Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets
When Half Gods Go
15th Aug 2013Posted in: Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets 0

WHEN HALF GODS GO
And Other Poems
Norah M. Holland

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WHEN HALF GODS GO
And Other Poems
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THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK – BOSTON – CHICAGO
DALLAS – ATLANTA – SAN FRANSISCO
MACMILLAN & CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
TORONTO
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WHEN HALF GODS GO< AND OTHER POEMS< BY NORAH M. HOLLAND “Heartily know,
When half gods go
The Gods arrive.”

—Emerson

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LIMITED,
ST. MARTIN’S HOUSE : : : : TORONTO
MCMXXIV
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COPYRIGHT, 1324,
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY,
_________
Set up and electrotyped.
Published March, 1924
Printed in the United States of America by
THE FERRIS PRINTING COMPANY, NEW YORK
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[blank page]

WHEN HALF GODS GO
A Mystery Play
SCENE I

   A glade in Olympus.  In the foreground stands Apollo, leaning against a tree, holding in his hand a lyre with broken strings.  At his feet Diana lies, her empty quiver and broken bow at her side.  Pallas sits watching them while Pan, a little in the background, is piping to Dryads and Fauns, who are dancing.  The dance, swift at first, grows slower and more mournful.

DRYADS (Sing)

 

O we are weary of dancing and singing,
   Weary of sunshine and rain;
Ne’er shall the glades of Olympus be ringing 
   With our glad laughter again.

Never again shall we dance with the shadows,
   Echo shall call us in vain;
Vainly green woodlands and bird haunted meadows
   Dream of our coming again. [page 1]

FIRST DRYAD (Leans her cheek against a tree)

   O tree of mine, how often I have lain
   Beneath your boughs in sunshine and in rain;
   Now you shall never shield my head again.

SECOND DRYAD

   O pleasant meadows, when the dewy dawn
   Shall touch with misty gold the upland lawn,
   Will you remember us when we are gone?

THIRD DRYAD

Farewell!  Farewell!  New gods shall take our place,
Within our shrines new altar fires shall blaze,
Our feet no more shall walk familiar ways.

Yet, O fair fields where we were wont to dwell,
Bird-haunted woods, dear and desirable,
Forget not quite those who have loved you well.

(They go out slowly and lingeringly, looking back sorrowfully as they go.)

APOLLO

   The fire upon our altars dies away
   And men forget us, who once held us dear.
   Even thy fauns and dryads, O Pan, have fled.

PAN (Rising and coming forward)

   Yet still my faithful shepherds own my sway,
   Still do they share with me their humble cheer;
   Still in my shrine they set the milk and bread

   And amber-dropping honey, clear and sweet; [page 2]
   And country wine, in carven bowls, they bring.

DIANA 

   No more do my white maidens dance, to greet
   Me, in the woods, beside my holy spring.
   Thy helm no more, O Pallas, burning bright,
   Shall lead thine Athens on to victory,
   Nor Aphrodite’s shoulder, rosy white,
   Break the long swell of the Sicilian sea.

APOLLO

     Men have forgotten us.

PALLAS 

                                           Our work is done;
   We, the half-gods, sent here to lead men on
   To find the God behind the gods.

DIANA

                                                         But we,—
     Must we, then, lose our worship?

PAN (Uneasily)
                                                              It may be
Yet have asked too much of them; but I, who am wise,
Crave of my folk no lordly sacrifice
To smoke upon mine altar.  I would share
Their little joys and griefs, their country fare—
A loaf, a bowl of wine, a home-made cheese [page 3]

Wrapped in a vine-leaf—and I five increase
To their flocks and herds, and to their hearths bring peace.

APOLLO

And yet, O Pan, even thy votaries
Grow less content and stint their sacrifice.
The load grows small; the bowl that once brimmed o’er
With fragrant purple, brims for thee no more;
No tender kid, ere yet his horns are grown,
Yields, for thy sake, his life upon thy stone.

PAN (Shrugs his shoulders)

   So that the load and honey still they give
   I care not, I, although the kid shall live
   To skip about the forest paths and browse
   Full many a day upon the youngling boughs.
   But is our worship doomed to pass away?
   Who then replaces us?  Wise Pallas, say. 

DIANA

   Aye; whence shall come this God Who is to be?
   And how?

PALLAS 

                   Not with the trump of victory,
   Nor robed in glory, as we came to men.
   But in their flesh, and bowed beneath the load
   Of their infirmities, He comes. [page 4]

APOLLO (Scornfully) 

                                                    And when
   Shall He o’er come us—this new, beggar God?

PALLAS

   Lo!  Turn ye to the Eastern skies tonight,
   And ye shall see a new star burning bright.
   Follow, and it shall lead you where He lies,
   A Babe in His mother’s arms.

PAN 

                                  His star doth rise
     Even as the fire upon our altar dies.

DIANA 

Ah me, my old-time worship!  Ah, the beat
Of cymbals, and the white nymphs’ flying feet,
And the clear voices chanting!  Overthrown
Mine altar now; my courts with grass o’ergrown;
My music ended and my maidens gone!

APOLLO

   Ah, sister, sister!  This new God to be
   Who comes in weakness and humility,
   Yet still has power to thrust us from our seat,
   Must we then lay our worship at His feet?
   Shall my sun rise for Him with brighter ray—
   Thy stars and silver moon His word obey?
   Come then, and let us seek Him out and see
   This God made man, this new divinity,
   This Babe who steals our worship. [page 5]

PALLAS

                                                 Nay, not so;
But He Who is the Lord of gods and men
Has come among us.  Shall we not yield Him then
His own that He has lent?

APOLLO

                                      Come, let us go!

(Exeunt omnes.)  Curtain falling as they go.

 

SCENE II

   The hills outside Bethlehem. Felix and Hob, two shepherds, seated at a fire.  To them enter Mac, a much older shepherd.

 

MAC

     Be the sheep folded safe?

HOB        

                         Aye; safe and fast
       This hour agone.

FELIX 

           The nights be growing chill,
     And the sheep come early home.

MAC

                                                  The summer’s past,
As my old bones do know.  Ye be young, lads, still,
And the blood flows quick within you. When you
      grow [page 6]

As old as I, the current runs but slow, 
And the frost bites.

HOB 

                                                Sit by our fire here
Awhile and warm you, Mac, and share our cheer.
(Shepherds eat and drink.)

FELIX

How bright the new star shines tonight among
Her silver sisters!

HOB

                           Seven nights since, it swung
Above the shoulder of the hill.  Its light
Shines on us now from heaven’s topmost height.

MAC

An evil portent!

FELIX

                         Gods forefend it!  Nay,
The evil planets burn with redder ray;
And naught of harm has touched us since it stood
In golden glory, there above the wood.

HOB

The sheep have thrived full well since first it shone;
No prowling wolves have harmed them, and the lambs
Wax strong, in peace and safety, with their dams. [page 7]

MAC

Come, Felix, sing a stave.  The night draws on.

FELIX (Sings)

Great Zeus, upon Olympus’ top,
   May live and lie at ease;
But we be simple shepherd folk
   From humble villages;
And best we love the little gods
   That walk among the trees.

Apollo, with his shining bow,
   Is Lord of Sun and Air;
But we be simple shepherd folk
   Who know both toil and care;
And best we love the little gods
   Our humble lot who share.

Tall Sian, with her maidens white
   Walks lonely on the steep;
But we be simple shepherd folk
   A-guarding of our sheep:
And best we love the little gods
   Who laugh and love and weep.

MAC

Aye, aye, the gods!  They laugh and lie at ease,
Little or great, nor heed our agonies.

HOB (Laughs)

                            The gods are dead. [page 8]
FELIX (Gazing into the fire) 

                          Yet have I dreamed of one,
A new God, greater than the moon or sun,
Or Zeus or Pallas, Who should set aside
His Godhead, laying down His Power and pride
For our sakes, and on earth our lot should share,
Life as we live, our toils and sorrows bear,
Because He loved us and would have us know
His love. ‘Twas so I dreamed.

MAC

                                                 Could it be so
     That were a God to worship.

HOB

                                                      Very chill
     The night.  Make up the fire.

(Puts more fuel on the fire.)

FELIX 

                                        The new star still
     Shines o’er the fold.

MAC

                            The day draws swiftly on.
     See, the East reddens with the rising sun
     And the dawn-wind blows.

HOB

                  Hush!  What is that? [page 9]

(Angel appears.  Shepherds spring to their feet in alarm.) 

HOB

                                                            Be ye
     A god or man?  A friend or enemy?                                   

ANGEL

Hail, shepherds!  Unto you I bring this night
Glad tidings of great joy.  A Child, the Light
Or all the world, to you this hour is born—
The Lord, your God.  Go, seek Him out with morn.
Lo!  You shall find Him lying in a stall,
Who is your Saviour and the Lord of all.

CHORUS OF ANGELS (sing)

Gloria in excelsis Deo!
   Glory be to God on high;
Unto you a Son is born, and
   Unto you a Child is given.

Hill to laughing hill re-echoes,
   Vale to vale makes glad reply,—
Unto earth has God descended
   From the highest heaven.

(Angel fades away.  Shepherds stand listening with hands to ears.)

MAC

     Be we awake or dreaming, lads? [page 10]

FELIX 

                                              I heard
A rustling like the pinions of a bird
Above us.  I looked up and one stood there,
The starlight on his wings and floating hair;
And then—and then—a splendour like the voice 
Of some great anthem that still cried, “Rejoice!
The Word-made-Flesh is with you here tonight.”
Heard ye it too?

HOB
                              We saw a burst of light
     And heard a singing.

MAC

                                             Merrily it rang,
     The chorus that he and his fellows sang.
     How went it, say you?

FELIX 

                                   That a God is born
     In Bethlehem today.

HOB (Looking at sky.)

                                     ‘Tis nearing morn;
   Come, let us go and seek Him.

MAC

                                                  Gods be fain
     Of gifts, and we have none. [page 11]

FELIX

                                     Poor men and plain
     We be; yet I to Him a lamb will take—
     A firstling of the flock.

HOB 

                                              And I will make
   A ball for Him, that He therewith may play.

MAC

     Come, let us hasten!  Soon it will be day.
     How shall we find Him?

FELIX

     The star leads the way.

(Exeunt omnes.)

 

SCENE III

     The Stable at Bethlehem.  Mary singing to the Christ-Child on her knee.  Joseph stands at a little distance watching  them.

 

MARY (Sings)

Sleep, Baby Jesukin,
   Rosy and small,
What though Thy birth-place
   Be only a stall?
What though Thy cradle
   A manger shall be?
Sleep, while Thy mother
   Is watching o’er Thee. [page 12]

Sleep, Baby Jesukin, 
   Dimpled feet pressed
Close to the shelter and
   Warmth of my breast;
Small, straying fingers
   My heart that enfold;
Res, darling head
   With its ringlets of gold.

Sleep, Baby Jesukin,
   Stars at Thy birth
Hailed is that path to tread,
   Weary that way;
Sleep, Baby Jesukin,
   Sleep while you may.

(Joseph goes to door and looks out, shading his eyes with his hand.)

MARY

     What see you, Joseph?

JOSEPH (Pointing outside)

                                              Where the hills arise
     Distant and dim, through darkness to the skies,
     I see the pulsing of a wondrous light.

MARY

‘Tis the dawn, touching Hermon’s topmost height,
Turning his snows to fire. [page 13]

JOSEPH

                                      No down that springs
Over the edge of the world on rainbow wings
Comes with such radiance.  The whole dome of air
Flames into glory.  Not one-half so far
Is the great temple at Jerusalem
When the lights blaze and all the people sing,
And every jewel in the garment’s hem
Of the High Priest gleams fire.  Ah, the swing
Of the golden censers, scattering sweetness through 
The throng!

MARY (murmuring)

     No golden censers swing for You,
     O Jesukin; no multitude shall greet
     Your coming.  In the manger low You lie,
     With ass and oxen standing meekly by;
     And I, Your mother, kneeling at Your feet
     Alone to worship You.

JOSEPH

                                                          A voice I hear,
   And footsteps through the darkness drawing near.
   Who comes so late?

(Enter shepherds.)

HOB

     Where is the Babe Who is born
     To be our King upon this Christmas morn? [page 14]

JOSEPH (Salaaming to the shepherds) 

     A poor man, I, having no store of gold;
     I pray you do not harm us, sirs.  Behold,
     My wife and child in this bare stable lie,
     The inn being full.  Nothing of kings know I,
     Who am but a carpenter.

FELIX 

                                                 No robbers we,
But simple shepherds.  On the mountain steep
Last night we watched, guarding from harm our sheep,
And sat around our fire, when suddenly
A light broke round us, and beside us there
Stood a great Angel, silver-winged and fair.
“Follow the star,” he said,” and ye shall find
The God-mad-man, the Saviour of mankind,
A Baby, lying in a manger bare,
At Bethlehem, in a poor stable there.”
He spoke and vanished; but a host there drifted
Across the sky, on pinions all aflame,
Of Cherubim and Seraphim, who lifted 
Their jubilant voices, crying forth the Name
Of the new-born Saviour.  And they sang again
Of peace on earth and of good-will to men.

MAC

     All the whole air was full of carolling—
     A merry chorus!  Sweetly did they sing. [page 15]

HOB

     “Follow the star,” they sang; and lo!  it fled
     Adown the skies.  We followed where it led
     Until it stood above the stable here.
     But where is He That is born?

MARY

                              Shepherds, draw near!
   Behold my Son, within the manger laid,
   Who was born of me this night.  Be not afraid. 

(Shepherds kneel and worship the Child.)

FELIX 

   Hail, little Lord of heaven and earth and sea!
   A firstling of the flock I offer Thee,
   Bringing Thee here a lamb for Thy delight,
   A tender playmate, soft and fleecy white.

HOB

   Darling, put forth Thine hand and take, I pray,
   This ball I made, that Thou with it mightst play.

MAC

   No toys have I to give, being poor and old,
   Yet take my cloak to shield Thee from the cold.

MARY

   My Son would thank you, sirs, if He could speak,
   But He is still a Babe, helpless and weak;
   His little Lips no words have learned to say. [page 16]

HOB 

   See, the dawn brightens.  We must haste away.
   The flocks await our coming.

MAC

                                                     Grant there be
   No harm befall them!  Come, lads, follow me.

 

(Exit shepherds, Joseph following them out.  In the semi-dark background of the stable gigantic shadows appear and misty forms emerge, gradually becoming more distinct, and the gods come forward and surround the Child.)

 

APOLLO (Incredulously)

   So this is He Who has usurped our seat?
   This the great God Who takes His place on high
   Above us?

DIANA 

   Can those dimpled hands and sweet
   Grasp the dread sceptre of Divinity?
   Will that small brow not ache beneath the load
   That Deity must bear?  Poor Baby God!

PAN (Comes forward alone and kneels before the Christ.)

   Lord, it is goat-foot Pan who kneels to Thee.
   I am the guardian of all woodland things
   Furry and small; the squirrels come to me
   Seeking their food; I teach the wild bird wings
   The ways to follow on their journeyings. [page 17]

   And comfort all hurt creatures; and with rude
   Sound of my piping cheer their solitude.
   O God-made-man, I cannot come like Thee
   With help and healing for all things that be;
   I have no solacing for man’s distress,
   No cleansing water for his bitterness.
   The least of all the little gods am I,
   Yet take my worship, O Thou God most high.

DIANA

Son of a maiden, I, a maiden, come
From those fair Grecian hills that are my home,
Where through the aisles of forest, dim and sweet,
I follow the fleet deer with flying feet,
Or, with my laughing nymphs, bathe in the cool
Reed-guarded waters of some crystal pool.
And I have left my woods and dimpling fountains,
My feet no more shall tread the old-time mountains
And fear, familiar valleys of my home.
The silver echoes of my horn shall make
Music no more beside the dreaming lake;
For lo!  my quiver at Thy feet I lay
And my sharp arrows.

APOLLO (Kneeling)

                                   I, the god of day,
   Lord of the burning sun, whose fiery heat
   Brings life to all things, yield Thee now my seat,
   O mightier Lord than I; here laying down
   Before Thee, wondrous Babe, my laurel crown. [page 18]

PALLAS (Kneeling) 

   O Word-made-flesh, Eternal Wisdom, gleaming
   Across the dark and stormy skies of earth,
   While through the centuries prophets in their dreaming
   Have hailed the promise of Thy mystic birth;
   Thou, Who didst send us, the half-gods, before Thee
   Some faint foreshadowing of Thy Life to be,
   That so the hearts of men might own Thy glory,
   O Child divine, the old gods worship Thee.
   Lo!  here our service at Thy feet we lay,
   Day-star, Whose brightness pales our waning ray!

(Music is heard outside.  Shepherds pass the door singing.)

SHEPHERDS (sing)

We be simple shepherds,
   Men of no renown,
Guarding well our sheep-folds, 
   Near to Bethlehem town.
Baby Jesus, keep 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 the midnight paled to morn. [page 19]

ANGEL CHORUS (Outisde)

Gloria in excelsis Deo!  Glory be to God on high!
   Unto us a Son is born, and unto us a Child is given;
Hill to laughing hill re-echoes, vale to vale makes glad reply.
   Lo!  to earth has God descended from the highest heaven.

PAN 

   Our worship passes, and with morning light
   O Sun of suns!  Thy day arises bright.

APOLLO

   Deep in the ancient night our place will be.

PALLAS 

   Yet ours it was to lead men on to Thee.

(The old gods, with faces and hands uplifted, break into singing)

THE GODS (sing)

In the east the skies are clearing
   Where the promised day is born;
Dim our light and disappearing,
   Thine the splendour of the morn.
We, the old gods, sent before Thee,
   Shadows of Thy Deity, [page 20]

Adoration, praise and glory, 
   Lord, we render unto Thee.

(They rise and pass slowly out.  Mary bends above the child.  Music of the Angels’ chorus sounds faintly outside.  Curtain falls.)

THE END [page 21]

THE AWAKENING OF THE LILY

A Fairy Phantasy

 

SCENE I

A simple woodland scene, with bank in centre back, a mound left forward, a stump right forward.  On bank, centre back, three snowflakes are curled, sleeping.  On mound, two more, and at foot of stump one is curled up alone.  During first four bars of music they do not stir.  As melody progresses they wake, stretch and begin to whirl round, slowly at first, then faster.  After dance they quiet down and form a semicircle as they sing.

 

SNOWFLAKES (sing)

Now our work is nearly over,
   Spring comes dancing down the lane,
Bringing with her scent of clover,
   Song of robin, drip of rain;
Sister Snowdrop comes again,
   Warning us to northward fly,
Though to linger we are fain––
   Goodbye, goodbye. [page 22]

All the long, dark days we’ve guarded
   Every little leaf and flower,
Kept them safely hidden, warded
   From old Mother Winter’s power.
Now at last has come the hour
   When the sun his spells must try,
Laughing through each April shower––
   Good bye, goodbye.

Mother Winter, old and evil,
   Mother Winter, dour and grey,
With her touch each bud would shrivel,
   But we covered them away.
Warm and safe and deep they lay;
   Now they’re stirring restlessly;
Soon shall Spring resume her sway––
   Goodbye, goodbye.

 

At end of song melody of first verse is repeated and snowflakes dance a more formal dance.  The dancing and movements are confined to the pantomimic and instrumental parts of music.  During words of songs snowflakes and fairies are not as active in their movements.  At end of dance Sneeflocken, Starflake and Frostflower stay centre.  Others come down stage to foolights.

 

SNEEFLOCKEN

   I have not seen the old witch all day long. [page 23]

 STARFLAKE

   An hour ago I heard her wicked tongue
   Mumbling and muttering curses deep and low
   Because ‘twas almost time for her to go.

FROSTFLOWER

   She goes, but we must follow in her train
   Ere down the hillside comes the Spring again.
   I wish that we might linger till the trees 
   Put on their gay green dresses.

SNEEFLOCKEN

                                                      And the bees
   Tune all their pipes in fields of clover–bloom,
   Or where the violets spill their sweet perfume
   And butterflies dance merrily.

STARFLAKE

                                             But we
Far, far away shall hold our revelry,
And, through the long hours of the Arctic nights,
Dance with the North–Winds and the Northern Lights.

FROSTFLOWER

   And, while the Waggoner his watch shall keep
   O’er the white stretches of the frozen deep,
   Shall whisper to the winds a tale of green
   Rush–girdled pools, where fairies lie serene [page 24]

   On the great water–lily leaves that float 
   Upon their surface, listening to the note
   Of some shy bird, that in the branches swings.

STARFLAKE

Until in those wild breasts a warmth there springs
And cold eyes soften, as they dream awhile,
‘Mid the eternal frosts, of Summer’s smile.

SNEEFLOCKEN

   Hush!  I hear Winter’s footsteps drawing near;
   Jack Frost is with her.  Let us hide from her.

(Snowflakes all run back to bank and hide, forming snowbank.)

WINTER

   What!  No–one here?  Well, well, upon my word,
   ‘Tis but a little minute since I heard
   Those scatterbrains, the snowflakes chattering
   As is their wont, all tongues together clattering. 
   A noisy crew!  And now they all are gone.

JACK FROST

   So much the better.  Hussies, every one!
   Oft have they marred our toil, old mother, hid
   The tender buds we would have nipped and killed.
   Their fingers oft would spoil the work we did,
   Warming to life again the flowers we chilled. [page 25]

WINTER (testily)

   My curse be on them, and on Spring, our foe!

JACK FROST
   Hush, Mother!  Let me whisper in your ear;
   Now is the time to deal her a last blow,
   Here in her fortress, ere we disappear.

(Whispers)

WINTER

Why, that’s my clever son!  Let’s go prepare
Our vengeance.  ‘Tis a hopeful scheme, I’ll swear

 

(Exit Winter and Jack Frost, left forward on line of footlights, keeping time to music.  Music changes to Snowflake music, and snowflakes whirl out from hiding singly, Sneeflocken, Starflake, and Frostflower ending their dance at footlights.)

 

STARFLAKE

   What mischief is the old witch hatching now?

SNEEFLOCKEN

     She and her son are a sweet pair, I vow.
     We’ll keep a watch upon them, and undo,
     So far as in us lies, their scheming, too. 

STARFLAKE

   Spring should be warned. [page 26]

FROSTFLOWER 

     Let us tell Oberon, then,
     To let her know Jack Frost is luring near,
     Hoping to nip her, ere he disappear.

(Enter LITTLE DAISY forward left, and runs to snowflakes, who draw back a little, forming semi–circle watching him.)

LITTLE DAISY

     O, please, are you the fairies of the glen?

FROSTFLOWER

   Why, child, how came you here?  No fairies we,
   Only the snowflakes.

LITTLE DAISY

                                           They said I should see
Queen Spring and all her courtiers here.  So small
Am I, I’ve never seen the Spring at all.
But oh, I am so tired.  I’ve walked so far
From the big field where all my brothers are, 
And now she has not come, and they will be
So angry with me, when they follow me.

(Begins to cry.)

SNOWFLAKES

                               Poor little lad! [page 27]

STARFLAKE

Sit down and rest, my dear.
Here’s Oberon coming.  Spring will soon be here.

 

(OBERON enters, forward left, and ROBIN GOODFELLOW forward right, and meet in centre.)

 

OBERON

Now are the rough blasts of the winter o’er,
The south wind sings through the land once more.

(Calls.)

Ho!  Robin Goodfellow!  Robin, I say.

ROBIN

     What would you with me?

OBERON

   Blow your horn, I pray,
   And call my flowers and my fairies here
   To make all trace of winter disappear.
   Spring needs must find a carpet for her feet,
   When she shall come, of blossoms fair and sweet.

ROBIN

   They’re close at hand, and when my horn I blow
   They’ll be with us ere forty seconds go.

 

(Snowflakes at end of Oberon’s speech come out and gradually approach. forward centre.  Robin turns and sees them.) [page 28]

 

ROBIN 

   What do you here?  I thought you vanquished quite,
   My playfellows of many a wintry night.

OBERON (Sees them)

Truants, why do you linger?  Disappear.
What would Spring say if she should find you here?

SNEEFLOCKEN

     No, no, indeed, we need not go just yet.

STARFLAKE

   We worked so very hard all winter long
   Covering the buds, for fear that they should get
   Bitten by old Wolf Frost.

FROSTFLOWER

                                   But now they’re strong
   And Winter’s packing up to go.  But we
   Are tired of working.  Let us dance.  We’ll be
   So very, very good.  Of course we know
   When Sister Snowdrop comes, we needs must go.

 

(SNOWDROP enters, forward left, and snowflakes drop away, leaving her centre.)

 

SNOWDROP

     Did someone call?

OBERON

   Here’s Snowdrop now.  Away! 
   Scamper, you rogues, you must no longer stay. [page 29]

SNEEFLOCKEN (To Snowdrop) 

   Why did you come so soon?  Now we must flee.
   Goodbye, dear Snowdrop.  Sisters, follow me.

(Sings.)

We must leave the pleasant places,
   Leave our laughter and our play,
Turning to the desert spaces
   Where the wild North Wind holds sway.
Sisters, sisters, come away,
   Northward, northward we must fly.
Snowdrop, dear, we cannot stay,––
   Goodbye, goodbye.

(Snowflakes have whirling dance and exit left.)

SNOWDROP (calls after them)

   Goodbye, dear sisters.  Soon I too must go;
   Yet here I’ll wait, till brighter blossoms blow.

ROBIN 

Farewell, you rogues!  Yet soon again we’ll meet,
And frolic through the woods with flying feet,
Or whirl among the brown leaves on the hill
While the north wind is piping loud and shrill.

OBERON

A madcap rout!  Yet they are kindly too.
Come, Robin, blow your horn.  There’s much to do. [page 30]

ROBIN (Blows his horn and sings) 

Elves of forest and of brake,
   Hill and hollow, stream and lake,
Leave your rivers and their sedges,
   Leave bare woods and leafless hedges;
Nixies, pixies, one and all,
   Flower and fairy, bird and bee,
Hear ye not your comrade’s call?
   Come, ‘tis Robin calls to thee.

Leprechauns, your cobbling leave;
   Ellemaidens, the web ye weave;
Gnome and goblin, elf and sprite,
   There is work for all tonight.
Dryads, leave your oak–trees’ shade,
   Water nymphs, your crystal halls;
Fauns, forsake your ferny glade;
   Answer all, when Robin calls.

 

(During song OBERON stands to right and ROBIN centre.  In music following song, ROBIN skips to stump right, and Oberon goes centre back.  Water Fairies enter right and land fairies left, forming a semicircle, OBERON centre.)

 

WATER FAIRY

     We have left our whispering reeds
     Where the lazy salmon feeds,
     Left our scented fleur–de–lys,
     And our purple irises,
     Banks of blue forgetmenot, [page 31]

      And each beryl–paven grot
     Where the water ripples on;
     What would’st with us, Oberon?

LAND FAIRY

     We be fays of English birth, 
     Sprung from her most holy earth,
     From her immemorial trees,
     From her leafy coppices;
     Loving, with a love profound,
     Every inch of English ground.
     We have heard thy summons swell,
     Robin, through each leafy dell,
     And have hastened at that call
     From our woods and waters all.
     Lo!  we’ve gathered, every one,
     What wouldst with us, Oberon?

OBERON

     I would have you weave a spell,
     Weave it strongly, weave it well,
     That when Spring shall come, she’ll find
     Here a place that’s to her mind.
     Dryads, lend your dappled shade,
     Elves, bejewel all the glade
     With your flowers, bright and fair;
     Water fairies, fill the air
     With a murmurous sound and low,
     Like a river in its flow. [page 32]

ROBIN 

     Link hands and dance, about, about!
     So shall we speed the winter out.

 

(Elves dance out, land fairies forward left, water fairies forward right.  Flowers enter, some back right, some back left.  Snowdrop joins Daffodil as flowers enter.  Daisy watches and sits up watching them.)

 

DAFFODIL

   How blue and bright the sky is.  Do you hear
   How the stream bubbles through the rushes near?
   And, Violet, see!  the grass is green once more.

VIOLET

     And here’s the hiding–place I knew of yore
     Beneath the hawthorn tree, where all the day
     I’d sit and see the other flowers at play.

POPPY

     You are too timid.  Why can you not stay
     Here, with the rest of us, dance and be gay?

VIOLET

     I never could!  So many eyes to see!
     No, no; my corner’s good enough for me.

LILY 

   Dear Violet, when the grasshopper shall lead
   His minstrel chorus back across the mead
   To welcome Spring, will you not dance with me? [page 33]

VIOLET

   It will be sweet to hear his melody
   Ring out once more with laughing notes and clear,
   To herald Spring and bid her welcome here;
   But I would rather listen to his song
   Here in my corner, hidden from the throng.
   I cannot frolic like the rest, you see,
   And Poppy and the others laugh at me.

LILY

   It shall be as you will, dear.  Never mind;
   For Poppy does not mean to be unkind.
   She loves to laugh and dance and make a stir
   And thinks that all the world must be like her.

BIG DAISY

   We will dance with you, Poppy, if you will,
   But wait till Spring shall come across the hill.

LITTLE DAISY (Running forward)

     O brothers dear, I am so glad you’ve come!
     It seems so long since I was safe at home, 
     And I have travelled––oh, so far! ––and seen
     So many things, but not the Fairy Queen.

BIG DAISY

   You naughty child!  We’ve hunted far and wide
   To find you.  So why did you leave our side? [page 34]

LITTLE DAISY

     I wanted so to see the Queen, and then––

ROSE (Laughing)

     Don’t scold him, Daisy, he’ll not do it again.

LILY

     Keep with your brother’s dear.  (To others)
     And then, you know,
     ‘Tis a brave lad that would adventure so.
     But hark!  I hear a silver trumpet blow!

 

(A flourish of trumpets.  Enter Frogs.  Flowers form a semicircle as they are heard.  Three frogs enter left back and three right back, reaching centre of stage by long hop between flowers.  Frogs stand during song, but take frog positions to dance.)

 

FROGS (Sing)

We are Springtime’s heralds gay,
   See our coats of gold and green,
And our throats of whitest sheen,
   Hear us chant our roundelay.

Laughing, dancing, fresh and fair,
   Springtime came with odours sweet,
Crocus–flame beneath her feet,
   Pussy–willows in her hair. [page 35]

Frogs, Oh frogs, my heralds, go
   Unto all my folk, said she,
Great and small they wait for me;
   Blow your silver trumpets, blow.

So we come.  O chant her praise;
   All our throats ring out the song;
Hear the notes roll rich and strong––
   Spring is coming down the ways.

 

(Blow trumpets and exit on all four, three right and three left forward.  Spring enters back and takes centre.  Oberon bows and leads her forward centre.)

 

OBERON 

     Greeting, fair sister.  All your Court attend 
     To bid you welcome.  See how many a friend
     Has come in haste to join your revelry.

LILY

     Welcome, thrice welcome to your Majesty.

ROSE

     And long and fair your days of sovranty.

SPRING

Greetings and thanks to you, my friends.  The reign
Of Winter now is past, and Spring again
Calls you to revel. [page 36]

POPPY 

   Long the months have been,
   Madam, that we have waited for our Queen.
   Now you are here, and all your friends rejoice.

DAFFODIL

   From every copse the blackbird lifts his voice
   To welcome you.

ROBIN

   Bird, butterfly and bee
   Are hastening to your presence from all lands.

BIG DAISY

     And beetles come, in all their panoply,
     And Wasp is marshalling his soldier bands;
     Cricket and grasshopper at your commands
     Will soon be here.

SPRING

     Then let the dance begin.
     Sound, pipe and sackbut, flute and violin.
     Grasshopper, cricket, call the minstrels in.

(Enter Grasshopper.)

GRASSHOPPER

Hail, Queen!  Your minstrel comes again from those
Enchanted lands where sunshine ever glows,
Where snows fall never and no hailstones beat, [page 37]

Yet I have sought in vain for flowers there
As bright as Rose, or as the Lily fair,
Or Daffodil, or Violet shy and sweet.  (To flowers)

VIOLET (To Lily)
   Oh, he has thought of me while far away!
   You heard him say it.  He has thought of me!

SPRING

   Right gladly do we greet you.  Whither stray
   Your fellow minstrels?

GRASSHOPPER

   Cricket came with me
   And thrush and blackbird are upon the way.

LILY

   Now welcome home, our poet.  Rose and I
   Have missed you sorely, and, though Violet’s shy 
   And can’t find words, she bids you welcome too.

VIOLET

     Dear Grasshopper, indeed, indeed I do.

GRASSHOPPER (Raises Violet’s hand to his lips)

Thanks, Violet.  Whatever chanced I knew,
Though all should fail me, you would still be true.

(Enter Bee.) [page 38]

POPPY 

   Welcome, old Sobersides; you’re late, you know,
   To greet our Queen.  She came an hour ago.

BEE

I have been seeking her all day.  At last 
The Blackbird came and said that she had passed
This way along the lane.  Your Majesty (to Spring)
I am no Courtier, just a working–bee,
With all my heart I welcome you again,
Hoping that long and sunny be your reign.

SPRING

   We thank you, Bee.  Now, let the music play,
   And all, with merry hearts, make holiday.

LILY

     I am so glad you’ve come again, dear Bee;
     Forget your work and dance awhile with me.

BEE

     I fear that I can dance but heavily.

(Music and dance.  Winter laughs outside.)

WINTER (Outside)

   Softly, tread softly, lest our step they hear!
   Little Spring dreams that we are lurking near. [page 39]

SPRING

     Hark!  What was that?

(Exit Spring and Oberon)

SNOWDROP

     ‘Twas Winter’s voice, I know.

DAFFODIL

   I thought she had gone north long ago.

(Exit Snowdrop and Daffodil)

BEE

     Nay, surely she is gone.  She would not dare
     To linger here.

ROSE 

   ‘Twere best to have a care;
   She’s full of malice, and if she could deal
   One stroke before she went to make us feel
   Her power, she would not spare to strike the blow.

LILY

     Why should she hate our gentle mistress so?

ROBIN

   She’s old and crabbed.  Spring is young and fair,
   With laughing eyes and blossoms in her hair
   So Winter hates her. [page 40]

POPPY 

     Let us run and see
     If we can find her.  If she’s prowling near
     We’ll pack her howling off.

(Exit Poppy, Violet, Grasshopper, and Bee.)

LITTLE DAISY

     But then, if she
     Is really a witch, her spells may be
     Too strong for us.

ROSE

     What?  Trembling, child?  Don’t fear.
     She shall not hurt you.

(Exit Rose and Robin.)

BIG DAISY

     Not while we are near.

(Exit Daisies, right.)

FLOWERS (Calling Outside)

     Is she here?
     There’s no one near?

BEE

     Does she lurk within the dell?

GRASSHOPPER

     No–one here. [page 41]

ALL

     ‘Tis well, ‘tis well.

LILY (Calls after them)

     I’ll wait for you until you come again.

(Sits on Bank.)

   I’m glad that Spring is here and Winter’s reign
   Is over.  Oh, I thought she’d never go;
   And I had grown so tired of ice and snow.
   (Sleepily) I’m tired still.  (Winter’s music is heard.)
   I’ll lie upon this mound
   Until the others come.  (Sleeps)

(Enter Jack Frost and Winter, forward right.)

WINTER

     Is this the ground
     That Spring has chosen for her revelry?

JACK FROST

     This is the place.

WINTER

   She reckoned not with us.  
   Haste to our vengeance lest they come ere we
   Have left the glade desert and ruinous.
   Touch with your fingers, son, and turn to blight
   And death all things that now know life and light. [page 42]

JACK FROST (Sees Lily) 

   Stay, who is here?

WINTER

     One of Spring’s maidens, she.
     Now shall our vengeance strike right heavily.

JACK FROST

   Hush!  Wake her not till we have laid our spell
   Upon her.

WINTER

              She sleeps soundly.  All is well.

(Dance and Chant.)

   In our magic spell we wind her,
   With our icy touches bind her;
   Touch her hands, her heart, her brow,
   Seal her eyes to slumber now.
   Naught shall rouse her from her sleeping,
   Naught shall wake her heart to leaping
   Till a lover’s arms enfold her,
   Till a lover’s eyes behold her;
   And his kiss so warm shall lie
   On cold hands and brow and eye
   That our icy spell shall be
   Melted from her utterly.
   Until then, though comrades weep,
   Long and chill shall be her sleep. [page 43]

WINTER

     Ha–ha–ha–ha!  Now will they feel our power,
     These foes of ours.

JACK FROST

   I hate them, every flower,
   And fain would have them all lie as she lies.

WINTER

   Well, we must northward flee.  Ere she arise 
   Many a day will pass.

JACK FROST

     Yet she is fair,
     And must have loves a–plenty.

WINTER

     But to break
     The icy spell, it must be that they dare
     And sacrifice and suffer for her sake.
     No light love’s fires shall melt away the chill
     That holds that slumber heavy on her still.

JACK FROST 

     Listen!  The others come again, and we 
     Must fly before them.

WINTER 

     Come, then; follow me.

(Exit forward left.  Enter Flowers laughing and talking.) [page 44]

ROSE 

     No trace of Winter there within the dell.

DAFFODIL

     No footsteps of her by the river–side.

SNOWDROP

   Yet ‘twas her laugh we heard.  I know it well.

BIG DAISY

     Well, we have hunted for her far and wide
     And found no trace of her.

ROSE 

     Where’s Lily?  She
     Did not come with us.

POPPY

   Underneath that tree.  
   She said she’d wait till we returned.  We’ll creep
   Softly and wake her.

(Flowers creep gaily back stage and surround Lily.)

   She is sound asleep.

ROSE

                                  Lily, dear.

DAFFODIL

     She does not wake. [page 45]

DAISY

     Oh, how cold and still she lies.

VIOLET

     Lily, darling.

POPPY

     Rise, and shake
     All the slumber from your eyes.

SNOWDROP

     No, our words are all in vain,
     Still she lies, and hears not one.

VIOLET

     Will she wake to life again?

DAFFODIL

     Let us call to Oberon.  (Calls)
     Oberon, Oberon, lend your aid,
     Lo!  We are all sore afraid.

(Enter Oberon and Robin, forward right.)

OBERON

     Did someone call me?

ROSE

     Oberon, Oberon, see! [page 46]

DAISY 

     She will not waken, so we cried to thee.

FLOWERS (Sing)

We have called her, “Lily, Lily,”
   We have kissed her hands and hair;
But she lies so white and chilly,
   She, of all the flowers most fair.

Is she dead, or is she sleeping?
   Will she wake to life again?
Sister, sister, we are weeping;
   Shall our sorrow be in vain?

Oberon, Oberon, who has wrought it?
   Bound her sweetness with this spell?
Whose the evil heart that thought it? ––
   She whom all  things loved so well.

We have called her, “Lily, Lily,”
   Kissed and kissed her yet again;
Still she lies so white and chilly––
   Shall our grief be all in vain?

OBERON

     I see in this the trace of Winter’s hand.

ROSE

   We thought that she long since had left the land,
   And never dreamed that she so bold would grow
   As to invade the Court of Springtime so. [page 47]

DAISY

     Is there on way the icy spell to break?

OBERON

   I know but one.  If someone for her sake
   All he holds dearest at her feet shall lay
   Then shall his kisses melt the ice away.
   Come, let us send our heralds far and wide
   And spread the news through all the country–side,
   That all who will may try the prize to gain
   And woo the Lily back to life again.

ROBIN

   Fear not!  Full many love her.  Butterfly,
   Moth, Grasshopper and Bee their spells shall try;
   And many a suitor from north, east, west, south,
   Will haste to lay their kisses on her mouth.

(Flowers begin to file out.)

DAFFODIL (Pausing)

     How shall we leave her lying there alone?

OBERON

Nay, o’er her head the friendly boughs shall bend
And the shy forest fairies, everyone,
Her mossy couch attend.
And through the sunny hours bright dreams shall flit
Around her drowsy slumber, guarding it.

 

(Flowers slowly file out, Oberon last, leaving Lily alone.  Music of song repeated.  Stage in darkness, save for spot of light on Lily.) [page 48]

 

SCENE II

   Same setting as end of last scene.  Flowers return to music and circle about bank, dancing and laughing.  Daisy stops them.

 

DAISY

     Hush!  you’ll wake her.

POPPY

     Never fear;
     She sleeps soundly, Daisy dear.

DAFFODIL

     We may dance, she will not wake;
     We may sing, she does not stir.

ROSE

     Song or laughter cannot shake 
     Slumber from the eyes of her.

POPPY

     Three days since she danced with us
     Lightest foot in all the glen.

VIOLET

     Now she lies in silence thus;
     Will she ever dance again? [page 49]

ROSE

     Only love can break the charm
     That has bound her in its chain,
     Lover’s kisses, soft and warm,
     Call her back to life again.

DAFFODIL

   O, here is Oberon.

(Enter OBERON and ROBIN, forward Right.)

   Your Majesty,
   We pray you tell us once more we’ll see
   Lily dance with us, as she did of yore?

OBERON

   Fear not; ere nightfall she will wake once more.

(Music outside.  Enter WASP, singing.)

WASP

A strong arm and a trusty blade,
   And the world wherein to roam,
O who would change a soldier’s trade
   To rust in peace at home?
Kling, kling,
The brave blows ring,
   And the bugle calls us, Come.

A stout heart and a comrade true,
   And a lass in every town,
And lusty lads to drink with you
   The bitter ale and brown; [page 50]

Quaff, quaff, 
With jest and laugh,
   As the foaming drink goes down.

O light loves they may come and go
   As the sunshine follows rain,
And laughing eyes may overflow;
   They weep for us in vain.
Sip, sip,
Each maiden’s lip,
   And we’re off to fight again.

WASP (To Poppy)

   Goodmorrow to you, Mistress Rosycheek,
   If a poor soldier may but to you speak
   I’d ask you why this gallant company
   Is gathered here?  Some feat of arms to see?
   Or for some tournament?  I pray you, tell.

POPPY

   Nay, sir; it is to break the wicked spell
   That left the Lily silent on her bier.
   Listen, and soon our herald you will hear
   Proclaim the news that all may strive to break
   Old Winter’s charm and bid the Lily wake.

OBERON

   Robin ring out the summons far and wide,
   And call them in from all the country side. 

(Flowers stand around Lily.  Oberon stands right.) [page 51]

ROBIN (Sings)

We cried, but she would not waken;
   We called, but she has not stirred;
Her slumber is still unshaken
   By revel or song or word.
The dryads their watch were keeping
Above her, and sang to her sleeping,
And the nixies went weeping, weeping;
   Nor laughter nor grief has she heard.

O come then, with passion and power;
   Come in from the north and south,
From the east and the west and shower
   Your kisses upon her mouth.
She lies here, calm and unmoving,
O, lovers, turn from your roving
And wake her to life and loving,
   From the spell that has bound her youth.

(ROBIN, after song, seats himself upon stump.)

DAISY

     O, who will come and wake her?

POPPY

     Do not fear, 
     For she has many a lover.

ROSE

   Far and near
   The summon swells, and surely they will hear. [page 52]

DAFFODIL 

   Even slow, plodding Bee to catch her smile
   Would linger near, and cease his toil awhile.

VIOLET

   And Grasshopper full many a song has made
   In praise of her.

ROSE

   And cricket through the glade
   Has sung them shrilly all the summer night
   Till the sun came and darkness took to flight.

ROBIN (Calls)

   What ho!  What ho!  If ye would try your fate,
   O lovers, hasten, lest ye come too late.

(Wasp swaggers forward, bowing to Oberon.)

WASP

     If a poor soldier, Sire, may strive to win
     The prize, the lists I fain would enter in.

OBERON

     Why, sir, the venture all may try who care,
     But most shall fail.

WASP

Well, that’s the chance of war;
I’ll try my luck.
(Oberon draws aside, showing Lily.) [page 53]

So that’s the maiden?  She
Is a fair lass, but all too pale for me.
I like a rosy armful, plump and warm;
Still––(Stoops and kisses Lily)––if a soldier’s kiss can break the charm,
Rouse you my girl.  (Lily does not stir.)
There’s lasses that would be,
To win my kisses, fain to follow me
Around the world.

OBERON

     You have failed.  Let other’s try
     How they shall fare.  Give back, sir.

WASP

                                                      As you will;
   There’s many a lass that better takes my eye
   Than this poor shadow, frozen, white and still.

(Swaggers out, forward left.)

FLOWERS (Dance and sing)

     Cold and white and still she lies,
     Folded hands and fast shut eyes.

     Not your touch shall bid her leap
     Flushed and laughing from her sleep.

     Only true love’s power shall stir
     Life within the heart of her;

     True love’s kisses close and warm,
     Melt the ice and break the charm. [page 54]

 

(MOTH saunters languidly in, forward right, and stands watching the dance disapprovingly.  When it ceases, he strolls forward and speaks to OBERON.)

 

MOTH

     Good morrow, Sire.

OBERON

     Have you come to break
     The icy spell, and bid the Lily wake?

ROBIN (Scornfully)

Not he, forsooth!  No warmth his kisses hold,
Who loves the shadows more than sunlight’s gold.

MOTH

     First I would see the maiden, if you please;

(Glances disdainfully at Flowers.)

MOTH

     I love not gaudy creatures, such as these;
     My soul cries out for subtler harmonies.

(A murmur of indignation from Flowers.)

POPPY

     Gaudy, indeed!

VIOLET

     The softer tints are best. [page 55]

DAFFODIL

     Must we ask him ere we go gaily dressed?

OBERON

     Yet Spring and Nature love bright tints.

MOTH

                                                         I know;
But Art to me doth deeper beauties show––
Not crude robustness, vulgar, gaudy, gay,
But languid, lovely colors of decay.
Yet I would see the maid, and note if she
Has aught of an artistic charm for me.
(OBERON shows Lily.)
She’s fair in truth.  How cold and pure her face!
Methinks that she should move with sinuous grace.
(Kisses her languidly.)
Lift up those heavy lids and see in me
A poor apostle of Art’s purity.
Arouse thee, fair one.  I have laid, in sooth,
The purple kiss of passion on thy mouth.
(LILY does not move.)
She does not stir!

OBERON

     Not yours her heart to win.
     Back, and let other suitors now come in.

(Moth saunters languidly out, forward left.) [page 56]

GRASSHOPPER (Enters forward right, to music) 

   Hail, Oberon!  A wandering minstrel I,
   Across the hills I come from Arcadie;
   I love have loved the Lily, and am fain
   To break from her old Winter’s icy chain,
   So, with your leave, I would the venture try.

VIOLET

     How can she fail to answer to his voice?
     Were he to call me, how should I rejoice!

OBERON

     Hail, sir; the venture all may try who will.

ROSE

     Many have tried; but Lily slumbers still.

GRASSHOPPER

     If song may wake her, she shall go with me
     And view the pleasant land of Arcadie.

DAFFODIL

     Nay, nay, we cannot lose the Lily so.

POPPY

   The Court of Spring were sad if she should go. [page 57]

GRASSHOPPER

Yet go she must.  Naught should the minstrel bind;
He must be free to travel with the wind.

(Sings)

Heart of my heart, the long road lies,
   A streak of white across the down,
To where the hilltops 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.

Heart of my heart, if song may break
   The frozen sleep that on you lies,
List to my singing.  Wake, O wake,
   And thrust that slumber from your eyes
While sunny still the April skies;
Heart of my heart, and roam with me
   Across the hills in Arcadie.

 

(He kisses her, she does not stir.  During song flowers seat themselves, some by bank near Lily, others on mound forward.  At end of song they [page 58] rise and watch eagerly.  Violet stands by mound, for enough away from him for him not to hear her.)

 

VIOLET 

     Surely, surely, she will hear.

ROSE

     Not his singing, sweet and clear,
     Breaks the spell that long has bound her.

DAFFODIL

     Not for him shall she arise
     With the lovelight in her eyes.

DAISY

   Still she sleeps as when we found her.

(Grasshopper goes slowly out, forward left, looking back sadly.)

VIOLET (Sighs)

     Ah, would he only sing that song to me,
     Gladly I’d follow him to Arcadie.

 

(BUTTERFLY and BEE enter, to butterfly music.  Butterfly dances in, forward right, to ROSE, forward left, who receives him with smiles.  Bee remains forward right.) [page 59]

 

BUTTERFLY

   Ha, Rose, old friend!  Say, have I come too late?
   Has any kiss broken the icy spell?
   Or does she still in that charmed slumber wait?

ROSE

     Her sleep is yet unbroken.

BUTTERFLY

     It is well.
(To Oberon)  Is it permitted, sire, to try my fate?

OBERON

     Why, all who love her may the venture try.

BUTTERFLY

   A universal lover, Sire, am I.
   I love the saucy sweetness of the Rose,
   The Violet shy, with modest-drooping head,
   The Daffodil, in cloth of gold who goes,
   And laughing Poppy, in her robes of red;
   Dear little Daisy in her robes of white,
   And Lily ever was my heart’s delight.

OBERON (Laughing)

   Too freely, sir, I fear your fondness flows;
   She will not wake for kisses such as those. 
   Say, will you give, to drive her sleep away,
   Out of your life one long, sweet summer day? [page 60]

BUTTERFLY 

     Why, life is short, and summer days are rare,
     And, if she wakes not, others are as fair.

BEE (Indignantly)

   There’s ne’er another flower as sweet as she!

BUTTERFLY

   Why, Rose or Daffodil will dance with me
   As lightly, Poppy laugh as merrily.
   Yet, if a kiss will do it, I am fain
   To draw the Lily back to life again.  (Kisses her; she does not move.)
   Well, since she will not wake, I’ll not delay.

(To Flowers, who have been laughingly watching)

   Will you not come and dance, while yet we may?

(Butterfly and Flowers dance and sing)

   O bright gleams the sun on butterfly wings,
     And the skies are ablaze with light;
   And faster, faster, our dancing swings
     As we follow the butterflies’ flight.

   We called to the Lily in vain, in vain;
     For slumber has bound her yet;
   Our presence may loose not the icy chain;
     Then, come, let us dance and forget.

 

(Circle about stage in happy dance and Butterfly leads them out forward left, Bee coming centre watching them.) [page 61]

 

BEE

What!  Have they gone and left her here alone?
Of all her lovers, was there then not one
Whose love was strong enough the spell to break?

OBERON

   Why, there are many flowers still awake
   Who ask no sacrifice made for their sake.

BEE

   Little have I to give—no soldier, I,
   Nor robed in beauty, like the Butterfly;
   No priest of Art, nor apt in minstrelsy
   As Grasshopper—but a poor working Bee.
   Yet, if to give my life the spell will break
   Gladly I’ll lose it, Lily, for your sake.

OBERON (Cynically)

   Easy in words the offering to make.

BEE

     Try me and test!

OBERON

   What if I bid you give
   Your wings, and for her sake a cripple live?

BEE

   A hard command—yet, if ‘twill break the chain
   And bring the Lily back to life again,
   Then, Oberon, take them! [page 62]

OBERON 

     Kiss her first, and see
     If she will wake.

(Bee kisses Lily.  She opens her eyes and holds out her hands.)

LILY

     Kiss me once more, dear Bee.

(He lifts her to her feet and kisses her.  Song.)

BEE AND LILY (Sing)

LILY

Kiss me once more.  The frozen sleep
   Has melted from my eyes away,
And warm within my heart I keep
   The kisses that you gave today.
       Kiss me once more.

Kiss me once more; the ardent sun
   Has kissed the earth with lips of fire,
And turns to where, till day be done,
   The sea waits, faint with her desire.  
     Kiss me once more.

BEE

At last, at last; the icy chain
   Has broken; turn and slake my drouth.
The kiss I gave you, give again;
   O golden head and honey mouth,
     Kiss me once more. [page 63]

The Butterfly, since morn first burned,
   Has kissed the flowers, his worshippers;
The Violet long ago has learned
   Her minstrel’s kisses answer hers.
     Kiss me once more.

LILY AND BEE

O lips that gave me life anew
   O golden head and honey mouth,
Parched with desire I turn to you,
   O let your kisses slake my drouth.
     Kiss me once more.

The moth to the pale moon has turned,
   Nor turned him to the moon in vain;
The earth to kiss the sea has yearned,
   The sea to kiss the land again.
     Kiss me once more.

LILY

   Oh, I have waked from sleep as sound as this,
   Yet never known the rapture of your kiss
   Till now.  How many wasted hours have gone!

BEE

   I never dreamed you would be all my own!
   Dear, are you sure that no regret will stir
   Within your heart?  Cricket and Grasshopper
   Can sing your praises; Moth and Butterfly
   Go robed in beauty.  A poor worker I,
   Who can but love you. [page 64]

LILY 

   But your kiss, you see,
   Waked me from sleep.  Kiss me again, dear Bee!

 

(Fairies and Flowers enter and dance around them, singing.  Flowers form a semicircle at back, Oberon at right, and Robin forward left.  Bee and Lily centre.)

 

FAIRIES AND FLOWERS

     Broken is the spell that bound her;
     Lo!  at last true love has found her.

     She has wakened from her sleeping,
     Warm once more her heart is leaping;

     And a lover’s eyes behold her,
     And a lover’s arms enfold her;

     And his kisses, close and warm,
     Melt the ice and break the charm.

     Henceforth may they know together
     Pleasant paths and sunny weather;

     Many a happy season see,
     Lily-bell and Honey-bee.

(Curtain.) [page 65]

 

Mushrooms

 

Golden hair on the breezes blown,
   Starry eyes that laugh through the shadows,
Shoon of silver, gossamer gown,
   Fairies dance in the dewy meadows.

Bright eyes follow their flying feet—
   Water rats from the river sedges,
Baby bunnies, furry and sweet,
   Sleek, shy mice from the hazel hedges.

Moonshine glimmer on rainbow wings,
   Tinkle of song and music sighing,
Wider, wider the circle swings,
   Faster the fairy feet are flying.

Then—a cloud o’er the moon is cast,
   Heavy and slow the rain is falling;
Fairy feet are scurrying past,
   Fairy voices crying and calling.

Veil of moonshine and silver mist,
   Cap of scarlet and white owl’s feather,
Emerald robes and amethyst,
   Vanish into the dark together.

Lone lies the meadow, dark and chill,
   Silent the elfin song and chatter,
Only the wind moans o’er the hill
   And on the grass the raindrops patter.

But, when the dark is flushed to day,
   And through the leaves the sun is glancing,
Coral mushrooms in brave array
   Mark where the fairy feet were dancing. [page 66]

 

The Lost Shoe

Last night, by the side of the mountain lake,
   Half hid in heather and ling,
As I went the way that the wild deer take,
   I found a wonderful thing—
A tiny shoe, such as fairies make,
   Golden and  glimmering.

Some fairy had lost it, dancing there
   In the moon-ray, light and fleet,
While the flutes and cymbals shook in the air
   A-twinkle with elfin feet;
Lost it and left it—small and fair,
   Dainty and gold and sweet.

Will the leprechaun toil all night long
   To match the missing shoe? —
Sewing away with a golden thong
   Till his weary task is through,
And keeping time with an elfin song
   To his hammer’s tick, tack, too?

Did she seek it, I wonder, all in vain
   Ere the fairy host took flight?
Shall I hear her sob in the summer rain
   At my window-pane tonight? 
Or see her wander the hills again
   With tear-stained face and white?

I think that this morning I will take
   The golden, glimmering
Small shoe once more to the mountain lake,
   And there, in the fairy ring,
Lay it and leave it—for her sake,
   That sorrowful elfin thing. [page 67]

 

The First Christmas

 

One singeth:

 

Maid Mary came to Bethlehem town,
   (Now, Christ be with us all)
The snow adrift upon her down;
Full wild the wintry wind did blow,
Yet room was none for her to go
   In cottage or in hall.
That night to her the Lord came down,
In a poor stable stall.

One sayeth:

That night the stars went singing, and the wind,
   And all the choiring angels, row on row,
And shepherds, hasting through the dark to find
   Thee in the manger low.

One singeth:

O shepherds brought their gifts to Him,
   (Christ dwell with us tonight)
And kings came riding from the dim
Great lands beneath the eastern sky,
And patient ox and ass stood by
   With wondering eyes and bright;
And cherubim and seraphim
   Sang glory up the height.

One sayeth:

And through the years between us and that morn
   Still sounds that angel singing, clear and true;
And still, each Christmas Day, the Child is born
   King of our hearts anew. [page 68]

 

In The Museum

 

O you who tread an unknown way,
   Small Daphne or Alcithoë,
The toys with which you used to play,
In the museum gallery
   Of our far, foreign land we see.
Your cart, your doll, your little shoe,
All, all are here—but where are you?

I wonder, when the shadows fall
   From the tall window’s pane, and creep
Along the passages, and all
The world we know is fast asleep,
   I wonder, do you ever creep
Out of the by-gone centuries
And look at them with wistful eyes.

When all the thronging feet have passed,
   And lights are out, and twilight’s o’er,
If I could only steal at last
Back from the world beyond the door,
   And tiptoe down the aisles once more,
And swiftly fling the portals wide—
I wonder, would you run and hide?

Or should I see your golden hair
   Gleam in the darkness, where you sit
Bending a childish face and fair
Above your doll, and tending it?
   Or watch you through the shadows flit
Tossing your ball, with shouts of glee,
O Daphne or Alcithoë? [page 69]
Your dust has blown to every wind,
   The hearts that loved you long grown cold,
Yet, in this far-off land, we find
Dim memories of that love of old,
   Though thirty centuries have rolled—
The love that, vainly weeping, gave
Your toys to you, in your small grave.

The doll you loved is still the same
   As when, in days of long ago,
With eager voice you called her name,
Or rocked her gently to and fro
   Crooning a sleep song, soft and low;
But you—who knows where now you be,
Dear Daphne or Alcithoë?

The gods you worshipped are forgot,
   Their altars one, their fires are dead;
But still in some green, pleasant spot,
Some sweet and sunny garden stead,
   I like to dream your golden head
Still flits about; your little ghost
Plays with the toys you loved the most.

 

Bed–Time Song

 

There’s a playmate that’s waiting for you, my dear,
   The wonderful man in the moon;
You may climb up his ladder of silvery light,
And if you set out at the dead of night
   You’ll be there and back by noon. [page 70]

And he’ll let you float in his golden boat, 
   In his wonderful bark canoe,
And swim in his lake, so dark and deep,
And catch gold fish with the nets of sleep,
   The Man in the Moon and you.

And he’ll let you into his little house
   That’s small and round and bright,
And he’ll let you polish the shining stars
And put them into their silver cars,
   And play in the moon all night.

But when the sun gets up in the sky
   Ere the Moon Man goes to bed
He’ll bring you down to the earth again,
And tuck you under your counterpane,
   My dear little Sleepy Head.

 

The Babe

 

All the gods are dead, they say.  Not so!
For on a midnight, centuries ago––
That night of nights, when Christ to earth came down––
The old gods trooping came
Into the sleeping streets of Bethlehem town;
Not, as their wont, with thunder and with flame,
For Zeus had laid aside
His thunderbolts, and Hera all her pride.
So, to the stable bare [page 71]
They came, and found Him there;
Within the manger, wrapped in sleep, He lay,
Who over gods and men alike holds sway,
The Lord of earth and air.

Within the manger there He lay and smiled,
A little, naked Child,
No kingly sceptre in His fingers pressed––
Small, crumpled fingers, helpless, straying, sweet,
That curled about her breast
Who lay and kissed those dimpled hands and feet.
And lo!  The old gods bowed to Him the knee,
The Word–Made–Flesh––Incarnate Deity.
And Pan played to Him wondrous melodies,
Music, whose sobbing beat
Dripped from his pipe, like water in the heat;
And white Diana laid, with wistful eyes,
Her quiver at this feet.

And since that day no more the sapphire sea
Laves Aphrodite’s breast of ivory;
And up the misty hill
And through the coverts, now no longer sounds
The deep–mouthed music of Diana’s hounds;
And Pan his piping shrill
Within the glen or by the river–side
Has hushed to silence.  Yet they have not died.
Still in the city or the woodland glen
They go their ways, unmarked by mortal men,
And work His sovran will,––
The Babe of Bethlehem, Who reigneth still,––
Until He come again. [page 72]

 

Loughnarea

 

O could I but win to my heart’s desire, I know where I’m fain to be,
But it’s over sea and it’s over land, and it’s half o’ the world away,
By a little lake in the heart o’ the hills that once were home to me.
O Rose o’ the World, do you never dream of the shores of Loughnarea?

‘Tis there I would be in the dead of night, when the ripple is hushed and still,
And never a sigh of the lonely wind goes wandering through the sedge,
When the only gleam is the ghost of a star that’s drowned in the water chill,
And a mist like a feather of white lies curled on the rushes that fringe the edge.

I’m fain for my feet to press once more the grass of the fairy ring,
And to see once more the People of Peace at their dance ‘neath the hawthorn bough,
And I’m fain and fain to hear again the snatches of the song they sing––
Old songs, that sound through the heart o’ me, though I’m far from the hawthorn now.

O Rose o’ the World, do you mind the day you stood ‘neath the hawthorn’s snow,
And a foam of petals lay at your feet, and you gathered them up in your hand? [page 73]
Could I stand once more at your side again as I stood in the long ago
The Queens of the Sidhe* might call in vain––tall Emer and Maeve and Fand.

But I’m far and far over land and sea and the half o’ the world between,
And the Queens of the Sidhe have laughed their last, and the dancers have danced away,
And the snow–white breast of my Rose o’ the World lies still where the turf grows green,
And my heart, like the ghost of a star, lies drowned in the depths of Loughnarea.

*Sidhe–Shee: Fairies


The Canada Wind

You may praise the glamour and glory of Spring if you will,
   And the beauty of earth, set free from the frost’s embrace;
Give me the north wind, sweeping over the hill,
   And the scurry of driving snow that stings my face.

Give me the sky with its glimmer of stars steel–blue,
   And a scimitar–blade of moon, swung low and bright,––
You may keep the langurous darkness, drenched with dew,
   And the slumbrous scents and sounds of the summer night. [page 74]

Ah me!  for the snow that creaks beneath my tread, 
   For the triumphing wind, that calls and laughs and sings,
That shouts to the stars and bends the pine–tree’s head,
And over the wide white world its challenge flings.

Then praise the dews and the showers of spring if you will,
   Or the long, hot summer days with their languid grace;
Give me the north wind, piping over the hill,
   And the scurry of driving snow, that stings my face.

 

The Procession

When day is over, and the shadow falls,
Swathing in mists the dome of old St. Paul’s,
And, deepening, shuts the busy streets from sight
In the thick curtain of the gathering night,
Lo!  Through the winding ways, as dark draws down,
A long procession rides through London Town.

For, while within those streets the waning light
Fades into darkness, and there falls the night,
The homeless beggar, shivering and aghast,
May hear the tramp of many a foot go past,
And see, with banners waving wide and far,
The army of the dead go forth to war.

And not alone the London roads may see
That host ride on in pomp and pageantry; [page 75]
For many a country shepherd, in amaze,
Watches those banners dance, those torches blaze,
And still the tale to wondering ears tells o’er––
How England’s dead ride through her ways once more.

The coastguard, watching from his cliffs, may hear
The creak of rope and block rise to his ear,
And far below, upon the shelving beach,
Hear long dead sailors calling, each to each:
“Ho!  Mainsail haul!  To sea with all our host;
The great Armada sweeps along our coast.”

The peasant, driving his benighted wain,
May hear the clang of armour down the lane,
And, through the shadows, horses’ hoofs that ring;
While, in his harness clad, Richard the King,––
With the red cross upon his shield, as when
He fought the infidel––rides by again.

Harry of England and the bowmen good
Who on the fields of France so stoutly stood;
There rides our earliest Edward, tall and fair,
And many a gallant knight and squire are there;
Till, through the mists that drape the eastern sky,
The men of Mons and Marne come riding by.

Fear not, O England!  Never foe shall stand
And gaze with conqueror’s eyes upon thy strand;
For lo!  The living and the dead still keep,
Alike, their watch above thy children’s sleep.
And still, each night, when darkness gathers down,
That great procession rides through London Town. [page 76]

 

The Changeling

 

Lennavan mo,* how came she there,
   The tall, strange woman, with floating hair?
I heard no finger unlatch the door
   And never a footstep crossed the floor;
Yet she stood by your cradle, bending low,
   And kissed your cheek, O Lennavan mo.

Lennavan mo, was I aught to blame?
   Each night I knelt and I named the Name;
No may–bough crossed the threshold o’er,
   And the holy iron was hung on the door,
And I gave no gift to the Lennan Shee,
   But she stole the heart of my heart from me.

Lennavan mo, you were strong and fair––
   The thing that wails in the cradle there
Is little and twisted and old and white,
   And its eyes are  full of unholy light;
With blesséd water its brow I crossed
   And it shrieked at the touch like a soul that’s lost.

Lennavan mo, where e’er you be,
   In some dim land of the Daoine Sidhe,
Do you miss your mother’s encircling arm,
   And the wee white cot, and the fireside warm?
Do you cry, in that country where all is bright,
   For the one who loves you by day and night?

O People of Twilight, come and bring
   The changeling back to the fairy ring;

*Lennavan mo: My Child. [page 77]


The Quicken Boughs

Underneath the quicken boughs,*
     To and fro,
Sun and shadow, dark and light
     Come and go;	
All the tides of day and night
     Ebb and flow.

Underneath the quicken boughs
     Who wait there?
Maidens of the Daoine Sidhe, †
     Tall and fair;
Winds of dream blow ceaselessly
     In their hair.

Underneath the quicken boughs
     Still they blow,
Tossing o’er the weary earth,
     To and fro,
Dreams of sorrow and of mirth,
     Joy and woe.

Underneath the quicken boughs,
     In a ring,

Maidens of the Daoine Sidhe
     Sit and sing
Songs that still like swallows flee,
     Murmuring.	

Underneath the quicken boughs,
     Fast or slow,
Sun and shadow, day and night,
     Still they go;
Endless tides of dark and light
     Ebb and flow.

*The quicken, or mountain ash, is a sacred tree in Ireland.

† Daoine Sidhe–Dhinny Shee:  Fairy folk. [page 78]


 

A Rainy Day

 

Grey skies, and mists that sway
   Against my window pane,
And wind that calls all day,
   And calls in vain.

Who knows what ancient wrong
   Is sounding in that blast?
What inarticulate song
   Finds voice at last?

What drippings of old tears
   Fall through the sobbing rain?
What sorrows of dim years
   Take shape again?

Who knows? ––Draw down the blind;
   My fire is burning bright;
Out in the rain and wind
   Who waits to–night? [page 79]

Wind In Summer

Come from the gates of the dawning with the sunrise on your wings,
Call to the dreaming waters till the sea awakes and sings,
Till the waves with madcap laughter go dancing upon their way,
And the arms of the white sea–maidens toss in the flying spray.

We have grown spend and weary with glare and dust and heat,
Come from the cool of the woodlands, from green aisles dim and sweet,
Glades where the brown elf lingers, pools where the nixie lies,
Bringing the magic fern–seed to sprinkle on our eyes.

Come through the boughs of the orchard, whispering soft and low,
Shaking the cherry blossom down on the grass like snow;
Dappling the ground with shadows from every branch that swings; 
Come from the gates of the dawning, with the sunrise on your wings.

 

A Lullaby

 

Little feet, grown weary of play,
Daytime and playtime have passed away,
   And the sun swings low in the west; [page 80]
Fades the glory of sunset light 
In ruby and gold and malachite,
   Then rest, my baby, rest.

Darker, softer the shadows grow;
Hark to the sleep call, soft and low,
   Sounding across the night;
Silver stars are hung in the sky,
And a silver moon is riding high
   Like a ship with sails of white.

Golden head on my breast that lies,
Folded fingers and fast shut eyes,
   Slumber has whelmed you deep.
Out on a tide of dream and dew
The galleys of Night are bearing you;
   Then sleep, my baby, sleep.

 

Spindrift

 

Spindrift––foam of the sea,
Acrid and salt with tears,
   Borne on the wandering winds––unresting, bitter with doom,
Still as of old it blows
Across the echoing years,
   Over the ghosts of the galleys of Greece, the triremes of Rome. 

All the ships of the past,
The navies of old renown,
   Corsair and merchant, the valour of England, the pride of Spain, [page 81]
Shadowy hulls, through the mists
From the Sea of the Shadows blown,
   Bitter and chill it sweeps through their sails, they sink into mist again.

Spindrift,––foam of the sea,
Acrid, bitter of breath,
   Borne on the winds forever, unresting, laden with doom,
Blowing across the years
Salt with the brine of death,
   Over the ghosts of the galleys of Greece, the triremes of Rome.

 

The Bugles’ Call

 

There’s a sound of bugles blowing,
   There’s a triumph in the wind,
There’s a tramp of footstep going;
And who heeds the tear–drops flowing 
   Of the women left behind?

There is many a lass is sighing
   For the lad she’ll never see;
On a battle field he’s lying,
O’er his head the trumpets crying
   As they march to victory.

But he will not heed their calling––
   O, be sure his rest is deep!
For above the battle’s brawling
He has heard the falling, falling
   Of the drowsy waves of sleep. [page 82]

And when all the battle’s over 
   And its memories growing dim,
O’er her nest amid the clover
The lark may singing hover,
   But she will not waken him.

There’s a wail of bugles blowing,
   There’s a trouble on the wind;
Marching feet are coming, going,
But who heeds the tear–drops flowing
   Of the women left behind?

 

Cradle Song

 

   Husheen lo!
The sun is westing,
Birds are nesting,
   Shadows grow;
And above your cradle swinging
Mother’s singing––
   Husheen lo!
   Husheen lo!

   Husheen lo!
The night is falling
Winds are calling
   Soft and slow;
And the evening star is gleaming
O’er your dreaming,
   Husheen lo!
   Husheen lo! [page 83]

    Husheen lo!
If on the morrow
Cometh sorrow,
   Who shall know?
God, His watch above you keeping,
Guard your sleeping;
   Husheen lo!
   Husheen lo!

 

A Question

 

Will I be missing you, do you say?
And you to be going so far away
Over the great sea, wild and grey?

Will I be missing you?  O my dear,
Will the sun ever shine and you not here,
Or the birds be singing their music clear?

Others faces may come and pass,
As the shadows fleet o’er the wind–swept grass,
Or my image slips through the looking–glass.

But every wind through my heart that blows
Names your name to me as it goes,
And I hear your voice in each stream that flows.

In every sunset your face I see,
Through whispering woods you walk with me
While your hand in mine lies quietly.

Will I be missing you, do you say?
Sure, my heart it follows you, night and day,
And you to be going so far away. [page 84]

 

The Roads of France––1918  

The roads of France ran fair and white
   Five years ago,
Beneath a sunny sky and bright;
Beside them orchard branches swung
Heavy with fruit, and vineyards hung
   Their purple clusters low.

The roads of France––no longer white
   They run today.
God pity all pour souls tonight
Who walk those piteous ways the lie
Wrenched, twisted, battered, ‘neath a sky
   Of scarred and sullen grey.

The roads of France––their blossoms bright
   Long since are dead;
Only the rows of crosses white
Rank upon rank beside them rise,
Each marking where, all dreamless, lies
   Some nameless hero’s head.

The roads of France––they lie tonight
   Shattered and grey,––
Poor, piteous things beneath the light;
Yet dearer far to us they be,
For Honour, Valour, Memory
   Now walk them day by day. [page 85]

 

I Spoke To God

 

I spoke to God and said:
   “Thou, Who has given to me
Only Thine enmity,
Giving me tears to drink, and bitter bread
   Earned by hard service, loneliness and sorrow,
And pain, and weariness,
A life I asked not for, and on the morrow
   An instant’s passage into nothingness;
How should I love Thee, Who hast set me here
   To wander in a drear and endless wild?
I love Thee not nor fear.”
   He said:  “Poor child!”

“If I had given to thee
   Fullness of all the earth,
Lapped thee in laughter, cradled thee in mirth,
Thou hadst forgotten Me.
   And since, forgetting Me, all else had left thee,
And loves had failed thee, pleasures ceased to be,
Lo!  for a few brief hours I have bereft thee,
   That thou might’st hold them through eternity. 
Look up to where I stand,––
   From where thou wanderest, passion–tossed and wild,––
Waiting to lay them back into thine hand,
   Poor child!” [page 86]

 

Episodes

 

Desire, delight and pain,
   A stir in the heart of earth,
Sunshine and falling rain––
   Birth.

Brief, sweet laughter and tears,
   A tumult of eddying strife,
Drift and the wreckage of years––
   Life.

Smarting of dust in the eyes,
   A moment’s catching of breath,
Sudden, a glad surprise––
   Death.

 

Two

 

If I should die tonight––and through the press
   Of thronging ghosts that haunt the Border Line
   Between that land and ours, this soul of mine
Go, seeking solace in its loneliness;

While the unnumbered multitude of dead 
   Pass and repass me with incurious eyes,
   And locked, pale lips, that hold all mysteries,
Where I walk, silent and uncomforted;

Yet, in that land of shadows, there are two
   Whose welcome will not fail me, though I stray
   Bewildered, lost, alone in that dim way
‘Mid the unfriendly ghosts––my dog and you. [page 87]

For this I know, wherever I may fare,
   Sudden, amid the shadows, I shall see
   His little head pressed close against my knee,
His eager tail wagging to find me there.

And you, who for so many years have trod
   The floor of Heaven, when you shall know my shade
   Waits in darkness, lonely and afraid,
Will you not hasten down the stair of God,

And through the thronging phantoms to my side?
   While all paths of that dim Borderland
   Grow bright beneath your feet and I shall stand
With two who love me, and be satisfied.

 

Three Kings Came Riding

 

Three Kings came riding
   Into Bethlehem Town,
Each one bore a sceptre,
   A sceptre and a crown;
All at the inn stable
   They lighted down.

There in a manger
   Baby Jesus slept,
Dimpled small fingers
   Round Mary’s bosom crept,
Ox and ass  beside Him
   Their vigil kept. [page 88]

Angels stood waiting 
   At His Feet and Head;
Three Kings came riding
   And knelt before His bed,
Bringing Him for offering 
   White gold and red.

Rich gifts they gave Him,––
   Homage for a King,
Frankincense for Honour,
   Myrrh for Suffering;
Mary, Maid and Mother,
   Watched, wondering.

Three Kings came riding,
   In purple and in pall,
Lords to do their bidding
   And servants at their call,
And found, within a manger,
   The Lord of all.

 

Song

 

O come from the gates of the West,
   Sweet Night, in your garments of grey,
And bring to us healing and rest
   From the  toil and the tumult of day.
The twilight has crept o’er the hill,
   The wind is asleep in the tree,
The music of birds has grown still,
   And silent the song of the sea. [page 89]

Ere sunset fade from the skies
   In its glories of crimson and gold,
O come!  From your caverns arise
   With the dreams and memories of old;
With the dusk and the dew on your wing,
   And starshine and shadow at play,
Come, laden with slumber, and bring
   Us rest from the cares of the day.

 

Across The Dark

 

Across the dark, beyond the evening star,
   What ways lie there, O Friend?
You who have won to those strange lands and far,
   What of the journey’s end?
Of that lone passage, dark and perilous,
What word have you for us?

What welcome met you in that unknown land?
   What feet familiar came?
What loves of old–time clasped you by the hand
   Or called upon your name?
What brave old jests?  What laughter and what tears
Rose from the buried years?

So do we cry––but vainly hold our breath,
   Waiting in hope to hear,
Across the dark, through the barred doors of death,
   Your answer, O most dear.
No word comes from those guarded gates to tell
   If you fare ill or well. [page 90]

But still we dream that, faring through the night,
   Beyond the evening star,
We yet shall reach some longed–for land of light
   And find you where you are;
And on the borders of that unknown land
   Our hand shall clasp your hand.

 

When I Lie A–Dying, Lass

 

When I lie a–dying, lass, I pray you, promise me
   To open wide the window, that my spirit may go free
From the lane shut in and sheltered field to where the great waves roar,
   Breaking in from open sea, to crash upon the shore.

Where the storm–cloud gathers, and the winds and thunders are,
   Crying like a curlew, I shall sweep across the bar;
Leave the weary land behind and, cradled on the main,
   Rocking in the long green swells, shall wash me clean again.

When I lie a–dying, lass, I’m fain to be alone,
   So fling the casement open wide, and kiss me, and begone,
That the salt, sweet wind may enter, and may bear my spirit free
   From lanes shut in and sheltered fields, out to the open sea. [page 91]

 

Mary Of The Candles

 

At night, when dusk comes creeping
   As quiet as a mouse,	
And marching troops of shadows
   Invade the silent house;
When old familiar corners 
   To dens of fear have grown,
And I am small and frightened
   And helpless and alone;
When hosts of goblin fancies
   Await me on the stair,
To Mary of the Candles
   I kneel and make my prayer.

O Mary, Maid and Mother,
   When little Jesus pressed
At night, when fell the shadows,
   His Head upon your breast,
Did you not watch His sleeping
   Lest He should wake in fear,
And groping through the darkness
   Be glad to find you near?
Then, Mother, guard my slumbers
   And bid my fears depart.
O Mary of the Candles,
   Give light within my heart.

She comes across the darkness
   With smiling lips and eyes,
Her wind–blown hair is fragrant
   With dews of Paradise; [page 92]
She croons old rhymes of childhood, 
   As once, in Galilee,
And phantom hosts of shadows
   Before her coming flee.
The stars, that are her tapers,
   Make all the dusk grow bright,
And Mary of the Candles
   Fills the dark house with light.

A Song Of The Sea

When the winds are out and the waves awaken,
   Calling, calling across the foam,
A voice from the years that Time has taken
   Cries aloud to me:  “Come, oh come!
Leave the land, with its dust and heat,
Come to my long waves, cool and sweet,
To the wide green stretches of wind–swept water;
   White arms wait for you.  Home, come home!

“Come, ah, come!  I have gifts to bring you—
   Shadowy depths where silence lies;
Sea–maids’ arms to clasp you and cling to you;
   Sea–maids’ kisses, cool on your eyes;
Sands of silver, and rose–lipped shells;
   Emerald isles where the slow wave swells;
Surge and song of the sunlit ocean;
   Winds that wander and foam that flies.”

When the winds are out and the waters waken
   Let me return to the calling sea, [page 93]
To the dim, sweet depths, to the waves wind–shaken,
   Back to the arms that wait for me.
I will put out from the weary shore,
Fain to lie on her breast once more,
With her arms to fold me, her voice to sing to me,
   Her long grey billows my couch to be.

 

The Open Road

 

I will go out where the great winds blow,
   Go out to the open downs,
With the stars above and the turf below,
Where the ribbon of road runs, white as snow,—
   From the toil and fret of the towns.

I will leave behind me cark and care,
   And will shake my shoulders free
From the weary burden that townsfolk bear—
I will walk where the great winds walk, and where
   The downs sing to the sea.

I will go out, like my sires of yore,
   I will tread the path they trode;
I will know the fret of the towns no more;
I will go out from their dust and roar—
   Out, out to the open road.

 

Life

 

Life has given me of its best—
Laughter and weeping, labour and rest,
Little of gold, but lots of fun;
Shall I then sigh that all is done? [page 95]
No, not I; while the new road lies 
All untrodden before my eyes.

Life has given me dreams to keep,
Glad awakenings, and slumbers deep,
Friends to love me, and foes to fight;
Shall I then weep when falls the night?
No, not I; since the road runs on
Through the dark to another dawn.

Life has given me grief and glee,
Song of the wind, and salt of the sea,
Pain, and pleasure, and quiet breath;
Shall I then fear the face of Death?
No, not I; who would fain unfold
All the secrets his locked lips hold.

 

The Irish Peasant To His Mistress

If I had a silver at my command,
Many’s the gift I’d lay in your hand;
I would be giving you, O my sweet,
Shoes of silk for your little feet,
Silken gloves for your fingers white,
And a chain of gold for your delight.
But, since ‘tis young I am and poor,
None of all these I hold in store.

Had I the power to give gifts more rare,
Sure, I’d pluck the stars to adorn your hair;
Wind of the west and wind of the south
Should blow you perfumes, sweet as your mouth; [page 95]
Wine of the gods your drink should be,
And to light your candle, astore machree,
I’d draw the moon from the misty skies—
But she’d fade and die before your eyes.

Yet ‘tis myself has gifts to bring—
Dappled trout from the crystal spring,
Roses, still with the dew–drops pearled,
Fresh as when God first made the world,
Coral mushrooms, all freaked with fawn
By the Good Folks’ feet that danced till dawn;
And, if it’s more you are wanting still,
‘Tis my heart I’ll give you, to keep or kill.

 

Pan

 

He sleeps in the sedge by the river side,
   (Pan, goatfoot Pan)
Whispering waters past him glide,
Leaping, dancing, chuckling with glee,
Pausing, lapping their shores to see
The sleeper who lies so quietly—
   Pan, goatfoot Pan.

Never now do his shepherds bring
   (Pan, goatfoot Pan)
To his dark shrine their offering—
Rough, red wine, in a beechen cup,
Leaf–wrapped cheese, that the God may sup;
No wheaten loaf is now offered up
   To Pan, goatfood Pan. [page 96]

Dryads peer from their leafy brake,
   (Pan, goatfoot Pan)
Wondering, when shall the sleeper wake.
All the folk of the field and sedge,
Water–rats from the river edge,
Sleek, brown mice from the hazel hedge,
   Peeping at goatfoot Pan.

There I found him, ere morn was done,
   (Pan, goatfoot Pan)
Lying there, a–sprawl in the sun;
Twitter of birds above his head,
Broken pipes, whence the songs had fled;
Is he asleep, or is he dead?
   (Pan, goatfoot Pan.)

 

Though We Are Old

 

We have grown old.  The world is past its prime.
   No more incarnate Beauty in the Spring
Walks; through the long sweet nights of summertime
   The nightingale shall sing
No more, no more, ah!  never more to us
   His crown song, pouring forth its notes of gold.
Lo!  broken is the dream and ruinous, 
   And we grow old.

No more for us, with the wind–blown hair and bright,
   The dryads dance beneath the forest tree,
Or Aphrodite’s shoulder, rosy white,
   Breaks the long sweep of sea. [page 97]
No winter brings us, with its firelight,
   The dreams of young adventure, gay and bold.
The fires are out upon our hearth tonight,
   And we grow old.

Yet still young lovers, walking in the glades,
   Shall hear Pan’s piping, sounding shrill and clear,
Or watch white Dian with her laughing maids
   Follow the flying deer.
Still the sun shines, and still the children play,
   And youths are passionate and maids are cold,
And still the world goes on its laughing way
   Though we grow old.

 

In The Slum

 

A squalid street, where the hot sunshine falls
   On rows of roughcast shacks, grimy and grey,
In the slight shade cast by the crumbling walls
   The mangy dogs and ragged children play;
Faint with stale odours swoons the air away;
   The children gasp and quarrel; somewhere calls
A dissonant bell; a Jewish pedlar bawls
   His frowsy wares, down streets as foul as they.

Dust, grime and heat o’er all––but suddenly,
   Fluttering in apple–green and tipped with rose,
Incarnate Springtime, sauntering slowly by,
   A laughing glance across her shoulder throws
From ardent eyes that hold all Italy––
   And all the sordid street to beauty glows. [page 98]

 

Our Lady Of Twilight

 

When day is past and the shadows grow
Our Lady of Twilight steals soft and slow
From the starlit gardens of Paradise,
Bringing her dreams to weary eyes.

The misty moonbeam paths are sweet
With the silvery chiming of her feet;
And the dusk is full of murmurings,
Faint and lovely, of unseen wings.

In the garden close, at sight of her,
The tall white lilies are all astir;
And she walks among them with dreaming eyes
Fresh with the dews of Paradise.

So nightly, adown the moonbeam stair,
With the winds of slumber in her hair,
Bringing her dreams to weary men,
Our Lady of Twilight comes again.

 

The Dreamer

 

He walks among the woods when twilight flings
   O’er all the unquiet land its born of rest;
He hears the flutter of the wild–bird wings
   That in the darkness brood above their nest,
And sees the sun, that hastens down the west
   To meet his love, the Sea, and panting flings
Himself upon the coolness of her breast,
   Who stills his passions with soft murmurings. [page 99]

His eyes are dark with shadows; at his feet,
   With nodding heads, the drowsy poppies blow;
While round his head, with murmurous sound and sweet,
   On silent wings dim dreams flit to and fro.
So through the summer night the Dreamer stands,
   Holding the keys of slumber in his hands.

 

Sea–Faring

 

They who go a–seafaring
   Happy folk they be,
For all the wide and goodly world
   God gives them for to see—
Sunwashed seas beneath the Line,
   Northern berg and floe,
Coral reed and fronded palm,
   As the galleons go.

They who go a–seafaring
   Many sights they see,—
Caverns where the kraken sprawls
   And great sea–snakes be;
Lonely isles and cities lost
   Where no mortals stray,
Old–time towns, whose towers rise
   Through the sheeted spray.

They who go a–seafaring
   North and South they run,
See the sands where mermaids lie
   Naked in the sun, [page 100]
Singing, as the galleons sail, 
   (Golden hair a–gleam)
Songs the wistful shipman hears 
   Sounding through his dream.

They who go a–seafaring
   Many wonders know;
O’er all the wide and goodly world
   The ships pass to and fro;
Lazy tides in locked lagoons,
   Seas where mists lie curled—
Storms and thunders of the North,—
   Well they know the world.

 

Wind Voices

 

What did you hear when the wind was crying—
   Crying out in the dark and rain?
When golden and red the leaves were flying,
   And big drops beat on the window pane?
Was it the sound of an old refrain
   That called and called and would not be still,—
A voice from the long dead years again?
   Hark to the wind upon the hill!

What did you hear when the house was sleeping—
   Lying alone the darkness there?
Was it a foot up the passage leaping,
   And old–time laughter upon the stair?
Ah, but the old–time days were fair,
   When love and laughter were ours at will!
Where are they now, I pray you, where?
   Hark to the wind upon the hill! [page 101]

 

The Dreamers

 

We dreamed by night and we dreamed by day,
   (Alas, for the dream that ne’er came true!)
Some dreamed of a future far away,
Some dreamed of a home where children play,
   But I—oh, I dreamed of you.

Once dreamed of the wind in northern pines,
   (Ah, never more shall he hear its tone!)
And one of the hedges where hawthorn twines,
And one of wattle and southern vines;
   I dreamed of your face alone.

They dreamed of your honour and wealth and fame,
   (Ah, dreams of youth that so seldom last!)
I dreamed of a voice that called my name,
Of the sound of a foot that never came,
   Of eyes that smiled from the past.

So we dreamed by night and we dreamed by day,
   (Alas, for the dream which ne’er came true!)
They dreamed of wealth and a flowery way,
And their hopes were high and their hearts were gay;
   I only dreamed of you.

 

In The City

 

Heat––
   Pititless, quivering, aflare!
Pavements that scorch bare, grimy, childish feet
   Groping for coolness there. [page 102]

Alley and fetid lane 
   Pour forth their living flood
Seeking relief, and seeking all in vain,
   While, like a ball of blood,

Down  through the tortured sky
   The sun drops.  Night comes with no wind’s sweet born;
Close and more close the heavy shadows lie,
   Under a blood–red moon.

One voice of moan
   Sounds from the city, echoing on and on
Down all the streets––a universal groan!
   Till, with the dawn,

The angry sun
   Leaps from his burning bed, resumes his sway,
And gasping courts and alleys have begun
   Another day.

 

The Thousand Islands

 

Starry crowned, majestic fronted, rising from the river’s flow,
Plumy crests of pine above them, purple depths of wave below,
Song of wind and sigh of water all the voices that they know—

Save that when the evening sunset bars with flame the barren west, [page 103]
Or the moon with fretted silver diapers the river’s breast,
Laughs the loon across the water, booms the bittern from her nest.

In their stony hearts what visions hold they of the life they knew,
When the Indian through their channels paddled in his bark canoe?—
Now no more he builds his altars to his mighty Manitou.

So they stand, serene, majestic––rising from the river’s flow,
Plumy crests of pine above them, purple depths of wave below—
Song of wind and sigh of water all the voices that they know.

 

All Hallows Eve

 

   (There is a superstition in Ireland that upon the Eve of All Saints’ Day, which we call Hallowe’en, the dead are allowed to visit their friends upon earth, to break bread with them and to remain with them till midnight strikes.)

 

Will you not come, dear heart?  Tonight alone
   Of all the weary year,
God’s tender hand has opened wide the door
That stands between us and the love of yore;
Between us, with our mortal hope and fear,
   And those from doubting gone. [page 104]

See, I have swept the hearth and piled the fire 
   With glowing turf, and set
Your chair once more in its accustomed place;
Will you not leave your heaven, and turn your face
For this one night, where I, who love you yet,
   Wait you with wild desire?

Forego one hour your heaven’s warmth and light;
   They cannot need you there
As I, who only long once more to place
My hand in yours, to see once more your face,
And feel your fingers lying on my hair;
   Give me at least tonight.

 

The Little House We Dreamed Of

 

The little house we dreamed of—that lies out over yonder
   Where the shadows gather, across the quiet wold,
Does the light still linger around its eaves, I wonder,
   As when first we knew it—O Heart o’ Gold?

Oh, Heart o’ Gold, where you rest among the shadows,
   Dreaming through the long years, while seasons ebb and flow,
Do you still remember that cottage in the meadows,
   The gardens green, the ways serene, we walked so long ago?

The little house we dreamed of—its rooms were full of laughter, [page 105]
    (Dear, do you remember the merry tales we told,
Songs that brought an echo twitt’ring from the rafter
   Where the swallows nested––O Heart o’ Gold?)

The little house we dreamed of—dear vision, ours no longer,
   Gone into the darkness that wraps the years of old!
Will it find fulfilment when, with faith grown stronger,
   We shall hail the morning—O Heart o’ Gold?

Nuts and May

Sing the old melodies over and over,
   Sorrow and sighing shall cease at their call;
Children’s glad play in the meadows of clover,
   Laughter and happiness ring through them all.
Gone are the years, with their burden of pain,
Gone in the sound of that merry refrain—

Here we go gathering nuts and may,
   Nuts and may, nuts and may,
Here we go gathering nuts and may
   On a bright and sunny morning.
Hark to the sound of the children at play,
   Out of the seasons far away;
Back comes our youth again, blithe and gay,
   Spring is the world adorning.
Here we go gathering nuts and may
   On a bright and sunny morning. [page 107]

Out of the past it comes, dancing and swinging, 
   How to its music old memories throng!
Scent of the lilac, and bird-voices singing,
   Children’s gay footsteps that hurry along;
Springtime and youth, with their hours of gold,
Laughter and love and the faces of old.

Here we go gathering nuts and may,
   Nuts and may, nuts and may;
Here we go gathering nuts and may
   On a bright and sunny morning.
Mark ye the lilt of it, gallant and gay;
   Hearts grown weary and heads grown grey
Follow its call to the old-time way,
   Trouble and sorrow scorning.
Here we go gathering nuts and may
   On a bright and sunny morning.

 

Sahara

 

Within my walléd garden
   Soft breezes come and g o,
And trees are full of blossom
   Where birds are singing low;
Its guarded gates are golden,
   With pearls its walls are set,
And gleaming, tall and slender,
   Rise tower and minaret.

Outside my walléd garden
   There lies a desert land,
Nor tree, nor bird, nor blossom, [page 108]
    But only sky and sand.
Wild in the hot sirocco
   The whirling dust is blown;
Yet there I’ll set my kingdom,
   There will I rear my throne.

Fair is my walléd garden,
   But ah, the days are long!
Wearied my eyes with beauty,
   Wearied my ears with song;
My heart is tired of dreaming—
   Fain would I know the strife,
The laughter, and the sorrows 
   That fill the wider life.

Farewell, my walléd garden;
   Farewell, my dreaming days;
I’ll leave your guarded portals
   To seek the desert ways—
There will I rear my palace,
   There will I set my throne,
And bid the waters rise there,
   And bid the seed be sown—

Until the waste shall blossom;
   And lo!  there shall arise
A new land and a splendid 
   Where now the desert lies;
No dreamland, walled and guarded,
   But a large life and free,
Fulfilled of tears and laughter,
   And life and liberty.

Yet still my walled garden [page 109]
   Shall in the sunlight sleep,
And bird and tree and blossom
   Their wonted places keep;
Till, done with tears laughter,
   Weary with stress and strain,
I in my walled garden
   Turn to my rest again.

 

Disillusion

 

Perchance from the East his ship shall come
   With the sun that leaps from the crimson tide;
With blare of trumpet and beat of drum
   And clash of cymbals, my knight shall ride;
The sun a-gleam on his hair of gold,
Eager and young, alert and bold;
   How his eyes shall flash as he gains my side.

Or perhaps he will come through the noontide heat,
   With soft caresses and dreaming eyes;
He shall sing me a drowsy song and sweet,
   He shall weave me a web of lullabies;
And in meshes of dreams shall my heart be wound;
And his arms in dreams shall enfold me round;
   And life be a dream of summer skies.

Or it may be when twilight shadows fall
   I shall know his footstep that mounts the stair,
I shall hear his voice through the darkness call
   And run to the door to meet him there; [page 110]
And the room shall be warm and fire burn bright,
And the short hours go with laughter and light,
   And never a thought of pain or care.

‘Twas thus I dreamed—but when midnight came,
   ‘Mid wailing of voice through the gloom,
Broken and beaten and bowed with shame,
   With faltering feet my stair he clomb.
And dear was the dream-love’s youth and bliss,
But dearer by far was the clinging kiss	
   When—weary and wounded—my knight came home.

 

West Wind

 

Come, O Wind, from the dreaming west,
Sweeping over the water’s breast,
Bring my unquiet spirit rest.

Blow, O Wind, from the dying light;
Touch my heart with your mystic might;
Bring me peace with the coming night.

I am weary of toil and pain,
Garish sunshine and blinding rain;
Bring me the kindly dark again.

Bring me the shadows long and deep;
Come, O Wind, o’er the waters sweep,
Sing to my heart and bid it sleep. [page 111]

 

A Song of Age

Hey for the days of laughter,
   Hey for the dreams of youth!
Life held no dark hereafter,
   No touch of pain or ruth;
The sorrow lay a-sleeping,
Unknown were care and weeping,
And all the years were keeping
   Were laughter, love and truth.

Our madcap youth is over,
   Gone its unclouded skies,
An you and I, O Lover,
   Grow old and staid and wise;
But through the swift years going
Love knows no ebb nor flowing,
And still his fires are glowing,
   Dear, in your steadfast eyes.

 

Fair Hills

 

O, far, fair hills, whereon our child feet straying
   Found many wonders there!
O, towering summits, where grey mists are swaying!
   Say, are you still as fair

As when of old each valley was enchanted,
   And giant forms of yore
Roamed through your woods and caverns, fairy-haunted,
   And by your white sea-shore? [page 112]

We saw them then—but ah, the years have banished
   The wide, wise childish eyes;
From gaze grown old the fairies all have vanished,
   Or are but memories.

We strain our eyes in vain; grown dim with weeping,
   No longer may we see
Oscar and Finn pursue the dun deer’s leaping,
   Or feasting merrily.

Ah, lost child faith!  Yet still our hearts are yearning
   To walk your ways once more;
To see the seasons passing and returning
   Above your summits hoar.

To lie once more amid your health and bracken
   And hear the wind’s refrain;
It may be the old visions would awaken,
   The old dreams come again.

Ah, far, fair hills!  that still your watch are keeping
   As when our hills you were,
We have grown old—so old—and tired of weeping;
   Say, are you still as fair?

 

The Return

 

They said you had gone to the heavenly home
   Where all was so bright and fair
That you’d quite forgotten us here—and so,
When the lamps were out and the fire burned low,
   I cried in the corner there,	
Until, in the dark, I felt you come
   And lay your hand on my hair. [page 113]

And all at once it was gone—the pain 
   That had made my heart so sore;
For you stroked my hand in the dark, and said
That you loved me still, although you were dead,
   And I mustn’t cry and more.
And I knew I had got you back again,
   For you laughed as you used before.

I told them you came; but they shook their head
   And said that it was not true—
That I only dreamed you were here last night ,
When I sat and cried in the flickering light
   Of the fire and wished for you;
That no one ever came back from the dead,
   For the grave would not let them through.

But I know you came—though I’ll never tell,
   And whenever the light gets low,
I’ll cuddle down in the dark by your side
As I used, in the days before you died,
   And we’ll whisper together so;
And you’ll tell me the tales I love so well,
   And kiss me before you go.

So I do not care, though they save you’ve gone
   To walk on the heavenly floor,
And you’ve quite forgotten us—for I know
You came to me, and it isn’t so,
   And I needn’t cry any more;
That whenever I sit in the dark alone
   You will come, as you came before. [page 114]

 

A Vilanelle

 

The west was a rose aflame,
And ever in on the sand
The great sea murmuring came;

Her hand was warm in my hand;
Oh, water that called and cried
To the lonely heart of the land,

O restless, eddying tide!
My heart was lonely and cold
As your waves, and unsatisfied,

Till she came from the sunset’s gold
With the gold of the sun on her hair;
And the wild desires of old,

And the weary tide of care,
(O waves that laugh to the strand)
Ebbed at the sight of her
And her hand that lay in my hand.

 

The Piper

 

Over the hills and into the silence,
   Where the sun sets, ruddy and dim,
Lingering notes of magic music,
   The piper calls and we follow him.

All forgotten our sins and sorrows,
   Hope and failure, and toil and play,
All our hearts astir to the piping
   Calling us to the far away. [page 115]

Men turn back from their ceaseless striving, 
   Toys are dropped from their childish hands;
One and all we follow the piper
   Piping us to the unknown lands.

Each one hears, in that magic music,
   Promise of that his soul holds best;
Children yearn for a land of laughter,
   Old men turn to a land of rest.

So to each soul on earth forever
   Sometimes cometh an evening dim,
When, to the lands beyond the sunset,
   The piper calls and we follow him.

 

The Coward

 

Last night when the wind was crying
   I heard a voice in the storm,
The voice of one who was lying
   Deep ‘neath the winter snow,
And I say by my fireside warm
   And heard the tones I know
Calling out of the storm to me,
   And I—I dared not go.

Was it the wind that blew?
   Was it the falling rain?
Or did a hand I knew—
   There in the dark outside—
Beat at the window pane?
   While the dear voice called and cried;
And I—oh, fool!  who did not dare
   Fling the window wide. [page 116]

Dear, should you come tonight,
   Would I not draw you in,
Back to the warmth and light,
   Out of the wind and rain;
But the storm goes on and no voice within
   Calls to me ever again;
And my chance was lost last night, when you stood
   Outside my window pane.

 

The Lights of London Town

 

You prate about your cornfields waving golden, mile by mile,
   Of the freedom of your prairies, of your mountains bare and brown;
But my heart is sore within me, for a little, sea-girt isle,
   And all night I lie a-dreaming of the lights o’ London Town.

O the twinkling lights o’ London—when the fireflies dance and gleam,
   And the silence gathers thicker and the dark is drawing down,
With each flash among the corn-stalks they go flashing through my dream,
   Till I gaze across the prairie at the lights o’ London Town.

Till the murmur of the city o’er the cornfields echoes on! [page 117]
   (O the friendly voice of London, that no flood of years can drown!) 
There’s a glimmer to the eastward.  Well, another dream has gone;
  And, as daylight comes, they vanish—the dear lights o’ London Town.

 

The Seagull

 

O strong sea-sailor, whose flight lies over
   The waste of waters, so wild and grey,
Borne on the breast of the sea, thy lover,
   Child of the winds and as fleet as they!
When the crimson sun dips low in the west
To what far land is thy course addressed?
Wooed by the storms, by the waves caressed,
   Where wilt thou nest thee at close of day?

Could we but mount upon strong white pinions,
   Find and follow and share thy flight,
Say, to what dim, unknown dominions
   Thou wouldst lead us at close of light?
Would the lost Atlantis lie before us?
Or siren sands, with their fairy chorus,
And silvery palm fronds swinging o’er us?
   Or the Isles of the Blessed loom in sight?

Nay, not there wouldst thou make thy dwelling,
   Bid of the storms and mate of the sea;
Sweeter to thee the tempest swelling,
   Storm and danger more dear to thee.
Shout of winds o’er the waters sweeping, [page 118]
Crash of waves on the black rocks leaping,
These are the sounds that guard thy sleeping,
   Child of the waters, wild and free.

 

The Rivers

 

Within the confines of the Land of Shadows
   There rise two springs of water, cool and deep;
And one flows on through asphodelian meadows,
   And one by rocky paths its wave must sweep;
And all the souls of men a tryst must keep
   Beside those springs, when from the body free,
And some in Lethe’s wave their lips shall steep,
   And some shall turn to sad Mnemosyne.

Then they who drink of Lethe, shall forget
   The short-lived joys of earth and all its moan,
The weariness, the fever and the fret,
   Ay, and t he faces they in life have known,
And all the sorrows that the years have sown,
   And friendships lost, and loves that ceased to be;
And wander forth, rejoicing and alone,
   From memory, pain and care forever free.

But those whose lips Mnemosyne shall drain
   Must hie them forth by wild and stony ways,
And evermore dead joy and living pain
   Shall haunt their dreams by night, and all their days.
Faces of old-time friends shall on them gaze
   Through mists, and loves of old their eyes shall see; [page 119]
And all eternity be but a space 
   Haunted by ghosts of by-gone Memory.

Yet, dearest, if it may be that your face
   In dream and daylight still shall shine on me,
Lethe shall know me not, but the wild maze
   And bitter waters of Mnemosyne.

 

Could We But Understand

 

Could we but understand the mystery
   Of this great world our feet are set within!
Alas!  Our finite eyes can only see
Great formless, shadowy shapes, that spin and spin
The webs of darkness we are tangled in.
   We dream that we are safe within Thy Hand;
   But—could we understand!

Could we but see why Thou to man hast given
   A mind that ever seeks to see Thee plain,
And yet has hid Thyself and all Thy Heaven
To glimpse Thy glories, all in vain, in vain.
   We dream that fair beyond that veil they be;
   But—could we see!

Could we but know why Thou, Who madest us all
   In Thine own image, and in us hast set
Dreams of Thy love, ever shouldst let us fall
Here in the outer darkness, and shouldst let
Bewilderment and sin our spirits fret.
   We dream we shall not always wander so;
   But—could we know! [page 120]

 

The Sea

 

I never have seen the sea—
   But through my sleep each night
Its waters beckon to me;
   I watch them glimmer and gleam;
Their foaming crests of white
   Go dancing through my dream;
And they gleam and gloom and smile at me,
   But—I never have seen the sea.

I never have heard the sea—
   But, when the night-winds blow,
In my dreams there comes to me
   The surge and thunder and sweep
Of waters far below—
   The voice of the mighty deep
That cries and calls and croons to me;
   But—I never have heard the sea.

I never shall know the sea—
   My little, inland round
Lies far from the ecstasy
   Of its billows, rolling wide;
With many a mete and bound
   Unknown to its swelling tide.
In sleep its great waves call to me,
   But—I never shall know the sea. [page 121]

 

St. Michael and All Angels, 1917

 

Smoke of asters by the stream
   Where the red blood runs,
Carolling of birds, that sounds
   Through the roar of guns;

And a thousand shattered fanes
   Life to heaven the cry:
“Lo!  Once more the Dragon brood
   Rears its crest on high.

“Where the golden wheat fields shone,
   Black its road now lies;
Angels of the Living God,
   Help our agonies.”

Winnowing of angel wings
   Up the steeps of light,
All the Chivalry of God
   Leap to join the fight—

Faces terrible and fair,
   Swords that wheel and flame;
Echoing streets of Paradise
   Sounding to the Name—

Silver trumpets pealing high,
   Banners blowing far,
Michael, with the Hosts of God,
   Rides again to war. [page 122]

 

“The Fair Hills of Holy Ireland”

 

Tonight outside my window the winds unheeded blow,
For I’m lying here and dreaming of a land I used to know—
The pleasant hills of Ireland, agleam with misty light,
Their slopes once more rise green before my wistful eyes tonight!

‘Tis far I am from Ireland—the long, grey leagues of sea
Go stretching out, a weary way, between my home and me;
But the sad waves wake to laughter as they dance across the main,
And singing go, they love her so, to kiss her coasts again.

And what although her hills may seem to strangers bleak and bare,
They’re still the hills of home to me—the pleasant hills and fair;
And though her coast be rough and wild, her waters darken o’er,
They’re still to me the Irish sea, they’re still the Irish shore. [page 123]

So tonight outside my window the winds unheeded blow, 
For I’m lying here and dreaming of a land I used to know—
Ireland, the land of heart’s desire, the land of heart’s delight!
Her hills rise round, her water’s sound calls through my sleep tonight.

 

Red Iscariot

 

Far in the outer darkness,
   Through spaces all unknown,
The soul of Red Iscariot
   Fared through the night alone;
And t he winds that blew between the worlds,
   They bit him to the bone.

Little, and lost, and lonely,
   Trembling and sore afraid,
Through the stark night forever
   The soul of Judas strayed;
And in all the paths of the outer dark
   Was none to hear or aid.

Through wrecks of ruined planets,
   Where stars in ashes lay—
Chaos of systems long outworn
   Ere earth whirled into day—
The soul of Red Iscariot
   Stumbled upon its way. [page 124]

In the High House of Heaven
   Were mirth and song outpoured,
Where sat the Twelve, together
   With Him, the Incarnate Word,
And cherubim and seraphim
   Gave glory to the Lord.

But whelmed in night and terror,
   Trembling and sore afraid, 
Little, and lost, and lonely,
   The soul of Judas strayed;
And he called across the darkness
   To Him he had betrayed.

Across the angels’ singing
   That call for mercy came,
And the music dropped to silence 
   As sinks a dying flame;
And the Twelve cried out in wrath and scorn 
   Upon the traitor’s name.

But Christ the Lord went downward 
   Where angels silently
Knelt, and He crossed the golden floor
   And flung the portals free;
And He cried across the outer dark: 
   “Mine own, come back to Me!”

Still, with the Twelve around Him,
   Christ reigns upon His seat,
While cherubim and seraphim
Make music, loud and sweet.
But the soul of Red Iscariot 
   Is kneeling at His Feet.

 

FINIS.

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