By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: London Sonnets
Author: Wolfe, Humbert
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "London Sonnets" ***

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

                       “ADVENTURERS ALL” SERIES
                              No. XXVII.

                         [Illustration: XXVII]

                            LONDON SONNETS

[Illustration: Adventurers

                       _A SERIES OF YOUNG POETS
                               TO FAME._

     Come my friends.... ’Tis not too late to seek a newer world. It may
     be that the gulfs will wash us down.... It may be we shall touch
     the happy isles. Yet our purpose holds ... to sail beyond the





[Illustration: text decoration]



              These were the first anemones--
              God only in his heaven sees
              How moving on their small green feet
              They blossomed in a London street,
              From a cool valley, as I guess,
              Beneath a hill in Lyonesse.


[Illustration: text decoration]


Dedication                                                             4

  The Old Clothes Dealer                                               9
  Coves at Hampton Court                                              10
  One Man Returns                                                     11
  The Bun-Shop                                                        12
  The Fried Fish-Shop                                                 13
  The Streets Behind the Tottenham Court Road                         14
  The Yorkshire Grey                                                  15
  Wardour Street                                                      16
  The Suburbs                                                         17
  The Last London Sonnet                                              18

  “Sometimes when I Think of Love”                                    21
  Old                                                                 26
  The Song of the Gambucinos                                          28
  February 14                                                         29
  Pierrot                                                             30
  The Dead Man in the Pool                                            32
  Dead Lover                                                          35
  The Gods of the Copy-Book Headings                                  36
  Wheels 1919                                                         38
  The Well                                                            41
  Judas                                                               43
  The Night                                                           44

  Three Sonnets of Love                                               49
  The Reply                                                           52
  God Gave us Bodies                                                  53
  Ronsard and Hélène                                                  54
  The Drift of the Lute                                               55
  Love and Beauty                                                     56

  V. D. F.                                                            59
  England                                                             60
  The Moon in Flanders                                                61
  The Soldier Speaks                                                  62
  Flowers at Hampton Court                                            63

[Illustration: text decoration]

                                 TO J.

                        LONDON PSEUDO-SONNETS.

Some of these verses have appeared in _The Saturday Review_, _The
Spectator_, _The Westminster Gazette_, and are republished by the
courtesy of the editors of these journals.


    It’s not my fault, now is it? I’m a Jew.
      I’d a been born a Christian quick enough
      If only so I could have sold my stuff
    Double the price, and not be called a screw.
    There’s half-day Saturday at Synagogue,
      And when Atonement comes a whole day lost.
      O, I don’t grumble; still one counts the cost
    When on the top I’m treated like a dog.
    And, though a Jew should’nt by rights complain
      Bein’ the chosen, can’t a man have dreams?
      Clothes’ dealing’s not the desert, still it seems
    We all of us are wandering again.
    I often think when the Shemah begins
    “O God o’ Jacob ain’t we paid our sins?”


    You go by motor-bus from Hammersmith
      And come back loud and cheerful after dark
      Adorned with twigs you’ve plucked in Bushey Park,
    Eating the sandwiches you started with.
    And you don’t care, why should you? when you’re brought
      Into the grimy streets out of the green,
      That, if you’d had the luck, you might have been
    The sort of cove who lives at Hampton Court.

    You’ve got the murders and the betting news,
      And slums to bake in and the picture shows.
      Why should you care if somewhere a red rose
    Burns all night through, and the great avenues
    Are lit as though with candles. What’s the odds?
    London’s for you; the summer’s for the gods.


    He wanted me to tear me ’ands to bits
      Along o’ the box-makers, ’stead of which
      I took and bought a basket, struck a pitch
    To sell me flowers by the Hotel Ritz.
    I like ’is cheek. It isn’t ’im wot sits
      Working in darkness till your fingers itch
      And ’arf your side is broken with a stitch--
    ’Im swanking in ’is blessed epaulittes!
    Nor I don’t care, not what you might say care
      If ’e’s gone orf. Not that I’d reely mind
    If, ’earing that I’d got a bit to spare,
      He come back sudden. I should act refined,
    Pin ’im ’is flower in with me ’and quite steady
    And then say proud-like, “Why if it ain’t Freddy.”

         THE BUN-SHOP.

    O damn those marble tables: makes me larf
      To think I’ve finished with them. I believe
      If you rubbed hard on each one with your sleeve,
    You’d find cut on them some gel’s epitaph.
    They look like tombstones, don’t they? in a row
      Quietly waiting in a mason’s yard.
      Seein’ them there cruel and white and hard
    One might ha’ guessed, I think, how things would go.
    But we don’t heed no warning, gels like me,
      And so I stayed, and now they’ve got my name
      Carved deep, with something written about shame
    For the next gel (when her turn comes) to see.
    One comfort though, if God damns us who fell
    He can’t find worse to ’urt us, not in ’Ell.


    The upper clawses they don’t like the smell
      Nor they don’t need to. They can pay for food,
      But we who sometimes cawn’t, it does us good.
    Lord, what a life to ’ave fried fish to sell!
    Warm all day long and nuthin’ much to do
      And always a hot bit if you’re inclined.
      Shut all day Sundays and if you’ve a mind
    Always go out and pitch into a Jew.
    But wanting won’t mend ’oles up in your socks
      Nor cure that ’ungry feeling when you stands
      Clappin’ your stummick with your empty ’ands
    And thinking gently of a wooden box
    Where they will lay you at the parish charge
    Straight if you’re small and doubled if you’re large.


    The quiet folk who live in Kensington
      Mothers of pleasant girls and worthy wives
      Living at ease their comfortable lives
    Don’t think what roots their homes are built upon,
    Don’t think, or wouldn’t listen if you shewed
      That beyond cure by love or change by hate
      Like hooded lepers at each corner wait,
    The streets behind the Tottenham Court Road.
    Row upon row the phantom houses stain
      The sweetness of the air and not a day
      Dies, but some woman’s child turns down that way
    Along those streets and is not seen again.
    And only God can in his mercy say
    Which is more cruel, Kensington or they.


    The Yorkshire Grey like any other pub,
      Quietly blazes till the final shout
      “Time’s-up” sends the companions tumbling out,
    Giving their lips a last reluctant rub.
    And if you’re passing by on any day
      You’ll hear a woman with a barrel organ,
      Sing in a high cracked voice what sounds like “Morgen,
    Morgen kommt nie und heute is mir weh,”
    And every day whether its rain or shine
      She holds an old umbrella with a handle
      Of curiously carved silver. Whether scandal
    Or tragedy, its no affair of mine.
    Why should I care then when some drunken feller
    Sends her to blazes, her and her umbrella.


    There’s a small cafe off the Avenue
      Where Alphonse, that old sinner, used to fix
      A five-course dinner up at one and six,
    And trust to luck and youth to pull him through.
    I can’t remember much about the wine
      Except that it was ninepence for the quart
      Called claret and was nothing of the sort,
    Cheap like the rest and like the rest divine.
    But Alphonse, I suppose, is long since sped
      And madame’s knitting needles rusted through
      And even Marguerite, like us she flew
    To wait on, waited on by death instead.
    Well Alphonse, well Madame, well Marguerite
    They’ve no more use for us in Wardour Street.

         THE SUBURBS.

    Because they are so many and the same,
      The little houses row on weary row;
    Because they are so loveless and so lame
      It were a bitter thing to tell them so.
    And ill to laugh at those who hither came
      Not without hope and not without a glow,
    And who, perchance, by sorrow struck or shame
      Not without tears look back before they go.

    Here is no place for laughter nor for blame,
      And not for tears, since none shall ever know
    What here is done and suffered, nor proclaim
      The end to which these myriad spirits grow.
    He understands, whose heart remembereth
      That here is all the tale of life and death.


    All roads in London lead the one last way,
      Like little streams that find a flowing river
      They find the one great road that runs for ever,
    Yet has no London name. They know it, they
    Who when the lamps in Oxford Street are lighted
      And star-strewn Thames through all his bridges moving,
      Velvet assumes, see not for all their loving
    These things they loved, hear not, as uninvited,
    To London revel calling Piccadilly.
      They have gone over to the bitter stranger
      Light-foot and heavy, hug-the-hearth and ranger
    Our streets desert. And under rose and lily
    (Even through Kew were unto lilac setting)
    Sleeping they pass forgotten and forgetting.

         OTHER VERSE.



    Sometimes when I think of love
      I think of Mimi singing in Boheme,
    Just as the tune across the footlights came
    When we were young, my dear, at Covent Garden!
    Poor music, but before the senses harden
    Puccini’s made for boys and girls to wear
    Spite of sham passion and a poitrinaire.
    For if they looked and didn’t find the key
    At least they found the hearts of you and me.
    That sort of love age thinks of with a smile
    How innocent it was of truth and guile,
    How young perhaps and yet how half-divine
    And how imperishably yours and mine.
    You will not wonder nor will you reprove
    My thoughts of Mimi when I think of love.


    Sometimes when I think of love
    I see a boat upon a river,
    And the rushes suddenly shiver,
    Because of a perilous foot that treads
    The reeds and the flowers into their beds.
    Because of a music that shakes and begins
    A different music and conscious of sins
    A tune was old at the birth of the river
    A tune is asleep in the blood for ever
    Asleep in the blood and loving and hating
    The time and the hour for which it is waiting.
    Puccini yields to a sob in the throat
    A hand round the heart as note answers note
    With the music that wrenches and melts and grips
    The hands hot on hands, the lips close on lips
    Cruelly volleying clearer and stronger
    Till we are a boy and a girl no longer.
    And we struggle in vain as long as we can
    Hating and loving and welcoming Pan,
    And you are a woman and I am a man.
    And you will not wonder and cannot reprove
    If I hear Pan’s pipes when I think of love.


    Sometimes when I think of love
    I hear a heavy voice repeat
    “There’s a good doctor up the street.”
    And either it seems I am hard at hearing
    Or stupid perhaps or terribly fearing.
    For its late of a winter night and raining
    With cry of wind; or is something complaining?
    One lamp in the street and a leafless tree
    And a thing is moving that frightens me,
    With fingers that hover about my nape
    A shape like a hand and yet not a shape.
    Now all that we had in the past is over
    Each lover’s alone, the love from the lover.
    No comforting hand for me in the gloom,
    No voice of mine in the darkened room.
    Where is the music and where are the songs?
    For love has crept off ashamed of his wrongs.
    Poor love has gone off to rail at passion,
    And he will not wait for the night to fashion
    Out of pain and fear and anguish and danger,
    A lover strange with his love a stranger,
    And yet, as they were at the opera
    Incredibly close and familiar,
    Incredibly close as once on the river
    When each is a gift and each is a giver.
    Incredibly close and all they have hoarded
    Of life and of love in this moment rewarded.
    Rewarded! Has love in the darkness heard
    Of the little lost shadow, the small lost third?
    Love is returning--to find them alone,
    And if love be a sinner, who casts a stone?
    Shattered and beaten and blindingly sure
    Of love and themselves and strong to endure
    He finds them, by pain more lastingly crowned
    Than ever by joy and by laughter were bound
    Happier lovers and lovers untaunted
    By the shameful cries these lovers have haunted.
    If this be their love, who out of the pit
    Being a devil challenges it?
    In heaven assayed, in hell-fire priced
    Who casts the first stone? Not I, says Christ.
    You will not wonder nor will you reprove
    If I think of this, when I think of love.


    Sometimes when I think of love
    I remember how you stooped down from heaven,
    Because they had told you I was unforgiven,
    To take half of the storm, and share the stripe
    An angel in hell with her guttersnipe.
    I am thinking then of your lighted face
    And your hands and the way your fingers lace
    As you sit quietly reading a book.
    Perhaps I move and you suddenly look
    Across the room and the soul in your eyes
    Is bright as it looks with the old surprise
    Changing for ever, for ever the same
    And you break my heart as you speak my name.
    You must not wonder, you will not reprove
    If sometimes I dare not think of love.


    So old, so changed, and odd
        Even as God,
    I am, so odd and old,
    That I am bitter cold
        In heart and limb
              Like him.

    I might in heaven be,
        Even as He.
    So lonely and so rare
    Beyond the utmost prayer
        My spirit weighs,
              Dead days.

    Or I might work in hell
        His miracle.
    Changing from joy to tears,
    To quiet all the years,
        With icy rod,
              Like God.

    I might immortal be
        Even as He.
    Saying, as heaven saith,
    What Victory, Oh death,
        What sting can save,
              Oh grave?

    As I, alone and dumb,
        What doth not come
    Ever, He waits to see
    And surely, waiting, he
        Must pray ah pray! to die
              Even as I.


    The little houses in the street
      And the warm blinds at night,
    Outside the copper on his beat
      And the moon so white, so white.

    They know what we shall never know,
      See what we cannot see,
    The steady lamplit ways that go
      To the quiet cemetery.

    They have not any fear at all
      Of life and of its end.
    They hear church bells, their children call,
      Their wife and death their friend.

    But for us the moon is white, so white
      It drowns us and it stings,
    And we must fly throughout the night
      Because of dangerous things.

         FEBRUARY 14.

    Let’s be done with talking,
      Words are half a snare,
    That fools use for stalking
      What was never there.

    Let’s be done with weeping,
      Tears are but a sign
    That a doom is creeping
      On what was divine.

    Why be broken-hearted?
      Time to break the heart
    If we should be parted
      And not care we part.

    Dear, the wind is over
      In the world outside.
    I was once your lover,
      You were once my bride.

    Let’s go out together.
      In the quiet air,
    We may find each other
      Waiting as we were.


    My friend Pierrot your sleeves are far too long.
      Look! I can hardly find at all your hands.
    And all your cotton tunic is cut wrong,
      And what your eyes mean no one understands.

    Ah yes, Pierrette, my sleeves are far too long.
      Ah yes, Pierrette, you cannot find my hands,
    But better so than Pierrot did you wrong
      By telling you what no one understands.

    My friend Pierrot you fear to take the light,
      Look! I can hardly see at all your face.
    And what I see, Pierrot is very white.
      Are you afraid? Ashamed? or in disgrace?

    Ah yes, Pierrette, I dare not take the light.
      Ah yes, Pierrette, you cannot see my face.
    My candle died with love, and in the night
      Oh! Harlequin, Pierrette, is my disgrace.

    My friend Pierrot it seems that things go ill
      With you. Look! I can hardly hear your word,
    And the dark shadow round grows darker still,
      And a new voice which is not yours is heard.

    Ah yes, Pierrette, it seems that things go ill.
      Ah yes, Pierrette, you cannot hear my word.
    And the dark shadow which grows darker still
      Is death, Pierrette, of which you have not heard.


    Only a glance it was,
      Only a word!
    What a romance it was
      All but absurd!

    All but absurd, you see,
      Yes but not quite.
    There’s one more word you see
      “Death” we must write!

    She had the knack of it
    --Less than a kiss,
    And for the lack of it
      Look he is this.

    O what a king he was
      (Drowned in a pool),
    What a brave thing he was
      O what a fool!

    While all the rest of us
      Struggle to fame,
    Here is the best of us
      Dead with his shame.

    Shame? Oh I wonder now.
      What do you say?
    If you should blunder now
      Choose me your way!

    If you’d thrown hope away;
      Well would you care
    Through life to grope a way?
      Or would you dare

    Take up the lot of it
      Life, love and fame,
    Make a clean shot of it
      Into the flame?

    Ah it was brave of him
      Let them cry “shame.”
    Life made no slave of him!
      But you’ll exclaim,

    Was she worth trying for?
      He thought her so.
    Was she worth dying for?
      Yes, and then no.

    “No,” for a wiser man.
      “No,” for a less.
    But the heart cries “Amen,”
      When he says “yes.”

    There in the pool he was
      Just a dead thing.
    O what a fool he was,
      O what a king!

         DEAD LOVER.

    Tell me, dead lover, you who broke my heart
      (O dead indeed, since love himself is dead).
    Need I remember that we came to part,
      May I forget to whom and why you fled?

    Tell me, dead lover, since the grave is strong,
      And those who sleep are cured of joy and pain,
    And now no love may reach you, do I wrong
      If I begin to love you all again?

    And see, dead lover, since the shadows fall
      And nothing now is false and nothing true.
    Might I not dream (you would not know at all)
      That I, O love, was loved once more by you.

    And since, dead lover, death defeats your pride,
      And ere it dreamed of pride my love awoke,
    O let me think, it was because you died,
      And not because you left me, my heart broke.


                    A REPLY.

    Fenris the wolf, and Jörmungand the snake
      In the slime and the swamp remorseless wait.
    For not the years nor human hopes can break
      Valhalla’s sentence thus pronounced by Fate.

    “These gods that are the children of men’s dreams--
      Virtue and honour, courage and the songs
    Men sing about their hearthstones--stolen gleams
      In the poor heart unbroken by its wrongs,

    “These gods, of man’s refusal of the beast
      The half pathetic, wholly fleeting sign
    Who in that tenderness are gods the least
      Where human weakness finds them most divine,

    “These pitiful gods, fabric of mankind’s tears
      A dream of what all human hearts have wanted
    The vision at the end of all the years
      The holy ghost that half the world has haunted,

    “These gods are mortal as the heart that shaped them
      And in that hour when mankind’s heart must break
    These gods who only by that heart escaped them
      Fall to the wolf and Jörmungand the snake.”

    Fate pauses, but from Hela’s halls is heard
      A voice is young when all the gods are dead.
    Balder the beautiful has one more word
      The word that even Fate must leave unsaid.

    “True they depart the half-gods, and the snake
      And Fenris come. But in the heart’s defection
    I, Balder, bound in Hell for that heart’s sake
      I am the life and I the resurrection.

    “I, love, being loosed, will take my harp up--so--
      Singing what all the world at last will learn
    ‘The devils come because the half-gods go
      But in the end the gods, the gods return.’”

         WHEELS 1919.

    Why d’you write about Frascati’s
      You who from the balcony leaning
    ’Neath the lure that was Astarte’s
      Find a negroid devil grinning.

    Changed indeed and almost stupid
      Yielding to analysis
    Now a Piccadilly cupid
      Hanging on a painted kiss.

    Now a toy in two dimensions
      Operated by a string
    In your hand, whose interventions
      Set the object capering.

    You who at the higher level
      Know love as he truly is
    Not the fair Assyrian devil,
      Not the poor idolatries,

    Of the savage, not the crazes
      Say of Shelley, and his set:
    But you find him (as your phrase is)
      Palm to palm in quiet sweat.

    That’s a way, O brother brother
      A new way for verse to move
    There’s an older and another
      Will you listen? way of love.

    I from that same terrace waiting
      For the music to begin
    “Amoureuse” anticipating
      Watched a boy who blundered in.

    Slim he was, a little stooping
      At the shoulders as it seemed,
    Eyes on which the lids were drooping
      Seeing only what he dreamed.

    Where he came was noise and clatter,
      But the pandemonium
    Either didn’t seem to matter
      Where he stood or else grew dumb.

    And the waltz the band was creaking,
      Like a cluster, round his head
    Changed to cry “What’s music seeking
      Save what he has left unsaid.”

    And like flowers, bourgeois faces
      Overtaken by the tune,
    Pilfered unimagined graces
      From an unimagined June.

    And, when once again the Babel
      Rose, though we had never stirred,
    There between us at the table
      At Frascati’s was the third.

    What’s the good of all this antic
      You’ll impatiently exclaim,
    Still incurably romantic
      Still incurably the same.

    Only this--that at Frascati’s
      If one does not wash one’s hands
    That old magic was Astarte’s
      Goes, before one understands.

         THE WELL.

    At full afternoon slowly the branches
      Stirred as of old and fragrant with flowers
    Touched with a breath of wind look down and wonder
      To where--far below--is the delicate water.

    Here should be peace as was peace and splendour
      Of hearts’ first stirrings, the eye to the hills
    Turned, the call of the perilous margins
      Life just beginning, but life well begun.
    Here by the well we played (you remember)
      (Then too the grasses grew at the edges
    Tempting small hands but tempt now no longer)
      Here by the well we dreamed after playing.

    Have you forgotten (or has death no mercy)
      How bright the days were and how the evening
    Softer than sleep laid her mysterious
      Hands on the garden soothing and changing.
    Here at the well side we loved after dreaming
      Since we had played by it, since we had dreamed.
    Here at the well side love that was wakened
      Sank like a stone, but leaving no ripple.

    Here are our shapes that play dream love quarrel,
      Here are our dreams (and if there were dreamers,
    If we were not like our visions a dream)
      All is not over--is all then over?

    Here is the well and the delicate water
      Far below gleaming, the starred white branches
    Fragrant with flowers. Here is the noontide,
      Even the grasses grow at the edges.
    What then is gone? If we were the dreamers
      (And not a dream) then all must be over.
    I an old man cold, fruitless and lonely,
      Watch by the water, which you cannot see.

    But if we two are dreams of a dreamer,
      All is not over, and here together
    Age falls from me, and from you the mantle
      Death seemed to cast, and here by the well side
    Lifted again is the voice of your singing,
      Golden again are the perilous margins,
    Sweet are your eyes and young and immortal
      Our hearts are set to the day and the hills.


    Not I, oh Christ, not I betrayed thee
    But He was traitor, He who made thee
    Born of a village carpenter
    With such immortal longings stir
    As stretched beyond the world and found
    In God himself the final wound.
    Through me thou wast by soldiers taken
    By Him, by Him on the Cross forsaken.

         THE NIGHT.

    Be quiet bird
      Be silent all
    That e’er were heard
      And cease to call.

    Drop perfume rose
      And flowers white
    Put off your shows
      For see ’tis night.

    Soft creatures slow
      Begin to pass,
    And thousands grow
      From out the grass.

    With deep low whirr
      The air is full
    And through the fir
      The moon shines cool.

    There is no pain
      Sorrow is dead
    Slow Charles’ wain
      Wheels overhead.

    There is no grief
      All things have ease
    No bough or leaf
      Stirs on the trees.





    Can love being love and therefore magical
      When summer and the roses lie between,
    Find back to spring? Or shall he know at all
      The places where his golden feet have been
    At noontide seeking. Shall he know again
      The tune of dawn, the unconditioned sky,
    The world before the coming of the rain,
      That like a shadow waited and went by,
    Soft like a God and like a God aflame?
      Ah will he find that murmur at your lips,
      Still see you standing, as the morning stands,
    With fingers stretched that touched and fled and came
      To mine again, warm to the tender lips
      Once lilies and now roses--Oh your hands?


             AN ACCUSATION.

    What have you given, love, to those who gave
      All for your sake? What gift to weigh the worth
    Of those who, having all, did nothing save,
      But for a kiss made jetsam of the earth?
    What answer have you for the thronging ghosts--
      Gentlemen of high heart, who were not brave
    Because of you? What for the stricken hosts
      Of those who, seeking truth, embraced the grave
    Your magic sets about the brain? What way
      Of answer have you for the fallen tears
        Of those who heard you calling, and, once strong
    As being pure, became the body’s prey?
      What answer, O sweet God, to all the years
        That worshipped you and crowned you, and were wrong?



    Love, if remorseless, needeth no defence,
      (You say) for though he waste our lives it seems
    A moment spent with love is recompense,
      For all the might have beens of all our dreams.
    Yet is there something in the might have been
      Was never yet in love. O trembling brim
    Of the far country, that our eyes have seen,
      Have seen and turned from for the sake of him.
    Are there no pleasant places, no strange deeds
      Waiting the comer? Is there no great sea
        Watched by immaculate angels who attend
    Our sails that linger? No red star that leads
      To where beyond all passion shaken free
      We follow the great road that has no end?

         THE REPLY.

    All things are true of love, save these things only,
        That at the long day’s end when love is over,
        He’s of love cheated who was once a lover,
    And she, by love once visited, left lonely.
    The dream is done, but here’s no cause for sorrow
      When beauty’s seal is on the dream descending.
      Beauty is mortal, beauty has an ending,
    Beauty and love alone need no to-morrow.
    All other things--courage and truth and virtue--
      Have the one doom, the lust for the immortal.
        Love only, with lost beauty, life outpaces,
    Cold, though they burn, untroubled, though they hurt you,
      And white, like gods, when through the sculptured portal
        The starshine enter and the moon’s cold graces.

         GOD GAVE US BODIES....

    God gave us bodies for suffering and for strangers,
      To have their will of. We divided waken
    To find the heart that won through all its dangers
      By the stained body at the dawn forsaken.
    We said of love “The body, and its langours
      Are but a little thing, though sweet. Unshaken
    Behold the heart!” Fools! Who forgot the angers
      Of blood despised and the heart overtaken
    By the gross hands of lust even at the portal
      Of bliss. And not for any tears is altered
    Love thus betrayed, yet though betrayed, immortal,
      Struggling for ever and for ever haltered.
    God gave us bodies; let them write in heaven
      “Love we forgive, but God is not forgiven.”


    You sang, Ronsard, in your imperial lay
      Hélène, and sang as only you would dare
    That she would cry, in reading, old and grey
      “Ronsard sang this of me when I was fair.”
    That was youth spoke, Ronsard, who will not stay
      To wonder if his own divine despair
    May not with losing loveliness outweigh
      Kisses, that given, melt upon the air.
    If youth but knew, Ronsard! The things that seem
      Would he not barter for the things that are,
    And leave his mistress to embrace her dream
      Exchange her lips for her lost beauty’s star?
    Losing Hélène youth finds the lovelier truth,
    If youth but knew! But then he were not youth.


    Love, lay aside your lute and leave the roses
      That with the bays are twined. No time for sweeping
      The strings now in the hush of the heart, nor reaping
    Summer’s fulfilment. For the daylight closes
    With laying on of hands and the heart shriven,
      And mystical washing away of sorrow,
      So there is neither yesterday nor morrow
    But quiet and the world to healing given.
    And if such peace o’er lute and roses drifted
      Would seem to beggar love of coronation
        Thus in the darkness fallen on an ending,
    See! Than the sun, whose golden hands were lifted
      In heaven, now cloaked, more lovely seek her station,
        The moon consummate in her place ascending.


    Even tho’ love were done, shall we complain
        If in the world there’s hidden loveliness
      Born of that love, and not a lost caress
    But makes us poorer to the common gain?
    This beauty may adorn with deeper stain
      The cool first jonquil, or with light redress
      The vision of a star, and thus confess
    That love, though lost, is never lost in vain.
    And if for others we have lit this flame,
      While us the gloom invests of dying embers,
      Being so separate, your heart remembers,
    As mine, the world before the wonder came,
    For that sweet change we spent our hearts in heaven,
    Thus briefly won, thus lost, and thus forgiven.

         WAR VERSE.

         V. D. F.

     (_Ave atque Vale._)

    You from Givenchy, since no years can harden
      The beautiful dead, when holy twilight reaches
      The sleeping cedar and the copper beeches,
    Return to walk again in Wadham Garden.
    We, growing old, grow stranger to the College,
      Symbol of youth, where we were young together,
      But you, beyond the reach of time and weather,
    Of youth in death for ever keep the knowledge.
    We hoard our youth, we hoard our youth, and fear it,
      But you, who freely gave what we have hoarded,
      Are with the final goal of youth rewarded
    The road to travel and the traveller’s spirit.
    And, therefore, when for us the stars go down,
    Your star is steady over Oxford Town.


    Dear English heart, the open waterways,
      The sea that is aware of liberty,
      And your great ships, her servitors, the sea
    Deep, as your depths, saying of pomp and blaze,
    “These things are not for us,” since other days
      Return, and when the flag is shaken free,
      Cold captains, Drake and Nelson, watch with thee,
    Whose eyes, of boastings cleared and empty praise,
    Beyond the wrecked armadas find the soul
      That unto battle brings our captains’ test:
      “Triumph is good, but honour still is best.
    Conquest of what is evil, and no goal
      Of self-advancement. For the world set free
      The ships of England keep the English sea.”


    Soldiers that after struggle in the night
      See the cold stars assume their shining place,
      Watch the sweet moon and her unaltered grace
    Mocking with peace the battle-tortured sight,
    Think these not careless. These were not less white
      Long years ago upon the upturned face
      Of other soldiers also of your race
    Who on those fields fought such another fight,
    These stars, this moon, in their high citadel
      Of heaven are witness in the Low Country,
      Whose lights are the mere lights of history
    Falling on you, these on your fathers fell.
      See through the reek and horror, shining through,
      Cold lights indeed, but lights of Waterloo!


    This then was love of women. O how little
      Remembered, being free! Say she was tender
        And had a lure of the hands. Here ruthless splendour
    Outlures that lure. And, look you, love was brittle
    That broke, and none could heal it, being sated.
      But this is lasting, this is always stranger
      Each terrible new dawn, for each new danger
    May be the last of all. O, we have waited
    On love like cowards, and the worshipped woman
      Enslaved and shamed us. But that shame is over.
        We are with death acquainted, and to riot
    And call of blood and tenderness and human
      Regrets, he does succeed this final lover
        Whose love is freedom and whose gift is quiet.


    The chestnut trees in Bushey Park are lit
      This year as always since the spring knows naught
    Of war and death, and still the shadows flit
      Across the dappled grass and burnish it.
    And still at night the moon in stately sort
      Is tranquil with the avenues, and lights
      The sleeping palace, as on other nights
      Of springs long past; but searching for the rose
      In vain, the dawn a little whisper knows:
    “Where are the flowers that were at Hampton Court?”

    Two years ago when all the trees were green
      The old red walls were unto to summer brought,
    By joyous bands of lilies and the lean
      Daffodils danced before or ran between.
    Where are they gone these blooms of good report?
      And where the lad and where the laughing maid
      Who came to wonder and to love who stayed?
      For a lost flower is a little thing
      But a lost lover is the end of spring.
    “Where are the flowers that were at Hampton Court?”

    Ah! spring these flowers are growing otherwhere,
      In a new soil a changing radiance taught,
    Born of the soul and nourished of the air,
      Sweeter though scentless and unseen more fair.
    Where are they gone these blooms of good report?
      Is it perhaps that where the Tigris flows
      There blooms an unaccustomed English rose?
      And where the guns have killed the spring in France
      The English lilies break a silver lance?
    “Where are the flowers that were at Hampton Court?”

    If thus the flowers, where are those who here
      Themselves fresh flowers with the springtime fraught,
    Saw the first leaves in Bushey Park appear
    The dead swept leaves the leaves of yesteryear?
      Where are they gone those lads of good report?
      It may be they are sleeping; it may be
      Strange lands have taken them or a strange sea.
      But wheresoever in the world they lie
      An English voice till that world ends will cry
    “Here are the flowers that were at Hampton Court?”

                _Printed at The Vincent Works, Oxford._

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "London Sonnets" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.