The Confederation Poets
21st Jul 2014Posted in: The Confederation Poets 0

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 A Collection of Verses


[handwritten: Mrs.] FRANCES BANNERMAN

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Edinburgh: T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to Her Majesty
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All, all was yours; no word or thought
   Of best endeavour or of daily things,
But had in you its deep and secret springs,
   Whence such intarissable flow was brought
To feed my life-stream sparkling on its course,
   That it must mount high as a fountain flings
Its spray to find the level of its source.

Fair stream from out life’s very inmost heart,
   Now, where the carven channels overthrown
In wasted lands from ways of men apart,
   Where once the rose to fullest joy had grown,
In drifted sands choked and unfruitfulsinks,
   Nor ever slakes the bitter galling smart
Of desert-thirst that all its fullness drinks. [unnumbered page]

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DUSK 191
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THEY are kind, the lofty crowned old years
   That have fought and hoped and slaved through the dust,
Resting enthroned now, each with his peers,
   For they open their treasure-houses and trust
Their garnered spoil to our hand to spend,
   Hailing us sons of their age and heirs
To the grace that their pride of learning lends,
   To the glory of arms that aforetime was theirs.

But the years that are coming, the hurrying years,
   —Hark to the hoof-beats gathering loud!—
They will ride us down with our hopes and fears,
   Trampled and crushed in the driven crowd; [page 3] 
The victors they, who conquering ride
   As the Scourge of God and his hordes a-lust
For the spoil that their swords with their swords divide;
   The Way Triumphal has crimsoned dust!
Not for us are they strong and grand,
   They will shut us out when the feast is spread;
Though others sit honoured on their right hand
   They will trample our dust where we lie long dead. [page 4]



I KNOW the pale companion
   Who for my coming stays,
With pilgrim and sackcloth gown
   At crossing of the ways;
I know the cruel scourge he wields,
   I know the prayer he prays!

At close of this day’s journeying—
   All slowly though I pace—
I look to see him waiting there
   Low in the outcast’s place,
And mark how torn his bleeding feet,
   How scarred and wan his face; [page 5] 

With what fierce zeal of penitence
   The self-wrought lashes score
The back that bows, as though it long
   A grievous burden bore;—
I know him thus whom I had thrust
   A beggar from my door!

And I shall see him rising up
   My lagging steps to greet,
The sinking sun behind him casts
   His shadow to my feet;
Though I delay, it seemeth he
   Hath haste that we should meet!

So turneth he of me unbid
   All in his mean array,
To tread with looks disquieting
   Beside me on my way;
I may no longer thrust him back,
   Or ever say him nay. [page 6] 

Wild Flagellant! with me he fares
   My penance to be,
I needs must take the knotted scourge
   And staff he gives to me,
The hair-cloth garb, the bitter bread
   Till I am even as he! [page 7]


                    To stand
Aloft in the doorway of life
Looking over the land
And the strife
Of the peoples, band against band;
Horde upon horde
From the dust of their passage emerging,
That famine ever is urging,
Spread abroad
On their immemorial quest
From the East to the West.

                    To knock
At the guard of the hills,
And unlock
All the treasure that fills [page 8] 
Earth’s stores, since the shock
Rolled the stone,
And the fountains of healing were sealed,
By watching and vigils revealed
To the seeker alone.

                    To kneel
Where in sepulchred state,
In odorous chambers the long ages seal,
Lie the great,
And with bowed heart to feel
The soft rush
Of unseen and intangible wings;
Through the hush,
A far voice of mysteries sings;

                    To watch
For the glimmering spark
When the need-fires catch— [page 9] 
Borne on between the dark and the dark,
Sped from hand unto hand—
So to snatch
Light from the token’s enkindling brand,
That the glow
Of the beacons may show,
Hill to hill, land to land!

                    To send
A thought searching forth as the ray
Of a star that shall know of no end,
Till the day
When all in the culminant glory shall blend,
Or in night irremissible merge;
Thus to purge,
Thus to free from all taint
The soul groping faint,
To the far starry verge! [page 10]


WHO are they looking all so palely out
   From curtained windows closed against the day,
To watch the passing of our merry rout
   Through the thronged streets, beyond the gates, away?

How cloister-wan they look upon our train,
   Which has no need that any say ‘Be ware!’
Borne onward eager-footed to the strain
   Of pipe and tabor or the trumpet’s blare. [page 11] 

Brothers, turn not for those sick alien looks,
   Leave others to the cloister life they choose,
Check not the steed that ill such curbing brooks—
   On! or the spring of morning-hours we lose!

Back through the dusk by one, by two they come,
   For whom—since morning passed with them—we watched,
Stragglers outwearied within sight of home,
   With stumbling feet and hand that seeks the latch.

Be welcome, brothers! Pass not shamefacedly;
   It was not thus we marked you leading on,
At morning prime, a goodly company,
   So high of mien to yield the prize to none. [page 12] 

May’t please you, brothers, here with us to rest?
   For rest is good, and if you would be gay,
Hence may you see them brave it with the best
   —The others passing on their outward way! [page 13]


UNTO what end have I climbed painfully the long, steep road?
Stumbling so often to despairing halt,
Mist-dazzled and at fault
To find the path; at prick of the old goad
Once more to rise, to shoulder the old load,
And saying, ‘This once more,’ between set teeth,
With strenuous breath inheld, to strain
Up where the wrestling winds work all in vain
To clear the summits of their cloudy wreath—
Up! so I see the World and all its kingdoms spread beneath.
So close my eyes must scan the path I tread [page 14] 
Between the dangers set in a snare,
I have no backward look till on the mountain head
Outwearied, sinking down no more to dare,
I seek my recompense, to find instead
The clouds lie folded at my feet and hide
The kingdoms of the World spread fair and wide.
—Even the path of my strong proving gone!
When I would search for what lies hid below,
Of wayside things—scarce noted—there is none,
Nor any wind that brings the failing scent
Of that small crouching heath that one day lent
Its cheer upon my path to urge me on! [page 15]


WHAT do ye bear in your hands, naked hands to the world,
Ye who pass onward in silence, or banners unfurled,
Voice the wide-challenging trumpet the passage to dare,
Unto the building preordinate what one by one do ye bear?
Have your hands found aught that is worthy, found or famed?
Aught for its beauty or strength when the Building is named [page 16] 
With the name of such might yet unspoken, that each fitted stone
Shall be given voice to acclaim it in perfect atone.
Of each the tale of his labours; all of their travailing bring,
What hands naked-born of the Having unapportioned may wring,
Not one to be spared at the reckoning, unhelped if unhindered each
With the same bare palms for the hewing that none know or teach.

Some in shame of their weakness have armed them with staves,
With stone and with iron unpropitiate delver of graves, [page 17]
And gather the pride of the nations out of the dust where they fought.
And some counting strength to the weakest have cunningly wrought
Bonds by the strongest unbroken, spreading a net and a snare
To hold the striving of nations in hands unflinching and bare,
Hold till the thrat becomes guidance, and the snare of its meshes yields
Council and wisdom of elders and the strength that obedience yields.

Others—fewer the telling—secret have wrought and alone,
Delving deep for the treasure, the hidden and mystical stone,
Giver of gifts and such power once holden and proved, [page 18] 
That the heart of the people attendant to the finder is moved,
And the throbbing lies in the hollow of the hand that moulds and makes
Its lustings, its searchings, its terrors as dreams when it wakes.
From the image of Fear the Beginning—thundersent stone unhewn—
Shaping the Worship of heroes, carving the magical rune;
From bludgeoning chance withholding the blow striking blindly and wide,
Pointing where Reason abideth with laws that forever abide—
For desire of the eyes giving beauty of love that is sorrow’s mate,
And peaceful pride that fears not to meet the enemy in the gate. [page 19] 

So come ye all to the building—empty hands are there none,
Even ye unwitting of good or ill done or undone,
No less than the great who have striven, agonised, died,
That their work be established for ever—not one is denied
Place for the work of their hands, be it rough-hewn or wrought
With the subtle craft that can make it instinct with the thought—
Be it marbled fresh-quarried and virgin, or brick from the trodden clay,
Shaped and reshaped where the Cities have wantoned each in its day;
Even such as would seemingly mar and deface
The plan in its perfect proportions, for all there is place; [page 20] 
And even those who in madness would have it wrecked, overthrown,
Unknowing have laboured to raise it, should ever it stand fully grown
To beauty supreme and perfected, from base to the loftiest span,
The Building—how named in completion?—the making of man? [page 21]


FALL in! March, march!
Hark to the ring
Of the many feet as you lift to the swing
Of the shouldering start all the column’s length;
Though you choke and parch
In the front-rank’s dust,
They are your fellows, there is your trust,
There is your strength!
March, march to the deep refrain
Of the rolling tramp,
The breathings about you, the rattle and stamp,
Time the heart, fill the brain. [page 22] 
Loud and near,
Or heavy and soft in the rear
Deadened in dust as the summer rain.
     Fall out, and all’s lost!
Lost is the fellowship strong as the tide
To bear you onwards, once stand aside
And you know the cost!
Cost of dull foot and the lowered beat
Of the pulses; you choked in the dust,
Chafed in the heat,
And tramp of those who march that march must,
But now you giddily reel for need
Of the next man’s shoulder-thrust,
Of the feet that follow, the feet the lead;
     Giddily reel, and are struck
With a second sight,
Drearily,woefully clear, spectrally bright,
And you see them all go by as the ruck
Of a seeming rout, [page 23] 
The colours rank upon rank,
Where and why, crawling ant-like and lank?
If you should fall out!
Light of head, leaden-footed you watch
The far ranks close
Till the faces that pass are of those
You know no, no fellow-glance you may catch:
‘Eyes front,’ so the long line goes;—
     Goes, and you pray it may snatch
Your nightmare self back to your place,
Caught up in the dusty track
That is human, though it stifle and parch,
March, march,
Free of your second-sight, your face as each other face
‘Eyes front’ on your fellow’s back! [page 24]


THOU Good Samaritan, Pity divine,
Hast still of precious unguents a store?
Canst still with healing oil and generous wine
Bind up the wound and salve the ulcered sore,
Filling the ebbing veins with twofold life
And strength to rise when worsted in the strife?

‘What more thou spendest,’ sayest thou!
With thou indeed repay the grudging host
Of him who, when all others disavow,
Thou hast succoured, fainting by the wayside, lost,
Fallen among thieves and used despitefully;
With thou again come by in charity? [page 25]

For we have need of more, yea, bitter need,
And still the surly host, thy largess spent,
Hath us in thrall, and ever freshly bleed
The wounds thou blindest with such wise intent;
Thy simples heal not evils such as ours,
Thy oil soothes not, thy wine hath lots its powers!

Sweet human Pity, in thy tender ruth,
Wouldst thou beguile us with the salving oil
Of dear delusions in the guide of truth;
Hold out the recompense of steril toil
And sad renunciation; wouldst thou still
Pour us such wine our empty cups to fill?

To severed lives that o’er the grave’s gulf yearn,
How promised thou a triumph over time,—
To tortured flesh, eternity to earn,
Wilt thou still hold that torture not a crime? [page 26]
And though the clash of wars that may not cease
Wilt whisper still of brotherhood and peace?

If we have need!—Ah, dear Samaritan,
Come thou but swiftly to the prison inn,
Pay the discharge—if so be any can—
That from our bonds may our enlargement win,
If aught within thy scrip of coin remain;
Thy pence for such a reckoning were vain! [page 27]


BY right unclaimed we hold it without fee
   Or fist-fruit feoff, from mountains to the sea,
From sea to hill again we know no lord
   Or over-lord to serve in fealty.

And none may keep us from our heritage
   Once we are come unto our heirship age,
And none may hold us unto tithe or teen,
   Or claim our weapons as base service-gage.

Our lands lie broad for none to have or bind,
   Not in vain walls is our pleasuance confined,
Wide is our range, the outer marches hold
   No less than city bounds the good we find. [page 28] 

Masters by right of feet that go not back,
   Owners by right of hands that shall not lack,
When from the dullards cumbering the ground
   A goodly heritage we may win back.

By right of eyes to see beyond all fail
   The glory, where the clouds are free to trail
Their idle shadows on the hills, or light
   The sea with glimmer of the lost San Graile;

Through drifting blossom of the apple garth,
   Or meadows heady with the aftermath,
Through beechwoods twilight, or wherever leads
   The vagrom impulse of the burnside path.

No less than where, as from the seat of kings,
   The warring trumpet world-wide challenge flings, [page 29] 
Till wide the gate as to the master stands,
   When full and clear the answering echo rings.

Lords of ourselves and over-lords to be
   Of such dominion, spreading fair and free,
That none may give in treaty or define
   The boundaries by river or by sea. [page 30]


A SUDDEN mood of menace in the sweep
   Of passing clouds that shadow some still place—
A watchful air the brooding forests keep,
   And fateful waiting writ upon the face
Of hills that sudden unfamiliar grow,
   Will give us pause as if unwittingly
We trod with careless foot where low
   A grave untended in the grass may lie.
Then, as divining where some snare is set,
   In haste to pass the hidden danger by,
We question not for whom the unvoiced threat
   We read in presage of the earth and sky. [page 31] 

As those forwandered from the forest track,
   Turning bemazed in circles wide and vain
Through wilderness unfeatured leading back
   So surely to the starting-point again,
Stumble in sudden terror on the trace
   Of last night’s camp and scattered embers cold,
And see revealed in that deserted place
   Their own the tragedy its confines hold;—
So when the first intolerable sting
   Of grief and pain has brought us face to face
With our own fate, beyond all questioning
   And all denial well we know the place,
And know for whom the threat before divined
   Has found fulfilment, when aloof and cold
The careless skies and hills and woods aligned
   Look on the anguish of themselves foretold. [page 32]


   ‘GOOD-BYE.’ ‘Good-bye. Shall we not meet again?’
Question too light to wait an answer save when pain
Whitens a woman’s face perhaps; the question dies
Where veiling eyelids make the answer vain,
And space already in the hand-clasp lies.
          Then at the door to turn
Where lights remote in mirrored vistas burn,
A moment more to feel the rosy glow
Still hold you part of all the over-press
Of warm-breathed air, of roses drooping low, [page 33] 
Of stir of silk and satin’s changing sheen,
Of winking diamond sparks now large now less,
Where laughter-full a white throat turns to lean
Back where a man’s eyes hazard more than guess.
   But in the pause is warning not to stay—
The outer dark is kindlier than the light—
While the wine warms you still do not delay!
The door has scarcely shut you out of sight,
The crowd is just as close, the talk as gay,
And none will follow you into the night. [page 34]


I MAY not grieve when prone, trampled in mire,
All her young graces turned to mockery,
The Past lies stricken—an ill thing to see;
No hope is there in Purgatorial fire,
Nor may I see fro smoke of funeral pyre—
Rich with the savour of dear priceless things—
A future rising up on Phɶnix wings,
Less frighting than the stranger who attends
My daily faring: bare of all desire,
Unlovely, reft of the last veil that lends
The hope to find her still in something fair,
With stony eyes and writhen Gorgon hair. [page 35] 

I may not linger when the iron gate
Of the harsh Present closes on my heel;
Stern janitress is she, beyond appeal,
Who in her windy porch may not await
That feet of those who would return again;
For ever set between her sisters twain,
Bars from the Past and thrusts me forth to meet
The loathed Future, whose unwelcome feet
Shall tread by mine in many a thorny way;
Until I know, in one, the sisters three
Who all implicate rule, a loveless trinity,
And see in that worn shadow chill and grey
My yesterday, to-morrow, and to-day! [page 36]


LIFE unto Death made answer, ‘Nay, not so,’
   When his low summons whispered at the door,
Bidding her yield the house to him and go—
   ‘Nay,’ answered Life, ‘depart and come no more;
The house is mine, and dear to me each room,
   Where eager guests unto the feastings throng,
Where ev’ry morn Love’s garlands freshly bloom,
   And where the nights for joy are none too long.’

Death unto Life made answer when she cried
   So urgently his passing feet to stay
And enter where she would no more abide
   In desolation—then Death answered, ‘Nay, [page 37] 
It may not be, for that you drove me forth
   When I would crave the house, that now so chill,
Empty, and desolate is nothing worth—
   I come but at my time,—content you still!’ [page 38]

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I SAW them halt at fall of night,
   I, crouching low
Where the reek of the river-mists hung white
   Over the beds of bending rush,
      In the shallow flow
      Of the rippling ford,
Where I saw the thirsting horses push
   Their nostrils spreading broad.

And I saw how rode the enemy
   Hot on my track,
So hot he had not eyes to see
   The thing he hunted glaring back. [page 41] 
      From the osier-bed
      Where the green slime floats,
With eyes famine-fury red,
   As the hunters slaked their dusty throats!

Then through the shadows I could mark
   The leader pass
Onward first from the moment’s rest,
   And to the lingering riders hark
      As they roughly jest
      On a lad with his lass,
      In the closing dark
Ere the steep of the farther bank they breast.

So the town is closed to me now!
   To me whom men hunt;
And the pious monks their sanctified vow,
To succour the needy and wayfaring poor, [page 42]
   Must break, or they bear the brunt 
      Of the wrath of the King
      For such harbouring,
—Closed is the Sanctuary door!

Closed also the gates of the sea;
   As I starved in the cave
   Of the runagate slave—
Whom the price of the Wolf-head would free—
   Timely warning he brought,
   Each shipper was held in the port,
      None might brave
The word of the King were he balked of his sport!

Remain to me now but the hills!
   Will the gaunt grey beast [page 43]
Know his fellow whom man hunts and kills
      Without law,
   For the priced head and paw,
      Or shall the pack feast
   On the starved bones that lie
On some lonely peak in the gaze of the sky? [page 44]


AT the casement aloft there by the street’s sudden turning,
In the pure upper-air al a-throb with the chimes,
There’s a face looking out—like a pale taper burning
In sunlight—aloof from men’s sorrows and crimes.
                    ‘Ave Maria!’

‘Tis a face to whose oval the gold hair in framing
Lends a halo celestial; the flesh but a veil
For the spirit’s perfection—all your carven saints shaming
In their canopied niche—shows as ivory pale.
                    ‘Rosa Mystica!’ [page 45] 

On the street she looks down, on the town’s sordid sinning,
On the rough men-at-arms swarming out at the gate,
Mutely craving her prayers for a soul haply winning
The Heaven she’s sure of, for them all too strait!
                    ‘Plena Gracia!’

Greatly darng even that in the hot haste of sallying;
But, returning, who dare show hands stained with blood,
Or lift eyes clouded by wine-cup or dallying
To a presence as sad as the Christ on the Rood?
                    ‘Purissima!’ [page 46] 

That brow pure and virginal, unstained by the flushing
Of passion’s hot flow, to the shame-stricken heart—
Rebuking the weakness sin’s burden is crushing—
Beams remote as a star from Earth’s soilure apart.

All know her thus to their souls’ better saving;
All? Is there one in the throng passing by
Who knows of a heart life’s meed ever craving,
Who could tell of a star that may stoop from on high?
                    ‘Tour d’Ivoire!’ [page 47]


WHAT does the Sun give, Mother, little Mother?
   Manhood’s strength the great Sun gives
   Unto everything that lives,
      Daughter, little daughter,
   So thy pride be not fordone
      Beware the Sun!

What does the Moon give, Mother, little Mother?
   The pale moon gives evil thought,
   Lest thou be a maid distraught,
      Daughter, little daughter,
   More than the burning noon
      Beware the Moon! [page 48]

What do the Stars give, Mother, little Mother?
   The bright stars give magic powers
   Of good or evil hours,
      Daughter, little daughter,
   So that thy life no witch-wife mars
      Beware the Stars! [page 49]


IS it blood that has sealed your lips, O Sphinx of the West?
   Cruel delicate lips for ever at rest
Closed on the riddle unspoken, unsought, and unsolved,
On the secret passed beyond hearing as the years have revolved
Slow, while the death-feeding forest reclaiming its own
Hides and enfolds your cold altars and gods overthrown.
   So unseen we divine you, fair as your sister who gave
Grace to the Aztec nation, child of the Sun and the Wave, [page 50]
Mystic as past without future, fair with the stricken grace
Of those who perish unfruitful, last of an outworn race;
Feeding your fated beauty with the blood-drenched altar’s reek
As driven by death within you for life in death to seek.
   Well for the world that you found there death—so your riddle to read,
And passed to make room for the nations given the world in its need,
Passed in silence unbroken, leaving no story, no gift,
No treasure the seeking nations from the dust of the desert may sift.
   Fair face of inscrutable maiden—not as the Sphinx of the East. [page 51]
Lion-bodied—we guess not the form of the triple beast
Crouched on the walls cyclopean as heavy still from the feast,
When last the tall death-temples smoked to the scourging sun,
And down the glutted altars no more could the red streams run.
   Was it this of the beast within you driving you here to bide
Death in a hidden fastness foreknown as the stricken hide?
Was it that of human in you, on your passive lips a scorn
Of life, the prize of the struggling strenuous peoples unborn?
What in life was there wanting that you bowed to exalted death, [page 52]
Holding as naught the last heart-beat, the passing of breath?—
Would you answer now if the question might rouse you from rest?
‘Death will for ever prevail—exalting the strongest is best.’ [page 53]

“And Gallio cared for none of those things.”

DRIVE out the brawlers, pit them Jew for Jew,
   If ye are minded, in the outer court;
So that ye rid us of the noisy crew
   That blocks our justice-seat, take ye your sport,
The match were somewhat new!
   But I may not unto such quibbles lend
The time of weightier matters—Go,
   Ye wranglers, pray your gods may send
The light ye need, or in the courts below
   Have at each other’s throats to make an end! [page 54]

For to your questions of this name or that
   I have no answer, may not arbitrate;
In Cæsar’s name I have not vainly sat
   In judgment, on your Law to hear ye prate,
Ye Jews who idly one another rate!
   I care naught for such things, so get ye gone.
—The noisy slaves! And yet a proper man
   They haled so ruffian-like before us—one 
Maker of tents, with look of one to fan
   A people’s spark to flame.—Enough! Who next, so we be done? [page 55]


   THERE we shall find her,
The white-wife, the Alruna
In the wood of young fir-trees
Close knit for binding
The grey hills together;
Where the fir branches, stirred
By the breath of the North wind
Ring as the harp
In the hand of the Minstrel.
   No treasure close guarded
By Dragons that sleep not
Keepeth she hidden;
No spoil of the Workers
In caves of the mountain, [page 56] 
Gold harness and sword-hilt
Embossed, and the wonder-wrought
Cup for the guerdon
Of Heroes who quail not.
   Of her hands she will make us
—Held seemly and cup-wise—
A goblet for drinking
The water that ever
Wells up at her feet
From the springs of the hill-tops.
   Of her hair she will give us
Long tresses and golden
For the plaiting of bow-strings
That shall not betray us
In the meeting of heroes.
   She hath curiously carven
The Rune of All-healing,
On the stone she hath carved it
Enduring for ever; [page 57]
She will give us the Gift,
But awaiting our coming
Ofttime she hideth
Her face in the twilight
Beholden of no man! [page 58]


Guildron hangs up his sword in the Lady Chapel;
on the blade is graven:

I HAVE asked what I had not
As no beggar whining,
But as claiming my birthright;
Have been meted what I would not,
Cringing not as the base-born
Serf to the scourge of the master.
I have given unasked and unstinted,
Filling the measure of justice,
So the gift were worthy the giver
Sought not for praise or contentment.
I have taken what lay for the taking,
Fallen from the weakling [page 59]
Or wrenched from the stronger unworthy,
So the Jew and the Infidel furnish
Gifts for Our Lady victorious.
     Now I take rest! [page 60]


   THIN-LIPPED, loose-throated,
In heavy-lidden eyes that gloated
On sights to shudder from and sicken,
Blood-lust alone had power the light to quicken.
   The profile more of vulture than of eagle;
Though the brow’s arch still lends an aspect regal
To the broad mask, in life impassive
As now you see it in the marble massive.
   Blood scenting, ever sneering,
The look that passed as a hot iron searing
O’er many a doomed wretch shrinking
In all his tortured flesh,—as even in thinking [page 61] 
Such things had been, your flesh but now protested
Against so vile a thing in a like form invested,
And glad to draw a full free breath in knowing
That in the world—save for this marble’s showing—
No look meets yours so coldly, cruelly daunting
As that you leave all the chill palace haunting. [page 62]


THEY died here by the hundred, overdriven
   In galling chains that held till death unriven;
All those slaves, just so much strength for goading
   As strength of beasts to bear the cruel loading.
From busy harbour, from rich galley freighted,
   Up this steep roadway climbing heavy-weighted,
Have passed the gangs of toilers unrequired,
   Between these walls by fires of noonday whited,
Till the dazed brain and throat in anguish choking
   Had thought nor cry for any gods evoking. [page 63] 

As beasts were those who had poured rich libations
   And called in fight on gods of many nations.
Fair skins and dark, of noble birth or lowly,
   Burdened alike, lashed onwards, mounting slowly
Past town and vineyard, where the mocking vision
   Of palace marbles marked their fate’s derision,
With carven splendours and the world-sought treasure
   Their toil had gathered for the Master’s pleasure,
Whose face flashed on them from the guarded litter
   Bloated and fierce amid the jewels’ glitter.

So toiled they, hopeless, with scarce daily pittance [page 64] 
   To feed their toil till death gave tardy quittance.
Worn out and useless did one fail and falter,
   There was the cliff-side, and no whit would alter
In its fixed smile the blue sea closing over
   The broken thing its dancing ripples cover! [page 65]


AY! wag your heads and grin and stare,
   Because the dented arms I bear
And garb is other than your own,
   Nor chide the boy who picks a stone
          To take me unaware!

Mimic my speech with gibe and joke,
   With all the zest of timid folk
When safe on their own midden-heap;
   Be bold—beyond my sword-arm’s sweep—
          To mock my tattered cloak:

And bid your women—as they glance
   From shelter of their doors askance— [page 66]
Mark the strange forms and runic line
   That round my knotted arms entwine
          With scar of sword and lance.

Though naught of battle-joys you reck,
   Mark how that thrust there on the neck
Nigh sped me to Valhalla’s hall
   To feast among the Heroes all
          Straight from the stricken deck.

For what to you, stall-fatted kine,
   Is joy of sword-blade tempered fine
From blood of heroes drinking strength?
   Keen as the lightning’s leaping length
          Played this good blade of mine

Through the hot battle-mists that rise
   Blood-red before the reeling eyes; [page 67] 
Thor’s thunder! but it deeply smote,
   The shamble-decks were half afloat
          Ere we had gained the prize;

When foemen reeled in deadly grip,
   What time our dreaded Dragon-ship
Had cloven straight her south’ard path
   Over the Wild Swan’s misty Bath,
          And, strong to crush and rip,

Had sunk their galleys in the port;
   Though long the stubborn foe had fought,
Laid low by famine, plague, and drought,
   The golden city of the South
          For useless quarter sought.

What know you of such cities? Old
   O’erfilled with treasures manifold. [page 68]
Temple and palace carven fair,
   And gems, and gauds, and spices rare
          And ivory and gold!

Golden even the fruits that glow,
   Bending where pearly fountains flow,
In gardens odorous and cool,
   Where magic dreams the senses fool
          With music breathing low.

And I could wager that you deem 
   This hole of yours must wondrous seem
To a rough rover of the sea!
   I, who know well the lands that be
          To you a fabled dream.

Nor ever dreamt you of such maids;
   Nor got you on your border raids [page 69] 
Such slaves, so fair of face and limb,
   To fill your goblet to the brim
          When the soft evening fades,

With wine in draughts as long and deep
   As when the Gods their wassail keep
Ay, better Gods, I trow than they,
   Those pallid ivory Gods whose day
          Passed in a perfumed sleep,

In the dim temples, flower-hung,
   Lulled by the hymns their vestals sung
—Those maids we took to serve our feasts;
   Nor stirred they, when their craven priests
          Dead at their feet we flung.

Many the lands of Gods or King
   Were darkened by the Raven’s wing; [page 70] 
Strange lands where burning rivers flow,
   And mountains flaming through the snow
          Aloft their fires fling.

On tideless seas from fairy isles
   Comes the soft singing that beguiles
The sea-worn wanderer, where beck
   To sunken rock and sudden wreck
          The sea-maids’ luring wiles.

But I to fools all idly prate!
   —Give back there from your River-gate.
Take heed, or you too closely press,
   Of yelping curs there be some less
          The Old Sea-Wolf to bait.

And fare I forth! The world is mine
   Even where strange stars ye know not shine; [page 71] 
And shall be held my people’s trust.
   When all your lands are driven dust
          In days that I divine.

For though you mock at it, my tongue
   Is that in which the Skalds have sung,
In Sagas old and noble lays,
   The mighty deeds of ancient days
          When the great Gods were young! [page 72]


THE Signor shall see, though she turns her face
   Aside from us as we cross and meet
At the corner there, where the fine new street
   Opens out of the Market-place,
Where the fruit-stalls crowd at the statue’s feet;

You might say she was blind as the little owls
   The country-folk on their shoulders bear
With the strings of the little birds they snare,
   She has just their blind fierce look as she scowls
At the haggling gossips who turn to stare. [page 73] 

And scarce for a proper bargain will stay;
   Her basket filled, she will silent pass
The girls with their plats of esparto-grass,
   Nor even pause on a festa-day
By the showmen’s booths all gilt and glass.

And never a glance for the lads who lean
   By the fountain’s edge, though truth to say
They had rather she did not look their way,
   Or they think of a knife-blade cold and keen—
She has done with their smiles this many a day!

Why?—As I said, it is plain to see
   She bears the sign of the Bridge of Hell,
Where her eyebrows meet you may mark it well;
   It has bridged the way for the souls of three
If all is true that the gossips tell— [page 74]

For Juan held she was his alone,
   While the other came at her smile and beck,
Oh, she went gay while he risked his neck,
   Till Juan’s knife made full atone
For the gold he thought should her beauty deck.

One in his mortal sin to die—
   The Saints defend us from aught of ill!—
And one to slave in the Galley’s still;
   Oh, more than the dead on his soul must lie
The thought of her whom he could not kill!

And she? The Signor has seen how she goes
   Lonely to work and lonely to dwell;
The Signor would paint her portrait? Well,
   We can see what she says, but every one knows
‘Twere wise to keep clear of the Bridge of Hell! [page 75]


I KNOW not how or whence or why
     These things must be,
I only know that thou and I
     Must cross the sea,
Unto a far and wintry land
     Of wilds untrod,
To join the covenanted band
     Elect of God.

Leave idle joys and silken gauds,
     Leave song and lute;
The crowd that still thy beauty lauds
     May e’en be mute, [page 76] 

For unto me it is revealed—
     The burning and the shining light,
That may not rightly be concealed,
     Will show more bright
In that far land of forests dim
     Where we must fare,
Sheltered in God in serving him
     Where few would dare.

Gird up thy loins, in haste to go,
     In sober weed,
And flee the wrath to come, for so
     It is decreed! [page 77]

(Rainy weather in the Midlands)

                    ‘THAT way madness lies.’
So well he knew how dangerous the flight
Into the chill of skies still beyond skies,
Our sage so truly human that his sight
Turned from the soulless void to read aright
The human page in all its grandeur, all its vanities.
   When should we look for such another age
As that which mothered him mundane and sage,
Robust and calm beyond our fretted hopes,
That stimulate faint blood with mimic rage
And borrow all, from creeds to faith in horoscopes! [page 78] 
   A patchwork age is ours, for I find
Such phrase as ‘little knowledge is a dangerous thing’
Comes glibly to the purpose of my mind;
All’s said, and we can but the clamorous changes ring,
And strut to hide the emptiness behind!
   Not new the very discontent of us,
For have not toga’d men, and men in mail,
Builders of pyramids, lamented thus?
No doubt the self-same sorrows to bewail
Met in their caves the mn in skins and woad,
Who felt the same inexorable goad,
That time stays not for who may wince or rail!
Still would we trip up one another’s heels,
And scour the very void for some new thing—
Athenian azure heard the same appeals
For what new fortune any wind might bring! [page 79] 

                    As well I think to be
Our grumbling gardener there, with rain-wise eye,
Straightening bent back and stiff rheumatic knee
Beside his tulip-beds; space does not daunt him, it is but his sky
To bring him rain, or may be ‘blight and fly.’
   It domes, he will admit,
Perhaps as far as to the parish bounds,
—For those beyond small share of benefit!
A personal small sky it is that rounds
The earth so neatly that ‘tis not in vain
In drought or flood, when Parson shall think fit,
The parish prays for sunshine as for rain.
Our same good Parson, who just now
Bustling and cheery by the hedge went by
—Unsaddened he by the weight of priestly vow,—
Has too, good man, his lien on the sky, [page 80] 
A claim established none may disallow.
Close pressed, however, he will not deny
To others such discreetly portioned share
As may not wrong his own especial care,
Of benefits he formulates as grace;
But shows a most uncompromising face
If on a closer questioning we dare,
We rash frequenters of the outer space!
   So centred, so secure,
We well might envy his sufficiency
When of the callow lustings of the eye
There is not one which we would have endure,
Not one we claim as a world-sickness cure!
He leaves us unenlightened to suppose
His sky to be the crystal-paven floor
Of golden cities that the hymns expose
Ecstatically, where the saved souls close
Their blissful wearied wings at Heaven’s door.
   He will not traffic since we dared expound [page 81] 
Our theory we announced as newly-found,
That Christianity is built and based
On the great human principal of Self alone;
However much the meaning be defaced,
We proved it graven on the corner-stone,
And through its age-lonbg chance and changes traced
The ceaseless working of the only salt
That never loses savour—here again
A borrowed phrase,—that stirs to life the maim and halt,
Moulding, ‘tis true, with blood and tears and pain
The Christian freeman from the pagan slave.
   Grant the important of a soul to save,
At once you rise above the millions bowed
Voiceless to Fate, and find the man to brave
All for this self new-nobbled and uncowed.
What! with all the hosts of Heaven arrayed [page 82] 
To prosper its concerns triumphantly,
With nature’s forces for its furtherance stayed,
Should not this soul-self changeling of the sky
Strut in its inward greatness gloriously?
   What but such self-importance could convince
Man of his right to Heaven’s thunderbolts?
A soul at stake! a brother might not wince
From deeds of which the very thought revolts
Our nervous age, which seeks no more to turn
All in one mouold, though mother-flesh must burn!
   Though done with such ill things, mark you the glance
Our chapel-faring grocer casts askance
To blast our simple ‘sabbath-breaking’ mirth!
His sky—to run my fancying to earth—
Concerns itself with no such earthly chance
As simple harvesting or rain or dearth, [page 83] 
But is as low and grey and mercy-proof
As his own Chapel’s low grey-slated roof;
For foolish virgins of the feast and dance
We see hell-fire plain in his reproof!
   A child’s night-terrors! but we may be sure
The scourging spirit that is with us still
Lacks, happily, the power but not the will.
Such antitheses side by side endure
In this world’s wide duality to cure
What in its working each may work of ill.
   Is it this same duality that proves
Earth’s failing force beneath the chill of age?
Grown cold towards old hates as to old loves,
No more her inward fires to assuage
To icy rest slow and more slow she moves,
   —Here’s space again, but much more sure
To bring, for all the fret that cannot mend
The ages’ contraditions, certain cure,
When earth’s cold shell swings slowly to the end.  [page 84] 
Of its own exhalations purged and pure!
   —And purged therewith of life?
True; but what loss when thousand other spheres
Repeat no doubt the like long tale of strife,
Glory and baseness, splendour, toil and tears,
Made and unmade through the uncounted years?
   —Meantime the world’s a comfortable place
From which to make excursions into space,
And always something real when one comes down
To steady one into a working pace;
And Kelvin’s demonstrations coming on, I’m off to town. [page 85]

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I HAVE a thought of one seeming a Nor’land rover,
Who on such morn as this—midnight and storm gone over—
Upon this shore had seen a dizzy world returning
To its fixed course, saved by the sea’s fierce spurning,
Alone of all the horde of armed companions banded
For rapine, lost with the wrecked Long-ship stranded
Far out there on the reefs and ranks of guardian breakers;
—Crouch here among the whins to spy the inland acres [page 89]
From shifting sands and moss reclaimed by monkish tillage,
With all their fatness marked by him long since for pillage.
—Turn him at last sore spent and famine-driven
To Minster gates that, rather flamed and riven,
He looked to see for him rent wide asunder,
And the shrine’s riches fall his Bareserks’ plunder.
No need to parley, scorning mine and leaguer,
When at their name fly the pale monks and meagre,
And all the store be theirs of treasure olden,
Strange magic books in jewelled clasp, and golden
Lamps that hold still the incense’ heavy savour,
Rich broidered gear, gold cups, flagon and laver.
Grasp all, just given pause where some mild face angelic [page 90] 
Watched enshrined o’er Holy Rood or relic,
With half a doubt lest gods of monkish fable
To smite as his own Thunderer be able.

Not so he comes, of sack and feasting cheated;
Faint, comradeless, at Hospitce doors entreated
As best may seem them of their charity
Whom he had thought to smite; their serf to be
Whom he had fettered; branded and yoked to turn
The galling water-wheel and slavish quorn,
Till he forget in round of daily drudging
—A chattel fed by alien hands and grudging—
How he had sailed long since the north seas over
On spoil intent, a conquering free-born rover.

So I, storm-cast from night of deadly peril,
Alien upon life’s shores wreck-strewn and steril, [page 91] 
Alone must turn for succour, humbly craving
At Hospice doors for my bare body’s saving;
To toil, if so above my fellows serving,
Such better dole be judged to my deserving,
That I may still sometimes have heart for dreaming
Of how youth’s Fair Adventure, goodly seeming,
Launched forth, when banded comrades all equipped
Loosed the full sail, the straining cable slipped;
So that I have some scanty toil-wrung leisure
To cheat my fate with gleams of olden treasure
That we had word of, still so closely guarded
In the inviolate Sanctuary warded.
This much I crave, though with the knowledge bitter,
That, though they yield unto some other, fitter,
Never for me shall the great gates stand riven,
Never their glories to my hand be given! [page 92]


WHERE the faint sea-fires ring the sands
   A sudden fitful spark
Is struck by a silent keel that lands,
   Unsteered, unsped by rowers’ hands,
          When the waning moon is dark.

And a boat rocks there of ancient build,
   With an empty deck and an idle sail,
That far off-midnight airs had filled,
   When the landward breezes sink and fail
          And the little waves are stilled. [page 93] 

On the night floats out from the laden hold
   A scent of the spicy East,
Of treasures from many a land of old,
   And western isles where the fabled beast
          Keeps guard o’er the apples gold.

Light on the brimming tide she sways,
   And the silvered ropes are thrilled—
As the elfin harp of olden days
   That ever its magic music plays
          Untouched by a minstrel skilled.

And a voice with an untold message fraught
   Sings on and will not rest;
The sails with changeful hues enwrought
   Swell on the calm as a surcharged breast,
   And yearning strain on the world-wide quest
          Of the boon the Heroes sought. [page 94] 

Or ever the magic of that song
   Can win to a listing ear,
It wakes, with a luring spell and strong,
   The heart of youth, till one draws near,
          Where the boat has waited long;

Straightly led down the starlit strand
   Comes a foot to dare the deck,
The helm yields to the eager hand
   To steer—with never a thought of wreck,
          On the track of the hero-band.

Far on the stream of the tide’s recall,
   To those isles of mystery,
Sails the ship with steady topmasts tall,
   Led by the jewelled mockery
   Of the Ignis Fatuus of the sea,
          On the slumberous rise and fall. [page 95] 

Oh, sinks or sails the fairy bark,
   That waits by the midnight shore,
Who to the magic song should hark
   Has dreamed his dream and returns no more,
          When the waning moon is dark! [page 96] 


‘GIVE, give,’ and ever ‘give,’ goes up the cry
   Where at her gates sits Life with open hand
To all who daily throng and clamouring stand
   About her almoner; none doth she quite deny
Some dole from her immeasurable store,
   Though some bewail that, deaf to their demand,
She turns to give unto another more.
   And some would violate her house and wrest
By force of arms a prize beyond their share;
   And in the press are those who do but dare
Snatch from the weak their portion, and divest
   Their neighbour of his all when none shall heed; [page 97] 
And some, not knowing, cast aside the best
   That should have stayed them in their bitter need—
And still the beggar’s whine, that is half threat,
   Goes up from those who tread each other down,
The shameless ‘give!’ importunate to drown
   Another’s plaint who should more bounty get,
And in blind greed would utterly forbid
   The few who, asking nothing, yet
Come with their talent in a napkin hid.
   And these are they alone of all the press
Who, scorned of beggars, would their tribute bring
   Unto the feet of Life as offering,
So she may have some more grace of her largess—
   And failing, have for their reward the sight
Of the great few who high above the stress
   Have reached to crown her with the crown of light. [page 98]


PERSON from Porlock, nameless man,
   If it were known, how execrate your name!
Who to our endless loss of ‘Kubla Khan’
   Upon your dull and trivial business came,
And scattered all the golden store of dreams
   Lent by the poet’s visions of the night,
That now as Tantalus’ own torment gleams
   Elusive, but a fragment of delight;
Nor may we hear the Abyssinian maid
   Sing to her dulcimer that unknown song,
That on the poet’s sleep such glamour laid
   With spells that to the circling spheres belong, [page 99] 
To bear us with him where for ever runs
   The sacred river of tumultuous streams,
Lit by no changeful moons, no changeless suns,
   Through all the land of witchery and dreams. 

Though long in kirkyard rest is laid
   The man from Porlock, whose gross ear
Heard not the Abyssinian maid,—
   Though he is dead this many a year—
He leaves behind an endless brood
   Dull as himself, importunate—
Always too soon do they intrude,
   And always go too late! [page 100]


     BEATEN and burnished bright
     The sonorous snows spread white
A pathway untrod from the far ice-realm,
     For the Valkyrs ride to-night;
     With twanging of bows in the air,
     And flash of their shining hair
As Brynhild’s bound by the brazen helm,
     Come the war-maids fierce and fair.

     From far in the sleeping North
     Their mailed bands ride forth,
Greeting the victor, driving the craven
     Far as the fret and the froth [page 101] 
     Blown from the breath of the steed,
     Winged with the north wind’s speed,
On the Way of the Gods with star-shine paven
     Fleetest of Hymer’s breed.

     Keen as the darts of the frost
     Are the countless spear-points tost,
Keen is the sword-thrust to darkness speeding
     Those who the fight have lost;
     For heroes the splendour glows
     Afar on the crimsoned snows,
To the feast of the gods in Valhalla leading
     Where Woden his children knows. [page 102]


          FARE forth, O my song,
To the land that breathes
A cloud of incense the whole night long,
Crushed from the dancers’ jasmine wreaths,
Flooding the senses, heady and strong;
From the petals bruised by the cadenced feet,
When one spins out from the swaying rank
Of the wild-eyed music-tranced girls
Wafting the rose-scent as she twirls,
Swayed to the soft insistent beat
Of the music timing the silver clank
Heard when her anklets meet. [page 103] 

          Blend softly, my song,
With the wild refrain
Rising and falling the whole night long;
Throbbing to madness, now low again,
Only sunk to a languorous hush
When the warning clang of the temple gong
Chides to rest ere the dawn-fires flush
And the daylight hours throng. [page 104]


     As whispering voices that pass
     By the cliff through the fringes of grass,
Secret things the wind discovers,
     And the vibrant hills are as glass;
     You think to hear them ring
     To the touch of the circling wing
As the hawk on the edge of the chasm hovers
     Where never a foot may cling.

     The wash of the tideless air
     Beats up with the sea’s despair,
Beats, and sinks back with its burden weighted
     As the voice of unanswered prayer; [page 105] 
     Forbid by the hills frowning high,
     To the cold inaccessible sky
In a tongue with their common anguish freighted
     The Ages disconsolate cry.

     Since first to the winds that complain
     —Flung out in a protest as vain—
Was blent with the storms that with storms had striven,
     The voice of strong crying and pain,
     And the inarticulate earth
     In her own unappeasable dearth
Knew the gift of the Gods to her lastborn given,
     In the pang of passing and birth.

     Out of oppression and wrong,
     The weak overborn by the strong,
To the heedless gods of their own conceiving
     Crying, Lord, how long, how long? [page 106] 
     When the sword, two-edged, smote,
     The prayer from the dripping throat
Sped with the rush of the spirit’s cleaving
     Endless in space to float.

     Should they break to a clamorous shout,
     The stars in a stricken rout,
From their fixed guard at the gate of Heaven,
    Should fail and be driven out;
     And the planets that ceaseless wheel,
    From their courses break and reel,
Scattered as dust of a dead world riven
    At the sound of that clarion peal! [page 107] 


   TREES in the forest straight and tall,
      Claiming the upward way to the light,
   Gay with song and the nesting-call,
      Spreading wide in the Sun’s full sight,
Crowned with the fullness of life they court
The lusty stir of the wind’s wild sport.

   Trees in the forest all awry,
      Stunted and pale at the others’ feet,
   Deep from the sun, the dew, and the sky
      In the twilight green where the branches meet,
In the silent strife crushed out of the press
Of stems to suffer the life of the Less. [page 108]

   Trees in the forest dead and dry,
      Leafless, sapless, for nothing good
   But to rot into mould where they broken lie,
      To feed the victors that crown the wood,
—While Springs shall come and the Summers go,
Thus do the trees in the forest grow. [page 109]


FROM their lair among the rocks,
Whence long they harried hers and flocks,

The Grey Wolf and his mate are driven,
And their tawny whelps to the hounds are given;

For the King hath builded a hunting-tower,
Og the stone rough-hewn—no ladies’ bower—

In the forest shades for his kingly sport,
For he wearies of the silken court.

But the court to the forest soon must follow;
O’er Grey Wolf’s lair and wild boar’s wallow [page 110] 

Rise roof and turret and stately hall,
And frowning gates in the circling wall,

Guarding close the garnered treasure
In fair abodes of lordly pleasure.

From distant marts the merchants throng,
And sweet is the note of the trouvere’s song;

Nobles and dames at the feast are set,
And famed knights at the jousts are met;

Anointed kings at the altars bend
Of the holy faith, that their arms defend

With the strength of their hosts for war arrayed,
By Paynim leaguer undismayed.

O’er all the land the sovereign liege,
Strong against secret foe or siege, [page 111]

—Though the passing bell from the Minster-fane
Fortelleth that all life is vain—

The royal city in its pride
Seems it should evermore abide!

The Grey Wolf wakes as he scents afar
The fresh-spilled blood and the reek of war;

Ravished and torn by brother’s hate,
By plague and famine desolate,

The city lies, the gates are riven,
Bower and hall to the flames are given;

The world-famed shrine, that was ever decked
With lordly gifts, lies bare and wrecked, [page 112] 

Naught there stands in the crumbling wall
But the blackened Wolf Tower grim and tall;

And soon, the ruins all o’erthrown,
With thorns and tangled thickets grown,

—All save its name by men forgot—
In the forest shades of that desert spot,

The ancient Wolf Tower stands alone,
With the Grey Wolf’s lair on the cold hearthstone! [page 113]


Give the wind time to blow a man home,
O—ho! O—ho! O—ho!
Give the wind time to blow a man home!

    Is it time that the wind wants, time!
      Sure we have given enough,
   For our spars are crusted with rime,
      And our keels drag fouled and rough;
While we wait the wind’s good time trim and tauten the slack,
And ready all when the wind shall haul at last on the homeward tack! [page 114] 

   Give the wind time of the years,
      That drive with us round and round,
   From the port our lading clears
      To the port where we last our bound;
Must it still have time, while we lighten and load, again to come
With pratique free of every sea ere it minds to blow us home?

   We have given it time wind-bound,
      Under a shifty lea,
   Time when we could not sight nor sound
      In a berg-encumbered sea,
Time when the trailing smoke of a hull-down liner mocked
Our jack reversed, when the deals had burst our decks and the pumps were blocked. [page 115] 

   We signed for the round when we shipped
      —Shanghai’d never a man—
   And we knew, when the signals dipped
      And the pilot shoreward ran,
That the wind had the word, we must sing to reefing or crowding on,
Or, yards a-dip, all hands to strip ere ever the masts had gone.

   ‘Tis we cry ‘time!’ when it shifts
      Aback against the sun,
   Dog-dancing through the tattered drifts,
      Time to reef and run,
Ere the squall shall break and the scuppers fill,
For ‘tis sea-room then for the sailor-men and the wind may have its will! [page 116] 

   Has it no mind of how it drove
      The racing outward-bound—
   Oh, those were the days of treasure-trove
      And pearl-isles newly found!—
That strained and bilged and battered it leaves us here forgot,
In the parallel that tastes of Hell to roll and rust and rot!

   We have only the wind to trust
      —Sailing the world around,—
   If our thirsty anchor, dry with rust,
      Shall ever again hold ground,
Where it held—too long for our fancy—what time the harbour mouth
Was the gate set wide to a world untried clean new from North to South! [page 117] 

   But for all that its ways are long,
      It will not have us forget,
   And pipes an unforgotten song
      Sometimes when the watch is set,
And no one aft but the steersman: steady and free it blows;
There is naught to do but keep her true on the course that the wind best knows!

Then give the wind time to blow a man home,
O—ho! O—ho! ee—O!
Give the wind time to blow a man home!

[page 118]


MIGHT the deep woods ever hold me
   In their cool embrace,
And the grasses droop to fold me
   Hiding my still face
Far from all that has controlled me
   In some long-forgotten place!

Might the sea’s compassion take me
   On its farthest tide,
In some primal form remake me
   Where I might abide,
And no resurrection wake me
   From the depths where I would hide. [page 119] 

Best if so be I might loose me
   In the trancing snows,
Might some fatal snow-maid choose me
   Where all things repose,
Nor the endless night refuse me
   Sepulchre where no man knows!

All the fair free things that made me
   One with their deep heart,
As a friend’s hand have betrayed me,
   Leaving me no part
In the strength that long has stayed me,
   Through life’s fret and smart.

In my helplessness to leave me
   To the hands I dread,
Of my birthright to bereave me,
   Stone at foot and head
In the close-walled vault to leave me
   With the sordid dead! [page 120]


 (La Vendée)

     FAINT and far the sounds that come
     Upon the salt wind fleeting,
From the chill void of the sea-fog where the shrouded beaches end,
     Bugle-call and roll of drum
     And hiss of swords in meeting,
Charging shout and choking death-cry with the call of sea-birds blend.

     From what hosts set rank to rank,
     In curling fog-drift hidden,
Comes the clamour of the onset; whence the stress of flying feet; [page 121] 
     Of those smitten front and flank,
     Borne backwards, over-ridden
Through the trampling of the breakers in pursuit and retreat?

     What retreat from closing snare
     Can be beyond the seething
Of the foam-fret down the pebbles drawn sharply sucking back,
     When through the vapour-deadened air
     —All the sea and shore enwreathing—
Sounds the quick impatient drum-roll urging the attack?

     Silence with grim menace filled,
   Ere down the wind there follows,
Blent with the rush of unseen waves, the distant musket-roll, [page 123] 
And all the vacant cloud-world thrilled
   Through changing capes and hollows
With the chill breath of fate-laden ball sped blindly to its goal.

     Is that the waft of battle-cloud,
     Whence the fusillade had blasted
The last despairing rally to a pallid stricken rout?
     Is that the tread with terror loud
     Of wounded steed unmastered?
Is that the lilied banner, shot-riddled, streaming out?

     You look to see the fog-walks part
     To the peasant flock, man-hunted,
Who to the boats that wait them not, still vainly strive to flee, [page 123] 
     And the little band of higher heart,
     With faces all foe-fronted,
If die they must, die self-avenged beside the trait’rous sea.

     But ever as the shrill sea-wind
     Rolls back the shredded curtain,
From all the ragged sand-dunes where the reeds grow dry and few,
     The driven fog-wreaths torn and thinned
     To your doubting eye uncertain,
Show a lonely shore untrodden that the tides have swept anew.

     By tumult of the headlong flight
     The silence hangs unbroken,
No useless arms, no wreckage of the fight, bestrew the sand, [page 124] 
     To farthest foam-fringe gleaming white
     There is no sign nor token
Of those who met their fate betrayed between the sea and land.

     As on that day of whetted sword,
     That smote and gave no quarter,
The shrouding fog had hid a sight whereon no sun had shone;
     On all the sand spread fair and broad
     There is no stain of slaughter,
No trace of blood that once had fouled the beach of Quiberon. [page 125] 


   THE Juggler, prince of the Fair
By his skill, plays with his golden balls—
     Rainbow-like, red, blue, and green—
     With a knife thrown up between;
Never one of them breaks or falls
   As he keeps them playing high in air.

   Merrily—they never stop,
Like a fountain’s sparkle up and up
     To the sunshine flung.
     ‘Twould seem they hung
Just a moment, then, as to a cup
   True to his hand they drop. [page 126] 

   While we watch them all agape—
To the big drums and squeal of fife—
     Wonder will he let them down,
     He is such a skilful clown
‘Twould seem he had come to give them life
   In his motley suit and cape.

   It was never known that any fell
While the Juggler, prince of all the Fair,
     Plays with the balls of rainbow hue,
     Red and gold and blue.
And he will keep them high in air
   Just as long as he thinks well! [page 127]


IN ebb and flood from East to West
   The swinging tides that know no rest
          Call, call, call,
And deep sea-streams from West to East,
‘Up, leave your warring, mart or feast.’
The winds that blow from North to South
By harbour bar and river mouth
          Call, call, call—
With answering voice from South to North,
‘Unto the great new world come forth!’ [page 128] 

And they who heard had in their blood
   Such springs of roving hardihood
From Sea-bride and from Viking-sire,
   That answering leap to fullest flood
In pulses of their own desire.

Drawn Westward still and ever West,
   Where fabled Islands of the Blest
Ever below the sea-line lay,
   Strange portents cheered them on the quest
Of Eldorado and Cathay.

And to the sea’s low message gave
   The voice of every westering wave,
The longing of their soul to urge,
   And bid them follow on to brave
The hidden things of ocean’s verge— [page 129] 

The hidden, strange, and desperate things,
   Of which the sea-voice message brings
From shores of far mysterious lands,
   Reached only by the sea-birds’ wings,
Known but to ocean’s roving bands;—

To follow far and free as these,
   The masters of unsounded seas,
Where ‘the great Whales and Dragons’ go,
   Where plunging breakers fall and freeze
In phantasms of ice and snow,

On phantom palaces agleam
   Through mists upon the ocean-stream,
Guarding the secrets of the shore,
   If it be but a fabled dream
In shadows wrapped for evermore, [page 130]
Or show as to their inward sight
   The future they could read aright,
The savage beauty caught and tamed
   Grown mighty in the mother’s might,
The lands they sought and named.

The rivers that from East to West
   Had borne them forth upon their quest,
          Call, call, call
To the great streams from West to East,
‘Father of Rivers,’ or the least
   That flowed to slake their bitter drouth.
Storm-beaten, driven North and South—
          Cal, call, call;
And might they hear them now as then,
   Far from accepted ways of men,
          Call, call, call,
It should be given them to know [page 131] 

That these long centuries moving slow
   Had wrought their endless fame,
Where the great fleets of ocean go
   Call their undying name! [page 132]

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[blank page]


I COULD rend them all, and crush
   The red heart of every rose,
Where the love-life’s fullest flush
   In each taunting blossom glows!
Cruel, cruel seems to me
All the Summer’s bravery!

Such a wanton waste of life!
   All the strength that riots here
Hath an outrage—even as strife—
   That I would not came anear
To the dim room where he lies,
Still, enwrapped with close-sealed eyes! [page 135] 

Flowers like these can have no part
   In the calm of that low bed;
Where is stilled love’s very heart,
   Love’s own flowers may not shed
Their bright petals just unfurled
To the joyous summer world!

Scorching even the boon of tears,
   Harsh upon my eyelids burns,
All the splendour that the years
   Deck the earth with, as she turns
With her full heart brimming over
To the Sun as loved to lover.

They will give me thus to know
   How a maimed and alien thing
I for evermore must go
   Through the harvest-joys and spring,
Where no part nor lot have I
Under all the smiling sky! [page 136] 

O garden of the Earth, that was
   My Eden wheresoe’er we twain
Might through the flush of morning pass,
   And watch across the fields of grain
The dancing ripples break and run
Before the wind that backs the sun;

Or feel the evening calm exhale
   Our soul’s true essence to the stars,
In love-plaint of the nightingale
   Caged in the moonbeam’s silver bars,
In cypress alley lingering late
To hear him still entreat his mate;

Or clinging lean along the edge
   Of walls that keep a mighty name
Alive, where from the mountain’s ledge
   The voice of winds still trumpets fame,
And long for deeds of high emprise
To crown us in each other’s eyes! [page 137] 

Fair pleasaunce that was his and mine!
   No Angel with the flaming sword
Doth shut me from your dear confine
   To wander desolate abroad,
But the chill sentinel of doom
Who watches in that silent room! [page 138]


Is it that still so thinly veiled I go
   That they may see my face
—So changed beyond all that they used to know—
                    Doth but grimace?

When it would keep the trick aforetime learned
   Of answering smile to smile,
And pay the courtesy its patience earned
                    So long a while?

Is it because the life within them shrinks,
   Guessing from scars I would not have them see,
The maiming stroke, the loss that ever links
                    Two worlds in me, [page 139] 

That I can see the gulf between us set
   When I would tread their ways,
And feel the chill when hand to hand is met
                    As in old days?

So through the busy world of fret and mirth
   I follow spirit feet,
As through a show—how vain!—where Death and Birth
                    For ever meet.

And part to meet again, nor ever cease
   The while I closely hold
The hand whose clasp I never may release
                    That is so cold! [page 140]


I WOULD not, dear, you might return
   To this changed worls so grey and old,
Where no more from the headlands burn
   The beacons now for ever cold.

I would not have you know the weight
   Of ventureless long days I know,—
Ah, love, where once we used to freight
   The hours as ships that come and go

On all the tides the world around,
   To wide new lands and kingdoms old,
With treasure no more to be found,
   And goods no longer bought or sold. [page 141] 

Dearest, when first I saw the Spring
   Send the sea-swallow by your grave,
It had an added pang to wring
   Anguish from lips that could but rave

Against all nature, you being gone
   From the bright world we loved so well;
I knew not then you were the one
   —Not I—who should be left to dwell

For ever on the enchanted shore,
   Where youth and love had made our home,
Where on your dear face never more
   The change of the grey years may come;

While I should see unmeaning things
   Drift by through all the heavy years,
Till to strange shores the spent tide brings
   The ship that by no beacon steers. [page 142]


WE knew you then as one beyond
   The fretful round of petty minds,
As one whose word is as his bond,
   Whom duty’s sudden summons finds
   Full-nerved unquestioning to respond,

In high simplicity that takes
   No thought of self to strive and thrust,
But moves in quiet strength that makes
   The code of manhood’s highest trust
Which never true man breaks.

Too great the cost that shows us now
   How high the purpose of your will
In unrevolted strength could bow
   Gently in patient pain and still
Meet death with such unclouded brow! [page 143]


SPRING has no message for me this year!
   Never a note of the blackbird’s song,
From the swaying elm-tops shaken clear,
Has aught of meaning now to my car;
   The lengthening days—how long!

An oft-old tale, so it vexes me
   The stir of building each foolish nest
As the first that were built, when plain to see
Hang last year’s shreds in the very tree!
   Do they take last year’s bequest?

Buds on the branches just the same,
   With an inch of growth to make good the fall [page 144] 
Of those that furnished the Winter’s flame!
Perhaps when the fiery moment came
   Glad to be done with it once and for all!

But oh! the lilies springing to greet
   The sun just where last year’s blossoms did!
   Will they have the same perfume—God forbid!—
As those with all last year’s essence sweet,
   That died in a room of death, and hid
The dear folded hands, the dear still feet? [page 145]

[blank page]
[unnumbered page]
[blank page]


OUR love against the world! we said,
   Counting so full, so wide of scope,
The love of untried lad and maid,
   True sisterling of Fatih and Hope;
Counting so strong, so free of range,
   The callow love we sought to prove
Beyond all chance of Time and Change,
   For naught, we said, can change our love.

Sweetheart! to-day have you a smile,
   Have you a thought for what must seem
The palest phantom to beguile
   The yearning of a lad’s sick dream, [page 149] 
Beside the love that holds us now
   Strong as itself, in no way kin
To Faith in need of any vow,
   To Hope for sake of aught to win?

The very Change we so defied
   Has wrought more surely for our good,
Though stern of hand and reaching wide
   Beyond the simple arts we wooed;
And had it not to us revealed
   All we had missed, O true heart mine,
What had we known of love so sealed
   By Time and Change, deathless, divine! [page 150]


SWEET, I have lived to see you go!
And had I in those stricken moments prayed,
It had been for myself—that so,
Since all my anguish had in nowise stayed
Your going, might one mortal pang suffice
To speed me with you undelayed:
I had prayed thus, so that I die not twice.
O Love! But I live still,
And to the living must my strength apply
—Since flesh and spirit may not part at will—
As your unshaken soul gentle and steadfastly
Had taught me so to live and so to die. [page 151] 
This have I to my comforting and cheer,
That though the world stops not for such as I,
And gives to each but one true life—a year,
Perhaps a score!—it gave me that most dear,
Most courteous love, if holden worthily,
The ‘perfect love that casteth out all fear.’ [page 152]


DEAR, we were too soon met and too soon parted,
   Time was not ripe that our love should endure,
We did not know love left us still whole-hearted
   With but such gentle hurt as time might cure.

Dear, it was very sweet the while it lasted,
   The wonder of it will not come again,
Though we can smile to-day to think we fasted,
   And could from such a feasting still abstain!

Yet glad that we can still look back to cherish 
   The sober charm half sad of all young things
Untimely blossomed, which, untimely perished,
   We’d fondly grace with wafting angel-wings! [page 153] 

Whose very frailness makes us over tender
   Of weaklings that we only hold more dear;
And I, for one, could never be offender
   Of such young-hallowed things dead many a year! [page 154]


THEN you would let me go without a word,
   Without one look from those changed eyes averted
The while in silence you have heard
   From me the tale that others had perverted?
So, hug your woman’s justice to your heart,
But blame me not when you shall feel the smart!

Believe me, you are hard, armoured in youth:
   More years had helped you judge in other fashion,
Though I did wrong, perhaps, such draughts of truth
   To pour for one who at life’s wells of passion [page 155] 
To merest surface-froth had scarce set lip;
Where I so deep have drunk, you lightly sip.

Would you then rather I had made a mock
   Of simple truth, my manhood’s birthright selling;
Would rather, than that aught your taste should shock,
   Have such a death’s-head ever with us dwelling?
Though truly, to a woman, out of sight
Is out of mind—who knows but they are right!

But I know well I am too much a man,
   As such you think inclined to hold too lightly
What you call manly failings and so ban—
   But grant me to hold truth and honour rightly!
And love, the love that I would have you understand,
With truth and honour must go hand in hand! [page 156] 

But you will none of it in your young scorn;
   To me the fault now lies in the confession,
So deep my love within my soul is born
   It would have urged me to make full concession
To all the prejudice that you inherit,
And of the base surrender make a merit.

Had I not judged it baser to degrade
   The finer attributes that you discover,
And hoped you were for higher usage made
   Than to hold dear a man less man than lover!
But since of such high hopes disaster came
To cause you grief, dear child, mine be the blame!

And mine the loss and bitterness to know
   That it were better far for us and safer
To venture where the angels pause, and so
   To swallow whole Love’s consecrated wafer, [page 157] 
In firm belief that in its form may dwell
His very substance, so that all were well!

Forgive me!—But acknowledge it must make
   Parting on this wise not a little bitter
To think, as is most natural, you will take
   Into your heart some other you deem fitter,
Or who may pass as such to your contentment,
While I for ever bear your just resentment.

Now to make end! As from your life I go,
   Of all the sorrow that my haste is earning
Much is for you, though you’ll not have it so—
   You might have, had I left to ripe discerning
The love that I have dared to price too high
For your acceptance as it seems—good-bye! [page 158]


                    …LOVE still were mine,
Were Love not dead, poor little helpless Love,
Whose blood is red and sweet—ah! sweet as wine,
Staining pale lips and golden curls above
Among the scattered feasting where we sat;
—Say, was the wine too rich, too red,
And over-heady, friends, for your fine taste,
That so untimely from the feast you fled
Shrieking on justice in such pallid haste?
No need for justice, once I had seen that,
—The look between them when eyes woo and wed— [page 159] 
Justice lay in this small dagger-point—ay, and to spare
For him who lies so stiffly huddled there!
     You call me, then, an over-lavish host,
And yet you come not where still waits the cheer
I spread you of my best—I would not boast!—
Good friends, why draw you back, why peep and flee
In at the doorway garlanded for joy
And honour of Love’s coming? Friends, a toast!
Drink with me of the wine that cannot cloy.
     Fools! you do not know this vintage rare,
You do not know the suns that poured their heat
Into the living sap of vines that bear
Such fruit for crushing—so—beneath the feet,
Through tender hours you know not grown so sweet [page 160] 
To yield this joy! Out, slaves, nor ever think
To your base usage would I so defile
The wine that I will pour—a godlike drink—
For Love alone—and Love lies dead the while
With pale lips that have got so strange a smile! [page 161]


YOU to your joys as I found you unsated,
   I to the will of the world again!
The love that could hold us for ever unmated
   Is love unworthy, steril, and vain.

Should we have given our all unstinted—
   All that we had of ourselves to give,
Still would the whispering doubt have hinted
   Love must have more for its meed to live.

Give if you will, but is not receiving
   Blessed as giving from heart to heart?
Else is it all beyond mending or grieving,
   Loving unmated, we love apart! [page 162]


HEAR me, beloved, if you may
   Still through the sounding vaults of space,
Where day from night from day
   Robs something of your lingering grace:

Hear me, beloved, speak your name
   As I was used to breathe it low
When by the twilight path I came
   Unto the door we used to know.

We! where now alone I stand,
   And call your name for none to hear,
The roses droop on either hand
   As they have done since that dead year [page 163] 

When on the threshold overgrown
   With grass now rank as churchyard sod,
I drew the latch so long well known
   And took the path so often trod,

Unthinking I should ever call
   Your name unanswered low and fond.—
Ungathered roses fade and fall
   By the closed door, space lies beyond! [page 164]


THE low grey wood that cringes from the sea,
   The low grey rocks still stubborn to its scourge,
The shivering pale sands that break and flee
   As the long lashes of the sea-wind urge;—
                    All is the same, and we,
   As when we saw them first, have come to stand
Once more together, and here face to face
   Set Love between us, as we still should place
A docile hand each in his clasping hand.
                    To-day no blindfold band
Hides the changed eyes of Love between us set,
   The changed cold eyes wherein we shrinking read— [page 165] 
As we before him were for judgment met—
   The sentence of the years he has decreed.
                    Never again to lead
Our feet is pleasant places will Love turn;
   Who joined us, sunders now and bids us go,
As justicer between us high and stern,
   Our separate ways, waste for all winds to blow,
                    All waves to spurn. [page 166]


‘YOUR servant, Madam.’—‘Sir, give you good-day.’
   And each along the formal terrace-walk
Rustling and stately take their separate way,
   Where buzzing courtiers pausing in their talk
Ogle and spy, the while they bowing sway
   To favour’s breeze as poppies on the stalk.

‘Lord of my life!’—‘Thou very heart of love!’
   Close-meeting lips breathe through the folding dusk,
In that long-waited moment, when above
   Only the stars where roses shed their musk
May spy the pair, who through their Eden move
   —This is life’s fruit, all else were but the husk! [page 167]


   OH! the cup of life brimmed high
   When we drained it, you and I,
Drained, nor ever thought to find it
   Empty in our hands and dry.

   Lip to lip upon the edge,
   So we answered, pledge for pledge,
Through the rose-wreaths now so withered,
   Dead and dry as autumn’s sedge.

   Shall we no more thirsting drink
   Where the breaking bubbles wink
On the rim, no more our fingers
   Round the stem together link? [page 168] 

   Did you think to wreath again
   Garlands that in dust had lain?
Did you think to fill the goblet
   To appease your longing vain?

   Nay, sweet friend, it may not be;
   Never more for you and me
Shall be poured the wine we wasted,
   Brimming, sparkling, full and free. [page 169]


O LOVE! if it be Love may set me free
   From bars and bolts of iron circumstance,
That, wide or narrow as the cage may be,
   Is strong to hold us as in evil chance!

But Love fears not with snowy plumes and breast
   To bring forgetfulness of close-clipped wing—
So there be room to preen and brood and nest,
   Love is content behind the bars to sing! [page 170]


I KNOW one may in nowise question Love,
   Or at the word he will take quick offence,
If we should ask for miracles to prove
   His saving grace for which we are too dense;

But, dearest, let us keep with daily care
   Gentle observances as we are used,
So we have not to ask ‘Is Love still here?’
   And seeking signs and wonders be refused.

Let us from dulling usage save and tend
   Such suite and courtesies as years go by,
For Love’s contentment, so that in the end
   We lose him not for very surety! [page 171]


THROUGH the long cool meadow grasses,
   By the hillside thrilled with song,
Where the full-flushed morning passes,
   And the drowsy noon sleeps long—

Where the wistful evening lingers
   As the ebb to flow repines,
And the night with dewy fingers
   Sweeps the chords of murmuring pines:

There am I, beloved, throwing
   All my heart, my soul to these,
So you may not stand unknowing
   By the shore of alien seas— [page 172] 

All that we so loved together,
   Harbouring days that we have blessed,
Truant noons among the heather,
   Nights that held our hearts at rest—

So they may but reach you, dearest,
   Through the chance of far-off skies,
Telling you my love lies nearest
   Where your own love nestling lies. [page 173] 


WE crown you queen, and of that crown make light,
And claim you newly risen Aphrodite
From out the wastrel of the sea and shore,
Where dipping weeds and pebbles jewel-bright
Deck forth the shining limbs that gleam the more,
And bow we to the thing our hands have raised;
A jest grown sudden tragic when we find,
Among the attributes such homage praised,
One in which Love himself—whom they call blind!—
Through our light mockery such grace has found
To teach—for better worth of human kind—
That what you are may still by Love be crowned. [page 174]


No breath throughout the night, no stir of air,
In all the olive-orchard tented roof,
Woven of shadows for their safe repair,
Whence night’s innumerable small musicians trilled
Their best a moment since, now sudden stilled;
Even our nightingale to brood aloof
Forgoes his melody of sweet despair,
And silence hangs between the two great darks
Of earth and sky, as each drawn through the dewy damp
In force unknown, primal and vast and musingly
Awaits the other. Is it this moment marks [page 175] 
A pause, as it were, in the long steady tramp
Of legioned hours marching ever by?
Just made for us, as silent you and I
On terrace wall together leaning wait
What through the hushed expectancy draws nigh.

Ah, love! in shelter of my arms enfolded strait
To meet such moment manifest you did not fear!
Bowed to the hand compelling to its will,
We veil our faces, knowing love is here
In the soft breathing that enfolds us still;
Though your flushed cheek felt no cool touch of breeze
Between that unifying kiss and these,
Throughout their fruited branches interlaced
A long sigh shivered all the olive-trees;
It seemed each gnarled old trunk was braced,
Made sturdier in every ancient twist, [page 176]
As pillars of night’s precincts to resist
The grip of some blind Samson’s strength debased,
And to uphold the portal of the shrine
Touched by the passing visitant divine.

   This little moment, love, our very own,
So great, so charged with destiny was grown
Above its fellows, an especial birth
Fitting it were some portent should make known;
Too rare for loud acclaim or simple mirth,
That Earth herself must stand at, gaze, and yield
With sudden tremors her acknowledgment
Of the resistless forces it could wield.
Welding two lives indissolubly blent.

   Listen! one small musician tunes to make
Trial of what the shaken silence willed,
Until night’s orchestra takes heart to break [page 177] 
To fullest jubilation piped and shrilled,
Each of his fellow’s powers emulant,
Launching the nightingale our celebrate
Upon his triumph-song of love fulfilled! [page 178]


I WOULD have you sit as you used to do
   In the window-seat to look
Down on the square, where two and two
   Pass the students with gown and book,
And see the light touch as it used
   On the curve of your cheek and neck,
Catching a careless curl unloosed
   With a sudden golden fleck.

And I would that the harsh old lock might yield
   To my hand with its protest vain,
That you would not hear if the Carillon pealed
   Like a burst of golden rain [page 179] 
From the ancient belfry you so loved,
   For the chimes that ward all harms,—
I might reach your side ere you had moved
   And turned with a cry to my arms.

And I would—oh, I would that the heart of youth
   Might be mine again for a space,
That I might annul in very sooth
   The years that blur your face
When I try to recall your smile, your eyes,
   As they were, for now I know
That my pride had lost me so rare a prize
   In the days of long ago! [page 180]


WHEN from the meadow-side where lapped we lay
In ample vesture of the lavish Spring,
We glimpsed one passing by the woodland way
As through his own, where soft the whir of wing
And amorous song acclaimed him very king;
Strange was the look he cast, as who might say
With regal gesture, ‘Take the good I fling,
Lose not your day!’
Had I but known him, caught his meaning so
—As now I know and of the knowledge weep—
That Spring, of all to come, of all that go,
Had been our own to have, to hold, and keep,
To fill our lives with the undying glow
Of glories that through all the woodland sweep; [page 181] 
Had I but gathered when one passing by
Strewed goodly gifts that turn to ill from good,
As gathered wind-flowers fall and withered lie
To sadden all the festal-keeping wood,
—Ah! that, of all the endless Springs that brood
The years to quicken yet when life beats high,
Had been our own, ere yet the wind-flowers die,
Had we but known ‘twas Love who meant our good! [page 182]


HIS look would shame me should he but divine—
   Though he may think it makes too brave a show—
How great the cost in answering look of mine
   To beat the hot blood down, keep pulses slow.

In me all womanhood were surely shamed
   Did he once feel through all the seeming calm
The storm sweep through me when his name is named,
   The thrilled when hands meet lightly palm to palm [page 183] 

And even love through me were made a mock,
   For who is there would hold it not a jest
To sees as to a stone, a very stock,
   Such precious offerings in vain addressed!

If he himself were shamed it were not well;
   If I have read his courtesy aright,
An idle tale that careless gossips tell
   Were shame to him if working pain or slight.

Of shame my strength!—ah, weakness were more sweet!—
   To have him see in me but one aloof
From all his ways, to part still as we meet,
   Of such a strength makes daily bitter proof. [page 184]


SHE sang of Love and of Love’s sorrows seven,
   Sighing the while that he
In answer sang of Love the Gate of Heaven,
   The Crown of Life, the joyful mystery—
‘Such love,’ he sang, ‘as I shall give to thee.’

But she her lute unto her sad song blending
   —Whiles he sang joyously—
Ere of Love’s canticle they had made ending,
   Sang, smiling now, of Love’s sad mystery—
‘Such love, dear love, as thou hast given to me.’ [page 185]

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UPON the sheer cliff’s edge, as newly lit
   From tireless migrant flight, I see you stand,
Where swallows in their sharp-winged circles flit
   Come back with you to wake this northern land
From winter dreams with flash of your gold hair
   Blown out upon the deep absorbing blue,
Where the eye seeks your track through parted air
   From lands for ever old, for ever new;— [page 189] 
Might I but touch your vesture golden-starred,
   And clasp you, fresh from other lands and skies,
Though life henceforth be blind and prisoned-barred,
   I shall have known the secret of your eyes! [page 190]


THE low-swathed corn is laid about your feet,
   The low hot harvest-moon behind your head
Sheds a faint aureole, and about you meet
   Wafts of faint sleepy airs from poppies bled
By shearing sickle in the noontide heat;

And sleep, which can forget all weary things,
   Weighs down your heavy eyelids as the dew
Weighs down the velvet of the night-moth’s wings
   —Sleep that will make the morning world anew
With glamour of its half-remembered things. [page 191] 

Oh, might you lean above me as I sink
   Down at your knee, while of the sleepy breath
Of poppies all my failing senses drink,
   It should be well with me, come sleep, come death,
No more to strive, no more to hope, to think! [page 192]


YOUR veiling wimple folded maidenly
   Is white as the tall lily-buds that sway
Enclosed and scentless yet about your knee,
   As slow you pace your shaded garden-way.

From slender shoulders to the hidden feet
   In long straight folds your shrouding mantle falls;
So still you pass I think I only meet
   Your gliding shadow on the cloister walls,

But for a waft of other airs than these
   So gross of earth; I know them for your gift
Pure beyond joy, and exquisite to ease
   The heavy burden that no hand may lift. [page 193]


YOUR windows all with scarlet are alight,
   From scarlet lips your immemorial song
Draws phantom faces from the waste of night
   Out of the depths where they have slumbered long.

A thousand lights awake the sleeping gleam
   Of living jewel in the jewelled cup,
And in your eyes awakes a long-dreamt dream
   Above the countless faces gazing up.

All covetous and pale hot-eyed they gaze—
   And should you signal me from out the throng,
The cup, the kiss from lips that blind and craze,
   Were guerdon for irreparable wrong! [page 194]


RED hung the apple from the bough,
   The first-fruit of the Autumn’s yield,
Along the hill behind the plough
   The flashing starlings turned and wheeled;
And you, where the low sunshine barred
   Your cheek as with a golden stripe,
Offered a fruit unflecked, unmarred,
   As Eve’s own apple rosy-ripe,
—‘Twas mine to leave or mine to taste,
   And had I tasted, would my toil
Have garnered for the years of waste
   Some fruit with you beyond despoil? [page 195]


BACK roll the brazen gates, the trumpet rings
   To listening heaven above the prostrate crowd;
Where the long stair leads up between the wings
   Of great man-headed bulls, you stand when all are bowed.

Priestess and Queen from out the inmost shrine
   Armed and unveiled to all who dare to gaze
Upon your face beneath the helmet’s shine,
   On your mailed breast where mystic jewels blaze.

There is no blood upon your virgin spear,
   Though high your chariot wheels are splashed with red; [page 196] 
From your high throne you do not bend to hear
   The death-cry of the hosts which you have led.

Ah! choose me but to follow, though your ways
   May never lead me back as when you came,
Led by the Singers of the ancient days
   Unto the temple of the Flying Fame!

Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to Her Majesty
at the Edinburgh University Press
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[2 blank pages]

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