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Title: Poems
Author: Shanks, Edward, 1892-1953
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 "Poems" ***

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POEMS

By EDWARD SHANKS



LONDON: SIDGWICK & JACKSON, LTD.

3 Adam Street, Adelphi, W.C.

1916



_By the Same Author_

SONGS.  6s. net.

(The Poetry Bookshop)



TO

J. C. STOBART



NOTE

Certain of these pieces have appeared already in the following
periodicals:--_The English Review, The Saturday Review, The
Eye-Witness, The Westminster Gazette_, and _The Pall Mall Gazette_.
One of the Songs was printed for the first time in an anthology called
_Cambridge Poets_.  I am indebted to the editors of these for
permission to reprint them here.

E. S.



CONTENTS


SONGS--

  Song for an Unwritten Play
  The Cup
  A Rhymeless Song
  Meadow and Orchard
  Who thinks that he possesses
  Love in the Open Air
  Fear in the Night
  An Old Song
  Love's Close
  The Weed
  Recollection
  The Holiday
  Walking at Night
  Half Hope
  A New Song about the Sea


THE WINTER SOLDIER--

  The Winter Soldier, i.-ix.
  The Pool
  The Dead Poet


PASTORAL PIECES--

  The Vision in the Wood
  The Idyll
  The Pursuit of Daphne


MISCELLANEOUS POEMS--

  Ode on Beauty
  Song in Time of Waiting
  Sonnets on Separation, i.-vii.
  The Morning Sun
  Persuasion
  Apology
  The Golden Moment
  Bramber
  Now would I be
  Midwinter Madness
  At a Lecture



  SONGS



  _Song for an Unwritten Play._

  The moon's a drowsy fool to-night,
  Wrapped in fleecy clouds and white;
  And all the while Endymion
  Sleeps on Latmos top alone.

  Not a single star is seen:
  They are gathered round their queen,
  Keeping vigil by her bed,
  Patient and unwearièd.

  Now the poet drops his pen
  And moves about like other men:
  Tom o' Bedlam now is still
  And sleeps beneath the hawthorn'd hill.

  Only the Latmian shepherd deems
  Something missing from his dreams
  And tosses as he sleeps alone.
  Alas, alas, Endymion!



  _The Cup._

  As a hot traveller
  Going through stones and sands,
  Who sees clear water stir
  Amid the weary lands,
  Takes in his hollowed hands
  The clean and lively water,
  That trickles down his throat
  Like laughter, like laughter,

  So when you come to me
  Across these parchèd places
  And all the waste I see
  Flowered with your graces,
  I take between my hands
  Your face like a rare cup,
  Where kisses mix with laughter,
  And drink and drink them up
  Like water, like water.



  _A Rhymeless Song._

  Rhyme with its jingle still betrays
  The song that's meant for one alone.
  Dearest, I dedicate to you
  A little song without a rhyme.

  The most unpractised schoolboy knows
  That quiet kisses are the sweetest.
  Safe locked within my arms you lie,
  Let not a single sound betray us.

  Suppose your jealous mother came
  By chance this way and found us here...
  Be still, be still, and not a sound
  Shall give her warning that we love.



  _Meadow and Orchard._

  My heart is like a meadow,
  Where clouds go over,
  Dappling the mingled grass and clover
  With mingled sun and shadow,
  With light that will not stay
  And shade that sails away.

  Your heart is like an orchard,
  That has the sun for ever in its leaves,
  Where, on the grass beneath the trees,
  There falls the shadow of the fruit
  That ripen there for me.



  _Who thinks that he possesses._

  Who thinks that he possesses
  His mistress with his kisses
    Knows neither love nor her.
  Nor beauty is not his
  Who seeks it in a kiss:
  If you would seek for this
    O seek it otherwhere!

  Love is a flame, a spirit
  Beyond all earthly merit
    And all we dream of here;
  Strive as you may but still
  Love is intangible,
  No servant to your will
    But sovereign otherwhere.



  _Love in the Open Air._

  I'll love you in the open air
    But stuffy rooms and blazing fires
  And mirrors with familiar stare
    Cloak and befoul my high desires.

  The dearest day that I have known
    Was in the fields, when driving rain
  Was like a veil around us thrown,
    A grey close veil without a stain.

  The young oak-tree was stripped and bare
    But naked twigs a shelter made,
  Where curious cows came round to stare
    And stood astonished and dismayed.

  Let it be rain or summer sun,
    Smell of wet earth or scent of flowers,
  Love, once more give me, give me one
    Of these enchanted lover's hours.



  _Fear in the Night._

  I am afraid to-night,
    We are too glad, too gay,
  Our life too sweet, too bright
    To last another day.

  What hap, what chance can fall,
    What sorrow come, what schism,
  What loss, what cataclysm
    To part us two at all?

  The stars with ageless fire
    In skies serene the same
  Observe our young desire
    And watch our loves aflame.

  A whisper soft, a sound
    Unfollowed, unattended,
  Shakes all the branches round:
    They sleep and it is ended.

  You sleep and I alone
    Torment myself with fear
  For new joys coming near
    And gracious actions done.

  I am afraid to-night,
    We are too glad, too gay,
  Our life too sweet, too bright
    To last another day.



  _An Old Song._

  The wild duck fly over
    From river to river
  And so the young lover
    Goes roving for ever.

  They fly together,
    He walks alone:
  No maiden can tether
    Him with her moan.

  At the bursting of blossom
    On her breast his head;
  He has left her bosom
    Ere the apples are red.

  Across the valley,
    Singing he goes.
  In highway and alley
    He seeks a new rose.

  Tell me, O maidens,
    You who all day
  In lyrical cadence
    Dance and play,

  Why do you proffer
    Your sweets to one,
  Who takes all you offer
    And leaves you to moan?



  _Love's Close._

  Now spring comes round again
  With blossom on the tree,
  Dark blossom of the peach,
  Light blossom of the pear
  And amorous birds complain
  And nesting birds prepare
  And love's keen fingers reach
  After the heart of me.

  But now the blackthorn blows
  About the dusty lane
  And new buds peep and peer,
  I have no joy at all,
  For love draws near its close
  And love's white blossoms fall
  And in the springing year
  Love's fingers bring me pain.



  _The Weed._

  My mother told me this for true
    That there behind the mountains,
  That wear the mists about their feet
    And clouds about their summits,
  There grows the weed Forgetfulness,
    It grows there in the gullies.

  If I but knew the way thereto,
    Three days long would I wander
  And pick a handful of the weed
    And drink it steeped in honey,
  That so I might forget your mouth
    A thousand times that kissed me.



  _Recollection._

  Hawthorn above, as pale as frost,
  Against the paling sky is lost:
  On the pool's dark sheet below,
  The candid water-daisies glow.

  As I came up and saw from far
  The water littered, star on star,
  I thought the may had left its hedge
  To float upon the pool's dark edge.



  _The Holiday._

  The world's great ways unclose
  Through little wooded hills:
    An air that stirs and stills,
  Dies sighing where it rose
  Or flies to sigh again
    In elms, whose stately rows
  Receive the summer rain,
  And clouds, clouds, clouds go by,
  A drifting cavalry,
  In squadrons that disperse
    And troops that reassemble
  And now they pass and now
  Their glittering wealth disburse
    On tufted grass a-tremble
  And lately leafing bough.

  Thus through the shining day
  We'll love or pass away
  Light hours in golden sleep,
    With clos'd half-sentient eyes
  And lids the light comes through,
  As sheep and flowers do
    Who no new toils devise,
  While shining insects creep
  About us where we lie
  Beneath a pleasant sky,
  In fields no trouble fills,
    Whence, as the traveller goes,
    The world's great ways unclose
  Through little wooded hills.



  _Walking at Night._

  _To A. G._

  The moon poured down on tree and field,
    The leaf was silvered on the hedge,
  The sleeping kine were half revealed,
    Half shadowed at the pasture's edge.

  By steep inclines and long descents,
    Amid the inattentive trees,
  You spoke of the four elements,
    The four eternal mysteries.



  _Half Hope._

  August is gone and now this is September,
    Softer the sun in a cloudier sky;
  Yellow the leaves grow and apples grow golden,
    Blackberries ripen and hedges undress.
  Watch and you'll see the departure of summer,
    Here is the end, this the last month of all:
  Pause and look back and remember its promise,
    All that looked open and easy in May.

  Nothing will stay them, the seasons go onward,
    Lightly the bright months fly out of my hand,
  Softly the leading note calls a new octave;
    Autumn is coming and what have I done?
  Even as summer my young days go over,
    No day to pause on and nowhere to rest:
  Slowly they go but implacably onwards,
    Ah! and my dreams, alas, still they are dreams.

  How shall I force all my flowers to fruition,
    Use up the season of ripening sun?
  Softly the years go but going have vanished,
    Soon I shall find myself empty and old.
  Yet I feel in myself bright buds and blossoms,
    Promise of mellowest bearing to be.
  Still I have time beside what I have wasted:
    Life shall be good to me, work shall be sweet.



  _A New Song about the Sea._

  From Amberley to Storrington,
  From Storrington to Amberley,
  From Amberley to Washington
  You cannot see or smell the sea.
    But why the devil should you wish
    To see the home of silly fish?

  Since I prefer the earth and air,
  The fish may wallow in the sea
  And live the life that they prefer,
  If they will leave the land to me,
    So wish for each what he may wish,
    The earth for me, the sea for fish.



  THE WINTER SOLDIER

  _September_ 1914--_April_ 1915



  _The Winter Soldier._

  I.  TO BE SUNG TO THE TUNE OF HIGH GERMANY

  No more the English girls may go
    To follow with the drum
  But still they flock together
    To see the soldiers come;
  For horse and foot are marching by
    And the bold artillery:
  They're going to the cruel wars
    In Low Germany.

  They're marching down by lane and town
    And they are hot and dry
  But as they marched together
    I heard the soldiers cry:
  "O all of us, both horse and foot
    And the proud artillery,
  We're going to the merry wars
    In Low Germany."

  _August_, 1914



  II.  THE COMRADES

  The men that marched and sang with me
  Are most of them in Flanders now:
  I lie abed and hear the wind
  Blow softly through the budding bough.

  And they are scattered far and wide
  In this or that brave regiment;
  From trench to trench across the mud
  They go the way that others went.

  They run with shining bayonet
  Or lie and take a careful aim
  And theirs it is to learn of death
  And theirs the joy and theirs the fame.



  III.  IN TRAINING

  The wind is cold and heavy
    And storms are in the sky:
  Our path across the heather
    Goes higher and more high.

  To right, the town we came from,
    To left, blue hills and sea:
  The wind is growing colder
    And shivering are we.

  We drag with stiffening fingers
    Our rifles up the hill.
  The path is steep and tangled
    But leads to Flanders still.



  IV.  THE OLD SOLDIERS

  We come from dock and shipyard, we come from car and train,
  We come from foreign countries to slope our arms again
  And, forming fours by numbers or turning to the right,
  We're learning all our drill again and 'tis a pretty sight.

  Our names are all unspoken, our regiments forgotten,
  For some of us were pretty bad and some of us were rotten
  And some will misremember what once they learnt with pain
  And hit a bloody Serjeant and go to clink again.



  V.  GOING IN TO DINNER

  Beat the knife on the plate and the fork on the can,
  For we're going in to dinner, so make all the noise you can,
  Up and down the officer wanders, looking blue,
  Sing a song to cheer him up, he wants his dinner too.

  March into the dining-hall, make the tables rattle
  Like a dozen dam' machine guns in the bloody battle,
  Use your forks for drum-sticks, use your plates for drums,
  Make a most infernal clatter, here the dinner comes!



  VI.  ON TREK

  Under a grey dawn, timidly breaking,
  Through the little village the men are waking,
  Easing their stiff limbs and rubbing their eyes;
  From my misted window I watch the sun rise.
  In the middle of the village a fountain stands,
  Round it the men sit, washing their red hands.
  Slowly the light grows, we call the roll over,
  Bring the laggards stumbling from their warm cover,
  Slowly the company gathers all together
  And the men and the officer look shyly at the weather.
  By the left, quick march!  Off the column goes.
  All through the village all the windows unclose:
  At every window stands a child, early waking,
  To see what road the company is taking.



  VII.  LEAVING THE BILLET

  Good luck, good health, good temper, these,
  A very hive of honey-bees
  To make and store up happiness,
  Should wait upon you without cease,
  If I'd the power to call them down
  Into this stuffy little town,
  Where the dull air in sticky wreaths
  Afflicts a man each time he breathes.
  But since I have no power to call
  Benevolent spirits down at all,
  I'll wish you all the good I know
  And close the chapter up and go.



  VIII.  THE FAREWELL

  Farewell to rising early, now comes the lying late,
  And long on the parade-ground my company shall wait
  Before I come to join it on mornings cold and dark
  And no more shall I lead it across the rimy park.

  The men shall still manoeuvre in sunshine and in rain
  And still they'll make the blunders I shall not check again;
  They'll march upon the highway in weather foul and fair
  And talk and sing with laughter and I shall not be there.



  IX.  ON ACCOUNT OF ILL HEALTH

  You go, brave friends, and I am cast to stay behind,
  To read with frowning eyes and discontented mind
  The shining history that you are gone to make,
  To sleep with working brain, to dream and to awake
  Into another day of most ignoble peace,
  To drowse, to read, to smoke, to pray that war may cease.
  The spring is coming on, and with the spring you go
  In countries where strange scents on the April breezes blow;
  You'll see the primroses marched down into the mud,
  You'll see the hawthorn-tree wear crimson flowers of blood
  And I shall walk about, as I did walk of old,
  Where the laburnum trails its chains of useless gold,
  I'll break a branch of may, I'll pick a violet
  And see the new-born flowers that soldiers must forget,
  I'll love, I'll laugh, I'll dream and write undying songs
  But with your regiment my marching soul belongs.
  Men that have marched with me and men that I have led
  Shall know and feel the things that I have only read,
  Shall know what thing it is to sleep beneath the skies
  And to expect their death what time the sun shall rise.
  Men that have marched with me shall march to peace again,
  Bringing for plunder home glad memories of pain,
  Of toils endured and done, of terrors quite brought under,
  And all the world shall be their plaything and their wonder.
  Then in that new-born world, unfriendly and estranged,
  I shall be quite alone, I shall be left unchanged.



  _The Pool._

  Out of that noise and hurry of large life
    The river flings me in an idle pool:
  The waters still go on with stir and strife
    And sunlit eddies, and the beautiful
  Tall trees lean down upon the mighty flow,
    Reflected in that movement.  Beauty there
  Waxes more beautiful, the moments grow
    Thicker and keener in that lovely air
  Above the river.  Here small sticks and straws
    Come now to harbour, gather, lie and rot,
  Out of cross-currents and the water's flaws
    In this unmoving death, where joy is not,
  Where war's a shade again, ambition rotten
  And bitter hopes and fears alike forgotten.



  _The Dead Poet._

  When I grow old they'll come to me and say:
  Did you then know him in that distant day?
  Did you speak with him, touch his hand, observe
  The proud eyes' fire, soft voice and light lips' curve?
  And I shall answer: This man was my friend;
  Call to my memory, add, improve, amend
  And count up all the meetings that we had
  And note his good and touch upon his bad.

  When I grow older and more garrulous,
  I shall discourse on the dead poet thus:
  I said to him ... he answered unto me...
  He dined with me one night in Trinity...
  I supped with him in King's ... Ah, pitiful
  The twisted memories of an ancient fool
  And sweet the silence of a young man dead!
  Now far in Lemnos sleeps that golden head,
  Unchanged, serene, for ever young and strong,
  Lifted above the chances that belong
  To us who live, for he shall not grow old
  And only of his youth there shall be told
  Magical stories, true and wondrous tales,
  As of a god whose virtue never fails,
  Whose limbs shall never waste, eyes never fall,
  And whose clear brain shall not be dimmed at all.



  PASTORAL PIECES



  _The Vision in the Wood._

  The husht September afternoon was sweet
    With rich and peaceful light.  I could not hear
  On either side the sound of moving feet
    Although the hidden road was very near.
  The laden wood had powdered sun in it,
    Slipped through the leaves, a quiet messenger
  To tell me of the golden world outside
  Where fields of stubble stretched through counties wide.

  And yet I did not move.  My head reposed
    Upon a tuft of dry and scented grass
  And, with half-seeing eyes, through eyelids closed,
    I watched the languid chain of shadows pass,
  Light as the slowly moving shade imposed
    By summer clouds upon a sea of glass,
  And strove to banish or to make more clear
  The elusive and persistent dream of her.

  And then I saw her, very dim at first,
    Peering for nuts amid the twisted boughs,
  Thought her some warm-haired dryad, lately burst
    Out of the chambers of her leafy house,
  Seeking for nuts for food and for her thirst
    Such water as the woodland stream allows,
  After the greedy summer has drunk up
  All but a drain within the mossy cup.

  Then I, beholding her, was still a space
    And marked each posture as she moved or stood,
  Watching the sunlight on her hair and face.
    Thus with calm folded hands and quiet blood
  I gazed until her counterfeited grace
    Faded and left me lonely in the wood,
  Glad that the gods had given so much as this,
  To see her, if I might not have her kiss.



  _The Idyll._

  This is the valley where we sojourn now,
    Cut up by narrow brooks and rich and green
  And shaded sweetly by the waving bough
    About the trench where floats the soft serene
  Arun with waters running low and low
    Through banks where lately still the tide has been;
  Here is our resting-place, you walk with me
  And watch the light die out in Amberley.

  The light that dies is soft and flooding still,
    Shed from the broad expanse of all the skies
  And brimming up the space from hill to hill,
    Where yet the sheep in their sweet exercise,
  Roaming the meadows, crop and find their fill
    And to each other speak with moaning cries;
  We on the hill-side standing rest and see
  The light die out in brook and grass and tree.

  Lately we walked upon the lonely downs
    And through the still heat of the heavy day
  We heard the medley of low drifting sounds
    And through the matted brambles found a way
  Or lightly trod upon enchanted grounds
    Musing, or with rich blackberries made delay,
  Where feed such fruit on the rich air, until
  We struck like falling stars from Bignor Hill.

  Down the vast slope, by chalky roads and steep,
    With trees and bushes hidden here and there,
  By circling turns into the valley deep
    We came and left behind the hill-top air
  For this cool village where to-night we sleep,
    A country meal, a country bed to share,
  With sleepy kisses and contented dreams
  Over a land of still and narrow streams.

  The light is ebbing in the dusky sky,
    The valley floor is in the shadow.  Hark!
  With rushing and mysterious noises fly
    The bats already, looking for the dark
  With blinking still and unaccustomed eye.
    Now over Rackham Mount a steady spark
  Burns, rising slowly in the rising night,
  And pledges peace and promises delight.

  Now from the east the wheeling shade appears
    And softly night into the valley falls,
  Soft on the meadows drop her dewy tears,
    Softly a darkness on the crumbled walls.
  Now in the dusk the village disappears,
    Men's songs are hushed there and the children's calls,
  While night in passage swallows up the land
  And in the shadow your hand seeks my hand.

  Only the glimmering stars in heaven lie
    And unseen trees with rustling still betray
  How all the valley lives invisibly,
    Where dim sweet odours, remnants of the day,
  Float from the sleeping fields to please and die,
    Borne up by roaming airs, that drift away
  Beyond our hearing, vagabond and light,
  To visit the cool meadows of the night.



  _The Pursuit of Daphne._

  Daphne is running, running through the grass,
    The long stalks whip her ankles as she goes.
  I saw the nymph, the god, I saw them pass
    And how a mounting flush of tender rose
  Invaded the white bosom of the lass
    And reached her shoulders, conquering their snows.
  He wasted all his breath, imploring still:
  They passed behind the shadow of the hill.

  The mad course goes across the silent plain,
    Their flying footsteps make a path of sound
  Through all the sleeping country.  Now with pain
    She runs across a stretch of stony ground
  That wounds her soft-palmed feet and now again
    She hastens through a wood where flowers abound,
  Which staunch her cuts with balsam where she treads
  And for her healing give their trodden heads.

  Her sisters, from their coverts unbetrayed,
    Look out in fright and see the two go by,
  Each unrelenting, and reflect dismayed
    How fear and anguish glisten in her eye.
  By them unhelped goes on the fleeting maid
    Whose breath is coming short in agony:
  Hard at her heels pursues the golden boy,
  She flies in fear of him, she flies from joy.

  His arrows scattered on the countryside,
    His shining bow deserted, he pursues
  Through hindering woodlands, over meadows wide
    And now no longer as he runs he sues
  But breathing deep and set and eager-eyed.
    His flashing feet disperse the morning dews,
  His hands most roughly put the boughs away,
  That cross and cling and join and make delay.

  Across small shining brooks and rills they leap
    And now she fords the waters of a stream;
  Her hot knees plunge into the hollows deep
    And cool, where ancient trout in quiet dream;
  The silver minnows, wakened from their sleep
    In sunny shallows, round her ankles gleam;
  She scrambles up the grassy bank and on,
  Though courage and quick breath are nearly done.

  Now in the dusky spinneys round the field,
    The fauns set up a joyous mimicry,
  Pursuing of light nymphs, who lightly yield,
    Or startle the young dryad from her tree
  And shout with joy to see her limbs revealed
    And give her grace and bid her swiftly flee:
  The hunt is up, pursuer and pursued
  Run, double, twist, evade, turn, grasp, elude.

  The woodlands are alive with chase and cry,
    Escape and triumph.  Still the nymph in vain,
  With heaving breast in lovely agony
    And wide and shining eyes that show her pain,
  Leads on the god and now she knows him nigh
    And sees before her the unsheltered plain.
  His hot hand touches her white side and she
  Thrusts up her hands and turns into a tree.

  There is an end of dance and mocking tune,
    Of laughter and bright love among the leaves.
  The sky is overcast, the afternoon
    Is dull and heavy for a god who grieves.
  The woods are quiet and the oak-tree soon
    The ruffled dryad in her trunk receives.
  Cold grow the sunburnt bodies and the white:
  The nymphs and fauns will lie alone to-night.



  MISCELLANEOUS POEMS



  _Ode on Beauty._

  Infinite peace is hanging in the air,
    Infinite peace is resting on mine eyes,
  That just an hour ago learnt how to bear
    Seeing your body's flaming harmonies.
  The grey clouds flecked with orange are and gold,
    Birds unto rest are falling, falling, falling,
      And all the earth goes slowly into night,
      Steadily turning from the harshly bright
  Sunset.  And now the wind is growing cold
    And in my heart a hidden voice is calling.

  Say, is our sense of beauty mixed with earth
    When lip on lip and breast on breast we cling,
  When ecstasy brings short bright sobs to birth
    And all our pulses, both our bodies sing?
  When through the haze that gathers on my sight
    I see your eyelids, know the eyes behind
      See me and half not see me, when our blood
      Goes roaring like a deep tremendous flood,
  Calm and terrific in unhasty might,
    Is then our inner sight sealed up and blind?

  Or could it be that when our blood was colder
    And side by side we sat with lips disparted
  I saw the perfect line of your resting shoulder,
    Your mouth, your peaceful throat with fuller-hearted,
  More splendid joy?  Ah poignant joys all these!
    And rest can stab the heart as well as passion.
      Yea, I have known sobs choke my heart to see
      Your honey-coloured hair move languorously,
  Ruffled, not by my hands, but by the breeze,
    And I have prayed the rough air for compassion.

  Yea, I have knelt to the unpiteous air
    And knelt to gods I knew not, to remove
  The viewless hands whose sight I could not bear
    Out of the wind-blown head of her I love.
  Ecstasy enters me and cannot speak,
    Seizes my hands and smites my fainting eyes
      And sends through all my veins a dim despair
      Of never apprehending all so fair
  And I have stood, unnerved and numb and weak,
    Watching your breathing bosom fall and rise.

  Ah no!  This joy is empty, incomplete,
    And sullied with a sense of too much longing,
  Where thoughts and fancies, sweet and bitter-sweet,
    And old regrets and new-born hopes come thronging.
  Man can see beauty for a moment's space
    And live, having seen her with an unfilmed eye,
      If all his body and all his soul in one
      Instant are tuned by passion to unison
  And I can image in your kissing face
    The eternal meaning of the earth and sky.



  _Song in Time of Waiting._

  Because the days are long for you and me,
    I make this song to lighten their slow time,
  So that the weary waiting fruitful be
    Or blossomed only by my limping rhyme.
        The days are very long
    And may not shortened be by any chime
    Of measured words or any fleeting song.
  Yet let us gather blossoms while we wait
  And sing brave tunes against the face of fate.

  Day after day goes by: the exquisite
    Procession of the variable year,
  Summer, a sheaf with flowers bound up in it,
    And autumn, tender till the frosts appear
        And dry the humid skies;
    And winter following on, aloof, austere,
    Clad in the garments of a frore sunrise;
  And spring again.  May not too many a spring
  Make both our voices tremble as we sing!

  The days are empty, empty, and the nights
    Are cold and void; there is no single gleam
  Across the space unpeopled of delights,
    Save only now and then some thin-blood dream,
        Some stray of summer weather;
    The tedious hours like slow-foot laggarts seem,
    When you and I, my love, are not together
  And when I hold you in my arms at last
  The minutes go like April cloudlets past.

  And yet no hidden charm, no desperate spell
    Can make these minutes longer, those less long:
  No force there is that yearning can impel
    Against the callous years which do us wrong.
        No words, no whispered rune,
    No witchery and no Thessalian song
    Can make that far-off, misty day more soon.
  The bravest tune, the most courageous rhyme
  Fall broken from the bastions of time.

  A long and dusty road it is to tread;
    Few are the wayside flowers and far apart
  And are no sooner plucked than withered,
    When yearning heart is torn from yearning heart.
        A weary road it is
    And yet far off I see clear waters start
    And clean sweet grass and tangled traceries
  Of whispering leaves, that laugh to see us come,
  And there one day ... one day shall be our home.

  The day will come.  O dearest, do not doubt!
    It is not born as yet but I shall see
  Some day the fearless sunrise flashing out
    And know the night will give you up to me.
        O heart, my heart, be glad,
    Because the time will come at last when we
    Shall leave all grief and unlearn all things sad
  And know the joy than which none sweeter is
  And I shall sing a happier song than this.



  _Sonnets on Separation._

  I.

  The  time shall be, old Wisdom says, when you
    Shall grow awrinkled and I, indifferent,
  Shall no more follow the light steps I knew
    Or trace you, finding out the way you went,
  By swinging branches and the displaced flowers
    Among the thickets.  I no more shall stand,
  With careful pencil through the adoring hours
    Scratching your grace on paper.  My still hand
  No more shall tremble at the touch of yours
    And I'll write no more songs and you'll not sing.
  But this is all a lie, for love endures
    And we shall closer kiss, remembering
  How budding trees turned barren in the sun
  Through this long week, whereof one day's now done.


  II.

  The time is all so short.  One week is much
    To be without your deep and peaceful eyes,
  Your soft and all-contenting cheek, the touch
    Of well-caressing hands.  O were we wise
  We would not love too strongly, would not bind
    Life into life so inextricably,
  That the dumb body suffers with the mind
    In a sad partnership this agony.
  For death will come and swallow up us two,
    You there, I here, and we shall lie apart,
  Out of the houses and the woods we knew.
    Then in the lonely grave, my dust-choked heart
  Out of the dust will raise, if it can speak,
  A threnody for this lost, lovely week.


  III.

  Is there no prophylactic against love?
    Can I with drugs not dull the ache one night?
  The rain is heavy and the low clouds move
    Over the empty home of our delight
  And find me in it weeping.  You are far
    And you are now asleep.  The night's so thick,
  Not even one stooping and compassionate star
    Shines on us both disparted.  O be quick,
  Torturing days and heavy, turn your hours
    To minutes, melt yourselves into one day!
  ... The cold rain falls in swift assailing showers,
    Darkness is round me and light far away.
  I'm in our well-known room and you're shut in
  By strange unfriendly walls I've never seen.


  IV.

  Lovers that drug themselves for ecstasy
    Seek love too closely in an overdose,
  When the sweet spasm turns to agony
    And the quick limbs are still and the eyes close.
  I too, a fool, desired--to make love strong--
    Absence and parting but the measure's brimmed,
  The dose is over-poured, the time's too long
    Already, though two nights have hardly dimmed
  My lonely eyes with the elusive sleep.
    O I'll remember, I'll not wish again
  To go with ardent limbs into this deep
    Sea of dejection, this dull mere of pain:
  We'll love our safer loves upon the shore
  And quest for inexperienced joys no more.


  V.

  Through the closed curtains comes the early sun,
    First a pale finger, preluding the hand.
  Outside more certainly the day's begun,
    Where bright and brighter still the chestnuts stand,
  Broad candles lighting up at the first fire.
    I stir and turn in my uneasy sleep
  But in my sorrow sleep's my whole desire.
    About the still room small lights move and creep
  Silently, stealthily on wall and chair,
    Till to strong rays and shining lights they grow,
  Which with their magic change the waiting air
    And all its sleeping motes to gold and throw
  A golden radiance on your empty bed,
  Which wakes me with vain likeness to your head.


  VI.

  To-morrow I shall see you come again
    Between the pale trees, through the sullen gate,
  Out of the dark and secret house of pain
    Where lie the unhappy and unfortunate.
  To-morrow you will live with me and love me,
    Spring will go on again, I'll see the flowers
  And little things, ridiculous things, shall move me
    To smiles or tears or verse.  The world is ours
  To-morrow.  Open heaths, tall trees, great skies,
    With massive clouds that fly and come again,
  Sweet fields, delicious rivers and the rise
    And fall of swelling land from the swift train
  We'll see together, knowing that all this
  Is one great room wherein we two may kiss.


  VII.

  We're at the world's top now.  The hills around
    Stand proud in order with the valleys deep,
  The hills with pastures drest, with tall trees crowned,
    And the low valleys dipt in sunny sleep.
  A sound brims all the country up, a noise
    Of wheels upon the road and labouring bees
  And trodden heather, mixing with the voice
    Of small lost winds that die among the trees.
  And we are prone beneath the flooding sun,
    So drenched, so soaked in the unceasing light,
  That colours, sounds and your close presence are one,
    A texture woven up of all delight,
  Whose shining threads my hands may not undo,
  Yet one thread runs the whole bright garment through.



  _The Morning Sun._

  Perhaps you sleep now, fifty miles to the south,
  While I sit here and dream of you by night.
  The thick soft blankets drawn about your mouth
  Have made for you a nest of warm delight;
  Your short crisp hair is thrown abroad and spilled
  Upon the pillow's whiteness and your eyes
  Are quiet and the round soft lids are filled
  With sleep.

              But I shall watch until sunrise
  Creeps into chilly clouds and heavy air,
  Across the lands where you sleep and I wake,
  And I shall know the sun has seen you there,
  Unmoving though the winter morning break.
  Next, you will lift your hands and rub your eyes
  And turn to sleep again but wake and start
  And feel, half dreaming, with a dear surprise,
  My hand in the sunbeam touching at your heart.



  Persuasion.

  Still must your hands withhold your loveliness?
    Is your soul jealous of your body still?
  The fair white limbs beneath the clouding dress
    Are such hard forms as you alone could fill
  With life and sweetness.  Such a harmony
    Is yours as music and the thought expressed
  By the musician: have no rivalry
    Between your soul and the shape in which it's drest.
  Kisses or words, both sensual, which shall be
    The burning symbol of the love we bear?
  My art is words, yours song, but still must we
    Be mute and songless, seeing how love is fair.
  Both our known arts being useless, we must turn
  To love himself and his old practice learn.



  _Apology._

  Have I slept and failed to hear you calling?
  Cry again, belov'd; for sleep is heavy,
  Curtaining away the golden sunlight,
  Shutting out the blue sky and the breezes,
  Sealing up my ears to all you tell me.
  Cry again! your voice shall pierce the clumsy
  Leaden folds that sleep has wrapt about me,
  Cry again! accomplish what the singing,
  Hours old now on all the trees and bushes,
  And the wind and sun could not accomplish.
  Lo!  I waste good hours of love and kisses
  While the sun and you have spilt your glory
  Freely on me lying unregarding.
  In the happy islands, where no sunset
  Stains the waters with a morbid splendour,
  Where the open skies are blue for ever,
  I might stay for years and years unsleeping,
  Living for divinest conversation,
  Music, colour, scent and sense unceasing,
  Entering by eye and ear and nostril.
  Ah, but flesh is flesh and I am mortal!
  Cry again and do not leave me sleeping.



  _The Golden Moment._

  Along the branches of the laden tree
    The ripe fruit smiling hang.  The afternoon
  Is emptied of all things done and things to be.
    Low in the sky the inconspicuous moon
  Stares enviously upon the mellow earth,
  That mocks her barren girth.

  Ripe blackberries and long green trailing grass
    Are motionless beneath the heavy light:
  The happy birds and creeping things that pass
    Go fitfully and stir as if in fright,
  That they have broken on some mystery
  In bramble or in tree.

  This is no hour for beings that are maiden;
    The spring is virgin, lightly afraid and cold,
  But now the whole round earth is ripe and laden
    And stirs beneath her coverlet of gold
  And in her agony a moment calls...
  A heavy apple falls.



  _Bramber._

  Before the downs in their great horse-shoes rise,
    I know a village where the Adur runs,
    Blown by sweet winds and by beneficent suns
  Visited and made ripe beneath kind skies.
  Light and delight are in the children's eyes
    And there the mothers sit, the fortunate ones,
    Blest in their daughters, happy in their sons,
  And the old men are beautiful and wise.

  There stand the downs, great, close, tall, friendly, still,
  Linked up by grassy saddles, hill on hill,
    And steep the village in unending peace
  And to the north the plains in order lie,
  Heavy with crops and woods alternately
    And lively with low sounds that never cease.



  _Now would I be._

    Now would I be in that removèd place
    Where the dim sunlight hardly comes at all
    And branches of the young trees interlace
    And long swathes of the brambles twine and fall;
    A space between the hedgerow and a road
    Not trod by foot of any known to me,
    Where now and then a cart with scented load
  Goes sleepy down the lane with creaking axle-tree.

    And there I'd lie upon the tumbled leaves,
    Watching a square of the all else hidden sky,
    And made such songs a drowsy mind believes
    To be most perfect music.  So would I
  Keep my face heavenwards and bless eternity,
    Wherein my heart could be as glad as this
    And lazily I'd bid all men come hither
    And in my dreams I'd tell them what they miss,
    Living in hate and work and all foul weather.

      And still my happy dreams would go,
        Like children in a cowslip field
      Chasing rich-winged insects to and fro
        To see what rare delights they yield....

    ... O I am tired of working to be cheated
    And sick of barriers that will not fall,
    Of ancient prudent words too much repeated
    And worn-out dreams that come not true at all.
    I know too well what things they are that ail me;
        To fight is nothing but to see
    Thus at the last my own hand fail me
        Is agony.

    O for that corner by the hummocked marshes,
    Visited hardly by the cynic sun,
    Where nothing clear and nothing bright or harsh is,
    Where labour and the ache of it are done,
    Where naught is ended and where naught begun!



  _Midwinter Madness._

  A month or twain to live on honeycomb
  Is pleasant--but to eat it for a year
  Is simply beastly.  Thus the poet spake,
  Feeling how sticky all his stomach was
  With hivings of ten thousand cheated bees.
  O wisdom that could shape immortal words
  And frame a diet for dyspeptic man!
  But what of turnips?  Come, a lyric now
  Upon the luscious roots unsung as yet,
  (Not roots I know but stalks; still, never mind,
  Metre and sauce will suit them just as well)
  Or shall we speak of omelettes?  Muse, begin!
  To feed a fortnight on transmuted eggs
  Would doubtless be both comforting and cheap
  But oh, the nausea on the fourteenth day!
  I'd rather read a book by Ezra Pound
  Then choke the seven hundredth omelette down,
  Just as I'd rather read some F. S. Flint
  Than live a month or twain on honeycomb.

  O Ezra Pound!  O omelette of the world!
  Concocted with strange herbs from dead Provence,
  Garlic from Italy and spice from Greece,
  Having suffered a rare Pound-change on the way,
  How rarely shouldst thou taste, were not the eggs
  Laid in America and hither brought
  Too late.  I don't like omelettes made with fowls.
  Take hence this Pound and put him to the test,
  Try him with acid, see if he turn black
  As will the best old silver, when enraged
  At touching fungi of the baser sort.
  (Forgive digression.  These similitudes
  Entrance me and I lose myself in them,
  As schoolboys, picking flowers by the way,
  Escape the angry usher's vigilance
  And then, concealed behind a hedge or shed,
  Produce the awesome pipe or thrice-lit fag
  And make themselves incredibly unwell.)
  My brain is bubbling and the thoughts will out,
  But, Ezra Pound! they turn again to thee,
  As surely as the lode-stone to the Pole
  Or as the dog to what he hath cast up
  (A simile of Solomon's, not mine)
  And your shock head of damp, unwholesome hay,
  Such as, the cunning farmer oft declares,
  When stacked, will perish by spontaneous fire,
  Frequents my dreams and makes them ludicrous.
  Thou most ridiculous sprite!  Thou ponderous fairy!
  Bourgeois Bohemian!  Innocent Verlaine!
  I read in _The Booksellers' Circular_
  That, in the University of Pa.
  (Or Kans. or Col. or Mass, or Tex. or Ont.
  --A line of normal pattern, Saintsbury)
  You hold a fellowship in (O merciful gods!)
  Romanics, which strange word interpreted
  Means, I suppose, the Romance languages.
  Doubtless they read Italian in Pa.
  And some may speak French fluently in Ont.
  But German, Ezra!  There's the bloody rub,
  It's not Romance and it is hard to learn
  And Heine, though an easy-going chap,
  Would doubtless trounce you soundly if he knew
  The sorry hash that you have made of him.
  But no! you're not for immortality,
  Not even such as that of Freiligrath,
  Enshrined, together with his _Mohrenfurst_,
  In unrelenting amber.  I hold you here,
  In a soap-bubble's iridescent walls,
  The whimsy of a long midwinter night,
  And give you immortality enough.
  Thou sorry brat!  Thou transatlantic clown!
  That seek'st to ape the treadless Ariel
  And out-top Shelley in an aeroplane,
  Take the all-obvious padding from your pants
  And cut your hair and go to Pa. again
  (Or Kans. or Col. or Mass, or Tex. or Ont.
  Or even Oomp. if such a place exist)
  And take with you the poets you admire,
  Both Yeats and Flint to charm the folk of Oomp.
  And write again for _Munsey's Magazine_
  Of your good brother Everyone.  (Just God!
  Am even I of his relationship?)
  So end as you began or even worse:
  No matter, so 'tis in America.



  _At a Lecture._

  The lecturer took his place and looked
    At the eager women's faces,
  Then he cleared his throat and he jetted out
    A stream of commonplaces.

  He fondled Wordsworth and patted Shelley
    And said with his hand on his heart
  He would brook no interference from morals
    In any matter of art.

  He finished at last and strode away
    Over the naked boards,
  Erect in his conscious majesty
    Back to the House of Lords.



THE RIVERSIDE PRESS LIMITED, EDINBURGH



FROM SIDGWICK & JACKSON'S LIST


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THE EVERLASTING MERCY.

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POEMS.

(First issued in 1911.)  Crown 8vo, 2s. 6d. net.  _Ninth Impression_

"Unlike most youthful work it shows a curious absence of imitation and
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book of rare and remarkable promise."--_Spectator_.


1914 AND OTHER POEMS.

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Impression_

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These sonnets are personal--never were sonnets more personal since
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whom her call has come in the hour of need and found instantly
ready."--_Times_.


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NEW POEMS.

IRISH POEMS.  _Second Impression_

FLOWER OF YOUTH: Poems in War Time.  _Second Impression_

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"Out of familiar things she contrives to draw a magic which sets all
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search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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