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Title: Orchard and Vineyard
Author: Sackville-West, Victoria Mary (Vita)
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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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)



                         _BY THE SAME AUTHOR_

                        POEMS OF WEST AND EAST

                            THE BODLEY HEAD



                             AND VINEYARD

                           V. SACKVILLE-WEST

         LONDON: JOHN LANE THE BODLEY HEAD LTD., VIGO ST., W.
                  NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY MCMXXI

                                TO----

                       _Printed in Great Britain
                   by Turnbull & Spears, Edinburgh_



CONTENTS


HUMANITIES:                                                        _Page_

  MARIANA IN THE NORTH                                                 9

  SORROW OF DEPARTURE                                                 10

  SCORN                                                               13

  DISSONANCE                                                          14

  ON THE STATUE OF A VESTAL VIRGIN BY TOMA ROSANDIĆ                   15

  TRIO                                                                18

  ARIANE                                                              19

  BEFORE AND AFTER                                                    20

  IRRUPTION                                                           21

  TO EVE                                                              23

  MAD                                                                 24

  ESCAPE                                                              25

  TO EVE IN TEARS                                                     26

  BITTERNESS                                                          27

  A FALLEN SOLDIER                                                    29

  FALLEN YOUTH                                                        30

INSURRECTION                                                          35

HOME:

  NIGHT                                                               43

  A SAXON SONG                                                        46

  A PAGE FROM A DIARY                                                 47

  BEECHWOODS AT KNOLE                                                 49

  LEOPARDS AT KNOLE                                                   50

  APRIL                                                               51

  ARCADY IN ENGLAND                                                   52

  TESTAMENT                                                           54

  SONNET                                                              55

  FULL MOON                                                           56

AD ASTRA                                                              59

FROM “A MASQUE OF YOUTH”                                              65

SONGS OF FANCY:

    I. YOUR CARAVEL WAS LOOSELY MOORED                                75

   II. SING OF ENCHANTED PALACES                                      77

  III. WAS IT BUT A RANDOM BIRD                                       78

  SWEET TIME                                                          79

  A CYPRESS AVENUE                                                    80

  MIRAGE                                                              81

  CHINOISERIE                                                         90

  COLOUR                                                              92

SAILING:

  SAILING SHIPS                                                       95

  PHANTOM                                                             98

  GENOESE MERCHANTS                                                   99

  EVENING                                                            101

Some of these poems have already appeared in _The London Mercury_, _The
Observer_, _Country Life_, _The Woman’s Leader_, _The Anglo-French
Review_; to the editors of these papers I am indebted for permission to
republish.

V. S.-W.



HUMANITIES


MARIANA IN THE NORTH

    ALL her youth is gone, her beautiful youth outworn,
    Daughter of tarn and tor, the moors that were once her home
    No longer know her step on the upland tracks forlorn
          Where she was wont to roam.

    All her hounds are dead, her beautiful hounds are dead,
    That paced beside the hoofs of her high and nimble horse,
    Or streaked in lean pursuit of the tawny hare that fled
          Out of the yellow gorse.

    All her lovers have passed, her beautiful lovers have passed,
    The young and eager men that fought for her arrogant hand,
    And the only voice which endures to mourn for her at the last
          Is the voice of the lonely land.


       SORROW OF DEPARTURE. _For D._

    HE sat among the shadows lost,
    And heard the careless voice speak on
    Of life when he was gone from home,
    Of days that he had made his own,
    Familiar schemes that he had known,
    And dates that he had cherished most
    As star-points in the year to come,
    And he was suddenly alone,
    Thinking (not bitterly,
    But with a grave regret) that he
    Was in that room a ghost.

    He sat among the shades apart,
    The careless voice he scarcely heard.
    In that arrested hour there stirred
    Shy birds of beauty in his heart.

    The clouds of March he would not see
    Across the sky race royally,
    Nor yet the drift of daffodil
    He planted with so glad a hand,
    Nor yet the loveliness he planned
    For summer’s sequence to fulfil,
    Nor trace upon the hill
    The annual waking of the land,
    Nor meditative stand
    To watch the turning of the mill.

    He would not pause above the Weald
    With twilight falling dim,
    And mark the chequer-board of field,
    The water gleaming like a shield,
    The oast-house in the elms concealed,
    Nor see, from heaven’s chalice-rim,
    The vintaged sunset brim,
    Nor yet the high, suspended star
    Hanging eternally afar.

    These things would be, but not for him.

    At summer noon he would not lie
    One with his cutter’s rise and dip,
    Free with the wind and sea and sky,
    And watch the dappled waves go by,
    The sea-gulls scream and slip;
    White sails, white birds, white clouds, white foam,
    White cliffs that curled the love of home
    Around him like a whip....
    He would not see that summer noon
    Fade into dusk from light,
    While he on shifting waters bright
    Sailed idly on, beneath the moon
    Climbing the dome of night.

    This was his dream of happy things
    That he had loved through many springs,
    And never more might know.
    But man must pass the shrouded gate
    Companioned by his secret fate,
    And he must lonely go,
    And none can help or understand,
    For other men may touch his hand,
    But none the soul below.


       SCORN

    THEY roll, clan by clan, kin by kin, on wide orderly roads,
    Burghers and citizens all, in a stately procession,
    Driving before them the wealth of their worldly possession,
    Cattle, and horses, and pack-mules with sumptuous loads.

    In velvet and fur and fat pearls,--rich lustre and sheen,
    Paunches and plenty, and fatuous voices contented
    Counting their gain, and their women all jewelled and scented
    Smiling false smiles with the little sharp word in between.

    But those in the by-paths of vagrancy, star-gazers, they,
    Ragged and feckless and young, with no thought but their singing,
    Derisive of gain, and light as the bird in its winging,
    Stopping to kiss or to frolic, the simple and gay,

    God’s fools,--the belovèd of God who made them and the wind,
    Gipsies and wastrels of life, the heedless of warning,
    Chasing the butterfly now on the breeze of the morning,
    Laugh at the passing procession that leaves them behind.


       DISSONANCE

    CLAMOUR has riven us, clamour and din.
    My hand reaches blindly out for your hand, but within
    My mind cannot reach to your mind, because of the clamour and din.

    Clang as of brass, an uproar that will not cease.
    I would take from the strangest god or devil the gift of peace.
    If the strife that divides us were suddenly stilled and would cease

    I could come to you, come under washed void skies,
    My thought in your thought embraced, my eyes and your eyes
    Levelly meeting without the quick faltering of disguise.

    But all is a harshness and rack where in vain
    We strive through the grossness of flesh to discover our souls again,
    And the closer we clasp one another, the further apart remain.


       ON THE STATUE OF A VESTAL VIRGIN BY TOMA ROSANDIĆ

    HOW slender, simple, shy, divinely chaste,
    She wilting stood,
    Her suppleness at pause, by leisure graced,
    In robes archaic by the chisel woo’d,
    That smoothly flowed around her waist
    And all her figure traced,
    And at her feet in fluid ripples broke;
    A Vestal virgin! but she rather seemed
    The Hamadryad of the sculpted oak
    Since in that oaken raiment she for ever dreamed.

    One finger to her lips she raised,
    And turned her dubious glances wide
    As one who forward to the future gazed,
    But her reluctant body swerved away
    As one who held her bounty back with pride.
    “Forbear!” her hesitation seemed to say,
    While her exulting soul for instant capture cried.

    And she was ageless; leisure unperturbed
    Lay like a light across her brow
    And sanctified her vow;
    But that uplifted hand from its austerity
    Another spirit stirred,
    Spirit of grace, spirit of fantasy,
    The wayward spirit of the pagan tree.

    Had she stood dreaming by the water’s verge,
    Her branches mirrored in the forest pool
    Where plashing sunlight flickered and was cool?
    Did she so stand
    Before the sculptor with his mortal hand
    Summoned the mortal maiden to emerge?
    And did she open eyes upon a place
    All pied and jewelled with the flowers wild,
    With king-cups and the pretty daisy mild,
    With periwinkle sulking like a child,
    And little orchis with his puckered face,
    And campion too?
    Did these, when first they saw her, race
    Around her feet like tiny rivulets?
    The bluebells shake for joy? the violets,
    Thinking that other Virgin full of grace
    Was come amongst them, blush a deeper blue?

    Was this her birth upon a world of men,
    Where any painter might have seized his hour,
    Breathing her swiftly on the canvas then,
    Among the lowly flowers a taller flower?
    Or any sculptor on the marble limn
    Her slenderness serene, her beauty’s dower,
    Her lifted hand, her smooth and fragile limb,
    Learning a greater art from her than she from him?

    So in the prison of her perfect shape
    She dwelt for ever virginal, adored,
    Whence she might never know escape,
    Might never know what mystery lay stored
    Beyond the threshold she might never pass,
    But where for ever poised and wavering she was,
    Threshold of waking youth, as bright and narrow as a sword.


       TRIO

    SO well she knew them both! yet as she came
    Into the room, and heard their speech
    Of tragic meshes knotted with her name,
    And saw them, foes, but meeting each with each
    Closer than friends, souls bared through enmity,
    Beneath their startled gaze she thought that she
    Broke as the stranger on their conference,
    And left them as she stole abashed from thence.


       ARIANE

    I wish you thought me faithless, when within
    My heart I knew my innocence from sin.

    I wish that I might tell you fables blithe
    Of my misdeeds, and smile to see you writhe.

    This I could bear; I cannot bear that you
    Should think me faithful, when I am untrue.


       BEFORE AND AFTER


BEFORE

    I wait your coming as a miracle,
    And the expectant morning waits with me;
    Time hangs suspended as a quiet bell
    That once did strike the hours successively,
    For over all the country lies a spell,
    A hush, a painted stillness, where I see
    (As calm as skies reflected in a well)
    The fields enchanted, waiting silently.


       AFTER

    OH, heart! the beauty of your wind-swept hair
    Blown from your temples as you swiftly came!
    For all the pagan grace of you was there,
    Remembered, ardent, after months the same.
    The eager muscles of your throat were bare,
    The candid passion lit you like a flame,
    As, striving on against the countering air,
    You reached me, failing, breathing out my name.


       IRRUPTION

    WELL-GREAVED Achaians; lordliest Atreides;
    Great-hearted friendship, foes no lesser-hearted;
    Murmur of leaves on distant Latmos; coo
    Of doves on Thisbe; pasture-land of horses,
    Argos! and thou, the windy-beached Enispe;
    Achaian fleet on that unvintaged sea,
    Vessels of bronze and scarlet, beaked with gold,
    In great procession Troy-wards, ranging wide
    Over wide waters, bearing mighty captains,
    Sons of the gods, the fosterlings of Zeus,
    Casters of spear and javelin, fleet-footed
    Or wise in council, flowing-haired Achaians,
   --This was my epic and my company.

    For you, Tintagel pinnacled on rocks
    Emerged from desolate chords, until your mood
    Wearied of saga; melted to the dusk
    Falling on Spanish cities, when the shutters
    Open again on evening, and the flute
    Of some stray passing goat-herd down the street
    Pipes idly, or the strident gay guitar
    Befriends the lover’s whisper at the window;
    For you sat playing, and your fingers roamed
    To Russia, where the simple is the blessed,
    And woke both melancholy pomp and folly,
    And passed again to fantasy that is
    Homeless, and shies away from thoughts of home.
    I read; you played; we had no need of speech.

    They came, noisy and shrill, well-meaning; they
    Spoke to us first of wealth and then of love,
    The love of others, negligently shrewd
    And empty in their chatter. Then they spoke,
    Wise and judicious, and we answered them,
    Judicious likewise, flattering their mood.
    But our eyes found each other, and we fell
    Suddenly silent, caught in treachery,
    Remembering that proud world wherein we dwelt erstwhile.


       TO EVE

    BECAUSE I knew you fickle as the flame
    And sweet as music irresponsible,
        Because I knew no walls could tame
    Your vagrancy within their certain shell,

    I raised for you a palace on a hill
    Where all the spirits generous and free
        Might drift at their unchidden will,
    Or tarry to salute you carelessly.

    A windy palace most fantastical,
    Whose halls stood full of light and resonance,
        Where slender fountains lyrical
    Spilled water like a stream of bright romance,

    And, high above the many spires, I hung
    A company of bells; with wanton hands
        The happy wind shook out and swung
    Their dimpling music over level lands.


       MAD

    “I’ll take my yellow neckerchief,
    My coral beads I’ll wear;
    Green ivy-chains shall loop my dress,
    And ivy-chains shall loop my hair.

    “What pretty gyves, such pretty gyves!
    See how with tendril twists
    They twine a halter round my throat
    And make soft captives of my wrists.

    “I’ll leave my shoes beside the stream,
    And creep on noiseless feet
    Between the willows all among
    The iris and the meadow-sweet.”

    She slips from willow-tree to tree,
    Holding one finger pressed
    Against her lips; her other hand
    Lies lightly moulded on her breast,

    And peeping, laughing all the day,
    She rambles up and down,
    But I, unseen, have seen her go
    With ivy slung about her gown.


       ESCAPE

    COME, shall we go, my comrade, from this den
    Where falsehood reigns and we have dallied long?
    Exchange the curious vanities of men
    For roads of freedom and for ships of song?

    We came as strangers, came to learn and look,
    To hear their music, drink the wine they gave.
    Now let us hence again; the happy brook
    Shall quench our thirst, our music be the wave.

    Come! they are feasting, let us steal away.
    Beyond the doors the night awaits us, sweet.
    To-morrow we shall see the break of day,
    And goat-herds’ pipes shall lead our roaming feet.


       TO EVE IN TEARS

    YOU laughed, and all the fountains of the East
    Leapt up to Heaven with their diamond rain
    To hang in light, and when your laughter ceased
    Dropped shivered arrows to the ground again.

    You laughed, and from the belfries of the earth
    The music rippled like a shaken pool;
    And listless banners at the breeze of mirth
    Were stirred in harbours suddenly made cool.

    You wept, and all the music of the air
   --As when a hand is laid upon a bell--
    Was stilled, and Dryads of the tossing hair
    Crept back abashed within the secret dell.


       BITTERNESS

    YES, they were kind exceedingly; most mild
    Even in indignation, taking by the hand
    One that obeyed them mutely, as a child
    Submissive to a law he does not understand.

    They would not blame the sins his passion wrought.
    No, they were tolerant and Christian, saying, “We
    Only deplore ...” saying they only sought
    To help him, strengthen him, to show him love; but he

    Following them with unrecalcitrant tread,
    Quiet, towards their town of kind captivities,
    Having slain rebellion, ever turned his head
    Over his shoulder, seeking still with his poor eyes

    Her motionless figure on the road. The song
    Rang still between them, vibrant bell to answering bell,
    Full of young glory as a bugle; strong;
    Still brave; now breaking like a sea-bird’s cry “Farewell!”

    And they, they whispered kindly to him “Come!
    Now we have rescued you. Let your heart heal. Forget!
    She was your danger and your evil spirit.” Dumb,
    He listened, and they thought him acquiescent. Yet,
    (Knowing the while that they were very kind)
    Remembrance clamoured in him: “She was wild and free,
    Magnificent in giving; she was blind
    To gain or loss, and, loving, loved but me,--but me!

    “Valiant she was, and comradely, and bold;
    High-mettled; all her thoughts a challenge, like gay ships
    Adventurous, with treasure in the hold.
    I met her with the lesson put into my lips,

    “Spoke reason to her, and she bowed her head,
    Having no argument, and giving up the strife.
    She said I should be free. I think she said
    That, for the asking, she would give me all her life.”

    And still they led him onwards, and he still
    Looked back towards her standing there; and they, content,
    Cheered him and praised him that he did their will.
    The gradual distance hid them, and she turned, and went.


       A FALLEN SOLDIER

    HOPE held his hand and ran with him together.
    Despair, the coward, at their coming fled.
    Like a young ram, he shook his hornèd head,
    And broke away from his restraining tether.
    He loved the sea, he loved the cleansing flame;
    No woman yet, his heart was all too young;
    Over the plain of life his heart was flung,
    Seeking for jeopardies that he might tame.
    He cloaked his faith with laughter, but his faith
    Was certain, as his confidence was gay,
    And laughing went he, till on his last day
    His hands stretched out to life were clasped by death.


       FALLEN YOUTH

    O redolent things most dear to Youth on earth,
    Friendship of other men; the hunter’s horn;
    The strong fatigue of practised limbs; the mirth
    Of little birds in coppices and corn;
    Work’s satisfaction; leisure’s bland delight;
    The grateful sinking into sleep at night;

    Speed, with the winds of heaven at your heels,
    And grimy Power, and all you brilliant ones
    That leap and sparkle ’mid the din of wheels,
    A thousand little stars and little suns;
    And streets of cities threatening the sky;
    Cranes, wharves, and smoke in billows hanging high;

    O stately Bridge, the country’s arching frame,
    A needle’s eye to thread the river through;
    Free ships, that rove and perish without fame;
    Rich days of idleness, and soul that grew
    Suddenly certain after doubting years,
    And won through joy the wisdom lost through tears;

    O Downs of Sussex, flowing swift and clean
    Like stretchèd dogs along the English shore,
    With cleanliness of athletes, and the lean
    Brown flanks that course above the hare-belled floor;
    O winds, that jangle all those little bells,
    And tangle hair of nymphs in hidden dells;

    O wandering Road, stranger and instant friend,--
    For Youth a gipsy ever was at heart,--
    Highway and packway, path with many a bend
    That keep your mystery a thing of art;
    O pools of friendly water; little lins;
    O sudden views of country; wayside inns;

    Labour of harvest; cider sweet and good;
    Casual friends with tales of travel far;
    Beauty of women; sunlight through a wood;
    Companionable beasts; all things which are,
    Weep for him! weep for Youth that laughed so bright,
    Extravagantly fallen in the fight.



INSURRECTION


INSURRECTION. _To A._


I

    POOR soul! a captive in a prison-house
    Dreaming of pastures, is not more degraded
    Through rags and shackles and the insidious louse,
    And naked splendour of the body faded,

    Than our uneasy spirit, dimly haunted
    By vision of some state, some wisdom whole;
    Prophetic down unhoped-for distance; taunted;
    Dissentient and disquiet guest, the soul.


       II

    WOULD I were done with flesh, or flesh with me,
   --Frailty from frailty seeking prop and stay!--
    Would that from all such trammels I were free,
    Hindered no more by quagmires of the clay,

    Then with an energy controlled and fierce
    Might I on greater secrets turn, and fight
    Through with unswathed and polished weapon; pierce
    Through to some wisdom, to some lake of light.

    A sinewy spirit, muscular and lean,
    Should be my captain, striding ever on
    Over harsh mountains where the wind blew keen,
    Peak after peak, till the last peak was won.

    Angry I strive, loving the world I hate,
    Hating the flesh I love; but all in vain.
    Freed for an hour, then, fall’n from ghostly state,
    Sink to the clasp of siren foes again.


       III

    (Yet much is merry in men’s moods diverse.
    I am no mystic, I, that I should preach
    With lips string-drawn as tight as miser’s purse,
    Dispense thin wisdom by my scrannel speech;

    No, none, thank God, can more have loved good laughter,
    Beauty, well-being, perilous lottery,
    Or paid the reckoning that followed after
    With smaller grudge to justice than did I.)


       IV

    SOMETIMES I met with one, and would have cried,
    “Pilgrim! by the proud manner of your going
    Clearly you ask no alms when ills betide.
    Though of your journey’s end I have no knowing,
    Travel a little distance by my side.
    Lonely am I; lonely; I have not spoken
    Closely with friend this many a questing day;
    Body, my beast of burden, stumbles broken,
    Rowelled by desperate spur along the way.
    Pilgrim, if lonely spirit cross another
    And pride in me salute in you your pride,
    Shall we not either recognise a brother?”

    But reticence held me, and I passed him wide.


       V

    AND sometimes met with those who offered me
    Comfort upholstered like a harlot’s bed
    With winks for ribbons, shrugs to swansdown wed,
    And squalor under frowsy frippery.

    This draggletail of passion should be mine,
    This slattern bastard born of spleen and lust,
    Convention’s shrewd Bacchante, if I must
    Yield to the senses’ feverish anodyne!

    But I would turn, and, half-defeated, failing,
    (How near defeat, they never guessed or knew,)
    Load my last breath with scorn, and cry “You? _You?_”
    And cry, at bay before their vanguard, railing,


       VI

    “What! _you_ had vision? mountains, comets, seas,
    Wild storm, wild beauty, wild embattled flames,
    You harnessed to your tongues with hackneyed ease.
    Tamers of splendour! those familiar names
    Troubled you not, less kingly, more remote
    Than gain and ease, your god, your man-made grail.
    Not nature’s giants, not cosmic menace smote
    Your souls with awe, or thrust you down the scale.

    No, nor the thoughts your thoughts could not embrace,
    A God’s intention, void, sublime, or strange,
    The birth or death of time, the bourn of space,
    Nor unimaginable colours’ range,

    Nor the continuous eastward roll of earth,
    Half, in the energy of day aware;
    Half, where the sweeping shadow curves its girth,
    Within night’s darkened temple cowled in prayer.

    No deep misgivings, no mysterious faith;
    Your very god was passed from hand to hand;
    You had no inkling of the nobler breath
    Blown on the spark you could not understand.


       VII

    “The little spark within the heart of man.
    How should you know the desperate clutch of fingers
    That feel the moment slipping, feel the dear
    Infrequent moment slipping as it lingers,

    The flaming hour ironic in its fleetness,
    The rush of vision swift beyond belief?
    Near, as the dead to the incredulous living;
    So dead, the heart is rigid with its grief.

    What would you offer me as compensation
    After your sloth had blanketed my fire?
    Your deepest peace, satiety Lethean;
    Your aim, diversion; and your spur, desire.

    Tragic, or merry, be the body’s passion,
    Ordained or gay; not, not the sordid mean!
    Your soul’s a skinny waif, that was not driven
    To sin, but sought small solaces unclean.

    You struck no fire from flint; you neither knew
    Fasting nor feasting; vigour, nor a kiss;
    The silk pavilioned bed of Aphrodite,
    Or woodland hardihood of Artemis.


       VIII

    “Ashamed of tolerance, but more ashamed
    Of hot intolerance; who hold the snare
    Less perilous when fraudulently named;
    Forgetting folly, while remembering care;
    Who shun the sinner with averted eyes;
    Mistrust the impulse, danger in its breath;
    Who think truth wholly truth, lies wholly lies;
    Who never lived, but duly wept at death;

    Who could not gaily stake the cherished whole
    Upon the spinning coin’s fantastic turn;
    Who count the moneyed value of your soul,
    And give, but, giving, claim the just return.


       IX

    “I’ll dip contempt’s broad ladle for a measure
    Lest I accept reprieve in such a guise,
    Such cheap attainment where I most despise,
    Or lull disquiet by such sham of pleasure.

    Love, amongst counterfeits and marsh-light gleams
    Already arch-impostor, doubly aped
    By lust, to parody (most rarely shaped),
    The consummation of our difficult dreams!”



HOME


NIGHT. _To H. G. N._

    MOONLIGHT through lattice throws a chequered square;
    Night! and I wake in my low-ceilinged room
    To lovely silence deep with harmony;
    Sweet are the flutes of night-time, sweet the spell
    Lies between day and day. This wise old night,
    That, unreproachful, gives the pause to strife!
    The murmurous diapason of the dark
    Within the house made quick and intimate
    By tiny noise--a bat? a mouse? a moth
    Bruising against the ceiling? or a bird
    Nested beneath the eaves? night, grave and huge
    Outside with swell of sighing through the boughs,
    Whispering far over unscythèd meadows,
    Dying in dim cool cloisters of the woods.

    I have been absent. I have found unchanged
    The oaks, the slope and order of the fields;
    I knew the wealden fragrance, and that old
    Dear stubborn enemy of mine, the clay.
    Nothing to mark the difference of year
    But young wheat springing where I left the roots,
    And last year’s pasture browned to this year’s plough;
    Last year the crop was niggard on the orchard,
    But blossom now foretells the weighted branches,
    And the great stack, that like a galleon
    Rode beneath furled tarpaulins last July,
    Showed its bare brushwood as I passed to-day.
    Where the sun rises, that I know of old;
    Knowledge precedes me round the turn of the lane,
    And I could take you where the orchids grow
    Friendly with cowslips; where the bluebell pulls
    Smooth from its bulb, bleached where it grew concealed,
    Hidden from light; the tiny brook is eager,
    Quick with spring rains, bright April rains, and fills
    The pool where drowsy cattle slouch to drink.

    Familiar! oh, familiar! native speech
    Comes not more readily than that dear sense
    Of bend and depth of country. This is Kent,
    Unflaunting England, where the steaming mould,
    Not plaintive, not regretful, lies content
    That leaves should spring from sacrifice of leaves.

    My Saxon weald! my cool and candid weald!
    Dear God! the heart, the very heart of me
    That plays and strays, a truant in strange lands,
    Always returns and finds its inward peace,
    Its swing of truth, its measure of restraint,
    Here among meadows, orchards, lanes, and shaws.
    Take me then close, O branches, take me close;
    Whisper me all the secrets of the sap,
    You branches fragile, tentative, that stretch
    Your moonlit blossom to my open window,
    Messengers of the gentle weald, encroaching
    So shyly on the shelter of the house;
    Cradle me, hammock me amongst you; let
    Night’s quietude so drench my sleepy spirit
    That morning shall not rob me of that calm.
    Your buds against my pulses; so I lie
    Wakeful as though in tree-tops, and the sap
    Creeps through my blood, up from the scented earth.

... The birds are restless underneath the eaves,
    Down in the byre the uneasy cattle stir,
    And through the fret of branches grows the dawn.


       A SAXON SONG

          Tools with the comely names,
          Mattock and scythe and spade,
          Couth and bitter as flames,
          Clean, and bowed in the blade,--
    A man and his tools make a man and his trade.

          Breadth of the English shires,
          Hummock and kame and mead,
          Tang of the reeking byres,
          Land of the English breed,--
    A man and his land make a man and his creed.

          Leisurely flocks and herds,
          Cool-eyed cattle that come
          Mildly to wonted words,
          Swine that in orchards roam,--
    A man and his beasts make a man and his home.

          Children sturdy and flaxen
          Shouting in brotherly strife,
          Like the land they are Saxon,
          Sons of a man and his wife,--
    For a man and his loves make a man and his life.


       FROM A DIARY, JANUARY 1918

    JOY have I had of life this vigorous day
    Since sunrise when I took the wealden way,
    And my fair country as I rapid strode
    Lay round the turn of the familiar road
    In mists diaphanous as seas in foam.

    And all the orchards cried me welcome home.

    I drove the spade that turned the heavy loam,
    Bending the winter to the needs of spring,
            The soft air winnowing
    The thistledown that blew along the hedge.
    A little moorhen rippled in the sedge;
    A distant sheep-dog barked; the day was still,
    For summer’s ghost in winter lay upon the hill.
    I worked in peace; an aeroplane above
    Crooned through the heaven coloured like a dove.

            Within the house I lit a fire
    And coaxed the friendly kettle on to boil.
    My boots were heavy with the wealden soil,
    My hunger eager from the glow of toil.
    Fresh bread had I; brown eggs; a little meat;
    Clear water, and an apple sweet.
    Freedom I drank for my delirious wine,
    And Shelley gave me company divine.
            What more could heart desire?

    And when the orange of the sunset burned,
    I laid aside my tools and townward turned,
    Seeing across the uplands of the Weald
    The ploughteams straining on the half-brown field.
    I sang aloud; my limbs were rich with health,
    As brooding winter rich with summer’s wealth.


       BEECHWOODS AT KNOLE

    HOW do I love you, beech trees, in the autumn,
    Your stone-grey columns a cathedral nave
    Processional above the earth’s brown glory!

    I was a child, and loved the knurly tangle
    Of roots that coiled above a scarp like serpents,
    Where I might hide my treasure with the squirrels.

    I was a child, and splashed my way in laughter
    Through drifts of leaves, where underfoot the beechnuts
    Split with crisp crackle to my great rejoicing.

    Red are the wooded slopes below Shock Tavern,
    Red is the bracken on the sandy Furze-field,
    Red are the herds of deer by Bo-Pit Meadows,

    The tawny deer that nightly through the beechwoods
    Roar out their challenge, carrying their antlers
    Proudly beneath the antlered moonlit branches.

    I was a child, and heard the red deer’s challenge
    Prowling and baying underneath my window,
    Never a cry so haughty or so mournful.


       LEOPARDS AT KNOLE

    LEOPARDS on the gable-ends,
    Leopards on the painted stair,
    Stiff the blazoned shield they bear,
    Or and gules, a bend of vair,
    Leopards on the gable-ends,
            Leopards everywhere.

    Guard and vigil in the night
    While the ancient house is sleeping
    They three hundred years are keeping,
    Nightly from their stations leaping,
    Shadows black in moonlight bright,
            Roof to gable creeping.

    Rigid when the day returns,
    Up aloft in sun or rain
    Leopards at their posts again
    Watch the shifting pageant’s train;
    And their jewelled colour burns
            In the window-pane.

    Often on the painted stair,
    As I passed abstractedly,
    Velvet footsteps, two and three,
    Padded gravely after me.
   --There was nothing, nothing there,
            Nothing there to see.


       APRIL

    WHEN evening sun had beat the rain
    And skies were washed so primrose-clean,
    We swung the orchard gate again
    To let the cattle down the lane;

    To let with ripened udders pass
    The heavy milch-cows one by one,
    And underfoot the blossom was
    Like scattered snow upon the grass.

    The steep wet road was like a shield
    After the rain; and, slouching on,
    We idly grumbled at the yield
    Of apple-orchards in the Weald.


       ARCADY IN ENGLAND

    I met some children in a wood,
    A happy and tumultuous rout
    That came with many a wanton shout
    And darted hither and about
    (As in a stream the fickle trout),
    To ease their pagan lustihood.

    And in their midst they led along
    A goat with wreaths about his neck
    That they had taken pains to deck
    To join the bacchanalian throng.

    And one of them was garlanded
    With strands of wild convolvulus
    About his ringlets riotous,
    And carried rowan-berries red.

    And one, the eldest of the band,
    Whose life was seven summers glad,
    Was all in flowered muslin clad,
    And naked dancing feet she had
    To lead the sylvan saraband.
    With hazel skin and coral bead
    A gipsy dryad of the mead
    She seemed; she led the gay stampede
    With fruited branches in her hand.

    For all were bearing autumn fruit;
    Some, apples on the loaded bough,
    And pears that on the orchard’s brow
    With damask-plums are hanging now;
    And much they had of woodland loot,
    Of berries black and berries blue,
    Of fircones, and of medlars too;
    And one, who bore no plunder, blew
    On reeds like an Arcadian flute.

    They passed, and still I stood knee-deep
    In thymy grass to watch their train.
    They wound along the wooded lane
    And crossed a streamlet with a leap,
    And as I saw them once again
    They passed a shepherd and his sheep.

    And you might think, I made this song
    For joy of song as I strode along
    One day between the Kentish shaws,
    Slashing at scarlet hips and haws.
    But thinking so, you nothing know
    Of children taken unawares,
    Of tinkers’ tents among the gorse,
    The poor lean goat, the hobbled horse,
    And painted vans for country fairs.


       TESTAMENT

    WHEN I am dead, let not my limbs be given
    To rot amongst the dead I never knew,
    But cast my ashes wide under wide heaven,
    Or to my garden let me still be true,

    And, like the ashes I was wont to save
    Preciously from the hearth beneath my fire,
    Lighten the soil with mine. Not, not the grave!
    I loved the soil I fought, and this is my desire.


       SONNET

    THIS little space which scented box encloses
    Is blue with lupins and is sweet with thyme.
    My garden all is overblown with roses,
    My spirit all is overblown with rhyme,
    And like a drunken honeybee I waver
    From house to garden and again to house,
    And, undetermined which delight to favour,
    On verse and rose alternately carouse.

    Adam, were you, in your primeval plenty,
    A poet and a gardener in one?
    Did you with easy songs the blossoms sheave,
    In Eden where the blooms by ten and twenty
    Sprang up beneath the magic of the sun,
    To deck the brows of your capricious Eve?


       FULL MOON

    SHE was wearing the coral taffeta trousers
    Someone had brought her from Ispahan,
    And the little gold coat with pomegranate blossoms,
    And the coral-hafted feather fan;
    But she ran down a Kentish lane in the moonlight,
    And skipped in the pool of the moon as she ran.

    She cared not a rap for all the big planets,
    For Betelgeuse or Aldebaran,
    And all the big planets cared nothing for her,
    That small impertinent charlatan;
    But she climbed on a Kentish stile in the moonlight,
    And laughed at the sky through the sticks of her fan.



AD ASTRA


AD ASTRA


I

    CONQUEROR! what have you seen in the heavens?
    Star-dust is in your hair.
    Say, have you woken the sleeping thunder
    And taken it unaware?
    Come on the storm as a wild beast crouching,
    And mocked at it in its lair?

    Ridden the wind as a riotous charger,
    Your hand in his mane entwined,
    As a new unbroken Pegasus,
    That a master had divined?
    A boast for a man to bring down from heaven,
    “I have bridled the wild East wind!”

    Gazed in the mirror of unshed dew-ponds,
    Bathed in the rivers of rain?
    Caught at the meteor’s sparks in passing,
    And flung them to earth for grain?
    Dropped in the wake of the scattered handfuls
    To the morning earth again?

    How have you raced with the car of Apollo,
    A trial of strength indeed,
    He in his golden chariot standing
    And lashing his golden steed,
    You with your glimmering wings of silver
    And unconquerable speed?

    What of the sirens that dwell in the heavens
    In a palace of cloud and air?
    As a lover of nymphs inviolate,
    Of sirens with rainbow hair,
    Have you dwelt like a new Odysseus
    With the sirens of the air?

    Speak! have you guarded Diana’s uprising
    From a couch of mist and sheen?
    Speak! have you watched Diana’s disrobing
    After her reign as queen?
    Speak! for your eyes are eloquent
    With the mysteries they have seen.

    And your feet, which have trod in unlaboured fields,
    Are with wingèd sandals shod,
    And the hawthorn stick at the touch of your hand
    Has turned to a wingèd rod,
    And your eyes and lips are burnished gold
    With the kiss of the bright sun-god.


       II

    SON of the morning, son of the daybreak,
    Son of the stars and sky,
    Son of the clean untrodden places,
    Son of the air am I.

    I am the sailor of the heavens,
    And the Viking of the gale,
    The cloud-built galleon is my vessel,
    And the bellying cloud my sail.

    I am the reaper of the heavens,
    With the sickle moon in my hand.
    I am the minstrel of the heavens,
    With the birds that rise from land.

    I am the hunter of the heavens,
    With the night-hounds for my pack,
    Lord of unbroken solitudes
    That I am the first to track.

    Son of the tempest, son of the moonlight,
    Son of the silver sky,
    Son of the clean untrodden places,
    Son of the air am I.



FROM “A MASQUE OF YOUTH” A MOCK-HEROIC POEM


FROM “A MASQUE OF YOUTH”

     [_The scene is laid in a circular space of grass in a garden,
     enclosed by a stone balustrade broken at intervals by statues of
     sylvan deities. A background of cypresses. An assembly of dim
     figures._

     _Right, the_ MUSE OF TRAGEDY _upon a raised throne. Centre, a great
     convoluted shell, in which a naked youth lies sleeping_.]


     MELPOMENE. (_She is crowned with vine-leaves, shod with the
     cothurnus, and carries in her hand a tragic mask_.)

[Sidenote: _She addresses the assembly._]

    O population beautiful and strange
    Haunting the curtained boundaries of youth,
    Children among immortals, swift of range,
    Light-footed, gay of glance, evasive, shy,
    Truth robed in fantasy, truth in untruth
    That all men apprehend and most pass by,
   --You that come crowding and inquisitive
    With covert laugh, quick hands, and eyes that live,
    Wingèd and whispering and fugitive,
    Wide generosities and proud beliefs,
    Flamboyant hopes and lovely rainbow griefs,
    Rare reverence, lusty audacity,
    Faith with bound eyes, arrogant certainty,
    Slim fancy with her finger to her lips,
    Bright-haired adventure, mother of all ships,
    Pale wanton nymphs, quarry of men and gods,

[Sidenote: _She addresses the assembly._]

    AND dappled centaurs from the dappled woods,--
    Draw near.--Here lies, that all may see him well,
    A naked Youth within a conchèd shell,
    Asleep, in nudity most beautiful.
    His arm is flung beneath his lovely head,
    He sleeps as sound as in his mortal bed;
    Yet him the dolphins hither bore
    And all the waters founted with their spouting,
    The river-horses galloped by the shore,
    And little wine-drunk sons of love ran shouting,
    But he lies victim to the poppy-bell.

[Sidenote: _She tells the occasion of the masque._]

    NOW set I forth in briefest argument
    The causes of our present tournament,
    Saying how tender Grief and laughing Joy
    Strove for possession of the mortal boy,
   --As once upon the traveller of old
    The sun shone warmly and the wind blew cold,--
    And ages long endured their pleasant strife
    Renewed with each young adolescent life,
    And neither triumphed, for in early years
    Youth freely gave to Grief his secret tears
    (Grief for grief’s sake, which youth to Youth endears),
    And sorrows of his melancholy heart,
    And Joy, her garlands drooping, stood apart;
    Till Love drew near to play his part.

[Sidenote: _She tells of Youth in Love._]

    AH! then forgotten were the mournful days.
    Youth crowned his head with flowers and with bays;
    He flung the leopard-skin about his loins,
    And bracelets jangled at his wrists like coins,
    Nor was the triumph of his singing mute
    When at his lips the windy flute
    Mingled its treble with the chords of praise
    And melody hung scented round his ways.
    Proud in his beauty and his sinews’ girth
    He strode in strength and conquest on the earth,
    Or measured down the terraced olive-groves
    Intrepid footsteps with the centaur’s hooves.
    The pleasant valleys echoed with his mirth,
    And in the morning resonant and still
    His voice was heard like music on the hill.

    So ever ran the course of youth the same,
    And Joy and Grief strove on; Grief could not claim
    That Love had played unfairly in the game
    Since often some poor weeping love-lorn child
    Returned to her with sorrow wild,
    And cast his broken flute upon the ground
    And all his ornaments with tears defiled.

    Now Joy this pretty mortal boy has found
    And brought him hither, that by our consent
    The rivals try their strength, and one be crowned.
    Conditional thereon, that Love be bound
    To take no action in the tournament.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: _They press forward round the shell._]


1ST SPIRIT.

    HOW richly stirs his craving blood to-night
    For songs of freedom all among the stars!
    Thoughts like a flock of birds in summer light
    Circle beyond the reach of lifted arms,
    And deeds beyond the scope of life’s alarms
          Float into sight,
    And pass, yet undefined, through heaven’s bars.


       2ND SPIRIT.

    IT is the hour of twilight, still, profound,
    When dreams and visions in their legions fly
    On fancy’s horses mounted, robed and crowned
    With streaming flames, an aureole of fire,
    And pass, the eagle shapes of man’s desire,
          Towards the sunset bound,
    In wingèd ride across the evening sky.


       3RD SPIRIT.

    HE stirs disquieted, he stirs again.
    The stamping hoofs of that proud galaxy
    In passing struck from space the spangled rain
    And flung the ardent fragments down to him
    That scorched his mortal soul through vision dim.
          O shackled soul in pain
    Tortured by glimpses of divinity!


       2ND SPIRIT.

    WHAT shall we sing in praise of youth? the free,
    The clarion years, the redolent years of youth?
    Youth that loved gold and scarlet pageantry
    And caught the fringe upon the robe of truth?


       1ST SPIRIT.

    GAY youth, that goes, with some familiar friend,
    On quest of hopes heroic, quest of shores
    Untravelled, with the heart of conquerors,
    Eager and brave, and talking without end
    Of high, magnificent, and cleanly things
    Rich as the sunset, swift as cormorants’ wings
    That sweep the waters,--youth, whose destiny
    Sails like a ship upon a virgin sea.


       2ND SPIRIT.

    WHOSE heart is as a glowing forge at night
    Wherein the blacksmith, gleaming with his sweat
    Like some gigantic negro in the light
    Of angry fires that touch his limbs of jet,
    Strikes at the clanging anvil of his thought.


       3RD SPIRIT.

    SING to him, sing! till he be so distraught,
    So drunken and enraptured,
    That all his heart be captured.


       FOLLY (_to_ ADVENTURE).

    GIPSY, what have you in your pack
    Bound with old thongs across your back?
    Poplin, dimity, huckaback,
              Who draws the prize?

    Tumble your treasures out on the grass:
    A wine-dark ruby, a shine of brass,
    Aladdin’s lamp, and a magic glass,
              And a last surprise.

    Dip in your hands, you wayward crew,
    The peddler caters for all of you;
    You press, like a crowd of girls, anew,
              With your eager eyes;
    Dip in your hands, there are treasures free,
    Curious pearls, and chalcedony,
    And the cap of invisibility,
    But the thing you will none of you ever see
              Is the last surprise.


       IMAGINATION.

    I am the swift omnipotent magician;
    All bounty’s in my gift, all songs unsung,
    All slumbering chords, all undiscovered crafts
    Baffling their premature interpreters;
    No law’s beyond my searching; I’ll condemn
    No vice, despise no sorrow, scorn no joy,
    Deride no virtue, throw no stone at Pilate,
    But sweep my mantle round humanity
    And round the pomp of nature; naught I’ll find
    Too mean, too great, too little, or too spacious;
    Mine be the secrets both of hearts and stars,
    (Small, measureless hearts; great, measurable stars;)
    And love’s old barbarous reiteration
    I’ll tolerate, and the great self-less peace
    Like the deep sea’s perpetual repose.

    I’ll not be parsimonious of my wealth.
    I’ll fill your heaven with many coloured moons
    And hang such variable tides upon them
    As strew the astonished fish along the shores.
    I’ll bring the planets nearer: I’ll attract
    Saturn within his hoop of shining rings;
    I’ll summon a great conclave of the comets
    Which hitherto were strangers to each other,
    And man, at nightfall standing on the crest
    Of a familiar hill, shall marvelling stare
    Into an unfamiliar firmament.
    I’ll show you Jupiter’s rebel satellite
    That on the outer fringe of measured space
    Backwards revolves, striving against the law
    That chains her anger to an irksome orbit.

    I’ll dry the seas and bring the unknown lands
    To light, that on unchristened continents
    Man stray dry-foot from Africa to Asia.
    Oh, what new rivers then, what deep, deep lakes,
    What caverns and what cliffs, what strange ravines,
    What deserts, what denuded leagues of plain,
    Should offer to his swarming multitude!
    Peaks shall be islands, islands shall be peaks,
    When I reverse the ordering and make
    A mountainous Pacific continent,
    A Himalayan archipelago.

    And all the daily and the lovely things,
   --The fawn’s late bed of bracken, newly warmed,
    The nets of fishermen through water sinking,
    Drawn up all hoar with flake of silver scales
    And round clear drops that tremble from the mesh,--
    These little things, these nimble shy delights,
    With the quick magic of significance
    I’ll not despise to startle into being.



SONGS OF FANCY


SONGS OF FANCY: I

    YOUR caravel was loosely moored,
   --So lightly moored, so slightly moored,--
    It ranged with every passing swell,
    Your gipsy-hearted caravel
    That only silken ropes secured.

    I dreamt that you might slip away,
   --Might slide away, might glide away,--
    When I was absent, on a breeze
    Enticing you to other seas
    With whispers of a lovelier day.

    The sirens underneath the stars,
   --The flaunting stars, the haunting stars,--
    Would cast adrift your mooring-rope
    (Farewell, my heart! farewell, my hope!)
    And stretch the sails upon your spars,

    And you would sail before the wind,
   --Elusive wind, delusive wind,--
    All radiant on your moonlit deck,
    And not a moment would you reck
    Of me whom you had left behind.

    You’d come to legendary coasts,
    To nameless coasts, to tameless coasts,
    And hear of unimagined things:
    The exploits of vainglorious kings,
    Their fabled pride, and braggart boasts;

    Iris you’d meet, and Mercury,
    Sweet Mercury, fleet Mercury;
    You’d see the constellations change,
    You’d pass the magnet mountain-range
    That draws a ship to mystery;

    You’d see, on black basaltic rocks,
    On jaggèd rocks, on craggèd rocks,
    The lonely Polyphemus stand,
    The scourge and terror of the land,
    Amongst his decimated flocks.

    You’d turn from thence; a rainbow arc,
    A magic arc, a tragic arc,
    That spanned the sky from east to west
    Might lure you on a dreamer’s quest
    And close for ever on your barque.

    Ah God! perhaps this very night,
    This hated night, this fated night,
    You heard the breeze, the sirens’ spell....
    I faint, I look; your caravel
    In harbour still lies gold and white.


       SONGS OF FANCY: II

    SING of enchanted palaces
    In Tripoli, in Tripoli,
    Above the sighing and the surge
    Of the moaning sea, of the slothful sea;
    Of palaces upon the verge
    Of the sleepy sea, of the sleepy sea.

    Sing of enchanted palaces
    In Venice by the broad lagoons
    Of long ago, of long ago,
    Where cupolas like cuspèd moons
    In waters dim reflected glow,
    And ghosts of stately frigatoons
    In dusky waters come and go.

    Sing of enchanted palaces
    In cities set by gilded seas,
    Slenderly mimicked in the waves
    The lace of spires and balconies,
    The oriels and the architraves,
   --Dreams! dreams! where lead such dreams as these?


       SONGS OF FANCY: III

    WAS it but a random bird,
    Harlequin on breast and wing?
    Or through aspens whispering
    Was it some rare flute you heard,
    That you followed, wandering?

    Followed all that onward fled,
    Hares and squirrels, bounding roes,
    All that through the woodland goes,
    Wind that murmurs overhead,
    Leaves that scamper, stream that flows.

    Straight the pathway you forsook
    Tempted by the beckoning
    Of the winded poplar’s swing,
    Tempted by the onward brook,
    In pursuit adventuring,

    By the bluebell’s fleeting drift,
    By the splash of light and shade
    Down the ride in patterns laid,
    By the distant sunshine rift,
    Promise of the open glade.

    There, where they had seen you go,
    Those who loved you called your name,
    Searching, seeking, to and fro.
    True, to answer them you came,
    But your eyes were not the same.


       SWEET TIME

    SWEET Thyme, that underfoot so meekly grows
    In humble company
    Of splendid rose,
    Is all content to be
    The acolyte, as each man knows,
    Of lavender, of rue, and rosemary.

    Sweet Time, that pilfers all my precious years,
    Will no wise blandishment
    Or threat of tears
    Bring you to pause, content?
   --Hard-hearted greybeard, as he went,
    He winked at me, and clicked his wicked shears.


       A CYPRESS AVENUE

    LIKE hooded monks they go,
        Two by two,
    Pointed and black and slow,
        Chanting for you,
    Chanting without a tear,
        A final song,
    Chanting above your bier
        Passing along,
    Far from the living sun,
        Far from the day,
   --My lover, let us run
        Away, away!


       MIRAGE

    THERE travelled north from Kurdistan along the lone Siberian trails
    A merchant with his caravan and Eastern barter in his bales.
    He rode ahead, he rode apart, the city of Irkutsk his goal,
    Upon his lean Circassian foal, and after came the lumbering cart
    With creaking wheel, deliberate spoke, and water-bullocks in the yoke;
    And after these in single string the boorish camels following,
    Slouching with high unwieldy packs like howdahs piled upon their backs;
    With slaver hanging from their lips and hatred worming in their brain
    They slouched beneath their drivers’ whips across the white and
       mournful plain.

    The merchant riding on alone saw not the white incessant snow,
    He only saw the metal’s glow, the colour of the precious stone;
    He lingered on the merchandise that he had brought from Kurdistan,
    And turned, and swept his caravan with doting and voluptuous eyes,
    For there were choice Bokhara rugs, and daggers with Damascus blade
    And hafts of turquoise-studded jade, and phials rich with scented drugs,
    Koràns inscribed on ass’s skin, and bales of silk from Temesvàr,
    And silver ear-rings beaten thin, and bargains from the cool bazaar.

    He felt the gold already pouched, he crooned to it with horrid love,
    As still the camels onward slouched with hatred of the men that drove.

    For thirty days the caravan trailed on behind the merchant’s foal,
    Through Persia and through Turkestan, the city of Irkutsk their goal;
    They passed the fruitful hill-girt lands where dwelt the fair-skinned
       Grecian race,
    And came into the wilder place, and sighted vagrant Cossack bands
    That wandered with their flocks and herds, and trafficked with the
       train of Kurds;
    They stirred the ghost of Tamerlane, who swept that way with Tartar
       hordes,
    The ghosts of dead barbarian lords, the Asiatic hurricane;
    They crossed the mighty road that runs from Moscow through to
       China’s wall,
    And trod the path of nomad Huns and knew Siberia’s white pall
    When fields of Persian asphodel were visions of a distant day
    And boundless snow around them lay, and noiseless snow for ever fell,
    Where soon the fleeting day was done, and on the hard horizon low
    They saw the scarlet ball of sun divided by the ridge of snow
    Sink down in skies incarnadine; and still with their disjointed gait
    And nursing their malignant hate, the camels kept unbroken line.

    When yet a hundred miles or more stretched out between them and their goal
    The merchant riding on before drew rein on his Circassian foal
    And called a halt with lifted hand as he had done unfailingly
    Each night since the monotony began with that unvaried land.
    The dusk was suddenly alive as shouting voices passed the word,
    And all the drowsy train was stirred with movement like a shaken hive.
    The master merchant stiff from cramp was calling for his saddle flask,
    As each to his accustomed task ran swiftly in the growing camp.
    A tent like an inverted bell, all scarlet with the dyes of Tyre,
    Was lifted rapidly and well, and like a torch the kindled fire
    Destroyed the night with leaping tongue, and in a circle round the glow
    Men shovelled back the melting snow, and skins and Khelim rugs
       were flung--
    And unforgotten were the needs of water-bullocks standing by
    Whose brows are stained with orange dye, whose horns are looped
       with turquoise beads.
    The pariah dogs that slink and prowl secured their meat with
       furtive growl,
    And one by one the camels bent complaining to their warty knees
    And grumbled at the men that went to loose their girths and give
       them ease.

    The merchant brooded silently on avaricious visions bright
    And listened to the revelry his men were making in the night.
    For one, a young and favourite Kurd, a mongrel child of the bazaar,
    Whose voice was like a singing bird, was striking on a harsh guitar--

    I know a Room where tulips tall
        And almond-blossom pale
    Are coloured on the frescoed wall.

    I know a River where the ships
        Drift by with ghostly sail
    And dead men chant with merry lips.

    I know the Garden by the sea
        Where birds with painted wings
    Mottle the dark magnolia Tree.

    I know the never-failing Source,
        I know the Bush that sings,
    The Vale of Gems, the flying Horse.

    I know the Dog that was a Prince,
        The talking Nightingale,
    The Hill of glass, the magic Quince.

    I know the lovely Lake of Van;
        Yet, knowing all these things,
            I wander with a Caravan,
            I wander with a Caravan!

    The cold moon rose remotely higher, insensibly the voices hushed,
    And men with wine and laughter flushed were sleeping all around the fire,
    Till one alone sat on erect, his ready gun across his knees,
    The sentry of the night elect, guardian of sleeping destinies.
    The water-bullocks lay as dead; the dogs drew near with noiseless tread,
    And huddled in a loose-limbed heap beside the fire, and through
      their sleep
    They twitched at some remembered hunt; the merchant in his sheepskin
       rolled
    Within the tent saw dreams of gold; the camels with uneasy grunt
    And quake of their distorted backs slept on with loathing by their packs.

    At dawn the weary sentry rose to throw some brushwood on the flames,
    Called on his comrades by their names, and turned to greet the
       endless snows,
    But then from his astonished lips a cry of unbelieving rang
    And all the men towards him sprang, the camel drivers with their whips,
    The bullock driver with his yoke, and gazed in loud bewilderment
    Till slowly in his fur-lined cloak the merchant issued from his tent.
    Then he too started at the sight and clamoured with his clamorous men,
    And swore he could not see aright, and rubbed his eyes and stared again;
    The camels came with lurching tread and stood in loose fantastic ring
    With necks outstretched and swaying head and mouths all slackly
       slobbering,
    And drew from some unclean recess within their body’s secret lair
    A bladder smeared with filthiness that bubbled on the morning air.

    For there upon the shining plain a city radiantly lay,
    All coloured in the rising day, amid the snow a jewelled stain,
    And in her walls a spacious gate gave entrance to a varied stream
    Of folk that went incorporate like figures in a silent dream,
    And high above the roofs arose, more coloured for the hueless snows,
    The domes of churches, bronze and green, like peacocks in their
       painted sheen.

    The merchant, with a trembling hand extended far, extended wide
    Against illusion’s fairyland, at length articulately cried:
    “Irkutsk! but twice a hundred miles remained of weary pilgrimage
    Before we hoped with happy smiles to reach our final anchorage.

    But look again. That rosy tower that rises like a tulip straight
    Within the walls beside the gate, a balanced plume, a springing flower,
    And pointed with a lance-like spire of bronze, was fifty years ago
   --A boy, I saw it standing so,--demolished and destroyed by fire.”

    And one, a venerable Kurd, took up again the fallen word:
    “I travelled both as boy and man between Irkutsk and Kurdistan,
    But never since my beard was grown saw I that inn beside the way
    Wherewith the Council made away, full fifty counted years aflown.”

    They gazed upon the marvel long, the spectre city wonderful,
    Until the youth who made the song cried out, “We grow too fanciful.
    Irkutsk with roofs of coloured tiles lies distant twice a hundred miles,
    And this, a city of the shades, a rainbow of the echoing air,
    As fair as false, and false as fair, already into nothing fades.”

    And like a bubble, like the mist that in the valley faintly swirls,
    Like orient sheen on sulky pearls, like hills remotely amethyst,
    Like colours on Phœnician glass, like plumage on the ‘fisher’s wing,
    Like music on the breath of spring, they saw the vision lift and pass,
    Till only white unbroken snow stretched out before the caravan,
    And the bewildered heart of man truth from delusion could not know.
    But all the long laborious train moved slowly on its course again
    Across the snow unbroken, white, and nursing each his private creed,
    The merchant his illusive greed, the camels their illusive spite.


       CHINOISERIE

(VILLANELLE). _For B. M._

    LOTUS flowers clustering
    Round your feet in storeys laid,
    Splendid daughter of a King.

    In a graven vase of Ming
    Peaches, apricots of jade,
    Lotus flowers clustering,

    All their scentless riches bring,
    All around your throne displayed,
    Costly daughter of a King.

    What young prince astonishing
    Rides along the inky glade,
    Lotus flowers clustering

    Round his camel travelling?
    See the leopards unafraid,
    Slender daughter of a King!

    Coromandel picturing,
    Strangely, marvellously made.
    Lotus flowers clustering,

    Nightingales that cannot sing,
    What celestial escapade
    Are they nightly witnessing,
    Through lotus flowers clustering,
    O subtle daughter of a King?


       COLOUR

    IN the last orgy of Creation’s hour,
   --That fabled day, when all to sudden birth
    Sprang,--as the toy of his redundant mirth
    God tossed in bounty Colour to the earth.
    He held the exquisite and pallid flower,
    Spoke new strange words, and in his hands there blushed
    The great white rose to crimson slowly flushed.



SAILING


SAILING SHIPS

    LYING on Downs above the wrinkling bay
    I with the kestrels shared the cleanly day,
    The candid day; wind-shaven, brindled turf;
    Tall cliffs; and long sea-line of marbled surf
    From Cornish Lizard to the Kentish Nore
    Lipping the bulwarks of the English shore,
    While many a lovely ship below sailed by
    On unknown errand, kempt and leisurely;
    And after each, oh, after each, my heart
    Fled forth, as, watching from the Downs apart,
    I shared with ships good joys and fortunes wide
    That might befall their beauty and their pride;

    Shared first with them the blessèd void repose
    Of oily days at sea, when only rose
    The porpoise’s slow wheel to break the sheen
    Of satin water indolently green,
    When for’ard the crew, caps tilted over eyes,
    Lay heaped on deck; slept; murmured; smoked; threw dice;
    The sleepy summer days; the summer nights
    (The coast pricked out with rings of harbour-lights),
    The motionless nights, the vaulted nights of June
    When high in the cordage drifts the entangled moon,
    And blocks go knocking, and the sheets go slapping,
    And lazy swells against the sides come lapping;
    And summer mornings off red Devon rocks,
    Faint inland bells at dawn and crowing cocks.

    Shared swifter days, when headlands into ken
    Trod grandly; threatened; and were lost again,
    Old fangs along the battlemented coast;
    And followed still my ship, when winds were most
    Night-purified, and, lying steeply over,
    She fled the wind as flees a girl her lover,
    Quickened by that pursuit for which she fretted,
    Her temper by the contest proved and whetted;
    Wild stars swept overhead; her lofty spars
    Reared to a ragged heaven sown with stars
    As leaping out from narrow English ease
    She faced the roll of long Atlantic seas;

    Her captain then was I, I was her crew,
    The mind that laid her course, the wake she drew,
    The waves that rose against her bows, the gales,--
    Nay, I was more: I was her very sails
    Rounded before the wind, her eager keel,
    Her straining mast-heads, her responsive wheel,
    Her pennon stiffened like a swallow’s wing;
    Yes, I was all her slope and speed and swing,
    Whether by yellow lemons and blue sea
    She dawdled through the isles off Thessaly,
    Or saw the palms like sheaves of scimitars
    On desert’s verge below the sunset bars,
    Or passed the girdle of the planet where
    The Southern Cross looks over to the Bear,
    And strayed, cool Northerner beneath strange skies,
    Flouting the lure of tropic estuaries,
    Down that long coast, and saw Magellan’s Clouds arise.

    And some that beat up Channel homeward-bound
    I watched, and wondered what they might have found,
    What alien ports enriched their teeming hold
    With crates of fruit or bars of unwrought gold?
    And thought how London clerks with paper-clips
    Had filed the bills of lading of those ships,
    Clerks that had never seen the embattled sea,
    But wrote down jettison and barratry,
    Perils, Adventures, and the Act of God,
    Having no vision of such wrath flung broad;
    Wrote down with weary and accustomed pen
    The classic dangers of sea-faring men;
    And wrote “Restraint of Princes,” and “the acts
    Of the King’s Enemies,” as vacant facts,
    Blind to the ambushed seas, the encircling roar
    Of angry nations foaming into war.


       PHANTOM

    I saw a ship sailing,
    No other ship in sight.
    Steadily she was sailing
    Although the wind fell light.
    Although the wind was failing
    Still she kept sailing.

    No hand there that steered her,
    No wind that strained her sheet.
    And as I gazed I feared her:
    Why should she be so fleet
    Since no crew’s chanty cheered her,
    And no wind neared her?

    Her strange sure motion
    Carried her swiftly past;
    Over the rim of ocean
    I watched her dip her mast.
    Still no wind blew in motion
    Across the ocean.


       GENOESE MERCHANTS

    THEY garnered wealth from far barbarian shores,
    From Caffa, Tyre, and Trebizond,
    And Tartar provinces beyond;
    Furs, spices, oranges, and slaves.
    High galleys waited, runged with tiers of oars,
    And rippled their reflection in the waves.

    Bearded and serge-clad merchants, tightly-lipped,
    They stood in groups along the foreign quays
    Watching the cargo shipped
    By coloured sons of Asia; these
    Groaned loaded up the planks, and rolled
    Their burdens down the hold;
    And back the planks unburdened nimbly tripped,
    Their pumpkin-fluted turbans and their scarves
    Ballooning as they swarmed upon the wharves.

    And some old shaven brightly-plumaged priest,
    Drowsing outside his mosque when shadows fall
    Like lengthened lances pointing to the East,
    From fourfold minaret,
    And through the iron grating in the wall
    The sun-flushed Himalaya guards Thibet,
   --He, fat and somnolent,
    Yawning amongst the pigeons’ sleek content,
    Opened one crafty, long, Mongolian eye,
    And saw the slim Italian passing by
    With soft-foot tread
    Into the mosque, but never raised his head,
    And slipped his cedar beads, and never stirred
    Though the quick patter of the coins he heard
    Fall in a handful mixed of maize and rice
    Flung to the pigeons, coins that were his price.

    While far, in Europe, lay the Flemish fairs,
    The marts of Ypres, the Jews of busy Thames
    Greedy to clutch the unfamiliar gems,
    And rummage in the bales of rich exotic wares.


       EVENING

    WHEN little lights in little ports come out,
    Quivering down through water with the stars,
    And all the fishing fleet of slender spars
    Range at their moorings, veer with tide about;

    When race of wind is stilled and sails are furled,
    And underneath our single riding-light
    The curve of black-ribbed deck gleams palely white,
    And slumbrous waters pool a slumbrous world,

   --Then, and then only, have I thought how sweet
    Old age might sink upon a windy youth,
    Quiet beneath the riding-light of truth,
    Weathered through storms, and gracious in retreat.

“SUMURUN,”

CORNWALL, 1920.

                   *       *       *       *       *

                         _BY THE SAME AUTHOR_


                        POEMS OF WEST AND EAST

                _Second Edition. Demy 8vo. 3s. 6d. net_


 _Morning Post._--“The poems in her first volume reveal a personality
  both charming and courageous; they have all been lived, not merely
                               written.”

_Observer._--“There are rare strokes of force and colour, and some whole
  poems which stand out for complete expression, glowing in impulse,
                          decisive in form.”


             JOHN LANE: THE BODLEY HEAD LTD. VIGO ST. W. 1

                         _BY THE SAME AUTHOR_


                     THE DRAGON IN SHALLOW WATERS

“A strong and eminent achievement. Miss Sackville-West is established by
            her new book as a woman of mark in contemporary
                       literature.”--_Observer._

“There is vigour, simplicity, beauty, and even greatness on every page
                   of this book.”--_Daily Express._


                               HERITAGE

      “A vigorous novel, full of English air, and rich in English
               character.”--_Times Literary Supplement._

“Writing with a distinction, a sincerity, and a command of vivid imagery
   rarely lavished on modern English prose.”--_Westminster Gazette._

                  PUBLISHED BY COLLINS, 48 PALL MALL





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