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Title: Oxford Poetry - 1920
Author: Holtby, Winifred, Blunden, Edmund, Bonner, G. H., Porter, Alan, Rickword, Edgell, Campbell, Roy, Hughes, R. W., Higgins, B., Dickinson, Eric, Reid, Hilda, Stead, W. Force, Pinto, V. de S., Brittain, Vera M., Johnstone, G. H., Hartley, L. P., Golding, Louis, Bucknall, G. A. Fielding, Jacot, E. W., Strong, L. A. G., Kitchin, C. H. B.
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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                             OXFORD POETRY

                                 1920


                          _Uniform with this Volume_

                          OXFORD POETRY, 1914

                          (_Out of Print_)

                          OXFORD POETRY, 1915

                          OXFORD POETRY, 1916

                          OXFORD POETRY, 1917

                          OXFORD POETRY, 1918

                          OXFORD POETRY, 1919

                          OXFORD POETRY, 1917-1919,

                          7s. 6d. net



                             OXFORD POETRY
                                 1920

                               EDITED BY
                     V. M. B., C. H. B. K., A. P.

                                OXFORD
                            BASIL BLACKWELL
                                 1920


     The following authors wish to make acknowledgment to the editors of
     the publications mentioned for permission kindly given to reprint:
     Mr. E. Blunden, _The Nation_ ("Forefathers"), _Voices_ ("Sheet
     Lightning"); Miss V. M. Brittain, _The Oxford Chronicle_ ("Boar’s
     Hill," and "The Lament of the Demobilized"); Mr. R. Campbell, _The
     Oxford and Cambridge Miscellany_ ("Bongwi’s Theology"); Mr. L.
     Golding, _Voices_ ("The Moon-Clock," "Cold Branch," "I Seek a Wild
     Star"); Mr. A. Porter, _Voices_ ("Life and Luxury," "A Far
     Country"); Mr. E. Rickword, _The London Mercury_ ("Intimacy"); Mr.
     W. Force Stead, _The Poetry Review_; Mr. L. A. G. Strong, _Coterie_
     ("A Devon Rhyme," "Christopher Marlye"), _The Oxford Chronicle_
     ("From the Greek").



CONTENTS


EDMUND BLUNDEN (QUEEN’S)                                            PAGE
  SHEET LIGHTNING                                                      1
  FOREFATHERS                                                          3

G. H. BONNER (MAGDALEN)
  SONNET                                                               5

VERA M. BRITTAIN (SOMERVILLE)
  BOAR’S HILL, OCTOBER, 1919                                           6
  THE LAMENT OF THE DEMOBILIZED                                        7
  DAPHNE                                                               8

G. A. FIELDING BUCKNALL (EXETER)
  UNTO DUST                                                            9

ROY CAMPBELL (MERTON)
  THE PORPOISE                                                        10
  BONGWI’S THEOLOGY                                                   11

ERIC DICKINSON (EXETER)
  THREE SONNETS                                                       12

LOUIS GOLDING (QUEEN’S)
  THE MOON-CLOCK                                                      14
  COLD BRANCH IN THE BLACK AIR                                        15
  I SEEK A WILD STAR                                                  16

ROBERT GRAVES (ST. JOHN’S)
  MORNING PHŒNIX                                                      17

L. P. HARTLEY (BALLIOL)
  CANDLEMAS                                                           18

B. HIGGINS (B.N.C.)
  ONE SOLDIER                                                         21

WINIFRED HOLTBY (SOMERVILLE)
  THE DEAD MAN                                                        22

R. W. HUGHES (ORIEL)
  THE ROLLING SAINT                                                   23
  THE SONG OF PROUD JAMES                                             25

E. W. JACOT (QUEEN’S)
  HERE’S A DAFFODIL                                                   26
  NURSERY RHYMES                                                      26

G. H. JOHNSTONE (MERTON)
  SUMMER                                                              27
"IPSE EGO ..."                                                        28

C. H. B. KITCHIN (EXETER)
  OPENING SCENE FROM "AMPHITRYON"                                     29

V. DE S. PINTO (CHRIST CHURCH)
  ART                                                                 38

ALAN PORTER (QUEEN’S)
  LIFE AND LUXURY                                                     39
  A FAR COUNTRY                                                       44

HILDA REID (SOMERVILLE)
  THE MAGNANIMITY OF BEASTS                                           45

EDGELL RICKWORD (PEMBROKE)
  INTIMACY                                                            46
  GRAVE JOYS                                                          47
  ADVICE TO A GIRL FROM THE WARS                                      48
  YEGOR                                                               49
  STRANGE ELEMENTS                                                    50

W. FORCE STEAD (QUEEN’S)
  THE BURDEN OF BABYLON                                               51

L. A. G. STRONG (WADHAM)
  FROST                                                               55
  VERA VENVSTAS                                                       55
  A BABY                                                              56
  FROM THE GREEK                                                      56
  A DEVON RHYME                                                       56
  THE BIRD MAN                                                        57
  CHRISTOPHER MARLYE                                                  58



_EDMUND BLUNDEN_

(_QUEEN’S_)


SHEET LIGHTNING

    WHEN on the green the rag-tag game had stopt,
    And red the lights through alehouse curtains glowed,
    The clambering brake drove out and took the road.
    Then on the stern moors all the babble dropt
    Among those merry men, who felt the dew
    Sweet to the soul and saw the southern blue
    Thronged with heat lightning leagues and leagues abroad,
    Working and whickering; snake-like; winged and clawed;
    Or like old carp lazily rising and shouldering,
    Long the slate cloud flank shook with the death-white smouldering;
    Yet not a voice.

                     The night drooped oven-hot;
    Then where the turnpike pierced the black wood plot,
    Tongues wagged again and each man felt the grim
    Destiny of the hour speaking through him:
    And then tales came of dwarfs on Starling Hill,
    And those young swimmers drowned at the roller mill,
    Where on the drowsiest noon the undertow
    Famishing for life boiled like a pot below:
    And how two higglers at the "Walnut Tree"
    Had curst the Lord in thunderstorm and He
    Had struck them into soot with lightning then--
    It left the pitchers whole, it killed the men.
    Many a lad and many a lass was named
    Who once stept bold and proud--but death had tamed
    Their revel on the eve of May: cut short
    The primrosing and promise of good sport,
    Shut up the score book, laid the ribbands by.

    Such bodings mustered from the fevered sky;
    But now the spring well through the honeycomb
    Of scored stone rumbling tokened them near home,
    The whip lash clacked, the jog-trot sharpened, all
    Sang "Farmer’s Boy" as loud as they could bawl,
    Till at the "Walnut Tree" the homeward brake
    Stopt for hoarse ribaldry to brag and slake.

    The weary wildfire faded from the dark
    While this one damned the parson, that the clerk;
    And anger’s balefire forked from the unbared blade
    At word of notches missed or stakes not paid:
    While Joe the driver stooped with oath to find
    A young jack rabbit in the roadway, blind
    Or dazzled by the lamps, as stiff as steel
    With fear. Joe beat its brain out on the wheel.


FOREFATHERS

    HERE they went with smock and crook,
      Toiled in the sun, lolled in the shade,
    Here they mudded out the brook
      And here their hatchet cleared the glade:
    Harvest-supper woke their wit,
    Huntsman’s moon their wooings lit.

    From this church they led their brides;
      From this church themselves were led
    Shoulder-high; on these waysides
      Sat to take their beer and bread:
    Names are gone--what men they were
    These their cottages declare.

    Names are vanished, save the few
      In the old brown Bible scrawled,
    These were men of pith and thew,
      Whom the city never called;
    Scarce could read or hold a quill:
    Built the barn, the forge, the mill.

    On the green they watched their sons
      Playing till too dark to see,
    As their fathers watched them once,
      As my father once watched me;
    While the bat and beetle flew
    On the warm air webbed with dew.

    Unrecorded, unrenowned,
      Men from whom my ways begin,
    Here I know you by your ground,
      But I know you not within--
    All is mist, and there survives
    Not one moment of your lives.

    Like the bee that now is blown
      Honey-heavy on my hand
    From the toppling tansy-throne
      In the green tempestuous land,--
    I’m a-Maying now, nor know
    Who made honey long ago.



_G. H. BONNER_

(_MAGDALEN_)


SONNET

    QUIETLY the old men die, in carven chairs
    Nodding to silence by the extinguished hearth;
    Their days are as a treasure nothing worth,
    For all their joy is stolen by the years.
    The striving and the fierce delights and fears
    Of youth trouble them not; for them the earth
    Is dead; in their cold hearts naught comes to birth
    Save ghosts: they are too old even for tears.

    As to the breast of some slow moving stream,
    Close girt with sentinel trees on either side,
    The sear leaves flutter down and silently
    Glide onward on its dark November dream,
    So peacefully upon the quiet tide
    They steal out to the still moon-silvered sea.



_VERA M. BRITTAIN_

(_SOMERVILLE_)


BOAR’S HILL, OCTOBER, 1919

    TALL slender beech-trees, whispering, touched with fire,
    Swaying at even beneath a desolate sky;
    Smouldering embers aflame where the clouds hurry by
    To the wind’s desire.

    Dark sombre woodlands, rain-drenched by the scattering shower,
    Spindle that quivers and drops its dim berries to earth--
    Mourning, perhaps, as I mourn here alone for the dearth
    Of a happier hour.

    Can you still see them, who always delighted to roam
    Over the Hill where so often together we trod
    When winds of wild autumn strewed summer’s dead leaves on the sod,
    Ere your steps turned home?


THE LAMENT OF THE DEMOBILIZED

    "FOUR years," some say consolingly. "Oh well,
    What’s that? You’re young. And then it must have been
    A very fine experience for you!"
    And they forget
    How others stayed behind, and just got on--
    Got on the better since we were away.
    And we came home and found
    They had achieved, and men revered their names,
    But never mentioned ours;
    And no one talked heroics now, and we
    Must just go back, and start again once more.
    "You threw four years into the melting-pot--
    Did you indeed!" these others cry. "Oh well,
    The more fool you!"
    And we’re beginning to agree with them.


DAPHNE

    SUNRISE and spring, and the river agleam in the morning,
    Life at its freshest, like flowers in the dawn-dew of May,
    Hope, and Love’s dreams the dim hills of the future adorning,
    Youth of the world, just awake to the glory of day--

    Is she not part of them, golden and fair and undaunted,
    Glad with the triumph of runners ahead in the race,
    Free as a child by no shadows or memories haunted,
    Challenging Death to his solemn and pitiful face?

    Sunset and dusk, and the stars of a mellow September,
    Sombre grey shadows, like Sleep stealing over the grass,
    Autumn leaves blown through the chill empty lanes of November,
    Sorrow enduring, though Youth with its rhapsodies pass--

    Are they not part of her, sweet with unconscious compassion,
    Ready to shoulder our burden of life with a jest,
    Will she not make them her own in her light-hearted fashion,
    Sadder than we in her song, in her laughter more blest?



_G. A. FIELDING BUCKNALL_

(_EXETER_)


UNTO DUST

    NOT with a crown of thorns about his head
    But with a single rose in his white hand,
    Fairer than Death herself, he joins the dead,
    He that could laugh at life, yet understand.
    No veils are rent in twain, or unknown fears
    Fall on the crowd who crucify my lord;
    Lay him to rest, while poetry and tears
    Be the last gifts his mourning friends accord.
    Cast not white flowers on one who loved but red,
    Leave him the dust who found in dust the praise
    Only of life, and, now that he is dead
    Surely in death is fair a thousand ways.
    Leave him in peace, a poem to the end--
    He was the man I loved: I was his friend.



_ROY CAMPBELL_

(_MERTON_)


THE PORPOISE

    THE ocean-cleaving porpoise goes
    Thrashing the waves with fins of gold,
    Butting the waves with brows of steel,
    From palm-fringed archipelagos
    To coasts of coral, where the bold
    Cannibal drives a pointed keel.

    And round and round the world he runs,
    A golden rocket trailing fire,
    Out-distancing the moon and stars,
    Leaving the pale abortive suns
    To paint their dreams of dead desire
    On faint horizons. Nothing mars

    His constant course, though storms may rend
    The charging waves from strand to strand,
    Though Love may wait with fingers curled
    To clutch him at the current’s bend,
    Though Death may dart an eager hand
    To drag him underneath the world!

    Still threading depths of pearl and rose,
    Derisive, gay, and overbold,
    Who will not hear, who will not feel,
    The ocean-cleaving porpoise goes,
    Thrashing the waves with fins of gold,
    Butting the waves with brows of steel!


BONGWI’S THEOLOGY

    THIS is the wisdom of the ape
    Who yelps beneath the moon--
    ’Tis God who made me in his shape;
    He is a great baboon.
    ’Tis he who tilts the moon askew
    And fans the forest trees:
    The Heavens, which are broad and blue,
    Provide him his trapeze.
    He swings with tail divinely bent
    Around those azure bars,
    And munches, to his soul’s content,
    The kernels of the stars.
    And when I die, his loving care
    Shall raise me from the sod,
    To learn the perfect Mischief there,
    The Nimbleness of God!



_ERIC DICKINSON_

(_EXETER_)


THREE SONNETS

  FOR RANDOLPH HUGHES


I

    SUCH beauty is the magic of old kings
    Who webbed enchantments on the bowls of night,
    Who stole the ocean-coral for their rings,
    And samite-curls of mermaids for their light;
    Who sent their envoys from the courts of Kand,
    To find the blue-flowered crown of ecstasy
    That grows beneath a Titan’s quiet hand.
    The beauty that is yours is grown to me
    More fine than furthest snows in golden Ind,
    More fair indeed than doves, who draw the cars
    Of purpurate belief in monarch’s mind,
    With benediction of the ultimate stars.
        Because of all this knowledge born of you,
        Raise up my faith in stone, and keep men true.


II

    ALWAYS your eyes, your hair, your cheek, your voice,
    Impel the wish I had a magic art;
    Your beauty’s kind can perfectly rejoice
    With delicate music all a poet’s heart,
    As voice of summer over hills of joy.
    Oh, you are utterly of beauty’s dance,
    Such kind of rhythmic beauty they employ,
    Where Pheidias shakes the Parthenon with prance
    Of his proud steeds, and prouder youths show us
    The glory of a fair Athenian day.
    Your beauty lived before tumultuous
    Chattering knaves sped time and faith away,
        Before the chime for Babylon was rung,
        Or from the cross men found the stars were hung!


III

    My love of most complete and dearest worth,
    Has ever breath of years, one day all spent,
    Mingled with thought of present smiling earth?
    Have you bethought you how so soon is sent
    To this poor passionate heart the Worm of Death
    With twined and intimate corrupt caress?
    Have you bethought you, how that your dear breath,
    Bathing the rose upon your mouth, shall press
    One day no more betwixt its petalled home?
    How all exceeding beauties exquisite
    Of limbs, of eyes, of hair, of cheek, shall come
    One day perhaps within that open night,
        Where sheep go plaintive on a lone highway,
        And ecstasy of love is far away?



_LOUIS GOLDING_

(_QUEEN’S_)


THE MOON-CLOCK

    TICK-TOCK! the moon, that pale round clock,
    Her big face peering, goes tick-tock!

    Metallic as a grasshopper
    The far faint tickings start and stir.

    All night tinily you can hear
    Tick-tock tinkling down the sheer

    Steep falls of space. Minute, aloof,
    Here is no praise, here no reproof.

    Remote in voids star-purged of sense,
    Tick-tock in stark indifference!

    From ice-black lands of lack and rock,
    The two swords shake and clank tick-tock.

    In the dark din of the day’s vault
    Demand thy headlong soul shall halt

    One moment. Hearken, taut and tense,
    In the vast Silence beyond sense,

    The moon! From the hushed heart of her,
    Metallic as a grasshopper,

    Patient though earth may writhe and rock,
    Imperturbably, tock, tick-tock!

    Till, boastful earth, your forests wilt
    In grotesque death. Till death shall silt,

    Loud-blooded man, her unchecked sands
    From feet and warped expiring hands

    Through fatuous channels of the thinned
    Brain. Till all the clangours which have dinned

    Through your arched ears are only this,
    Tick-tock down blank eternities,

    Where still the sallow death’s-head ticks
    As stars burn down like candle-wicks.


COLD BRANCH IN THE BLACK AIR

    WHO taps? You are not the wind tapping?
              _No! Not the wind!_
    You straining and moaning there,
    Are you a cold branch in the black air
          Which the storm has skinned?
            _No! Not a cold branch!
              Not the wind!_

    Who are you? Who are you?
                              _But you loved me once,
          You drank me like wine.
    The dead wood simmers in my skull. I am rotten.
    And your blood is red still and you have forgotten,
          And my blood was yours once and yours mine!_

    Are you there still? O fainter, O further ... nothing!
          Nothing taps!
    Surely you straining and moaning there,
    You were only a cold branch in the black air?
... Or a door perhaps?


I SEEK A WILD STAR

    WHAT seek you in this hoarse hard sand
    That shuffles from your futile hand?
    Your limbs are wry. With salt despair
    All day the scant winds freeze your hair.
    What mystery in the barren sand
    Seek you to understand?

        _All day the acute winds' finger-tips
        Flay my skin and cleave my lips.
        But though like fame about my skull
        Leap the gibes of the cynic gull,
        I shall not go from this place. I
        Seek through all curved vacancy
        Though the sea taunt me and frost scar,
        I seek a star, a star!_

    Why seek you this, why seek you this
    Of all distraught futilities?
    The tide slides closer. The tide’s teeth
    Shall bite your body with keen death!
    Of all unspaced things that are
    Vain, vain, most hideously far,
    Why seek you then a star?

        _I seek a wild star, I that am
        Eaten by earth and all her shame;
        To whom fields, towns are a close clot
        Of mud whence the worm dieth not;
        To whom all running water is
        Besnagged with timeless treacheries,
        Who in a babe’s heart see designed
        Mine own distortion and the blind
        Lusts of all my kind!
        Hence of all things that are
        Vain, most hideously far,
        A star, I seek, a star!_



_ROBERT GRAVES_

(_ST. JOHN’S_)


MORNING PHŒNIX

    IN my body lives a flame,
    Flame that burns me all the day,
    When a fierce sun does the same,
    I am charred away.

    Who could keep a smiling wit,
    Roasted so in heart and hide,
    Turning on the sun’s red spit,
    Scorched by love inside?

    Caves I long for and cold rocks,
    Minnow-peopled country brooks,
    Blundering gales of Equinox,
    Sunless valley-nooks.

    Daily so I might restore
    Calcined heart and shrivelled skin,
    A morning phœnix with proud roar
    Kindled new within.



_L. P. HARTLEY_

(_BALLIOL_)


CANDLEMAS

    THE conversation waned and waxed,
      _I_ was there: _you_ were there:
    Doubtless a few were overtaxed,
      Talking was more than they could bear.

    The aura of each candle-flame
      Excited me, excited you;
    I felt you in each diadem,
      Now in the yellow, now the blue.

    The conversation waxed and waned:
      Question, reply; question, reply:
    We, for our intercourse, disdained
      Such palpable machinery.

    Columnar in transparent gloom,
      Symbolical, inviolate,
    Those candles held the spell of some
      Campanile or minaret,

    Which still takes in, as it exhales,
      The mood of joy or orison;
    With hoarded ceremonials
      Enfranchising communion--

    Till every spoken word or thought,
      However alien and profane,
    Becomes the medium and resort
      Where spirits spirits entertain;

    So, idle talk’s quintessences
      Gleamed in the candles' radiance
    With gathered stores of unproved bliss:
      The multiplied inheritance

    Of each succeeding moment.... More
      Perfect in form the flames appeared;
    Their arduous strivings overbore
      Slight wayward wisps that swayed and veered.

    They changed their contours, one and all,
      Carefully, persistently,
    With efforts economical
      That had their will of you and me,--

    For we somehow were party to
      The issue of their enterprise;
    Confounded in their overthrow,
      Triumphant in their victories.

    The alternation of each flame
    --Thinning here--swelling there--
    Compell’d our souls into the same
    Compass,--ampler or narrower.

    We knew that when those luminous spires
      Hung upwards, pacified, and tranc’d,
    Pois’d betwixt all and no desires,
      Beyond their accidents advanc’d,--

    We, their adepts, might acquiesce:
      The promised consummation
    Would drown our wills in its excess,
      And mingle both our souls in one.

    When suddenly a permanence,
    --A flutter of wings before rest--
    Drew down to those flame-forms: our sense
      Was steeped in it, folded, caress’d....

    A casual devastating gust
      (The jolt, the sickening recoil!)
    Our universe in chaos thrust;
      And, not content to spoil

    Our husbanded endeavour, threw
      A mocking, flickering light,
    Devour’d by shadows, on us two:
      The talk became more bright.

    We entered into it with zest;
      Question, reply; question, reply:
    And lookers-on were much impressed
      By our inane garrulity.



_B. HIGGINS_

(_B.N.C._)


ONE SOLDIER

TO GEORGE WRIGHT

    HEAP the earth upon this head.
    Nature, like a wistful child,
    Clings unto the clay she fed,
    Shatters it--unreconciled
    Moans the ashes of her dead.
    Heap the earth upon this head.

    Chanter of the lonely tombs,
    Lift him to thy harmony--
    Moulded in the million wombs
    That breed the soul’s nobility!...
    Such the man that perished?
    Heap the earth upon this head.

    Our masters brood and preach and plot,
    And mourn in monuments, not tears,
    The man the centuries forgot
    Who builded up the mighty years!
    Faded are the fights they led,
    Piteous the blood they shed.
    Heap the earth upon this head.

    Heap, heap the earth upon this head,
    Brother he was to you, to me--
    Lived, lusted, joyed and wept.... _They_ spent
    Their verbal earnings, and he went
    And fought for human liberty,
    And died. And politics were free.

    Raise, raise memorials to our Dead....
    But heap the earth upon this head.
    Oh! heap the earth upon this head.



_WINIFRED HOLTBY_

(_SOMERVILLE_)


THE DEAD MAN

    I see men walk wild ways with love,
      Along the wind their laughter blown
    Strikes up against the singing stars;
      But I lie all alone.
    When love has stricken laughter dead
      And tears their silly hearts in twain,
    They long for easeful death, but I
      Am hungry for their pain.



_R. W. HUGHES_

(_ORIEL_)


THE ROLLING SAINT

    UNDER the crags of Teiriwch,
    The door-sills of the Sun,
    Where God has left the bony earth
    Just as it was begun;
    Where clouds sail past like argosies
    Breasting the crested hills,
    With mainsail and foretop-sail
    That the thin breeze fills;
    With ballast of round thunder,
    And anchored with the rain;
    With a long shadow sounding
    The deep, far plain:
    Where rocks are broken playthings
    By petulant gods hurled,
    And Heaven sits a-straddle
    On the roof-ridge of the World.
    --Under the crags of Teiriwch
    Is a round pile of stones:
    Large stones, small stones,
    --White as old bones;
    Some from high places,
    Or from the lake’s shore;
    And every man that passes
    Adds one more:
    The years it has been growing
    Verge on a hundred score.

    For in the cave of Teiriwch
    That scarce holds a sheep,
    Where plovers and rock-conies
    And wild things sleep,
    A woman lived for ninety years
    On bilberries and moss
    And lizards, and small creeping things,
    And carved herself a cross:
    But wild hill robbers
    Found the ancient saint
    And dragged her to the sunlight,
    Making no complaint:
    Too old was she for weeping,
    Too shrivelled, and too dry:
    She crouched and mumle-mumled
    And mumled to the sky.
    No breath had she for wailing,
    Her cheeks were paper-thin:
    She was, for all her holiness
    As ugly as sin.
    They cramped her in a barrel
    --All but her bobbing head.
    --And rolled her down from Teiriwch
    Until she was dead:
    They took her out, and buried her
    --Just broken bits of bone
    And rags and skin: and over her
    Set one small stone:
    But if you pass her sepulchre
    And add not one thereto
    The ghost of that old murdered Saint
    Will roll in front of you
    The whole night through.

    The clouds sail past in argosies
    And cold drips the rain:
    The whole world is far and high
    Above the tilted plain.
    The silent mist floats eerily,
    And I am here alone:
    _Dare I pass the place by,
    And cast not a stone?_


THE SONG OF PROUD JAMES

(FROM "THE ENGLISHMAN.")

    "If kith and kin disowned you,
      And all your friends were dead?"
    --I’d buy a spotted handkerchief
      To flaunt upon my head:
    I’d resurrect my maddest clothes,
      And gaily would I laugh,
    And climb the proud hills scornfully
      With swinging cherry staff.

    "But when you’d crossed the sky-line,
      And knew you were alone?"
    --I’d cast away the hollow sham,
      I’d kick the ground, and groan,
    And tear my coloured handkerchief
      And snap my staff; and then
    I’d curse the God that built me up
      To break me down again.



_E. W. JACOT_

(_QUEEN’S_)


HERE’S A DAFFODIL

    HERE’S a daffodil
    Nodding to the hill,
    Tipsy in the sunlight
    Drinking his fill.

    Here’s a violet
    Pearled in dew as yet,
    Smiling in the wood shade,
    Sweet coquette!

NURSERY RHYMES


I

      QUEEN Anne is dead
              ’Tis often said,
      For my part I agree.
    But she lived full ten score years ago
              And so
      She ought to be.


II

      There was a scholar
          Of Oxford Town.
    He read till his wits were blunt.
          He put his gown
          On upside down,
          And his cap
          On back to front.



_G. H. JOHNSTONE_

(_MERTON_)


SUMMER

    FULL of unearthly peace lies river-water,
    Glaucous and here and there with irised circles:
    Now subdued melody rises from the wreaths
    Of whirling flies, their mazy conflict driving
    To melancholy lamp-images in the pool:
    An unseen fish greyly breeds lubric rounds
    Up-reaching to the thrill of populous air:
    O hour supreme for poised and halting thought!
    Down colonnade on colonnade of rose
    The immense Symbols move augustly on;
    Mystery, her stony eyes revealed a little,
    Not cumbered longer by the veils of noise:
    Evening, a lithe and virginal dream-figure,
    Wavering between a green cloak and a blue,
    And, robed at length, turning with exquisite
    And old despair towards the gate of Dawn:
    And Fate, bemused awhile and half withdrawn,
    Charmed to short rest between grim Day and Night.


"IPSE EGO ..."

    MARSILIO sighed: and drew a rough discord
    From his guitar, and sang so to us listeners:
    "I too have mounted every step of ice
    And dragged my bleeding ankles, hope-enthralled,
    To Heaven’s blessed door; when instantly
    From side-nooks rising tripped the outer angels,
    In thin, light-hammered armour, giggling boys,
    But muscular, and with concerted charge
    Seized my poor feet, and flung me laughing, laughing,
    Laughing, down, down among the insect men
    Who look up never, antwise busy--crawling:
    Alas! the burden of their feathery laughter,
    More bitter than my fall, has pried a passage
    Into my luckless head, and 'Ha-ha, ha-ha!'
    Maddens its walls and frets them ruinously:
    Beware my flitting pestilence: I’ll not gage
    That certain easier outlets may not bring
    The noise out and about and thick among you:
    O bitter, bitter days for those it visits!"
    And murmuring "bitter" with a fading sadness
    Marsilio went: the assembly all were silent.



_C. H. B. KITCHIN_

(_EXETER_)


OPENING SCENE FROM "AMPHITRYON"

ALCMENA. THREE ASTROLOGERS

  ALCMENA

    I have commanded you as often of old
    To ply the doctor’s trade with my disease,
    To cure me or to kill; for in whose veins
    Courses the age-long poison of despair,
    Seeks for himself no gentle surgery,
    Nor wishes for the touch of tender hands
    Upon his body.

  FIRST ASTROLOGER

                   Something of your need
    Has been revealed us. Yet should there remain
    No secret hid from the physician’s eye.

  ALCMENA

    It has been said that from the lips of queens
    Should come no word more bitter than sweet honey.
    If you adjudge me queen, let this too pass
    That I must act unqueenly. In my soul
    Drips wine more bitter than the taste of gall.

  FIRST ASTROLOGER

    When roses bloom most fully, death is near.

  ALCMENA

    You too know this?

  SECOND ASTROLOGER

                      We know that life glides slowly
    But death is quicker than a lightning stroke.

  ALCMENA

    Is it of me that you have gained this wisdom?

  THIRD ASTROLOGER

    The grand revolving spheres of heaven teach
    The mind that hears their music. We have learned
    To listen through the clamour of all noons
    With evening in the heart.

  ALCMENA

                He does not live
    Who hears no noon-day clamour about his ears.

  FIRST ASTROLOGER

    And you, Queen, that have lived and now confront
    Death or his shadow deep within your soul,
    Have you in life such wisdom garnered up
    As may disarm the heart’s rebellion?
    Wherefore then are we summoned?

  SECOND ASTROLOGER

                  The garden of life
    Is barren for you, bearing little fruit,
    And yields no store for hungry days ahead.

  THIRD ASTROLOGER

    To me you seem as one that has in thought
    A hidden sin, and seeks an easy priest
    Who shall with smooth and flowing words of grace
    Persuade it from the heart.

  ALCMENA

    Nay, I am sinless.

  FIRST ASTROLOGER

    You are still young to be thus weary of life.

  ALCMENA

    There comes to every man a sudden time
    When he undoes the bolts that bar his heart
    Displaying hidden shame and scars concealed.
    Such season is the present. Hear me now;
    For I am sick and pale with lingering
    Over a mystery that has no clue
    Created idly by an idle brain.
    Astrologers, thrice mighty in yourselves,
    Say whence crept into me this discontent,
    This fretfulness of mine. Say whence arose
    My malady, so cunning in its ways,
    That I tormented have no skill to guide
    My doctors to the secret. Day by day
    I feel the heavy burden of the flesh
    Grow heavier. Your words rang true indeed.
    Though I am young, I am grown weary of life.
    The tedious cycle of each passing day
    Like streams of dripping tears from blinded eyes
    Falls in the cup of my calamity;
    While thoughts, such as you guess, are often here,
    Bringing a sweet temptation.
                                          I have tried
    All means of remedy. This perfumed air,
    This gold and ivory, these purple robes
    Have caused no change. The mute insistent hours
    Wait for me still, interminably slow.
    And, as in mental pain a man will crave
    For any fierce sensation of the flesh
    To rid his agony, so I have craved
    The frenzied lashing of tempestuous rain,
    The heat of flame, the sharpened fang of frost.
    I have gone forth at midnight with no robe,
    And walked bare-footed over stony ground
    While wind and rain have done their worst on me.

    I have kissed flame and held these hands in fire;
    These hands have taken the scourge, that is for slaves,
    To beat my body. Hear then all my curse.
    Neither the blade of sharp-projecting flint
    Nor wind nor rain nor burning tongue of flame
    Nor knotted scourge can leave a mark on me.
    These lips are no less red since they were kissed
    By glowing coal; these hands are yet untorn.
    Such is my fate, with flesh insensible
    To suffer from a mind which has no love
    And no distraction. Have it as you will,
    I am a shipwreck far on lonely seas
    With neither oars aboard, nor land in sight,
    Nor mast, nor mast for fluttering rags of sail.

  FIRST ASTROLOGER

    When you have seen the solemn moon in tears
    With long green tresses dipped in a purple sea,
    And noted in each tear a breaking heart,
    A lump of salty crystal, then your dreams
    Will give you counsel which we cannot give.

  SECOND ASTROLOGER

    We are empowered to tell you what has been
    And what shall be, but this created image
    Of your own thought eludes our groping hand.

  THIRD ASTROLOGER

    Soon he shall come to you!
                      That stung your heart?

  ALCMENA

    O wailing winds, scatter these words away
    As chaff unfruitful to unfruitful soil.

  FIRST ASTROLOGER

    As glints the jewel in the toad’s brown head----

  SECOND ASTROLOGER

    As lurks a bitter sting in honeyed words----

  THIRD ASTROLOGER

    As a foul plague lies hid beneath the skin----

  ALCMENA

    You wrong me.

  THIRD ASTROLOGER

             Nay, your heart has uttered it.
    When the strong arms of young Amphitryon----

  FIRST ASTROLOGER

    I hear a voice.

  ALCMENA

    O God! the dream returns.

  THIRD ASTROLOGER

    The dream was not, then, of Amphitryon?

  ALCMENA

    May the royal hand of Zeus deliver me.

    [ZEUS _enters in the form of Amphitryon_.

  ZEUS

    Your task is ended. Go, astrologers,
    Taking your admonition to such ears
    As are in need of it. Go silently.

    [_The_ ASTROLOGERS _go out_.

  ZEUS

    Still you pursue their empty sorceries?

  ALCMENA

    Will you now weary me again? You drive
    My friends away like dogs. I follow them.

  ZEUS

    A sullen greeting to the traveller.

  ALCMENA

    Have I not told you often how it is
    With me and you? Or must you ask again
    And hear me through unreasoned reasonings
    To the last drop of bitterness? And yet----

  ZEUS

    Why gaze so strangely on me?

  ALCMENA

                  I had thought
    Your journey would be longer.

  ZEUS

    No, alas!

  ALCMENA

    What brings you here to probe the core of my heart
    With your unspoken question?

  ZEUS

          We have need
    No longer of these lamps. Quench them. The dawn
    Arises in the East.

  ALCMENA

             Since when am I
    Become your slave?

  ZEUS

    Since you obeyed my word.

  ALCMENA

    I was no friend to such obedience
    In the dead days that were my life’s design.

  ZEUS

    You tremble. Speak your fear.

  ALCMENA

           Heart’s utterance
    Were mockery, if spoken by the tongue.

  ZEUS

    Yet, be assured, nothing is hid from me.

  ALCMENA

    Unmoving figure of Amphitryon
    I knew and hated, when you crossed the threshold,
    Hope seemed to step beside you.

  ZEUS

    Hope is mine.

  ALCMENA

    Then say, where have you found the keys of life,
    That you unlock its portals suddenly?

  ZEUS

    At my command all doors are set ajar.

  ALCMENA

    The miserable forebodings of the night
    Have fallen from me like the gossamer
    Which spiders weave until a master-hand
    Sweeps clean their tracery. Mark you a change
    In me, as I in you?

  ZEUS

        I am unchanging,
    But, till this moment, me you have not known.

  ALCMENA

    Or known myself save as a falling leaf,
    The toy of winds, uncherished and unloved,
    Gliding to earth and slow decay in earth
    Of what was green and young.

  ZEUS

         When you were younger
    And guarded still the pitiable illusion
    That life is good and destiny exalted,
    Did you not dream perhaps of sacrifice
    In which yourself as immolated victim
    Should satisfy delirious desire,
    Wedded at last in death with strength,--which marriage
    Humanly shaped has never learned to yield?

  ALCMENA

    Your voice has in it the power of new command
    To pierce my secret.

  ZEUS

    Naught is hid from me.

  ALCMENA

    My soul is weak with longing for your counsel.

  ZEUS

    When Semele, with lightning-darted flame
    Engirdled, woke with knowledge she must die,
    Having aspired to touch the majesty
    Of the omnipotent, in no wise dismayed
    Was she consumed with that unquenchable fire
    Which burns all veils that overspread the flesh.

  ALCMENA

    Whence came the thought of Semele to you?
    And why this chain of words now coiled on me
    As a predestined victim?

  ZEUS

                                  I myself
    Blaze with the fire of Semele. This hand
    Shall rend the veil once more. Myself am hope,
    Sole arbiter of germinating life,
    The driver of the lusty winds of morning,
    The cloud-compeller, dancer of the dance
    Wherein the sea is festive and the hills
    Nod musical assent, the charioteer
    That drags the world behind his flashing wheels,
    Bringer of life and change that is called death
    And vibrant longing, setter of an end
    To fear and doubt, a darting two-edged sword
    That heals the wounds created of itself,
    The crystal-veined one, in whose blood there flows
    The flame of life--in such wise apprehend
    Me standing here, and in such wise remark
    The honour I have done you.

  ALCMENA

                                Open-eyed
    At last, I see a spirit stands beside me.
    For this cause I grew pale and bent my head
    In sweet confusion. Bringer of release,
    Even if it should be my worship falls
    Before a devil from hell, behold I kneel
    To kiss the fragrance of your garment’s hem.



_V. DE S. PINTO_

(_CHRIST CHURCH_)


ART

    FATE from an unimaginable throne
    Scatters a million roses on the world;
    They fall like shooting stars across the sky
    Glittering:
                Under a dark clump of trees
    Man, a gaunt creature, squats upon the ground
    Ape-like, and grins to see those brilliant flowers
    Raining through the dark foliage:
                                      He tries
    Sometimes to clutch at them, but in his hands
    They melt like snow.
                         Then in despair he turns
    Back to his wigwam, stirs the embers, pats
    His blear-eyed dog, and smokes a pipe, and soon,
    Wrapped in his blankets, drowses off to sleep.

    But all his dreams are full of flying flowers.



_ALAN PORTER_

(_QUEEN’S_)


LIFE AND LUXURY

    I held imagination’s candle high
    To thread the pitchy cavern, life. A whisper
    Dazed all the dark with sweetness oversweet,
    A lithe body languished around my neck.
    "Do out this unavailing light;" she pleaded.
    "Soother is darkness. How may candle strive
    With topless, bleak, obdurate blanks of space?
    It can but cold the darkness else were warm.
    Leave, leave to search so bitter-toilfully
    Unthroughgone silence, leave and follow me;
    For I will lead where many riches lie,
    Where rippling silks and snow-soft cushions, rare
    Cool wines, and delicates unearthly sweet,
    And all the comfort flesh of man craves more.
    We two shall dallying uncurl the long
    And fragrant hours." She reached a slender arm
    Slowly along mine to the light. I flung her
    Off, down. My candle showed her cheeks raddled,
    Her bindweed pressure made me sick and mad;
    I flung her back to the gloom. Her further hand
    Clanked; hidden gyves fell ringing to the rock.
    Peering behind her barely I could discern
    Outstretching bodies clamped along the floor,
    Unmoving most and silent, some uneasy,
    Stirring and moaning. Smothery clutches came
    Of slothful scents and fingered at my throat;
    But, brushing by them, unaccompanied
    I held aloft my rushlight in the cave
    And searched for beauty through the cleaner air.
    Thus far in parable. Laugh loud, O world,
    Laugh loud and hollow. There are those would spurn
    Your joys unjoyous and your acid fruits.
    They would not tread the corpsy paths of commerce
    Nor juggle with men’s bones; they would not chaffer
    Their souls for strumpet pleasure. Cast them out,
    Deny what little they would ask of life,
    Assail, starve, torture, murder them, and laugh.
    Shall it be war between us? Better war
    Than faint submission--better death. And yet
    I would not, no, nor shall not die. How weaponed
    Shall I go passionate against your host?
    How, cautelous, elude your calm blockade?

    Of older days heart-free the poet roved
    Along the furrowed lanes, and watched the robin
    Squat in a puddle, whir his stumpy wings,
    And tweet amid the tempest he aroused;
    A hare would hirple on ahead (keep back,
    Let her get out of sight; quick, cross yourself),
    Or taper weasel slink past over the road;
    And, seeing native blossoms, breathing air
    From English hills, what recked the wanderer
    That barons threw no penny to his song?
    Should he be hungered, he would seek some rill
    And, scrambling down the hazel scarp, would walk
    Wet-ankled up the stream until he found
    A larger pool of cold, colourless water,
    Full two-foot deep, scooped out of solid stone
    By a chuckling trickle spated after rains.
    There he would rest upon the bank, while slowly
    His fingers crept along the crannied rock.
    Poor starveling belly!--No, that lower fissure,
    Straight, lipless grin like an unholy god’s,
    Reach out for that. The water stings to his armpit,
    He hangs above the pool from head to waist,
    His legs push tautly back for body’s poise,
    And careful, careful creep the sensitive fingers.

    --Sudden touch of cold, wet silk.
    Now flesh be one with brain! He lightly strokes
    The slippery smoothness upward to the gills
    And throws a twiring trout upon the grass.
    Or where the rattle of the water slacks
    To low leaf-whisper, there he gropes beneath
    Root-knots that hug black, unctuous mould from toppling
    To slutch the daylit stream. His wary nerves
    Tell blunt teeth biting at his thumb. Stormswift
    He snatches a heavy hand over his head.
    A floundering eel flops wildly to the floor,
    And glides for the water. Quick the hungry poet
    Spins round, whips out his knife, and shears the neck
    How firm soever gripped, the limber body
    Long after wriggles headless out of hand.
    But if he roam across foot-tangling heath
    And bracken, where no burble glads the root
    Of juicy grasses? If along his way
    Never a kingcup lifted bowls of light,
    Nor burly watermint with bludgeon scent,
    Beat down the fair, mild, slumbering meadowsweet?
    If no nearby forgetmenot looks up
    With frank and modest eye, no yellow flag
    Plays Harold crowned and girt by fearless pikes?
    No more he fails of ample fare; nor famine
    Drains out his blood and piecemeal drags his flesh
    From outward-leaping bones, till wrathful death,
    Grudging to lose a pebble from his cairn,
    Bears off the pitiful orts. For, stepping soft,
    He finds a rabbit gazing at the world
    With eyes in which not many moons have gleamed;
    And, raising a bawl of more expended breath
    Than fritter your burghers in a year of gabbling,
    He runs and hurls himself headlong on to it.
    Stunned at the cry, the rabbit waits and dithers;
    His muscles melt beneath him; "Pluck up strength,"
    He calls to his legs; "oh, stiffen, stiffen!" and still
    He waits and dithers. Now the trembling scale
    Of timeless pain crashes suddenly down,
    And life’s a puffed-out flame.

                        Thus the poet
    Of bygone England (as an alchemist
    After ill magics and long labours wrought
    Seals in the flask his magisterium,
    Lest volatile it waste among the winds,
    And all men breathe a never-ageing youth)
    Found way to pend within his body life
    And what of pain or interwoven joy
    Life brings to poets. Friend, I do not gulp
    And weep with maudlin, sentimental tears,
    Lacking a late lamented golden age.
    The more of life was ever misery’s,
    And Socrates won hemlock. Yet before
    Was man so constant enemy to man?
    Did earth grow bleak at all these purposeless,
    Rotting and blotting, roaking, smoking chimneys?
    Look, men are dying, women dying, children dying.
    They sell their souls for bread, and poison-filths
    Whiten their flesh, bow their bodies. Crippled,
    Consumption-spotted, feeble-minded, sullen,
    They seek, bewildered, out of black despair,
    The star of life; so, dying a Christian death,
    Lie seven a grave unheedful. "Bad as that?
    Put down five hundred on the Lord Mayor’s list.
    After the cost of organizing’s paid
    There’ll still be something left. Besides, it looks well,
    And charity brings the firm new customers.
    Not that I hold with all this nonsense really.
    When I was young I’d nothing more than they,
    But I climbed, and trampled other people down.
    Why shouldn’t they?" O murderers, look, look, look.
    No man but tramples, tramples on his neighbour,
    And these the lowest wrench and writhe and kick
    And crush the desperate lives of whom they can.
    I will not tread the corpsy path of commerce
    Nor juggle with men’s bones. The world shall wend
    Those murderous ways. Not I, no, never I.
    You shall not gaol me round with city walls;
    I will not waste among your houses; roads
    That indiscriminate feel a thousand footings
    Shall not for mine augment their insolence.
    But, as of old the poet, poet now
    Shall hold a near communion with earth,
    Free from all traffic or truck with worldlihood:
    As poet one time lived of natural bounty,
    So now shall I. Yet differs even this.
    Me no man wronging still the world shall hound
    With interdict of food. Gamekeepers, bailiffs,
    And all the manlings vail and bob to lords
    Shall sturdy stand on decent English Law
    And threat my famine with a worser fate,
    The seasonless monotonies of walls
    That straitlier cabin than the closest town.
    So let them threat. War stands between us. I
    Take peril comrade, knowing a hazel scarp
    That breaks down ragged to a scampering brook;
    Knowing a hill whose deep-slit, slanting sides
    Brave out the wind and shoulder the rough clouds through.


A FAR COUNTRY

    THIS wood is older born than other woods:
    The trees are God’s imagining of trees,
    Anemones
    So pale as these
    Have never laughed like children in far solitudes,
    Shaking and breaking worldforweary moods
    To pure and childish glees.

    The dripple from the mossed and plashing beck
    Has carven glassy walls of pallid stone,
    Where ferns have thrown
    Fine silks unsewn,
    Faint clouds unskied, that, one enchanted moment, check
    And chalice waterdrops. They, silver grown,
    With moons the darkness fleck.



_HILDA REID_

(_SOMERVILLE_)


THE MAGNANIMITY OF BEASTS

    MAN--you who think you really know
    The beast you gaze on in the show,
    Nor see with what consummate art
    Each animal enacts its part--
    How different do they all appear
    The moment that you are not there!
    Then, fawns with liquid eyes a-flame
    Pursue the bear, their nightly game;
    Wolves shiver as the rabbit roars
    And stretches his terrific claws;
    While trembling tigers dare not sleep
    For passionate, relentless sheep,
    And frantic eagles through the skies
    Are chased by angry butterflies.
    --But beasts would suffer all confusions
        Before they shattered man’s illusions.



_EDGELL RICKWORD_

(_PEMBROKE_)


INTIMACY

    SINCE I have seen you do those intimate things
    That other men but dream of; lull asleep
    The sinister dark forest of your hair,
    And tie the bows that stir on your calm breast
    Faintly as leaves that shudder in their sleep.
    Since I have seen your stocking swallow up,
    A swift black wind, the pale flame of your foot,
    And deemed your slender limbs so meshed in silk
    Sweet mermaid sisters drowned in their dark hair;
    I have not troubled overmuch with food,
    And wine has seemed like water from a well;
    Pavements are built of fire, grass of thin flames.
    All other girls grow dull as painted flowers
    Or flutter harmlessly like coloured flies
    Whose wings are tangled in the net of leaves
    Spread by frail trees that grow behind the eyes.


GRAVE JOYS

TO PEGGY

    WHEN our sweet bodies moulder under-ground,
      Shut off from these bright waters and clear skies,
    When we hear nothing but the sullen sound
      Of dead flesh dropping slowly from the bone
    And muffled fall of tongue and ears and eyes;
      Perhaps, as each disintegrates alone,
    Frail broken vials once brimmed with curious sense,
      Our souls will pitch old Grossness from his throne,
    And on the beat of unsubstantial wings
      Soar to new ecstasies still more intense.
    There the thin voice of horny, black-legged things
      Shall thrill me as girls' laughter thrills me here,
    And the cold drops a passing storm-cloud flings
      Be my strong wine, and crawling roots and clods
    My trees and hills, and slugs swift fallow deer.
      There I shall dote upon a sexless flower
    By dream-ghosts planted in my dripping brain,
      And suck from those cold petals subtler power
    Than from your colder, whiter flesh could fall,
      Most vile of girls and lovelier than all.
    But in your tomb the deathless She will reign
      And draw new lovers out of rotting sods
      That your lithe body may for ever squirm
      Beneath the strange embraces of the worm.


ADVICE TO A GIRL FROM THE WARS

    WEEP for me but one day,
      Dry then your eyes;
    Think, is a heap of clay
      Worth a maid’s sighs?

    Sigh nine days if you can
      For my waste blood;
    Think then, you love a man
      Whose face is mud;

    Whose flesh and hair thrill not
      At your faint touch;
    Dear! limbs and brain will rot,
      Dream not of such.


YEGOR

"What shall I write?" said Yegor.--TCHEKOV.

    "What shall I write?" said Yegor;
      "Of the bright-plumed bird that sings
    Hovering on the fringes of the forest,
      Where leafy dreams are grown,
    And thoughts go with silent flutterings,
      Like moths by a dark wind blown?"

    "Oh, write of those quiet women,
      Beautiful, slim and pale,
    Whose bodies glimmer under cool green waters,
      Whose hands like lilies float
    Tangled in the heavy purple veil
      Of hair on their breast and throat."

    "Or write of swans and princes
      Carved out of marble clouds,
    Of the flowers that wither upon distant mountains,
      Grey-pencilled in the brain;
    Of fiercely hurrying night-born crowds
      By the first swift sun-ray slain."

    "Nay, I will sing," said Yegor,
      "Of stranger things than these,
    Of a girl I met in the fresh of morning,
      A laughing, slender flame;
    Of the slow stream’s song and the chant of bees,
      In a land without a name."


STRANGE ELEMENTS

    WHEN my girl swims with me I think
    She is a Shark with hungry teeth,
    Because her throat that dazzles me
    Is white as sharks are underneath.

    And when she drags me down with her
    Under the wave, she clings so tight,
    She seems a deadly Water-snake
    Who smothers me in that dim light.

    Yet when we lie on the hot sand,
    I find she cannot bite or hiss,
    But she swears I’m a Tiger fierce
    Who kills her slowly with a kiss.



_W. FORCE STEAD_

(_QUEEN’S_)


THE BURDEN OF BABYLON[A]

    "It is in the soul that things happen."

 [A] The lyrics from "The Burden of Babylon" appeared in OXFORD POETRY,
 1919. The present editors have decided to reprint them with their
 context.

     SCENE: _An upper chamber in the Palace of the King of Babylon. Dusk
     on a hot summer’s evening. The voice of one singing far off beyond
     the palace-gardens is heard vaguely from time to time. The King is
     sitting by an open window._


  THE KING OF BABYLON

    SINCE I am Babylon, I am the world.
    The windy heavens and the rainy skies
    Attend the earth in humble servitude.
    And I am Babylon, I am the world:
    The heavens and their powers attend on me.

  THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE NIGHT

    _Babylon, the glory of the Kingdoms,_
      _And the Chaldee’s excellency,_
    _Is become as Sodom and Gomorrah,_
      _Whom God overthrew by the Sea._

  THE KING

    Who is that fellow crying by the river?
    I think I heard him lift his voice in praise
    Of Babylon: some minstrelle seeking hire:
    I need him not to tell me who I am,
    For I am Baladan of Babylon.
    The splendours of my sceptre, throne, and crown,
    And all the awe that fills my royal halls,
    The pomp that heralds me, the shout that follows,
    Are flying shadows and reflections only
    From the wide dazzlings of myself, the King.
    This I conceive: and yet, we kings have labour
    To apprehend ourselves imperially,
    And see the blaze and lightnings of our person;
    The thought of their own sovereignty amazes
    The princelings even, and the lesser kings:
    But I am Baladan of Babylon.

  THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT

    _Never again inhabited,_
      _Babylon, O Babylon_
    _Even the wandering Arabian_
      _From thy weary waste is gone._
    _Neither shall the shepherd tend his fold there,_
      _Nor any green herb be grown:_
    _It cometh in the night-time suddenly,_
      _And Babylon is overthrown._

  THE KING

    PALE from the east, the stars arise, and climb,
    And then grow bright, beholding Babylon;
    They would delay, but may not; so they pass,
    And fade and fall, bereft of Babylon.
    Quick from the Midian line the sun comes up,
    For he expects to see my palaces;
    And the moon lingers, even on the wane....
    Mine ancient dynasty, as yon great river,
    Euphrates, with his fountains in far hills,
    Arose in the blue morning of the years;
    And as yon river flows on into time,
    Unalterable in majesty, my line
    Survives in domination down the years.
    I know, but am concerned not, that some peoples,
    At the pale limits of the world, abide
    As yet beyond the circle of my sway,
    The miserable sons of meagre soil
    That needs much tillage ere the yield be good.
    I only wait until they ripen more,
    And fatten toward my final harvesting:
    When I am ready, I will reap them in.
    For it is written in the stars, and read
    Of all my wise men and astrologers,
    That I, and my great line of Babylon,
    Shall rule the world, and only find a bound
    Where the horizon’s bounds are set, an end
    When the world ends; so shall all other lands,
    All languages, all peoples, and all tongues,
    Become a fable told of olden times,
    Deemed of our sons a thing incredulous.

  THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT

    _Woeful are thy desolate palaces,_
      _Where doleful creatures lie,_
    _And wild beasts out of the islands_
      _In thy fallen chambers cry._
    _Where now are the viol and the tabret?--_
      _But owls hoot in moonlight,_
    _And over the ruins of Babylon_
      _The satyrs dance by night._

  THE KING

    THAT voice, that seems to hum my kingdom’s glory
    Fails in the vast immensity of night,
    As fails all earthly praise of Him who hears
    The ceaseless acclamation of the stars.
    What needs there more?--the apple of the world,
    Grown ripe and juicy, rolls into my lap,
    And all the gods of Babylon, well pleased
    With blood of bulls and fume of fragrant things,
    Even while I take mine ease, attend on me:
    The figs do mellow, the olive, and the vine,
    And in the plains climb the big sycamores;
    My camels and my laden dromedaries
    Move in from eastward bearing odorous gums,
    And the Zidonians hew me cedar beams,
    Even tall cedars out of Lebanon;
    Euphrates floats his treasured freightage down,
    And all great Babylon is filled with spoil.
    Wherefore, upon the summit of the world,
    The utmost apex of this thronèd realm,
    I stand, as stands the driving charioteer,
    And steer my course right onward toward the stars.
    Mean-fated men my horses trample under,
    And my wine-bins have drained the blood of mothers,
    And smoothly my wheels run upon the necks
    Of babes and sucklings,--while I hold my way,
    Serene, supreme, secure in destiny,
    Because the gods perceive mine excellence,
    And entertain for mine imperial Person
    Peculiar favours.... I am Babylon:
    Exceeding precious in the High One’s eyes.

  THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT

    _Babylon is fallen, fallen,_
      _And never shall be known again!_
    _Drunken with the blood of my belovèd,_
      _And trampling on the sons of men._
    _But God is awake and aware of thee,_
      _And sharply shines His sword,_
    _Where over the earth spring suddenly_
      _The hidden hosts of the Lord;_
    _Armies of right and of righteousness,_
      _Huge hosts, unseen, unknown:_
    _And thy pomp, and thy revellings, and glory,_
      _Where the wind goes, they are gone._



_L. A. G. STRONG_

(_WADHAM_)


FROST

    Unnatural foliage pales the trees,
    Frost in compassion of their death
    Has kissed them, and his icy breath
    Proclaims and silvers their election.
    Death, wert thou beautiful as these,
    We scarce would pray for resurrection.


VERA VENVSTAS

  CORPORIS

        Proud Eastern Queene,
        Borne forth in splendour to thy buriall.
        What need of gems
    To deck thee? Bear the Tyrian gauds aside.
    Thy own dead loveliness outshines the pride
        Of diadems.

  ANIMÆ

        O splendid hearte,
    Scorned and afflicted, still thou needest not
        Comfort of me.
    What matter though the body be uncouthe
    Wherein thou art? Fear not. He seeth truth
        Who gave it thee.

[To be chaunted as in a solemn Dumpe by such as fear God.]


A BABY

    TWO days with puckered face of pain
    The accidental baby cried,
    And on the morning of the third
    Unclenched her tiny hands, and died.


FROM THE GREEK

    BILL Jupp lies ’ere, aged sixty year:
      From Tavistock ’e came.
    Single ’e bided, and ’e wished
      ’Is father’d done the same.


A DEVON RHYME

    GNARLY and bent and deaf ’s a post
    Pore ol' Ezekiel Purvis
    Goeth creepin' slowly up the ’ill
    To the Commoonion Survis.

    Tap-tappy-tappy up the haisle
    Goeth stick and brassy ferule;
    And Parson ’ath to stoopy down
    And ’olley in ees yerole.


THE BIRD MAN

TO ERIC DICKINSON

    I DREAD the parrots of the summer sun,
    The harsh and blazing screams of July noon,
    A riot of jays and peacocks and macaws.
    There is some presage of big ardours due
    Even in the pale flamingoes of the dawn;
    While golden pheasants and hoopoes of the West
    Burn fierce and proudly still, when he has set.

    Better the winter wagtails of pied skies,
    Cold ospreys of the north, cormorants of squall,
    Brown wrens of rain, white silent owls of snow,
    And bitterns of great clouds that in October
    Sweep from the west at evening. Lovelier still
    The night’s black swans, the daws of starless night
    (Daw-like to hide what’s shiny), plovers and gulls
    Of winds that cry on autumn afternoons....

    These every one I love: but above these
    Rarest of all my birds, I dearly love
    The blue and silver herons of the moon.


CHRISTOPHER MARLYE

    CHRISTOPHER MARLYE damned his God
    In many a blasphemous mighty line,
    --Being given to words and wenches and wine.

    He wrote his Faustus, and laughed to see
    How everyone feared his devils but he.

    Christopher Marlye passed the gate,
    Eager to stalk on the floor of Heaven,
    Outface his God, and affront the Seven:

    But Peter genially let him in,
    Making no mention of all his sin.

    And he got no credit for all he had done,
    Though he grabbed a hold on the coat of God,
    And bellowed his infamies one by one,
    Blasphemy, lechery, thought, and deed ...

    But nobody paid him the slightest heed.

    And the devils and torments he thought to brave
    He left behind, on this side of the grave.

    Heigh-ho! for Christopher Marlye.


                      PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY
              BILLING AND SONS, LTD., GUILDFORD AND ESHER





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