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Title: Poems
Author: Maynard, Theodore
Language: English
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Libraries)



                                 POEMS



                                 POEMS

                                  BY
                           THEODORE MAYNARD

                        WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY
                           G. K. CHESTERTON

                                TORONTO
                     McCLELLAND AND STEWART, LTD.
                              PUBLISHERS

     _Copyright, 1917, 1918, by Daniel E. Hudson; Copyright, 1917,
     1918, by The Sisters of Mercy; Copyright, 1917, 1919, by The
    Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle in the State of New
                                York._

                         _Copyright, 1919, by_
                      FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

                         _All Rights Reserved_

                          PRINTED IN U. S. A.



               TO

             MY WIFE


    _We two have seen with our own eyes
    God’s multitudinous disguise;
    Waylaid Him in His voyaging
    Among the buttercups of Spring;
    In valleys where the lilies shone
    More glorious than Solomon
    We met a poet passing by,
    And learned his lyric--you and I!_

    _But oh! did kindly Heaven not bless
    Our lives with more than loveliness,
    When, cast on every sapling-rod,
    Was seen the motley of our God;
    When having picked our way with craft
    Up cliffs to hear Him when He laughed,
    We felt, uplifted on the wind,
    His folly blown into our mind?_

    _What doubt can touch us? We have heard
    The baby laughter of the Word!
    We mingle with solemnity
    A Catholic note of revelry
    In hypostatic union.
    From love’s carved choir-stalls we con
    The plain-song of the Breviary
    Illumined by hilarity.
    For as each cleansing sacrament
    To our soul’s comforting was sent
    (Through water and oil and wheat and wine,
    Bringing to human the divine),
    So shall we find on lovers’ lips
    The splendour of apocalypse,
    And through the body’s five gates come
    To all the good of Christendom._

    _We have no fear that we shall lose
    This joyous Gospel of good news,
    For our symbolic love has stood
    By virtue of its fortitude--
    Knowing a bitter Lenten fast,
    Satan discomforted at last,
    A bowed back scalding with great scars,
    Gethsemane of tears and stars,
    A journey of the cross, and ah,
    Its part and lot in Golgotha!_

    _We know--let the marvellous thing be said!--
    Love’s resurrection from the dead ...
    For as Magdalen came with cinnamon
    And aloes to smear Love’s limbs upon,
    But met alone on the Easter grass
    Life’s Lord, though she wist not Who He was--
    So we, till He spoke as He spoke to her,
    Mistook Him for the gardener._

_April 14th, 1918._



NOTE


This edition of Theodore Maynard’s poems represents the author’s own
selection of such of his published verse as he wishes included in a
permanent collection. With few omissions, it represents the contents of
the three volumes issued in Great Britain under the titles, “_Laughs and
Whifts of Song_,” 1915; “_Drums of Defeat_,” 1917; “_Folly_,” 1918, none
of which has hitherto been published in this country.



ON THEODORE MAYNARD’S POEMS


In the case of any poet who has caught and held our recollection, there
is generally a particular piece of work which remains in our mind, not
as the crown, but as the key. And ever since I saw in _The New Witness_
some lines called “A Song of Colours,” by Theodore Maynard, they have
remained to me as a sort of simplification, or permanent element, of the
rest of the poet’s writings; and I have felt him especially as a poet of
colour. They are not by any means the best of his lines. They are
direct, as is appropriate to a ballad; and they have none of the fine
whimsicality or the frank humour to be found elsewhere in his work.
Among these others the choice is hard: but I should say that the finest
poetry as such is to be found in the images, and even in the very title,
of “The World’s Miser”: and even more in the poem called “Apocalypse.”
In this latter the poet imagines a new world which shall be supernatural
in the strongest sense of the word; that of being more vivid and
positive than the natural; and not (as it is so often imagined) more
tenuous and void.

    “Or what empurpled blooms to oust the rose
    Or what strange grass to glow like angels’ hair!”

The last line has the touch of the true mystic, which changes a thing
and yet leaves it familiar. True artistic pugnacity, a thing that
generally goes with true artistic pleasure, is well-expressed in the
shrewd lines of the poem printed as a sequel to another poem called “To
a Good Atheist.” The sequel is called “To a Bad Atheist,” with the
charming explanation: “Who wrote what he called a trinity of meek
retorts to the preceding poem, which were not meek, but full of pride
and abominable heresy.” He describes the bad atheist’s mind as
containing nothing but sawdust, sun and sand; which is accurate and
exhaustive. And in so far as poetry appeals to particular temperaments,
I myself find enjoyment expecially in the part of the collection
properly to be called “Laughs”; in the ballads of feasting and
fellowship; and especially in that sublime absolution gravely offered to
the Duke of Norfolk.

But the sentiment of colour still ran like a thread through the whole
texture; and I think there is hardly a poem that does not repeat it. And
this is important; because the whole of Mr. Maynard’s inspiration is
part of what is the main business of our time: the resurrection of the
Middle Ages. The modern movement, with its Guild Socialism and its
military reaction against the fatalism of the Barbarian, is as certainly
drawing its life from the lost centuries of Catholic Europe, as the
movement more commonly called the Renaissance drew its life from the
lost languages and sculptures of antiquity. And, by a quaint
inconsistency, Hellenists and Neo-Pagans of the school of Mr. Lowes
Dickinson will call us antiquated for gathering the flowers which still
grow on the graves of our mediæval ancestors, while they themselves will
industriously search for the scattered ashes from the more distant pyres
of the Pagans.

And the visible clue to the Middle Ages is colour. The mediæval man
could paint before he could draw. In the almost startling inspiration
which we call stained glass, he discovered something that is almost more
coloured than colour; something that bears the same relation to mere
colour that golden flame does to golden sand. He did not, like other
artists, try in his pictures to paint the sun; he made the sun paint his
pictures. He mixed the aboriginal light with the paints upon his
palette. And it is this translucent actuality of colour which I feel in
the phraseology of this writer, in a way it is not easy to analyse. We
can only say that when he says--

    “Among the yellow primroses
    He holds His summer palaces”

we have an impression, which it is the object of all poetry to produce.
It can only be described by saying that a primrose by the river’s brim a
_yellow_ primrose is to him, and it could not possibly be anything more.
And this almost torrid directness and distinctness of tint is again
connected with another quality of the poet and his poetic tradition:
what many would call asceticism alternating with what many would call
buffoonery. The colour conventions of the Middle Ages were copied very
beautifully by the school of Rossetti and Swinburne. But they lost the
exuberance of the Gothic and became a pattern rather than a plan;
chiefly because they were not seriously inspired by any of the
enthusiasms of the Middle Ages. Its decorative repetitions sometimes
became quite dreary and artificial; as in Swinburne’s unfortunate
couplet about the lilies and languors of virtue and the raptures and
roses of vice. A little healthy gardening would have taught Swinburne
that it takes quite as much virtue to grow a rose as to grow a lily. It
might also have taught him that virtue is never languid, whatever else
it may be: and that even lilies are not really languid so long as they
are alive. If such decadents want an image of what it really is that
holds up the heads of lilies or any other growing things, I can refer
them to a couplet in this little volume, which is more beautiful and
more original and means a great deal more--

    “What wilful trees of any spring
      Than your young body are more fair?”

These lines contain a principle of life and mark the end of a pagan
sterility. They contain the secret, not of gathering rosebuds while we
may, but of growing them when we choose.

    G. K. CHESTERTON.



CONTENTS


                       LAUGHS AND WHIFTS OF SONG
                                                                    PAGE

A SONG OF COLOURS                                                      3

CECIDIT, CECIDIT BABYLON MAGNA                                         5

APOCALYPSE                                                             7

GHOSTS                                                                 9

PROCESSIONAL                                                          10

A SONG OF LAUGHTER                                                    12

BALLADE IN PRAISE OF ARUNDEL                                          13

THE TRAMP                                                             15

THE WORLD’S MISER                                                     17

EASTER                                                                19

THE GLORY OF THE ORIFLAMME                                            20

TO A GOOD ATHEIST                                                     21

TO A BAD ATHEIST                                                      23

PALM SUNDAY                                                           25

WHEN I RIDE INTO THE TOWN                                             27

REQUIEM                                                               29

AVE ATQUE VALE                                                        30

ALADDIN                                                               31

ADAM                                                                  32

THE ENGLISH SPRING                                                    33

AT THE CRIB                                                           35

THE MYSTIC                                                            37

TO ANY SAINT                                                          39

SUNSET ON THE DESERT                                                  40

                                 FOLLY

FOLLY                                                                 43

THE SHIPS                                                             45

LAUGHTER                                                              47

VOCATION                                                              49

BLINDNESS                                                             50

DRINKING SONG                                                         52

THREE TRIOLETS                                                        54

A NEW CANTERBURY TALE                                                 56

IN MEMORIAM F. H. M.                                                  62

TO THE IRISH DEAD                                                     63

JOHN REDMOND                                                          64

BEAUTY                                                                65

FAITH’S DIFFICULTY                                                    67

CHRISTMAS ON CRUSADE                                                  69

THE ASCETIC                                                           71

SONNET FOR THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER                                       75

WARFARE                                                               76

TREASON                                                               77

THERE WAS AN HOUR                                                     78

NOCTURNE                                                              79

PRIDE                                                                 80

BALLADE OF SHEEP BELLS                                                82

BALLADE OF A FEROCIOUS CATHOLIC                                       84

DAWN                                                                  86

SUNSET                                                                87

PEACE                                                                 88

CARRION                                                               89

THE BUILDING OF THE CITY                                              91

EDEN RE-OPENED                                                        93

THE HOLY SPRING                                                       95

VIATICUM                                                              97

PUNISHMENT                                                            98

AFTER COMMUNION                                                       99

THE UNIVERSAL MOTHER                                                 100

THE BOASTER                                                          102

UNWED                                                                104

WED                                                                  105

ENGLAND                                                              106

LYRIC LOVE                                                           108


                            DRUMS OF DEFEAT

THE FOOL                                                             113

DON QUIXOTE                                                          115

IRELAND                                                              118

IN MEMORIAM                                                          119

MATER DESOLATA                                                       120

THE STIRRUP CUP                                                      121

THE ENSIGN                                                           122

BALLADE OF ORCHARDS                                                  124

A GREAT WIND                                                         126

BIRTHDAY SONNET                                                      128

SILENCE                                                              129

AT YELVERTON                                                         130

THE JOY OF THE WORLD                                                 132

GRATITUDE                                                            135

IN DOMO JOHANNIS                                                     139

AT WOODCHESTER                                                       140

“FOR THEY SHALL POSSESS THE EARTH”                                   142

BALLADE OF THE BEST SONG IN THE WORLD                                144

TAIL-PIECE                                                           146

AVE                                                                  147

A REPLY                                                              149

JOB                                                                  151

THE SOIL OF SOLACE                                                   153

TO THE DEAD                                                          154

SPRING, 1916                                                         156

THE RETURN                                                           157

FULFILMENT                                                           158

PROPHECY                                                             159

THE SINGER TO HIS LADY                                               160

CERTAINTIES                                                          161

FEAR                                                                 162

CHARITY                                                              163

SIGHT AND INSIGHT                                                    164

CHRISTMAS CAROL                                                      166

A GARDEN ENCLOSED                                                    167

THE LOVER                                                            169



POEMS



LAUGHS AND WHIFTS OF SONG



A SONG OF COLOURS


    Gold for the crown of Mary,
      Blue for the sea and sky,
    Green for the woods and meadows
      Where small white daisies lie,
    And red for the colour of Christ’s blood
      When He came to the cross to die.

    These things the high God gave us
      And left in the world He made--
    Gold for the hilt’s enrichment,
      And blue for the sword’s good blade,
    And red for the roses a youth may set
      On the white brows of a maid.

    Green for the cool, sweet gardens
      Which stretch about the house,
    And the delicate new frondage
      The winds of Spring arouse,
    And red for the wine which a man may drink
      With his fellows in carouse.

    Blue and green for the comfort
      Of tired hearts and eyes,
    And red for that sudden hour which comes
      With danger and great emprise,
    And white for the honour of God’s throne
      When the dead shall all arise.

    Gold for the cope and chalice,
      For kingly pomp and pride,
    And red for the feathers men wear in their caps
      When they win a war or a bride,
    And red for the robe which they dressed God in
      On the bitter day He died.



CECIDIT, CECIDIT BABYLON MAGNA!


    The aimless business of your feet,
      Your swinging wheels and piston rods,
    The smoke of every sullen street
      Have passed away with all your Gods.

    For in a meadow far from these
      A hodman treads across the loam,
    Bearing his solid sanctities
      To that strange altar called his home.

    I watch the tall, sagacious trees
      Turn as the monks do, every one;
    The saplings, ardent novices,
      Turning with them towards the sun,

    That Monstrance held in God’s strong hands,
      Burnished in amber and in red;
    God, His Own priest, in blessing stands;
      The earth, adoring, bows her head.

    The idols of your market place,
      Your high debates, where are they now?
    Your lawyers’ clamour fades apace--
      A bird is singing on the bough!

    Three fragile, sacramental things
      Endure, though all your pomps shall pass--
    A butterfly’s immortal wings,
      A daisy and a blade of grass.



APOCALYPSE

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first
heaven and the first earth were passed away.”--APOC.. xxi, I.


    Shall summer woods where we have laughed our fill;
      Shall all your grass so good to walk upon;
    Each field which we have loved, each little hill
      Be burnt like paper--as hath said Saint John?

    Then not alone they die! For God hath told
      How all His plains of mingled fire and glass,
    His walls of hyacinth, His streets of gold,
      His aureoles of jewelled light shall pass,

    That He may make us nobler things than these,
      And in her royal robes of blazing red
    Adorn His bride. Yea, with what mysteries
      And might and mirth shall she be diamonded!

    And what new secrets shall our God disclose;
      Or set what suns of burnished brass to flare;
    Or what empurpled blooms to oust the rose;
      Or what strange grass to glow like angels’ hair!

    What pinnacles of silver tracery,
      What dizzy rampired towers shall God devise
    Of topaz, beryl and chalcedony
      To make Heaven pleasant to His children’s eyes!

    And in what cataclysms of flame and foam
      Shall the first Heaven sink--as red as sin--
    When God hath Cast aside His ancient home
      As far too mean to house His Children in!



GHOSTS


    Some dismal nights there are when spirits walk
      Who lived and died unhappy in their time,
    To waste the air with vows and whispered talk
      Of tarnished love or hate or secret crime--
    But now the moon moves splendid through the sky;
      The night is brilliant like a silver shield;
    And in their cavalcades come riding by
      The mighty dead of many a tented field.
    On this one night at least of all the year
      The lists are set again, the lines are drawn;
    Again resounds the clang of horse and spear;
      The sweet applause of ladies, till the dawn
    Makes glad the souls of vizored knights--then they,
      Hearing that seneschal, the cock, all troop away.



PROCESSIONAL


    See how the plated gates unfold,
      How swing the creaking doors of brass!
    With drums and gleaming arms, behold
      Christ’s regal cohorts pass!

    Shall Christ not have His chosen men,
      Nor lead His crested knights so tall,
    Superb upon their horses, when
      The world’s last cities fall?

    Ah, no! These few, the maimed, the dumb,
      The saints of every lazar’s den,
    The earth’s off-scourings--they come
      From desert and from fen

    To break the terror of the night,
      Black dreams and dreadful mysteries,
    And proud, lost empires in their might,
      And chains and tyrannies.

    There ride no gold-encinctured kings
      Against the potentates of earth;
    God chooses all the weakest things,
      And gives Himself in birth
    With beaten slaves to draw His breath,
      And sleeps with foxes on the moor,
    With malefactors shares His death,
      Tattered and worn and poor.

    See how the plated gates unfold,
      How swing the creaking doors of brass!
    Victorious in defeat--behold,
      Christ and His cohorts pass!



A SONG OF LAUGHTER


    The stars with their laughter are shaken;
      The long waves laugh at sea;
    And the little Imp of Laughter
      Laughs in the soul of me.

    I know the guffaw of a tempest,
      The mirth of a blossom and bud--
    But I laugh when I think of Cuchulain[A] who laughed
      At the Crows with their bills in his blood.

    The mother laughs low at her baby,
      The bridegroom with joy in his bride--
    And I think that Christ laughed when they took Him with staves
      On the night before He died.

 [A] Pronounced Cuhúlain.



BALLADE IN PRAISE OF ARUNDEL

(Made after a walk through Surrey and Sussex.)


    I’ve trudged along the Pilgrims’ Way,
      And from St. Martha’s Hill looked down
    O’er Surrey woods and fields which lay
      Green in the sunlight. On the crown
    Of Hindhead and the Punchbowl’s brink
      Of no good thing I’ve been bereaven:
    But Arundel’s the place for drink--
      _The pubs keep open till eleven._

    White chalk-cliffs and the stubborn clay
      Are thrown about, and many a town
    Breaks on the sight like breaking day;
      But after all, who but a clown
    Could Arundel with Midhurst link,
      Where men go dry from two till seven?
    In _Arundel_ (no truth I’ll shrink)
      _The pubs keep open till eleven._

    A great cool church where men can pray
      Secure from misbelieving frown;
    And in the Square, I beg to say,
      The beer is strong and rich and brown.
    Some poor, misguided people think
      Petworth’s the spot that’s nearest Heaven:
    In _Arundel_ the ale-pots clink--
      _The pubs keep open till eleven._


    _L’Envoi_

    Duke, at the dreadful Judgment Day
      Your soul will surely be well shriven,
    For then all angel trumps shall bray,
      _He kept pubs open till eleven!_



THE TRAMP


    My brothers stay in cities
      To gather shame and gold,
    But I am for the highway
      And the wind upon the wold.

    They take the train each morning
      To a dull, bricked-up place;
    I trudge the living country
      With the sunlight on my face.

    I know no home or shelter,
      No bed but good green grass,
    Nor any friends but hedgerows
      To greet me as I pass.

    But though the road still calls me
      To places wild and steep,
    I find the going heavy;
      My eyes are full of sleep.

    The fields lie all about me;
      The trees are gay with sap--
    As I go weary, weary
      To my great mother’s lap,

    To rest me with my mother,
      The kindly earth so brown.
    And Lord! But well contented
      I’ll lay my carcase down.



THE WORLD’S MISER


I

    A miser with an eager face
    Sees that each roseleaf is in place.

    He keeps beneath strong bolts and bars
    The piercing beauty of the stars.

    The colours of the dying day
    He hoards as treasure--well He may!--

    And saves with care (lest they be lost)
    The dainty diagrams of frost.

    He counts the hairs of every head,
    And grieves to see a sparrow dead.


II

    Among the yellow primroses
    He holds His summer palaces,

    And sets the grass about them all
    To guard them as His spearmen small.

    He fixes on each wayside stone
    A mark to shew it as His Own,

    And knows when raindrops fall through air
    Whether each single one be there,

    That gathered into ponds and brooks
    They may become His picture-books,

    To shew in every spot and place
    The living glory of His face.



EASTER


    Among the gay, exultant trees,
      Over the green and growing grass,
    Clothed in immortal mysteries,
      I see His living body pass.

    The catkins fling abroad His name,
      While birds from every bush and spray
    Strain feathered necks, and tipped with flame
      The hills all stand to greet His day.

    Each violet and bluebell curled
      Wakes with the dead Christ’s waking eye,
    And like burst gravestones clouds are hurled
      Across the wide and waiting sky.

    And drenched, for very height of mirth,
      With clean white tears of April rain,
    Like Mary Magdalene the earth
      Finds April’s risen Lord again.



THE GLORY OF THE ORIFLAMME


    The glory of the Oriflamme,
      Or strange, red flowers of the South
    Hold no such splendours as lie hid
      In your sweet mouth!

    The secret honey of the Cliff,
      The lure and laughter of the sea
    Are not the dear delight that is
      Your face to me!

    What wilful trees of any spring
      Than your young body are more fair?
    What glamour of forgotten gold
      Lurks in your hair?

    The glory of the Oriflamme,
      Or strange, red flowers of the South
    Hold no such splendours as lie hid
      In your sweet mouth!



TO A GOOD ATHEIST


    That you can keep your crested courage high,
      And hopeless hope without a cause, and wage
    Christ’s warfare, lacking all the panoply
      Of Faith which shall endure the end of age,

    You must be made of finely tempered stuff,
      And have a kinship with that Spanish saint,
    Who wrote of his soul’s night--it was enough
      That he should drag his footsteps tired and faint

    Along his God-appointed pathway. You
      Have stood against our day of bitter scorn,
    When loudly its triumphant trumpets blew
      Contempt of all God’s poor. Had you been born

    But in the time of Jeanne or Catharine,
      Whose charity was as a sword of flame,
    With those who drank up martyrdom like wine
      Had stood your aureoled and ringing name.

    Yet, when that secret day of God shall break
      With strange and splendid justice through the skies,
    When last are first, then star-ward you shall take
      The praise and sorrow of your starry eyes.



TO A BAD ATHEIST

    NIND
    _who wrote what he called a trinity of meek retorts to the preceding
    poem, which were not meek, but full of pride and
    abominable heresy._


    You do not love the shadows on the wall,
    Or mists that flee before a blowing wind,
    Or Gothic forests, or light aspen leaves,
    Or skies that melt into a dreamy sea.
    In the hot, glaring noontide of your mind
    (I have your word for it) there is no room
    For anything save sawdust, sun and sand.

    No monkish flourishes will do for you;
    Your life must be set down in black and white.
    The quiet half-light of the abbey close,
    The cunning carvings of a chantry tomb,
    The leaden windows pricked with golden saints--
    All these are nothing to your ragtime soul!

    Yet, since you are a solemn little chap,
    In spite of all your blasphemy and booze,
    That dreadful sword of satire which you shake
    Hurts no hide but your own,--you cannot use
    A weapon which is bigger than yourself.

    Yet some there were who rode all clad in mail,--
    With crosses blazoned on their mighty shields,
    Roland who blew his horn against the Moor,
    Richard who charged for Christ at Ascalon,
    Louis a pilgrim with his chivalry,
    And Blessed Jeanne who saved the crown of France--
    Pah! you may keep your whining Superman!



PALM SUNDAY


    The grey hairs of Caiaphas
      Shall know the truth to-day,
    For kingly, riding on an ass,
      The Truth has come his way.

          (_A thornbush grows upon the hill,
          And Golgotha is empty still!_)

    Caiaphas waxes eloquent
      On tittle and on jot,
    But when they cry “Hosanna!”
      Caiaphas answers not.

          (_A thornbush grows upon the hill,
          And Golgotha is empty still!_)

    In the temple of Caiaphas
      Stand two gold seraphim--
    They do not worship Christ nor shout
      As the grey stones shout for Him.

          (_A thornbush grows upon the hill,
          And Golgotha is empty still!_)

    The vestments of Caiaphas
      With gold and silver shone--
    They would get soiled if he cast them down
      For the ass to walk upon.

          (_A thornbush grows upon the hill,
          And Golgotha is empty still!_)

    The religion of Caiaphas
      Is very spick and span,
    It does not love the ill-bred mob,
      The homespun Son of Man!

          (_A thornbush grows upon the hill,
          And Golgotha is empty still!_)

    The dark soul of Caiaphas
      Is full of sin and pride;
    It does not know the splendour
      Or the triumph of that ride!

          (_A thornbush grows upon the hill,
          And Golgotha is empty still!_)



WHEN I RIDE INTO THE TOWN


    When I go riding into the town,
      When I ride into the town,
    I fill my skin at the nearest inn
      When I ride into the town.
    Oh, what is there then to trouble about?
    There are no such things as despair and doubt--
    For when ale goes in the truth comes out,
      When I ride into the town!

    When I go riding out of the town,
      When I ride out of the town,
    I have my men behind me then
      When I ride out of the town;
    Halberd, battle-axe, culverin, bow,
    Four hundred strong as out we go,
    Four hundred yeomen to meet the foe,
      When I ride out of the town!

    When I ride into the Town of Death--
      That strange and unknown town!--
    It will not be all _cap-à-pie_,
      But with sword and lance laid down.
    Then may our Lady beside me stand;
    Saint Michael guard at my good right hand--
    God rest my soul and the souls of my band,
      When we ride into the Town!



REQUIEM


    When my last song is sung and I am dead
      And laid away beneath the kindly clay,
    Set a square stone above my dreamless head,
      And sign me with the cross and signing say:
    “Here lieth one who loved the steadfast things
      Of his own land, its gladness and its grace,
    The stubbled fields, the linnets’ gleaming wings,
      The long, low gables of his native place,
    Its gravelled paths, and the strong wind that rends
      The boughs about the house, the hearth’s red glow,
    The surly, slow good-fellowship of friends,
      The humour of the men he used to know,
    And all their swinging choruses and mirth”--
    Then turn aside and leave my dust in earth.



AVE ATQUE VALE!


    My friends, I may no longer ride with you
      To bear a sword in your brave company,
    Or follow our poor tattered flag which knew
      No shame or slur--or any victory.

    But this at least, with courage and with mirth
      We starveling poets and enthusiasts
    Have shirked no battle for the stricken earth
      Against its tyrants’ spears and arbalests.

    And though I go to guard another sign,
      These things, please God, shall stand and never slip--
    (O friends of mine, O splendid friends of mine!)
      Honour and Freedom and Goodfellowship,
    On which and on your ragged chivalry
    I always think with proud humility.



ALADDIN


    Though worlds all melt away in mist,
      The Heavens’ slender filament,
    The orange and the amethyst,
      Are left me--and I am content!

    I stand serene amid the shocks,
      Upheavals, cataclysmic dust,
    The binding fires, the falling rocks,
      The withering of life and lust.

    This little burnished lamp I hold
      Has shattered the eternities;
    The glamour of all unknown gold,
      The ancient puissance of the seas,

    The sunlight and the love of God
      Are Cast in chains beneath my feet--
    For at my first behest this sod
      Becomes a cosmos, new, complete,

    Instinct with unimagined power,
      In colour radiant pole to pole,
    The sudden glory of an hour,
      The epic moment of my soul!



ADAM


    I saw a red sky boding woe,
      The gleam of an eternal sword,
    And heard the voice that bid me go
      From the green garden of the Lord.

    I knew the prick of Destiny,
      The scorn of the relentless stars;
    The very grass looked down on me--
      The first of all the Avatars!

    Each flower seemed to see my shame;
      Each bird as though insulted flew
    Before my hateful face--my name
      Was blown about the whole world through!

    Even my house with its red roof,
      Dear as it is, looks strange and odd;
    My garden beds are more aloof
      From me than is my angry God!



THE ENGLISH SPRING


    I love each inch of English earth;
      I love each stone upon the way--
    Whether in Winter’s sullen dearth,
      When the soil is trodden into clay--
    In Autumn ripeness, or the mirth
      Of a Summer’s day.

    Something peculiar to our land
      Is hid in even the greyest sky,
    When stiff and stark the tall trees stand
      And the wind is high.

    But this one season of our year
      Is so peculiarly an English thing,
    When the woolly catkins first appear,
      And yellow burgeoning
    Upon the little coppice here--
      This native Spring

    Which comes to us so suddenly,
      Blown over the hills from the fruitful South;
    Full of the laughter of the laughing sea
      She comes with singing mouth.

    The cool, sweet Wiltshire meadows lie
      With buttercups from end to end;
    In secret woods are small blooms, shy
      Bluebells the good gods send.
    There is no cloud that wanders by
      But is my friend.

    And now the gorse is gold again;
      The violet hides beneath the leaves;
    And quickened by thin April rain
      The debonair young sapling weaves
    His coat of lightest green; again
      Birds chirp at the eaves.

    Each hidden brook and waterfall,
      Each tiny daisy in the sun
    Calls to my heart--the hedgerows all
      So full of twigs, they call, each one;
    And with insistent voices call
      The roads where the wild flowers run.

    O set with grass and the English hedge
      Are the long, white roads which wind and wind--
    Roads which reach to the world’s edge,
      Where the world is left behind.



AT THE CRIB


    Again the royalties are shed,
    Disdiademed the kingly head,
    He lies again--ah, very small!--
    Among the cattle in the stall,
    Or in His slender mother’s arms
    Is snuggled up from baby harms.

    The Tower of Ivory leans down
    From Paradise’s topmost crown;
    The House of Gold on earth takes root;
    From Jesse comes a saving shoot,
    For Mary gives (O manifold
    Her courtesies!) that we may hold
    Our little Lord’s poor fragile hands
    And feet, the guerdon of all lands.

    No fool need fail to enter in
    The guarded Heaven we strive to win,
    Or miss upon a casual street
    The fiery impress of His feet,
    But touch with every stone and sod
    The extended fingers of our God,
    And see in twigs of the stiff hedgerows,
    Or in the woods where quiet grows
    Among the naked Winter trees,
    A thousand times these mysteries:
    The branching arms with Christly fruit,
    The thorns which bruise His head and foot.

    No more with silver shrilly blown
    He treads a conqueror, but, flown
    With swift and silent whitening wings,
    He comes enwrapped in baby things.
    Our God adventures everywhere
    Beneath the cool and Christmas air,
    And setteth still His candid star
    Where Mary and her baby are!



THE MYSTIC


    When all my long and weary work is done
    (Toiling both soon and late, by candle-light,
    Sewing and sewing while my eyes can see)
    I lay my glasses by and watch the walls--
    The plaster off in patches, stained with smoke--
    Melt as a hoary mist and flee away.
    Then through the splendour of the evening skies,
    Along its star-lit paths, past pearl-white clouds
    I hasten till I reach the region where
    God’s holy city like a virgin keeps
    Its spotless tryst, forever night and day.
      I do not linger here, but take my way
    To Him who sits among the Seraphim;
    And He who knows I am a poor old wife,
    With naught of wit or wealth that I can bring,
    And that my hands are hardened by my toil--
    Sees that ’tis I that need Him most of all.
    Yea, God will have the music hushed (for I
    Am growing somewhat deaf) and we will talk
    Of many things, as friend may talk with friend.

    Ah, I have looked, and in the dear Lord’s face
    (More lined with care than any earthly man’s)
    Seen that He suffers too, and understands
    How hard and late I work to keep the wolf
    Outside my door, and bring my children up
    To serve Him always, and to keep them clean
    In body, heart and mind....

                            At the sun’s call,
    Working with all my strength from early dawn,
    Through the long day, and then by candle-light
    Sewing on buttons while my eyes can see,
    I know the glory of God’s gracious face,
    And at His touch my weary hands grow strong,
    Hearing His voice my heart is glad and gay.



TO ANY SAINT


    Before the choirs of angels burst to song,
      In night and loneliness your way you trod--
    O valiant heart, O weary feet and strong,
      There are no easy by-paths unto God.

    Darkness there was, thick darkness all around;
      Nor spoken word, nor hand to touch you knew,
    But One who walked the self-same stony ground
      And shared your dereliction there with you.

    O valiant heart! O fixed, undaunted will!
      While all the heavens hung like brass above,
    You faltered not, but steadfast journeyed still
      Upon the road of sainthood to your Love.

    And was not it reward exceeding great
      To kiss at last with passionate lips His side,
    His hands, His feet? O pomp! O regal state!
      O crown of life He gives unto His bride!

    Lovers there are with roses chapleted,
      But more than theirs is your Lord’s loveliness;
    Your Love is crowned with thorns upon His head,
      And pain and sorrow woven is His dress.



SUNSET ON THE DESERT


    As some priest turns, his ritual all done,
      And stretching hands above the kneeling crowd,
      Who rapt and silent, wait with heads all bowed
    For the last holy words of benison--
    “Now God be with thee, ever Three in One”--
      So turns the sun, though all reluctantly.
      One thrilling moment comes to shrub and tree;
    Expectant stillness falls; then dark and dun

    The silhouettes of sphinx and pyramid
      Gaze at the last deep amber after-glow;
        The little stars peep down between the palms;
    And all the ghosts that garish daylight hid
      Are quickened--Isis with the breasts of snow
        And Antony with Egypt in his arms.



FOLLY



FOLLY


    Shall I not wear my motley
      And flaunt my bladder of green
    Before the earls and the bishops
      And the laughing king and queen;
    Though hunger is in my belly
      And jests my lips between?

    Men listen a moment idly
      To the foolishness I sing--
    But my words are sharp and bitter
      In savour and in sting,
    And harder than mail in battle
      Where the heavy maces swing.

    For full of the sap of folly
      Grow the branches of the Creed,
    The fine adventurous folly
      God gave us in our need,
    When He yielded up to scornful death
      The human brows that bleed.

    They nailed the son of Mary
      On a gibbet straight and tall;
    But the eagles of the Roman
      Were struck in Cæsar’s hall,
    And the veil of the Holy of Holies
      Was rent in the temple wall.

    Wiser than sage or prophet,
      Or the pedant of the school,
    Than lord or abbot or priest or prince
      Who over the nations rule,
    Are the cap and bells and the motley
      And the laughter of the fool!

_February 12th, 1918._



THE SHIPS


    The bending sails shall whiten on the sea,
      Guided by hands and eyes made glad for home,
    With graven gems and cedar and ebony
      From Babylon and Rome.

    For here a lover cometh as to his bride,
      And there a merchant to his utmost price--
    Oh, hearts will leap to see the good ships ride
      Safely to Paradise!

    And this that cuts the waves with brazen prow
      Hath heard the blizzard groaning through her spars;
    Battered with honour swings she nobly now
      Back from her bitter wars.

    And that doth bring her silver work and spice,
      Peacocks and apes from Tarshish, and from Tyre
    Great cloaks of velvet stiff with gold device,
      Coloured with sunset fire....

    And one, serenely through the golden gate,
      Shall sail and anchor by the ultimate shore,
    Who, plundered of her gold by pirate Fate,
      Still keeps her richer store

    Unrifled when her perilous journey ends
      And the strong cable holds her safe again:
    Laughter and memories and the songs of friends
      And the sword edge of pain.

_June 1917._



LAUGHTER


    Oh, not a poet lives but knows
    The laughing beauty of the rose,
    The heyday humour of the noon,
    The solemn smiling of the moon,--
    When night, as happy as a lover,
    Doth kiss and kiss the earth, and cover
    His face with all her tender hair.

    Sweet bride and bridegroom everywhere,
    And mothers, who so softly sing
    Upon their babies’ slumbering,
    Know joy upon their lips, and laughter
    At Joy’s heels that comes tumbling after.

    But who shall shake his sides to hear
    That sacred laughter, fraught with fear,
    That laughter strange and mystical--
    The hero laughing in his fall;
    Whene’er a man goes out alone,
    Is thrown and is not overthrown?

    The fates shall never bow the head
    That irony hath comforted,
    Nor thrust him down with shameful scars
    Who towers above the reeling stars.

    Thus God, Who shaketh roof and rafter
    Of highest heaven with holy laughter;
    Who made fantastic, foolish trees
    Shadow the floors of tropic seas,
    Where finny gargoyles, goggle-eyed,
    Grin monstrously beneath the tide;
    Who made for some titanic joke
    Out of the acorn grow the oak;
    From buried seed and riven rocks,
    Brings death and life--a paradox!
    Who breaks great Kingdoms, and their Kings,
    Upon the knees of helpless things....
    So flesh the Word was made Who gave
    His body to a human grave,
    While devils gnashed their teeth at loss
    To see Him triumph on the cross....

    Thus God, Who shaketh roof and rafter
    Of highest heaven with holy laughter!

_October 14th, 1917._



VOCATION


    Though God has put me in the world to praise
      Each beetle’s burnished wing, each blade of grass,
    To track the manifold and marvellous ways
      Whereon His bright creative footsteps pass;

    To glory in the poplars’ summer green,
      To guard the sunset’s glittering hoard of gold,
    To gladden when the fallen leaves careen
      On fairy keels upon the windy wold.

    For this, for this, my eager mornings broke,
      For this came sunshine and the lonely rain,
    For this the stiff and sleepy woods awoke
      And every hawthorn hedge along the lane.

    For this God gave me all my joy of verse
      That I might shout beneath exultant skies,
    And meet, as one delivered from a curse,
      The pardon and the pity in your eyes.



BLINDNESS


    Open the casement! From my room,
      Perched high upon this dizzy spire,
    My blinded eyes behold the bloom
      Of gardens in their golden fire.

    Oh deep, mysterious recompense--
      Time static to my ardent gaze!
    No longer mortal veils of sense
      Conceal the blissful ray of rays!

    Fantastic forests toss their heads
      For my immortal youth; on grass
    Brighter than jewels do the reds
      Of riotous summer roses pass.

    I traffic in abysmal seas,
      And dive for pearls and coloured shells,
    Where, over seaweeds tall as trees,
      The waters boom like tenor bells;

    Where bearded goblin-fish and sharks,
      With fins as large as eagles’ wings,
    Throw phosphorescent trails of sparks
      Which glitter on drowned Spaniards’ rings.

    From star to star I pilgrimage,
      Undaunted in ethereal space;
    And laugh because the sun in rage
      Shoots harmless arrows at my face.

    For even if the skies should flare
      In God’s last catastrophic blaze,
    My happy, blinded eyes would stare
      Only upon the ray of rays.

_January 20th, 1918._



DRINKING SONG


    When Horace wrote his noble verse,
      His brilliant, glowing line,
    He must have gone to bed the worse
      For good Falernian wine.
    No poet yet could praise the rose
    In verse that so serenely flows
    Unless he dipped his Roman nose
      In good Falernian wine.

        _Shakespeare and Jonson too_
        _Drank deep of barley brew--_
        _Drank deep of barley brew, my boys,_
        _Drank deep of barley brew!_

    When Alexander led his men
      Against the Persian King,
    He broached a hundred hogsheads, then
      They drank like anything.
    They drank by day, they drank by night,
    And when they marshalled for the fight
    Each put a score of foes to flight--
      They drank like anything!

        _No warrior worth his salt_
        _But quaffs the mighty malt--_
        _But quaffs the mighty malt, my boys,_
        _But quaffs the mighty malt!_

    When Patrick into Ireland went
      The works of God to do,
    It was his excellent intent
      To teach men how to brew.
    The holy saint had in his train
    A man of splendid heart and brain--
    A brewer was this worthy swain--
      To teach men how to brew.

        _The snakes he drove away_
        _Were teetotallers they say--_
        _Teetotallers they say, my boys,_
        _Teetotallers they say!_

_September 30th, 1917._



THREE TRIOLETS


I

OF AN IMPROBABLE STORY

    I heard a story from an oak
      As I was walking in the wood--
    I, of the stupid human-folk,
    I heard a story from an oak.
    Though larches into laughter broke
      I hardly think I understood.
    I heard a story from an oak
    As I was walking in the wood.


II

OF DEPLORABLE SENTIMENTS

    I wouldn’t sell my noble thirst
      For half-a-dozen bags of gold;
    I’d like to drink until I burst.
    I wouldn’t sell my noble thirst
    For lucre filthy and accurst--
      Such treasures _can’t_ be bought and sold!
    I wouldn’t sell my noble thirst
    For half-a-dozen bags of gold.


III

OF LOVE AND LAUGHTER

    You scattered joy about my way
      And filled my lips with love and laughter
    In white and yellow fields of May
    You scattered joy about my way.
    Though Winter come with skies of grey
      And grisly death come stalking after,
    You scattered joy about my way
      And filled my lips with love and laughter.



A NEW CANTERBURY TALE


    In Italie a mony yeer ago
      There lived a little childë Catharine,
    With yongë, merrie hertë clere as snow.
      From hir first youthful hour she did entwyne
      Roses both whyt and reed--Godis columbine
    She was. And for hir holy gaiety
    Was by hir neighbours clept Euphrosyne.

    Ech stepp she took upon hir fadirs staires,
      Kneeling she did an Ave Mary say;
    With ful devocioun she seid hir prayers
      Ere that she wentë forth ech day to play;
      Our Blessid Queen was in hir thought alway--
    Our Modir Mary whose humility
    Hath raiséd hir to hevinës magesté.

    When only sevin was this childës age
      She vowed hirself to sweet virginity,
    Forsweering eny erthly marriáge,
      That she the clenë bride of Crist schuld be,
      Who on the heavy cross ful cruelly
    The Jewës nailéd, hevin to open wide--
    Crist for hir husëbond, she Cristës bride.

    Swich was the litle innocentes intent,
      Hirself unspotted from the world to kepe,
    Al hidden in hir fadirs hous she went.
      Whether in waking or in purë sleep
      She builded hir a closë cellë deep--
    Where Lordë Cristë colde walk with hir,
    And hold alway His sweetë convers there.

    So ful she was of gentil charity,
      She diddë tend upon the sick ech day;
    To beggars in their grete necessity
      She gave hir cloke and petticoat away;
      To no poor wightë did she sayë nay--
    And when reprovéd merrily she spoke,
    “God loveth Charity more than my cloke.”

    An oldë widow lay al striken sore
      With leprosé, that dreed and foul disease;
    And to hir (filléd to the hertë core
      With love of God) that she schuld bring hir ease
      Did Catharine come, nor did hit hir displese
    That she schuld wash the woundës tenderly,
    And bind hem up for Goddës charity.

    And though the pacient waxéd querulous,
      The blessid seintë wearied neer a whit,
    For hir upbrading tong so slanderous,
      Nor even when upon hir handës lit
      The leprosé corrupt and foul--for hit
    Is nothing to the shamë Goddë bore
    When nailes and speares His smoothë flesch y-tore.

    But now behold a woundrous miracle!
      For al that Seintë Catharine colde do,
    Hir pacient died and was y-carried wel
      Unto hir gravë by stout men and true.
      When they upon hir corse the cloddës threw,
    Then new as eny childës gan to shine
    The shrivvelled handes of holy Catharine!

    There livéd there a youth clept Nicholas,
      Who made in that citee seditioun,
    Causing a gretë riot in that place,
      So that the magistratës of the toun
      Hent him and cast him in a strong prisoun;
    And thilkë wightë they anon did try,
    And for his sin condemnéd him to die.

    And Catharine y-waxéd piteous
      To see him brought unto this sorry case,
    And went to him unto the prisoun hous
      To move his soul to Jhesu Cristës grace.
      So yong he was and fresh and faire of face,
    Hir hertë movéd was as to a son,
    And he by hir sweet, gracious wordes was won.

    That for his deth he made a good accord,
      And was y-shriven wel of his assoyl,
    And with a humble soul received our Lord
      From the prestes hands. His hertë that did boil
      But little whyles ago--was freed from toil,
    And fixéd on our Lordës precious blood,
    Which for our sak He spilléd on the rood.

    And when he came to executioun,
      No feer had he nor eny bitter care,
    But walked among the guardës thurgh the toun
      In joy so hye as if he trod on air.
      Seint Catharine she was y-waiting there
    To cheer his soul against the dreedful end,
    When unto God his soul at last most wend.

    And there thilke holy virgin welcomed him;
      “Come, Nicholas,” she said, “my sonnë deere.
    The boul of glorious life is at the brim--
      Come, Nicholas--your nuptials are neer;
      The bridegroom calleth, be you of good cheer.”
    And whyl they madë redy, on hir brest
    She kept the hed of Nicholas at rest.

    And when that al in ordre had been set,
      She stretchéd out his nekkë tenderly,
    “This day your soulës bridegroom shal be met.
      Hark! how He calleth, sweet and winsomely.”
      And Nicholas spak to hir ful of glee--
    “Jhesu” and “Catharine” the wordes he seid;
    Then fel the ax and severed off his hed.

    And even as his bloody hed did fall,
      She caught hit in her lap and handës faire,
    Nor reckéd that the blood was over al
      Hir robës, but she kissed hit sitting there,
      And smoothéd doun the rough and ragged hair.
    God wot that gretë peace was in hir herte
    That Nicholas in hevin had found his part.

    O holy Catharine, pray for us then,
      Be to our soules a modir and a frend;
    We are poor wandering and sinful men,
      And al unstable through the world we wend.
      Pray for us, Catharine, unto the end,
    That filléd with thy gretë charity
    In Goddës love we schuldë live and die.



IN MEMORIAM F. H. M.

KILLED IN ACTION, APRIL 9TH, 1917


    Though now we see, as through the battle smoke,
      The image of your young uplifted face
    Surprised by death, and broken as it broke
      The hearts of those who loved your eager grace,
    Your noble air and magnanimity--
      A summer perfect in its flowers and leaves,
    Brave promises of fruitfulness to be,
      Which now no hand may bind in goodly sheaves--
    No hand but God’s.... Yet your remembered ways,
      Your eyes alight with gentleness and mirth,
    The lovely honour of your shortened days,
      A new grave gladness on the furrowed earth
    Shall sow for us, a new pride wide and deep--
    And we shall see the corn--and reap, and reap.



TO THE IRISH DEAD


    You who have died as royally as kings,
      Have seen with eyes ablaze with beauty, eyes
      Nor gold nor ease nor comfort could make wise,
    The glory of imperishable things.

    Despite your shame and loneliness and loss--
      Your broken hopes, the hopes that shall not cease,
      Endure in dreams as terrible as peace;
    Your naked folly nailed upon the cross

    Has given us more than bread unto our dearth
      And more than water to our aching drouth;
      Though death has been as wormwood in your mouth
    Your blood shall fructify the barren earth.

_August 11th, 1917._



JOHN REDMOND


    Shall it be told in tragic song and story
      Of two who went embittered all their days,
      Two lovely Queens divided in their ways
    Until their hearts grew hard, their tresses hoary?
    Or shall the flying wings of oratory
      Of him who bore a great hope on his face
      Bring from the grave reunion to the grace
    That men call Ireland and to England’s glory?

    Courageous soul, not yet the work is ended:
      The perfect pact you never lived to see,
    The peace between the warring sisters mended
      Must of your patient labours come to be,
    When in a noise of trumpets loud and splendid
    The Gael hears blown the name of liberty.

_March 8th, 1918._



BEAUTY


I

(_RELATIVE_)

    How many are the forms that beauty shows;
      To what dim shrines of sweet, forgotten art
    She calls; on what wide seas her strong wind blows
      The proud and perilous passion of the heart!

    How many are the forms of her decay;
      The blood that stains the dying of the sun,
    The love and loveliness that pass away
      Like roses’ petals scattered one by one.

    But there shall issue through the ivory gate,
      Amid a mist of dreams, one dream-come-true,
    Beauty immortal, mighty of estate,
      The beauty that a poet loved in you;
    The goodness God has set as aureole
    Upon the naked meekness of your soul.

_July 22nd, 1917._



BEAUTY


II

(_ABSOLUTE_)

    Who shall take Beauty in her citadel?
      Her gates will splinter not to battering days;
    Her slender spires can bear the onslaught well.
      Shall any track her through her secret ways
    To snare the pinions of the golden bird?
      A feather falling through the jewelled air,
    Only the echo of a lovely word--
      Nowhere her being is, and everywhere.

    But one may come at last through many woes
      And pain and hunger to his resting place,
    The watered garden of the Mystic Rose,
      The contemplation of the Bruisèd Face--
    The quest of all his wild, adventurous pride;
    And, seeing Beauty, shall be satisfied.

_July 29th, 1917._



FAITH’S DIFFICULTY


        Not these appal
    The soul tip-toeing to belief:
        The ribald call,
    The last black anguish of the thief;

        The fellowship
    Of publican and Pharisee,
        The harlot’s lip
    Passionate with humility;

        Or the feet kissed
    By her who was the Magdalen--
        The sensualist
    Is one among a world of men!

        Oh, I can look
    Upon another’s drama; read
        As in a book
    Things unrelated to my need;

        Give faith’s assent
    To that abysmal love outpoured--
        But why was rent
    Thy seamless coat for _me_, dear Lord?

        Why didst Thou bow
    Thy bleeding brows for _my_ heart’s good?
        How shall I now
    Reach to the mystic hardihood

        Where I can take
    For personal treasure all Thy loss,
        When for my sake,
    My sake, Thou didst endure the cross?

        For my soul’s worth
    Was “It is finished!” loudly cried?
        For me the birth,
    The sorrows of the Crucified?

_February 16th, 1918._



CHRISTMAS ON CRUSADE


    Here shall we bivouac beneath the stars;
      Gather the remnant of our chivalry
    About the crackling fires, and nurse our scars,
      And speak no more as fools must, bitterly.

    The roads familiar to His feet we trod;
      We saw the lonely hills whereon He wept,
    Prayed, agonised--dear God of very God!--
      And watched the whole world while the whole world slept.

    We speak no more in anger; Christian men
      Our armies rolled upon you, wave and wave:
    But crooked words and swords, O Saracen,
      Can only hold what they have given--a grave!

    We know Him, know that gibbet whence was torn
      The pardon that a felon spoke on sin:
    There is more life in His dead crown of thorn
      Than in your sweeping horsemen, Saladin!

    We speak no more in anger, we will ride
      Homeless to our own homes. His bruised head
    Had never resting place. Each Christmas-tide
      Blossoms the thorn and we are comforted.

    Yea, of the sacred cradle of our creed
      We are despoiled; the kindly tavern door
    Is shut against us in our utmost need--
      We know the awful patience of the poor.

    We speak no more in anger, for we share
      His homelessness. We will forget your scorn.
    The bells are ringing in the Christmas air;
      God homeless in our homeless homes is born.



THE ASCETIC


    A wild wind blows from out the angry sky
    And all the clouds are tossed like thistle-down
    Above the groaning branches of the trees;
    For on this steel-cold night the earth is stirred
    To shake away its rottenness; the leaves
    Are shed like secret unremembered sins
    In the great scourge of the great love of God....

    Ere I was learned in the ways of love
    I looked for it in green and pleasant lands,
    In apple orchards and the poppy fields,
    And peered among the silences of woods,
    And meditated the shy notes of birds
    But found it not.

                      Oh, many a goodly joy
    Of grace and gentle beauty came to me
    On many a clear and cleansing night of stars.
    But when I sat among my happy friends
    (Singing their songs and drinking of their ale,
    Warming my limbs before their kindly hearth)
    My loneliness would seize me like a pain,
    A hunger strong and alien as death.

    No comfort stays with such a man as I,
    No resting place amid the dew and dusk,
    Whose head is filled with perilous enterprise
    The endless quest of my wild fruitless love.

    But these can tell how they have heard His voice,
    Have seen His face in pure untroubled sleep,
    Or when the twilight gathered on the hills
    Or when the moon shone out beyond the sea!

    Have _I_ not seen them? Yet I pilgrimage
    In desolation seeking after peace,
    Learning how hard a thing it is to love.
    There is a love that men find easily,
    Familiar as the latch upon the door,
    Dear as the curling smoke above the thatch--
    But I have loved unto the uttermost
    And know love in the desperate abyss,
    In dereliction and in blasphemy!
    And fly from God to find him, fill my eyes
    With road-dust and with tears and starry hopes,
    Ere I may search out Love unsearchable,
    Eternal Truth and Goodness infinite,
    And the ineffable Beauty that is God.

    Empty of scorn and ceasing not to praise
    The meanest stick and stone upon the earth,
    I strive unto the stark Reality,
    The Absolute grasped roundly in my hands.
    Bitter and pitiless it is to love,
    To feel the darkness gather round the soul,
    Love’s abnegation for the sake of love,
    To see my Templed symbols’ slow decay
    Become of every ravenous weed the food,
    Where bats beat hideous wings about the arch
    And ruined roof, where ghosts of tragic kings
    And sleek ecclesiastics come and go
    Upon the shattered pavements of my creed.

    Yet Mercy at the last shall lead me in,
    The Bride immaculate and mystical
    Tenderly guide my wayward feet to peace,
    And show me love the likeness of a Man,
    The Slave obedient unto death, the Lamb
    Slain from the first foundations of the world,
    The Word made flesh, the tender new-born Child
    That is the end of all my heart’s desire.

    Then shall my spirit, naked of its hopes,
    Stripped of its love unto the very bone,
    Sink simply into Love’s embrace and be
    Made consummate of all its burning bliss.

_August 26th, 1917._



SONNET FOR THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER


    If I had ridden horses in the lists,
      Fought wars, gone pilgrimage to fabled lands,
    Seen Pharaoh’s drinking cups of amethysts,
      Held dead Queens’ secret jewels in my hands--
    I would have laid my triumphs at your feet,
      And worn with no ignoble pride my scars....
    But I can only offer you, my sweet,
      The songs I made on many a night of stars.

    Yet have I worshipped honour, loving you;
      Your graciousness and gentle courtesy,
    With ringing and romantic trumpets blew
      A mighty music through the heart of me,--
    A joy as cleansing as the wind that fills
    The open spaces on the sunny hills.



WARFARE


    When I consider all thy dignity,
      Thy honour which my baseness doth accuse
      To my own soul, thy pride which doth refuse
    Less than the suffering thou hast given me,
    My hope is chilled to fear. How stealthily
      Must I dispose my forces! With what ruse
      And ambush snatch the bearer of good news,
    Ere I can escalade austerity!

    Easier it were to fling the baleful lord
      And the infernal legions of the Pit,
    To ride undaunted at that roaring horde:
      But who shall armour me with delicate wit
    Sufficient for thine overthrow? What sword
      Win to the tower where thy perfections sit?

_March 10th, 1918._



TREASON


    Thou hast renounced thy proud and royal state;
      Deserted thy strong men-at-arms who stand
      Attentive to imperious command;
    And with a small key at the groaning gate--
    Sweet traitress!--met thine enemy. The great
      Moon threw a white enchantment o’er the land
      When in my hand I caught thy yielded hand,
    And laughing kissed thy laughing lips elate.

    For of thy queenly folly thou hast laid
      In sandalwood thy stiff, embroidered gown;
    With happiness apparelled thou hast strayed
      _Incognita_ through many a sunlit town,
    Heedless of our uncaptained hosts arrayed
      Or of the flags their battles shall bring down.

_March 17th, 1918._



THERE WAS AN HOUR


    There was an hour when stars flung out
      A magical wild melody,
    When all the woods became alive
      With elfin dance and revelry.

    A holiday for happy hearts!--
      The trees shone silver in the moon,
    And clapped their gleaming hands to see
      Night like a radiant kindled noon!

    For suddenly a new world woke
      At one new touch of wizardry,
    When my love from her mirthful mouth
      Spoke words of sweet true love to me.

_February 9th, 1918._



NOCTURNE


    When evening hangs her lamp above the hill
      And calls her children to her waiting hearth,
      Where pain is shed away and love and wrath,
    And every tired head lies white and still--

    Dear heart, will you not light a lamp for me,
      And gather up the meaning of the lands,
      Silent and luminous within your hands,
    Where peace abides and mirth and mystery?

    That I may sit with you beside the fire,
      And ponder on the thing no man may guess,
      Your soul’s great majesty and gentleness,
    Until the last sad tongue of flame expire.

_December 21st, 1916._



PRIDE


    Who having known through night a great star falling
      With half the host of heaven in its wake,
    And o’er chaotic seas a dread voice calling,
      And a new purple dawn of presage break,

    Can hope to conquer thee, proud Son of Morning,
      Arrayed in mighty lusts of heart and eyes,
    With blood-red rubies set for thine adorning
      And sorceries wherein men’s souls grow wise?

    Who shall withstand the onslaught of thy chariot,
      Who ride to battle with thy gorgeous kings?
    Dost thou not count the silver to Iscariot,
      And Tyrian scarlet and the marvellous rings?

    But ivory limbs and the flung festal roses,
      The maddening music and the Chian wine,
    Are overpast when one glad heart discloses
      A pride more strange and terrible than thine!

    That looked unsatisfied upon thy splendour,
      And turned, all shaken with his love, away
    To one dear face that holds him true and tender
      Until the trumpets of the Judgment Day.

    A pride that binds him till the last fierce ember
      Shall fade from pride’s tall roaring pyre in hell;
    The gentleness and grace he shall remember,
      The flower she gave, the love that she did tell.



BALLADE OF SHEEP BELLS


    I left behind the green and gracious weald,
      And climbing stiffly up the steep incline
    Found high above each little cloistered field,
      Above the sombre autumn woods of pine--
      Where gentle skies are clear and crystalline--
    The place remote from dense and foolish towns;
      And there, where all the winds are sharp with brine,
    _I heard the sheep bells ringing on the Downs_.

    The sun hung out of heaven like a shield
      Emblazoned o’er with heraldry divine.
    I suddenly saw, as though with eyes unsealed,
      A portent sent me for an awful sign,
      A fairy sea whereon the cold stars shine;
    And standing on the sward of withered browns,
      Burnt by the noontide and cropped close and fine,
    _I heard the sheep bells ringing on the Downs_.

    A carillon of delicate music pealed
      And tingled through the steeple of my spine;
    My soul was filled with loveliness and healed.
      I know how joy and anguish intertwine--
      But this shall greatly comfort me as wine,
    Good wine, comforts a man and sweetly drowns
      The many sorrows of this heart of mine--
    _I heard the sheep bells ringing on the Downs_.


_L’Envoi_

    Prince, old bell-wether of an ancient line,
      When you’re dead mutton I will weave you crowns
    Of living laurel--if on you I dine--
      _I heard the sheep bells ringing on the Downs!_



BALLADE OF A FEROCIOUS CATHOLIC


    There is a term to every loud dispute,
      A final reckoning I’m glad to say:
    Some people end discussion with their boot;
      Others, the prigs, will simply walk away.
      But I, within a world of rank decay,
    Can face its treasons with a flaming hope,
      Undaunted by faith’s foemen in array--
    _I drain a mighty tankard to the Pope!_

    They do not ponder on the Absolute,
      But wander in a fog of words astray.
    They have no rigid creed one can confute,
      No hearty dogmas riotous and gay,
      But feebly mutter through thin lips and grey
    Things foully fashioned out of sin and soap;--
      But I, until my body rests in clay,
    _I drain a mighty tankard to the Pope!_

    I’ve often thought that I would like to shoot
      The modernists on some convenient day;
    Pull out eugenists by their noxious root;
      The welfare-worker chattering like a jay
      I’d publicly and pitilessly slay
    With blunderbuss or guillotine or rope,
      Burn at the stake, or boil in oil, or flay--
    _I drain a mighty tankard to the Pope._


_L’Envoi_

    Prince, proud prince Lucifer, your evil sway
      Is over many who in darkness grope:
    But as for me, I go another way--
      _I drain a mighty tankard to the Pope!_

_March 2nd, 1918._



DAWN


    I have beheld above the wooded hill
      Thy tender loveliness, O Morning, break;
    Beheld the solemn gladness thou dost spill
      On eyes not yet awake.

    But why recall unto the painful day
      Wild passions sleeping like oblivious kings?
    The broad day comes and thou dost speed away
      Westward on swift wide wings!

_December 23rd, 1917._



SUNSET


    I have seen death in many a varied guise,
      Cruel and tender, rude and beautiful,
    Looking through windows in a young child’s eyes,
      Stealing as soft as shadows in a pool,
    Falling a sudden arrow of dismay,
      Blown on a bugle with an iron note:
    The slow and gentle progress of decay,
      The taking of a strong man by the throat.

    I have seen flowers wither and the leaf
      Of lusty Summer burn to hectic red.
    But ah! that splendid death untouched by grief:
      The sun with glad and golden-visaged head
    Superbly standing on his deadly pyre,
    And sinking in a sea of jewelled fire!

_February 10th, 1918._



PEACE


          Whose lives are bound
    By sleep and custom and tranquillity
          Have never found
    That peace which is a riven mystery

          Who only share
    The calm that doth this stream, these orchards bless,
          Breathe but the air
    Of unimpassioned pagan quietness....

          Initiate,
    Pain burns about your head, an aureole,
          Who hold in state
    The utter joy which wounds and heals the soul.

          You kiss the Rod
    With dumb, glad lips, and bear to worlds apart
          The peace of God
    Which passeth all understanding in your heart.



CARRION


    The guns are silent for an hour; the sounds
      Of war forget their doom; the work is done--
    Strong men, uncounted corpses heaped in mounds,
      Are rotting in the sun.

    Foul carrion--souls till yesterday!--are these
      With piteous faces in the bloodied mire;
    But where are now their generous charities?
      Their laughter, their desire?

    In each rent breast, each crushed and shattered skull
      Lived joy and sorrow, tenderness and pain,
    Hope, ardours, passions brave and beautiful
      Among these thousands slain!

    A little time ago they heard the call
      Of mating birds in thicket and in brake;
    They wondering saw night’s jewelled curtain fall
      And all the pale stars wake....

    Bodies most marvellously fashioned, stark,
      Strewn broadcast out upon the trampled sod--
    These temples of the Holy Ghost--O hark!--
      These images of God!

    Flesh, as the Word became in Bethlehem,
      Houses to hold their Sacramental Lord:
    Swiftly and terribly to harvest them
      Swept the relentless sword!

    Happy if in your dying you can give
      Some symbol of the Eternal Sacrificed,
    Some pardon to the hearts of those who live--
      Dying the death of Christ!

_Feast of the Epiphany,

   January 6th, 1917._



THE BUILDING OF THE CITY


    I, John, who once was called by Him in jest
      Boanerges, the thunder’s son,
    Who lay in tenderness upon His breast--
      Now that my days are done,

    And a great gathering glory fills my sight,
      Would tell my children e’er I go
    Of Him I saw with head and hair as white
      As white wool--white as snow.

    The face before which heaven and earth did flee,
      The burnished feet, the eyes of flame,
    The seven stars bright with awful mystery,
      And the Ineffable Name!

    Yet I who saw the four dread horsemen ride,
      The vials of the wrath of God,
    Beheld a greater thing: the Lamb’s pure Bride,
      The golden floors she trod.

    How Babylon, Babylon was overthrown,
      And how Euphrates flowed with blood--
    Ah, but His mercy through the wide world sown,
      The tree with healing bud!

    I heard, among the hosts of Paradise,
      The glad new song that never tires,
    A Lamb as it had been slain in sacrifice
      Enthroned amid the choirs.

    After the utmost woes have taken toll,
      And ravens plucked the eyes of kings,
    God’s own strange peace shall come upon the soul
      On gentle, dove-like wings.

    The Dragon cast into the voidless night,
      God’s city cometh from above,
    Built by the sword of Michael and his might,
      But founded in God’s love.



EDEN RE-OPENED


    No man regarded where God sat
      Among the rapt seraphic brows,
    And God’s heart heavy grew thereat,
      At man’s long absence from His house.

    Then from the iris-circled throne
      A strange and secret word is said,
    And straightway hath an angel flown,
      On wings of feathered sunlight sped,
      Through space to where the world shone red.

    Reddest of all the stars of night
      To the hoar watchers of the spheres,
    But ashy cold to man’s dim sight,
      And filled with sins and woes and fears
      And the waste weariness of years.

    (No laughter rippled in the grass,
      No light upon the jewelled sea;
    The sky hung sullenly as brass,
      And men went groping tortuously.)

    But the stern warden of the Gate
      Broke his dread sword upon his knees,
    And opened wide the fields where wait
      The loveless unremembered trees,
      The sealed and silent mysteries.

    And the scales fell from man’s eyes,
      And his heart woke again, as when
    Adam found Eve in Paradise;
      And joy was made complete ... and then
        God entered in and spoke with men.



THE HOLY SPRING


    The radiant feet of Christ now lead
      The dancing sunny hours,
    The ancient Earth is young again
    With growing grass and warm white rain
      And hedgerows full of flowers.

    The lilac and laburnum show
      The glory of their bud,
    And scattered on each hawthorn spray
    The snow-white and the crimson may--
      The may as red as blood.

    The bluebells in the deep dim woods
      Like fallen heavens lie,
    And daffodils and daffodils
    Upon a thousand little hills
      Are waving to the sky.

    The corn imprisoned in the mould
      Has burst its wintry tomb,
    And on each burdened orchard tree
    Which stood an austere calvary
      The apple blossom bloom.

    The kiss of Christ has brought to life
      The marvel of the sod.
    Oh, joy has rent its chrysalis
    To flash its jewelled wings, and is
    A dream of beauty and of bliss--
      The loveliness of God.

_May 1917._



VIATICUM


    Dear God, not only do Thou come at last
      When death hath filled my heart with dread affright,
    But when in gathered dark I meet aghast
      The mimic death that falls on me at night.

    The daily dying, when alone I tread
      The valley of the shadow, breast the Styx,
    With shrouded soul and body stiff in bed ...
      And no companion from the welcome pyx!

    How should I face disarmed and unawares
      The phantoms of the Pit oblivion brings--
    My will surrendered, mind unapt for snares,
      Eyes blinded by the evil, shuddering wings,

    Did not the sunset stand encoped in gold
      For priestly offices, ’mid censers swung,
    And with anointed thumb and finger hold
      The symbolled Godhead to my eager tongue?

    Then with my body’s trance there doth descend
      Peace on my eyelids, goodness that shall keep
    My wandering feet, and at my side a friend
      Through all the winding caverns of my sleep.

_August 12th, 1917._



PUNISHMENT


          What vengeful rod
    Is laid upon my bleeding shoulders?
          What scourge, O God,
    Makes known my shame to all beholders?

          Through what vast skies
    Crashes Thy wrath like shuddering thunders?

        *       *       *       *       *

          Before my eyes
    Thou dost display the wonder of wonders!

          As punishment
    To one whom sin should bind in prison,
          Hath Mercy sent
    Word of the crucified arisen!

          Guilt’s penalty
    Exacted--past my reeling reason!--
          Which lays on me
    Love--as a whip fit for my Treason!

_March 3rd, 1918._



AFTER COMMUNION


    Now art Thou in my house of feeble flesh,
      O Word made flesh! My burning soul by Thine
    Caught mystically in a living mesh!
      Now is the royal banquet, now the wine,
    The body broken by the courteous Host
      Who is my humble Guest--a Guest adored--
    Though once I spat upon, scourged at the post,
      Hounded to Calvary and slew my Lord!

    My name is Legion, but separate and alone;
      Wash, wash, dear Crucified, my Pilate hand!
    Rejected Stone, be Thou my corner-stone!
      Like Mary at the cross’s foot I stand;
    Like Magdalene upon my sins I grieve;
    Like Thomas do I touch Thee and believe.

_December 16th, 1917._



THE UNIVERSAL MOTHER


    Who standing thrilled in his bewilderment
      Can tell thy humble ways,
    The hidden paths on which thy white feet went
      Through all thy lonely days?

    From what deep root the Lily of the Lord
      To grace and beauty grew,
    Or in what fires was tempered the keen sword
      That pierced thy bosom through?

    But we may turn and find within our hands
      Our souls’ strange bread and wine,
    The gathered meanings of thy starry lands
      Where mystic roses shine.

    Heaven’s air might grow for us too cold and tense,
      Her towers far and faint,
    Did we not know thy sorrowful innocence,
      Or soldier, singer, saint,

    Earth’s heroes with earth’s poor not kneel and tell
      Their full hearts’ burdenings
    To those dear eyes before which Gabriel
      Bent low with folded wings.

    The soldier shall remember whose the heel
      That crushed the serpent’s head,
    How mighty in thy hand hath been the steel
      That dyed thy bosom red.

    The singer weave for thee a cloak of light
      Where earth’s wild colours run,
    As God hath crowned thee with the stars of night
      And clothed thee with the sun.

    The saint who in a cloister cool and dim
      His difficult road hath kept
    Shall think of thee whose body cloistered Him
      When in thy womb He slept.

    And thou shalt call to thee the poor of earth
      To share thy joy with them,
    And fill them with thy magnitude and mirth
      In many a Bethlehem.

_February 4th, 1917._



THE BOASTER


    If the last blissful star should fade and wither,
      If one by one
    Orion and the Pleiades Crash and Crumble;
      The lordly sun

    Be turned away, a beggar, all his triumphs
      Gone down in doom,
    Wandering unregarded through the cosmos,
      None giving him room.

    Then would I shout defiant to the whirlwinds;
      Boastingly cry,
    “Go wreck the world, its towering hills and waters!
      But I, even I,

    “Whose body was flung out upon the dungheap
      With weeds to rot,
    Still keep my soul unshaken by the ruin
      That harms me not!

    “True, I have fled from many a shameful battle,
      Did cringe and cower
    Before my foes, but who can ever rob me
      Of one great hour?”

    For joy rang through me like a silver trumpet;
      About my head
    The tiny flowers flapped in the breeze like banners
      Of royal red.

    And suddenly the seven deeps of heaven
      Were cloven apart,
    When love stood in your eyes and shone and trembled
      Within your heart.

_February 3rd, 1918._



UNWED


    If I go down to death uncomforted
      By love’s great conquest and its great surrender,
    Bearing my soul along, unwed, unwed;
      (Your darling hands’ caresses swift and tender
    Lacking upon my head, upon my lips
      Your lips); and in my heart love unfulfilled,
    And in my eyes a blind apocalypse,
      Bereft of all the glory I have willed;

    I shall go proudly for your dear love’s sake,
      Triumphant for brief memories, but tragic
    Because of those large hopes that fail and break
      Beneath Fate’s wizard-wand of cruel magic--
    But ah, Fate could not touch me if I stood
    Completed by your love’s beatitude!

_December 15th, 1917._



WED


    I know the winds are rhythmical
    In unison with your footfall.
    I know that in your heart you keep
    The secret of the woodland’s sleep.

    You met the blossom-bearing May--
    Sweet sister!--on the road half way,
    And she has laid upon your hair
    The coloured coronal you wear.

    But ah! the white wings of the Dove
    Flutter about the head I love,
    And on your bosom doth repose
    The beauty of the Mystic Rose,

    That I must add to poetry
    A dark and fearful ecstasy;
    For in the house of joy you bless
    Unworthiness with holiness.



ENGLAND


I

    Like some good ship that founders in the sea,
      Like granite towers that crumble into dust,
    So pass the emblems of thine empery.
      But O immortal Mother and august,
    Ardours of English saint and bard and king
      Blend simply with thy soul, even as their bones
    Mingle with English soil. Their spirits sing
      A great song lordly as is a loud wind’s tones.
    Decayed by gold and ease and loathly pride,
      We had forgot our greatness and become
    Huckstering empire-builders, and denied
      The excellent name of freedom ... till the drum
    Woke glory such as met the eyes of Drake,
    Or Alfred when he saw the heathen break!


II

    Where shall we find thee? In the avarice
      That robs our brave adventures? In the shame
    Spoiling our splendours? In the sacrifice
      Of tears we wrung from Ireland? Nay, thy name
    Is written secretly in kindliness
      Upon the patient faces of the poor,
    In that good anger wherewith thou didst bless
      Our hearts, when beat upon the shaking door
    Strong hands of hell.... Whether before the flood
      We sink, or out of agonies reborn
    Learn once again the meaning of our blood,
      Laughter and liberty--a sacred scorn
    Is ours irrevocably since we stood
      And heard the barbarians’ guns across the morn.

_December 24th and 26th, 1917._



LYRIC LOVE


    When kindly years have given me grace
      To read your spirit through;
    To see the starlight on your face,
      Upon your hair the dew;

    To touch the fingers of your hands,
      The shining wealth they hold;
    To find in dim and dreamy lands
      That tender dusks enfold

    The ancient sorrows that were sealed,
      The hidden wells of joy,
    The secrets that were unrevealed
      To one who was a boy.

    Then to my patient ponderings
      Will fruits of solace fall,
    When I have learned through many Springs,
      Mighty and mystical,

    To hear through sounds of brooks and birds
      Love in the leafy grove,
    As in my lyric heart your words
      Bestir a lyric love.

    Then I shall brood, grown good and wise,
      The truth of fairy tales,
    And greet romance with gay surprise
      In woods of nightingales.

    And find, with hoary head and sage,
      In songs which I have sung
    The meanings of the end of age--
      The rapture of the young!

_February 11th, 1918._



DRUMS OF DEFEAT



THE FOOL


    A shout of laughter and of scorn,
      A million jeering lips and eyes--
    And in the sight of all men born
      The wildest of earth’s madmen dies!

    Whose trust was put in empty words
      To-day is numbered with the dead;
    To-morrow crows and evil birds
      Shall pluck those strange eyes from his head!

    The fellows of this country clown
      Are scattered (fool beyond belief!),
    All blown away like thistledown,
      Except a harlot and a thief.

    And shall he shatter fates with _these_?
      (He that would neither strive nor cry)
    Or thunder through the Seven Seas?
      Or shake the stars down from the sky?

    Have mercy and humility
      Become unconquerable swords,
    That Caiaphas must tremblingly
      Kneel with the world’s imperial lords
    Before this crazy carpenter--
      This body writhing on a rod--
    And worship in that bloody hair
      The dreadful foolishness of God?

    A shout of laughter and of scorn,
      A million jeering lips and eyes--
    And in the sight of all men born
      The wildest of earth’s madmen dies!



DON QUIXOTE


    The air is valiant with drums
      And honourable the skies,
    When he rides singing as he comes
      With solemn, dreamy eyes--
    Of swinging of the splendid swords,
    And crashing of the nether lords,
    When Hell makes onslaught with its hordes
      In desperate emprise.

    He rides along the roads of Spain
      The champion of the world,
    For whom great soldans live again
      With Moorish beards curled--
    But all their spears shall not avail
    With one who weareth magic mail,
    This hero of an epic tale
      And his brave gauntlet hurled!

    Clangour of horses and of arms
      Across the quiet fields,
    Herald and trumpeter, alarms
      Of bowmen and of shields;
    When doubt that twists and is afraid
    Is shattered in the last crusade,
    Where flaunts the plume and falls the blade
      The cavalier wields.

    Although in that eternal cause
      No liegemen gather now,
    Or flowered dames to grant applause,
      Yet on his naked brow
    The victor’s laurels interwreath;
    But he no dower can bequeath
    But sword snapped short and empty sheath
      And errantry and vow!

    Against his foolish innocence
      No man alive can stand,
    Nor any giant drive him hence
      With sling or club or brand--
    For where his angry bugle blows
    There fall unconquerable foes;
    Of mighty men of war none knows
      To stay his witless hand.

    All legendary wars grow tame
      And every tale gives place
    Before the knight’s unsullied name
      And his romantic face:
    Yea, he shall break the stoutest bars
    And bear his courage and his scars
    Beyond the whirling moons and stars
      And all the suns of space!



IRELAND


    Beside your bitter waters rise
      The Mystic Rose, the Holy Tree,
    Immortal courage in your eyes,
      And pain and liberty.

    The stricken arms, the cloven shields,
      The trampled plumes, the shattered drum,
    The swords of your lost battlefields
      To hopeless battles come.

    And though your scattered remnants know
      Their shameful rout, their fallen kings,
    Yet shall the strong, victorious foe
      Not understand these things:

    The broken ranks that never break,
      The merry road your rabble trod,
    The awful laughter they shall take
      Before the throne of God.



IN MEMORIAM

PATRICK HENRY PEARSE

_Executed May 3rd, 1916_

R.I.P.


    In this grey morning wrapped in mist and rain
      You stood erect beneath the sullen sky,
    A heart which held its peace and noble pain,
      A brave and gentle eye!

    The last of all your silver songs are sung;
      Your fledgling dreams on broken wings are dashed--
    For suddenly a tragic sword was swung
      And ten true rifles crashed.

    By one who walks aloof in English ways
      Be this high word of praise and sorrow said:
    He lived with honour all his lovely days,
      And is immortal, dead!



MATER DESOLATA

TO MARGARET PEARSE


    To you the dreary night’s long agony,
      The anguish, and the laden heart that broke
    Its vase of burning tears, the voiceless cry,--
      And then the horror of that blinding stroke!
    To you all this--and yet to you much more.
      God pressed into the chalice of your pain
    A starry triumph, when the sons you bore
      Were written on the roll of Ireland’s slain.
    Let no man touch your glorious heritage,
      Or pluck one pang of sorrow from your heart,
    Or stain with any pity the bright page
      Emblazoning the holy martyrs’ part.
    Ride as a queen your splendid destiny,
    Since death is swallowed up in victory!



THE STIRRUP CUP


    Draw rein; there’s the inn where the lamps show plain--
    Where we never may drink together again.
    While the stars are lost in the slate-cold sky
    Let us drink good ale before we die
      In the wind and bitter rain!

    Your sword is made ready upon your hip?
    Then once again, man, in good-fellowship!
    Though hunted and outlawed and fugitive
    We shall drink together again if we live--
      Set the tankard to your lip!

    _Honour and death and_--how goes the tune?
    See the clouds rift and disrobe the moon!
    And a blood-red streak in the sullen skies
    And--_Honour and death and adventure’s eyes_--
      Now spurs--for they’ll be here soon!



THE ENSIGN


    High up above the wooded ridge
      Beams out a round benignant moon
    Upon the village and the bridge
      Through which the slumberous waters croon.

    Now polished silver is the mill;
      And, clad in ghostly mysteries,
    The church tower glimmers on the hill
      Among the sad, abiding trees;

    And watched by its familiar star
      Sleeps each small house, so still and white--
    From all the noise and blood of war,
      O God, how far removed to-night!

    Unconscious of their destiny
      How many drew this air for breath;
    Here lived and loved ... and now they see
      The terrible, swift shape of death.

    The bounty of these quiet skies,
      The tender beauty of these lands,
    Still sheds a peace upon their eyes,
      And binds their hearts and nerves their hands.

    That they who only thought to know
      This valley in the moonlight furled,
    Have heard immortal trumpets blow,
      And shake the pillars of the world!



BALLADE OF ORCHARDS


    Though Jeshurun kicks and grows fatter and fatter,
      And chinks in his pockets the gold of his gain,
    Yet up in the gables the young sparrows chatter,
      The corn-fields are rich with the promise of grain,
      The hedges are yellow, and (balm to the brain!)
    Their pink and white blossoms the cherry trees scatter--
      _The blossoming orchards of England remain!_

    Long lines of our soldiers swing by with a clatter,
      To die in their thousands by river and plain,
    In lands where the gathering loud torrents batter,
      They heap the hills high with heroical slain--
      But far in the weald how the misty moons wane!
    And deep in a silence no anger can shatter
      _The blossoming orchards of England remain!_

    The world is a fool and as mad as a hatter--
      And poets and lovers were sent her for bane--
    Yet theirs are the ears which can catch the first patter,
      The prophet of all God’s abundance of rain,
      The smell of earth earthy and wholesome again;
    And from the drenched ground where the spent bullets spatter
      _The blossoming orchards of England remain!_


_L’Envoi_

    Princes and potentates, ye whom men flatter,
      Harken a moment to this my refrain--
    Ye shall pass as a dream, and it will not much matter--
      _The blossoming orchards of England remain!_



A GREAT WIND


    A great wind blows through the pine trees,
      A clean salt wind from sea,
    A loud wind full of all healing
      Blows kindly but boisterously;
    Oh, a good wind blows through the pine trees
      And the heart and mind of me!

    A wind stirs the long grass lightly
      And the dear young flowers of May,
    And blows in the English meadows
      The breath of a Summer’s day--
    But this wind rings with honour
      And is wet with the cold sea spray.

    There are straits where the tall ships founder
      And no live thing may draw breath,
    Where men look at splendid, angry skies
      And hear what the thunder saith:
    Where men look their last at glory
      And bravely drink of death.

    There is much afoot this evening
      In these pine woods by the sea,
    And no branch shall endure until morning
      That is rotten on the tree--
    Nor any decayed thing endure in my soul
      When God’s wind blows through me!



BIRTHDAY SONNET


    How shall I find the words of perfect praise,
      To give you back the gladness and the mirth,
    With which you filled my hands, the lyric days
      Your gracious bounty gave me in my dearth?
    My song fails on the wing, and yet I know
      The meaning of Spring’s living ecstasy,
    The laughing prophecy the March winds blow
      Among the buds, and through the heart of me.

    I know, I know the rose and silver dress,
      Wherewith God clothed that clear and virginal morn,
    Which came to you in joyful gentleness,
      The hour of shy delight when you were born.
    I know the innocence and sweet surprise,
    The waiting earth made ready for your eyes.

_March 27th, 1917_



SILENCE


    Though I should deck you with my jewelled rhyme,
      And spread my songs a carpet at your feet,
    Where men may see unchanged through changing time
      Your face a pattern in sad songs and sweet;
    Though I should blow your honour through the earth
      Or touch your gentleness on gentle strings,
    Or sing abroad your beauty and your worth--
      Dearest, yet these were all imperfect things.

    Rather in lovely silence will I keep
      The heart’s shut song no words of mine may mar,
    No words of mine enrich. The ways of sleep
      And prayer and pain, all things that lonely are,
    All humble things that worship and rejoice
    Shall weave a spell of silence for my voice.



AT YELVERTON


    When into Yelverton I came
    I found the bracken all aflame,
    The tors in their unyielding line,
    The air as comforting as wine,
    The swinging wind, the singing sun
          At Yelverton.

    At Yelverton the moor is kind
    And blows its healing through my mind,
    The hunchback skyline lies a mist
    Of purple and of amethyst,
    And up and down the smooth roads run
          At Yelverton.

    At Yelverton a man may stand,
    The whole of Devon within his hand,
    The tors in their austerity,
    And far away the basking sea,
    A cloth of shining silver spun
          At Yelverton.

    At Yelverton a man may keep
    Deep silence and a deeper sleep,
    Yet know the brave recurring dream
    Of kingly cider, queenly cream
    To bless him when his days are done
          At Yelverton.



THE JOY OF THE WORLD


    For your joy do the long grasses rustle, the tree-tops stir
    Where the wind moves eagerly through the pine and the fir;
    Alert for your coming the woods and the meadows all wait;
    The buttercups grow and the turtle calls to his mate.

    And God for your Clothing fashioned in patience the sun,
    A cloak wrought of glory and fire where dreadful dyes run,
    Saffron and Crimson and sapphire and gold, as is meet;
    And stars to be set on your head and stars under your feet.

    For you, His most lovely of daughters, the mighty God bowed
    From heaven to give you your dowry of sunset and cloud;
    And splendid in light and in worship were Gabriel’s wings,
    When he breathed in your bosom the hope of impossible things.

    Sudden and dear was the secret he whispered to you,
    Of one who should quietly fall to the earth with the dew;
    As dew that at night in the valleys distils upon fleece,
    With no shattering trump did He come but in terrible peace.

    In your hands that are sweeter than honey, in all the wide earth
    God laid the desire of the nations, their home and their mirth,
    And gave to your merciful keeping man’s joy and man’s rest,
    And under incredible skies a babe at your breast.

    And though the stars wane and the royal deep colours should fade,
    Yet still shall endure in the heart and the lips of a Maid,
    The sweep of the archangel’s pinions--the humble accord--
    The song--the dim stable--the night--and the birth of the Lord!

    For your joy do the long grasses rustle, the tree-tops stir
    Where the wind moves eagerly through the pine and the fir;
    Alert for your coming the woods and the meadows all wait;
    The buttercups grow and the turtle calls to his mate.



GRATITUDE


    How shall I answer God and stand,
    My naked life within my hand,
    To plead upon the Judgment Day?
    Seeing the glory in array
    Of cherubim and seraphim,
    What answer shall I give to Him?

    I was too dull of heart and sense
    To read His cryptic providence,
    Its strange and intricate device
    Was hidden from my foolish eyes.
    My gratitude could not reach up
    To the sharing of His awful cup,
    To the blinding light of mystery
    And the painful pomp of sanctity.

    But since as a happy child I went
    With love and laughter and content
    Along the road of simple things,
    Making no idle questionings;
    Since young and careless I did keep
    The cool and cloistered halls of sleep,
    And took my daily drink and food,
    Finding them very, very good--
    God may perhaps be pleased to see
    Such signs of sheer felicity.

    But if I somehow should be given
    An attic in His storied heaven,
    I’m sure I should be far apart
    From Catherine of the wounded heart,
    Teresa of the flaming soul,
    And Bruno’s sevenfold aureole,
    And be told, of course, I’m not to mix
    With the Bernards or the Dominics,
    Or thrust my company upon
    St. Michael or the great St. John.

    Yet God may grant it me to sit
    And sing (with little skill or wit)
    My intimate canticles of praise
    For all life’s dear and gracious days--
    Though hardly a single syllable
    Of what St. Raphael has to tell,
    The triumphs of the cosmic wars,
    The raptures and the jewelled scars
    Of the high lords of martyrdom--
    Hardly a word of this will come
    To strike my understanding ear,
    Hardly a single word, I fear!

    *       *       *       *       *

    But woe upon the Judgment Day
    If my heart gladdened not at May;
    Nor woke to hear with the waking birds
    The morning’s sweet and winsome words;
    Nor loved to see laburnums fling
    Their pennons to the winds of Spring;
    Nor watched among the expectant grass
    The Summer’s painted pageant pass;
    Nor thrilled with blithe beatitude
    Within a kindling Autumn wood
    Or when each separate twig did lie
    Etched sharp upon the wintry sky.
    If out of all my sunny hours
    I brought no chaplet of their flowers;
    If I gave no kiss to His lovely feet
    When they shone as poppies in the wheat;
    If no rose to me were a Mystic Rose,
    No Snow were whiter than the snows;
    If in my baseness I let fall
    At once His cross and His carnival ...
    Then must I take my ungrateful head
    To where the lakes of Hell burn red.



IN DOMO JOHANNIS


    Here rest the thin worn hands which fondled Him,
      The trembling lips which magnified the Lord,
    Who looked upon His handmaid, the young, slim
      Mary at her meek tasks, and here the sword
    Within the soul of her whose anguished eyes
      Gazed at the stars which watch Gethsemane,
    And saw the sun fail in the stricken skies.
      In these dim rooms she guards the treasury
    Of her white memories--the strange, sweet face
      More marred than any man’s, the tender, fain
    And eager words, the wistful human grace,
      The mysteries of glory, joy and pain,
    And that hope tremulous, half-sob, half-song,
    Ringing through night--“How long, O Lord, how long?”



AT WOODCHESTER


    Hark how a silver music falls
    Between these meek monastic walls,
    And airy flute and psaltery
    Awaken heavenly melody!

    Yet not to unentunèd ears
    May come the joyance of the spheres,
    And only humbled hearts may see
    The humble heart of mystery.

    Where tread in light and lilting ways
    Bright angels through the dance’s maze
    On grassy floors to meet the just
    In robes of woven diamond dust.

    And jewelled daisies burst to greet
    The flutter of the Blessed’s feet:
    Along the cloister’s gathered gloom
    Lilies and mystic roses bloom.

    Grown in the hush of hidden hours
    Thoughts fairer than the summer flowers
    Lift up their sweet and living heads,
    Crystalline whites and sanguine reds!

    Who keep in lowly pageantry
    Silence a lovely ceremony;[B]
    Who set a seal upon their eyes
    Responsive only to the skies;

    Who in a quick obedience move
    Along the hallowed paths of love,
    Win at last to that secret place
    Adorned with the glory of God’s face.

    And as each eve the tired sun
    Sinks softly down, the long day done,
    Upon the bosom of the west--
    So, even so, upon God’s breast

    Each weary heart is folded deep
    Into His arms in quiet sleep,
    And sheltered safe, all warm and bright,
    Against the phantoms of the night.

 [B] “_Quia silentium est pulchra caeremonia_”:

    Ex Constitutionibus Fratrum
    S. Ordinis Prædicatorum.



“FOR THEY SHALL POSSESS THE EARTH”


    You who were beauty’s worshipper,
      Her ardent lover, in this place
      You have seen Beauty face to face;
    And known the wistful eyes of her,
    And kissed the hands of Poverty,
    And praised her tattered bravery.

    You shall be humble, give your days
      To silence and simplicity;
      And solitude shall come to be
    The goal of all your winding ways;
    When pride and youthful pomp of words
    Fly far away like startled birds.

    Possessing nothing, you shall know
      The heart of all things in the earth,
      Their secret agonies and mirth,
    The awful innocence of snow,
    The sadness of November leaves,
    The joy of fields of girded sheaves.

    A shelter from the driving rain
      Your high renouncement of desire;
      Food it shall be and wine and fire;
    And Peace shall enter once again
    As quietly as dreams in sleep
    The hidden trysting-place you keep.

    You shall grow humble as the grass,
      And patient as each slow, dumb beast;
      And as their fellow--yea the least--
    Yield stoat and hedgehog room to pass;
    And learn the ignorance of men
    Before the robin and the wren.

    The things so terrible and sweet
      You strove to say in accents harsh,
      The frogs are croaking on the marsh,
    The crickets chirping at your feet--
    Oh, they can teach you unafraid
    The meaning of the songs you made.

    Till clothed in white humilities,
      Each happening that doth befall,
      Each thought of yours be musical,
    As wind is musical in the trees,
    When strong as sun and clean as dew
    Your old dead songs come back to you.



BALLADE OF THE BEST SONG IN THE WORLD


    I know a sheaf of splendid songs by heart
      Which stir the blood or move the soul to tears,
    Of death or honour or of love’s sweet smart,
      The runes and legends of a thousand years;
    And some of them go plaintively and slow,
      And some are jolly like the earth in May--
    But this is _really_ the best song I know:
      _I-tiddly-iddly-i-ti-iddly-ay_.

    I sang it in a house-boat on the Dart
      To several members of the House of Peers.
    The Editor of the _Exchange and Mart_
      (A man of taste) stood up and led the cheers.
    I carolled it at Christmas in the snow,
      I hummed it on my summer holiday--
    Doh-ray-me-fah-sol-la-fah-me-ray-doh--
      _I-tiddly-iddly-i-ti-iddly-ay_.

    It made a gathering of Fabians start
      And put their fingers in their outraged ears.
    They did not understand my subtle art,
      But though they only gave me scoffs and jeers,
    I sang my ditty high, I sang it low,
      I sang it every known (and unknown) way--
    _Crescendo, forte, pianissimo_--
      _I-tiddly-iddly-i-ti-iddly-ay_.


_L’Envoi_

    Prince, if by some amazing fluke you go
      To heaven, you’ll hear the shawms and citherns play,
    And all the trumpets of the angels blow
      _I-tiddly-iddly-i-ti-iddly-ay_.



TAIL-PIECE


    A boy goes by the window while I write,
    Whistling--the little demon!--in delight.
    I shake my fist and scowl at him, and curse
    Over the carcase of my murdered verse.
    And yet--which is it that the world most needs,
    His happy laughter or my threadbare screeds?
    There is more poetry in being young
    Than in the finest song that Shakespeare sung--
    And if that’s true of godlike Shakespeare--well,
    Whistle the Marseillaise, and ring the bell,
    And chase the cat, and lose your tennis-ball,
    And tear your trousers on the garden wall,
    Scalp a Red Indian, sail the Spanish seas--
    Do any mortal thing you damn well please.



AVE


    When all the world was black
      Your courage did not fail;
    No laughter did you lack
      Or fellowship or ale.

    And you have made defeat
      A nobler pageantry,
    Your bitterness more sweet
      Than is their victory.

    For by your stricken lips
      A gallant song is sung;
    Joy suffers no eclipse,
      Is lyrical and young,

    Is rooted in the sod,
      Is ambient in the air,
    Since Hope lifts up to God
      The escalade of prayer.

    The tyrants and the kings
      In purple splendour ride,
    But all ironic things
      Go marching at your side
    To nerve your hands with power,
      To salt your souls with scorn,
    Till that awaited hour
      When Freedom shall be born.



A REPLY

_To one who said that to conceive of God as a person was to
reduce Him to our own level._


    Oh, we can pierce
    With the swift lightnings far and fierce;
    We can behold
    Him in the sunset’s lucid gold.

    Yet not by these
    Do we read His dark mysteries,
    Or tear apart
    The thick veil upon Heaven’s heart....

    Kneel with the kings
    Before His dreadful Emptyings,
    And see Him laid
    In the slender arms of a Maid.

    The village street
    Knew God’s familiar, weary feet--
    The carpenter’s Son
    Who made the great hills one by one.

    No glory slips
    From His sublime apocalypse--
    His homespun dress,
    Hunger, thirst and the wilderness.

    To a slave’s death
    He gave his broken body’s breath;
    An outcast hung
    The swart and venomous thieves among.

    And still yields He
    Godhead to our humanity,
    Leaving for sign
    Himself in the meek bread and wine.



JOB


    Can flesh and blood contrive defence
      ’Gainst swords that pierce the spirit through,
    Or meet, not knowing why or whence,
      The blind bolt crashing from the blue?

    “Oh, men have held times out of mind
      Their stern and stoic courage bright--
    But if no cry comes on the wind,
      How shall I face the ambushed night?

    “How shall I turn to bay, and stand
      To grapple, if I cannot see
    My fierce assailant at my hand,
      The high look of mine enemy?

    “If He will answer me, with rod
      And plague and thunder let Him come--
    But how can man dispute with God
      Who writes no book, whose voice is dumb?

    “Who rings me round with prison bars
      Through which I peer with sleepless eyes,
    And see the enigmatic stars--
      These only--in the iron skies.”

    *       *       *       *       *

    “_These only?_ These together sang
      At the glad birthday of the earth
    When all the courts of Heaven rang
      With shouting and angelic mirth!

    “The night enfolds you with a cloak
      Of silence and of chill affright?
    But when man’s wells of laughter broke,
      Who gave man singing in the night?

    “The Rod shall burst to flowers and fruit
      Richer than grew on Aaron’s rod,
    And Mercy clothe you head to foot,
      Beloved and smitten of your God!”



THE SOIL OF SOLACE


    I may not stand with other men, or ride
      In those grey fields where fall the screaming shells,
    Or mix my blood with blood of those who died
      To find a heaven in their sevenfold hells.
    Honour and death a strident bugle blows,
      Setting an end to death and blasphemy--
    Oh, had I any choice in it, God knows
      Where in this epic day I too would be!
    Yet may I keep some English heart alive
      With a poet’s pleasure in all English things--
    Good-fellowship and kindliness still thrive
      In English soil; the dusk is full of wings;
    And by the river long reeds grow; and still
    A little house sits brooding on the hill!



TO THE DEAD


    Now lays the king his crown and sceptre down,
      Her gown of taffeta the lovely bride,
    The knight his sword, his cap and bells the clown,
      The poet all his verse’s pomp and pride--
    The eloquent, the beautiful, the brave
    Descend reluctant to the straight, cold grave.

    No more shall shine for them the glorious rose,
      Or sunsets stain with red and awful gold,
    Night shall no more for them her stars disclose,
      Or day the grandeur of the Downs unfold,
    Or those eyes dull in death watch solemnly
    The regal splendour of the Sussex sea.

    For them the ringing surges are in vain;
      They wake not at the cry of waking bird;
    The sun, the holy hill, the fruitful rain,
      The winds have called them and they have not stirred;
    The woods are widowed of your eager tread,
    O dear and desolate and dungeoned dead!

    Yet you shall rest awhile in English earth,
      And ripen many a pleasant English field
    Through the green Summer to the Autumn’s mirth
      And flower unconsciously upon the weald--
    Until that last angelic word be said,
    And the shut graves deliver up their dead!



SPRING, 1916


    The grey and wrinkled earth again is young
      And lays aside her tattered winter weeds
    For April-coloured gauze, and gives her tongue
      To jocund songs instead of pedants’ screeds.
    Scatter the thin, white ashes of the hearth,
      And throw the brilliant diamond casement wide--
    Oh, wonder of the lonely garden garth!
      Oh, golden glory of the steep hillside
    Where flames the living loveliness of God!...
      But far, far off, beyond the bloom and bud
    A fiercer blossom burgeons from the sod
      Bright with the hues of honour and of blood;
    And men have plucked the sanguine flower of pain
    Where violets might be growing in the rain!



THE RETURN


    Beyond these hills where sinks the sun in amber,
      Imperial in purple, gold and blood,
    I keep the garden walks where roses clamber,
      Set in still rows with shrub and flower and bud.

    After the clash of all the swords that sunder,
      After the headstrong pride of youth that fails,
    After the shattered heavens and the thunder
      Remain the summer woods and nightingales!

    So when the fever has died down that urges
      My lips to utterance of whirling words,
    Which, blown among the winds and stormy surges,
      Skim the wild sea-waves like the wild sea-birds.

    So when has ceased the tumult and the riot,
      A man may rest his soul a little space,
    And seek your solitary eyes in quiet,
      And all the gracious calmness of your face.



FULFILMENT

(_An Inscription for a Book of Poems_)


    You who will hold these gathered songs,
      Made, darling, long before we met,
    Must keep the prophecy which belongs
      To those dear eyes, so strangely set
    With peace and laughter, where fulfils
    The rapture of my alien hills.

    Unknown, unknown you softly trod
      Among my fruitful silences,
    The last and splendid gift of God.
      The quest of all my Odysseys,
    The meaning of those quiet lands
    Where I found comfort at your hands.

    And when the yellowing woods awake,
      And small birds’ twittered loves are told,
    When streams run silver, and there break
      The crocuses to tender gold,
    When quick light winds shall stir my hair,
    Some part of you will wander there.



PROPHECY


    My eyes look out across the dim grey wold,
      The grey sky and the grey druidic trees,
    Knowing they keep inviolate the gold
      Memories of summer and the prophecies
    That lie imprisoned in the buried seeds
      Of all the lyric gaiety of Spring....
    The sun shall ride again his flaming steeds;
      The dragon-fly dance past on diamond wing;
    The earth distil to music; and the rose
      Flaunt her impassioned loveliness and be
    A symbol of the singing hour that blows
      The tall ship and my gladness home to me--
    When I shall cry: Awake, my heart, awake,
    And deck yourself in beauty for her sake!



THE SINGER TO HIS LADY


    If any song I sing for you should be
    But made to please a poet’s vanity,
    A richly jewelled and an empty cup
    In which no hallowed wine is offered up,
    A thing of chosen rhyme and cunning phrase,
    Fashioned that it may bring its maker praise;
    If love in me grow only soft and sweet,
    Remembering not with what worn and weary feet
    It journeyed to your fields of golden grain,
    The quiet orchards folded in the rain,
    The twilight gardens and the morning birds;
    If love remembers not and brings you words,
    Words as your thanks; if in an idle hour
    It breaks its sword and plays the troubadour--
    Then may high God, the Universal Lord,
    Break me, as I false knight have broken my sword,
    If I who have touched your hands should bring eclipse
    To love’s nobility with lying lips,
    Having seen more terrible than gleaming spears
    Your gentleness, your sorrow and your tears!



CERTAINTIES


    Across the fields of unforgotten days
      I see the gorgeous pearl-white morning burst
    Through her fine gauze of dreamy summer haze
      Beyond the rolling flats of Staplehurst,
    To bless the hours with songs of nesting birds,
      And the wild hedge rose and the apple tree,
    And laughter and the ring of friendly words,
      And the noon’s pageant moving languidly.
    I walk again with boys now grown to men,
      And see far off with reminiscent eyes,
    How in the tangled woods of Horsmonden
      The mighty sun, a blood-red dragon, dies....
    Some things there are as rooted as the grass
    In a man’s mind--and these shall never pass.



FEAR


    Tread softly; we are on enchanted ground:
      One touch and every hidden thing lies bare,
    The deep sea sundered, suddenly unbound
      The awful thunders instinct in the air!

    Oh, these we know; but what if we should break
      A secret spell as easily as glass,
    And stumble on their sleeping wrath and wake
      The armies and the million blades of grass?

    And find more dread than whirlwinds round our head,
      The sweep of sparrows’ fierce, avenging wings,
    The anger of wild roses burning red,
      The terrible hate of earth’s most helpless things?



CHARITY


    Who think of Charity as milky-eyed
      Know not of God’s great handmaid’s terrible name,
    Who comes in garments by the rainbow dyed,
      And crowned and winged and charioted with flame.

    For Truth and Justice ride abroad with her,
      And Honour’s trumpets peal before her face:
    The high archangels stand and minister
      When she doth sit within her holy place.

    None knoweth in the depth nor in the height
      What meaneth Charity, God’s secret word,
    But kiss her feet, and veil their burning sight
      Before her naked heart, her naked sword.



SIGHT AND INSIGHT


    This hour God’s darkest mysteries
      Are plainer than the screeds of men,
    Tangled and false philosophies
      Fashioned by lying tongue and pen.

    Plain as those bastions of cloud,
      Kind as the wide and kindly skies,
    And in the wild winds shouting loud
      The truths concealed from pedants’ eyes.

    Pages which he may read who runs,
      Where no unlettered man may fail,
    Candid as are his noonday suns
      Familiar as his cheese and ale.

    Him, Whom our eyes may see, our ears
      Hear, Whom our groping hands may touch--
    Him we shall find ere many years,
      And finding fear not overmuch.

    Who gave me simple things to keep,--
      Laughter and love and memories,
    A farm, and meadows full of sheep,
      And quiet gardens full of bees,
    And those five gateways of the soul,
      Through which all good may come to me,
    Saints glorious of aureole,
      The flying thunders of the sea,

    And feasts, and gracious hands of friends,
      And flowers good to stroke and smell;
    Oh, in the secret woods He sends
      The birds their trembling joys to tell!

    He, too, is every day afresh
      Hid and revealed in bread and wine,--
    The awful Word of God made flesh,
      Mortal commingling with divine!

    Shadows and evil dreams o’erthrown
      With Dagon and the gods of scorn,
    Since Peace was in the silence blown
      On that dear night when God was born.



CHRISTMAS CAROL


    Lay quietly Thy kingly head
      O mighty weakness from on high;
    God rest Thee in Thy manger-bed--
      _Sing Lullo-lullo-lullaby_--
      O Splendour hid from every eye!--
      _La-lullo-lullo-lullaby!_

    “Ye mild and humble cattle, yield
      Room for my little son to lie;
    Your God and mine is here revealed--
      _Sing Lullo-lullo-lullaby_--
      Naked beneath a naked sky--
      _La-lullo-lullo-lullaby!_

    “Deal kindly with Him, moon and sun;
      No bird to Him a song deny;
    Ye winds and showers every one
      _Sing Lullo-lullo-lullaby_--
      For men shall cast Him out to die ...
      _La-lullo-lullo-lullaby!_”



A GARDEN ENCLOSED


    There is a plot where all the winds are still,
      A hidden garden where no voice is heard,
    Only a splashing fountain and the shrill
      Sweet clamour of a bird.

    The poplars guard like tall, grave sentinels
      Its peace inviolate; and in the tower
    With careful ritual ring out the bells
      The end of each dead hour.

    Laburnums, hollyhocks and roses run
      By secret paths--but who shall burst the bars?
    Oh, who shall see--except the curious sun
      And all the peering stars?...

    And Thou and Thou, my Love, for whom I keep
      My heart a watered garden, all Thine own,
    Where flowers my guardian angel tends in sleep,
      Bright summer blooms, are grown!

    Come, my Belovèd, come--behold, the skies
      Are fragrant with the evening scents and dew:
    My soul hath sickened for Thy lips and eyes,
      And laden is with rue!

    Oh, Thou shalt fly with soft wings like a dove’s
      And hold me fast beyond all fate and fear,
    And we ’mid flowers shall tell our flowering loves
      Where no one else can hear!



THE LOVER


    An hour ago I saw Thee ride in gold
      Along the burning highways of the skies;
      And now--Thou comest with soft and suppliant eyes,
    And fearing lest Thy love seem overbold.

    In this dear garden set with flower and tree,
      My soul, a maiden whom a great king woos,
      Stands thrilled and silent--Lord, what can she choose,
    Dumbfounded by Thy strange humility?

    Since Thou wilt have it so, my Lord, I bare
      In love and shamefastness my soul--Thy soul--
      So lay Thy tender hand, an aureole,
    Upon my beating heart, my chrismed hair.





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