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Title: Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses
Author: Hardy, Thomas
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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



                            MOMENTS OF VISION
                                   AND
                           MISCELLANEOUS VERSES


                                * * * * *

                                    BY
                               THOMAS HARDY

                                * * * * *

                        MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
                       ST. MARTIN’S STREET, LONDON
                                   1929

                                * * * * *

                                COPYRIGHT

                           _First Edition_ 1917
                             _Reprinted_ 1919
                          _Pocket Edition_ 1919
                       _Reprinted_ 1923, 1925, 1929
                          _Wessex Edition_ 1919

                                * * * * *

                         PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN
                   BY R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, EDINBURGH



CONTENTS

                                                                  PAGE
Moments of Vision                                                    1
The Voice of Things                                                  2
“Why be at pains?”                                                   3
“We sat at the window”                                               4
Afternoon Service at Mellstock                                       5
At the Wicket-gate                                                   6
In a Museum                                                          7
Apostrophe to an Old Psalm Tune                                      8
At the Word “Farewell”                                              11
First Sight of Her and After                                        13
The Rival                                                           14
Heredity                                                            15
“You were the sort that men forget”                                 16
She, I, and They                                                    17
Near Lanivet, 1872                                                  18
Joys of Memory                                                      20
To the Moon                                                         21
Copying Architecture in an Old Minster                              22
To Shakespeare                                                      24
Quid hic agis?                                                      27
On a Midsummer Eve                                                  30
Timing Her                                                          31
Before Knowledge                                                    34
The Blinded Bird                                                    35
“The wind blew words”                                               36
The Faded Face                                                      37
The Riddle                                                          38
The Duel                                                            39
At Mayfair Lodgings                                                 42
To my Father’s Violin                                               44
The Statue of Liberty                                               47
The Background and the Figure                                       50
The Change                                                          51
Sitting on the Bridge                                               54
The Young Churchwarden                                              56
“I travel as a phantom now”                                         57
Lines to a Movement in Mozart’s E-flat Symphony                     58
“In the seventies”                                                  60
The Pedigree                                                        62
This Heart.  A Woman’s Dream                                        65
Where they lived                                                    68
The Occultation                                                     69
Life laughs Onward                                                  70
The Peace-offering                                                  71
“Something tapped”                                                  72
The Wound                                                           73
A Merrymaking in Question                                           74
“I said and sang her excellence”                                    75
A January Night.  1879                                              77
A Kiss                                                              78
The Announcement                                                    79
The Oxen                                                            80
The Tresses                                                         81
The Photograph                                                      82
On a Heath                                                          84
An Anniversary                                                      85
“By the Runic Stone”                                                87
The Pink Frock                                                      88
Transformations                                                     89
In her Precincts                                                    90
The Last Signal                                                     91
The House of Silence                                                93
Great Things                                                        95
The Chimes                                                          97
The Figure in the Scene                                             98
“Why did I sketch”                                                  99
Conjecture                                                         100
The Blow                                                           101
Love the Monopolist                                                103
At Middle-field Gate in February                                   105
The Youth who carried a Light                                      106
The Head above the Fog                                             108
Overlooking the River Stour                                        109
The Musical Box                                                    111
On Sturminster Foot-bridge                                         113
Royal Sponsors                                                     114
Old Furniture                                                      116
A Thought in Two Moods                                             118
The Last Performance                                               119
“You on the tower”                                                 120
The Interloper                                                     122
Logs on the Hearth                                                 124
The Sunshade                                                       126
The Ageing House                                                   128
The Caged Goldfinch                                                129
At Madame Tussaud’s in Victorian Years                             130
The Ballet                                                         132
The Five Students                                                  133
The Wind’s Prophecy                                                135
During Wind and Rain                                               137
He prefers her Earthly                                             139
The Dolls                                                          140
Molly gone                                                         141
A Backward Spring                                                  143
Looking Across                                                     144
At a Seaside Town in 1869                                          146
The Glimpse                                                        149
The Pedestrian                                                     151
“Who’s in the next room?”                                          153
At a Country Fair                                                  155
The Memorial Brass: 186-                                           156
Her Love-birds                                                     158
Paying Calls                                                       160
The Upper Birch-Leaves                                             161
“It never looks like summer”                                       162
Everything comes                                                   163
The Man with a Past                                                164
He fears his Good Fortune                                          166
He wonders about Himself                                           167
Jubilate                                                           168
He revisits his First School                                       171
“I thought, my heart”                                              173
Fragment                                                           174
Midnight on the Great Western                                      176
Honeymoon Time at an Inn                                           177
The Robin                                                          181
“I rose and went to Rou’tor town”                                  183
The Nettles                                                        184
In a Waiting-room                                                  185
The Clock-winder                                                   187
Old Excursions                                                     189
The Masked Face                                                    191
In a Whispering Gallery                                            192
The Something that saved Him                                       193
The Enemy’s Portrait                                               195
Imaginings                                                         197
On the Doorstep                                                    198
Signs and Tokens                                                   199
Paths of Former Time                                               201
The Clock of the Years                                             203
At the Piano                                                       205
The Shadow on the Stone                                            206
In the Garden                                                      208
The Tree and the Lady                                              209
An Upbraiding                                                      211
The Young Glass-stainer                                            212
Looking at a Picture on an Anniversary                             213
The Choirmaster’s Burial                                           215
The Man who forgot                                                 217
While drawing in a Churchyard                                      219
“For Life I had never cared greatly”                               221
POEMS OF WAR AND PATRIOTISM—
                        “Men who march away” (Song of the          225
                        Soldiers)
                        His Country                                227
                        England to Germany in 1914                 229
                        On the Belgian Expatriation                230
                        An Appeal to America on behalf of          231
                        the Belgian Destitute
                        The Pity of It                             232
                        In Time of Wars and Tumults                233
                        In Time of “the Breaking of                234
                        nations”
                        Cry of the Homeless                        235
                        Before Marching and After                  237
                        “Often when warring”                       239
                        Then and Now                               240
                        A Call to National Service                 242
                        The Dead and the Living One                243
                        A New Year’s Eve in War Time               246
                        “I met a man”                              248
                        “I looked up from my writing”              250
FINALE—
                        The Coming of the End                      255
                        Afterwards                                 257



MOMENTS OF VISION


         THAT mirror
      Which makes of men a transparency,
         Who holds that mirror
   And bids us such a breast-bare spectacle see
         Of you and me?

         That mirror
      Whose magic penetrates like a dart,
         Who lifts that mirror
   And throws our mind back on us, and our heart,
         Until we start?

         That mirror
      Works well in these night hours of ache;
         Why in that mirror
   Are tincts we never see ourselves once take
         When the world is awake?

         That mirror
      Can test each mortal when unaware;
         Yea, that strange mirror
   May catch his last thoughts, whole life foul or fair,
         Glassing it—where?



THE VOICE OF THINGS


   FORTY Augusts—aye, and several more—ago,
      When I paced the headlands loosed from dull employ,
   The waves huzza’d like a multitude below
      In the sway of an all-including joy
         Without cloy.

   Blankly I walked there a double decade after,
      When thwarts had flung their toils in front of me,
   And I heard the waters wagging in a long ironic laughter
      At the lot of men, and all the vapoury
         Things that be.

   Wheeling change has set me again standing where
      Once I heard the waves huzza at Lammas-tide;
   But they supplicate now—like a congregation there
      Who murmur the Confession—I outside,
         Prayer denied.



“WHY BE AT PAINS?”
(_Wooer’s Song_)


   WHY be at pains that I should know
      You sought not me?
   Do breezes, then, make features glow
      So rosily?
   Come, the lit port is at our back,
      And the tumbling sea;
   Elsewhere the lampless uphill track
      To uncertainty!

   O should not we two waifs join hands?
      I am alone,
   You would enrich me more than lands
      By being my own.
   Yet, though this facile moment flies,
      Close is your tone,
   And ere to-morrow’s dewfall dries
      I plough the unknown.



“WE SAT AT THE WINDOW”
(_Bournemouth_, 1875)


   WE sat at the window looking out,
   And the rain came down like silken strings
   That Swithin’s day.  Each gutter and spout
   Babbled unchecked in the busy way
      Of witless things:
   Nothing to read, nothing to see
   Seemed in that room for her and me
      On Swithin’s day.

   We were irked by the scene, by our own selves; yes,
   For I did not know, nor did she infer
   How much there was to read and guess
   By her in me, and to see and crown
      By me in her.
   Wasted were two souls in their prime,
   And great was the waste, that July time
      When the rain came down.



AFTERNOON SERVICE AT MELLSTOCK
(_Circa_ 1850)


      ON afternoons of drowsy calm
         We stood in the panelled pew,
   Singing one-voiced a Tate-and-Brady psalm
         To the tune of “Cambridge New.”

      We watched the elms, we watched the rooks,
         The clouds upon the breeze,
   Between the whiles of glancing at our books,
         And swaying like the trees.

      So mindless were those outpourings!—
         Though I am not aware
   That I have gained by subtle thought on things
         Since we stood psalming there.



AT THE WICKET-GATE


   THERE floated the sounds of church-chiming,
      But no one was nigh,
   Till there came, as a break in the loneness,
      Her father, she, I.
   And we slowly moved on to the wicket,
      And downlooking stood,
   Till anon people passed, and amid them
      We parted for good.

   Greater, wiser, may part there than we three
      Who parted there then,
   But never will Fates colder-featured
      Hold sway there again.
   Of the churchgoers through the still meadows
      No single one knew
   What a play was played under their eyes there
      As thence we withdrew.



IN A MUSEUM


                                    I

   HERE’S the mould of a musical bird long passed from light,
   Which over the earth before man came was winging;
   There’s a contralto voice I heard last night,
   That lodges in me still with its sweet singing.

                                    II

   Such a dream is Time that the coo of this ancient bird
   Has perished not, but is blent, or will be blending
   Mid visionless wilds of space with the voice that I heard,
   In the full-fugued song of the universe unending.

EXETER.



APOSTROPHE TO AN OLD PSALM TUNE


   I MET you first—ah, when did I first meet you?
   When I was full of wonder, and innocent,
   Standing meek-eyed with those of choric bent,
      While dimming day grew dimmer
         In the pulpit-glimmer.

   Much riper in years I met you—in a temple
   Where summer sunset streamed upon our shapes,
   And you spread over me like a gauze that drapes,
      And flapped from floor to rafters,
         Sweet as angels’ laughters.

   But you had been stripped of some of your old vesture
   By Monk, or another.  Now you wore no frill,
   And at first you startled me.  But I knew you still,
      Though I missed the minim’s waver,
         And the dotted quaver.

   I grew accustomed to you thus.  And you hailed me
   Through one who evoked you often.  Then at last
   Your raiser was borne off, and I mourned you had passed
      From my life with your late outsetter;
         Till I said, “’Tis better!”

   But you waylaid me.  I rose and went as a ghost goes,
   And said, eyes-full “I’ll never hear it again!
   It is overmuch for scathed and memoried men
      When sitting among strange people
         Under their steeple.”

   Now, a new stirrer of tones calls you up before me
   And wakes your speech, as she of Endor did
   (When sought by Saul who, in disguises hid,
      Fell down on the earth to hear it)
         Samuel’s spirit.

   So, your quired oracles beat till they make me tremble
   As I discern your mien in the old attire,
   Here in these turmoiled years of belligerent fire
      Living still on—and onward, maybe,
         Till Doom’s great day be!

_Sunday_, _August_ 13, 1916.



AT THE WORD “FAREWELL”


   SHE looked like a bird from a cloud
      On the clammy lawn,
   Moving alone, bare-browed
      In the dim of dawn.
   The candles alight in the room
      For my parting meal
   Made all things withoutdoors loom
      Strange, ghostly, unreal.

   The hour itself was a ghost,
      And it seemed to me then
   As of chances the chance furthermost
      I should see her again.
   I beheld not where all was so fleet
      That a Plan of the past
   Which had ruled us from birthtime to meet
      Was in working at last:

   No prelude did I there perceive
      To a drama at all,
   Or foreshadow what fortune might weave
      From beginnings so small;
   But I rose as if quicked by a spur
      I was bound to obey,
   And stepped through the casement to her
      Still alone in the gray.

   “I am leaving you . . . Farewell!” I said,
      As I followed her on
   By an alley bare boughs overspread;
      “I soon must be gone!”
   Even then the scale might have been turned
      Against love by a feather,
   —But crimson one cheek of hers burned
      When we came in together.



FIRST SIGHT OF HER AND AFTER


   A DAY is drawing to its fall
      I had not dreamed to see;
   The first of many to enthrall
      My spirit, will it be?
   Or is this eve the end of all
      Such new delight for me?

   I journey home: the pattern grows
      Of moonshades on the way:
   “Soon the first quarter, I suppose,”
      Sky-glancing travellers say;
   I realize that it, for those,
      Has been a common day.



THE RIVAL


      I DETERMINED to find out whose it was—
      The portrait he looked at so, and sighed;
   Bitterly have I rued my meanness
         And wept for it since he died!

      I searched his desk when he was away,
      And there was the likeness—yes, my own!
   Taken when I was the season’s fairest,
         And time-lines all unknown.

      I smiled at my image, and put it back,
      And he went on cherishing it, until
   I was chafed that he loved not the me then living,
         But that past woman still.

      Well, such was my jealousy at last,
      I destroyed that face of the former me;
   Could you ever have dreamed the heart of woman
         Would work so foolishly!



HEREDITY


   I AM the family face;
   Flesh perishes, I live on,
   Projecting trait and trace
   Through time to times anon,
   And leaping from place to place
   Over oblivion.

   The years-heired feature that can
   In curve and voice and eye
   Despise the human span
   Of durance—that is I;
   The eternal thing in man,
   That heeds no call to die.



“YOU WERE THE SORT THAT MEN FORGET”


      YOU were the sort that men forget;
         Though I—not yet!—
   Perhaps not ever.  Your slighted weakness
      Adds to the strength of my regret!

      You’d not the art—you never had
         For good or bad—
   To make men see how sweet your meaning,
      Which, visible, had charmed them glad.

      You would, by words inept let fall,
         Offend them all,
   Even if they saw your warm devotion
      Would hold your life’s blood at their call.

      You lacked the eye to understand
         Those friends offhand
   Whose mode was crude, though whose dim purport
      Outpriced the courtesies of the bland.

      I am now the only being who
         Remembers you
   It may be.  What a waste that Nature
      Grudged soul so dear the art its due!



SHE, I, AND THEY


         I WAS sitting,
         She was knitting,
   And the portraits of our fore-folk hung around;
      When there struck on us a sigh;
      “Ah—what is that?” said I:
   “Was it not you?” said she.  “A sigh did sound.”

         I had not breathed it,
         Nor the night-wind heaved it,
   And how it came to us we could not guess;
      And we looked up at each face
      Framed and glazed there in its place,
   Still hearkening; but thenceforth was silentness.

         Half in dreaming,
         “Then its meaning,”
   Said we, “must be surely this; that they repine
      That we should be the last
      Of stocks once unsurpassed,
   And unable to keep up their sturdy line.”

1916.



NEAR LANIVET, 1872


   THERE was a stunted handpost just on the crest,
      Only a few feet high:
   She was tired, and we stopped in the twilight-time for her rest,
      At the crossways close thereby.

   She leant back, being so weary, against its stem,
      And laid her arms on its own,
   Each open palm stretched out to each end of them,
      Her sad face sideways thrown.

   Her white-clothed form at this dim-lit cease of day
      Made her look as one crucified
   In my gaze at her from the midst of the dusty way,
      And hurriedly “Don’t,” I cried.

   I do not think she heard.  Loosing thence she said,
      As she stepped forth ready to go,
   “I am rested now.—Something strange came into my head;
      I wish I had not leant so!”

   And wordless we moved onward down from the hill
      In the west cloud’s murked obscure,
   And looking back we could see the handpost still
      In the solitude of the moor.

   “It struck her too,” I thought, for as if afraid
      She heavily breathed as we trailed;
   Till she said, “I did not think how ’twould look in the shade,
      When I leant there like one nailed.”

   I, lightly: “There’s nothing in it.  For _you_, anyhow!”
      —“O I know there is not,” said she . . .
   “Yet I wonder . . . If no one is bodily crucified now,
      In spirit one may be!”

   And we dragged on and on, while we seemed to see
      In the running of Time’s far glass
   Her crucified, as she had wondered if she might be
      Some day.—Alas, alas!



JOYS OF MEMORY


      WHEN the spring comes round, and a certain day
   Looks out from the brume by the eastern copsetrees
            And says, Remember,
         I begin again, as if it were new,
         A day of like date I once lived through,
         Whiling it hour by hour away;
            So shall I do till my December,
               When spring comes round.

      I take my holiday then and my rest
   Away from the dun life here about me,
            Old hours re-greeting
         With the quiet sense that bring they must
         Such throbs as at first, till I house with dust,
         And in the numbness my heartsome zest
            For things that were, be past repeating
               When spring comes round.



TO THE MOON


      “WHAT have you looked at, Moon,
         In your time,
      Now long past your prime?”
   “O, I have looked at, often looked at
         Sweet, sublime,
   Sore things, shudderful, night and noon
         In my time.”

      “What have you mused on, Moon,
         In your day,
      So aloof, so far away?”
   “O, I have mused on, often mused on
         Growth, decay,
   Nations alive, dead, mad, aswoon,
         In my day!”

      “Have you much wondered, Moon,
         On your rounds,
      Self-wrapt, beyond Earth’s bounds?”
   “Yea, I have wondered, often wondered
         At the sounds
   Reaching me of the human tune
         On my rounds.”

      “What do you think of it, Moon,
         As you go?
      Is Life much, or no?”
   “O, I think of it, often think of it
         As a show
   God ought surely to shut up soon,
         As I go.”



COPYING ARCHITECTURE IN AN OLD MINSTER
(_Wimborne_)


      HOW smartly the quarters of the hour march by
         That the jack-o’-clock never forgets;
      Ding-dong; and before I have traced a cusp’s eye,
   Or got the true twist of the ogee over,
            A double ding-dong ricochetts.

      Just so did he clang here before I came,
         And so will he clang when I’m gone
      Through the Minster’s cavernous hollows—the same
   Tale of hours never more to be will he deliver
         To the speechless midnight and dawn!

      I grow to conceive it a call to ghosts,
         Whose mould lies below and around.
      Yes; the next “Come, come,” draws them out from their posts,
   And they gather, and one shade appears, and another,
         As the eve-damps creep from the ground.

      See—a Courtenay stands by his quatre-foiled tomb,
         And a Duke and his Duchess near;
      And one Sir Edmund in columned gloom,
   And a Saxon king by the presbytery chamber;
         And shapes unknown in the rear.

      Maybe they have met for a parle on some plan
         To better ail-stricken mankind;
      I catch their cheepings, though thinner than
   The overhead creak of a passager’s pinion
         When leaving land behind.

      Or perhaps they speak to the yet unborn,
         And caution them not to come
      To a world so ancient and trouble-torn,
   Of foiled intents, vain lovingkindness,
         And ardours chilled and numb.

      They waste to fog as I stir and stand,
         And move from the arched recess,
      And pick up the drawing that slipped from my hand,
   And feel for the pencil I dropped in the cranny
         In a moment’s forgetfulness.



TO SHAKESPEARE
AFTER THREE HUNDRED YEARS


      BRIGHT baffling Soul, least capturable of themes,
      Thou, who display’dst a life of common-place,
      Leaving no intimate word or personal trace
      Of high design outside the artistry
         Of thy penned dreams,
   Still shalt remain at heart unread eternally.

      Through human orbits thy discourse to-day,
      Despite thy formal pilgrimage, throbs on
      In harmonies that cow Oblivion,
      And, like the wind, with all-uncared effect
         Maintain a sway
   Not fore-desired, in tracks unchosen and unchecked.

      And yet, at thy last breath, with mindless note
      The borough clocks but samely tongued the hour,
      The Avon just as always glassed the tower,
      Thy age was published on thy passing-bell
         But in due rote
   With other dwellers’ deaths accorded a like knell.

      And at the strokes some townsman (met, maybe,
      And thereon queried by some squire’s good dame
      Driving in shopward) may have given thy name,
      With, “Yes, a worthy man and well-to-do;
         Though, as for me,
   I knew him but by just a neighbour’s nod, ’tis true.

      “I’ faith, few knew him much here, save by word,
      He having elsewhere led his busier life;
      Though to be sure he left with us his wife.”
      —“Ah, one of the tradesmen’s sons, I now recall . . .
         Witty, I’ve heard . . .
   We did not know him . . . Well, good-day.  Death comes to all.”

      So, like a strange bright bird we sometimes find
      To mingle with the barn-door brood awhile,
      Then vanish from their homely domicile—
      Into man’s poesy, we wot not whence,
         Flew thy strange mind,
   Lodged there a radiant guest, and sped for ever thence.

1916.



QUID HIC AGIS?


                                    I

   WHEN I weekly knew
   An ancient pew,
   And murmured there
   The forms of prayer
   And thanks and praise
   In the ancient ways,
   And heard read out
   During August drought
   That chapter from Kings
   Harvest-time brings;
   —How the prophet, broken
   By griefs unspoken,
   Went heavily away
   To fast and to pray,
   And, while waiting to die,
   The Lord passed by,
   And a whirlwind and fire
   Drew nigher and nigher,
   And a small voice anon
   Bade him up and be gone,—
   I did not apprehend
   As I sat to the end
   And watched for her smile
   Across the sunned aisle,
   That this tale of a seer
   Which came once a year
   Might, when sands were heaping,
   Be like a sweat creeping,
   Or in any degree
   Bear on her or on me!

                                    II

   When later, by chance
   Of circumstance,
   It befel me to read
   On a hot afternoon
   At the lectern there
   The selfsame words
   As the lesson decreed,
   To the gathered few
   From the hamlets near—
   Folk of flocks and herds
   Sitting half aswoon,
   Who listened thereto
   As women and men
   Not overmuch
   Concerned at such—
   So, like them then,
   I did not see
   What drought might be
   With me, with her,
   As the Kalendar
   Moved on, and Time
   Devoured our prime.

                                   III

   But now, at last,
   When our glory has passed,
   And there is no smile
   From her in the aisle,
   But where it once shone
   A marble, men say,
   With her name thereon
   Is discerned to-day;
   And spiritless
   In the wilderness
   I shrink from sight
   And desire the night,
   (Though, as in old wise,
   I might still arise,
   Go forth, and stand
   And prophesy in the land),
   I feel the shake
   Of wind and earthquake,
   And consuming fire
   Nigher and nigher,
   And the voice catch clear,
   “What doest thou here?”

_The Spectator_ 1916.  During the War.



ON A MIDSUMMER EVE


   I IDLY cut a parsley stalk,
   And blew therein towards the moon;
   I had not thought what ghosts would walk
   With shivering footsteps to my tune.

   I went, and knelt, and scooped my hand
   As if to drink, into the brook,
   And a faint figure seemed to stand
   Above me, with the bygone look.

   I lipped rough rhymes of chance, not choice,
   I thought not what my words might be;
   There came into my ear a voice
   That turned a tenderer verse for me.



TIMING HER
(_Written to an old folk-tune_)


   LALAGE’S coming:
   Where is she now, O?
   Turning to bow, O,
   And smile, is she,
   Just at parting,
   Parting, parting,
   As she is starting
   To come to me?

   Where is she now, O,
   Now, and now, O,
   Shadowing a bough, O,
   Of hedge or tree
   As she is rushing,
   Rushing, rushing,
   Gossamers brushing
   To come to me?

   Lalage’s coming;
   Where is she now, O;
   Climbing the brow, O,
   Of hills I see?
   Yes, she is nearing,
   Nearing, nearing,
   Weather unfearing
   To come to me.

   Near is she now, O,
   Now, and now, O;
   Milk the rich cow, O,
   Forward the tea;
   Shake the down bed for her,
   Linen sheets spread for her,
   Drape round the head for her
   Coming to me.

   Lalage’s coming,
   She’s nearer now, O,
   End anyhow, O,
   To-day’s husbandry!
   Would a gilt chair were mine,
   Slippers of vair were mine,
   Brushes for hair were mine
   Of ivory!

   What will she think, O,
   She who’s so comely,
   Viewing how homely
   A sort are we!
   Nothing resplendent,
   No prompt attendant,
   Not one dependent
   Pertaining to me!

   Lalage’s coming;
   Where is she now, O?
   Fain I’d avow, O,
   Full honestly
   Nought here’s enough for her,
   All is too rough for her,
   Even my love for her
   Poor in degree.

   She’s nearer now, O,
   Still nearer now, O,
   She ’tis, I vow, O,
   Passing the lea.
   Rush down to meet her there,
   Call out and greet her there,
   Never a sweeter there
   Crossed to me!

   Lalage’s come; aye,
   Come is she now, O! . . .
   Does Heaven allow, O,
   A meeting to be?
   Yes, she is here now,
   Here now, here now,
   Nothing to fear now,
   Here’s Lalage!



BEFORE KNOWLEDGE


   WHEN I walked roseless tracks and wide,
   Ere dawned your date for meeting me,
   O why did you not cry Halloo
   Across the stretch between, and say:

   “We move, while years as yet divide,
   On closing lines which—though it be
   You know me not nor I know you—
   Will intersect and join some day!”

      Then well I had borne
      Each scraping thorn;
      But the winters froze,
      And grew no rose;
      No bridge bestrode
      The gap at all;
      No shape you showed,
      And I heard no call!



THE BLINDED BIRD


   SO zestfully canst thou sing?
   And all this indignity,
   With God’s consent, on thee!
   Blinded ere yet a-wing
   By the red-hot needle thou,
   I stand and wonder how
   So zestfully thou canst sing!

   Resenting not such wrong,
   Thy grievous pain forgot,
   Eternal dark thy lot,
   Groping thy whole life long;
   After that stab of fire;
   Enjailed in pitiless wire;
   Resenting not such wrong!

   Who hath charity?  This bird.
   Who suffereth long and is kind,
   Is not provoked, though blind
   And alive ensepulchred?
   Who hopeth, endureth all things?
   Who thinketh no evil, but sings?
   Who is divine?  This bird.



“THE WIND BLEW WORDS”


   THE wind blew words along the skies,
      And these it blew to me
   Through the wide dusk: “Lift up your eyes,
      Behold this troubled tree,
   Complaining as it sways and plies;
      It is a limb of thee.

   “Yea, too, the creatures sheltering round—
      Dumb figures, wild and tame,
   Yea, too, thy fellows who abound—
      Either of speech the same
   Or far and strange—black, dwarfed, and browned,
      They are stuff of thy own frame.”

   I moved on in a surging awe
      Of inarticulateness
   At the pathetic Me I saw
      In all his huge distress,
   Making self-slaughter of the law
      To kill, break, or suppress.



THE FADED FACE


   HOW was this I did not see
   Such a look as here was shown
   Ere its womanhood had blown
   Past its first felicity?—
   That I did not know you young,
      Faded Face,
         Know you young!

   Why did Time so ill bestead
   That I heard no voice of yours
   Hail from out the curved contours
   Of those lips when rosy red;
   Weeted not the songs they sung,
      Faded Face,
         Songs they sung!

   By these blanchings, blooms of old,
   And the relics of your voice—
   Leavings rare of rich and choice
   From your early tone and mould—
   Let me mourn,—aye, sorrow-wrung,
      Faded Face,
         Sorrow-wrung!



THE RIDDLE


                                    I

   STRETCHING eyes west
   Over the sea,
   Wind foul or fair,
   Always stood she
   Prospect-impressed;
   Solely out there
   Did her gaze rest,
   Never elsewhere
   Seemed charm to be.

                                    II

   Always eyes east
   Ponders she now—
   As in devotion—
   Hills of blank brow
   Where no waves plough.
   Never the least
   Room for emotion
   Drawn from the ocean
   Does she allow.



THE DUEL


         “I AM here to time, you see;
   The glade is well-screened—eh?—against alarm;
      Fit place to vindicate by my arm
      The honour of my spotless wife,
      Who scorns your libel upon her life
         In boasting intimacy!

         “‘All hush-offerings you’ll spurn,
   My husband.  Two must come; one only go,’
      She said.  ‘That he’ll be you I know;
      To faith like ours Heaven will be just,
      And I shall abide in fullest trust
         Your speedy glad return.’”

      “Good.  Here am also I;
   And we’ll proceed without more waste of words
      To warm your cockpit.  Of the swords
      Take you your choice.  I shall thereby
      Feel that on me no blame can lie,
         Whatever Fate accords.”

      So stripped they there, and fought,
   And the swords clicked and scraped, and the onsets sped;
      Till the husband fell; and his shirt was red
      With streams from his heart’s hot cistern.  Nought
      Could save him now; and the other, wrought
         Maybe to pity, said:

      “Why did you urge on this?
   Your wife assured you; and ’t had better been
      That you had let things pass, serene
      In confidence of long-tried bliss,
      Holding there could be nought amiss
         In what my words might mean.”

      Then, seeing nor ruth nor rage
   Could move his foeman more—now Death’s deaf thrall—
      He wiped his steel, and, with a call
      Like turtledove to dove, swift broke
      Into the copse, where under an oak
         His horse cropt, held by a page.

      “All’s over, Sweet,” he cried
   To the wife, thus guised; for the young page was she.
      “’Tis as we hoped and said ’t would be.
      He never guessed . . . We mount and ride
      To where our love can reign uneyed.
         He’s clay, and we are free.”



AT MAYFAIR LODGINGS


   HOW could I be aware,
   The opposite window eyeing
   As I lay listless there,
   That through its blinds was dying
   One I had rated rare
   Before I had set me sighing
   For another more fair?

   Had the house-front been glass,
   My vision unobscuring,
   Could aught have come to pass
   More happiness-insuring
   To her, loved as a lass
   When spouseless, all-alluring?
   I reckon not, alas!

   So, the square window stood,
   Steadily night-long shining
   In my close neighbourhood,
   Who looked forth undivining
   That soon would go for good
   One there in pain reclining,
   Unpardoned, unadieu’d.

   Silently screened from view
   Her tragedy was ending
   That need not have come due
   Had she been less unbending.
   How near, near were we two
   At that last vital rending,—
   And neither of us knew!



TO MY FATHER’S VIOLIN


      DOES he want you down there
      In the Nether Glooms where
   The hours may be a dragging load upon him,
      As he hears the axle grind
         Round and round
      Of the great world, in the blind
         Still profound
   Of the night-time?  He might liven at the sound
   Of your string, revealing you had not forgone him.

      In the gallery west the nave,
      But a few yards from his grave,
   Did you, tucked beneath his chin, to his bowing
      Guide the homely harmony
         Of the quire
      Who for long years strenuously—
         Son and sire—
   Caught the strains that at his fingering low or higher
   From your four thin threads and eff-holes came outflowing.

      And, too, what merry tunes
      He would bow at nights or noons
   That chanced to find him bent to lute a measure,
      When he made you speak his heart
         As in dream,
      Without book or music-chart,
         On some theme
   Elusive as a jack-o’-lanthorn’s gleam,
   And the psalm of duty shelved for trill of pleasure.

      Well, you can not, alas,
      The barrier overpass
   That screens him in those Mournful Meads hereunder,
      Where no fiddling can be heard
         In the glades
      Of silentness, no bird
         Thrills the shades;
   Where no viol is touched for songs or serenades,
   No bowing wakes a congregation’s wonder.

      He must do without you now,
      Stir you no more anyhow
   To yearning concords taught you in your glory;
      While, your strings a tangled wreck,
         Once smart drawn,
      Ten worm-wounds in your neck,
         Purflings wan
   With dust-hoar, here alone I sadly con
   Your present dumbness, shape your olden story.

1916.



THE STATUE OF LIBERTY


      THIS statue of Liberty, busy man,
         Here erect in the city square,
   I have watched while your scrubbings, this early morning,
            Strangely wistful,
            And half tristful,
         Have turned her from foul to fair;

      With your bucket of water, and mop, and brush,
         Bringing her out of the grime
   That has smeared her during the smokes of winter
            With such glumness
            In her dumbness,
         And aged her before her time.

      You have washed her down with motherly care—
         Head, shoulders, arm, and foot,
   To the very hem of the robes that drape her—
            All expertly
            And alertly,
         Till a long stream, black with soot,

      Flows over the pavement to the road,
         And her shape looms pure as snow:
   I read you are hired by the City guardians—
            May be yearly,
            Or once merely—
         To treat the statues so?

      “Oh, I’m not hired by the Councilmen
         To cleanse the statues here.
   I do this one as a self-willed duty,
            Not as paid to,
            Or at all made to,
         But because the doing is dear.”

      Ah, then I hail you brother and friend!
         Liberty’s knight divine.
   What you have done would have been my doing,
            Yea, most verily,
            Well, and thoroughly,
         Had but your courage been mine!

      “Oh I care not for Liberty’s mould,
         Liberty charms not me;
   What’s Freedom but an idler’s vision,
            Vain, pernicious,
            Often vicious,
         Of things that cannot be!

      “Memory it is that brings me to this—
         Of a daughter—my one sweet own.
   She grew a famous carver’s model,
            One of the fairest
            And of the rarest:—
         She sat for the figure as shown.

      “But alas, she died in this distant place
         Before I was warned to betake
   Myself to her side! . . . And in love of my darling,
            In love of the fame of her,
            And the good name of her,
         I do this for her sake.”

      Answer I gave not.  Of that form
         The carver was I at his side;
   His child, my model, held so saintly,
            Grand in feature,
            Gross in nature,
         In the dens of vice had died.



THE BACKGROUND AND THE FIGURE
(_Lover’s Ditty_)


   I think of the slope where the rabbits fed,
      Of the periwinks’ rockwork lair,
   Of the fuchsias ringing their bells of red—
      And the something else seen there.

   Between the blooms where the sod basked bright,
      By the bobbing fuchsia trees,
   Was another and yet more eyesome sight—
      The sight that richened these.

   I shall seek those beauties in the spring,
      When the days are fit and fair,
   But only as foils to the one more thing
      That also will flower there!



THE CHANGE


      OUT of the past there rises a week—
         Who shall read the years O!—
      Out of the past there rises a week
         Enringed with a purple zone.
      Out of the past there rises a week
      When thoughts were strung too thick to speak,
   And the magic of its lineaments remains with me alone.

      In that week there was heard a singing—
         Who shall spell the years, the years!—
      In that week there was heard a singing,
         And the white owl wondered why.
      In that week, yea, a voice was ringing,
      And forth from the casement were candles flinging
   Radiance that fell on the deodar and lit up the path thereby.

      Could that song have a mocking note?—
         Who shall unroll the years O!—
      Could that song have a mocking note
         To the white owl’s sense as it fell?
      Could that song have a mocking note
      As it trilled out warm from the singer’s throat,
   And who was the mocker and who the mocked when two felt all was well?

      In a tedious trampling crowd yet later—
         Who shall bare the years, the years!—
      In a tedious trampling crowd yet later,
         When silvery singings were dumb;
      In a crowd uncaring what time might fate her,
      Mid murks of night I stood to await her,
   And the twanging of iron wheels gave out the signal that she was come.

      She said with a travel-tired smile—
         Who shall lift the years O!—
      She said with a travel-tired smile,
         Half scared by scene so strange;
      She said, outworn by mile on mile,
      The blurred lamps wanning her face the while,
   “O Love, I am here; I am with you!” . . . Ah, that there should have
   come a change!

      O the doom by someone spoken—
         Who shall unseal the years, the years!—
      O the doom that gave no token,
         When nothing of bale saw we:
      O the doom by someone spoken,
      O the heart by someone broken,
   The heart whose sweet reverberances are all time leaves to me.

_Jan.-Feb._ 1913.



SITTING ON THE BRIDGE
(_Echo of an old song_)


      SITTING on the bridge
      Past the barracks, town and ridge,
   At once the spirit seized us
   To sing a song that pleased us—
   As “The Fifth” were much in rumour;
   It was “Whilst I’m in the humour,
      Take me, Paddy, will you now?”
      And a lancer soon drew nigh,
      And his Royal Irish eye
      Said, “Willing, faith, am I,
   O, to take you anyhow, dears,
      To take you anyhow.”

      But, lo!—dad walking by,
      Cried, “What, you lightheels!  Fie!
      Is this the way you roam
      And mock the sunset gleam?”
      And he marched us straightway home,
   Though we said, “We are only, daddy,
   Singing, ‘Will you take me, Paddy?’”
      —Well, we never saw from then
      If we sang there anywhen,
      The soldier dear again,
   Except at night in dream-time,
      Except at night in dream.

   Perhaps that soldier’s fighting
      In a land that’s far away,
   Or he may be idly plighting
      Some foreign hussy gay;
   Or perhaps his bones are whiting
      In the wind to their decay! . . .
      Ah!—does he mind him how
      The girls he saw that day
   On the bridge, were sitting singing
   At the time of curfew-ringing,
   “Take me, Paddy; will you now, dear?
      Paddy, will you now?”

GREY’S BRIDGE.



THE YOUNG CHURCHWARDEN


   WHEN he lit the candles there,
   And the light fell on his hand,
   And it trembled as he scanned
   Her and me, his vanquished air
   Hinted that his dream was done,
   And I saw he had begun
      To understand.

   When Love’s viol was unstrung,
   Sore I wished the hand that shook
   Had been mine that shared her book
   While that evening hymn was sung,
   His the victor’s, as he lit
   Candles where he had bidden us sit
      With vanquished look.

   Now her dust lies listless there,
   His afar from tending hand,
   What avails the victory scanned?
   Does he smile from upper air:
   “Ah, my friend, your dream is done;
   And ’tis _you_ who have begun
      To understand!



“I TRAVEL AS A PHANTOM NOW”


   I TRAVEL as a phantom now,
   For people do not wish to see
   In flesh and blood so bare a bough
      As Nature makes of me.

   And thus I visit bodiless
   Strange gloomy households often at odds,
   And wonder if Man’s consciousness
      Was a mistake of God’s.

   And next I meet you, and I pause,
   And think that if mistake it were,
   As some have said, O then it was
      One that I well can bear!

1915.



LINES
TO A MOVEMENT IN MOZART’S E-FLAT SYMPHONY


         SHOW me again the time
         When in the Junetide’s prime
      We flew by meads and mountains northerly!—
   Yea, to such freshness, fairness, fulness, fineness, freeness,
         Love lures life on.

         Show me again the day
         When from the sandy bay
      We looked together upon the pestered sea!—
   Yea, to such surging, swaying, sighing, swelling, shrinking,
         Love lures life on.

         Show me again the hour
         When by the pinnacled tower
      We eyed each other and feared futurity!—
   Yea, to such bodings, broodings, beatings, blanchings, blessings,
         Love lures life on.

         Show me again just this:
         The moment of that kiss
      Away from the prancing folk, by the strawberry-tree!—
   Yea, to such rashness, ratheness, rareness, ripeness, richness,
         Love lures life on.

_Begun November_ 1898.



“IN THE SEVENTIES”


                 “Qui deridetur ab amico suo sicut ego.”—JOB.

   IN the seventies I was bearing in my breast,
            Penned tight,
   Certain starry thoughts that threw a magic light
   On the worktimes and the soundless hours of rest
   In the seventies; aye, I bore them in my breast
            Penned tight.

   In the seventies when my neighbours—even my friend—
            Saw me pass,
   Heads were shaken, and I heard the words, “Alas,
   For his onward years and name unless he mend!”
   In the seventies, when my neighbours and my friend
         Saw me pass.

   In the seventies those who met me did not know
         Of the vision
   That immuned me from the chillings of mis-prision
   And the damps that choked my goings to and fro
   In the seventies; yea, those nodders did not know
         Of the vision.

   In the seventies nought could darken or destroy it,
         Locked in me,
   Though as delicate as lamp-worm’s lucency;
   Neither mist nor murk could weaken or alloy it
   In the seventies!—could not darken or destroy it,
         Locked in me.



THE PEDIGREE


                                    I

            I BENT in the deep of night
         Over a pedigree the chronicler gave
         As mine; and as I bent there, half-unrobed,
   The uncurtained panes of my window-square let in the watery light
            Of the moon in its old age:
   And green-rheumed clouds were hurrying past where mute and cold it
   globed
      Like a drifting dolphin’s eye seen through a lapping wave.

                                    II

            So, scanning my sire-sown tree,
         And the hieroglyphs of this spouse tied to that,
            With offspring mapped below in lineage,
            Till the tangles troubled me,
   The branches seemed to twist into a seared and cynic face
      Which winked and tokened towards the window like a Mage
         Enchanting me to gaze again thereat.

                                   III

            It was a mirror now,
         And in it a long perspective I could trace
      Of my begetters, dwindling backward each past each
            All with the kindred look,
         Whose names had since been inked down in their place
            On the recorder’s book,
   Generation and generation of my mien, and build, and brow.

                                    IV

            And then did I divine
         That every heave and coil and move I made
         Within my brain, and in my mood and speech,
            Was in the glass portrayed
         As long forestalled by their so making it;
      The first of them, the primest fuglemen of my line,
   Being fogged in far antiqueness past surmise and reason’s reach.

                                    V

            Said I then, sunk in tone,
      “I am merest mimicker and counterfeit!—
            Though thinking, _I am I_,
      _And what I do I do myself alone_.”
      —The cynic twist of the page thereat unknit
   Back to its normal figure, having wrought its purport wry,
      The Mage’s mirror left the window-square,
   And the stained moon and drift retook their places there.

1916.



THIS HEART
A WOMAN’S DREAM


      AT midnight, in the room where he lay dead
      Whom in his life I had never clearly read,
   I thought if I could peer into that citadel
      His heart, I should at last know full and well

      What hereto had been known to him alone,
      Despite our long sit-out of years foreflown,
   “And if,” I said, “I do this for his memory’s sake,
      It would not wound him, even if he could wake.”

      So I bent over him.  He seemed to smile
      With a calm confidence the whole long while
   That I, withdrawing his heart, held it and, bit by bit,
      Perused the unguessed things found written on it.

      It was inscribed like a terrestrial sphere
      With quaint vermiculations close and clear—
   His graving.  Had I known, would I have risked the stroke
      Its reading brought, and my own heart nigh broke!

      Yes, there at last, eyes opened, did I see
      His whole sincere symmetric history;
   There were his truth, his simple singlemindedness,
      Strained, maybe, by time’s storms, but there no less.

      There were the daily deeds from sun to sun
      In blindness, but good faith, that he had done;
   There were regrets, at instances wherein he swerved
      (As he conceived) from cherishings I had deserved.

      There were old hours all figured down as bliss—
      Those spent with me—(how little had I thought this!)
   There those when, at my absence, whether he slept or waked,
      (Though I knew not ’twas so!) his spirit ached.

      There that when we were severed, how day dulled
      Till time joined us anew, was chronicled:
   And arguments and battlings in defence of me
      That heart recorded clearly and ruddily.

      I put it back, and left him as he lay
      While pierced the morning pink and then the gray
   Into each dreary room and corridor around,
      Where I shall wait, but his step will not sound.



WHERE THEY LIVED


      DISHEVELLED leaves creep down
      Upon that bank to-day,
   Some green, some yellow, and some pale brown;
      The wet bents bob and sway;
   The once warm slippery turf is sodden
      Where we laughingly sat or lay.

      The summerhouse is gone,
      Leaving a weedy space;
   The bushes that veiled it once have grown
      Gaunt trees that interlace,
   Through whose lank limbs I see too clearly
      The nakedness of the place.

      And where were hills of blue,
      Blind drifts of vapour blow,
   And the names of former dwellers few,
      If any, people know,
   And instead of a voice that called, “Come in, Dears,”
      Time calls, “Pass below!”



THE OCCULTATION


   WHEN the cloud shut down on the morning shine,
      And darkened the sun,
   I said, “So ended that joy of mine
      Years back begun.”

   But day continued its lustrous roll
      In upper air;
   And did my late irradiate soul
      Live on somewhere?



LIFE LAUGHS ONWARD


   RAMBLING I looked for an old abode
   Where, years back, one had lived I knew;
   Its site a dwelling duly showed,
      But it was new.

   I went where, not so long ago,
   The sod had riven two breasts asunder;
   Daisies throve gaily there, as though
      No grave were under.

   I walked along a terrace where
   Loud children gambolled in the sun;
   The figure that had once sat there
      Was missed by none.

   Life laughed and moved on unsubdued,
   I saw that Old succumbed to Young:
   ’Twas well.  My too regretful mood
      Died on my tongue.



THE PEACE-OFFERING


   IT was but a little thing,
   Yet I knew it meant to me
   Ease from what had given a sting
   To the very birdsinging
      Latterly.

   But I would not welcome it;
   And for all I then declined
   O the regrettings infinite
   When the night-processions flit
      Through the mind!



“SOMETHING TAPPED”


   SOMETHING tapped on the pane of my room
      When there was never a trace
   Of wind or rain, and I saw in the gloom
      My weary Belovéd’s face.

   “O I am tired of waiting,” she said,
      “Night, morn, noon, afternoon;
   So cold it is in my lonely bed,
      And I thought you would join me soon!”

   I rose and neared the window-glass,
      But vanished thence had she:
   Only a pallid moth, alas,
      Tapped at the pane for me.

_August_ 1913.



THE WOUND


   I CLIMBED to the crest,
      And, fog-festooned,
   The sun lay west
      Like a crimson wound:

   Like that wound of mine
      Of which none knew,
   For I’d given no sign
      That it pierced me through.



A MERRYMAKING IN QUESTION


   “I WILL get a new string for my fiddle,
      And call to the neighbours to come,
   And partners shall dance down the middle
      Until the old pewter-wares hum:
      And we’ll sip the mead, cyder, and rum!”

   From the night came the oddest of answers:
      A hollow wind, like a bassoon,
   And headstones all ranged up as dancers,
      And cypresses droning a croon,
      And gurgoyles that mouthed to the tune.



“I SAID AND SANG HER EXCELLENCE”
(_Fickle Lover’s Song_)


   I SAID and sang her excellence:
      They called it laud undue.
         (Have your way, my heart, O!)
   Yet what was homage far above
   The plain deserts of my olden Love
      Proved verity of my new.

   “She moves a sylph in picture-land,
      Where nothing frosts the air:”
         (Have your way, my heart, O!)
   “To all winged pipers overhead
   She is known by shape and song,” I said,
      Conscious of licence there.

   I sang of her in a dim old hall
      Dream-built too fancifully,
         (Have your way, my heart, O!)
   But lo, the ripe months chanced to lead
   My feet to such a hall indeed,
      Where stood the very She.

   Strange, startling, was it then to learn
      I had glanced down unborn time,
         (Have your way, my heart, O!)
   And prophesied, whereby I knew
   That which the years had planned to do
      In warranty of my rhyme.

BY RUSHY-POND.



A JANUARY NIGHT
(1879)


   THE rain smites more and more,
   The east wind snarls and sneezes;
   Through the joints of the quivering door
      The water wheezes.

   The tip of each ivy-shoot
   Writhes on its neighbour’s face;
   There is some hid dread afoot
      That we cannot trace.

   Is it the spirit astray
   Of the man at the house below
   Whose coffin they took in to-day?
      We do not know.



A KISS


   BY a wall the stranger now calls his,
   Was born of old a particular kiss,
   Without forethought in its genesis;
   Which in a trice took wing on the air.
   And where that spot is nothing shows:
      There ivy calmly grows,
      And no one knows
      What a birth was there!

   That kiss is gone where none can tell—
   Not even those who felt its spell:
   It cannot have died; that know we well.
   Somewhere it pursues its flight,
   One of a long procession of sounds
      Travelling aethereal rounds
      Far from earth’s bounds
      In the infinite.



THE ANNOUNCEMENT


   THEY came, the brothers, and took two chairs
      In their usual quiet way;
   And for a time we did not think
         They had much to say.

   And they began and talked awhile
      Of ordinary things,
   Till spread that silence in the room
         A pent thought brings.

   And then they said: “The end has come.
      Yes: it has come at last.”
   And we looked down, and knew that day
         A spirit had passed.



THE OXEN


   CHRISTMAS EVE, and twelve of the clock.
      “Now they are all on their knees,”
   An elder said as we sat in a flock
      By the embers in hearthside ease.

   We pictured the meek mild creatures where
      They dwelt in their strawy pen,
   Nor did it occur to one of us there
      To doubt they were kneeling then.

   So fair a fancy few would weave
      In these years!  Yet, I feel,
   If someone said on Christmas Eve,
      “Come; see the oxen kneel

   “In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
      Our childhood used to know,”
   I should go with him in the gloom,
      Hoping it might be so.

1915.



THE TRESSES


      “WHEN the air was damp
   It made my curls hang slack
   As they kissed my neck and back
   While I footed the salt-aired track
      I loved to tramp.

      “When it was dry
   They would roll up crisp and tight
   As I went on in the light
   Of the sun, which my own sprite
      Seemed to outvie.

      “Now I am old;
   And have not one gay curl
   As I had when a girl
   For dampness to unfurl
      Or sun uphold!”



THE PHOTOGRAPH


   THE flame crept up the portrait line by line
   As it lay on the coals in the silence of night’s profound,
      And over the arm’s incline,
   And along the marge of the silkwork superfine,
   And gnawed at the delicate bosom’s defenceless round.

   Then I vented a cry of hurt, and averted my eyes;
   The spectacle was one that I could not bear,
      To my deep and sad surprise;
   But, compelled to heed, I again looked furtive-wise
   Till the flame had eaten her breasts, and mouth, and hair.

   “Thank God, she is out of it now!” I said at last,
   In a great relief of heart when the thing was done
      That had set my soul aghast,
   And nothing was left of the picture unsheathed from the past
   But the ashen ghost of the card it had figured on.

   She was a woman long hid amid packs of years,
   She might have been living or dead; she was lost to my sight,
      And the deed that had nigh drawn tears
   Was done in a casual clearance of life’s arrears;
   But I felt as if I had put her to death that night! . . .

                                  * * *

   —Well; she knew nothing thereof did she survive,
   And suffered nothing if numbered among the dead;
      Yet—yet—if on earth alive
   Did she feel a smart, and with vague strange anguish strive?
   If in heaven, did she smile at me sadly and shake her head?



ON A HEATH


   I COULD hear a gown-skirt rustling
      Before I could see her shape,
   Rustling through the heather
      That wove the common’s drape,
   On that evening of dark weather
      When I hearkened, lips agape.

   And the town-shine in the distance
      Did but baffle here the sight,
   And then a voice flew forward:
      “Dear, is’t you?  I fear the night!”
   And the herons flapped to norward
      In the firs upon my right.

   There was another looming
      Whose life we did not see;
   There was one stilly blooming
      Full nigh to where walked we;
   There was a shade entombing
      All that was bright of me.



AN ANNIVERSARY


   IT was at the very date to which we have come,
      In the month of the matching name,
   When, at a like minute, the sun had upswum,
      Its couch-time at night being the same.
   And the same path stretched here that people now follow,
      And the same stile crossed their way,
   And beyond the same green hillock and hollow
      The same horizon lay;
   And the same man pilgrims now hereby who pilgrimed here that day.

   Let so much be said of the date-day’s sameness;
      But the tree that neighbours the track,
   And stoops like a pedlar afflicted with lameness,
      Knew of no sogged wound or windcrack.
   And the joints of that wall were not enshrouded
      With mosses of many tones,
   And the garth up afar was not overcrowded
      With a multitude of white stones,
   And the man’s eyes then were not so sunk that you saw the
   socket-bones.

KINGSTON-MAURWARD EWELEASE.



“BY THE RUNIC STONE”
(_Two who became a story_)


         BY the Runic Stone
      They sat, where the grass sloped down,
   And chattered, he white-hatted, she in brown,
         Pink-faced, breeze-blown.

         Rapt there alone
      In the transport of talking so
   In such a place, there was nothing to let them know
         What hours had flown.

         And the die thrown
      By them heedlessly there, the dent
   It was to cut in their encompassment,
         Were, too, unknown.

         It might have strown
      Their zest with qualms to see,
   As in a glass, Time toss their history
         From zone to zone!



THE PINK FROCK


   “O MY pretty pink frock,
   I sha’n’t be able to wear it!
   Why is he dying just now?
      I hardly can bear it!

   “He might have contrived to live on;
   But they say there’s no hope whatever:
   And must I shut myself up,
      And go out never?

   “O my pretty pink frock,
   Puff-sleeved and accordion-pleated!
   He might have passed in July,
      And not so cheated!”



TRANSFORMATIONS


   PORTION of this yew
   Is a man my grandsire knew,
   Bosomed here at its foot:
   This branch may be his wife,
   A ruddy human life
   Now turned to a green shoot.

   These grasses must be made
   Of her who often prayed,
   Last century, for repose;
   And the fair girl long ago
   Whom I often tried to know
   May be entering this rose.

   So, they are not underground,
   But as nerves and veins abound
   In the growths of upper air,
   And they feel the sun and rain,
   And the energy again
   That made them what they were!



IN HER PRECINCTS


   HER house looked cold from the foggy lea,
   And the square of each window a dull black blur
         Where showed no stir:
   Yes, her gloom within at the lack of me
   Seemed matching mine at the lack of her.

   The black squares grew to be squares of light
   As the eyeshade swathed the house and lawn,
         And viols gave tone;
   There was glee within.  And I found that night
   The gloom of severance mine alone.

KINGSTON-MAURWARD PARK.



THE LAST SIGNAL
(_Oct._ 11, 1886)
A MEMORY OF WILLIAM BARNES


      SILENTLY I footed by an uphill road
      That led from my abode to a spot yew-boughed;
   Yellowly the sun sloped low down to westward,
         And dark was the east with cloud.

      Then, amid the shadow of that livid sad east,
      Where the light was least, and a gate stood wide,
   Something flashed the fire of the sun that was facing it,
         Like a brief blaze on that side.

      Looking hard and harder I knew what it meant—
      The sudden shine sent from the livid east scene;
   It meant the west mirrored by the coffin of my friend there,
         Turning to the road from his green,

      To take his last journey forth—he who in his prime
      Trudged so many a time from that gate athwart the land!
   Thus a farewell to me he signalled on his grave-way,
         As with a wave of his hand.

WINTERBORNE-CAME PATH.



THE HOUSE OF SILENCE


      “THAT is a quiet place—
   That house in the trees with the shady lawn.”
   “—If, child, you knew what there goes on
   You would not call it a quiet place.
   Why, a phantom abides there, the last of its race,
      And a brain spins there till dawn.”

      “But I see nobody there,—
   Nobody moves about the green,
   Or wanders the heavy trees between.”
   “—Ah, that’s because you do not bear
   The visioning powers of souls who dare
      To pierce the material screen.

      “Morning, noon, and night,
   Mid those funereal shades that seem
   The uncanny scenery of a dream,
   Figures dance to a mind with sight,
   And music and laughter like floods of light
      Make all the precincts gleam.

      “It is a poet’s bower,
   Through which there pass, in fleet arrays,
   Long teams of all the years and days,
   Of joys and sorrows, of earth and heaven,
   That meet mankind in its ages seven,
      An aion in an hour.”



GREAT THINGS


   SWEET cyder is a great thing,
      A great thing to me,
   Spinning down to Weymouth town
      By Ridgway thirstily,
   And maid and mistress summoning
      Who tend the hostelry:
   O cyder is a great thing,
      A great thing to me!

   The dance it is a great thing,
      A great thing to me,
   With candles lit and partners fit
      For night-long revelry;
   And going home when day-dawning
      Peeps pale upon the lea:
   O dancing is a great thing,
      A great thing to me!

   Love is, yea, a great thing,
      A great thing to me,
   When, having drawn across the lawn
      In darkness silently,
   A figure flits like one a-wing
      Out from the nearest tree:
   O love is, yes, a great thing,
      A great thing to me!

   Will these be always great things,
      Great things to me? . . .
   Let it befall that One will call,
      “Soul, I have need of thee:”
   What then?  Joy-jaunts, impassioned flings,
      Love, and its ecstasy,
   Will always have been great things,
      Great things to me!



THE CHIMES


   THAT morning when I trod the town
   The twitching chimes of long renown
      Played out to me
   The sweet Sicilian sailors’ tune,
   And I knew not if late or soon
      My day would be:

   A day of sunshine beryl-bright
   And windless; yea, think as I might,
      I could not say,
   Even to within years’ measure, when
   One would be at my side who then
      Was far away.

   When hard utilitarian times
   Had stilled the sweet Saint-Peter’s chimes
      I learnt to see
   That bale may spring where blisses are,
   And one desired might be afar
      Though near to me.



THE FIGURE IN THE SCENE


      IT pleased her to step in front and sit
         Where the cragged slope was green,
   While I stood back that I might pencil it
         With her amid the scene;
            Till it gloomed and rained;
   But I kept on, despite the drifting wet
            That fell and stained
   My draught, leaving for curious quizzings yet
            The blots engrained.

      And thus I drew her there alone,
         Seated amid the gauze
   Of moisture, hooded, only her outline shown,
         With rainfall marked across.
            —Soon passed our stay;
   Yet her rainy form is the Genius still of the spot,
            Immutable, yea,
   Though the place now knows her no more, and has known her not
            Ever since that day.

_From an old note_.



“WHY DID I SKETCH”


   WHY did I sketch an upland green,
      And put the figure in
      Of one on the spot with me?—
   For now that one has ceased to be seen
      The picture waxes akin
      To a wordless irony.

   If you go drawing on down or cliff
      Let no soft curves intrude
      Of a woman’s silhouette,
   But show the escarpments stark and stiff
      As in utter solitude;
      So shall you half forget.

   Let me sooner pass from sight of the sky
      Than again on a thoughtless day
      Limn, laugh, and sing, and rhyme
   With a woman sitting near, whom I
      Paint in for love, and who may
      Be called hence in my time!

_From an old note_.



CONJECTURE


   IF there were in my kalendar
      No Emma, Florence, Mary,
   What would be my existence now—
      A hermit’s?—wanderer’s weary?—
         How should I live, and how
         Near would be death, or far?

   Could it have been that other eyes
      Might have uplit my highway?
   That fond, sad, retrospective sight
      Would catch from this dim byway
         Prized figures different quite
         From those that now arise?

   With how strange aspect would there creep
      The dawn, the night, the daytime,
   If memory were not what it is
      In song-time, toil, or pray-time.—
         O were it else than this,
         I’d pass to pulseless sleep!



THE BLOW


   THAT no man schemed it is my hope—
   Yea, that it fell by will and scope
      Of That Which some enthrone,
   And for whose meaning myriads grope.

   For I would not that of my kind
   There should, of his unbiassed mind,
      Have been one known
   Who such a stroke could have designed;

   Since it would augur works and ways
   Below the lowest that man assays
      To have hurled that stone
   Into the sunshine of our days!

   And if it prove that no man did,
   And that the Inscrutable, the Hid,
      Was cause alone
   Of this foul crash our lives amid,

   I’ll go in due time, and forget
   In some deep graveyard’s oubliette
      The thing whereof I groan,
   And cease from troubling; thankful yet

   Time’s finger should have stretched to show
   No aimful author’s was the blow
      That swept us prone,
   But the Immanent Doer’s That doth not know,

   Which in some age unguessed of us
   May lift Its blinding incubus,
      And see, and own:
   “It grieves me I did thus and thus!”



LOVE THE MONOPOLIST
(_Young Lover’s Reverie_)


   THE train draws forth from the station-yard,
      And with it carries me.
   I rise, and stretch out, and regard
      The platform left, and see
   An airy slim blue form there standing,
      And know that it is she.

   While with strained vision I watch on,
      The figure turns round quite
   To greet friends gaily; then is gone . . .
      The import may be slight,
   But why remained she not hard gazing
      Till I was out of sight?

   “O do not chat with others there,”
      I brood.  “They are not I.
   O strain your thoughts as if they were
      Gold bands between us; eye
   All neighbour scenes as so much blankness
      Till I again am by!

   “A troubled soughing in the breeze
      And the sky overhead
   Let yourself feel; and shadeful trees,
      Ripe corn, and apples red,
   Read as things barren and distasteful
      While we are separated!

   “When I come back uncloak your gloom,
      And let in lovely day;
   Then the long dark as of the tomb
      Can well be thrust away
   With sweet things I shall have to practise,
      And you will have to say!”

_Begun_ 1871: _finished_—



AT MIDDLE-FIELD GATE IN FEBRUARY


   THE bars are thick with drops that show
      As they gather themselves from the fog
   Like silver buttons ranged in a row,
   And as evenly spaced as if measured, although
      They fall at the feeblest jog.

   They load the leafless hedge hard by,
      And the blades of last year’s grass,
   While the fallow ploughland turned up nigh
   In raw rolls, clammy and clogging lie—
      Too clogging for feet to pass.

   How dry it was on a far-back day
      When straws hung the hedge and around,
   When amid the sheaves in amorous play
   In curtained bonnets and light array
      Bloomed a bevy now underground!

BOCKHAMPTON LANE.



THE YOUTH WHO CARRIED A LIGHT


   I SAW him pass as the new day dawned,
      Murmuring some musical phrase;
   Horses were drinking and floundering in the pond,
      And the tired stars thinned their gaze;
   Yet these were not the spectacles at all that he conned,
      But an inner one, giving out rays.

   Such was the thing in his eye, walking there,
      The very and visible thing,
   A close light, displacing the gray of the morning air,
      And the tokens that the dark was taking wing;
   And was it not the radiance of a purpose rare
      That might ripe to its accomplishing?

   What became of that light?  I wonder still its fate!
      Was it quenched ere its full apogee?
   Did it struggle frail and frailer to a beam emaciate?
      Did it thrive till matured in verity?
   Or did it travel on, to be a new young dreamer’s freight,
      And thence on infinitely?

1915.



THE HEAD ABOVE THE FOG


      SOMETHING do I see
   Above the fog that sheets the mead,
   A figure like to life indeed,
   Moving along with spectre-speed,
      Seen by none but me.

      O the vision keen!—
   Tripping along to me for love
   As in the flesh it used to move,
   Only its hat and plume above
      The evening fog-fleece seen.

      In the day-fall wan,
   When nighted birds break off their song,
   Mere ghostly head it skims along,
   Just as it did when warm and strong,
      Body seeming gone.

      Such it is I see
   Above the fog that sheets the mead—
   Yea, that which once could breathe and plead!—
   Skimming along with spectre-speed
      To a last tryst with me.



OVERLOOKING THE RIVER STOUR


   THE swallows flew in the curves of an eight
      Above the river-gleam
      In the wet June’s last beam:
   Like little crossbows animate
   The swallows flew in the curves of an eight
      Above the river-gleam.

   Planing up shavings of crystal spray
      A moor-hen darted out
      From the bank thereabout,
   And through the stream-shine ripped his way;
   Planing up shavings of crystal spray
      A moor-hen darted out.

   Closed were the kingcups; and the mead
      Dripped in monotonous green,
      Though the day’s morning sheen
   Had shown it golden and honeybee’d;
   Closed were the kingcups; and the mead
      Dripped in monotonous green.

   And never I turned my head, alack,
      While these things met my gaze
      Through the pane’s drop-drenched glaze,
   To see the more behind my back . . .
   O never I turned, but let, alack,
      These less things hold my gaze!



THE MUSICAL BOX


      LIFELONG to be
   Seemed the fair colour of the time;
   That there was standing shadowed near
   A spirit who sang to the gentle chime
   Of the self-struck notes, I did not hear,
      I did not see.

      Thus did it sing
   To the mindless lyre that played indoors
   As she came to listen for me without:
   “O value what the nonce outpours—
   This best of life—that shines about
      Your welcoming!”

      I had slowed along
   After the torrid hours were done,
   Though still the posts and walls and road
   Flung back their sense of the hot-faced sun,
   And had walked by Stourside Mill, where broad
      Stream-lilies throng.

      And I descried
   The dusky house that stood apart,
   And her, white-muslined, waiting there
   In the porch with high-expectant heart,
   While still the thin mechanic air
      Went on inside.

      At whiles would flit
   Swart bats, whose wings, be-webbed and tanned,
   Whirred like the wheels of ancient clocks:
   She laughed a hailing as she scanned
   Me in the gloom, the tuneful box
      Intoning it.

      Lifelong to be
   I thought it.  That there watched hard by
   A spirit who sang to the indoor tune,
   “O make the most of what is nigh!”
   I did not hear in my dull soul-swoon—
      I did not see.



ON STURMINSTER FOOT-BRIDGE
(ONOMATOPOEIC)


   RETICULATIONS creep upon the slack stream’s face
      When the wind skims irritably past,
   The current clucks smartly into each hollow place
   That years of flood have scrabbled in the pier’s sodden base;
      The floating-lily leaves rot fast.

   On a roof stand the swallows ranged in wistful waiting rows,
      Till they arrow off and drop like stones
   Among the eyot-withies at whose foot the river flows;
   And beneath the roof is she who in the dark world shows
      As a lattice-gleam when midnight moans.



ROYAL SPONSORS


   “THE king and the queen will stand to the child;
      ’Twill be handed down in song;
   And it’s no more than their deserving,
   With my lord so faithful at Court so long,
         And so staunch and strong.

   “O never before was known such a thing!
      ’Twill be a grand time for all;
   And the beef will be a whole-roast bullock,
   And the servants will have a feast in the hall,
         And the ladies a ball.

   “While from Jordan’s stream by a traveller,
      In a flagon of silver wrought,
   And by caravan, stage-coach, wain, and waggon
   A precious trickle has been brought,
         Clear as when caught.”

   The morning came.  To the park of the peer
      The royal couple bore;
   And the font was filled with the Jordan water,
   And the household awaited their guests before
         The carpeted door.

   But when they went to the silk-lined cot
      The child was found to have died.
   “What’s now to be done?  We can disappoint not
   The king and queen!” the family cried
         With eyes spread wide.

   “Even now they approach the chestnut-drive!
      The service must be read.”
   “Well, since we can’t christen the child alive,
   By God we shall have to christen him dead!”
         The marquis said.

   Thus, breath-forsaken, a corpse was taken
      To the private chapel—yea—
   And the king knew not, nor the queen, God wot,
   That they answered for one returned to clay
         At the font that day.



OLD FURNITURE


   I KNOW not how it may be with others
      Who sit amid relics of householdry
   That date from the days of their mothers’ mothers,
      But well I know how it is with me
         Continually.

   I see the hands of the generations
      That owned each shiny familiar thing
   In play on its knobs and indentations,
      And with its ancient fashioning
         Still dallying:

   Hands behind hands, growing paler and paler,
      As in a mirror a candle-flame
   Shows images of itself, each frailer
      As it recedes, though the eye may frame
         Its shape the same.

   On the clock’s dull dial a foggy finger,
      Moving to set the minutes right
   With tentative touches that lift and linger
      In the wont of a moth on a summer night,
         Creeps to my sight.

   On this old viol, too, fingers are dancing—
      As whilom—just over the strings by the nut,
   The tip of a bow receding, advancing
      In airy quivers, as if it would cut
         The plaintive gut.

   And I see a face by that box for tinder,
      Glowing forth in fits from the dark,
   And fading again, as the linten cinder
      Kindles to red at the flinty spark,
         Or goes out stark.

   Well, well.  It is best to be up and doing,
      The world has no use for one to-day
   Who eyes things thus—no aim pursuing!
      He should not continue in this stay,
         But sink away.



A THOUGHT IN TWO MOODS


   I SAW it—pink and white—revealed
      Upon the white and green;
   The white and green was a daisied field,
      The pink and white Ethleen.

   And as I looked it seemed in kind
      That difference they had none;
   The two fair bodiments combined
      As varied miens of one.

   A sense that, in some mouldering year,
      As one they both would lie,
   Made me move quickly on to her
      To pass the pale thought by.

   She laughed and said: “Out there, to me,
      You looked so weather-browned,
   And brown in clothes, you seemed to be
      Made of the dusty ground!”



THE LAST PERFORMANCE


   “I AM playing my oldest tunes,” declared she,
      “All the old tunes I know,—
   Those I learnt ever so long ago.”
   —Why she should think just then she’d play them
      Silence cloaks like snow.

   When I returned from the town at nightfall
      Notes continued to pour
   As when I had left two hours before:
   “It’s the very last time,” she said in closing;
      “From now I play no more.”

   A few morns onward found her fading,
      And, as her life outflew,
   I thought of her playing her tunes right through;
   And I felt she had known of what was coming,
      And wondered how she knew.

1912.



“YOU ON THE TOWER”


                                    I

   “YOU on the tower of my factory—
      What do you see up there?
   Do you see Enjoyment with wide wings
      Advancing to reach me here?”
   —“Yea; I see Enjoyment with wide wings
      Advancing to reach you here.”

                                    II

   “Good.  Soon I’ll come and ask you
      To tell me again thereon . . .
   Well, what is he doing now?  Hoi, there!”
      —“He still is flying on.”
   “Ah, waiting till I have full-finished.
      Good.  Tell me again anon . . .

                                   III

   “Hoi, Watchman!  I’m here.  When comes he?
      Between my sweats I am chill.”
      —“Oh, you there, working still?
   Why, surely he reached you a time back,
      And took you miles from your mill?
   He duly came in his winging,
      And now he has passed out of view.
   How can it be that you missed him?
      He brushed you by as he flew.”



THE INTERLOPER


       “And I saw the figure and visage of Madness seeking for a home.”

   THERE are three folk driving in a quaint old chaise,
   And the cliff-side track looks green and fair;
   I view them talking in quiet glee
   As they drop down towards the puffins’ lair
   By the roughest of ways;
   But another with the three rides on, I see,
      Whom I like not to be there!

   No: it’s not anybody you think of.  Next
   A dwelling appears by a slow sweet stream
   Where two sit happy and half in the dark:
   They read, helped out by a frail-wick’d gleam,
   Some rhythmic text;
   But one sits with them whom they don’t mark,
      One I’m wishing could not be there.

   No: not whom you knew and name.  And now
   I discern gay diners in a mansion-place,
   And the guests dropping wit—pert, prim, or choice,
   And the hostess’s tender and laughing face,
   And the host’s bland brow;
   I cannot help hearing a hollow voice,
      And I’d fain not hear it there.

   No: it’s not from the stranger you met once.  Ah,
   Yet a goodlier scene than that succeeds;
   People on a lawn—quite a crowd of them.  Yes,
   And they chatter and ramble as fancy leads;
   And they say, “Hurrah!”
   To a blithe speech made; save one, mirthless,
      Who ought not to be there.

   Nay: it’s not the pale Form your imagings raise,
   That waits on us all at a destined time,
   It is not the Fourth Figure the Furnace showed,
   O that it were such a shape sublime;
   In these latter days!
   It is that under which best lives corrode;
      Would, would it could not be there!



LOGS ON THE HEARTH
A MEMORY OF A SISTER


      THE fire advances along the log
         Of the tree we felled,
   Which bloomed and bore striped apples by the peck
      Till its last hour of bearing knelled.

      The fork that first my hand would reach
         And then my foot
   In climbings upward inch by inch, lies now
      Sawn, sapless, darkening with soot.

      Where the bark chars is where, one year,
         It was pruned, and bled—
   Then overgrew the wound.  But now, at last,
      Its growings all have stagnated.

      My fellow-climber rises dim
         From her chilly grave—
   Just as she was, her foot near mine on the bending limb,
      Laughing, her young brown hand awave.

_December_ 1915.



THE SUNSHADE


   AH—it’s the skeleton of a lady’s sunshade,
      Here at my feet in the hard rock’s chink,
      Merely a naked sheaf of wires!—
      Twenty years have gone with their livers and diers
      Since it was silked in its white or pink.

   Noonshine riddles the ribs of the sunshade,
      No more a screen from the weakest ray;
      Nothing to tell us the hue of its dyes,
      Nothing but rusty bones as it lies
      In its coffin of stone, unseen till to-day.

   Where is the woman who carried that sun-shade
      Up and down this seaside place?—
      Little thumb standing against its stem,
      Thoughts perhaps bent on a love-stratagem,
      Softening yet more the already soft face!

   Is the fair woman who carried that sunshade
      A skeleton just as her property is,
      Laid in the chink that none may scan?
      And does she regret—if regret dust can—
      The vain things thought when she flourished this?

SWANAGE CLIFFS.



THE AGEING HOUSE


      WHEN the walls were red
      That now are seen
      To be overspread
      With a mouldy green,
      A fresh fair head
      Would often lean
      From the sunny casement
      And scan the scene,
   While blithely spoke the wind to the little sycamore tree.

      But storms have raged
      Those walls about,
      And the head has aged
      That once looked out;
      And zest is suaged
      And trust is doubt,
      And slow effacement
      Is rife throughout,
   While fiercely girds the wind at the long-limbed sycamore tree!



THE CAGED GOLDFINCH


   WITHIN a churchyard, on a recent grave,
      I saw a little cage
   That jailed a goldfinch.  All was silence save
      Its hops from stage to stage.

   There was inquiry in its wistful eye,
      And once it tried to sing;
   Of him or her who placed it there, and why,
      No one knew anything.



AT MADAME TUSSAUD’S IN VICTORIAN YEARS


   “THAT same first fiddler who leads the orchéstra to-night
      Here fiddled four decades of years ago;
   He bears the same babe-like smile of self-centred delight,
   Same trinket on watch-chain, same ring on the hand with the bow.

   “But his face, if regarded, is woefully wanner, and drier,
      And his once dark beard has grown straggling and gray;
   Yet a blissful existence he seems to have led with his lyre,
   In a trance of his own, where no wearing or tearing had sway.

   “Mid these wax figures, who nothing can do, it may seem
      That to do but a little thing counts a great deal;
   To be watched by kings, councillors, queens, may be flattering to him—
   With their glass eyes longing they too could wake notes that appeal.”

                                  * * *

   Ah, but he played staunchly—that fiddler—whoever he was,
      With the innocent heart and the soul-touching string:
   May he find the Fair Haven!  For did he not smile with good cause?
   Yes; gamuts that graced forty years’-flight were not a small thing!



THE BALLET


   THEY crush together—a rustling heap of flesh—
   Of more than flesh, a heap of souls; and then
         They part, enmesh,
      And crush together again,
   Like the pink petals of a too sanguine rose
      Frightened shut just when it blows.

   Though all alike in their tinsel livery,
   And indistinguishable at a sweeping glance,
         They muster, maybe,
      As lives wide in irrelevance;
   A world of her own has each one underneath,
      Detached as a sword from its sheath.

   Daughters, wives, mistresses; honest or false, sold, bought;
   Hearts of all sizes; gay, fond, gushing, or penned,
         Various in thought
         Of lover, rival, friend;
   Links in a one-pulsed chain, all showing one smile,
      Yet severed so many a mile!



THE FIVE STUDENTS


         THE sparrow dips in his wheel-rut bath,
            The sun grows passionate-eyed,
      And boils the dew to smoke by the paddock-path;
            As strenuously we stride,—
   Five of us; dark He, fair He, dark She, fair She, I,
               All beating by.

         The air is shaken, the high-road hot,
            Shadowless swoons the day,
      The greens are sobered and cattle at rest; but not
            We on our urgent way,—
   Four of us; fair She, dark She, fair He, I, are there,
               But one—elsewhere.

         Autumn moulds the hard fruit mellow,
            And forward still we press
      Through moors, briar-meshed plantations, clay-pits yellow,
            As in the spring hours—yes,
   Three of us: fair He, fair She, I, as heretofore,
               But—fallen one more.

         The leaf drops: earthworms draw it in
            At night-time noiselessly,
      The fingers of birch and beech are skeleton-thin,
               And yet on the beat are we,—
   Two of us; fair She, I.  But no more left to go
                  The track we know.

         Icicles tag the church-aisle leads,
            The flag-rope gibbers hoarse,
      The home-bound foot-folk wrap their snow-flaked heads,
               Yet I still stalk the course,—
   One of us . . . Dark and fair He, dark and fair She, gone:
                  The rest—anon.



THE WIND’S PROPHECY


   I TRAVEL on by barren farms,
   And gulls glint out like silver flecks
   Against a cloud that speaks of wrecks,
   And bellies down with black alarms.
   I say: “Thus from my lady’s arms
   I go; those arms I love the best!”
   The wind replies from dip and rise,
   “Nay; toward her arms thou journeyest.”

   A distant verge morosely gray
   Appears, while clots of flying foam
   Break from its muddy monochrome,
   And a light blinks up far away.
   I sigh: “My eyes now as all day
   Behold her ebon loops of hair!”
   Like bursting bonds the wind responds,
   “Nay, wait for tresses flashing fair!”

   From tides the lofty coastlands screen
   Come smitings like the slam of doors,
   Or hammerings on hollow floors,
   As the swell cleaves through caves unseen.
   Say I: “Though broad this wild terrene,
   Her city home is matched of none!”
   From the hoarse skies the wind replies:
   “Thou shouldst have said her sea-bord one.”

   The all-prevailing clouds exclude
   The one quick timorous transient star;
   The waves outside where breakers are
   Huzza like a mad multitude.
   “Where the sun ups it, mist-imbued,”
   I cry, “there reigns the star for me!”
   The wind outshrieks from points and peaks:
   “Here, westward, where it downs, mean ye!”

   Yonder the headland, vulturine,
   Snores like old Skrymer in his sleep,
   And every chasm and every steep
   Blackens as wakes each pharos-shine.
   “I roam, but one is safely mine,”
   I say.  “God grant she stay my own!”
   Low laughs the wind as if it grinned:
   “Thy Love is one thou’st not yet known.”

_Rewritten from an old copy_.



DURING WIND AND RAIN


      THEY sing their dearest songs—
      He, she, all of them—yea,
      Treble and tenor and bass,
         And one to play;
      With the candles mooning each face . . .
         Ah, no; the years O!
   How the sick leaves reel down in throngs!

      They clear the creeping moss—
      Elders and juniors—aye,
      Making the pathways neat
         And the garden gay;
      And they build a shady seat . . .
         Ah, no; the years, the years;
   See, the white storm-birds wing across!

      They are blithely breakfasting all—
      Men and maidens—yea,
      Under the summer tree,
         With a glimpse of the bay,
      While pet fowl come to the knee . . .
         Ah, no; the years O!
   And the rotten rose is ript from the wall.

      They change to a high new house,
      He, she, all of them—aye,
      Clocks and carpets and chairs
         On the lawn all day,
      And brightest things that are theirs . . .
         Ah, no; the years, the years;
   Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs.



HE PREFERS HER EARTHLY


   THIS after-sunset is a sight for seeing,
   Cliff-heads of craggy cloud surrounding it.
      —And dwell you in that glory-show?
   You may; for there are strange strange things in being,
         Stranger than I know.

   Yet if that chasm of splendour claim your presence
   Which glows between the ash cloud and the dun,
      How changed must be your mortal mould!
   Changed to a firmament-riding earthless essence
         From what you were of old:

   All too unlike the fond and fragile creature
   Then known to me . . . Well, shall I say it plain?
      I would not have you thus and there,
   But still would grieve on, missing you, still feature
         You as the one you were.



THE DOLLS


   “WHENEVER you dress me dolls, mammy,
      Why do you dress them so,
   And make them gallant soldiers,
      When never a one I know;
   And not as gentle ladies
      With frills and frocks and curls,
   As people dress the dollies
      Of other little girls?”

   Ah—why did she not answer:—
      “Because your mammy’s heed
   Is always gallant soldiers,
      As well may be, indeed.
   One of them was your daddy,
      His name I must not tell;
   He’s not the dad who lives here,
      But one I love too well.”



MOLLY GONE


      NO more summer for Molly and me;
         There is snow on the tree,
      And the blackbirds plump large as the rooks are, almost,
         And the water is hard
   Where they used to dip bills at the dawn ere her figure was lost
         To these coasts, now my prison close-barred.

      No more planting by Molly and me
         Where the beds used to be
      Of sweet-william; no training the clambering rose
         By the framework of fir
   Now bowering the pathway, whereon it swings gaily and blows
         As if calling commendment from her.

      No more jauntings by Molly and me
         To the town by the sea,
      Or along over Whitesheet to Wynyard’s green Gap,
         Catching Montacute Crest
   To the right against Sedgmoor, and Corton-Hill’s far-distant cap,
         And Pilsdon and Lewsdon to west.

      No more singing by Molly to me
         In the evenings when she
      Was in mood and in voice, and the candles were lit,
         And past the porch-quoin
   The rays would spring out on the laurels; and dumbledores hit
         On the pane, as if wishing to join.

      Where, then, is Molly, who’s no more with me?
         —As I stand on this lea,
      Thinking thus, there’s a many-flamed star in the air,
         That tosses a sign
   That her glance is regarding its face from her home, so that there
         Her eyes may have meetings with mine.



A BACKWARD SPRING


   THE trees are afraid to put forth buds,
   And there is timidity in the grass;
   The plots lie gray where gouged by spuds,
      And whether next week will pass
   Free of sly sour winds is the fret of each bush
      Of barberry waiting to bloom.

   Yet the snowdrop’s face betrays no gloom,
   And the primrose pants in its heedless push,
   Though the myrtle asks if it’s worth the fight
      This year with frost and rime
      To venture one more time
   On delicate leaves and buttons of white
   From the selfsame bough as at last year’s prime,
   And never to ruminate on or remember
   What happened to it in mid-December.

_April_ 1917.



LOOKING ACROSS


                                    I

   IT is dark in the sky,
   And silence is where
   Our laughs rang high;
   And recall do I
   That One is out there.

                                    II

   The dawn is not nigh,
   And the trees are bare,
   And the waterways sigh
   That a year has drawn by,
   And Two are out there.

                                   III

   The wind drops to die
   Like the phantom of Care
   Too frail for a cry,
   And heart brings to eye
   That Three are out there.

                                    IV

   This Life runs dry
   That once ran rare
   And rosy in dye,
   And fleet the days fly,
   And Four are out there.

                                    V

   Tired, tired am I
   Of this earthly air,
   And my wraith asks: Why,
   Since these calm lie,
   Are not Five out there?

_December_ 1915.



AT A SEASIDE TOWN IN 1869
(_Young Lover’s Reverie_)


   I WENT and stood outside myself,
      Spelled the dark sky
      And ship-lights nigh,
   And grumbling winds that passed thereby.

   Then next inside myself I looked,
      And there, above
      All, shone my Love,
   That nothing matched the image of.

   Beyond myself again I ranged;
      And saw the free
      Life by the sea,
   And folk indifferent to me.

   O ’twas a charm to draw within
      Thereafter, where
      But she was; care
   For one thing only, her hid there!

   But so it chanced, without myself
      I had to look,
      And then I took
   More heed of what I had long forsook:

   The boats, the sands, the esplanade,
      The laughing crowd;
      Light-hearted, loud
   Greetings from some not ill-endowed;

   The evening sunlit cliffs, the talk,
      Hailings and halts,
      The keen sea-salts,
   The band, the Morgenblätter Waltz.

   Still, when at night I drew inside
      Forward she came,
      Sad, but the same
   As when I first had known her name.

   Then rose a time when, as by force,
      Outwardly wooed
      By contacts crude,
   Her image in abeyance stood . . .

   At last I said: This outside life
      Shall not endure;
      I’ll seek the pure
   Thought-world, and bask in her allure.

   Myself again I crept within,
      Scanned with keen care
      The temple where
   She’d shone, but could not find her there.

   I sought and sought.  But O her soul
      Has not since thrown
      Upon my own
   One beam!  Yea, she is gone, is gone.

_From an old note_.



THE GLIMPSE


   SHE sped through the door
   And, following in haste,
   And stirred to the core,
   I entered hot-faced;
   But I could not find her,
   No sign was behind her.
   “Where is she?” I said:
   —“Who?” they asked that sat there;
   “Not a soul’s come in sight.”
   —“A maid with red hair.”
   —“Ah.”  They paled.  “She is dead.
   People see her at night,
   But you are the first
   On whom she has burst
   In the keen common light.”

   It was ages ago,
   When I was quite strong:
   I have waited since,—O,
   I have waited so long!
   —Yea, I set me to own
   The house, where now lone
   I dwell in void rooms
   Booming hollow as tombs!
   But I never come near her,
   Though nightly I hear her.
   And my cheek has grown thin
   And my hair has grown gray
   With this waiting therein;
   But she still keeps away!



THE PEDESTRIAN
AN INCIDENT OF 1883


   “SIR, will you let me give you a ride?
   _Nox Venit_, and the heath is wide.”
   —My phaeton-lantern shone on one
      Young, fair, even fresh,
      But burdened with flesh:
   A leathern satchel at his side,
   His breathings short, his coat undone.

   ’Twas as if his corpulent figure slopped
   With the shake of his walking when he stopped,
   And, though the night’s pinch grew acute,
      He wore but a thin
      Wind-thridded suit,
   Yet well-shaped shoes for walking in,
   Artistic beaver, cane gold-topped.

   “Alas, my friend,” he said with a smile,
   “I am daily bound to foot ten mile—
   Wet, dry, or dark—before I rest.
      Six months to live
      My doctors give
   Me as my prospect here, at best,
   Unless I vamp my sturdiest!”

   His voice was that of a man refined,
   A man, one well could feel, of mind,
   Quite winning in its musical ease;
      But in mould maligned
      By some disease;
   And I asked again.  But he shook his head;
   Then, as if more were due, he said:—

   “A student was I—of Schopenhauer,
   Kant, Hegel,—and the fountained bower
   Of the Muses, too, knew my regard:
      But ah—I fear me
      The grave gapes near me! . . .
   Would I could this gross sheath discard,
   And rise an ethereal shape, unmarred!”

   How I remember him!—his short breath,
   His aspect, marked for early death,
   As he dropped into the night for ever;
      One caught in his prime
      Of high endeavour;
   From all philosophies soon to sever
   Through an unconscienced trick of Time!



“WHO’S IN THE NEXT ROOM?”


      “WHO’S in the next room?—who?
         I seemed to see
   Somebody in the dawning passing through,
         Unknown to me.”
   “Nay: you saw nought.  He passed invisibly.”

      “Who’s in the next room?—who?
         I seem to hear
   Somebody muttering firm in a language new
         That chills the ear.”
   “No: you catch not his tongue who has entered there.”

      “Who’s in the next room?—who?
         I seem to feel
   His breath like a clammy draught, as if it drew
         From the Polar Wheel.”
   “No: none who breathes at all does the door conceal.”

      “Who’s in the next room?—who?
         A figure wan
   With a message to one in there of something due?
         Shall I know him anon?”
   “Yea he; and he brought such; and you’ll know him anon.”



AT A COUNTRY FAIR


   At a bygone Western country fair
   I saw a giant led by a dwarf
   With a red string like a long thin scarf;
   How much he was the stronger there
      The giant seemed unaware.

   And then I saw that the giant was blind,
   And the dwarf a shrewd-eyed little thing;
   The giant, mild, timid, obeyed the string
   As if he had no independent mind,
      Or will of any kind.

   Wherever the dwarf decided to go
   At his heels the other trotted meekly,
   (Perhaps—I know not—reproaching weakly)
   Like one Fate bade that it must be so,
      Whether he wished or no.

   Various sights in various climes
   I have seen, and more I may see yet,
   But that sight never shall I forget,
   And have thought it the sorriest of pantomimes,
      If once, a hundred times!



THE MEMORIAL BRASS: 186–


      “WHY do you weep there, O sweet lady,
      Why do you weep before that brass?—
   (I’m a mere student sketching the mediaeval)
      Is some late death lined there, alas?—
   Your father’s? . . . Well, all pay the debt that paid he!”

      “Young man, O must I tell!—My husband’s!  And under
      His name I set mine, and my _death_!—
   Its date left vacant till my heirs should fill it,
      Stating me faithful till my last breath.”
   —“Madam, that you are a widow wakes my wonder!”

      “O wait!  For last month I—remarried!
      And now I fear ’twas a deed amiss.
   We’ve just come home.  And I am sick and saddened
      At what the new one will say to this;
   And will he think—think that I should have tarried?

      “I may add, surely,—with no wish to harm him—
      That he’s a temper—yes, I fear!
   And when he comes to church next Sunday morning,
      And sees that written . . . O dear, O dear!”
   —“Madam, I swear your beauty will disarm him!”



HER LOVE-BIRDS


   WHEN I looked up at my love-birds
      That Sunday afternoon,
      There was in their tiny tune
   A dying fetch like broken words,
   When I looked up at my love-birds
      That Sunday afternoon.

   When he, too, scanned the love-birds
      On entering there that day,
      ’Twas as if he had nought to say
   Of his long journey citywards,
   When he, too, scanned the love-birds,
      On entering there that day.

   And billed and billed the love-birds,
      As ’twere in fond despair
      At the stress of silence where
   Had once been tones in tenor thirds,
   And billed and billed the love-birds
      As ’twere in fond despair.

   O, his speech that chilled the love-birds,
      And smote like death on me,
      As I learnt what was to be,
   And knew my life was broke in sherds!
   O, his speech that chilled the love-birds,
      And smote like death on me!



PAYING CALLS


   I WENT by footpath and by stile
      Beyond where bustle ends,
   Strayed here a mile and there a mile
      And called upon some friends.

   On certain ones I had not seen
      For years past did I call,
   And then on others who had been
      The oldest friends of all.

   It was the time of midsummer
      When they had used to roam;
   But now, though tempting was the air,
      I found them all at home.

   I spoke to one and other of them
      By mound and stone and tree
   Of things we had done ere days were dim,
      But they spoke not to me.



THE UPPER BIRCH-LEAVES


   Warm yellowy-green
   In the blue serene,
   How they skip and sway
   On this autumn day!
   They cannot know
   What has happened below,—
   That their boughs down there
   Are already quite bare,
   That their own will be
   When a week has passed,—
   For they jig as in glee
   To this very last.

   But no; there lies
   At times in their tune
   A note that cries
   What at first I fear
   I did not hear:
   “O we remember
   At each wind’s hollo—
   Though life holds yet—
   We go hence soon,
   For ’tis November;
   —But that you follow
   You may forget!”



“IT NEVER LOOKS LIKE SUMMER”


   “IT never looks like summer here
      On Beeny by the sea.”
   But though she saw its look as drear,
      Summer it seemed to me.

   It never looks like summer now
      Whatever weather’s there;
   But ah, it cannot anyhow,
      On Beeny or elsewhere!

   BOSCASTLE,
_March_ 8, 1913.



EVERYTHING COMES


   “THE house is bleak and cold
      Built so new for me!
   All the winds upon the wold
      Search it through for me;
   No screening trees abound,
   And the curious eyes around
      Keep on view for me.”

   “My Love, I am planting trees
      As a screen for you
   Both from winds, and eyes that tease
      And peer in for you.
   Only wait till they have grown,
   No such bower will be known
      As I mean for you.”

   “Then I will bear it, Love,
      And will wait,” she said.
   —So, with years, there grew a grove.
      “Skill how great!” she said.
   “As you wished, Dear?”—“Yes, I see!
   But—I’m dying; and for me
      ’Tis too late,” she said.



THE MAN WITH A PAST


      THERE was merry-making
      When the first dart fell
      As a heralding,—
   Till grinned the fully bared thing,
      And froze like a spell—
         Like a spell.

      Innocent was she,
      Innocent was I,
      Too simple we!
   Before us we did not see,
      Nearing, aught wry—
         Aught wry!

      I can tell it not now,
      It was long ago;
      And such things cow;
   But that is why and how
      Two lives were so—
         Were so.

      Yes, the years matured,
      And the blows were three
      That time ensured
   On her, which she dumbly endured;
      And one on me—
         One on me.



HE FEARS HIS GOOD FORTUNE


   THERE was a glorious time
   At an epoch of my prime;
   Mornings beryl-bespread,
   And evenings golden-red;
      Nothing gray:
   And in my heart I said,
   “However this chanced to be,
   It is too full for me,
   Too rare, too rapturous, rash,
   Its spell must close with a crash
      Some day!”

   The radiance went on
   Anon and yet anon,
   And sweetness fell around
   Like manna on the ground.
      “I’ve no claim,”
   Said I, “to be thus crowned:
   I am not worthy this:—
   Must it not go amiss?—
   Well . . . let the end foreseen
   Come duly!—I am serene.”
      —And it came.



HE WONDERS ABOUT HIMSELF


   NO use hoping, or feeling vext,
   Tugged by a force above or under
   Like some fantocine, much I wonder
   What I shall find me doing next!

   Shall I be rushing where bright eyes be?
   Shall I be suffering sorrows seven?
   Shall I be watching the stars of heaven,
   Thinking one of them looks like thee?

   Part is mine of the general Will,
   Cannot my share in the sum of sources
   Bend a digit the poise of forces,
   And a fair desire fulfil?

_Nov._ 1893.



JUBILATE


   “THE very last time I ever was here,” he said,
   “I saw much less of the quick than I saw of the dead.”
   —He was a man I had met with somewhere before,
   But how or when I now could recall no more.

   “The hazy mazy moonlight at one in the morning
   Spread out as a sea across the frozen snow,
   Glazed to live sparkles like the great breastplate adorning
   The priest of the Temple, with Urim and Thummim aglow.

   “The yew-tree arms, glued hard to the stiff stark air,
   Hung still in the village sky as theatre-scenes
   When I came by the churchyard wall, and halted there
   At a shut-in sound of fiddles and tambourines.

   “And as I stood hearkening, dulcimers, haut-boys, and shawms,
   And violoncellos, and a three-stringed double-bass,
   Joined in, and were intermixed with a singing of psalms;
   And I looked over at the dead men’s dwelling-place.

   “Through the shine of the slippery snow I now could see,
   As it were through a crystal roof, a great company
   Of the dead minueting in stately step underground
   To the tune of the instruments I had before heard sound.

   “It was ‘Eden New,’ and dancing they sang in a chore,
   ‘We are out of it all!—yea, in Little-Ease cramped no more!’
   And their shrouded figures pacing with joy I could see
   As you see the stage from the gallery.  And they had no heed of me.

   “And I lifted my head quite dazed from the churchyard wall
   And I doubted not that it warned I should soon have my call.
   But—” . . . Then in the ashes he emptied the dregs of his cup,
   And onward he went, and the darkness swallowed him up.



HE REVISITS HIS FIRST SCHOOL


   I SHOULD not have shown in the flesh,
   I ought to have gone as a ghost;
   It was awkward, unseemly almost,
   Standing solidly there as when fresh,
      Pink, tiny, crisp-curled,
      My pinions yet furled
      From the winds of the world.

   After waiting so many a year
   To wait longer, and go as a sprite
   From the tomb at the mid of some night
   Was the right, radiant way to appear;
      Not as one wanzing weak
      From life’s roar and reek,
      His rest still to seek:

   Yea, beglimpsed through the quaint quarried glass
   Of green moonlight, by me greener made,
   When they’d cry, perhaps, “There sits his shade
   In his olden haunt—just as he was
      When in Walkingame he
      Conned the grand Rule-of-Three
      With the bent of a bee.”

   But to show in the afternoon sun,
   With an aspect of hollow-eyed care,
   When none wished to see me come there,
   Was a garish thing, better undone.
      Yes; wrong was the way;
      But yet, let me say,
      I may right it—some day.



“I THOUGHT, MY HEART”


   I THOUGHT, my Heart, that you had healed
   Of those sore smartings of the past,
   And that the summers had oversealed
      All mark of them at last.
   But closely scanning in the night
   I saw them standing crimson-bright
         Just as she made them:
         Nothing could fade them;
         Yea, I can swear
         That there they were—
         They still were there!

   Then the Vision of her who cut them came,
   And looking over my shoulder said,
   “I am sure you deal me all the blame
      For those sharp smarts and red;
   But meet me, dearest, to-morrow night,
   In the churchyard at the moon’s half-height,
         And so strange a kiss
         Shall be mine, I wis,
         That you’ll cease to know
         If the wounds you show
         Be there or no!”



FRAGMENT


   AT last I entered a long dark gallery,
      Catacomb-lined; and ranged at the side
      Were the bodies of men from far and wide
   Who, motion past, were nevertheless not dead.

   “The sense of waiting here strikes strong;
      Everyone’s waiting, waiting, it seems to me;
      What are you waiting for so long?—
   What is to happen?” I said.

   “O we are waiting for one called God,” said they,
      “(Though by some the Will, or Force, or Laws;
      And, vaguely, by some, the Ultimate Cause;)
   Waiting for him to see us before we are clay.
   Yes; waiting, waiting, for God _to know it_” . . .

      “To know what?” questioned I.
   “To know how things have been going on earth and below it:
      It is clear he must know some day.”
      I thereon asked them why.

   “Since he made us humble pioneers
   Of himself in consciousness of Life’s tears,
   It needs no mighty prophecy
   To tell that what he could mindlessly show
   His creatures, he himself will know.

   “By some still close-cowled mystery
   We have reached feeling faster than he,
   But he will overtake us anon,
      If the world goes on.”



MIDNIGHT ON THE GREAT WESTERN


   In the third-class seat sat the journeying boy,
      And the roof-lamp’s oily flame
   Played down on his listless form and face,
   Bewrapt past knowing to what he was going,
         Or whence he came.

   In the band of his hat the journeying boy
      Had a ticket stuck; and a string
   Around his neck bore the key of his box,
   That twinkled gleams of the lamp’s sad beams
         Like a living thing.

   What past can be yours, O journeying boy
      Towards a world unknown,
   Who calmly, as if incurious quite
   On all at stake, can undertake
         This plunge alone?

   Knows your soul a sphere, O journeying boy,
      Our rude realms far above,
   Whence with spacious vision you mark and mete
   This region of sin that you find you in,
         But are not of?



HONEYMOON TIME AT AN INN


   AT the shiver of morning, a little before the false dawn,
         The moon was at the window-square,
      Deedily brooding in deformed decay—
      The curve hewn off her cheek as by an adze;
   At the shiver of morning a little before the false dawn
      So the moon looked in there.

   Her speechless eyeing reached across the chamber,
         Where lay two souls opprest,
      One a white lady sighing, “Why am I sad!”
      To him who sighed back, “Sad, my Love, am I!”
   And speechlessly the old moon conned the chamber,
      And these two reft of rest.

   While their large-pupilled vision swept the scene there,
         Nought seeming imminent,
      Something fell sheer, and crashed, and from the floor
      Lay glittering at the pair with a shattered gaze,
   While their large-pupilled vision swept the scene there,
      And the many-eyed thing outleant.

   With a start they saw that it was an old-time pier-glass
         Which had stood on the mantel near,
      Its silvering blemished,—yes, as if worn away
      By the eyes of the countless dead who had smirked at it
   Ere these two ever knew that old-time pier-glass
      And its vague and vacant leer.

   As he looked, his bride like a moth skimmed forth, and kneeling
         Quick, with quivering sighs,
      Gathered the pieces under the moon’s sly ray,
      Unwitting as an automaton what she did;
   Till he entreated, hasting to where she was kneeling,
      “Let it stay where it lies!”

   “Long years of sorrow this means!” breathed the lady
         As they retired.  “Alas!”
      And she lifted one pale hand across her eyes.
      “Don’t trouble, Love; it’s nothing,” the bridegroom said.
   “Long years of sorrow for us!” murmured the lady,
      “Or ever this evil pass!”

   And the Spirits Ironic laughed behind the wainscot,
         And the Spirits of Pity sighed.
      “It’s good,” said the Spirits Ironic, “to tickle their minds
      With a portent of their wedlock’s after-grinds.”
   And the Spirits of Pity sighed behind the wainscot,
      “It’s a portent we cannot abide!

   “More, what shall happen to prove the truth of the portent?”
         —“Oh; in brief, they will fade till old,
      And their loves grow numbed ere death, by the cark of care.”
   —“But nought see we that asks for portents there?—
   ’Tis the lot of all.”—“Well, no less true is a portent
      That it fits all mortal mould.”



THE ROBIN


   WHEN up aloft
   I fly and fly,
   I see in pools
   The shining sky,
   And a happy bird
   Am I, am I!

   When I descend
   Towards their brink
   I stand, and look,
   And stoop, and drink,
   And bathe my wings,
   And chink and prink.

   When winter frost
   Makes earth as steel
   I search and search
   But find no meal,
   And most unhappy
   Then I feel.

   But when it lasts,
   And snows still fall,
   I get to feel
   No grief at all,
   For I turn to a cold stiff
   Feathery ball!



“I ROSE AND WENT TO ROU’TOR TOWN”
(_She_, _alone_)


   I ROSE and went to Rou’tor Town
      With gaiety and good heart,
      And ardour for the start,
   That morning ere the moon was down
   That lit me off to Rou’tor Town
      With gaiety and good heart.

   When sojourn soon at Rou’tor Town
      Wrote sorrows on my face,
      I strove that none should trace
   The pale and gray, once pink and brown,
   When sojourn soon at Rou’tor Town
      Wrote sorrows on my face.

   The evil wrought at Rou’tor Town
      On him I’d loved so true
      I cannot tell anew:
   But nought can quench, but nought can drown
   The evil wrought at Rou’tor Town
      On him I’d loved so true!



THE NETTLES


      THIS, then, is the grave of my son,
      Whose heart she won!  And nettles grow
   Upon his mound; and she lives just below.

      How he upbraided me, and left,
      And our lives were cleft, because I said
   She was hard, unfeeling, caring but to wed.

      Well, to see this sight I have fared these miles,
      And her firelight smiles from her window there,
   Whom he left his mother to cherish with tender care!

      It is enough.  I’ll turn and go;
      Yes, nettles grow where lone lies he,
   Who spurned me for seeing what he could not see.



IN A WAITING-ROOM


   ON a morning sick as the day of doom
      With the drizzling gray
      Of an English May,
   There were few in the railway waiting-room.
   About its walls were framed and varnished
   Pictures of liners, fly-blown, tarnished.
   The table bore a Testament
   For travellers’ reading, if suchwise bent.

         I read it on and on,
      And, thronging the Gospel of Saint John,
      Were figures—additions, multiplications—
   By some one scrawled, with sundry emendations;
         Not scoffingly designed,
         But with an absent mind,—
      Plainly a bagman’s counts of cost,
      What he had profited, what lost;
   And whilst I wondered if there could have been
         Any particle of a soul
         In that poor man at all,

      To cypher rates of wage
      Upon that printed page,
      There joined in the charmless scene
   And stood over me and the scribbled book
      (To lend the hour’s mean hue
      A smear of tragedy too)
   A soldier and wife, with haggard look
   Subdued to stone by strong endeavour;
      And then I heard
      From a casual word
   They were parting as they believed for ever.

      But next there came
      Like the eastern flame
   Of some high altar, children—a pair—
   Who laughed at the fly-blown pictures there.
   “Here are the lovely ships that we,
   Mother, are by and by going to see!
   When we get there it’s ’most sure to be fine,
   And the band will play, and the sun will shine!”

   It rained on the skylight with a din
   As we waited and still no train came in;
   But the words of the child in the squalid room
   Had spread a glory through the gloom.



THE CLOCK-WINDER


   IT is dark as a cave,
   Or a vault in the nave
   When the iron door
   Is closed, and the floor
   Of the church relaid
   With trowel and spade.

   But the parish-clerk
   Cares not for the dark
   As he winds in the tower
   At a regular hour
   The rheumatic clock,
   Whose dilatory knock
   You can hear when praying
   At the day’s decaying,
   Or at any lone while
   From a pew in the aisle.

   Up, up from the ground
   Around and around
   In the turret stair
   He clambers, to where
   The wheelwork is,
   With its tick, click, whizz,
   Reposefully measuring
   Each day to its end
   That mortal men spend
   In sorrowing and pleasuring
   Nightly thus does he climb
   To the trackway of Time.

   Him I followed one night
   To this place without light,
   And, ere I spoke, heard
   Him say, word by word,
   At the end of his winding,
   The darkness unminding:—

   “So I wipe out one more,
   My Dear, of the sore
   Sad days that still be,
   Like a drying Dead Sea,
   Between you and me!”

   Who she was no man knew:
   He had long borne him blind
   To all womankind;
   And was ever one who
   Kept his past out of view.



OLD EXCURSIONS


   “WHAT’S the good of going to Ridgeway,
      Cerne, or Sydling Mill,
      Or to Yell’ham Hill,
   Blithely bearing Casterbridge-way
      As we used to do?
   She will no more climb up there,
   Or be visible anywhere
      In those haunts we knew.”

   But to-night, while walking weary,
      Near me seemed her shade,
      Come as ’twere to upbraid
   This my mood in deeming dreary
      Scenes that used to please;
   And, if she did come to me,
   Still solicitous, there may be
      Good in going to these.

   So, I’ll care to roam to Ridgeway,
      Cerne, or Sydling Mill,
      Or to Yell’ham Hill,
   Blithely bearing Casterbridge-way
      As we used to do,
   Since her phasm may flit out there,
   And may greet me anywhere
      In those haunts we knew.

_April_ 1913.



THE MASKED FACE


   I FOUND me in a great surging space,
      At either end a door,
   And I said: “What is this giddying place,
      With no firm-fixéd floor,
      That I knew not of before?”
      “It is Life,” said a mask-clad face.

   I asked: “But how do I come here,
      Who never wished to come;
   Can the light and air be made more clear,
      The floor more quietsome,
      And the doors set wide?  They numb
      Fast-locked, and fill with fear.”

   The mask put on a bleak smile then,
      And said, “O vassal-wight,
   There once complained a goosequill pen
      To the scribe of the Infinite
      Of the words it had to write
      Because they were past its ken.”



IN A WHISPERING GALLERY


   THAT whisper takes the voice
   Of a Spirit’s compassionings
   Close, but invisible,
   And throws me under a spell
   At the kindling vision it brings;
   And for a moment I rejoice,
   And believe in transcendent things
   That would mould from this muddy earth
   A spot for the splendid birth
   Of everlasting lives,
   Whereto no night arrives;
   And this gaunt gray gallery
   A tabernacle of worth
   On this drab-aired afternoon,
   When you can barely see
   Across its hazed lacune
   If opposite aught there be
   Of fleshed humanity
   Wherewith I may commune;
   Or if the voice so near
   Be a soul’s voice floating here.



THE SOMETHING THAT SAVED HIM


      IT was when
   Whirls of thick waters laved me
      Again and again,
   That something arose and saved me;
      Yea, it was then.

      In that day
   Unseeing the azure went I
      On my way,
   And to white winter bent I,
      Knowing no May.

      Reft of renown,
   Under the night clouds beating
      Up and down,
   In my needfulness greeting
      Cit and clown.

      Long there had been
   Much of a murky colour
      In the scene,
   Dull prospects meeting duller;
      Nought between.

      Last, there loomed
   A closing-in blind alley,
      Though there boomed
   A feeble summons to rally
      Where it gloomed.

      The clock rang;
   The hour brought a hand to deliver;
      I upsprang,
   And looked back at den, ditch and river,
      And sang.



THE ENEMY’S PORTRAIT


   HE saw the portrait of his enemy, offered
   At auction in a street he journeyed nigh,
   That enemy, now late dead, who in his life-time
   Had injured deeply him the passer-by.
   “To get that picture, pleased be God, I’ll try,
   And utterly destroy it; and no more
   Shall be inflicted on man’s mortal eye
   A countenance so sinister and sore!”

   And so he bought the painting.  Driving homeward,
   “The frame will come in useful,” he declared,
   “The rest is fuel.”  On his arrival, weary,
   Asked what he bore with him, and how he fared,
   He said he had bid for a picture, though he cared
   For the frame only: on the morrow he
   Would burn the canvas, which could well be spared,
   Seeing that it portrayed his enemy.

   Next day some other duty found him busy;
   The foe was laid his face against the wall;
   But on the next he set himself to loosen
   The straining-strips.  And then a casual call
   Prevented his proceeding therewithal;
   And thus the picture waited, day by day,
   Its owner’s pleasure, like a wretched thrall,
   Until a month and more had slipped away.

   And then upon a morn he found it shifted,
   Hung in a corner by a servitor.
   “Why did you take on you to hang that picture?
   You know it was the frame I bought it for.”
   “It stood in the way of every visitor,
   And I just hitched it there.”—“Well, it must go:
   I don’t commemorate men whom I abhor.
   Remind me ’tis to do.  The frame I’ll stow.”

   But things become forgotten.  In the shadow
   Of the dark corner hung it by its string,
   And there it stayed—once noticed by its owner,
   Who said, “Ah me—I must destroy that thing!”
   But when he died, there, none remembering,
   It hung, till moved to prominence, as one sees;
   And comers pause and say, examining,
   “I thought they were the bitterest enemies?”



IMAGININGS


      SHE saw herself a lady
         With fifty frocks in wear,
   And rolling wheels, and rooms the best,
         And faithful maidens’ care,
      And open lawns and shady
         For weathers warm or drear.

      She found herself a striver,
         All liberal gifts debarred,
   With days of gloom, and movements stressed,
         And early visions marred,
      And got no man to wive her
         But one whose lot was hard.

      Yet in the moony night-time
         She steals to stile and lea
   During his heavy slumberous rest
         When homecome wearily,
      And dreams of some blest bright-time
         She knows can never be.



ON THE DOORSTEP


   THE rain imprinted the step’s wet shine
   With target-circles that quivered and crossed
   As I was leaving this porch of mine;
   When from within there swelled and paused
         A song’s sweet note;
      And back I turned, and thought,
         “Here I’ll abide.”

   The step shines wet beneath the rain,
   Which prints its circles as heretofore;
   I watch them from the porch again,
   But no song-notes within the door
         Now call to me
      To shun the dripping lea
         And forth I stride.

_Jan._ 1914.



SIGNS AND TOKENS


   SAID the red-cloaked crone
   In a whispered moan:

   “The dead man was limp
   When laid in his chest;
   Yea, limp; and why
   But to signify
   That the grave will crimp
   Ere next year’s sun
   Yet another one
   Of those in that house—
   It may be the best—
   For its endless drowse!”

   Said the brown-shawled dame
   To confirm the same:

   “And the slothful flies
   On the rotting fruit
   Have been seen to wear
   While crawling there
   Crape scarves, by eyes
   That were quick and acute;
   As did those that had pitched
   On the cows by the pails,
   And with flaps of their tails
   Were far away switched.”

   Said the third in plaid,
   Each word being weighed:

   “And trotting does
   In the park, in the lane,
   And just outside
   The shuttered pane,
   Have also been heard—
   Quick feet as light
   As the feet of a sprite—
   And the wise mind knows
   What things may betide
   When such has occurred.”

   Cried the black-craped fourth,
   Cold faced as the north:

   “O, though giving such
   Some head-room, I smile
   At your falterings
   When noting those things
   Round your domicile!
   For what, what can touch
   One whom, riven of all
   That makes life gay,
   No hints can appal
   Of more takings away!”



PATHS OF FORMER TIME


         NO; no;
      It must not be so:
   They are the ways we do not go.

         Still chew
      The kine, and moo
   In the meadows we used to wander through;

         Still purl
      The rivulets and curl
   Towards the weirs with a musical swirl;

         Haymakers
      As in former years
   Rake rolls into heaps that the pitchfork rears;

         Wheels crack
      On the turfy track
   The waggon pursues with its toppling pack.

         “Why then shun—
      Since summer’s not done—
   All this because of the lack of one?”

         Had you been
      Sharer of that scene
   You would not ask while it bites in keen

         Why it is so
      We can no more go
   By the summer paths we used to know!

1913.



THE CLOCK OF THE YEARS


      “A spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up.”

      AND the Spirit said,
   “I can make the clock of the years go backward,
   But am loth to stop it where you will.”
      And I cried, “Agreed
      To that.  Proceed:
      It’s better than dead!”

      He answered, “Peace”;
   And called her up—as last before me;
   Then younger, younger she freshed, to the year
      I first had known
      Her woman-grown,
      And I cried, “Cease!—

      “Thus far is good—
   It is enough—let her stay thus always!”
   But alas for me.  He shook his head:
      No stop was there;
      And she waned child-fair,
      And to babyhood.

      Still less in mien
   To my great sorrow became she slowly,
   And smalled till she was nought at all
      In his checkless griff;
      And it was as if
      She had never been.

      “Better,” I plained,
   “She were dead as before!  The memory of her
   Had lived in me; but it cannot now!”
      And coldly his voice:
      “It was your choice
      To mar the ordained.”

1916.



AT THE PIANO


   A WOMAN was playing,
      A man looking on;
      And the mould of her face,
      And her neck, and her hair,
      Which the rays fell upon
      Of the two candles there,
   Sent him mentally straying
      In some fancy-place
      Where pain had no trace.

   A cowled Apparition
      Came pushing between;
      And her notes seemed to sigh,
      And the lights to burn pale,
      As a spell numbed the scene.
      But the maid saw no bale,
   And the man no monition;
      And Time laughed awry,
      And the Phantom hid nigh.



THE SHADOW ON THE STONE


         I WENT by the Druid stone
      That broods in the garden white and lone,
   And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows
      That at some moments fall thereon
      From the tree hard by with a rhythmic swing,
      And they shaped in my imagining
   To the shade that a well-known head and shoulders
      Threw there when she was gardening.

         I thought her behind my back,
      Yea, her I long had learned to lack,
   And I said: “I am sure you are standing behind me,
      Though how do you get into this old track?”
      And there was no sound but the fall of a leaf
      As a sad response; and to keep down grief
   I would not turn my head to discover
      That there was nothing in my belief.

         Yet I wanted to look and see
      That nobody stood at the back of me;
   But I thought once more: “Nay, I’ll not unvision
      A shape which, somehow, there may be.”
      So I went on softly from the glade,
      And left her behind me throwing her shade,
   As she were indeed an apparition—
      My head unturned lest my dream should fade.

_Begun_ 1913: _finished_ 1916.



IN THE GARDEN
(M. H.)


   WE waited for the sun
   To break its cloudy prison
   (For day was not yet done,
   And night still unbegun)
   Leaning by the dial.

   After many a trial—
   We all silent there—
   It burst as new-arisen,
   Throwing a shade to where
   Time travelled at that minute.

   Little saw we in it,
   But this much I know,
   Of lookers on that shade,
   Her towards whom it made
   Soonest had to go.

1915.



THE TREE AND THE LADY


         I HAVE done all I could
   For that lady I knew!  Through the heats I have shaded her,
   Drawn to her songsters when summer has jaded her,
      Home from the heath or the wood.

         At the mirth-time of May,
   When my shadow first lured her, I’d donned my new bravery
   Of greenth: ’twas my all.  Now I shiver in slavery,
      Icicles grieving me gray.

         Plumed to every twig’s end
   I could tempt her chair under me.  Much did I treasure her
   During those days she had nothing to pleasure her;
      Mutely she used me as friend.

         I’m a skeleton now,
   And she’s gone, craving warmth.  The rime sticks like a skin to me;
   Through me Arcturus peers; Nor’lights shoot into me;
      Gone is she, scorning my bough!



AN UPBRAIDING


   NOW I am dead you sing to me
      The songs we used to know,
   But while I lived you had no wish
      Or care for doing so.

   Now I am dead you come to me
      In the moonlight, comfortless;
   Ah, what would I have given alive
      To win such tenderness!

   When you are dead, and stand to me
      Not differenced, as now,
   But like again, will you be cold
      As when we lived, or how?



THE YOUNG GLASS-STAINER


   “THESE Gothic windows, how they wear me out
   With cusp and foil, and nothing straight or square,
   Crude colours, leaden borders roundabout,
   And fitting in Peter here, and Matthew there!

   “What a vocation!  Here do I draw now
   The abnormal, loving the Hellenic norm;
   Martha I paint, and dream of Hera’s brow,
   Mary, and think of Aphrodite’s form.”

_Nov._ 1893.



LOOKING AT A PICTURE ON AN ANNIVERSARY


   BUT don’t you know it, my dear,
      Don’t you know it,
   That this day of the year
   (What rainbow-rays embow it!)
   We met, strangers confessed,
      But parted—blest?

   Though at this query, my dear,
      There in your frame
   Unmoved you still appear,
   You must be thinking the same,
   But keep that look demure
      Just to allure.

   And now at length a trace
      I surely vision
   Upon that wistful face
   Of old-time recognition,
   Smiling forth, “Yes, as you say,
      It is the day.”

   For this one phase of you
      Now left on earth
   This great date must endue
   With pulsings of rebirth?—
   I see them vitalize
      Those two deep eyes!

   But if this face I con
      Does not declare
   Consciousness living on
   Still in it, little I care
   To live myself, my dear,
      Lone-labouring here!

_Spring_ 1913.



THE CHOIRMASTER’S BURIAL


   HE often would ask us
   That, when he died,
   After playing so many
   To their last rest,
   If out of us any
   Should here abide,
   And it would not task us,
   We would with our lutes
   Play over him
   By his grave-brim
   The psalm he liked best—
   The one whose sense suits
   “Mount Ephraim”—
   And perhaps we should seem
   To him, in Death’s dream,
   Like the seraphim.

   As soon as I knew
   That his spirit was gone
   I thought this his due,
   And spoke thereupon.
   “I think,” said the vicar,
   “A read service quicker
   Than viols out-of-doors
   In these frosts and hoars.
   That old-fashioned way
   Requires a fine day,
   And it seems to me
   It had better not be.”

   Hence, that afternoon,
   Though never knew he
   That his wish could not be,
   To get through it faster
   They buried the master
   Without any tune.

   But ’twas said that, when
   At the dead of next night
   The vicar looked out,
   There struck on his ken
   Thronged roundabout,
   Where the frost was graying
   The headstoned grass,
   A band all in white
   Like the saints in church-glass,
   Singing and playing
   The ancient stave
   By the choirmaster’s grave.

   Such the tenor man told
   When he had grown old.



THE MAN WHO FORGOT


   AT a lonely cross where bye-roads met
      I sat upon a gate;
   I saw the sun decline and set,
      And still was fain to wait.

   A trotting boy passed up the way
      And roused me from my thought;
   I called to him, and showed where lay
      A spot I shyly sought.

   “A summer-house fair stands hidden where
      You see the moonlight thrown;
   Go, tell me if within it there
      A lady sits alone.”

   He half demurred, but took the track,
      And silence held the scene;
   I saw his figure rambling back;
      I asked him if he had been.

   “I went just where you said, but found
      No summer-house was there:
   Beyond the slope ’tis all bare ground;
      Nothing stands anywhere.

   “A man asked what my brains were worth;
      The house, he said, grew rotten,
   And was pulled down before my birth,
      And is almost forgotten!”

   My right mind woke, and I stood dumb;
      Forty years’ frost and flower
   Had fleeted since I’d used to come
      To meet her in that bower.



WHILE DRAWING IN A CHURCH-YARD


      “IT is sad that so many of worth,
      Still in the flesh,” soughed the yew,
   “Misjudge their lot whom kindly earth
         Secludes from view.

      “They ride their diurnal round
      Each day-span’s sum of hours
   In peerless ease, without jolt or bound
         Or ache like ours.

      “If the living could but hear
      What is heard by my roots as they creep
   Round the restful flock, and the things said there,
         No one would weep.”

      “‘Now set among the wise,’
      They say: ‘Enlarged in scope,
   That no God trumpet us to rise
         We truly hope.’”

      I listened to his strange tale
      In the mood that stillness brings,
   And I grew to accept as the day wore pale
         That show of things.



“FOR LIFE I HAD NEVER CARED GREATLY”


      FOR Life I had never cared greatly,
         As worth a man’s while;
         Peradventures unsought,
      Peradventures that finished in nought,
   Had kept me from youth and through manhood till lately
         Unwon by its style.

      In earliest years—why I know not—
         I viewed it askance;
         Conditions of doubt,
      Conditions that leaked slowly out,
   May haply have bent me to stand and to show not
         Much zest for its dance.

      With symphonies soft and sweet colour
         It courted me then,
         Till evasions seemed wrong,
      Till evasions gave in to its song,
   And I warmed, until living aloofly loomed duller
         Than life among men.

      Anew I found nought to set eyes on,
         When, lifting its hand,
         It uncloaked a star,
      Uncloaked it from fog-damps afar,
   And showed its beams burning from pole to horizon
         As bright as a brand.

      And so, the rough highway forgetting,
         I pace hill and dale
         Regarding the sky,
      Regarding the vision on high,
   And thus re-illumed have no humour for letting
         My pilgrimage fail.



POEMS OF WAR AND PATRIOTISM


“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,
   Leaving all that here 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,
   Leaving all that here can win us;
   Hence the faith and fire within us
      Men who march away.

_September_ 5, 1914.



HIS COUNTRY


   [He travels southward, and looks around;]
   I journeyed from my native spot
      Across the south sea shine,
   And found that people in hall and cot
   Laboured and suffered each his lot
      Even as I did mine.

   [and cannot discern the boundary]
   Thus noting them in meads and marts
      It did not seem to me
   That my dear country with its hearts,
   Minds, yearnings, worse and better parts
      Had ended with the sea.

   [of his native country;]
   I further and further went anon,
      As such I still surveyed,
   And further yet—yea, on and on,
   And all the men I looked upon
      Had heart-strings fellow-made.

   [or where his duties to his fellow-creatures end;]
   I traced the whole terrestrial round,
      Homing the other side;
   Then said I, “What is there to bound
   My denizenship?  It seems I have found
      Its scope to be world-wide.”

   [nor who are his enemies]
   I asked me: “Whom have I to fight,
      And whom have I to dare,
   And whom to weaken, crush, and blight?
   My country seems to have kept in sight
      On my way everywhere.”

1913.



ENGLAND TO GERMANY IN 1914


   “O ENGLAND, may God punish thee!”
   —Is it that Teuton genius flowers
   Only to breathe malignity
   Upon its friend of earlier hours?
   —We have eaten your bread, you have eaten ours,
   We have loved your burgs, your pines’ green moan,
   Fair Rhine-stream, and its storied towers;
   Your shining souls of deathless dowers
   Have won us as they were our own:

   We have nursed no dreams to shed your blood,
   We have matched your might not rancorously,
   Save a flushed few whose blatant mood
   You heard and marked as well as we
   To tongue not in their country’s key;
   But yet you cry with face aflame,
   “O England, may God punish thee!”
   And foul in onward history,
   And present sight, your ancient name.

_Autumn_ 1914.



ON THE BELGIAN EXPATRIATION


   I DREAMT that people from the Land of Chimes
   Arrived one autumn morning with their bells,
   To hoist them on the towers and citadels
   Of my own country, that the musical rhymes

   Rung by them into space at meted times
   Amid the market’s daily stir and stress,
   And the night’s empty star-lit silentness,
   Might solace souls of this and kindred climes.

   Then I awoke; and lo, before me stood
   The visioned ones, but pale and full of fear;
   From Bruges they came, and Antwerp, and Ostend,

   No carillons in their train.  Foes of mad mood
   Had shattered these to shards amid the gear
   Of ravaged roof, and smouldering gable-end.

_October_ 18, 1914.



AN APPEAL TO AMERICA
ON BEHALF OF THE BELGIAN DESTITUTE


      SEVEN millions stand
   Emaciate, in that ancient Delta-land:—
   We here, full-charged with our own maimed and dead,
   And coiled in throbbing conflicts slow and sore,
   Can poorly soothe these ails unmerited
   Of souls forlorn upon the facing shore!—
   Where naked, gaunt, in endless band on band
      Seven millions stand.

      No man can say
   To your great country that, with scant delay,
   You must, perforce, ease them in their loud need:
   We know that nearer first your duty lies;
   But—is it much to ask that you let plead
   Your lovingkindness with you—wooing-wise—
   Albeit that aught you owe, and must repay,
      No man can say?

_December_ 1914.



THE PITY OF IT


   I WALKED in loamy Wessex lanes, afar
   From rail-track and from highway, and I heard
   In field and farmstead many an ancient word
   Of local lineage like “Thu bist,” “Er war,”

   “Ich woll,” “Er sholl,” and by-talk similar,
   Nigh as they speak who in this month’s moon gird
   At England’s very loins, thereunto spurred
   By gangs whose glory threats and slaughters are.

   Then seemed a Heart crying: “Whosoever they be
   At root and bottom of this, who flung this flame
   Between kin folk kin tongued even as are we,

   “Sinister, ugly, lurid, be their fame;
   May their familiars grow to shun their name,
   And their brood perish everlastingly.”

_April_ 1915.



IN TIME OF WARS AND TUMULTS


   “WOULD that I’d not drawn breath here!” some one said,
   “To stalk upon this stage of evil deeds,
   Where purposelessly month by month proceeds
   A play so sorely shaped and blood-bespread.”

   Yet had his spark not quickened, but lain dead
   To the gross spectacles of this our day,
   And never put on the proffered cloak of clay,
   He had but known not things now manifested;

   Life would have swirled the same.  Morns would have dawned
   On the uprooting by the night-gun’s stroke
   Of what the yester noonshine brought to flower;

   Brown martial brows in dying throes have wanned
   Despite his absence; hearts no fewer been broke
   By Empery’s insatiate lust of power.

1915.



IN TIME OF “THE BREAKING OF NATIONS” {235}


                                    I

   Only a man harrowing clods
      In a slow silent walk
   With an old horse that stumbles and nods
      Half asleep as they stalk.

                                    II

   Only thin smoke without flame
      From the heaps of couch-grass;
   Yet this will go onward the same
      Though Dynasties pass.

                                   III

   Yonder a maid and her wight
      Come whispering by:
   War’s annals will cloud into night
      Ere their story die.

1915.



CRY OF THE HOMELESS
AFTER THE PRUSSIAN INVASION OF BELGIUM


   “INSTIGATOR of the ruin—
      Whichsoever thou mayst be
   Of the masterful of Europe
      That contrived our misery—
   Hear the wormwood-worded greeting
      From each city, shore, and lea
         Of thy victims:
      “Conqueror, all hail to thee!”

   “Yea: ‘All hail!’ we grimly shout thee
      That wast author, fount, and head
   Of these wounds, whoever proven
      When our times are throughly read.
   ‘May thy loved be slighted, blighted,
      And forsaken,’ be it said
         By thy victims,
      ‘And thy children beg their bread!’

   “Nay: a richer malediction!—
      Rather let this thing befall
   In time’s hurling and unfurling
      On the night when comes thy call;
   That compassion dew thy pillow
      And bedrench thy senses all
         For thy victims,
      Till death dark thee with his pall.”

_August_ 1915.



BEFORE MARCHING AND AFTER
(_in Memoriam F. W. G._)


      ORION swung southward aslant
      Where the starved Egdon pine-trees had thinned,
      The Pleiads aloft seemed to pant
      With the heather that twitched in the wind;
   But he looked on indifferent to sights such as these,
   Unswayed by love, friendship, home joy or home sorrow,
   And wondered to what he would march on the morrow.

      The crazed household-clock with its whirr
      Rang midnight within as he stood,
      He heard the low sighing of her
      Who had striven from his birth for his good;
   But he still only asked the spring starlight, the breeze,
   What great thing or small thing his history would borrow
   From that Game with Death he would play on the morrow.

      When the heath wore the robe of late summer,
      And the fuchsia-bells, hot in the sun,
      Hung red by the door, a quick comer
      Brought tidings that marching was done
   For him who had joined in that game overseas
   Where Death stood to win, though his name was to borrow
   A brightness therefrom not to fade on the morrow.

_September_ 1915.



“OFTEN WHEN WARRING”


   OFTEN when warring for he wist not what,
   An enemy-soldier, passing by one weak,
   Has tendered water, wiped the burning cheek,
   And cooled the lips so black and clammed and hot;

   Then gone his way, and maybe quite forgot
   The deed of grace amid the roar and reek;
   Yet larger vision than loud arms bespeak
   He there has reached, although he has known it not.

   For natural mindsight, triumphing in the act
   Over the throes of artificial rage,
   Has thuswise muffled victory’s peal of pride,
   Rended to ribands policy’s specious page
   That deals but with evasion, code, and pact,
   And war’s apology wholly stultified.

1915.



THEN AND NOW


      WHEN battles were fought
   With a chivalrous sense of Should and Ought,
      In spirit men said,
      “End we quick or dead,
      Honour is some reward!
   Let us fight fair—for our own best or worst;
      So, Gentlemen of the Guard,
         Fire first!”

      In the open they stood,
   Man to man in his knightlihood:
      They would not deign
      To profit by a stain
      On the honourable rules,
   Knowing that practise perfidy no man durst
      Who in the heroic schools
         Was nurst.

      But now, behold, what
   Is warfare wherein honour is not!
      Rama laments
      Its dead innocents:
      Herod breathes: “Sly slaughter
   Shall rule!  Let us, by modes once called accurst,
      Overhead, under water,
         Stab first.”

1915.



A CALL TO NATIONAL SERVICE


   UP and be doing, all who have a hand
   To lift, a back to bend.  It must not be
   In times like these that vaguely linger we
   To air our vaunts and hopes; and leave our land

   Untended as a wild of weeds and sand.
   —Say, then, “I come!” and go, O women and men
   Of palace, ploughshare, easel, counter, pen;
   That scareless, scathless, England still may stand.

   Would years but let me stir as once I stirred
   At many a dawn to take the forward track,
   And with a stride plunged on to enterprize,

   I now would speed like yester wind that whirred
   Through yielding pines; and serve with never a slack,
   So loud for promptness all around outcries!

_March_ 1917.



THE DEAD AND THE LIVING ONE


   THE dead woman lay in her first night’s grave,
   And twilight fell from the clouds’ concave,
   And those she had asked to forgive forgave.

   The woman passing came to a pause
   By the heaped white shapes of wreath and cross,
   And looked upon where the other was.

   And as she mused there thus spoke she:
   “Never your countenance did I see,
   But you’ve been a good good friend to me!”

   Rose a plaintive voice from the sod below:
   “O woman whose accents I do not know,
   What is it that makes you approve me so?”

   “O dead one, ere my soldier went,
   I heard him saying, with warm intent,
   To his friend, when won by your blandishment:

   “‘I would change for that lass here and now!
   And if I return I may break my vow
   To my present Love, and contrive somehow

   “‘To call my own this new-found pearl,
   Whose eyes have the light, whose lips the curl,
   I always have looked for in a girl!’

   “—And this is why that by ceasing to be—
   Though never your countenance did I see—
   You prove you a good good friend to me;

   “And I pray each hour for your soul’s repose
   In gratitude for your joining those
   No lover will clasp when his campaigns close.”

   Away she turned, when arose to her eye
   A martial phantom of gory dye,
   That said, with a thin and far-off sigh:

   “O sweetheart, neither shall I clasp you,
   For the foe this day has pierced me through,
   And sent me to where she is.  Adieu!—

   “And forget not when the night-wind’s whine
   Calls over this turf where her limbs recline,
   That it travels on to lament by mine.”

   There was a cry by the white-flowered mound,
   There was a laugh from underground,
   There was a deeper gloom around.

1915.



A NEW YEAR’S EVE IN WAR TIME


                                    I

      PHANTASMAL fears,
      And the flap of the flame,
      And the throb of the clock,
      And a loosened slate,
      And the blind night’s drone,
   Which tiredly the spectral pines intone!

                                    II

   And the blood in my ears
   Strumming always the same,
   And the gable-cock
   With its fitful grate,
   And myself, alone.

                                   III

   The twelfth hour nears
   Hand-hid, as in shame;
   I undo the lock,
   And listen, and wait
   For the Young Unknown.

                                    IV

   In the dark there careers—
   As if Death astride came
   To numb all with his knock—
   A horse at mad rate
   Over rut and stone.

                                    V

   No figure appears,
   No call of my name,
   No sound but “Tic-toc”
   Without check.  Past the gate
   It clatters—is gone.

                                    VI

   What rider it bears
   There is none to proclaim;
   And the Old Year has struck,
   And, scarce animate,
   The New makes moan.

                                   VII

      Maybe that “More Tears!—
      More Famine and Flame—
      More Severance and Shock!”
      Is the order from Fate
      That the Rider speeds on
   To pale Europe; and tiredly the pines intone.

1915–1916.



“I MET A MAN”


      I MET a man when night was nigh,
      Who said, with shining face and eye
      Like Moses’ after Sinai:—

      “I have seen the Moulder of Monarchies,
         Realms, peoples, plains and hills,
      Sitting upon the sunlit seas!—
      And, as He sat, soliloquies
   Fell from Him like an antiphonic breeze
         That pricks the waves to thrills.

      “Meseemed that of the maimed and dead
         Mown down upon the globe,—
      Their plenteous blooms of promise shed
      Ere fruiting-time—His words were said,
   Sitting against the western web of red
         Wrapt in His crimson robe.

      “And I could catch them now and then:
         —‘Why let these gambling clans
      Of human Cockers, pit liege men
      From mart and city, dale and glen,
   In death-mains, but to swell and swell again
         Their swollen All-Empery plans,

      “‘When a mere nod (if my malign
         Compeer but passive keep)
      Would mend that old mistake of mine
      I made with Saul, and ever consign
   All Lords of War whose sanctuaries enshrine
         Liberticide, to sleep?

      “‘With violence the lands are spread
         Even as in Israel’s day,
      And it repenteth me I bred
      Chartered armipotents lust-led
   To feuds . . . Yea, grieves my heart, as then I said,
         To see their evil way!’

      —“The utterance grew, and flapped like flame,
         And further speech I feared;
      But no Celestial tongued acclaim,
      And no huzzas from earthlings came,
   And the heavens mutely masked as ’twere in shame
         Till daylight disappeared.”

   Thus ended he as night rode high—
   The man of shining face and eye,
   Like Moses’ after Sinai.

1916.



“I LOOKED UP FROM MY WRITING”


   I LOOKED up from my writing,
      And gave a start to see,
   As if rapt in my inditing,
      The moon’s full gaze on me.

   Her meditative misty head
      Was spectral in its air,
   And I involuntarily said,
      “What are you doing there?”

   “Oh, I’ve been scanning pond and hole
      And waterway hereabout
   For the body of one with a sunken soul
      Who has put his life-light out.

   “Did you hear his frenzied tattle?
      It was sorrow for his son
   Who is slain in brutish battle,
      Though he has injured none.

   “And now I am curious to look
      Into the blinkered mind
   Of one who wants to write a book
      In a world of such a kind.”

   Her temper overwrought me,
      And I edged to shun her view,
   For I felt assured she thought me
      One who should drown him too.



FINALE


THE COMING OF THE END


      HOW it came to an end!
   The meeting afar from the crowd,
   And the love-looks and laughters unpenned,
   The parting when much was avowed,
      How it came to an end!

      It came to an end;
   Yes, the outgazing over the stream,
   With the sun on each serpentine bend,
   Or, later, the luring moon-gleam;
      It came to an end.

      It came to an end,
   The housebuilding, furnishing, planting,
   As if there were ages to spend
   In welcoming, feasting, and jaunting;
      It came to an end.

      It came to an end,
   That journey of one day a week:
   (“It always goes on,” said a friend,
   “Just the same in bright weathers or bleak;”)
      But it came to an end.

      “_How_ will come to an end
   This orbit so smoothly begun,
   Unless some convulsion attend?”
   I often said.  “What will be done
      When it comes to an end?”

      Well, it came to an end
   Quite silently—stopped without jerk;
   Better close no prevision could lend;
   Working out as One planned it should work
      Ere it came to an end.



AFTERWARDS


   WHEN the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
      And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
   Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
      “He was a man who used to notice such things”?

   If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid’s soundless blink,
      The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
   Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
      “To him this must have been a familiar sight.”

   If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
      When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
   One may say, “He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no
   harm,
      But he could do little for them; and now he is gone”?

   If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the
   door,
      Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees,
   Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
      “He was one who had an eye for such mysteries”?

   And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,
      And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
   Till they rise again, as they were a new bell’s boom,
      “He hears it not now, but used to notice such things”?



FOOTNOTES


{235}  Jer. li. 20.





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