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Title: The Sunken Garden and other poems
Author: De la Mare, Walter
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Sunken Garden and other poems" ***

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

                           THE SUNKEN GARDEN

This is the second book issued by the Beaumont Press 20 copies have been
printed on Japanese vellum signed by the author and numbered 1 to 20 and
250 copies on hand-made paper numbered 21 to 270. This is No. 200.

                              THE SUNKEN

                          AND OTHER POEMS BY
                           WALTER DE LA MARE



When I go free,                                                        9

Speak not--whisper not;                                               10

‘Thou Solitary!’ the Blackbird cried,                                 11

‘Step very softly, sweet Quiet-foot,                                  13

See this house, how dark it is                                        15

‘Whom seek you here, sweet Mistress Fell?’                            16

In the woods as I did walk,                                           18

How do the days press on, and lay                                     19

I was at peace until you came                                         20

I am that Adam who, with Snake for guest,                             21

O Strange Devices that alone divide                                   22

Why in my heart, O grief,                                             23

Old and alone, sit we,                                                25

Never, no, never, listen too long,                                    26

O Thou who giving helm and sword,                                     27

Come, Death,  have a word with thee;                                  28

TO E. T.: 1917.
You sleep too well--too far away,                                     31

It was the great Alexander,                                           32

For all the grief I have given with words                             34

When I lie where shades of darkness                                   35

Clear eyes do dim at last,                                            36

When Music sounds, gone is the earth I know,                          37

As children bidden to go to bed                                       38

In the strange city of life                                           39

COLOPHON                                                              40


    When I go free,
    I think ’twill be
    A night of stars and snow,
    And the wild fires of frost shall light
    My footsteps as I go;
    Nobody--nobody will be there
    With groping touch, or sight,
    To see me in my bush of hair
    Dance burning through the night.


    Speak not--whisper not;
    Here bloweth thyme and bergamot;
    Softly on the evening hour,
    Secret herbs their spices shower,
    Dark-spiked rosemary and myrrh,
    Lean-stalked, purple lavender;
    Hides within her bosom, too,
    All her sorrows, bitter rue.

    Breathe not--trespass not;
    Of this green and darkling spot,
    Latticed from the moo beams,
    Perchance a distant dreamer dreams;
    Perchance upon its darkening air,
    The unseen ghosts of children fare,
    Faintly swinging, sway and sweep,
    Like lovely sea-flowers in its deep;
    While, unmoved, to watch and ward,
    ’Mid its gloo and daisied sward,
    Stands with bowed and dewy head
    That one little leaden Lad.


    ‘Thou solitary!’ the Blackbird cried,
    ‘I, from the happy Wren,
    Linnet and Blackcap, Woodlark, Thrush,
    Perched all upon a sweetbrier bush,
    Have come at cold of midnight-tide
    To ask thee, Why and when
    Grief smote thy heart so thou dost sing
    In solemn hush of evening,
    So sorrowfully, lovelorn Thing--
    Nay, nay, not sing, but rave, but wail,
    Most melancholic Nightingale?
    Do not the dews of darkness steep
    All pinings of the day in sleep?
    Why, then, when rocked in starry nest
    We mutely couch, secure, at rest,
    Doth thy lone heart delight to make
    Music for sorro sake?’

    A Moon was there. So still her beam,
    It seemed the whole world lay a-dream,
    Lulled by the watery sea.
    And from her leafy night-hung nook
    Upon this stranger soft did look
    The Nightingale: sighed he:--

    ‘’Tis strange, my friend; the Kingfisher
    But yestermorn conjured me here
    Out of his green and gold to say
    Why thou, in splendour of the noon
    Wearest of colour but golden shoon.
    And else dost thee array
    In a most sombre suit of black?
    “Surely,” he sighed, “some load of grief,
    Past all our thinking--and belief--
    Must weigh upon his back!”
    Do, then, in turn, tell me,--If joy
    Thy heart as well as voice employ,
    Why dost thou now, most Sable, shine
    In plumage woefuller far than mine?
    Thy silence is a sadder thing
    Than any dirge I sing!’

    Thus then these two small birds, perched there,
    Breathed a strange riddle both did share
    Yet neither could expound.
    And we--who sing but as we can,
    In the small knowledge of a man--
    Have we an answer found?
    Nay, some are happy whose delight
    Is hid even from themselves from sight;
    And some win peace who spend
    The skill of words to sweeten despair
    Of finding consolation where
    Life has but one dark end;
    Who, in rapt solitude, tell r
    A tale as lovely as forlore
    Into the midnight air.

         MRS. GRUNDY

    ‘Step very softly, sweet Quiet-foot,
    Stumble not, whisper not, smile not:
    By this dark ivy stoop cheek and brow.
    Still even thy heart! What seest thou?’

    ‘High coifed, broad-browed, aged, suave yet grim,
    A large flat face, eyes keenly dim,
    Staring at nothing--tha me!--and yet,
    With a hate one could never, no, never forget....’

    ‘This is my world, my garden, my home,
    Hither my father bade mother to come
    And bear me out of the dark into light,
    And happy I was in her tender sight.

    ‘And then, thou frail flower, she died and went,
    Forgetting my pitiless banishment,
    And that Old Woman--an Aunt--she said,
    Came hither, lodged, fattened, and made her bed.

    ‘Oh yes, thou most blessed, from Monday to Sunday
    Has lived on me, preyed on me, Mrs. Grundy:
    Called me, “dear Nephew”; on each of those chairs
    Has gloated in righteousness, heard my prayers.

    ‘Why didst thou dare the thorns of the grove,
    Timidest trespasser, huntress of love?
    Now thou has peeped, and now dost know
    What kind of creature is thine for foe.

    ‘Not that shl tear out thy innocent eyes,
    Poison thy mouth with deviltries.
    Watch thou, wait thou: soon will begin
    The guile of a voice: hark!... “Come in, Come in!"’


    See this house, how dark it is
    Beneath its vast-boughed trees!
    Not one trembling leaflet cries
    To that Watcher in the skies--
    ‘Remove, remove thy searching gaze,
    Innocent, of Heave ways,
    Brood not, Moon, so wildly bright,
    On secrets hidden from sight.’

    ‘Secrets,’ sighs the night-wind,
    ‘Vacancy is all I find;
    Every keyhole I have made
    Wail a summons, faint and sad,
    No voice ever answers me,
            Only vacancy.’
    ‘Once, once ...’ the cricket shrills,
    And far and near the quiet fills
    With its tiny voice, and then
            Hush falls again.

    Mute shadows creeping slow
    Mark how the hours go,
    Every stone is mouldering slow,
    And the least winds that blow
    Some minutest atom shake,
    Some fretting ruin make
    In roof and walls. How black it is
    Beneath these thick-boughed trees!


    ‘Whom seek you here, sweet Mistress Fell?’
    ‘One who loved me passing well.
    Dark his eye, wild his face--
    Stranger, if in this lonely place
    Bide such an one, then, prythee, say
    _I_ am come here to-day.’

    ‘Many his like, Mistress Fell?’
    ‘I did not look, so cannot tell.
    Only this I surely know,
    When his voice called me, I must go;
    Touched me his fingers, and my heart
    Leapt at the sweet pai smart.’

    ‘Why did he leave you, Mistress Fell?’
    ‘Magic laid its dreary spell.--
    Stranger, he was fast asleep;
    Into his dream I tried to creep;
    Called his name, soft was my cry:
    He answered--not one sigh.

    ‘The flower and the thorn are here;
    Falleth the night-dew, cold and clear;
    Out of her bower the bird replies,
    Mocking the dark with ecstasies:
    See how the eart green grass doth grow,
    Praising what sleeps below!

    ‘Thus have they told me. And I come,
    As flies the wounded wild-bird home.
    Not tears I give; but all that he
    Clasped in his arms sweet charity;
    All that he loved--to him I bring
    For a close whispering.’


    In the woods as I did walk,
    Dappled with the moo beam,
    I did with a Stranger talk,
    And his name was Dream.

    Spurred his heel, dark his cloak,
    Shady-wide his bonne brim;
    His horse beneath a silvery oak
    Grazed as I talked with him.

    Softly his breast-brooch burned and shone;
    Hill and deep were in his eyes;
    One of his hands held mine, and one
    The fruit that makes men wise.

    Wonderly strange was earth to see,
    Flowers white as milk did gleam;
    Spread to Heaven the Assyrian Tree
    Over my head with Dream.

    Dews were still betwixt us twain;
    Stars a trembling beauty shed;
    Yet--not a whisper comes again
    Of the words he said.

         THE FLIGHT

    How do the days press on, and lay
    Their fallen locks at evening down,
    Whileas the stars in darkness play
    And moonbeams weave a crown--

    A crown of flower-like light in heaven,
    Where in the hollow arch of space
    Mor mistress dreams, and the Pleiads seven
    Stand watch about her place.

    Stand watch--O days no number keep
    Of hours when this dark clay is blind.
    When the worl clocks are dumb in sleep
    ’Tis then I seek my kind.


    I was at peace until you came
    And set a careless mind aflame;
    I lived in quiet; cold, content;
    All longing in safe banishment,
    Until your ghostly lips and eyes
            Made wisdom unwise.

    Naught was in me to tempt your feet
    To seek a lodging. Quite forgot
    Lay the sweet solitude we two
    In childhood used to wander through;
    Tim cold had closed my heart about;
            And shut you out.

    Well, and what then?... O vision grave,
    Take all the little all I have!
    Strip me of what in voiceless thought
    Lif kept of life, unhoped, unsought!--
    Reverie and dream that memory must
            Hide deep in dust!

    This only I say,--Though cold and bare
    The haunted house you have chosen to share,
    Still ’neath its walls the moonbeam goes
    And trembles on the untended rose;
    Still r its broken roof-tree rise
    The starry arches of the skies;
    And ’neath your lightest word shall be
    The thunder of an ebbing sea.

         THE EXILE

    I am that Adam who, with Snake for guest,
    Hid anguished eyes upon Ev piteous breast.
    I am that Adam who, with broken wings,
    Fled from the Serap brazen trumpetings.
    Betrayed and fugitive, I still must roam
    A world where sin--and beauty--whisper of home.

    Oh, from wide circuit, shall at length I see
    Pure daybreak lighten again on Ede tree?
    Loosed from remorse and hope and lov distress,
    Enrobe me again in my lost nakedness?
    No more with wordless grief a loved one grieve,
    But to heave nothingness re-welcome Eve?


    O strange devices that alone divide
    The seër from the seen--
    The very highway of eart pomp and pride
    That lies between
    The traveller and the cheating, sweet delight
    Of where he longs to be,
    But which, bound hand and foot, he, close on night,
    Can only see.

         THE TRYST

    Why in my heart, o grief,
    Dost thou in beauty bide?
    Dead is my well-content,
    And buried deep my pride.
    Cold are their stones, beloved,
    To hand and side.

    The shadows of even are gone,
    Shut are the da clear flowers,
    Now have her birds left mute
    Their singing bowers,
    Lone shall we be, we twain,
    In the night hours.

    Thou with thy cheek on mine,
    And dark hair loosed, shalt see
    Take the far stars for fruit
    The cypress tree,
    And in the ye black
    Shall the moon be.

    We will tell no old tales,
    Nor heed if in wandering air
    Die a lost song of love
    Or the once fair;
    Still as well-water be
    The thoughts we share!

    And, while the ghosts keep
    Tryst from chill sepulchres,
    Dreamless our gaze shall sleep,
    And sealed our ears;
    Heart unto heart will speak,
    Without tears.

    O, thy veiled, lovely face--
    Jo strange disguise--
    Shall be the last to fade
    From these rapt eyes,
    Ere the first dart of daybreak
    Pierce the skies.

         THE OLD MEN

    Old and alone, sit we,
    Caged, riddle-rid men;
    Lost to eart ‘Listen!’ and ‘See!’
    Though ‘Wherefore?’ and ‘When?’

    Only far memories stray
    Of a past once lovely, but now
    Wasted and faded away,
    Like green leaves from the bough.

    Vast broods the silence of night,
    The ruinous moon
    Lifts on our faces her light,
    Whence all dreaming is gone.

    We speak not; trembles each head;
    In their sockets our eyes are still;
    Desire as cold as the dead;
    Without wonder or will.

    And One, with a lanthorn, draws near,
    At clash with the moon in our eyes:
    ‘Where art thou?’ he asks: ‘I am here,’
    One by one we arise.

    And none lifts a hand to withhold
    A friend from the touch of that foe:
    Heart cries unto heart, ‘Thou art old!’
    Yet reluctant, we go.

         THE FOO SONG

    Never, no, never, listen too long,
    To the chattering wind in the willows, the night bir song.

    ’Tis sad in sooth to lie under the grass,
    But none too gladsome to wake and grow cold where lif shadows pass.

    Dumb the old Toll-Woman squats,
    And, for every green copper battered and worn, doles out Nevers and Nots.

    I know a Blind Man, too,
    Who with a sharp ear listens and listens the whole world through.

    Oh, sit we snug to our feast,
    With platter and finger and spoon--and good victuals at least.

         THE DREAMER

    O thou who giving helm and sword,
    Gat, too, the rusting rain,
    And starry dar all tender dews
        To blunt and stain:

    Out of the battle I am sped,
    Unharmed, yet stricken sore;
    A living shape ’mid whispering shades
        On Leth shore.

    No trophy in my hands I bring,
    To this sad, sighing stream,
    The neighings and the trumps and cries
        Were but a dream--a dream.

    Traitor to life, of life betrayed--
    O, of thy mercy deep,
    A dream my all, the all I ask
        Is sleep.


    Come, Death,  have a word with thee;
    And thou, poor Innocency;
    And Love--a lad with broken wing;
    And Pity, too:
    The Fool shall sing to you,
    As Fools will sing.

    Ay, music hath small sense,
    And a tun soon told,
    And Earth is old,
    And my poor wits are dense;
    Yet have I secrets,--dark, my dear,
    To breathe you all: Come near.
    And lest some hideous listener tells,
    l ring my bells.

    Thee all at war!--
    Yes, yes, their bodies go
    ’Neath burning sun and icy star
    To chaunted songs of woe,
    Dragging cold cannon through a mire
    Of rain and blood and spouting fire,
    The new moon glinting hard on eyes
    Wide with insanities!

    Hush!... I use words
    I hardly know the meaning of;
    And the mute birds
    Are glancing at Love
    From out their shade of leaf and flower,
    Trembling at treacheries
    Which even in noonday cower.
    Heed, heed not what I said
    Of frenzied hosts of men,
    More fools than I,
    On envy, hatred fed,
    Who kill, and die--
    Spake I not plainly, then?
    Yet Pity whispered, ‘Why?’

    Thou silly thing, off to thy daisies go.
    Mine was not news for child to know,
    And Death--no ears hath. He hath supped where creep
    Eyeless worms in hush of sleep;
    Yet, when he smiles, the hand he draws
    Athwart his grinning jaws--
    Faintly the thin bones rattle, and--There, there;
    Hearken how my bells in the air
    Drive away care!...

    Nay, but a dream I had
    Of a world all mad.
    Not simple happy mad like me,
    Who am mad like an empty scene
    Of water and willow tree,
    Where the wind hath been;
    But that foul Satan-mad,
    Who rots in his own head,
    And counts the dead,
    Not honest one--and two--
    But for the ghosts they were,
    Brave, faithful, true,
    When head in air,
    In Eart clear green and blue
    Heaven they did share
    With Beauty who bade them there....

    There, now! Death goes--
    Mayhap e wearied him.
    Ay, and the light doth dim,
    And asleep ’s the rose,
    And tired Innocence
    In dreams is hence....
    Come, Love, my lad,
    Nodding that drowsy head,
    ’Tis time thy prayers were said!

         TO E. T.: 1917

    You sleep too well--too far away,
    For sorrowing word to soothe or wound;
    Your very quiet seems to say
    How longed-for a peace you have found.

    Else, had not death so lured you on,
    You would have grieved--’twixt joy and fear--
    To know how my small loving son
    Had wept for you, my dear.


    It was the great Alexander,
    Capped with a golden helm,
    Sate in the ages, in his floating ship,
        In a dead calm.

    Voices of sea-maids singing
    Wandered across the deep:
    The sailors labouring on their oars
        Rowed, as in sleep.

    All the high pomp of Asia,
    Charmed by that siren lay,
    Out of their weary and dreaming minds,
        Faded away.

    Like a bold boy sate their Captain,
    His glamour withered and gone,
    In the souls of his brooding mariners,
        While the song pined on.

    Time like a falling dew,
    Life like the scene of a dream
    Laid between slumber and slumber,
        Only did seem....

    O Alexander, then,
    In all us mortals too,
    Wax thou not bold--too bold
        On the wave dark-blue!

    Come the calm, infinite night,
    Who then will hear
    Aught save the singing
        Of the sea-maids clear?


    For all the grief I have given with words
    May now a few clear flowers blow,
    In the dust, and the heat, and the silence of birds,
            Where the lonely go.

    For the thing unsaid that heart asked of me
    Be a dark, cool water calling--calling
    To the footsore, benighted, solitary,
            When the shadows are falling.

    O, be beauty for all my blindness,
    A moon in the air where the weary wend,
    And dews burdened with loving-kindness
            In the dark of the end.


    When I lie where shades of darkness
    Shall no more assail mine eyes,
    Nor the rain make lamentation
          When the wind sighs;
    How will fare the world whose wonder
    Was the very proof of me?
    Memory fades, must the remembered
          Perishing be?

    Oh, when this my dust surrenders
    Hand, foot, lip, to dust again,
    May these loved and loving faces
          Please other men!
    May the rusting harvest hedgerow
    Still the Travelle Joy entwine,
    And as happy children gather
          Posies once mine.

    Look thy last on all things lovely,
    Every hour. Let no night
    Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
          Till to delight
    Thou have paid thy utmost blessing;
    Since that all things thou wouldst praise
    Beauty took from those who loved them
          In other days.

         CLEAR EYES

    Clear eyes do dim at last,
    And cheeks outlive their rose.
    Time, heedless of the past,
    No loving-kindness knows;
    Chill unto mortal lip
    Still Lethe flows.

    Griefs, too, but brief while stay,
    And sorrow, being r,
    Its salt tears shed away,
    Woundeth the heart no more.
    Stealthily lave those waters
    That solemn shore.

    Ah, then, sweet face burn on,
    While yet quick memory lives!
    And Sorrow, ere thou art gone,
    Know that my heart forgives--
    Ere yet, grown cold in peace,
    It loves not, nor grieves.


    When music sounds, gone is the earth I know,
    And all her lovely things even lovelier grow;
    Her flowers in vision flame, her forest trees,
    Lift burdened branches, stilled with ecstasies.

    When music sounds, out of the water rise
    Naiads whose beauty dims my waking eyes,
    Rapt in strange dream burns each enchanted face,
    With solemn echoing stirs their dwelling-place.

    When music sounds, all that I was I am
    Ere to this haunt of brooding dust I came;
    While from Tim woods break into distant song
    The swift-winged hours, as I hasten along.


    As children bidden to go to bed
    Puff out their candl light,
    Since that the natural dark is best
    For them to take their flight

    Into the realm of sleep: so we
    Go bidding did obey;
    Not without fear our tired eyes shut,
    And wait--and wait--the day.


    In the strange city of life
    Two houses I know well:
    One wherein Silence a garden hath,
    And one where Dark doth dwell.

    Roof unto roof they stand,
    Shadowing the dizzied street,
    Where Vanity flaunts her gilded booths
    In the noontide glare and heat.

    Green-graped upon their walls
    The ancient, hoary vine
    Hath clustered their carven lichenous stones
    With tendril serpentine.

    And ever and anon,
    Dazed in that clamorous throng,
    I thirst for the soundless fount that stills
    Those orchards mute of song.

    Knock, knock! nor knock in vain.
    Heart, all thy secrets tell
    Where Silence a fast-sealed garden hath
    Where Dark doth dwell.

  Other Poems by Walter De La Mare the Typography
  and Binding arranged by Cyril William Beaumont
   Printed on his Press in London and Published
      by him at 75 Charing Cross Road in the
           City of Westminster Completed
           on the first day of December

             [Illustration: colophon]

               The Binding has been
     executed by F. Sangorski and G. Sutcliffe

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