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Title: Gipsy-Night and Other Poems
Author: Hughes, Richard Arthur Warren
Language: English
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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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Libraries.)



Of this first American edition of _Gipsy-Night and Other Poems_, with a
special proof of the _Lithograph Portrait_ by _Pamela Bianco_,
sixty-three copies, each signed by both author and artist, have been
issued, of which thirty are for sale in America and twenty-four in
England.


Number 46



                                                         Richard Hughes



  Gipsy-Night and Other Poems



  [Illustration: Pamela Bianco]



  GIPSY-NIGHT

  _and_ Other Poems

  _by_

  _Richard Hughes_

  [Illustration]

  _Chicago_
  WILL RANSOM
  _1922_



  _Copyright 1922 by Will Ransom_



Some of these pieces have appeared in England in _The Athenæum_, _London
Mercury_, _Spectator_, _Saturday Westminster Gazette_, _Oxford Review_,
_Free Oxford_, _Oxford Outlook_, _Poetry Review_, and _Oxford Poetry_;
and in America in _The Dial_, the _New York Evening Post Literary
Review_, _The Bookman_, and _Poetry_.

The Author offers the usual acknowledgments.



CONTENTS


  _Portrait of the Author by Pamela Bianco_      _Frontispiece_

  _Preface_                                                 _7_

  _Gipsy-Night_                                             _9_

  _The Horse Trough_                                       _11_

  _Martha_                                                 _12_

  _Gratitude_                                              _15_

  _Vagrancy_                                               _17_

  _Storm_                                                  _20_

  _Tramp_                                                  _23_

  _Epitaph_                                                _26_

  _Glaucopis_                                              _27_

  _Poets, Painters, Puddings_                              _28_

  _Isaac Ball_                                             _30_

  _Dirge_                                                  _32_

  _The Singing Furies_                                     _34_

  _The Ruin_                                               _36_

  _Judy_                                                   _38_

  _Winter_                                                 _40_

  _The Moonlit Journey_                                    _41_

  _A Song of the Walking Road_                             _42_

  _The Sermon_                                             _44_

  _The Rolling Saint_                                      _45_

  _Weald_                                                  _48_

  _The Jumping Bean_                                       _50_

  _Old Cat Care_                                           _52_

  _Cottager is given the Bird_                             _53_

  _A Man_                                                  _55_

  _Moon-struck_                                            _56_

  _Enigma_                                                 _58_

  _Lament for Gaza_                                        _59_

  _The Image_                                              _60_

  _Felo de Se_                                             _61_

  _The Birds-nester_                                       _63_



Preface


_Probably the most important contribution to modern poetical theory is
Mr. Robert Graves' book_ On English Poetry. _He grounds it upon Man as a
Neurotic Animal. Poetry is to the poet, he argues, what dreams are to
the ordinary man: a symbolical way, that is, of resolving those
complexes which deadlock of emotion has produced. If this book meets
with the success it deserves, it is probable that there will be a great
deal of psycho-analytical criticism afloat, that the symbolic test will
become the sole criterion of distinguishing the true from the fake poem;
until some sort of 'Metamorphic' school arise, who defeat this by
consciously faking their symbolism. I do not wish to oppose this thesis,
but only to suggest that though true, it is only a partial truth: and
that to make it the sole criterion of poetry would be damning: that as
well as being a neurotic animal, Man is a Communicative Animal, and a
Pattern-making Animal: that poetry cannot be traced simply to a sort of
automatic psycho-therapy, but that these and many other causes are
co-responsible. Indeed, though many of these poems may still prove poems
within the meaning of Mr. Graves' Act, I should be sorry that they
should be read with no other purpose than indecently to detect my
neuroses._

                                                                 _R. H._

_North Wales, 1922_



Gipsy-Night


  When the feet of the rain tread a dance on the roofs,
  And the wind slides through the rocks and the trees,
  And Dobbin has stabled his hoofs
  In the warm bracken-litter, noisy about his knees;
  And when there is no moon, and the sodden clouds slip over;
  Whenever there is no moon, and the rain drips cold,
  And folk with a shilling of money are bedded in houses,
  And pools of water glitter on Farmer's mould;
      Then pity Sally's girls, with the rain in their blouses:
      Martha and Johnnie, who have no money:
      The small naked puppies who whimper against the bitches,
      The small sopping children who creep to the ditches.

  But when the moon is run like a red fox
  Cover to cover behind the skies;
  And the breezes crack in the trees on the rocks,
  Or stoop to flutter about the eyes
  Of one who dreams in the scent of pines
  At ease:
      Then would you not go foot it with Sarah's Girls
      In and out the trees?
      Or listen across the fire
      To old Tinker-Johnnie, and Martha his Rawnee,
      In jagged Wales, or in orchard Worcestershire?



The Horse Trough


  Clouds of children round the trough
  Splash and clatter in the sun:
  Their clouted shoes are mostly off,
  And some are quarrelling, and one
  Cools half her face, nose downward bubbling,
  Wetting her clo'es and never troubling;
  Bobble, bobble, bobble there
  Till bubbles like young earthquakes heave
  The orange island of her hair,
  And tidal waves run up her sleeve;
  Another's tanned as brown as bistre;
  Another ducks his little sister,
  And all are mixed in such a crowd
  And tell their separate joys so loud
  That who can be this silent one,
  This dimpled, pensive, baby one?
  --She sits the sunny steps so still
  For hours, trying hard to kill
  One fly at least of those that buzz
  So cannily ...
                And then she does.



Martha (Gipsies on Tilberstowe: 1917)


  Small child with the pinched face,
  Why do you stare
  With screwed-up eyes under a shock
  Of dull carrot hair?
  --Child in the long, torn frock,
  Crouched in the warm dust:
  Why do you stare, as if
  Stare you must?

         *       *       *       *       *

  Fairies in gossamer,
  Hero and warrior,
  Queens in their cherry gowns,
  Wizards and witches:
  Dream you of such as these?
  Palaces? Orange-trees?
  Dream you of swords and crowns,
  Child of the ditches?

  _Still in the warm dust
  Sits she and stares; as if
  Stare she must,
  Pale eyes that see through:
  Soon I must stare too:_

  Soon through the fierce glare
  Loom things that are not there:
  Out of the blind Past
  Savages grim:
  Negroes and muleteers,
  Saxons and wanderers
  Tall as a ship's mast,
  Spectral and dim.

  _Stirring the race's dust,
  Stares she as stare she must._

  _Fade they: but still the glare
  Shimmers her copper hair._

  Eight years of penury,
  Whining and beggary,
  Famine and cursing,
  Hunger and sharp theft:
  Death comes to such as these
  Under the sobbing trees.
  The cold stars nursing
  Those that are left.

  _Angel and devil peers
  Through those pale eyes of hers,_

  Child of the Wide Earth,
  Born at the World's birth,
  Grave with the World's pain,
  Mirthless and tearless:
  Widowed from babyhood,
  Child without childhood,
  Stained with an earthy stain,
  Loveless and fearless:

  My God is overhead:
  Yours must be cold. Or dead.

  --Child with the pinched face
  Why do you stare
  With so much knowledge under your shock
  Of wild matted hair?



Gratitude


  _Eternal gratitude_--a long, thin word:
  When meant, oftenest left unheard:
  When light on the tongue, light in the purse too;
  Of curious metallurgy: when coined true
  It glitters not, is neither large nor small:
  More worth than rubies--less, times, than a ball.
  Not gift, nor willed: yet through its wide range
  Buys what it buys exact, and leaves no change.

  Old Gurney had it, won on a hot day
  With ale, from glib-voiced Gipsy by the way.
  He held it lightly: for 'twas a rum start
  To find a hedgeling who had still a heart:
  So put it down for twist of a beggar's tongue ...
  _He_ had not felt the heat: how the dust stung
  A face June-roasted: _he_ saw not the look
  Aslant the gift-mug; how the hand shook ...
  Yet the words filled his head, and he grew merry
  And whistled from the Boar to Wrye-brook ferry,
  And chaffed with Ferryman when the hawser creaked,
  Or slipping bilge showed where the planks leaked;
  --Lent hand himself, till doubly hard the barge
  Butted its nose in mud of the farther marge.
  When Gurney leapt to shore, he found--dismay!

  He had no tuppence--(Tuppence was to pay
  To sulky Ferryman).--'Naught have I,' says he,
  'Naught but the gratitude of Tammas Lee
  Given one hour.'--Sulky Charon grinned:
  'Done,' said he, 'done: I take it--all of it, mind.'
  'Done,' cries Jan Gurney. Down the road he went,
  But by the ford left all his merriment.

  This is the tale of midday chaffering:
  How Charon took, and Gurney lost the thing:
  How Ferryman gave it for his youngest daughter
  To a tall lad who saved her out of the water--
  (Being old and mean, had none of his own to give,
  So passed on Tammas', glad to see her live):
  How the young farmer paid his quarter's rent
  With that one coin, when all else was spent,
  And how Squire kept it for some goldless debt ...
  For aught I know, it wanders current yet.

  But Tammas was no angel in disguise:
  He stole Squire's chickens--often: he told lies,
  Robbed Charon's garden, burnt young Farmer's ricks
  And played the village many lousy tricks.

  No children sniffled, and no dog cried,
  When full of oaths and smells, he died.



Vagrancy


  When the slow year creeps hay-ward, and the skies
  Are warming in the summer's mild surprise,
  And the still breeze disturbs each leafy frond
  Like hungry fishes dimpling in a pond,
  It is a pleasant thing to dream at ease
  On sun-warmed thyme, not far from beechen trees.

  A robin flashing in a rowan-tree,
  A wanton robin, spills his melody
  As if he had such store of golden tones
  That they were no more worth to him than stones:
  The sunny lizards dream upon the ledges:
  Linnets titter in and out the hedges,
  Or swoop among the freckled butterflies.

  Down to a beechen hollow winds the track
  And tunnels past my twilit bivouac:
  Two spiring wisps of smoke go singly up
  And scarcely tremble in the leafy air.

  --There are more shadows in this loamy cup
  Than God could count: and oh, but it is fair:
  The kindly green and rounded trunks, that meet
  Under the soil with twinings of their feet
  And in the sky with twinings of their arms:
  The yellow stools: the still ungathered charms
  Of berry, woodland herb, and bryony,
  And mid-wood's changeling child, Anemone.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Quiet as a grave beneath a spire
  I lie and watch the pointed climbing fire,
  I lie and watch the smoky weather-cock
  That climbs too high, and bends to the breeze's shock,
  And breaks, and dances off across the skies
  Gay as a flurry of blue butterflies.

  But presently the evening shadows in,
  Heralded by the night-jar's solitary din
  And the quick bat's squeak among the trees;
  --Who sudden rises, darting across the air
  To weave her filmy web in the Sun's bright hair
  That slowly sinks dejected on his knees ...

  Now is he vanished: the bewildered skies
  Flame out a desperate and last surmise;
  Then yield to Night, their sudden conqueror.

  From pole to pole the shadow of the world
  Creeps over heaven, till itself is lit
  By the very many stars that wake in it:

  Sleep, like a messenger of great import,
  Lays quiet and compelling hands athwart
  The easy idlenesses of my mind.
  --There is a breeze above me, and around:
  There is a fire before me, and behind:
  But Sleep doth hold me, and I hear no sound.

  In the far West the clouds are mustering,
  Without hurry, noise, or blustering:
  And soon as Body's nightly Sentinel
  Himself doth nod, I open furtive eyes ...

  With darkling hook the Farmer of the Skies
  Goes reaping stars: they flicker, one by one,
  Nodding a little; tumble--and are gone.



Storm: to the Theme of Polyphemus


  Mortal I stand upon the lifeless hills
  That jut their cragged bones against the sky:
  I crawl upon their naked ebony,
  And toil across the scars of Titan ills
  Dealt by the weaponing of gods and devils:
  I climb their uppermost deserted levels,
  And see how Heaven glowers his one eye
  Blood-red and black-browed in the sullen sky,
  While all his face is livid as a corpse
  And wicked as a snake's: see how he warps
  His sultry beam across the misted sea,
  As if he grudged its darkling ministry.

  He looks so covetous, I think he hides
  --Jetsam of the slow ethereal tides--
  Some cursed and battered Sailor of the Spheres:
  All night he ravens on him and his peers,
  But with the day he straddles monstrously
  Across the earth in churlish shepherdry,
  A-hungered for his hideous nightly feast.

  But storms are gathering in the whitened East:
  The day grows darker still, and suddenly
  That lone and crafty Prisoner of the Sky
  Plunges his murky torch in Heaven's Eye:
  The blinded, screaming tempest trumpets out
  His windy agonies: Oh, he will spout
  His boiling rains upon the soggy air
  And heave great rocking planets: he will tear
  And snatch the screeching comets by the hair
  To fling them all about him in the sea,
  And blast the wretch's fatal Odyssey!

  The great convulsions of the Deity
  Rumble in agony across the sky:
  His thunders rattle in and out the peaks:
  His lightnings jab at every word He speaks:
  --At every heavenly curse the cloud is split
  And daggered lightnings crackle out of it.

  Like a steep shower of snakes the hissing rain
  Flickers its tongues upon the muddied plain,
  Writhing and twisting on the gutted rocks
  That tremble at the heavy thunder-shocks:
  Soon from the hub on Heaven's axel-tree
  The frozen hail flies spinning, and the sea
  Is lashed beneath me to a howling smoke
  As if the frozen fires of hell had woke
  And cracked their icy flames in the face of Heaven.

  Withered and crouching and scarce breathing even,
  And battered as a gnat upon a wall
  I cling and gasp--climb to my feet, and fall,
  And crawl at last beneath a lidded stone,
  Careless if all the earth's foundations groan
  And strain in the heaving of this devilry,
  Careless at last whether I live or die.

         *       *       *       *       *

  So the vast Æschylean tragedy
  Rolls to its thunderous appointed close:
  With final mutterings each actor goes:
  And the huge Heavenly tragedian
  Tears from his face the massy mask and wan,
  And shines resplendent on the shattered stage
  As he has done from age to bewildered age,
  Giving the lie to all his mimic rage.



Tramp

(The Bath Road, June)


  When a brass sun staggers above the sky,
  When feet cleave to boots, and the tongue's dry,
  And sharp dust goads the rolling eye,
  Come thoughts of wine, and dancing thoughts of girls:
  They shiver their white arms, and the head whirls,
  And noon light is hid in their dark curls:
  Noon feet stumble and head swims.
  Out shines the sun, and the thought dims,
  And death, for blood, runs in the weak limbs.

  To fall on flints in the shade of tall nettles
  Gives easy sleep as a bed of rose petals,
  And dust drifting from the highway
  As light a coverlet as down may.
  The myriad feet of many-sized flies
  May not open those tired eyes.

  The first wind of night
  Twitches the coverlet away quite:
  The first wind and large first rain
  Flickers the dry pulse to life again.
  Flickers the lids burning on the eyes:
  Come sudden flashes of the slipping skies:
  Hunger, oldest visionary,
  Hides a devil in a tree,
  Hints a glory in the clouds,
  Fills the crooked air with crowds
  Of ivory sightless demons singing--
  Eyes start: straightens back:
  Limbs stagger and crack:
  But brain flies, brain soars
  Up, where the Sky roars
  Upon the back of cherubim:
  Brain rockets up to Him.
  Body gives another twist
  To the slack waist-band;
  In agony clenches fist
  Till the nails bite the hand.
  Body floats light as air,
  With rain in its sparse hair.

  Brain returns, and would tell
  The things he has seen well:

  Body will not stir his lips:
  Mind and Body come to grips.

  Deadly each hates the other
  As treacherous blood brother.

  No sight, no sound shows
  How the struggle goes.

  I sink at last faint in the wet gutter;
  So many words to sing that the tongue cannot utter.



Epitaph


  Jonathan Barlow loved wet skies,
    And golden leaves on a rollick wind ...
  The clouds drip damp on his crumbled eyes,
    And the storm his roystering dirge hath dinned.

  Proud buck rabbits he loved, and the feel
    Of a finicky nose that sniffed his hand:
  So now they burrow, and crop their meal;
    Their fore-paws scatter him up in sand.

  He loved old bracken, and now it pushes
    Affectionate roots between his bones:
  He runs in the sap of the young spring bushes,
    --Basks, when a June sun warms the stones.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Jonathan Barlow loved his Connie
    Better than beasts, or trees, or rain ...
  But her ears are shut to her Golden-Johnnie,
    And his tap, tap, tap, at her window-pane.



Glaucopis


  John Fane Dingle
    By Rumney Brook
  Shot a crop-eared owl,
    For pigeon mistook:

  Caught her by the lax wing.
    --She, as she dies,
  Thrills his warm soul through
    With her deep eyes.

  Corpse-eyes are eerie:
    Tiger-eyes fierce:
  John Fane Dingle found
    Owl-eyes worse.

  Owl-eyes on night-clouds,
    Constant as Fate:
  Owl-eyes in baby's face:
    On dish and plate:

  Owl-eyes, without sound.
    --Pale of hue
  John died of no complaint,
    With owl-eyes too.



Poets, Painters, Puddings


  Poets, painters, and puddings; these three
  Make up the World as it ought to be.

  Poets make faces
  And sudden grimaces:
  They twit you, and spit you
  On words: then admit you
  To heaven or hell
  By the tales that they tell.

  Painters are gay
  As young rabbits in May:
  They buy jolly mugs,
  Bowls, pictures, and jugs:
  The things round their necks
  Are lively with checks,
  (For they like something red
  As a frame for the head):
  Or they'll curse you with oaths,
  That tear holes in your clothes.
  (With nothing to mend them
  You'd best not offend them).

  Puddings should be
  Full of currants, for me:
  Boiled in a pail,
  Tied in the tail
  Of an old bleached shirt:
  So hot that they hurt,
  So huge that they last
  From the dim, distant past
  Until the crack o' doom
  Lift the roof off the room.

  Poets, painters, and puddings; these three
  Crown the day as it crowned should be.



Isaac Ball


  Painting pictures
    Worth nothing at all
  In a dark cellar
    Sits Isaac Ball.

  Cobwebs on his butter,
    Herrings in bed:
  Stout matted in the hair
    Of his poor cracked head.

  There he paints Men's Thoughts
    --Or so says he:
  For in that cellar
    It's too dark to see.

  Isaac knew great men,
    Poets and peers:
  Treated crown-princes
    To stouts and beers;

  Some still visit him;
    Pretend to buy
  His unpainted pictures--
    The Lord knows why.

  His grey beard is woolly,
    Eyes brown and wild:
  Sticky things in his pocket
    For anybody's child.

  Someday he'll win fame,
    --So Isaac boasts,
  Lecturing half the night
    To long-legged ghosts.

  Isaac was young once:
    At sixty-five
  Still seduces more girls
    Than any man alive.



Dirge


  To those under smoke-blackened tiles, and cavernous echoing arches,
  In tortuous hid courts, where the roar never ceases
  Of deep cobbled streets wherein dray upon dray ever marches,
  The sky is a broken lid, a litter of smashed yellow pieces.

  To those under mouldering roofs, where life to an hour is crowded,
  Life, to a span of the floor, to an inch of the light,
  And night is all fevrous-hot, a time to be bawded and rowdied,
  Day is a time of grinding, that looks for rest to the night.

  Those who would live, do it quickly, with quick tears, sudden laughter,
  Quick oaths--terse blasphemous thoughts about God the Creator:
  Those who would die, do it quickly, with noose from the rafter,
  Or the black shadowy eddies of Thames, the hurry-hater.

  Life is the Master, the keen and grim destroyer of beauty:
  Death is a quiet and deep reliever, where soul upon soul
  And wizened and thwarted body on body are loosed from their duty
  Of living, and sink in a bottomless, edgeless impalpable hole.

  Dead, they can see far above them, as if from the depth of a pit,
  Black on the glare small figures that twist and are shrivelled in it.



The Singing Furies


  The yellow sky grows vivid as the sun:
  The sea glittering, and the hills dun.

  The stones quiver. Twenty pounds of lead
  Fold upon fold, the air laps my head.

  Both eyes scorch: tongue stiff and bitter:
  Flies buzz, but no birds twitter:
  Slow bullocks stand with stinging feet,
  And naked fishes scarcely stir for heat.

                  White as smoke,
  As jetted steam, dead clouds awoke
  And quivered on the Western rim.
  Then the singing started: dim
  And sibilant as rime-stiff reeds
  That whistle as the wind leads.
  The North answered, low and clear;
  The South whispered hard and sere,
  And thunder muffled up like drums
  Beat, whence the East wind comes.
  The heavy sky that could not weep
  Is loosened: rain falls steep:
  And thirty singing furies ride
  To split the sky from side to side.
  They sing, and lash the wet-flanked wind:
  Sing, from Col to Hafod Mynd
  And fling their voices half a score
  Of miles along the mounded shore:
  Whip loud music from a tree,
  And roll their pæan out to sea
  Where crowded breakers fling and leap,
  And strange things throb five fathoms deep.

  The sudden tempest roared and died:
  The singing furies muted ride
  Down wet and slippery roads to hell:
  And, silent in their captors' train
  Two fishers, storm-caught on the main;
  A shepherd, battered with his flocks;
  A pit-boy tumbled from the rocks;
  A dozen back-broke gulls, and hosts
  Of shadowy, small, pathetic ghosts,
  --Of mice and leverets caught by flood;
  Their beauty shrouded in cold mud.



The Ruin


  Gone are the coloured princes, gone echo, gone laughter:
  Drips the blank roof: and the moss creeps after.

  Dead is the crumbled chimney: all mellowed to rotting
  The wall-tints, and the floor-tints, from the spotting
  Of the rain, from the wind and slow appetite
  Of patient mould: and of the worms that bite
  At beauty all their innumerable lives.

  --But the sudden nip of knives,
  The lady aching for her stiffening lord,
  The passionate-fearful bride
  And beaded pallor clamped to the torment-board,
  --Leave they no ghosts, no memories by the stairs?
  No sheeted glimmer treading floorless ways?
  No haunting melody of lovers' airs,
  Nor stealthy chill upon the noon of days?
  No: for the dead and senseless walls have long forgotten
  What passionate hearts beneath the grass lie rotten.

  Only from roofs and chimneys pleasantly sliding
  Tumbles the rain in the early hours:
  Patters its thousand feet on the flowers,
  Cools its small grey feet in the grasses.



Judy


  Sand hot to haunches:
    Sun beating eyes down,
  Yet they peer under lashes
    At the hill's crown:

  See how the hill slants
    Up the sky half way;
  Over the top tall clouds
    Poke, gold and grey.

  Down: see a green field
    Tipped on its short edge,
  Its upper rim straggled round
    By a black hedge.

  Grass bright as new brass:
    Uneven dark gorse
  Stuck to its own shadow,
    _Like Judy that black horse_.

  Birds clatter numberless,
    And the breeze tells
  That bean-flower somewhere
    Has ousted the blue-bells:

  Birds clatter numberless:
    In the muffled wood
  Big feet move slowly:
    Mean no good.



Winter


  Snow wind-whipt to ice
    Under a hard sun:
  Stream-runnels curdled hoar
    Crackle, cannot run.

  Robin stark dead on twig,
    Song stiffened in it:
  Fluffed feathers may not warm
    Bone-thin linnet:

  Big-eyed rabbit, lost,
    Scrabbles the snow,
  Searching for long-dead grass
    With frost-bit toe:

  Mad-tired on the road
    Old Kelly goes;
  Through crookt fingers snuffs the air
    Knife-cold in his nose.

  Hunger-weak, snow-dazzled,
    Old Thomas Kelly
  Thrusts his bit hands, for warmth
    'Twixt waistcoat and belly.



The Moonlit Journey


  Unguarded stands the shuttered sky:
  The creeping Thief of Night
  With tool and hook begins to ply
  His careful picking: he would pry
  And filch her coffered light.
  The soundless tapping of his bar
  Pricks out each sudden star.

  The soundless tapping of his bar
  Lets out the wealthy Moon:
  The frozen Bright goes arching far
  On buttresses of lucid spar
  And lights the road to Cloun;
  And all the pouring of her riches
  Floats on the silent ditches.

  The crescent road is ivory
  Between the silver water:
  But squat and black and creeping, see,
  Blank as the shadow of a tree,
  Old Robert and his daughter
  Toil on: and fearful, each descries
  Moon-gleams in other's eyes.



A Song of the Walking Road


  The World is all orange-round:
  The sea smells salt between:
  The strong hills climb on their own backs,
  Coloured and damascene,
  Cloud-flecked and sunny-green;
  Knotted and straining up,
  Up, with still hands and cold:
  Grip at the slipping sky,
  Yet cannot hold:
  Round twists old Earth, and round ...
  Stillness not yet found.

  Plains like a flat dish, too,
  Shudder and spin:
  Roads in a pattern crawl
  Scratched with a pin
  Across the fields' dim shagreen:
  --Dusty their load:
  But over the craggy hills
  Wanders the Walking Road!

  Broad as the hill's broad,
  Rough as the world's rough, too:
  Long as the Age is long,
  Ancient and true,
  Swinging, and broad, and long:
  --Craggy, strong.

  Gods sit like milestones
  On the edge of the Road, by the Moon's sill;
  Man has feet, feet that swing, pound the high hill
  Above and above, until
  He stumble and widely spill
  His dusty bones.

  Round twists old Earth, and round ...
  Stillness not yet found.



The Sermon (Wales, 1920)


  Like gript stick
  Still I sit:
  Eyes fixed on far small eyes,
  Full of it:
  On the old, broad face,
  The hung chin;
  Heavy arms, surplice
  Worn through and worn thin.
  Probe I the hid mind
  Under the gross flesh:
  Clutch at poetic words,
  Follow their mesh
  Scarce heaving breath.
  Clutch, marvel, wonder,
  Till the words end.

  Stilled is the muttered thunder:
  The hard, few people wake,
  Gather their books and go ...
  --Whether their hearts could break
  How can I know?



The Rolling Saint


  Under the crags of Teiriwch,
  The door-sills of the Sun,
  Where God has left the bony earth
  Just as it was begun;
  Where clouds sail past like argosies
  Breasting the crested hills
  With mainsail and foretopsail
  That the thin breeze fills;
  With ballast of round thunder,
  And anchored with the rain;
  With a long shadow sounding
  The deep, far plain:
  Where rocks are broken playthings
  By petulant gods hurled,
  And Heaven sits a-straddle
  The roof-ridge of the World:
  --Under the crags of Teiriwch
  Is a round pile of stones,
  Large stones, small stones,
  --White as old bones;
  Some from high places
  Or from the lake's shore;
  And every man that passes
  Adds one more--
  The years it has been growing
  Verge on a hundred score.

  For in the Cave of Teiriwch
  That scarce holds a sheep,
  Where plovers and rock-conies
  And wild things sleep,
  A woman lived for ninety years
  On bilberries and moss
  And lizards and small creeping things,
  And carved herself a cross:
  But wild hill robbers
  Found the ancient saint
  And dragged her to the sunlight,
  Making no complaint.
  Too old was she for weeping,
  Too shrivelled and too dry:
  She crouched and mumle-mumled
  And mumled to the sky.
  No breath had she for wailing,
  Her cheeks were paper-thin:
  She was, for all her holiness,
  As ugly as sin.

  They cramped her in a barrel
  --All but her bobbing head
  --And rolled her down from Teiriwch
  Until she was dead:
  They took her out and buried her
  --Just broken bits of bone
  And rags and skin, and over her
  Set one small stone:
  But if you pass her sepulchre
  And add not one thereto
  The ghost of that old murdered Saint
  Will roll in front of you
  The whole night through.

  The clouds sail past in argosies
  And cold drips the rain:
  The whole world is far and high
  Above the tilted plain.
  The silent mists float eerily,
  And I am here alone:

  Dare I pass the place by
  And cast not a stone?



Weald


  Still is the leaden night:
  The film-eyed moon
  Spills hardly any light,
  But nods to sleep--And soon
  Through five broad parishes there is no sound
  But the far melancholy wooing
  Of evil-minded cats; and the late shoeing
  Of some unlucky filly by the ford.

  For twenty miles abroad there is no moving,
  But for the uncomfortable hooving
  Of midnight cows a-row in Parson's Lag:
  --That; and the slow twist of water round a snag.

  The silver mist that slumbers in the hollow
  Dreams of a breeze, and turns upon its side,
  So sleep uneasy: but no breezes follow,
  Only the moon blinks slowly thrice, wan-eyed.
  --I think this is the most unhappy night
  Since hot-cheeked Hecuba wept in the dawn.
  --There never was a more unhappy night,
  Not that when Hero's lamp proved unavailing,
  Nor that when Bethlehem was filled with wailing ...

  ... There is no reason for unhappiness,
  Save that the saddened stars have hid their faces,
  And that dun clouds usurp their brilliant places,
  And that the wind lacks even strength to sigh.

  And yet, as if outraged by some long tune
  A dog cries dolefully, green-eyed in the moon ...



The Jumping-Bean (A curious bean, with a small maggot in it, who comes
to life and tumbles his dwelling at the stimulus of warmth)


  Sun in a warm streak
    Striping the plush:
  Catch breath, hold finger tight:
    All delight hush.

  Dance, small grey thing
    Sleek in the warm sun:
  Roll around, to this, to that,
    --Rare wormy fun!

  Hot sun applauds thee:
    Warm fingers press
  To wake the small life within
    Thy rotund dress.

  Alack! Have years in cupboard,
    In chill and dark,
  Stifled thy discontent?
    Snufft thy spark?

  Liest thou stark, stiff,
    There in thy bed?
  _Weep then a dirge for him:
    Poor Bean's dead!_



Old Cat Care outside the Cottage (1918)


  Green-eyed Care
  May prowl and glare
  And poke his snub, be-whiskered nose:
  But Door fits tight
  Against the Night:
  Through criss-cross cracks no evil goes.

  Window is small:
  No room at all
  For Worry and Money, his shoulder-bones:
  Chimney is wide,
  But Smoke's inside
  And happy Smoke would smother his moans.

  Be-whiskered Care
  May prowl out there:
  But I never heard
  He caught the Blue Bird!



Cottager is given the Bird (1921)


  Sidelong the Bird ran,
      Hard-eyed on the turned mould:
  Was door--window--wide?
      --Then Heart grew kettle-cold.

  Might no wind-suckt curtain
      Dim that travelling Eye?
  Could Door's thick benediction
      Deafen: if he should cry?

  Sidelong the Bird crept
      Into the stark door:
  His yellow, lidless eye!
      Foot chill to the stone floor!

  ... Then Smoke, that slender baby,
      To Hearth's white Niobe-breast
  Sank trembling--dead. Oh Bird,
      Bird, spare the rest!

         *       *       *       *       *

  He has bidden bats to flit
      In Window's wide mouth:
  Starlings to tumble, and mock
      Poor Pot's old rusty drouth:

  And a wet canker, nip
      Those round-breasted stones
  That I hugged to strong walls
      With the love of my strained bones.

  He bad lank Spider run,
      Grow busy, web me out
  With dusty trespass stretcht
      From mantel to kettle-spout.

  Door, Window, Rafter, Chimney,
      Grow silent, die:
  All are dead: all moulder:
      Sole banished mourner I.

  See how the Past rustles
      Stirring to life again ...
  Three whole years left I lockt
      Behind that window-pane.



A Man


  He is a man in love with grass,
  He shivers at a tree:
  Thrill of wing in briar-bushes
  Wildly at his heart pushes
  Like the first, faint hint
  A lover is let see.

  If he had known a wordless song
  As a bird he would sing;
  Who took delight in slim rabbits,
  Watched their delicate habits,
  --Waited, by the briar-bush,
  That flutter of wooing.

  _Why did he break that small wing?_
  The sun looks hollowly:
  Mocking's where the water goes;
  The breeze bitter in his nose:
  Mocking eyes wide burning
  --Lost, lost is he!



Moon-Struck


  Cold shone the moon, with noise
  The night went by.
  Trees uttered things of woe:
  Bent grass dared not grow:

  Ah desperate man with haggard eyes
  And hands that fence away the skies
  On rock and briar stumbling,
  Is it fear of the storm's rumbling,
  Of the hissing cold rain,
  Or lightning's tragic pain
  Drives you so madly?
  See, see the patient moon;
  How she her course keeps
  Through cloudy shallows and across black deeps,
  Now gone, now shines soon:
  Where's cause for fear?

  'I shudder and shudder
  At her bright light:
  I fear, I fear,
  That she her fixt course follows
  So still and white
  Through deeps and shallows
  With never a tremor:
  Naught shall disturb her.
  I fear, I fear
  What they may be
  That secretly bind her:
  What hand holds the reins
  Of those sightless forces
  That govern her courses.
  Is it Setebos
  Who deals in her command?
  Or that unseen Night-Comer
  With tender curst hand?
  --I shudder, and shudder.'

  Poor storm-wisp, wander!
  Wind shall not hurt thee,
  Rain not appal thee,
  Lightning not blast thee;
  Thou art worn so frail
  Only the moonlight pale
  To an ash shall burn thee,
  To an invisible Pain.



Ænigma


  How can I tell it?
    I saw a thing
  That I did not find strange
    In my visioning.

  A flawless tall mirror,
    Glass dim and green;
  And a tall, dim figure
    There was between:

  Pale, so pale her face
    As veils of thin water;
  And her eyes water-pale,
    And the moonlight on her;

  And she was dying, dying;
    She combed her long hair,
  And the crimson blood ran
    In the fine gold there.

  She was dying, dying ...
    And in her perfect eye
  No terror lurked; nor pity
    That she should so die.



Lament for Gaza


  You who listen, pity
  Gaza, this poor city;
  For now the roof rocks,
  And the blind god's hands
  Grope at the pillars where he stands:
  While Gaza mocks,
  While Gaza mocks.



The Image


  Dim the light in your faces: be passionless in the room.
  Snuffed are the tapers, and bitterly hang on the flowerless air:
  See: and this is the Image of her they will lay in the tomb,
  Clear, and waxen, and cooled in the mass of her hair.

  Quiet the tears in your voices: feel lightly, finger, for finger
  In love: then see how like is the Image, but lifelessly fashioned
  And sightless, calm, unloving ... Oh who is the Artist? Oh linger
  And ponder whither has flitted his Sitter Impassioned.



Felo de Se


  If I were stone dead and buried under,
  Is there a part of me would still wander,
  Shiver, mourn, and cry Alack,
  With no body to its back?

  When brain grew mealy, turned to dust,
  Would lissom Mind, too, suffer rust?
  Immortal Soul grow imbecile,
  Having no brain to think and feel?

  --Or grant it be as priests say,
  And growth come on my death-day:
  Suppose Growth came: would Certainty?
  Or would Mind still a quester be,

  Frame deeper mysteries, not find them out,
  And wander in a larger Doubt?
  --Alas, if to Mind's petty stir
  Death prove so poor a silencer:

  Though veins when emptied a few hours
  Of this hot blood, might suckle flowers:
  _From spiritual flames that scorch me
  Never, never were I free!_

  Then back, Death! Till I call thee
  Hast come too soon!
  ... _Thou silly worm, gnaw not
  Yet thine intricate cocoon._



The Birds-nester

_A Memorial, to an Unfortunate Young Man, Expelled from his University
for a Daring Neologism_


  Critic, that hoary Gull, in air
      Whistles, whistles shrilly:
  Climbing Youth, beware
      Murder and mockery!

  That wheeling, hoary gull
  Bats on his thin skull,
  Claws at his steady eyes,
  Whinnies and cries:
  Youth flings the gibe back.
  Hundreds of wings clack,
  Bright eyes encircle, search
  For foothold's fatal lurch.
  'See now he shifts his grip:
  Loosen each finger-tip!
  Whew, brothers, shall he slip?'
  Crack-tendoned, answers Youth
  'I seek for Eggs of Truth.'

  Claws clutch his hair,
  Beaks prick his eyes--
  'Whistle, _Despair_, _Despair!_
  With ancient quills prise
  Every hand's--foot's--hold,
  Wedged in the rock's fold!
  Batter and scream, bewilder
  This impious babel-buil ...
                            whew!
  Down he is rocketing falling twisting.'

  For days and nights
  Time's curly breakers
  Winnow him, wash him ...
  What is that stirs?
  What wing from the heights
  Slants to that murdered limb?

  Gull's peering eye bath spotted
  Something the sea has rotted.
  Secretly to the feast
  Dives big gull, less, and least;
  For Age never dies:
  Age shall pick out his eyes,
  Taste them with critick zest,
  --Age knows the Best!
  --Age shall build his lair
  Out of his hair:
  Gulp his small splintered bones
  To his gizzard, for stones:
  Feed on his words
  All his young woolly birds.

  Say not he died in vain!
  All that he cried in pain
  Ear-cocked Age hearkens to
  Someday. Declares it true
  Someday.

  What though he fell? The jest
  Feathers old Critic's nest.



By arrangement with the author, and with the gracious permission of his
publishers, _The Golden Cockerel Press, Waltham Saint Lawrence,
Berkshire, England_, this edition of _Gipsy-Night and Other Poems_
becomes the third publication issued by _The Private Press of Will
Ransom: Maker of Books, 14 West Washington Street, Chicago, U. S. A._

Composition and presswork by _Will Ransom_, assisted by _Edmond A.
Hunt_; binding by _Anthony Faifer_. Printing finished _September 30th,
1922_.

[Illustration]


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Notes


Obvious printer errors were silently corrected.

Archaic and variable spelling was preserved.





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