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Title: Songs of Three Counties - And Other Poems
Author: Radclyffe-Hall, Marguerite
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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                                SONGS OF
                             THREE COUNTIES

                            AND OTHER POEMS



                        With an Introduction by
                        R. B. CUNNINGHAME-GRAHAM



                                   By
                       MARGUERITE RADCLYFFE-HALL



                                 LONDON
                          CHAPMAN & HALL, LTD.
                                 1913.



                               Dedicated

                                   to

                      The Marchioness of Anglesey



                                CONTENTS


              INTRODUCTION BY R. B. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM ix
              RUSTIC COURTING:
                WALKING OUT                             1
                THE SHADOW OF RAGGEDSTONE               3
                THE LONG GREEN LANES OF ENGLAND         5
                THE HILLS                               7
                EASTNOR CHURCHYARD                      8
                THE MALVERN HILLS                       9
                THE FIRST CUCKOO                       11
                DUSK IN THE LANE                       12
                THE MEETING-PLACE                      13
                BY THE AVON                            15
                JEALOUSY                               16
                IN THE CITY                            18
                I BE THINKIN’                          19
                SUNDAY EVENING                         20
                THE LEDBURY TRAIN                      21
                JILTED                                 22
                CASEND HILL                            23
                THE LEDBURY ROAD                       24
                THE CALL TO LONDON                     25
                BREDON                                 27
                OUR DEAD                               28
                PRIMROSE FLOWERS                       29
                TRAMPING                               30
                THE BLIND PLOUGHMAN                    32
              MISCELLANEOUS POEMS:
                WHEN THE WIND COMES UP THE HILL        35
                PEACE                                  36
                LIME-TREES                             37
                A LITTLE SONG                          38
                THE SONG OF THE WATCHER                39
                BY THE RIVER                           41
                THE ROAD TO COLLA                      42
                PRAYER                                 43
                DAWN                                   45
                TO THE EARTH                           46
                DAWN AMONG THE OLIVE GROVES            48
                SILENT PLACES                          49
                ONE EVENING NEAR NICE                  50
                THOUGHTS AT AJACCIO                    51
                THREE CHILD-SONGS:
                  THE THRUSH’S SONG                    52
                  WILLOW WAND                          53
                  A WINTER SONG                        55
                AUTUMN IN SUSSEX                       56
                SI PARVA LICET COMPONERE MAGNIS        57
                TO ITALY                               59
                SUNDAY IN LIGURIA                      60
                GEORGETOWN, U.S.A.                     61
                ON THE POTOMAC RIVER, U.S.A.           63
                THE LOST WORD                          65
                COMPARISONS                            66
                A FRAGMENT                             67
              APPRECIATIONS                            69
              PRESS NOTICES                            73



                              INTRODUCTION


WITH as much grace as if a monoplanist should attempt to write a preface
to a book on flying for an albatross, so may a writer of mere prose
attempt to pen an introduction to a book of poetry.

The bird and man both use the air, but with a difference. So do the poet
and the man of prose use pen and ink.

Familiarity with tools, used in two branches of one art (or trade), is
apt to prove a snare.

Music and poetry, the most ethereal of the arts upon the face of them,
are in a way more mathematical than prose, for both have formulæ. Hence,
their appeal goes quicker to men’s minds, and oversteps countries and
languages to some degree, and makes it difficult to write about them. Of
late, young poets, those who have bulked the largest in the public eye,
those that the world has hailed as modern, have often been obscure. What
is modernity? To be modern is to touch the senses of the age you write
for. To me, a fool who owns a motor-car is just as great a fool as was a
fool of the stone age.

The only true modernity is talent, and Lucian of Samosata was as modern
to the full as Guy de Maupassant. The poet for whose verses I am writing
this my introduction, preface, foreword, call it what you will, is one
of those whose meaning he who runs may read.

Does she do well in making herself clear? I think so, for though there
are those who prefer a mist of words, holding apparently that poetry
should be written in Chinook, or Malagasy, this opinion must of
necessity be of the nature of what Ben Jonson called a “humour.”

Few men to-day read Eupheus and fewer Gongora. Yet in their time their
concepts were considered to be fine flowers of poetry. Those who wrote
so that all men could understand, as Sapho, Campion, Jorge Maurique,
Petrarca, Villon, and their fellow-singers in the celestial spheres
where poets sing, crowned with the bays of the approval of countless
generations, all wrote clearly. Their verses all were clear as is the
water running over chalk in a south country trout-stream, such as the
Itchin or the Test.

I take two specimens of Miss Radclyffe-Hall’s poetry to illustrate what
I have said. She writes of a blind ploughman, whose prayer is to his
friend to set him in the sun.

                     “Turn my face towards the East
                      And praise be to God.”

One sees him sitting, wrinkled and bent, and ploughworn in the sun, and
thanking God according to his faith, for light interior, for that
interior vision which all the mystics claim.

                     “God who made His sun to shine
                      On both you and me,
                      God who took away my eyes,
                      That my _soul_ might see.”

This shows the poet in an unusual light, for most poets write on far
different subjects; but here is one which is eternal, and has been
eternal since the time of Œdipus.

Again in the verses, “Thoughts at Ajaccio,” she shows a love of the
earth and of its fulness, a feeling which has been the birthright of all
English writers of good verse from the remotest times.

                “Fill me with scent of upturned ground,
                 Soft perfume from thy bosom drawn.”

This is the feeling that has inspired so many poets, and shows the
writer not striving to be modern or filled with strange conceits; but
with a love and trust of the brown earth, from which all poets take
their birth, and into which they all return.

                                               R. B. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM.



RUSTIC COURTING



 I

 WALKING OUT


 UPON a Sunday afternoon,
   When no one else was by,
 The little girl from Hanley way,
   She came and walked with I.

 We climbed nigh to the Beacon top,
   And never word spoke we,
 But oh! we heard the thrushes sing
   Within the cherry tree.

 The cherry tree was all a-bloom,
   And Malvern lay below,
 And far away the Severn wound—
   ’Twas like a silver bow.

 She took my arm, I took her hand,
   And never word we said,
 But oh! I knew her eyes were brown,
   Her lips were sweet and red.

 And when I brought her home again,
   The stars were up above,
 And ’twas the nightingale that swelled
   His little throat with love!



 II

 THE SHADOW OF RAGGEDSTONE


 O RAGGEDSTONE, you darksome hill,
   Your shadow fell for sure
 Upon my own dear love and I,
   Across the purple moor.

 For we were such a happy pair,
   The day we climbed your crest;
 And now my love she lays her head
   Upon another’s breast.

 She sits beside another man,
   And walks abroad with he,
 And never sheds a single tear,
   Or thinks a thought o’ me!

 My mind it seems a-fire like,
   My heart’s as cold as lead,
 My prayers they dry upon my lips
   And somehow won’t get said.

 I wish that I could lay me down,
   Upon the dreary plain
 That stretches out to Raggedstone,*
   And never rise again!

                           ------------------

* A legend is attached to Raggedstone Hill in Worcestershire. The Hill
was cursed by a Benedictine Monk. From time to time a great shadow rises
up from it, spreading across the surrounding country. Woe betide those
on whom the shadow falls, as it brings with it terrible misfortune! Many
of the people living near Raggedstone still firmly believe in this
legend.



 III

 THE LONG GREEN LANES OF ENGLAND


 OH! the long green lanes of England!
 They be very far away,
 And it’s there that I’d be walking,
 ’Mid the hawthorn and the may.

 Where the trees are all in blossom,
 And the mating birds they sing
 Fit to bust their little bodies,
 Out of joy because it’s Spring.

 I’d be courting of my true love,
 She’d be in her Sunday best,
 With my arm around her shoulder
 And her head upon my breast.

 For the new land it’s a fine land,
 Where a man can get a start;
 But there’s that about the old land
 That will grip his very heart:

 For he’ll mind him o’ the cowslips,
 Coming up all fresh and new
 In the fields of early mornings,
 Where the grass is white with dew.

 Oh! it’s money, money, money,
 “Go and try to earn a bit;”
 And “America’s the country
 For the lad as doesn’t quit.”

 Seems that folks go mad on money,
 Well, I’ll have enough some day,
 But the long green lanes of England
 They be Oh! so far away!



 IV

 THE HILLS


 WHEN I the hills of Malvern see,
 There comes a sadness over me.

 The reason why, I cannot tell,
 Perhaps I love those hills too well.

 But this I know, when I behold
 Their springtime green, and autumn gold,

 And see that year by year they bear
 Such witness that God’s earth is fair,

 I’m happy for their beauty’s sake,
 And yet my heart begins to ache.



 V

 EASTNOR CHURCHYARD


 I BE hopin’ you remember,
 Now the Spring has come again,
 How we used to gather violets
 By the little church at Eastnor,
 For we were so happy then!

 O my love, do you remember
 Kisses that you took and gave?
 There be violets now in plenty
 By the little church at Eastnor,
 But they’re growing on your grave.



 VI

 THE MALVERN HILLS


 THE Malvern Hills be green some days,
 And some days purple-blue,
 There never was the like of them
 The whole of England through.

 From Hanley straight into the Wells
 The road runs long and white,
 And there the hills they meet your gaze
 Against the evening light.

 Against the evening light they stand,
 So proud, and dark, and old,
 The Raggedstone and Hollybush,
 And Worcester Beacon bold.

 No matter where you chance to be,
 However far away,
 You’ll see the hills awaiting you
 At close of every day.

 Oh! it’s a lovely sight to see
 The twilight stealing down
 Their steepish banks and little paths,
 Along to Malvern town.

 And maybe on the Severn side,
 Hung low on Bredon’s mound,
 The big red harvest moon will rise,
 So lazy-like and round.

 They talks a lot o’ foreign parts,
 Them as has seen them do,
 But give me Malvern Hills at dusk
 All green or purple-blue!



 VII

 THE FIRST CUCKOO


 TO-DAY I heard the cuckoo call,
 Atop of Bredon Hill,
 I heard him near the blackthorn bush,
 And Oh! my heart stood still!

 For it was just a year ago,
 That to my love I said,
 “When next we hear the cuckoo call,
 Then you and I will wed.”

 My love and I we still be two,
 And will be, many Springs;
 I think the saddest sound on earth
 Is when the cuckoo sings.



 VIII

 DUSK IN THE LANE


 COME, put yer little hand in mine,
 And let it be at rest,
 It minds me of a tired bird
 Within a warm brown nest;
 And bend that pretty head o’ your’n,
 And lay it on my breast.

 The lambs they all be wearied out,
 I penned them in the fold;
 The lights along the Malvern Hills
 They shine like stars o’ gold;
 And yonder rises up the moon,
 All round, and big, and bold.

 There’s not a single passer-by,
 Nor sound along the lane,
 And Oh! the earth be smelling sweet,
 Like meadows after rain.
 Then come a little closer, maid,
 And kiss me once again.



 IX

 THE MEETING-PLACE


 I MIND me of the hawthorn trees,
   With cuckoos flying near;
 The hawthorn blossoms smelt so sweet,
   The cuckoo called so clear!

 The hill was steep enough to climb,
   It seemed to touch the sky!
 You saw two valleys from the top,
   The Severn and the Wye.

 The Severn and the Wye you saw,
   And they were always green;
 I think it was the prettiest sight
   That I have ever seen.

 And there, so far above the town,
   With not a soul to see,
 Whenever she could slip away
 My love would come to me!

 I never smell the hawthorn bloom,
   Or hear the cuckoo sing,
 But I am minded of my love,
   And Malvern Hills in Spring!



 X

 BY THE AVON


 IN the meadows by the Avon,
 Underneath the slope of Bredon,
 There we often used to wander,
 My girl and I.

 All around the thrushes singing,
 And on Sunday, church bells ringing,
 Overhead the soft clouds floating,
 White in the sky.

 Still the waters of the Avon
 Flow so gently under Bredon,
 And on Sunday bells be ringing,
 Clouds floating high.

 But I’m sick at heart and lonely,
 Nothing here has changed, save only
 Just we two, who once were courting,
 My girl and I.



 XI

 JEALOUSY


 I SEE’D yer turn the other day
 To watch a chap go by,
 Because he wore a uniform,
 And held his shoulders high.
 And then yer wouldn’t even smile,
 Or say a word to I!

 A kid he was, all pink and white,
 And strutting like a chick,
 A tassel at his silly side,
 And carrying a stick.
 And yet yer thought the world o’ him,
 And started breathin’ quick—

 The same as when I kissed yer first,
 Oh! maybe you forget!
 But you was desperate sweet on I,
 I mind yer blushes yet.
 But now yer says me hands are rough,
 Me coat will never set.

 Me hands they bean’t lily white,
 Me coat may not be trim,
 But you may know, if fightin’ comes,
 I’ll fight as well as him,
 Although they pad his shoulders out
 To make his waist look slim.

 I haven’t got no buttons on
 A showy coat of red;
 I haven’t got no soldier’s cap
 To wear upon me head.
 But I can love yer just the same,
 When all be done and said!



 XII

 IN THE CITY


 OH! City girls are pale-like,
 And proud-like, and cold-like,
 And nineteen out of twenty
 Have never been our way.
 I tells them of the tall hills,
 The green hills, the old hills,
 Where hawthorns are a-blossoming,
 And thrushes call all day.

 Oh! London is a fine place,
 A big place, a rich place,
 Where nineteen out of twenty
 Of all the girls are fair.
 But well I knows a white road,
 A long road, a straight road,
 That leads me into Bosbury;
 I’m wishing I was there!



 XIII

 I BE THINKIN’


 THE hillside green with bracken,
 And the red plough land,
 The brownish hurrying rivers,
 Where the willows stand.
 The thickets and the meadows,
 And the strong oak trees;
 O, tell me traveller, have yer
 Seen the like o’ these?

 The mists along the common,
 At the close of day,
 They’re lovely when the twilight
 Makes the vale look grey.
 The lanes be long and lonely,
 But they all lead home;
 I be thinkin’ lads are foolish
 When they wants to roam!



 XIV

 SUNDAY EVENING


 THE noontide showers have drifted past,
 The sunset’s on the hill,
 The lights be gleaming through the dusk,
 Adown by Clincher’s Mill.

 It’s such a pretty evening, maid,
 All quiet-like, and blue;
 With here and there a darksome cloud
 That lets the silver through.

 The folk be all in Sunday best,
 I see’d ’em passing by;
 Then come along the quiet lane,
 And walk a bit with I.



 XV

 THE LEDBURY TRAIN


 FROM Wind’s Point hill at eventide,
 I see the train go by;
 The train that goes to Ledbury,
 Along the vale of Wye.

 It wanders through the clustered hops,
 And through the green hedgerows,
 It minds me of a fairy thing,
 So gliding-like it goes.

 And standing there on Wind’s Point hill,
 Within the sunset glow,
 The purple shadows over Wales,
 The little train below.

 With all the pine trees whispering,
 And turning softly blue;
 I feel as though I were a child,
 With fairy tales come true!



 XVI

 JILTED


 OH! golden is the gorse-bush,
   Beneath an April sky,
 The lark is full of singing,
 The clouds are white and high;
 But my love, my love is faithless,
   And she cares no more for I!

 Then what’s the good of living,
   With the bright sun overhead,
 When the earth is always ready
 And will give a kinder bed,
 Where no vows be made or broken,
   And no bitter words are said!



 XVII

 CASEND HILL


 O CASEND HILL, I be so heavy-hearted,
 So lonesome-like since from my love I parted,
 That when the bracken on your sides is springing,
 And all the mating thrushes start a-singing,
 A kind of fear across my mind comes creeping,
 I feel as though I’d surely fall a-weeping!

 O Casend Hill, the Spring does not forsake you,
 At winter’s close the sun comes back to wake you;
 And year by year the same sweet wind it passes,
 To stir the lark that’s nesting in your grasses;
 But no one comes to ask me how I’m faring,
 In all the world there’s not a soul that’s caring!



 XVIII

 THE LEDBURY ROAD


 THE road that leads to Ledbury
 Oh! it be such a pretty way,
 As far as Wales you’ll likely see,
 Suppose the month be May.

 The little birds they sing and sing,
 The blackbirds and the thrushes do,
 And after rain in early Spring
 The grass looks green and new.

 I wish that I were walking there,
 Along that road so still and wide,
 A lad without a thought or care,
 My true-love at my side!



 XIX

 THE CALL TO LONDON


 OH! come to London, young lad,
 Lots is to be seen!
 But he said: “I cannot come, maid,
 Till the cuckoos all be dumb, maid,
 On the hills of green.”

 Oh! come to London, brave lad,
 Come and leave the plough.
 But he said: “The blackthorn’s springing,
 And a mottled thrush is singing
 In the cherry bough.”

 Oh! come to London, fine lad,
 Here’s where money flows.
 But he said: “There’s gold in plenty,
 Gold enough and more for twenty,
 Where the kingcup grows.”

 Oh! come to London, strong lad,
 I am wanting you.
 But he said: “It be a grand sight,
 When the stars at midnight
 Stretch along the blue.”

 Oh! come to London, dear lad,
 I am fair to see!
 But he said: “Along of our way
 Trees are thick with white may,
 Wonderful they be!”



 XX

 BREDON


 BREDON is a lonesome hill,
 It hasn’t any brothers;
 It stands within the Severn vale,
 Apart from all the others.

 The Cotswold Hills go hand in hand,
 The Malverns touching shoulder;
 But Bredon all alone does stand,
 More proud than they, and bolder.

 Then it’s on Bredon I will roam
 The livelong summer through;
 For I’ve no brothers, I’ve no mate,
 And I be lonesome too!



 XXI

 OUR DEAD


 THE day our dead are laid to rest
 We heap the earth upon their breast;
 Upon the earth we set a stone,
 And then we leave them all alone.

 Some folks they weep, and some they pray,
 But from the grave they’ll turn away.
 There’s wood to chop, and fires to make,
 And food to cook, and bread to bake.

 Another takes the empty seat,
 For men who live must drink and eat;
 And work is waiting to be done,
 The work of two, that’s now for one.

 We sometimes speak of folks that’s dead,
 Of what they did, and what they said;
 We sometimes think of them at night,
 But sometimes we forget them quite.



 XXII

 PRIMROSE FLOWERS


 I RODE through Eastnor woods to-day,
 And all the air did promise May,
 Did promise May till every tree
 Found voice to make much melody.

 And oh, the primrose flowers! they glowed
 In thousands all along the road,
 Spreading their magic through the grove,
 Like countless hoards of treasure-trove.

 I said, “Perchance ’tis God who threw
 These golden coins from out the blue,
 That with such bounty He might buy
 The thoughts of one so poor as I!”



 XXIII

 TRAMPING


 OH! it’s good to be alive, man,
 Good to take the road and tramp,
 When the morning smells of meadows,
 And the lanes are cool and damp.

 And the little furry creatures
 Think the world is theirs for play,
 Sitting still to watch you coming,
 Half afraid to run away.

 There’s just light enough to see by,
 Growing stronger as you go;
 And the air is sort o’ hushed-like,
 Breathing very long and slow.

 And the mountains near by Monmouth
 Seem to melt into the sky;
 And the banks along of Ross way
 Seem to melt into the Wye.

 And there’s not a human stirring,
 To disturb the field or fen.
 Oh! you’ll never find your God, man,
 If you do not find Him then!



 XXIV

 THE BLIND PLOUGHMAN


 SET my hands upon the plough,
   My feet upon the sod;
 Turn my face towards the east,
   And praise be to God!

 Every year the rains do fall,
   The seeds they stir and spring;
 Every year the spreading trees
   Shelter birds that sing.

 From the shelter of your heart,
   Brother—drive out sin,
 Let the little birds of faith
   Come and nest therein.

 God has made His sun to shine
   On both you and me;
 God, who took away my eyes,
   That my _soul_ might see!



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS



 WHEN THE WIND COMES UP
 THE HILL


 OH! the wind among the trees,
 How it stirs their wood to song!
 Little whispered melodies,
 All the winding road along.

 Was there ever such a sound,
 Breaking through a noontide still,
 As this tune the trees have found,
 When the wind comes up the hill!



 PEACE

 (Sidmouth)


 EVENING upon the calm sweet sea,
 A little wind asleep,
 Dim sails that drift as tranquilly
 As dreams in slumber deep.
 A seagull on the water’s breast
 Folds up his wings of white;
 As peaceful and as much at rest
 As is my heart to-night.



 LIME-TREES


 LIME-TREES meeting overhead,
 Many lovers cold and dead,
 Kissed and loved, and kissed again,
 In the sunshine and the rain,
 Underneath your scented green.

 When we two, in Earth’s kind breast,
 Fall a-sleeping with the rest,
 Then to us, who loved our fill,
 Sweet to know you whisper still,
 Happy leaves—of all that’s been!



 A LITTLE SONG


 A RIPPLE and a rush, and a mating thrush,
 And, oh! the month must be at May.
 A blossom and a tree, and a honey-bee,
 And, oh! it’s such a perfect day!

 A meeting and a smile, and a sunlit mile,
 And, oh! the world is very young.
 Come winter, storm or cold,
 Love never can grow old,
 And oh! my little song is sung!



 THE SONG OF THE WATCHER


 AT the early break of day,
 When the river mists grow pink,
 And the moon begins to sink,
 Down along the southern way;
 When the gold mimosa tree
 Rustles low and pleasantly,
 To the little singing bird
 That within her heart has stirred;
 I, the watcher at the window,
 Thank the gods who made dawn lovely,
 By creating you for me!

 When the stately night steps down,
 Silent footed, from the west,
 With the moon against her breast
 Folded in her cloudy gown;
 When the endless, sighing sea
 Stretches to eternity,
 Yearning for the pale-eyed star,
 Long beloved, and yet so far;
 I, the watcher at the window,
 Thank the gods who made night lovely,
 By creating you for me!



 BY THE RIVER


 THROUGH the rustling river grasses
 Warm and sweet the young wind passes,
 Blowing shyly soft caresses
 To their dewy emerald tresses.

 All along the silver sands
 Little ripples joining hands,
 Dance a quaint fantastic measure,
 Making liquid sounds of pleasure.

 While away beyond the weir
 Calls the cuckoo loud and clear,
 Something mystic and remote,
 Ringing in his fairy note.

 How I wish that I were small,
 Swinging on the rushes tall,
 Just a humble happy thing,
 Born to live a while in Spring!



 THE ROAD TO COLLA


 THE blossoms of a Judas tree
 Deep pink against an azure sea,
 A silver moth on thoughtless wing,
 A hidden bird that lights to sing,
 A little cloud that wanders by,
 Across the endless field of sky.

 A city in the far away,
 Upon the hills beyond the bay,
 And over all, the sun divine,
 Pouring his stream of burning wine
 Like nectar strong with youth and mirth,
 Into this goblet of the earth!



 PRAYER


 IF I should pray, my prayer would be
 For gratitude unlimited:
 For gratitude so vast and deep,
 That it would move my soul to weep
 Great tears, and all the words I said
 To be as organ notes sublime,
 Full-throated flowing words of rhyme,
 Whose like no mortal eye hath read.

 Then would I kneel before the God
 Whose matchless genius made the earth;
 The Poet-God, who sows the hours
 With all the scented hosts of flowers,
 Who gives the little winds their birth,
 Who doth unloose the sea-song’s might
 To shake the very stars at night,
 And fling the foam-flakes high in mirth.

 Whose mind is fragrant as a grove
 Of cedar trees in summer rain,
 Whose thoughts dead poets gathered up,
 And poured within the brimming cup
 They offered to the world in vain.
 Whose whisper masters caught, and wrote
 Into their music note by note,
 Immortal, haunting, strain on strain.

 Whose image is revealed to all
 Great lovers in the loved one’s face,
 Whose passion mystical and deep
 Kindles the holy fires that sleep
 Within the heart’s most secret place.
 Whose breath is incense on the shrine
 Of earthly love, burning divine
 And changeless, through all time and space!



 DAWN


 IT is the dawn, that wondrous fateful hour
 Of strange desires, of thoughts and deeds that stir
 Within the womb of possibility.
 A wind new-wakened combs the silken sea,
 Lifting the foam like some unearthly flower.
 The lights still glimmer all along the quay:
 And overhead a flight of hurried stars
 Seek hiding swiftly, e’er the day shall be.
 Ships pass like spectres, little white-sailed ships,
 Gliding away towards their destiny.
 The earth, expectant, seems to thrill and wait
 For some loved being; through the eastern gate
 Red clouds come floating. Oh! that I were day,
 Resplendent, bountiful, a heaven-born fire,
 Filled with the glory of my own desire,
 And thou, the trembling earth awaiting me!



 TO THE EARTH


 OH! hadst thou kindly arms that could enfold me
 While yet I live, sweet Earth, console and hold me
 Unto thy bosom, thou, my fruitful Mother.
 Oh! hadst thou human lips for soft caresses,
 To meet mine own in some pure kiss that blesses,
 Whose spell thou knowest, thou dear Earth, none other.

 For I am weary of the city’s sorrow,
 Captive and weary, longing for a morrow
 That shall release me from these walls, my prison;
 My eyes are sickened with the surging faces,
 And fain would gaze across thy sunlit spaces,
 Seeking the happy lark but newly risen.

 My ears are deafened by the great pulse beating
 Along the streets, monotonous, repeating
 Its throbs of toil, futile yet never ending.
 Would I could hear cool water running seaward,
 Or sigh of wind at daybreak sweeping leeward,
 Through purple pines whose happy boughs are bending.

 O Earth, dear Mother, as my spirit passes,
 Make thou sweet fetters of thy flowers and grasses,
 To bind it surely, lest it wander lonely
 In some far sphere where never wild bird singeth,
 Where never leaf at breath of Summer springeth,
 For thou indeed art Heaven, O Earth, thou only!



 DAWN AMONG THE OLIVE GROVES


 ALONG the hills the olives grow,
 And almonds bloom in early Spring,
 And many are the streams that flow,
 And countless are the birds that sing;
 The air is cool with distant snow,
 And musical with bells that ring.

 Beneath my feet the road winds down
 In deepening shadow, far away
 To where a little peaceful town
 Lies sleeping by the quiet bay;
 A distant sail, now white, now brown,
 Shows phantomlike against the day.

 While gradually the Eastern skies
 Grow flushed and bright, the late stars flee,
 And eager clouds appear, and rise
 Above the waves expectantly;
 Till lo! before my wondering eyes,
 The great sun steps from out the sea!



 SILENT PLACES


 SWEET are the silent places of the earth,
 Green heart of woods through which no wind doth pass,
 Long sloping meadows sown with silken grass,
 Old gardens thick with scents of death, and birth.

 Pale dome of morning, ere the first bird sings,
 Stretching above the silent palisade,
 Vague and unearthly, wrought of light and shade.
 O’er which the dusk still hangs with starlit wings.

 The hush of mid-day in the languid south,
 Where marble borders rim the limpid pools,
 In whose blue depths the ardent noontide cools
 Her burning limbs, and bathes her sun-kissed mouth.

 And above all things, silent and at rest,
 I mind me of a little quiet bay,
 Set like a sapphire in the golden day,
 With never ship to scourge its tranquil breast.

 Oh! happy waters of that quiet bay,
 So near my heart—and yet so far away!



 ONE EVENING NEAR NICE


 PALE depth of sky, serene and wonderful,
 Within whose fold the lamps of early stars
 Shine far away and faintly luminous;
 Whose pensive tones merge from the afterglow
 Into this colour indescribable;
 This blending of the sea and earth and clouds,
 Soft and yet poignant, passionate yet calm.
 I know not what the spirit in me feels,
 When it beholds thee through my human eyes:
 Nor what strange craving for forgotten things
 Has stirred my soul to this disquietude!



 THOUGHTS AT AJACCIO


 KIND Earth, upon whose mother breast
 The fruitful trees in time of spring,
 Put forth their endless blossoming
 From North to South, from East to West,
 Whose sweet deep-furrowed soil is blest
 With striving seeds and budding flowers,
 And all the potent toil of hours,
 From sunrise until even’s rest—

 Stretch forth thy leafy arms at dawn,
 And touch me, compass me around,
 Fill me with scent of upturned ground,
 Soft perfume from thy bosom drawn.
 The gifts I bring thou wilt not scorn,
 Poor though they must be while I live,
 For in my hour of death I give
 My heart, that one rose may be born!



 THREE CHILD-SONGS



 I

 THE THRUSH’S SONG

 “OH! bother,” sang the thrush,
 “I’m in an awful rush,
 For I’ve got to get ready for the Spring.
 With feathers from my breast,
 I’ll line a cosy nest,
 A terribly difficult thing!

 “Before it is too late,
 I’ll have to find a mate,
 And she must be dainty and small,
 Obedient and sweet,
 In jacket brown and neat,
 And ready to come when I call.

 “The robins are all wed
 (Or so I’ve heard it said),
 And the wind from the South it does blow.
 The ice has felt the sun,
 And winter must be done,
 For a primrose is growing in the snow!”



 II

 WILLOW WAND


 WILLOW wand, willow wand,
 Change this little slender frond
 To a Princess tall and fair,
 With a mass of golden hair,
 Of golden hair.

 Willow wand, willow wand,
 Change this shallow meadow pond
 To a deep and crystal pool,
 Where she bathes at even cool,
 At even cool.

 Wand cut from the willow tree,
 Build a fairy home for me,
 Build a home of light and shade,
 Sun and shadow deftly made,
 Most deftly made.

 There where nothing comes to part,
 With the ladye of my heart
 I will dwell for ever—ever;
 We will quarrel never—never,
 Oh! never—_never!_



 III

 A WINTER SONG


 “SWIFT away, swift away,”
 Sang the fickle swallow,
 Oh! the fickle swallow,
 Flying to the sun!
 “Come, my little brothers,
 Bring your feathered mothers,
 Come away, come away,
 Each and every one.”

 “Only stay, only stay,”
 Sang the lonely poet,
 Oh! the lonely poet,
 All among the snow!
 Robin Redbreast heard, and said,
 “I am here though summer’s dead;
 Cheer up, cheer up,
 I will never go!”



 AUTUMN IN SUSSEX


 A GLORY is this autumn day,
 That stretches far across the land,
 To where the sea along the sand
 Sings kindly, with a gentle lay
 Upon its lips. The gleam and sway
 Of burning leaves ignites the air
 To strange soft fire; serene and bare
 The wide fields lie on either hand.

 More lovely than the timid Spring
 Who tells her beads of humble flowers,
 More perfect than the sun-warmed hours
 Of summer, gay with birds that sing,
 Is this fulfilment earth doth bring
 To offer up to God; this deep
 Vast prayer before the winter sleep,
 This final tribute to His powers!



 SI PARVA LICET COMPONERE MAGNIS


 IN the bowl of a shell
 Sings the wonderful song of the sea,
 All the ebb and the swell,
 In the bowl of a shell.

 In the heart of a pool
 Drifts the fathomless smile of the sky,
 All the clouds white and cool,
 In the heart of a pool.

 In the beam of a star
 Shines the light of a far away world,
 Out of space, dim and far,
 In the beam of a star.

 In the cup of a rose
 Dwells the languor and passion of June,
 Eager life, warm repose,
 In the cup of a rose.

 In the throat of a bird
 Lives the message of God to His earth,
 Lo! the mystical word
 In the throat of a bird!



 TO ITALY


 O ITALY of chiming bells,
 Of pilgrim shrines and holy wells,
 Of incense mist and secret prayers,
 Profound and sweet as scented airs
 Blown from a field of lily flowers!

 O Italy of pagan vine,
 That thrills with sap of sun-born wine,
 Drenching the Christian soul with red
 Warm liquid of a faith long dead,
 Wafting it back to sensuous hours.

 No mortal woman ever held
 Such sweet inconstancies, or welled
 With such hot springs of turbid fire;
 No being throbbed with such desire,
 Thy very air is ecstacy!

 O pagan goddess, from whose lips
 The gentle Christian worship slips,
 I fear thee, knowing what thou art
 Yet I adore thee; take my heart
 I am thy lover, Italy!



 SUNDAY IN LIGURIA


 THIS is the Sabbath day, the day of rest,
 That breathes so gently in this quiet place,
 With such insistent peace that for a space
 The silver olives on the mountain’s crest
 Forget to whisper, folded in the grace
 Of lengthening shadows gathered from the noon.
 The clouds are golden, yet a placid moon
 Slips out among them, calm and pale of face.

 O soul of mine, breathe in this holy thing
 That steeps the hills down to the dreaming sea;
 This endless prayer, this silent ecstacy,
 That like a great white bird on sunlit wing
 Hovers above the world; ’tis given thee
 To merge thyself in this harmonious whole,
 And be content, seeking no higher goal;
 The earth is God’s, to-day eternity!



 GEORGETOWN,
 U.S.A.


 IF you would hear the thrushes sing,
 Then go to Georgetown in the spring,
 And wander slowly at your ease
 Along the avenues of trees.

 The sunshine and the shadows meet
 To weave a web across the street,
 And in and out its magic strands
 Play little children, joining hands.

 The sky is washed with showers and dew,
 Until it looks the palest blue,
 And in the gardens down below
 You almost _see_ the grasses grow.

 There’s something very very old
 About the place, so we are told,
 And yet it’s marvellously gay
 And young, when seen on such a day!

 The silent corners all around
 Break up in waves of pleasant sound,
 The mansions of Colonial days
 Allow the sun to gild their greys.

 The paving-stones, with earth between,
 Are fringed with shoots of emerald green,
 And oh! the song the thrushes sing
 In Georgetown, when the year’s at spring!



 ON THE POTOMAC RIVER,
 U.S.A.


 AT close of June’s most burning day,
 We took a ship and sailed away:
 In mid-Potomac stream sailed we,
 To Old Point Comfort by the sea.

 The heavy hanging air of dusk
 Was thick with scent of fainting musk,
 And through the tired willow trees
 Stirred never sound or breath of breeze.

 So still it was, that from afar
 We seemed to hear a falling star,
 And every drop we heard, that dript
 From off the paddle as it dipped.

 The fireflies lit their yellow lamps,
 And danced along the marshy damps;
 They skimmed and shot, and skimmed again,
 While beetles droned a dance-refrain.

 The old ship pushed the mists apart,
 And crawled along with throbbing heart,
 Pausing from time to time for breath
 Beside some jetty, still as death.

 The moon rose up all reddish gold,
 And lit the swirling misty fold
 Of fog along the river bank,
 Where grew the creepers dark and rank.

 Sometimes the lonely “look-out” cried
 “All’s well”: the water swished and sighed
 An endless and protesting song,
 As stealthily we crept along.

 Until at last the wind blew free,
 Where the Potomac met the sea;
 And not so very far away
 The shores of Old Point Comfort lay.



 THE LOST WORD


 HIGH above a waveless sea,
 On the hills of long ago,
 There you lived awhile with me,
 And we loved—I know.

 For your hair I made a crown,
 Twined it with these hands of mine,
 Sun-warmed leaves and tendrils brown,
 From the happy vine.

 You were like some woodland thing,
 Fear and rapture in your eyes,
 Tender as a breath of Spring
 Blown from April skies.

 Then I called you, and you heard,
 To your lover’s arms you came:
 Ah! what was that magic word,
 Your forgotten name!



 COMPARISONS


 A FIELD of scented clover
 That honey-bees hang over,
 A hazel-wood in Spring,
 Where thrush and robin sing.
 A stream that seaward flows,
 Rejoicing as it goes,
 A little tower where dwells
 The sound of happy bells.
 A morning fresh and blue,
 Flower-decked, and wet with dew,
 All these my love she minds me of—
 And other sweet things too.



 A FRAGMENT


 THE clustering grapes of purple vine
 Are crushed to make the crimson wine.

 The poppies in the grasses deep
 Are crushed to brew the draught of sleep.

 The roses, when their glories bloom
 Are crushed to yield their soul’s perfume.

 And hearts, perchance of these the least,
 Are crushed for nectar at Love’s feast!



APPRECIATIONS


_The following poems from_ “’TWIXT EARTH AND STARS,” _by_ MARGUERITE
RADCLYFFE-HALL, _have been set to music:_

BY MR. HUBERT BATH

  “A SONG.” _Chappell and Co._

  “ITALIAN SPRING.” _Boosey and Co._

  “ON THE LAGOON.” _Boosey and Co._

  “A SEA CYCLE.” (NO. XV.) _Chappell and Co._

BY MR. CUTHBERT WYNNE

  “LET NOT THE MORNING BREAK,” ETC. _The John Church Co., Ltd._

BY MR. EASTHROPE MARTIN

  “SHALL I COMPLAIN?” _Metzler and Co._

BY MR. ROBERT CONNINGSBY CLARKE

  “GENTLE DAME PRISCILLA.” _Chappell and Co._


_The following poems from_ “A SHEAF OF VERSES” _are set to music:_

BY MR. ROBERT CONNINGSBY CLARKE

  “IN COUPLES.” _Chappell and Co._

  “TO MY LITTLE COUSIN.” _Chappell and Co._

  “TO A BABY.” _Chappell and Co._

  “BUTTERFLY.” _Chappell and Co._

  “OUR LITTLE LOVE IS NEWLY BORN.” _Chappell and Co._

  “HANDS AND LIPS.” _Chappell and Co._


_The following poems from “POEMS OF THE PAST AND PRESENT,” by
MARGUERITE RADCLYFFE-HALL, have been set to music:_

BY THE LATE MR. COLERIDGE TAYLOR.

  “THE BIRTH OF THE RAINBOW.” _Boosey and Co._

  “ON THE HILL-SIDE.” _Boosey and Co._

  FRUIT OF THE NISPERO, NOS. III., XI., XXIV. _Boosey and Co._

BY MADAME LIZA LEHMANN.

  “THE SILVER ROSE” (From Three Songs of Nowhere Town). _The John Church
    Co., Ltd._

BY MR. ROBERT CONNINGSBY CLARKE

  “THE GARDEN.” _Chappell and Co._

  “TO A LILY.” _Chappell and Co._

  “A FAREWELL.” _Chappell and Co._

  “‘GOOD MORNING,’ SAID THE THRUSH.” _Chappell and Co._

  “THE HILLS OF BY AND BYE.” _Chappell and Co._

  “THE RHYME OF THE SHEPHERD.” _Chappell and Co._

  “THE WHITE BIRD.” _Chappell and Co._

  “FRUIT OF THE NISPERO,” NOS. I., VIII., XIV., XX., XXIII. _Chappell
    and Co._

BY MRS. GEORGE BATTEN.

  “A SONG OF YOUTH.”

  “TO A CHILD.”

  “FRUIT OF THE NISPERO,” NO. XVI.


_The following poems from_ “SONGS OF THREE COUNTIES AND OTHER POEMS,”
    _have been set to music._

BY MR. ROBERT CONNINGSBY CLARKE

  “WALKING OUT.” _Chappell and Co._

  “EASTNOR CHURCHYARD.” _Chappell and Co._

BY MRS. WOODFORDE FINDEN.

  “WILLOW WAND.” _Boosey and Co._



                             PRESS NOTICES

                    “POEMS OF THE PAST AND PRESENT.”


“Miss Radclyffe-Hall has an exceptional gift for enshrining a single
thought or fancy in a little lyric or a song. The little pieces ... most
of them catch a real thought, and sometimes—as in “A Reflection”—one
which makes the reader pause and meditate. Many of her pieces seem to
have been put to music, and they deserve it.”—_The Times, October 6th,
1910._


“Miss Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall is already known to many readers as the
author of some sweet and dainty verses. Her latest book should widen the
circle of those acquainted with her work, for it shows her once more as
a tender singer of the spells of love, the beauty of Nature. There is in
many of her poems a wistfulness that is of beauty rather than of
sadness, while her power of expressing her moods and thoughts in simple
and melodious rhythms is, perhaps, more markedly shown here than in her
earlier work. Here is a haunting little piece from a trio of ‘Stuart
Songs’ (quotation). Part of the charm of this lies no doubt in the trick
of refrain, but, with her few simply chosen words, the writer has
suggested much of tenderness and tragedy. Many of the pieces seem to
have been written with a view to musical setting, and express a mood, a
sentiment, in tuneful fashion, and with a note of true sincerity. Here
is a beautiful picture, ‘In Liguria’” (quotation).—_Daily Telegraph,
November 16th, 1910._


“_Poems of the Past and Present_, notwithstanding their number, maintain
a standard consistently high. Fastidious workmanship, and an instinct
towards poetical grace in language and rhythm, are, apart from
inspiration, the two essentials for the writing of lyrics; and the
volume possesses both in a marked degree, besides an appreciable share
of the rarer quality. Though the personal note is seldom absent, and the
dominance of love as a theme makes more than ever for monotony nowadays,
these potential drawbacks are to a great extent redeemed by the
freshness and fancy which go to the painting of, among many others, such
a haunting little picture as the following from ‘In Liguria’
(quotation). With her power of delicate visualization, her keen sense of
colour and music, and a technique almost flawless, the author should, as
her poetical horizon broadens, produce valuable results.”—_The Athenæum,
December 3rd, 1910._


“One meets with many excellent lyrics scattered through the pages. What
is characteristic of the best of them, which are to be found among the
unrhymed verses, is a certain Southern, almost Oriental atmosphere, like
the scent at dawn of those strange blossoms of which she sings. This is
the appropriate setting, sometimes of a happy licence of imagination, in
a set of verses which will repay perusal by a reader of poetic
sympathies.”—_The Scotsman, October 13th, 1910._


“A poetess with a very charming gift ... her little book should have a
great vogue as a Christmas gift-book.”—_Daily Express, July 7th, 1910._


“Miss Radclyffe-Hall is facile, flowing, and often really musical; it is
not surprising that so many of her verses have been used by composers.
Such a lyric as ‘A Farewell,’ calls aloud for setting.”—_Pall Mall
Gazette, December 2nd, 1910._


“Many fair and gentle thoughts are gracefully expressed by Marguerite
Radclyffe-Hall. Especially charming are the lyrics in the song sequence,
‘Fruit of the Nispero,’ and the three little ‘Stuart Songs’ of Mary the
Queen.”—_The Lady, December 29th, 1910._


“There are a great many poems in this little volume, all showing
evidence of considerable facility and talent.”—_Evening Standard,
September 22nd, 1910._


“A book of verse that appeared lately, by Miss Marguerite
Radclyffe-Hall, will, I know, delight you, for it is written with true
poetical feeling, and touches on so many subjects besides that of love,
that it is sure to please the taste of many and various readers. Amongst
the poems that I recommend to your notice are ‘An Italian Garden,’ ‘A
Sonnet to Elizabeth Barrett Browning,’ which breathes a deep and
reverential appreciation of our great poetess’s worth, ‘The Voice,’ and
several numbers in a series called ‘Fruit of the Nispero.’ It is easy to
imagine that many of these tuneful numbers should have been set to
music, for there are in them such tender harmonies as must appeal to
musical people.”—_The Lady, November 17th, 1910._


“Her volume is full of pearls; they are to be gathered from every page,
and sometimes they are very brilliant. ‘The Hills of By and Bye,’
‘Before Sunrise,’ ‘A Little Child,’ ‘In Liguria,’ and others are
beautiful poems; and ‘The Graveyard at Orotava’ is based on an
exquisitely poetic sentiment, the last two verses showing a high quality
of imaginative power. Miss Radclyffe-Hall’s style is individual and
remarkable for combined force and clarity. Very few living women poets
are at all her equal.”—_Sussex Daily News, October 26th, 1910._


“This is a book of really good verse. All its ‘small songs’ are musical
and delicate, but in addition it has the rarer virtue of complete
sincerity.... There is no striving after effect by phrase or artifice.
Every lyric is the simple melodious expression of a poetic
thought.”—_Evening News, October 19th, 1910_.


“Miss Radclyffe-Hall’s latest book should widen the circle of those
acquainted with her work, for it shows her once more as a tender singer
of the spells of love, the beauty of Nature.”—_Liverpool Express,
November 22nd, 1910._


“Many of her pieces are just adapted to musical setting, for they
express a mood, a sentiment, a graceful fancy, with a note of real
sincerity.”—_Christian Endeavour Times, December 22nd, 1910._



                               PRINTED BY
                         THE WESTMINSTER PRESS
                            411A HARROW ROAD
                               LONDON W.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE


Italicized phrases are presented by surrounding the text with
_underscores_.

Mixed-case small capital letters are represented by all-capital letters.

Repeating titles have been removed from the front of the book.

Punctuation has been normalized, including standardization of
hyphenation and punctuation between poem titles within the book and
those in the Table of Contents.

The division “Rustic Courting” as placed before the first poem has been
added to the Table of Contents.

The contributor R. B. Cunninghame-Graham, as presented on the book’s
original title page, is otherwise presented as R. B. Cunninghame Graham.

In the poem “The Meeting-Place”, the line “My love would come to me!”
has been retained non-indented as in the original, however, there is a
possibility this is a printer’s error, as that line does not follow the
pattern of indentation of the rest of the poem.





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