WHEN HALF GODS GO
And Other Poems
Norah M. Holland
[2 blank pages]
WHEN HALF GODS GO
And Other Poems
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK – BOSTON – CHICAGO
DALLAS – ATLANTA – SAN FRANSISCO
MACMILLAN & CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
WHEN HALF GODS GO<
AND OTHER POEMS<
BY NORAH M. HOLLAND
When half gods go
The Gods arrive.”
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LIMITED,
ST. MARTIN’S HOUSE : : : : TORONTO
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
WHEN HALF GODS GO
A Mystery Play
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.
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.
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.)
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
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]
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]
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
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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]
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.
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––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?
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!
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]
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
[4 blank pages]