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Title: Pixies' Plot
Author: Phillpotts, Eden
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 "Pixies' Plot" ***

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                              PIXIES’ PLOT


                            EDEN PHILLPOTTS

                               Author of
                      _As the Wind Blows; Evander
                            Pan & the Twins

                           GRANT RICHARDS LTD
                       St. Martin’s Street, W.C.

Printed in England at the Cloister Press, Heaton Mersey, near Manchester

                             GRANT RICHARDS

In beauty manifold are wrought
Your gardens, full of charm and grace,
That hold the best in every sort
But entrance yield to nothing base.
And ’mid their lawns, austere and bright,
Though statues gleam and fountains play,
There’s one wild dingle where half light
Of faery never dies away.

There hang your wreath within a glade
Ere berries shrink and blossoms pine;
For pixy blooms too quickly fade
Plucked by this clumsy hand of mine.
Yet, howsoever swift their end,
They hold a more enduring seed
And bring you, from a kindly friend,
Good will, to dignify the deed.

E. P.


   1. Pixies’ Plot
   2. The Charm
   3. Joe’s Donkey
   4. Diana
   5. The Mouse and the Epitaph
   6. Echo and Narcissus
   7. The Sandhills
   8. The Ghost
   9. A Test
  10. Dreams
  11. The Fire-drake
  12. The Seven Maidens
  13. The Heron
  14. The Grief
  15. On the Ebb
  16. Scandal
  17. To a Bat
  18. Moon-Moth
  19. The Hunting
  20. The Good Girl
  21. The Lover
  22. The Motor Car
  23. The Sea Scouts
  24. Song for the Spheres
  25. The Circle
  26. To Anthea’s Bosom
  27. Dust
  28. Young Night
  29. Jill Bassett
  30. Tailpiece


(_A pleasant maxim of old time directed the gardener to leave one corner
as nature planned it, for the little people.  Thus welcomed, they might
be trusted to show their human hosts goodwill, friendship, and

    You have it, or you have it not:
    The cantle of the Pixies’ plot,
    Where never spade nor hoe shall ply
    To break that treasured sanctity.
    Touch no bloom there; uproot no weed;
    Let what will blow.
    Suffer the thistle, briar and thorn to grow,
    The dandelion to seed.

    Though full the garden of your mind,
    Well planted on a soil that’s kind;
    Your hedges gay, your borders clean,
    Your seasons fair, your clime serene,
    Yet trammel not the Pixies’ mite,
    For well-coming
    Chance little, wandering, weary, fairy thing
    Lost in the dim owl-light.

    Still virgin, free and set apart,
    Ordain one dingle of your heart,
    Where visions home and wing to you
    The golden dreams that might come true.
    Herein a gentler dawn than day
    Shall often break
    For foot-sore spirits, tired of reason’s ache,
    And children come to play.


    When chafers drone their litany
    And pray, "Oh, Father, grant that we
    From airy-mouse delivered be,"
    Go seek the charm.

    Under the sky, when a star shoots,
    Beneath an oak, when the owl hoots,
    Gather ye simples, dig ye roots
    For the rare charm.

    That glassy ghost upon a thorn--
    The raiment of a snake outworn--
    Must backward through the dark be borne
    To feed the charm.

    A glow-worm--she whose gentle light
    Glimmers green-gold through a blue night
    Beside the churchyard aconite--
    Shall help the charm.

    One willow from the cradle take
    Where a boy baby lies awake,
    And splinters off a coffin break
    To build the charm.

    A tarnished silver chalice bring,
    Dead gossips gave at christening,
    And dip the moonlight from a spring
    To crown the charm.

    This much, God wot, a child might do,
    Yet all must fail if haply you
    Lack a child’s faith, so trusting, true,
    To bless the charm.

    Many the spells of high degree
    And fruitful happiness I see
    All lost, for faith to set them free
    And work the charm.


    The harp of night had silver strings,
    The moon was low, the stars burned dim,
    When from a wood, with roaring wings,
    Joe flushed a brace of cherubim.

    His eye did bulge at sign so brave
    To see the shining angels pass;
    Then, happening beside her grave,
    He met his dead and buried ass!

    She’d broke a leg and so was slain
    And buried here a week ago;
    Now, all alive and sound again,
    She brayed with joy to welcome Joe!

    A holy cross that donkeys bear,
    Since Jesus Christ did deign to ride,
    The cherubs tempted to repair
    That ancient beast in bone and hide.

    The harp of morn had golden strings
    Ere home they came--Joe’s ass and he;
    And when their neighbours heard these things
    They praised the Lord right heartily.


    Look not upon a moon that’s new,
    For with her bitter sickle keen
    She comes between, she comes between,
    And cuts the tender from the true.

    Look not upon a white full moon:
    Her stiff-starched pudency doth shame
    The throbbing pulse, the leaping flame,
    And freezes passion at its noon.

    Look not upon a moon that’s old
    With fallen breast and shadowy eyes,
    Till the last hope of loving dies,
    And heart’s outworn and blood run cold.


    In moonlight grey the hungry church-yard mouse
    Sat on old William Blee--his narrow house.
    Climbing the mound, an ancient slate he read,
    Then spoke, with rustic frankness, to the dead.
    "’A husband and a father dear’: What then?
    So much is true of mice as well as men.
    ’Friend to the poor’?  That’s humbug, Billy Blee!
    When did you ever spare a crumb for me?"


    Through the green dell she went,
    Bright haired, with cheeks that burned;
    Her passion hardly pent;
    Her eyes upon him turned.
    Her crocus-coloured gown
    Over her white, young breast beat up and down.

    Adream, he did not guess,
    But dwelt upon his thought
    Of perfect loveliness,
    Nor heeded when she caught
    A sigh his bosom breathed,
    And murmured it again with music wreathed.

    Oh, wasted wealth of love;
    While Echo’s heart will break,
    Narcissus from above,
    Within a glassy lake,
    Beholds perfection lie
    And, for the vision of himself, must die.

    Now, hid in bare-ribbed rock
    With crocus-coloured veins,
    She guards from windy shock,
    She shields from wild March rains,
    Where grass and granite meet,
    The daffodil that’s budding at her feet.


    Oh, naked-footed boy, with the wild hair
    And laughing eyes, is it so long ago
    Among these windy dunes you made your lair,
    Beside the immutable sea’s unwearied ebb and flow?

    Above you sings the horrent bent; the sun
    Finds you and burns your budding limbs to brown;
    You race the waves and wade and leap and run,
    Then in the sweet, hot sand, contented, cuddle down

    You dream great dreams, while all the upper air
    Is musical with mews; and round about,
    Upon the flats among the sea-ways there,
    The dim sea-lavender spreads her purple fingers out.

    And still the sandhills roll and still the sea
    Flings a straight line of everlasting blue
    Athwart their shining hillocks; solemnly
    The ships go by, but not the wondrous ships you knew.

    When first your path among the sand dunes fell--
    The dunes that stretched as now and shone of yore
    In their bright nakedness--a magic spell
    Of mystery they wove along the shining shore.

    This poppy with the horn, this bindweed white
    And salicornia in its crimson bands
    Meant more, far more than beauty and delight:
    They stood for treasure torn from drowning pirates’ hands.

    These amber weeds were then a garment brave;
    These agate stones were gems of splendid size
    Once decked a mermaid in a deep sea cave,
    Lit by gigantic fish from their green, glimmering eyes.

    The sandhills were your giants, cruel or kind;
    Each falling billow told another tale;
    Fairies and goblins flew upon the wind;
    There lurked a tragedy in every sea-bird’s wail.

    And now the watchful sea doth bid me say;
    The salt air whispers me to speak and tell
    Where is that little boy from yesterday
    Whom wind and wave and sand and sunshine knew so well?

    "He was our playmate; us he understood
    And ran to us with glory in his eyes;
    We loved him and we wrought to work his good;
    We made him strong and brave and with our wisdom wise.

    "Will he not come again?  The flowerets small
    Have opened for his eager hands once more;
    Among the yellow whins the linnets call,
    The wrack and shells he sought still drift along the shore.

    "He climbed the crests of all our ridges grey
    And sang to us and paddled where our foam
    Thins to a crystal film.  But yesterday
    A happy sprite was he; where now does our boy roam?

    "Deep of the many voices, on whose face
    No seal is set through all the centuries fled,
    Laugh on at time, nor know the hurricane race
    Of his few, hurtling years above a human head.

    "And thou, old dune; the stars of heaven shall rove,
    The galaxies break up to wheel about
    And in new, glittering constellations move
    Before thine hour-glass grey hath run its measure out.

    "Your yesterday, you immemorial things,
    Whereon the ages yet no shadow cast,
    For me the hurrying and sleepless wings
    Of year on stormy year have swept into the past.

    "Yet think not I have lost that faith and joy
    Felt when my world was young and I a part.
    Oh, sea and sand and wild, west wind, your boy
    Lies hidden safe within my steadfast, changeless heart."


    Night-foundered to the ruin he came
    Nor recked of its uncanny fame;
    A haunt of slumber opened here,
    And weariness, that casts out fear,
    His footsteps led.
    The moon swam low; the woods were still;
    Dog foxes barked upon the hill;
    With zig-zag wing a flitter-mouse
    Flew in and out the haunted house
    And overhead.

    Within, decaying wood and lime
    Lifted their incense up to time;
    The foot fell hollow; echoes woke,
    And whispering, half-heard voices spoke
    Behind the dark.
    Aloft, the drowsy wanderer found
    A chamber far above the ground;
    Whose casement, rusty-ironed and high,
    Gaped ivy-clad upon the sky,
    Starlit and stark.

    White-fingered now the moonbeams ran
    To ripple on the resting man.
    He saw their stealthy silver creep
    As it would drown him in his sleep
    With splendour mild.
    And then a subtle shadow moved,
    A spirit that the dead had loved:
    For wanly limned against the gloom
    Of that forbid, forgotten room
    There ran a child.

    She twinkled in her candid shift,
    Light as a moth, so silent, swift,
    And peeped and peered for what might be
    Hid in that ancient nursery--
    A babe of joy.
    But something called the busy wight:
    She faded sudden from his sight;
    And, as her little glimmer paled
    Like a glass bell, the ghostling wailed,
    "Where is my toy?"



    "I’ll bring bright rainbow gold--
    The rainbow too, a gown for you
    In glorious fold on fold.

    "A necklace of white stars
    About your throat shall hang and gloat;
    And, for an ear-ring, Mars.

    "Unto the ends of earth,
    Oh, dearest Heart, will I depart
    To glean their utmost worth.

    "Until, with great amaze
    At all I do, my Soul, for you,
    The good round world shall gaze!"


    "But these are gifts of dust,
    Unfit to prove a hero’s love
    Or win a maiden’s trust.

    "To love’s supreme degree
    If you would come, then bide at home
    And never tire of me."


    When I have won to rest once more
    In sanctity of night and sleep,
    Drift visions from the shadow shore--
    Small, patient forms that creep.
    They move in drab; they wear no wings;
    They are the dreams that might come true--
    Meek phantoms of the modest things
    That I have power to do.

    Like azure shadows in the snow,
    Or bloom upon the sun-kissed grape,
    Sweep lovelier shapes, that gleam and glow
    And don a rarer shape.
    They smile with eyes of queens and kings;
    They call on me to make them true--
    The lordly, gracious, sovereign things
    I have no power to do.

    Remain such waking dreams as limn
    Upon reality and truth,
    Flying like holy seraphim
    Whose rainbow wings drop ruth.
    Born of the human sorrowings
    That pierce our common nature through,
    They challenge to the mightiest things
    All men have power to do.


    An’ it should be you’d make,
    All for your sweetheart’s joy,
    A jewelly fire-drake,
    This goes unto the toy:
    A dragon-fly that’s blue,
    With little glow-worms two,
    And morning drops of dew
    Upon a spider’s thread.

    All these are simple things
    And easy to be got,
    But now the fire-drake’s wings
    Will puzzle you, God wot.
    The flash that in them lies
    Shall come not from the skies,
    But lights the diamond eyes
    In your dear sweetheart’s head.

    Lacking that pearly gleam,
    So magical to see,
    Your gift is but a dream:
    The fire-drake cannot be.
    But if the maiden pout
    And anger peepeth out,
    Ere she your heart would flout
    Fly to the priest and wed.

    Better to love she turn
    At her fond lover’s side
    Than for the fire-drake burn
    And ever be denied.
    Go husband and go wife,
    Without one thought of strife,
    In blessing of shared life
    The marriage way to tread.


    In far away and olden times
    Sped from their hamlet seven maids
    To dim and moonlit heather glades,
    Upon the hour of midnight chimes.
    One passion drew them secretly;
    One master joy their little feet
    Called to that desolate retreat,
    Where never mortal man might see.
    ’Twas blue-eyed Dian who led the dance,
    With Linnette, Bethkin, Jennifer,
    Avisa, Petronell and Nance.

    Unknown they kept their nightly cheer;
    Unguessed beneath the moon they kept
    Brave frolic, while the village slept,
    Nor dreamed the danger drawing near;
    For on a holy Sabbath even,
    When pirouette had been a shame,
    Walking sedate, strange music came
    To tempt the toes of all the seven--
    Of blue-eyed Dian, who led the dance,
    Of Linnette, Bethkin, Jennifer,
    Avisa, Petronell and Nance.

    The demon Piper tuned his reed
    To madden each light-footed maid.
    They listened, wondering, unafraid,
    Nor thought upon the sorry speed
    Awaiting any wanton one
    Who’d sport upon the Lord’s own Day;
    Then, tripping through that dimpsy grey,
    Quick fingers joined--the deed was done!
    For blue-eyed Dian had dared to dance
    With Linnette, Bethkin, Jennifer,
    Avisa, Petronell and Nance.

    Their eyes like emeralds through the gloom,
    Leapt elves and fairies, gnomes and imps,
    In fearful haste to win a glimpse
    Of the unhappy maidens’ doom;
    For sudden rang a thunder-shock
    And flashed blue lightning-fork, to show
    Beneath its grim and baleful glow,
    Each flying girl turned to a rock!
    Alas for Dian, who led the dance,
    For Linnette, Bethkin, Jennifer,
    Avisa, Petronell and Nance.

    And now, at every Hunter’s moon,
    That haggard cirque of stones so still
    Awakens to immortal thrill,
    And seven small maids in silver shoon,
    ’Twixt dark of night and white of day,
    Twinkle upon the sere, old heath,
    Like living blossoms in a wreath,
    Then shrink again to granite grey.
    So blue-eyed Dian shall ever dance
    With Linnette, Bethkin, Jennifer,
    Avisa, Petronell and Nance.


    Where leaps the burn by granite stairs
    Into an eddying pool, he stood,
    Personifying solitude
    And meditating his affairs.

    A bird august beyond belief
    Distinguished in his way of thought,
    Yet the sworn enemy of sport--
    A "poacher," "vagabond," and "thief."

    Creation’s lord, the heron knew,
    Denied his right to fish for trout--
    A fact that often made him doubt
    Of justice on a general view.

    Then me he saw, and, guessing not
    I held him innocent to be,
    He spread slow pinions heavily
    And drifted to a lonelier spot;

    But left a feather by the stream,
    Deep in the plume, fair, silver grey,
    With which I’ll write upon the day:
    "Live and let live" shall be my theme.


    A grief came unto me at noon of night
    Blown on a breath of silky, southern air
    With scent of myrtles and a crown of light
    For aureole: vanished loveliness was there
    And old, lost, magical things, all gracious and all rare.

    Wings of cloud-purple from the Inland Sea,
    Foam-tipped, my Grief outspread; the southern sun
    Burned for a diadem, and mystery,
    From the dim smoke of olive orchards won,
    Arrayed that delicate shape in silver they had spun.

    How little, little ’twixt our joy and woe!
    Not sorrow then, but glad epiphanies
    Of treasured happiness from long ago,
    Had been my dreaming; but in bitter wise
    The Grief looked on my face with a dead woman’s eyes.


    The tide fell fast and foaming, the empty sand shone bright,
    And by the ocean roaming, upon the edge of night,
    I found a something stranded with sea-fowl mewing high--
    A wondrous atom landed and left all high and dry.

    Whoever yet suspected mer-babies on a beach?
    Yet here, by tide neglected, lay one within my reach--
    A dainty, winsome creature as pink as any rose,
    His golden tail a feature to take the place of toes.

    And through the billows splashing, the sunset in her hair,
    Over the white foam flashing, there rode a lady fair.
    His blue-eyed, wild mer-mother swam wailing on the sea.
    She sparkled through the smother and clamoured mournfully.

    In gentle hands and steady, I lifted her delight,
    Made sure that she was ready, then flung with all my might.
    She sprang, like salmon leaping; she laughed in radiant
    And gathered to safe keeping her rosy, golden boy.

    I’d earned a mother’s blessing--a good thing any day;
    But now one fell to guessing what Science had to say:
    For such authentic wonders, upon an ebbing tide,
    Show zoologic blunders that cannot be denied.


    An owl alighted in the yew
    Beside a poet’s little house;
    The hour was nearly half-past two,
    And, as he ate his juicy mouse,
    A cuckoo clock made cheerful chime
    Within and shouted out the time.

    "O gracious God!" the owl began,
    And rolled his round eyes at the moon,
    "What a black piece of work is man--
    Well might we miss cuckoo in June.
    How mad, misguided, inhumane
    To keep cuckoo upon a chain!

    "But all the feathered folk must know;
    This infamy I’ll bring to light,
    And hoot the horror high and low
    And scream the crime by day and night.
    No bird shall sing to him again
    Who keeps a cuckoo on a chain."


    The sickle moon is in the west
    And where, against the fading green,
    A thicket darkles shall be seen
    The humming chafers on their quest.
    Come, leather-bird, rise up and gird!

    Round sunset eaves there boom again
    Great beetles on their sharded wings
    And many air-borne lesser things
    Are tapping at the window pane.
    Come, flitter-mouse, and haunt my house.

    But where the stygian water broods,
    Dim twilight homes for evermore,
    And bats beat up the dusky shore
    For white, ghost-moths in phantom woods.
    Come, pipistrelle, be off to hell.


    Beyond the sun, beside a crystal sea
    She ruled her isle of lapis lazuli.
    Her palaces of marble, agate, jade
    Rose like a sheaf of savage flowers and laid
    A splendour on the waves that only night could fade.

    And for her nameless sins and cruelties,
    Murders of love-mad men and lusts and lies,
    Her sentence fell and she was swept away
    From flaming pomps and crimes and royal sway,
    Hurled from the joy of life, rapt from the light of day.

    Yet, being fairest far and loveliest
    Of any in a woman’s body drest,
    Fate banished not her beauty from the earth--
    Only her evil happiness and mirth,
    And left her living dead, doomed to eternal dearth.

    The Shadows that do mould our destiny
    Willed her a moon-moth evermore to be--
    Woman and insect one in mingled state,
    A chimera without a peer, or mate,
    To ancient Night inscribed and Darkness dedicate.

    By day she sleeps, even as the vampires sleep,
    Behind her sombre wings, that fold and keep
    Her body’s glory hidden: they are brown,
    Grizzled and amber, jagged and slashed adown
    With faded serecloth grey--a winding-sheet for gown.

    And while she hides within some tawny brake
    Her shard but echoes the dead leaf and snake,
    Where, tranced in slumber, through the long day’s prime
    Her motley coverings harmonious chime
    With sad, crepuscular shades in dusky, twilight rhyme.

    Invisible thus; but when returning night
    Drowns with a purple torrent all the light,
    She rises woman high and spreads her wing,
    A rare, unparagoned, unearthly thing
    Beyond the dream of joy or grief’s imagining.

    Upon her head two radiant feathery rays
    Of crocus fire flash upward; but the gaze
    From her dim, poisonous, and anguished eyes
    Throbs out with passionate, violet miseries,
    In hate that never fades and woe that never dies.

    Her body, like the heart of a white rose,
    Shines in the petals of her wings and glows;
    Her pinions--azure, lilac, marigold--
    Wide on the dark deliciously unfold
    As any rainbow bright, as any glacier cold.

    Lit with her own and inner gleam, she shines
    Like a low meteor through the lians and vines,
    Flies upward high beyond the forest towers,
    Then swoops and hawks along night-hidden bowers,
    To hang on murmuring plumes and drink the livid flowers.

    Most fair, most foul, at Moira’s stern decree
    The radiant monster wanders wretchedly
    Haunting each strand and isle of that lone shore
    Where never human eye may see her more,
    Or sentient soul delight and tremble and adore.

    Yet deep in dreams I often faintly hear,
    Like a sad wind that strokes my sleeping ear,
    By fairy waters of that far lagoon,
    The moon-moth wailing, wailing to the moon
    Through many a silver night at hour of plenilune.


    When red sun fox steals down the sky,
    And darkness dims the heavens high,
    There leap again upon his tracks
    The eager, starry, hunting packs.
      They glitter, glitter, gold and green,
      With sparks of frosty fire between,
      And Dian bright as day;
      While in the gloaming, far below,
      Brown owl doth shout "Hi!  Tally Ho!
      Sun fox hath gone away!"

    To music of the spheres they sweep
    Over the western world asleep;
    Then in the east, with sudden rush,
      Sun fox shall whisk his white-tipped brush.
      The field is fading, gold and green,
      With sparks of frosty fire between,
      And Dian growing grey;
      While morning leaps the hither hill
      And herald lark shouts with a will,
      "Sun fox hath gone away!"

    Oh, Huntress fond and silly stars--
    White Venus, fiery, futile Mars,
    In vain your pack ye whirl and cast
    Upon the marches of the vast;
      In vain ye glitter, gold and green,
      With sparks of frosty fire between,
      And Dian’s arrows fly
      In silver shafts of broken light;
      For ne’er shall day be caught by night,
      And sun fox cannot die.


    When you were born, a shooting star did sunder
    The nightly void, and flashed to earth and brought
    Endowment of rare magic and sweet wonder
    And gifts beyond your mother’s highest thought.

    Oh, blessed be your soul of cheerfulness,
    Your mind content and steadfast set, to hold
    Such level journeying through storm and stress
    Of life’s rough weather and hope’s heat and cold.

    You come, a restful breath of evening wind
    Upon the parched day, and cannot see
    Your winning humour hearten many a mind
    Where you bestow yourself unconsciously.

    Never the violet her own fragrance knew:
    Even such a flowery innocent are you.


    Under the silver thatch, where dwells my love,
    About her dormer window, in the straw,
    The sparrows build, and with their morning talk
    Often awaken her.

    And by the lattice climbs a crimson rose,
    Who, if he could but see my dinky dear,
    Before her loveliness, so wonderful,
    Would pale with jealousy.

    When the first glow of honeysuckle dawn
    Cuddles her cottage in the dayspring light,
    I pass upon my woodland road to work
    And whistle as I come.

    And if she hear me and twinkle out of bed
    To wave a kiss, then all my toil goes well;
    But if she heed me not, for weariness,
    How long the working day!


    Owlet sat, so quiet and good,
    At the edge of Yarner Wood,
    While a mother owl hard by
    Sought his supper silently.

    Sudden came two hideous screams,
    Wakened owlet from his dreams;
    Down the road, on unseen wing,
    Swept a vast and awful thing.

    Twice he heard the monster shriek,
    Saw its head and shining beak
    Twixt huge eyes, that burned the night,
    Brighter than the moon was bright.

    Hooting horribly it fled--
    Where the water-meadows spread.
    "He will catch," thought owlet now,
    "That red thing they call the cow."

    Came his parent presently:
    Heard him squeak with fearful glee,
    "Mother dear, I’ve seen and heard
    Such a devil of a bird!"


    While all alone I wandered
    At even by the sea,
    Where winds and water pondered
    Of how they came to be;
    Where kittiwakes were crying
    And salty spindrift flying
    Through daylight slowly dying
    A Shape confronted me.

    She faced the broad Atlantic--
    That maid of stately mien,
    Purer than foam, gigantic
    As Amazonian Queen.
    Her billowy robe, unknowing,
    How wild the wind was blowing,
    Showed not a throb or flowing,
    Hung steady and serene.

    It was no fellow being
    For she stood ten feet high,
    And seaward gazed, unseeing
    The human passer-by;
    But only billows roaming,
    And wide-winged sea-fowl homing
    Through crepuscule and gloaming
    Beneath an ashen sky.

    The spectre rose before me
    Most woeful, wan and white
    Upon that foreshore stormy
    Between the day and night;
    And such an apparition
    In this unique position,
    Despite her sad condition
    Awoke my wild delight.

    Then came three youthful creatures,
    And them I bade with awe
    Behold the mournful features
    Of phantom on the shore.
    They laughed and said she’d drifted
    To land with bosom rifted--
    A figure-head uplifted
    From wreck of "Margery Dawe."

    They dared, those sea-scout shavers
    Who watched this lonely coast,
    Assert in treble quavers
    We stood before a post;
    They treated as a fiction
    My gratified conviction
    That, in her pale affliction,
    We’d met a salt-sea ghost!

    Thus hard-eyed youth advances
    By shadowless, stark way
    Our middle-aged romances
    To slight and scorn and slay;
    Our make-believe to tatter;
    Our gallant dreams to scatter;
    To flout our faiths and shatter
    Our twilight in their day.


    A drop of fire from a flying sun--
    Sing, old stars, the World’s begun.

    An ocean warm where electrons strive--
    Sing, old stars, the World’s alive.

    Age upon age and link upon link--
    Shout, old stars, the World can think.

    War’s red knife hisses home to the haft--
    Mourn, old stars, the World runs daft.

    Reason and Love shall conquer and reign--
    Sing, old stars, the World grows sane.

    Liberty, Liberty, Liberty!
    Shout, old stars, the World is free.


    When shepherd darkness folds the fading day
    And faints the West beneath the world’s wide brim,
    There stands a brotherhood, remote and dim,
    Of cowled and hooded wights rolled up in granite grey.

    Spirits of dusk from out a far-off prime
    Beyond the shadowy pale of bygone eld,
    Immutable and constant and unquelled,
    They hold their everlasting state and tryst with Time.

    These stones have seen the red-eyed wolf pack throng
    To slay the fleeting elk upon the waste,
    And they have marked the cave bear’s clumsy haste,
    Shuffling great golden furse and ragged rocks among.

    O cirque, what meanest thou?  Sepulchral lore,
    Or ritual of the quick?  Did thirsty god
    Drink blood of sacrifice upon this sod?
    Art thou a temple wrought for deities of yore?

    What dread, what joy, what Neolithic rule,
    What shouts of agony or pæans of praise
    Awoke, ye stones, the morning of your days?
    They answer not, but seek the shadowy crepuscule.

    The Stone Man lifted them; his hairy hand
    They felt and knew, when Night’s eternal brow
    Gleamed with another diadem than now
    Ere Egypt’s mountain graves pressed on the desert sand.

    Bowed but enduring, Time hath failed to break
    That emblem of eternity they trace
    Upon the bosom of this desolate place;
    And holy shall it be for their most ancient sake.

    They have withdrawn upon the unseen light
    Of immemorial time; the vanished past
    Receives them once again to haunt her vast--
    A sanctity beyond wild Chaos and old Night.


    When that I went, a little lad, to school--
    One half a cherub and one half a fool--
    The weary pedant dinned upon my ears
    That all the world is but two hemispheres.

    Maybe I doubted then, for I was born
    To laugh the wisdom of the wise to scorn;
    But now, indeed, most surely it appears
    That all the world is but two hemispheres.


    A cone of dust is dancing at the lane end,
    Caught from the surface of the thirsty trackway
    And dropped again, into annihilation,
    By gusts from nowhere.

    Upon the wheel of little whirlwind moulded,
    It billows in a wreath of spiral beauty,
    But, swifter than the smoke of fire dislimning,
    Endures no longer.

    So I, intrinsical one slippery moment
    Share with my brief, grey brother at the lane end
    His buffet into being, then, unfettered,
    A like dismissal.

    Dust of the cosmos, you alone eternal
    Immutable behind a myriad garments,
    Your stars grow ripe upon the boughs of heaven;
    But you bate nothing.

    All one to you the forms and the reforming,
    The fashion of the man, or mouse, or mountain:
    So order be declared and conquered chaos
    Dethroned for ever.


    When flitter-mice with zigzag flight
    Specked the green sky at twilight dim;
    When the wise bird from out the brim
    Of forest darkness to the light
    Floated and perched upon a height,
    With mellow voice to welcome night;

    When day was stolen from the dale
    To leave, where little river goes,
    One farewell, dusky gleam of rose;
    When down the purple of the vale
    A wingèd beetle boomed his tale
    And night-moth drank from night-flow’r pale;

    When grey churn-owl within a glade
    Purred through the gloaming, till the sky
    Throbbed with his goblin melody;
    When, by her stone, the glow-worm played
    And with an emerald lamp betrayed
    The new-born dew-drops on the blade;

    When young Night’s self in starry dress
    Came timid to her throne again--
    Sweet anodyne for dead day’s pain
    And fire and wound and fevered stress--
    With heart to soothe and will to bless,
    Then how I loved her loveliness!


    Jill Bassett, she was dancing mad,
    And any lad
    Who’d win that most amazing maid
    Must needs be a light-footed blade.

    So said the folk; but I had pelf,
    And when the elf
    Found she might reign at Chadley Wood,
    Though I weren’t young, she thought it good.

    She danced into my arms, and then,
    Along of men
    And some harsh words I’d got to say,
    One autumn time she danced away.

    She vanished, like a bow on rain,
    And, to be plain,
    I didn’t feel no mighty wrench
    Nor much bewail the giglet wench.

    Then came a bit of funny news
    From Billy Bewes:
    He’d seen the wretch at Christmas time
    Dancing in Plymouth pantomime!

    For five good year no more was heard
    Of the rash bird;
    Then danced she back; but not to I:
    Her mother took her in to die.

    Her breathing parts was nearly gone,
    Her dancing done.
    She wilted, like a davered rose;
    But I forgave her at the close.

    With Bassett folk they dug her pit;
    It wasn’t fit
    That she should lie where I shall go:
    Her mother granted that was so.

    Then, passing New Year’s night, I saw
    Upon the hoar
    Of moony frost in churchyard ground
    The woman dancing on her mound!

    I’ll take my oath afore my God
    She swept the sod
    With naked feet and showed her charms
    And twirled about her twinkling arms.

    A brace of owls that saw her too
    Made their hulloo,
    To which she danced so wondrous brave
    Over the silver on her grave.

    Mayhap the cold got in her bones
    Under the stones,
    And up the wilful ghostey came
    To warm herself at her old game.

    And I was on my hoss’s back--
    I’d had my whack,
    But only just the usual three,
    And no man ever doubted me.


    At turn of night the wild geese fly
    And waken drowsy wonder
    Beneath their wingèd thunder;
    Then silence falls again,
    Until the homing barn-owls cry
    And ring with hollow laughter,
    From ivy-tod and rafter,
    The farm upon the plain.

    The lark’s aloft, a bead of gold;
    While yet the earth lies darkling,
    His little body’s sparkling:
    The sun has risen for him.
    A dotted track on dew-grey fold
    The weary fox is leaving;
    I hear the plovers peeving;
    The morning star grows dim.

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