Modernist Canadian Poets
Shifting Sails
30th Jun 2016Posted in: Modernist Canadian Poets 0

ADDITIONAL COPIES
OF THIS CHAP-BOOK
MAY BE PURCHASED
FROM THE AUTHOR,
JESSIE L. BEATTIE,
BLAIR, ONTARIO.

PRICE 75c.

Published by
THE RYERSON PRESS
TORONTO.

Copyright, Canada, 1931
By JESSIE L. BEATTIE.

[handwritten: To Carl F. Klinck—
Very Sincerely,
Jessie L. Beattie.
]
[unnumbered page]

Shifting Sails
JESSIE L. BEATTIE



THOUGHT

I KNOW a stream which runs by night and day: 
Where white winged-birds beat through the early mist, 
Where evening shadows flow in amethyst, 
And ever in and on, it makes its way— 
Through blackest gloom its movement I can hear, 
By silver pierced where stars hang clear. 

And from the bank I watch its steady flow: 
Now gliding brook, now current-driven river, 
Now lurching by, or tossed to whitest quiver, 
While, deeply hid, there lurks there undertow. 
Mine to define each moment’s change and hue—
I cannot halt the waters passing through. 

Down rocky gorge it wears a solemn way, 
Or runs at almost-calm where shallows are
That love the smiling sun, or nurse a star
Within the sheltered circle of a bay; 
Through rapids rift it stumbles, almost spent, 
To murmur on again, in calm content. 

Its mirror robs the seasons of their moods; 
Its journeys by the hills and valleys sweet
With burst of bloom, and early sprout of wheat, 
Then sucks the colour from the autumn woods; 
Till slow and cold, in age, its winter shroud
Is fretted ice or snowy drift of cloud. 

Life’s mystery lies there in deeps unknown: 
Mine only are the chartings of its face 
Or, where it darkens in a crystal place, 
The shape and colour of some jewelled stone. 
But when each drop has found the eternal sea, 
Then, Earth, take back the useless dust of me! [page 1]

NOVEMBER FROST

THE icy night has trailed her blackened hand
And withered up the foliage of the land.
Now Nature puts her ruined dress aside, 
And gracious stands revealed. 

Ungarmented the trees; ungarmented
The elder stems that catch the sun’s ripe wine, 
And wine the grape that hangs
Dark on the frosted vine. 

Stripped of its fertile yield, 
The steaming earth turns from the plough to make
A furrowed field. 
Glowing among
The stricken branches of the orchard trees, 
The McIntosh and Snow Apple are strung;
Paler than these, 
Against the wall a rose-haw leans its fire, 
Like smouldering passion of a lost desire. 

When the late roses of the garden go, 
The truant wind sinks to a cadence slow
And like a heavenly army comes the snow!

AND THREE WERE ONE

THREE men went walking down the street: 
One was old, and poor, and sad; 
One was young and princely fair; 
And one was just a little lad. 

A stranger saw the old man pass, 
And reached a coin to him, and smiled; 
A lonely spinster marked the youth 
Who had her early love beguiled; 
But from some far-exalted place, 
With brooding care, there leaned another, 
Who blessed the weary little boy, 
Journeying home to find his mother! [page 2]

TO A DEAD BEE ON THE SNOW

O LITTLE Bee, upon the white snow lying, 
Legs taut, and slim bronze body frozen through, 
Wings folded now, that yesterday were plying
Bright gossamer, against the heaven’s blue; 
I stand above you, sad, and speculate
What fair remembrance lured you to this fate?

Did you, half-waking from a dream of rapture, 
Believe the spring returned for your surprise, 
And from your darkened cell depart to capture 
The first, fine honey that its bloom supplies, 
That forth you fared alone, when suns were warm?
Struck down to earth by unsuspected storm!

Poor little Bee, with all your dreaming over!
How could you know Deception’s winning way?
Companion of the butterflies that hover
Above the artless blossoms of the May; 
The victim of cruel winter in disguise, 
Who wooed you from your home, with smiling lies. 

I lift you in my hand and gently bear you 
To sheltered garden nook, where daisies sleep;
A moment’s secret mourning I shall spare you, 
My brother, and a secret tear shall weep; 
While questioning, whose fate the harder seems—
Your dreamless body, or my broken dreams?

MISPLACED

WEEP not beside this flower-scented bier
Where lies the pale leaf of a life grown cold; 
While in the crowded mart, unmourned, appear
Mortals long dead. Go weep beside their mould. 

My God, I care not if my body lie 
Too soon in earth for little man’s conceit; 
But spare me shame upon the bough to die—
Let me not strut, a corpse with living feet! [page 3]

THE WOMAN TOILER

VISIONS of heaven do not hold for me
Glitter of gems or gold, 
I hear no voices chanting solemnly, 
No mighty drums are rolled; 
If there be harps, I cannot find their chord, 
If there be crowns, I know none for my own—
Let them be taken by the greedy horde, 
Fitted for them alone. 

Christ, I but ask, there to be kept secure
From ease and soft delight; 
Someone must sweep the halls, the loaves make pure, 
Polish the crowns more bright—
See how my hands are suited? Stained and worn. 
Let them work on, to serve the way they know; 
Not finest robe this body could adorn, 
Bent to the brush and hoe. 

And will be very sweet the hours of rest, 
If on my bosom lie
Some weary babe; Lord, I shall praise Thee best
Crooning its lullaby.

With permission of Canadian Magazine.

THE SKY-SCRAPER

BY stroke and stroke it grew against the sky—
An etching drawn of steel, and iron, and wood; 
And like an army toiled the workmen, till, 
When it was done, the councillors’ applause 
Rang through the city courts. No word was said 
Of fallen scaffold, nor of humble dead. 

But by heaped earth, upon a quiet hill, 
Where all as one the hearts of men lie still, 
A figure knelt to smooth the roughened space
Where earth’s kind green gave to her own a place; 
Hands clenched—eyes glittered in an ashen face, 
As, looking where the structure proudly stood, 
She saw its outline traced in human blood! [page 4]

THE POOL

QUIVERS the surface of the pool; 
And arrow falls
From the bow of the first star, 
Piercing with silver the dusky glass, 
Cracking in points
Like any mirror. 

Branches of willow 
Close over it, 
Healing the wound.

NEW BIRTH

COME Life, I love you, now that I have thrown
Away old clothes that fit me very ill, 
And given my flesh uncovered to the wind; 
Have felt the stinging storm, a healthy pain, 
Seen it grow clean under the drench of rain. 

So long I could not walk for hampering rags, 
Tattered and dirty, with both age and use; 
But toddled like a witless, willing slave—
My steps short-measured by my garment’s hem; 
I could not spread my arms to either side
For fitted sleeves that held and weakened them; 
Nor stoop to search for jewels in the dust; 
Nor reach to pluck the fruit of Freedom’s tree, 
Growing within a hedge, man-made and high; 
Fearing I might my order disarrange, 
Or to my neighbours look a little strange. 

I dared not leave the old and travelled ways 
To search for virgin places, sweet and lone. 
I was a servile follower of men 
Along the beaten barrenness of stone. 

Who else but God could touch me in my plight?
Then thanks be unto Him for this: that I 
Walk naked and unshamed beneath His eye, 
Careless of what I seem to human sight. [page 5]

Come wind and rain, beat on my breast and brow; 
Come tropic sun, give me a healthy tan; 
Come Life and touch me, for I love you now.

LILACS

AGAINST an old, gray wall I saw them standing—
Fair guardians of an ancient loveliness, 
Raising, through drifting vapours of spring rain, 
Lavender bloom for heaven’s mute caress. 

Oh, spring had many beauties to enchant me!
She spent them lavishly where I would pass—
Buttercups, yellow as old Midas’ gold; 
Windflowers, pale as snow-flakes in the grass. 

I must have seen them—vaguely I remember, 
As bride remembers on her marriage day 
Petals that wait her little shoes to press, 
But makes a pot-pourri of his bouquet. 

So I, who left the road when city tower
In shadow marked the sky, will find again
Distilled in dream, a crumbling, old, gray wall—
And lilacs, breathing incense in the rain.

O WORLD, THY PRAISES HAVE BEEN SUNG BEFORE…

O WORLD, thy praises have been sung before—
I need not sing them; 
Yet Beauty knocks upon my young heart’s door, 
Till I must bring them. 

April is here. Again the naked trees
With tender blushings wrap themselves in mist, 
Rose, lavender, and green; 
And silver buds, like old hearts new-grown young
Are faintly seen, where her sweet mouth has kissed. [page 6]

The poplar, drenched in holiness of rain, 
Lets fall her ill-kept tassels, to make way
For flock of fairy wings—
White leaf-moths, sucking honey from the boughs
Where suns have dusted gold upon the gray, 
And red-eyed vireo sings. 

The yellow blossoms of the elm drift through
The amber-tinted air, like golden flakes
Tossed from some over-burdened sunset cloud; 
And night and day 
The snowy vapours pile, and pass, and change, 
As if grim Winter lingered in a shroud 
To frighten Spring away. 

Gay wings flit through the gently-stirring air, 
And eager-passioned notes
Drop down from many-tinted, swelling throats; 
Robin and vesper-sparrow, lark and wren, 
Loved bluebird; all are there. 

The carpet of the woods is patterned new
With early blooms, faint and so-fragile things—
Blood-root, pale as a maiden doomed to die;
Hepatica, shy-hued; 
And darling Beauty of the early Springs
Trails where the old leaves, crumbling, scented lie, 
Her small-leaved brood. 

Again the velvet-cushioned, scarlet cradle
Curls from the aged tree’s half-protruding root—
The Little People drowse in comfort here; 
And from the dimpling pool full many a flute
The Hylas sound in melancholy cheer. 

O World, my little song I make to thee;
Who loves thee with an anguish of desire, 
Would feel upon her heart they fingers laid 
To still its quivering—
Would drain the cooling waters of thy peace, 
To slake her spirit’s fire! [page 7]

LATE

LAY not your hand on my hand, 
Your heart to my heart;
If pity lives in your soul, depart—
Go ere I hear your breathing, 
Before your lips have moved, 
If mercy dwells in your soul 
For one you have loved; 
I would not know for a surety
That you are there—
Rather I would believe you 
Ghost of unanswered prayer. 

I have grown used to waiting, 
I have grown used to pain, 
In the well of the thirsty years 
No tears remain. 
Close the door on my sorrow, 
Found in its bitter hour—
Shake not down from its dried out stem 
The faded dust of the flower.

SHACKLES

ALL men born free?
Alas, that this were true!
But never falsehood sorrier was said. 
Man is a creature padlocked at his birth, 
And not released from bond till he is dead. 

How can this be?
From babyhood is tongue 
Is taught to lisp and prate another’s creed, 
Until, when mind has grown an age for search, 
Doubt points originality a weed
To be snatched up, before the spring has flung
Strength to the root, and vigor to the shoot. [page 8]

So, year by year, 
Mind strives to ape its fellow-mind; in danger
May feel the fetters threat its life, but they 
Too tight to budge have grown—himself, a stranger
Not to be heard, he doubts, or views aghast 
In foreign dress, or naked—and, ashamed, 
Seeks to reclothe with life’s formality. 

Shackled anew, the puppet drops his key
To prisoned self, and dies in vagrancy!

ACCEPTANCE

I HAVE taken earth for my spouse;
I bent with the bending grass, 
Dew-strung by the night just gone, 
To lightly salute the lass. 

She returned me never a touch; 
I called her a heartless maid—
When, out from the soil, a flower
Was thrust where my lips were laid!

TO A SISTER WHO DIED BEFORE I WAS BORN

OFTEN when I come swinging down the hill, 
I hear your step beside me in the dusk;
Some human need must bring you at its will. 

Later the fire is lit, and circled round, 
The family rest in converse; your faint voice
None hear but I, who dream its gentle sound. 

Fearing that you will sadden when you find
No chair kept vacant to your memory, 
No spoken word to tell you are in mind— [page 9]

Then, when the flame is done and all to rest, 
Lying alone I think hear again 
Foot-falls that stir a pity in my breast. 

On through my sleep they go, from bed to bed, 
Seeking an empty place and finding none—
The hopeless seeking of the early dead. 

Until, in dreaming, from my rest I rise, 
And give my pillow for your sorrowing;
To wake with heavy tears upon my eyes!

FORBIDDEN

WE met. I smiled; you smiled to me. 
We passed. I sobbed; your lips were set. 
We would not let each other see; and yet—
We passed, but though one way you went, 
The other I, you still are here; 
And I, with you, am there content, 
My dear, my dear.

BON VOYAGE

O BENDING sky, grown pale as beaten gold, 
His stripling craft with heaven’s care enfold. 

O silver wings, that wail across the sea, 
With silver sail you quiver lonesomely. 

The moaning surf is troubled by my fears, 
The sand is wet with flowing tide and tears. 

What leaping darkness from the water caves, 
Like straining beasts that ride beneath the waves. 

Their nostrils foam, they pound the shore, and hie
Back to their lair to charge again, while I [page 10]

Seek craftily to lure them out to me—
These strange, unconquered demons of the sea, 

That little ship, beyond my failing sight, 
May smoothly glide on ocean’s breast to-night!

BETROTHAL

ROOTS of a red rose mesh my heart. 
Who sowed the seed said these words to me, 
“Little Kind Heart, I give you a rose, 
But it must not bloom for the world to see.”

Knife, cut deep, that the growth be halted, 
Leave no sprout where a bud could form—
Close to the earth, cut close—’tis spring, 
And fearing I watch let a bloom come forth
When the field larks sing, 
When the young winds veer from the frozen north. 

O some would scorn of the barren bough, 
And some would gather a gaudy sheaf, 
But the roots of a red rose mesh my heart 
And they bear a sturdy leaf. 

What shall I do if, some day, I find 
My knife grown dull, and my strength far spent?
God, I shall lay my lips to the bud 
And die content!

ON SALE

SHE looked them over, one by one—
A hopeful quiver lay
On pallid lips, that some might be 
Unlike to bargain day. [page 11]

She chose the best for ready wear; 
It would not show the rain—
An untrimmed, shapeless, dreary thing, 
To serve her need again. 

God, take away the thwarted look 
That smoulders in her eyes, 
And send to bloom on dusty black
A rose from Paradise. 

Oh, let her share of daily bread
Be flecked with spices sweet, 
And loose the binding weight that rules
The movement of her feet. 

A bit of lace; a honeyed fruit; 
Why, God, instead of wings, 
The simple human heart would choose 
To have these simple things!

WINTER NIGHT

THE winter night has lit her secret fires 
Over the lustre hill, 
I see the white smoke curling through the plain, 
And by the sleepy mill, 

That does not chant its song of quiet toil, 
Not that the day is done; 
But brushed with faded rose, stands beautified, 
Stain of the sinking sun. 

Far-off a hound is baying to a star, 
New-lit beside the moon; 
And, from the drifted road, a sled and pair 
Swing by in merry tune. 

Clear, where the stiffened trees stand in a wood, 
There sounds in quick reply, 
The sharp staccato of the winter frost—
Played as the bells go by. [page 12]

SOLUTION

I CANNOT sing of Love while it is here—
The hours spared to it are far too dear.

I cannot sing of Love when it has gone—
For without Love no music can go on. 

Before Love came I did not care to sing—
Its presence woke the need for carolling. 

What then to do? Why it would seem to be 
Love’s self must make of life a melody; 

Then all who listen will be very glad 
For what of happiness one heart has had.

MOTHER’S HOLIDAY

WE used to plead with her to go away—
To change her dress of printed calico 
For one of silk, to loose the tightened reins 
Of household tasks, and take a holiday. 
But there was always this or that to do; 
And so it was, until her presence grew
A part of the home structure, and we felt
Whatever time we came she would be there, 
With willing hands a welcome to prepare. 

One day she listened; and in silken dress, 
With hair soft-coiled in snowy loveliness, 
She stepped with shiny shoes outside the door, 
And called “Good-bye” to us. 
We watched her homely figure disappear 
Around the bend, and waved our hands to her, 
We laughed to one another and declared
There never was a mother half so dear—
Then in we went, eager to do our share 
Of any tasks which might be waiting there. [page 13]

But, though we were so glad to see her go, 
We stood about as if we did not know
The house at all; the very walls were strange—
The fire was ashes in the kitchen range—
The clock tickled like an anvil on the shelf—
Even the sun withdrew its friendly self. 

We fumbled for our handkerchiefs and went
To work, but when the quiet night came down, 
We watched the stretching road that leads from town 
Until she came; and were not quite content, 
Nor happy, till the waited moment when 
She sighed, “How good to be at home again!”

O LIFE IS FULL OF CRUEL THINGS…

O LIFE is full of cruel things, Dear Heart; 
A fallen star; a moth born but to die; 
A nest torn from its place by hungry winds; 
Late, hopeful birds that southward vainly fly, 
O’ertaken by a shroud of falling snow; 
A withered frond; a tender, broken bough 
In springtime, when the bud is part in leaf;
Green fruit, half-formed beneath a blighted tree; 
O life is full of cruel things, Dear Heart, 
But sadder than all others is to see
A little house built out of love, and left
Untenanted, as woman’s heart can be!

AFTER

AFTER the years have given and have taken, 
After success has grown a common thing, 
And Youth her far, adventurous flight forsaken, 
Tattered of wing—
But give to me the moments no one treasures, 
Say I may tend you when no other will— 
Then life, a garden of fair expectation, 
Will bloom, until. [page 14]

THE DESTITUTE BY THE SEA

FEAR creeps near me, as you creep up the sand—
Tell, does he journey with you, hand in hand?

Come no closer, to shake me with your thunder!
Queer you should want these brittle bones for plunder. 

Well, you will find them some night, when tide is high, 
Stark, without breath, when Fear and you pass by, 
Lying in death beneath the lonely sky.

PRODIGAL

EARTH, do I lay my cheek against thy breast—
I am thy child, returned to thee for rest. 

Take me, O mother, fold thy mighty arms
Around my body, stricken—with thy charms, 
Ancient and simple, let me soon forget
I bear a mind, a heart, within me yet. 
They are so burdensome; I pray thee take
All knowledge of them from me. Only make
Me again thine, and let me quiet lie
Like thee, untroubled, with no power to cry. 

Thou hast the might to raise aloft and carve
Mountains of violet—lakes of lustre-blue, 
Rainbows of mist, and opals out of dew. 
On thy great bosom, fragile flower and tree
Drink of thy love; ah, comfort then for me 
Surely is there within thy quiet breast, 
Where no heart breaks, no soul knows wild unrest. 

Grant full forgiveness to thy straying child!
Seeking man’s honour, I have long defiled
My right to call thee parent; sought to be
Carefully rid of fellowship with thee; 
But, prodigal, I come for thee to bless, 
Asking no boon but sweet forgetfulness; [page 15]

As knows the bud that opens to a rose, 
Of winds that weave a shroud of falling snows; 
Whipped by the storm, or smiled on by the sun—
Nervelessly living till its life is done—
Clipped by the frost, or bowed with falling rain—
Feeling no hurt, O God, knowing no pain—
Loving no heart that loves it not again!

COMPROMISE

SPARE me a branch of scarlet maple
When you go away, 
Or a late aster, or a sprig of golden-rod, 
Anything you say—
But do not leave me, Autumn, 
With only November gray!

Yet, though I asked her kindly, 
She gathered them all, and threw
Into my eyes a sprinkling 
Of frosted dew; 
But when, in the West, the daylight
Faded, what should I see
But a yellow pumpkin sailing
Out of the East, to me!

WHEN EARTH SHALL FEEL HIS FOOTFALL…

WHEN earth shall feel His footfall once again, 
Will every weed turn back into its sod?
Will rain-clouds leave the blue of heaven plain, 
And sullied beasts fawn at the feet of God?

Where will He turn to work His mercy first?
The wards of sickness, or the crowded slum, 
Or prisoned windows, prisoning the cursed, 
Diseased of mind and spirit? If He come, [page 16]

He will not wait to smile upon the mean, 
Whose sainthood has been easy to attain; 
Nor pause before the filthily unclean, 
Whose purity was bought with others’ pain!

But, with long-burdened heart for those who bear
Untimely fire, and hell’s unquenchèd thirst, 
His perfect Love will turn to swiftly share
His perfect Peace. So shall the last be first.

TEMIGAMI

GREAT stretch of water, coloured from a sky 
Flushed rose with sunset; on your silver face 
Pine-tree and birch in dreaming shadow lie, 
And, dreaming, interlace. 

Black the shore-line; dim island castles float, 
Lifting dark turrets to the fading day;
Above blue deeps are bending, and our boat
Drifts in a star-lit way. 

One gleaming star, a path of rippling light, 
Traced on the water by our green canoe; 
Softer than breathing fell the summer night, 
And we were silenced, too. 

Still dusk of evening, with a star to guide!
Peaceful the heart, and confident the soul, 
In sure remembrance that the world and tide
He holds in His control. 

Dip of the paddle; near the shore-line grows; 
Voices drift to us; life begins anew; 
But in the dreaming silence bloomed the rose
Of friendship unto you! [page 17] 

POSSESSION

NEVER seek to possess
What most you love; 
For in possession 
Grows stale the object of desire, 
Which, unattainable, 
Grew sweeter day by day—
Untouched, unsoiled, unworn; 
A scented bloom upon an ageless tree. 
Daily reborn; 
Daily reclad in exquisite delight; 
Food for your dreams; 
Urge for your toil; 
What man can wholly take
His eager hands will spoil. 

Yet, should you force the treasure, 
Brief ecstasy 
More worth than daily measure 
To you may be! 
Tastes differ. I have set
Bright in my room, 
Poppies and mignonette, 
Wild apple-bloom, 
Blue phlox and columbine, 
Fair violet; 
Pleasant their company, 
Short-lived their memory. 

My heart’s white rose, 
Lifting her virgin face, 
Still in my garden grows.

SISTERS

AS lies the bulb within its heavy mould, 
So sleeps her heart in fashionings of earth;
Will she, more lovely, to a touch more bold, 
Press back the prisoning particles at birth, 
Than foliage and bloom to spring unfold? [page 18]

When love’s warm tears and beat of passion’s sun
Have penetrated coldness of her cover, 
(Hardened, unyielding, needing me for lover—) 
What will break bud when Spring and I have won?

Up, Slumberers! The larks are singing clear—
Awake… Awake… April and I are here!

ACHIEVEMENT

I GLIMPSED that eminence afar; 
Above its summit hung a star. 

“Dear God,” I vowed predictively, 
“Toward that lustrous beacon there, 
Steadfastly on my feet shall fare, 
Though stiff and long the climb may be.” 

I laid me down to rest that night
Ad dreamed I stood upon the height. 

From early dawn to close of day
I pressed toward the thirsted goal, 
Ambition striking on my soul—
Yet found no unfamiliar way. 

I questioned how this thing could be 
For nearer seemed the star to me. 

But, when I turned to view my gain, 
The distance I had spanned was naught; 
I stood upon no vantage spot;
I had but crossed an even plain. 

So weary day succeeded day—
I walked an uneventful way. 

At length, in desperate distress, 
I flung myself upon the sod
In stern, protesting prayer to God, 
Who slighted thus my faithfulness. [page 19]

An haloed quiet girt my fear, 
He whispered gently, “I am here, 

“Think not that I misunderstand, 
But for some mortals plains are best.” 
Oh, touch of love which surely blest!
He laid the star within my hand.

DECEPTION

SOME days ago the warm wind drew the rain 
From clouded skies, till shower on shower it fell; 
The aging snow on crusted hill and plain, 
Grew thin and grail; from naked earth, the smell 
Of soaking leaf, and buried flower, uprose; 
Along wet willow stems against the blue, 
Bright crystals hung, and dropped, and hung anew, 
And dripping roofs curled mist where snow had lain. 

Three days; and then the dazzling sun broke through, 
And three days flooded all with amber glow; 
Woke heart of hyacinth, and daffodil, 
Flung trembling stars along the dancing rill, 
And feather plumes about earth’s bonnet blue. 

A mood. It passed; and wildly cried the crow, 
Hiding in thicket, as the winds grew chill
That had been warm and kind an hour ago. 
Dusk fell with falling flakes, and all night long 
Grew strength of victory in winter’s song. 

The frosty morning broke with smiling face, 
And spring lay down to slumber in disgrace.

HOME

IT matters not how high the roof, or low; 
Whether exotic blooms perfume the space, 
Or on the humble sill geraniums blow
To scarlet joy. Love keeps a happy place [page 20]

For there is toil of eager hands and heart, 
Quickened to serve by that immortal dart; 
And faith that will not die; and happy song
When song is needed; quiet of content 
And understanding of a strength too spent
For singing; skill to wisely tend and heal 
Soul-wounds; and arms too brave and true to hold
The spirit’s freedom; and belief too bold!

Love is Life’s hearth-fire and its candle-glow—
It matters not how high the roof, or low.

A CHILD AFTER THE LIGHT IS OUT

        MOTHER, mother, I cannot rest
        For the wind is crying; 
        Up in the chimney heart it moan—
        Moaning and sighing. 

        Mother, mother, I cannot rest
        For the rain s rapping; 
        Knocking on roof and window-pane—
        Dripping and tapping. 

        Mother, mother, I cannot rest
        For the sea is sobbing; 
        Beating the sand with monster flail, 
        Beating and throbbing. 

        Mother… waken… the oak tree falls, 
        It can be no other; 
        Come to me… come! I die of fright! 
        Mother… oh, mother! 

How faintly the wind in the chimney is signing—
Why did I cry?
And softly and cheerily drips the rain—
The sea is murmuring in refrain—
The oak tree straightens its height again—
Mother, dear mother! I wonder why! [page 21]

WANDERLUST

WHY does my heart turn in its body-temple, 
Turn like a prisoner fretting for his freedom, 
Like a wild bird caged and restless?
While the cool glow of the harvest moon 
Touches the autumn valley mists to silver, 
The wet apples to crystal apples, 
And man to desperate dreaming?

It is the rumbling train, crossing the garnered meadows, 
Beating like my heart beats, shaking foundations
Of house and factory, calling me, “Follow, follow”—
Red at its heart with fire of a ceaseless burning, 
(The fire burning with scorching heat, like the fire in my heart), 
Driving it blindly on into unknown darkness. 

O world, you are wide, and you white roads draw like a magnet
The callused feet of the free, to strange new places—
Ruby and amber wine, and red pomegranates, 
Purpling grapes of Greece, and the long pale sands of the desert; 
Till I turn from my bed like a creature whose shell has tightened, 
And follow my brother, flying into the darkness, 
My heart like a flame on the endless road of the traveller. 

He who sleeps here is dust of a dull ascending—
His spirit runs by a road that is never ending.

REBUKE

LOVE came. I led her through my open door, 
That had been long ajar—ajar for her; 
 Swiftly closed within her loveliness, 
And drew the window-shade, and lit and set 
A candle on the board. Ah, how my heart, 
That loneliness, grew light as thistle-down; 
Grew Midas-mighty with the worth of her, 
Grew Midas-greedy with the need of her—
I said, “We dwell alone with happiness;
Let us forget the troublous world, and dine; 
The bread is crusted sweet, 
Sweeter the wine.” [page 22]
Love gravely rose, and opened back the door; 
Her hand released the shade; my candle took 
And set upon the empty window-sill;
Another plate and goblet neatly laid
Where two had seemed enough; then by my side, 
Before the holy food, she bowed her head; 
“God, save our souls from selfishness!” Love said.

PRAYER

I WOULD know all of life—
Cool slumber, and fierce fire;
The holy place of purified desire, 
The road worn dusty by unsandalled feet
In freedom sweet;
I would know all as winds know all, that pass
Beyond the tree-tops, and below the grass;
The quiet pool a while, if it may be—
And then, though shivering before the gale, 
Please God! the open sea!

Children’s Poems
MOUNTAINS AND THINGS

THE mountains of earth are green and high, 
But the mountains of pearl are in the sky; 
Where do they go, when the great winds blow?
Over the ridge and far below. 

The roads of the earth are dusty and bare, 
But the heavenly roads are golden, to where
They end in the west; and the sun shines red
To light the angel people to bed. 
And the baby angels warm their toes, 
And sing sweet psalms, while the north-wind blows,
Until the stars are lit in the sky, 
And the wick of the moon burns bright and high. [page 23]

Sometimes, when the clouds are tattered and gray, 
A hurrying horseman comes this way, 
Riding into the purple night—
Over the hills and out of sight!
And the dust comes from the horse’s flying feet
Curls like smoke through the heavenly street; 
Till I run and hide where he will not see, 
For I think perhaps he has come for me;
To catch me up and to quickly go 
Over the ridge and far below.

THUNDER

WHAT can the Old Man in the Sky
Be doing to-night?
Snip-snap-snip—
His yellow whip
Curls and flashes, a dreadful sight;
His horses rear and gallop away—
Rumble… rumble…
The wagon wheels make a noisy grumble, 
And I say: “Old Man, stop that awful noise!
Do you like to frighten girls and boys, 
That you drive on… drive on… 
Over the cloud-roads, hilly and not?
Please rest your horses,
They must be hot—
I’m holding my ears, 
But I hear him still; 
And rain is wetting my window-sill! [page 24]
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