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Title: Sonnets and Poems
Author: Farjeon, Eleanor
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                     SONNETS AND POEMS, BY ELEANOR

                               TO VIOLA.

    ¶ Some of these poems have appeared in The Athenæum, Blackwood’s
    Magazine, The Englishwoman, Root and Branch, The Saturday Westminster,
    and The Vineyard: by the courtesy of whose editors they are reprinted
    in this volume.

CONTENTS [Illustration: leaf]


Sonnets [Illustration: leaf]                                           7

Christmas and New Year Songs [Illustration: leaf]

Six Green Singers                                                     16

In a Far Country                                                      17

A Manger Song                                                         19

Child’s Carol                                                         20

The Mummers                                                           20

Cradle-Song for Christmas                                             21

The Moon upon her Watch-Tower                                         22

A Burying                                                             22

“Colin Clout, Come Home Again!”                                       23

Miscellaneous Poems [Illustration: leaf]

Bronwen of the Flowers                                                28

Jessica Dances                                                        28

Sylvia Sings                                                          29

Myfanwy among the Leaves                                              30

For Joan                                                              31

A Child’s Fear                                                        32

A Christening                                                         32

The Singer                                                            34

The Girl with the Ball                                                35

The Story-Teller                                                      36

The Reflection                                                        37

Solitary                                                              39

Spring-Dawn                                                           39

The World’s Amazing Beauty                                            40

The White Blackbirds                                                  41

Nightingales                                                          42

Night-Piece                                                           43

Before Winter                                                         43

On the Snow                                                           44

Three Miles to Penn                                                   44

When You Say                                                          45

The Outlet                                                            45

Two Choruses from “Merlin in Broceliande”                             46

Peace                                                                 48

Now that You Too                                                      49

 SONNETS. [Illustration: leaf] I.

    Man cannot be a sophist to his heart,
    He must look nakedly on his intent,
    Expose it of all shreds of argument,
    And strip it like a slave-girl in the mart.
    What though with speckled truths and masked confessions
    He still deceives awhile the outer sense?
    At barely half his honesty’s expense
    Still earns the world’s excuse for the world’s transgressions?

    His conscience cannot play the marshland elf,
    Confusing that poor midnight wanderer,
    His soul, with floundering lights and errant gleams.
    O what damnation man would deal himself
    If meeting her beyond his uttermost dreams
    He still could face his soul and lie to her.


    O spare me from the hand of niggard love
    That grasps at interest on what it lends,
    And sets cold counsel as a guard above
    The hoard it calculates before it spends.
    Such misers of the riches of the heart
    Bear their untested treasure to the grave,
    And miss the whole, striving to save the part,
    By the bare measure they have striven to save.

    Is it for pride in saying at the end:
    See, Life! I spent not all that thou hast given--
    Lo, this and this and this I did not spend!
    I stinted earth of bliss to add to heaven.
    Alas, poor fools! life only gave ye this
    Because earth has such need of heavenly bliss.


    Once, Love, be prodigal, nor look hereafter,
    Not though experience unrolls the years
    And bids thee count the cost of golden laughter
    In the dull coinage of leaden tears.
    O perjured wisdom! half-truth hedged with lies!
    That makes a common stake of joy and pain,
    When tears are man’s most mortal certainties
    And every instant’s joy his heavenly gain.

    Ah, mystery that sowed our breath and being,
    What harvest wilt thou get of untilled powers?
    Why didst thou give us sight if not for seeing?
    Why if we dare not hear make hearing ours?
    Or why in life’s name this high passion of love
    But in life’s name its passionate height to prove?


    Wilt thou put seals on love because men say
    Love is a thing that certain time will steal?
    As well, since night is certain after day,
    Might men their eyelids to the noontide seal.
    Nay! even though that worn-out tale were truth,
    And love, dear love, were time’s assurèd dower,
    What profit canst thou get of cheated youth
    By paying usury before his hour?

    I will not hear the sorry tune of time,
    That bitter quencher of young blessedness.
    Not to have proved young rapture is the crime,
    Unproven it will be quenched no less, no less.
    And thou wilt to the earth at last, time’s scorn,
    Relinquishing a crown thou hast not worn.


    When all is said, we can but turn our eyes
    In helplessness on the miraculous heart
    And secretly dream opportunities
    That shall its untried force in motion start;
    But life that launched and left us lets us drift,
    Our mightiest dreams still lean on circumstance,
    The essence of pain and joy is in our gift
    But not its seasons of significance.

    We cannot by the strength of our desires
    Compel our destinies; we only feel
    That in our souls imperishable fires
    Are hungry for the anvil and the steel.
    But if life brings no metal to the flame
    What shall we fashion of it in life’s name?


    Certain among us walk in loneliness
    Along the pale unprofitable days,
    Hazarding many an unanswered guess
    At what vague purpose wastes us on our ways.
    We know that we are potent to create,
    We say, I could be such or such or such,
    And lo, indifferent death swings back the gate
    And life has never put us to the touch.

    So women with the aching will to bear
    Still to the barren grave must barren go,
    And men that might again like Titans dare
    Angelic secrets, die and nothing know.
    Alas! why were we born to woe and bliss
    If life had no more need of us than this?


    When I see two delay their wings at heaven
    To scan the creeping audience of the earth,
    I think the angelic hosts of life must even
    Break into tears of fire or furious mirth,
    That ever spirits nearly perfected
    Should count the cost of knowing themselves sublime,
    Setting the measurable years in dread
    Against their single flash of measureless time.

    So issues strange to nature are debated,
    Woven in nets and beaten into bars,
    While nature’s issue stands unconsummated
    Upon the very boundary of the stars;
    And souls whose unity had been divine
    Sundered shrink back from God’s to man’s design.


    Alas, that ever life’s sleek counterfeit,
    Convention, should usurp life’s very throne,
    Setting about the bitter and the sweet
    Observances the soul disdains to own.
    It muffles up with bland expedient tongue
    The wise examination of the mind,
    Bribing the old and threatening the young
    And offering easy conduct to the blind.

    A handbook of few rules for many cases,
    One answer to more sums than it can prove,
    With prizes for apt scholars in its paces,
    A veil for knowledge and a ring for love;
    And this smooth text for any questioning heart--
    Know not, and be less than, the thing thou art.


    Love needs not two the render it complete,
    O certainly love needs not even one!
    Sweet singing wants no listener to be sweet,
    And unseen light’s still proper to the sun.
    When sunlight falls upon unpeopled valleys
    No presence can increase or dim its fall,
    When nightingales sing in deserted alleys
    No ear can make the night more musical.

    If solitary into the light and song
    I come, I know I have my treasure whole,
    Yea, and still have it whole, although a throng
    Runs after me down paths whereby I stole,
    Yea, and still have it whole, though only one
    Should follow me--or none, beloved, or none.


    What is this anguish then that always stands
    Mingled in love, if love be love’s sole end?
    O it is life still gasping his commands
    And crying love therein to stand his friend.
    Life drives us all whether we love or no,
    We are life’s purpose, he much less is ours,
    And we like panting beasts in harness go
    While his fierce needs make torments of our powers.

    Only when love across the heavy fields
    Divinely treads to labour with the clods,
    He breaks the goad that life is glad to yield,
    And lifts the yoke that bowed us to the sods:
    Upstanding, we behold a God revealed,
    And serve life’s purpose not like beasts but gods.


    A few of us who faltered as we fared
    Love has returned for. Still he leads us on,
    But where we walk the furrows are prepared
    And sown and fruitful, and the sowers are gone.
    O love, O love, the way too easy lies!
    Life on the rough horizon yonder goes,
    And when I call he will not turn his eyes,
    But with my brothers sows, and reaps, and sows.

    Life without love, O bitter, bitterest birth!
    Love without life still leaves us in our need.
    Ah, love, give up to me my patch of earth,
    My pinch of seed! Hast neither earth nor seed?
    Then whence these visions of thy presence born,
    These shining visions of flowers and fruit and corn?


    I hear love answer: Since within the mesh
    Of blood and flesh you labour for awhile,
    I, even I, must use you in the flesh,
    Leavening it of all the world calls vile.
    I am not nature’s force. O, she will forge
    Her indomitable end without my aid,
    And men cry out on her with rising gorge
    As though they were of other forces made.

    Not being her bond-slave, I alone can give
    Visions that are unmingled with her earth,
    But since this present in her habit you live
    I must meet nature to fulfil their birth.
    Only when you and I come clear of the clay,
    Beloved, I will fulfil them as I may.


    Thy glance is lovelier than the glance of the moon,
    Thy breath more heavenly than the breath of may,
    When thou dost gaze my sight begins to swoon,
    When thou dost breathe my own breath swims away.
    O love, with strange clear light, with strange dim breath,
    Thou dost pervade me, till all strength, all sense,
    Dissolve, it may be as they will when death
    Looses the soul from the body’s impotence.

    The stones I tread no longer solid are,
    These narrow houses all are built of air,
    Nay, are they on this star, or on that star
    Distantly trembling? Am I here or there?
    Love, love, I know not what is near and far,
    I am with thee and thou art everywhere.


    Now I have love again and life again
    By either hand, and cannot join their palms;
    For me they never will be one but twain,
    And I from each accept the barest alms.
    Life’s dole I scatter publicly, love’s lies
    Unspent, unspent for ever in my heart--
    Poor heart, poor beggar of bleak charities
    From stores wherein it owns no proper part.

    Each knows me for his almsman in distress
    And brings his mercies to my famished door,
    But love asks not who doth my body dress,
    Nor life who stoops to clothe a heart so poor.
    Why do ye always come in singleness?
    Meet in me once, and I will want no more.


    Farewell, you children that I might have borne.
    Now must I put you from me year by year,
    Now year by year the root of life be torn
    Out of this womb to which you were so dear,
    Now year by year the milky springs be dried
    Within the sealed-up fountains of my breast,
    Now year by year be to my arms denied
    The burden they would break with and be blessed.

    Sometimes I felt your lips and hands so close
    I almost could have plucked you from the dark,
    But now your very dream more distant grows
    As my still aching body grows more stark.
    I shall not see you laugh or hear you weep,
    Kiss you awake, or cover up your sleep.


    O lovely life, how you have worn me out
    With asking naught and leaving me at large,
    Till my unmeasured strength begins to doubt
    If it could answer now your lightest charge.
    I am as weary as a child to-night
    And with my heavy lack of burdens bowed,
    And power and pride have ceased to stand upright,
    Wanting the cause to be powerful and proud.

    Passion is spent, and nothing was it spent on,
    And grief run dry of having no wounds to cure,
    And discontent that was the staff I leant on
    Is stifled by its final panting breaths.
    I have only patience left: such patience, sure,
    Is not life’s child and mine, but mine and death’s.


    My little dream, my momentary dream,
    My illimitable dream has slipt away.
    It came not like the morning, but the gleam
    In morning’s van that is not night or day.
    But since my walls of ignorance are broken,
    Though on that desert knowledge builds no towers,
    I cannot say of life, he has not spoken,
    I cannot say of love, he has no powers.

    I have seen apparitions. I have heard
    Rumours within my soul’s profoundest cave.
    Movements remote and mighty have been stirred
    In my ancestral blood, while from the grave
    And womb of time strange thunders did arise
    That shook the throne of thought with prophecies.


    Shall we not laugh together, you and I,
    I being at last fulfilled, at last at rest
    Within the strength of your beloved breast,
    Shall we not laugh once at a day gone by
    When, wan as things that lie below the earth,
    Things choked and buried, sunless and unsought,
    This richest life was only lived in thought,
    Seed without fruit, unconsummated birth?

    Love, in that time when you have called me yours
    And have with kisses long outbreathed old fears,
    Love, let me not remember these! these hours,
    Save with one smile to drown their thousand tears.
    Then fold me in your bosom so deep away
    That memory cannot touch this loveless day.

 CHRISTMAS AND NEW-YEAR SONGS. [Illustration: leaf]


    The frost of the moon fell over my floor
    And six green singers stood at my door.

    “What do ye here that music make?”
    “Let us come in for Christ’s sweet Sake.”

    “Long have ye journeyed in coming here?”
    “Our Pilgrimage was the length of the year.”

    “Where do ye make for?” I asked of them.
    “Our Shrine is a Stable in Bethlehem.”

    “What will ye do as ye go along?”
    “Sing to the world an evergreen song.”

    “What will ye sing for the listening earth?”
    “One will sing of a brave-souled Mirth,

    “One of the Holiest Mystery,
    The Glory of glories shall one song be,

    “One of the Memory of things,
    One of the Child’s imaginings,

    “One of our songs is the fadeless Faith,
    And all are the Life more mighty than death.”

    “Ere ye be gone that music make,
    Give me an alms for Christ’s sweet Sake.”

    “Six green branches we leave with you;
    See they be scattered your house-place through.

    “The staunch blithe Holly your board shall grace,
    Mistletoe bless your chimney-place,

    “Laurel to crown your lighted hall,
    Over your bed let the Yew-bough fall,

    “Close by the cradle the Christmas Fir,
    For elfin dreams in its branches stir,

    “Last and loveliest, high and low,
    From ceil to floor let the Ivy go.”

    From each glad guest I received my gift
    And then the latch of my door did lift--

    “Green singers, God prosper the song ye make
    As ye sing to the world for Christ’s sweet Sake.”


    Two strangers met on a mountain-side
    In a far country ...
    The moon was young, the year was old,
    The airs of the night were bitter-cold,
    And their heavy cloaks their dress did hide.

    One stranger did the other stay
    In that far country:
    “What brings you into the icy dark
    With lifted eyes that only mark
    The lights of heaven, less light than day?”

    The second said the first unto
    In the far country:
    “Many the lights of heaven are,
    But I watch for the birth of one more Star
    Not yet arisen. And what do you?”

    The first man to the other spoke
    In the far country:
    “Even as you I wait the birth
    Of one new Light above the earth.
    What garb do you wear beneath your cloak?”

    The second dropped his outer dress
    In that far country:
    He wore a sheep-skin frayed and thin
    Whose holes laid bare the shivering skin,
    And the wind made mock of his nakedness.

    The other did his robe unfold
    In that far country,
    And plain to see in the starlight dim
    Were the furs and purple that covered him,
    They were so heavy and rich with gold.

    The hand of each unto each did spring
    In that far country.
    “Brother, why dared ye the night?” “Because
    He, even as I, a Shepherd was.”
    “I came, because He was a King.”

    Handfast they watched the Birth on high
    In the far country.
    _Shepherd and King forgotten be,
    But not that all men’s Brother was He
    Who for all men did live and die
    In a far country._


    Whence got ye your soft, soft eyes of the mother, O soft-eyed cow?
       [Illustration: leaf] We saw the Mother of mothers bring forth,
       and that was how. [Illustration: leaf]
       We sheltered her that was shelterless for a little while,
    We watched the milking Babe at her breast, and we saw her smile.
    Even as we she lay upon straw, and even as we
    Took her sleep in the dark of the manger unfretfully,
    And when the dawn of the strange new Star discovered her thus,
    The ray that was destined for her and for Him fell also on us;
    The light passed into her eyes and ours, and full in its flood
    We were first to behold the first mothering look of the Mother of God.


    When there dawns a certain Star
    Comes a Stranger into the city;
    The feet of prayer his dear feet are,
    His hands they are the hands of pity.

    Every houseplace rich and poor
    Shall show for welcome a sprig of green,
    And every heart shall open its door
    To let the Stranger enter in.

    I will set my door ajar
    That he may enter if he please;
    The eyes of love his dear eyes are,
    His brow it is the brow of peace.

    Through the heart of every child
    And man and woman in the city
    He shall pass, and they be filled
    With love and peace and prayer and pity.


    Here’s greeting for the master,
    And for the mistress greeting,
    And greeting for each gallant lad
    And every pretty sweeting,
    And greeting for the little children
    Dancing round our meeting.

    We be your servants all,
    We be merry mummers;
    We know jolly winter’s face
    Though we ne’er saw summer’s;
    We come in wi’ the end o’ the year,
    For we be Christmas-comers.

    This here do be Saint George,
    This the heathen Paynim,
    Dragon he will drink your healths
    When Saint George has slain him,
    This do be a beautiful maid
    And a trouble ’twere to train him!

    There’s our mumming ended
    And nothing to distress ye--
    Surely, we be little loth
    Since so kindly press ye.
    Here’s God bless ye, master, mistress,
    All the house, God bless ye!


    Child, when on this night you lie
    Softly, undisturbedly,
    On as white a bed of down
    As any child’s in London Town,
    By a fire that all the night
    Keeps your chamber warm and light:
    Dream, if dreams are yet your law,
    Your bed of down a bed of straw,
    Only warmed and lighted by
    One star in the open sky.
    Sweet you’ll sleep then, for we know
    Once a Child slept sweetly so.


    The moon upon her watch-tower
    With her golden eye
    Guarded the quarters
    East and West the sky.
    Just as midnight
    Was stepping past
    One drew his first breath,
    One drew his last.
    The moon upon her watch-tower
    Rang a soundless bell--
    It might have been for welcome,
    It might have been farewell.


    I see the twelve fair months go by
    Bearing a coffin shoulder-high.
    What, laughing? Pretty pall-bearers,
    Pitiless of the buried years,
    Have ye never a tear to shed
    Nor sigh to drop for the newly-dead,
    Nor marble grief to mark his grave?--
    No, none of these; but see, we have
    Green seed to mingle with his earth.--
    What, is not this a burying?---- Nay, a birth.


    Through the grey and heavy air,
    Through the January rain,
    When old England nipped and bare
    Shudders with the load of pain
    Wept upon her by the eyes
    Of sunless, sun-remembering skies:
    When the soul of man is fain
    Suddenly abroad to fare,
    Questing, questing everywhere
    The soul of beauty to regain,
    Dreaming like a boy to snare
    The great free bird no lure can chain,
    Following in a dull despair
    That cannot pierce their brief disguise
    Random flights of pallid lies
    Never fledged in Paradise:--
    Comes the sound of gathering cries
    Calling down the centuries
    Urgently with might and main,
    “_Colin Clout, O Colin Clout!
    Colin, Colin, Colin Clout!
    England needs you, Colin Clout!
    Colin Clout, come home again!_”

    Colin, can you never hear?
    Colin, will you never rise
    From the narrow plot of rest
    That sang for joy of such a guest
    To fill its dust with melodies,
    And to make it year by year
    Such a place of golden cheer,
    Of flowering deed and jolly jest,
    Of pastoral prettiness and the clear
    Summons to be sailing West
    Over oceans fabulous
    Leading on to stranger shores
    And distant ports adventurous--
    That with its music in your ear,
    Drawn from your own imagined stores,
    You care to give no heed to us
    Whose laughter has been soured by doubt,
    Whose hearts are hedged with many a fear,
    Who learn to hold our lives so dear
    That all their wealth has trickled out,
    Who joy and beauty hand in hand
    Have driven homeless from the land
    And put the old ideals to rout:--
    Yet even because, returning here,
    You needs must find your England thus,
    Let not her children call in vain,
    “_Colin Clout, O Colin Clout!
    Colin Clout, come home again!_”

    Hark! I hear a shepherd’s pipe
    With three notes of music wipe
    Discord from this troubled star;
    I hear tumultuous gladness shake
    The marrows of the land awake,
    Wherein old slumbering visions are;
    I hear the stirrings of a day
    When all the earth will smell of may,
    When eager men will fling aside
    Their garments of enlightened pride
    Where time the moth has had his way,
    And don again the homespun dress
    Of England’s ancient simpleness--
    O piping shepherd-reed at play,
    Blown with a poet’s golden breath,
    How suddenly a heart as gay,
    As innocent, as full of faith
    As children’s hearts are, ’gins to beat
    In the world’s bosom at my feet!
    How all my sisters’ eyes grow strong,
    And all my brothers’ eyes grow sweet,
    And we who boast so loud to-day
    Above our self-created strife
    That we have lost our fear of death
    Lose suddenly our fear of life,
    And go with gladness down the way
    To meet whatever is to meet.

    Then, Colin! then about your knees
    We’ll lie and list such fantasies
    As keep the spirit bright and young
    And guard the edge of youth as keen
    As a new-tempered virgin sword;
    We will re-learn the magic tongue,
    And where the meadow-rings are green
    Re-seek Titania and her lord,
    For you will bring a flitting home
    Of vanished Folk to English loam;
    About our business we will go
    With holiday-hearts whose dancing beat
    Is measured to your piping sweet,
    And on your music great will grow
    In the redress of antique wrongs;
    And from the richest of your songs,
    O dreamer-lover, shepherd-knight,
    Spell out a long-forgotten name,
    Re-kindling the expiring glow
    Of Chivalry’s high beacon-light,
    Till by its heaven-pointing flame
    Our generations understand
    Their England is too fair a land
    To suffer ugliness and blight
    And the dishonourable bane
    Of serfdom’s bowed and broken knee,
    Too fine a trading mart to be
    Where one may cause the many pain,
    And foul self-interest men empowers
    To turn to weeds what should be flowers.

    For evil must be still to cope
    When Colin Clout comes home again,
    Because a world devoid of pain
    Would be a world made bare of hope,
    And both must act together till
    Slipt from its spiritual trance
    This globe is frozen to good and ill;
    But ere the life here bound by chance
    Flows to its last significance,
    Colin! bring home the dream we lost
    Because we grew too old for dreams,
    And bring again the golden barque
    With which in our high-hearted youth
    We sailed wild seas and perilous streams;
    And find again a road we crossed
    In olden time and failed to mark;
    And give us love of beauty back,
    And set us on the grassy track
    Of many an ancient-simple truth;
    Re-teach our voices how to sing
    Melodiously; and bring, O bring
    The rustless lance of honour in
    For men to strive again to win,
    As in the days when knightlihood
    For life’s most high expression stood,
    And man reached forth to touch that goal
    Not with his hands but with his soul.

    Ah, Colin! ’tis a twice-told tale
    How that the woods were heard to wail,
    How birds with silence did complain,
    And fields with faded flowers did mourn,
    And flocks from feeding did refrain,
    And rivers wept for your return.
    Singer of England’s merriest hour,
    Return! return and make her flower,
    Charming your pipe unto your peers
    As once you did in other years;
    For we who wait on you, know this,
    Whatever tune your reed shall play
    Will hearken with as gladdened ears
    As Cuddy and as Thestylis,
    As Hobbinol and Lucida
    And all the simple shepherd-train,
    What time they gathered and ran, a gay
    Rejoicing happy-hearted rout,
    Across the sweetening meadow-hay
    Each calling other:
                      “_Come about!
    The time of waiting is run out,
    And Colin Clout, O, Colin Clout,
    Colin Clout’s come home again!_”

 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS. [Illustration: leaf]


    Bronwen gathered wild-flowers
    Up-and-down the lane;
    Her gathering touch upon them
    Sweeter was than rain.

    Now a blossom overblown,
    Now a bud begun--
    Her eye that lightened on them
    Was quicker than the sun.

    One by one she named them,
    Oh, she did express
    In her pretty namings
    All their prettiness:

    Some were fit for virgins,
    Some for merry dames,
    And the love with which she named them
    Was lovelier than their names.


    When Joy and Molly on the lawn
    Danced bare of foot like spirits of dawn
    Jessica watched in wonderment
    Until delight would not be pent,
    And shoe and sock she cast in mirth
    And felt her naked toes touch earth.
    Swiftly the fresh green joy shot in
    Through the fresh young rosy skin,
    And in a golden glee the child
    Went dancing innocently-wild
    Up and down and round and round
    Like daisies covering the ground,
    Called sunward by the age-long spell
    No ages can destroy
    Of youth that never sighed or sinned,--
    While elfin Molly and fairy Joy
    Danced on like lilies in a dell
    Or harebells in the wind.


    Sylvia said that day,
    “I’ll sing if you will play.”
    We could deny not anything,
    Not even deny to hear her sing
    Who like a little spirit lay
    Uncertain whether to flutter its wing,
    To go or stay.

    So though it broke our hearts for pity,
    With hidden face one went
    To the tinkling instrument,
    And one with bended head
    Stayed by the bed,
    While the small voice sang over and over its ditty:--

    “‘_Manners make ladies, but not such as these,
    Manners make ladies, but not such as these._’
    Now again, please!
    ‘_Manners make ladies--
    But not such as these._’”

    She breathed it long and long
    And ah, so low,
    Her tiny meaningless song,
    For she was pleased to please us so--
    But what we said
    Sitting beside her bed
    I do not know,
    There were so many tears to keep unshed.


    Dying leaf and dead leaf,
    Yellow leaf and red leaf
    And white-backed beam,
    Lay along the woodland road
    As quiet as a dream.

    Summer was over,
    The year had lost her lover,
    Spent with her grief
    All along the woodland road
    Leaf fell on leaf.

    Then came a shuffling,
    Such a happy ruffling
    Of the dried sweet
    Surf of leaves upon the road
    Round a baby’s feet.

    Year-old leaf ran after
    Three-year-old laughter,
    Danced through the air
    As she caught them from the road
    And flung them anywhere.

    Old leaf and cold leaf,
    Brown leaf and gold leaf
    And white-backed beam,
    Followed down the woodland road
    Myfanwy in a dream.


    I shall love no other child,
    Joan, as I love you;
    The second life our children build
    Remains for you to do.

    You would have been out-loved in one
    That never will be born,
    And the love that should my flower have grown
    Grows nothing but my thorn.

    You for that unborn other’s sake
    My deepest heart do clutch,
    But sometimes--sometimes all you take
    Hurts, for her sake, too much.


    “Come to your poor old Mother,” she said
    Smiling, and gathered to her breast
    With her good hands her baby’s head;
    But the child’s eyes looked out oppressed.
    “_Not_ old--_not_ old--it isn’t true!
    Everyone may be old but you.”

    Old?--Old, you see, is much too near
    The half-imagined thing that takes
    Our Mothers where they do not hear
    Even when their baby wakes
    And cries for comfort in the gloom--
    Babies to cry, and Mothers not come!

    Within the safe arms round her curled,
    “Oh,” she half sobbed, “I wish you’d be
    The youngest person in the world--
    How old are you? not _old_?” begged she,
    And caught a little panting breath,
    Then lay quite still and thought of death.


    This day we are met to set a name
    On thy mysterious dust and flame,
    That in the years to follow, when
    Thy feet shall walk the ways of men,
    Thou mayst according to his plan
    Be known thereby to man.

    O being undiscoverable!
    Thy name thyself will never spell.
    Whate’er thou art, whate’er wilt be,
    Man’s tongue will never utter thee;
    Towering upon thy inmost throne
    Thou shalt of none be known.

    We watch in wonder how thy brow
    Grows strange and silent in sleep, and how
    Even more silent and more strange
    Thy waking is that brings no change
    When thy dim dreams of slumber press
    To dimmer dreamlessness.

    But looking with a love that seems
    To pierce thy undiscovered dreams,
    Within thy small unfolded being
    Some dream of our own making seeing,
    “All that she feels and dreams,” we say,
    “We too will know one day.”

    Ah, even when human speech has come
    To make thy mouth no longer dumb,
    When quickened thought and sympathy
    Like angels look from either eye,
    Thyself will still be hidden as deep
    As now, awake, asleep.

    We must our knowledge of thee still
    By nothing save by love fulfil,
    And with the dreamings of the heart
    Still guess at the dream of what thou art
    Which only of thee and God is known,
    Child whom this day names Joan.


    I had a holy hour last night.
    The room her presence made so pure
    Was shaded in uncertain light,
    But oh, the light it held was sure.

    There while about her golden head
    The shadows and the low light played,
    She eagerly and softly read
    The shining songs her soul had made.

    Flower and shell and sand and sea,
    And flight of gulls against the sun,
    And many a friend, and many a tree,
    And youth begun and age nigh-done,

    Death and life, and life and death,
    Divinely in her vision smiled;
    She spoke them with the silver breath
    Half of angel, half of child.

    Upon her bed I lay at rest,
    But once when kneeling by her chair
    I leaned my head beside her breast
    And heard the wordless singing there.


    She ran with her ball in her light dress floating and free,
      [Illustration: leaf] Tossing it, tossing it up in the evening light,
      [Illustration: leaf] She ran with her ball at the edge of the outgoing
      sea [Illustration: leaf] On sand which the dropping sun turned bright.

    Over the sea hung birds more white than the skin
    Of the last few swimmers who took the waves with their breasts;
    The birds dipped straight as her ball when a silver fin
    Glanced in the shallow crests.

    She ran so swift, and suddenly stopped as swift
    To look at a shell, or splash up a pool in rain;
    Wind blew, and she in the wind began to drift
    Foam-like, and suddenly ran again.

    Children who played on the shore in the last of the day
    Paused and watched in wonder her rise and fall
    Like elders watching a child: she was younger than they
    As she ran by the sea with her ball.

    Her hair was loose and she had no shoes on her feet,
    And her image ran under her feet on the wet gold shore,
    She threw up her ball and she caught it, and once laughed sweet
    As though the world had never heard laughter before.


    Over the hearth on which we burned
    Brown beech-nuts, lichen-twigs, and cones,
    I sat beside her while she turned
    A forkèd wand within the pyre,
    Until two little spirts of fire
    Sprang from the hazel’s withered bones.

    Then, with her eyes upon her branch
    Pointed with ruddy nuts of flame,
    Like one who has no power to staunch
    The heart’s-blood flowing from his side,
    She through her mouth undammed a tide
    Of legends that I could not name:--

    Strange villages where damsels fished
    For lovers in a rainbow sea
    By night: a crazy man who wished
    To act like God, and very soon
    Out-freaked the fools that raked the moon:
    Gold underneath an apple-tree

    Discovered by a thrice-dreamed dream:
    Half-tales, half-ballads--until the room
    Shook in its shadows with a stream
    Of pedlars, witches, cats in crowns,
    Denizens of enchanted towns,
    And kings confined in forests of gloom.

    Her voice went up and down like wind
    That wanders lost among the eaves;
    The flamelets on her hazel thinned
    And dwindled into smouldering eyes;
    Her voice failed like the wind that dies,
    She threw a handful of black leaves

    On the bright litter of the hearth
    And thrust her hazel’s double spark
    Within. The smell of smoking earth
    Rose from the stones where ceased to burn
    The fiery lines of cone and fern
    And berry: the room was dumb and dark.


    She had no life except to be what men
    Required of her to be.
    They came for sympathy, and came again
    For sympathy.

    She never knew the way her heart to spare
    When they were hurt or worn,
    Whatever one may for another bear
    By her was borne.

    They said, you give us of yourself so much!
    She heard them with a smile,
    Knowing she only gave to such and such
    Themselves awhile.

    Their interests, their frets, their loneliness,
    Their sorrows and despairs,
    She wore for them--they saw her in no dress
    That was not theirs.

    She learned to understand the solitudes
    When she by none was sought;
    Men of themselves grow sick, and in those moods
    Needed her not,

    Getting relief of others who gave things
    By their own purpose lit;
    If she too had some freshness in her springs,
    None wanted it.

    She grew accustomed to be quietly shut
    Away, was used to see
    Love limping dutifully in a rut
    That once ran free;

    She knew the signs when friends began to cast
    What they had asked her for--
    Some asked for much, some little, all at last
    Asked nothing more.

    And when she died they sorrowed, it is true,
    But not for long, because
    They had seen some pale reflection that she threw,
    Not what she was.


    He moved his fellow-men among
    And changed with them some forms of speech.
    His heart was separate from his tongue,
    They would not hear his heart beseech.

    Their needs were very like his own,
    Quivering in bodies numb and dazed;
    They smiled and talked and felt alone.--
    Did not their hearts look on amazed?


    Heaven, the Spring’s coming true again!
    Easterly over the sky’s spring-blue again
    Passes a pearly flight of cloud--
    Somewhere a dovecote is empty, surely!
    And all of its birds have flown in a brood
    Over the pure blue purely!

    Westerly owl-grey gatherings
    Linger a little yet:
    Soon, owls! soon you will shrink
    Out of the sun, I think,
    Who even now turns silver-wet
    The last of your ghostly gatherings.

    Back to your windy barns again,
    To your forsaken granaries,
    Haunting, hating breed of the Winter!
    For the grass in the mould begins to teem,
    By every gate where the cuckoo flies
    Primrose and fragile wind-flower enter,
    And, lovelier truth than any dream,
    Blue light is mirrored in ancient tarns again!


    The world’s amazing beauty would make us cry
    Aloud; but something in it strikes us dumb.
    Beech-forests drenched in sunny floods
    Where shaking rays and shadows hum,
    The unrepeated aspects of the sky,
    Clouds in their lightest and their wildest moods,
    Bare shapes of hills, June grass in flower,
    The sea in every hour,
    Slopes that one January morning flow
    Unbrokenly with snow,
    Peaks piercing heaven with motions sharp and harsh,
    Slow-moving flats, grey reed and silver marsh,
    A flock of swans in flight
    Or solitary heron flapping home,
    Orchards of pear and cherry turning white,
    Low apple-trees with rosy-budded boughs,
    Streams where young willows drink and cows,
    Earth’s rich ploughed loam
    Thinking darkly forward to her sheaves,
    Water in Autumn spotted with yellow leaves,
    Light running overland,
    Gulls standing still above their images
    On strips of shining sand
    While evening in a haze of green
    The calm receding tides--
    What in the beauty we have seen in these
    Keeps us still silent? something we have not seen?


    Among the stripped and sooty twigs of the wild cherry tree
       [Illustration: leaf] Sometimes they flit and swing as though two
       blossoms of the Spring [Illustration: leaf]
       Had quickened on these bleak October branches suddenly.

    They are like fairy birds flown down from skies which no one knows,
    Their pointed yellow bills are bright as April daffodils,
    Their plumy whiteness heavenly as January snows.

    Loveliest guests that choose our garden-plot for loitering!
    Oh, what a sudden flower of joy is set upon the hour
    When in their cherry cages two white blackbirds sit and swing.


    The nightingales around our house
    Among the lovely orchard boughs:
    Where the young apple-dawn too soon
    Turns whiter than the daylit moon,
    And ’mid its shadowy silver bowers
    The quince is flushed with heavenly flowers
    That opening poise as though for flight:
    The nightingales sing day and night,
    With piercing, long, insistent calling,
    And chuckle of sweet waters falling,
    And unimaginable trill
    That makes my heart beat and stand still.

    Oh, even so, by night and day
    When first the earth broke into May
    Ere men shut thunder up in shells,
    They came and sang their miracles;
    And so, in myriad Mays to come,
    When all those damnèd storms are dumb
    And only heaven’s lightning crowns
    Her clouds of thunder on the Downs,
    They still will come, by night and day
    To sing the radiant Spring away,
    Till men lie crumbled with their towns
    And earth no more breaks into May.


    Now independent, beautiful and proud,
    Out of the vanishing body of a cloud
    Like its arisen soul the full moon swims
    Over the sea, into whose distant brims
    Has flowed the last of the light. I am alone.
    Even the diving gannet now is flown
    From these unpeopled sands. A mist lies cold
    Upon the muffled boundaries of the world.
    The lovely earth whose silence is so deep
    Is folded up in night, but not in sleep.


    The day is gone of the sun and the swallow
    And the glory on the trees:
    Before the gale the length of the pave
    The dry old corpse of a plane-leaf flees,
    And its step is harsh and hollow
    As it chatters into its grave.

    The shivering dawn now hides and slouches
    Long in the cover of dark,
    Till up the sky, like a murderer pale,
    He drags at last a dull red mark,
    And the hound of the grey wind crouches
    And pants on his rusty trail.


    I knew no woman, child, or man
    Had been before my steps to-day.
    By Dippel Woods the snow-lanes ran
    Soft and uncrushed above their clay;
    But little starry feet had traced
    Their passages as though in words,
    And all those lanes of snow were laced
    With runnings of departed birds.


    To-day I walked three miles to Penn
    With an uneasy mind.
    The sun shone like a frozen eye,
    A light that had gone blind,
    The glassy air between the sky
    And earth was frozen wind--
    All motion and all light again
    Were closed within a rind,
    As I by wood and field to Penn
    Took trouble in my mind.

    The slopes of cloud in heaven that lay,
    Unpeopled hills grown old,
    Had no more movement than the land
    Locked in a flowing mould;
    The sheep like mounds of cloudy sand
    Stood soundless in the cold;
    There was no stir on all the way
    Save what my heart did hold,
    So quiet earth and heaven lay,
    So quiet and so old.


    When you say, I still am young,
    You are young no more;
    When, I’m old, is on your tongue,
    Age is still in store.

    Youth and age will never grope
    To say what they may be:
    One only knows it has a hope,
    And one a certainty.


    Grief struck me. I so shook in heart and wit
    I thought I must speak of it or die of it.

    A certain friend I had with strength to lend,
    When mine was spent I went to find my friend,

    Who, rising up with eyes wild for relief,
    Hung on my neck and spoke to me of grief.

    I raked the ashes of my burned-out strength
    And found one coal to warm her with at length.

    I sat with her till I was icy cold.
    At last I went away, my grief untold.



    Life, what art thou? Springing water art
    thou: [Illustration: leaf] When the waters flash and spring,
    life, start thou!

    When the spirit burns within the chapels
    The stones are quick with faith.
    When the branch hangs out its reddened apples
    The tree is strong with breath;
    When love’s womb conceives the stirring blossom
    The heart is full of power;
    When youth leaps in the darkness of the bosom
    The body is in flower.
    When the fiery spirit deserts the chapels,
    Bury religion’s corse;
    When the branch no more puts forth its apples,
    Fell the tree at the source;
    When love feeds itself and not its blossom
    The heart’s core withereth;
    When youth makes no movement in the bosom
    The body is signed to death.

    Life, what art thou? A golden fountain art thou:
    When the fountain springs not, life, depart thou!


 _First Voices._

    Saw ye the stars last night, all still,
    Remote, and bitter-cold,
    Who were too passionless to thrill,
    Being so wise and old?

 _Second Voices._

    O saw ye not one star alight,
    A leap of silver fire,
    Did ye not see it sear the night
    And die of its own desire?

 _First Voices._

    Saw ye the ancient stars look on
    Locked in a chilly dream
    Which banished the awakened one
    Beyond their frozen scheme?

 _Second Voices._

    O saw ye not the ashen band
    Fade in the morning-gold,
    Who long had ceased to understand,
    Being so bitter-old?

 _All the Voices._

    Ye petrified on heavenly thrones,
    Was there not chaos once?
    Ye did not keep your ordered zones
    When ye were raging suns!

    Once flaming rivers were your breath
    And the wild hairs of your brow--
    Once ye were life, once ye were death!
    Ye are not either now.



    I am as awful as my brother War,
    I am the sudden silence after clamour.
    I am the face that shows the seamy scar
    When blood has lost its frenzy and its glamour.
    Men in my pause shall know the cost at last
    That is not to be paid in triumphs or tears,
    Men will begin to judge the thing that’s past
    As men will judge it in a hundred years.

    Nations! whose ravenous engines must be fed
    Endlessly with the father and the son,
    My naked light upon your darkness, dread!--
    By which ye shall behold what ye have done:
    Whereon, more like a vulture than a dove,
    Ye set my seal in hatred, not in love.


    Let no man call me good. I am not blest.
    My single virtue is the end of crimes,
    I only am the period of unrest,
    The ceasing of the horrors of the times;
    My good is but the negative of ill,
    Such ill as bends the spirit with despair,
    Such ill as makes the nations’ soul stand still
    And freeze to stone beneath its Gorgon glare.

    Be blunt, and say that peace is but a state
    Wherein the active soul is free to move,
    And nations only show as mean or great
    According to the spirit then they prove.--
    O which of ye whose battle-cry is Hate
    Will first in peace dare shout the name of Love?

 NOW THAT YOU TOO [Illustration: leaf]

    Now that you too must shortly go the way
    Which in these bloodshot years uncounted men
    Have gone in vanishing armies day by day,
    And in their numbers will not come again:
    I must not strain the moments of our meeting
    Striving each look, each accent, not to miss,
    Or question of our parting and our greeting,
    Is this the last of all? is this--or this?

    Last sight of all it may be with these eyes,
    Last touch, last hearing, since eyes, hands, and ears,
    Even serving love, are our mortalities,
    And cling to what they own in mortal fears:--
    But oh, let end what will, I hold you fast
    By immortal love, which has no first or last.

 [Illustration: B. H. BLACKWELL, OXFORD.]

    AND FINISHED IN APRIL, MCMXVIII. [Illustration: leaf]

     [Illustration: leaf] ART BOARDS, THREE SHILLINGS NET.

 _NOW READY_ [Illustration: leaf]



 _IN PREPARATION_ [Illustration: leaf]

     III. THE DEFEAT OF YOUTH, AND OTHER POEMS [Illustration: leaf] BY

     IV. SONGS FOR SALE [Illustration: leaf] AN ANTHOLOGY OF VERSE,


     M. A. [Illustration: leaf] MEDIUM 16MO, IN DOLPHIN OLD

 _FIRST THREE BOOKS_ [Illustration: leaf]

     [Illustration: leaf] ENGLISHED BY FRANK BETTS.



 OXFORD [Illustration: leaf] B. H. BLACKWELL, BROAD ST.

     UNKNOWN TO FAME [Illustration: leaf] [Illustration: leaf] UNIFORM

     ¶. “Beautiful little books ... containing poetry, real
     poetry.”--_The New Witness._

     I. THE ESCAPED PRINCESS, AND OTHER POEMS. [Illustration: leaf] By
     WILFRED ROWLAND CHILDE. [_Out of print_].

     II. THURSDAY’S CHILD. [Illustration: leaf] By ELIZABETH
     RENDALL. [_Out of print_].

     III. BOHEMIAN GLASS. [Illustration: leaf] By ESTHER LILIAN
     DUFF. [_Out of print_].

     IV. CONTACTS, AND OTHER POEMS. [Illustration: leaf] By T. W.
     EARP. [Out of print].

     V. THE IRON AGE. [Illustration: leaf] By FRANK BETTS.
     With an Introduction by GILBERT MURRAY.

     VI. THE TWO WORLDS. [Illustration: leaf] By SHERARD VINES.

     VII. THE BURNING WHEEL. [Illustration: leaf] By A. L.

     VIII. A VAGABOND’S WALLET. [Illustration: leaf] BY STEPHEN

     IX. OP. I. By DOROTHY L. SAYERS. [Illustration: leaf]
     [_Out of print_].

     X. LYRICAL POEMS. [Illustration: leaf] By DOROTHY PLOWMAN.

     XI. THE WITCHES’ SABBATH. [Illustration: leaf] By E. H. W.

     XII. A SCALLOP SHELL OF QUIET. [Illustration: leaf] Poems by Four
     Women. Introduced by MARGARET L. WOODS.

     XIII. AT A VENTURE. [Illustration: leaf] Poems by EIGHT YOUNG

     XIV. ALDEBARAN. [Illustration: leaf] By M. ST. CLARE

     XV. LIADAIN AND CURITHIR. [Illustration: leaf] By MOIREEN

     XVI. LINNETS IN THE SLUMS. [Illustration: leaf] By MARION

     XVII. OUT OF THE EAST. [Illustration: leaf] By VERA and

     XVIII. DUNCH. [Illustration: leaf] By SUSAN MILES.

     XIX. DEMETER AND OTHER POEMS. [Illustration: leaf] By ELEANOR

 _FORTHCOMING_ [Illustration: leaf]

     XX. CARGO. [Illustration: leaf] By S. B. GATES.

     XXI. DREAMS AND JOURNEYS. [Illustration: leaf] By FREDEGOND

     XXII. THE PEOPLE’S PALACE. [Illustration: leaf] By SACHEVERELL

 OXFORD [Illustration: leaf] B. H. BLACKWELL, BROAD STREET

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