Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets
13th Jun 2014Posted in: Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets 0
Dream Tapestries

Dream Tapestries
Louise Morey Bowman

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 Dream Tapestries
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 Dream Tapestries
Louise Morey Bowman
Author of “Moonlight and Common Day”

“Reason has moons, but moons not hers
Lie mirrored in her sea,
Counfounding her stronomers
But, oh! delighting me.”

(Ralph Hodgson)

 Copyright, Canada, 1924
By The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited, Toronto
At St. Martin’s House
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 I wish to acknowledge the courtesy of the editors of Poetry (Chicago), The Bookman (New York), The Canadian Forum, and The Canadian Magazine, in permitting me to reprint “Cold Tragedy,” “Bread and Fire,” “Moment Musical,” “Blue Moon,” and “Oranges.” [unnumbered page]

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LIFE SEQUENCE (In the Hokku Manner) 66




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I DRAW my cloak about me…
Tattered and gray
To others it may be. 
It seems to me 
Of golden hue, 
Broidered with mystic blue,
Woven each dawn anew,
And light as dew-ringed cobweb
On the grass. 
Unscathed and joyously 
In it I pass 
Through drenching torrent, wind, 
Fierce pitiless sun, 
Till day is done. [unnumbered page]

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Dream Tapestries
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HYACINTH dreams in the arbour…
Just a crumpled mass of gray…
Soft ashen hair and colourless skin,
Small, delicate hands blue-veined and thin…
Hyacinth dreams in the arbour
And who shall say
What Hyacinth dreams to-day?

Hyacinth dreams in the arbour
And the stealthy pussy-cat creeps
To her silken lap in the soft green gloom.
Room for the pussy-cat, Hyacinth…room!
Hyacinth dreams, in the arbour,
Of Life…that steals and leaps
Like a panther out of the shadows…
Hyacinth sleeps.

Hyacinth! Hyacinth! Open your eyes!
Your blue blue eyes like the Grecian seas!
Or Life will spring on your silken knees
And waken you with a wild surprise
Where you dream…just a crumpled mass of gray.
Hyacinth dreams in the arbour.
Ah who shall say What Hyacinth dreams to-day? [page 15]



THROUGH the great glowing forest,
Green and dusky gold and ruddy brown,
Where sunbeams filter down
In showers of vibrant gold…
Through the old, old wood
Passes the funeral pomp of the young, dead king.
Choristers sing Strange, wailing, shuddering songs…
Old chants, so old, So desolate, drear.
Heavy, deep, purple velvet drapes the bier…
Purple…deep, passionate purple…
A regal pall Over the cold, young limbs, while the gold leaves fall
On the velvet pall.
On through the old wood moves
The great procession;
Deep, passionate purple draping the young, dead king;
And the choristers sing…
And a small brown hare,
Startled, in quivering panic, scurries ahead
Leading the way for the king…
The king who is dead.

   In a bright green dell
   Where they can see well,
   Wait the butcher, the baker,
   The candlestick maker. [page 16]
   “No more bread for he!”
   Says the baker.
   “No more meat for he!”
   Says the butcher.
   But the candlestick maker slaps his knee.
   “Not such a bad day this for me!
   No more meat and no more bread,
   But candles to burn at his feet and his head.
   Nor the living nor dead
   Can’t get on without me!
   And very very soon they’ll summon us three!”
   “For the Feast!” grins the butcher
   Wagging his head.
   “For the Feast!” says the baker,
   “They’ll soon need bread!”
   “Men can’t do without we!”
   They say, all three.
   So the butcher, the baker,
   The candlestick maker,
   Watch the procession from the small green dell
   Where they can all three see
   Exceedingly well.

So the procession
Passed through the wood to the blue sea shore,
And they buried the king
Where the blues waves sing…
And the young king rules no more.
But late that night through the lonely wood
Came a slim brown maid who had understood,
And mated her soul with the young, dead king,
With never a priest or mass or ring… [page 17]
And she carried a dagger with poisoned tip,
And pressed its point to her soft red lip…
And she lay on the grave, and died.

Still at the turn of the year, men say,
Through the old, old forest in ghostly pageant
The funeral procession passes
Of the young, young king
Who is dead:
And the gold leaves fall
On his passionate purple pall,
And the small brown hare still scurries ahead
As if she were leading them all. [page 18]



THE garden lies spattered with wet green moonlight
Spilled from the night’s dark goblet;
And the wraith in the garden huddles mournfully
Silently watching,
Upon the broad marble seat,
Where white lilies and roses bloom.
Wine of pale silver-green drenches the garden.
The little gray wraith huddles mournfully,
Silently watching

*     *     *     *

On that broad marble seat to-day
Sat a beautiful lady…
Through the hot golden hours of the long afternoon… 
Oh a beautiful lady! 
With a warm wicked beauty of white, and of rose, 
And of ebony. 
Over her white breasts a long green scarf falling… 
Wet, bright, apple-green. 
Out in the orchard, laughing 
With clear, evil laughter… 
Ice laughter… 
She had gathered some little green apples 
And bit them with strong white teeth. 
“I am Eve! I am Eve in the garden… [page 19] 
Come! Adam!” 
And he followed…poor, passionate lover… 
To the seat by the heavy white lilies and roses. 
(Oh far far away lie the wise castle windows 
Behind the rose gardens and lime trees!) 
But after the lovers…after them, swiftly, swiftly, 
Like a fleeting gray shadow, 
Speeds the little gray wraith… 
With feeble weak fingers of dampness 
Pulling with tremulous touch at his heart-strings… 
Pricking like impotent tiny thorns; 
Nipping, and pinching, and pricking 
The shrivelled, black conscience of the rosy and beautiful lady. 
See! From the shrivelled black conscience 
One drop of bright, red blood, 
As from prick of a rose thorn… 
And his heart-strings are drawn tight and knotted 
With tiny, weak, slipping knots 
Tied by feeble, damp fingers… 
Slipping…slipping…oh, slipping! 
But what does that matter? 
For Time has come to the help of the gray wraith… 
Grave, gray Father Time with a handful of moments— 
Dust? Ashes? 
He has set the rose-shrouded sundial in shadow.

*     *     *     *

Now the broad marble seat is empty 
Except where gray wraith has sunk down in the moonlight 
Victorious. [page 20] 
Ah!...the lady had dropped her bright, apple-green scarf, 
And it stirs like a sinuous, long snake. 
Is it only that one pointed corner is lifted 
By the stealthy, stealing, night wind? 
Slowly, slowly…so feebly… 
The snake lifts itself with the wind’s help, 
A little green apple, 
With some black dents where strong white teeth 
Have bitten it. 
And the small, gray wraith noiselessly moans and shudders. 
But what matter? 
For the long night passes. 
Only the green scarf lies harmlessly, softly, 
On the empty marble seat where the little gray wraith sits 
And watches, 
Though the green wine of moonlight is drenching 
The perilous garden. [page 21] 

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A SMALL New England village in the hills:… 
The date? 
Oh, many, many years ago…the season very late… 
The conquering colours that a year must always hold 
Have vanished. 
Pale Northern Spring in tints of lilac, softest green and yellow gold; 
The tawny richness of the harvest’s close… 
All past and vanquished in this sullen cold, 
By sombre grays and browns, dead white and black. 
The tall-spired meeting-house, the school, 
The stiff white houses built by rigid rule, 
Even the village store, With hospitable, easily-opened door; 
And their human owners reared in godly fear, 
Austere, repressed, 
How it all lies, before our modern eyes, 
So grim. 
Dressed in that rigid livery of nature’s gloom that suits it best. 
Hear their stern hymn… 
Dignified, slow, 
Sung in proud, solemn majesty of menace and woe. 
“Our days as grass…all earth is but a tomb”… [page 25] 
What unfathomed gloom… 


Keen bitter winds have stripped the great elm trees, 
And swept the one long street 
Ruthlessly neat; 
Quite bare of all the withered, dead, brown leaves, 
Except for small dry heaps that meet, 
Trembling and mournfully rustling, 
In the corners of the neat, white, picket fences; 
Or drifting 
Behind the pillars in the porch of the white meeting-house, 
Unused through the long week 
Except for Death. 
How the winds shriek about the meeting-house! 
(But wait before your shudder and turn away!) 
With the keen, icy breath of the New England hills 
Sharp in your nostrils, 
Step over the threshold of the village store, 
With its easily-opened door. 
Breathe this different air, 
Heavy with curiously mingled odours 
As if another wind had blown in there 
Heaps of rare 
Drifted salvage… 
Some wild, rich wind from wild rich worlds beyond, 
That folk cannot entirely withhold, 
Even from a Puritan village long ago. [page 26] 
Beware…ye righteous folk of old… 


Here are great foreign boxes, wisely and deftly made, 
That hold teas from the Orient, compactly laid; 
And coffee beans. 
Here spices, pungent and hot; 
Tall, blue-wrapped cones of sugar; fine and coarse sat; 
And finest quality of figured delaine; 
Dark, serviceable calico dotted and plain; 
Sheer delicate muslin, white as milk, 
And thick black silk; 
And broadcloth heavy and black; 
And much, much more… 
Of quantity and quality no lack— 
For this is the “general store” of a prosperous man 
Old and wealthy and wise, In the village eyes. 
Oh, Puritan New England would be clothed fittingly; 
And Puritan palates know, 
Both high and low 
The wholesome savour of good food 
When in the mood; As well as very fine 
Flavours in sermons by some “great divine;” 
Or savour of ethics proved and tried, 
And flavours in doctrines never very wide… 
But high and pure… 
(That you’ll acknowledge!) 
God…but they were sure… 
Those grim fine people of ours!...another hymn… [page 27] 
“Only such things as are godly and pure, 
Saved from consuming wrath they shall ensure.”… 
Is that the echo of the bell 
From the tall-spired white meeting-house? 
Its bell is silent through the week, except for Death… 
Hear the wind shriek about the meeting-house! 
But this small bell 
Fastened above the door Of the old village store, 
Tinkles continually, where through the week, 
They barter and buy and sell.


(In this short passing hour we shall see more…) 
He is a man of vision and breadth of mind… 
This storekeeper. 
Back in the dusky depths of the old store 
Are rows of books in sober black and brown; 
Books for his town 
That are not all volumes of sermons or hymns, 
Or a “Garland of Sacred Poetry from Friend to Friend.” 
(Does not some stern voice ask “Where will this end?”) 
For here are books of perilous voyages, tales of human ways, 
And human lives, and of the great, historic, coloured days Of far-off empires…
Ah…here are William Shakespeare’s mighty plays! [page 28] 
(But we must not stop to read more titles now…the hour is almost past) 
Daylight is fading fast… 
And heaped on the dark, well-rubbed old counter lies his last 
And latest venture on seas of commerce… 


Great balls of golden wonder…round, perishable globes… 
Here a ripe pyramid most carefully laid 
Beside sad-toned materials for matrons’ robes, 
And piles of iron-gray wool for their men’s winter stockings… 
Plain comfortable sight…proof against sharp frost bite 
Of the Northern Winters. 
See how the oranges have caught up all the light! 
What joyous tones they hold 
Of vivid, bold, 
Hot colour! 
They glow like balls moulded of molten gold. 
Above them from the rafters hang thin strings and strings, 
Innumerable strings Of dull, dried apples! 
Nothing is here akin to the oranges at all… 
Nothing in all This colourless, inanimate hoard…nothing’s akin [page 29] 
Except that vague, enduring richness, so alluring, 
That we smell, When the small bell, 
Over the door tinkles…and we come in… 
Out of the keen, pure coldness of the wind.


So…the scene is set…for good and ill. 
Over the highest hill 
New winds blow wild and shrill: 
For “the old order changeth” still. 
Who now is sure what shall endure? 
The street is empty…in the dusky store, 
Holding the eye with a voluptuous lure, 
The oranges burn through the smouldering gloom. [page 30] 

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The Mountain that Watched
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“IN the beginning”...”The heavens and the earth”... 
“Let there be light”... 
After all we can’t improve on Genesis 
For the condensed beginning of a tale! 
But earth is much more earth, and heaven much more heaven 
When it’s our own old Mountain, touching sky 
Like this, right up in the middle of the island, 
Than when it’s a mountain range across the oceans. 
That’s to my way of thinking anyhow. 
Mountain and city...Edinburgh now...but that’s another’s story... 
Sonnet form! 
And now...to mine, to-day. 
To-day! To-day is written in curling smoke 
Before the Mountain, dumb above the city... 
Our Mountain...trying to make us understand, 
By secret code, sign language...what you will. 

   Rustling of leaves— 
   Pale green, dark amber, scarlet, crimsoning brown— 
   Deep coloured sighs and long deep breaths of earth— 
   Rustling of leaves— 

“In the beginning”— 
The river, the islands, and the rustling leaves, 
Arrows and mating and life and birth and death, 
Silence and solitude; [page 33] 
But always the Mountain, touching cold blue sky 
When the white men landed in their little boats, 
When holy dreaming men and women came, 
And built their funny little forts and towers, 
And sacred shrines, And made a new-world city. 
And all the while the Mountain watched and watched. 

   Dirt? Well you certainly can’t expect a city’s docks,
   or a great station at an entrance port, 
   to be like a Quaker meeting-house 
   on a seventh-day noon. 

Docks! There’s a magical word! Not unpoetical 
let me tell you, if you’ll only close your eyes 
and use that “inward eye” your Wordsworth used 
for daffodils. My God! you’d think he had secured that “eye” 
to be hereafter used for “daffodils,” and “solitude” and “thrills,” 
Come now! Just try it on for once to-day 
with river docks filled with the motley throng... 
old world and new. 
Deep searching eyes that seek the “golden West”— 
wild eyes that hold the primal hunger lure, 
young eyes that hold the secrets of the dawn, 
sad eyes that hold the fury of the night— 
We’ll have to stand the dirty docks I think, 
and the crowded station— 
holding a daffodil to your nose to smell 
you’ll soon forget the nose and the daffodil! [page 34] 
What’s that you’re murmuring? 
“It’s all like a magic casement opening out on perilous seas...” 
Bless you for those kind words! 
Though that’s John Keats that sees our docks—not you! 
Wait just a moment—here is something now 
that’s well worth watching! It’s the Jewish New Year, 
and those are orthodox Jews who have come down 
to cast their sins away in running water. 
Mumbling in their beards...from books, and some from memory... 
punctilious enough they are... 
shaking their overcoats...(those who men, look!) 
Into deep river...old Father St. Lawrence running to the sea. 
Old men, believers—and a few young ones too. 
You see? Turn round and look at the motor cars. 
Look at that old old woman from the slums— 
Grandmother of Isaac and Jacob and Abraham— 
Look at her! Carefully shake, shake, shake, old Mother! 
Strong, wrinkled, kindly face—those toil-worn hands— 
Come, let us try the “inward eye” again... 
Verily—see! Her sins do drop and float away from her 
on the dirty oily water—little sins 
that float like tiny, bright-red maple leaves 
cast from a lusty old tree in the Fall. 
She’s known the life of the full ripe season through... 
carefully and punctiliously shake, shake, shake! [page 35] 
Let us go too from the docks with lightened hearts, 
groping our way on upward through the slums. 
Listen to the lilt and whimsical chattering 
of alien tongues. 
“And have not charity”—“Through a glass darkly”...see? 
We’ve dropped our classic daffodils and trod 
upon them! But we’ve reall seen—something. 
What else does the Mountain see? 
Churches! Hotels! Domes, palaces and towers, 
Steep hilly streets, shops, hovels, factories. 
Limestone tradition! 
Romance! Romance! Raw gold! 
Merry-men, jesters, in a surging crowd 
mingling with Holy Folk— 
Miracles, shrines, and glorious, honest doubts— 
raw gold, black, red,— 
new thoughts breed sacraments— 
white dreams and tawny sins— 
the half-good, the half-bad—Humanity! 
Groping humanity— 
Who judges? How? Or why? 
The Mountain watches. 

Snow-dusted silent streets. 
The midnight mass— with quiet thronging worshipers that pass 
from darkness into glimmering ecstacies.— 
Another mood... 
The blizzard— 
The swirling wall-like drifts, while through the streets 
the snow-ploughs move like huge primeval beasts [page 36]
glutted with power; 
wallowing through the mists of drifting powdery particles, 
ploughing the snow. 
The Mountain watches and possesses now 
a festical afternoon of sparkling white, 
pierced by the thrilling flights of vivid glancing skis— 
pierced by the shooting downward in death-like dive, 
of flat toboggans on the mountain slide. 
Impertinence the Mountain tolerates! 

The flashing facets of an ice palace 
reared in a square beside a towering church of massive stone, 
for half a continent to gaze upon if it so desires, 
and feast between whiles. 
(“H-mmm—Good advertising this— 
Hush! Watch your step! Deliver the goods!”) 
Ah well—Mount Royal, graven on a “souvenir!” 
The Mountain watches. 
“Truly an ice palace is a beautiful thing—a fairy tale!” 
“You poets are so fantastic!” “You should worry!” 
“My word I’m nearly dead for tea!” “Do hurry!” 
“Ice plants for making artificial ice”—“Efficiency”— 
“Gold sea—good jazz” 
“The cafeterias are the thing to-day— 
take up your tray 
and walk!” 
“What blasphemy!” 
“Ice plants for making artificial ice” 
Fine bargain furs there if you’ve got the price” [page 37] 
“Gods! what a day!” 
Then much the same in French—the rapid glancing tongue. 
“Day uttereth speech” indeed. 
“Night sheweth knowledge.” 
The Mountain watches. 
Night! Zero night— 
like a dense black velvet skin 
drawn tightly over the city; 
and lights pricking, pricking, pricking— 
like fiery pin-points in a million eyes 
behind black skins, blazing with jungle light... 
a gay old city is sinister at night. 

   Rustling and creaking of black naked branches 
   On the old Mountain— 
   Stark twisted branches black against the snow 
   Snapping and crackling of frost-tortured trees— 

Something has happened! The Mountain almost seems to tremble. 
Down its sides rush the melting snows in torrents; 
tumbling, tumultuous, most untidy rivers 
through icy blackened parapets that still stand. 
Washing day for the Mountain! 
Ah but wait!— 
Silver-green city in a rosy mist—Spring dawn!— 
As Life has waked with a soft stirring 
Of pouting leafy lips 
And curling velvet finger-tips, 
Through all the ages while the Mountain watched. [page 38]

   Rustling of leaves— 
   Silver-green, rose-red, amber, scarlet, brown— 
   Deep coloured sighs and long deep breaths of earth— 
   Rustling of leaves— 

Against my hand a little crumbling dust 
Is softly blown— 
Before my eyes a glory—sunset? Dawn? 
And in my ears a great triumphant song— 
Is it a song? 
Or but the quiet breathing of a child 
Who holds its coloured toys and drifts to sleep? 
The Mountain watches and is very still. [page 39]


THROUGH tortured weeks of hospital surgery 
The old fruit garden of my childhood days 
Grew close about me. Through black storms of pain 
Swayed joyous boughs of rosy apple-bloom; 
While blossomed branches of an old plum-tree; 
Old grape-wines clinging to a sunny wall; 
Great bushes of red currants and raspberries. 
Through hours of torturing thirst I found again 
That old fruit garden—as if body and soul 
Clutched at cool juicy fruits—remembering— 
Devouring them through a parched mouth of the brain.


Grandfather was so courtly, wise and calm; 
At times a sweet old wordling, dealing balm 
Through business phrase or words of ancient psalm, 
Justice and whimsical kindliness to all. 
As he watched mankind, so in early Fall, 
He watched his grape-vines on the stable wall. 
In old Quebec the season is too brief 
To ripen grapes well...sometimes scarlet leaf 
Becomes a heartland swift beyond belief. 
The few big clusters with pale purple cloom 
So slowly deepening, often met their doom 
When rich October caught November’s gloom. 
He never lost his interest...every Fall 
He saw his grape-vines as he’d dreamed them, all [page 40] 
Weighed down with purple riches, growing tall 
Over the stable windows. On the way 
To the rose garden where he walked each day... 
“These grapes are riper than last year” he’d say. 
In spite of all the travelling he’d done 
He sought no changes now and thought “no sun 
Could be much brighter than a Canadian one!” 
Yet I knew well his grapes brought visions fair 
Of mellow summer lands with temperate air. 
“Grapes are like men—can’t ripen everywhere... 
Men all need sun, and right loam I suppose; 
But if one strikes deep roots...as a rule...he grows! 
He smiled his smile and cut a late white rose.


“Well! The red currants must be picked to-day. 
They’re ready for jelly” Grandmother would say. 
She never wasted words yet had her way. 
In cool gray cotton gown, and black straw hat 
Securely tied—She made a point of that 
Though no breeze stirred the lilacs where she sat 
To superintend old Jock and Marie Anne 
At tasks of picking. When her palm-leaf fan 
Waved slowly all was well; but my blood ran 
Quicker when it moved very fast...one knew 
The hours were slipping past...then old Jock too 
And Marie Anne, would pick with greater zest. 
“Granny! Red currant jelly’s much the best!” 
“Black’s best for colds” she’d say, as she caressed 
With firm kind fingers my rough curly head. [page 41] 
She rarely kissed me. Deep within was bred 
Acid reserve and purity...those red 
Ripe currants, with their pleasant acid tang, 
Seemed to me just like Grandmother! I sang 
My multiplication-tables till they rang 
Loud through the garden where dear Granny sat 
Smiling—well-pleased—with firmly-tied black hat!


Old Jock and Marie Anne could never find 
Raspberries of the glowing amber kind 
To fill the “ancient porcelain bowl.” (‘Twas lined 
With amber glaze; outside a gold vine wound 
In such a graceful pattern round and round.) 
But if my Mother looked she always found 
Enough to fill the bowl. That day we’d three 
Distinguished guests. I loved to have them see 
My lovely Mother as she looked at tea... 
Her gown of creamy lace—her shining hair, 
Her beads of old carved amber...all her rare 
Fragile soft richness, like the berries there 
With their pale amber bloom. I loved her so... 
I wished that every body could know... 
“Why don’t you eat your berries, Child?”..then low 
I bent my head to hide two burning tears 
Of yearning love. How strange those vague cold fears 
My child heart knew that day...what long long years 
Since those last lovely hours of ecstacy 
When she made Beauty live and thrill for me.  [page 42]

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Songs of Women
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OH I was young an’ feared o’ pain 
When I went hot-lovering down the lane. 
I sipped sweet honey wi’ my red lips, 
An’ I touched fire wi’ my finger-tips, 
But I drew them back again— 
For the withered, gray woman so old and wise, 
Wi’ the queer, hushed voice an’ the listening eyes, 
An’ the stone-deaf ears, who lives I’ the lane— 
She stepped so soft an’ she says “Rose-Jane! 
You’re eating plum porridge (ye poor we loon!) 
Eating it hot in a rare blue moon. 
You’ve a dimpled face like a rosy June, 
But your mouth’ll be burnt Before you’ve learnt 
The way of a man in the moon. 
And then they’ll call you ‘Old Rose-Jane 
Who went hot-lovering down the lane.’ 
Beware of the rare blue moon, Rose-Jane!” 

Saints bless that woman wi’ listening eyes! 
I’ve planted the sweet-briar where she lies. 
She stopped my ears an’ she made me wise. 
I’m pure as the virgin saints are pure— 
Now never a man my pale lips lure. 
But once in a blue moon, I’m not sure 
That the withered gray woman, wi’ listening eyes, 
Didn’t cheat me out of a rare fine prize. 
Something calls to me I’d the moon, 
“Rose-Jane! Rose-Jane! Come! Come soon!” [page 45]


“O MISTRESS Mary—Mistress Mary— 
What have your found in your new old house? 
Paperers are waiting you, and carpenters, and gardeners— 
And you are up garret, just as still as a mouse! 
What makes your eyes so wet and so round? 
Mary—Mary! What have you found?” 
“Where the sour old wind grives under the eaves 

There’s an old trunk hid—Oh the dust on the lid! 
I pulled out from it a gay round box, 
And in it were worn-out boots and socks— 
Little, soft socks and little, stout boots— 
And a child’s crude drawings of flowers and fruits, 
And a tiny toy whip, and a ship and a ball— 
Oh—they’re just like a little lost boy! That’s all!” [page 46]


   ‘TWAS a green velvet gown 
   That he wanted me to wear, 
   With a yellow satin ribbon 
   In my rough brown hair. 

   But his flame burned down 
   And then he turned cold; 
   And he sent for the Parson, 
   Who called me bold.

*     *     *     *

So I’ve come down with my velvet gown
To earn my living in Evil-Town.
But I think I was ever more mad than bad,
And I’d very much rather be good and glad...

*     *     *     *

Drowsy thing 
With a broken wing! 
Hark to the queer little songs she’ll sing! 
Drowsy thing! [page 47]


THE eerie fingers of the rain 
All day have stroked my window-pane, 
While all the day and all the night 
Elves have been grinding, keen and bright, 
Weird, tiny knives of nerves and wits. 
Upon my heart an Elf-king sits... 
A cruel, Lilliputian mite, 
And by my breath he flies a kite 
Of hope in life or hope in death. 
He tugs and scowls with all his might... 
The kite depends on my frail breath. 
I watch the earthly colours bright, 
Painted upon that fluttering kite.

*     *     *     *

Little boys fly gay kites 
And play with marbles... 
Little boys laugh and shout 
In the wind and the sunshine...

*     *     *     *

Little Boy...oh little boy...were you ever an Elf-king?

*     *     *     *

The eerie fingers of the rain 
All day have stroked my window-pane.

*     *     *     *

Far off I hear a voice explain 
“She seems to listen to the rain... [page 48] 
She has put up a plucky fight! 
A splendid boy! Oh she’s all right!”

*     *     *     *

Elves! Elves! Stop your grinding! 
Rain! Rain! Stop your stroking! 
Bright little kite is gaily flying 
In the sky...for I’m not dying... 
I am alive! alive! alive! 
Heart and soul and senses five!

*     *     *     *

Now as soon as I can say anything 
I’ll make them show me that Elfin-king! [page 49]


FRAIL, exquisite, indomitable face, 
Where pain has left its trace... 
Where are the words to pain 
Her curious austere charm...elusive, pure, 
As the frost etchings on the window pane. 
Ivory, ebony, lace... 
Yes I shall choose that clinging gown of black, 
Severely plain, but with such frills of lace 
Over the delicate wrists and blue-veined hands 
That for an instant one feels all restraint 
Quite useless! Ravishing, ecstatic frills 
Of lace, or lacy thrills! 
Choose either phrase! 
She’s no fanatical saint... 
No, after all, 
No saint at all! 
Come help me, portrait painters rare and old... 
Velasquez, Romney, Reynolds and Van Dyke... 
Here’s what you’d like 
Poured in a modern, twentieth century mould. 
Ivory, ebony, lace... Her face 
Brings suddenly before me grave and clear, 
Impression of an old-time cavalier, 
With feminine grace; 
Brave glancing sword and delicate ripples of lace. 
For she has conquered gragons of old pain 
With a deep-shining clarity of thought: 
Victorious though her frailty shows the strain. 
I trace [page 50] 
With clumsy words the outlines of her face... 
Brave, grave, and suddenly flashing, purely gay, 
Like the lace frills at play! 
And so you see as I began I send 
This portrait of my friend... 
Ivory, ebony, lace... 
Frail, exquisite, indomitable face! [page 51]


SING hey the green willow 
That grows in my valley! 
Oh who would climb hill-tops 
To see what’s beyond! 

   There came a gipsy vagabond 
   A-strolling down my valley, 
   With honey mouth for kissing 
   And a gown of dusky red. 
   “So this is how ye spend the days 
   Wi’ never a wind to freshen ye— 
   Climb up the hill wi’ me, and shared sweet bread, 
   An’ look—see what’s beyond!” 
   She laughed wi’ me, and shared sweet bread, 
   And waved a willow wand. 
   By green moonlight we climbed the hill 
   And reached the top at morn, 
   And then she stood on tip-toe there... 
   I saw a joyous mating there 
   That left me all forlorn. 
   I watched her gown of dusky red 
   Against the blue horizon... 
   Oh that was how I climbed the hill 
   And saw the world beyond. 
   I wonder why God let her come 
   And share sweet bread a-laughing, 
   And leave a-lying at my feet 
   Her broken willow-wand. [page 52] 

Sing hey the green willow 
That grows in my valley! 
Oh who would climb hill-tops 
To see what’s beyond? [page 53]


ICICLES...icicles hang from the eaves 
In glittering sheaves, 
Over attic windows, 
A cold wind heaves 
Great, shuddering, gusty sighs; it grieves 
For its waning power in the gay March sun, 
Whose melting work now is well begun... 
Soft, slow, 
Drip, drip, 
Soft, slow, 
Drop, drop... 
Great icicle tears... 
Glistening, heavy, sun-drenched tears! 
Under my roof 
Remote, aloof, 
Lies this deer-hide trunk with its quaint, brass nails, 
Ancient, small... 
How that old wind wails 
As I lift the lid to see 
What is here for me! 
Delightful find! 
All carefully, carefully lined 
With old old wall-paper, blue and gold! 
First I unfold 
An Indian shawl...then a linen sheet... 
Oh...packets of letters, still faintly sweet... 
“More letters to burn!” I groan, “Dear dear! 
But here... look here! 
As I live an old, old violin, 
So frail and thin, [page 54] 

And dusky dark in its shapely line; 
A shell out-worn; (hear that old wind whine!) 
With a cruel gash here at one side, 
And the tail-piece torn 
And dangling, tied by a piece of twine... 
A dead violin in fine.

*     *     *     *

“We spend our years as a tale that is told” 
Violins packed in a poetry mould! 
Blue violins that, liquid, pour 
Vanished songs on a mystic shore... 
Green violins that ecstatic trill 
Like bobolinks, till the year stands still 
In a lyrical meadow of green and gold... 
(Violins packed in a poetry mould!) 
Red violins of a summer night 
Throbbing with passionate, blood-red song... 
Dead violine! Ice-bound so long... 
Soft...drop softly icicle tears... 
Icicle tears from the ice-bound years, 
Vibrating under my strong, new roof, 
Where the old violin, remote, aloof, 
Lies in my hands so terribly dead... 
Never an echo of throbbing red... 
Dead. Dead.

*     *     *     *

I want to bury it where it will rot
In rich warm earth, in a noontide hot, 
Under the mightiest tree I know, 
And let it again through the tree-roots grow. [page 55] 

I’ll fold it close in the soft, old sheet, 
Place the letters, still faintly sweet, 
Against the gash in its dark-hued side... 
Its the violin—not Love—that died. [page 56]


I HEAR him humming as he drives his car, 
In mellow baritone, an ancient psalm— 
Drifting down to his subtle modern brain 
From his old covenating ancestors, 
Who strode bare-kneed through purple heather bloom, 
Praising their God on wind-swept Highland hills. 
I am his wife. Beside him vividly, 
I see now not the crowded city streets, 
Through which he presses, strong aloof and calm, 
Factories and shipyards where his vast machines 
Whirr steadfastly, obedient to his brain— 
I see now just those small and golden hours 
When he is mine. [page 57] 

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Of Hot Cross Buns: 
Pots of white lilies: sunshine: magic eggs: 
New skipping-ropes—but old old winds 
Of Faith. [page 61]


Of diamond 
Upon a silver birch; 
Old stone wall 
Buried deep. 

And you... 
A scarlet bird 
Whose wild wings flutter here 
Against my soul. How still 
The world! [page 62]


   ‘Hokku’ (seventeen-syllable poem) in Japanese mind might be compared with a tiny star, I dare say, carrying the whole sky at its back. It is like a slightly-open door, where you may steal into the realm of poesy. It is simply a guiding lamp. Its value depends on how much it suggests.”

(Yone Noguchi, from The Pilgrammage,published by Elkin Mathews, London, End.) [page 63]



HOW strangely they float, 
Pale gold and ivory cups, 
On wilderness lakes.


The loon’s weird laughter 
Holds Indian deviltry, 
Long, long forgotten.


Indian cradle 
Swung from bough, rocked by 
Four Winds: Christ lay in manger.


Silver-haired Marquise! 
You were transplanted, one Spring, 
Into wild New France.


The sugar maples... 
Benevolent goddesses 
Who offer honey.


Snow shoes: like strong wings 
Bound on the feet of victors 
Conquering snow-fields. [page 64] 


On city pavements 
Two muffled, sombre nuns pace, 
Behind laughing girls.


You set narcissus 
Amidst your silver birches 
By Northern lakeside.


Five o’clock! You pause... 
Handle frail, old cups, pour tea, 
And become grande dame.


When Loneliness stalked... 
Black panther through gold wheat-fields... 
You used Love’s arrows.


Puissant woman!... 
Sheltering tiny things like 
English primroses!


Fast the new trails lead 
From wilderness to city! 
Years pass...Canada! [page 65] 

LIFE SEQUENCE (In The Hokku Manner)


Close-folded fern... 
So stiff; so coldly self-sustained: 
But summer passes.


Puss watches the world, 
Troubled: but knows she is linked 
To a miracle.


Empty room; fire dies; 
Moon shines in; chairs and tables converse;
Books croon songs.


Gray old tree 
Has breasted winter storms; but is vaguely 
Worried by March.

(Memorial Tablet)

Sunshine on storied bronze: 
Love on the whirling earth: 
And you on my heart. [page 66]


THERE is a marvellous washing 
creamy and snowy-white 
hung high on lines 
stretched from upper and lower balconies 
in the back-yard, across the narrow lane 
behind my rusty apple-tree 
and dusty lilac hedge; 
and a great splendid ‘woman-by-the-day’ 
comely and fat, with a bronzed skin 
and tumbled blue black hair, 
and an ugly and joyous scarlet gown, 
is hanging out the clothes... 
wet heavy clean white clothes... 
soft liquid splashes of light amidst dull dusty trees 
and sombre dirty bricks. 
The laden lines begin to ripple seductively 
in the cool sour east wind. 
There is no sun to-day. 
but the great splashes of high-hung white, 
the competent brown arms, 
the comfortable strength in vivid scarlet...
they have given me the warmth and wonder 
and the refreshment 
of tumbling woodland waters 
and blazing sun. 
I thank you...Life! 
I daub it in on a bit of canvas
(with a copy of a Botticelli madonna on the other side!) 
so I may remember...... 
the sordid bakc lane has become quite immaterial... 
I thank you...Life! [page 67]

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Cold Tragedy
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HOW this old terrace of mellow, creamy stone 
Grows warm in this noontide sun of Italy... 
I sit alone 
And dream a piteous dream of ecstacy 
And suddenly wake! 
In that raw town by a Canadian lake 
Does she pause now...to watch the falling snow? 
Before me stretch the olive trees that glow 
With their soft silvery radience; far below 
The towers of Florence rise, like tall carved flowers. 
Ah I know well she does not count her hours 
That swiftly pass from dawn to candle-light... 
She has the sun-filled day... 
I but the night!


DENSE violet skyu of sparkling stars above, 
And all around 
The soft, mysterious stirring of dark velvet water 
That makes no sound. 
And here in the old Square 
Life...surging, swaying, sparkling everywhere, 
As if it held at arms’ length waiting there 
The sky and water and their mysteries. 
But near me at a little table alone, 
A red-haired, black-eyed woman broods and waits, [page 71] 
Gazing across the empty cups nad plates. 
Her bright hair makes a glory in the light, 
But her dark eyes, unseeing, bring the night, 
Too near!


SO...only the little things are left to me... 
Cold comforts they!...Beauty my only home. 
Drifting of almond bloom...gray ruins of Rome... 
The Itlalian sun that makes these old stones warm... 
Lilt of old poems...sight of a girlish form... 
Gay little laughter...moon through the cypress trees... 
I occupy myself quite well with these. [page 72] 

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(The old Housekeeper speaks)

I’VE seen a good deal in my life. 
My own story was over you see 
Pretty young— 
But I’ve danced an’ I’ve sung 
In my day with the best. 
I’ve been blest 
With the love of a fine brave man, 
An’ a babe at my breast. 
But now that’s all past, 
An’ I’ve got a good home that’ll last
(An annuity too) 
Till old Mr. Drayton an’ I 
Get through! 
What d’ye say? 
It’s funny you like to hear me talk, 
An’ drop in like this on your afternoon walk. 
Now you want to know—don’t you?— 
Yes yes— — 
This last queer thing that’s happened! 
I guess 
You’ll like it because you like cats!
Well—last night 
With the fire burnin’ bright 
I was sittin’ an’ knittin’ 
An’ watchin’ the kitten 
An’ the old mother cat. 
I sat 
Here; an’ there by the table a-readin’ [page 75] 
As usual—a-readin’ as if he was feedin’ 
His stomach an’ soul, 
Sat old Mr. Drayton—as droll 
An’ dried up an old sinner 
As ever took dinner 
With his book by his plate, 
Readin’ early an’ late, 
With his shinin’ bald head an’ its mole. 
But he does love a kitten— 
An’ likes me here knittin’— 
Pour soul! 
Well all of a sudden the bell rang. 
I went just as spry as I could 
But I thought die I should 
When I opened the door 
An’ I saw standin’ there 
In the hall lamp’s red glare 
Another old Drayton—as like as two peas— 
The one at the table behind me a-readin’ 
An’ here on the step number Two stood—a-kneadin’ 
His long pointed chin 
With his skinny old hand. 
But he says very bland— 
A-stickin’ his eye glass up tight in his eye, 
With the black ribbon danglin’ 
“My good woman—I 
Am your master’s twin brother. 
Mr. Drayton is in?” 
An’ all I could say like a booby was 
“Twin? Twin brother—twin brother— 
Oh Luddy! Twin? Twin!” 
Then my Drayton spoke [page 76] 
An’ I almost jumped out of my skin— 
With his dry old voice 
Just like an echo— 
“I’m in. 
Then he says “Mrs. Beaton! Stay here!” 
I tell you I felt queer. 
There they sat by the fire 
With the table betweem 
Just eyein’ each other— 
Twin brother—twin brother— 
Both babes of one mother. 
The old cat humped an’ spit on my knees 
An’ run off with a sneeze. 
Then said he—the new Drayton— 
“Well Richard she’s dead! 
Kittie’s dead— 
And the last words she said 
Were ‘Now Rob you make up with him Dear.’ 
So Richard—I’m here.” 
But my Drayton sat quiet— 
Poor, shrivelled, dear soul 
With his mole. 
An’ I noticed the other was lackin’ the mole 
But otherwise—My! They are certainly twins! 
“Yes” said Drayton, “You’re in 
My house, Twin. 
So she thought Bitter Past 
Can be sweetened at last! 
Pretty thin!” 
An’ the light on his mole 
Seemed to shrivel his soul. [page 77] 
You’d have heard it if I’d dropped a pin. 
Then they sat an’ they sat an’ they sat. 
I could see it was flat 
That somethin’ would have to be done 
Or there’d nothin’ be won 
For either. I felt as if maybe we’d sit 
Till Eternity come 
Or till I had a fit! 
For with chins like theirs set— 
I was in a cold sweat I can tell you. 
I took up my knittin’ 
To just die there—sittin’ 
When sudden that kitten 
She just took a glance 
An’ made one funny prance 
Up that table at Drayton— 
The new one—She put up her paw 
An’ she patted his danglin’ black ribbon. 
Oh Law—an’ he had to hold tight 
To his eyeglass to fix it safe into his eye. 
Then if she didn’t try 
To get at it again 
An’ she sat up an’ blinked 
In his face for a minute—the man never winked. 
The she played with her tail 
Right under his chin— 
Just a gray ball of fur 
With two eyes an’ a purr. 
An’ the light that was caught 
In his great signet ring, 
She saw that an’patted it—cute little thing— 
An’ she licked all his hand with her little pink tongue, [page 78] 
An’ then back to my Drayton 
As if she’d been stung! 
A-curlin’ right up on his shoulder an’purrin’ 
The only live thing in the room that was stirrin’. 
Oh I tell you that kitten was more than just—cat! 
Love was usin’ that kitten, I felt sure of that. 
Back an’ forth she went playin’ 
Between those old twins 
An’ the room still so quiet you might have heard pins 
A-droppin’. I burst right out. 
“Luddy” I said “You two men! Why that kitten’s 
Possessed of the dead! 
If you could just see yourselves sittin’ up there 
Like two graven images—each on a chair— 
An’ that little kitten a-tryin’ to play 
With you both—I’m clean crazy! 
I will go away!” 
I just shrieked it out an’ they both spoke at once— 
“Now now my good woman— 
Come don’t be a dunce!” 
An’ I said 
“Well I’m neither a dunce nor—a twin! 
But if there’s names goin’ why I’ll just begin 
An’ I’ll say you’re twin dunces!” 
Then sudden I saw 
Them both smile—at the kitten! 
I felt like a thaw 
After ice—up in Greenland. 

Oh yes—they’re both well. 
An’ the comfort they’re takin’ 
I’ve not words to tell. [page 79]


“BOB COONING the giant’s come home to die”— 
So the village folk say To-day. 
They shake their heads and they peer and spy, 
And they draw in their breaths— 
“Dear—Dear!” they sigh; And they cook him dainties 
And wonder why 
The Lord ever made, under His kind sky, 
Bob Cooning! 

   Bob Cooning the giant was only a boy, 
   Like Harry or Tom or Jim or Dick, 
   But one that the other boys couldn’t lick. 
   Never a clean fair fight for Bob 
   As boy to boy. “That’s a dirty trick— 
   To hit a fellow just half your size!” 
   I’ve seen the tears in Bob’s big blue eyes. 
   “Give me a man to fight!” he’d say, 
   And they’d jeer—“You’ll keep till another day!” 
   Poor Bob would turn and slouch from the place 
   And lie face down in tall “Queen Anne’s lace” 
   And sob and sob to the cool brown earth, 
   Far off from the sound of his playmate’s mirth— 
   Poor Bob Cooning! 

   And he could not learn to cipher or read, 
   And he felt himself of a different breed. 
   He ate so much, and his clothes cost more 
   Than any one else, till his father swore. [page 80] 

He slouched and stooped through the highest door. 
His poor mother wailed and cried— 
But his wise old Granny only sighed 
“It’s the good God made him an’ He’ll provide.” 
How Bob Cooning cried when his Granny died! 

Then one night when the village was racked and thrilled 
With the circus tents, and the beast cries shrilled 
From the hot green meadow, Bob Cooning went 
With a sharp-faced man to a certain tent. 
Tom, Harry and Dick saw the last gay train 
Pull out, but they never saw Bob again 
Until, one day, though our old church door, 
At the morning service, strode Bob once more 
With his head thrown back, and a smile as bland 
As the great glass ring on his vast pink hand. 
How the people young and old did grin 
As the handsome giant came walking in 
With his sporty suit of a fine light check, 
And the great starched collar about his neck! 
How he dwarfed our poor little house of God! 
Dr. Smitters was preaching on Aaron’s rod, 
And how it budded in miracle bloom. 
“Say! With Bob in a church there ain’t hardly room 
For us and the minister both!” So Jim 
The wag, so dapper and keen and slim 
Whispered to Pollie—but Pollie just sighed. 
“Oh my, but Bob’s splendid!” Pollie replied. [page 81] 

That winter Bob Cooning was just like a king! 
His father boasted “A darn fine thing 
For us, that our son went away that day! 
I tell you he’s made the show business pay. 
He’s heaps of cash an’ he says he’ll stay 
Here a while—but he may go any day.” 
When the glamour wore of the wise heads said 
“He’s stupid as ever, with wits like lead.” 
And more than one mother wished he’d go— 
“So handsome—he does turn the girls’ heads so!” 
And finally, all in the sweet green May, 
He went off again on a “Circus Day.” 

And when he came back for the second time— 
This isn’t a story to put in rhyme— 
Now is it?—And yet if the Lord saw fit
 To make a giant and jest a bit 
Right out here in our country-side 
With every one seeing him far and wide— 
Well it seems to me that rhyme goes fine 
For this pitiful, circus-like tale of mine— 
Of giant Bob and his coming home 
Never again with his shows to roam. 
“He’s fadin’ out like a wisp o’ hay” 
Said his poor little mother to me to-day. 
“He smiles at me an’ says ‘Ma—I’m small!
 An’ I always thought I was awful tall!’ 
An’ he’s just as happy as he can be
 When he thinks he’s a wee boy—deary me!” 
And I said “Mrs. Cooning—now don’t you fret,
 I guess God will know how to handle him yet.”
 And she said “Well—he has been a famous man [page 82] 
In them shows!”—So—we all do the best we can.
 He’s a terrible problem to bathe and lift, 
But we’ve got it arranged, in a “double shift.”

   Bob Cooning, the giant, has come home to die 
   And the God that made him— 
   He must know why! [page 83]


THAT ugly pumpkin-coloured house 
That I saw from the train— 
I have wondered about the minds of the people inside 
But I wonder in vain. 
Did they choose that paint? 
Or perhaps it was brought them to buy— 
Of I hope now they’ve got it all done that they like it— 
And don’t just have to try. 
Oh I hope that it shines there for them 
In their sunny green fields 
Like a lantern at night— 
And I hope that on dull rainy days they both say to each other 
“Don’t it look nice and bright?” 

Oh I think I shall never forget them 
In their new-painted house! [page 84]


MY apple trees have blossomed in a night, 
And pale green moonlight bathes their rose and white 
With a strange wine that makes the pulses throb. 
A sleepy robin now mistakes the light, 
And his soft doubting note sounds like a sob 
Voicing the thought that draws my heart strings tight.


What Life could give you is not yours to take 
Nor mine to give—and yet to-night I wake 
Remembering your giving. But the note 
Of that moon-haunted robin must not shake 
My calm belief that you—austere, remote— 
Need nothing I can ever mar or make. [page 85]


THEY—the good people—heard her song 
From out of the wood that grows thick in the valley. 
She had climbed to the hill-top that rises, blue, 
Out of the wood as one comes through. 
Grass on the hill-top waving long, 
And a smooth gray stone where she kept her tally 
Of the years and the days in the wild singing wood. 
She lived her life as a virgin should 
Till the people heard her song. 
They climbed the hill and they frowned and said 
“We liked your songs that we heard in the valley. 
We don’t like that one you are singing to-day! 
It’s mad and it’s bad and it’s much too gay! 
But we’ve brought you some meat and bread,” 
Then they saw on the stone her tally,
And they shook their heads... "Look here! Look here! 
Oh it’s very very plain she is queer...mad queer!”
And they took her away on that self-same day, 
Though she fought till she lay half-dead. 
Now all she had written on the smooth gray stone 
Were the strange magic things (O the deep blue wings!) 
That happen in a wild, singing wood. 
But they said “She hasn’t lived as a virgin should... 
When she dies she shall lie on the hill for good.” 
And they laid her there, with her soft black hair 
Strained back from her dead white brow. 
“We will set at her dead for a tombstone now [page 86] 
This stone where she kept mad tally!” 
But she laughed as she sped from that hill-top bed 
And roamed through the wood and the valley... 
   “Oh wild blue wings I am free” (sang she) 
   “Now I own the singing wood and the wood owns me, 
   Oh the hill-top and the valley! 
   They gave me back my stone and they’ve left me alone... 
   I am free! I am free! I am free!” [page 87] 


THERE is something very wonderful 
In the posting of a letter— 
So few acts have the clarity of this. 
A clear-cut, forceful and far-reachin act 
Of pain or bliss, 
So it may be: 
Irrevocable in the subtlest way— 
You see? 
The post box flashes red 
A sign and seal of dominating law 
Through April green, or hard and glittering white
Of winter snow. 
One may have vacillated day and night, 
Longing to end the turmoil, stress and strain, 
Questioning what is best or wise or right— 
And then post box gleams red! 
Cutting clean through the world of indecision 
Like a shout Of triumph! 
Then a soft flat thud— 
Like tiny echo floatin out 
From a beyond of peace. 

The letter falls— 

Decisive act, prisoned in four red walls. [page 88]


Delicate lanterns, star-kindled anew, 
And a sword of silver 
Brave, shining and still... 
With roses—deep roses of crimson— 
And, sheathing the blade, 
Greek hyacinths blue. 
Ah...the treasures, the symbols, we laid 
In the deep cold mould on the hill 
With the body of you!... 
But over the mould there flew 
Something wingéd that earth could not hold— 
You!... [page 89]


BELOVED Friend, 
I write this verse to you
As if it were a letter I could send. 
It seems to me sometimes my heart slips through 
The purple barriers between us two, 
And finds again your fire, your sacred bread: 
Their warmth and wholesome sweetness... 
Fire and Bread!

Beloved, these symbols nourish Life anew... 
You are not dead! [page 90]


BLUE moth!...
Tiny, pulsating thin...
You and I met upon a rocky hill.
I paused...
You paused, and poised
Blue on a dark stone:
And all the vibrant sunshine in the world
Was caught for the sparkle
On your tiny wings...
Blue moth! [page 91]


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