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Title: Oxford Poetry, 1921
Author: Various
Language: English
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OXFORD POETRY

1921



_UNIFORM VOLUMES_


3_s._ 6_d._ _net_ - 2_s._ _net_

    Oxford Poetry 1915
    Oxford Poetry 1916
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    Oxford Poetry 1920

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    Oxford Poetry 1917-19

BASIL BLACKWELL



    OXFORD POETRY

    1921


    EDITED BY
    ALAN PORTER, RICHARD HUGHES,
    ROBERT GRAVES


    OXFORD BASIL BLACKWELL
    MCMXXI



    PRINTED AT THE
    SHAKESPEARE HEAD PRESS
    STRATFORD-UPON-AVON



The Editors of this year’s Oxford Poetry, the work of undergraduates
who have been in residence since the date of the last collection, have
attempted to make the volume more representative of Poetry and less
representative merely of Oxford than its predecessors. There is always
at Oxford a fashion in verse as much as in dress, and, to judge from
the bulk of contributions submitted, this fashion has not changed
materially since last noted and recorded in print. Mr Jones-Smith, of
Balliol, still writes musically of brimming chalices, vermilion lips,
chrysoprase, lotuses, arabesques and darkling spires against glimmering
skies; Miss Smith-Jones, of Somerville, is equally faithful to her
scarlet sins, beloved hearts, little clutching hands, little pattering
feet, rosaries, eternity, roundabouts, and glimmering spires against
darkling skies. Exclusion of these worn properties has given the fewer
writers than usual represented here, extended elbow room, and a chance
of showing some individual capacity for better or worse.

Most of the pieces have already appeared serially in _The London
Mercury_, _The Spectator_, _The Westminster Gazette_, _The New
Statesman_, _The Nation and Athenæum_, _The Observer_, and the other
leading literary reviews.

For permission to use copyright poems, our thanks are due to Messrs
Christophers, publishers of Mr Golding’s ‘Shepherd Singing Ragtime,’
and to Messrs Sidgwick and Jackson, publishers of Mr Rickword’s new
volume ‘Behind the Eyes.’



CONTENTS


    F. N. W. BATESON (_Trinity_)
        Trespassers                                     Page 1

    EDMUND BLUNDEN (_Queen’s_)
        The Watermill                                        2
        The Scythe                                           4
        That Time is Gone                                    7
        The South-West Wind                                  8
        The Canal                                            9
        The March Bee                                       11

    LOUIS GOLDING (_Queen’s_)
        Ploughman at the Plough                             12
        Portrait of an Artist                               13
        Shepherd singing Ragtime                            14
        Ghosts Gathering                                    18
        Silver-badged Waiter                                20

    ROBERT GRAVES (_St John’s_)
        Cynics and Romantics                                21
        Unicorn and the White Doe                           22
        Sullen Moods                                        25
        Henry and Mary                                      27
        On the Ridge                                        28
        A Lover since Childhood                             29

    ROSALEEN GRAVES (_Home Student_)
        Night Sounds                                        30
        ‘A Stronger than he shall come upon him ...’        32
        Colour                                              33

    BERTRAM HIGGINS (_B.N.C._)
        White Magic                                         34

        RICHARD HUGHES (_Oriel_)
        Singing Furies                                      35
        The Sermon                                          37
        Tramp                                               38
        Gratitude                                           40
        Judy                                                42
        Ruin                                                43

    ALAN PORTER (_Queen’s_)
        Introduction to a Narrative Poem                    44
        Summer Bathing                                      47
        Country Churchyard                                  49
        Museum                                              50
        Lost Lands                                          52

    FRANK PREWETT (_Christ Church_)
        Come Girl, and embrace                              53
        I went out into the Fields                          54
        Comrade, why do you weep?                           56
        The Winds caress the Trees                          57

    EDGELL RICKWORD (_Pembroke_)
        Complaint of a Tadpole confined in a jam-jar        58
        Regret for the Depopulation of Rural Districts      60
        Complaint after Psycho-Analysis                     61
        Desire                                              62
        Trench Poets                                        63
        Winter Prophecies                                   64



F. N. W. BATESON


TRESPASSERS

  Gauntly outlined, white and still,
  Three haystacks peer above the hill;
  Three aged rakes thrust sprawlingly
  Fantastic tendons to the sky.
  In the void and dismal yard
  Farmer’s dog keeps rasping guard,
  Challenging night’s trespassers,
  The solemn legions of the stars;
  Growling ignominious scorn
  At Cancer and at Capricorn.
  The yellow stars, serene and prim,
  Tolerantly stare at him.



EDMUND BLUNDEN


THE WATERMILL

  I’ll rise at midnight and I’ll rove
  Up the hill and down the drove
    That leads to the old unnoticed mill,
  And think of one I used to love:
  There stooping to the hunching wall
    I’ll stare into the rush of stars
  Or bubbles that the waterfall
    Brings forth and breaks in ceaseless wars.

  The shelving hills have made a fourm
  Where the mill holdings shelter warm,
    And here I came with one I loved
  To watch the seething millions swarm.
  But long ago she grew a ghost
    Though walking with me every day;
  Even when her beauty burned me most
    She to a spectre dimmed away--

  Until though cheeks all morning-bright
  And black eyes gleaming life’s delight
    And singing voice dwelt in my sense,
  Herself paled on my inward sight.
  She grew one whom deep waters glassed.
    Then in dismay I hid from her,
  And lone by talking brooks at last
    I found a Love still lovelier.

  O lost in tortured days of France!
  Yet still the moment comes like chance
    Born in the stirring midnight’s sigh
  Or in the wild wet sunset’s glance:
  And how I know not but this stream
    Still sounds like vision’s voice, and still
  I watch with Love the bubbles gleam,
    I walk with Love beside the mill.

  The heavens are thralled with cloud, yet gray
  Half-moonlight swims the fields till day,
    The stubbled fields, the bleaching woods;--
  Even this bleak hour is stolen away
  By this shy water falling low,
    And calling low the whole night through,
  And calling back the long ago
    And richest world I ever knew.

  The hop-kiln fingers cobweb-white
  With discord dim turned left and right,
    And when the wind was south and small
  The sea’s far whisper drowsed the night;
  Scarce more than mantling ivy’s voice
    That in the tumbling water trailed.
  Love’s spirit called me to rejoice
    When she to nothingness had paled:

  For Love the daffodils shone here
  In grass the greenest of the year,
    Daffodils seemed the sunset lights
  And silver birches budded clear:
  And all from east to west there strode
    Great shafted clouds in argent air,
  The shining chariot-wheels of God,
    And still Love’s moment sees them there.


THE SCYTHE

  A thick hot haze had choked the valley grounds
  Long since, the dogday sun had gone his rounds
  Like a dull coal half lit with sulky heat;
  And leas were iron, ponds were clay, fierce beat
  The blackening flies round moody cattle’s eyes.
  Wasps on the mudbanks seemed a hornet’s size,
  That on the dead roach battened. The plough’s increase
  Stood under a curse.
                      Behold, the far release!
  Old wisdom breathless at her cottage door
  ‘Sounds of abundance’ mused, and heard the roar
  Of marshalled armies in the silent air,
  And thought Elisha stood beside her there,
  And clacking reckoned ere the next nightfall
  She’d turn the looking-glasses to the wall.

  Faster than armies out of the burnt void
  The hour-glass clouds innumerably deployed;
  And when the hay-folks next look up, the sky
  Sags black above them; scarce is time to fly.
  And most run for their cottages; but Ward
  The mower for the inn beside the ford,
  And slow strides he with shouldered scythe still bare,
  While to the coverts leaps the great-eyed hare.

  As he came in, the dust snatched up and whirled
  Hung high, and like a bell-rope whipped and twirled,
  The brazen light glared round, the haze resolved
  Into demoniac shapes bulged and convolved.
  Well might poor ewes afar make bleatings wild,
  Though this old trusting mower sat and smiled,
  For from the hush of many days the land
  Had waked itself: and now on every hand
  Shrill swift alarm-notes, cries and counter-cries,
  Lowings and crowings came and throbbing sighs.
  Now atom lightning brandished on the moor,
  Then out of sullen drumming came the roar
  Of thunder joining battle east and west:
  In hedge and orchard small birds durst not rest,
  Flittering like dead leaves and like wisps of straws,
  And the cuckoo called again, for without pause
  Oncoming voices in the vortex burred.
  The storm came toppling like a wave, and blurred
  In grey the trees that like black steeples towered.
  The sun’s last yellow died. Then who but cowered?
  Down ruddying darkness floods the hideous flash,
  And pole to pole the cataract whirlwinds clash.

  Alone within the tavern parlour still
  Sat the gray mower, pondering his God’s will,
  And flinching not to flame or bolt, that swooped
  With a great hissing rain till terror drooped
  In weariness: and then there came a roar
  Ten-thousand-fold, he saw not, was no more--
  But life bursts on him once again, and blood
  Beats droning round, and light comes in a flood.

  He stares, and sees the sashes battered awry,
  The wainscot shivered, the crocks shattered, and by,
  His twisted scythe, melted by its fierce foe,
  Whose Parthian shot struck down the chimney. Slow
  Old Ward lays hand to his old working-friend,
  And thanking God Whose mercy did defend
  His servant, yet must drop a tear or two
  And think of times when that old scythe was new,
  And stands in silent grief, nor hears the voices
  Of many a bird that through the land rejoices,
  Nor sees through the smashed panes the sea-green sky,
  That ripens into blue, nor knows the storm is by.


THE TIME IS GONE

      The time is gone when we could throw
      Our angle in the sleepy stream,
      And nothing more desired to know
      Than was it roach or was it bream?
      Sitting there in such a mute delight,
  The Kingfisher would come and on the rods alight.

      Or hurrying through the dewy hay
      Without a thought but to make haste
      We came to where the old ring lay
      And bats and balls seemed heaven at least.
      With our laughing and our giant strokes
  The echoes clacked among the chestnuts and the oaks.

      When the spring came up we got
      And out among wild Emmet Hills
      Blossoms, aye and pleasures sought
      And found! bloom withers, pleasure chills;
      Like geographers along green brooks
  We named the capes and tumbling bays and horseshoe crooks.

      But one day I found a man
      Leaning on the bridge’s rail;
      Dared his face as all to scan,
      And awestruck wondered what could ail
      An elder, blest with all the gifts of years,
  In such a happy place to shed such bitter tears.


THE SOUTH-WEST WIND

  We stood by the idle weir,
    Like bells the waters played,
  The rich moonlight slept everywhere
    As it would never fade:
  So slept our shining peace of mind
    Till rose a south-west wind.

  How sorrow comes who knows?
    And here joy surely had been:
  But joy like any wild wind blows
    From mountains none has seen,
  And still its cloudy veilings throws
    On the bright road it goes.

  The black-plumed poplars swung
    So softly across the sky:
  The ivy sighed, the river sung,
    Woolpacks were wafting high:
  The moon her golden tinges flung
    On these she straight was lost among.

  O south-west wind of the soul,
    That brought such new delight,
  And passing by in music stole
    Love’s rich and trusting light,
  Would that we thrilled to thy least breath
    Now all is still as death.


THE CANAL

      There so dark and still
  Slept the water, never changing,
  From the glad sport in the meadows
      Oft I turned me.

      Fear would strike me chill
  On the clearest day in summer,
  Yet I loved to stand and ponder
      Hours together

      By the tarred bridge rail--
  There the lockman’s vine-clad window,
  Mirrored in the tomb-like water
      Stared in silence

      Till, deformed and pale
  In the sunken cavern shadows,
  One by one imagined demons
      Scowled upon me.

      Barges passed me by,
  With their unknown surly masters
  And small cabins, whereon some rude
      Hand had painted

      Trees and castles high.
  Cheerly stepped the towing horses,
  And the women sung their children
      Into slumber.

      Barges, too, I saw
  Drowned in mud, drowned, drowned long ages,
  Their gray ribs but seen in summer,
      Their names never:

      In whose silted maw
  Swarmed great eels, the priests of darkness,
  Old as they, who came at midnight
      To destroy me.

      Like one blind and lame
  Who by some new sense has vision
  And strikes deadlier than the strongest
      Went this water.

      Many an angler came,
  Went his ways; and I would know them,
  Some would smile and give me greeting,
      Some kept silence--

      Most, one old dragoon
  Who had never a morning hallo,
  But with stony eye strode onward
      Till the water,

      On a silent noon,
  That had watched him long, commanded:
  Whom he answered, leaping headlong
      To self-murder.

      ‘Fear and fly the spell,’
  Thus my Spirit sang beside me;
  Then once more I ranged the meadows,
      Yet still brooded,

      When the threefold knell
  Sounded through the haze of harvest--
  Who had found the lame blind water
      Swift and seeing?


THE MARCH BEE

  A warming wind comes to my resting-place
  And in a mountain cloud the lost sun chills;
  Night comes, and yet before she shows her face
  The sun flings off the shadows, warm light fills
  The valley and the clearings on the hills,
  Bleak crow the moorcocks on the fen’s blue plashes,
  But here I warm myself with these bright looks and flashes.
  And like to me the merry humble bee
  Puts fear aside, runs forth to meet the sun
  And by the ploughlands’ shoulder comes to see
  The flowers that like him best, and seems to shun
  Cold countless quaking windflowers every one,
  Primroses too; but makes poor grass his choice
  Where small wood-strawberry blossoms nestle and rejoice.
  The magpies steering round from wood to wood,
  Tree-creepers flicking up to elms’ green rind,
  Bold gnats that revel round my solitude
  And most this pleasant bee intent to find
  The new-born joy, inveigle the rich mind
  Long after darkness comes cold-lipped to one
  Still hearkening to the bee, still basking in the sun.



LOUIS GOLDING


PLOUGHMAN AT THE PLOUGH

  He behind the straight plough stands
  Stalwart, firm shafts in firm hands.

  Naught he cares for wars and naught
  For the fierce disease of thought.

  Only for the winds, the sheer
  Naked impulse of the year,

  Only for the soil, which stares
  Clean into God’s face, he cares.

  In the stark might of his deed
  There is more than art or creed;

  In his wrist more strength is hid
  Than the monstrous Pyramid;

  Stauncher than stern Everest
  Be the muscles of his breast;

  Not the Atlantic sweeps a flood
  Potent as the ploughman’s blood.

  He, his horse, his ploughshare, these
  Are the only verities.

  Dawn to dusk with God he stands,
  The Earth poised on his broad hands.


PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST

  I have been given eyes
  Which are neither foolish nor wise,
  Seeing through joy or pain
  Beauty alone remain.

  I have been given an ear
  Which catches nothing clear,
  But only along the day
  A song stealing away.

  My feet and hands never could
  Do anything evil or good:
  Instead of these things,
  A swift mouth that sings.


SHEPHERD SINGING RAGTIME

(_For F. V. Branford_)

  The shepherd sings:
        ’_Way down in Dixie,
          Way down in Dixie,
    Where the hens are dog-gone glad to lay...._’

  With shaded eyes he stands to look
  Across the hills where the clouds swoon,
  He singing, leans upon his crook,
    He sings, he sings no more.
  The wind is muffled in the tangled hair
  Of sheep that drift along the noon.
    The mild sheep stare
  With amber eyes about the pearl-flecked June.
    Two skylarks soar
    With singing flame
  Into the sun whence first they came.
  All else is only grasshoppers
  Or a brown wing the shepherd stirs,
  Who, like a slow tree moving, goes
  Where the pale tide of sheep-drift flows.

    See! the sun smites
    With molten lights
  The turned wing of a gull that glows
  Aslant the violet, the profound
  Dome of the mid-June heights.
  Alas! again the grasshoppers,
  The birds, the slumber-winging bees,
  Alas! again for those and these
    Demure things drowned;
  Drowned in vain raucous words men made
  Where no lark rose with swift and sweet
  Ascent and where no dim sheep strayed
  About the stone immensities,
  Where no sheep strayed and where no bees
  Probed any flowers nor swung a blade
    Of grass with pollened feet.

  He sings:
            ‘_In Dixie,
        Way down in Dixie,
    Where the hens are dog-gone glad to lay
    Scrambled eggs in the new-mown hay...._’

  The herring-gulls with peevish cries
  Rebuke the man who sings vain words;
  His sheep-dog growls a low complaint,
  Then turns to chasing butterflies.
  But when the indifferent singing-birds
  From midmost down to dimmest shore
  Innumerably confirm their songs,
  And grasshoppers make summer rhyme
  And solemn bees in the wild thyme
  Clash cymbals and beat gongs,
  The shepherd’s words once more are faint,
  Once more the alien song is thinned
  Upon the long course of the wind,
    He sings, he sings no more.

  Ah now the dear monotonies
  Of bells that jangle on the sheep
  To the low limit of the hills!
  Till the blue cup of music spills
  Into the boughs of lowland trees;
  Till thence the lowland singings creep
  Into the dreamful shepherd’s head,
    Creep drowsily through his blood;
  The young thrush fluting all he knows,
  The ring dove moaning his false woes,
  Almost the rabbit’s tiny tread,
    The last unfolding bud.
              But now,
  Now a cool word spreads out along the sea.
  Now the day’s violet is cloud-tipped with gold.
    Now dusk most silently
  Fills the hushed day with other wings than birds’.
  Now where on foam-crest waves the seagulls rock,
  To their cliff-haven go the seagulls thence.
  So too the shepherd gathers in his flock,
    Because birds journey to their dens,
    Tired sheep to their still fold.

  A dark first bat swoops low and dips
  About the shepherd who now sings
  A song of timeless evenings;
  For dusk is round him with wide wings,
  Dusk murmurs on his moving lips.

    _There is not mortal man who knows
    From whence the shepherd’s song arose:
      It came a thousand years ago._

    _Once the world’s shepherds woke to lead
    The folded sheep that they might feed
      On green downs where winds blow._

    _One shepherd sang a golden word.
    A thousand miles away one heard.
      One sang it swift, one sang it slow._

    _Two skylarks heard, two skylarks told
    All shepherds this same song of gold
      On all downs where winds blow._

    _This is the song that shepherds must
    Sing till the green downlands be dust
      And tide of sheep-drift no more flow;_

    _The song two skylarks told again
    To all the sheep and shepherd men
      On green downs where winds blow._


GHOSTS GATHERING

  You hear no bones click, see no shaken shroud.
  Though no tombs grin, you feel ghosts gathering. Crowd

  On pitiful crowd of small dead singing men
  Tread the sure earth they feebly hymned; again

  With fleshless hand seize unswayed grass. They seize
  Insensitive flowers which bend not. Through gross trees

  They sift. Nothing withstands them. Nothing knows
  Them nor the songs they sang, their busy woes.

  ‘Hence from these ingrate things! To the towns!’ they weep,
  (If ghosts have tears). You think a wrinkled heap

  Of leaves heaved, or a wing stirred, less than this.
  Some chance on the midnight cities. Others miss

  The few faint lights, thin voices. Wretched these
  Doomed to beat long the windy vacancies!

  Some mourn through forlorn towns. They prowl and seek
  --What seek they? Who knows them? If branches creak

  And leaves flap and slow women ply their trade,
  Those all are living things, but these are dead,

  All that they were, dead totally. What fool still
  Knows their extinguished songs? They had their fill
  Of average joys and sorrows. They learned how

  Love wilts, Death does not wilt. What more left now?
  But one ghost yet of all these ghosts may find
  Himself not utterly faded.
                            Through his blind

  Some old man’s lamp-rays probe the darkness. Sick
  Of his gaunt quest, the ghost halts. The clock’s tick

  Troubles the silence. Tiredly the ghost scans
  The opened book on the table. A flame fans,

  A weak wan fire floods through his subtle veins.
  No, no, not wholly forgotten! Loves and pains

  Not suffered wholly for nothing!
                                  (The old man bends
  Over the book, makes notes for pious ends,

  --Some curious futile work twelve men at most
  Will read and yawn over.) The dizzy ghost,

  Like some more ignorant moth circles the light...
  Not suffered wholly for nothing!... ‘A sweet night!’

  The old man mumbles.... A warmth is in the air,
  He smiles, not knowing why. He moves his chair

  Closer against the table. And sitting bowed
  Lovingly turns the leaves and chants aloud.


SILVER-BADGED WAITER

  Poor trussed-up lad, what piteous guise
  Cloaks the late splendour of your eyes,
  Stiffens the fleetness of your face
  Into a mask of sleek disgrace,
  And makes a smooth caricature
  Of your taut body’s swift and sure
  Poise, like a proud bird waiting one
  Moment ere he taunt the sun;
  Your body that stood foolish-wise
  Stormed by the treasons of the skies,
  Star-like that hung, deliberate
  Above the dubieties of Fate,
  But with an April gesture chose
  Unutterable and certain woes!
  And now you stand with discreet charm
  Dropping the napkin round your arm,
  Anticipate your tip while you
  Hear the commercial travellers chew.
  You shuffle with their soups and beers
  Who held at heel the howling fears,
  You whose young limbs were proud to dare
  Challenge the black hosts of despair!



ROBERT GRAVES


CYNICS AND ROMANTICS

  In club and messroom let them sit
  At skirmish of ingenious wit;
  Deriding Love, yet not with hearts
  Accorded to those healthier parts
  Of grim self-mockery, but with mean
  And burrowing search for things unclean,
  Pretended deafness, twisted sense,
  Sharp innuendoes rising thence,
  And affectation of prude-shame
  That shrinks from using the short name.
  We are not envious of their sour
  Disintegrations of Love’s power,
  Their swift analysis of the stabs
  Devised by virgins and by drabs
  (Powder or lace or scent) to excite
  A none-too-jaded appetite.
  They never guess of Love as we
  Have found the amazing Art to be,
  Pursuit of dazzling flame, or flight
  From web-hung blackness of night,
  With laughter only to express
  Care overborne by carelessness;
  They never bridge from small to great,
  From nod or glance to ideal Fate,
  From clouded forehead or slow sigh
  To doubt and agony looming by,
  From shining gaze and hair flung free
  To infinity and to eternity--
  They sneer and poke a treacherous joke
  With scorn for our rusticity.


UNICORN AND THE WHITE DOE

  ‘Alone
  Through forests evergreen,
  By legend known,
  By no eye seen,
  Unmated
  Unbaited
  Untrembling between
  The shifting shadows
  The sudden echoes,
  Deathless I go
  Unheard, unseen,’
  Says the White Doe.

  Unicorn with bursting heart
    Breath of love has drawn
  On his desolate crags apart
    At rumour of dawn,

  Has volleyed forth his pride
    Twenty thousand years mute,
  Tossed his horn from side to side
    Lunged with his foot.

  ‘Like a storm of sand I run
    Breaking the desert’s boundaries,
  I go in hiding from the sun
    In thick shade of trees

  Straight was the track I took
    Across the plains, but here with briar
  And mire the tangled alleys crook
    Baulking my desire.

  Ho, there! what glinted white?
    (A bough still shakes)
  What was it darted from my sight
    Through the forest brakes?

  Where are you fled from me?
    I pursue, you fade;
  I run, you hide from me
    In the dark glade.

  Towering straight the trees grow,
    The grass grows thick.
  Where you are, I do not know,
    You fly so quick.’

  ‘Seek me not here
  Lodged among mortal deer,’
  Says the White Doe,
  ‘Keeping one place
  Held by the ties of space,’
  Says the White Doe.
  ‘I
  Equally
  In air
  Above your bare
  Hill crest, your basalt lair,
  Mirage reflected drink
  At the clear pool’s brink
  With tigers at play
  In the glare of day
  Blithely I stray,
  Under shadow of myrtle
  With Phoenix and his Turtle
  For all time true,
  With Gryphons at grass
  Under the Upas,
  Sipping warm dew
  That falls hourly new,
  I, unattainable
  Complete, incomprehensible
  No mate for you.
  In sun’s beam
  Or star-gleam,
  No mate for you
  No mate for you,’
  Says the White Doe.


SULLEN MOODS

  Love, do not count your labour lost
    Though I turn sullen, grim, retired
  Even at your side; my thought is crossed
    With fancies by old longings fired.

  And when I answer you, some days
    Vaguely and wildly, do not fear
  That my love goes forbidden ways
    Hating the laws that bind it here.

  If I speak gruffly, this mood is
    Mere indignation at my own
  Shortcomings, plagues, uncertainties;
    I forget the gentler tone.

  ‘You,’ now that you have come to be
    My one beginning, prime and end,
  I count at last as wholly ‘me,’
    Lover no longer nor yet friend.

  Friendship is flattery, though close hid;
    Must I then flatter my own mind?
  And must (which laws of shame forbid)
    Blind love of you make self-love blind?

  Do not repay me my own coin,
    The sharp rebuke, the frown, the groan;
  But stir my memory to disjoin
    Your emanation from my own.

  Help me to see you as before
    When overwhelmed and dead, almost,
  I stumbled on that secret door
    Which saves the live man from the ghost.

  Be once again the distant light,
    Promise of glory, not yet known
  In full perfection--wasted quite
    When on my imperfection thrown.


HENRY AND MARY

  Henry was a worthy king,
    Mary was his queen,
  He gave to her a snowdrop
    Upon a stalk of green.

  Then all for his kindness
    And all for his care
  She gave him a new-laid egg
    In the garden there.

  Love, can you sing?
                    I cannot sing.
  Or story-tell?
                Not one I know.
  Then let us play at queen and king,
  As down the garden walks we go.


ON THE RIDGE

  Below the ridge a raven flew,
  And we heard the lost curlew
  Mourning out of sight below
  Mountain tops were touched with snow;
  Even the long dividing plain
  Showed no wealth of sheep or grain,
  But fields of boulders lay like corn
  And raven’s croak was shepherd’s horn
  To slow cloud shadow strayed across
  A pasture of thin heath and moss.
  The North Wind rose; I saw him press
  With lusty force against your dress,
  Moulding your body’s inward grace,
  And streaming off from your set face,
  So now no longer flesh and blood
  But poised in marble thought you stood;
  O wingless Victory, loved of men,
  Who could withstand your triumph then?


A LOVER SINCE CHILDHOOD

      Tangled in thought am I,
  Stumble in speech do I?
  Do I blunder and blush for the reason why?
      Wander aloof do I,
      Lean over gates and sigh,
  Making friends with the bee and the butterfly?

      If thus and thus I do
      Dazed by the thought of you,
  Walking my sorrowful way in the early dew,
      My heart pierced through and through
      By this despair of you,
  Starved for a word or a look will my hope renew.

      Give then a thought for me
      Walking so miserably,
  Wanting relief in the friendship or flower or tree,
      Do but remember, we
      Once could in love agree
  Swallow your pride, let us be as we used to be.



ROSALEEN GRAVES


NIGHT-SOUNDS

  Faintly through my window come
    Sounds of things unheard by day,
    Things that nightly speak and play,
  But by day again go dumb.

  Uncouth owls, with shuddering cry,
    Flap great wings in horrid grief
    Flap and swoop on journeys brief,
  Hooting long and miserably.

  Lurching in unsteady flight
    Comes a lean bat, singing shrill,
    Stumbles on my window sill,
  And staggers off into the night.

  Wild duck, waking on the marsh,
    Din against my sleepy senses;
    Like the wind on creaking fences
  Comes their croaking, faint and harsh.

  There’s a little bush I hear
    Muttering, frightened, half-asleep;
    Now a leafy voice, more deep,
  Rustles vague comfort, soothes its fear.

  Water flows not as by day.
    A new tone through its voice has crept.
    Streams that in daylight laughed and leapt
  And had humorous things to say,

  Speak so gravely now, and mutter
    Of things secret, scarcely guessed,
    Winds’ and Waters’ veiled unrest,
  Griefs too big for man to utter.

  Of the days before man came
    The days when man shall be no more,
    And Earth again be ruled by Four,
  Air and Water, Earth and Flame.

  Now a sudden silence falls;
    Until like rocking, silver boats
    Come the curlew’s ripply notes
  How far the curious music calls!

  And sweet twitters whisper clearly
    From the tree tops dimly seen
    Piping from the shadowy green
  That the dawn is here, or nearly.


‘A STRONGER THAN HE SHALL COME UPON HIM...’

  And then he was seized by one who was stronger than he,
    Seized and tamed and bound and forced to obey;
  From the swinging choice of evil or good he was free;
    Good was no longer; evil had vanished away
    He left to another the gain or loss of the day.

  Was he driven or drawn? What matter? He was content.
    He yielded him, body and soul, to the whirl of War
  As one yields to the high sea-wind, and is buffered, bent
    To his will, when, shouting, he stamps in over the shore
    Triumphant, driving all things like dust before.

  Can aught but a rock stand firm, or question his might
    Who tosses the leaves and clouds from a hand so strong?
  The trees and grasses bow in awe of his might,
    And men in the mountains, hearing his giant-song,
    Yield, and are hurried--whirled--hounded along.

  Thus he yielded to War, who was stronger than he--
    No time to think--no time to ponder and weigh--
  He was swept like a straw on the wind--and yet he knew himself free
    Was it freedom or bondage, this? In truth, it were hard to say;
    But, slave or king, he bowed his head to obey.


COLOUR

  Flowers, thick as stars, lay
  Splashed about the roadway--
  Flowers nodding up and down,
  Gold, lilac, fern-brown,
    Colour in which to drown.
  The Channel was a dark blue streak,
  With pools rosy like the cheek
    Of a girl too shy to speak,
  And coloured clouds went tossing past,
    Warm and windy,
    Vivid and quaint,
  Faint and eager and vast.

  Colour, thick as dust, lay
  Spattered about the highway--
  Colour so bright that one would think
  White, blue, cherry-pink
    Were made to clutch and drink,
  Colour that made one stop and say,
  ‘Earth, are you Heaven to-day?’
    Colour that made one pray.
  Lumps of colour, liquid and cool,
    Cool and near,
    Clear and gay
  Tumbled about my way.



BERTRAM HIGGINS (B.N.C.)


WHITE MAGIC

  You came, but still, with heart full-given to gladness,
  I paused, as one stands stricken ere he falls;
  Not yet my fumblings swept their bounds, clogged sense its
            Weakling walls.

  Quaint spaceless musings held me--idiot Mind was
  Gaped and gilled like a fish to suck through slow
  Tentative pores swift sweetness of strange waters’
            Ebb and flow.

  Yet how could I praise in darkness?--Life, like a sodded
  Seed, moved in drought-sleep and cleft its clay
  Freshly it seemed, though each sap-season spired its
            Stalks into day:

  Till now (ah, deft magician!) your wand hovers
  Over all Spirit--over those lost grey fields
  Where one frail flower, with burning stem, glad, gradual
            Petals yields;

  And whose past pitiful bitter blooms live only
  In the flushed mockery of remembering lovers.



RICHARD HUGHES


THE SINGING FURIES

  The yellow sky grows vivid as the sun,
  The sea glittering, and the hills dun.

  The stones quiver. Twenty pounds of lead
  Fold upon fold, the air laps my head.

  Both eyes scorch: tongue stiff and bitter.
  Flies buzz, but no birds twitter:

  Slow bullocks stand with stinging feet,
  And naked fishes scarcely stir, for heat.

    White as smoke,
  As jetted steam, dead clouds awoke
  And quivered on the Western rim.
  And then the singing started, dim
  And sibilant as rime-stiff reeds
  That whistle as the wind leads.
  The North answered, low and clear;
  The South whispered hard and sere,
  And thunder muffled up like drums
  Beat, whence the East-wind comes.
  The heavy sky that could not weep
  Is loosened: rain falls steep,
  And thirty singing furies ride
  To split the sky from side to side.
  They sing, and lash the wet-flanked wind:
  Sing, from Col to Hafod Mynd
  And fling their voices half a score
  Of miles along the mounded shore:
  Whip loud music from a tree,
  And roll their paean out to sea
  Where crowded breakers fling and leap,
  And strange things throb five fathoms deep.

  The sudden tempest roared and died:
  The singing furies muted ride
  Down wet and slippery roads to hell;
  And, silent in their captors’ train
  Two fishers, storm-caught on the main;
  A shepherd, battered with his flocks;
  A pit-boy tumbled from the rocks,
  A dozen back-broke gulls, and hosts
  Of shadowy, small, pathetic ghosts,
  Of mice and leverets caught by flood,
  Their beauty shrouded in cold mud.


THE SERMON

(_Wales_ 1920).

  Like grippt stick
  Still I sit:
  Eyes fixed on far small eyes,
  Full of it:
  On the old, broad face,
  The hung chin;
  Heavy arms, surplice
  Worn through and worn thin.
  Probe I the hid mind
  Under the gross flesh:
  Clutch at poetic words,
  Follow their mesh
  Scarce heaving breath.
  Clutch, marvel, wonder,
  Till the words end.

  Stilled is the muttered thunder:
  The hard, few people wake,
  Gather their books and go--
  Whether their hearts could break
  How can I know?


TRAMP

  When a brass sun staggers above the sky,
  When feet cleave to boots, and the tongue’s dry,
  And sharp dust goads the rolling eye,
  Come thoughts of wine, and dancing thoughts of girls:
  They shiver their white arms, and the head whirls,
  And noon light is hid in their dark curls:
  Noon feet stumble, and head swims.
  Out shines the sun, and the thought dims,
  And death, for blood, runs in the weak limbs.

  To fall on flints in the shade of tall nettles
  Gives easy sleep as a bed of rose petals,
  And dust drifting from the highway
  As light a coverlet as down may.
  The myriad feet of many-sized flies
  May not open those tired eyes.

  The first wind of night
  Twitches the coverlet away quite:
  The first wind and large first rain
  Flickers the dry pulse to life again:
  Flickers the lids burning on the eyes
  With sudden flashes of the slipping skies.
  Hunger, oldest visionary,
  Hides a devil in a tree,
  Hints a glory in the clouds,
  Fills the crooked air with crowds
  Of ivory sightless demons singing--

  Eyes start: straightens back:
  Limbs stagger and crack:
  But Brain flies, Brain soars
  Up, where the Sky roars
  Upon the back of cherubim:
  Brain rockets up to Him.
  Body gives another twist
  To the slack waist-band;
  In agony clenches fist
  Till the nails bite the hand.
  Body floats light as air,
  With rain in its sparse hair:

  Brain returns, and would tell
  The things he has seen well:
  Body will not stir his lips:
  Brain and Body come to grips.

  Deadly each hates the other
  As treacherous blood-brother:
  No sight, no sound shows
  How the struggle goes.

  They sink at last faint in the wet gutter;
  So many words to sing that the tongue cannot utter.


GRATITUDE

  Eternal gratitude--a long, thin word:
  When meant, oftenest left unheard:
  When light on the tongue, light in the purse too:
  Of curious metallurgy: when coined true
  It glitters not, is neither large nor small:
  More worth than rubies--less, times, than a ball.
  Not gift, nor willed: yet through its wide range
  Buys what it buys exact, and leaves no change.

  Old Gurney had it, won on a hot day
  With ale, from glib-voiced Gypsy by the way.
  He held it lightly: for ’twas a rum start
  To find a hedgeling who had still a heart:
  So put it down for twist of a beggar’s tongue...
  _He_ had not felt the heat: how the dust stung
  A face June-roasted: _he_ saw not the look
  Aslant the gift-mug; how the hand shook...
  Yet the words rang his head, and he grew merry
  And whistled from the Boar to Wrye-brook ferry,
  And chaffed with Ferryman when the hawser creakt
  Or slipping bilge showed where the planks leakt:
  Lent hand himself, till doubly hard the barge
  Butted its nose in mud of the farther marge.
  When Gurney leapt to shore, he found--dismay!
  He had no tuppence--(Tuppence was to pay
  To sulky Ferryman)--‘Naught have I,’ says he,
  ‘Naught, but the gratitude of Tammas Lee
  Given one hour.’--Sulky Charon grinned:
  ‘Done,’ said he. ‘Done: I take--all of it, mind.’
  ‘Done,’ cries Jan Gurney. Down the road he went,
  But by the ford left all his merriment.

  This is the tale of midday chaffering:
  How Charon took, and Gurney lost the thing:
  How Ferryman gave it for his youngest daughter
  To a tall lad who saved her out of water--
  (Being old and mean, had none of his own to give,
  So passed on Tammas’; glad to see her live):
  And how young Farmer paid his quarter’s rent
  With that one coin, when all else was spent,
  And how Squire kept it for some goldless debt...
  For aught I know, it wanders current yet.
  Yet Tammas was no angel in disguise:
  He stole Squire’s chickens--often: he told lies,
  Robbed Charon’s garden, burnt young Farmer’s ricks
  And played the village many lowsy tricks.

  No children sniffled, and no dog cried
  When full of oaths and smells, he died.


JUDY

  Sand hot to haunches:
    Sun beating eyes down,
  Yet they peer under lashes
    At the hill’s crown:

  See how the hill slants
    Up the sky halfway:
  Over the top tall clouds
    Poke gold and grey.

  Down: see a green field
    Tipped on its short edge,
  Its upper rim straggled round
    By a black hedge.

  Grass bright as new brass:
    Uneven dark gorse
  Stuck to its own shadow
    _Like Judy that black horse_.

  Birds clatter numberless,
    And the breeze tells
  That beanflower somewhere
    Has ousted the bluebells.

  Birds clatter numberless:
    In the muffled wood
  Big feet move slowly:
    Mean no good.


THE RUIN

  Gone are the coloured princes, gone echo, gone laughter:
  Drips the blank roof: and the moss creeps after.

  Dead is the crumbled chimney: all mellowed to rotting
  The wall-tints, and the floor-tints, from the spotting
  Of the rain, from the wind and slow appetite
  Of patient mould: and of the worms that bite
  At beauty all their innumerable lives.

  But the sudden nip of knives,
  The lady aching for her stiffening lord,
  The passionate-fearful bride,
  And beaded Pallor clamped to the torment-board,
  --Leave they no ghosts, no memories by the stairs?

  No sheeted glimmer treading floorless ways?
  No haunting melody of lovers’ airs,
  Nor stealthy chill upon the noon of days?

  No: for the dead and senseless walls have long forgotten
  What passionate hearts beneath the turf lie rotten.

  Only from roofs and chimneys pleasantly sliding
  Tumbles the rain in the early hours,
  Patters its thousand feet on the flowers,
  Cools its small grey feet in the grasses.



ALAN PORTER


INTRODUCTION TO A NARRATIVE POEM

  The vapour, twining and twitching, seems to throw
  Black, precipitous boulders to and fro
  Light as a bandied scoff; and, look, the cliff--
  Whose root claws at the midworld fire with stiff
  Unmolten, adamantine fingers--fails,
  Lurches. Above, cold and eternal gales
  Run worrying, shredding, eternal sunlight; snatch
  At the heather; puff at the flocks of cotton; scratch
  White scars along the bents. If strangers climb
  To this plateau that buffets back slow time,
  They stand awhile impotent, grey with fear,
  And feel solidity’s foundation stir.

  But even here a cottage free from harms
  Lies havened, hugged and sheltered by the arms
  Of a narrow, green recess. A few stunt oaks,
  Elders, and barren apples beard the rocks;
  But, sleeker than a pool, the lawn beneath
  Burns white and blue, bewildering the heath.
  On a low wood-bench, rifted by years of rain,
  Warped at one end, split far along the grain,
  A meagre man with a waste, weary smile
  Reads to a boy and girl, or plays awhile
  Some quiet, grown-up game. He suddenly bows
  Head between hands: no more his children rouse
  Flicker or flame, by question or caress,
  To break the dead, monotonous, featureless
  Winter of grief. At last he rises, and,
  With empty scrutiny, feet that understand
  No path but falter at random, stumbles out
  Where tigrish winds whirry and havoc and shout.
  His back-blown hair, wet, smarting eyes, recall
  The conscious pang of life; and he must fall
  Faint on the ground, or whet his courage keen,
  Clench all his being, prise a path between
  The loud, inimical flaws. With even might
  He batters on, to earth’s and air’s despite,
  In storm and tumult winning peace and light.

  Yet, in these roads of quiet, muniment
  From fury of nature, home from discontent
  Surely of earth’s mean, trafficking miseries,
  In this domain of flower and fragrance, this
  Green plat of smooth, immotionable ground,
  Why does the panther sorrow skulk around
  And leap like fear from unsuspected fourm?
  Weigh this doubt rather--if the embittered swarm
  Of multitudinous grief thins ever or stays
  From most unmerited sally; for in what ways
  A man may tread, and fate how seeming fair,
  His intimate heart is troubled, and despair
  Lays present ambush. Many feel the sting
  Of casual time like bramble-thorns, that bring
  A not-enduring spasm: in other blood,
  More sensitive, urging a froward, perilous flood,
  It racks like tropic ivy, whose embrace
  Turns travellers maniac; nor shall lapse of days,
  Nor drug, nor simple, medicine back the mind;
  They go forgetting all their manhood, find
  No recollection save the venom of death
  That whistles about their brain and sears their breath.

  Thus almost had it been with him, thus grief
  Came turbulent, and left him no relief.


SUMMER BATHING

  The ruckling pool, torn grey by Pendry Weir,
  Became Cocytus to my boy time fear.
  Two haw-trees, pulping fat their close, green fruits
  Turned cuttlefish below, wagging no roots
  But narrow tentacles. Old Jacob Fry
  Tells how he drained this pool one hot July
  When drought had sucked the white stream thick and slow:
  Fish, four-foot deep, shone thirty feet below.
  Leaning to drop a stone, the farmboy whews
  Bewildered that his confident ear should lose
  All thud for grounding. Now he fears to stay,
  And walks by whistling on another day.

  Here, when the black bees blundered in the heat
  Half-drunk, rifling the fine-flurred meadowsweet,
  I stripped and bathed. At first, numb for delight,
  I lost all thought but this--Come, you must fight
  Free from the swirl. But when blank eyes grew clear
  Like a pit-pattering mouse came fluttered fear.
  Now here and there slide snakish eels, now voles
  Bolt hizzing over the brook to round, black holes.
  These groping roots perhaps will grip my flesh
  Till I grow tired of screaming: so the mesh
  Will move, my bones will crackle, I sink down;
  So to an end.
              Or in some cave of brown
  Sluttering scum and broad, plump bladder-weeds
  Old fiends may sprawling meditate false deeds;
  One, ware of prey, slip out lean fingers, pluck
  Unusual meat through water’s rush and ruck.

  Yet, braving all, to prove wild fancy vain,
  I held my breath and sank. The brook, astrain
  And fierce to be free, spun snarling overhead;
  Dull roars droned round, cold currents buffeted.
  Proud of this daring shewn--but doubtful, too,
  Of tempting fortune far--I battled through
  To the root-held scroll of turf on the sagging bank,
  And carefully muscled up. The sheep-field drank
  The wide-spent, white-spilt sun, the wrapping air
  Swung flame-like past, and, while I ran, the bare
  Close-nibbled grass pushed hot against my feet.
  The yeanlings rose and rushed with timid bleat
  Full-tilt at the mothering ewe; fed sleek with clover,
  Three cows, in mild amazement bending over
  The gap-set palings, rubbed their necks or chewed.
  But in mid-course I staggered, having trod
  Firm on a flat and spiny thistle; stayed
  Nursing my foot, half grinning, half dismayed:
  Then lay full length, as light-heel time were not;
  Pale fears, fantastic perils, all forgot.


COUNTRY CHURCHYARD

  This grave, moss-grown, marks him who once went free;
  Now pent--no, portionless; from sharp life lost;
  Mere mouldered bone-work. His unheeded name

  Who, curious, pausing, may decipher? See;
  Thin gulled by running rain, by chipping frost
  Frustrated, muffled under a yellow, same,

  Fat scurf of lichen, the dim characters
  Withstand conjecture, aimless and awry.
  Yet here lies one who, living, peopled earth

  With indestructible fancy. Now he hears
  No nature’s music, who for hours would lie
  To hear the blue-caps click their quick, small mirth.


MUSEUM

  The day was death. A chalk road, pale in dust,
  Accused with leprous finger the long moors.
  The drab, damp air so blanketed the town
  No doddered oak swung leathern leaf. The chimneys
  Pushed oddling pillars at the loose-hung sky.
  May, pansy, lilac, dense as the night steam
  Of lowland swamps, fettered the sodden air,
  And, through the haze, along the ragstone houses,
  Blood-lichens dulled to a rotten-apple brown.
  Behind close doors pale women drooped and dragged
  In customary toils. They dusted shelves
  Or changed from chair to chair dull, cotton cushions:
  Soon, vacantly, they bore them back and wiped
  With languid arms the black, unspotted shelves.
  Such mind’s own symbols of despair they went
  That never movement shook a face to grief--
  At first they looked no more than cheerless women,
  But dug deep in the plaster of their flesh
  Those eyes were year-dead, underpouched with blue.
  A word would sear the silence of a week.
  Of a sudden, turning a byeway corner, a cripple,
  Bloodless with age, lumbered along the road.
  The motes of dust whirled at his iron-shod crutches
  And quickly settled. A dog whined. The old
  Cripple looked round and saw no man, but gave
  A cruel, crackling chuckle, swung a yard,
  And stopped to look about and laugh again.
  ‘That,’ said a girl in a flat voice, ‘is God.’
  She turned and slid the table-cover straight.
  Her mother could not answer, but she thought
  ‘It must be Beggar Joe, gone lately mad.’
  He lumbered along the road and turned a corner.
  His tapping faded and the day was death.


LOST LANDS

  When from this alien multitude of man
  These, kind or kindred, speak in approbation
  Of what I strove to write, for all my pleasure
  I feel my gross dismerit and fall shamed.

  Set no regard on me: not I can pierce
  Clogged air and homely falsehood in prophetic
  Dream or sudden awakening. Sinewed phrases,
  There are my petty troublings of weak sight.

  Shame took me once, and shame has tracked me since:
  My friend spoke of a man who lives bewildered,
  Even in London striding over mountains,
  Through populous roads companioning the dead.

  Stars move around him and the dew falls grey;
  Thin firs pry through the mist. Old fables quicken--
  Undine laughs by the waters, vague, uneasy:
  Maiden Mary sings to the sleepy Child.

  Then I remembered boyhood, in whose hours
  Thistles were knights, old men were murderous, daytime
  Intractable as dream. I knew that either
  Hid with coarse walls imaginable worlds.

  Now I am dulled, habitual now with known
  Earth. Never shall other-country pathways
  Bring me, familiar, through amazing valleys
  Fire-white with blossom, dark with ancient boughs.



FRANK PREWETT


  Come girl, and embrace,
  And ask no more I wed thee;
  Know then you are sweet of face,
  Soft-limbed and fashioned lovingly;--
  Must you go marketing your charms
  In cunning woman-like,
  And filled with old wives’ tales’ alarms?
  I tell you, girl, come embrace;
  What reck we of churchling and priest
  With hands on paunch and chubby face;
  Behold, we are life’s pitiful least,
  And we perish at the first smell
  Of death, whither heaves earth
  To spurn us cringing into hell.
  Come girl, and embrace;
  Nay, cry not, poor wretch, nor plead,
  But haste, for life strikes a swift pace
  And I burn with envious greed:
  Know you not, fool, we are the mock,
  Of gods, time, clothes, and priests?
  But come, there is no time for talk.


  I went out into the fields
  In my anguish of mind,
  And sought comfort of the trees
  For they looked to be kind.

  ‘Alas!’ cried they, ‘who have peace?--
  We are prey that is caught,
  The sun warms us, the blast chills,
  And we understand not.’

  On rolled the world with fools’ noise,
  But I strode in tears’ wrack;
  Would God, fools, I too were fool,
  Or had light that I lack.

  I held the fields all day,
  I, a madman, too;
  My spirit called aloud
  To sift the false from true.

  The troubled sun turned black,
  Earth heaved to and fro,
  Whene’er I spurned the flowers
  Lifting heads to grow.

  Trees reached their hands to stay,
  Whistled birds to me,
  ‘Spurn one, thou spurnest all,
  Brother, let things be.

  For not their heads alone
  Bleed, but the stars fade
  And all things grieve, for we
  One fabric are made.’

  The heavens and earth do meet
  And all things are true,
  So trample ye no flowers
  Lest skies lose their blue.


  Comrade, why do you weep?
  Is it sorrow for a friend
  Who fell, rifle in hand,
  His proud stand at an end?

  The harsh thunder-lipped guns
  Roll his dirge deep and slow,
  Where he makes his dreamless bed,
  Head to head with a foe.

  The sweet lark beats on high,
  For the joy of those who sleep
  In quiet embrace of earth.
  Comrade, why do you weep?


  The winds caress the trees,
  Woman to man is led,
  And I too have my love,
  Though she comes not to bed.

  Beyond the heat of flesh,
  Which has its place and day,
  We hold our keen delights
  In spirit, earth away.

  Mount me on high, O soul,
  Expand me my desires,
  So shall I clasp in love
  Even the heavenly fires!



EDGELL RICKWORD


COMPLAINT OF A TADPOLE CONFINED IN A JAM-JAR

  What reveries of far-off days
  These withered plaques of duck-weed raise!

  The creeping wretches, the crowded pond,
  A death in life, no Culture, no Beyond.

  Light and No-light in dull routine;
  Thought and No-thought two shades of green.

  The fair ideals all creatures need
  Smothered beneath the inferior weed.

  For highest aspirations stop
  With breathing, at the water’s top.

  O Fairy Metamorphosis
  For Being to become What Is.

  Here ceaseless radiance fills my sphere,
  The Lamp my Moon, all night, bright, near.

  And clustering on the crystal wall
  Great strawberries iconistical.

  No strife to propagate the kind
  But leisure to improve the mind;

  Till curious sensations range
  About the tail and hint at change.

  The weed with flowers stars the sky
  And monstrous forms go dimly by.

  Tail fades! The vestiges of gills
  Swell with rare æther from the hills.

  Now Time reared up in rocky crests
  Where flaming fowl involve their nests,

  Across the rippled Stream of Space
  Throws shadows that obscure this place;

  But in the valleys pipers play:
  ‘Over the hills and far away.’


REGRET FOR THE DEPOPULATION OF RURAL DISTRICTS

  I have seen villages grow suddenly
  From dust and stand upright in the air
  With comfortable homes grouped round a spire;
  And in the fields strong women bending
  Down to coarse toil to nourish unborn women.
  But in the gardens, languid with flowers’ fragrance
  Girls linger on close lawns for unknown happenings,
  Tearing a petal in long shining fingers.
  So waiting whilst pear blossom apple blossom
  And white plum blossom are fallen down to earth,
  And the white moon fallen. Then a heap of dust
  That once was named, loved and familiar
  Lies unsubstantial in the eternal sunlight.
            Whence faint thoughts
  Stirring far down in twilight consciousness
  Move dark-boughed yew-trees over graves and stars.


COMPLAINT AFTER PSYCHO-ANALYSIS

  Now my days are all undone,
  Spirit sunken, girls forgone,
  I will weave in other mesh
  Than fading bone and flesh.

  Into cold deserted mind
  Drag the relics of the blind;
  And raise from wives none other sees
  Substantial families.

  Hunt through woods of maidenhair
  Tangled in the shining air
  The forms of ecstasies achieved,
  Not then believed.

  O Unicorns and jewelled Birds
  And trampling dappled moonlight herds,
  In icy glades now slain
  With arrows bright as pain.

  Leap, Moon, from the berg’s pale womb!
  Frail Bride, out of Earth’s tomb!
  The stars are ashen cold
  Beneath their gold.


DESIRE

  As the white sails of ships across the ocean,
    The last sounds fade when the sun has declined.
  I am alone. There is no motion
    Rippling the clear waters in the mind.

  Only now the madrepores’ frail tentacles
    Sway languidly before they fall asleep;
  And waiting in their dark pinnacles
    The virgin medusae watch and weep.

  Moving darkly among the forests of weed
    Ancient memories drag their crinkled shells
  To glades where crimson tree-trunks bleed
    Thickly, and hushed are the faint sea-bells.

  Out of that silent depth loveless arising
    Undine sheds on the water her shining hair,
  Softly calleth her soul, devising
    A fragrance of music in the air.


TRENCH POETS

  I knew a man, he was my chum,
  But he grew blacker every day,
  And would not brush the flies away,
  Nor blanch however fierce the hum
  Of passing shells. I used to read,
  To rouse him, random things from Donne,
  Like ‘Get with child a mandrake-root,’
  But you can tell he was far gone,
  For he lay gaping, mackerel-eyed,
  And stiff and senseless as a post,
  Even when that old poet cried,
  ‘I long to talk with some old lover’s ghost.’

  I tried the Elegies one day;
  But he, because he heard me say,
  ‘What needst thou have more covering than a man?’
  Grinned nastily, and so I knew
  The worms had got his brains at last.
  There was one thing that I might do
  To starve the worms; I racked my head
  For healthy things and quoted _Maud_.
  His grin got worse, and I could see
  He laughed at passion’s purity.

  He stank so badly, though we were great chums
  I had to leave him; then rats ate his thumbs.


WINTER PROPHECIES

  Cities with tall and graceful spires I know
  Mirrored in pools and rivers silver bright,
  That wither if the softest wind should blow
  And by a stone are blotted out of sight.
  Frailer they are than curvèd leaves of snow
  Fluttering down from the dark trees of night
  Slowly, and then unutterably slow,
  And ceasing as most quietly comes the light.

  Water is carved like fern and stone takes on
  The flush of life when flesh lies quiet as stone;
  Whilst sinister and clownish, bright and wan,
  With solemn affectations the old Moon
  Spins dooms and weirds and meltings of the bone
  And universal silence to be soon.



Transcriber’s Notes


Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Page 2: “fourm” was printed that way.

Pages 53-57: The poems of Frank Prewett are untitled except in the
Table of Contents, so two consecutive blank lines are the only visible
boundaries between them in some versions of this eBook.





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