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Title: New Poems
Author: Roberts, Charles G. D., Sir
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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Title: New Poems
Author: Roberts, Charles George Douglas (1860-1943)
Date of first publication: 1919
Edition used as base for this ebook:
   London: Constable, 1919
   [first edition]
Date first posted: 3 January 2011
Date last updated: October 17, 2014
Faded Page ebook#201410F7


NEW POEMS


BY

CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS



LONDON

CONSTABLE AND COMPANY LIMITED

1919



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN.

CHISWICK PRESS : CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO.

TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON.



  CONTENTS


  TO SHAKESPEARE, IN 1916
  "THE UNKNOWN CITY"
  O EARTH, SUFFICING ALL OUR NEEDS
  MONITION
  ON THE ROAD
  HILL TOP SONGS:
     I. HERE ON THE HILL
    II. WHEN THE LIGHTS COME OUT
  IN THE VALLEY OF LUCHON
  THE GOOD EARTH
  WAYFARER OF EARTH
  UNDER THE PILLARS OF THE SKY
  ALL NIGHT THE LONE CICADA
  EASTWARD BOUND
  WHEN IN THE ROWAN TREE
  WITH APRIL HERE
  FROM THE HIGH WINDOW OF YOUR ROOM
  THE HOUR OF MOST DESIRE
  THE FLOWER
  WHEN THE CLOUD COMES DOWN THE MOUNTAIN
  THE STREAM
  THE SUMMONS
  THE PLACE OF HIS REST
  GOING OVER
  CAMBRAI AND MARNE



  NEW POEMS


  TO SHAKESPEARE, IN 1916

  With what white wrath must turn thy bones,
    What stern amazement flame thy dust,
  To feel so near this England's heart
    The outrage of the assassin's thrust!

  How must thou burn to have endured
    The acclaim of these whose fame unclean
  Reeks from the "Lusitania's" slain,
    Stinks from the orgies of Malines!

  But surely, too, thou art consoled
    (Who knew'st thy stalwart breed so well)
  To see us rise from sloth, and go,
    Plain and unbragging, through this hell.

  And surely, too, thou art assured.
    Hark how that grim and gathering beat
  Draws upwards from the ends of earth,--
    The tramp, tramp, of thy kinsmen's feet.



  "THE UNKNOWN CITY"

  There lies a city inaccessible,
  Where the dead dreamers dwell.

  Abrupt and blue, with many a high ravine
  And soaring bridge half seen.
  With many an iris cloud that comes and goes
  Over the ancient snows,
  The imminent hills environ it, and hold
  Its portals from of old,
  That grief invade not, weariness, nor war,
  Nor anguish evermore.

  White-walled and jettied on the peacock tide,
  With domes and towers enskied,
  Its battlements and balconies one sheen
  Of ever-living green,
  It hears the happy dreamers turning home
  Slow-oared across the foam.

  Cool are its streets with waters musical
  And fountains' shadowy fall.
  With orange and anemone and rose,
  And every flower that blows
  Of magic scent or unimagined dye,
  Its gardens shine and sigh.
  Its chambers, memoried with old romance
  And faëry circumstance,--
  From any window love may lean some time
  For love that dares to climb.

  This is that city babe and seer divined
  With pure, believing mind.
  This is the home of unachieved emprize.
  Here, here the visioned eyes
  Of them that dream past any power to do,
  Wake to the dream come true.
  Here the high failure, not the level fame,
  Attests the spirit's aim.
  Here is fulfilled each hope that soared and sought
  Beyond the bournes of thought.

  The obdurate marble yields; the canvas glows;
  Perfect the column grows;
  The chorded cadence art could ne'er attain
  Crowns the imperfect strain;
  And the great song that seemed to die unsung
  Triumphs upon the tongue.



  O EARTH, SUFFICING ALL OUR NEEDS

  O earth, sufficing all our needs, O you
  With room for body and for spirit too,
    How patient while your children vex their souls
  Devising alien heavens beyond your blue!

  Dear dwelling of the immortal and unseen,
  How obstinate in my blindness have I been,
    Not comprehending what your tender calls,
  Veiled promises and re-assurance, mean.

  Not far and cold the way that they have gone
  Who through your sundering darkness have withdrawn;
    Almost within our hand-reach they remain
  Who pass beyond the sequence of the dawn.

  Not far and strange the Heaven, but very near,
  Your children's hearts unknowingly hold dear.
    At times we almost catch the door swung wide.
  And unforgotten voice almost we hear,

  I am the heir of Heaven--and you are just.
  You, you alone I know--and you I trust.
    I have sought God beyond his farthest star--
  But here I find Him, in your quickening dust.



  MONITION

  A faint wind, blowing from World's End,
    Made strange the city street.
  A strange sound mingled in the fall
    Of the familiar feet.

  Something unseen whirled with the leaves
    To tap on door and sill.
  Something unknown went whispering by
    Even when the wind was still.

  And men looked up with startled eyes
    And hurried on their way,
  As if they had been called, and told
    How brief their day.



  ON THE ROAD

  Ever just over the top of the next brown rise
  I expect some wonderful thing to flatter my eyes.
  "What's yonder?" I ask of the first wayfarer I meet.
  "Nothing!" he answers, and looks at my travel-worn feet.

  "Only more hills and more hills, like the many you've passed,
  With rough country between, and a poor enough inn at the last."
  But already I am a-move, for I see he is blind,
  And I hate that old grumble I've listened to time out of mind.

  I've tramped it too long not to know there is truth in it still,
  That lure of the turn of the road, of the crest of the hill.
  So I breast me the rise with full hope, well assured I shall see
  Some new prospect of joy, some brave venture a tip-toe for me.

  For I have come far, and confronted the calm and the strife.
  I have fared wide, and bit deep in the apple of life.
  It is sweet at the rind, but oh, sweeter still at the core;
  And whatever be gained, yet the reach of the morrow is more.

  At the crest of the hill I shall hail the new summits to climb.
  The demand of my vision shall beggar the largess of time.
  For I know that the higher I press, the wider I view,
  The more's to be ventured and visioned, in worlds that are new.

  So when my feet, failing, shall stumble in ultimate dark,
  And faint eyes no more the high lift of the pathway shall mark,
  There under the dew I'll lie down with my dreams, for I know
  What bright hill-tops the morning will show me, all red in the glow.



  HILL TOP SONGS

  I

  Here on the hill
  At last the soul sees clear.
  Desire being still
  The High Unseen appear.
  The thin grass bends
  One way, and hushed attends
  Unknown and gracious ends.
  Where the sheep's pasturing feet
  Have cleft the sods
  The mystic light lies sweet;
  The very clods,
  In purpling hues elate,
  Thrill to their fate;
  The high rock-hollows wait,
  Expecting gods.


  II

  When the lights come out in the cottages
    Along the shores at eve,
  And across the darkening water
    The last pale shadows leave;

  And up from the rock-ridged pasture slopes
    The sheep-bell tinklings steal,
  And the folds are shut, and the shepherds
    Turn to their quiet meal;

  And even here, on the unfenced height,
    No journeying wind goes by,
  But the earth-sweet smells, and the home-sweet sounds,
    Mount, like prayer, to the sky;

  Then from the door of my opened heart
    Old blindness and pride are driven,
  Till I know how high is the humble,
    The dear earth how close to heaven.



  IN THE VALLEY OF LUCHON

  Day long, and night long,
    From the soaring peaks and the snow,
  Down through the valley villages
    The cold white waters flow.

  Quiet are the villages;
    And very quiet the cloud
  At rest on the breast of the mountain;
    But the falling waves are loud

  Through the little, clustering cottages,
    Through the little, climbing fields,
  Where every sunburnt vineyard
    Its patch of purple yields.

  High hung, a steel-bright scimitar,
    The crooked glacier gleams.
  The white church dreams in the valley
    Where the red oleander dreams.

  And every wonder of beauty
    Comes, as a dream comes, true,
  Where the sun drips rose from the ledges
    And the moon by the peak swims blue.



  THE GOOD EARTH

  The smell of burning weeds
    Upon the twilight air;
  The piping of the frogs
    From meadows wet and bare;

  A presence in the wood,
    And in my blood a stir;
  In all the ardent earth
    No failure or demur.

  O spring wind, sweet with love
    And tender with desire,
  Pour into veins of mine
    Your pure, impassioned fire.

  O waters running free
    With full, exultant song,
  Give me, for outworn dream,
    Life that is clean and strong.

  O good Earth, warm with youth,
    My childhood heart renew.
  Make me elate, sincere,
    Simple and glad, as you.

  O springing things of green,
    O waiting things of bloom,
  O winging things of air,
    Your lordship now resume.



  WAYFARER OF EARTH

  Up, Heart of mine,
  Thou wayfarer of earth!
  Of seed divine,
  Be mindful of thy birth.
  Though the flesh faint
  Through long-endured constraint
  Of nights and days,
  Lift up thy praise
  To life, that set thee in such strenuous ways,
  And left thee not
  To drowse and rot
  In some thick-perfumed and luxurious plot.

  Strong, strong is earth
  With vigour for thy feet,
  To make thy wayfaring
  Tireless and fleet.
  And good is earth,--
  But earth not all thy good,
  O thou with seed of suns
  And star-fire in thy blood!

  And though thou feel
  The slow clog of the hours
  Leaden upon thy heel,
  Put forth thy powers.
  Thine the deep sky,
  The unpreëmpted blue,
  The haste of storm,
  The hush of dew.
  Thine, thine the free
  Exalt of star and tree,
  The reinless run
  Of wind and sun,
  The vagrance of the sea.



  UNDER THE PILLARS OF THE SKY

  Under the pillars of the sky
  I played at life, I knew not why.

  The grave recurrence of the day
  Was matter of my trivial play.

  The solemn stars, the sacred night,
  I took for toys of my delight,

  Till now, with startled eyes, I see
  The portents of Eternity.



  ALL NIGHT THE LONE CICADA

  All night the lone cicada
    Kept shrilling through the rain,
  A voice of joy undaunted
    By unforgotten pain.

  Down from the tossing branches
    Rang out the high refrain,
  By tumult undisheartened,
    By storm assailed in vain.

  To looming vasts of mountain,
    To shadowy deeps of plain
  The ephemeral, brave defiance
    Adventured not in vain,--

  Till to my faltering spirit,
    And to my weary brain,
  From loss and fear and failure
    My joy returned again.



  EASTWARD BOUND

  We mount the arc of ocean's round
    To meet the splendours of the sun;
  Then downward rush into the dark
    When the blue, spacious day is done.

  The slow, eternal drift of stars
    Draws over us until the dawn.
  Then the grey steep we mount once more,
    And night is down the void withdrawn.

  Space, and interminable hours,
    And moons that rise, and sweep, and fall,--
  On-swinging earth, and orbéd sea,--
    And voyaging souls more vast than all!



  WHEN IN THE ROWAN TREE

  When in the rowan tree
  The coloured light fades slowly,
  And the quiet dusk,
  All lilied, breathes of you,
  Then, Heart's Content,
  I feel your hair enfolding me,
  And tender comes the dark,
  Bringing me--you.

  And when across the sea
  The rose-dawn opens slowly,
  And the gold breaks, and the blue,
  All glad of you,
  Then, Heart's Reward,
  Red, red is your mouth for me,
  And life to me means love,
  And love means--you.



  WITH APRIL HERE

  With April here,
  And first thin green on the awakening bough,
  What wonderful things and dear,
  My tired heart to cheer,
  At last appear!
  Colours of dream afloat on cloud and tree,
  So far, so clear,
  A spell, a mystery;
  And joys that thrill and sing,
  New come on mating wing,
  The wistfulness and ardour of the Spring,--
  And Thou!



  FROM THE HIGH WINDOW OF YOUR ROOM

  From the high window of your room,
    Above the roofs, and streets, and cries,
  Lying awake and still, I watch
    The wonder of the dawn arise.

  Slow tips the world's deliberate rim,
    Descending to the baths of day:
  Up floats the pure, ethereal tide
    And floods the outworn dark away.

  The city's sprawled, uneasy bulk
    Illumines slowly in my sight.
  The crowded roofs, the common walls,
    The grey streets, melt in mystic light.

  It passes.  Then, with longing sore
    For that veiled light of paradise,
  I turn my face,--and find it in
    The wonder of your waking eyes.



  THE HOUR OF MOST DESIRE

  It is not in the day
  That I desire you most,
  Turning to seek your smile
  For solace or for joy.

  Nor is it in the dark,
  When I toss restlessly,
  Groping to find your face,
  Half waking, half in dream.

  It is not while I work,--
  When, to endear success,
  Or rob defeat of pain,
  I weary for your hands.

  Nor while from work I rest,
  And rest is all unrest
  For lack of your dear voice,
  Your laughter, and your lips.

  But every hour it is
  That I desire you most,--
  Need you in all my life
  And every breath I breathe.



  THE FLOWER

  I am the man who found a flower,
    A blossom blown upon the wind,
  More radiant than the sunrise rose,
    More sweet than lotus-airs of Ind.

  I clutched the flower, and on my heart
    I crushed its petals, red and burning.
  O ecstasy of life new-born!
    O youth returned, the unreturning!

  I am the man who dared the Gods
    And under their thunderbolts lay blest,
  Because I found the flower, and wore it
    One wild hour upon my breast.



  WHEN THE CLOUD COMES DOWN THE MOUNTAIN

  When the cloud comes down the mountain,
    And the rain is loud on the leaves,
  And the slim flies gather for shelter
    Under my cabin eaves,--

  Then my heart goes out to earth,
    With the swollen brook runs free,
  Drinks life with the drenched brown roots,
    And climbs with the sap in the tree.



  THE STREAM

  I know a stream
  Than which no lovelier flows.
  Its banks a-gleam
  With yarrow and wild rose,
  Singing it goes
  And shining through my dream.

  Its waters glide
  Beneath the basking noon,
  A magic tide
  That keeps perpetual June.

  There the light sleeps
  Unstirred by any storm;
  The wild mouse creeps
  Through tall weeds hushed and warm;
  And the shy snipe,
  Alighting unafraid;
  With sudden pipe
  Awakes the dreaming shade.

  So long ago!
  Still, still my memory hears
  Its silver flow
  Across the sundering years,--
  Its roses glow,
  Ah, through what longing tears!



  THE SUMMONS

  Deeps of the wind-torn west,
    Flaming and desolate,
  Upsprings my soul from his rest
    With your banners at the gate.

  'Neath this o'ermastering sky
    How could the heart lie still,
    Or the sluggish will
  Content in the old chains lie,
    When over the lonely hill
  Your torn wild scarlets cry?

  Up, Soul, and out
    Into the deeps alone,
  To the long peal and the shout
    Of those trumpets blown and blown.



  THE PLACE OF HIS REST

  The green marsh-mallows
    Are over him.
  Along the shallows
    The pale lights swim.

  Wide air, washed grasses,
    And waveless stream;
  And over him passes
    The drift of dream;--

  The pearl-hue down
    Of the poplar seed;
  The elm-flower brown;
    And the sway of the reed;

  The blue moth, winged
    With a flake of sky;
  The bee, gold ringed;
    And the dragon fly.

  Lightly the rushes,
    Lean to his breast;
  A bird's wing brushes
    The place of his rest.

  The far-flown swallow,
    The gold-finch flame,--
  They come, they follow
    The paths he came.

  'Tis the land of No Care
    Where now he lies,
  Fulfilled the prayer
    Of his weary eyes:

  And while around him
    The kind grass creeps,
  Where peace hath found him
    How sound he sleeps.

  Well to his slumber
    Attends the year:
  Soft rains without number
    Soft noons, blue clear,

  With nights of balm,
    And the dark, sweet hours
  Brooding with calm,
    Pregnant with flowers.

  See how she speeds them,
    Each childlike bloom,
  And softly leads them
    To tend his tomb!--

  The white thorn nears
    As the cowslip goes;
  Then the iris appears;
    And then, the rose.



  GOING OVER

  A girl's voice in the night troubled my heart.
  Across the roar of the guns, the crash of the shells,
  Low and soft as a sigh, clearly I heard it.

  Where was the broken parapet, crumbling about me?
  Where my shadowy comrades, crouching expectant?
  A girl's voice in the dark troubled my heart.

  A dream was the ooze of the trench, the wet clay slipping,
  A dream the sudden out-flare of the wide-flung Verys.
  I saw but a garden of lilacs, a-flower in the dusk.

  What was the sergeant saying?--I passed it along.--
  Did _I_ pass it along? I was breathing the breath of the lilacs.
  For a girl's voice in the night troubled my heart.

  Over!  How the mud sucks!  Vomits red the barrage.
  But I am far off in the hush of a garden of lilacs.
  For a girl's voice in the night troubled my heart.
  Tender and soft as a sigh, clearly I heard it.



  CAMBRAI AND MARNE

  Before our trenches at Cambrai
  We saw their columns cringe away.
  We saw their masses melt and reel
  Before our line of leaping steel.

  A handful to their storming hordes
  We scourged them with the scourge of swords,
  And still, the more we slew, the more
  Came up for every slain a score.

  Between the hedges and the town
  Their cursing squadrons we rode down.
  To stay them we outpoured our blood
  Between the beetfields and the wood.

  In that red hell of shrieking shell
  Unfaltering our gunners fell.
  They fell, or ere that day was done,
  Beside the last unshattered gun.

  But still we held them, like a wall
  On which the breakers vainly fall--
  Till came the word, and we obeyed,
  Reluctant, bleeding, undismayed.

  Our feet, astonished, learned retreat,
  Our souls rejected still defeat.
  Unbroken still, a lion at bay,
  We drew back grimly from Cambrai.

  In blood and sweat, with slaughter spent,
  They thought us beaten as we went;
  Till suddenly we turned and smote
  The shout of triumph in their throat.

  At last, at last we turned and stood--
  And Marne's fair water ran with blood.
  We stood by trench and steel and gun,
  For now the indignant flight was done.

  We ploughed their shaken ranks with fire.
  We trod their masses into mire.
  Our sabres drove through their retreat,
  As drives the whirlwind through young wheat.

  At last, at last we flung them back
  Along their drenched and smoking track.
  We hurled them back, in blood and flame,
  The reeking ways by which they came.

  By cumbered road and desperate ford,
  How fled their shamed and harassed horde!
  Shout, Sons of Freemen, for the day
  When Marne so well avenged Cambrai!



  CHISWICK PRESS: CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO.

  TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON.



[End of New Poems, by Charles G. D. Roberts]





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