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Title: Poems, 1908-1919
Author: Drinkwater, John
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                                 POEMS
                               1908-1919

                   [Illustration: _John Drinkwater_

                _From a drawing by William Rothenstein_

                                _1917_

                        _Emery Walker ph. sc._]



                                 POEMS
                               1908-1919

                                  BY
                            JOHN DRINKWATER

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                          BOSTON AND NEW YORK
                       HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
                     The Riverside Press Cambridge

                  COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY JOHN DRINKWATER

                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                                  TO
                                MY WIFE



CONTENTS


RECIPROCITY                                                            1

THE HOURS                                                              2

A TOWN WINDOW                                                          4

MYSTERY                                                                5

THE COMMON LOT                                                         7

PASSAGE                                                                8

THE WOOD                                                               9

HISTORY                                                               10

THE FUGITIVE                                                          12

CONSTANCY                                                             13

SOUTHAMPTON BELLS                                                     15

THE NEW MIRACLE                                                       17

REVERIE                                                               18

PENANCES                                                              26

LAST CONFESSIONAL                                                     27

BIRTHRIGHT                                                            29

ANTAGONISTS                                                           30

HOLINESS                                                              31

THE CITY                                                              32

TO THE DEFILERS                                                       33

A CHRISTMAS NIGHT                                                     34

INVOCATION                                                            35

IMMORTALITY                                                           36

THE CRAFTSMEN                                                         38

SYMBOLS                                                               39

SEALED                                                                40

A PRAYER                                                              43

THE BUILDING                                                          45

THE SOLDIER                                                           48

THE FIRES OF GOD                                                      49

CHALLENGE                                                             60

TRAVEL TALK                                                           61

THE VAGABOND                                                          66

OLD WOMAN IN MAY                                                      67

THE FECKENHAM MEN                                                     68

THE TRAVELLER                                                         70

IN LADY STREET                                                        71

ANTHONY CRUNDLE                                                       75

MAD TOM TATTERMAN                                                     76

FOR CORIN TO-DAY                                                      78

THE CARVER IN STONE                                                   79

ELIZABETH ANN                                                         91

THE COTSWOLD FARMERS                                                  92

A MAN’S DAUGHTER                                                      93

THE LIFE OF JOHN HERITAGE                                             95

THOMAS YARNTON OF TARLTON                                             98

MRS. WILLOW                                                           99

ROUNDELS OF THE YEAR                                                 101

LIEGEWOMAN                                                           105

LOVERS TO LOVERS                                                     106

LOVE’S PERSONALITY                                                   107

PIERROT                                                              108

RECKONING                                                            110

DERELICT                                                             112

WED                                                                  113

FORSAKEN                                                             115

DEFIANCE                                                             116

LOVE IN OCTOBER                                                      117

TO THE LOVERS THAT COME AFTER US                                     118

DERBYSHIRE SONG                                                      119

LOVE’S HOUSE                                                         120

COTSWOLD LOVE                                                        124

WITH DAFFODILS                                                       125

FOUNDATIONS                                                          126

DEAR AND INCOMPARABLE                                                127

A SABBATH DAY                                                        128

A DEDICATION                                                         134

RUPERT BROOKE                                                        136

ON READING FRANCIS LEDWIDGE’S LAST SONGS                             137

IN THE WOODS                                                         138

LATE SUMMER                                                          139

JANUARY DUSK                                                         140

AT GRAFTON                                                           141

DOMINION                                                             142

THE MIRACLE                                                          144

MILLERS DALE                                                         145

WRITTEN AT LUDLOW CASTLE                                             146

WORDSWORTH AT GRASMERE                                               147

SUNRISE ON RYDAL WATER                                               148

SEPTEMBER                                                            150

OLTON POOLS                                                          151

OF GREATHAM                                                          152

MAMBLE                                                               154

OUT OF THE MOON                                                      155

MOONLIT APPLES                                                       156

COTTAGE SONG                                                         157

THE MIDLANDS                                                         158

OLD CROW                                                             160

VENUS IN ARDEN                                                       162

ON A LAKE                                                            163

HARVEST MOON                                                         164

AT AN EARTHWORKS                                                     165

INSTRUCTION                                                          166

HABITATION                                                           167

WRITTEN IN WINTERBORNE CAME CHURCH                                   169

BUDS                                                                 171

BLACKBIRD                                                            172

MAY GARDEN                                                           173

AT AN INN                                                            174

PERSPECTIVE                                                          176

CROCUSES                                                             177

RIDDLES R.F.C.                                                       179

THE SHIPS OF GRIEF                                                   180

NOCTURNE                                                             181

THE PATRIOT                                                          182

EPILOGUE FOR A MASQUE                                                184

THE GUEST                                                            185

TREASON                                                              186

POLITICS                                                             187

FOR A GUEST ROOM                                                     189

DAY                                                                  190

DREAMS                                                               191

RESPONSIBILITY                                                       192

PROVOCATIONS                                                         193

TRIAL                                                                194

CHARGE TO THE PLAYERS                                                195

CHARACTER                                                            196

REALITY                                                              197

EPILOGUE                                                             198

MOONRISE                                                             200

DEER                                                                 201

TO ONE I LOVE                                                        202

TO ALICE MEYNELL                                                     205

PETITION                                                             206

HARVESTING                                                           208



                                 POEMS

                               1908-1919



RECIPROCITY


    I do not think that skies and meadows are
    Moral, or that the fixture of a star
    Comes of a quiet spirit, or that trees
    Have wisdom in their windless silences.
    Yet these are things invested in my mood
    With constancy, and peace, and fortitude,
    That in my troubled season I can cry
    Upon the wide composure of the sky,
    And envy fields, and wish that I might be
    As little daunted as a star or tree.



THE HOURS


    Those hours are best when suddenly
    The voices of the world are still,
    And in that quiet place is heard
    The voice of one small singing bird,
    Alone within his quiet tree;

    When to one field that crowns a hill,
    With but the sky for neighbourhood,
    The crowding counties of my brain
    Give all their riches, lake and plain,
    Cornland and fell and pillared wood;
    When in a hill-top acre, bare
    For the seed’s use, I am aware
    Of all the beauty that an age
    Of earth has taught my eyes to see;

    When Pride and Generosity
    The Constant Heart and Evil Rage,
    Affection and Desire, and all
    The passions of experience
    Are no more tabled in my mind,
    Learning’s idolatry, but find
    Particularity of sense
    In daily fortitudes that fall
    From this or that companion,
    Or in an angry gossip’s word;
    When one man speaks for Every One,
    When Music lives in one small bird,
    When in a furrowed hill we see
    All beauty in epitome--
    Those hours are best; for those belong
    To the lucidity of song.



A TOWN WINDOW


    Beyond my window in the night
      Is but a drab inglorious street,
    Yet there the frost and clean starlight
      As over Warwick woods are sweet.

    Under the grey drift of the town
      The crocus works among the mould
    As eagerly as those that crown
      The Warwick spring in flame and gold.

    And when the tramway down the hill
      Across the cobbles moans and rings,
    There is about my window-sill
      The tumult of a thousand wings.



MYSTERY


    Think not that mystery has place
    In the obscure and veilèd face,
    Or when the midnight watches are
    Uncompanied of moon or star,
    Or where the fields and forests lie
    Enfolded from the loving eye
    By fogs rebellious to the sun,
    Or when the poet’s rhymes are spun
    From dreams that even in his own
    Imagining are half-unknown.

    These are not mystery, but mere
    Conditions that deny the clear
    Reality that lies behind
    The weak, unspeculative mind,
    Behind contagions of the air
    And screens of beauty everywhere,
    The brooding and tormented sky,
    The hesitation of an eye.

    Look rather when the landscapes glow
    Through crystal distances as though
    The forty shires of England spread
    Into one vision harvested,
    Or when the moonlit waters lie
    In silver cold lucidity;
    Those countenances search that bear
    Witness to very character,
    And listen to the song that weighs
    A life’s adventure in a phrase--
    These are the founts of wonder, these
    The plainer miracles to please
    The brain that reads the world aright;
    Here is the mystery of light.



THE COMMON LOT


    When youth and summer-time are gone,
    And age puts quiet garlands on,
    And in the speculative eye
    The fires of emulation die,
    But as to-day our time shall be
    Trembling upon eternity,
    While, still inconstant in debate,
    We shall on revelation wait,
    And age as youth will daily plan
    The sailing of the caravan.



PASSAGE


    When you deliberate the page
    Of Alexander’s pilgrimage,
    Or say--“It is three years, or ten,
    Since Easter slew Connolly’s men,”
    Or prudently to judgment come
    Of Antony or Absalom,
    And think how duly are designed
    Case and instruction for the mind,
    Remember then that also we,
    In a moon’s course, are history.



THE WOOD


    I walked a nut-wood’s gloom. And overhead
    A pigeon’s wing beat on the hidden boughs,
    And shrews upon shy tunnelling woke thin
    Late winter leaves with trickling sound. Across
    My narrow path I saw the carrier ants
    Burdened with little pieces of bright straw.
    These things I heard and saw, with senses fine
    For all the little traffic of the wood,
    While everywhere, above me, underfoot,
    And haunting every avenue of leaves,
    Was mystery, unresting, taciturn.

      *       *       *       *       *

    And haunting the lucidities of life
    That are my daily beauty, moves a theme,
    Beating along my undiscovered mind.



HISTORY


    Sometimes, when walls and occupation seem
    A prison merely, a dark barrier
    Between me everywhere
    And life, or the larger province of the mind,
    As dreams confined,
    As the trouble of a dream,
    I seek to make again a life long gone,
    To be
    My mind’s approach and consolation,
    To give it form’s lucidity,
    Resilient form, as porcelain pieces thrown
    In buried China by a wrist unknown,
    Or mirrored brigs upon Fowey sea.

    Then to my memory comes nothing great
    Of purpose, or debate,
    Or perfect end,
    Pomp, nor love’s rapture, nor heroic hours to spend--
    But most, and strangely, for long and so much have I seen,
    Comes back an afternoon
    Of a June
    Sunday at Elsfield, that is up on a green
    Hill, and there,
    Through a little farm parlour door,
    A floor
    Of red tiles and blue,
    And the air
    Sweet with the hot June sun cascading through
    The vine-leaves under the glass, and a scarlet fume
    Of geranium flower, and soft and yellow bloom
    Of musk, and stains of scarlet and yellow glass.

    Such are the things remain
    Quietly, and for ever, in the brain,
    And the things that they choose for history-making pass.



THE FUGITIVE


    Beauty has come to make no longer stay
    Than the bright buds of May
    In May-time do.

    Beauty is with us for one hour, one hour,
    Life is so brief a flower;
    Thoughts are so few.

    Thoughts are so few with mastery to give
    Shape to these fugitive
    Dear brevities,

    That even in its hour beauty is blind,
    Because the shallow mind
    Not sees, not sees.

    And in the mind of man only can be
    Alert prosperity
    For beauty brief.

    So, what can be but little comes to less
    Upon the wilderness
    Of unbelief.

    And beauty that has but an hour to spend
    With you for friend,
    Goes outcast by.

    But know, but know--for all she is outcast--
    It is not she at last,
    But you that die.



CONSTANCY


    The shadows that companion me
    From chronicles and poetry
    More constant and substantial are
    Than these my men familiar,
    Who draw with me uncertain breath
    A little while this side of death;
    For you, my friend, may fail to keep
    To-morrow’s tryst, so darkly deep
    The motions mutable that give
    To flesh its brief prerogative,
    And in the pleasant hours we make
    Together for devotion’s sake,
    Always the testament I see
    That is our twin mortality.
    But those from the recorded page
    Keep an eternal pilgrimage.
    They stedfastly inhabit here
    With no mortality to fear,
    And my communion with them
    Ails not in the mind’s stratagem
    Against the sudden blow, the date
    That once must fall unfortunate.
    They fret not nor persuade, and when
    These graduates I entertain,
    I grieve not that I too must fall
    As you, my friend, to funeral,
    But rather find example there
    That, when my boughs of time are bare,
    And nothing more the body’s chance
    Governs my careful circumstance,
    I shall, upon that later birth,
    Walk in immortal fields of earth.



SOUTHAMPTON BELLS


I

    Long ago some builder thrust
    Heavenward in Southampton town
    His spire and beamed his bells,
    Largely conceiving from the dust
    That pinnacle for ringing down
    Orisons and Noëls.

    In his imagination rang,
    Through generations challenging
    His peal on simple men,
    Who, as the heart within him sang,
    In daily townfaring should sing
    By year and year again.


II

    Now often to their ringing go
    The bellmen with lean Time at heel,
    Intent on daily cares;
    The bells ring high, the bells ring low,
    The ringers ring the builder’s peal
    Of tidings unawares.

    And all the bells’ might well be dumb
    For any quickening in the street
    Of customary ears;
    And so at last proud builders come
    With dreams and virtues to defeat
    Among the clouding years.


III

    Now, waiting on Southampton sea
    For exile, through the silver night
    I hear Noël! Noël!
    Through generations down to me
    Your challenge, builder, comes aright,
    Bell by obedient bell.

    You wake an hour with me; then wide
    Though be the lapses of your sleep
    You yet shall wake again;
    And thus, old builder, on the tide
    Of immortality you keep
    Your way from brain to brain.



THE NEW MIRACLE


    Of old men wrought strange gods for mystery,
      Implored miraculous tokens in the skies,
    And lips that most were strange in prophecy
      Were most accounted wise.

    The hearthstone’s commerce between mate and mate,
      Barren of wonder, prospered in content,
    And still the hunger of their thought was great
      For sweet astonishment.

    And so they built them altars of retreat
      Where life’s familiar use was overthrown,
    And left the shining world about their feet,
      To travel worlds unknown.

      *       *       *       *       *

    We hunger still. But wonder has come down
      From alien skies upon the midst of us;
    The sparkling hedgerow and the clamorous town
      Have grown miraculous.

    And man from his far travelling returns
      To find yet stranger wisdom than he sought,
    Where in the habit of his threshold burns
      Unfathomable thought.



REVERIE


    Here in the unfrequented noon,
    In the green hermitage of June,
    While overhead a rustling wing
    Minds me of birds that do not sing
    Until the cooler eve rewakes
    The service of melodious brakes,
    And thoughts are lonely rangers, here,
    In shelter of the primrose year,
    I curiously meditate
    Our brief and variable state.

    I think how many are alive
    Who better in the grave would thrive,
    If some so long a sleep might give
    Better instruction how to live;
    I think what splendours had been said
    By darlings now untimely dead
    Had death been wise in choice of these,
    And made exchange of obsequies.

    I think what loss to government
    It is that good men are content--
    Well knowing that an evil will
    Is folly-stricken too, and still
    Itself considers only wise
    For all rebukes and surgeries--
    That evil men should raise their pride
    To place and fortune undefied.
    I think how daily we beguile
    Our brains, that yet a little while
    And all our congregated schemes
    And our perplexity of dreams,
    Shall come to whole and perfect state.
    I think, however long the date
    Of life may be, at last the sun
    Shall pass upon campaigns undone.

    I look upon the world and see
    A world colonial to me,
    Whereof I am the architect,
    And principal and intellect,
    A world whose shape and savour spring
    Out of my lone imagining,
    A world whose nature is subdued
    For ever to my instant mood,
    And only beautiful can be
    Because of beauty is in me.
    And then I know that every mind
    Among the millions of my kind
    Makes earth his own particular
    And privately created star,
    That earth has thus no single state,
    Being every man articulate.
    Till thought has no horizon then
    I try to think how many men
    There are to make an earth apart
    In symbol of the urgent heart,
    For there are forty in my street,
    And seven hundred more in Greet,
    And families at Luton Hoo,
    And there are men in China, too.

    And what immensity is this
    That is but a parenthesis
    Set in a little human thought,
    Before the body comes to naught.
    There at the bottom of the copse
    I see a field of turnip tops,
    I see the cropping cattle pass
    There in another field, of grass.
    And fields and fields, with seven towns,
    A river, and a flight of downs,
    Steeples for all religious men,
    Ten thousand trees, and orchards ten,
    A mighty span that curves away
    Into blue beauty, and I lay
    All this as quartered on a sphere
    Hung huge in space, a thing of fear
    Vast as the circle of the sky
    Completed to the astonished eye;
    And then I think that all I see,
    Whereof I frame immensity
    Globed for amazement, is no more
    Than a shire’s corner, and that four
    Great shires being ten times multiplied
    Are small on the Atlantic tide
    As an emerald on a silver bowl ...
    And the Atlantic to the whole
    Sweep of this tributary star
    That is our earth is but ... and far
    Through dreadful space the outmeasured mind
    Seeks to conceive the unconfined.

    I think of Time. How, when his wing
    Composes all our quarrelling
    In some green corner where May leaves
    Are loud with blackbirds on all eves,
    And all the dust that was our bones
    Is underneath memorial stones,
    Then shall old jealousies, while we
    Lie side by side most quietly,
    Be but oblivion’s fools, and still
    When curious pilgrims ask--“What skill
    Had these that from oblivion saves?”--
    My song shall sing above our graves.

    I think how men of gentle mind,
    And friendly will, and honest kind,
    Deny their nature and appear
    Fellows of jealousy and fear;
    Having single faith, and natural wit
    To measure truth and cherish it,
    Yet, strangely, when they build in thought,
    Twisting the honesty that wrought
    In the straight motion of the heart,
    Into its feigning counterpart
    That is the brain’s betrayal of
    The simple purposes of love;
    And what yet sorrier decline
    Is theirs when, eager to confine
    No more within the silent brain
    Its habit, thought seeks birth again
    In speech, as honesty has done
    In thought; then even what had won
    From heart to brain fades and is lost
    In this pretended pentecost,
    This their forlorn captivity
    To speech, who have not learnt to be
    Lords of the word, nor kept among
    The sterner climates of the tongue ...
    So truth is in their hearts, and then
    Falls to confusion in the brain,
    And, fading through this mid-eclipse,
    It perishes upon the lips.

    I think how year by year I still
    Find working in my dauntless will
    Sudden timidities that are
    Merely the echo of some far
    Forgotten tyrannies that came
    To youth’s bewilderment and shame;
    That yet a magisterial gown,
    Being worn by one of no renown
    And half a generation less
    In years than I, can dispossess
    Something my circumspecter mood
    Of excellence and quietude,
    And if a Bishop speaks to me
    I tremble with propriety.

    I think how strange it is that he
    Who goes most comradely with me
    In beauty’s worship, takes delight
    In shows that to my eager sight
    Are shadows and unmanifest,
    While beauty’s favour and behest
    To me in motion are revealed
    That is against his vision sealed;
    Yet is our hearts’ necessity
    Not twofold, but a common plea
    That chaos come to continence,
    Whereto the arch-intelligence
    Richly in divers voices makes
    Its answer for our several sakes.

    I see the disinherited
    And long procession of the dead,
    Who have in generations gone
    Held fugitive dominion
    Of this same primrose pasturage
    That is my momentary wage.
    I see two lovers move along
    These shadowed silences of song,
    With spring in blossom at their feet
    More incommunicably sweet
    To their hearts’ more magnificence,
    Than to the common courts of sense,
    Till joy his tardy closure tells
    With coming of the curfew bells.
    I see the knights of spur and sword
    Crossing the little woodland ford,
    Riding in ghostly cavalcade
    On some unchronicled crusade.
    I see the silent hunter go
    In cloth of yeoman green, with bow
    Strung, and a quiver of grey wings.
    I see the little herd who brings
    His cattle homeward, while his sire
    Makes bivouac in Warwickshire
    This night, the liege and loyal man
    Of Cavalier or Puritan.
    And as they pass, the nameless dead,
    Unsung, uncelebrate, and sped
    Upon an unremembered hour
    As any twelvemonth fallen flower,
    I think how strangely yet they live
    For all their days were fugitive.

    I think how soon we too shall be
    A story with our ancestry.

    I think what miracle has been
    That you whose love among this green
    Delightful solitude is still
    The stay and substance of my will,
    The dear custodian of my song,
    My thrifty counsellor and strong,
    Should take the time of all time’s tide
    That was my season, to abide
    On earth also; that we should be
    Charted across eternity
    To one elect and happy day
    Of yellow primroses in May.

    The clock is calling five o’clock,
    And Nonesopretty brings her flock
    To fold, and Tom comes back from town
    With hose and ribbons worth a crown,
    And duly at The Old King’s Head
    They gather now to daily bread,
    And I no more may meditate
    Our brief and variable state.



PENANCES


    These are my happy penances. To make
    Beauty without a covenant; to take
    Measure of time only because I know
    That in death’s market-place I still shall owe
    Service to beauty that shall not be done;
    To know that beauty’s doctrine is begun
    And makes a close in sacrifice; to find
    In beauty’s courts the unappeasable mind.



LAST CONFESSIONAL


    For all ill words that I have spoken,
    For all clear moods that I have broken,
      For all despite and hasty breath,
      Forgive me, Love, forgive me, Death.

    Death, master of the great assize,
    Love, falling now to memories,
      You two alone I need to prove,
      Forgive me, Death, forgive me, Love.

    For every tenderness undone,
    For pride when holiness was none
      But only easy charity,
      O Death, be pardoner to me.

    For stubborn thought that would not make
    Measure of love’s thought for love’s sake,
      But kept a sullen difference,
      Take, Love, this laggard penitence.

    For cloudy words too vainly spent
    To prosper but in argument,
      When truth stood lonely at the gate,
      On your compassion, Death, I wait.

    For all the beauty that escaped
    This foolish brain, unsung, unshaped,
      For wonder that was slow to move,
      Forgive me, Death, forgive me, Love.

    For love that kept a secret cruse,
    For life defeated of its dues,
      This latest word of all my breath--
      Forgive me, Love, forgive me, Death.



BIRTHRIGHT


    Lord Rameses of Egypt sighed
      Because a summer evening passed;
    And little Ariadne cried
      That summer fancy fell at last
    To dust; and young Verona died
      When beauty’s hour was overcast.

    Theirs was the bitterness we know
      Because the clouds of hawthorn keep
    So short a state, and kisses go
      To tombs unfathomably deep,
    While Rameses and Romeo
      And little Ariadne sleep.



ANTAGONISTS


    Green shoots, we break the morning earth
      And flourish in the morning’s breath;
    We leave the agony of birth
      And soon are all midway to death.

    While yet the summer of her year
      Brings life her marvels, she can see
    Far off the rising dust, and hear
      The footfall of her enemy.



HOLINESS


    If all the carts were painted gay,
      And all the streets swept clean,
    And all the children came to play
      By hollyhocks, with green
      Grasses to grow between,

    If all the houses looked as though
      Some heart were in their stones,
    If all the people that we know
      Were dressed in scarlet gowns,
      With feathers in their crowns,

    I think this gaiety would make
      A spiritual land.
    I think that holiness would take
      This laughter by the hand,
      Till both should understand.



THE CITY


    A shining city, one
    Happy in snow and sun,
    And singing in the rain
    A paradisal strain....
    Here is a dream to keep,
    O Builders, from your sleep.

    O foolish Builders, wake,
    Take your trowels, take
    The poet’s dream, and build
    The city song has willed,
    That every stone may sing
    And all your roads may ring
    With happy wayfaring.



TO THE DEFILERS


    Go, thieves, and take your riches, creep
      To corners out of honest sight;
    We shall not be so poor to keep
      One thought of envy or despite.

    But know that in sad surety when
      Your sullen will betrays this earth
    To sorrows of contagion, then
      Beelzebub renews his birth.

    When you defile the pleasant streams
      And the wild bird’s abiding-place,
    You massacre a million dreams
      And cast your spittle in God’s face.



A CHRISTMAS NIGHT


    Christ for a dream was given from the dead
    To walk one Christmas night on earth again,
    Among the snow, among the Christmas bells.
    He heard the hymns that are his praise: _Noël_,
    And _Christ is Born_, and _Babe of Bethlehem_.
    He saw the travelling crowds happy for home,
    The gathering and the welcome, and the set
    Feast and the gifts, because he once was born,
    Because he once was steward of a word.
    And so he thought, “The spirit has been kind;
    So well the peoples might have fallen from me,
    My way of life being difficult and spare.
    It is beautiful that a dream in Galilee
    Should prosper so. They crucified me once,
    And now my name is spoken through the world,
    And bells are rung for me and candles burnt.
    They might have crucified my dream who used
    My body ill; they might have spat on me
    Always as in one hour on Golgotha.” ...
    And the snow fell, and the last bell was still,
    And the poor Christ again was with the dead.



INVOCATION


    As pools beneath stone arches take
      Darkly within their deeps again
    Shapes of the flowing stone, and make
      Stories anew of passing men,

    So let the living thoughts that keep,
      Morning and evening, in their kind,
    Eternal change in height and deep,
      Be mirrored in my happy mind.

    Beat, world, upon this heart, be loud
      Your marvel chanted in my blood,
    Come forth, O sun, through cloud on cloud
      To shine upon my stubborn mood.

    Great hills that fold above the sea,
      Ecstatic airs and sparkling skies,
    Sing out your words to master me,
      Make me immoderately wise.



IMMORTALITY


I

    When other beauty governs other lips,
      And snowdrops come to strange and happy springs,
    When seas renewed bear yet unbuilded ships,
      And alien hearts know all familiar things,
    When frosty nights bring comrades to enjoy
      Sweet hours at hearths where we no longer sit,
    When Liverpool is one with dusty Troy,
      And London famed as Attica for wit ...
    How shall it be with you, and you, and you,
      How with us all who have gone greatly here
    In friendship, making some delight, some true
      Song in the dark, some story against fear?
    Shall song still walk with love, and life be brave,
    And we, who were all these, be but the grave?


II

    No; lovers yet shall tell the nightingale
      Sometimes a song that we of old time made,
    And gossips gathered at the twilight ale
      Shall say, “Those two were friends,” or, “Unafraid
    Of bitter thought were those because they loved
      Better than most.” And sometimes shall be told
    How one, who died in his young beauty, moved,
      As Astrophel, those English hearts of old.
    And the new seas shall take the new ships home
      Telling how yet the Dymock orchards stand,
    And you shall walk with Julius at Rome,
      And Paul shall be my fellow in the Strand;
    There in the midst of all those words shall be
    Our names, our ghosts, our immortality.



THE CRAFTSMEN


    Confederate hand and eye
      Work to the chisel’s blade,
    Setting the grain aglow
      Of porch and sturdy beam--
    So the strange gods may ply
      Strict arms till we are made
    Quick as the gods who know
      What builds behind this dream.



SYMBOLS


    I saw history in a poet’s song,
    In a river-reach and a gallows-hill,
    In a bridal bed, and a secret wrong,
    In a crown of thorns: in a daffodil.

    I imagined measureless time in a day,
    And starry space in a waggon-road,
    And the treasure of all good harvests lay
    In the single seed that the sower sowed.

    My garden-wind had driven and havened again
    All ships that ever had gone to sea,
    And I saw the glory of all dead men
    In the shadow that went by the side of me.



SEALED


    The doves call down the long arcades of pine,
    The screaming swifts are tiring towards their eaves,
    And you are very quiet, O lover of mine.

    No foot is on your ploughlands now, the song
    Fails and is no more heard among your leaves
    That wearied not in praise the whole day long.

    I have watched with you till this twilight-fall,
    The proud companion of your loveliness;
    Have you no word for me, no word at all?

    The passion of my thought I have given you,
    Striving towards your passion, nevertheless,
    The clover leaves are deepening to the dew,

    And I am still unsatisfied, untaught.
    You lie guarded in mystery, you go
    Into your night, and leave your lover naught.

    Would I were Titan with immeasurable thews
    To hold you trembling, lover of mine, and know
    To the full the secret savour that you use

    Now to my tormenting. I would drain
    Your beauty to the last sharp glory of it;
    You should work mightily through me, blood and brain.

    Your heart in my heart’s mastery should burn,
    And you before my swift and arrogant wit
    Should be no longer proudly taciturn.

    You should bend back astonished at my kiss,
    Your wisdom should be armourer to my pride,
    And you, subdued, should yet be glad of this.

    The joys of great heroic lovers dead
    Should seem but market-gossiping beside
    The annunciation of our bridal bed.

    And now, my lover earth, I am a leaf,
    A wave of light, a bird’s note, a blade sprung
    Towards the oblivion of the sickled sheaf;

    A mere mote driven against your royal ease,
    A tattered eager traveller among
    The myriads beating on your sanctuaries.

    I have no strength to crush you to my will,
    Your beauty is invulnerably zoned,
    Yet I, your undefeated lover still,

    Exulting in your sap am clear of shame,
    And biding with you patiently am throned
    Above the flight of desolation’s aim.

    You may be mute, bestow no recompense
    On all the thriftless leaguers of my soul--
    I am at your gates, O lover of mine, and thence

    Will I not turn for any scorn you send,
    Rebuked, bemused, yet is my purpose whole,
    I shall be striving towards you till the end.



A PRAYER


    Lord, not for light in darkness do we pray,
    Not that the veil be lifted from our eyes,
    Nor that the slow ascension of our day
            Be otherwise.

    Not for a clearer vision of the things
    Whereof the fashioning shall make us great,
    Not for remission of the peril and stings
            Of time and fate.

    Not for a fuller knowledge of the end
    Whereto we travel, bruised yet unafraid,
    Nor that the little healing that we lend
            Shall be repaid.

    Not these, O Lord. We would not break the bars
    Thy wisdom sets about us; we shall climb
    Unfettered to the secrets of the stars
            In Thy good time.

    We do not crave the high perception swift
    When to refrain were well, and when fulfil,
    Nor yet the understanding strong to sift
            The good from ill.

    Not these, O Lord. For these Thou hast revealed,
    We know the golden season when to reap
    The heavy-fruited treasure of the field,
            The hour to sleep.

    Not these. We know the hemlock from the rose,
    The pure from stained, the noble from the base
    The tranquil holy light of truth that glows
            On Pity’s face.

    We know the paths wherein our feet should press,
    Across our hearts are written Thy decrees,
    Yet now, O Lord, be merciful to bless
            With more than these.

    Grant us the will to fashion as we feel,
    Grant us the strength to labour as we know,
    Grant us the purpose, ribbed and edged with steel,
            To strike the blow.

    Knowledge we ask not--knowledge Thou hast lent,
    But, Lord, the will--there lies our bitter need,
    Give us to build above the deep intent
            The deed, the deed.



THE BUILDING


    Whence these hods, and bricks of bright red clay,
    And swart men climbing ladders in the night?

    Stilled are the clamorous energies of day,
    The streets are dumb, and, prodigal of light,
    The lamps but shine upon a city of sleep.
    A step goes out into the silence; far
    Across the quiet roofs the hour is tolled
    From ghostly towers; the indifferent earth may keep
    That ragged flotsam shielded from the cold
    In earth’s good time: not, moving among men,
    Shall he compel so fortunate a star.
    Pavements I know, forsaken now, are strange,
    Alien walks not beautiful, that then,
    In the familiar day, are part of all
    My breathless pilgrimage, not beautiful, but dear;
    The monotony of sound has suffered change,
    The eddies of wanton sound are spent, and clear
    To bleak monotonies of silence fall.

    And, while the city sleeps, in the central poise
    Of quiet, lamps are flaming in the night,
    Blown to long tongues by winds that moan between
    The growing walls, and throwing misty light
    On swart men bearing bricks of bright red clay
    In laden hods; and ever the thin noise
    Of trowels deftly fashioning the clean
    Long lines that are the shaping of proud thought.
    Ghost-like they move between the day and day,
    These men whose labour strictly shall be wrought
    Into the captive image of a dream.
    Their sinews weary not, the plummet falls
    To measured use from steadfast hands apace,
    And momently the moist and levelled seam
    Knits brick to brick and momently the walls
    Bestow the wonder of form on formless space.

    And whence all these? The hod and plummet-line,
    The trowels tapping, and the lamps that shine
    In long, dust-heavy beams from wall to wall,
    The mortar and the bricks of bright red clay,
    Ladder and corded scaffolding, and all
    The gear of common traffic--whence are they?
    And whence the men who use them?
                                When he came,
    God upon chaos, crying in the name
    Of all adventurous vision that the void
    Should yield up man, and man, created, rose
    Out of the deep, the marvel of all things made,
    Then in immortal wonder was destroyed
    All worth of trivial knowledge, and the close
    Of man’s most urgent meditation stayed
    Even as his first thought--“Whence am I sprung?”
    What proud ecstatic mystery was pent
    In that first act for man’s astonishment,
    From age to unconfessing age, among
    His manifold travel. And in all I see
    Of common daily usage is renewed
    This primal and ecstatic mystery
    Of chaos bidden into many-hued
    Wonders of form, life in the void create,
    And monstrous silence made articulate.

    Not the first word of God upon the deep
    Nor the first pulse of life along the day
    More marvellous than these new walls that sweep
    Starward, these lines that discipline the clay,
    These lamps swung in the wind that send their light
    On swart men climbing ladders in the night.
    No trowel-tap but sings anew for men
    The rapture of quickening water and continent,
    No mortared line but witnesses again
    Chaos transfigured into lineament.



THE SOLDIER


    The large report of fame I lack,
      And shining clasps and crimson scars,
    For I have held my bivouac
      Alone amid the untroubled stars.

    My battle-field has known no dawn
      Beclouded by a thousand spears;
    I’ve been no mounting tyrant’s pawn
      To buy his glory with my tears.

    It never seemed a noble thing
      Some little leagues of land to gain
    From broken men, nor yet to fling
      Abroad the thunderbolts of pain.

    Yet I have felt the quickening breath
      As peril heavy peril kissed--
    My weapon was a little faith,
      And fear was my antagonist.

    Not a brief hour of cannonade,
      But many days of bitter strife,
    Till God of His great pity laid
      Across my brow the leaves of life.



THE FIRES OF GOD


I

    Time gathers to my name;
    Along the ways wheredown my feet have passed
    I see the years with little triumph crowned,
    Exulting not for perils dared, downcast
    And weary-eyed and desolate for shame
    Of having been unstirred of all the sound
    Of the deep music of the men that move
    Through the world’s days in suffering and love.

    Poor barren years that brooded over-much
    On your own burden, pale and stricken years--
    Go down to your oblivion, we part
    With no reproach or ceremonial tears.
    Henceforth my hands are lifted to the touch
    Of hands that labour with me, and my heart
    Hereafter to the world’s heart shall be set
    And its own pain forget.
    Time gathers to my name--
    Days dead are dark; the days to be, a flame
    Of wonder and of promise, and great cries
    Of travelling people reach me--I must rise.


II

    Was I not man? Could I not rise alone
    Above the shifting of the things that be,
    Rise to the crest of all the stars and see
    The ways of all the world as from a throne?
    Was I not man, with proud imperial will
    To cancel all the secrets of high heaven?
    Should not my sole unbridled purpose fill
    All hidden paths with light when once was riven
    God’s veil by my indomitable will?

    So dreamt I, little man of little vision,
    Great only in unconsecrated pride;
    Man’s pity grew from pity to derision,
    And still I thought, “Albeit they deride,
    Yet is it mine uncharted ways to dare
    Unknown to these,
    And they shall stumble darkly, unaware
    Of solemn mysteries
    Whereof the key is mine alone to bear.”

    So I forgot my God, and I forgot
    The holy sweet communion of men,
    And moved in desolate places, where are not
    Meek hands held out with patient healing when
    The hours are heavy with uncharitable pain;
    No company but vain
    And arrogant thoughts were with me at my side.
    And ever to myself I lied.
    Saying “Apart from all men thus I go
    To know the things that they may never know.”


III

    Then a great change befell;
    Long time I stood
    In witless hardihood
    With eyes on one sole changeless vision set--
    The deep disturbèd fret
    Of men who made brief tarrying in hell
    On their earth travelling.
    It was as though the lives of men should be
    See circle-wise, whereof one little span
    Through which all passed was blackened with the wing
    Of perilous evil, bateless misery.
    But all beyond, making the whole complete
    O’er which the travelling feet
    Of every man
    Made way or ever he might come to death,
    Was odorous with the breath
    Of honey-laden flowers, and alive
    With sacrificial ministrations sweet
    Of man to man, and swift and holy loves,
    And large heroic hopes, whereby should thrive
    Man’s spirit as he moves
    From dawn of life to the great dawn of death.

    It was as though mine eyes were set alone
    Upon that woeful passage of despair,
    Until I held that life had never known
    Dominion but in this most troubled place
    Where many a ruined grace
    And many a friendless care
    Ran to and fro in sorrowful unrest.
    Still in my hand I pressed
    Hope’s fragile chalice, whence I drew deep draughts
    That heartened me that even yet should grow
    Out of this dread confusion, as of broken crafts
    Driven along ungovernable seas,
    Prosperous order, and that I should know
    After long vigil all the mysteries
    Of human wonder and of human fate.

    O fool, O only great
    In pride unhallowed, O most blind of heart!
    Confusion but more dark confusion bred,
    Grief nurtured grief, I cried aloud and said,
    “Through trackless ways the soul of man is hurled,
    No sign upon the forehead of the skies,
    No beacon, and no chart
    Are given to him, and the inscrutable world
    But mocks his scars and fills his mouth with dust.”

    _And lies bore lies_
    _And lust bore lust,_
    _And the world was heavy with flowerless rods,_
    _And pride outran_
    _The strength of a man_
    _Who had set himself in the place of gods._


IV

    Soon was I then to gather bitter shame
    Of spirit; I had been most wildly proud--
    Yet in my pride had been
    Some little courage, formless as a cloud,
    Unpiloted save by a vagrant wind,
    But still an earnest of the bonds that tame
    The legionary hates, of sacred loves that lean
    From the high soul of man towards his kind.
    And all my grief
    Had been for those I watched go to and fro
    In uncompassioned woe
    Along that little span my unbelief
    Had fashioned in my vision as all life.
    Now even this so little virtue waned,
    For I became caught up into the strife
    That I had pitied, and my soul was stained
    At last by that most venomous despair,
    Self-pity.
              I no longer was aware
    Of any will to heal the world’s unrest,
    I suffered as it suffered, and I grew
    Troubled in all my daily trafficking,
    Not with the large heroic trouble known
    By proud adventurous men who would atone
    With their own passionate pity for the sting
    And anguish of a world of peril and snares,
    It was the trouble of a soul in thrall
    To mean despairs,
    Driven about a waste where neither fall
    Of words from lips of love, nor consolation
    Of grave eyes comforting, nor ministration
    Of hand or heart could pierce the deadly wall
    Of self--of self,--I was a living shame--
    A broken purpose. I had stood apart
    With pride rebellious and defiant heart,
    And now my pride had perished in the flame.
    I cried for succour as a little child
    Might supplicate whose days are undefiled,--
    For tutored pride and innocence are one.

    _To the gloom has won_
    _A gleam of the sun_
    _And into the barren desolate ways_
    _A scent is blown_
    _As of meadows mown_
    _By cooling rivers in clover days._


V

    I turned me from that place in humble wise,
    And fingers soft were laid upon mine eyes,
    And I beheld the fruitful earth, with store
    Of odorous treasure, full and golden grain,
    Ripe orchard bounty, slender stalks that bore
    Their flowered beauty with a meek content,
    The prosperous leaves that loved the sun and rain,
    Shy creatures unreproved that came and went
    In garrulous joy among the fostering green.
    And, over all, the changes of the day
    And ordered year their mutable glory laid--
    Expectant winter soberly arrayed,
    The prudent diligent spring whose eyes have seen
    The beauty of the roses uncreate,
    Imperial June, magnificent, elate
    Beholding all the ripening loves that stray
    Among her blossoms, and the golden time
    Of the full ear and bounty of the boughs,--
    And the great hills and solemn chanting seas
    And prodigal meadows, answering to the chime
    Of God’s good year, and bearing on their brows
    The glory of processional mysteries
    From dawn to dawn, the woven leaves and light
    Of the high noon, the twilight secrecies,
    And the inscrutable wonder of the stars
    Flung out along the reaches of the night.

    _And the ancient might_
    _Of the binding bars_
    _Waned as I woke to a new desire_
    _For the choric song_
    _Of exultant, strong_
    _Earth-passionate men with souls of fire._


VI

    ’T was given me to hear. As I beheld--
    With a new wisdom, tranquil, asking not
    For mystic revelation--this glory long forgot,
    This re-discovered triumph of the earth
    In high creative will and beauty’s pride
    Establishèd beyond the assaulting years,
    It came to me, a music that compelled
    Surrender of all tributary fears,
    Full-throated, fierce, and rhythmic with the wide
    Beat of the pilgrim winds and labouring seas,
    Sent up from all the harbouring ways of earth
    Wherein the travelling feet of men have trod,
    Mounting the firmamental silences
    And challenging the golden gates of God.

    _We bear the burden of the years_
    _Clean limbed, clear-hearted, open-browed,_
    _Albeit sacramental tears_
    _Have dimmed our eyes, we know the proud_
    _Content of men who sweep unbowed_
    _Before the legionary fears;_
    _In sorrow we have grown to be_
    _The masters of adversity._

    _Wise of the storied ages we,_
    _Of perils dared and crosses borne,_
    _Of heroes bound by no decree_
    _Of laws defiled or faiths outworn,_
    _Of poets who have held in scorn_
    _All mean and tyrannous things that be;_
    _We prophesy with lips that sped_
    _The songs of the prophetic dead._

    _Wise of the brief belovèd span_
    _Of this our glad earth-travelling,_
    _Of beauty’s bloom and ordered plan,_
    _Of love and loves compassioning,_
    _Of all the dear delights that spring_
    _From man’s communion with man;_
    _We cherish every hour that strays_
    _Adown the cataract of the days._

    _We see the clear untroubled skies,_
    _We see the summer of the rose_
    _And laugh, nor grieve that clouds will rise_
    _And wax with every wind that blows,_
    _Nor that the blossoming time will close,_
    _For beauty seen of humble eyes_
    _Immortal habitation has_
    _Though beauty’s form may pale and pass._

    _Wise of the great unshapen age,_
    _To which we move with measured tread_
    _All girt with passionate truth to wage_
    _High battle for the word unsaid,_
    _The song unsung, the cause unled,_
    _The freedom that no hope can gauge;_
    _Strong-armed, sure-footed, iron-willed_
    _We sift and weave, we break and build._

    _Into one hour we gather all_
    _The years gone down, the years unwrought_
    _Upon our ears brave measures fall_
    _Across uncharted spaces brought,_
    _Upon our lips the words are caught_
    _Wherewith the dead the unborn call;_
    _From love to love, from height to height_
    _We press and none may curb our might._


VII

    O blessed voices, O compassionate hands,
    Calling and healing, O great-hearted brothers!
    I come to you. Ring out across the lands
    Your benediction, and I too will sing
    With you, and haply kindle in another’s
    Dark desolate hour the flame you stirred in me.
    O bountiful earth, in adoration meet
    I bow to you; O glory of years to be,
    I too will labour to your fashioning.
    Go down, go down, unweariable feet,
    Together we will march towards the ways
    Wherein the marshalled hosts of morning wait
    In sleepless watch, with banners wide unfurled
    Across the skies in ceremonial state,
    To greet the men who lived triumphant days,
    And stormed the secret beauty of the world.



CHALLENGE


    You fools behind the panes who peer
        At the strong black anger of the sky,
        Come out and feel the storm swing by,
    Aye, take its blow on your lips, and hear
        The wind in the branches cry.

    No. Leave us to the day’s device,
        Draw to your blinds and take your ease,
        Grow peak’d in the face and crook’d in the knees;
    Your sinews could not pay the price
        When the storm goes through the trees.



TRAVEL TALK

LADYWOOD, 1912. (TO E. DE S.)


    To the high hills you took me, where desire,
    Daughter of difficult life, forgets her lures,
    And hope’s eternal tasks no longer tire,
    And only peace endures.
    Where anxious prayer becomes a worthless thing
    Subdued by muted praise,
    And asking nought of God and life we bring
    The conflict of long days
    Into a moment of immortal poise
    Among the scars and proud unbuilded spires,
    Where, seeking not the triumphs and the joys
    So treasured in the world, we kindle fires
    That shall not burn to ash, and are content
    To read anew the eternal argument.

    Nothing of man’s intolerance we know
    Here, far from man, among the fortressed hills,
    Nor of his querulous hopes.
    To what may we attain? What matter, so
    We feel the unwearied virtue that fulfils
    These cloudy crests and rifts and heathered slopes
    With life that is and seeks not to attain,
    For ever spends nor ever asks again?

    To the high hills you took me. And we saw
    The everlasting ritual of sky
    And earth and the waste places of the air,
    And momently the change of changeless law
    Was beautiful before us, and the cry
    Of the great winds was as a distant prayer
    From a massed people, and the choric sound
    Of many waters moaning down the long
    Veins of the hills was as an undersong;
    And in that hour we moved on holy ground.

    To the high hills you took me. Far below
    Lay pool and tarn locked up in shadowy sleep;
    Above we watched the clouds unhasting go
    From hidden crest to crest; the neighbour sheep
    Cropped at our side, and swift on darkling wings
    The hawks went sailing down the valley wind,
    The rock-bird chattered shrilly to its kind;
    And all these common things were holy things.

    From ghostly Skiddaw came the wind in flight.
    By Langdale Pikes to Coniston’s broad brow,
    From Coniston to proud Helvellyn’s height,
    The eloquent wind, the wind that even now
    Whispers again its story gathered in
    For seasons of much traffic in the ways
    Where men so straitly spin
    The garment of unfathomable days.

    To the high hills you took me. And we turned
    Our feet again towards the friendly vale,
    And passed the banks whereon the bracken burned
    And the last foxglove bells were spent and pale,
    Down to a hallowed spot of English land
    Where Rotha dreams its way from mere to mere,
    Where one with undistracted vision scanned
    Life’s far horizons, he who sifted clear
    Dust from the grain of being, making song
    Memorial of simple men and minds
    Not bowed to cunning by deliberate wrong,
    And conversed with the spirit of the winds,
    And knew the guarded secrets that were sealed
    In pool and pine, petal and vagrant wing,
    Throning the shepherd folding from the field,
    Robing anew the daffodils of spring.

    We crossed the threshold of his home and stood
    Beside his cottage hearth where once was told
    The day’s adventure drawn from fell and wood,
    And wisdom’s words and love’s were manifold,
    Where, in the twilight, gossip poets met
    To read again their peers of older time,
    And quiet eyes of gracious women set
    A bounty to the glamour of the rhyme.

    There is a wonder in a simple word
    That reinhabits fond and ghostly ways,
    And when within the poet’s walls we heard
    One white with ninety years recall the days
    When he upon his mountain paths was seen,
    We answered her strange bidding and were made
    One with the reverend presence who had been
    Steward of kingly charges unbetrayed.

    And to the little garden-close we went,
    Where he at eventide was wont to pass
    To watch the willing day’s last sacrament,
    And the cool shadows thrown along the grass,
    To read again the legends of the flowers,
    Lighten with song th’ obscure heroic plan,
    To contemplate the process of the hours,
    And think on that old story which is man.
    The lichened apple-boughs that once had spent
    Their blossoms at his feet, in twisted age
    Yet knew the wind, and the familiar scent
    Of heath and fern made sweet his hermitage.
    And, moving so beneath his cottage-eaves,
    His song upon our lips, his life a star,
    A sign, a storied peace among the leaves,
    Was he not with us then? He was not far.

    To the high hills you took me. We had seen
    Much marvellous traffic in the cloudy ways,
    Had laughed with the white waters and the green,
    Had praised and heard the choric chant of praise,
    Communed anew with the undying dead,
    Resung old songs, retold old fabulous things,
    And, stripped of pride, had lost the world and led
    A world refashioned as unconquered kings.

    And the good day was done, and there again
    Where in your home of quietness we stood,
    Far from the sight and sound of travelling men,
    And watched the twilight climb from Lady-wood
    Above the pines, above the visible streams,
    Beyond the hidden sources of the rills,
    Bearing the season of uncharted dreams
    Into the silent fastness of the hills.

    Peace on the hills, and in the valleys peace;
    And Rotha’s moaning music sounding clear;
    The passing-song of wearied winds that cease,
    Moving among the reeds of Rydal Mere;
    The distant gloom of boughs that still unscarred
    Beside their poet’s grave due vigil keep--
    With us were these, till night was throned and starred
    And bade us to the benison of sleep.



THE VAGABOND


    I know the pools where the grayling rise,
      I know the trees where the filberts fall,
    I know the woods where the red fox lies,
      The twisted elms where the brown owls call.
    And I’ve seldom a shilling to call my own,
      And there’s never a girl I’d marry,
    I thank the Lord I’m a rolling stone
      With never a care to carry.

    I talk to the stars as they come and go
      On every night from July to June,
    I’m free of the speech of the winds that blow,
      And I know what weather will sing what tune.
    I sow no seed and I pay no rent,
      And I thank no man for his bounties,
    But I’ve a treasure that’s never spent,
      I’m lord of a dozen counties.



OLD WOMAN IN MAY


    “Old woman by the hedgerow
      In gown of withered black,
    With beads and pins and buttons
      And ribbons in your pack--
    How many miles do you go?
    To Dumbleton and back?”

    “To Dumbleton and back, sir,
      And round by Cotsall Hill,
    I count the miles at morning,
      At night I count them still,
    A Jill without a Jack, sir,
    I travel with a will.”

    “It’s little men are paying
      For such as you can do,
    You with the grey dust in your hair
      And sharp nails in your shoe,
    The young folks go a-Maying,
    But what is May to you?”

    “I care not what they pay me
      While I can hear the call
    Of cattle on the hillside,
      And watch the blossoms fall
    In a churchyard where maybe
    There’s company for all.”



THE FECKENHAM MEN


    The jolly men at Feckenham
    Don’t count their goods as common men,
    Their heads are full of silly dreams
    From half-past ten to half-past ten,
    They’ll tell you why the stars are bright,
    And some sheep black and some sheep white.

    The jolly men at Feckenham
    Draw wages of the sun and rain,
    And count as good as golden coin
    The blossoms on the window-pane,
    And Lord! they love a sinewy tale
    Told over pots of foaming ale.

    Now here’s a tale of Feckenham
    Told to me by a Feckenham man,
    Who, being only eighty years,
    Ran always when the red fox ran,
    And looked upon the earth with eyes
    As quiet as unclouded skies.

    These jolly men of Feckenham
    One day when summer strode in power
    Went down, it seems, among their lands
    And saw their bean fields all in flower--
    “Wheat-ricks,” they said, “be good to see;
    What would a rick of blossoms be?”

    So straight they brought the sickles out
    And worked all day till day was done,
    And builded them a good square rick
    Of scented bloom beneath the sun.
    And was not this I tell to you
    A fiery-hearted thing to do?



THE TRAVELLER


    When March was master of furrow and fold,
    And the skies kept cloudy festival
    And the daffodil pods were tipped with gold
    And a passion was in the plover’s call,
    A spare old man went hobbling by
    With a broken pipe and a tapping stick,
    And he mumbled--“Blossom before I die,
    Be quick, you little brown buds, be quick.

    “I ’ve weathered the world for a count of years--
    Good old years of shining fire--
    And death and the devil bring no fears,
    And I ’ve fed the flame of my last desire;
    I ’m ready to go, but I ’d pass the gate
    On the edge of the world with an old heart sick
    If I missed the blossoms. I may not wait--
    The gate is open--be quick, be quick.”



IN LADY STREET


    All day long the traffic goes
    In Lady Street by dingy rows
    Of sloven houses, tattered shops--
    Fried fish, old clothes and fortune-tellers--
    Tall trams on silver-shining rails,
    With grinding wheels and swaying tops,
    And lorries with their corded bales,
    And screeching cars. “Buy, buy!” the sellers
    Of rags and bones and sickening meat
    Cry all day long in Lady Street.

    And when the sunshine has its way
    In Lady Street, then all the grey
    Dull desolation grows in state
    More dull and grey and desolate,
    And the sun is a shamefast thing,
    A lord not comely-housed, a god
    Seeing what gods must blush to see,
    A song where it is ill to sing,
    And each gold ray despiteously
    Lies like a gold ironic rod.

    Yet one grey man in Lady Street
    Looks for the sun. He never bent
    Life to his will, his travelling feet
    Have scaled no cloudy continent,
    Nor has the sickle-hand been strong.
    He lives in Lady Street; a bed,
    Four cobwebbed walls.

                          But all day long
    A time is singing in his head
    Of youth in Gloucester lanes. He hears
    The wind among the barley-blades,
    The tapping of the woodpeckers
    On the smooth beeches, thistle-spades
    Slicing the sinewy roots; he sees
    The hooded filberts in the copse
    Beyond the loaded orchard trees,
    The netted avenues of hops;
    He smells the honeysuckle thrown
    Along the hedge. He lives alone,
    Alone--yet not alone, for sweet
    Are Gloucester lanes in Lady Street.

    Aye, Gloucester lanes. For down below
    The cobwebbed room this grey man plies
    A trade, a coloured trade. A show
    Of many-coloured merchandise
    Is in his shop. Brown filberts there,
    And apples red with Gloucester air,
    And cauliflowers he keeps, and round
    Smooth marrows grown on Gloucester ground,
    Fat cabbages and yellow plums,
    And gaudy brave chrysanthemums.
    And times a glossy pheasant lies
    Among his store, not Tyrian dyes
    More rich than are the neck-feathers;
    And times a prize of violets,
    Or dewy mushrooms satin-skinned
    And times an unfamiliar wind
    Robbed of its woodland favour stirs
    Gay daffodils this grey man sets
    Among his treasure.

                        All day long
    In Lady Street the traffic goes
    By dingy houses, desolate rows
    Of shops that stare like hopeless eyes.
    Day long the sellers cry their cries,
    The fortune-tellers tell no wrong
    Of lives that know not any right,
    And drift, that has not even the will
    To drift, toils through the day until
    The wage of sleep is won at night.
    But this grey man heeds not at all
    The hell of Lady Street. His stall
    Of many-coloured merchandise
    He makes a shining paradise,
    As all day long chrysanthemums
    He sells, and red and yellow plums
    And cauliflowers. In that one spot
    Of Lady Street the sun is not
    Ashamed to shine and send a rare
    Shower of colour through the air;
    The grey man says the sun is sweet
    On Gloucester lanes in Lady Street.



ANTHONY CRUNDLE


    CENTER
              _Here lies the body of
                  ANTHONY CRUNDLE,
              Farmer, of this parish,
            Who died in 1849 at the age of 82.
              “He delighted in music.”
                    R. I. P.
                    And of
                    SUSAN,
            For fifty-three years his wife,
              Who died in 1860, aged 86._

    ANTHONY CRUNDLE of Dorrington Wood
      Played on a piccolo. Lord was he,
    For seventy years, of sheaves that stood
      Under the perry and cider tree;
      _Anthony Crundle, R.I.P._

    And because he prospered with sickle and scythe,
      With cattle afield and labouring ewe,
    Anthony was uncommonly blithe,
      And played of a night to himself and Sue;
      _Anthony Crundle, eighty-two_.

    The earth to till, and a tune to play,
      And Susan for fifty years and three,
    And Dorrington Wood at the end of day ...
      May providence do no worse by me;
      _Anthony Crundle, R.I.P._



MAD TOM TATTERMAN


    “Old man, grey man, good man scavenger,
      Bearing is it eighty years upon your crumpled back?
    What is it you gather in the frosty weather,
      Is there any treasure here to carry in your sack?”

        *       *       *       *       *

    “I’ve a million acres and a thousand head of cattle,
      And a foaming river where the silver salmon leap;
    But I’ve left fat valleys to dig in sullen alleys
      Just because a twisted star rode by me in my sleep.

    “I’ve a brain is dancing to an old forgotten music
      Heard when all the world was just a crazy flight of dreams,
    And don’t you know I scatter in the dirt along the gutter
      Seeds that little ladies nursed by Babylonian streams?

    “Mad Tom Tatterman, that is how they call me.
      Oh, they know so much, so much, all so neatly dressed;
    I’ve a tale to tell you--come and listen, will you?--
      One as ragged as the twigs that make a magpie’s nest.

    “Ragged, oh, but very wise. You and this and that man,
      All of you are making things that none of you would lack,
    And so your eyes grow dusty, and so your limbs grow rusty--
      But mad Tom Tatterman puts nothing in his sack.

    “Nothing in my sack, sirs, but the Sea of Galilee
      Was walked for mad Tom Tatterman, and when I go to sleep
    They’ll know that I have driven through the acres of broad heaven
      Flocks are whiter than the flocks that all your shepherds keep.”



FOR CORIN TO-DAY


    Old shepherd in your wattle cote,
      I think a thousand years are done
    Since first you took your pipe of oat
      And piped against the risen sun,
    Until his burning lips of gold
      Sucked up the drifting scarves of dew
    And bade you count your flocks from fold
      And set your hurdle stakes anew.

    And then as now at noon you ’ld take
      The shadow of delightful trees,
    And with good hands of labour break
      Your barley bread with dairy cheese,
    And with some lusty shepherd mate
      Would wind a simple argument,
    And bear at night beyond your gate
      A loaded wallet of content.

    O Corin of the grizzled eye,
      A thousand years upon your down
    You’ve seen the ploughing teams go by
      Above the bells of Avon’s town;
    And while there’s any wind to blow
      Through frozen February nights,
    About your lambing pens will go
      The glimmer of your lanthorn lights.



THE CARVER IN STONE


    He was a man with wide and patient eyes,
    Grey, like the drift of twitch-fires blown in June
    That, without fearing, searched if any wrong
    Might threaten from your heart. Grey eyes he had
    Under a brow was drawn because he knew
    So many seasons to so many pass
    Of upright service, loyal, unabased
    Before the world seducing, and so, barren
    Of good words praising and thought that mated his.
    He carved in stone. Out of his quiet life
    He watched as any faithful seaman charged
    With tidings of the myriad faring sea,
    And thoughts and premonitions through his mind
    Sailing as ships from strange and storied lands
    His hungry spirit held, till all they were
    Found living witness in the chiselled stone.
    Slowly out of the dark confusion, spread
    By life’s innumerable venturings
    Over his brain, he would triumph into the light
    Of one clear mood, unblemished of the blind
    Legions of errant thought that cried about
    His rapt seclusion: as a pearl unsoiled,
    Nay, rather washed to lonelier chastity,
    In gritty mud. And then would come a bird,
    A flower, or the wind moving upon a flower,
    A beast at pasture, or a clustered fruit,
    A peasant face as were the saints of old,
    The leer of custom, or the bow of the moon
    Swung in miraculous poise--some stray from the world
    Of things created by the eternal mind
    In joy articulate. And his perfect mood
    Would dwell about the token of God’s mood,
    Until in bird or flower or moving wind
    Or flock or shepherd or the troops of heaven
    It sprang in one fierce moment of desire
    To visible form.
    Then would his chisel work among the stone,
    Persuading it of petal or of limb
    Or starry curve, till risen anew there sang
    Shape out of chaos, and again the vision
    Of one mind single from the world was pressed
    Upon the daily custom of the sky
    Or field or the body of man.

                                His people
    Had many gods for worship. The tiger-god,
    The owl, the dewlapped bull, the running pard,
    The camel and the lizard of the slime,
    The ram with quivering fleece and fluted horn,
    The crested eagle and the doming bat
    Were sacred. And the king and his high priests
    Decreed a temple, wide on columns huge,
    Should top the cornlands to the sky’s far line.
    They bade the carvers carve along the walls
    Images of their gods, each one to carve
    As he desired, his choice to name his god....
    And many came; and he among them, glad
    Of three leagues’ travel through the singing air
    Of dawn among the boughs yet bare of green,
    The eager flight of the spring leading his blood
    Into swift lofty channels of the air,
    Proud as an eagle riding to the sun....
    An eagle, clean of pinion--there’s his choice.

    Daylong they worked under the growing roof,
    One at his leopard, one the staring ram,
    And he winning his eagle from the stone,
    Until each man had carved one image out,
    Arow beyond the portal of the house.
    They stood arow, the company of gods,
    Camel and bat, lizard and bull and ram,
    The pard and owl, dead figures on the wall,
    Figures of habit driven on the stone
    By chisels governed by no heat of the brain
    But drudges of hands that moved by easy rule.
    Proudly recorded mood was none, no thought
    Plucked from the dark battalions of the mind
    And throned in everlasting sight. But one
    God of them all was witness of belief
    And large adventure dared. His eagle spread
    Wide pinions on a cloudless ground of heaven,
    Glad with the heart’s high courage of that dawn
    Moving upon the ploughlands newly sown,
    Dead stone the rest. He looked, and knew it so.

    Then came the king with priests and counsellors
    And many chosen of the people, wise
    With words weary of custom, and eyes askew
    That watched their neighbour face for any news
    Of the best way of judgment, till, each sure
    None would determine with authority,
    All spoke in prudent praise. One liked the owl
    Because an owl blinked on the beam of his barn.
    One, hoarse with crying gospels in the street,
    Praised most the ram, because the common folk
    Wore breeches made of ram’s wool. One declared
    The tiger pleased him best,--the man who carved
    The tiger-god was halt out of the womb--
    A man to praise, being so pitiful.
    And one, whose eyes dwelt in a distant void,
    With spell and omen pat upon his lips,
    And a purse for any crystal prophet ripe,
    A zealot of the mist, gazed at the bull--
    A lean ill-shapen bull of meagre lines
    That scarce the steel had graved upon the stone--
    Saying that here was very mystery
    And truth, did men but know. And one there was
    Who praised his eagle, but remembering
    The lither pinion of the swift, the curve
    That liked him better of the mirrored swan.
    And they who carved the tiger-god and ram,
    The camel and the pard, the owl and bull,
    And lizard, listened greedily, and made
    Humble denial of their worthiness,
    And when the king his royal judgment gave
    That all had fashioned well, and bade that each
    Re-shape his chosen god along the walls
    Till all the temple boasted of their skill,
    They bowed themselves in token that as this
    Never had carvers been so fortunate.

    Only the man with wide and patient eyes
    Made no denial, neither bowed his head.
    Already while they spoke his thought had gone
    Far from his eagle, leaving it for a sign
    Loyally wrought of one deep breath of life,
    And played about the image of a toad
    That crawled among his ivy leaves. A queer
    Puff-bellied toad, with eyes that always stared
    Sidelong at heaven and saw no heaven there,
    Weak-hammed, and with a throttle somehow twisted
    Beyond full wholesome draughts of air, and skin
    Of wrinkled lips, the only zest or will
    The little flashing tongue searching the leaves.
    And king and priest, chosen and counsellor,
    Babbling out of their thin and jealous brains,
    Seemed strangely one; a queer enormous toad
    Panting under giant leaves of dark,
    Sunk in the loins, peering into the day.
    Their judgment wry he counted not for wrong
    More than the fabled poison of the toad
    Striking at simple wits; how should their thought
    Or word in praise or blame come near the peace
    That shone in seasonable hours above
    The patience of his spirit’s husbandry?
    They foolish and not seeing, how should he
    Spend anger there or fear--great ceremonies
    Equal for none save great antagonists?
    The grave indifference of his heart before them
    Was moved by laughter innocent of hate,
    Chastising clean of spite, that moulded them
    Into the antic likeness of his toad
    Bidding for laughter underneath the leaves.

    He bowed not, nor disputed, but he saw
    Those ill-created joyless gods, and loathed,
    And saw them creeping, creeping round the walls,
    Death breeding death, wile witnessing to wile,
    And sickened at the dull iniquity
    Should be rewarded, and for ever breathe
    Contagion on the folk gathered in prayer.
    His truth should not be doomed to march among
    This falsehood to the ages. He was called,
    And he must labour there; if so the king
    Would grant it, where the pillars bore the roof
    A galleried way of meditation nursed
    Secluded time, with wall of ready stone
    In panels for the carver set between
    The windows--there his chisel should be set,--
    It was his plea. And the king spoke of him,
    Scorning, as one lack-fettle, among all these
    Eager to take the riches of renown;
    One fearful of the light or knowing nothing
    Of light’s dimension, a witling who would throw
    Honour aside and praise spoken aloud
    All men of heart should covet. Let him go
    Grubbing out of the sight of these who knew
    The worth of substance; there was his proper trade.

    A squat and curious toad indeed.... The eyes,
    Patient and grey, were dumb as were the lips,
    That, fixed and governed, hoarded from them all
    The larger laughter lifting in his heart.
    Straightway about his gallery he moved,
    Measured the windows and the virgin stone,
    Till all was weighed and patterned in his brain.
    Then first where most the shadow struck the wall,
    Under the sills, and centre of the base,
    From floor to sill out of the stone was wooed
    Memorial folly, as from the chisel leapt
    His chastening laughter searching priest and king--
    A huge and wrinkled toad, with legs asplay,
    And belly loaded, leering with great eyes
    Busily fixed upon the void.
                                All days
    His chisel was the first to ring across
    The temple’s quiet; and at fall of dusk
    Passing among the carvers homeward, they
    Would speak of him as mad, or weak against
    The challenge of the world, and let him go
    Lonely, as was his will, under the night
    Of stars or cloud or summer’s folded sun,
    Through crop and wood and pastureland to sleep.
    None took the narrow stair as wondering
    How did his chisel prosper in the stone,
    Unvisited his labour and forgot.
    And times when he would lean out of his height
    And watch the gods growing along the walls,
    The row of carvers in their linen coats
    Took in his vision a virtue that alone
    Carving they had not nor the thing they carved.
    Knowing the health that flowed about his close
    Imagining, the daily quiet won
    From process of his clean and supple craft,
    Those carvers there, far on the floor below,
    Would haply be transfigured in his thought
    Into a gallant company of men
    Glad of the strict and loyal reckoning
    That proved in the just presence of the brain
    Each chisel-stroke. How surely would he prosper
    In pleasant talk at easy hours with men
    So fashioned if it might be--and his eyes
    Would pass again to those dead gods that grew
    In spreading evil round the temple walls;
    And, one dead pressure made, the carvers moved
    Along the wall to mould and mould again
    The self-same god, their chisels on the stone
    Tapping in dull precision as before,
    And he would turn, back to his lonely truth.

    He carved apace. And first his people’s gods,
    About the toad, out of their sterile time,
    Under his hand thrilled and were recreate.
    The bull, the pard, the camel and the ram,
    Tiger and owl and bat--all were the signs
    Visibly made body on the stone
    Of sightless thought adventuring the host
    That is mere spirit; these the bloom achieved
    By secret labour in the flowing wood
    Of rain and air and wind and continent sun....
    His tiger, lithe, immobile in the stone,
    A swift destruction for a moment leashed,
    Sprang crying from the jealous stealth of men
    Opposed in cunning watch, with engines hid
    Of torment and calamitous desire.
    His leopard, swift on lean and paltry limbs,
    Was fear in flight before accusing faith.
    His bull, with eyes that often in the dusk
    Would lift from the sweet meadow grass to watch
    Him homeward passing, bore on massy beam
    The burden of the patient of the earth.
    His camel bore the burden of the damned,
    Being gaunt, with eyes aslant along the nose.
    He had a friend, who hammered bronze and iron
    And cupped the moonstone on a silver ring,
    One constant like himself, would come at night
    Or bid him as a guest, when they would make
    Their poets touch a starrier height, or search
    Together with unparsimonious mind
    The crowded harbours of mortality.
    And there were jests, wholesome as harvest ale
    Of homely habit, bred of hearts that dared
    Judgment of laughter under the eternal eye:
    This frolic wisdom was his carven owl.
    His ram was lordship on the lonely hills,
    Alert and fleet, content only to know
    The wind mightily pouring on his fleece,
    With yesterday and all unrisen suns
    Poorer than disinherited ghosts. His bat
    Was ancient envy made a mockery,
    Cowering below the newer eagle carved
    Above the arches with wide pinion spread,
    His faith’s dominion of that happy dawn.

    And so he wrought the gods upon the wall,
    Living and crying out of his desire,
    Out of his patient incorruptible thought,
    Wrought them in joy was wages to his faith.
    And other than the gods he made. The stalks
    Of bluebells heavy with the news of spring,
    The vine loaded with plenty of the year,
    And swallows, merely tenderness of thought
    Bidding the stone to small and fragile flight;
    Leaves, the thin relics of autumnal boughs,
    Or massed in June....
    All from their native pressure bloomed and sprang
    Under his shaping hand into a proud
    And governed image of the central man,--
    Their moulding, charts of all his travelling.
    And all were deftly ordered, duly set
    Between the windows, underneath the sills,
    And roofward, as a motion rightly planned,
    Till on the wall, out of the sullen stone,
    A glory blazed, his vision manifest,
    His wonder captive. And he was content.

    And when the builders and the carvers knew
    Their labour done, and high the temple stood
    Over the cornlands, king and counsellor
    And priest and chosen of the people came
    Among a ceremonial multitude
    To dedication. And, below the thrones
    Where king and archpriest ruled above the throng,
    Highest among the ranked artificers
    The carvers stood. And when, the temple vowed
    To holy use, tribute and choral praise
    Given as was ordained, the king looked down
    Upon the gathered folk, and bade them see
    The comely gods fashioned about the walls,
    And keep in honour men whose precious skill
    Could so adorn the sessions of their worship,
    Gravely the carvers bowed them to the ground.
    Only the man with wide and patient eyes
    Stood not among them; nor did any come
    To count his labour, where he watched alone
    Above the coloured throng. He heard, and looked
    Again upon his work, and knew it good,
    Smiled on his toad, passed down the stair unseen
    And sang across the teeming meadows home.



ELIZABETH ANN


    This is the tale of Elizabeth Ann,
    Who went away with her fancy man.

    Ann was a girl who hadn’t a gown
    As fine as the ladies who walk the town.

    All day long from seven to six
    Ann was polishing candlesticks,

    For Bishops and crapulous Millionaires
    To buy for their altars or bed-chambers.

    And youth in a year and a year will pass,
    But there’s never an end of polishing brass.

    All day long from seven to six--
    Seventy thousand candlesticks.

    So frail and lewd Elizabeth Ann
    Went away with her fancy man.

    You Bishops and crapulous Millionaires,
    Give her your charity, give her your prayers.



THE COTSWOLD FARMERS


    Sometimes the ghosts forgotten go
      Along the hill-top way,
    And with long scythes of silver mow
      Meadows of moonlit hay,
    Until the cocks of Cotswold crow
      The coming of the day.

    There’s Tony Turkletob who died
      When he could drink no more,
    And Uncle Heritage, the pride
      Of eighteen-twenty-four,
    And Ebenezer Barleytide,
      And others half a score.

    They fold in phantom pens, and plough
      Furrows without a share,
    And one will milk a faery cow,
      And one will stare and stare,
    And whistle ghostly tunes that now
      Are not sung anywhere.

    The moon goes down on Oakridge lea,
      The other world’s astir,
    The Cotswold farmers silently
      Go back to sepulchre,
    The sleeping watchdogs wake, and see
      No ghostly harvester.



A MAN’S DAUGHTER


    There is an old woman who looks each night
              Out of the wood.
    She has one tooth, that isn’t too white.
              She isn’t too good.

    She came from the north looking for me,
              About my jewel.
    Her son, she says, is tall as can be;
              But, men say, cruel.

    My girl went northward, holiday making,
              And a queer man spoke
    At the woodside once when night was breaking,
              And her heart broke.

    For ever since she has pined and pined,
              A sorry maid;
    Her fingers are slack as the wool they wind,
              Or her girdle-braid.

    So now shall I send her north to wed,
              Who here may know
    Only the little house of the dead
              To ease her woe?

    Or keep her for fear of that old woman,
              As a bird quick-eyed,
    And her tall son who is hardly human,
              At the woodside?

    She is my babe and my daughter dear,
              How well, how well.
    Her grief to me is a fourfold fear,
              Tongue cannot tell.

    And yet I know that far in that wood
              Are crumbling bones,
    And a mumble mumble of nothing that’s good,
              In heathen tones.

    And I know that frail ghosts flutter and sigh
              In brambles there,
    And never a bird or beast to cry--
              Beware, beware,--

    While threading the silent thickets go
              Mother and son,
    Where scrupulous berries never grow,
              And airs are none.

    And her deep eyes peer at eventide
              Out of the wood,
    And her tall son waits by the dark woodside
              For maidenhood.

    And the little eyes peer, and peer, and peer;
              And a word is said.
    And some house knows, for many a year,
              But years of dread.



THE LIFE OF JOHN HERITAGE


    Born in the Cotswolds in eighteen-forty or so,
    Bred on a hill-top that seemed the most of the world
    Until he travelled the valleys, and found what a wonder
    Of leagues from Gloucester lay to Stroud or Ciceter,
    John Heritage was a tiler. He split the stone,
    After the frosts, and learnt the laying of tiles,
    And was famous about the shire. And he was friendly
    With Cotswold nature, hearing the hidden rooks
    In Golden Vale, and the thin bleat of goats,
    And the rattling harness of Trilly’s teams at plough,
    And Richard Parker’s scythe for many years,
    As he went upon his tiling; and the great landmarks,
    As loops of the Severn seen from Bisley Hill,
    Were his familiars, something of his religion.

    And he prospered, as men do. His little wage
    Yet left a little over his wedded needs,
    And here a cottage he bought, and there another,
    About the Cotswolds, built of the royallest stone
    That’s quarried in England, until he could think of age
    With an easy mind; and an acre of land was his
    Where at hay-harvest he worked a little from tiling,
    Making his rick maturely or damning the wind
    That scattered the swathes beyond his fork’s controlling.
    And he trotted ajog to the town on market Thursdays,
    Driving a stout succession of good black geldings,
    That cropped his acre some twenty years apiece.
    And he was an honest neighbour; and so he grew old,
    And five strong sons, grizzled and middle-aged,
    Carried him down the hill, and on a stone
    The mason cut--“John Heritage, who died,
    Fearing the Lord, at the age of seventy-six.”

    And I know that some of us shatter our hearts on earth,
    With mightier aims than ever John Heritage knew,
    And think such things as never the tiler thought,
    Because of our pride and our eagerness of mind ...
    But a life complete is a great nobility,
    And there’s a wisdom biding in Cotswold stone,
    While we in our furious intellectual travel
    Fall in with strange foot-fellows on the road.



THOMAS YARNTON OF TARLTON


    One of those old men fearing no man,
    Two hundred broods his eaves have known
    Since they cut on a Sapperton churchyard stone--
    “Thomas Yarnton of Tarlton, Yeoman.”

    At dusk you can hear the yeomen calling
    The cattle still to Sapperton stalls,
    And still the stroke of the woodman falls
    As Thomas of Tarlton heard it falling.

    I walked these meadows in seventeen-hundred,
    Seed of his loins, a dream that stirred
    Beyond the shape of a yeoman’s word,
    So faint that but unawares he wondered.

    And now, from the weeds of his tomb uncomely,
    I travel again the tracks he made,
    And walks at my side the yeoman shade
    Of Thomas Yarnton of Tarlton dumbly.



MRS. WILLOW


    Mrs. Thomas Willow seems very glum.
    Her life, perhaps, is very lonely and hum-drum,
    Digging up potatoes, cleaning out the weeds,
    Doing the little for a lone woman’s needs.
    Who was her husband? How long ago?
    What does she wonder? What does she know?
    Why does she listen over the wall,
    Morning and noon-time and twilight and all,
    As though unforgotten were some footfall?

    “Good morning, Mrs. Willow.” “Good morning, sir,”
    Is all the conversation I can get from her.
    And her path-stones are white as lilies of the wood,
    And she washes this and that till she must be very good.
    She sends no letters, and no one calls,
    And she doesn’t go whispering beyond her walls;
    Nothing in her garden is secret, I think--
    That’s all sun-bright with foxglove and pink,
    And she doesn’t hover around old cupboards and shelves
    As old people do who have buried themselves;
    She has no late lamps, and she digs all day
    And polishes and plants in a common way,
    But glum she is, and she listens now and then
    For a footfall, a footfall, a footfall again,
    And whether it’s hope, or whether it’s dread,
    Or a poor old fancy in her head,
    I shall never be told; it will never be said.



ROUNDELS OF THE YEAR


    _I caught the changes of the year_
    _In soft and fragile nets of song,_
    _For you to whom my days belong._

    _For you to whom each day is dear_
    _Of all the high processional throng,_
      _I caught the changes of the year_
      _In soft and fragile nets of song._

    _And here some sound of beauty, here_
    _Some note of ancient, ageless wrong_
    _Reshaping as my lips were strong,_
      _I caught the changes of the year_
      _In soft and fragile nets of song,_
      _For you to whom my days belong._


I

    The spring is passing through the land
    In web of ghostly green arrayed,
    And blood is warm in man and maid.

    The arches of desire have spanned
    The barren ways, the debt is paid,
      The spring is passing through the land
      In web of ghostly green arrayed.

    Sweet scents along the winds are fanned
    From shadowy wood and secret glade
    Where beauty blossoms unafraid,
      The spring is passing through the land
      In web of ghostly green arrayed
      And blood is warm in man and maid.


II

    Proud insolent June with burning lips
    Holds riot now from sea to sea,
    And shod in sovran gold is she.

    To the full flood of reaping slips
    The seeding-tide by God’s decree,
      Proud insolent June with burning lips
      Holds riot now from sea to sea.

    And all the goodly fellowships
    Of bird and bloom and beast and tree
    Are gallant of her company--
      Proud insolent June with burning lips
      Holds riot now from sea to sea,
      And shod in sovran gold is she.


III

    The loaded sheaves are harvested,
    The sheep are in the stubbled fold,
    The tale of labour crowned is told.

    The wizard of the year has spread
    A glory over wood and wold,
      The loaded sheaves are harvested,
      The sheep are in the stubbled fold.

    The yellow apples and the red
    Bear down the boughs, the hazels hold
    No more their fruit in cups of gold.
      The loaded sheaves are harvested,
      The sheep are in the stubbled fold,
      The tale of labour crowned is told.


IV

    The year is lapsing into time
    Along a deep and songless gloom,
    Unchapleted of leaf or bloom.

    And mute between the dusk and prime
    The diligent earth resets her loom,--
      The year is lapsing into time
      Along a deep and songless gloom.

    While o’er the snows the seasons chime
    Their golden hopes to reillume
    The brief eclipse about the tomb,
      The year is lapsing into time
      Along a deep and songless gloom
      Unchapleted of leaf or bloom.


V

    _Not wise as cunning scholars are,_
    _With curious words upon your tongue,_
    _Are you for whom my song is sung._

    _But you are wise of cloud and star,_
    _And winds and boughs all blossom-hung,_
      _Not wise as cunning scholars are,_
      _With curious words upon your tongue._

    _Surely, clear child of earth, some far_
    _Dim Dryad-haunted groves among,_
    _Your lips to lips of knowledge clung--_
      _Not wise as cunning scholars are,_
      _With curious words upon your tongue,_
      _Are you for whom my song is sung._



LIEGEWOMAN


    You may not wear immortal leaves
      Nor yet go laurelled in your days,
    But he believes
      Who loves you with most intimate praise
        That none on earth has ever gone,
        In whom a cleanlier spirit shone.

    You may be unremembered when
      Our chronicles are piled in dust:
    No matter than--
      None ever bore a lordlier lust
        To know the savour sweet or sour
        Down to the dregs of every hour.

    And this your epitaph shall be--
      “Within life’s house her eager words
    Continually
      Lightened as wings of arrowy birds:
        She was life’s house-fellow, she knew
        The passion of him, soul and thew.”



LOVERS TO LOVERS


      Our love forsworn
    Was very love upon a day,
    Bitterness now, forlorn,
    This tattered love once went as proud a way
          As any born.

      You well have kept
    Your love from all corrupting things,
    Your house of love is swept
    And bright for use; whatso each season brings
          You may accept

      In pride. But we?
    Our date of love is dead. Our blind
    Brief moment was to be
    The sum, yet was it signed as yours, and signed
          Indelibly.



LOVE’S PERSONALITY


    If I had never seen
    Thy sweet grave face,
    If I had never known
    Thy pride as of a queen,
    Yet would another’s grace
    Have led me to her throne.

    I should have loved as well
    Not loving thee,
    My faith had been as strong
    Wrought by another spell;
    Her love had grown to be
    As thine for fire and song.

    Yet is our love a thing
    Alone, austere,
    A new and sacred birth
    That we alone could bring
    Through flames of faith and fear
    To pass upon the earth.

    As one who makes a rhyme
    Of his fierce thought,
    With momentary art
    May challenge change and time,
    So is the love we wrought
    Not greatest, but apart.



PIERROT


        _Pierrot alone,_
        _And then Pierrette,_
        _And then a story to forget._

        _Pierrot alone._
    Pierrette among the apple boughs
    Come down and take a Pierrot’s kiss,
    The moon is white upon your brows,
    Pierrette among the apple boughs,
    Your lips are cold, and I would set
    A rose upon your lips, Pierrette,
    A rosy kiss,
    Pierrette, Pierrette.

        _And then Pierrette._
    I’ve left my apple boughs, Pierrot,
    A shadow now is on my face,
    But still my lips are cold, and O
    No rose is on my lips, Pierrot,
    You laugh, and then you pass away
    Among the scented leaves of May,
    And on my face
    The shadows stay.

        _And then a story to forget._
    The petals fall upon the grass,
    And I am crying in the dark,
    The clouds above the white moon pass--
    My tears are falling on the grass;
    Pierrot, Pierrot, I heard your vows
    And left my blossomed apple boughs,
    And sorrows dark
    Are on my brows.



RECKONING


    I heard my love go laughing
      Beyond the bolted door,
    I saw my love go riding
      Across the windy moor,
    And I would give my love no word
    Because of evil tales I heard.

    Let fancy men go laughing,
      Let light men ride away,
    Bruised corn is not for my mill,
      What’s paid I will not pay,--
    And so I thought because of this
    Gossip that poisoned clasp and kiss.

    Four hundred men went riding,
      And he the best of all,
    A jolly man for labour,
      A sinewy man and tall;
    I watched him go beyond the hill,
    And shaped my anger with my will.

    At night my love came riding
      Across the dusky moor,
    And other two rode with him
      Who knocked my bolted door,
    And called me out and bade me see
    How quiet a man a man could be.

    And now the tales that stung me
      And gave my pride its rule,
    Are worth a beggar’s broken shoe
      Or the sermon of a fool,
    And all I know and all I can
    Is, false or true, he was my man.



DERELICT


    The cloudy peril of the seas,
    The menace of mid-winter days,
    May break the scented boughs of ease
    And lock the lips of praise,
    But every sea its harbour knows,
    And every winter wakes to spring,
    And every broken song the rose
    Shall yet resing.

    But comfortable love once spent
    May not re-shape its broken trust,
    Or find anew the old content,
    Dishonoured in the dust;
    No port awaits those tattered sails,
    No sun rides high above that gloom,
    Unchronicled those half-told tales
    Shall time entomb.



WED


    I married him on Christmas morn,--
    Ah woe betide, ah woe betide,
    Folk said I was a comely bride,--
    Ah me forlorn.

    All braided was my golden hair,
    And heavy then, and shining then,
    My limbs were sweet to madden men,--
    O cunning snare.

    My beauty was a thing they say
    Of large renown,--O dread renown,--
    Its rumour travelled through the town,
    Alas the day.

    His kisses burn my mouth and brows,--
    O burning kiss, O barren kiss,--
    My body for his worship is,
    And so he vows.

    But daily many men draw near
    With courtly speech and subtle speech;
    I gather from the lips of each
    A deadly fear.

    As he grows sullen I grow cold,
    And whose the blame? Not mine the blame;
    Their passions round me as a flame
    All fiercely fold.

    And oh, to think that he might be
    So proudly set, above them set,
    If he might but awaken yet
    The soul of me.

    Will no man seek and seeking find
    The soul of me, the soul of me?
    Nay, even as they are, so is he,
    And all are blind.

    On Christmas morning we were wed,
    Ah me the morn, the luckless morn;
    Now poppies burn along the corn,
    Would I were dead.



FORSAKEN


    The word is said, and I no more shall know
    Aught of the changing story of her days,
    Nor any treasure that her lips bestow.

    And I, who loving her was wont to praise
    All things in love, now reft of music go
    With silent step down unfrequented ways.

    My soul is like a lonely market-place,
    Where late were laughing folk and shining steeds
    And many things of comeliness and grace;

    And now between the stones are twisting weeds,
    No sound there is, nor any friendly face,
    Save for a bedesman telling o’er his beads.



DEFIANCE


    O wide the way your beauty goes,
      For all its feigned indifference,
    And every folly’s path it knows,
      And every humour of pretence.

    But I can be as false as are
      The rainbow loves which are your days,
    And I will gladly go and far,
      Content with your immediate praise.

    Your lips, the shyer lover’s bane,
      I take with disputation none,
    And am your kinsman in disdain
      When all is excellently done.



LOVE IN OCTOBER


    The fields, the clouds, the farms and farming gear,
      The drifting kine, the scarlet apple trees ...
      Not of the sun but separate are these,
    And individual joys, and very dear;
    Yet when the sun is folded, they are here
      No more, the drifting skies: the argosies
      Of wagoned apples: still societies
    Of elms: red cattle on the stubbled year.

    So are you not love’s whole estate. I owe
      In many hearts more dues than I shall pay;
    Yet is your heart the spring of all love’s light,
    And should your love weary of me and go
      With all its thriving beams out of my day,
    These many loves would founder in that night.



TO THE LOVERS THAT COME AFTER US


    Lovers, a little of this your happy time
      Give to the thought of us who were as you,
    That we, whose dearest passion in your prime
      Is but a winter garment, may renew
    Our love in yours, our flesh in your desire,
      Our tenderness in your discovering kiss,
    For we are half the fuel of your fire,
      As ours was fed by Marc and Beatrice.
    Remember us, and, when you too are dead,
      Our prayer with yours shall fall upon love’s spring
    That all our ghostly loves be comforted
      In those yet later lover’s love-making;
    So shall oblivion bring his dust to spill
    On brain and limbs, and we be lovers still.



DERBYSHIRE SONG


    Come loving me to Darley Dale
      In spring time or sickle time,
    And we will make as proud a tale
      As lovers in the antique prime
    Of Harry or Elizabeth.

    With kirtle green and nodding flowers
      To deck my hair and little waist,
    I ’ll be worth a lover’s hours....
      Come, fellow, thrive, there is no haste
    But soon is worn away in death.

    Soon shall the blood be tame, and soon
      Our bodies lie in Darley Dale,
    Unreckoning of jolly June,
      With tongues past telling any tale;
    My man, come loving me to-day.

    I have a wrist is smooth and brown,
      I have a shoulder smooth and white,
    I have my grace in any gown
      By sun or moon or candle-light....
    Come Darley way, come Darley way.



LOVE’S HOUSE


I

    I know not how these men or those may take
      Their first glad measure of love’s character,
    Or whether one should let the summer make
      Love’s festival, and one the falling year.

    I only know that in my prime of days
      When my young branches came to blossoming,
    You were the sign that loosed my lips in praise,
      You were the zeal that governed all my spring.


II

    In prudent counsel many gathered near,
      Forewarning us of deft and secret snares
    That are love’s use. We heard them as we hear
      The ticking of a clock upon the stairs.

    The troops of reason, careful to persuade,
      Blackened love’s name, but love was more than these,
    For we had wills to venture unafraid
      The trouble of unnavigable seas.


III

    Their word was but a barren seed that lies
      Undrawn of the sun’s health and undesired,
    Because the habit of their hearts was wise,
      Because the wisdom of their tongues was tired.

    For in the smother of contentious pride,
      And in the fear of each tumultuous mood,
    Our love has kept serenely fortified
      And unusurped one stedfast solitude.


IV

    Dark words, and hasty humours of the blood
      Have come to us and made no longer stay
    Than footprints of a bird upon the mud
      That in an hour the tide will take away.

    But not March weather over ploughlands blown,
      Nor cresses green upon their gravel bed,
    Are beautiful with the clean rigour grown
      Of quiet thought our love has piloted.


V

    I sit before the hearths of many men,
      When speech goes gladly, eager to withhold
    No word at all, yet when I pass again
      The last of words is captive and untold.

    We talk together in love’s house, and there
      No thought but seeks what counsel you may give,
    And every secret trouble from its lair
      Comes to your hand, no longer fugitive.


VI

    I woo the world, with burning will to be
      Delighted in all fortune it may find,
    And still the strident dogs of jealousy
      Go mocking down the tunnels of my mind.

    Only for you my contemplation goes
      Clean as a god’s, undarkened of pretence,
    Most happy when your garner overflows,
      Achieving in your prosperous diligence.


VII

    When from the dusty corners of my brain
      Comes limping some ungainly word or deed,
    I know not if my dearest friend’s disdain
      Be durable or brief, spent husk or seed.

    But your rebuke and that poor fault of mine
      Go straitly outcast, and we close the door,
    And I, no promise asking and no sign,
      Stand blameless in love’s presence as before.


VIII

    A beggar in the ditch, I stand and call
      My questions out upon the queer parade
    Of folk that hurry by, and one and all
      Go down the road with never answer made.

    I do not question love. I am a lord
      High at love’s table, and the vigilant king,
    Unquestioned, from the hubbub at the board
      Leans down to me and tells me everything.



COTSWOLD LOVE


    Blue skies are over Cotswold
      And April snows go by,
    The lasses turn their ribbons
      For April’s in the sky,
    And April is the season
      When Sabbath girls are dressed,
    From Rodboro’ to Campden,
      In all their silken best.

    An ankle is a marvel
      When first the buds are brown,
    And not a lass but knows it
      From Stow to Gloucester town.
    And not a girl goes walking
      Along the Cotswold lanes
    But knows men’s eyes in April
      Are quicker than their brains.

    It’s little that it matters,
      So long as you’re alive,
    If you’re eighteen in April,
      Or rising sixty-five,
    When April comes to Amberley
      With skies of April blue,
    And Cotswold girls are briding
      With slyly tilted shoe.



WITH DAFFODILS


    I send you daffodils, my dear,
    For these are emperors of spring,
    And in my heart you keep so clear
    So delicate an empery,
    That none but emperors could be
    Ambassadors endowed to bring
    My messages of honesty.

    My mind makes faring to and fro,
    Deft or bewildered, dark or kind,
    That not the eye of God may know
    Which motion is of true estate
    And which a twisted runagate
    Of all the farings of my mind,
    And which has honesty for mate.

    Only my love for you is clean
    Of scandal’s use, and though, may be,
    Far rangers have my passions been,--
    Since thus the word of Eden went,--
    Yet of the springs of my content,
    My very wells of honesty
    Are you the only firmament.



FOUNDATIONS


    Those lovers old had rare conceits
    To make persuasion beautiful,
    Or rail upon the pretty fool
    Who would not share those wanton sweets
    That, guarded, soon are bitterness.

    But we, my love, can look on these
    Old tournaments of wit, and say
    What novices of love were they,
    Who loved by seasons and degrees,
    And in the rate of more and less.

    We will not make of love a stale
    For deft and nimble argument,
    Nor shall denial and consent
    Be processes whereof shall fail
    One surety that we possess.



DEAR AND INCOMPARABLE


    Dear and incomparable
      Is that love to me
    Flowing out of the woodlands,
      Out of the sea;
    Out of the firmament breathing
      Between pasture and sky,
    For no reward is cherished here
      To reckon by.

    It is not of my earning,
      Nor forfeit I can
    This love that flows upon
      The poverty of man,
    Though faithless and unkind
      I sleep and forget
    This love that asks no wage of me
      Waits my waking yet.

    Of such is the love, dear,
      That you fold me in,
    It knows no governance
      Of virtue or sin;
    From nothing of my achieving
      Shall it enrichment take,
    And the glooms of my unworthiness
      It will not forsake.



A SABBATH DAY

IN FIVE WATCHES


I. MORNING

(TO M. C.)

    You were three men and women two,
    And well I loved you, all of you,
      And well we kept the Sabbath day.
    The bells called out of Malvern town,
    But never bell could call us down
      As we went up the hill away.

    Was it a thousand years ago
    Or yesterday that men were so
      Zealous of creed and argument?
    Here wind is brother to the rain,
    And the hills laugh upon the plain,
      And the old brain-gotten feuds are spent.

    Bring lusty laughter, lusty jest,
    Bring each the song he names the best,
      Bring eager thought and speech that’s keen,
    Tell each his tale and tell it out,
    The only shame be prudent doubt,
      Bring bodies where the lust is clean.


II. FULL DAY

(TO K. D.)

    We moved along the gravelled way
      Between the laurels and the yews,
    Some touch of old enchantment lay
      About us, some remembered news
    Of men who rode among the trees
      With burning dreams of Camelot,
    Whose names are beauty’s litanies,
      As Galahad and Launcelot.

    We looked along the vaulted gloom
      Of boughs unstripped of winter’s bane,
    As for some pride of scarf and plume
      And painted shield and broidered rein,
    And through the cloven laurel walls
      We searched the darkling pines and pale
    Beech-boles and woodbine coronals,
      As for the passing of the Grail.

    But Launcelot no travel keeps,
      For brother Launcelot is dead,
    And brother Galahad he sleeps
      This long while in his quiet bed,
    And we are all the knights that pass
      Among the yews and laurels now.
    They are but fruit among the grass,
      And we but fruit upon the bough.

    No coloured blazon meets us here
      Of all that courtly company;
    Elaine is not, nor Guenevere,
      The dream is but of dreams that die.

    But yet the purple violet lies
      Beside the golden daffodil,
    And women strong of limb and wise
      And fierce of blood are with us still.

    And never through the woodland goes
      The Grail of that forgotten quest,
    But still about the woodland flows
      The sap of God made manifest
    In boughs that labour to their time,
      And birds that gossip secret things,
    And eager lips that seek to rhyme
      The latest of a thousand springs.


III. DUSK

(TO E. S. V.)

    We come from the laurels and daffodils
      Down to the homestead under the fell,
    We’ve gathered our hunger upon the hills,
      And that is well.

    Howbeit to-morrow gives or takes,
      And leads to barren or flowering ways,
    We’ve a linen cloth and wheaten cakes,
      For which be praise.

    Here in the valley at lambing-time
      The shepherd folk of their watching tell
    While the shadows up to the beacon climb,
      And that is well.
    Let be what may when we make an end
      Of the laughter and labour of all our days
    We’ve men to friend and women to friend,
      For whom be praise.


IV. EVENSONG

(TO B. M.)

    Come, let us tell it over,
    Each to each by the fireside,
    How that earth has been a swift adventure for us,
    And the watches of the day as a gay song and a right song,
    And now the traveller wind has found a bed,
    And the sheep crowd under the thorn.

        Good was the day and our travelling,
        And now there is evensong to sing.

    Night, and along the valleys
    Watch the eyes of the homesteads.
    The dark hills are very still and still are the stars.
    Patiently under the ploughlands the wheat moves and the barley.
    The secret hour of love is upon the sky,
    And our thought in praise is aflame.

        Sing evensong as well we may
        For our travel upon this Sabbath day.

    Earth, we have known you truly,
    Heard your mutable music,
    Have been your lovers and felt the savour of you,
    And you have quickened in us the blood’s fire and the heart’s fire.
    We have wooed and striven with you and made you ours
    By the strength sprung out of your loins.

        Lift the latch on its twisted thong,
        And an end be made of our evensong.


V. NIGHT

(TO H. S. S.)

    The barriers of sleep are crossed
      And I alone am yet awake,
    Keeping another Pentecost
      For that new visitation’s sake
    Of life descending on the hills
    In blackthorn bloom and daffodils.

    At peace upon my pillow lain
      I celebrate the spirit come
    In spring’s immutable youth again
      Across the lands of Christendom;
    I hear in all the choral host
    The coming of the Holy Ghost.

    The sacrament of bough and blade,
      Of populous folds and building birds
    I take, till now an end is made
      Of praise and ceremonial words,
    And I too turn myself to keep
    The quiet festival of sleep.

_March 1913._



A DEDICATION

(TO E. G.)


I

    Sometimes youth comes to age and asks a blessing,
      Or counsel, or a tale of old estate,
    Yet youth will still be curiously guessing
      The old man’s thought when death is at his gate;
    For all their courteous words they are not one,
      This youth and age, but civil strangers still,
    Age with the best of all his seasons done,
      Youth with his face towards the upland hill.
    Age looks for rest while youth runs far and wide,
      Age talks with death, which is youth’s very fear,
    Age knows so many comrades who have died,
      Youth burns that one companion is so dear.
    So, with good will, and in one house, may dwell
    These two, and talk, and all be yet to tell.


II

    But there are men who, in the time of age,
      Sometimes remember all that age forgets:
    The early hope, the hardly compassed wage,
      The change of corn, and snow, and violets;
    They are glad of praise; they know this morning brings
      As true a song as any yesterday;
    Their labour still is set to many things,
      They cry their questions out along the way.
    They give as who may gladly take again
      Some gift at need; they move with gallant ease
    Among all eager companies of men;
      And never signed of age are such as these.
    They speak with youth, and never speak amiss;
    Of such are you; and what is youth but this?



RUPERT BROOKE

(DIED APRIL 23, 1915)


    To-day I have talked with old Euripides;
      Shakespeare this morning sang for my content
    Of chimney-sweepers; through the Carian trees
      Comes beating still the nightingales’ lament;
    The Tabard ales to-day are freshly brewed;
      Wordsworth is with me, mounting Loughrigg Fell;
    All timeless deaths in Lycid are renewed,
      And basils blossom yet for Isabel.

    Quick thoughts are these; they do not pass; they gave
      Only to death such little, casual things
    As are the noteless levies of the grave,--
      Sad flesh, weak verse, and idle marketings.
    So my mortality for yours complains,
    While our immortal fellowship remains.



ON READING FRANCIS LEDWIDGE’S LAST SONGS


    At April’s end, when blossoms break
      To birth upon my apple-tree,
    I know the certain year will take
      Full harvest of this infancy.

    At April’s end, when comes the dear
      Occasion of your valley tune,
    I know your beauty’s arc is here,
      A little ghostly morning moon.

    Yet are these fosterlings of rhyme
      As fortunately born to spend
    Happy conspiracies with time
      As apple flowers at April’s end.



IN THE WOODS


    I was in the woods to-day,
      And the leaves were spinning there,
    Rich apparelled in decay,--
      In decay more wholly fair
      Than in life they ever were.

    Gold and rich barbaric red
      Freakt with pale and sapless vein,
    Spinning, spinning, spun and sped
      With a little sob of pain
      Back to harbouring earth again.

    Long in homely green they shone
      Through the summer rains and sun,
    Now their humbleness is gone,
      Now their little season run,
      Pomp and pageantry begun.

    Sweet was life, and buoyant breath,
      Lovely too; but for a day
    Issues from the house of death
      Yet more beautiful array:
      Hark, a whisper--“Come away.”

    One by one they spin and fall,
      But they fall in regal pride:
    Dying, do they hear a call
      Rising from an ebbless tide,
      And, hearing, are beatified?



LATE SUMMER


    Though summer long delayeth
      Her blue and golden boon,
    Yet now at length she stayeth
      Her wings above the noon;
    She sets the waters dreaming
      To murmurous leafy tones,
    The weeded waters gleaming
      Above the stepping-stones.

    Where fern and ivied willow
      Lean o’er the seaward brook,
    I read a volume mellow--
      A poet’s fairy-book;
    The seaward brook is narrow,
      The hazel spans its pride,
    And like a painted arrow
      The king-bird keeps the tide.



JANUARY DUSK


    Austere and clad in sombre robes of grey,
      With hands upfolded and with silent wings,
    In unimpassioned mystery the day
      Passes; a lonely thrush its requiem sings.

    The dust of night is tangled in the boughs
      Of leafless lime and lilac, and the pine
    Grows blacker, and the star upon the brows
      Of sleep is set in heaven for a sign.

    Earth’s little weary peoples fall on peace
      And dream of breaking buds and blossoming,
    Of primrose airs, of days of large increase,
      And all the coloured retinue of spring.



AT GRAFTON


    God laughed when he made Grafton
    That’s under Bredon Hill,
    A jewel in a jewelled plain.
    The seasons work their will
    On golden thatch and crumbling stone,
    And every soft-lipped breeze
    Makes music for the Grafton men
    In comfortable trees.

    God’s beauty over Grafton
    Stole into roof and wall,
    And hallowed every pavèd path
    And every lowly stall,
    And to a woven wonder
    Conspired with one accord
    The labour of the servant,
    The labour of the Lord.

    And momently to Grafton
    Comes in from vale and wold
    The sound of sheep unshepherded,
    The sound of sheep in fold,
    And, blown along the bases
    Of lands that set their wide
    Frank brows to God, comes chanting
    The breath of Bristol tide.



DOMINION


    I went beneath the sunny sky
      When all things bowed to June’s desire,--
    The pansy with its steadfast eye,
      The blue shells on the lupin spire,

    The swelling fruit along the boughs,
      The grass grown heady in the rain,
    Dark roses fitted for the brows
      Of queens great kings have sung in vain;

    My little cat with tiger bars,
      Bright claws all hidden in content;
    Swift birds that flashed like darkling stars
      Across the cloudy continent;

    The wiry-coated fellow curled
      Stump-tailed upon the sunny flags;
    The bees that sacked a coloured world
      Of treasure for their honey-bags.

    And all these things seemed very glad,
      The sun, the flowers, the birds on wing,
    The jolly beasts, the furry-clad
      Fat bees, the fruit, and everything.

    But gladder than them all was I,
      Who, being man, might gather up
    The joy of all beneath the sky,
      And add their treasure to my cup,

    And travel every shining way,
      And laugh with God in God’s delight,
    Create a world for every day,
      And store a dream for every night.



THE MIRACLE


    Come, sweetheart, listen, for I have a thing
    Most wonderful to tell you--news of spring.

    Albeit winter still is in the air,
    And the earth troubled, and the branches bare,

    Yet down the fields to-day I saw her pass--
    The spring--her feet went shining through the grass.

    She touched the ragged hedgerows--I have seen
    Her finger-prints, most delicately green;

    And she has whispered to the crocus leaves,
    And to the garrulous sparrows in the eaves.

    Swiftly she passed and shyly, and her fair
    Young face was hidden in her cloudy hair.

    She would not stay, her season is not yet,
    But she has reawakened, and has set

    The sap of all the world astir, and rent
    Once more the shadows of our discontent.

    Triumphant news--a miracle I sing--
    The everlasting miracle of spring.



MILLERS DALE


    Barefoot we went by Millers Dale
      When meadowsweet was golden gloom
    And happy love was in the vale
      Singing upon the summer bloom
    Of gipsy crop and branches laid
      Of willows over chanting pools,
    Barefoot by Millers Dale we made
      Our summer festival of fools.

    Folly bright-eyed, and quick, and young
      Was there with all his silly plots,
    And trotty wagtail stepped among
      The delicate forget-me-nots,
    And laughter played with us above
      The rocky shelves and weeded holes
    And we had fellowship to love
      The pigeons and the water-voles.

    Time soon shall be when we are all
      Stiller than ever runs the Wye,
    And every bitterness shall fall
      To-morrow in obscurity,
    And wars be done, and treasons fail,
      Yet shall new friends go down to greet
    The singing rocks of Millers Dale,
      And willow pools and meadowsweet.



WRITTEN AT LUDLOW CASTLE

(IN THE HALL WHERE COMUS WAS FIRST PERFORMED)


    Where wall and sill and broken window-frame
    Are bright with flowers unroofed against the skies,
    And nothing but the nesting jackdaws’ cries
    Breaks the hushed even, once imperial came
    The muse that moved transfiguring the name
    Of Puritan, and beautiful and wise
    The verses fell, forespeaking Paradise,
    And poetry set all this hall aflame.

    Now silence has come down upon the place
    Where life and song so wonderfully went,
    And the mole’s afoot now where that passion rang,
    Yet Comus now first moves his laurelled pace,
    For song and life for ever are unspent,
    And they are more than ghosts who lived and sang.



WORDSWORTH AT GRASMERE


    These hills and waters fostered you
      Abiding in your argument
    Until all comely wisdom drew
      About you, and the years were spent.

    Now over hill and water stays
      A world more intimately wise,
    Built of your dedicated days,
      And seen in your beholding eyes.

    So, marvellous and far, the mind,
      That slept among them when began
    Waters and hills, leaps up to find
      Its kingdom in the thought of man.



SUNRISE ON RYDAL WATER

(TO E. DE S.)


    Come down at dawn from windless hills
      Into the valley of the lake,
    Where yet a larger quiet fills
      The hour, and mist and water make
      With rocks and reeds and island boughs
      One silence and one element,
      Where wonder goes surely as once
      It went
        By Galilean prows.

    Moveless the water and the mist,
      Moveless the secret air above,
    Hushed, as upon some happy tryst
      The poised expectancy of love;
        What spirit is it that adores
        What mighty presence yet unseen?
        What consummation works apace
        Between
          These rapt enchanted shores?

    Never did virgin beauty wake
      Devouter to the bridal feast
    Than moves this hour upon the lake
      In adoration to the east;
        Here is the bride a god may know,
        The primal will, the young consent,
        Till surely upon the appointed mood
        Intent
          The god shall leap--and, lo,

    Over the lake’s end strikes the sun,
      White, flameless fire; some purity
    Thrilling the mist, a splendour won
      Out of the world’s heart. Let there be
        Thoughts, and atonements, and desires,
        Proud limbs, and undeliberate tongue,
        Where now we move with mortal oars
        Among
          Immortal dews and fires.

    So the old mating goes apace,
      Wind with the sea, and blood with thought,
    Lover with lover; and the grace
      Of understanding comes unsought
        When stars into the twilight steer,
        Or thrushes build among the may,
        Or wonder moves between the hills,
        And day
          Comes up on Rydal mere.



SEPTEMBER


    Wind and the robin’s note to-day
    Have heard of autumn and betray
      The green long reign of summer.
    The rust is falling in the leaves,
    September stands beside the sheaves,
      The new, the happy comer.

    Not sad my season of the red
    And russet orchards gaily spread
      From Cholesbury to Cooming,
    Nor sad when twilit valley trees
    Are ships becalmed on misty seas,
      And beetles go abooming.

    Now soon shall come the morning crowds
    Of starlings, soon the coloured clouds
      From oak and ash and willow,
    And soon the thorn and briar shall be
    Rich in their crimson livery,
      In scarlet and in yellow.

    Spring laughed and thrilled a million veins,
    And summer shone above her rains
      To fill September’s faring;
    September talks as kings who know
    The world’s way and superbly go
      In robes of wisdom’s wearing.



OLTON POOLS

(TO G. C. G.)


    Now June walks on the waters,
    And the cuckoo’s last enchantment
    Passes from Olton pools.

    Now dawn comes to my window
    Breathing midsummer roses,
    And scythes are wet with dew.

    Is it not strange for ever
    That, bowered in this wonder,
    Man keeps a jealous heart?...

    That June and the June waters,
    And birds and dawn-lit roses,
    Are gospels in the wind,

    Fading upon the deserts,
    Poor pilgrim revelations?...
    Hist ... over Olton pools!



OF GREATHAM

(TO THOSE WHO LIVE THERE)


    For peace, than knowledge more desirable
      Into your Sussex quietness I came,
    When summer’s green and gold and azure fell
      Over the world in flame.

    And peace upon your pasture-lands I found,
      Where grazing flocks drift on continually,
    As little clouds that travel with no sound
      Across a windless sky.

    Out of your oaks the birds call to their mates
      That brood among the pines, where hidden deep
    From curious eyes a world’s adventure waits
      In columned choirs of sleep.

    Under the calm ascension of the night
      We heard the mellow lapsing and return
    Of night-owls purring in their groundling flight
      Through lanes of darkling fern.

    Unbroken peace when all the stars were drawn
      Back to their lairs of light, and ranked along
    From shire to shire the downs out of the dawn
      Were risen in golden song.

       *       *       *       *       *

    I sing of peace who have known the large unrest
      Of men bewildered in their travelling,
    And I have known the bridal earth unblest
      By the brigades of spring.

    I have known that loss. And now the broken thought
      Of nations marketing in death I know,
    The very winds to threnodies are wrought
      That on your downlands blow.

    I sing of peace. Was it but yesterday
      I came among your roses and your corn?
    Then momently amid this wrath I pray
      For yesterday reborn.



MAMBLE


    I never went to Mamble
    That lies above the Teme,
    So I wonder who’s in Mamble,
    And whether people seem
    Who breed and brew along there
    As lazy as the name,
    And whether any song there
    Sets alehouse wits aflame.

    The finger-post says Mamble,
    And that is all I know
    Of the narrow road to Mamble,
    And should I turn and go
    To that place of lazy token
    That lies above the Teme,
    There might be a Mamble broken
    That was lissom in a dream.

    So leave the road to Mamble
    And take another road
    To as good a place as Mamble
    Be it lazy as a toad;
    Who travels Worcester county
    Takes any place that comes
    When April tosses bounty
    To the cherries and the plums.



OUT OF THE MOON


    Merely the moonlight
    Piercing the boughs of my may-tree,
    Falling upon my ferns;
    Only the night
    Touching my ferns with silver bloom
    Of sea-flowers here in the sleeping city--
    And suddenly the imagination burns
    With knowledge of many a dark significant doom
    Out of antiquity,
    Sung to hushed halls by troubadours
    Who knew the ways of the heart because they had seen
    The moonlight washing the garden’s deeper green
    To silver flowers,
    Falling with tidings out of the moon, as now
    It falls on the ferns under my may-tree bough.



MOONLIT APPLES


    At the top of the house the apples are laid in rows,
    And the skylight lets the moonlight in, and those
    Apples are deep-sea apples of green. There goes
      A cloud on the moon in the autumn night.

    A mouse in the wainscot scratches, and scratches, and then
    There is no sound at the top of the house of men
    Or mice; and the cloud is blown, and the moon again
      Dapples the apples with deep-sea light.

    They are lying in rows there, under the gloomy beams;
    On the sagging floor; they gather the silver streams
    Out of the moon, those moonlit apples of dreams,
      And quiet is the steep stair under.

    In the corridors under there is nothing but sleep.
    And stiller than ever on orchard boughs they keep
    Tryst with the moon, and deep is the silence, deep
      On moon-washed apples of wonder.



COTTAGE SONG


    Morning and night I bring
    Clear water from the spring,
    And through the lyric noon
    I hear the larks in tune,
    And when the shadows fall
    There’s providence for all.

    My garden is alight
    With currants red and white;
    And my blue curtains peep
    On starry courses deep,
    When down her silver tides
    The moon on Cotswold rides.

    My path of paven grey
    Is thoroughfare all day
    For fellowship, till time
    Bids us with candles climb
    The little whitewashed stair
    Above my lavender.



THE MIDLANDS


    Black in the summer night my Cotswold hill
      Aslant my window sleeps, beneath a sky
    Deep as the bedded violets that fill
      March woods with dusky passion. As I lie
    Abed between cool walls I watch the host
      Of the slow stars lit over Gloucester plain,
    And drowsily the habit of these most
      Beloved of English lands moves in my brain,
    While silence holds dominion of the dark,
    Save when the foxes from the spinneys bark.

    I see the valleys in their morning mist
      Wreathed under limpid hills in moving light,
    Happy with many a yeoman melodist:
      I see the little roads of twinkling white
    Busy with fieldward teams and market gear
      Of rosy men, cloth-gaitered, who can tell
    The many-minded changes of the year,
      Who know why crops and kine fare ill or well;
    I see the sun persuade the mist away,
    Till town and stead are shining to the day.

    I see the wagons move along the rows
      Of ripe and summer-breathing clover-flower,
    I see the lissom husbandman who knows
      Deep in his heart the beauty of his power,
    As, lithely pitched, the full-heaped fork bids on
      The harvest home. I hear the rickyard fill
    With gossip as in generations gone,
      While wagon follows wagon from the hill.
    I think how, when our seasons all are sealed,
    Shall come the unchanging harvest from the field.

    I see the barns and comely manors planned
      By men who somehow moved in comely thought,
    Who, with a simple shippon to their hand,
      As men upon some godlike business wrought;
    I see the little cottages that keep
      Their beauty still where since Plantagenet
    Have come the shepherds happily to sleep,
      Finding the loaves and cups of cider set;
    I see the twisted shepherds, brown and old,
    Driving at dusk their glimmering sheep to fold.

    And now the valleys that upon the sun
      Broke from their opal veils, are veiled again,
    And the last light upon the wolds is done,
      And silence falls on flocks and fields and men;
    And black upon the night I watch my hill,
      And the stars shine, and there an owly wing
    Brushes the night, and all again is still,
      And, from this land of worship that I sing,
    I turn to sleep, content that from my sires
    I draw the blood of England’s midmost shires.



OLD CROW


    The bird in the corn
      Is a marvellous crow.
    He was laid and was born
      In the season of snow;
    And he chants his old catches
    Like a ghost under hatches.

    He comes from the shades
      Of his wood very early,
    And works in the blades
      Of the wheat and the barley,
    And he’s happy, although
    He’s a grumbleton crow.

    The larks have devices
      For sunny delight,
    And the sheep in their fleeces
      Are woolly and white;
    But these things are the scorn
    Of the bird in the corn.

    And morning goes by,
      And still he is there,
    Till a rose in the sky
      Calls him back to his lair
    In the boughs where the gloom
    Is a part of his plume.

    But the boy in the lane
      With his gun, by and by,
    To the heart of the grain
      Will narrowly spy,
    And the twilight will come,
    And no crow will fly home.



VENUS IN ARDEN


    Now Love, her mantle thrown,
        Goes naked by,
    Threading the woods alone,
        Her royal eye
    Happy because the primroses again
    Break on the winter continence of men.

    I saw her pass to-day
        In Warwickshire,
    With the old imperial way,
        The old desire,
    Fresh as among those other flowers they went
    More beautiful for Adon’s discontent.

    Those other years she made
        Her festival
    When the blue eggs were laid
        And lambs were tall,
    By the Athenian rivers while the reeds
    Made love melodious for the Ganymedes.

    And now through Cantlow brakes,
        By Wilmcote hill,
    To Avon-side, she makes
        Her garlands still,
    And I who watch her flashing limbs am one
    With youth whose days three thousand years are done.



ON A LAKE


    Sweet in the rushes
    The reed-singers make
    A music that hushes
    The life of the lake;
    The leaves are dumb,
    And the tides are still,
    And no calls come
    From the flocks on the hill.

    Forgotten now
    Are nightingales,
    And on his bough
    The linnet fails,--
    Midway the mere
    My mirrored boat
    Shall rest and hear
    A slenderer note.

    Though, heart, you measure
    But one proud rhyme,
    You build a treasure
    Confounding time--
    Sweet in the rushes
    The reed-singers make
    A music that hushes
    The life of the lake.



HARVEST MOON


    “Hush!” was my whisper
    At the stair-top
    When the waggoners were down below
    Home from the barley-crop.
    Through the high window
    Looked the harvest moon,
    While the waggoners sang
    A harvest tune,--
    “Hush!” was my whisper when
    Marjory stept
    Down from her attic-room,
    A true-love-adept.

    “Fill a can, fill a can,”
    Waggoners of heart were they,
    “Harvest-home, harvest-home,
    Barleycorn is home to-day.” ...
    “Marjory, hush now--
    Harvest--you hear?”--
    Red was the moon’s rose
    On the full year,
    The cobwebs shook, so well
    Did the waggoners sing--
    “Hush!”--there was beauty at
    That harvesting.



AT AN EARTHWORKS


    Ringed high with turf the arena lies,
      The neighbouring world unseen, unheard,
    Here are but unhorizoned skies,
      And on the skies a passing bird,

    The conies and a wandering sheep,
      The castings of the chambered mole,--
    These, and the haunted years that keep
      Lost agonies of blood and soul.

    They say that in the midnight moon
      The ghostly legions gather yet,
    And hear a ghostly timbrel-tune,
      And see a ghostly combat met.

    These are but yeoman’s tales. And here
      No marvel on the midnight falls,
    But starlight marvellously clear,
      Being girdled in these shadowy walls.

    Yet now strange glooms of ancestry
      Creep on me through this morning light,
    Some spectral self is seeking me ...
      I will not parley with the night.



INSTRUCTION


    I have a place in a little garden,
    That laurel-leaf and fern
    Keep a cool place though fires of summer
    All the green grasses burn.
    Little cool winds creep there about
    When winds all else are dead,
    And tired limbs there find gentle keeping,
    And humours of sloth are shed.

    So do your songs come always to me,
    Poets of age and age,
    Clear and cool as rivers of wind
    Threading my hermitage,
    Stilling my mind from tribulation
    Of life half-seen, half-heard,
    With images made in the brain’s quietness,
    And the leaping of a word.



HABITATION


    High up in the sky there, now, you know,
    In this May twilight, our cottage is asleep,
    Tenantless, and no creature there to go
    Near it but Mrs. Fry’s fat cows, and sheep
    Dove-coloured, as is Cotswold. No one hears
    Under that cherry-tree the night-jars yet,
    The windows are uncurtained; on the stairs
    Silence is but by tip-toe silence met.
    All doors are fast there. It is a dwelling put by
    From use for a little, or long, up there in the sky.

    Empty; a walled-in silence, in this twilight of May--
    A home for lovers, and friendly withdrawing, and sleep,
    With none to love there, nor laugh, nor climb from the day
    To the candles and linen.... Yet in the silence creep,
    This minute, I know, little ghosts, little virtuous lives,
    Breathing upon that still, insensible place,
    Touching the latches, sorting the napkins and knives,
    And such for the comfort of being, and bowls for the grace,
    That roses will brim; they are creeping from that room to this,
    One room, and two, till the four are visited ... they,
    Little ghosts, little lives, are our thoughts in this twilight of May,
    Signs that even the curious man would miss,
    Of travelling lovers to Cotswold, signs of an hour,
    Very soon, when up from the valley in June will ride
    Lovers by Lynch to Oakridge up in the wide
    Bow of the hill, to a garden of lavender flower....

    The doors are locked; no foot falls; the hearths are dumb--
    But we are there--we are waiting ourselves who come.



WRITTEN IN WINTERBORNE CAME CHURCH

(William Barnes, 1801-1886)

_To Mrs. Thomas Hardy_


    I do not use to listen well
      At sermon time,
    I ’ld rather hear the plainest rhyme
      Than tales the parsons tell;

    The homespun of experience
      They will not wear,
    But walk a transcendental air
      In dusty rags of sense.

    But humbly in your little church
      Alone I watch;
    Old rector, lift again the latch,
      Here is a heart to search.

    Come, with a simple word and wise
      Quicken my brain,
    And while upon the painted pane
      The painted butterflies

    Beat in the early April beams,
      You shall instruct
    My spirit in the knowledge plucked
      From your still Dorset dreams.

    Your word shall strive with no obscure
      Debated text,
    Your vision being unperplexed,
      Your loving purpose pure.

    I know you’ll speak of April flowers,
      Or lambs in pen,
    Or happy-hearted maids and men
      Weaving their April hours.

    Or rising to your thought will come,
      For lessoning,
    Those lovers of an older spring,
      That now in tombs are dumb.

    And brooding in your theme shall be,
      Half said, half heard,
    The presage of a poet’s word
      To mock mortality.

      *       *       *       *       *

    The years are on your grave the while,
      And yet, almost,
    I think to see your surpliced ghost
      Stand hesitant in the aisle,

    Find me sole congregation there,
      Assess my mood,
    Know mine a kindred solitude,
      And climb the pulpit-stair.



BUDS


    The raining hour is done,
      And, threaded on the bough,
    The May-buds in the sun
      Are shining emeralds now.

    As transitory these
      As things of April will,
    Yet, trembling in the trees,
      Is briefer beauty still.

    For, flowering from the sky
      Upon an April day,
    Are silver buds that lie
      Amid the buds of May.

    The April emeralds now,
      While thrushes fill the lane,
    Are linked along the bough
      With silver buds of rain.

    And, straightly though to earth
      The buds of silver slip,
    The green buds keep the mirth
      Of that companionship.



BLACKBIRD


    He comes on chosen evenings,
    My blackbird bountiful, and sings
    Over the gardens of the town
    Just at the hour the sun goes down.
    His flight across the chimneys thick,
    By some divine arithmetic,
    Comes to his customary stack,
    And couches there his plumage black,
    And there he lifts his yellow bill,
    Kindled against the sunset, till
    These suburbs are like Dymock woods
    Where music has her solitudes,
    And while he mocks the winter’s wrong
    Rapt on his pinnacle of song,
    Figured above our garden plots
    Those are celestial chimney-pots.



MAY GARDEN


    A shower of green gems on my apple-tree
      This first morning of May
    Has fallen out of the night, to be
      Herald of holiday--
    Bright gems of green that, fallen there,
      Seem fixed and glowing on the air.

    Until a flutter of blackbird wings
      Shakes and makes the boughs alive,
    And the gems are now no frozen things,
      But apple-green buds to thrive
    On sap of my May garden, how well
      The green September globes will tell.

    Also my pear-tree has its buds,
      But they are silver yellow,
    Like autumn meadows when the floods
      Are silver under willow,
    And here shall long and shapely pears
      Be gathered while the autumn wears.

    And there are sixty daffodils
      Beneath my wall....
    And jealousy it is that kills
      This world when all
    The spring’s behaviour here is spent
      To make the world magnificent.



AT AN INN


    We are talkative proud, and assured, and self-sufficient,
      The quick of the earth this day;
    This inn is ours, and its courtyard, and English history,
      And the Post Office up the way.

    The stars in their changes, and heavenly speculation,
      The habits of birds and flowers,
    And character bred of poverty and riches,
      All these are ours.

    The world is ours, and these its themes and its substance,
      And of these we are free men and wise;
    Among them all we move in possession and judgment,
      For a day, till it dies.

    But in eighteen-hundred-and-fifty, who were the tenants,
      Sure and deliberate as we?
    They knew us not in the time of their ascension,
      Their self-sufficiency.

    And in nineteen-hundred-and-fifty this inn shall flourish,
      And history still be told,
    And the heat of blood shall thrive, and speculation,
      When we are cold.



PERSPECTIVE


    In the Wheatsheaf parlour I sat to see
      The story of Chippington street go by,
    The squire, and dames of little degree,
      And drovers with cattle and flocks to cry.

    And these were all as my creatures there,
      Twinkling to and fro in the sun,
    And placidly I had joy, had care,
      Of all their labours and dealings done.

    Into the parlour strode me then
      Two fellows fiercely set at odds,
    To whom the difference of men
      Gave the sufficiency of God.

    They saw me, and they stept beyond
      To a chamber within earshot still,
    And each on each of broken bond,
      And honour, and inflexible will,

    Railed. And loud the little inn grew,
      But nothing I cared their quarrel to learn,
    Though the issue tossing between the two
      They deemed the bait of the world’s concern.

    Only I thought how most are men
      Fantastic when they most are proud,
    And out of my laughter I looked again
      On the flowing figures of Chippington crowd.



CROCUSES

TO E. H. C.


    Desires,
    Little determined desires,
    Gripped by the mould,
    Moving so hardly among
    The earth, of whose heart they were bred,
    That is old; it is old,
    Not gracious to little desires such as these,
    But apter for work on the bases of trees,
    Whose branches are hung
    Overhead,
    Very mightily, there overhead.

    Through the summer they stirred,
    They strove to the bulbs after May,
    Until harvest and song of the bird
    Went together away;
    And ever till coming of snows
    They worked in the mould, for undaunted were those
    Swift little determined desires, in the earth
    Without sign, any day,
    Ever shaping to marvels of birth,
    Far away.

    And we went
    Without heed
    On our way,
    Never knowing what virtue was spent,
    Day by day,
    By those little desires that were gallant to breed
    Such beauty as fortitude may.
    Not once in our mind
    Was that corner of earth under trees,
    Very mighty and tall,
    As we travelled the roads and the seas,
    And gathered the wage of our kind,
    And were laggard or trim to the call
    Of the duties that lengthen the hours
    Into seasons that flourish and fall.

    And blind,
    In the womb of the flowers,
    Unresting they wrought,
    In the bulbs, in the depth of the year,
    Buried far from our thought;
    Till one day, when the thrushes were clear
    In their note it was spring--and they know--
    Unheeding we came into sight
    Of that corner forgotten, and lo,
    They had won through the meshes of mould,
    And treasuries lay in the light,
    Of ivory, purple, and gold.



RIDDLES, R.F.C.[1]

(1916)


    He was a boy of April beauty; one
    Who had not tried the world; who, while the sun
    Flamed yet upon the eastern sky, was done.

    Time would have brought him in her patient ways--
    So his young beauty spoke--to prosperous days,
    To fulness of authority and praise.

    He would not wait so long. A boy, he spent
    His boy’s dear life for England. Be content:
    No honour of age had been more excellent.

 [1] Lieutenant Stewart G. Ridley, Royal Flying Corps, sacrificed his
 life in the Egyptian desert in an attempt to save a comrade. He was
 twenty years of age.



THE SHIPS OF GRIEF


    On seas where every pilot fails
      A thousand thousand ships to-day
    Ride with a moaning in their sails,
      Through winds grey and waters grey.

    They are the ships of grief. They go
      As fleets are derelict and driven,
    Estranged from every port they know,
      Scarce asking fortitude of heaven.

    No, do not hail them. Let them ride
      Lonely as they would lonely be ...
    There is an hour will prove the tide,
      There is a sun will strike the sea.



NOCTURNE


    O royal night, under your stars that keep
      Their golden troops in charted motion set,
    The living legions are renewed in sleep
      For bloodier battle yet.

    O royal death, under your boundless sky
      Where unrecorded constellations throng,
    Dispassionate those other legions lie,
      Invulnerably strong.



THE PATRIOT


    Scarce is my life more dear to me,
      Brief tutor of oblivion,
    Than fields below the rookery
      That comfortably looks upon
      The little street of Piddington.

    I never think of Avon’s meadows,
      Ryton woods or Rydal mere,
    Or moon-tide moulding Cotswold shadows,
      But I know that half the fear
      Of death’s indifference is here.

    I love my land. No heart can know
      The patriot’s mystery, until
    It aches as mine for woods ablow
      In Gloucestershire with daffodil,
      Or Bicester brakes that violets fill.

    No man can tell what passion surges
      For the house of his nativity
    In the patriot’s blood, until he purges
      His grosser mood of jealousy,
      And comes to meditate with me

    Of gifts of earth that stamp his brain
      As mine the pools of Ludlow mill,
    The hazels fencing Trilly’s Lane,
      And Forty Acres under Brill,
      The ferry under Elsfield hill.

    These are what England is to me,
      Not empire, nor the name of her
    Ranging from pole to tropic sea.
      These are the soil in which I bear
      All that I have of character.

    That men my fellows near and far
      May live in like communion,
    Is all I pray; all pastures are
      The best beloved beneath the sun;
      I have my own; I envy none.



EPILOGUE FOR A MASQUE


    A little time they lived again, and lo!
    Back to the quiet night the shadows go,
    And the great folds of silence once again
    Are over fools and kings and fighting-men.

    A little while they went with stumbling feet,
    With spears of hate, and love all flowery sweet,
    With wondering hearts and bright adventurous wills,
    And now their dust is on a thousand hills.

    We dream of them, as men unborn shall dream
    Of us, who strive a little with the stream
    Before we too go out beyond the day,
    And are as much a memory as they.

    And Death, so coming, shall not seem a thing
    Of any fear, nor terrible his wing.
    We too shall be a tale on earth, and time
    Shall shape our pilgrimage into a rhyme.



THE GUEST


    Sometimes I feel that death is very near,
    And, with half-lifted hand,
    Looks in my eyes, and tells me not to fear,
    But walk his friendly land,
    Comrade with him, and wise
    As peace is wise.

    Then, greatly though my heart with pity moves
    For dear imperilled loves,
    I somehow know
    That death is friendly so,
    A comfortable spirit; one who takes
    Long thought for all our sakes.

    I wonder; will he come that friendly way,
    That guest, or roughly in the appointed day?
    And will, when the last drops of life are spilt,
    My soul be torn from me,
    Or, like a ship truly and trimly built,
    Slip quietly to sea?



TREASON


    What time I write my roundelays,
    I am as proud as princes gone,
    Who built their empires in old days,
    As Tamburlaine or Solomon;
    And wisely though companions then
    Say well it is and well I sing,
    Assured above the praise of men
    I am a solitary king.

    But when I leave that straiter mood,
    That lonely hour, and put aside
    The continence of solitude,
    I fall in treason to my pride,
    And if a witling’s word be spent
    Upon my song in jealousy,
    In anger and in argument
    I am as derelict as he.



POLITICS


    You say a thousand things,
    Persuasively,
    And with strange passion hotly I agree,
    And praise your zest,
    And then
    A blackbird sings
    On April lilac, or fieldfaring men,
    Ghostlike, with loaded wain,
    Come down the twilit lane
    To rest,
    And what is all your argument to me?

    Oh, yes--I know, I know,
    It must be so--
    You must devise
    Your myriad policies,
    For we are little wise,
    And must be led and marshalled, lest we keep
    Too fast a sleep
    Far from the central world’s realities.
    Yes, we must heed--
    For surely you reveal
    Life’s very heart; surely with flaming zeal
    You search our folly and our secret need;
    And surely it is wrong
    To count my blackbird’s song,
    My cones of lilac, and my wagon team,
    More than a world of dream.

    But still
    A voice calls from the hill--
    I must away--
    I cannot hear your argument to-day.



FOR A GUEST ROOM


    All words are said,
    And may it fall
    That, crowning these,
    You here shall find
    A friendly bed,
    A sheltering wall,
    Your body’s ease,
    A quiet mind.

    May you forget
    In happy sleep
    The world that still
    You hold as friend,
    And may it yet
    Be ours to keep
    Your friendly will
    To the world’s end.

    For he is blest
    Who, fixed to shun
    All evil, when
    The worst is known,
    Counts, east and west,
    When life is done,
    His debts to men
    In love alone.



DAY


    Dawn is up at my window, and in the May-tree
    The finches gossip, and tits, and beautiful sparrows
    With feathers bright and brown as September hazels.

    The sunlight is here, filtered through rosy curtains,
    Docile and disembodied, a ghost of sunlight,
    A gentle light to greet the dreamer returning.

    Part the curtains. I give you salutation
    Day, clear day; let us be friendly fellows.
    Come.... I hear the Liars about the city.



DREAMS


    We have our dreams; not happiness.
    Great cities are upon the hill
    To lighten all our dream, and still
    We have no cities to possess
    But cities built of bitterness.

    We see gay fellows top to toe,
    And girls in rainbow beauty bright--
    ’Tis but of silly dreams I write,
    For up and down the streets we know,
    The scavengers and harlots go.

    Give me a dozen men whose theme
    Is honesty, and we will set
    On high the banner of dreams ... and yet
    Thousands will pass us in a stream,
    Nor care a penny what we dream.



RESPONSIBILITY


    You ploughmen at the gate,
      All that you are for me
    Is of my mind create,
      And in my brain to be
    A figure newly won
    From the world’s confusion.

    And if you are of grace,
      That’s honesty for me,
    And if of evil face,
      Recorded then shall be
    Dishonour that I saw
    Not beauty, but the flaw.



PROVOCATIONS


    I am no merry monger when
      I see the slatterns of the town:
    I hate to think of docile men
      Whose angers all are driven down;
        For sluts make joy a thing obscene,
        And in contempt is nothing clean.

    I like to see the ladies walk
      With heels to set their chins atilt:
    I like to hear the clergy talk
      Of other clergy’s people’s guilt;
        For happy is the amorous eye,
        And indignation clears the sky.



TRIAL


    Beauty of old and beauty yet to be,
    Stripped of occasion, have security;
    This hour it is searches the judgment through,
    When masks of beauty walk with beauty too.



CHARGE TO THE PLAYERS

THE TROJAN WOMEN, BIRMINGHAM REPERTORY THEATRE, APRIL 1918


    Shades, that our town-fellows have come
    To hear rewake for Christendom
    This cleansing of a Pagan wrong
    In flowing tides of tragic song,--
    You shadows that the living call
    To walk again the Trojan wall,--
    You lips and countenance renewed
    Of an immortal fortitude,--
    Know that, among the silent rows
    Of these our daily town-fellows,
    Watching the shades with these who bring
    But mortal ears to this you sing,
    There somewhere sits the Greek who made
    This gift of song, himself a shade.



CHARACTER


    If one should tell you that in such a spring
    The hawthorn boughs into the blackbird’s nest
    Poured poison, or that once at harvesting
    The ears were stony, from so manifest
    Slander of proven faith in tree and corn
    You would turn unheeding, knowing him forsworn.

    Yet now, when one whose life has never known
    Corruption, as you know: whose days have been
    As daily tidings in your heart of lone
    And gentle courage, suffers the word unclean
    Of envious tongues, doubting you dare not cry--
    “I have been this man’s familiar, and you lie.”



REALITY


    It is strange how we travel the wide world over,
    And see great churches and foreign streets,
    And armies afoot and kings of wonder,
    And deeds a-doing to fill the sheets
    That grave historians will pen
    To ferment the brains of simple men.

    And all the time the heart remembers
    The quiet habit of one far place,
    The drawings and books, the turn of a passage,
    The glance of a dear familiar face,
    And there is the true cosmopolis,
    While the thronging world a phantom is.



EPILOGUE


    Come tell us, you that travel far
      With brave or shabby merchandise,
    Have you saluted any star
      That goes uncourtiered in the skies?

    Do you remember leaf or wing
      Or brook the willows leant along,
    Or any small familiar thing
      That passed you as you went along?

    Or does the trade that is your lust
      Drive you as yoke-beasts driven apace,
    Making the world a road of dust
      From market-place to market-place?

    Your traffic in the grain, the wine,
      In purple and in cloth of gold,
    In treasure of the field and mine,
      In fables of the poets told,--

    But have you laughed the wine-cups dry
      And on the loaves of plenty fed,
    And walked, with all your banners high,
      In gold and purple garmented?

    And do you know the songs you sell
      And cry them out along the way?
    And is the profit that you tell
      After your travel day by day

    Sinew and sap of life, or husk--
      Dead coffer-ware or kindled brain?
    And do you gather in the dusk
      To make your heroes live again?

    If the grey dust is over all,
      And stars and leaves and wings forgot,
    And your blood holds no festival--
      Go out from us; we need you not.

    But if you are immoderate men,
      Zealots of joy, the salt and sting
    And savour of life upon you--then
      We call you to our counselling.

    And we will hew the holy boughs
      To make us level rows of oars,
    And we will set our shining prows
      For strange and unadventured shores.

    Where the great tideways swiftliest run
      We will be stronger than the strong
    And sack the cities of the sun
      And spend our booty in a song.



MOONRISE


    Where are you going, you pretty riders?--
      To the moon’s rising, the rising of death’s moon,
    Where the waters move not, and birds are still and songless,
      Soon, very soon.

    Where are you faring to, you proud Hectors?
      Through battle, out of battle, under the grass,
    Dust behind your hoof-beats rises, and into dust,
      Clouded, you pass.

    I’m a pretty rider, I’m a proud Hector,
      I as you a little am pretty and proud;
    I with you am riding, riding to the moonrise,
      So sing we loud--

    “Out beyond the dust lies mystery of moonrise,
      We go to chiller learning than is bred in the sun,
    Hectors, and riders, and a simple singer,
      Riding as one.”



DEER


    Shy in their herding dwell the fallow deer.
    They are spirits of wild sense. Nobody near
    Comes upon their pastures. There a life they live,
    Of sufficient beauty, phantom, fugitive,
    Treading as in jungles free leopards do,
    Printless as evelight, instant as dew.
    The great kine are patient, and home-coming sheep
    Know our bidding. The fallow deer keep
    Delicate and far their counsels wild,
    Never to be folded reconciled
    To the spoiling hand as the poor flocks are:
    Lightfoot, and swift, and unfamiliar,
    These you may not hinder, unconfined
    Beautiful flocks of the mind.



TO ONE I LOVE


    As I walked along the passage, in the night, beyond the stairs,
    In the dark,
    I was afraid,
    Suddenly,
    As will happen you know, my dear, it will often happen.
    I knew the walls at my side,
    Knew the drawings hanging there, the order of their placing,
    And the door where my bed lay beyond,
    And the window on the landing--
    There was even a little ray of moonlight through it--
    All was known, familiar, my comfortable home;
    And yet I was afraid,
    Suddenly,
    In the dark, like a child, of nothing,
    Of vastness, of eternity, of the queer pains of thought,
    Such as used to trouble me when I heard,
    When I was little, the people talk
    On Sundays of “As it was in the Beginning,
    Is Now, and Ever Shall Be....”
    I am thirty-six years old,
    And folk are friendly to me,
    And there are no ghosts that should have reason to haunt me,
    And I have tempted no magical happenings
    By forsaking the clear noons of thought
    For the wizardries that the credulous take
    To be golden roads to revelation.
    I knew all was simplicity there,
    Without conspiracy, without antagonism,
    And yet I was afraid,
    Suddenly,
    A child, in the dark, forlorn....
    And then, as suddenly,
    I was aware of a profound, a miraculous understanding,
    Knowledge that comes to a man
    But once or twice, as a bird’s note
    In the still depth of the night
    Striking upon the silence ...
    I stood at the door, and there
    Was mellow candle-light,
    And companionship, and comfort,
    And I knew
    That it was even so,
    That it must be even so
    With death.
    I knew
    That no harm could have touched me out of my fear,
    Because I had no grudge against anything,
    Because I had desired
    In the darkness, when fear came,
    Love only, and pity, and fellowship,
    And it would have been a thing monstrous,
    Something defying nature
    And all the simple universal fitness
    For any force there to have come evilly
    Upon me, who had no evil in my heart,
    But only trust, and tenderness
    For every presence about me in the air,
    For the very shadow about me,
    Being a little child for no one’s envy.
    And I knew that God
    Must understand that we go
    To death as little children,
    Desiring love so simply, and love’s defence,
    And that he would be a barren God, without humour,
    To cheat so little, so wistful, a desire,
    That he created
    In us, in our childishness ...
    And I may never again be sure of this,
    But there, for a moment,
    In the candle-light,
    Standing at the door,
    I knew.



TO ALICE MEYNELL


    I too have known my mutinies,
      Played with improvident desires,
    Gone indolently vain as these
      Whose lips from undistinguished choirs
      Mock at the music of our sires.

    I too have erred in thought. In hours
      When needy life forbade me bring
    To song the brain’s unravished powers,
      Then had it been a temperate thing
      Loosely to pluck an easy string.

    Yet thought has been, poor profligate,
      Sin’s period. Through dear and long
    Obedience I learn to hate
      Unhappy lethargies that wrong
      The larger loyalties of song.

    And you upon your slender reed,
      Most exquisitely tuned, have made
    For every singing heart a creed.
      And I have heard; and I have played
      My lonely music unafraid,

    Knowing that still a friendly few,
      Turning aside from turbulence,
    Cherish the difficult phrase, the due
      Bridals of disembodied sense
      With the new word’s magnificence.



PETITION


    O Lord, I pray: that for each happiness
    My housemate brings I may give back no less
            Than all my fertile will;

    That I may take from friends but as the stream
    Creates again the hawthorn bloom adream
            Above the river sill;

    That I may see the spurge upon the wall
    And hear the nesting birds give call to call,
            Keeping my wonder new;

    That I may have a body fit to mate
    With the green fields, and stars, and streams in spate,
            And clean as clover-dew;

    That I may have the courage to confute
    All fools with silence when they will dispute,
            All fools who will deride;

    That I may know all strict and sinewy art
    As that in man which is the counterpart,
            Lord, of Thy fiercest pride;

    That somehow this beloved earth may wear
    A later grace for all the love I bear,
            For some song that I sing;
    That, when I die, this word may stand for me--
    He had a heart to praise, an eye to see,
            And beauty was his king.



HARVESTING


    Pale sheaves of oats, pocked by untimely rain,
            Under October skies,
            Teased and forlorn,
    Ungathered lie where still the tardy wain
            Comes not to seal
            The seasons of the corn,
    From prime to June, with running barns of grain.

    Now time with me is at the middle year,
            The register of youth
            Is now to sing ...
    My thoughts are ripe, my moods are in full ear;
            That they should fail
            Of harvesting,
    Uncarried on cold fields, is all my fear.

        *       *       *       *       *

                          The Riverside Press
                       CAMBRIDGE. MASSACHUSETTS
                               U. S. A.





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