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Title: Songs of Womanhood
Author: Alma-Tadema, Laurence, 1865?-1940
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.

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      Text enclosed by equal signs is in bold face (=bold).


       *       *       *       *       *


_Uniform with this Volume._


=The Athenæum.=--'_In this volume the critic recognises with sudden
joy the work of a true poet._'

=The Saturday Review.=--'_It is a book in which deep feeling speaks
... and it has something of that essentially poetical thought, the
thought that sees, which lies deeper than feeling._'


       *       *       *       *       *




Grant Richards
48 Leicester Square

Edinburgh: Printed by T. and A. Constable

A great number of the following verses are already known to readers of
_The Herb o' Grace_, and of the little reprint, _Songs of Childhood_.
As these pamphlets, however, did not reach the public, it has been
thought advisable to re-issue the verses in book-form, together with
three or four more collected from various reviews, and a number that
are here printed for the first time.





    KING BABY                                                   3

    A BLESSING FOR THE BLESSED                                  5

    TO RAOUL BOUCHARD                                           8

    TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW                                       10

    THE NESTING HOUR                                           11

    THE LITTLE SISTER--Bath-time                               12
                       Bed-time                                13

    A TWILIGHT SONG                                            14

    A WINTRY LULLABY                                           15

    THE WARM CRADLE                                            16

    THE DROOPING FLOWER                                        17

    MOTHERS IN THE GARDEN--I.                                  18
                          II.                                  19

    THE GRAVEL PATH                                            20

    THE NEW PELISSE                                            21

    SOLACE                                                     22

    STRANGE LANDS                                              23

    MARCH MEADOWS--A Lark                                      24
                   Lambs                                       25

    THE ROBIN                                                  26

    THE MOUSE                                                  27

    THE BAT                                                    28

    THE SWALLOW                                                29

    SNOWDROPS                                                  30

    FROST                                                      32

    APPLES                                                     33

    LONELY CHILDREN--I.                                        34
                    II.                                        35

    PLAYGROUNDS                                                36

    FAIRINGS                                                   38

    THE FLOWER TO THE BUD                                      40


    LOVE AND THE MAIDENS                                       43

    AWAKENINGS                                                 44

    THE CLOUDED SOUL                                           46

    THE HEALER                                                 47

    THE OPEN DOOR                                              48

    THE FUGITIVE                                               49

THE FAITHFUL WIFE                                              53


    A WOMAN TO HER POET                                        63

    THE INFIDEL                                                64

    LOVE WITHIN VOWS                                           65

    THE EXILE                                                  66

    THE SCAR INDELIBLE                                         67

    REVULSION                                                  68

    THE CAPTIVE                                                69

    POSSESSION'S ANGUISH                                       70

    TREASURES OF POVERTY                                       72

    SOLITUDE                                                   73

    THE HEART ASLEEP                                           74

    ADVERSITY                                                  75

    FACES OF THE DEAD                                          76

    THE SLEEPER                                                80

    STARS                                                      81

    TRELAWNY'S GRAVE                                           82

    V.R.I.--JANUARY 22, 1901                                   83

    LINES ON A PICTURE BY MARY GOW                             84

    TO SERENITY                                                85

ELEVEN SONNETS                                                 89


    SUNSHINE IN FEBRUARY                                      103

    THE CUCKOO                                                104

    A SONG IN THE MORNING                                     107

    IN A LONDON SQUARE                                        109

    THE CALL OF THE GREEN                                     111

    SUMMER ENDING                                             112

    NEAR AUTUMN                                               114

    NOVEMBER                                                  115

    THE COMMON WEALTH                                         117


King Baby

      King Baby on his throne
    Sits reigning O, sits reigning O!
      King Baby on his throne
    Sits reigning all alone.

      His throne is Mother's knee,
    So tender O, so tender O!
      His throne is Mother's knee,
    Where none may sit but he.

      His crown it is of gold,
    So curly O, so curly O!
      His crown it is of gold,
    In shining tendrils rolled.

      His kingdom is my heart,
    So loyal O, so loyal O!
      His kingdom is my heart,
    His own in every part.

      Divine are all his laws,
    So simple O, so simple O!
      Divine are all his laws,
    With Love for end and cause.

      King Baby on his throne
    Sits reigning O, sits reigning O!
      King Baby on his throne
    Sits reigning all alone.

A Blessing for the Blessed

    When the sun has left the hill-top,
      And the daisy-fringe is furled,
    When the birds from wood and meadow
      In their hidden nests are curled,
    Then I think of all the babies
      That are sleeping in the world....

    There are babies in the high lands
      And babies in the low,
    There are pale ones wrapped in furry skins
      On the margin of the snow,
    And brown ones naked in the isles,
      Where all the spices grow.

    And some are in the palace
      On a white and downy bed,
    And some are in the garret
      With a clout beneath their head,
    And some are on the cold hard earth,
      Whose mothers have no bread.

    O little men and women,
      Dear flowers yet unblown!
    O little kings and beggars
      Of the pageant yet unshown!
    Sleep soft and dream pale dreams now,
      To-morrow is your own....

    Though some shall walk in darkness,
      And others in the light,
    Though some shall smile and others weep
      In the silence of the night,
    When Life has touched with many hues
      Your souls now clear and white:

    God save you, little children!
      And make your eyes to see
    His finger pointing in the dark
      Whatever you may be,
    Till one and all, through Life and Death,
      Pass to Eternity....

To Raoul Bouchard

    Dear were your kisses, baby boy,
      Your weight upon my arm:
    Gay were your tuneful cries of joy
      As I danced you round the farm:
    And sweet your softness when we lay
    Laughing and cooing in the hay.

    The summer sun will shine again,
      Old arms will mow and reap;
    There'll be new flowers on the plain,
      New lambs among the sheep;
    But never in this world of men
    Shall we two be as we were then.

    Your feet have touched the ground, my bird,
      And now your wondering eyes
    Will gaze no more as if they heard
      A seraph in the skies:
    A little boy, with leap and shout
    You'll wildly chase your dreams about.

    But when you are a man, soft thing,
      And life has made you stern,
    May we who watched you in your spring
      Still feel our babe return
    In hallowed moments, such as shine
    When thought or deed makes man divine.

To-day and To-morrow

    Little hands--what will you grasp
      When you leave this nest, O?
    Little arms--what will you clasp
      Against that tender breast, O?
    Cling to mother's finger, babe,
      Throw sweet arms about me!
    Here no noons may linger, babe,
      Soon you'll love without me.

    Little toes--where will you turn,
      East or south or west, O?
    Little feet--what sands that burn
      Will you soon have pressed, O?
    Lie on mother's knee, my own,
      Dance your heels about me!
    Apples leave the tree, my own,
    Soon you'll live without me....

The Nesting Hour

    Robin-friend has gone to bed,
    Little wing to hide his head--
    Mother's bird must slumber too
    Just as baby Robins do--
    When the stars begin to rise,
    Birds and babies close their eyes.

The Little Sister


        Baby's got no legs at all,
    They're soft and pinky, crumpled things;
        If he stood up he'd only fall:
    But then, you see, he's used to wings.


        Baby baby bye,
        Close your little eye!
    When the dark begins to creep,
    Tiny-wees must go to sleep.

        Lammy lammy lie,
        I am seven, I;
    Little boys must sleep and wait,
    If they want their bed-time late.

        Fidgy fidgy fie,
        There's no need to cry!
    Soon you'll never dress in white,
    But sit up working half the night....

A Twilight Song

        Baby moon, 'tis time for bed,
          Owlet leaves his nest now;
        Hide your little horned head
          In the twilight west now;
    When you're old and round and bright,
    You shall stay and shine all night.

        Baby girl is going too
          In her bed to creep now;
        She is little, just like you,
          Time it is to sleep now;
    When she's old and tired and wise,
    She'll be glad to close her eyes.

A Wintry Lullaby

        Blow, wind, blow,
    The fields are white with snow--
    Sleeping daisies, deep and warm,
    Cannot hear the Winter storm.

        Freeze, air, freeze,
    The rime is on the trees--
    Sleeping buds within the bough,
    Dream of spring and cuckoos now.

        Turn, earth, turn,
    The flames of life do burn--
    Sleeping girl, my baby dove,
    Knows no world but mother's love.

The Warm Cradle

        Hush, baby, hush,
    Sweet robin's in the bush--
    All the birdies lie so quiet,
    Won't my little dicky try it?
        Hush, baby, hush.

        Sleep, baby, sleep,
    The lammies love the sheep--
    Woolly babes all nestle cosy,
    Lie, my lambkin, warm and rosy,
        Sleep, baby, sleep.

        Dream, baby, dream,
    Our feet are in the stream--
    Stones below but stars above, child,
    Life is warm so long we love, child,
        Dream, baby, dream.

The Drooping Flower

    Baby's rather ill to-night,
    Little face is long and white,
    Eyes are all too large and bright--
    What shall mother do now?

    Never leave him out of sight,
    Hold him warm and still and tight,
    Make him well with all her might,
    That's what she will do now.

Mothers in the Garden


      Wagtail--pied Wagtail--
    What tremor's in your breast?
    On nimble feet, when we draw near,
    You run about to hide your fear,
    As if to say: There's nothing here,
        I have no nest....

      Wagtail--pied Wagtail--
    We too their voices heard;
    Away then to the water-side,
    And fetch the food for which they cried;
    From us there is no need to hide,
        My dainty bird.


    The thrushes' nest has fallen
    From the ivy on the wall:
    The dear blue eggs are broken,
    All broken by the fall.

    But we heard a song at sundown
    That said: O tears are vain!--
    And babe and I ceased grieving:
    We think they will build again.

The Gravel Path

        Tiny mustn't frown
        When she tumbles down;
    If the wind should change--Ah me,
    What a face her face would be!

        Rub away the dirt,
        Say she wasn't hurt;
    What a world 'twould be--O my,
    If all who fell began to cry!

The New Pelisse

    Baby's got a new pelisse,
    Very soft and very neat--
    Like a lammy in her fleece
    She's all white from head to feet.

    Thirty lambs each gave a curl,
    Mother sewed them, stitch by stitch--
    All to clothe a baby-girl:
    Don't you think she's very rich?


      Whom does Miss belong to?
    Just to Mother, Mother only:
    That's whom Miss belongs to,
    --And Mother's never lonely.

      Whom's this little song to?
    Just to Baby, Baby only:
    That's whom little song's to,
    --And Baby's never lonely.

Strange Lands

      Where do you come from, Mr. Jay?--
    'From the land of Play, from the land of Play.'
      And where can that be, Mr. Jay?--
        'Far away--far away.'

      Where do you come from, Mrs. Dove?--
    'From the land of Love, from the land of Love.'
      And how do you get there, Mrs. Dove?--
        'Look above--look above.'

      Where do you come from, Baby Miss?--
    'From the land of Bliss, from the land of Bliss.'
      And what is the way there, Baby Miss?--
        'Mother's kiss--mother's kiss.'

March Meadows


    Lark-bird, lark-bird soaring high,
      Are you never weary?
    When you reach the empty sky,
      Are the clouds not dreary?
    Don't you sometimes long to be
    A silent gold-fish in the sea?

    Gold-fish, gold-fish diving deep,
      Are you never sad, say?
    When you feel the cold waves creep
      Are you really glad, say?
    Don't you sometimes long to sing
    And be a lark-bird on the wing?


    O little lambs! the month is cold,
    The sky is very gray;
    You shiver in the misty grass
    And bleat at all the winds that pass;
    Wait! when I'm big--some day--
    I'll build a roof to every fold.

    But now that I am small, I'll pray
    At mother's knee for you;
    Perhaps the angels with their wings
    Will come and warm you, little things;
    I'm sure that, if God knew,
    He'd let the lambs be born in May.

The Robin

    When father takes his spade to dig,
      Then Robin comes along;
    He sits upon a little twig
      And sings a little song.

    Or, if the trees are rather far,
      He does not stay alone,
    But comes up close to where we are
      And bobs upon a stone.

The Mouse

      Little Master Mouse,
    You'd better leave this house;
    Crumbs are scarce upon the floor,
    And pussy sleeps behind the door.

      Mousie soft and grey,
    I wish you'd run away!
    Cook will catch you in a trap,
    And mice mayn't sit in mother's lap....

The Bat

    Bat, Bat, that flies at night
    When angels' breath has blown the light,
    When all the bees are hived in bed
    And swallow sleeps with hidden head:
    Songless bird! until this hour,
    Among the bells in the ivied tower
    Have you hung dreaming in your house?
    Are you a living wingèd mouse?--
    Bat, Bat, I often doubt;
    And when I see you flit about,
    I wonder if the dead birds roam
    In circles round their nestlings' home....

The Swallow

    O Swallow! if I had your wings
    I would not stay below;
    I'd leave off catching flies and things
    And up to Heaven I'd go.

    I'd sail above the tallest tree
    That waves its arms on high;
    Beyond the furthest cloud we see,
    And deeper than the sky.

    Perhaps, when live birds find the way,
    They're all sent down again,
    And that is why you dive to-day
    For insects in the rain.


    Little ladies, white and green,
      With your spears about you,
    Will you tell us where you've been
      Since we lived without you?

    You are sweet, and fresh, and clean,
      With your pearly faces;
    In the dark earth where you've been
      There are wondrous places:

    Yet you come again, serene,
      When the leaves are hidden;
    Bringing joy from where you've been
      You return unbidden--

    Little ladies, white and green,
      Are you glad to cheer us?
    Hunger not for where you've been,
      Stay till Spring be near us!


    The flowers in the garden
    Are very cold at night;
    When I look out of window
    Their beds are hard and white.

    The primrose and the scilla,
    The merry crocus too--
    O Jane! if we were flowers,
    What should we children do?

    We'd have to sleep all naked
    Beneath the windy trees;
    Yet we should die, I know it,
    With even a chemise....


      Red cheeks, red cheeks,
    Will you play with me?
      No boy, pale boy,
    I want to climb that tree.

      Red cheeks, red cheeks,
    You will tumble down--
      No boy, pale boy,
    I'll eat the apples brown.

      Red cheeks, red cheeks,
    Barns are best for rain--
      No boy, pale boy,
    I'll soon be down again.

Lonely Children


    The trees are dusty in the Park,
    The grass is hard and brown;
    I'm glad I've got a Noah's ark,
    But I'm sorry I'm in town.

    A lot of little girls and boys
    Are not so rich as me;
    But O! I'd give them all my toys
    For shells beside the sea....


    The flowers are happy in the garden,
    For the bees are always there;
    The clouds are happy up in Heaven
    With the angels in the air;
    But little boy and little mouse
    Are rather lonely in the house.


    In summer I am very glad
    We children are so small,
    For we can see a thousand things
    That men can't see at all.

    They don't know much about the moss
    And all the stones they pass:
    They never lie and play among
    The forests in the grass:

    They walk about a long way off;
    And, when we're at the sea,
    Let father stoop as best he can
    He can't find things like me.

    But, when the snow is on the ground
    And all the puddles freeze,
    I wish that I were very tall,
    High up above the trees....


    O, Father has donned his suit of brown
    And saddled the gelding gray,
    And he's ridden off to London town
    Where the streets are fine and gay.

    And Mother has asked for a yard of lace,
    And Kate for a kerchief new,
    And Moll for a mirror to look at her face,
    And Bessie for beads, all blue;

    And Dick has been promised a kite so tall,
    And Jamie a leathern whip,
    And Baby shall play with a painted ball,
    And O! I have asked for a ship!--

    But our eldest sister stood apart,
    And I think I heard her say:
    'O bring me back a little white heart
    Like the one I lost in May....'

The Flower to the Bud

    Tiny heart beneath my hand,
    Say, what treasures will you hold?
    O, what blossom will unfold,
    Late to bloom, or soon to fade,
    From this bud, my baby-maid?
    Through what shallows will you wade,
    To what heights will you aspire
    In your spirit's white desire?
    Will you mar or will you make?
    Will you give or will you take?
    Will you glow or will you break
    With the running of the sand--
    Tiny heart beneath my hand?...


Love and the Maidens

    He seemed asleep; his wings were wet
    With dew; he lay among the flowers,
    Sweeter than Spring; his radiant curls
    With primrose and with violet
    Were crowned; and in a silent ring the girls
    Watched, all an April morning's misty hours....

    Not one dared wake him--yet each breast
    Yearned to be pillow to a thing
    So fair. 'How will he smile?' thought they,
    'In waking?...' But between them pressed
    One who with laughter bore the rogue away,
    Ere they had touched a feather of his wing.


      The first time she awoke,
    Her room was filled with light;
    Thought she: They've made a little fire
    To warm me through the night....

      The next time she awoke,
    Sweet music stirred the air;
    Thought she: They've brought a magic lyre
    To make my dreams more fair....

      The third time she awoke,
    The dawn-swept sky was gray;
    Thought she: I know my heart's desire
    Will come to me to-day....

      But empty was the street,
    And ashen was the hearth;
    And the music-maker's nimble feet
    Were speeding o'er the earth.

The Clouded Soul

    O what have you done with your heart, daughter,
    And what have you done to your soul, my dear?
    Your heart was like a lily in June,
    And your soul as a crystal clear....

    O, I've thrown my heart in a well, mother,
    For the lily was sick, and needed rain:
    O, I've wept a cloud round my soul, mother,
    And we never shall see it again....

The Healer

      O will you have my heart, sweet maid,
    My heart so true, my heart so red?
      O will you have my heart, dear maid,
    And give me yours instead?

      O keep your heart, my good young man,
    For mine is wounded, deep and sore;
      O keep your heart, my kind young man,
    For mine shall love no more....

The Open Door

    Why have you locked the door, my maid,
      Why have you locked the door?
    O! I have let Grief out, she said,
      Never to enter more.

    Open and set it wide, my maid,
      Open and set it wide!
    Lest Joy should come one day, he said,
      And have to stand outside.

The Fugitive

    When she returned to the clouded land,
    She held sweet flowers in her hand;
        Her eyes were bright
        With a beaming light
    That none could understand.

    Said they: Where, sister, hast thou been?
    What hidden glory hast thou seen?
        What magic sod
        Has thy white foot trod;
    What song-filled groves of green?

    Said she: I followed across the plain
    To the gates of Love, to the gates of Pain:
        By one, by two,
        All the rest went through:
    But I came back again....


The Faithful Wife

    It was a banished chieftain
    Returned from oversea,
    And he saw his wife and children
    Come smiling o'er the lea.

    The moon had wrapped them in her beams,
    The wind was in their hair,
    Their feet that trod the wild bluebell
    Were light as wings on air.

    'O have you come to meet me, wife,
    As you once did swear to do?
    Full seven years have I been gone,
    And was your word so true?'

    He took her by the white cool hand
    Where the golden rings shone gay;
    He took her youngest on his arm
    And joyful led the way.

    'O fair are ye, my father's towers,
    And sweet my garden dear:
    God grant I never leave you more
    Till Death o'ertake me here!'

    The lights were burning in the hall,
    As they sat them down to meat;
    The pipers piped a merry tune
    The while their lord did eat.

    He looked to right, he looked to left,
    And a happy man was he,
    As he stroked the head of the good gre-hound
    That stood beside his knee.

    'O, I am weary, wife, my wife,
    And the flames begin to pale;
    Lead on, for I would sleep awhile
    Before I tell my tale.'

    She lifted the bright curtain
    That led into her bower;
    There came the tramp of parting feet
    And silence held the tower.

    'O wife, how long have I been gone?
    The room smells of roses still--
    O wife, our babes are very young,
    Their limbs are cold and chill....'

    She folded up their raiment small,
    She smiled but said no word:
    She laid her children in one bed,
    Then came beside her lord.

    He could not sleep, he could not wake,
    But lay in silence there;
    His dear wife held him by the hand,
    He felt her wind-blown hair--

    'O Mother! Mother!' whispered one,
    'Why must we sleep so soon?
    The sun is hidden down below,
    I still can see the moon.'

    'Be quiet, be quiet, my little child,
    And watch the moonbeams creep;
    To-night you may not play about,
    For your father lies asleep.'

    'O Mother! Mother!' whispered one,
    'It is not time for bed!
    Where have you put my little lid?
    I cannot hide my head.'

    'Lie still, lie still, my tiny child,
    Your father dear is found:
    We four shall never sleep again
    In the dark and heavy mound.'

    'O Mother! Mother!' whispered one,
    'How shall that ever be?
    We may not bide in the light of day
    To watch upon the lea.'

    'No need, no need, my pretty child,
    For your father dear has come;
    We'll kiss him once, we'll kiss him twice,
    Then seek our own far home.'

    He heard them laugh with baby joy,
    He felt their kisses sweet,
    He heard the patter to the door
    Of their unearthly feet....

    He could not stir when she bent low
    To kiss him on the lips--
    He could not raise, to hold her fast,
    His anguished finger-tips;

    But his heart against her silent breast
    Beat loud in wild despair--
    He heard the swaying of her skirt,
    And his soul leapt forth in prayer.

         .     .     .     .     .

    A shepherd rose to call his sheep
    When the morning sky was gray;
    The owl flew back to the ruined tower--
    He led his flock that way.

    And lo! amid the scattered stones
    That the foe had strewn around,
    He saw his long-lost chieftain lie
    A corpse upon the ground.

    A smile was on his breathless lips,
    And he lay on the flowered sward,
    Where his wife and babes had bled to death
    Beneath a traitor's sword.


A Woman to her Poet

    In three worlds King art thou of my desire,
    O thou of many crowns! whose brow, birth-bound
    With light, wears wisdom's diadem. Thou lyre
    Of the speechless soul, in silence triple-crowned!
    My love's proud empire smiles to know thee King;
    And in the realms of Womanhood I wind
    A coronet of Faith, a blood-rose ring
    With azure chain of sapphire intertwined;
    And where the mind's pure kingdom is, I seek
    Bright crystals, pearls of Truth divine and rare
    To honour thee; but on the aërial peak
    That marks the Soul's eternal region--there
    Thou thronest Monarch of a world serene,
    Crowned with the emerald's unfathomed green.

The Infidel

    My soul at times, outworn by length of woe,
    A strange appeasement seeks in doubting thee,
    And cries: My sacred mount's a thing as low
    As any hillock; shallow rolls the sea
    That should have quenched my deep unbounded thirst;
    My star's a lamp that flickers earthly light;
    Mere surf-worn glass my emerald; why burst,
    O heart! for love of these?--Then, fullest night
    Environs me, thou banished; stretching wide
    My arms, I grope for refuge; all my pain
    Cries babe-like for a breast whereon to hide,
    And on to thine I fling myself again....
    Thus fools, impatient of God's silence, cry:
    There is no God!--and seek what they deny.

Love Within Vows

    We love, and O! we know it; yet Love's name
    Upon our lips a tremulous wish must die;
    We both were made for loving, you and I,
    And still was Love denied. To both it came,
    More fleeting than the beauty of a flame:
    Now each within the other's hungering eye
    Beholds the corse of Joy embalmèd lie,
    And smiles to know his penury the same.
    There is no sorrow in this love, O Friend,
    New-sprung from ruin, tho' our lips be sealed
    By silence and the world's hard fetter. Dear
    To me your being; yet we know nor fear
    Of loss nor of possession; here's a shield
    Shall part us nobly faithful to the end.

The Exile

      You too mistook me; for no man is wise
    Whom Love enclouds. Nor soul-piercing nor keen
    Your vision, else there never would have been
    A cause for parting. Love-enwrapped, your eyes
    Failed in my love Love's self to recognise:
    You saw its outer garment, where the green
    Of perfect faith was marred by passion's sheen,
    By outworn patience and desire's disguise.
    Had you but read me to the inner soul,
    You would have held me fast. I can forego
    All that is sought of hand and lip, the whole
    Of Love's poor joy. But I have need to know
    That, when the heart fails, I may come and rest
    My head upon your wide and sheltering breast.

The Scar Indelible

    O your voice, your voice in the night!
    How shall I wipe your voice from the night?
    Only Hope could wipe it away--
    And you have driven Hope away.

    O your eyes, your eyes in my sight!
    How shall I hide your eyes from my sight?
    Only Joy could hide them away,
    And you have driven Joy away.

    O your name, your name in the light!
    How shall I thrust your name from the light?
    Only Love could thrust it away,
    And you have driven Love away.


      My heart is weary of Love and Hate:
    Too sick of its Love to love you still,
    Too sick of its Hate to hate you yet--
    My heart is weary and would forget.

      O give me nothing! 'Tis far too late:
    Your much were little my thirst to fill,
    Your little were scorn of Faith so deep--
    O give me nothing!--and let me sleep.

The Captive

    I want to take my heart away,
    Break it away from the branch where it clings;
    I want to quit the barren spray
    Where now no throstle sings.

    The butterflies have long since gone,
    Gone to the bough where the gay blossoms are;
    The sinking sun now bears the dawn
    To other lands afar.

    I want to break my heart away,
    Tear it away from the bough where it grows;
    O for the light of a free new day,
    On the hill beyond the snows!

Possession's Anguish

      One tree in my garden, one tree
    Out of all the forests of the world:
    One little ship afloat upon the sea,
    One shell beneath the waves, flawless and pearled:

      One rose on my bower, one rose
    For a day to scatter on the grass:
    One shifting star agleam where the wind blows,
    One gem upheld, that all may share who pass:

      One heart to be ached for, one heart
    Out of all the bosoms that are here:
    One fragile hope alive, the starver's part,
    One joy already faint and pale with fear:

      One flame in the darkness, one flame
    For the night to sever with a breath:
    One poor faith fettered to a mortal name--
    And over all, the beating wings of death....

Treasures of Poverty

    I sometimes watch the lips of other women
    And think of all the kisses they have known;
    I sometimes touch the hands of other women
    In wonder at the memoried palms they own....

    The kiss upon my brow was sadly given,
    The hands I held but once were not my own;
    And yet I would not change what I was given
    For all the kisses I have never known....

    Nor would I change again my heart's white desert;
    O wondrous are the meetings I have known,
    And strange the eyes that seek me in the desert,
    Then smiling vanish to rejoin their own....


      Now empty lies the house. The languid air
    Unstirred by voices creeps from room to room;
    No footstep falls upon the silent stair,
    All's still and dark. In every nook the tomb
    Of some thought lies; remembrance everywhere
    Lingers to seek a joy no longer there;
    And, as I sit here lonely in the gloom,
    I ask myself which evil I would choose:
    Never to have, or else to have, and lose.

The Heart Asleep

    Within me now my heart's asleep
    And none shall wake it more;
    The silence of all pain is deep
    Within me. Now my heart's asleep,
    It dreams of joys it might not keep;
    And nothing looks before
    Within me now. My heart's asleep
    And none shall wake it more.


      Black winds of the world!
    There is pity in your breath,
    Against wild tempest weaponing.

      Grey clouds of the sky!
    You are gentle in your shade,
    Against night-darkness tempering.

      Red wounds of the heart!
    There is mercy in your blood,
    Against hope-murder hardening.

      Pale swoons of the soul!
    You are tender in your pangs
    Against dire death emboldening.

Faces of the Dead

    I dreamed that, wandering by a river's bank,
    I came across a lonely ship that sank
    In lifeless waters. Day was dim;--in dreams
    We see nor sun, nor moon; unearthly gleams
    Of deadened light fall strangely from the sky.--
    There were but three that struggled not to die:
    A man, a woman, and a tender child;
    He sought to save them both with effort wild
    And dragged his love to the entangled shore;
    But down the slimy weeds she slid once more
    Into the water, and her lover's breast
    Received her, and together they found rest.
    The child was saved; my hand towards her hand
    Outstretched, drew all her sweetness to the land,
    Where naked, like a lily wet with rain,
    She sank and loudly wept at her life's gain.
    Quite small she was, and light; I bore her fast
    To what seemed home, and there she smiled at last
    And sat upright within my arms; I found
    A bright-hued veil wherein to wrap her round,
    Tissues that far in morning-lands were spun
    By those who love the flowers and the sun.
    I laid her softly in a silken bed,
    Strewed fragrant violets about her head
    And left her.
                'Twas my dream then that I slept.
    But when at dawn unto her bed I crept,
    The child was lost. Her pillow was all wet
    With tears that still flowed on; and faster yet
    They flowed in quickening rills, until I thought
    I stood beside a torrent wide that sought
    An unknown sea. The day was sad, tho' young;
    Upon a misty branch some bird had sung
    And left a trembling silence; all around
    I saw the little daisies on the ground
    Fast closed, with folded arm-petals in vain
    Shielding their yellow hearts from the cold rain.
    --A voice invisible made murmur then:
    'Come here and look upon these poor drowned men!
    The ship was sunk a year ago to-day....'
    But I stepped back and shuddering turned away,
    For I had never seen the face of Death.
    Yet Fear itself soon drew me with quick breath
    Back to the place, even to the river's brink
    Where I had seen that lonely vessel sink.
    And there in waters deep I saw them lie,
    With hands at rest and eyes that sought the sky:
    Clear eyes wide open to an unseen day.
    In wondrous silence motionless they lay,
    With white lips smiling on their spirit's bliss.
    'Is Death but this?' I cried, 'no more but this?'
    And answer came: 'Among those faces there
    Are all unknown?'
                'Twas then I saw him, fair
    With perfect peace, my enemy, even he
    Of all the world who most had tortured me.
    He lay there, blessed among the blessed, and smiled
    With eyes more pure than any wakening child.
    The little waves in passing--like the breeze
    That stirs the foliage of the unmoved trees--
    Played in their hair, and fluttering grasses rose
    And fell and danced about their mute repose.
    But I gazed on until I too had drunk
    Of their lips' joy, until their peace had sunk
    Into my troubling earth-stirred heart that ached
    To join them ... and then waked....

The Sleeper

      There lay a man on clovered ground
    Whose life was death, he slept so sound;
    A child bent low to watch his eyes--
    He smiling waked, and saw the skies.

      I know a soul now, fast asleep,
    Whose dreams are sad: I hear him weep;
    I bend and gaze for pity's sake--
    But all in vain; he will not wake.


      O Kings and Queens, that in my happy heart,
    As in a royal chapel, warm and white,
    Ensanctuaried are! I come to-night
    Beneath the moonless sky--this radiant chart
    Of the unfathomable Heavens where dart
    Beam-trailing stars--with lamp of love alight
    Unto your images; my reverent sight
    Enfolds you, and I bring you each your part
    Of piety. The Will that guides each star
    Gave jewels to my hands I might not hold,
    Whose grace remembered fills my palm. So rest,
    O Joy-givers! your kingdoms are afar,
    Yet here I own you, shrined in pearls and gold,
    The sovereign captives of my loyal breast.

Trelawny's Grave

      I know a garden near the gates of Rome
    Where Life and Death hold hands in silence; here
    In solemn shade where towering cypress rear
    Their green eternal, white as wind-led foam
    Lie scattered stones that shield the final home
    Of exiles. Fair their bed; by violets dear
    And swaying roses decked; above them, clear
    In bluest glory arches Heaven's dome.
    'Twas here my heart encountered peace one day
    Beside an old man's grave that said: If God
    Condemn you live beyond your friend, this way
    You too may rest.--The heart is childish; dread
    Of earth-loss fades before Trelawny dead
    Close-gathered to his Shelley in the sod.


JANUARY 22, 1901.

      As, in a house where solemn-footed Death
    Has trodden, all the little children stand
    Before a silent door, with quickened breath,
    Holding each other tightly by the hand--

      So we, O Mother! at the keyless door
    Stand gathered, heart-astir with nameless fears:
    A strength has left the hour; the world before
    Was warmer; and we face the day with tears.

Lines on a Picture by Mary Gow

    O whirling World! I know a corner still
    Unsoiled by Hate and Strife:
    Where hushed and gentle is the voice of Life:
    Where Time--a summer rill
    Soft-flowing through the grass--in measure slow
    Sings sweetly as we go.
    Here is a room wherein the white day gleams:
    Silence o'er Peace has spread her pearly wings:
    A smiling woman reads of simple things:
    A child's blue eyes are blinded by their dreams....

To Serenity

Before a Madonna--by Botticelli.

      Thine is the face our driven souls shall wear,
    O sweet serenity!--No earthly wind
      Can rend thine azure mantle now, nor tear
    Those veils that shield the radiant locks they bind.

      Thy brow is calm with storm appeased; thy lids
    Are heavy with the wisdom of all tears:
      Thy mouth is strong with silence that forbids
    Weary lament and craven wail of fears.

      Within thy guarded bosom now no fire
    Is ardent; thou hast hidden all thy scars:
      We too may tread the ashes of desire,
    And wing our spirits thus to touch the stars.



      I will not close the door, O Love, on thee,
    Although I fear thee still. In days of old
    Thy magic echoes lured me on to be
    The slave of dreams; but now that I behold
    The earth again, and that my wings are gone,
    I will take refuge, simply, on thy breast.
    No miracle I seek, no rapturous dawn
    Of an unearthly day; I will but rest
    My weary eyes, and lay between thy hands
    These empty fingers that have ceased to clutch
    At stars. Because my spirit understands
    Renouncement, thou wilt give, maybe. Not much
    I ask of thee: I only ask to keep
    Thee near, O Love! until my heart's asleep.


      My Friend of Friends! in you my heart's at rest,
    That wandered homeless as the ocean-wind
    Hither and thither, seeking still to find
    Some refuge. As a ship that east and west
    Roams havenless, and quits each shore distressed,
    So wandered I, so left each land behind,
    Bearing my soul as helmsman, sage but blind;
    And still we journeyed on at Fate's behest.
    But now I hold my harbour, and the ship
    Casts anchor here. The unnested winds that blow
    May reach me still and rock me to and fro.
    What matter? Here is Peace that bids me slip
    Closer and closer to the enfolding shore,
    Lower the sails, and stay for evermore.


      Are we not happy? though this bond of ours
    Be strange and out of harmony with life
    As men accept it, in this world of strife
    Between the spirit and the flesh?--Dark hours
    Are in the doom of every love; no flowers
    Bloom rainless; wind and war and pain are rife
    Within us all.--Yet we are happy. Wife
    Or sister, these are earth-words; the soul showers
    Its gifts of love and seeks no earthly bond.
    So ask we none but, smiling, soul to soul
    Stand gathered in Love's very essence, whole
    And indivisible. These white strong bands
    Suffice; 'tis but the shell, too frail and fond,
    That weeps, alas! and wrings her mortal hands.


      Farewell! you cannot go from me, my dear,
    For I have closed you in my inmost heart,
    Beyond the reach of earthly things that part
    The loving from the loved. Now far or near
    Ceases to be; I am where you are; here
    Or there, no matter. Mild should be the smart
    Of leave-taking, where nothing stays apart
    But what is mortal, and where souls are clear.
    Beloved! I can but lose you earthly-wise;
    The hunger of the years is stilled; no pain
    Of solitude can chill my heart again,
    Possessing you. Therefore with steadfast eyes
    I say farewell, O brother! nor dare weep
    My little loss, with all this wealth to keep.


      I seek to call you near me in the dark
    And silent prison of my solitude,
    Where Memory with visions heaven-hued
    Now mocks the night, and Hope with timid spark
    Kindles vain torches. Lonely in my ark
    Of Faith, on battling waves I float, pursued
    By all those doubting monsters that delude
    Pain-sunken breasts, and bid the soul embark
    For perilous despair. I call you near
    That I may cheat the helmsman of his fear:
    And yet I know you far, I know you lost
    To me, on this same ocean tempest-tossed
    Alone--O you who should my pilot be!
    You, whom my love could steer through any sea....


      When Spring awakens and no Spring is there,
    None for the heart, it is a joyless thing.
    Yet Winter softens, and all breezes bring
    To the hard earth now tidings vague and fair.
    The lilac buds are swelling, the mild air
    Tempts forth the green; at dusk the thrushes sing
    Out in the garden, and their raptures wring
    The heart whose joy is of the past. I bear
    Remembrance in me of dear foliage gone,
    Of wilted heather and of perished flowers.
    For me not one of Spring's foreshadowed hours
    Is quick with presages of joy. Alone
    Who cares to creep? The solitary ways
    Are primrose-less, and vain the violet days.


      If I must live without you, I must learn
    To love the earth and all that grows once more,
    With the old good love that satisfied before
    I saw you smile. Now, let me turn and turn,
    Your memory covers earth and sky; I yearn
    For you, and not for Spring; my heart is sore
    With absence, not with Winter's length. Of yore,
    When climbing noons began to softly burn,
    There seemed a tender joy in every bud
    That swelled and burst, in every little spear
    That broke the clods; and Spring sang in my blood
    As in the sap; and all that lived was dear.
    These treasures now are veiled and strange and far,
    Whilst I go wandering where your footprints are.


      Beloved! are we not wanderers on a road
    Unknown, that grope their way among the rocks
    Together?--Yes, together; for these shocks
    Our hearts have borne and given, part not, goad
    Unto no hatred. Though I be your load
    Of care and you my anguish, something locks
    Our hands, my brother: Destiny, that mocks
    Man's thinkings, and here finds a new strange mode
    Of welding chance-divided loves, a link
    That's more than human, that is half divine,
    Since, beggared of you, still I hold you mine
    Above all bonds. So love me well. We'll drink
    Of all pure streams together, dear, and break
    These rocks to sand for one another's sake.


      Yes, love me, love me well. You need not fear
    To hurt me further. Like a careless knight
    That riding lonely, with averted sight,
    Has struck a passer unawares, so here
    Have you struck me amid the branches sere
    Of this dark forest. If you now alight,
    Give water to my lips and through the night
    Keep peril from me, with the morning's clear
    New dawn I'll rise again, and both will reap
    The mercy of the wound you dealt. Asleep,
    Awake, I'll be your shield-bearer, and guard
    Your steps upon this road so long and hard.
    Then help us both, for all the love you give
    But turns to strength whereby we both may live.


      Dearest of all, and nearest though most far!
    My spirit follows you across both sea
    And land; all bounds, all spaces, are to me
    Erased; my heart upon its wingèd car
    Of thought outstrips you; nothing now shall mar
    My joy in you, O brother!--save that we
    Are of the earth and ask to touch and see
    The thing we love upon this yearning star.
    O world of strange desires! Have not we two
    Lived to behold each other and to smile?
    Have our two notes not mingled in one chord?
    What ails us? Were we joined this earthly while,
    You would not love me better than you do,
    Nor in my heart be otherwise adored.


      Without, you seem forgotten. Am I sad
    Or happy? None can tell. The lonely days
    Recur, and draw me on the beaten ways
    Of all who strive and toil. The things I had
    Remain; all daily happenings, good or bad,
    Fall as they did: success and loss, delays
    That sweeten victory: the balance sways
    Unceasingly, makes heavy, or makes glad.
    And this is life, such as the world demands.
    Within, 'tis otherwise; for in the far
    Depths where my soul recoilèd sits, there are
    No echoes of such wisdom; there my hands
    Are folded, and in yours: I seek your eyes,
    Your voice, your smile.... Within, 'tis otherwise.


Sunshine in February

        O winter Sun!
    How beautiful thy beams
    Upon the chainèd earth!
    The snows are melting and the gale
    Is hushed; thou shinest, soft and pale,
        O Winter Sun!
    Upon a world that dreams,
    And trembles with awakened hopes of birth.

        O Joyful Green!
    'Mid snowy patches gay
    Thou peerest, and the sky
    Shines blue through twiggèd boughs; each tree
    Is aching now with thoughts of thee,
        O Joyful Green!
    Spring's heart is in the day
    Though Winter's hands upon night's bosom lie.


The Cuckoo

      Sing, cuckoo, sing,
    Dear herald of the Spring!
    Minstrels in all ages born,
    Hearing thee on such a morn--
    When the cowslips all around
    Waft their fragrance from the ground,
    And the blossom of the pear
    Quivers white in bluest air--
    Such as I, in all the ages
    Thus have covered rapturous pages
    With thy praise, O loveliest bird
    Ear of man has ever heard!

    Though thy note be one of sadness,
    Messenger thou art of gladness
    Only; for thou comest first
    When the buds their prison burst,
    When, upon an April day,
    Earth awakes to cast away
    What remains of wintry sorrow,
    And to don for summer's morrow
    Joyful garb of newest green.
    Spirit-like thou sing'st, unseen:
    East and west thy piercing note
    From the forest seems to float
    Over plain and over hill,
    And thy echoing cries instil
    Hope into each breath that blows.
    Who that hears thy voice but knows
    That the joys of June are nearing?
    See the lilies in the clearing,
    How they raise their green young bells!
    Every hasty bud that swells
    Answers thee in joyfulness;
    And the winter's long distress,
    Like a lifted cloud at dawn,
    Melts and quivers and is gone.
    Autumn leaves that strew the ways
    Have outlived their kindly days:
    Now the sun shall warm the earth:
    Now all things of tender birth,
    Newly waked from shielded sleep,
    Lift their coverlet and peep
    Gaily at the world.

                          Dear Voice,
    Sing! and bid each soul rejoice!
    Spring's for every breast that wills;
    And thy note, O Cuckoo, stills
    All the ache of winter here.
    Lo! the scattered leaves are sere
    Of my sorrow; and I tread them
    Into earth. The bough that shed them,
    Soon in budded joy shall be
    Harmonious with the day's felicity.

                            _Montmélian, April 1902._

A Song in the Morning

        O sister! 'tis day-time,
        The world's happy May-time,
    Come out to the woods where the new nests are!
        'Tis sin to be pining,
        The hedge-drops are shining,
    And the wild winds have fled to the snow-lands far.

        O come! and be merry,
        For white blows the cherry,
    The bluebells ring out on their stem so tall:
        Each cowslip's dear yellow
        Cries joy to its fellow,
    And the wind-flowers dance to the cuckoo's call.

        O what is the sun for?
        Come, grief is all done for,
    The folded leaves creep from their beds in the bough:
        The seeds are awaking,
        The furrows are breaking,
    And the blessing of God's on the blackthorn now.


In a London Square

    The leaves are green, and in the grass
    Lie daisy-patches, white and sweet,
    That spring beneath the tender feet
    Of baby-girls at play:
    From ancient boughs, serenely tall,
    The chequered shadows length'ning fall,
    And town seems far away.
    Such rest is here as woodland yields:
    Here too are lambs in flowered fields--
    Why heed the wheels that pass?

    Thought sinks beneath our fitful speech
    Into the tremor of our peace,
    This hallowed hour of release
    From dust and whirl and haste:
    Thus each may find within his breast
    A respite to the world's unrest,
    Fresh verdure in the waste:
    Life's wheels encircle us--but, there
    Where Friendship is, the untainted air
    Of Heaven seems in reach.

The Call of the Green

    O who would dwell in the dingy town
        When June is fair and green?
    O who would stay in the chimneyed town
        Where brooks are never seen?
      Come! roses blow: sweet flower
      Will snow the virgin's-bower:
    The shaded lane, the woodland wild,
    Are better both for man and child.

    O who would live in the narrow street
        When skies are broad and free?
    O who would bide in the stony street
        When the sun is on the sea?
      Come! leave the dust and hasten
      To the breath of winds that chasten:
    The surging waves, the starry span,
    Are better both for child and man.


Summer Ending

                        Over the world a breath
    Has fallen as of Spring; the tender sky
    Hangs tremulous, a shield through which the sun
    Shines as the heart smiles in a mist of tears.
    The trees are green still, but their branches bear
    The blossoms of the fall; each quivering birch
    Shakes golden coins upon her silver stem;
    The little rowan rears his corals gay,
    The purple sloes are thick upon the thorn,
    And every breeze new-scatters to the ground
    Spoils red and yellow. Here upon the hill
    Where at our feet bee-haunted heather glows
    Among the rocks, sweet peace enfolds us; see,
    On velvet slopes afar the patient kine
    In silence browse; the plough in furrows wide
    Has turned the weary earth to rest; the sun
    Sinks and, across the valley, mountains fade
    From blue to grey and pearl-like touch the sky.
    The hour of silver comes now, for the moon
    Awakes and softly films the dusk with light;
    The narrow river in her ample bed
    Answers the stars, and soft serenity
    Has spread her wings upon the earth....
                                          O Heart
    Of man!--why must you throb apart and know
    A tempered Peace where Nature's Peace is pure?
    Already winter's snows upon the hills
    Like phantoms to our vision rise; the trees
    Groan leafless in the wind, and ghosts of pain
    Flit dark between the present and our eyes.
    'Tis thus we murder Joy, and let To-morrow,
    A still-born Terror, anguish dear To-day:
    'Tis thus, possessing Wealth, we shiver poor
    Ere we are stricken: thus our claspèd hands
    Grow cold and ache with Solitude to be....

                            _Kasna, September 1901._

Near Autumn

    Red apple in the leaves,
    Red robin on the bough,
    The oats are all in sheaves--
        Where's summer now?

    White foam along the sea,
    White mist upon the dawn,
    No flower for the bee--
        'Tis summer gone.

    Black bird is silent, lone,
    Black berry decks the spray;
    And Autumn's breath has blown
        Upon the day.



    The grey clouds hide the sun now
    And the leaves flow down with the rain:
    The golden days are done now
    And Winter looms again.

    'Tis bed-time for the seeds now
    For the earth is weary of green:
    She'll hide the very weeds now
    Till nothing gay be seen.

    Yet wait! it is not death now
    That strips the meadow and grove:
    The rose but holds her breath now
    In the garden that we love:

    'Tis sleep--the earth must rest now.
    O Winter's a wondrous thing!
    For she hides within her breast now
    The jocund heart of Spring.


The Common Wealth

        O voices of the sea and land,
    How sweet upon my ear you fall!
    The curlew's cry, the heron's call,
    The grey gull's chatter on the strand,
    The robin on the mossy wall,
    The coal-tit almost at my hand--
    How I thank Heaven for you all!

        O wonder of the hills and sky,
    How dear your beauty to my sight!
    The wintry noon, the sea's delight,
    The ruddy moorland far and high,
    The pendant larch's silver white,
    The golden wind-blown leaves that lie--
    How I thank God for all this light!


Edinburgh: Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE

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operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.