weariful thing,
  That Sorrow remains, while joy takes wing._"
  But Sorrow and I already have met:
  His face is wan and his lips are set;
  He cometh and goeth on silent feet,
  Yet between his visits are moments sweet,
  Moments that come like a blackbird's dart,
  When Happiness holds me close to his heart;
  When I sense the rapture of swinging skies
  And know the thrill of the spring's surprise,
  As I lie on the mothering Earth's deep breast
  And clasp my tremulous bosom, lest
  Some unknown loveliness I might miss,
  Or forgetful be of the West Wind's kiss.

  Like the blackbird's notes in the early hours
  Which fall like a peal of silver flowers,
  Joy rings his bells in my waiting ears,
  And Sorrow departs to his silent meres.
  "_And if he returns?_"--my soul will sing
  Remembering Joy who has taken wing!

  RILSTONE FELL.



  A THRUSH'S SONG

  (To My First Love, Daddy)

  A thrush's call
  Has chanced to fall
  Into my heart
  Where dwell apart
  Dear memories
  Of summer skies,
  Of heartsome days,
  Of flower-fair ways,
  Of kisses shy
  With people high.
  What did I ken
  Of lovers then,
  Of lover-laws,
  Of lover-saws?
  The sweet, sweet earth
  Was giving birth
  To lovely things
  With songs and wings;
  And yonder thrush
  On yonder bush
  Brings home to me
  The little years of memory.



  A FEBRUARY DAY

(_There is a country saying that spring has not come until you can set
your foot on seven daisies at once_)

  "_O!  How do you know
    When spring has come?
  Still falls the snow
    And the birds are dumb._"

  The grass will wear
    A greener tone,
  The thrush will dare
    To carol alone.

  The silver rain
    Will warmly fall,
  The woods will gain
    The blackbird's call.

  But the way to tell,
    And the only way,
  Is to find a dell
    Where the breezes play,

  And seek and seek
    Where the daisy-bloom
  Shows white and meek
    Like a baby moon.

  And when your foot treads
    With tender fear
  On seven white heads,--
    Then spring is here.

  COXWOLD.



  LAUS DEO

  (For My Little God-son)

  God Darling!  Listen to my song,
  The one I sing the whole day long,
  Of thanks to Thee for every good,
  Whether at home, in field, or wood.

  I thank Thee for the lovely spring,
  And for Thy little birds that sing;
  I thank Thee for the summer's sun,
  When 'mong the roses I can run.

  I thank Thee for the sickle time,
  When corn is ripe, and apples prime.
  I thank Thee for the deep white snow,
  When I tobogganing can go.

  I thank Thee for the bright sweet day,
  For hours of love and work and play;
  I thank Thee for the deep blue night
  When I and flower-buds fold up tight.

  NIDDERDALE.



  "PAST-TEN-O'CLOCK-LAND"

"_It was Moonlight Land and Past-ten-o'clock Land and we were in it and
of it._"--KENNETH GRAHAM.

  There's a lovely land that is all your own,
    If your years but number ten,
  Where the cherryblossom's ever in flower,
    And found in "Past-ten-o'clock Glen."

  There's a river with musical water-falls,
    You paddle as long as you please,
  And the daisies don't die as you pick them,
    When found on "Past-ten-o'clock Leas."

  And the rivulet leads to a harbour,
    Full of the quaintest of ships,
  One wish will transport you to China,
    Or other "Past-ten-o'clock Trips."

  Away in dim mountains of amber,
    Which drop sheer down to the waves,
  Fierce brigands, be-weaponed and ear-ringed,
    Live in "Past-ten-o'clock Caves."

  O! the folk understand you and love you,
    You never can do any wrong--
  You can shoot the cat with a catapult,
    Or shout the "Past-ten-o'clock Song."

  You can play you are really an otter,
    And get as wet as you like;
  You can lie in wait as a Redskin does,
    In a deep "Past-ten-o'clock Dyke."

  It's a lovely land that is all your own,
    If you're only ten years old,
  But when you are more, you are apt to forget
    "Past-Ten-o'clock-Dreams of Gold!"

  BARDEN FELL, WHARFEDALE.



  TO MEMORY

  Mem'ry, sweet witch! you brought him to my door.
    I heard you knock, and saw your fingers ope
    The rosy gateway of a lingering hope,
  And I beheld his dear face as of yore.
  You held him by the hand I oft caressed,
    And seemed so small a sprite by his tall side,
    As in his leathern coat you tried to hide,
  The same old coat my cheek so often pressed.

  Then searchingly his deep blue eyes found mine,
    As if to plead against forgetfulness,
    With all the old-time loving kindliness:
  And then you led him back without one sign.
    Sweet little Mem'ry, lead him back once more,
    And, knocking, bring him in, and close the door.



  A WAR PRAYER FOR A LITTLE BOY

  Morning

  The day is just beginning,
    But all the long night through,
  The sailor-men were watching
    Out in the dark night blue.
      Dear God! when my turn comes,
      May my watch be as true.

  Evening

  The long, still night is coming,
    But whilst I've been at play,
  The soldier-men were fighting
    Thro' all the live-long day.
      Dear God! when my turn comes,
      Please keep me brave as they.

  ROBIN HOOD'S BAY.



  STAR-SCANDAL

  One summer eve, my own dear love and I
    Sat arm-entwined beneath a rowan-tree.
  A little wind flew past us with a sigh,
    And all the velvet leaves waved merrily.
  Then, as mine eyes escaped his ardent glance,
    I saw a star peep o'er the purple hill
  And climb up to the topmost branch and dance,
    And wink at its reflection in the rill.
  "_Come, kiss me once, O timorous-hearted Love.
    Full many thousand kisses dost thou owe.
  Prithee but one, thy pretty love to prove;
    No one in all the world shall ever know._"
  No one?  That spying star but told a poet,
    And in a song he let the whole world know it.



  THE FIRST OF JULY 1916

For the Mothers, Wives, and Sweethearts of the 15th West Yorks ("Leeds
Pals")

  I

  'Tis passing wonderful that they,
  The little boys of yesterday,
  Should suddenly become such men
  That England rings with praise of them.
  But tho' their names are writ in blood
  --Deepening crimson flood on flood--
  Their impositions writ awry
  And copybooks are hardly dry;
  And Sweetheart Life had scarcely kissed
  The boy to man, when the blue mist
  Of twilight lifted; and the dawn
  Announced that rosy day was born.

  As pink-curled clouds lit up the sky
  A little gentle breeze whisked by
  Caressing all the poppy-heads--
  Rippling fields of budding reds--
  Splashes of yellow sunned the earth
  Where mustard meadows flowered mirth;
  And cornflowers blue ran out to meet
  The blue around God's Mercy-seat.
  O! all the world and all the sky
  Made it a sacrifice to die.


  II

  'Tis passing wonderful that they,
  The little boys of yesterday,
  Who cuddled to dear Mother-hearts
  With darling rosy-fingered arts,
  Did cheer with strong expectancy
  The shattering artillery;
  And smilingly went o'er the top
  Unflinchingly without a stop
  Into the poppied "No Man's Land."
  Wave after wave, band after band,
  Through the terror of bursting shells,
  Through the noise of a thousand hells,
  Through th' unmanning groans of pain,
  Through the blood of the splendid slain
  Lying under a blue-cupped sky,
  As wave after wave swept bravely by.
  From flowers of blue to the Endless Blue
  Hundreds of souls are passing thro',
  And the poppies weep o'er the red-spilled lives:
  O! at home are the mothers, the waiting wives.


  III

  'Tis passing wonderful that they,
  The little boys of yesterday
  Who played with us, who teased us too,
  Should such tremendous actions do.
  No praise, no honour is too high
  For those who gave so cheerfully:
  Gave up the wonder of the spring,
  Gave up the wealth that summers bring,
  Gave up the gold of autumn's store,
  Leaving us richer than before.

  Unflinching bravery of soul!
  Ring out your splendid deathless toll,
  Ring down the years untiringly
  In the hearts of the children-yet-to-be.
  The carillon of your ideals
  You'll hear again in their sweet peals;
  God grant that we may squarely fight
  For all you held to be upright.

  LEEDS, _July 1st, 1917_.



  "THE IDEAL MAN"

  He should be strong--as strong as Thor of old;
    And faults of strength 'twere better he possessed
    Than quavering mind or any lack of zest
  When the time needs a right arm coolly bold.
  Truth should to him be what the unpent song
    Is to the soaring lark; with kindly thought
    For everything that cold Misfortune's sought;
  With earnest faith to fight a cause proved wrong.

  A heart that finds the best in every man;
    Impatient he should be at all delay
    Or if not giv'n at once his own sweet way--
  (But then a fault or two is Nature's plan),
    Yet I would wish his chiefest fault should be
    A wilfulness to see no fault in me!

  SEMER WATER.



  TO THE COMING SPRING

  Hope and Spring!  You are sisters!

  In my woodlands
    The primroses are peeping
  With pale, sweet golden eyes,
    In spite of Winter's weeping.

  In my woodlands
    A thrush has just swung, dipping,
  In search of his spring voice;
    The trees stand dripping, dripping.

  In my woodlands
    Harsh Winter coldly shivers;
  The windflower, white adventurer,
    With hope of springtime quivers.

  Soon my woodlands,
    Bearing bannerets of Spring,
  Will be every moment musical
    With birds that, mating, sing.

  Hope and Spring!  You are sisters!

  Oh, Spring!  Spring!
    Since the Autumn died in glory,
  How I have yearned for your coming
    Thro' the cloistral fog-bound days,
  Your beauty seemed a story
    That would never be told again.
  Spring! of the pearly cloud-skies
    Soft-curled as a baby's hand,
  Turquoise as children's eyes,
    Of rainbow-tinctured days
  And twittering song of the eaves!

  Spring!  You desired vision,
    The wind in your primrose hair,
  Your eyes, too, weepingly ready,
    Your face, an anemone fair;
  Your train, a burgeoning pattern
    Be-sprent with woodland flowers,
  Blackthorn, daffies, bluebells,
    Marking the flight of our hours.

  Spring!  Tho' it still is Winter,
  In your mystic sleep you smile,
  Yet the primroses and the thrush on wing
  Know that even in sleep you sing;
  You wondrous, envassaling, longed-for Maid!
  Oh!  If Death came now I should be afraid:
  I have longed for you so the dark months thro',
  That I must see the pulsing glory of you;
  And your little hand-maidens in their turn--
  For each at their 'pointed times I yearn.

    Virginal snowdrop,
    Firstling of Spring!
    Crocus, herald of purple and gold,
    Wistful windflowers,
    Celandined stars,
    Every one to my heart I fold.

    Snow-soft blackthorn,
    You wild, fair sweet,
    The scent of you brings
    A flutter of wings;
    And, almond blossom,
    You stole at dawn
    The pale dream vest
    Of the infant morn.

  Of a pool of blue I dream--
  Hyacinths, waving in ripples of blue.
  There is nothing so fair the whole world thro'
  As when quivering sun and quivering wind
  Jocundly, joyously, leapingly find
  A young green wood in a lazuli dream.

  O Spring, if I lay on my dying bed
  I should wait to die, till your glory had fled,
  I could not go ere the cuckoo had cried
  His impudent call to the countryside:
  Not till the swallows had loyally come
  To their nesting place, in my liefest home,
  And then I should wait for the blackbird's note
  To leap from his melody-stirring throat.
  Ah!  And to feel the April rain
  Pattering on my face again.
  God grant that I do not die in the Spring,
  When my whole soul rebels to live and sing;
  As we all must die, so let me die
  When the grey November fogs are nigh;
  Not for a longer space of heaven
  Would I forfeit one day, nay, one single hour,
  One sweet bird-cry, or one haunting flower,
  Of my beautiful, longed-for, fleeting Spring.

  Hope and Spring!  You are sisters!

  'Tis Winter still,
    But you stir in sleep
  Tho' the cold gusts blow
    And the bare trees weep.

  But the early primrose
    And flitting thrush
  Have watched you smile
    And have seen you blush.

  And tho' it is long
    Ere yet you rise,
  And the blue of your glance
    Reflect in the skies;

  My heart is awake
    And ready to sing
  The moment you beckon,
    Sweet, glorious Spring!

  Hope and Spring!  You are sisters!

  PATELEY BRIDGE, NIDDERDALE,



  QUESTION

  O Seats of ancient learning, Philosophers and Sages!
  A child has put a question, which I cannot find in pages
  Of any tome in any land: and so the answer's missed.
  "_Where do all the kisses go, after they are kissed?_"



  THE DALES OF ARCADY

  FIRST DAY

    Hearken!  The South Wind's voice.
  My lover returns, and the valleys rejoice.
  The bees fly upward to watch his flight,
  The butterflies quiver with glad delight,
  As he teasingly touches their jewelled wings.
  O! at his bidding the whitethroat swings
  In thrillant blue.  A thrush's call
  Blends with a blackbird's madrigal.

  I steadily gazed at my silent pen,
  Attempting to keep from my straying ken
  An Eden of woods, of bosoming hills,
  Of verdant hedges, of wandering rills.
        How can one work
  When a Lover amid the flowers will lurk?
  He tip-toes in thro' the window-door,
  And whisks my papers on to the floor;
  With flower-steeped hands he caresses my hair,
  And whispers alluringly,

        "_Fair, most Fair,
    Slip your slender hand in mine, my Sweeting,
    Hear! the skylarks cleave the blue with greeting,
    Hear the blackcap on the thorn at even
    Trill truths that echo to the highest heaven,
    Leave your world of carking care, time-haunted,
    For a country ever spring-enchaunted._"

  He leads me on to the dewy grass,
  Where maiden primroses troop and pass;
  With a gleesome kiss in his arms he swings
  Me up 'twixt his eagle-wide rainbow wings:
  Over a willowy coppice he goes
  Flicking the hedges of milk-white sloes,
  Over the blazon of heralding gorse,
  Deftly he steers his ethereal course
  Over anemone hillocks, o'er leas,
  Hyacinth-dimpled, o'er buttercupped leas,
  Over the ings where forget-me-not eyes
  Borrow the blue of azureal skies;
  Over the meadow-flats, higher and higher,
  Sweeping the strings of the cloud-strung lyre.
  The lilt of the planets is in mine ear,
  Crystal dropping on crystal clear:
        "O Wind, my Lover,
  My mortal eyes must you surely cover:
  Such beauty will make me beauty-blind,
  Protect mine eyes, O my Lover Wind."
  Then, as I lost my indrawn breath,
  He swirled me down to the earth beneath,
  Down thro' the depths of a forest of pine,
  On to a carpet of celandine.
  The goldcrests twittered, the squirrels chased,
  While the lofty pines, brown arms enlaced,
  Lisped a dryad-taught melody, sung by the sea.
  Known in the valleys of Arcady.

  For a little space did my Lover sleep,
  While the gold-mailed sun with me did keep
  A radiant watch; but when Eventide
  In saffron-rose wrapped the woodland side,
  He started up, and he kissed my neck,
  Then, bidding me rise at his instant beck,
  We passed where the sovran oak-trees nod,
  Where never a human foot has trod,
  Where birches sway in slenderest grace,
  That never have seen a mortal's face;
  Where rivulets hasten in sweet surprise,
  A wonder beneath my wond'ring eyes;
  A lakelet trembled beneath my glance,
  The lily-white elfins ceased their dance;
  A cherry-tree flung confetti down,
  And framed for my head a loving crown.
        Soft-toned bells
  Called to each other across the fells.
  While music played on a reeded flute
  Stilled the air, and the birds were mute.

  "O leaf-loving Zephyr, whence cometh the mirth
  Of this melody?  Owns my mothering Earth
  A piper who pipes so alluringly
  Of beauty that is, of beauty to be?
  Onward! o'er thousands of blushet-shy daisies,
  To find this piper of beautiful phrases."

  'Mong flocks of goats, and of leaping lambs,
  The piper sat.  Two fierce-horned rams
  Made a fleecy cushion whereon he sat,
  And a sleeping ewe made a creamy mat
  For his hoofed feet.  His music ceased.
  Green were his eyes, and they seemed well pleased
  As they lit on our forms:

          "_O!  Pan, great Pan!
  This mortal thy kingdom of beauty would span,
  And she would learn of the singing seasons'
  Wonderful featness; of all the reasons.
  The hill and the wood and the rippling rill
  The air with different melodies fill;
  Where bonnibel April latest was sent,
  When May filled the world with her wonderment!
  Who teaches the cuckoo his twin-bell call?
  The opening notes of a festival
  To jubilate the reign of the summer
  Beauteous, queenliest, rosy-robed comer.
          O Pan!  I bring
  A mortal whose soul is afire to sing._"

  Pan smiled--a smile like a twisted oak--
  Then beckoned to me, while the forest spoke,
  "Evoë, great Pan," sang the lark on high,
  "Evoë, great Pan," from the uttermost sky;
  I drew near and stood beside his knee:
  He handed his reeded flute to me,
  And kept his eyes, of a forest green,
  On my trembling hands.  O! well, I ween,
  He knew that my amateur hands were weak,
  For the spirit of me was meek, so meek,
  And his green eyes glimmered with rising glee.
  My masterful Lover whispered to me,
  "_Put your lips to the flute with mine,
  Heedless of self-hood, in song be divine._"
  And placing near mine his golden-sweet mouth,
  A rondeau he sang of the forest's youth.

  Pan spoke at last: "Child! wander and learn
  The lilt of the bird and the song of the burn:
  And when thou hast learned from the burn and the bird
  Thou'lt find me again" (the forest heart stirred).
  "Hail! child from the plaintful Kingdom of Man."
  The mountain-tops shouted, "Evoë, great Pan!"
  The rivers sang deeply, "Evoë, great Pan!"
  And whisperingly I, "Evoë, great Pan!"


  SECOND DAY

  The rose-trees show but a tuft of green
  Where a stern, cold pruning-knife has been,
  But they promise a summer of fragrant wealth:
  How the small buds come to the light by stealth
  Like pixies shy; yet a pruning knife
  Leads every browny-bare branch to life.
        Slowly I passed thro' the rustic gate,
  Where wine-red roses will hold June fête;
  The wind stole out from the blossoming row
  Of the cherry-trees, and he whispered low:

  "_Are you content to be bound by a wall,
  E'en tho' it boundeth things beautiful?
  Tho' cherry and apple bloom over it fall,
  Always it is, and it hath been, a wall.
  'Tis true that thro' it there is a wicket,
  But what can it know of the wild grown thicket
  That grows where its pathway may never wander:
  Out of this garden--the blue land yonder?_"

  And a cuckoo called; and the echo ran,
  "Evoë, Evoë, Evoë, great Pan!"

  Then my Lover lifted me up in his arms,
  And swiftly arose.  How the grey-roofed farms
  Receded into the cup-like earth!
  And I chanted a canzone of Springtime and Birth,
  Which called o'er the sea to the firstling swallow,
  Who flew beside us o'er height and hollow,
  Till others came from their home of the Sun,
  And the farm-folk cried, "Dear Summer's begun."
  Hundreds and thousands followed our flight--
  ALL ENGLAND WILL HAVE A SWALLOW TO-NIGHT.

  By the old elm's portal of Arcady
  My Lover alighted and whispered to me,
  "O lily of laughter!  O sister of flowers!
  Wander alone in Arcadian bowers,
  And I will return when the sun goes down,
  And wing you home to your grey, grey town.
  I kiss your little white hands and feet:
  Farewell!"  And he rose, on wings so fleet
  Over the nests in the cradling larch,
  Over the bow of the rainbow's arch.

  Where conifers grow in fine profusion,
  And birches quiver in sweet confusion,
  Where hawthorn waits with a danseuse grace
  To burst on the scene with her milk-white face,
  And pirouette near some stately spruce,
  Scattering around him pearly dews,
  Where rabbits scamper thro' grasses lush,
  And a pheasant's screech breaks the noon-day hush,
  I journeyed on, till the sun began
  His westering course.

          "Evoë, great Pan!
  Never a note of your pipings to-day
  Has guided my steps thro' the sylvan way.
  O! where must I seek in this Paradise?"
  "Evoë, Evoë," a linnet sighs,
  "Seek where the sisterly marshes are,
  Where the marigold twinkles, a golden star,
  Where willow and alder hide the river,
  Where timid reed-warblers tremble and shiver."
  The sky showed pink thro' the branches grey,
  And then I heard, as if far away,
  A tremulous song, a music of fears
  That was strung together by trills of tears,
  A quivering star glowed, curtained by leaves,
  And the hullets called from some distant eaves.

  I found Pan crouched by the river's edge,
  His hoofed feet hid by the rushy sedge,
  And I listened his plaint.

          "O great god Pan,
  You sing with the broken heart of a man!
  Your song is of Syrinx, who, æons ago,
  Escaped from your loving.  Alas! that you know
  The music of love, and the music of lack,
  And you mourn for the hours that cannot come back,--
  But I would learn of merrier things:
  The melody murmurs of fluttering wings,
  The secrets that fill the nightingaled glades,
  The music that stirs in the leaf-colonnades."

  He piped for a minute, then, turning to me,
  With a wry, queer smile, said: "In Arcady
  No song goes forth to the listening earth
  That comes not thro' travail and tears to birth:
  The river weeps as it leaves the fell,
  And the note cries out as it mourns the bell;
  The bird that praises the young, fair dawn,
  Sings of his loss on the twilit lawn,
  And those that hymn of the coming spring
  Lament for her too, when she taketh wing.
  The song of songs is of Death and of Love--
  I sing of Syrinx, my own ... lost ... love."
  He piped again, and the blue mists frail
  Swayed in the dusk to the tender wail,
  And I dreamed--till I felt on my damp, moist hair,
  My Love's cool hand, and his whisper, "_Fair_,"
  Then I felt his arms, and I knew the skies,
  Whilst over the mountains I saw Dawn arise,
  And another sweet day its course began,
  While the hidden stars sang, "Evoë, great Pan!"
  And the lark in the blue, "Evoë, great Pan!"
  And wistfully I, "Evoë, great Pan!"



  A WAR-TIME GRACE

  Dear God, your rain and shining sun
  Have all their lovely duties done:
  The rain makes grow the golden wheat
  And so provides the bread we eat.

  The cow gives us the milk we drink
  Because she loves your sun, I think.
  Please, grant that other children may
  Have milk and bread enough this day.

  NIDDERDALE.



QUEEN MAB'S AWAKENING

SCENE: _The Meeting of the Waters, in Bolton Woods, Wharfedale_.

QUEEN MAB _lies sleepily in a mossy hollow, guarded by a quivering
frond of last year's bracken.  After a little yawn she discontentedly
gazes at_ THE THRUSH _who is singing continuously, whilst balancing
himself on a twig of the leafless hawthorn above her._

QUEEN MAB (_almost peevishly for a Queen_):

  Thou saucy bird, to wake me from my slumber,
  The spring still tarries, and I would not wake
  To live thro' cloud-spun days, thro' endless nights;
  To watch the weeping rain, until I too
  Would mix my tears with hers.  To see the hills
  Bow their nude forms beneath the lashing hail,
  To hear the strong trees groan.
        I will not wake.

THE THRUSH (_practising trills between each line and minor arpeggios
after each verse_):

  Queen Mab!  Queen Mab!
    Listen my lay!
  A windflower leapt
    In the hedge to-day.
  One of thy dimples
    Lent its mirth
  To lessen the gloom
    Of the snow-tired earth.
  A white-faced flower's
    In the hedge to-day,
  Queen Mab!  Queen Mab!
    Listen my lay!

QUEEN MAB (_impetuously_):

  Please, hush thy noisy song a little while.
  Maybe a windflower shows her shy white face,
  But I have seen anemones in snow,
  Hiding their eyes (false messengers of Spring),
  Justly ashamed of their own perfidy.
  Therefore, sing softly.

QUEEN MAB _curls herself up among her emerald cushions, closes her
azure eyes, and sleeps for several days_.

THE THRUSH (_his voice a degree sweeter and surer_):

  Queen Mab!  Queen Mab!
    Awake!  Awake!
  A primrose blooms
    In the woodland brake.
  From thy sleepy lips
    Has tumbled a smile
  Which lies a-blossoming
    Near the stile.
  A primrose blooms
    In the woodland brake!
  Queen Mab!  Queen Mab!
    Awake!  Awake!

_A blue tit from a neighbourly silver birch softly mimics the trills
after the last line._

QUEEN MAB (_half opening her eyes_):

  O tiresome bird, one primrose does not bring
  The warm sweet days for which I yearning wait.
  Know, I have seen the hillside amber-pied
  With primroses, and yet a fierce gale swept
  Adown the dale.  Primroses are brave,
  But, tho' they blossom, leave me to my dreams.

_Once more she nestles among the jade-green moss and sleeps for a week._

THE THRUSH (_louder and clearer_):

  Queen Mab!  Queen Mab!
    From thy faerie dream
  Has sped a laugh
    Like a sunny gleam
  Which springs to earth
    A daffy-down-dill
  That merrily flouts
    At the purling rill,
  Thy laugh has sped
    O'er the hillside grey:
  Queen Mab!  Queen Mab!
    Listen my lay!

_The cuckoo calls wistfully from down-dale, but_ QUEEN MAB _does not
hear him._

QUEEN MAB (_stretching her small white arms and yawning dreamily_):

  Methinks the air feels warmer, and the sky
  Seems bluer, yet mine eyes are loath to ope.
  I will not wake at once:
          How the birds sing!
  I did not think the world held so much song.
  That note's a blackbird's; that's a finch's call;
  A wren has whispered secrets to his mate;
  Two doves are cooing where green curtains hang,
  Half shyly, lest their love-songs should be heard;
  Yet, 'tis not spring until the cuckoo cries.

_The cuckoo's voice is heard nearer, coming from Bolton Abbey, and a
second voice answers,_

  Cuckoo!  Cuckoo!

From Barden Fell.

THE THRUSH (_his voice jubilantly strong_):

  Queen Mab!  Queen Mab!
    Thy hyacinth eyes
  Have filled the coppice
    With azure sighs.
  My loved little queen
    Of windflower feet,
  Of daffodil-laughter
    So primrose-sweet!
  The rippling wood
    Is a bluey lake.
  Queen Mab!  Queen Mab!
    Awake!  Awake!

QUEEN MAB (_wide awake now, springs from her couch and curtsies to the
World, north, south, east, and west, then raises her arms to the Sun_):

  Gold Sun, I greet thee; do not hide thy face
  Too soon behind the wistful little hills.
  Thou art my lover, faithless, fickle, fair,
  And leav'st me all too soon; my kingdom's naught
  Without thy splendid presence; stay awhile.

  Old World, old wrinkled granddame, thee I greet;
  Thy loving smile renews thy youth once more.
  For months I slept upon thy broad brown breast;
  I thank thee, granddame, for so good a rest.

  Ye birds that whistle, hares that limping run,
  And little soft-eared rabbits, velvet shod,
  Great wayward mortals, with unseeing eyes,
  I greet you one and all, for Spring has come.
  Laugh with the sun, muse with the silver showers;
  Laugh and make merry, Spring is all too fleet,
  And soon will dance away on flower-loved feet.

_Exit_ QUEEN MAB _in search of her court of butterflies.  Above the
bird-music is heard the insistent cry of the cuckoo, till the fells
re-echo with his calling._

BOLTON WOODS, WHARFEDALE.



Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.





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