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Title: Friends
Author: Gibson, Wilfrid Wilson, 1878-1962
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 "Friends" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                                FRIENDS


                                   BY
                         WILFRID WILSON GIBSON



                                 LONDON
                       ELKIN MATHEWS, CORK STREET
                                M CM XVI



                          _BY THE SAME WRITER_

                         (Uniform with FRIENDS)

BATTLE (1915).
THOROUGHFARES (1914).
BORDERLANDS (1914).
FIRES (1912).
DAILY BREAD (1910).
AKRA THE SLAVE (1910).
STONEFOLDS (1907).



                             TO THE MEMORY
                                   OF
                             RUPERT BROOKE



    _He’s gone._
    _I do not understand._
    _I only know_
    _That as he turned to go_
    _And waved his hand_
    _In his young eyes a sudden glory shone:_
    _And I was dazzled by a sunset glow._
    _And he was gone._

    23rd April, 1915.



                                CONTENTS

Rupert Brooke
William Denis Browne
Tenants
Sea-change
Gold
The Old Bed
Trees
Oblivion
Retreat
Colour
Night
The Orphans
The Pessimist
?
The Sweet-Tooth
Girl’s Song
The Ice Cart
To E. M.
Marriage
Roses
For G.
Home



                             RUPERT BROOKE


                                   I.

    Your face was lifted to the golden sky
    Ablaze beyond the black roofs of the square,
    As flame on flame leapt, flourishing in air
    Its tumult of red stars exultantly,
    To the cold constellations dim and high;
    And as we neared, the roaring ruddy flare
    Kindled to gold your throat and brow and hair
    Until you burned, a flame of ecstasy.

    The golden head goes down into the night
    Quenched in cold gloom--and yet again you stand
    Beside me now with lifted face alight,
    As, flame to flame, and fire to fire you burn...
    Then, recollecting, laughingly you turn,
    And look into my eyes and take my hand.


                                  II.

    Once in my garret--you being far away
    Tramping the hills and breathing upland air,
    Or so I fancied--brooding in my chair,
    I watched the London sunshine feeble and grey
    Dapple my desk, too tired to labour more,
    When, looking up, I saw you standing there,
    Although I’d caught no footstep on the stair,
    Like sudden April at my open door.

    Though now beyond earth’s farthest hills you fare,
    Song-crowned, immortal, sometimes it seems to me
    That, if I listen very quietly,
    Perhaps I’ll hear a light foot on the stair,
    And see you, standing with your angel air,
    Fresh from the uplands of eternity.


                                  III.

    Your eyes rejoiced in colour’s ecstasy
    Fulfilling even their uttermost desire,
    When, over a great sunlit field afire
    With windy poppies, streaming like a sea
    Of scarlet flame that flaunted riotously
    Among green orchards of that western shire,
    You gazed as though your heart could never tire
    Of life’s red flood in summer revelry.

    And as I watched you little thought had I
    How soon beneath the dim low-drifting sky
    Your soul should wander down the darkling way,
    With eyes that peer a little wistfully,
    Half-glad, half-sad, remembering, as they see
    Lethean poppies, shrivelling ashen grey.


                                  IV.

    October chestnuts showered their perishing gold
    Over us as beside the stream we lay
    In the Old Vicarage garden that blue day,
    Talking of verse and all the manifold
    Delights a little net of words may hold,
    While in the sunlight water-voles at play
    Dived under a trailing crimson bramble-spray,
    And walnuts thudded ripe on soft black mould.

    Your soul goes down unto a darker stream
    Alone, O friend, yet even in death’s deep night
    Your eyes may grow accustomed to the dark,
    And Styx for you may have the ripple and gleam
    Of your familiar river, and Charon’s bark
    Tarry by that old garden of your delight.



                          WILLIAM DENIS BROWNE

                           (GALLIPOLI, 1915)

    Night after night we two together heard
    The music of the Ring,
    The inmost silence of our being stirred
    By voice and string.

    Though I to-night in silence sit, and you
    In stranger silence sleep,
    Eternal music stirs and thrills anew
    The severing deep.



                                TENANTS

    Suddenly, out of dark and leafy ways,
    We came upon the little house asleep
    In cold blind stillness, shadowless and deep,
    In the white magic of the full moon-blaze.
    Strangers without the gate, we stood agaze,
    Fearful to break that quiet, and to creep
    Into the home that had been ours to keep
    Through a long year of happy nights and days

    So unfamiliar in the white moon-gleam,
    So old and ghostly like a house of dream
    It seemed, that over us there stole the dread
    That even as we watched it, side by side,
    The ghosts of lovers, who had lived and died
    Within its walls, were sleeping in our bed.



                               SEA-CHANGE

    Wind-flicked and ruddy her young body glowed
    In sunny shallows, splashing them to spray;
    But when on rippled, silver sand she lay,
    And over her the little green waves flowed,
    Coldly translucent and moon-coloured showed
    Her frail young beauty, as if rapt away
    From all the light and laughter of the day
    To some twilit, forlorn sea-god’s abode.

    Again into the sun with happy cry
    She leapt alive and sparkling from the sea,
    Sprinkling white spray against the hot blue sky,
    A laughing girl ... and yet, I see her lie
    Under a deeper tide eternally
    In cold moon-coloured immortality.



                                  GOLD

    All day the mallet thudded, far below
    My garret, in an old ramshackle shed
    Where ceaselessly, with stiffly nodding head
    And rigid motions ever to and fro
    A figure like a puppet in a show
    Before the window moved till day was dead,
    Beating out gold to earn his daily bread,
    Beating out thin fine gold-leaf blow on blow.

    And I within my garret all day long
    Unto that ceaseless thudding tuned my song,
    Beating out golden words in tune and time
    To that dull thudding, rhyme on golden rhyme.
    But in my dreams all night in that dark shed
    With aching arms I beat fine gold for bread.



                              THE OLD BED

    Streaming beneath the eaves, the sunset light
    Turns the white walls and ceiling to pure gold,
    And gold, the quilt and pillows on the old
    Fourposter bed--all day a cold drift-white--
    As if, in a gold casket glistering bright,
    The gleam of winter sunshine sought to hold
    The sleeping child safe from the dark and cold
    And creeping shadows of the coming night.

    Slowly it fades: and stealing through the gloom
    Home-coming shadows throng the quiet room,
    Grey ghosts that move unrustling, without breath,
    To their familiar rest, and closer creep
    About the little dreamless child asleep
    Upon the bed of bridal, birth and death.



                                 TREES

                      (_To_ LASCELLES ABERCROMBIE)

    The flames half lit the cavernous mystery
    Of the over-arching elm that loomed profound
    And mountainous above us, from the ground
    Soaring to midnight stars majestically,
    As, under the shelter of that ageless tree
    In a rapt dreaming circle we lay around
    The crackling faggots, listening to the sound
    Of old words moving in new harmony.

    And as you read, before our wondering eyes
    Arose another tree of mighty girth--
    Crested with stars though rooted in the earth,
    Its heavy-foliaged branches, lit with gleams
    Of ruddy firelight and the light of dreams--
    Soaring immortal to eternal skies.



                                OBLIVION

    Near the great pyramid, unshadowed, white,
    With apex piercing the white noon-day blaze,
    Swathed in white robes beneath the blinding rays
    Lie sleeping Bedouins drenched in white-hot light.
    About them, searing to the tingling sight
    Swims the white dazzle of the desert ways
    Where the sense shudders, witless and adaze,
    In a white void with neither depth nor height.

    Within the black core of the pyramid
    Beneath the weight of sunless centuries
    Lapt in dead night King Cheops lies asleep;
    Yet in the darkness of his chamber hid
    He knows no black oblivion more deep
    Than that blind white oblivion of noon skies.



                                RETREAT

    Broken, bewildered by the long retreat
    Across the stifling leagues of southern plain,
    Across the scorching leagues of trampled grain,
    Half-stunned, half-blinded, by the trudge of feet
    And dusty smother of the August heat,
    He dreamt of flowers in an English lane,
    Of hedgerow flowers glistening after rain--
    All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet.

    All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet--
    The innocent names kept up a cool refrain--
    All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet,
    Chiming and tinkling in his aching brain,
    Until he babbled like a child again--
    "All-heal and willow-herb and meadow-sweet."



                                 COLOUR

    A blue-black Nubian plucking oranges
    At Jaffa by a sea of malachite
    In red tarboosh, green sash, and flowing white
    Burnous--among the shadowy memories
    That haunt me yet by these bleak northern seas
    He lives for ever in my eyes’ delight,
    Bizarre, superb in young immortal might--
    A god of old barbaric mysteries.

    Maybe he lived a life of lies and lust:
    Maybe his bones are now but scattered dust
    Yet, for a moment he was life supreme
    Exultant and unchallenged: and my rhyme
    Would set him safely out of reach of time
    In that old heaven where things are what they seem.



                                 NIGHT

    Vesuvius, purple under purple skies
    Beyond the purple, still, unrippling sea;
    Sheer amber lightning, streaming ceaselessly
    From heaven to earth, dazzling bewildered eyes
    With all the terror of beauty; thus day dies
    That dawned in blue, unclouded innocency;
    And thus we look our last on Italy
    That soon, obscured by night, behind us lies.

    And night descends on us, tempestuous night,
    Night, torn with terror, as we sail the deep,
    And like a cataract down a mountain-steep
    Pours, loud with thunder, that red perilous fire...
    Yet shall the dawn, O land of our desire,
    Show thee again, re-orient, crowned with light!



                              THE ORPHANS

    At five o’clock one April morn
      I met them making tracks,
    Young Benjamin and Abel Horn,
      With bundles on their backs.

    Young Benjamin is seventy-five,
      Young Abel, seventy-seven--
    The oldest innocents alive
      Beneath that April heaven.

    I asked them why they trudged about
      With crabby looks and sour--
    "And does your mother know you’re out
      At this unearthly hour?"

    They stopped: and scowling up at me
      Each shook a grizzled head,
    And swore; and then spat bitterly,
      As with one voice they said:

    "Homeless, about the country-side
      We never thought to roam;
    But mother, she has gone and died,
      And broken up the home."



                             THE PESSIMIST

    His body bulged with puppies--little eyes
      Peeped out of every pocket, black and bright;
    And with as innocent, round-eyed surprise
      He watched the glittering traffic of the night.

    "What this world’s coming to I cannot tell,"
      He muttered, as I passed him, with a whine--
    "Things surely must be making slap for hell,
      When no one wants these little dogs of mine."



                                   ?

    Mooning in the moonlight
      I met a mottled pig,
    Grubbing mast and acorn,
      On the Gallows Rigg.

    "Tell, oh, tell me truly,
      While I wander blind,
    Do your peepy pig’s eyes
      Really see the wind--

    "See the great wind flowing
      Darkling and agleam,
    Through the fields of heaven,
      In a crystal stream?

    "Do the singing eddies
      Break on bough and twig,
    Into silvery sparkles
      For your eyes, O pig?

    "Do celestial surges
      Sweep across the night,
    Like a sea of glory
      In your blessed sight?

    "Tell, oh, tell me truly!"
      But the mottled pig
    Grubbing mast and acorns
      Did not care a fig.



                            THE SWEET-TOOTH

    Taking a turn after tea
    Through orchards of Mirabelea,
    Where clusters of yellow and red
    Dangled and glowed overhead,
    Who should I see
    But old Timothy,
    Hale and hearty as hearty could be--
    Timothy under a crab-apple tree.

    His blue eyes twinkling at me,
    Munching and crunching with glee,
    And wagging his wicked old head,
    "I’ve still got a sweet-tooth," he said.
    "A hundred and three
    Come January,
    I’ve one tooth left in my head," said he--
    Timothy under the crab-apple tree.



                              GIRL’S SONG

    I saw three black pigs riding
    In a blue and yellow cart--
    Three black pigs riding to the fair
    Behind the old grey dappled mare--
    But it wasn’t black pigs riding
    In a gay and gaudy cart
    That sent me into hiding
    With a flutter in my heart.

    I heard the cart returning,
    The jolting jingling cart--
    Returning empty from the fair
    Behind the old jog-trotting mare--
    But it wasn’t the returning
    Of a clattering, empty cart
    That sent the hot blood burning
    And throbbing through my heart



                              THE ICE CART

    Perched on my city office-stool,
    I watched with envy, while a cool
    And lucky carter handled ice...
    And I was wandering in a trice,
    Far from the grey and grimy heat
    Of that intolerable street,
    O’er sapphire berg and emerald floe,
    Beneath the still, cold ruby glow
    Of everlasting Polar night,
    Bewildered by the queer half-light,
    Until I stumbled, unawares,
    Upon a creek where big white bears
    Plunged headlong down with flourished heels,
    And floundered after shining seals
    Through shivering seas of blinding blue.
    And as I watched them, ere I knew,
    I’d stripped, and I was swimming, too,
    Among the seal-pack, young and hale,
    And thrusting on with threshing tail,
    With twist and twirl and sudden leap
    Through crackling ice and salty deep--
    Diving and doubling with my kind,
    Until, at last, we left behind
    Those big, white, blundering bulks of death,
    And lay, at length, with panting breath
    Upon a far untravelled floe,
    Beneath a gentle drift of snow--
    Snow drifting gently, fine and white,
    Out of the endless Polar night,
    Falling and falling evermore
    Upon that far untravelled shore,
    Till I was buried fathoms deep
    Beneath that cold white drifting sleep--
    Sleep drifting deep,
    Deep drifting sleep...

    The carter cracked a sudden whip:
    I clutched my stool with startled grip,
    Awakening to the grimy heat
    Of that intolerable street.



                                TO E. M.

                          (IN MEMORY OF R. B.)

    The night we saw the stacks of timber blaze
    To terrible golden fury, young and strong
    He watched between us with dream-dazzled gaze
    Aflame, and burning like a god of song,
    As we together stood against the throng
    Drawn from the midnight of the city ways.

    To-night the world about us is ablaze
    And he is dead, is dead ... Yet, young and strong
    He watches with us still with deathless gaze
    Aflame, and burning like a god of song,
    As we together stand against the throng
    Drawn from the bottomless midnight of hell’s ways.

    10th June, 1915.



                                MARRIAGE

    Going my way of old,
      Contented more or less,
    I dreamt not life could hold
      Such happiness.

    I dreamt not that love’s way
      Could keep the golden height
    Day after happy day,
      Night after night.



                                 ROSES

    Red roses floating in a crystal bowl
    You bring, O love; and in your eyes I see,
    Blossom on blossom, your warm love of me
    Burning within the crystal of your soul--
    Red roses floating in a crystal bowl.



                                 FOR G.

    All night under the moon
      Plovers are flying
    Over the dreaming meadows of silvery light,
    Over the meadows of June,
      Flying and crying--
    Wandering voices of love in the hush of the night.

    All night under the moon,
      Love, though we’re lying
    Quietly under the thatch, in silvery light
    Over the meadows of June
      Together we’re flying--
    Rapturous voices of love in the hush of the night.

    1915



                                  HOME

                               I. RETURN

    Under the brown bird-haunted eaves of thatch
    The hollyhocks in crimson glory burned
    Against black timbers and old rosy brick,
    And over the green door in clusters thick
    Hung tangled passion-flowers, when we returned
    To our own threshold: and with hand on latch
    We stood a moment in the sunset gleam
    And looked upon our home as in a dream.

    Rapt in a golden glow of still delight
    Together on the threshold in the sun
    We stood rejoicing that we two had won
    To this deep golden peace ere day was done,
    That over gloomy plain and storm-swept height
    We two, O love, had won to home ere night.


                            II. CANDLE-LIGHT

    Where through the open window I could see
    The supper-table in the golden light
    Of tall white candles--brasses glinting bright
    On the black gleaming board, and crockery
    Coloured like gardens of old Araby--
    In your blue gown against the walls of white
    You stood adream, and in the starry night
    I felt strange loneliness steal over me.

    You stood with eyes upon the candle flame
    That kindled your thick hair to burnished gold,
    As in a golden spell that seemed to hold
    My heart’s love rapt from me for evermore...
    And then you stirred, and opening the door,
    Into the starry night you breathed my name.


                             III. FIRELIGHT

    Against the curtained casement wind and sleet
    Rattle and thresh, while snug by our own fire
    In dear companionship that naught may tire
    We sit--you listening, sewing in your seat
    Half-dreaming in the glow of light and heat,
    I reading some old tale of love’s desire
    That swept on gold wings to disaster dire
    Then rose re-orient from black defeat.

    I close the book, and louder yet the storm
    Threshes without.  Your busy hands are still;
    And on your face and hair the light is warm,
    As we sit gazing on the coals’ red gleam
    In a gold glow of happiness, and dream
    Diviner dreams the years shall yet fulfil.


                              IV. MIDNIGHT

    Between the midnight pillars of black elms
    The old moon hangs, a thin, cold, amber flame
    Over low ghostly mist: a lone snipe wheels
    Through shadowy moonshine, droning; and there steals
    Into my heart a fear without a name
    Out of primæval night’s resurgent realms,
    Unearthly terror, chilling me with dread
    As I lie waking wide-eyed on the bed.

    And then you turn towards me in your sleep
    Murmuring, and with a sigh of deep content
    You nestle to my breast and over me
    Steals the warm peace of you; and, all fear spent,
    I hold you to me sleeping quietly,
    Till I, too, sink in slumber sound and deep.



           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



          LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED.



                        By Wilfrid Wilson Gibson


BATTLE.  Crown 8vo.  1s. net.  [_Third Thousand_]


                 Some Extracts from early Press Notices

"With the exception of Rupert Brooke’s five sonnets, ’1914,’ ’Battle’
contains, we think, the only English poems about the war--so far--for
which anyone would venture to predict a future on their own
merits."--_The Athenæum_.

"Among the many books which the war has drawn forth it may safely be
said that none contains more concentrated poignancy than the tiny
pamphlet of verses which Mr. Gibson entitles ’Battle.’  Sympathy and
irony strive for the palm throughout. The little book is a monument to
the wantonness of it all, to the cheapness of life in war, the
carelessness as to the individual, the disregard alike of promise and
performance, the elimination of personality.  When war is declared, said
Napoleon, there are no longer men, there is only a man.  Napoleon spoke
for the clear-sighted general in command; Mr. Gibson speaks for the
perplexed soldier under orders, and, doing so, illustrates the other
side of the medal.  In war, he says, in effect, there are no longer men,
there is no longer man, there are only sports of chance, pullers of
triggers, bewildered fulfillers of instructions, cynical acceptors of
destiny."--_The Times_.

"Each separate vision, though realised in the particular case, has
universal range--that is where the greatness of the art lies."--GERALD
GOULD in _The Herald_.

"They are extremely objective; a series of short dramatic lyrics,
written with the simplicity and directness which Mr. Gibson chiefly
studies in his exceptional art, expressing, without any implied comment,
but with profoundly implied emotion, the feelings, thoughts, sensations
of soldiers in the midst of the actual experiences of modern warfare.
The emotion they imply is not patriotic, but simply and broadly human;
this is what war means, we feel; these exquisite bodies insulted by
agony and death, these incalculable spirits devastated.  What all this
destruction is for is taken for granted.  Modern warfare is not
beautiful, and Mr. Gibson does not try to gloss it in the usual way, by
underlining the heroism and endurance it evokes.  All that is simply
assumed in these poems, just as the common soldier himself assumes it.
An almost appalling heroism is unemphatically revealed in them as the
fundamental fact of usual human nature.  This is the ground-bass, and
above its constancy plays the ever-varying truth of what fighting means
to some individual piece of human nature.  The poems are moments
isolated and fixed out of the infinite changing flux of human reaction
to the terrible galvanism of war.  But that thrilling galvanism does not
alter human kind; and sometimes Mr. Gibson forces us to realise the vast
unreason of war by bringing into withering contact with its current a
mind still preoccupied with the habits of peace."--MR. LASCELLES
ABERCROMBIE in _The Quarterly Review_.

"Mr. Gibson’s ’Battle’ is the first considerable attempt (and we may
easily expect that it will remain by far the most important attempt) to
look at the war through the main plane, the basic facet, of the crystal
of English war-spirit."

"Are they true? Does experience vouch for them?  As a matter of fact,
the veracity of these poems has been already vouched for from the
trenches; we make no doubt that the more they are known, the more
experience will endorse them."

"But, though these poems would have failed if their psychology had been
plainly faulty, their worth as psychological documents is not the main
thing about them.  The main thing about them is just that they are
extraordinary poems; by means of their psychology, no less and no more
than by means of their metre, their rhyme, their intellectual form and
their concrete imagery, they pierce us with flashing understanding of
what the war is and means--not merely what it is to these individual
pieces of ordinary human nature who are injured by it and who yet
dominate it, but, by evident implication, what the war is in itself, as
a grisly multitudinous whole.  It seems to us beyond question that Mr.
Gibson’s ’Battle’ is one of the most remarkable results the war has had
in literature."--_The Nation_.



                          _BY THE SAME WRITER_

STONEFOLDS.  Crown 8vo.  2s. 6d. net

(Uniform with ’Thoroughfares’ and ’Borderlands’)



                 LONDON: ELKIN MATHEWS, CORK STREET, W.





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