Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Satires of Circumstance, Lyrics and Reveries, with Miscellaneous Pieces
Author: Hardy, Thomas
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 "Satires of Circumstance, Lyrics and Reveries, with Miscellaneous Pieces" ***

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



Transcribed from the 1919 Macmillan and Co. edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org

                          [Picture: Book cover]



                                 SATIRES
                             OF CIRCUMSTANCE
                           LYRICS AND REVERIES
                        WITH MISCELLANEOUS PIECES


                                * * * * *

                                    BY
                               THOMAS HARDY

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                        MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
                       ST. MARTIN’S STREET, LONDON
                                   1919

                                * * * * *

                                COPYRIGHT

                           _First Edition_ 1914
                          _Reprinted_ 1915, 1919
                          _Pocket Edition_ 1919

                                * * * * *



CONTENTS

LYRICS AND REVERIES—                                              PAGE
                  In Front of the Landscape                          3
                  Channel Firing                                     7
                  The Convergence of the Twain                       9
                  The Ghost of the Past                             12
                  After the Visit                                   14
                  To Meet, or Otherwise                             16
                  The Difference                                    18
                  The Sun on the Bookcase                           19
                  “When I set out for Lyonnesse”                    20
                  A Thunderstorm in Town                            21
                  The Torn Letter                                   22
                  Beyond the Last Lamp                              25
                  The Face at the Casement                          27
                  Lost Love                                         30
                  “My spirit will not haunt the mound”              31
                  Wessex Heights                                    32
                  In Death divided                                  35
                  The Place on the Map                              37
                  Where the Picnic was                              39
                  The Schreckhorn                                   41
                  A Singer asleep                                   42
                  A Plaint to Man                                   45
                  God’s Funeral                                     47
                  Spectres that grieve                              52
                  “Ah, are you digging on my grave?”                54
SATIRES OF CIRCUMSTANCE—
                  I.         At Tea                                 59
                  II.        In Church                              60
                  III.       By her Aunt’s Grave                    61
                  IV.        In the Room of the Bride-elect         62
                  V.         At the Watering-place                  63
                  VI.        In the Cemetery                        64
                  VII.       Outside the Window                     65
                  VIII.      In the Study                           66
                  IX.        At the Altar-rail                      67
                  X.         In the Nuptial Chamber                 68
                  XI.        In the Restaurant                      69
                  XII.       At the Draper’s                        70
                  XIII.      On the Death-bed                       71
                  XIV.       Over the Coffin                        72
                  XV.        In the Moonlight                       73
LYRICS AND REVERIES (_continued_)—
                  Self-unconscious                                  77
                  The Discovery                                     80
                  Tolerance                                         81
                  Before and after Summer                           82
                  At Day-close in November                          83
                  The Year’s Awakening                              84
                  Under the Waterfall                               85
                  The Spell of the Rose                             88
                  St. Launce’s revisited                            90
POEMS OF 1912–13–
                  The Going                                         95
                  Your Last Drive                                   97
                  The Walk                                          99
                  Rain on a Grace                                  100
                  “I found her out there”                          102
                  Without Ceremony                                 104
                  Lament                                           105
                  The Haunter                                      107
                  The Voice                                        109
                  His Visitor                                      110
                  A Circular                                       112
                  A Dream or No                                    113
                  After a Journey                                  115
                  A Death-ray recalled                             117
                  Beeny Cliff                                      119
                  At Castle Boterel                                121
                  Places                                           123
                  The Phantom Horsewoman                           125
MISCELLANEOUS PIECES—
                  The Wistful Lady                                 129
                  The Woman in the Rye                             131
                  The Cheval-Glass                                 132
                  The Re-enactment                                 134
                  Her Secret                                       140
                  “She charged me”                                 141
                  The Newcomer’s Wife                              142
                  A Conversation at Dawn                           143
                  A King’s Soliloquy                               152
                  The Coronation                                   154
                  Aquae Sulis                                      157
                  Seventy-four and Twenty                          160
                  The Elopement                                    161
                  “I rose up as my custom is”                      163
                  A Week                                           165
                  Had you wept                                     167
                  Bereft, she thinks she dreams                    169
                  In the British Museum                            170
                  In the Servants’ Quarters                        172
                  The Obliterate Tomb                              175
                  “Regret not me”                                  183
                  The Recalcitrants                                185
                  Starlings on the Roof                            186
                  The Moon looks in                                187
                  The Sweet Hussy                                  188
                  The Telegram                                     189
                  The Moth-signal                                  191
                  Seen by the Waits                                193
                  The Two Soldiers                                 194
                  The Death of Regret                              195
                  In the Days of Crinoline                         197
                  The Roman Gravemounds                            199
                  The Workbox                                      201
                  The Sacrilege                                    203
                  The Abbey Mason                                  210
                  The Jubilee of a Magazine                        222
                  The Satin Shoes                                  224
                  Exeunt Omnes                                     227
                  A Poet                                           228
POSTSCRIPT—
                  “Men who march away”                             229



LYRICS AND REVERIES


IN FRONT OF THE LANDSCAPE


   PLUNGING and labouring on in a tide of visions,
      Dolorous and dear,
   Forward I pushed my way as amid waste waters
      Stretching around,
   Through whose eddies there glimmered the customed landscape
      Yonder and near,

   Blotted to feeble mist.  And the coomb and the upland
      Foliage-crowned,
   Ancient chalk-pit, milestone, rills in the grass-flat
      Stroked by the light,
   Seemed but a ghost-like gauze, and no substantial
      Meadow or mound.

   What were the infinite spectacles bulking foremost
      Under my sight,
   Hindering me to discern my paced advancement
      Lengthening to miles;
   What were the re-creations killing the daytime
      As by the night?

   O they were speechful faces, gazing insistent,
      Some as with smiles,
   Some as with slow-born tears that brinily trundled
      Over the wrecked
   Cheeks that were fair in their flush-time, ash now with anguish,
      Harrowed by wiles.

   Yes, I could see them, feel them, hear them, address them—
      Halo-bedecked—
   And, alas, onwards, shaken by fierce unreason,
      Rigid in hate,
   Smitten by years-long wryness born of misprision,
      Dreaded, suspect.

   Then there would breast me shining sights, sweet seasons
      Further in date;
   Instruments of strings with the tenderest passion
      Vibrant, beside
   Lamps long extinguished, robes, cheeks, eyes with the earth’s crust
      Now corporate.

   Also there rose a headland of hoary aspect
      Gnawed by the tide,
   Frilled by the nimb of the morning as two friends stood there
      Guilelessly glad—
   Wherefore they knew not—touched by the fringe of an ecstasy
      Scantly descried.

   Later images too did the day unfurl me,
      Shadowed and sad,
   Clay cadavers of those who had shared in the dramas,
      Laid now at ease,
   Passions all spent, chiefest the one of the broad brow
      Sepulture-clad.

   So did beset me scenes miscalled of the bygone,
      Over the leaze,
   Past the clump, and down to where lay the beheld ones;
      —Yea, as the rhyme
   Sung by the sea-swell, so in their pleading dumbness
      Captured me these.

   For, their lost revisiting manifestations
      In their own time
   Much had I slighted, caring not for their purport,
      Seeing behind
   Things more coveted, reckoned the better worth calling
      Sweet, sad, sublime.

   Thus do they now show hourly before the intenser
      Stare of the mind
   As they were ghosts avenging their slights by my bypast
      Body-borne eyes,
   Show, too, with fuller translation than rested upon them
      As living kind.

   Hence wag the tongues of the passing people, saying
      In their surmise,
   “Ah—whose is this dull form that perambulates, seeing nought
      Round him that looms
   Whithersoever his footsteps turn in his farings,
      Save a few tombs?”



CHANNEL FIRING


   THAT night your great guns, unawares,
   Shook all our coffins as we lay,
   And broke the chancel window-squares,
   We thought it was the Judgment-day

   And sat upright.  While drearisome
   Arose the howl of wakened hounds:
   The mouse let fall the altar-crumb,
   The worms drew back into the mounds,

   The glebe cow drooled.  Till God called, “No;
   It’s gunnery practice out at sea
   Just as before you went below;
   The world is as it used to be:

   “All nations striving strong to make
   Red war yet redder.  Mad as hatters
   They do no more for Christés sake
   Than you who are helpless in such matters.

   “That this is not the judgment-hour
   For some of them’s a blessed thing,
   For if it were they’d have to scour
   Hell’s floor for so much threatening . . .

   “Ha, ha.  It will be warmer when
   I blow the trumpet (if indeed
   I ever do; for you are men,
   And rest eternal sorely need).”

   So down we lay again.  “I wonder,
   Will the world ever saner be,”
   Said one, “than when He sent us under
   In our indifferent century!”

   And many a skeleton shook his head.
   “Instead of preaching forty year,”
   My neighbour Parson Thirdly said,
   “I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer.”

   Again the guns disturbed the hour,
   Roaring their readiness to avenge,
   As far inland as Stourton Tower,
   And Camelot, and starlit Stonehenge.

_April_ 1914.



THE CONVERGENCE OF THE TWAIN


                 (_Lines on the loss of the_ “_Titanic_”)

                                    I

      IN a solitude of the sea
      Deep from human vanity,
   And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

                                    II

      Steel chambers, late the pyres
      Of her salamandrine fires,
   Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.

                                   III

      Over the mirrors meant
      To glass the opulent
   The sea-worm crawls—grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.

                                    IV

      Jewels in joy designed
      To ravish the sensuous mind
   Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.

                                    V

      Dim moon-eyed fishes near
      Gaze at the gilded gear
   And query: “What does this vaingloriousness down here?” . . .

                                    VI

      Well: while was fashioning
      This creature of cleaving wing,
   The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything

                                   VII

      Prepared a sinister mate
      For her—so gaily great—
   A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.

                                   VIII

      And as the smart ship grew
      In stature, grace, and hue,
   In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

                                    IX

      Alien they seemed to be:
      No mortal eye could see
   The intimate welding of their later history,

                                    X

      Or sign that they were bent
      By paths coincident
   On being anon twin halves of one august event,

                                    XI

      Till the Spinner of the Years
      Said “Now!”  And each one hears,
   And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.



THE GHOST OF THE PAST


   WE two kept house, the Past and I,
      The Past and I;
   I tended while it hovered nigh,
      Leaving me never alone.
   It was a spectral housekeeping
      Where fell no jarring tone,
   As strange, as still a housekeeping
      As ever has been known.

   As daily I went up the stair
      And down the stair,
   I did not mind the Bygone there—
      The Present once to me;
   Its moving meek companionship
      I wished might ever be,
   There was in that companionship
      Something of ecstasy.

   It dwelt with me just as it was,
      Just as it was
   When first its prospects gave me pause
      In wayward wanderings,
   Before the years had torn old troths
      As they tear all sweet things,
   Before gaunt griefs had torn old troths
      And dulled old rapturings.

   And then its form began to fade,
      Began to fade,
   Its gentle echoes faintlier played
      At eves upon my ear
   Than when the autumn’s look embrowned
      The lonely chambers here,
   The autumn’s settling shades embrowned
      Nooks that it haunted near.

   And so with time my vision less,
      Yea, less and less
   Makes of that Past my housemistress,
      It dwindles in my eye;
   It looms a far-off skeleton
      And not a comrade nigh,
   A fitful far-off skeleton
      Dimming as days draw by.



AFTER THE VISIT
(_To F. E. D._)


      COME again to the place
   Where your presence was as a leaf that skims
   Down a drouthy way whose ascent bedims
      The bloom on the farer’s face.

      Come again, with the feet
   That were light on the green as a thistledown ball,
   And those mute ministrations to one and to all
      Beyond a man’s saying sweet.

      Until then the faint scent
   Of the bordering flowers swam unheeded away,
   And I marked not the charm in the changes of day
      As the cloud-colours came and went.

      Through the dark corridors
   Your walk was so soundless I did not know
   Your form from a phantom’s of long ago
      Said to pass on the ancient floors,

      Till you drew from the shade,
   And I saw the large luminous living eyes
   Regard me in fixed inquiring-wise
      As those of a soul that weighed,

      Scarce consciously,
   The eternal question of what Life was,
   And why we were there, and by whose strange laws
      That which mattered most could not be.



TO MEET, OR OTHERWISE


   WHETHER to sally and see thee, girl of my dreams,
      Or whether to stay
   And see thee not!  How vast the difference seems
      Of Yea from Nay
   Just now.  Yet this same sun will slant its beams
      At no far day
   On our two mounds, and then what will the difference weigh!

   Yet I will see thee, maiden dear, and make
      The most I can
   Of what remains to us amid this brake Cimmerian
   Through which we grope, and from whose thorns we ache,
      While still we scan
   Round our frail faltering progress for some path or plan.

   By briefest meeting something sure is won;
      It will have been:
   Nor God nor Daemon can undo the done,
      Unsight the seen,
   Make muted music be as unbegun,
      Though things terrene
   Groan in their bondage till oblivion supervene.

   So, to the one long-sweeping symphony
      From times remote
   Till now, of human tenderness, shall we
      Supply one note,
   Small and untraced, yet that will ever be
      Somewhere afloat
   Amid the spheres, as part of sick Life’s antidote.



THE DIFFERENCE


                                    I

   SINKING down by the gate I discern the thin moon,
   And a blackbird tries over old airs in the pine,
   But the moon is a sorry one, sad the bird’s tune,
   For this spot is unknown to that Heartmate of mine.

                                    II

   Did my Heartmate but haunt here at times such as now,
   The song would be joyous and cheerful the moon;
   But she will see never this gate, path, or bough,
   Nor I find a joy in the scene or the tune.



THE SUN ON THE BOOKCASE
(_Student’s Love-song_)


   ONCE more the cauldron of the sun
   Smears the bookcase with winy red,
   And here my page is, and there my bed,
   And the apple-tree shadows travel along.
   Soon their intangible track will be run,
      And dusk grow strong
      And they be fled.

   Yes: now the boiling ball is gone,
   And I have wasted another day . . .
   But wasted—_wasted_, do I say?
   Is it a waste to have imaged one
   Beyond the hills there, who, anon,
      My great deeds done
      Will be mine alway?



“WHEN I SET OUT FOR LYONNESSE”


   WHEN I set out for Lyonnesse,
      A hundred miles away,
      The rime was on the spray,
   And starlight lit my lonesomeness
   When I set out for Lyonnesse
      A hundred miles away.

   What would bechance at Lyonnesse
      While I should sojourn there
      No prophet durst declare,
   Nor did the wisest wizard guess
   What would bechance at Lyonnesse
      While I should sojourn there.

   When I came back from Lyonnesse
      With magic in my eyes,
      None managed to surmise
   What meant my godlike gloriousness,
   When I came back from Lyonnesse
      With magic in my eyes.



A THUNDERSTORM IN TOWN
(_A Reminiscence_)


   SHE wore a new “terra-cotta” dress,
   And we stayed, because of the pelting storm,
   Within the hansom’s dry recess,
   Though the horse had stopped; yea, motionless
      We sat on, snug and warm.

   Then the downpour ceased, to my sharp sad pain,
   And the glass that had screened our forms before
   Flew up, and out she sprang to her door:
   I should have kissed her if the rain
      Had lasted a minute more.



THE TORN LETTER


                                    I

   I tore your letter into strips
      No bigger than the airy feathers
      That ducks preen out in changing weathers
   Upon the shifting ripple-tips.

                                    II

   In darkness on my bed alone
      I seemed to see you in a vision,
      And hear you say: “Why this derision
   Of one drawn to you, though unknown?”

                                   III

   Yes, eve’s quick mood had run its course,
      The night had cooled my hasty madness;
      I suffered a regretful sadness
   Which deepened into real remorse.

                                    IV

   I thought what pensive patient days
      A soul must know of grain so tender,
      How much of good must grace the sender
   Of such sweet words in such bright phrase.

                                    V

   Uprising then, as things unpriced
      I sought each fragment, patched and mended;
      The midnight whitened ere I had ended
   And gathered words I had sacrificed.

                                    VI

   But some, alas, of those I threw
      Were past my search, destroyed for ever:
      They were your name and place; and never
   Did I regain those clues to you.

                                   VII

   I learnt I had missed, by rash unheed,
      My track; that, so the Will decided,
      In life, death, we should be divided,
   And at the sense I ached indeed.

                                   VIII

   That ache for you, born long ago,
      Throbs on; I never could outgrow it.
      What a revenge, did you but know it!
   But that, thank God, you do not know.



BEYOND THE LAST LAMP
(Near Tooting Common)


                                    I

   WHILE rain, with eve in partnership,
   Descended darkly, drip, drip, drip,
   Beyond the last lone lamp I passed
      Walking slowly, whispering sadly,
      Two linked loiterers, wan, downcast:
   Some heavy thought constrained each face,
   And blinded them to time and place.

                                    II

   The pair seemed lovers, yet absorbed
   In mental scenes no longer orbed
   By love’s young rays.  Each countenance
      As it slowly, as it sadly
      Caught the lamplight’s yellow glance
   Held in suspense a misery
   At things which had been or might be.

                                   III

   When I retrod that watery way
   Some hours beyond the droop of day,
   Still I found pacing there the twain
      Just as slowly, just as sadly,
      Heedless of the night and rain.
   One could but wonder who they were
   And what wild woe detained them there.

                                    IV

   Though thirty years of blur and blot
   Have slid since I beheld that spot,
   And saw in curious converse there
      Moving slowly, moving sadly
      That mysterious tragic pair,
   Its olden look may linger on—
   All but the couple; they have gone.

                                    V

   Whither?  Who knows, indeed . . . And yet
   To me, when nights are weird and wet,
   Without those comrades there at tryst
      Creeping slowly, creeping sadly,
      That lone lane does not exist.
   There they seem brooding on their pain,
   And will, while such a lane remain.



THE FACE AT THE CASEMENT


      IF ever joy leave
   An abiding sting of sorrow,
   So befell it on the morrow
      Of that May eve . . .

      The travelled sun dropped
   To the north-west, low and lower,
   The pony’s trot grew slower,
      And then we stopped.

      “This cosy house just by
   I must call at for a minute,
   A sick man lies within it
      Who soon will die.

      “He wished to marry me,
   So I am bound, when I drive near him,
   To inquire, if but to cheer him,
      How he may be.”

      A message was sent in,
   And wordlessly we waited,
   Till some one came and stated
      The bulletin.

      And that the sufferer said,
   For her call no words could thank her;
   As his angel he must rank her
      Till life’s spark fled.

      Slowly we drove away,
   When I turned my head, although not
   Called; why so I turned I know not
      Even to this day.

      And lo, there in my view
   Pressed against an upper lattice
   Was a white face, gazing at us
      As we withdrew.

      And well did I divine
   It to be the man’s there dying,
   Who but lately had been sighing
      For her pledged mine.

      Then I deigned a deed of hell;
   It was done before I knew it;
   What devil made me do it
      I cannot tell!

      Yes, while he gazed above,
   I put my arm about her
   That he might see, nor doubt her
      My plighted Love.

      The pale face vanished quick,
   As if blasted, from the casement,
   And my shame and self-abasement
      Began their prick.

      And they prick on, ceaselessly,
   For that stab in Love’s fierce fashion
   Which, unfired by lover’s passion,
      Was foreign to me.

      She smiled at my caress,
   But why came the soft embowment
   Of her shoulder at that moment
      She did not guess.

      Long long years has he lain
   In thy garth, O sad Saint Cleather:
   What tears there, bared to weather,
      Will cleanse that stain!

      Love is long-suffering, brave,
   Sweet, prompt, precious as a jewel;
   But O, too, Love is cruel,
      Cruel as the grave.



LOST LOVE


   I PLAY my sweet old airs—
      The airs he knew
      When our love was true—
      But he does not balk
      His determined walk,
   And passes up the stairs.

   I sing my songs once more,
      And presently hear
      His footstep near
      As if it would stay;
      But he goes his way,
   And shuts a distant door.

   So I wait for another morn
      And another night
      In this soul-sick blight;
      And I wonder much
      As I sit, why such
   A woman as I was born!



“MY SPIRIT WILL NOT HAUNT THE MOUND”


   MY spirit will not haunt the mound
      Above my breast,
   But travel, memory-possessed,
   To where my tremulous being found
      Life largest, best.

   My phantom-footed shape will go
      When nightfall grays
   Hither and thither along the ways
   I and another used to know
      In backward days.

   And there you’ll find me, if a jot
      You still should care
   For me, and for my curious air;
   If otherwise, then I shall not,
      For you, be there.



WESSEX HEIGHTS (1896)


   THERE are some heights in Wessex, shaped as if by a kindly hand
   For thinking, dreaming, dying on, and at crises when I stand,
   Say, on Ingpen Beacon eastward, or on Wylls-Neck westwardly,
   I seem where I was before my birth, and after death may be.

   In the lowlands I have no comrade, not even the lone man’s friend—
   Her who suffereth long and is kind; accepts what he is too weak to
   mend:
   Down there they are dubious and askance; there nobody thinks as I,
   But mind-chains do not clank where one’s next neighbour is the sky.

   In the towns I am tracked by phantoms having weird detective ways—
   Shadows of beings who fellowed with myself of earlier days:
   They hang about at places, and they say harsh heavy things—
   Men with a frigid sneer, and women with tart disparagings.

   Down there I seem to be false to myself, my simple self that was,
   And is not now, and I see him watching, wondering what crass cause
   Can have merged him into such a strange continuator as this,
   Who yet has something in common with himself, my chrysalis.

   I cannot go to the great grey Plain; there’s a figure against the
   moon,
   Nobody sees it but I, and it makes my breast beat out of tune;
   I cannot go to the tall-spired town, being barred by the forms now
   passed
   For everybody but me, in whose long vision they stand there fast.

   There’s a ghost at Yell’ham Bottom chiding loud at the fall of the
   night,
   There’s a ghost in Froom-side Vale, thin lipped and vague, in a shroud
   of white,
   There is one in the railway-train whenever I do not want it near,
   I see its profile against the pane, saying what I would not hear.

   As for one rare fair woman, I am now but a thought of hers,
   I enter her mind and another thought succeeds me that she prefers;
   Yet my love for her in its fulness she herself even did not know;
   Well, time cures hearts of tenderness, and now I can let her go.

   So I am found on Ingpen Beacon, or on Wylls-Neck to the west,
   Or else on homely Bulbarrow, or little Pilsdon Crest,
   Where men have never cared to haunt, nor women have walked with me,
   And ghosts then keep their distance; and I know some liberty.



IN DEATH DIVIDED


                                    I

      I SHALL rot here, with those whom in their day
         You never knew,
      And alien ones who, ere they chilled to clay,
         Met not my view,
   Will in your distant grave-place ever neighbour you.

                                    II

      No shade of pinnacle or tree or tower,
         While earth endures,
      Will fall on my mound and within the hour
         Steal on to yours;
   One robin never haunt our two green covertures.

                                   III

      Some organ may resound on Sunday noons
         By where you lie,
      Some other thrill the panes with other tunes
         Where moulder I;
   No selfsame chords compose our common lullaby.

                                    IV

      The simply-cut memorial at my head
         Perhaps may take
      A Gothic form, and that above your bed
         Be Greek in make;
   No linking symbol show thereon for our tale’s sake.

                                    V

      And in the monotonous moils of strained, hard-run
         Humanity,
      The eternal tie which binds us twain in one
         No eye will see
   Stretching across the miles that sever you from me.



THE PLACE ON THE MAP


                                    I

      I LOOK upon the map that hangs by me—
   Its shires and towns and rivers lined in varnished artistry—
      And I mark a jutting height
   Coloured purple, with a margin of blue sea.

                                    II

      —’Twas a day of latter summer, hot and dry;
   Ay, even the waves seemed drying as we walked on, she and I,
      By this spot where, calmly quite,
   She informed me what would happen by and by.

                                   III

      This hanging map depicts the coast and place,
   And resuscitates therewith our unexpected troublous case
      All distinctly to my sight,
   And her tension, and the aspect of her face.

                                    IV

      Weeks and weeks we had loved beneath that blazing blue,
   Which had lost the art of raining, as her eyes to-day had too,
      While she told what, as by sleight,
   Shot our firmament with rays of ruddy hue.

                                    V

      For the wonder and the wormwood of the whole
   Was that what in realms of reason would have joyed our double soul
      Wore a torrid tragic light
   Under order-keeping’s rigorous control.

                                    VI

      So, the map revives her words, the spot, the time,
   And the thing we found we had to face before the next year’s prime;
      The charted coast stares bright,
   And its episode comes back in pantomime.



WHERE THE PICNIC WAS


   WHERE we made the fire,
   In the summer time,
   Of branch and briar
   On the hill to the sea
   I slowly climb
   Through winter mire,
   And scan and trace
   The forsaken place
   Quite readily.

   Now a cold wind blows,
   And the grass is gray,
   But the spot still shows
   As a burnt circle—aye,
   And stick-ends, charred,
   Still strew the sward
   Whereon I stand,
   Last relic of the band
   Who came that day!

   Yes, I am here
   Just as last year,
   And the sea breathes brine
   From its strange straight line
   Up hither, the same
   As when we four came.
   —But two have wandered far
   From this grassy rise
   Into urban roar
   Where no picnics are,
   And one—has shut her eyes
   For evermore.



THE SCHRECKHORN
(_With thoughts of Leslie Stephen_)
(June 1897)


   ALOOF, as if a thing of mood and whim;
   Now that its spare and desolate figure gleams
   Upon my nearing vision, less it seems
   A looming Alp-height than a guise of him
   Who scaled its horn with ventured life and limb,
   Drawn on by vague imaginings, maybe,
   Of semblance to his personality
   In its quaint glooms, keen lights, and rugged trim.

   At his last change, when Life’s dull coils unwind,
   Will he, in old love, hitherward escape,
   And the eternal essence of his mind
   Enter this silent adamantine shape,
   And his low voicing haunt its slipping snows
   When dawn that calls the climber dyes them rose?



A SINGER ASLEEP
(_Algernon Charles Swinburne_, 1837–1909)


                                    I

   In this fair niche above the unslumbering sea,
   That sentrys up and down all night, all day,
   From cove to promontory, from ness to bay,
      The Fates have fitly bidden that he should be Pillowed eternally.

                                    II

   —It was as though a garland of red roses
   Had fallen about the hood of some smug nun
   When irresponsibly dropped as from the sun,
   In fulth of numbers freaked with musical closes,
   Upon Victoria’s formal middle time
      His leaves of rhythm and rhyme.

                                   III

   O that far morning of a summer day
   When, down a terraced street whose pavements lay
   Glassing the sunshine into my bent eyes,
   I walked and read with a quick glad surprise
      New words, in classic guise,—

                                    IV

   The passionate pages of his earlier years,
   Fraught with hot sighs, sad laughters, kisses, tears;
   Fresh-fluted notes, yet from a minstrel who
   Blew them not naïvely, but as one who knew
      Full well why thus he blew.

                                    V

   I still can hear the brabble and the roar
   At those thy tunes, O still one, now passed through
   That fitful fire of tongues then entered new!
   Their power is spent like spindrift on this shore;
      Thine swells yet more and more.

                                    VI

   —His singing-mistress verily was no other
   Than she the Lesbian, she the music-mother
   Of all the tribe that feel in melodies;
   Who leapt, love-anguished, from the Leucadian steep
   Into the rambling world-encircling deep
      Which hides her where none sees.

                                   VII

   And one can hold in thought that nightly here
   His phantom may draw down to the water’s brim,
   And hers come up to meet it, as a dim
   Lone shine upon the heaving hydrosphere,
   And mariners wonder as they traverse near,
      Unknowing of her and him.

                                   VIII

   One dreams him sighing to her spectral form:
   “O teacher, where lies hid thy burning line;
   Where are those songs, O poetess divine
   Whose very arts are love incarnadine?”
   And her smile back: “Disciple true and warm,
      Sufficient now are thine.” . . .

                                    IX

   So here, beneath the waking constellations,
   Where the waves peal their everlasting strains,
   And their dull subterrene reverberations
   Shake him when storms make mountains of their plains—
   Him once their peer in sad improvisations,
   And deft as wind to cleave their frothy manes—
   I leave him, while the daylight gleam declines
      Upon the capes and chines.

BONCHURCH, 1910.



A PLAINT TO MAN


   WHEN you slowly emerged from the den of Time,
   And gained percipience as you grew,
   And fleshed you fair out of shapeless slime,

   Wherefore, O Man, did there come to you
   The unhappy need of creating me—
   A form like your own—for praying to?

   My virtue, power, utility,
   Within my maker must all abide,
   Since none in myself can ever be,

   One thin as a shape on a lantern-slide
   Shown forth in the dark upon some dim sheet,
   And by none but its showman vivified.

   “Such a forced device,” you may say, “is meet
   For easing a loaded heart at whiles:
   Man needs to conceive of a mercy-seat

   Somewhere above the gloomy aisles
   Of this wailful world, or he could not bear
   The irk no local hope beguiles.”

   —But since I was framed in your first despair
   The doing without me has had no play
   In the minds of men when shadows scare;

   And now that I dwindle day by day
   Beneath the deicide eyes of seers
   In a light that will not let me stay,

   And to-morrow the whole of me disappears,
   The truth should be told, and the fact be faced
   That had best been faced in earlier years:

   The fact of life with dependence placed
   On the human heart’s resource alone,
   In brotherhood bonded close and graced

   With loving-kindness fully blown,
   And visioned help unsought, unknown.

1909–10.



GOD’S FUNERAL


                                    I

      I saw a slowly-stepping train—
   Lined on the brows, scoop-eyed and bent and hoar—
   Following in files across a twilit plain
   A strange and mystic form the foremost bore.

                                    II

      And by contagious throbs of thought
   Or latent knowledge that within me lay
   And had already stirred me, I was wrought
   To consciousness of sorrow even as they.

                                   III

      The fore-borne shape, to my blurred eyes,
   At first seemed man-like, and anon to change
   To an amorphous cloud of marvellous size,
   At times endowed with wings of glorious range.

                                    IV

      And this phantasmal variousness
   Ever possessed it as they drew along:
   Yet throughout all it symboled none the less
   Potency vast and loving-kindness strong.

                                    V

      Almost before I knew I bent
   Towards the moving columns without a word;
   They, growing in bulk and numbers as they went,
   Struck out sick thoughts that could be overheard:—

                                    VI

      “O man-projected Figure, of late
   Imaged as we, thy knell who shall survive?
   Whence came it we were tempted to create
   One whom we can no longer keep alive?

                                   VII

      “Framing him jealous, fierce, at first,
   We gave him justice as the ages rolled,
   Will to bless those by circumstance accurst,
   And longsuffering, and mercies manifold.

                                   VIII

      “And, tricked by our own early dream
   And need of solace, we grew self-deceived,
   Our making soon our maker did we deem,
   And what we had imagined we believed.

                                    IX

      “Till, in Time’s stayless stealthy swing,
   Uncompromising rude reality
   Mangled the Monarch of our fashioning,
   Who quavered, sank; and now has ceased to be.

                                    X

      “So, toward our myth’s oblivion,
   Darkling, and languid-lipped, we creep and grope
   Sadlier than those who wept in Babylon,
   Whose Zion was a still abiding hope.

                                    XI

      “How sweet it was in years far hied
   To start the wheels of day with trustful prayer,
   To lie down liegely at the eventide
   And feel a blest assurance he was there!

                                   XII

      “And who or what shall fill his place?
   Whither will wanderers turn distracted eyes
   For some fixed star to stimulate their pace
   Towards the goal of their enterprise?” . . .

                                   XIII

      Some in the background then I saw,
   Sweet women, youths, men, all incredulous,
   Who chimed as one: “This figure is of straw,
   This requiem mockery!  Still he lives to us!”

                                   XIV

      I could not prop their faith: and yet
   Many I had known: with all I sympathized;
   And though struck speechless, I did not forget
   That what was mourned for, I, too, once had prized.

                                    XV

      Still, how to bear such loss I deemed
   The insistent question for each animate mind,
   And gazing, to my growing sight there seemed
   A pale yet positive gleam low down behind,

                                   XVI

      Whereof to lift the general night,
   A certain few who stood aloof had said,
   “See you upon the horizon that small light—
   Swelling somewhat?”  Each mourner shook his head.

                                   XVII

      And they composed a crowd of whom
   Some were right good, and many nigh the best . . .
   Thus dazed and puzzled ’twixt the gleam and gloom
   Mechanically I followed with the rest.

1908–10.



SPECTRES THAT GRIEVE


   “IT is not death that harrows us,” they lipped,
   “The soundless cell is in itself relief,
   For life is an unfenced flower, benumbed and nipped
   At unawares, and at its best but brief.”

   The speakers, sundry phantoms of the gone,
   Had risen like filmy flames of phosphor dye,
   As if the palest of sheet lightnings shone
   From the sward near me, as from a nether sky.

   And much surprised was I that, spent and dead,
   They should not, like the many, be at rest,
   But stray as apparitions; hence I said,
   “Why, having slipped life, hark you back distressed?

   “We are among the few death sets not free,
   The hurt, misrepresented names, who come
   At each year’s brink, and cry to History
   To do them justice, or go past them dumb.

   “We are stript of rights; our shames lie unredressed,
   Our deeds in full anatomy are not shown,
   Our words in morsels merely are expressed
   On the scriptured page, our motives blurred, unknown.”

   Then all these shaken slighted visitants sped
   Into the vague, and left me musing there
   On fames that well might instance what they had said,
   Until the New-Year’s dawn strode up the air.



“AH, ARE YOU DIGGING ON MY GRAVE?”


   “AH, are you digging on my grave
      My loved one?—planting rue?”
   —“No: yesterday he went to wed
   One of the brightest wealth has bred.
   ‘It cannot hurt her now,’ he said,
      ‘That I should not be true.’”

   “Then who is digging on my grave?
      My nearest dearest kin?”
   —“Ah, no; they sit and think, ‘What use!
   What good will planting flowers produce?
   No tendance of her mound can loose
      Her spirit from Death’s gin.’”

   “But some one digs upon my grave?
      My enemy?—prodding sly?”
   —“Nay: when she heard you had passed the Gate
   That shuts on all flesh soon or late,
   She thought you no more worth her hate,
      And cares not where you lie.”

   “Then, who is digging on my grave?
      Say—since I have not guessed!”
   —“O it is I, my mistress dear,
   Your little dog, who still lives near,
   And much I hope my movements here
      Have not disturbed your rest?”

   “Ah, yes!  _You_ dig upon my grave . . .
      Why flashed it not on me
   That one true heart was left behind!
   What feeling do we ever find
   To equal among human kind
      A dog’s fidelity!”

   “Mistress, I dug upon your grave
      To bury a bone, in case
   I should be hungry near this spot
   When passing on my daily trot.
   I am sorry, but I quite forgot
      It was your resting-place.”



SATIRES OF CIRCUMSTANCES
IN FIFTEEN GLIMPSES


I
AT TEA


   THE kettle descants in a cozy drone,
   And the young wife looks in her husband’s face,
   And then at her guest’s, and shows in her own
   Her sense that she fills an envied place;
   And the visiting lady is all abloom,
   And says there was never so sweet a room.

   And the happy young housewife does not know
   That the woman beside her was first his choice,
   Till the fates ordained it could not be so . . .
   Betraying nothing in look or voice
   The guest sits smiling and sips her tea,
   And he throws her a stray glance yearningly.



II
IN CHURCH


   “AND now to God the Father,” he ends,
   And his voice thrills up to the topmost tiles:
   Each listener chokes as he bows and bends,
   And emotion pervades the crowded aisles.
   Then the preacher glides to the vestry-door,
   And shuts it, and thinks he is seen no more.

   The door swings softly ajar meanwhile,
   And a pupil of his in the Bible class,
   Who adores him as one without gloss or guile,
   Sees her idol stand with a satisfied smile
   And re-enact at the vestry-glass
   Each pulpit gesture in deft dumb-show
   That had moved the congregation so.



III
BY HER AUNT’S GRAVE


   “SIXPENCE a week,” says the girl to her lover,
   “Aunt used to bring me, for she could confide
   In me alone, she vowed.  ’Twas to cover
   The cost of her headstone when she died.
   And that was a year ago last June;
   I’ve not yet fixed it.  But I must soon.”

   “And where is the money now, my dear?”
   “O, snug in my purse . . . Aunt was _so_ slow
   In saving it—eighty weeks, or near.” . . .
   “Let’s spend it,” he hints.  “For she won’t know.
   There’s a dance to-night at the Load of Hay.”
   She passively nods.  And they go that way.



IV
IN THE ROOM OF THE BRIDE-ELECT


   “WOULD it had been the man of our wish!”
   Sighs her mother.  To whom with vehemence she
   In the wedding-dress—the wife to be—
   “Then why were you so mollyish
   As not to insist on him for me!”
   The mother, amazed: “Why, dearest one,
   Because you pleaded for this or none!”

   “But Father and you should have stood out strong!
   Since then, to my cost, I have lived to find
   That you were right and that I was wrong;
   This man is a dolt to the one declined . . .
   Ah!—here he comes with his button-hole rose.
   Good God—I must marry him I suppose!”



V
AT A WATERING-PLACE


   THEY sit and smoke on the esplanade,
   The man and his friend, and regard the bay
   Where the far chalk cliffs, to the left displayed,
   Smile sallowly in the decline of day.
   And saunterers pass with laugh and jest—
   A handsome couple among the rest.

   “That smart proud pair,” says the man to his friend,
   “Are to marry next week . . . How little he thinks
   That dozens of days and nights on end
   I have stroked her neck, unhooked the links
   Of her sleeve to get at her upper arm . . .
   Well, bliss is in ignorance: what’s the harm!”



VI
IN THE CEMETERY


   “YOU see those mothers squabbling there?”
   Remarks the man of the cemetery.
   One says in tears, ‘’_Tis mine lies here_!’
   Another, ‘_Nay_, _mine_, _you Pharisee_!’
   Another, ‘_How dare you move my flowers_
   _And put your own on this grave of ours_!’
   But all their children were laid therein
   At different times, like sprats in a tin.

   “And then the main drain had to cross,
   And we moved the lot some nights ago,
   And packed them away in the general foss
   With hundreds more.  But their folks don’t know,
   And as well cry over a new-laid drain
   As anything else, to ease your pain!”



VII
OUTSIDE THE WINDOW


   “MY stick!” he says, and turns in the lane
   To the house just left, whence a vixen voice
   Comes out with the firelight through the pane,
   And he sees within that the girl of his choice
   Stands rating her mother with eyes aglare
   For something said while he was there.

   “At last I behold her soul undraped!”
   Thinks the man who had loved her more than himself;
   “My God—’tis but narrowly I have escaped.—
   My precious porcelain proves it delf.”
   His face has reddened like one ashamed,
   And he steals off, leaving his stick unclaimed.



VIII
IN THE STUDY


   HE enters, and mute on the edge of a chair
   Sits a thin-faced lady, a stranger there,
   A type of decayed gentility;
   And by some small signs he well can guess
   That she comes to him almost breakfastless.

   “I have called—I hope I do not err—
   I am looking for a purchaser
   Of some score volumes of the works
   Of eminent divines I own,—
   Left by my father—though it irks
   My patience to offer them.”  And she smiles
   As if necessity were unknown;
   “But the truth of it is that oftenwhiles
   I have wished, as I am fond of art,
   To make my rooms a little smart.”
   And lightly still she laughs to him,
   As if to sell were a mere gay whim,
   And that, to be frank, Life were indeed
   To her not vinegar and gall,
   But fresh and honey-like; and Need
   No household skeleton at all.



IX
AT THE ALTAR-RAIL


   “MY bride is not coming, alas!” says the groom,
   And the telegram shakes in his hand.  “I own
   It was hurried!  We met at a dancing-room
   When I went to the Cattle-Show alone,
   And then, next night, where the Fountain leaps,
   And the Street of the Quarter-Circle sweeps.

   “Ay, she won me to ask her to be my wife—
   ’Twas foolish perhaps!—to forsake the ways
   Of the flaring town for a farmer’s life.
   She agreed.  And we fixed it.  Now she says:
   ‘_It’s sweet of you_, _dear_, _to prepare me a nest_,
   _But a swift_, _short_, _gay life suits me best_.
   _What I really am you have never gleaned_;
   _I had eaten the apple ere you were weaned_.’”



X
IN THE NUPTIAL CHAMBER


   “O THAT mastering tune?”  And up in the bed
   Like a lace-robed phantom springs the bride;
   “And why?” asks the man she had that day wed,
   With a start, as the band plays on outside.
   “It’s the townsfolks’ cheery compliment
   Because of our marriage, my Innocent.”

   “O but you don’t know!  ’Tis the passionate air
   To which my old Love waltzed with me,
   And I swore as we spun that none should share
   My home, my kisses, till death, save he!
   And he dominates me and thrills me through,
   And it’s he I embrace while embracing you!”



XI
IN THE RESTAURANT


   “BUT hear.  If you stay, and the child be born,
   It will pass as your husband’s with the rest,
   While, if we fly, the teeth of scorn
   Will be gleaming at us from east to west;
   And the child will come as a life despised;
   I feel an elopement is ill-advised!”

   “O you realize not what it is, my dear,
   To a woman!  Daily and hourly alarms
   Lest the truth should out.  How can I stay here,
   And nightly take him into my arms!
   Come to the child no name or fame,
   Let us go, and face it, and bear the shame.”



XII
AT THE DRAPER’S


   “I STOOD at the back of the shop, my dear,
      But you did not perceive me.
   Well, when they deliver what you were shown
      _I_ shall know nothing of it, believe me!”

   And he coughed and coughed as she paled and said,
      “O, I didn’t see you come in there—
   Why couldn’t you speak?”—“Well, I didn’t.  I left
      That you should not notice I’d been there.

   “You were viewing some lovely things.  ‘_Soon required_
      _For a widow_, _of latest fashion_’;
   And I knew ’twould upset you to meet the man
      Who had to be cold and ashen

   “And screwed in a box before they could dress you
      ‘_In the last new note in mourning_,’
   As they defined it.  So, not to distress you,
      I left you to your adorning.”



XIII
ON THE DEATH-BED


   “I’LL tell—being past all praying for—
   Then promptly die . . . He was out at the war,
   And got some scent of the intimacy
   That was under way between her and me;
   And he stole back home, and appeared like a ghost
   One night, at the very time almost
   That I reached her house.  Well, I shot him dead,
   And secretly buried him.  Nothing was said.

   “The news of the battle came next day;
   He was scheduled missing.  I hurried away,
   Got out there, visited the field,
   And sent home word that a search revealed
   He was one of the slain; though, lying alone
   And stript, his body had not been known.

   “But she suspected.  I lost her love,
      Yea, my hope of earth, and of Heaven above;
   And my time’s now come, and I’ll pay the score,
   Though it be burning for evermore.”



XIV
OVER THE COFFIN


   THEY stand confronting, the coffin between,
   His wife of old, and his wife of late,
   And the dead man whose they both had been
   Seems listening aloof, as to things past date.
   —“I have called,” says the first.  “Do you marvel or not?”
   “In truth,” says the second, “I do—somewhat.”

   “Well, there was a word to be said by me! . . .
   I divorced that man because of you—
   It seemed I must do it, boundenly;
   But now I am older, and tell you true,
   For life is little, and dead lies he;
   I would I had let alone you two!
   And both of us, scorning parochial ways,
   Had lived like the wives in the patriarchs’ days.”



XV
IN THE MOONLIGHT


   “O LONELY workman, standing there
   In a dream, why do you stare and stare
   At her grave, as no other grave there were?

   “If your great gaunt eyes so importune
   Her soul by the shine of this corpse-cold moon,
   Maybe you’ll raise her phantom soon!”

   “Why, fool, it is what I would rather see
   Than all the living folk there be;
   But alas, there is no such joy for me!”

   “Ah—she was one you loved, no doubt,
   Through good and evil, through rain and drought,
   And when she passed, all your sun went out?”

   “Nay: she was the woman I did not love,
   Whom all the others were ranked above,
   Whom during her life I thought nothing of.”



LYRICS AND REVERIES
(_continued_)


SELF-UNCONSCIOUS


      ALONG the way
      He walked that day,
   Watching shapes that reveries limn,
      And seldom he
      Had eyes to see
   The moment that encompassed him.

      Bright yellowhammers
      Made mirthful clamours,
   And billed long straws with a bustling air,
      And bearing their load
      Flew up the road
   That he followed, alone, without interest there.

      From bank to ground
      And over and round
   They sidled along the adjoining hedge;
      Sometimes to the gutter
      Their yellow flutter
   Would dip from the nearest slatestone ledge.

      The smooth sea-line
      With a metal shine,
   And flashes of white, and a sail thereon,
      He would also descry
      With a half-wrapt eye
   Between the projects he mused upon.

      Yes, round him were these
      Earth’s artistries,
   But specious plans that came to his call
      Did most engage
      His pilgrimage,
   While himself he did not see at all.

      Dead now as sherds
      Are the yellow birds,
   And all that mattered has passed away;
      Yet God, the Elf,
      Now shows him that self
   As he was, and should have been shown, that day.

      O it would have been good
      Could he then have stood
   At a focussed distance, and conned the whole,
      But now such vision
      Is mere derision,
   Nor soothes his body nor saves his soul.

      Not much, some may
      Incline to say,
   To see therein, had it all been seen.
      Nay! he is aware
      A thing was there
   That loomed with an immortal mien.



THE DISCOVERY


      I WANDERED to a crude coast
         Like a ghost;
      Upon the hills I saw fires—
         Funeral pyres
      Seemingly—and heard breaking
   Waves like distant cannonades that set the land shaking.

      And so I never once guessed
         A Love-nest,
      Bowered and candle-lit, lay
         In my way,
      Till I found a hid hollow,
   Where I burst on her my heart could not but follow.



TOLERANCE


   “IT is a foolish thing,” said I,
   “To bear with such, and pass it by;
   Yet so I do, I know not why!”

   And at each clash I would surmise
   That if I had acted otherwise
   I might have saved me many sighs.

   But now the only happiness
   In looking back that I possess—
   Whose lack would leave me comfortless—

   Is to remember I refrained
   From masteries I might have gained,
   And for my tolerance was disdained;

   For see, a tomb.  And if it were
   I had bent and broke, I should not dare
   To linger in the shadows there.



BEFORE AND AFTER SUMMER


                                    I

   LOOKING forward to the spring
   One puts up with anything.
   On this February day,
   Though the winds leap down the street,
   Wintry scourgings seem but play,
   And these later shafts of sleet
   —Sharper pointed than the first—
   And these later snows—the worst—
   Are as a half-transparent blind
   Riddled by rays from sun behind.

                                    II

   Shadows of the October pine
   Reach into this room of mine:
   On the pine there stands a bird;
   He is shadowed with the tree.
   Mutely perched he bills no word;
   Blank as I am even is he.
   For those happy suns are past,
   Fore-discerned in winter last.
   When went by their pleasure, then?
   I, alas, perceived not when.



AT DAY-CLOSE IN NOVEMBER


   THE ten hours’ light is abating,
      And a late bird flies across,
   Where the pines, like waltzers waiting,
      Give their black heads a toss.

   Beech leaves, that yellow the noon-time,
      Float past like specks in the eye;
   I set every tree in my June time,
      And now they obscure the sky.

   And the children who ramble through here
      Conceive that there never has been
   A time when no tall trees grew here,
      A time when none will be seen.



THE YEAR’S AWAKENING


   HOW do you know that the pilgrim track
   Along the belting zodiac
   Swept by the sun in his seeming rounds
   Is traced by now to the Fishes’ bounds
   And into the Ram, when weeks of cloud
   Have wrapt the sky in a clammy shroud,
   And never as yet a tinct of spring
   Has shown in the Earth’s apparelling;
      O vespering bird, how do you know,
         How do you know?

   How do you know, deep underground,
   Hid in your bed from sight and sound,
   Without a turn in temperature,
   With weather life can scarce endure,
   That light has won a fraction’s strength,
   And day put on some moments’ length,
   Whereof in merest rote will come,
   Weeks hence, mild airs that do not numb;
      O crocus root, how do you know,
         How do you know?

_February_ 1910.



UNDER THE WATERFALL


   “WHENEVER I plunge my arm, like this,
   In a basin of water, I never miss
   The sweet sharp sense of a fugitive day
   Fetched back from its thickening shroud of gray.
      Hence the only prime
      And real love-rhyme
      That I know by heart,
      And that leaves no smart,
   Is the purl of a little valley fall
   About three spans wide and two spans tall
   Over a table of solid rock,
   And into a scoop of the self-same block;
   The purl of a runlet that never ceases
   In stir of kingdoms, in wars, in peaces;
   With a hollow boiling voice it speaks
   And has spoken since hills were turfless peaks.”

   “And why gives this the only prime
   Idea to you of a real love-rhyme?
   And why does plunging your arm in a bowl
   Full of spring water, bring throbs to your soul?”

   “Well, under the fall, in a crease of the stone,
   Though where precisely none ever has known,
   Jammed darkly, nothing to show how prized,
   And by now with its smoothness opalized,
      Is a drinking-glass:
      For, down that pass
      My lover and I
      Walked under a sky
   Of blue with a leaf-woven awning of green,
   In the burn of August, to paint the scene,
   And we placed our basket of fruit and wine
   By the runlet’s rim, where we sat to dine;
   And when we had drunk from the glass together,
   Arched by the oak-copse from the weather,
   I held the vessel to rinse in the fall,
   Where it slipped, and sank, and was past recall,
   Though we stooped and plumbed the little abyss
   With long bared arms.  There the glass still is.
   And, as said, if I thrust my arm below
   Cold water in basin or bowl, a throe
   From the past awakens a sense of that time,
   And the glass both used, and the cascade’s rhyme.
   The basin seems the pool, and its edge
   The hard smooth face of the brook-side ledge,
   And the leafy pattern of china-ware
   The hanging plants that were bathing there.
   By night, by day, when it shines or lours,
   There lies intact that chalice of ours,
   And its presence adds to the rhyme of love
   Persistently sung by the fall above.
   No lip has touched it since his and mine
   In turns therefrom sipped lovers’ wine.”



THE SPELL OF THE ROSE


      “I MEAN to build a hall anon,
         And shape two turrets there,
         And a broad newelled stair,
   And a cool well for crystal water;
      Yes; I will build a hall anon,
      Plant roses love shall feed upon,
         And apple trees and pear.”

      He set to build the manor-hall,
         And shaped the turrets there,
         And the broad newelled stair,
   And the cool well for crystal water;
      He built for me that manor-hall,
      And planted many trees withal,
         But no rose anywhere.

      And as he planted never a rose
         That bears the flower of love,
         Though other flowers throve
   A frost-wind moved our souls to sever
      Since he had planted never a rose;
      And misconceits raised horrid shows,
         And agonies came thereof.

      “I’ll mend these miseries,” then said I,
         And so, at dead of night,
         I went and, screened from sight,
   That nought should keep our souls in severance,
      I set a rose-bush.  “This,” said I,
      “May end divisions dire and wry,
         And long-drawn days of blight.”

      But I was called from earth—yea, called
         Before my rose-bush grew;
         And would that now I knew
   What feels he of the tree I planted,
      And whether, after I was called
      To be a ghost, he, as of old,
         Gave me his heart anew!

      Perhaps now blooms that queen of trees
         I set but saw not grow,
         And he, beside its glow—
   Eyes couched of the mis-vision that blurred me—
      Ay, there beside that queen of trees
      He sees me as I was, though sees
         Too late to tell me so!



ST. LAUNCE’S REVISITED


      SLIP back, Time!
   Yet again I am nearing
   Castle and keep, uprearing
      Gray, as in my prime.

      At the inn
   Smiling close, why is it
   Not as on my visit
      When hope and I were twin?

      Groom and jade
   Whom I found here, moulder;
   Strange the tavern-holder,
      Strange the tap-maid.

      Here I hired
   Horse and man for bearing
   Me on my wayfaring
      To the door desired.

      Evening gloomed
   As I journeyed forward
   To the faces shoreward,
      Till their dwelling loomed.

      If again
   Towards the Atlantic sea there
   I should speed, they’d be there
      Surely now as then? . . .

      Why waste thought,
   When I know them vanished
   Under earth; yea, banished
      Ever into nought.



POEMS OF 1912–13


                        _Veteris vestigia flammae_



THE GOING


   WHY did you give no hint that night
   That quickly after the morrow’s dawn,
   And calmly, as if indifferent quite,
   You would close your term here, up and be gone
      Where I could not follow
      With wing of swallow
   To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!

      Never to bid good-bye,
      Or give me the softest call,
   Or utter a wish for a word, while I
   Saw morning harden upon the wall,
      Unmoved, unknowing
      That your great going
   Had place that moment, and altered all.

   Why do you make me leave the house
   And think for a breath it is you I see
   At the end of the alley of bending boughs
   Where so often at dusk you used to be;
      Till in darkening dankness
      The yawning blankness
   Of the perspective sickens me!

      You were she who abode
      By those red-veined rocks far West,
   You were the swan-necked one who rode
   Along the beetling Beeny Crest,
      And, reining nigh me,
      Would muse and eye me,
   While Life unrolled us its very best.

   Why, then, latterly did we not speak,
   Did we not think of those days long dead,
   And ere your vanishing strive to seek
   That time’s renewal?  We might have said,
      “In this bright spring weather
      We’ll visit together
   Those places that once we visited.”

      Well, well!  All’s past amend,
      Unchangeable.  It must go.
   I seem but a dead man held on end
   To sink down soon . . . O you could not know
      That such swift fleeing
      No soul foreseeing—
   Not even I—would undo me so!

_December_ 1912.



YOUR LAST DRIVE


   HERE by the moorway you returned,
   And saw the borough lights ahead
   That lit your face—all undiscerned
   To be in a week the face of the dead,
   And you told of the charm of that haloed view
   That never again would beam on you.

   And on your left you passed the spot
   Where eight days later you were to lie,
   And be spoken of as one who was not;
   Beholding it with a cursory eye
   As alien from you, though under its tree
   You soon would halt everlastingly.

   I drove not with you . . . Yet had I sat
   At your side that eve I should not have seen
   That the countenance I was glancing at
   Had a last-time look in the flickering sheen,
   Nor have read the writing upon your face,
   “I go hence soon to my resting-place;

   “You may miss me then.  But I shall not know
   How many times you visit me there,
   Or what your thoughts are, or if you go
   There never at all.  And I shall not care.
   Should you censure me I shall take no heed
   And even your praises I shall not need.”

   True: never you’ll know.  And you will not mind.
   But shall I then slight you because of such?
   Dear ghost, in the past did you ever find
   The thought “What profit?” move me much
   Yet the fact indeed remains the same,
   You are past love, praise, indifference, blame.

_December_ 1912.



THE WALK


      YOU did not walk with me
      Of late to the hill-top tree
         By the gated ways,
         As in earlier days;
         You were weak and lame,
         So you never came,
   And I went alone, and I did not mind,
   Not thinking of you as left behind.

      I walked up there to-day
      Just in the former way:
         Surveyed around
         The familiar ground
         By myself again:
         What difference, then?
   Only that underlying sense
   Of the look of a room on returning thence.



RAIN ON A GRAVE


   CLOUDS spout upon her
      Their waters amain
      In ruthless disdain,—
   Her who but lately
      Had shivered with pain
   As at touch of dishonour
   If there had lit on her
   So coldly, so straightly
      Such arrows of rain.

   She who to shelter
      Her delicate head
   Would quicken and quicken
      Each tentative tread
   If drops chanced to pelt her
      That summertime spills
      In dust-paven rills
   When thunder-clouds thicken
      And birds close their bills.

   Would that I lay there
      And she were housed here!
   Or better, together
   Were folded away there
   Exposed to one weather
   We both,—who would stray there
   When sunny the day there,
      Or evening was clear
      At the prime of the year.

   Soon will be growing
      Green blades from her mound,
   And daises be showing
      Like stars on the ground,
   Till she form part of them—
   Ay—the sweet heart of them,
   Loved beyond measure
   With a child’s pleasure
      All her life’s round.

_Jan._ 31, 1913.



“I FOUND HER OUT THERE”


   I FOUND her out there
   On a slope few see,
   That falls westwardly
   To the salt-edged air,
   Where the ocean breaks
   On the purple strand,
   And the hurricane shakes
   The solid land.

   I brought her here,
   And have laid her to rest
   In a noiseless nest
   No sea beats near.
   She will never be stirred
   In her loamy cell
   By the waves long heard
   And loved so well.

   So she does not sleep
   By those haunted heights
   The Atlantic smites
   And the blind gales sweep,
   Whence she often would gaze
   At Dundagel’s far head,
   While the dipping blaze
   Dyed her face fire-red;

   And would sigh at the tale
   Of sunk Lyonnesse,
   As a wind-tugged tress
   Flapped her cheek like a flail;
   Or listen at whiles
   With a thought-bound brow
   To the murmuring miles
   She is far from now.

   Yet her shade, maybe,
   Will creep underground
   Till it catch the sound
   Of that western sea
   As it swells and sobs
   Where she once domiciled,
   And joy in its throbs
   With the heart of a child.



WITHOUT CEREMONY


   IT was your way, my dear,
   To be gone without a word
   When callers, friends, or kin
   Had left, and I hastened in
   To rejoin you, as I inferred.

   And when you’d a mind to career
   Off anywhere—say to town—
   You were all on a sudden gone
   Before I had thought thereon,
   Or noticed your trunks were down.

   So, now that you disappear
   For ever in that swift style,
   Your meaning seems to me
   Just as it used to be:
   “Good-bye is not worth while!”



LAMENT


   HOW she would have loved
   A party to-day!—
   Bright-hatted and gloved,
   With table and tray
   And chairs on the lawn
   Her smiles would have shone
   With welcomings . . . But
   She is shut, she is shut
      From friendship’s spell
      In the jailing shell
      Of her tiny cell.

   Or she would have reigned
   At a dinner to-night
   With ardours unfeigned,
   And a generous delight;
   All in her abode
   She’d have freely bestowed
   On her guests . . . But alas,
   She is shut under grass
      Where no cups flow,
      Powerless to know
      That it might be so.

   And she would have sought
   With a child’s eager glance
   The shy snowdrops brought
   By the new year’s advance,
   And peered in the rime
   Of Candlemas-time
   For crocuses . . . chanced
   It that she were not tranced
      From sights she loved best;
      Wholly possessed
      By an infinite rest!

   And we are here staying
   Amid these stale things
   Who care not for gaying,
   And those junketings
   That used so to joy her,
   And never to cloy her
   As us they cloy! . . . But
   She is shut, she is shut
      From the cheer of them, dead
      To all done and said
      In a yew-arched bed.



THE HAUNTER


   HE does not think that I haunt here nightly:
      How shall I let him know
   That whither his fancy sets him wandering
      I, too, alertly go?—
   Hover and hover a few feet from him
      Just as I used to do,
   But cannot answer his words addressed me—
      Only listen thereto!

   When I could answer he did not say them:
      When I could let him know
   How I would like to join in his journeys
      Seldom he wished to go.
   Now that he goes and wants me with him
      More than he used to do,
   Never he sees my faithful phantom
      Though he speaks thereto.

   Yes, I accompany him to places
      Only dreamers know,
   Where the shy hares limp long paces,
      Where the night rooks go;
   Into old aisles where the past is all to him,
      Close as his shade can do,
   Always lacking the power to call to him,
      Near as I reach thereto!

   What a good haunter I am, O tell him,
      Quickly make him know
   If he but sigh since my loss befell him
      Straight to his side I go.
   Tell him a faithful one is doing
      All that love can do
   Still that his path may be worth pursuing,
      And to bring peace thereto.



THE VOICE


   WOMAN much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
   Saying that now you are not as you were
   When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
   But as at first, when our day was fair.

   Can it be you that I hear?  Let me view you, then,
   Standing as when I drew near to the town
   Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
   Even to the original air-blue gown!

   Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
   Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
   You being ever consigned to existlessness,
   Heard no more again far or near?

      Thus I; faltering forward,
      Leaves around me falling,
   Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward
      And the woman calling.

_December_ 1912.



HIS VISITOR


   I COME across from Mellstock while the moon wastes weaker
   To behold where I lived with you for twenty years and more:
   I shall go in the gray, at the passing of the mail-train,
   And need no setting open of the long familiar door
      As before.

   The change I notice in my once own quarters!
   A brilliant budded border where the daisies used to be,
   The rooms new painted, and the pictures altered,
   And other cups and saucers, and no cozy nook for tea
      As with me.

   I discern the dim faces of the sleep-wrapt servants;
   They are not those who tended me through feeble hours and strong,
   But strangers quite, who never knew my rule here,
   Who never saw me painting, never heard my softling song
      Float along.

   So I don’t want to linger in this re-decked dwelling,
   I feel too uneasy at the contrasts I behold,
   And I make again for Mellstock to return here never,
   And rejoin the roomy silence, and the mute and manifold
      Souls of old.

1913.



A CIRCULAR


   AS “legal representative”
   I read a missive not my own,
   On new designs the senders give
      For clothes, in tints as shown.

   Here figure blouses, gowns for tea,
   And presentation-trains of state,
   Charming ball-dresses, millinery,
      Warranted up to date.

   And this gay-pictured, spring-time shout
   Of Fashion, hails what lady proud?
   Her who before last year was out
      Was costumed in a shroud.



A DREAM OR NO


   WHY go to Saint-Juliot?  What’s Juliot to me?
      I was but made fancy
      By some necromancy
   That much of my life claims the spot as its key.

   Yes.  I have had dreams of that place in the West,
      And a maiden abiding
      Thereat as in hiding;
   Fair-eyed and white-shouldered, broad-browed and brown-tressed.

   And of how, coastward bound on a night long ago,
      There lonely I found her,
      The sea-birds around her,
   And other than nigh things uncaring to know.

   So sweet her life there (in my thought has it seemed)
      That quickly she drew me
      To take her unto me,
   And lodge her long years with me.  Such have I dreamed.

   But nought of that maid from Saint-Juliot I see;
      Can she ever have been here,
      And shed her life’s sheen here,
   The woman I thought a long housemate with me?

   Does there even a place like Saint-Juliot exist?
      Or a Vallency Valley
      With stream and leafed alley,
   Or Beeny, or Bos with its flounce flinging mist?

_February_ 1913.



AFTER A JOURNEY


   HERETO I come to interview a ghost;
      Whither, O whither will its whim now draw me?
   Up the cliff, down, till I’m lonely, lost,
      And the unseen waters’ ejaculations awe me.
   Where you will next be there’s no knowing,
      Facing round about me everywhere,
         With your nut-coloured hair,
   And gray eyes, and rose-flush coming and going.

   Yes: I have re-entered your olden haunts at last;
      Through the years, through the dead scenes I have tracked you;
   What have you now found to say of our past—
      Viewed across the dark space wherein I have lacked you?
   Summer gave us sweets, but autumn wrought division?
      Things were not lastly as firstly well
         With us twain, you tell?
   But all’s closed now, despite Time’s derision.

   I see what you are doing: you are leading me on
      To the spots we knew when we haunted here together,
   The waterfall, above which the mist-bow shone
      At the then fair hour in the then fair weather,
   And the cave just under, with a voice still so hollow
      That it seems to call out to me from forty years ago,
         When you were all aglow,
   And not the thin ghost that I now frailly follow!

   Ignorant of what there is flitting here to see,
      The waked birds preen and the seals flop lazily,
   Soon you will have, Dear, to vanish from me,
      For the stars close their shutters and the dawn whitens hazily.
   Trust me, I mind not, though Life lours,
      The bringing me here; nay, bring me here again!
         I am just the same as when
   Our days were a joy, and our paths through flowers.

PENTARGAN BAY.



A DEATH-DAY RECALLED


   BEENY did not quiver,
      Juliot grew not gray,
   Thin Valency’s river
      Held its wonted way.
   Bos seemed not to utter
      Dimmest note of dirge,
   Targan mouth a mutter
      To its creamy surge.

   Yet though these, unheeding,
      Listless, passed the hour
   Of her spirit’s speeding,
      She had, in her flower,
   Sought and loved the places—
      Much and often pined
   For their lonely faces
      When in towns confined.

   Why did not Valency
      In his purl deplore
   One whose haunts were whence he
      Drew his limpid store?
   Why did Bos not thunder,
      Targan apprehend
   Body and breath were sunder
      Of their former friend?



BEENY CLIFF
_March_ 1870—_March_ 1913


                                    I

   O THE opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea,
   And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free—
   The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me.

                                    II

   The pale mews plained below us, and the waves seemed far away
   In a nether sky, engrossed in saying their ceaseless babbling say,
   As we laughed light-heartedly aloft on that clear-sunned March day.

                                   III

   A little cloud then cloaked us, and there flew an irised rain,
   And the Atlantic dyed its levels with a dull misfeatured stain,
   And then the sun burst out again, and purples prinked the main.

                                    IV

   —Still in all its chasmal beauty bulks old Beeny to the sky,
   And shall she and I not go there once again now March is nigh,
   And the sweet things said in that March say anew there by and by?

                                    V

   What if still in chasmal beauty looms that wild weird western shore,
   The woman now is—elsewhere—whom the ambling pony bore,
   And nor knows nor cares for Beeny, and will see it nevermore.



AT CASTLE BOTEREL


   As I drive to the junction of lane and highway,
      And the drizzle bedrenches the waggonette,
   I look behind at the fading byway,
      And see on its slope, now glistening wet,
         Distinctly yet

   Myself and a girlish form benighted
      In dry March weather.  We climb the road
   Beside a chaise.  We had just alighted
      To ease the sturdy pony’s load
         When he sighed and slowed.

   What we did as we climbed, and what we talked of
      Matters not much, nor to what it led,—
   Something that life will not be balked of
      Without rude reason till hope is dead,
         And feeling fled.

   It filled but a minute.  But was there ever
      A time of such quality, since or before,
   In that hill’s story?  To one mind never,
      Though it has been climbed, foot-swift, foot-sore,
      By thousands more.

   Primaeval rocks form the road’s steep border,
      And much have they faced there, first and last,
   Of the transitory in Earth’s long order;
      But what they record in colour and cast
         Is—that we two passed.

   And to me, though Time’s unflinching rigour,
      In mindless rote, has ruled from sight
   The substance now, one phantom figure
      Remains on the slope, as when that night
         Saw us alight.

   I look and see it there, shrinking, shrinking,
      I look back at it amid the rain
   For the very last time; for my sand is sinking,
      And I shall traverse old love’s domain
         Never again.

_March_ 1913.



PLACES


   NOBODY says: Ah, that is the place
   Where chanced, in the hollow of years ago,
   What none of the Three Towns cared to know—
   The birth of a little girl of grace—
   The sweetest the house saw, first or last;
      Yet it was so
      On that day long past.

   Nobody thinks: There, there she lay
   In a room by the Hoe, like the bud of a flower,
   And listened, just after the bedtime hour,
   To the stammering chimes that used to play
   The quaint Old Hundred-and-Thirteenth tune
      In Saint Andrew’s tower
      Night, morn, and noon.

   Nobody calls to mind that here
   Upon Boterel Hill, where the carters skid,
   With cheeks whose airy flush outbid
   Fresh fruit in bloom, and free of fear,
   She cantered down, as if she must fall
      (Though she never did),
      To the charm of all.

   Nay: one there is to whom these things,
   That nobody else’s mind calls back,
   Have a savour that scenes in being lack,
   And a presence more than the actual brings;
   To whom to-day is beneaped and stale,
      And its urgent clack
      But a vapid tale.

PLYMOUTH, _March_ 1913.



THE PHANTOM HORSEWOMAN


                                    I

   QUEER are the ways of a man I know:
      He comes and stands
      In a careworn craze,
      And looks at the sands
      And the seaward haze,
      With moveless hands
      And face and gaze,
      Then turns to go . . .
   And what does he see when he gazes so?

                                    II

   They say he sees as an instant thing
      More clear than to-day,
      A sweet soft scene
      That once was in play
      By that briny green;
      Yes, notes alway
      Warm, real, and keen,
      What his back years bring—
   A phantom of his own figuring.

                                   III

   Of this vision of his they might say more:
      Not only there
      Does he see this sight,
      But everywhere
      In his brain—day, night,
      As if on the air
      It were drawn rose bright—
      Yea, far from that shore
   Does he carry this vision of heretofore:

                                    IV

   A ghost-girl-rider.  And though, toil-tried,
      He withers daily,
      Time touches her not,
      But she still rides gaily
      In his rapt thought
      On that shagged and shaly
      Atlantic spot,
      And as when first eyed
   Draws rein and sings to the swing of the tide.



MISCELLANEOUS PIECES


THE WISTFUL LADY


   “LOVE, while you were away there came to me—
      From whence I cannot tell—
   A plaintive lady pale and passionless,
   Who bent her eyes upon me critically,
   And weighed me with a wearing wistfulness,
      As if she knew me well.”

   “I saw no lady of that wistful sort
      As I came riding home.
   Perhaps she was some dame the Fates constrain
   By memories sadder than she can support,
   Or by unhappy vacancy of brain,
      To leave her roof and roam?”

   “Ah, but she knew me.  And before this time
      I have seen her, lending ear
   To my light outdoor words, and pondering each,
   Her frail white finger swayed in pantomime,
   As if she fain would close with me in speech,
      And yet would not come near.

   “And once I saw her beckoning with her hand
      As I came into sight
   At an upper window.  And I at last went out;
   But when I reached where she had seemed to stand,
   And wandered up and down and searched about,
      I found she had vanished quite.”

   Then thought I how my dead Love used to say,
      With a small smile, when she
   Was waning wan, that she would hover round
   And show herself after her passing day
   To any newer Love I might have found,
      But show her not to me.



THE WOMAN IN THE RYE


   “WHY do you stand in the dripping rye,
   Cold-lipped, unconscious, wet to the knee,
   When there are firesides near?” said I.
   “I told him I wished him dead,” said she.

   “Yea, cried it in my haste to one
   Whom I had loved, whom I well loved still;
   And die he did.  And I hate the sun,
   And stand here lonely, aching, chill;

   “Stand waiting, waiting under skies
   That blow reproach, the while I see
   The rooks sheer off to where he lies
   Wrapt in a peace withheld from me.”



THE CHEVAL-GLASS


   WHY do you harbour that great cheval-glass
      Filling up your narrow room?
      You never preen or plume,
   Or look in a week at your full-length figure—
      Picture of bachelor gloom!

   “Well, when I dwelt in ancient England,
      Renting the valley farm,
      Thoughtless of all heart-harm,
   I used to gaze at the parson’s daughter,
      A creature of nameless charm.

   “Thither there came a lover and won her,
      Carried her off from my view.
      O it was then I knew
   Misery of a cast undreamt of—
      More than, indeed, my due!

   “Then far rumours of her ill-usage
      Came, like a chilling breath
      When a man languisheth;
   Followed by news that her mind lost balance,
      And, in a space, of her death.

   “Soon sank her father; and next was the auction—
      Everything to be sold:
      Mid things new and old
   Stood this glass in her former chamber,
      Long in her use, I was told.

   “Well, I awaited the sale and bought it . . .
      There by my bed it stands,
      And as the dawn expands
   Often I see her pale-faced form there
      Brushing her hair’s bright bands.

   “There, too, at pallid midnight moments
      Quick she will come to my call,
      Smile from the frame withal
   Ponderingly, as she used to regard me
      Passing her father’s wall.

   “So that it was for its revelations
      I brought it oversea,
      And drag it about with me . . .
   Anon I shall break it and bury its fragments
      Where my grave is to be.”



THE RE-ENACTMENT


      BETWEEN the folding sea-downs,
         In the gloom
      Of a wailful wintry nightfall,
         When the boom
   Of the ocean, like a hammering in a hollow tomb,

      Throbbed up the copse-clothed valley
         From the shore
      To the chamber where I darkled,
         Sunk and sore
   With gray ponderings why my Loved one had not come before

      To salute me in the dwelling
         That of late
      I had hired to waste a while in—
         Vague of date,
   Quaint, and remote—wherein I now expectant sate;

      On the solitude, unsignalled,
         Broke a man
      Who, in air as if at home there,
         Seemed to scan
   Every fire-flecked nook of the apartment span by span.

      A stranger’s and no lover’s
         Eyes were these,
      Eyes of a man who measures
         What he sees
   But vaguely, as if wrapt in filmy phantasies.

      Yea, his bearing was so absent
         As he stood,
      It bespoke a chord so plaintive
         In his mood,
   That soon I judged he would not wrong my quietude.

      “Ah—the supper is just ready,”
         Then he said,
      “And the years’-long binned Madeira
         Flashes red!”
   (There was no wine, no food, no supper-table spread.)

      “You will forgive my coming,
         Lady fair?
      I see you as at that time
         Rising there,
   The self-same curious querying in your eyes and air.

      “Yet no.  How so?  You wear not
         The same gown,
      Your locks show woful difference,
         Are not brown:
   What, is it not as when I hither came from town?

      “And the place . . . But you seem other—
         Can it be?
      What’s this that Time is doing
         Unto me?
   _You_ dwell here, unknown woman? . . . Whereabouts, then, is she?

      “And the house—things are much shifted.—
         Put them where
      They stood on this night’s fellow;
         Shift her chair:
   Here was the couch: and the piano should be there.”

      I indulged him, verily nerve-strained
         Being alone,
      And I moved the things as bidden,
         One by one,
   And feigned to push the old piano where he had shown.

      “Aha—now I can see her!
         Stand aside:
      Don’t thrust her from the table
         Where, meek-eyed,
   She makes attempt with matron-manners to preside.

      “She serves me: now she rises,
         Goes to play . . .
      But you obstruct her, fill her
         With dismay,
   And embarrassed, scared, she vanishes away!”

      And, as ’twere useless longer
         To persist,
      He sighed, and sought the entry
         Ere I wist,
   And retreated, disappearing soundless in the mist.

      That here some mighty passion
         Once had burned,
      Which still the walls enghosted,
         I discerned,
   And that by its strong spell mine might be overturned.

      I sat depressed; till, later,
         My Love came;
      But something in the chamber
         Dimmed our flame,—
   An emanation, making our due words fall tame,

      As if the intenser drama
         Shown me there
      Of what the walls had witnessed
         Filled the air,
   And left no room for later passion anywhere.

      So came it that our fervours
         Did quite fail
      Of future consummation—
         Being made quail
   By the weird witchery of the parlour’s hidden tale,

      Which I, as years passed, faintly
         Learnt to trace,—
      One of sad love, born full-winged
         In that place
   Where the predestined sorrowers first stood face to face.

      And as that month of winter
         Circles round,
      And the evening of the date-day
         Grows embrowned,
   I am conscious of those presences, and sit spellbound.

      There, often—lone, forsaken—
         Queries breed
      Within me; whether a phantom
         Had my heed
   On that strange night, or was it some wrecked heart indeed?



HER SECRET


   THAT love’s dull smart distressed my heart
      He shrewdly learnt to see,
   But that I was in love with a dead man
      Never suspected he.

   He searched for the trace of a pictured face,
      He watched each missive come,
   And a note that seemed like a love-line
      Made him look frozen and glum.

   He dogged my feet to the city street,
      He followed me to the sea,
   But not to the neighbouring churchyard
      Did he dream of following me.



“SHE CHARGED ME”


   SHE charged me with having said this and that
   To another woman long years before,
   In the very parlour where we sat,—

   Sat on a night when the endless pour
   Of rain on the roof and the road below
   Bent the spring of the spirit more and more . . .

   —So charged she me; and the Cupid’s bow
   Of her mouth was hard, and her eyes, and her face,
   And her white forefinger lifted slow.

   Had she done it gently, or shown a trace
   That not too curiously would she view
   A folly passed ere her reign had place,

   A kiss might have ended it.  But I knew
   From the fall of each word, and the pause between,
   That the curtain would drop upon us two
   Ere long, in our play of slave and queen.



THE NEWCOMER’S WIFE


   HE paused on the sill of a door ajar
   That screened a lively liquor-bar,
   For the name had reached him through the door
   Of her he had married the week before.

   “We called her the Hack of the Parade;
   But she was discreet in the games she played;
   If slightly worn, she’s pretty yet,
   And gossips, after all, forget.

   “And he knows nothing of her past;
   I am glad the girl’s in luck at last;
   Such ones, though stale to native eyes,
   Newcomers snatch at as a prize.”

   “Yes, being a stranger he sees her blent
   Of all that’s fresh and innocent,
   Nor dreams how many a love-campaign
   She had enjoyed before his reign!”

   That night there was the splash of a fall
   Over the slimy harbour-wall:
   They searched, and at the deepest place
   Found him with crabs upon his face.



A CONVERSATION AT DAWN


   HE lay awake, with a harassed air,
   And she, in her cloud of loose lank hair,
      Seemed trouble-tried
   As the dawn drew in on their faces there.

   The chamber looked far over the sea
   From a white hotel on a white-stoned quay,
      And stepping a stride
   He parted the window-drapery.

   Above the level horizon spread
   The sunrise, firing them foot to head
      From its smouldering lair,
   And painting their pillows with dyes of red.

   “What strange disquiets have stirred you, dear,
   This dragging night, with starts in fear
      Of me, as it were,
   Or of something evil hovering near?”

   “My husband, can I have fear of you?
   What should one fear from a man whom few,
      Or none, had matched
   In that late long spell of delays undue!”

   He watched her eyes in the heaving sun:
   “Then what has kept, O reticent one,
      Those lids unlatched—
   Anything promised I’ve not yet done?”

   “O it’s not a broken promise of yours
   (For what quite lightly your lip assures
      The due time brings)
   That has troubled my sleep, and no waking cures!” . . .

   “I have shaped my will; ’tis at hand,” said he;
   “I subscribe it to-day, that no risk there be
      In the hap of things
   Of my leaving you menaced by poverty.”

   “That a boon provision I’m safe to get,
   Signed, sealed by my lord as it were a debt,
      I cannot doubt,
   Or ever this peering sun be set.”

   “But you flung my arms away from your side,
   And faced the wall.  No month-old bride
      Ere the tour be out
   In an air so loth can be justified?

   “Ah—had you a male friend once loved well,
   Upon whose suit disaster fell
      And frustrance swift?
   Honest you are, and may care to tell.”

   She lay impassive, and nothing broke
   The stillness other than, stroke by stroke,
      The lazy lift
   Of the tide below them; till she spoke:

   “I once had a friend—a Love, if you will—
   Whose wife forsook him, and sank until
      She was made a thrall
   In a prison-cell for a deed of ill . . .

   “He remained alone; and we met—to love,
   But barring legitimate joy thereof
      Stood a doorless wall,
   Though we prized each other all else above.

   “And this was why, though I’d touched my prime,
   I put off suitors from time to time—
      Yourself with the rest—
   Till friends, who approved you, called it crime,

   “And when misgivings weighed on me
   In my lover’s absence, hurriedly,
      And much distrest,
   I took you . . . Ah, that such could be! . . .

   “Now, saw you when crossing from yonder shore
   At yesternoon, that the packet bore
      On a white-wreathed bier
   A coffined body towards the fore?

   “Well, while you stood at the other end,
   The loungers talked, and I could but lend
      A listening ear,
   For they named the dead.  ’Twas the wife of my friend.

   “He was there, but did not note me, veiled,
   Yet I saw that a joy, as of one unjailed,
      Now shone in his gaze;
   He knew not his hope of me just had failed!

   “They had brought her home: she was born in this isle;
   And he will return to his domicile,
      And pass his days
   Alone, and not as he dreamt erstwhile!”

   “—So you’ve lost a sprucer spouse than I!”
   She held her peace, as if fain deny
      She would indeed
   For his pleasure’s sake, but could lip no lie.

   “One far less formal and plain and slow!”
   She let the laconic assertion go
      As if of need
   She held the conviction that it was so.

   “Regard me as his he always should,
   He had said, and wed me he vowed he would
      In his prime or sere
   Most verily do, if ever he could.

   “And this fulfilment is now his aim,
   For a letter, addressed in my maiden name,
      Has dogged me here,
   Reminding me faithfully of his claim.

   “And it started a hope like a lightning-streak
   That I might go to him—say for a week—
      And afford you right
   To put me away, and your vows unspeak.

   “To be sure you have said, as of dim intent,
   That marriage is a plain event
      Of black and white,
   Without any ghost of sentiment,

   “And my heart has quailed.—But deny it true
   That you will never this lock undo!
      No God intends
   To thwart the yearning He’s father to!”

   The husband hemmed, then blandly bowed
   In the light of the angry morning cloud.
      “So my idyll ends,
   And a drama opens!” he mused aloud;

   And his features froze.  “You may take it as true
   That I will never this lock undo
      For so depraved
   A passion as that which kindles you.”

   Said she: “I am sorry you see it so;
   I had hoped you might have let me go,
      And thus been saved
   The pain of learning there’s more to know.”

   “More?  What may that be?  Gad, I think
   You have told me enough to make me blink!
      Yet if more remain
   Then own it to me.  I will not shrink!”

   “Well, it is this.  As we could not see
   That a legal marriage could ever be,
      To end our pain
   We united ourselves informally;

   “And vowed at a chancel-altar nigh,
   With book and ring, a lifelong tie;
      A contract vain
   To the world, but real to Him on High.”

   “And you became as his wife?”—“I did.”—
   He stood as stiff as a caryatid,
      And said, “Indeed! . . .
   No matter.  You’re mine, whatever you ye hid!”

   “But is it right!  When I only gave
   My hand to you in a sweat to save,
      Through desperate need
   (As I thought), my fame, for I was not brave!”

   “To save your fame?  Your meaning is dim,
   For nobody knew of your altar-whim?”
      “I mean—I feared
   There might be fruit of my tie with him;

   “And to cloak it by marriage I’m not the first,
   Though, maybe, morally most accurst
      Through your unpeered
   And strict uprightness.  That’s the worst!

   “While yesterday his worn contours
   Convinced me that love like his endures,
      And that my troth-plight
   Had been his, in fact, and not truly yours.”

   “So, my lady, you raise the veil by degrees . . .
   I own this last is enough to freeze
      The warmest wight!
   Now hear the other side, if you please:

   “I did say once, though without intent,
   That marriage is a plain event
      Of black and white,
   Whatever may be its sentiment.

   “I’ll act accordingly, none the less
   That you soiled the contract in time of stress,
      Thereto induced
   By the feared results of your wantonness.

   “But the thing is over, and no one knows,
   And it’s nought to the future what you disclose.
      That you’ll be loosed
   For such an episode, don’t suppose!

   “No: I’ll not free you.  And if it appear
   There was too good ground for your first fear
      From your amorous tricks,
   I’ll father the child.  Yes, by God, my dear.

   “Even should you fly to his arms, I’ll damn
   Opinion, and fetch you; treat as sham
      Your mutinous kicks,
   And whip you home.  That’s the sort I am!”

   She whitened. “Enough . . . Since you disapprove
   I’ll yield in silence, and never move
      Till my last pulse ticks
   A footstep from the domestic groove.”

   “Then swear it,” he said, “and your king uncrown.”
   He drew her forth in her long white gown,
      And she knelt and swore.
   “Good.  Now you may go and again lie down

   “Since you’ve played these pranks and given no sign,
   You shall crave this man of yours; pine and pine
      With sighings sore,
   ’Till I’ve starved your love for him; nailed you mine.

   “I’m a practical man, and want no tears;
   You’ve made a fool of me, it appears;
      That you don’t again
   Is a lesson I’ll teach you in future years.”

   She answered not, but lay listlessly
   With her dark dry eyes on the coppery sea,
      That now and then
   Flung its lazy flounce at the neighbouring quay.

1910.



A KING’S SOLILOQUY
ON THE NIGHT OF HIS FUNERAL


   FROM the slow march and muffled drum
      And crowds distrest,
   And book and bell, at length I have come
      To my full rest.

   A ten years’ rule beneath the sun
      Is wound up here,
   And what I have done, what left undone,
      Figures out clear.

   Yet in the estimate of such
      It grieves me more
   That I by some was loved so much
      Than that I bore,

   From others, judgment of that hue
      Which over-hope
   Breeds from a theoretic view
      Of regal scope.

   For kingly opportunities
      Right many have sighed;
   How best to bear its devilries
      Those learn who have tried!

   I have eaten the fat and drunk the sweet,
      Lived the life out
   From the first greeting glad drum-beat
      To the last shout.

   What pleasure earth affords to kings
      I have enjoyed
   Through its long vivid pulse-stirrings
      Even till it cloyed.

   What days of drudgery, nights of stress
      Can cark a throne,
   Even one maintained in peacefulness,
      I too have known.

   And so, I think, could I step back
      To life again,
   I should prefer the average track
      Of average men,

   Since, as with them, what kingship would
      It cannot do,
   Nor to first thoughts however good
      Hold itself true.

   Something binds hard the royal hand,
      As all that be,
   And it is That has shaped, has planned
      My acts and me.

_May_ 1910.



THE CORONATION


   AT Westminster, hid from the light of day,
   Many who once had shone as monarchs lay.

   Edward the Pious, and two Edwards more,
   The second Richard, Henrys three or four;

   That is to say, those who were called the Third,
   Fifth, Seventh, and Eighth (the much self-widowered),

   And James the Scot, and near him Charles the Second,
   And, too, the second George could there be reckoned.

   Of women, Mary and Queen Elizabeth,
   And Anne, all silent in a musing death;

   And William’s Mary, and Mary, Queen of Scots,
   And consort-queens whose names oblivion blots;

   And several more whose chronicle one sees
   Adorning ancient royal pedigrees.

   —Now, as they drowsed on, freed from Life’s old thrall,
   And heedless, save of things exceptional,

   Said one: “What means this throbbing thudding sound
   That reaches to us here from overground;

   “A sound of chisels, augers, planes, and saws,
   Infringing all ecclesiastic laws?

   “And these tons-weight of timber on us pressed,
   Unfelt here since we entered into rest?

   “Surely, at least to us, being corpses royal,
   A meet repose is owing by the loyal?”

   “—Perhaps a scaffold!” Mary Stuart sighed,
   “If such still be.  It was that way I died.”

   “—Ods!  Far more like,” said he the many-wived,
   “That for a wedding ’tis this work’s contrived.

   “Ha-ha!  I never would bow down to Rimmon,
   But I had a rare time with those six women!”

   “Not all at once?” gasped he who loved confession.
   “Nay, nay!” said Hal.  “That would have been transgression.”

   “—They build a catafalque here, black and tall,
   Perhaps,” mused Richard, “for some funeral?”

   And Anne chimed in: “Ah, yes: it maybe so!”
   “Nay!” squeaked Eliza.  “Little you seem to know—

   “Clearly ’tis for some crowning here in state,
   As they crowned us at our long bygone date;

   “Though we’d no such a power of carpentry,
   But let the ancient architecture be;

   “If I were up there where the parsons sit,
   In one of my gold robes, I’d see to it!”

   “But you are not,” Charles chuckled.  “You are here,
   And never will know the sun again, my dear!”

   “Yea,” whispered those whom no one had addressed;
   “With slow, sad march, amid a folk distressed,
   We were brought here, to take our dusty rest.

   “And here, alas, in darkness laid below,
   We’ll wait and listen, and endure the show . . .
   Clamour dogs kingship; afterwards not so!”

1911.



AQUAE SULIS


   THE chimes called midnight, just at interlune,
   And the daytime talk of the Roman investigations
   Was checked by silence, save for the husky tune
   The bubbling waters played near the excavations.

   And a warm air came up from underground,
   And a flutter, as of a filmy shape unsepulchred,
   That collected itself, and waited, and looked around:
   Nothing was seen, but utterances could be heard:

   Those of the goddess whose shrine was beneath the pile
   Of the God with the baldachined altar overhead:
   “And what did you get by raising this nave and aisle
   Close on the site of the temple I tenanted?

   “The notes of your organ have thrilled down out of view
   To the earth-clogged wrecks of my edifice many a year,
   Though stately and shining once—ay, long ere you
   Had set up crucifix and candle here.

   “Your priests have trampled the dust of mine without rueing,
   Despising the joys of man whom I so much loved,
   Though my springs boil on by your Gothic arcades and pewing,
   And sculptures crude . . . Would Jove they could be removed!”

   “—Repress, O lady proud, your traditional ires;
   You know not by what a frail thread we equally hang;
   It is said we are images both—twitched by people’s desires;
   And that I, like you, fail as a song men yesterday sang!”

                                * * * * *

   And the olden dark hid the cavities late laid bare,
   And all was suspended and soundless as before,
   Except for a gossamery noise fading off in the air,
   And the boiling voice of the waters’ medicinal pour.

BATH.



SEVENTY-FOUR AND TWENTY


   HERE goes a man of seventy-four,
   Who sees not what life means for him,
   And here another in years a score
   Who reads its very figure and trim.

   The one who shall walk to-day with me
   Is not the youth who gazes far,
   But the breezy wight who cannot see
   What Earth’s ingrained conditions are.



THE ELOPEMENT


   “A WOMAN never agreed to it!” said my knowing friend to me.
   “That one thing she’d refuse to do for Solomon’s mines in fee:
   No woman ever will make herself look older than she is.”
   I did not answer; but I thought, “you err there, ancient Quiz.”

   It took a rare one, true, to do it; for she was surely rare—
   As rare a soul at that sweet time of her life as she was fair.
   And urging motives, too, were strong, for ours was a passionate case,
   Yea, passionate enough to lead to freaking with that young face.

   I have told no one about it, should perhaps make few believe,
   But I think it over now that life looms dull and years bereave,
   How blank we stood at our bright wits’ end, two frail barks in
   distress,
   How self-regard in her was slain by her large tenderness.

   I said: “The only chance for us in a crisis of this kind
   Is going it thorough!”—“Yes,” she calmly breathed.  “Well, I don’t
   mind.”
   And we blanched her dark locks ruthlessly: set wrinkles on her brow;
   Ay—she was a right rare woman then, whatever she may be now.

   That night we heard a coach drive up, and questions asked below.
   “A gent with an elderly wife, sir,” was returned from the bureau.
   And the wheels went rattling on, and free at last from public ken
   We washed all off in her chamber and restored her youth again.

   How many years ago it was!  Some fifty can it be
   Since that adventure held us, and she played old wife to me?
   But in time convention won her, as it wins all women at last,
   And now she is rich and respectable, and time has buried the past.



“I ROSE UP AS MY CUSTOM IS”


   I ROSE up as my custom is
      On the eve of All-Souls’ day,
   And left my grave for an hour or so
   To call on those I used to know
      Before I passed away.

   I visited my former Love
      As she lay by her husband’s side;
   I asked her if life pleased her, now
   She was rid of a poet wrung in brow,
      And crazed with the ills he eyed;

   Who used to drag her here and there
      Wherever his fancies led,
   And point out pale phantasmal things,
   And talk of vain vague purposings
      That she discredited.

   She was quite civil, and replied,
      “Old comrade, is that you?
   Well, on the whole, I like my life.—
   I know I swore I’d be no wife,
      But what was I to do?

   “You see, of all men for my sex
      A poet is the worst;
   Women are practical, and they
   Crave the wherewith to pay their way,
      And slake their social thirst.

   “You were a poet—quite the ideal
      That we all love awhile:
   But look at this man snoring here—
   He’s no romantic chanticleer,
      Yet keeps me in good style.

   “He makes no quest into my thoughts,
      But a poet wants to know
   What one has felt from earliest days,
   Why one thought not in other ways,
      And one’s Loves of long ago.”

   Her words benumbed my fond frail ghost;
      The nightmares neighed from their stalls
   The vampires screeched, the harpies flew,
   And under the dim dawn I withdrew
      To Death’s inviolate halls.



A WEEK


   ON Monday night I closed my door,
   And thought you were not as heretofore,
   And little cared if we met no more.

   I seemed on Tuesday night to trace
   Something beyond mere commonplace
   In your ideas, and heart, and face.

   On Wednesday I did not opine
   Your life would ever be one with mine,
   Though if it were we should well combine.

   On Thursday noon I liked you well,
   And fondly felt that we must dwell
   Not far apart, whatever befell.

   On Friday it was with a thrill
   In gazing towards your distant vill
   I owned you were my dear one still.

   I saw you wholly to my mind
   On Saturday—even one who shrined
   All that was best of womankind.

   As wing-clipt sea-gull for the sea
   On Sunday night I longed for thee,
   Without whom life were waste to me!



HAD YOU WEPT


   HAD you wept; had you but neared me with a frail uncertain ray,
   Dewy as the face of the dawn, in your large and luminous eye,
   Then would have come back all the joys the tidings had slain that day,
   And a new beginning, a fresh fair heaven, have smoothed the things
   awry.
   But you were less feebly human, and no passionate need for clinging
   Possessed your soul to overthrow reserve when I came near;
   Ay, though you suffer as much as I from storms the hours are bringing
   Upon your heart and mine, I never see you shed a tear.

   The deep strong woman is weakest, the weak one is the strong;
   The weapon of all weapons best for winning, you have not used;
   Have you never been able, or would you not, through the evil times and
   long?
   Has not the gift been given you, or such gift have you refused?
   When I bade me not absolve you on that evening or the morrow,
   Why did you not make war on me with those who weep like rain?
   You felt too much, so gained no balm for all your torrid sorrow,
   And hence our deep division, and our dark undying pain.



BEREFT, SHE THINKS SHE DREAMS


   I DREAM that the dearest I ever knew
      Has died and been entombed.
   I am sure it’s a dream that cannot be true,
      But I am so overgloomed
   By its persistence, that I would gladly
      Have quick death take me,
   Rather than longer think thus sadly;
      So wake me, wake me!

   It has lasted days, but minute and hour
      I expect to get aroused
   And find him as usual in the bower
      Where we so happily housed.
   Yet stays this nightmare too appalling,
      And like a web shakes me,
   And piteously I keep on calling,
      And no one wakes me!



IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM


   “WHAT do you see in that time-touched stone,
      When nothing is there
   But ashen blankness, although you give it
      A rigid stare?

   “You look not quite as if you saw,
      But as if you heard,
   Parting your lips, and treading softly
      As mouse or bird.

   “It is only the base of a pillar, they’ll tell you,
      That came to us
   From a far old hill men used to name
      Areopagus.”

   —“I know no art, and I only view
      A stone from a wall,
   But I am thinking that stone has echoed
      The voice of Paul,

   “Paul as he stood and preached beside it
      Facing the crowd,
   A small gaunt figure with wasted features,
      Calling out loud

   “Words that in all their intimate accents
      Pattered upon
   That marble front, and were far reflected,
      And then were gone.

   “I’m a labouring man, and know but little,
      Or nothing at all;
   But I can’t help thinking that stone once echoed
      The voice of Paul.”



IN THE SERVANTS’ QUARTERS


   “MAN, you too, aren’t you, one of these rough followers of the
   criminal?
   All hanging hereabout to gather how he’s going to bear
   Examination in the hall.”  She flung disdainful glances on
   The shabby figure standing at the fire with others there,
      Who warmed them by its flare.

   “No indeed, my skipping maiden: I know nothing of the trial here,
   Or criminal, if so he be.—I chanced to come this way,
   And the fire shone out into the dawn, and morning airs are cold now;
   I, too, was drawn in part by charms I see before me play,
      That I see not every day.”

   “Ha, ha!” then laughed the constables who also stood to warm
   themselves,
   The while another maiden scrutinized his features hard,
   As the blaze threw into contrast every line and knot that wrinkled
   them,
   Exclaiming, “Why, last night when he was brought in by the guard,
      You were with him in the yard!”

   “Nay, nay, you teasing wench, I say!  You know you speak mistakenly.
   Cannot a tired pedestrian who has footed it afar
   Here on his way from northern parts, engrossed in humble marketings,
   Come in and rest awhile, although judicial doings are
      Afoot by morning star?”

   “O, come, come!” laughed the constables.  “Why, man, you speak the
   dialect
   He uses in his answers; you can hear him up the stairs.
   So own it.  We sha’n’t hurt ye.  There he’s speaking now!  His
   syllables
   Are those you sound yourself when you are talking unawares,
      As this pretty girl declares.”

   “And you shudder when his chain clinks!” she rejoined.  “O yes, I
   noticed it.
   And you winced, too, when those cuffs they gave him echoed to us here.
   They’ll soon be coming down, and you may then have to defend yourself
   Unless you hold your tongue, or go away and keep you clear
      When he’s led to judgment near!”

   “No!  I’ll be damned in hell if I know anything about the man!
   No single thing about him more than everybody knows!
   Must not I even warm my hands but I am charged with blasphemies?” . . .
   —His face convulses as the morning cock that moment crows,
      And he stops, and turns, and goes.



THE OBLITERATE TOMB


      “MORE than half my life long
   Did they weigh me falsely, to my bitter wrong,
   But they all have shrunk away into the silence
      Like a lost song.

      “And the day has dawned and come
   For forgiveness, when the past may hold it dumb
   On the once reverberate words of hatred uttered
      Half in delirium . . .

      “With folded lips and hands
   They lie and wait what next the Will commands,
   And doubtless think, if think they can: ‘Let discord
      Sink with Life’s sands!’

      “By these late years their names,
   Their virtues, their hereditary claims,
   May be as near defacement at their grave-place
      As are their fames.”

      —Such thoughts bechanced to seize
   A traveller’s mind—a man of memories—
   As he set foot within the western city
      Where had died these

      Who in their lifetime deemed
   Him their chief enemy—one whose brain had schemed
   To get their dingy greatness deeplier dingied
      And disesteemed.

      So, sojourning in their town,
   He mused on them and on their once renown,
   And said, “I’ll seek their resting-place to-morrow
      Ere I lie down,

      “And end, lest I forget,
   Those ires of many years that I regret,
   Renew their names, that men may see some liegeness
      Is left them yet.”

      Duly next day he went
   And sought the church he had known them to frequent,
   And wandered in the precincts, set on eyeing
      Where they lay pent,

      Till by remembrance led
   He stood at length beside their slighted bed,
   Above which, truly, scarce a line or letter
      Could now be read.

      “Thus years obliterate
   Their graven worth, their chronicle, their date!
   At once I’ll garnish and revive the record
      Of their past state,

      “That still the sage may say
   In pensive progress here where they decay,
   ‘This stone records a luminous line whose talents
      Told in their day.’”

      While speaking thus he turned,
   For a form shadowed where they lay inurned,
   And he beheld a stranger in foreign vesture,
      And tropic-burned.

      “Sir, I am right pleased to view
   That ancestors of mine should interest you,
   For I have come of purpose here to trace them . . .
      They are time-worn, true,

      “But that’s a fault, at most,
   Sculptors can cure.  On the Pacific coast
   I have vowed for long that relics of my forbears
      I’d trace ere lost,

      “And hitherward I come,
   Before this same old Time shall strike me numb,
   To carry it out.”—“Strange, this is!” said the other;
      “What mind shall plumb

      “Coincident design!
   Though these my father’s enemies were and mine,
   I nourished a like purpose—to restore them
      Each letter and line.”

      “Such magnanimity
   Is now not needed, sir; for you will see
   That since I am here, a thing like this is, plainly,
      Best done by me.”

      The other bowed, and left,
   Crestfallen in sentiment, as one bereft
   Of some fair object he had been moved to cherish,
      By hands more deft.

      And as he slept that night
   The phantoms of the ensepulchred stood up-right
   Before him, trembling that he had set him seeking
      Their charnel-site.

      And, as unknowing his ruth,
   Asked as with terrors founded not on truth
   Why he should want them.  “Ha,” they hollowly hackered,
      “You come, forsooth,

      “By stealth to obliterate
   Our graven worth, our chronicle, our date,
   That our descendant may not gild the record
      Of our past state,

      “And that no sage may say
   In pensive progress near where we decay:
   ‘This stone records a luminous line whose talents
      Told in their day.’”

      Upon the morrow he went
   And to that town and churchyard never bent
   His ageing footsteps till, some twelvemonths onward,
      An accident

      Once more detained him there;
   And, stirred by hauntings, he must needs repair
   To where the tomb was.  Lo, it stood still wasting
      In no man’s care.

      “The travelled man you met
   The last time,” said the sexton, “has not yet
   Appeared again, though wealth he had in plenty.
      —Can he forget?

      “The architect was hired
   And came here on smart summons as desired,
   But never the descendant came to tell him
      What he required.”

      And so the tomb remained
   Untouched, untended, crumbling, weather-stained,
   And though the one-time foe was fain to right it
      He still refrained.

      “I’ll set about it when
   I am sure he’ll come no more.  Best wait till then.”
   But so it was that never the stranger entered
      That city again.

      And the well-meaner died
   While waiting tremulously unsatisfied
   That no return of the family’s foreign scion
      Would still betide.

      And many years slid by,
   And active church-restorers cast their eye
   Upon the ancient garth and hoary building
      The tomb stood nigh.

      And when they had scraped each wall,
   Pulled out the stately pews, and smartened all,
   “It will be well,” declared the spruce church-warden,
      “To overhaul

      “And broaden this path where shown;
   Nothing prevents it but an old tombstone
   Pertaining to a family forgotten,
      Of deeds unknown.

      “Their names can scarce be read,
   Depend on’t, all who care for them are dead.”
   So went the tomb, whose shards were as path-paving
      Distributed.

      Over it and about
   Men’s footsteps beat, and wind and water-spout,
   Until the names, aforetime gnawed by weathers,
      Were quite worn out.

      So that no sage can say
   In pensive progress near where they decay,
   “This stone records a luminous line whose talents
      Told in their day.”



“REGRET NOT ME”


         REGRET not me;
      Beneath the sunny tree
   I lie uncaring, slumbering peacefully.

         Swift as the light
      I flew my faery flight;
   Ecstatically I moved, and feared no night.

         I did not know
      That heydays fade and go,
   But deemed that what was would be always so.

         I skipped at morn
      Between the yellowing corn,
   Thinking it good and glorious to be born.

         I ran at eves
      Among the piled-up sheaves,
   Dreaming, “I grieve not, therefore nothing grieves.”

         Now soon will come
      The apple, pear, and plum
   And hinds will sing, and autumn insects hum.

         Again you will fare
      To cider-makings rare,
   And junketings; but I shall not be there.

         Yet gaily sing
      Until the pewter ring
   Those songs we sang when we went gipsying.

         And lightly dance
      Some triple-timed romance
   In coupled figures, and forget mischance;

         And mourn not me
      Beneath the yellowing tree;
   For I shall mind not, slumbering peacefully.



THE RECALCITRANTS


   LET us off and search, and find a place
   Where yours and mine can be natural lives,
   Where no one comes who dissects and dives
   And proclaims that ours is a curious case,
   That its touch of romance can scarcely grace.

   You would think it strange at first, but then
   Everything has been strange in its time.
   When some one said on a day of the prime
   He would bow to no brazen god again
   He doubtless dazed the mass of men.

   None will recognize us as a pair whose claims
   To righteous judgment we care not making;
   Who have doubted if breath be worth the taking,
   And have no respect for the current fames
   Whence the savour has flown while abide the names.

   We have found us already shunned, disdained,
   And for re-acceptance have not once striven;
   Whatever offence our course has given
   The brunt thereof we have long sustained.
   Well, let us away, scorned unexplained.



STARLINGS ON THE ROOF


   “NO smoke spreads out of this chimney-pot,
   The people who lived here have left the spot,
   And others are coming who knew them not.

   “If you listen anon, with an ear intent,
   The voices, you’ll find, will be different
   From the well-known ones of those who went.”

   “Why did they go?  Their tones so bland
   Were quite familiar to our band;
   The comers we shall not understand.”

   “They look for a new life, rich and strange;
   They do not know that, let them range
   Wherever they may, they will get no change.

   “They will drag their house-gear ever so far
   In their search for a home no miseries mar;
   They will find that as they were they are,

   “That every hearth has a ghost, alack,
   And can be but the scene of a bivouac
   Till they move perforce—no time to pack!”



THE MOON LOOKS IN


                                    I

   I have risen again,
   And awhile survey
   By my chilly ray
   Through your window-pane
   Your upturned face,
   As you think, “Ah-she
   Now dreams of me
   In her distant place!”

                                    II

   I pierce her blind
   In her far-off home:
   She fixes a comb,
   And says in her mind,
   “I start in an hour;
   Whom shall I meet?
   Won’t the men be sweet,
   And the women sour!”



THE SWEET HUSSY


   IN his early days he was quite surprised
   When she told him she was compromised
   By meetings and lingerings at his whim,
   And thinking not of herself but him;
   While she lifted orbs aggrieved and round
   That scandal should so soon abound,
   (As she had raised them to nine or ten
   Of antecedent nice young men)
   And in remorse he thought with a sigh,
   How good she is, and how bad am I!—
   It was years before he understood
   That she was the wicked one—he the good.



THE TELEGRAM


   “O HE’S suffering—maybe dying—and I not there to aid,
   And smooth his bed and whisper to him!  Can I nohow go?
   Only the nurse’s brief twelve words thus hurriedly conveyed,
      As by stealth, to let me know.

   “He was the best and brightest!—candour shone upon his brow,
   And I shall never meet again a soldier such as he,
   And I loved him ere I knew it, and perhaps he’s sinking now,
      Far, far removed from me!”

   —The yachts ride mute at anchor and the fulling moon is fair,
   And the giddy folk are strutting up and down the smooth parade,
   And in her wild distraction she seems not to be aware
      That she lives no more a maid,

   But has vowed and wived herself to one who blessed the ground she trod
   To and from his scene of ministry, and thought her history known
   In its last particular to him—aye, almost as to God,
      And believed her quite his own.

   So great her absentmindedness she droops as in a swoon,
   And a movement of aversion mars her recent spousal grace,
   And in silence we two sit here in our waning honeymoon
      At this idle watering-place . . .

   What now I see before me is a long lane overhung
   With lovelessness, and stretching from the present to the grave.
   And I would I were away from this, with friends I knew when young,
      Ere a woman held me slave.



THE MOTH-SIGNAL
(_On Egdon Heath_)


   “WHAT are you still, still thinking,”
      He asked in vague surmise,
   “That stare at the wick unblinking
      With those great lost luminous eyes?”

   “O, I see a poor moth burning
      In the candle-flame,” said she,
   “Its wings and legs are turning
      To a cinder rapidly.”

   “Moths fly in from the heather,”
      He said, “now the days decline.”
   “I know,” said she.  “The weather,
      I hope, will at last be fine.

   “I think,” she added lightly,
      “I’ll look out at the door.
   The ring the moon wears nightly
      May be visible now no more.”

   She rose, and, little heeding,
      Her husband then went on
   With his attentive reading
      In the annals of ages gone.

   Outside the house a figure
      Came from the tumulus near,
   And speedily waxed bigger,
      And clasped and called her Dear.

   “I saw the pale-winged token
      You sent through the crack,” sighed she.
   “That moth is burnt and broken
      With which you lured out me.

   “And were I as the moth is
      It might be better far
   For one whose marriage troth is
      Shattered as potsherds are!”

   Then grinned the Ancient Briton
      From the tumulus treed with pine:
   “So, hearts are thwartly smitten
      In these days as in mine!”



SEEN BY THE WAITS


   THROUGH snowy woods and shady
      We went to play a tune
   To the lonely manor-lady
      By the light of the Christmas moon.

   We violed till, upward glancing
      To where a mirror leaned,
   We saw her airily dancing,
      Deeming her movements screened;

   Dancing alone in the room there,
      Thin-draped in her robe of night;
   Her postures, glassed in the gloom there,
      Were a strange phantasmal sight.

   She had learnt (we heard when homing)
      That her roving spouse was dead;
   Why she had danced in the gloaming
      We thought, but never said.



THE TWO SOLDIERS


   JUST at the corner of the wall
      We met—yes, he and I—
   Who had not faced in camp or hall
      Since we bade home good-bye,
   And what once happened came back—all—
      Out of those years gone by.

   And that strange woman whom we knew
      And loved—long dead and gone,
   Whose poor half-perished residue,
      Tombless and trod, lay yon!
   But at this moment to our view
      Rose like a phantom wan.

   And in his fixed face I could see,
      Lit by a lurid shine,
   The drama re-enact which she
      Had dyed incarnadine
   For us, and more.  And doubtless he
      Beheld it too in mine.

   A start, as at one slightly known,
      And with an indifferent air
   We passed, without a sign being shown
      That, as it real were,
   A memory-acted scene had thrown
      Its tragic shadow there.



THE DEATH OF REGRET


   I OPENED my shutter at sunrise,
      And looked at the hill hard by,
   And I heartily grieved for the comrade
      Who wandered up there to die.

   I let in the morn on the morrow,
      And failed not to think of him then,
   As he trod up that rise in the twilight,
      And never came down again.

   I undid the shutter a week thence,
      But not until after I’d turned
   Did I call back his last departure
      By the upland there discerned.

   Uncovering the casement long later,
      I bent to my toil till the gray,
   When I said to myself, “Ah—what ails me,
      To forget him all the day!”

   As daily I flung back the shutter
      In the same blank bald routine,
   He scarcely once rose to remembrance
      Through a month of my facing the scene.

   And ah, seldom now do I ponder
      At the window as heretofore
   On the long valued one who died yonder,
      And wastes by the sycamore.



IN THE DAYS OF CRINOLINE


   A PLAIN tilt-bonnet on her head
   She took the path across the leaze.
   —Her spouse the vicar, gardening, said,
   “Too dowdy that, for coquetries,
      So I can hoe at ease.”

   But when she had passed into the heath,
   And gained the wood beyond the flat,
   She raised her skirts, and from beneath
   Unpinned and drew as from a sheath
      An ostrich-feathered hat.

   And where the hat had hung she now
   Concealed and pinned the dowdy hood,
   And set the hat upon her brow,
   And thus emerging from the wood
      Tripped on in jaunty mood.

   The sun was low and crimson-faced
   As two came that way from the town,
   And plunged into the wood untraced . . .
   When separately therefrom they paced
      The sun had quite gone down.

   The hat and feather disappeared,
   The dowdy hood again was donned,
   And in the gloom the fair one neared
   Her home and husband dour, who conned
      Calmly his blue-eyed blonde.

   “To-day,” he said, “you have shown good sense,
   A dress so modest and so meek
   Should always deck your goings hence
   Alone.”  And as a recompense
      He kissed her on the cheek.



THE ROMAN GRAVEMOUNDS


   BY Rome’s dim relics there walks a man,
   Eyes bent; and he carries a basket and spade;
   I guess what impels him to scrape and scan;
   Yea, his dreams of that Empire long decayed.

   “Vast was Rome,” he must muse, “in the world’s regard,
   Vast it looms there still, vast it ever will be;”
   And he stoops as to dig and unmine some shard
   Left by those who are held in such memory.

   But no; in his basket, see, he has brought
   A little white furred thing, stiff of limb,
   Whose life never won from the world a thought;
   It is this, and not Rome, that is moving him.

   And to make it a grave he has come to the spot,
   And he delves in the ancient dead’s long home;
   Their fames, their achievements, the man knows not;
   The furred thing is all to him—nothing Rome!

   “Here say you that Cæsar’s warriors lie?—
   But my little white cat was my only friend!
   Could she but live, might the record die
   Of Cæsar, his legions, his aims, his end!”

   Well, Rome’s long rule here is oft and again
   A theme for the sages of history,
   And the small furred life was worth no one’s pen;
   Yet its mourner’s mood has a charm for me.

_November_ 1910.



THE WORKBOX


   “SEE, here’s the workbox, little wife,
      That I made of polished oak.”
   He was a joiner, of village life;
      She came of borough folk.

   He holds the present up to her
   As with a smile she nears
   And answers to the profferer,
   “’Twill last all my sewing years!”

   “I warrant it will.  And longer too.
   ’Tis a scantling that I got
   Off poor John Wayward’s coffin, who
   Died of they knew not what.

   “The shingled pattern that seems to cease
   Against your box’s rim
   Continues right on in the piece
   That’s underground with him.

   “And while I worked it made me think
   Of timber’s varied doom;
   One inch where people eat and drink,
   The next inch in a tomb.

   “But why do you look so white, my dear,
   And turn aside your face?
   You knew not that good lad, I fear,
   Though he came from your native place?”

   “How could I know that good young man,
   Though he came from my native town,
   When he must have left there earlier than
   I was a woman grown?”

   “Ah no.  I should have understood!
   It shocked you that I gave
   To you one end of a piece of wood
   Whose other is in a grave?”

   “Don’t, dear, despise my intellect,
   Mere accidental things
   Of that sort never have effect
   On my imaginings.”

   Yet still her lips were limp and wan,
   Her face still held aside,
   As if she had known not only John,
   But known of what he died.



THE SACRILEGE
A BALLAD-TRAGEDY
(_Circa_ 182-)


PART I


   “I HAVE a Love I love too well
   Where Dunkery frowns on Exon Moor;
   I have a Love I love too well,
      To whom, ere she was mine,
   ‘Such is my love for you,’ I said,
   ‘That you shall have to hood your head
   A silken kerchief crimson-red,
      Wove finest of the fine.’

   “And since this Love, for one mad moon,
   On Exon Wild by Dunkery Tor,
   Since this my Love for one mad moon
      Did clasp me as her king,
   I snatched a silk-piece red and rare
   From off a stall at Priddy Fair,
   For handkerchief to hood her hair
      When we went gallanting.

   “Full soon the four weeks neared their end
   Where Dunkery frowns on Exon Moor;
   And when the four weeks neared their end,
      And their swift sweets outwore,
   I said, ‘What shall I do to own
   Those beauties bright as tulips blown,
   And keep you here with me alone
      As mine for evermore?’

   “And as she drowsed within my van
   On Exon Wild by Dunkery Tor—
   And as she drowsed within my van,
      And dawning turned to day,
   She heavily raised her sloe-black eyes
   And murmured back in softest wise,
   ‘One more thing, and the charms you prize
      Are yours henceforth for aye.

   “‘And swear I will I’ll never go
   While Dunkery frowns on Exon Moor
   To meet the Cornish Wrestler Joe
      For dance and dallyings.
   If you’ll to yon cathedral shrine,
   And finger from the chest divine
   Treasure to buy me ear-drops fine,
      And richly jewelled rings.’

   “I said: ‘I am one who has gathered gear
   From Marlbury Downs to Dunkery Tor,
   Who has gathered gear for many a year
      From mansion, mart and fair;
   But at God’s house I’ve stayed my hand,
   Hearing within me some command—
   Curbed by a law not of the land
      From doing damage there.’

   “Whereat she pouts, this Love of mine,
   As Dunkery frowns on Exon Moor,
   And still she pouts, this Love of mine,
      So cityward I go.
   But ere I start to do the thing,
   And speed my soul’s imperilling
   For one who is my ravishing
      And all the joy I know,

   “I come to lay this charge on thee—
   On Exon Wild by Dunkery Tor—
   I come to lay this charge on thee
      With solemn speech and sign:
   Should things go ill, and my life pay
   For botchery in this rash assay,
   You are to take hers likewise—yea,
      The month the law takes mine.

   “For should my rival, Wrestler Joe,
   Where Dunkery frowns on Exon Moor—
   My reckless rival, Wrestler Joe,
      My Love’s possessor be,
   My tortured spirit would not rest,
   But wander weary and distrest
   Throughout the world in wild protest:
      The thought nigh maddens me!”


PART II


   Thus did he speak—this brother of mine—
   On Exon Wild by Dunkery Tor,
   Born at my birth of mother of mine,
      And forthwith went his way
   To dare the deed some coming night . . .
   I kept the watch with shaking sight,
   The moon at moments breaking bright,
      At others glooming gray.

   For three full days I heard no sound
   Where Dunkery frowns on Exon Moor,
   I heard no sound at all around
      Whether his fay prevailed,
   Or one malign the master were,
   Till some afoot did tidings bear
   How that, for all his practised care,
      He had been caught and jailed.

   They had heard a crash when twelve had chimed
   By Mendip east of Dunkery Tor,
   When twelve had chimed and moonlight climbed;
      They watched, and he was tracked
   By arch and aisle and saint and knight
   Of sculptured stonework sheeted white
   In the cathedral’s ghostly light,
      And captured in the act.

   Yes; for this Love he loved too well
   Where Dunkery sights the Severn shore,
   All for this Love he loved too well
      He burst the holy bars,
   Seized golden vessels from the chest
   To buy her ornaments of the best,
   At her ill-witchery’s request
      And lure of eyes like stars . . .

   When blustering March confused the sky
   In Toneborough Town by Exon Moor,
   When blustering March confused the sky
      They stretched him; and he died.
   Down in the crowd where I, to see
   The end of him, stood silently,
   With a set face he lipped to me—
      “Remember.”  “Ay!” I cried.

   By night and day I shadowed her
   From Toneborough Deane to Dunkery Tor,
   I shadowed her asleep, astir,
      And yet I could not bear—
   Till Wrestler Joe anon began
   To figure as her chosen man,
   And took her to his shining van—
      To doom a form so fair!

   He made it handsome for her sake—
   And Dunkery smiled to Exon Moor—
   He made it handsome for her sake,
      Painting it out and in;
   And on the door of apple-green
   A bright brass knocker soon was seen,
   And window-curtains white and clean
      For her to sit within.

   And all could see she clave to him
   As cleaves a cloud to Dunkery Tor,
   Yea, all could see she clave to him,
      And every day I said,
   “A pity it seems to part those two
   That hourly grow to love more true:
   Yet she’s the wanton woman who
      Sent one to swing till dead!”

   That blew to blazing all my hate,
   While Dunkery frowned on Exon Moor,
   And when the river swelled, her fate
      Came to her pitilessly . . .
   I dogged her, crying: “Across that plank
   They use as bridge to reach yon bank
   A coat and hat lie limp and dank;
      Your goodman’s, can they be?”

   She paled, and went, I close behind—
   And Exon frowned to Dunkery Tor,
   She went, and I came up behind
      And tipped the plank that bore
   Her, fleetly flitting across to eye
   What such might bode.  She slid awry;
   And from the current came a cry,
      A gurgle; and no more.

   How that befell no mortal knew
   From Marlbury Downs to Exon Moor;
   No mortal knew that deed undue
      But he who schemed the crime,
   Which night still covers . . . But in dream
   Those ropes of hair upon the stream
   He sees, and he will hear that scream
      Until his judgment-time.



THE ABBEY MASON
(_Inventor of the_ “_Perpendicular_” _Style of Gothic Architecture_)


   THE new-vamped Abbey shaped apace
   In the fourteenth century of grace;

   (The church which, at an after date,
   Acquired cathedral rank and state.)

   Panel and circumscribing wall
   Of latest feature, trim and tall,

   Rose roundabout the Norman core
   In prouder pose than theretofore,

   Encasing magically the old
   With parpend ashlars manifold.

   The trowels rang out, and tracery
   Appeared where blanks had used to be.

   Men toiled for pleasure more than pay,
   And all went smoothly day by day,

   Till, in due course, the transept part
   Engrossed the master-mason’s art.

   —Home-coming thence he tossed and turned
   Throughout the night till the new sun burned.

   “What fearful visions have inspired
   These gaingivings?” his wife inquired;

   “As if your tools were in your hand
   You have hammered, fitted, muttered, planned;

   “You have thumped as you were working hard:
   I might have found me bruised and scarred.

   “What then’s amiss.  What eating care
   Looms nigh, whereof I am unaware?”

   He answered not, but churchward went,
   Viewing his draughts with discontent;

   And fumbled there the livelong day
   Till, hollow-eyed, he came away.

   —’Twas said, “The master-mason’s ill!”
   And all the abbey works stood still.

   Quoth Abbot Wygmore: “Why, O why
   Distress yourself?  You’ll surely die!”

   The mason answered, trouble-torn,
   “This long-vogued style is quite outworn!

   “The upper archmould nohow serves
   To meet the lower tracery curves:

   “The ogees bend too far away
   To give the flexures interplay.

   “This it is causes my distress . . .
   So it will ever be unless

   “New forms be found to supersede
   The circle when occasions need.

   “To carry it out I have tried and toiled,
   And now perforce must own me foiled!

   “Jeerers will say: ‘Here was a man
   Who could not end what he began!’”

   —So passed that day, the next, the next;
   The abbot scanned the task, perplexed;

   The townsmen mustered all their wit
   To fathom how to compass it,

   But no raw artistries availed
   Where practice in the craft had failed . . .

   —One night he tossed, all open-eyed,
   And early left his helpmeet’s side.

   Scattering the rushes of the floor
   He wandered from the chamber door

   And sought the sizing pile, whereon
   Struck dimly a cadaverous dawn

   Through freezing rain, that drenched the board
   Of diagram-lines he last had scored—

   Chalked phantasies in vain begot
   To knife the architectural knot—

   In front of which he dully stood,
   Regarding them in hopeless mood.

   He closelier looked; then looked again:
   The chalk-scratched draught-board faced the rain,

   Whose icicled drops deformed the lines
   Innumerous of his lame designs,

   So that they streamed in small white threads
   From the upper segments to the heads

   Of arcs below, uniting them
   Each by a stalactitic stem.

   —At once, with eyes that struck out sparks,
   He adds accessory cusping-marks,

   Then laughs aloud.  The thing was done
   So long assayed from sun to sun . . .

   —Now in his joy he grew aware
   Of one behind him standing there,

   And, turning, saw the abbot, who
   The weather’s whim was watching too.

   Onward to Prime the abbot went,
   Tacit upon the incident.

   —Men now discerned as days revolved
   The ogive riddle had been solved;

   Templates were cut, fresh lines were chalked
   Where lines had been defaced and balked,

   And the work swelled and mounted higher,
   Achievement distancing desire;

   Here jambs with transoms fixed between,
   Where never the like before had been—

   There little mullions thinly sawn
   Where meeting circles once were drawn.

   “We knew,” men said, “the thing would go
   After his craft-wit got aglow,

   “And, once fulfilled what he has designed,
   We’ll honour him and his great mind!”

   When matters stood thus poised awhile,
   And all surroundings shed a smile,

   The master-mason on an eve
   Homed to his wife and seemed to grieve . . .

   —“The abbot spoke to me to-day:
   He hangs about the works alway.

   “He knows the source as well as I
   Of the new style men magnify.

   “He said: ‘You pride yourself too much
   On your creation.  Is it such?

   “‘Surely the hand of God it is
   That conjured so, and only His!—

   “‘Disclosing by the frost and rain
   Forms your invention chased in vain;

   “‘Hence the devices deemed so great
   You copied, and did not create.’

   “I feel the abbot’s words are just,
   And that all thanks renounce I must.

   “Can a man welcome praise and pelf
   For hatching art that hatched itself? . . .

   “So, I shall own the deft design
   Is Heaven’s outshaping, and not mine.”

   “What!” said she.  “Praise your works ensure
   To throw away, and quite obscure

   “Your beaming and beneficent star?
   Better you leave things as they are!

   “Why, think awhile.  Had not your zest
   In your loved craft curtailed your rest—

   “Had you not gone there ere the day
   The sun had melted all away!”

   —But, though his good wife argued so,
   The mason let the people know

   That not unaided sprang the thought
   Whereby the glorious fane was wrought,

   But that by frost when dawn was dim
   The method was disclosed to him.

   “Yet,” said the townspeople thereat,
   “’Tis your own doing, even with that!”

   But he—chafed, childlike, in extremes—
   The temperament of men of dreams—

   Aloofly scrupled to admit
   That he did aught but borrow it,

   And diffidently made request
   That with the abbot all should rest.

   —As none could doubt the abbot’s word,
   Or question what the church averred,

   The mason was at length believed
   Of no more count than he conceived,

   And soon began to lose the fame
   That late had gathered round his name . . .

   —Time passed, and like a living thing
   The pile went on embodying,

   And workmen died, and young ones grew,
   And the old mason sank from view

   And Abbots Wygmore and Staunton went
   And Horton sped the embellishment.

   But not till years had far progressed
   Chanced it that, one day, much impressed,

   Standing within the well-graced aisle,
   He asked who first conceived the style;

   And some decrepit sage detailed
   How, when invention nought availed,

   The cloud-cast waters in their whim
   Came down, and gave the hint to him

   Who struck each arc, and made each mould;
   And how the abbot would not hold

   As sole begetter him who applied
   Forms the Almighty sent as guide;

   And how the master lost renown,
   And wore in death no artist’s crown.

   —Then Horton, who in inner thought
   Had more perceptions than he taught,

   Replied: “Nay; art can but transmute;
   Invention is not absolute;

   “Things fail to spring from nought at call,
   And art-beginnings most of all.

   “He did but what all artists do,
   Wait upon Nature for his cue.”

   —“Had you been here to tell them so
   Lord Abbot, sixty years ago,

   “The mason, now long underground,
   Doubtless a different fate had found.

   “He passed into oblivion dim,
   And none knew what became of him!

   “His name?  ’Twas of some common kind
   And now has faded out of mind.”

   The Abbot: “It shall not be hid!
   I’ll trace it.” . . . But he never did.

   —When longer yet dank death had wormed
   The brain wherein the style had germed

   From Gloucester church it flew afar—
   The style called Perpendicular.—

   To Winton and to Westminster
   It ranged, and grew still beautifuller:

   From Solway Frith to Dover Strand
   Its fascinations starred the land,

   Not only on cathedral walls
   But upon courts and castle halls,

   Till every edifice in the isle
   Was patterned to no other style,

   And till, long having played its part,
   The curtain fell on Gothic art.

   —Well: when in Wessex on your rounds,
   Take a brief step beyond its bounds,

   And enter Gloucester: seek the quoin
   Where choir and transept interjoin,

   And, gazing at the forms there flung
   Against the sky by one unsung—

   The ogee arches transom-topped,
   The tracery-stalks by spandrels stopped,

   Petrified lacework—lightly lined
   On ancient massiveness behind—

   Muse that some minds so modest be
   As to renounce fame’s fairest fee,

   (Like him who crystallized on this spot
   His visionings, but lies forgot,

   And many a mediaeval one
   Whose symmetries salute the sun)

   While others boom a baseless claim,
   And upon nothing rear a name.



THE JUBILEE OF A MAGAZINE
(_To the Editor_)


   YES; your up-dated modern page—
   All flower-fresh, as it appears—
   Can claim a time-tried lineage,

   That reaches backward fifty years
   (Which, if but short for sleepy squires,
   Is much in magazines’ careers).

   —Here, on your cover, never tires
   The sower, reaper, thresher, while
   As through the seasons of our sires

   Each wills to work in ancient style
   With seedlip, sickle, share and flail,
   Though modes have since moved many a mile!

   The steel-roped plough now rips the vale,
   With cog and tooth the sheaves are won,
   Wired wheels drum out the wheat like hail;

   But if we ask, what has been done
   To unify the mortal lot
   Since your bright leaves first saw the sun,

   Beyond mechanic furtherance—what
   Advance can rightness, candour, claim?
   Truth bends abashed, and answers not.

   Despite your volumes’ gentle aim
   To straighten visions wry and wrong,
   Events jar onward much the same!

   —Had custom tended to prolong,
   As on your golden page engrained,
   Old processes of blade and prong,

   And best invention been retained
   For high crusades to lessen tears
   Throughout the race, the world had gained! . . .
   But too much, this, for fifty years.



THE SATIN SHOES


   “IF ever I walk to church to wed,
      As other maidens use,
   And face the gathered eyes,” she said,
      “I’ll go in satin shoes!”

   She was as fair as early day
      Shining on meads unmown,
   And her sweet syllables seemed to play
      Like flute-notes softly blown.

   The time arrived when it was meet
      That she should be a bride;
   The satin shoes were on her feet,
      Her father was at her side.

   They stood within the dairy door,
      And gazed across the green;
   The church loomed on the distant moor,
      But rain was thick between.

   “The grass-path hardly can be stepped,
      The lane is like a pool!”—
   Her dream is shown to be inept,
      Her wish they overrule.

   “To go forth shod in satin soft
      A coach would be required!”
   For thickest boots the shoes were doffed—
      Those shoes her soul desired . . .

   All day the bride, as overborne,
      Was seen to brood apart,
   And that the shoes had not been worn
      Sat heavy on her heart.

   From her wrecked dream, as months flew on,
      Her thought seemed not to range.
   “What ails the wife?” they said anon,
      “That she should be so strange?” . . .

   Ah—what coach comes with furtive glide—
      A coach of closed-up kind?
   It comes to fetch the last year’s bride,
      Who wanders in her mind.

   She strove with them, and fearfully ran
      Stairward with one low scream:
   “Nay—coax her,” said the madhouse man,
      “With some old household theme.”

   “If you will go, dear, you must fain
      Put on those shoes—the pair
   Meant for your marriage, which the rain
      Forbade you then to wear.”

   She clapped her hands, flushed joyous hues;
      “O yes—I’ll up and ride
   If I am to wear my satin shoes
      And be a proper bride!”

   Out then her little foot held she,
      As to depart with speed;
   The madhouse man smiled pleasantly
      To see the wile succeed.

   She turned to him when all was done,
      And gave him her thin hand,
   Exclaiming like an enraptured one,
      “This time it will be grand!”

   She mounted with a face elate,
      Shut was the carriage door;
   They drove her to the madhouse gate,
      And she was seen no more . . .

   Yet she was fair as early day
      Shining on meads unmown,
   And her sweet syllables seemed to play
      Like flute-notes softly blown.



EXEUNT OMNES


                                    I

      EVERYBODY else, then, going,
   And I still left where the fair was? . . .
   Much have I seen of neighbour loungers
      Making a lusty showing,
      Each now past all knowing.

                                    II

      There is an air of blankness
   In the street and the littered spaces;
   Thoroughfare, steeple, bridge and highway
      Wizen themselves to lankness;
      Kennels dribble dankness.

                                   III

      Folk all fade.  And whither,
   As I wait alone where the fair was?
   Into the clammy and numbing night-fog
      Whence they entered hither.
      Soon do I follow thither!

_June_ 2, 1913.



A POET


   ATTENTIVE eyes, fantastic heed,
   Assessing minds, he does not need,
   Nor urgent writs to sup or dine,
   Nor pledges in the roseate wine.

   For loud acclaim he does not care
   By the august or rich or fair,
   Nor for smart pilgrims from afar,
   Curious on where his hauntings are.

   But soon or later, when you hear
   That he has doffed this wrinkled gear,
   Some evening, at the first star-ray,
   Come to his graveside, pause and say:

   “Whatever the message his to tell,
   Two bright-souled women loved him well.”
   Stand and say that amid the dim:
   It will be praise enough for him.

_July_ 1914.



POSTSCRIPT
“MEN WHO MARCH AWAY”
(SONG OF THE SOLDIERS)


   WHAT of the faith and fire within us
      Men who march away
      Ere the barn-cocks say
      Night is growing gray,
   To hazards whence no tears can win us;
   What of the faith and fire within us
      Men who march away?

   Is it a purblind prank, O think you,
      Friend with the musing eye,
      Who watch us stepping by
      With doubt and dolorous sigh?
   Can much pondering so hoodwink you!
   Is it a purblind prank, O think you,
      Friend with the musing eye?

   Nay.  We well see what we are doing,
      Though some may not see—
      Dalliers as they be—
      England’s need are we;
   Her distress would leave us rueing:
   Nay.  We well see what we are doing,
      Though some may not see!

   In our heart of hearts believing
      Victory crowns the just,
      And that braggarts must
      Surely bite the dust,
   Press we to the field ungrieving,
   In our heart of hearts believing
      Victory crowns the just.

   Hence the faith and fire within us
      Men who march away
      Ere the barn-cocks say
      Night is growing gray,
   To hazards whence no tears can win us:
   Hence the faith and fire within us
      Men who march away.

_September_ 5, 1914.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Satires of Circumstance, Lyrics and Reveries, with Miscellaneous Pieces" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
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.



Home