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Title: Poems
Author: Mansfield, Katherine
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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POEMS



_By the same author_:

    THE GARDEN PARTY
    THE DOVES’ NEST
    BLISS



    POEMS

    BY KATHERINE MANSFIELD


    LONDON: CONSTABLE & CO. LTD.



    _First published 1923_


    PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY ROBERT MACLEHOSE AND CO. LTD.
    THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, GLASGOW



    TO ELIZABETH OF THE GERMAN GARDEN
    WHO LOVED CERTAIN OF THESE POEMS
            AND THEIR AUTHOR



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE
    INTRODUCTORY NOTE                                                 xi


                            POEMS: 1909–1910

    IN THE RANGITAKI VALLEY                                            3

    SPRING WIND IN LONDON                                              4

    BUTTERFLY LAUGHTER                                                 6

    THE CANDLE                                                         7

    LITTLE BROTHER’S SECRET                                            8

    LITTLE BROTHER’S STORY                                             9

    THE MAN WITH THE WOODEN LEG                                       10

    WHEN I WAS A BIRD                                                 11

    THE ARABIAN SHAWL                                                 12

    SLEEPING TOGETHER                                                 13

    THE QUARREL                                                       14


                            POEMS: 1911–1913

    LONELINESS                                                        17

    THE MEETING                                                       18

    THE GULF                                                          19

    THE STORM                                                         20

    ACROSS THE RED SKY                                                21

    VERY EARLY SPRING                                                 22

    THE AWAKENING RIVER                                               23

    THE SEA-CHILD                                                     24

    THE EARTH-CHILD IN THE GRASS                                      25

    TO GOD THE FATHER                                                 26

    THE OPAL DREAM CAVE                                               27

    SEA                                                               28

    JANGLING MEMORY                                                   29

    THERE WAS A CHILD ONCE                                            30

    THE SECRET                                                        31

    SEA SONG                                                          32

    COUNTRYWOMEN                                                      34

    STARS                                                             35

    DEAF HOUSE AGENT                                                  36


                    POEMS AT THE VILLA PAULINE: 1916

    VILLA PAULINE                                                     39

    CAMOMILE TEA                                                      40

    WAVES                                                             41

    THE TOWN BETWEEN THE HILLS                                        43

    VOICES OF THE AIR                                                 45

    SANARY                                                            46

    TO L. H. B. (1894–1915)                                           47


                            POEMS: 1917–1919

    NIGHT-SCENTED STOCK                                               51

    NOW I AM A PLANT, A WEED....                                      53

    THERE IS A SOLEMN WIND TO-NIGHT                                   54

    OUT IN THE GARDEN                                                 55

    FAIRY TALE                                                        56

    COVERING WINGS                                                    57

    FIRELIGHT                                                         59

    SORROWING LOVE                                                    60

    A LITTLE GIRL’S PRAYER                                            61

    THE WOUNDED BIRD                                                  62


                           CHILD VERSES: 1907

    A FAIRY TALE                                                      65

    OPPOSITES                                                         67

    SONG OF KAREN, THE DANCING CHILD                                  69

    A JOYFUL SONG OF FIVE                                             70

    THE CANDLE FAIRY                                                  71

    SONG BY THE WINDOW BEFORE BED                                     72

    A LITTLE BOY’S DREAM                                              73

    WINTER SONG                                                       74

    ON A YOUNG LADY’S SIXTH ANNIVERSARY                               75

    SONG OF THE LITTLE WHITE GIRL                                     76

    A FEW RULES FOR BEGINNERS                                         77

    A DAY IN BED                                                      78

    THE LONESOME CHILD                                                79

    A FINE DAY                                                        80

    EVENING SONG OF THE THOUGHTFUL CHILD                              81

    A NEW HYMN                                                        83

    AUTUMN SONG                                                       84

    THE BLACK MONKEY                                                  85

    THE PILLAR BOX                                                    86

    THE QUARREL                                                       87

    GROWN-UP TALK                                                     88

    THE FAMILY                                                        89



INTRODUCTORY NOTE


In her Journal, on January 22, 1916, Katherine Mansfield told her plans
as her writer to her dead brother. She wanted to pay “a sacred debt” to
her country, New Zealand, because “my brother and I were born there.”
“Then,” she continued, “I want to write poetry.”

“I feel always trembling on the brink of poetry,” she whispers to
her brother. “The almond tree, the birds, the little wood where you
are, the flowers you do not see, the open window out of which I lean
and dream that you are against my shoulder, and the times that your
photograph ‘looks sad.’ But especially I want to write a kind of long
elegy to you ... perhaps not in poetry. No, perhaps in prose. Almost
certainly in a kind of special _prose_.”

This “special _prose_” was the peculiar achievement of her genius. It
seems to me that nothing like _Prelude_ or _At the Bay_ or _The Voyage_
or _The Doves’ Nest_ had ever been written in English before. English
prose was turned to a new and magical use, made crystal-clear, and
filled with rainbow-beauties that are utterly indefinable. What might,
in another writer of genius, have become poetry, Katherine Mansfield
put into her stories.

Nevertheless, she had written and, at long intervals, continued to
write poetry. Perhaps her poetry is not quite poetry, just as her prose
is not quite prose. Certainly, whatever they are, they belong to the
same order; they have the same simple and mysterious beauty, and they
are, above all, the expression of the same exquisite spirit. To my
sense they are unique.

Comparatively few of these poems have been published; and of these
few hardly one, except those which have appeared after her death in
_The Adelphi_, over her own name. All those which were published in
her lifetime, with two exceptions, appeared in papers which we edited
together--in _Rhythm_, when we were young; in _The Athenaeum_, when we
were older. The reason of this restriction was that she had tried in
vain to get them published in other places. I remember her telling me
when first we met that the beautiful pieces now gathered together as
“Poems, 1911–1913” had been refused, because they were unrhymed, by the
only editor who used to accept her work. He wanted her to write nothing
but satirical prose. This treatment made her very reserved about her
verses. Those she published in _Rhythm_ appeared as translations from
an imaginary Russian called Boris Petrovsky; those she published in
_The Athenaeum_ appeared over the pseudonym of Elizabeth Stanley.
Her cousin, to whom this book is dedicated, was the only person to
penetrate this latter disguise.

The poems have been roughly grouped in periods. Katherine Mansfield’s
practice was suddenly to spend several days in writing poetry, and
then to abandon poetry wholly for months and years together. “Poems
at the Villa Pauline,” with the exception of the sonnet to L. H. B.,
were written in curious circumstances. Villa Pauline was a four-roomed
cottage on the shore of the Mediterranean where we lived in 1916. For
the whole of one week we made a practice of sitting together after
supper at a very small table in the kitchen and writing verses on a
single theme which we had chosen. It seems to me now almost miraculous
that so exquisite a poem as, for instance, “Voices of the Air,” should
have been thus composed.

The Child Verses at the end of the volume were written when Katherine
Mansfield was still at Queen’s College. They were saved from
destruction by one of her friends.



POEMS 1909–1910



IN THE RANGITAKI VALLEY


  O valley of waving broom,
  O lovely, lovely light,
  O heart of the world, red-gold!
  Breast high in the blossom I stand;
  It beats about me like waves
  Of a magical, golden sea.

  The barren heart of the world
  Alive at the kiss of the sun,
  The yellow mantle of Summer
  Flung over a laughing land,
  Warm with the warmth of her body,
  Sweet with the kiss of her breath.

  O valley of waving broom,
  O lovely, lovely light,
  O mystical marriage of Earth
  With the passionate Summer sun!
  To her lover she holds a cup
  And the yellow wine o’erflows.
  He has lighted a little torch
  And the whole of the world is ablaze.
  Prodigal wealth of love!
  Breast high in the blossom I stand.

                            1909.



SPRING WIND IN LONDON


  I blow across the stagnant world,
  I blow across the sea,
  For me, the sailor’s flag unfurled,
  For me, the uprooted tree.
  My challenge to the world is hurled;
  The world must bow to me.

  I drive the clouds across the sky,
  I huddle them like sheep;
  Merciless shepherd-dog am I
  And shepherd-watch I keep.
  If in the quiet vales they lie
  I blow them up the steep.

  Lo! In the tree-tops do I hide,
  In every living thing;
  On the moon’s yellow wings I glide,
  On the wild rose I swing;
  On the sea-horse’s back I ride,
  And what then do I bring?

  And when a little child is ill
  I pause, and with my hand
  I wave the window curtain’s frill
  That he may understand
  Outside the wind is blowing still.
  ... It is a pleasant land.

  O stranger in a foreign place,
  See what I bring to you.
  This rain--is tears upon your face;
  I tell you--tell you true
  I came from that forgotten place
  Where once the wattle grew.

  All the wild sweetness of the flower
  Tangled against the wall.
  It was that magic, silent hour....
  The branches grew so tall
  They twined themselves into a bower.
  The sun shone ... and the fall

  Of yellow blossom on the grass!
  You feel that golden rain?
  Both of you could not hold, alas,
  (Both of you tried--in vain)
  A memory, stranger. So I pass....
  It will not come again.

                            1909.



BUTTERFLY LAUGHTER


  In the middle of our porridge plates
  There was a blue butterfly painted
  And each morning we tried who should reach the butterfly first.
  Then the Grandmother said: “Do not eat the poor butterfly.”
  That made us laugh.
  Always she said it and always it started us laughing.
  It seemed such a sweet little joke.
  I was certain that one fine morning
  The butterfly would fly out of the plates,
  Laughing the teeniest laugh in the world,
  And perch on the Grandmother’s lap.



THE CANDLE


  By my bed, on a little round table
  The Grandmother placed a candle.
  She gave me three kisses telling me they were three dreams
  And tucked me in just where I loved being tucked.
  Then she went out of the room and the door was shut.
  I lay still, waiting for my three dreams to talk;
  But they were silent.
  Suddenly I remembered giving her three kisses back.
  Perhaps, by mistake, I had given my three little dreams.
  I sat up in bed.
  The room grew big, oh, bigger far than a church.
  The wardrobe, quite by itself, as big as a house.
  And the jug on the washstand smiled at me:
  It was not a friendly smile.
  I looked at the basket-chair where my clothes lay folded:
  The chair gave a creak as though it were listening for something.
  Perhaps it was coming alive and going to dress in my clothes.
  But the awful thing was the window:
  I could not think what was outside.
  No tree to be seen, I was sure,
  No nice little plant or friendly pebbly path.
  Why did she pull the blind down every night?
  It was better to know.
  I crunched my teeth and crept out of bed,
  I peeped through a slit of the blind.
  There was nothing at all to be seen.
  But hundreds of friendly candles all over the sky
  In remembrance of frightened children.
  I went back to bed ...
  The three dreams started singing a little song.



LITTLE BROTHER’S SECRET


  When my birthday was coming
  Little Brother had a secret:
  He kept it for days and days
  And just hummed a little tune when I asked him.
  But one night it rained
  And I woke up and heard him crying:
  Then he told me.
  “I planted two lumps of sugar in your garden
  Because you love it so frightfully
  I thought there would be a whole sugar tree for your birthday,
  And now it will all be melted.”
  O the darling!



LITTLE BROTHER’S STORY


  We sat in front of the fire;
  Grandmother was in the rocking chair doing her knitting
  And Little Brother and I were lying down flat.
  “Please tell us a story, Grandmother,” we said.
  But she put her head on one side and began counting the stitches,
  “Suppose you tell me one instead.”
  I made up one about a spotted tiger
  That had a knot in his tail;
  But though _I_ liked this about the knot,
  I did not know why it was put there.
  So I said: “Little Brother’s turn.”
  “I know a perfect story,” he cried, waving his hands.
  Grandmother laid down her knitting.
  “Do tell us, dear.”
  “Once upon a time there was a bad little girl
  And her Mummy gave her the slipper, and that’s all.”
  It was not a very special story.
  But we pretended to be very pleased
  And Grandmother gave him jumps on her lap.



THE MAN WITH THE WOODEN LEG


  There was a man lived quite near us;
  He had a wooden leg and a goldfinch in a green cage.
  His name was Farkey Anderson,
  And he’d been in a war to get his leg.
  We were very sad about him,
  Because he had such a beautiful smile
  And was such a big man to live in a very small house.
  When he walked on the road his leg did not matter so much;
  But when he walked in his little house
  It made an ugly noise.
  Little Brother said his goldfinch sang the loudest of all birds,
  So that he should not hear his poor leg
  And feel too sorry about it.



WHEN I WAS A BIRD


  I climbed up the karaka tree
  Into a nest all made of leaves
  But soft as feathers.
  I made up a song that went on singing all by itself
  And hadn’t any words, but got sad at the end.
  There were daisies in the grass under the tree.
  I said just to try them:
  “I’ll bite off your heads and give them to my little children to eat.”
  But they didn’t believe I was a bird;
  They stayed quite open.
  The sky was like a blue nest with white feathers
  And the sun was the mother bird keeping it warm.
  That’s what my song said: though it hadn’t any words.
  Little Brother came up the patch, wheeling his barrow.
  I made my dress into wings and kept very quiet.
  Then when he was quite near I said: “Sweet, sweet!”
  For a moment he looked quite startled;
  Then he said: “Pooh, you’re not a bird; I can see your legs.”
  But the daisies didn’t really matter,
  And Little Brother didn’t really matter;
  I felt _just_ like a bird.



THE ARABIAN SHAWL


  “It is cold outside, you will need a coat--
  What! this old Arabian shawl!
  Bind it about your head and throat,
  These steps ... it is dark ... my hand ... you might fall.”

  What has happened? What strange, sweet charm
  Lingers about the Arabian shawl ...
  Do not tremble so! There can be no harm
  In just remembering--that is all.

  “I love you so--I will be your wife,”
  Here, in the dark of the Terrace wall,
  Say it again. Let that other life
  Fold us like the Arabian shawl.

  “Do you remember?” ... “I quite forget,
  Some childish foolishness, that is all,
  To-night is the first time we have met ...
  Let me take off my Arabian shawl!”



SLEEPING TOGETHER


  Sleeping together ... how tired you were ...
  How warm our room ... how the firelight spread
  On walls and ceiling and great white bed!
  We spoke in whispers as children do,
  And now it was I--and then it was you
  Slept a moment, to wake--“My dear,
  I’m not at all sleepy,” one of us said...

  Was it a thousand years ago?
  I woke in your arms--you were sound asleep--
  And heard the pattering sound of sheep.
  Softly I slipped to the floor and crept
  To the curtained window, then, while you slept,
  I watched the sheep pass by in the snow.

  O flock of thoughts with their shepherd Fear
  Shivering, desolate, out in the cold,
  That entered into my heart to fold!
  A thousand years ... was it yesterday
  When we, two children of far away,
  Clinging close in the darkness, lay
  Sleeping together?... How tired you were...



THE QUARREL


  Our quarrel seemed a giant thing,
  It made the room feel mean and small,
  The books, the lamp, the furniture,
  The very pictures on the wall--

  Crowded upon us as we sat
  Pale and terrified, face to face.
  “Why do you stay?” she said, “my room
  Can never be your resting place.”

  “Katinka, ere we part for life,
  I pray you walk once more with me.”
  So down the dark, familiar road
  We paced together, silently.

  The sky--it seemed on fire with stars!
  I said:--“Katinka dear, look up!”
  Like thirsty children, both of us
  Drank from that giant loving cup.

  “Who were those _dolls_?” Katinka said.
  “What were their stupid, vague alarms?”
  And suddenly we turned and laughed
  And rushed into each other’s arms.



POEMS 1911–1913



LONELINESS


  Now it is Loneliness who comes at night
  Instead of Sleep, to sit beside my bed.
  Like a tired child I lie and wait her tread,
  I watch her softly blowing out the light.
  Motionless sitting, neither left nor right
  She turns, and weary, weary droops her head.
  She, too, is old; she, too, has fought the fight.
  So, with the laurel she is garlanded.

  Through the sad dark the slowly ebbing tide
  Breaks on a barren shore, unsatisfied.
  A strange wind flows ... then silence. I am fain
  To turn to Loneliness, to take her hand,
  Cling to her, waiting, till the barren land
  Fills with the dreadful monotone of rain.

                            1911.



THE MEETING


  We started speaking,
  Looked at each other, then turned away.
  The tears kept rising to my eyes
  But I could not weep.
  I wanted to take your hand
  But my hand trembled.
  You kept counting the days
  Before we should meet again.
  But both of us felt in our hearts
  That we parted for ever and ever.
    The ticking of the little clock filled the quiet room.
  “Listen,” I said. “It is so loud,
  Like a horse galloping on a lonely road,
  As loud as that--a horse galloping past in the night.”
    You shut me up in your arms.
  But the sound of the clock stifled our hearts’ beating.
  You said, “I cannot go: all that is living of me
  Is here for ever and ever.”
  Then you went.
    The world changed. The sound of the clock grew fainter,
  Dwindled away, became a minute thing.
  I whispered in the darkness, “If it stops, I shall die.”

                            1911.



THE GULF


  A gulf of silence separates us from each other.
  I stand at one side of the gulf, you at the other.
  I cannot see you or hear you, yet know that you are there.
  Often I call you by your childish name
  And pretend that the echo to my crying is your voice.
  How can we bridge the gulf? Never by speech or touch.
  Once I thought we might fill it quite up with tears.
  Now I want to shatter it with our laughter.

                            1911.



THE STORM


  I ran to the forest for shelter,
  Breathless, half sobbing;
  I put my arms round a tree,
  Pillowed my head against the rough bark.
  “Protect me,” I said. “I am a lost child.”
  But the tree showered silver drops on my face and hair.
  A wind sprang up from the ends of the earth;
  It lashed the forest together.
  A huge green wave thundered and burst over my head.
  I prayed, implored, “Please take care of me!”
  But the wind pulled at my cloak and the rain beat upon me.
  Little rivers tore up the ground and swamped the bushes.
  A frenzy possessed the earth: I felt that the earth was drowning
  In a bubbling cavern of space. I alone--
  Smaller than the smallest fly--was alive and terrified.
    Then, for what reason I know not, I became triumphant.
  “Well, kill me!” I cried and ran out into the open.
  But the storm ceased: the sun spread his wings
  And floated serene in the silver pool of the sky.
  I put my hands over my face: I was blushing.
  And the trees swung together and delicately laughed.

                            1911.



ACROSS THE RED SKY


  Across the red sky two birds flying,
  Flying with drooping wings.
  Silent and solitary their ominous flight.
  All day the triumphant sun with yellow banners
  Warred and warred with the earth, and when she yielded
  Stabbed her heart, gathered her blood in a chalice,
  Spilling it over the evening sky.
  When the dark plumaged birds go flying, flying,
  Quiet lies the earth wrapt in her mournful shadow,
  Her sightless eyes turned to the red sky
  And the restlessly seeking birds.

                            1911.



VERY EARLY SPRING


  The fields are snowbound no longer;
  There are little blue lakes and flags of tenderest green.
  The snow has been caught up into the sky--
  So many white clouds--and the blue of the sky is cold.
  Now the sun walks in the forest,
  He touches the boughs and stems with his golden fingers;
  They shiver, and wake from slumber.
  Over the barren branches he shakes his yellow curls.
  ... Yet is the forest full of the sound of tears....
  A wind dances over the fields.
  Shrill and clear the sound of her waking laughter,
  Yet the little blue lakes tremble
  And the flags of tenderest green bend and quiver.

                            1911.



THE AWAKENING RIVER


  The gulls are mad-in-love with the river,
  And the river unveils her face and smiles.
  In her sleep-brooding eyes they mirror their shining wings.
  She lies on silver pillows: the sun leans over her.
  He warms and warms her, he kisses and kisses her.
  There are sparks in her hair and she stirs in laughter.
  Be careful, my beautiful waking one! you will catch on fire.
  Wheeling and flying with the foam of the sea on their breasts,
  The ineffable mists of the sea clinging to their wild wings,
  Crying the rapture of the boundless ocean,
  The gulls are mad-in-love with the river.
  Wake! we are the dream thoughts flying from your heart.
  Wake! we are the songs of desire flowing from your bosom.
  O, I think the sun will lend her his great wings
  And the river will fly away to the sea with the mad-in-love birds.

                            1911.



THE SEA CHILD


  Into the world you sent her, mother,
    Fashioned her body of coral and foam,
  Combed a wave in her hair’s warm smother,
    And drove her away from home.

  In the dark of the night she crept to the town
    And under a doorway she laid her down,
  The little blue child in the foam-fringed gown.

  And never a sister and never a brother
    To hear her call, to answer her cry.
  Her face shone out from her hair’s warm smother
    Like a moonkin up in the sky.

  She sold her corals; she sold her foam;
    Her rainbow heart like a singing shell
  Broke in her body: she crept back home.

  Peace, go back to the world, my daughter,
    Daughter, go back to the darkling land;
  There is nothing here but sad sea water,
    And a handful of sifting sand.

                            1911.



THE EARTH-CHILD IN THE GRASS


  In the very early morning
  Long before Dawn time
  I lay down in the paddock
  And listened to the cold song of the grass.
  Between my fingers the green blades,
  And the green blades pressed against my body.
  “Who is she leaning so heavily upon me?”
  Sang the grass.
  “Why does she weep on my bosom,
  Mingling her tears with the tears of my mystic lover?
  Foolish little earth child!
  It is not yet time.
  One day I shall open my bosom
  And you shall slip in--but not weeping.
  Then in the early morning
  Long before Dawn time
  Your lover will lie in the paddock.
  Between his fingers the green blades
  And the green blades pressed against his body ...
  My song shall not sound cold to him
  In my deep wave he will find the wave of your hair
  In my strong sweet perfume, the perfume of your kisses.
  Long and long he will lie there ...
  Laughing--not weeping.”

                            1911.



TO GOD THE FATHER


  To the little, pitiful God I make my prayer,
  The God with the long grey beard
  And flowing robe fastened with a hempen girdle
  Who sits nodding and muttering on the all-too-big throne of Heaven.
  What a long, long time, dear God, since you set the stars in their
      places,
  Girded the earth with the sea, and invented the day and night.
  And longer the time since you looked through the blue window of Heaven
  To see your children at play in a garden....
  Now we are all stronger than you and wiser and more arrogant,
  In swift procession we pass you by.
  “Who is that marionette nodding and muttering
  On the all-too-big throne of Heaven?
  Come down from your place, Grey Beard,
  We have had enough of your play-acting!”
    It is centuries since I believed in you,
  But to-day my need of you has come back.
  I want no rose-coloured future,
  No books of learning, no protestations and denials--
  I am sick of this ugly scramble,
  I am tired of being pulled about--
  O God, I want to sit on your knees
  On the all-too-big throne of Heaven,
  And fall asleep with my hands tangled in your grey beard.

                            1911.



THE OPAL DREAM CAVE


  In an opal dream cave I found a fairy:
  Her wings were frailer than flower petals,
  Frailer far than snowflakes.
  She was not frightened, but poised on my finger,
  Then delicately walked into my hand.
  I shut the two palms of my hands together
  And held her prisoner.
  I carried her out of the opal cave,
  Then opened my hands.
  First she became thistledown,
  Then a mote in a sunbeam,
  Then--nothing at all.
  Empty now is my opal dream cave.

                            1911.



SEA


  The Sea called--I lay on the rocks and said:
  “I am come.”
  She mocked and showed her teeth,
  Stretching out her long green arms.
  “Go away!” she thundered.
  “Then tell me what I am to do,” I begged.
  “If I leave you, you will not be silent,
  But cry my name in the cities
  And wistfully entreat me in the plains and forests;
  All else I forsake to come to you--what must I do?”
  “Never have I uttered your name,” snarled the Sea.
  “There is no more of me in your body
  Than the little salt tears you are frightened of shedding.
  What can you know of my love on your brown rock pillow....
  Come closer.”

                            1911.



JANGLING MEMORY


  Heavens above! here’s an old tie of yours--
  Sea-green dragons stamped on a golden ground.
  Ha! Ha! Ha! What children we were in those days.

  Do you love me enough to wear it now?
  Have you the courage of your pristine glories?
  Ha! Ha! Ha! You laugh and shrug your shoulders.

  Those were the days when a new tie spelt a fortune:
  We wore it in turn--I flaunted it as a waist-belt.
  Ha! Ha! Ha! What easily satisfied babies.

  “I think I’ll turn it into a piano duster.”
  “Give it to me, I’ll polish my slippers on it!”
  Ha! Ha! Ha! The rag’s not worth the dustbin.

  “Throw the shabby old thing right out of the window;
  Fling it into the faces of other children!”
  Ha! Ha! Ha! We laughed and laughed till the tears came!

                            1911.



THERE WAS A CHILD ONCE


  There was a child once.
  He came to play in my garden;
  He was quite pale and silent.
  Only when he smiled I knew everything about him,
  I knew what he had in his pockets,
  And I knew the feel of his hands in my hands
  And the most intimate tones of his voice.
  I led him down each secret path,
  Showing him the hiding-place of all my treasures.
  I let him play with them, every one,
  I put my singing thoughts in a little silver cage
  And gave them to him to keep ...
  It was very dark in the garden
  But never dark enough for us. On tiptoe we walked among the deepest
      shades;
  We bathed in the shadow pools beneath the trees,
  Pretending we were under the sea.
  Once--near the boundary of the garden--
  We heard steps passing along the World-road;
  O how frightened we were!
  I whispered: “Have you ever walked along that road?”
  He nodded, and we shook the tears from our eyes....
    There was a child once.
  He came--quite alone--to play in my garden;
  He was pale and silent.
  When we met we kissed each other,
  But when he went away, we did not even wave.

                            1912.



THE SECRET


  In the profoundest ocean
  There is a rainbow shell,
  It is always there, shining most stilly
  Under the greatest storm waves
  And under the happy little waves
  That the old Greek called ‘ripples of laughter.’
  And you listen, the rainbow shell
  Sings--in the profoundest ocean.
  It is always there, singing most silently!

                            1912.



SEA SONG


  I will think no more of the sea!
  Of the big green waves
  And the hollowed shore,
  Of the brown rock caves
  No more, no more
  Of the swell and the weed
  And the bubbling foam.

  Memory dwells in my far away home,
  She has nothing to do with me.

  She is old and bent
  With a pack
  On her back.
  Her tears all spent,
  Her voice, just a crack.
  With an old thorn stick
  She hobbles along,
  And a crazy song
  Now slow, now quick
  Wheeks in her throat.

  And every day
  While there’s light on the shore
  She searches for something,
  Her withered claw
  Tumbles the seaweed;
  She pokes in each shell
  Groping and mumbling
  Until the night
  Deepens and darkens,
  And covers her quite,
  And bids her be silent,
  And bids her be still.

  The ghostly feet
  Of the whispery waves
  Tiptoe beside her.
  They follow, follow
  To the rocky caves
  In the white beach hollow ...
  She hugs her hands,
  She sobs, she shrills,
  And the echoes shriek
  In the rocky hills.
  She moans: “It is lost!
  Let it be! Let it be!
  I am old. I’m too cold.
  I am frightened ... the sea
  Is too loud ... it is lost,
  It is gone...” Memory
  Wails in my far away home.

                            1913.



COUNTRYWOMEN


  These be two
  Country women.
  What a size!
  Grand big arms
  And round red faces;
  Big substantial
  Sit down places;
  Great big bosoms firm as cheese
  Bursting through their country jackets;
  Wide big laps
  And sturdy knees;
  Hands outspread,
  Round and rosy,
  Hands to hold
  A country posy
  Or a baby or a lamb--
    And such eyes!
  Stupid, shifty, small and sly
  Peeping through a slit of sty,
  Squinting through their neighbours’ plackets.

                            1914.



STARS


  Most merciful God
  Look kindly upon
  An impudent child
  Who wants sitting on.
  This evening late
  I went to the door
  And then to the gate
  There were more stars--more
  Than I could have expected,
  Even I!
  I was simply amazed
  Almighty, August!
  I was utterly dazed,
  Omnipotent! Just
  In a word I was floored,
  Good God of Hosts--Lord!
  That at this time of day
  They should still blaze away,
  That thou hadst not rejected
  Or at least circumspected
  Their white silver beauty--
  Was it spite ... Was it duty..?

                            1914.



DEAF HOUSE AGENT


  That deaf old man
  With his hand to his ear--
  His hand to his head stood out like a shell,
  Horny and hollow. He said, “I can’t hear,”
  He muttered, “Don’t shout,
  I can hear very well!”
  He mumbled, “I can’t catch a word;
  _I_ can’t follow.”
  Then Jack with a voice like a Protestant bell
  Roared--“Particulars! Farmhouse! At 10 quid a year!”
  “I dunno wot place you are talking about,”
  Said the deaf old man.
  Said Jack, “What the HELL!”

    But the deaf old man took a pin from his desk, picked a piece of
      wool the size of a hen’s egg from his ear, had a good look at
      it, decided in its favour and replaced it in the aforementioned
      organ.

                                   1914.



POEMS AT THE VILLA PAULINE 1916



VILLA PAULINE


  But, ah! before he came
  You were only a name:
  Four little rooms and a cupboard
  Without a bone,
  And I was alone!
  Now with your windows wide
  Everything from outside
  Of sun and flower and loveliness
  Comes in to hide,
  To play, to laugh on the stairs,
  To catch unawares
  Our childish happiness,
  And to glide
  Through the four little rooms on tip-toe
  With lifted finger,
  Pretending we shall not know
  When the shutters are shut
  That they still linger
  Long, long after.
    Lying close in the dark
  He says to me: “Hark,
  Isn’t that laughter?”

                            1916.



CAMOMILE TEA


  Outside the sky is light with stars;
  There’s a hollow roaring from the sea.
  And, alas! for the little almond flowers,
  The wind is shaking the almond tree.

  How little I thought, a year ago,
  In that horrible cottage upon the Lee
  That he and I should be sitting so
  And sipping a cup of camomile tea.

  Light as feathers the witches fly,
  The horn of the moon is plain to see;
  By a firefly under a jonquil flower
  A goblin toasts a bumble-bee.

  We might be fifty, we might be five,
  So snug, so compact, so wise are we!
  Under the kitchen-table leg
  My knee is pressing against his knee.

  Our shutters are shut, the fire is low,
  The tap is dripping peacefully;
  The saucepan shadows on the wall
  Are black and round and plain to see.

                            1916.



WAVES


  I saw a tiny God
  Sitting
  Under a bright blue Umbrella
  That had white tassels
  And forkèd ribs of gold.
  Below him His little world
  Lay open to the sun.
  The shadow of His hat
  Lay upon a city.
  When he stretched forth His hand
  A lake became a dark tremble.
  When he kicked up His foot
  It became night in the mountain passes.

    But thou art small!
  There are gods far greater than thou;
  They rise and fall,
  The tumbling gods of the sea.
  Can thy heart heave such sighs,
  Such hollow savage cries,
  Such windy breath,
  Such groaning death?
  And can thy arm enfold
  The old,
  The cold,
  The changeless dreadful places
  Where the herds
  Of horned sea-monsters
  And the screaming birds
  Gather together?
  From those silent men
  That lie in the pen
  Of our pearly prisons,
  Canst thou hunt thy prey?
  Like us canst thou stay
  Awaiting thine hour,
  And then rise like a tower
  And crash and shatter?

  There are neither trees nor bushes
  In my country,
  Said the tiny God.
  But there are streams
  And waterfalls
  And mountain-peaks
  Covered with lovely weed.
  There are little shores and safe harbours,
  Caves for cool and plains for sun and wind.
  Lovely is the sound of the rivers,
  Lovely the flashing brightness
  Of the lovely peaks.
  I am content.

  But Thy kingdom is small,
  Said the God of the Sea.
  Thy kingdom shall fall;
  I shall not let thee be.
  Thou art proud!
  With a loud
  Pealing of laughter,
  He rose and covered
  The tiny God’s land
  With the tip of his hand,
  With the curl of his fingers:
  And after--

  The tiny God
  Began to cry.

                            1916.



THE TOWN BETWEEN THE HILLS


  The further the little girl leaped and ran,
  The further she longed to be;
  The white, white fields of jonquil flowers
  Danced up as high as her knee
  And flashed and sparkled before her eyes
  Until she could hardly see.
  So into the wood went she.

    It was quiet in the wood,
  It was solemn and grave;
  A sound like a wave
  Sighed in the tree-tops
  And then sighed no more.
  But she was brave,
  And the sky showed through
  A bird’s-egg blue,
  And she saw
  A tiny path that was running away
  Over the hills to--who can say?
  She ran, too.
  But then the path broke,
  Then the path ended
  And wouldn’t be mended.

    A little old man
  Sat on the edge,
  Hugging the hedge.
  He had a fire
  And two eggs in a pan
  And a paper poke
  Of pepper and salt;
  So she came to a halt
  To watch and admire:
  Cunning and nimble was he!
  “May I help, if I can, little old man?”
  “Bravo!” he said,
  “You may dine with me.
  I’ve two old eggs
  From two white hens
  And a loaf from a kind ladie:
  Some fresh nutmegs,
  Some cutlet ends
  In pink and white paper frills:
  And--I’ve--got
  A little hot-pot
  From the town between the hills.”

    He nodded his head
  And made her a sign
  To sit under the spray
  Of a trailing vine.

    But when the little girl joined her hands
  And said the grace she had learned to say,
  The little old man gave two dreadful squeals
  And she just saw the flash of his smoking heels
  As he tumbled, tumbled
  With his two old eggs
  From two white hens,
  His loaf from a kind ladie,
  The fresh nutmegs,
  The cutlet-ends
  In the pink and white paper frills.
  And away rumbled
  The little hot-pot,
  So much too hot,
  From the town between the hills.

                            1916.



VOICES OF THE AIR


  But then there comes that moment rare
  When, for no cause that I can find,
  The little voices of the air
  Sound above all the sea and wind.

  The sea and wind do then obey
  And sighing, sighing double notes
  Of double basses, content to play
  A droning chord for the little throats--

  The little throats that sing and rise
  Up into the light with lovely ease
  And a kind of magical, sweet surprise
  To hear and know themselves for these--

  For these little voices: the bee, the fly,
  The leaf that taps, the pod that breaks,
  The breeze on the grass-tops bending by,
  The shrill quick sound that the insect makes.

                            1916.



SANARY


  Her little hot room looked over the bay
  Through a stiff palisade of glinting palms,
  And there she would lie in the heat of the day,
  Her dark head resting upon her arms,
  So quiet, so still, she did not seem
  To think, to feel, or even to dream.

  The shimmering, blinding web of sea
  Hung from the sky, and the spider sun
  With busy frightening cruelty
  Crawled over the sky and spun and spun.
  She could see it still when she shut her eyes,
  And the little boats caught in the web like flies.

  Down below at this idle hour
  Nobody walked in the dusty street
  A scent of dying mimosa flower
  Lay on the air, but sweet--too sweet.

                            1916.



TO L. H. B. (1894–1915)


  Last night for the first time since you were dead
  I walked with you, my brother, in a dream.
  We were at home again beside the stream
  Fringed with tall berry bushes, white and red.
  “Don’t touch them: they are poisonous,” I said.
  But your hand hovered, and I saw a beam
  Of strange, bright laughter flying round your head
  And as you stooped I saw the berries gleam.
  “Don’t you remember? We called them Dead Man’s Bread!”
    I woke and heard the wind moan and the roar
  Of the dark water tumbling on the shore.
  Where--where is the path of my dream for my eager feet?
  By the remembered stream my brother stands
  Waiting for me with berries in his hands ...
  “These are my body. Sister, take and eat.”

                            1916.



POEMS 1917–1919



NIGHT-SCENTED STOCK


  White, white in the milky night
  The moon danced over a tree.
  “Wouldn’t it be lovely to swim in the lake!”
  Someone whispered to me.

  “Oh, do--do--do!” cooed someone else,
  And clasped her hands to her chin.
  “I should so love to see the white bodies--
  All the white bodies jump in!”

  The big dark house hid secretly
  Behind the magnolia and the spreading pear-tree,
  But there was a sound of music--music rippled and ran
  Like a lady laughing behind her fan,
  Laughing and mocking and running away ...
  “Come into the garden--it’s as light as day!”

  “I can’t dance to that Hungarian stuff,
  The rhythm in it is not passionate enough,”
  Said somebody. “I absolutely refuse...”
  But he took off his socks and his shoes
  And round her spun. “It’s like Hungarian fruit dishes
  Hard and bright--a mechanical blue!”
  His white feet flicked in the grass like fishes ...
  Someone cried: “I want to dance, too!”

  But one with a queer Russian ballet head
  Curled up on a blue wooden bench instead.
  And another, shadowy--shadowy and tall--
  Walked in the shadow of the dark house wall,
  Someone beside her. It shone in the gloom,
  His round grey hat, like a wet mushroom.

  “Don’t you think perhaps ...” piped someone’s flute ...
  “How sweet the flowers smell!” I heard the other say--
  Somebody picked a wet, wet pink
  Smelled it and threw it away.
  “Is the moon a virgin or is she a harlot?”
  Asked somebody. Nobody would tell.
  The faces and the hands moved in a pattern
  As the music rose and fell,
  In a dancing, mysterious, moon-bright pattern
  Like flowers nodding under the sea ...

  The music stopped and there was nothing left of them
  But the moon dancing over the tree.

                            1917.



NOW I AM A PLANT, A WEED ...


  Now I am a plant, a weed,
  Bending and swinging
  On a rocky ledge;
  And now I am a long brown grass
  Fluttering like flame;
  I am a reed;
  An old shell singing
  For ever the same;
  A drift of sedge;
  A white, white stone;
  A bone;
  Until I pass
  Into sand again,
  And spin and blow
  To and fro, to and fro,
  On the edge of the sea
  In the fading light--
    For the light fades.

  But if you were to come you would not say:
  “She is not waiting here for me;
  She has forgotten.” Have we not in play
  Disguised ourselves as weed and stones and grass
  While the strange ships did pass
  Gently, gravely, leaving a curl of foam
  That uncurled softly about our island home ...
  Bubbles of foam that glittered on the stone
  Like rainbows? Look, darling! No, they are gone.
  And the white sails have melted into the sailing sky ...

                            1917.



THERE IS A SOLEMN WIND TO-NIGHT


  There is a solemn wind to-night
    That sings of solemn rain;
  The trees that have been quiet so long
    Flutter and start again.

  The slender trees, the heavy trees,
    The fruit trees laden and proud,
  Lift up their branches to the wind
    That cries to them so loud.

  The little bushes and the plants
    Bow to the solemn sound,
  And every tiniest blade of grass
    Shakes on the quiet ground.

                            1917.



OUT IN THE GARDEN


  Out in the garden,
  Out in the windy, swinging dark,
  Under the trees and over the flower-beds,
  Over the grass and under the hedge border,
  Someone is sweeping, sweeping,
  Some old gardener.
  Out in the windy, swinging dark,
  Someone is secretly putting in order,
  Someone is creeping, creeping.

                            1917.



FAIRY TALE


  Now folds the Tree of Day its perfect flowers,
  And every bloom becomes a bud again,
  Shut and sealed up against the golden showers
  Of bees that hover in the velvet hours....
    Now a strain
  Wild and mournful blown from shadow towers,
  Echoed from shadow ships upon the foam,
  Proclaims the Queen of Night.
    From their bowers
  The dark Princesses fluttering, wing their flight
  To their old Mother, in her huge old home.

                            1919.



COVERING WINGS


  Love! Love! Your tenderness,
  Your beautiful, watchful ways
  Grasp me, fold me, cover me;
  I lie in a kind of daze,
  Neither asleep nor yet awake,
  Neither a bud nor flower.
  Brings to-morrow
  Joy or sorrow,
  The black or the golden hour?

  Love! Love! You pity me so!
  Chide me, scold me--cry,
  “Submit--submit! You must not fight!”
  What may I do, then? Die?
  But, oh, my horror of quiet beds!
  How can I longer stay!
  “One to be ready,
  Two to be steady,
  Three to be off and away!”

  Darling heart--your gravity!
  Your sorrowful, mournful gaze--
  “Two bleached roads lie under the moon,
  At the parting of the ways.”
  But the tiny, tree-thatched, narrow lane,
  Isn’t it yours and mine?
  The blue-bells ring
  Hey, ding-a-ding, ding!
  And buds are thick on the vine.

  Love! Love! grief of my heart!
  As a tree droops over a stream
  You hush me, lull me, darken me,
  The shadow hiding the gleam.
  Your drooping and tragical boughs of grace
  Are heavy as though with rain.
  Run! Run!
  Into the sun!
  Let us be children again.

                            1919.



FIRELIGHT


  Playing in the fire and twilight together,
  My little son and I,
  Suddenly--woefully--I stoop to catch him.
  “Try, mother, try!”

  Old Nurse Silence lifts a silent finger:
  “Hush! cease your play!”
  What happened? What in that tiny moment
  Flew away?

                            1919.



SORROWING LOVE


  And again the flowers are come
  And the light shakes,
  And no tiny voice is dumb,
  And a bud breaks
  On the humble bush and the proud restless tree.
  Come with me!

  Look, this little flower is pink,
  And this one white.
  Here’s a pearl cup for your drink,
  Here’s for your delight
  A yellow one, sweet with honey,
  Here’s fairy money
  Silver bright
  Scattered over the grass
  As we pass.

  Here’s moss. How the smell of it lingers
  On my cold fingers!
  You shall have no moss. Here’s a frail
  Hyacinth, deathly pale.
  Not for you, not for you!
  And the place where they grew
  You must promise me not to discover,
  My sorrowful lover!
  Shall we never be happy again?
  Never again play?
  In vain--in vain!
  Come away!

                            1919.



A LITTLE GIRL’S PRAYER


  Grant me the moment, the lovely moment
  That I may lean forth to see
  The other buds, the other blooms,
  The other leaves on the tree:

  That I may take into my bosom
  The breeze that is like his brother,
  But stiller, lighter, whose faint laughter
  Echoes the joy of the other.

  Above on the blue and white cloud-spaces
  There are small clouds at play.
  I watch their remote, mysterious play-time
  In the other far-away.

  Grant I may hear the small birds singing
  The song that the silence knows ...
  (The Light and the Shadow whisper together,
  The lovely moment grows,

  Ripples into the air like water
  Away and away without sound,
  And the little girl gets up from her praying
  On the cold ground.)

                            1919.



THE WOUNDED BIRD


  In the wide bed
  Under the green embroidered quilt
  With flowers and leaves always in soft motion
  She is like a wounded bird resting on a pool.

  The hunter threw his dart
  And hit her breast,--
  Hit her but did not kill.
  “O my wings, lift me--lift me!
  I am not dreadfully hurt!”
  Down she dropped and was still.

  Kind people come to the edge of the pool with baskets.
  “Of course what the poor bird wants is plenty of food!”
  Their bags and pockets are crammed almost to bursting
  With dinner scrapings and scraps from the servants’ lunch.
  Oh! how pleased they are to be really _giving_!
  “In the past, you know you know, you were always so fly-away.
  So seldom came to the window-sill, so rarely
  Shared the delicious crumbs thrown into the yard.
  Here is a delicate fragment and here a tit-bit
  As good as new. And here’s a morsel of relish
  And cake and bread and bread and bread and bread.”

  At night, in the wide bed
  With the leaves and flowers
  Gently weaving in the darkness,
  She is like a wounded bird at rest on a pool.
  Timidly, timidly she lifts her head from her wing
  In the sky there are two stars
  Floating, shining ...
  O waters--do not cover me!
  I would look long and long at those beautiful stars!
  O my wings--lift me--lift me!
  I am not so dreadfully hurt ...

                            1919.



CHILD VERSES 1907



A FAIRY TALE


  Now this is the story of Olaf
  Who ages and ages ago
  Lived right on the top of a mountain,
  A mountain all covered with snow.

  And he was quite pretty and tiny
  With beautiful curling fair hair
  And small hands like delicate flowers--
  Cheeks kissed by the cold mountain air.

  He lived in a hut made of pinewood
  Just one little room and a door
  A table, a chair, and a bedstead
  And animal skins on the floor.

  Now Olaf was partly a fairy
  And so never wanted to eat
  He thought dewdrops and raindrops were plenty
  And snowflakes and all perfumes sweet.

  In the daytime when sweeping and dusting
  And cleaning were quite at an end,
  He would sit very still on the doorstep
  And dream--Oh, that he had a friend!

  Somebody to come when he called them,
  Somebody to catch by the hand,
  Somebody to sleep with at night time,
  Somebody who’d quite understand.

  One night in the middle of Winter
  He lay wide awake on his bed,
  Outside there was fury of tempest
  And calling of wolves to be fed--

  Thin wolves, grey and silent as shadows;
  And Olaf was frightened to death.
  He had peeped through a crack in the doorpost,
  He had _seen_ the white smoke of their breath.

  But suddenly over the storm wind
  He heard a small voice pleadingly
  Cry, “I am a snow fairy, Olaf,
  Unfasten the window for me.”

  So he did, and there flew through the opening
  The daintiest, prettiest sprite;
  Her face and her dress and her stockings,
  Her hands and her curls were all white.

  And she said, “O you poor little stranger
  Before I am melted, you know,
  I have brought you a _valuable_ present,
  A little brown fiddle and bow.

  So now you can never be lonely,
  With a fiddle, you see, for a friend,
  But all through the Summer and Winter
  Play beautiful songs without end.”

  And then,--O she melted like water,
  But Olaf was happy at last;
  The fiddle he tucked in his shoulder,
  He held his small bow very fast.

  So perhaps on the quietest of evenings
  If you listen, you may hear him soon,
  The child who is playing the fiddle
  Away up in the cold, lonely moon.



OPPOSITES


  The Half-Soled-Boots-With-Toecaps-Child
  Walked out into the street
  And splashed in all the puddles till
  She had such shocking feet.

  The Patent-Leather-Slipper-Child
  Stayed quietly in the house
  And sat upon the fender stool
  As still as any mouse.

  The Half-Soled-Boots-With-Toecaps-Child,
  Her hands were black as ink;
  She would come running through the house
  And begging for a drink.

  The Patent-Leather-Slipper-Child,
  Her hands were white as snow;
  She did not like to play around,
  She only liked to sew.

  The Half-Soled-Boots-With-Toecaps-Child
  Lost hair ribbons galore;
  She dropped them on the garden walks,
  She dropped them on the floor.

  The Patent-Leather-Slipper-Child,
  O thoughtful little girl!
  She liked to walk quite soberly,
  It kept her hair in curl.

  The Half-Soled-Boots-With-Toecaps-Child
  When she was glad or proud
  Just flung her arms round Mother’s neck
  And kissed her very loud.

  The Patent-Leather-Slipper-Child
  Was shocked at such a sight,
  She only offered you her cheek
  At morning and at night.

  O Half-Soled-Boots-With-Toecaps-Child,
  Your happy laughing face
  Does like a scented Summer rose
  Make sweet the dullest place.

  O Patent-Leather-Slipper-Child,
  My dear, I’m well content,
  To have my daughter in my arms,
  And not an ornament.



SONG OF KAREN, THE DANCING CHILD


  (O little white feet of mine)
  Out in the storm and the rain you fly;
  (Red, red shoes the colour of wine)
  Can the children hear my cry?

  (O little white feet of mine)
  Never a child in the whole great town;
  (Red, red shoes the colour of wine)
  Lights out and the blinds pulled down.

  (O little white feet of mine)
  Never a light on a window pane,
  (Red, red shoes the colour of wine)
  And the wild wet cry of the rain.

  (O little white feet of mine)
  Shall I never again be still?
  (Red, red shoes the colour of wine)
  And away over valley and hill.

  (O little white feet of mine)
  Children, children, open the door!
  (Red, red shoes the colour of wine)
  And the wind shrieks Nevermore.



A JOYFUL SONG OF FIVE


  Come, let us all sing very high
  And all sing very loud
  And keep on singing in the street
  Until there’s quite a crowd;

  And keep on singing in the house
  And up and down the stairs;
  Then underneath the furniture
  Let’s all play Polar bears;

  And crawl about with doormats on,
  And growl and howl and squeak,
  Then in the garden let us fly
  And play at hide and seek;

  And “Here we gather Nuts and May,”
  “I wrote a Letter” too,
  “Here we go round the Mulberry Bush,”
  “The Child who lost its shoe”;

  And every game we _ever_ played.
  And then--to stay alive--
  Let’s end with lots of Birthday Cake
  Because to-day you’re five.



THE CANDLE FAIRY


  The candle is a fairy house
  That’s smooth and round and white,
  And Mother carries it about
  Whenever it is night.

  Right at the top a fairy lives,
  A lovely yellow one,
  And if you blow a little bit
  It has all sorts of fun.

  It bows and dances by itself
  In such a clever way,
  And then it stretches very tall;
  “Well, _it_ grows fast,” you say.

  The little chimney of the house
  Is black and really sweet,
  And there the candle fairy stands
  Though you can’t see its feet.

  And when the dark is very big
  And you’ve been having dreams,
  Then Mother brings the candle in;
  How friendly like it seems!

  It’s only just for Mothers that
  The candle Fairy comes;
  And if you play with it, it bites
  Your fingers and your thumbs.

  But still you love it very much
  This candle Fairy, dear,
  Because, at night, it always means
  That Mother’s very near.



SONG BY THE WINDOW BEFORE BED


  Little Star, little Star,
  Come down quick.
  The Moon is a bogey-man;
  He’ll eat you certain if he can.
  Little Star, little Star,
  Come down quick!

  Little Star, little Star,
  Whisper “Yes.”
  The trees are just niggers all,
  They look so black, they are so tall.
  Little Star, little Star,
  Whisper “Yes.”

  Little Star, little Star,
  Gone--all gone.
  The bogey-man swallowed you,
  The nigger trees are laughing too.
  Little Star, little Star,
  Gone--all gone.



A LITTLE BOY’S DREAM


  To and fro, to and fro
  In my little boat I go
  Sailing far across the sea
  All alone, just little me.
  And the sea is big and strong
  And the journey very long.
  To and fro, to and fro
  In my little boat I go.

  Sea and sky, sea and sky,
  Quietly on the deck I lie,
  Having just a little rest.
  I have really done my best
  In an awful pirate fight,
  But we captured them all right.
  Sea and sky, sea and sky,
  Quietly on the deck I lie

  Far away, far away
  From my home and from my play,
  On a journey without end
  Only with the sea for friend
  And the fishes in the sea.
  But they swim away from me
  Far away, far away
  From my home and from my play.

  Then he cried “O _Mother_ dear.”
  And he woke and sat upright,
  They were in the rocking chair,
  Mother’s arms around him--tight.



WINTER SONG


  Rain and wind, and wind and rain.
  Will the Summer come again?
  Rain on houses, on the street,
  Wetting all the people’s feet.
  Though they run with might and main.
  Rain and wind, and wind and rain.

  Snow and sleet, and sleet and snow.
  Will the Winter never go?
  What do beggar children do
  With no fire to cuddle to,
  P’raps with nowhere warm to go?
  Snow and sleet, and sleet and snow.

  Hail and ice, and ice and hail,
  Water frozen in the pail.
  See the robins, brown and red,
  They are waiting to be fed.
  Poor dears; battling in the gale!
  Hail and ice, and ice and hail.



ON A YOUNG LADY’S SIXTH ANNIVERSARY


  Baby Babbles--only one,
  Now to sit up has begun.

  Little Babbles quite turned two
  Walks as well as I and you.

  And Miss Babbles one, two, three
  Has a teaspoon at her tea.

  But her Highness at four
  Learns to open the front door.

  And her Majesty--now six,
  Can her shoestring neatly fix.

  Babbles, Babbles, have a care,
  You will soon put up your hair!



SONG OF THE LITTLE WHITE GIRL


  Cabbage tree, cabbage tree, what is the matter?
  Why are you shaking so? Why do you chatter?
  Because it is just a white baby you see,
  And it’s the black ones you like, cabbage tree?

  Cabbage tree, cabbage tree, you’re a strange fellow
  With your green hair and your legs browny-yellow.
  Wouldn’t you like to have curls, dear, like me?
  What! No one to make them? O poor cabbage tree!

  Never mind, cabbage tree, when I am taller,
  And if you grow, please, a little bit smaller,
  I shall be able by that time, may be,
  To make you the loveliest curls, cabbage tree.



A FEW RULES FOR BEGINNERS


  Babies must not eat the coal
  And they must not make grimaces,
  Nor in party dresses roll
  And must never black their faces.

  They must learn that pointing’s rude,
  They must sit quite still at table,
  And must always eat the food
  Put before them--if they’re able.

  If they fall, they must not cry,
  Though it’s known how painful this is;
  No--there’s always Mother by
  Who will comfort them with kisses.



A DAY IN BED


  I wish I had not got a cold,
  The wind is big and wild,
  I wish that I was very old,
  Not just a little child.

  Somehow the day is very long
  Just keeping here, alone;
  I do not like the big wind’s song,
  He’s growling for a bone.

  He’s like an awful dog we had
  Who used to creep around
  And snatch at things--he was so bad,
  With just that horrid sound.

  I’m sitting up and nurse has made
  Me wear a woolly shawl;
  I wish I was not so afraid;
  It’s horrid to be small.

  It really feels quite like a day
  Since I have had my tea;
  P’raps everybody’s gone away
  And just forgotten me.

  And oh! I cannot go to sleep
  Although I _am_ in bed.
  The wind keeps going creepy-creep
  And waiting to be fed.



THE LONESOME CHILD


  The baby in the looking-glass
  Is smiling through at me;
  She has her teaspoon in her hand,
  Her feeder on for tea.

  And if I look behind her I
  Can see the table spread;
  I wonder if she has to eat
  The nasty crusts of bread.

  Her doll, like mine, is sitting close
  Beside her special chair,
  She has a pussy on her lap;
  It must be _my_ cup there.

  Her picture-book is on the floor,
  The cover’s just the same;
  And tidily upon the shelf
  I see my Ninepin game.

  O baby in the looking glass,
  Come through and play with me,
  And if you will, I promise, dear,
  To eat your crusts at tea.



A FINE DAY


  After all the rain, the sun
  Shines on hill and grassy mead;
  Fly into the garden, child,
  You are very glad indeed.

  For the days have been so dull,
  Oh, so special dark and drear,
  That you told me, “Mr. Sun
  Has forgotten we live here.”

  Dew upon the lily lawn,
  Dew upon the garden beds;
  Daintily from all the leaves
  Pop the little primrose heads.

  And the violets in the copse
  With their parasols of green
  Take a little peek at you;
  They’re the bluest you have seen.

  On the lilac tree a bird
  Singing first a little note,
  Then a burst of happy song
  Bubbles in his lifted throat.

  O the sun, the comfy sun!
  This the song that you must sing,
  “Thank you for the birds, the flowers,
  Thank you, sun, for everything.”



EVENING SONG OF THE THOUGHTFUL CHILD


  Shadow children, thin and small,
  Now the day is left behind,
  You are dancing on the wall,
  On the curtains, on the blind.

  On the ceiling, children, too,
  Peeping round the nursery door,
  Let me come and play with you,
  As we always played before.

  Let’s pretend that we have wings
  And can really truly fly
  Over every sort of things
  Up and up into the sky,

  Where the sweet star children play--
  It does seem a dreadful rule,
  They must stay inside all day.
  I suppose they go to school.

  And to-night, dears, do you see,
  They are having such a race
  With their father moon--the tree
  Almost hides his funny face.

  Shadow children, once at night,
  I was all tucked up in bed,
  Father moon came--such a fright--
  Through the window poked his head;

  I could see his staring eyes,
  O, my dears, I was afraid,
  _That_ was not a nice surprise,
  And the _dreadful_ noise I made!

  Let us make a fairy ring,
  Shadow children, hand in hand,
  And our songs quite softly sing
  That we learned in fairyland.

  Shadow children, thin and small,
  See, the day is far behind;
  And I kiss you--on the wall
  On the curtains--on the blind.



A NEW HYMN


  Sing a song of men’s pyjamas,
  Half-past-six has got a pair,
  And he’s wearing them this evening,
  And he’s looking _such_ a dear.

  Sing a song of frocks with pockets
  I have got one, it is so’s
  I can use my ’nitial hankies
  Every time I blow my nose.



AUTUMN SONG


  Now’s the time when children’s noses
  All become as red as roses
  And the colour of their faces
  Makes me think of orchard places
  Where the juicy apples grow
  And tomatoes in a row.

  And to-day the hardened sinner
  Never could be late for dinner,
  But will jump up to the table
  Just as soon as he is able,
  Ask for three times hot roast mutton--
  Oh! the shocking little glutton.

  Come then, find your ball and racket,
  Pop into your winter jacket,
  With the lovely bear-skin lining.
  While the sun is brightly shining,
  Let us run and play together
  And just love the autumn weather.



THE BLACK MONKEY


  My Babbles has a nasty knack
  Of keeping monkeys on her back.
  A great big black one comes and swings
  Right on her sash or pinny strings.
  It is a horrid thing and wild
  And makes her such a naughty child.

  She comes and stands beside my chair
  With almost an offended air
  And says:--“Oh, Father, why can’t I?”
  And stamps her foot and starts to cry--
  I look at Mother in dismay ...
  What little girl is this, to-day?

  She throws about her nicest toys
  And makes a truly dreadful noise
  Till Mother rises from her place
  With quite a Sunday churchy face
  And Babbles silently is led
  Into the dark and her own bed.

  Never a kiss or one Goodnight,
  Never a glimpse of candle light.
  Oh, how the monkey simply flies!
  Oh, how poor Babbles calls and cries,
  Runs from the room with might and main,
  “Father dear, I am good again.”

  When she is sitting on my knee
  Snuggled quite close and kissing me,
  Babbles and I, we think the same--
  Why, that the monkey _never_ came
  Only a terrible dream maybe ...
  What did she have for evening tea?



THE PILLAR BOX


  The pillar box is fat and red,
  The pillar box is high;
  It has the flattest sort of head
  And not a nose or eye,
  But just one open nigger mouth
  That grins when I go by.

  The pillar box is very round
  But hungry all the day;
  Although it doesn’t make a sound,
  Folks know it wants to say,
  “Give me some letter sandwiches
  To pass the time away.”

  “A postage stamp I like to eat
  Or gummy letterette.”
  I see the people on the street,
  If it is fine or wet,
  Give something to the greedy thing;
  They never quite forget.

  The pillar box is quite a friend
  When Father goes away,
  My Mother has such lots to send,
  Fat letters every day,
  And so I drop them in its mouth
  When I go out to play.



THE QUARREL


  We stood in the vegetable garden
  As angry and cross as could be
  ’Cause you said you wouldn’t beg pardon
  For eating my radish at tea.

  I said, “I shall go an’ tell Mummy.
  I hope it is makin’ you ill.
  I hope you’ve a pain in your tummy,
  And then she will give you a pill.”

  But you cried out, “Good-bye then--for ever.
  Go and play with your silly old toys!
  If you think you’re so grown up and clever,
  I’ll run off and play with the Boys.”



GROWN-UP TALK


  Half-Past-Six and I were talking
  In a very grown-up way;
  We had got so tired with running
  That we did not want to play.

  “How do babies come, I wonder,”
  He said, looking at the sky,
  “Does God mix the things together
  An’ just make it--like a pie?”

  I was really not quite certain,
  But it sounded very nice;
  It was all that we could think of,
  Besides a book said ‘sugar and spice.’

  Half-Past-Six said--he’s so clever--
  Cleverer than me, I mean ...
  “I suppose God makes the black ones
  When the saucepan isn’t clean.”



THE FAMILY


  Hinemoa, Tui, Maina,
  Ail of them were born together;
  They are quite an extra special
  Set of babies--wax and leather.

  Every day they took an airing;
  Mummy made them each a bonnet;
  Two were cherry, one was yellow
  With a bow of ribbon on it.

  Really, sometimes we would slap them,
  For if ever we were talking,
  They would giggle and be silly,
  Saying, “Mamma, take us walking.”

  But we never really loved them
  Till one day we left them lying
  In the garden--through a hail-storm,
  And we heard the poor dears crying.

  Half-Past-Six said--“You’re a mother!
  What if Mummy did forget _you_?”
  So I said, “Well, you’re their Father.
  Get them!” but I wouldn’t let you.



Transcriber’s Notes


Italic text is shown here enclosed in _underscores_.

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling inconsistences within poems were
not changed, as they may be intentional.

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Ellipses were retained as printed in the original book, whether
mid-sentence, at the end of a line, or at the end of a sentence. The
ellipsis in the title of the poem on page 53 is shown here with three
dots, as that matches its appearance in the Table of Contents and is
consistent with other ellipses in this book.





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