Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets
Spun-Yarn and Spindrift
11th Aug 2013Posted in: Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets 0

[2 blank pages]

SPUN—YARN AND SPINDRIFT
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SPUN–YARN
AND
SPINDRIFT

BY
NORAH M. HOLLAND

[illustration]

1918
LONDON & TORONTO
J.M. DENT & SONS LTD.
NEW YORK: E.P. DUTTON & CO.
[unnumbered page]

CONTENTS

PAGE

PAGE

THE LITTLE DOG–ANGEL

7

THE SHEPHERD’S SONG

54

SHULE AROON

8

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

55

A SONG OF ERIN

9

DE PROFUNDIS

56

THE ROAD ACROSS SLIEVE RUE

10

THE CRY OF THE DAMNED

57

TO W.B. YEATS

12

OUR LADY OF REMEMBRANCE

58

A FAIRY TALE

13

MAID MARY

59

THE KING OF ERIN’S DAUGHTER

15

THE TWO CROWNS

60

KITTY O’NEIL

16

A SPARROW IN CHURCH

62

SPRING IN THE CITY

18

SEA–GULLS

63

THE WILD GEESE

19

MY DOG AND I

65

A SONG OF MEMORY

20

SNOWDROPS

67

IN MEMORY OF A FAILURE

21

SPRING

68

THE UNCHRISTENED CHILD

22

OCTOBER WIND

69

TO AUDREY, AGED FOUR

23

OCTOBER

70

A LULLABY

24

IN ARCADIE

71

O LITTLEST HANDS AND DEAREST

25

JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

73

A LOVE SONG

26

THE SANDMAN

74

A SONG OF LOVE

27

THE REMITTANCE MEN

75

DEAD LOVE

28

THE LAST VOYAGE

77

THE WIFE FROM THE SEA

29

BALLADE OF DREAMS

78

A STORM AT NIGHT

30

SHIPS OF OLD RENOWN

79

KITTY’S FEET

31

SEA–SONG

80

THE PORT O’ MISSING SHIPS

32

THE SEA–WIND

81

THE RIDE OF THE SHADOWS

34

MY PHILOSOPHY

82

GHOSTS

36

EASTER, 1917

83

OUR LADY OF DARKNESS

38

“HOME THOUGHTS FROM ABROAD”

85

DALUAN

39

THE KAISER

86

DEAD— AND LIVING

40

CAPTAINS ADVENTUROUS

87

THE MASTER OF SHADOWS

42

DRAKE’S DRUM

88

DIANE AU BOIS

43

OUR DEAD

89

THE RED HORSE

45

NEW YEAR’S EVE, 1916

90

THE ADVENTURERS

46

TO IRELAND’S DEAD

91

THE WATCHER OF THE THRESHOLD

47

A SONG OF EXILE

92

THE GREY RIDER

48

THE AIR–MEN

93

JOAN THE MAID

50

THE DEFEATED

94

NEWBURY TOWN

51

THE GENTLEMEN OF OXFORD

95

A CHRISTMAS HYMN

53

[page 5]

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SPUN–YARN AND SPINDRIFT

THE LITTLE DOG–ANGEL

HIGH up in the courts of Heaven to–day
   A little dog–angel waits,
With the other angels he will not play,
   But he sits alone at the gates;
“For I know that my master will come,” says he:
“And when he comes, he will call for me.”

He sees the spirits that pass him by
   As they hasten towards the throne
And he watches them with a wistful eye
   As he sits at the gates alone;
“But I know if I just wait patiently
That some day my master will come,” says he.

And his master, far on the earth below,
   As he sits in his easy chair,
Forgets sometimes, and he whistles low
   For the dog that is not there;
And  the little dog–angel cocks his ears,
And dreams that his master’s call he hears.

And I know, when at length his master waits
   Outside in the dark and cold
For the hand of Death to ope the gates
   That lead to those courts of gold,
The little dog–angel’s eager bark
Will comfort his soul in the shivering dark. [page 7]

 

SHULE AROON

FAIR are the fields of Canada, and broad her rivers flow,
   But my heart’s away from Canada to seek the hills I know,
Far, far away o’er billows grey, where western breezes sweep,
   And––it’s not the songs of Canada go sounding through my sleep.

          Shule, shule, shule, aroon,
             Shule go soccair, agus shule go cuain,
          Shule, shule, shule, aroon,
             Sgo Dhae tu, mavourneen, slan.

Along the sides of old Slieve Dhu again my footstep falls,
   Again the turf smoke rises blue, again the cuckoo calls,
Once more adown the mountain brown the brown bog–waters leap––
   Oh how the croon of “Shule aroon” goes sounding through my sleep!

           Shule, shule, shule, aroon,
              Shule go soccair, agus shule go cuain,
          Shule, shule, shule, aroon,
             Sgo Dhae tu, mavourneen, slan.

Oh ‘tis I am here in Canada, far, far across the foam,
   And many years and many tears divide me from my home;
But still above the Irish hills the stars their watches keep,
   And––it’s not the songs of Canada of sounding through my sleep.

          Shule, shule, shule, aroon,
             Shule go soccair, agus shule go cuain,
          Shule, shule, shule, aroon,
             Ago Dhae tu, mavourneen, slan.  [page 8]

A SONG OF ERIN

FAR to westward in the sunset tall and bare her cliffs arise,
Mother Erin, with the tender love and laughter in her eyes,
Looking out across the waters, dreaming of her argosies.

Argosies that sail forever, laden down with hopes and fears,
Ships of dream, returning never, though she waits throughout the years,
Waits, with eyes wherein the laughter grows more sorrowful than tears.

One by one her children leave her––stalwart sons and daughters fair,
Straining eyes grown dim with anguish as her hilltops melt in air;
Bending from her cliffs she watches, drinking deep of their despair.

Yet she showers her gifts upon them––gifts of laughter and of tears;
Gives their eyes the Vision Splendid, fairy music to their ears,
Weaves around their feet her magic––spells that strengthen through the years.

So her children, unforgetting, howsoe’er their footsteps roam,
Turn their hearts forever westward, longing for the day to come
When once more they see her stooping from her heights to call them home. [page 9]

THE ROAD ACROSS SLIEVE RUE

AS I went down to Dublin town
   The road across Slieve Rue,
I met a maid in crimson gown;
Her little feet were bare and brown,
She looked at me, she laughed at me
   With eyes of watchet blue.

No mortal maid was half so fair,
   Or half so dainty sweet;
The sun was tangled in her hair,
And O her feet were brown and bare;
I laid the very heart of me
   Before those dancing feet.

“O go you down to Dublin quay
   To sail upon the Bay?
I pray you, gentle sir,” said she,
“To turn and walk a mile with me.”
So witching were the eyes of her
   I could not say her nay.

She gave to me a ring of gold,
   And kisses, two and three;
She sang me elfin songs of old,
She lured my heart into her hold,
Then turned and left me lonely there ––
   A wicked witch was she. [page 10]

As I went down to Dublin quay
   By darkling ways alone,
My fairy maid was gone from me,
For O a wicked witch was she,
And all my heart within me lay
   As heavy as a stone. [page 11]

TO W.B. YEATS

A WIND of dreams comes singing over sea
   From where the white waves kiss the shores of home,
Bringing upon its rainbow wings to me
                    Glimpses of days gone by––
Of wastes of water, where the sea–gulls cry
                    Above the sounding foam.

Or through the mists do Finn and Usheen ride,
   With all their men, alone some faery shore,
While Bran and Sgeolan follow at their side
                    Adown the shadowy track,
Till in the sunset Caoilte’s hair blows back
                    And Niamh calls once more.

Or the brown bees hum through the livelong day
   In glade of Inisfree, where sunlight gleams,
The bean flower scents again the dear old way,
                    Once more the turf–fire burns;
The memory of the long dead past returns
                    Borne on that wind of dreams. [page 12]

A FAIRY TALE

WITH sword at side, on his charger good,
   The King’s son of Erin
Into the depths of the dark, green wood
   Forward was faring;
Golden–armoured and golden–curled,
Faith, the sweetest song in the world
   His heart was hearing!

Onward he rode, with heart elate;
   Gaily he sought her––
She, the Princess to be his mate,
   The great King’s daughter,
Jewelled fingers and golden crown,
Slim young body and eyes as brown
   As the brown bog–water.

On he rode through a laughing land:
   The ways grew wider,
There stood a cottage close at hand
   And there he spied her––
O but her feet were brown and bare,
And brown were her curls, as she stood there
   With her geese beside her.

Alas! for the Princess, proud and slim,
   The great King’s daughter;
We’ll trust she wasted no thought on him
   For he straight forgot her, [page 13]
Forgot her jewels and golden crown,
For the goose–girl’s laughing eyes were brown
   As the brown bog-water.

Then straightway down from his steed he sprang 
   And bent above her;
O sweet were the songs the breezes sang
   Across the clover;
But what the words he said in her ear,
Since none but her geese were by to hear,
   I can’t discover.

And what of the Princess, proud and high?
   Good luck upon her!
Sure, another Prince came riding by,
   And he wooed and won her.
Now I tell the tale as ‘twas told to me
By a fairy lad, across the sea
   In County Connor. [page 14]

THE KING OF ERIN’S DAUGHTER

THE King of Erin’s daughter had wind–blown hair and bright,
   The King of Erin’s daughter, her eyes were like the sea.
(O Rose of all the roses, have you forgotten quite
   The story of the days of old that once you told to me?)

The King of Erin’s daughter went up the mountain side,
   And who but she was singing as she went upon her way?
“O somewhere waits a King’s son, and I shall be his bride;
   And tall he is, and fair he is, and none shall say him nay.”

The King of Erin’s daughter (O fair was she and sweet)
   Went laughing up the mountain without a look behind,
Till on the lofty summit that lay beneath her feet
   She found a King’s son waiting there, his brows with poppies twined.

O tall was he and fair was he.  He looked upon her face
   And whispered in her ear a word unnamed of mortal breath,
And very still she rested, clasped close in his embrace,
   The King of Erin’s daughter, for the bridegroom’s name was Death. [page 15]

 

KITTY O’NEIL

O A bit of a dance in an Irish street––
   Hogan was there, and Hennessy,
Many a colleen fair and sweet,
   And Kitty O’Neil she danced with me;
Kitty O’Neil, with eyes of brown,
   And feet as light as the flakes o’ snow.
Was it last year, O Kitty aroon,
   Or was it a hundred years ago?

Hogan is out on a Texan plain,
   Hennessy fell in Manila fight,
And I––I am back in New York again
   In my old arm–chair at the Club to–night;
And Kitty O’Neil––the snow lies white
   On the turf above her across the sea,
And stranger colleens are dancing light
   Where Kitty O’Neil once danced with me.

O the Antrim glens and the thrushes’ song,
   And the hedges white with blossoming may,
Many a colleen tripping along,
   But none so fair as the one away:
“Musha, God save you!” I to them say,
   “God save you kindly!” they answer me;
I shiver and wake, in the dawning grey,
   And Kitty O’Neil lies over the sea. [page 16]

O a bit of a dance in an Irish street––
   Hogan was there, and Hennessy,
Many a colleen fair and sweet,
   And Kitty O’Neil she danced with me;
Kitty O’Neil, with eyes of brown,
   And feet as light as the flakes of snow.
Was it last year, O Kitty aroon,
   Or was it a hundred years ago? [page 17]

SPRING IN THE CITY

OUTSIDE my garret window, set
   Amid the city’s dust and blare,
One bit of green is growing yet––
   A gnarled old hawthorn tree stands there

A little bird sings in its bough,
   Where may–buds break as white as foam;
It breaks my heart to hear him now,
   For O, he sings the songs of home.

His wings are of the hodden grey,
   A little lilting thing is he;
He pipes a carol blythe and gay;
   But sad the thoughts he brings to me.

Once more the Irish hills rise green,
   The lark springs to the sun once more,
Once more I tread  the old boreen
   And see you at the cabin door.

The young May moon her cresset burns
   In misty skies of Irish blue,
And for an hour my spirit turns
   From dreary streets to dream of you

O little, lilting birdeen, cease!
   You stab my heart with every strain
Bringing me back old memories
   Of days that will not come again. [page 18]

 

THE WILD GEESE

O PLEASANT are the fields of France, her vine–clad hills aglow,
And broad and smooth her rivers are, as singing on they go,—
Durance and Seine and Loire and Rhone—but not for us they flow.

And sweetly on a Frenchman’s ear the songs of France may ring,
But not for us their melody who still amid their swing
The sobbing beat alone can hear of songs we used to sing.

For, as the streams of Babylon, though broad and fair they swept,
Were waters of captivity, whereby the Hebrews wept,
Dreaming of dear Jerusalem, where their forefathers slept—

So dreaming by the waves of France we think on Sion too,
Heartsick with longing for the streams we and our fathers knew—
Liffey and Lee and Avonmore and tawny Avondhu.

And turning homeward yearning eyes that ne’er shall see her strand,
We tune our harps and strike once more the chords with faltering hand,
And sing again the song of home, far in a lonely land.

“If we forget Jerusalem!”  Ah, well we know the song—
Our waters of captivity, bitter their waves and strong,
And faint our hearts for weariness, how long, O Lord, how long? [page 19]

A SONG OF MEMORY

HERE as I sit in the dark and ponder,
   Watching the firelight dance and gleam,
What brings them back to my mind, I wonder?—
   Those old days of laughter and dream.
Dear old days, when we roamed together
   All the pathways that cross the Slieve Rue,
Caring for naught in the sunny weather,
   Laughing together, I and you.

Voice of the west wind, calling, calling,
   Sobbing beat of the Irish rain,
Whispering leaves and waters falling,
   Ay, and you by my side again;
Out of the past I hear them ringing—
   All the songs of the days of old;
Hear the lark on the hillside singing,
   See the gleam of the gorse’s gold.

Till, as I sit in the firelight dreaming,
   Watching the shadows grow apace,
Out of the long dead years comes gleaming
   There in the flames your laughing face;
All the days that are past and over
   Gone in the turf smoke, curling blue,
And from their wreckage I recover
   Song and sunshine and youth and you. [page 20]

 

IN MEMORY OF A FAILURE

O KATHALEEN ni Houlihan, in blood and ashes lie
The dreams we dreamed, the faith we held, the hopes we builded high;
Once more the path that Emmet trod our bleeding feet must press,
Once more our hearts must bear the load of failure and distress;
But though the dreams in ruin fell, yet this much still is true—
O Kathaleen ni Houlihan, at least we died for you.

O Kathaleen ni Houlihan, the hills with Spring are fair,
And fragrant blows the daffodil and violets scent the air,
Once more from out the morning sky the lark’s day challenge rings,
Mounting the blue to Heaven’s gate, but not for us he sings,
And summer comes, and autumn tints with bronze and gold the fern,
And bees hum in the heather bloom, but we shall not return.

O Kathaleen ni Houlihan, give us nor praise nor blame,
Only a little Irish dust to cover up our shame;
Only a sod of Irish ground our broken dream to hide,
Where some may pause and say a prayer and “’Twas for her they died;”
For though we brought you grief and pain, yet this must still is true—
O Kathaleen ni Houlihan, at least we died for you. [page 21] 

THE UNCHRISTENED CHILD

ALANNA!  Alanna!  within the churchyard’s round
There’s many graves of childer’s there, they lie in holy ground;
But yours is on the mountain side beneath the hawthorn tree—
O fleet one, my sweet one, that’s gone so far from me.

Alanna!  Alanna!  When that small mound was made,
No mass was sung, no bell was rung, no priest above it prayed;
Unchristened childer’s souls, they say, may ne’er see Heaven’s light—
O lone one, my own one, where strays your soul to–night?

Alanna!  Alanna! This life’s a weary one,
And heard outside the gates of Heaven a little crying child,
What though its brow the chrisom lacked, I’d lift the golden pin,
O bright one, my white one, and bid you enter in.

Alanna!  Alanna!  The mountain side is bare,
And the winds they do be blowing and the snows be lying there,
And unchristened childer’s souls, they say, may ne’er see Heaven’s light—
O lone one, my own one, where strays your soul to–night? [page 22]

 

TO AUDREY, AGED FOUR

LIGHT feet, white feet, dancing down the ways,
   Spilling out the honey from the flowery days,
May your paths forever flowery be and sweet,
   Stony roads of sorrow wait not for your feet.

Light feet, white feet, as you older grow,
   Fain are we to keep you from all care and woe;
But if thorn and brier in your roadway be,
   Light feet, white feet, meet them merrily.

Light feet, white feet, as you dance along,
   God, Who made you, keep you free from stain of wrong,
Give you song and sunshine, laughter, love and praise,
   Light feet, white feet, dancing down the ways. [page 23]

 

A LULLABY

LITTLE brown feet, that have grown so weary,
   Plodding on through the heat of day,
Mother will hold you, mother will fold you
Safe to her breast; little feet, rest;
   Now is the time to cease from play.

Little brown hands, that through the day’s long hours
   Never rested, be still at last;
Mother will rest you; come, then, and nest you
Here by her side, nestle and hide;
   Creep to her heart and hold it fast.

Little brown head, on my shoulder lying,
   Night is coming and day is dead;
Mother will sing you songs, that shall bring you
Childhood’s soft asleep, quiet and deep;
   Sweet be your dreams, O dear brown head. [page 24]

 

O LITTLEST HANDS AND DEAREST

O LITTLEST hands and dearest,
   O golden heads and bright,
From out what dear dream country
   Come you to me to–night?
For through the shadows falling
I hear your voices calling
Out of the magic spaces
   Of infinite delight.

I see your curls a–glimmer,
   I see your dear eyes shine,
I feel the childish fingers
   Slipped softly into mine;
You bring me back the May–time,
The old, delightful play–time
When all the world was laughter
   And life seemed half divine.

Thus, from the shades that gather
   Around my path to–night
Your glad child–hands have drawn me
   Back to your lands of light,
Giving me for my sadness
The medicine of your gladness,
O littlest hands and dearest.
    O golden heads and bright. [page 25]

 

A LOVE SONG

LOVE came to me once more,
   His wings all drenched with rain;
Silent his singing lips,
   His eyes were dark with pain. 

Dead roses in his hands—
   Gone were the flowers of yore;
Only a poor, grey ghost,
   Love lingered at my door.

Wasted his rounded limbs
   And grey his golden hair—
Poor, shadowy, silent God,
   Who once had been so fair.

“O Love, great Love,” I cried,
   “Why come you thus to me?”
“I am Love’s ghost,” he said;
   “Men name me Memory.” [page 26]

A SONG OF LOVE

LOVE came loitering down the way,
   (Heart, but we two were young!)
Laughter light in his eyes there lay,
   Music was on his tongue;
“Stay, Love, stay––walk with us, pray!”
   (Sweet were the songs he sung.)

Love with us goes wandering still,
   (Heart, but his songs are sweet!)
Suns may shine, or the rains beat chill,
   What matter cold or heat?
Blue or grey, Love goes our way;
   (Summer follows his feet.)

Love, he has been a comrade true,
   (Heart, how the seasons fly!)
Joy and Sorrow have found us too,
   Greeted and passed us by;
So Love stay, they may go their way;
   (And Love can never die.) [page 27]

DEAD LOVE

FOLD the hands, grown still and cold;
                    Lay ye by
The broken bow that shall feel his hold
   Nevermore, while the seasons fly.
Draw the shroud above his eyes,
   Love, that laughs an hour and dies.

Seek no more to entrance win
                    At his gate;
Silent now are the song and din,
   Jest and dance, that were there of late.
Never more shall he arise,
   Love, that laughs an hour and dies.

Listen not, for ye shall catch
                    Nevermore
The sound of his finger on the latch,
   Nor see him stand in the open door;
Ne’er shall see, in any guise,
   Love, that laughs an hour and dies. [page 28]

THE WIFE FROM THE SEA

I SNATCHED her from her home away—
   From her great waters, cool and free,
My sea–maid, in whose eyes there lay
   The depths and dangers of the sea.

I brought her where faint breezes sweep
   Through lanes walled in with hedges high,
And sown with luscious grass and deep
   At ease the fatted pastures lie.

I gave her my poor cottage home,
   The tame face of the countryside—
Who knew the waves’ withdrawing foam,
   The thunder of the bursting tide.

And day by day did I rejoice
   To see her sit beside my door,
Nor knew that in her heart the voice
   Of ocean called forever more.

Until the grace I would not give
   Death gave.  His mighty hand set free
My wild sea–maid, that could not live
   Without her waters’ liberty.

And I? ––To me the fields are dear;
   The steadfast earth is home to me.
Yet night by night in dreams I hear
   Her spirit call me from the sea. [page 29]

A STORM AT NIGHT

ALL night the waves broke in upon the shore
   Beneath my window, and I heard the rain
With querulous, weak fingers, evermore
   Beating against the pane.

And through the darkness saw—was it the sweep
   Of some white sea–bird’s wing above the foam,
That fain would cross those waters, wild and deep,
   And find its mate and home?

Or was it— oh, dear feet, why should you leave
   The halls of Heaven, with all their warmth and light,
To come where winds wail and where waters grieve,
   Seeking my door last night?

Surely you came not; ‘twas some bird’s white breast
   Flashed through the night, and not your waving hand,
Some sea–gull, weary of the waves’ unrest,
   That sought the steadfast land.

And yet, amid the sobbing of the rain,
   Outside my window in the dark and chill,
I heard your voice, that ever and again
   Called, and would not be still—

Until the morning came, sullen and red,
   With waves that beat still foaming on the shore,
The wind and rain had ceased, and lo!  my dead
   Had gone from me once more. [page 30]

 

KITTY’S FEET

SURE, I’m sitting here this evening, while the firelight flickers low, 
And I’m looking through the shadows into eyes I used to know,
Through the years that lie between us, into tender eyes and sweet,
And I’m listening in the darkness for the sound of Kitty’s feet—
Kitty’s feet, whose tripping faltered into silence long ago.

Ah, ‘tis well I mind those evenings, gathering shades about my chair,
And the sound of Kitty’s footsteps dancing gaily down the stair 
Through the hall and past the doorway, till I’d turn, her eyes to meet,
Well my heart it knew the measure that was danced by Kitty’s feet—
Kitty’s feet that dance no longer, lying in the silence there.

Yet to–night as I sit dreaming, while the shadows longer grow,
I can almost think I hear them, the dear steps I long for so;
Through the years that lie between us comes again the vision sweet,
And my heart once more is beating to the tune of Kitty’s feet—
Kitty’s feet, that tripped so lightly past Death’s portals long ago. [page 31]

 

THE PORT O’ MISSING SHIPS

SHE lies across the western main, 
   Beyond the sunset’s rim;
Her quays are packed with reeling mists—
   A city strange and dim:
And silent o’er her harbour bar
   The ghostly waters brim.

No sound of life is in her streets,
   No creak of rope or spar
Comes ever from the water’s edge
   Where the great vessels are;
Yet ship by ship steals through the mists
   Across her harbour bar.

There many a good galleon
   Has made her anchor fast,
And many a tall caravel
   Her journeyings ends at last;
But no living eye may look upon
   That harbour dim and vast.

For one went down in tropic seas,
   And one put fearless forth
To find her death in loneliness
   ‘Mid icebergs of the north;
Thus ship by ship and crew by crew
   The ocean tried their worth. [page 32]

She lies across the western main
   Beyond the sunset’s rim,
Her quays are packed with reeling mists—
   A city strange and dim;
And silent o’er her harbour bar
   The ghostly waters brim.  [page 33]

THE RIDE OF THE SHADOWS

BEHIND the pines, when sunset gleams,
The white gates of the Land of Dreams 
                    Stand open wide,
And all adown the golden road
That leads from that most blest abode
                    The shadows ride,
Who in the light of common day
                    May now no more abide.

They leave their meads of asphodel,
The starry spaces where they dwell,
                    Where quiet lies:
They leave their windless, glassy sea,
The angel songs and melody
                    Of Paradise,
To walk again the old–time way
                    Once dear to mortal eyes.

With beating heart I watch them ride
Across the gathering shades that hide
                    That country bright;
The faces that I loved of yore,
Eyes that shall smile on me no more
                     With mortal light;
Shadows of all good things and fair
                     Come from the past to–night.[page 34]

So, when the dying sunset gleams
Behind the hills, the Gate of Dreams
                    Stands open wide;
And all along the golden road
From those fair mansions of their God
                    Where they abide—
Dear memories of the days that were—
                     I see the shadows ride. [page 35]

GHOSTS

THE sky is overcast,
   The wind wails loud;
Grey ghosts go driving past
   In driving cloud;
And, in the beating rain
Against the window–pane
Dead fingers beat again,
   Dead faces crowd.

O, grey ghosts, waiting still,
   My fire burns bright;
Without is cold and chill,
   Here, warm and light.
And would you have me creep
Outside to you, and sweep
With you along the steep
   Of the grey night?

Nay, once I held you dear,
   Before you fled
Adown the shadowy, drear
   Paths of the dead;
But now the churchyard mould
Has left you all too cold,
Your hands I cannot hold, 
   Your touch I dread. [page 36]

Yet linger patiently,
   Ghosts of the past,
Soon there shall come to me
   That morn’s chill blast
That calls me too to tread
Those ways of doubt and dread,
And numbered with the dead
   To lie at last. [page 37]

OUR LADY OF DARKNESS

WHEN the toils of the day are over and the sun has sunk in the west,
And my lips are tired of laughter, and my heart is heavy for rest,
I will sit awhile in the shadows, till Our Lady of Darkness shall shed
The healing balms of the silence and her dreams upon my head.

Ye seek in vain in your temples––she dwells no in aisles of stone;
Apart, and at peace, and silent, she waits in the night alone.
Her eyes are as moonlit waters, her brows with the stars are bound,
And her footsteps move to music, but no man has heard the sound.

No incense burns at her altar––at her shrine no lamplight gleams,
But she guards the Fountains of Quiet, and she keeps the key of Dreams,
And I will sit in the shadows and pray her, of her grace,
To open her guarded visions and grant me to dream of your face.

I ask not to break the silence, but only that you shall stand,
As oft you stood in the old–time, with your hand upon my hand;
So I will sit very quiet, that Our Lady of Darkness may shed
Her balms of healing and silence and of dreams upon my head. [page 38]

DALUAN

DALUAN, the Shepherd, 
   When winter winds blow chill,
Goes piping o’er the upland,
   Goes piping by the rill;
And whoso hears his music
   Must follow where he will.

Daluan, the Shepherd,
   (So the old story saith)
He pipes the tunes of laughter,
   The songs of sighing breath;
He pipes the souls of mortals
   Through the dark gates of Death.

Daluan, the Shepherd,
   Who listens to his strain
Shall look no more on laughter,
   Shall taste no more of pain,
Shall know no more the longing
   That eats at heart and brain.

Daluan, the Shepherd––
   Beside the sobbing rill,
And through the dripping woodlands,
   And up the gusty hill,
I hear the pipes of Daluan
   Crying and calling still. [page 39]

DEAD—AND LIVING

The Question

 

IF WE should tap on your pane to–night, dear,
   Standing here in the dark outside,
As in the far–off days and bright, dear,
   Say, would you fling the window wide?

Nay, you would turn to firelight’s gold, dear,
   Saying, “’Tis but a dream that fled;”
Deep we lie in the churchyard mould, dear,
   Who shall remember to love the dead?

(Ah, the dead, who shall come no more, dear,
   Gone and forgotten, so you say—
Standing here in the dark at your door, dear,—
   Dead and forgotten and gone for aye.)

Your hours pass with laughter and song, dear,
   Do we blame you that you forget?
All our years are empty and long, dear,
   We, in our graves, remember yet.

We remember, and ofttimes rise, dear,
   From our beds ‘neath the churchyard sod,
Walking ever, with wistful eyes, dear,
   Old-time ways that in life we trod. [page 40]

We remember, who are forgot, dear—
   Do we blame you that you forget?
How should we live in your highest thought, dear?
   Only—the dead remember yet.

The Reply

 

Do we forget? —We cannot hear your call;
   Your tap upon the pane
Sounds to our ears but as the leaves that fall,
   Or beat of sobbing rain.

We cannot see you standing at the door,
   Or passing through the gloom;
We strain our ears, yet year your step no more
   In the familiar room.

And seeing not—but waiting, with a numb,
   Bewildered heart and brain,
And hearing not––but only winds that come
   And wail against the pane,

And dreaming of you in some brighter sphere,
   We—we, too—grieve and fret
That you, whom still we hold so dear, so dear,
   Should all so soon forget. [page 41]

THE MASTER OF SHADOWS

INTO the western waters
   Slow sinks the sunset light,
And the voice of the Wind of Shadows
   Calls to my heart to–night––

Calls from the magic countries,
   The lost and the lovely lands
Where stands the Master of Shadows,
   Holding the dreams in his hands.

All the dreams of the ages
   Gather around him there,
Visions of things forgotten
   And of things that never were.

Birds in the swaying woodlands,
   Creatures furry and small,
Turn to the Master of Shadows
   And he gives of his dreams to all.

Lo!  I am worn and weary,
   Sick of the garish light;
Blow, thou Wind of the Shadows,
   Into my heart to–night.

Out of the magic countries,
   The lost and the lovely lands,
Where he, the Master of Shadows, 
   Waits, with the dreams in his hands. [page 42]

 

DIANE AU BOIS

 

THROUGH the sere woods she walks alone,
   With bow unstrung and empty quiver;
Her hounds are dead, her maidens gone,
   She walks alone forever;
Watching the while with wistful eyes
Her crescent shining in the skies.

The flutes of Pan are silent now,
   Hushed is the sound of Faunus’ singing;
Through winds that shake the withering bough
    No dryad’s voice is ringing.
Syrinx has left her river deep,
E’en old Silenus sound doth sleep.

The startled deer before her flee,
   The nightingales with music meet her;
Yet never mortal eye shall see
   Or mortal voices greet her.
Her shrines with weeds are overgrown,
Their fires are out; their worship done.

Yet sometimes, so ‘twas told to me,
   The children playing in the meadows
May hear her song, that mournfully
   Comes floating through the shadows
And sometimes see, through boughs grown bare,
The moonlit brightness of her hair. [page 43]

And, it may be, her weary feet,
   White gleaming through those dusky spaces,
May, after many wanderings, meet
   The dear, familiar places;
And find, beyond the sunset’s gold,
Ghosts of the Gods she knew of old. [page 44]

THE RED HORSE

HE came and whinnied at my door,
   The wild red horse, with flowing mane;
And I–I crossed the threshold o’er,
   Leaving behind my wonted life,
   And hope of joy, and fear of pain,
   And clasp of friend, and kiss of wife,
And clinging touch of childish hands,
   And love of laughter, grief and glee,
And rode him out across the sands
   Beside a dark, mysterious sea.

Across my face his mane was blown,
   I saw the eddying stars grow dim,
And suddenly the past had grown
   A dream of weariness gone by,
   And I was fain to ride with him
   Forever up a darkening sky,
And hear the far,  thin, fairy tune
   That through the darkness seemed to beat,
Until at length the crescent moon
   Was lying underneath our feet.

And there the unknown beaches lay
   With stars for the silvery pebbles strown,
And thin and faint and far away
   Came all the noises of the world,
   And up those glimmering reaches blown
   The whispering waves of darkness curled.
And there my wild steed paused at last,
   And there, wrapped round in dreams, I lie,
And in the wind that whistles past
   I hear a far, faint, fairy cry. [page 45]

THE ADVENTURERS

WE rode from the north, a valiant band,
   With shining armour and swords aflame,
Till we came at length to a silent land––
   To a sunless, shadowy land we came,
   A desolate land, without a name.

No songs of birds in that land were known,
   No voices of human joy or pain,
But mists on the silent winds were blown.
   And shadows clung to our bridle rein,
   Dim forms that no answer gave again.

Then some grew tired of those weary ways
   And hied them back to a happier coast,
And many followed some phantom face
   Down one of the winding ways that crossed
   That shadowy land, and so were lost.

And the rust grew red on our harness bright,
   And dull grew our swords, and a dream the Quest,
And ever wearier grew the fight
   With thronging phantoms that round us pressed,
   And ever our hearts grew sick for rest.

Till, few and feeble who were so strong,
   Weary, who dreamed we could never tire,
We won at last through those ways so long,
   And, bathed in the sunset, dome and spire,
   We saw the City of Heart’s Desire. [page 46]

THE WATCHER OF THE THRESHOLD

SILENT amid the shadows
   Outside my door,
The Watcher of the Threshold
   Waits evermore.

One day the door will open,
   And I shall see
The Watcher of the Threshold
   Beckon to me.

And I must leave the firelight,
   And seek the gloom 
Where stands that shadowy figure 
   Outside my room.

In vain it is to question
   Of how, or why,
The Watcher of the Threshold
   Makes no reply.

Only amid the shadows
   Silent he stands,
With eyes that hold a secret, 
   And folded hands. 

Still standing in the darkness
   Outside my door,
The Watcher of the Threshold
   Waits evermore. [page 47]

 

THE GREY RIDER

WHY ride so fast through the wind and rain,
                   Grey Rider of the Shee?
Lest a soul should call for me in vain
                    To–night, O Vanathee.

Now, whose is the soul shall seek thine aid,
                    Grey Rider of the Shee?
The soul of one that is sore afraid
                    To–night, O Vanathee.

O fears he is the flurry of wind and rain,
                    Grey Rider of the Shee?
More deep is the dread that sears his brain
                    To–night, O Vanathee.

Does he fear the tumult of clanging blows,
                    Grey Rider of the Shee?
Nay, darker still is the fear he knows
                    To–night, O Vanathee.

Does he fear the loss of or wife or child,
                    Grey Rider of the Shee?
Nay, a terror holds him that’s still more wild
                    To–night, O Vanathee.

O what should make him so sore afraid,
                    Grey Rider of the Shee?
He fears a wraith that himself has maide
                    To–night, O Vanathee. [page 48]

Then how shall you cleanse from hear his mind,
                    Grey Rider of the Shee?
I will touch his eyes, and they shall be blind
                    To–night, O Vanathee.

Yet still may he know the voice of fear,
                    Grey Rider of the Shee?
I will touch his ears that he shall not hear
                    To–night, O Vanathee.

Yet that wraith may linger around his bed,
                    Grey Rider of the Shee?
No terror shall touch the quiet dead
                    To–night, O Vanathee

Shee, Sidhe— Fairies.
Vanathee, Bean–an–Tighe—Woman of the house. [page 49]

JOAN THE MAID

STILL, they say, she moves through the old–time places, 
   Joan the Maid, with her great sword girt at her side;
Sheen of wings and shimmer of angel faces
   Gather around her as she on doth ride.

Rheims or Orleans may see her thus in splendour,
   Never the old Domremy streets she knew,
Here she walks as a maiden, shy and slender,
   Brushing with bare brown feet the evening dew.

Oft do the children, playing in the meadows,
   See her watching them, white and very fair,
Smiling lips and eyes that dream in the shadows,
   Lilies of France she loved so in her hair.

So she comes, through those quiet roadways stealing,
   Where in the grey church still her people bend,
Unto the Maiden, their own saint, appealing;
   Hears them name her saviour of France and friend.

She has forgotten now the mocking faces,
   Prison, and wounds, and torture of the flame;
Still, they say, she moves through the old–time places,
   Joan the Maid, whence once, long since, she came. [page 50]

NEWBURY TOWN

RUPERT’S soldiers came riding, riding,
   All in the sunshine riding down,
Scented curls on the breezes flowing,
Banners dancing and bugles blowing,
Gaily the troops came riding, riding,
   Through the streets of Newbury town.

Bells in the church towers all were swinging,
   Flags were waving and flowers were strown;
Roses lay in the road before them,
Roses rained from the casements o’er them,
All in the streets, with shout and singing,
   Prayed that the King might win his own.

Rupert’s soldiers came riding, riding,
   All in the darkness riding down;
Never a church-bell chimed to greet them,
Never a maid came forth to meet them;
Broken, defeated, they came riding
   Through the streets of Newbury town

Never more while the bells are calling
   Rupert’s soldiers come riding down;
They have ridden, with bugles blowing
Into a land beyond our knowing,
Never more shall their footsteps falling
   Haunt the streets of Newbury town. [page 51]

Yet, as I sit here, idly dreaming,
   Watching the water onward flow,
Still I see, in the sun or shadow,
Rupert’s soldiers across the meadow,
Banner’s blowing and lovelocks streaming,
   Riding back from long ago.

And in my dreams they still are riding,
   Victor or vanquished, riding down;
Now with the roses strewn before them—
Now with the darkness gathering o’er them—
Rupert’s soldiers, forever riding
   Through the streets of Newbury town. [page 52]

A CHRISTMAS HYMN

No room for Thee, O Baby Jesukin,
                    No room within the inn;
Only the stable door is standing wide,
                    And there inside
The ox and ass their patient foreheads bow
                    Before Thee now.

No room for Thee, O little Lord of all,
                    In cottage or in hall;
Yet o’er Thy stable angel voices sound
                    Telling around
To the wide world a Prince is born to them
                     In Bethlehem.

No room for Thee—yet the wise Kings have sped
                    To kneel beside Thy bed,
Offering their gifts, myrrh, frankincense, and gold,
                    To thee to hold;
And all the angel armies of the air
                    Are gathered there.

No room for Thee—yet the wide earth is Thine,
                    And this poor heart of mine;
Though oft Thy Hand has tried its doors in vain,
                    Yet come again;
Wide open now it stands—O Light of Light,
                    Enter to-night. [page 53]

 

THE SHEPHERDS’ SONG

WE be silly shepherds,
   Men of no renown,
Guarding well our sheepfolds
   Hard by Bethlehem town;
Baby Jesus, guard us all,
Cot and sheepfold, bower and stall.

Wild the wind was blowing,
   Sudden all was still,
Laughter soft of angels
   Rang from hill to hill.
Baby Jesus, Thou wast born
Ere that midnight paled to morn.

Seek we now Thy presence
   With our gifts of love;
Felix brings a lambkin,
   I will give a dove.
Baby Jesus, small and sweet,
Lo, we lay them at Thy feet. [page 54]

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

JUST a little baby lying in a manger,
   God of Gods and Light of Lights, the mighty King of Kings,
Hark!  the choiring angels chant their glad evangels,
   All the air is pulsing with the music of their wings.

Just a little baby on Mary’s breast that bore Him,
   Helpless feet, and clinging hands, and lips that knew no word,
And the darkness ringing with the angels’ singing,
   Sounding through the solemn night, “All glory to the Lord.”

Just a little baby wrapped in swaddling clothing—s
   All the earth forever thrills rejoicing in that birth,
Through the centuries flying still hears those angels crying,
   “Glory be to God on high, and peace, goodwill to earth.” [page 55]

 

DE PROFUNDIS

 

LORD, from this prison-house that we have built,
   This dark abode of pain and misery,
                         Failure and guilt,
We stretch our hands, we stretch our hands to Thee,
                         Lord, set us free.

O Lord, Thou knowest all—Thou knowest well
   The groping hands, the eyes that would not see,
                         The feet that fell;
Yet are we fain—are fain to come to Thee,
                         Lord, set us free.

Bitter the chains that we have borne so long,
   The chains of sin we wove so heedlessly;
                         Lo, Thou art strong,
Out of the deeps we cry—we cry to Thee,
                         Lord, set us free. [page 56]

THE CRY OF THE DAMNED

HAVE you no pity for us?—You, who stand
   Within that Heaven that we may never win,
Who know the golden streets of that fair land
   Our weary feet are fain to be within.
Have you no ruth for us, who must abide
In the great horror of the night outside?

We, too, once knew of laughter and delight,
   Who now must walk these weary roads of pain;
Our hearts were pure as yours, our faces bright,
   In that glad life we may not know again;
We might have gained your Heaven too—even we
Who dwell with madness and with memory.

Within the pleasant pastures where your feet
   Stray, comes there never thought of our distress?
Do our wails never mar your music sweet?
   Our parched throats change your draught to bitterness?
Your chance was ours—we lost it; yes, we know
Ours was the fault—but, is it easier so?

Yet was it ours?—The dazzled eyes and blind,
   The wills that knew, but could not hold the good,
The groping feet, that failed the path to find,
   The wild desires that filled the tainted blood?
Have you no ruth, who those bright barriers crossed,
For us, who saw them open—and are lost?  [page 57]

 

OUR LADY OF REMEMBRANCE

SHE stoops to us from her dim recess
   With weary and wistful eyes;
She has grown so tired of the censer’s swing,
Of the white-robed choir and the songs they sing,
Of the priest’s pale hand, upraised to bless,
   And the feast and the sacrifice.

They bow to her as the Mother blest
   Of the great and awful God;
But her heart holds dearest His early years,
The childish laughter, the childish tears,
Ere His feet had the road of sorrows pressed,
   Or the way to the cross had trod.

Her thoughts to back to the days of yore—
   Away from the garish light,
And the organ’s droning melody,
To the starry shores of Galilee,
To the vines that shaded her cottage door,
   And the hush of the Eastern night.

So she bends to us from her dim recess
   With weary and wistful eyes,
And turns away from the tapers’ light
To dream of the cool and the hush of night,
From the priest’s pale hand, upraised to bless,
   To the starry Eastern skies. [page 58]

 

MAID MARY

MAID MARY sat at her cottage door
   By the Lake of Galilee;
Tall and stately her lilies were,
But never was lily one-half so fair
   Or half so pure as she.
(O Mary, Maid and Mother of God,
   I pray you, pray for me.)

The shadows darkened along the shore
   Of the Lake of Galilee;
What steps were those, as the twilight fell?
Lo, God’s great angel, Gabriel:
   “Hail, blessed of God!” spake he.
(O Gabriel, Prince of the hosts of God,
   I pray you, pray for me.)

Maid Mary knelt on her cottage floor
   By the Lake of Galilee;
And kneeling, dreamed strange dreams and sweet
Of baby fingers and dimpled feet,
   And a Holy Thing to be:
(O Christ, the Virgin-born Son of God,
   I pray You, pray for me.)

But she did not dream, as the night passed o’er
   By the Lake of Galilee,
Of the weary ways that the feet should tread,
Of a thorny crown for a baby head,
   Or a cross on Calvary.
(O Son of Mary, O thorn-crowned God,
   I pray You, pray for me.) [page 59]

 

THE TWO CROWNS

THE young King rode through the City street,
   So gallant, gay and bold;
There were roses strewn ‘neath his horse’s feet,
   His brows were bound with gold,
And his heart was glad for his people’s cheers
   Along his pathway rolled.

Glad was his heart and bright his face,
   For life and youth were fair;
And he rode through many a pleasant place—
   Broad street and sunny square—
Till he came to the market-place and saw
   A crucifix stand there.

Hushed were the crowd’s exultant cries,
   To awe-struck silence grown;
For they saw the young King’s laughing eyes
   Grow grave beneath his crown,
As the crownéd King looked up, for lo!
   A crownéd King looked down.

Grave were the eyes above, and sad;
   The face with pain was lined,
And the piercéd hands no sceptre had;
   Both brows a crown did bind.
But the earthly King was crowned with gold—
   The Christ with thorns entwined. [page 60] 

Slowly the young King homeward rode
   In awe and wondering;
He had looked that day on the face of God,
   And learned that for a king
The lordliest frown his brows can bear
   Is the crown of suffering. [page 61]

A SPARROW IN CHURCH

THOU, Who has said no sparrow e’er shall fall
   Without Thy knowledge, lend me now Thine aid.
I cry to Thee, O mighty Lord of all,
   Thy little living creature, sore afraid.

All my short life these fluttering wings have known
   Only the freedom of Thy sun and rain,
And now they beat against these walls of stone—
   Lord of the sparrows, shall they beat in vain?

The terrors of Thine House encompass me,
   Upon Thine altar I myself have laid;
Hearken, O Lord, Thy sparrow calls to Thee,
   Thy living creature, sore afraid. [page 62]

 

SEA-GULLS

WHERE the dark green hollows lift
   Into crests of snow,
Wheeling, flashing, floating by,
White against the stormy sky,
With exultant call and cry
   Swift the sea-gulls go.

Fearless, vagabond and free,
   Children of the spray,
Spirit of old mariners
Drifting down the restless years—
Drake’s and Hawkins’ buccaneers,
   So do sea-men say.

Watching, guarding, sailing still
   Round the shores they knew,
Where the cliffs of Devon rise
Red against the sullen skies,
(Dearer far than Paradise)
   ‘Mid the tossing blue.

Not for them the heavenly song;
   Sweeter still they find
Than those angels, row on row,
Thunder of the bursting snow,
Seething on the rocks below,
   Singing of the wind. [page 63]

Fairer than the streets of gold
   Those wild fields of foam,
Where the horses of the sea
Stamp and whinny ceaselessly,
Warding from all enemy
   Shores they once called home.

So the sea-gulls call and cry
   ‘Neath the cliffs to-day,
Spirits of old mariners
Drifting down the restless years—
Drake’s and Hawkins’ buccaneers—
   So do sea-men say. [page 64]

MY DOG AND I

MY dog and I, the hills we know
Where the first faint wild roses blow,
We know the shadowy paths and cool
   That wind across the woodland dim,
   And where the water beetles swim
Upon the surface of the pool.

My dog and I, our feet brush through
Full oft, the fragrant morning dew,
Or, when the summer sun is high,
   We linger where the river flows
   Chattering and chuckling as it goes—
Two happy tramps, my dog and I.

Or, when the winter snows are deep,
Into some fire-lit nook we creep,
And, while the north wind howls outside,
   See castles in the dancing blaze,
   Or, dozing, dream of summer days
And woodland stretches, wild and wide.

My dog and I are friends till death,
And when the chill, dark angel’s breath
Shall call him from me, still I know,
   Somewhere within the shadowy land
   Waiting his master he will stand
Until my summons comes to go. [page 65]

And, in that life so strange and new,
We’ll tramp the fields of heaven through,
Loiter the crystal river by;
   Together walk the hills of God
   As when the hills of earth we trod,
Forever friends, my dog and I. [page 66]

SNOWDROPS

FEBRUARY fair maids,
   All along the lane,
Dancing with the breezes,
   Nodding to the rain,
Whispering tales of Springtime
   Through the snow and sleet,
February fair maids,
   Brave and bright and sweet.

February fair maids, 
   Soon you’ll disappear,
Soon the swallow’s twitter
   Tells that Spring is here.
Soon the rose and lily
   Laugh ‘neath skies of blue—
February fair maids,
   None so brave as you.

February fair maids,
   Dancing down the lane,
Bowing to the breezes,
   Smiling at the rain,
Lifting laughing faces
   Through the snow and sleet—
February fair maids,
   Brave and bright and sweet. [page 67]

SPRING

LO, the spring has come again!
                    Down the lane
Silent, first, the snowdrop came;
Green each bursting leaf-bud swells
                    In the dells
Where the crocus breaks in flame.

Spring, with all the daffodils
                    On her hills,
Comes and wakes the world go mirth:
List with what reverberant glee
                    Streams set free
Tell their triumph to the earth.

Hark!  Once more the cuckoo’s call,
                    Musical, magical,
Over all the land doth ring;
Little waves upon the beach,
                    Each to each
Laughing, whisper, “’Tis the Spring.” [page 68]

OCTOBER WIND

THE piper wind goes straying
   Into the morning skies,
With fern seed in the pocket,
   And laughter in his eyes,
And the swift clouds break, and follow
   His magic melodies.

The piper wind goes playing
   His music, sweet and shrill,
And, brave in red and yellow,
   The leaves dance on the hill;
And the purple plumes of aster
   Nod gaily by the rill.

The piper wind goes roaming
   O’er upland, glade and plain,
He whispers to the sunshine,
   He whistles through the rain,
He dreams among the pine trees
   And wakes, and laughs again.

The piper wind goes homing
   Adown the sunset skies,
With fern seed in his pocket,
   And laughter in his eyes;
And our hearts are fain to follow
   His magic melodies. [page 69]

 

OCTOBER

Now, when the summer flowers are past and dead,
   And, from the earth’s wild bosom, brown and bare,
                         No trillium lifts its head;
When, in the hollows where the violets were
   Purple and white and fair,
Only a few brown leaves are falling now,
   The wind shakes from the bough;

Now, when the tiger-lily’s flame no more
   Burns in the long, lush grasses on the hill,
                         And, by the river shore,
The smoky trail of asters, lingering still,
   Thins, and the air grows chill
With the first feathery snowflakes, that anon
   Fall softly and are gone:

O let us leave this dull and dusty street,
   The noise and heat and turmoil of the town
                         For country waysides sweet,
Lanes where the nuts are clustering, plump and brown,
   Hedges blackberries crown;
Come, ere the shivering blasts of winter blow,
   Let us make haste and go. [page 70]

IN ARCADIE

HEART of my heart, the long road lies
   A streak of white across the down
To where the hill-tops touch the skies;
   Then let us seek the mountain’s crown
   And cross its summit, bare and brown,
Heart of my heart, O come with me
To walk the ways of Arcadie.

Heart of my heart, right merrily
   The little winds of Springtime blow,
The air is full of melody,
   The birds are singing, soft and low;
   Heart of my heart, then let us go
Across the hills, and wander free
The pleasant paths of Arcadie.

There sunny land and sunny sea
   Lie drowsing in the noontide heat,
There song of bird and hum of bee
   Mix in a music wild and sweet,
   And in the thyme beneath our feet
Cicalas chirp their melody,
Across the hills in Arcadie. [page 71]

Or, when the twilight shadows steep
   The hill-tops with a misty light,
And stars their quiet watches keep
   Through the short hours of summer night,
   And glow-worms burn their lanterns bright,
The streams still murmur sleepily
Across the hills in Arcadie.

Heart of my heart, O let us leave
   The toil and turmoil of the town,
And men that work and men that grieve,
   And take the road across the down
   And climb the hill-top, bare and brown;
Heart of my heart, O come with me
To walk the ways of Arcadie. [page 72]

JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

WAVE your hand to him!  Let him go
   Back from the dusty paths we stray,
To the land where his boyhood’s rivers flow;
   He is not dead—he is just away,
Gone to laugh at ‘Lizabuth Ann,
And swap old yarns with the Raggedy Man.

Hush!  Do you hear, in the distance dim,
   Faint and sweet as an elfin tune,
Orphant Annie is calling him,
   Counting him in with the old-time rune—
Intry, mintry, cutery, corn,
Apple blossom and apple thorn.

Wave your hand to him—call good-bye!
   Faintly his answer echoes back;
Voices of children eagerly
   Lure him on by the fairy track
To the wonder-world, where all hearts are gay;
He is not dead, he is just—away. [page 73]

THE SANDMAN

WHEN the long, hot day is over,
   And the sun drops down the west,
And the childish hands are wearying,
   And the childish feet must rest,
The Sandman steals through the portals
   Where the dying sunlight gleams,
And touches the tired eyelids
   And lulls them into dreams.

Even so, when life is over, 
   And the long day’s march is past,
We wait in gathering shadows
   Till the Sandman comes at last.
Sad are our hearts and weary,
   And long the waiting seems;
Lord, we are tired children;
   Touch Thou our eyes with dreams.

Take from the slackened fingers
   The toys so heavy grown,
Give to Thy tired children
   Visions of Thee alone;
Then, when at length the shadows
   Darken adown the west, 
Send to us Death, Thy Sandman,
   To call Thine own to rest. [page 74]

 

THE REMITTANCE MEN

SHE stands in peace by her waters,
   Our Mother, fair and wise,
And ever amid our dreaming
   We see her hills arise;
We, who have sold our birthright,
   Sons, who have failed at need,
Outcast, lost and dishonoured,
   We know her fair indeed.

Yes, we have sold our birthright—
   Well have we learned the cost—
Drink-sodden, hateful bodies,
   And souls forever lost;
We see the heights above us,
   The depths into which we fall,
And we turn from that sight in horror,
   Drinking to drown it all.

Lo, we have lost her forever!
   Exiled, unclean, alone;
Yet she was once our Mother,
   Once we were sons of her own;
We—who have failed her and shamed her,
   Cast from her shores so long,
Still in our dreams we see her,
   Noble and wise and strong. [page 75]

Once in a far-off country
   We named her great and fair,
They mocked us with scornful laughter,
   “Lo, these are the sons she bare!”
Do we not feel our bondage,
   We, who have owned her name,
When we dare not whisper her praises
   Lest we whelm her in our shame?

Yet do the outcasts love her, 
   Who once were bone of her bone,
Pray for her life and honour
   Who dare not pray for their own;
Out of the hell we have chosen
   Watch her, with longing eyes—
She, who was once our Mother,
   Excellent, just and wise. [page 76]

THE LAST VOYAGE

WHEN I loose my vessel’s moorings, and put out to sea once more
On the last and longest voyage that shall never reach the shore,
O Thou Master of the Ocean, send no tranquil tides to me,
But ‘mid all Thy floods and thunders let my vessel put to sea.

Let her lie within no tropic sea, dead rotten to the bone,
Till the lisping, sluggish waters claim my vessel for their own;
Till the sun shall scar her timbers, and the slimy weed shall crawl
O’er her planks that gape and widen, and slow sea swallow all.

Let her not go down in darkness, where the smoking mist-wreaths hide
The white signal of the breakers, dimly guessed at, overside;
While her decks are in confusion, and the wreck drops momently,
And she drifts in dark and panic to the death she cannot see.

But out in the open ocean, where the great waves call and cry,
Leap and thunder at her taffrail, while the scud blows stinging by,
With the life still strong within her, struggling onward through the blast,
Till one last long wave shall whelm her, and our voyaging is past. [page 77]

BALLADE OF DREAMS

WE dreamed our dreams in full many lands,
   By mount and forest, by stream and lea,
Dreams of the touch of old-time hands,
   Dreams of a future destiny,
   Dreams of battle and victory,
Laughter and love and wealth and fame;
   Dreamers of dreams, indeed, were we—
Have the lichens yet o’ergrown our name?

Our rivers of dream had golden sands,
   Our forests of Dream waved fair to see,
Our Dreamland Isles were enchanted strands
   With shores of magic and mystery;
   How should we dream of misery
With the blood of youth at our hearts aflame?
   Dreamers of dreams, indeed were we—
Have the lichens yet o’ergrown our name?

If a mortal now our fate demands
   (We who so long forgotten be),
He shall seek in vain, for our wandering bands
   Now wait here, all so dreamlessly;
   O the restless hearts rest quietly,
And the fire is quenched that no frost could tame;
   Dreamers of dreams, indeed, were we—
Have the lichens yet o’ergrown our name?

L’Envoi

 

Prince, this world is all vanity,
   And dream and deed, they are still the same;
Dreamers of dreams, indeed, were we—
   Have the lichens yet o’ergrown our name? [page 78]

 

SHIPS OF OLD RENOWN

TRIREMES of the Roman, cruising down to Antioch,
   Longships of the Northmen, galleons of Spain,
Tall, gleaming caravels, swinging in the tideway,
   Never shall the sunlight gild their sails again.

Never shall those white sails, lifting on the sea-line,
   Swoop like a swallow across the blinding blue,
Caracque and caravel, lying ‘neath the waters,
   Wait till the bugles shall call the last review.

There in the darkness lie friend and foe together,
   Drake’s English pinnaces, the great Armada’s host;
Quiet they lie in the silence of the sea-depths, 
   Waiting the call that shall sound from coast to coast.

War-ship and merchantmen, lying in the slime there,
   Galleys of the Algerine, and traders of Almayne,
Hoys of the Dutchman, and haughty ships of Venice,
   Never shall the sunlight gild their sails again. [page 79]

 

SEA-SONG

I WILL go down to my sea again—to the waste of waters, wild and wide;
I am tired—so tired—of hill and plain and the dull tame face of the country side.

I will go out across the bar, with a swoop like the flight of a sea-bird’s wings,
To where the winds and the waters are, with their multitudinous thunderings.

My prows shall furrow the whitening sea, out into the teeth of the lashing wind,
Where a thousand billows snarl and flee and break in another smother of foam behind.

O strong and terrible Mother Sea, let me lie once more on your cool white breast,
Your winds have blown through the heart of me and called me back from the land’s dull rest.

For night by night they blow through my sleep; the voice of waves through my slumber rings;
I feel the spell of the steadfast deep; I hear its trampling and triumphings.

And at last, when my hours of life are sped, let them make me no grave by hill or plain—
Thy waves, O Mother, shall guard my head.  I will go down to my sea again. [page 80]

 

THE SEA-WIND

I AM wearying of this country, with its hedges and its walls,
And all night I do be dreaming how the water calls and calls;
Of the booming of the breakers as they dash against the shore,
And the salt wind, the sea-wind, the wind I’ll hear no more.

I am weary of these meadows, where the sun comes scorching down
Till the ways are dry and dusty, and the grass is burnt and brown;
And forever through my dreaming come the great waves’ lash and leap,
And the salt wind, the sea-wind, the wind upon the deep. 

Should I die here in this country, and its stifling turf be pressed
Hot and heavy o’er my bosom, O ‘tis never I could rest;
Let me lie beneath the washing of the green and silent wave,
With the salt wind, the sea-wind, to sings above my grave. [page 81]

 

MY PHILOSOPHY

LIFE is a game that all must play;
Though you win or lose, though you gain or pay,
Whatever the cards you hold, I say,
          Throw back your lead and laugh.

Keep Youth’s fire at your heart aglow,
A clasp for a friend and a fist for a foe,
And then let come or joy or woe,
          Throw back your head and laugh.

Laugh, though the world upon you frown,
Laugh, though the deeps your soul shall drown,
Many a better man goes down—
          Throw back your head and laugh.

And when Death’s hand on your shoulder lies
And the world grows dim to your falling eyes,
Let him not say:  “A coward dies.”
          Throw back your head and laugh. [page 82]

 

EASTER, 1917

I.M. Thomas MacDonagh

HE died for thee, O mournful Mother Erin!
   A year ago he turned his face away
From the glad Spring, in her young green appearing;
   He lingered not to listen to the lay
Of thrush or blackbird; turned him not aside
   To watch the glory of the daffodils 
   That shone and fluttered on a hundred hills,
But where the mists had gathered, chill and grey,
   He chose his path—and died.

And now another Spring makes green the meadows,
   The daffodils are golden once again,
The little winds are dancing with the shadows
   The young leaves make; once more the world is fain
Of life and laughter—but he shall not see
   The leaf-strewn hollows where the violets grow,
   Or watch the hawthorn buds foam into snow,
No more shall feel the warm, soft springtime rain,
   For he has died for thee.

And yet this year, ‘mid all the Spring’s rejoicing,
   There sounds at times, I think, a sadder note;
This Spring no longer is the blackbird voicing 
   Such jubilation from his golden throat; [page 83]
The winds, grown older, dance with feet of lead,
   The daffodils are nodding listlessly,
   The violet has no perfume for the bee,
The grasshopper has donned his dullest coat,
   Remembering he is dead.

Yet once again, O thrush, break into singing;
   Laugh, daffodils, to feel the falling rain;
Winter is past, and the young earth is springing
   Joyous to greet her risen Lord again:
And he who loved you—deem not that he lies
   Unheeding of your grief beneath his mound,
   No more the sleep of Death enwraps him round:
Rejoice, O Erin, Death to-day is slain,
   But Valour never dies. [page 84]

“HOME THOUGHTS FROM ABROAD”

APRIL in England!  Daffodils are growing
   ‘Neath every hedgerow, golden, tall and fair;
April!  and all the little winds are blowing
   The scents of Springtime through the sunny air;
April in England!  God!  that we were there!

April in England!  And her sons are lying
   On these red fields, and dreaming of her shore;
April!  We hear the thrushes’ songs replying
   Each unto each, above the cannons’ roar.
April in England!  Shall we see it more?

April in England!  There’s the cuckoo calling
   Down in her meadows, where the cowslip gleams;
April!  And little showers are softly falling,
   Dimpling the surface of her babbling streams.
April in England!  How the shrapnel screams!

April in England!  Blood and dust and smother,
   Screaming of horses, moans of agony;
April!  Full many of thy sons, O Mother,
   Never again those dewy dawns shall see.
April in England!  God, keep England free. [page 85]

 

THE KAISER

“I AM the Lord of War,” he said, and bared
   His blade.  “Dominion shall be mind alone.”
East, south, west, north, his clamorous bugles blared,
   His battle lines were thrown.

The lo!  the leopards of England woke from sleep,
   Roaring their challenge forth across the sea,
And France’s voice was heard in thunders deep,
   Calling on Liberty.

And Belgium sprang, alert, to meet the foe, 
  And from her mountains Serbia sent her bands,
And the great bear of Russia, growling low,
   Turned from his northern lands.

Far over land and sea the summons swept,
   And Canada, among her fields of grain,
Threw down the sickle, caught the sword, and leapt,
   Shouting, across the main.

Australia, hasting from the southward, came;
   Africa, India sprang into the fight.
“Lo, Kaiser!  here our answer to thy claim;
   Now God shall show the right.”

Then he who drew the blade looked forth, and saw
   That ring of steel and fire about his throne,
And knew himself at last, with trembling awe,
   The Lord of Death alone. [page 86]

 

CAPTAINS ADVENTUROUS

CAPTAINS adventurous, from your ports of quiet,
   From the ghostly harbours where your sea-beat galleons lie,
Say, do your dreams go back across the sea-line
   Where cliffs of England rise grey against the sky?

Say, do you dream of the pleasant ports of old-time,
   Orchards of old Devon, all afoam with snowy bloom?
Or have the mists that veil the Sea of Shadows
   Closed from your eyes all the memories of home?

Feet of the Captains hurry through the stillness,
   Ghostly sails of galleons are drifting to and fro,
Voices of mariners sound across the shadows,
   Waiting the word that shall bid them up and go.

“Lo now,” they say, “for the grey old Mother calls us,”
   (Listening to the thunder of t he guns about her shore)
“Death shall not hold us, nor years that lie between us,
   Sail we to England, to strike for her once more.”

Captains adventurous, rest ye in your havens,
   Pipe your ghostly mariners to keep their watch below;
Sons of your sons are here to strike for England,
   Heirs of your glory—Beatty, Jellicoe.

Yet shall your names ring on in England’s story,
   You, who were the prophets of the mighty years to be;
Drake, Blake, and Nelson, thundering down the ages,
   Captains adventurous, the Masters of the Sea. [page 87]

DRAKE’S DRUM

DRAKE’S drum is beating along the coasts of Devon:
   “Mariners, O Mariners, who warred so well with Spain,
Lo, the foe is here once more!  Leave the ports of Heaven,
   Haste across the jasper sea, and drive them home again.”

All the streets of Paradise echo to its rattle—
   Golden roads a-tremble to the chime of tramping feet;
Hawkins, Drake and Frobisher are marching forth to battle:
   “Peter, open wide the gates.  We’re out to join the fleet.”

Pinnace, caravel, caracque—many a galleon drifting—
   Shadowy sails of old renown upon the shadowy sea;
Ghostly voices through the mists; “Lo, the white cliffs lifting;
   Heaven’s streets for those who will, but Devon’s shores for me.”

Drake’s drum is beating along the coasts of Devon,
   Calling, as in days of old it called to vanquish Spain;
Drake and Blake and Raleigh, they have left the ports of Heaven,
   Homing back across the stars to England’s cliffs again. [page 88]

OUR DEAD

NOT where the English turf grows green we laid them,
   Where their forefathers lie;
O’er the rude trench and rough–built mound we made them
   Arches an alien sky.

No chime of bells from old–time towers above them;
   No sound of English streams,
Calling of rooks, or voice of those who love them,
   Ever shall break their dreams.

What matters it?  The earth that o’er them closes
   Its flowers as softly sheds
As English winds could bring the English roses
   To rain upon their heads.

And though an alien land their dust is keeping,
   Still in their hearts with pride
They say:  “Though England may not guard our sleeping,
   Yet ‘tis for her we died.”

And with each wind across the waves that sever
   Them from the land they knew,
Shall blow this message through their hearts forever:
   “England remembers too.” [page 89]

 

NEW YEAR’S EVE, 1916

GREGORY fell beside the Marne,
   And John where flows the Aisne;
But here to–night, ere midnight chime,
   We three shall meet again.

Though land and sea lie wide between,
   Their ghosts this way shall win,
For, three true men, we made a bond
   To watch the New Year in.

We made it on a Flanders field
   Where white the shell–smoke ran;
And who is Death to break the faith
   That man has pledged to man?

Then draw their chairs beside the fire
   And brim their cups with wine;
For ere the bells of midnight swing
   Their hands shall clasp with mine.

Though Gregory lies where Marne runs down,
   And John beside the Aisne,
Living and dead, ere midnight chime,
   We three shall meet again. [page 90]

 

TO IRELAND’S DEAD

AH, golden youths!  who leave for evermore
   Your ports of quiet breath,
Turning your prows from Life’s familiar shore
   Forth with adventurous Death.

With that great comrade sailing, side by side, 
   To meet your warrior peers,
Whose names have starred the roll of Erin’s pride
   Down all the echoing years.

Your sunlit sails flash for a moment’s space,
   Fade, waver and are gone;
But, straining through the mists, our spirits trace 
   A glory lingering on.

Farewell, great fellowship!  Sail on, nor mourn
   Your ports of quiet breath;
Your prows with singing and with laughter turn
   Forth with adventurous Death. [page 91]

 

A SONG OF EXILE

WHAT is the news of England?
   The April breezes blow,
Bringing to us faint odours
   From lanes we used to know–– 
Lanes, where the hawthorn hedges
   Foam into blossoms white;
What is the news of England
   For England’s sons to–night?

What is the news of England?
   ‘Neath her white cliffs the sea
Croons its soft song of summer,
   The golden days to be.
Her hills are fair with promise,
   Her woods with voices ring,
From every copse the cuckoo
   Shouts to the jocund Spring.

What is the news of England?
   Once more the cowslip gleams
Gold in her misty meadows,
   Gold by her murmuring streams.
Once more the April breezes
   Blow secrets of delight
From the great heart of England
   To England’s sons to–night. [page 92]

 

THE AIR–MEN

WE brought great ships to birth,
   We builded towns and towers—
Lords of the sea and earth,
   Soon shall the sky be ours.

Soon shall our navies drift
   Like swallows down the wind,
Shall wheel and swoop and lift,
   Leaving the clouds behind.

The stars our keels shall know,
   The eagle, as it flies,
Shall scream to see us go
   Swift moving through the skies.

High o’er the mountain–steep
   Our wingèd fleets shall sail,
The serried squadrons sweep,
   White–pinioned down the gale.

We are the lords of the land,
   We built us towns and towers,
The sea has felt our hand—
   Soon shall the sky be ours. [page 93]

THE DEFEATED

CHEER if you will be the brave deed done, with laurels the victor crown,
But keep one leaf of your wreath of bay for the men who lost and are down—
For the fight in vain, for the cankered grain that in blood and tears was sown.

Honour the strong of heart and hand, the sure of will and of sight,
But what of the stumbling feet, the eyes that strain in vain for light?
Is there no gain for the tears and pain of the men who fell in the fight?

Beaten––baffled—with standards lost—knowing no rallying cry,
Struggling still, but with failing strength, while stronger men pass by:—
Keep ye your bays; I give my praised to the men who lose and die. [page 94]

 

THE GENTLEMEN OF OXFORD

THE sunny streets of Oxford
   Are lying still and bare,
No sound of voice or laughter
   Rings through the golden air;
And, chiming from her belfry,
   No longer Christchurch calls
The eager, boyish faces
   To gather in her halls.

The colleges are empty,
   Only the sun and wind
Make merry in the places
   The lads have left behind.
But, when the trooping shadows
   Have put the day to flight,
The Gentlemen of Oxford
   Come homing through the night.

From France they come, and Flanders,
   From Mons, and Marne and Aisne.
From Greece and from Gallipoli
   They come to her again;
From the North Sea’s grey waters,
   From many a grave unknown,
The Gentlemen of Oxford
   Come back to claim their own. [page 95]

The dark is full of laughter,
   Boy laughter, glad and young,
They tell the old–time stories,
   The old–time songs are sung;
They linger in her cloisters,
   They throng her dewy meads,
Till Isis hears their calling
   And laughs among her reeds.

But, when the east is whitening
   To greet the rising sun,
And slowly, over Carfax,
   The stars fade, one by one,
Then, when the dawn–wind whispers
   Along the Isis shore,
The Gentlemen of Oxford
   Must seek their graves once more.

TEMPLE PRESS

LETCHWORTH, ENGLAND

[page 96]

[2 blank pages]

 

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