Annie Charlotte Dalton
The Ear Trumpet

OF THIS edition of THE EAR TRUMPET, by Annie C. Dalton, two hundred and fifty copies have been printed. This Chap-book is a product of The Ryerson Press, Toronto, Canada.

Copies of this Chap-book may be secured from The Ryerson Press, Toronto, and from the Macrae Company, Philadelphia, USA. [inside front cover]

Verses of Today

O, I WILL SHUT MY EYES.

Oh, I will shut my eyes to see the moon

Knowing that thus he ever will be there.

Insurgent senses lock your magic up,

Seal up the visual world, however fair.

Then I’ll see moons of silver gold and white,

Our fading moons escaping in their mist;

Harsh moons, red-hot, that burn into the night,

Branding the dark with unforgiving light.

I’ll shut my ear to each enticing tune

A bird may sing or streams on pebbles play;

Then in my heart such harmonies will ring

As wash the music of the world away.

I’ll seal my nostrils to each scented thought

That hides in flowered shade or sunlit prison,

Such things as these by senses can’t be bought,

Eden itself is growing in my heart.

If I were crippled, deaf and dumb and blind,

And all the colors of the world turned out,

In the grey emptiness I then would find

The answer to the riddle; sight is doubt.

Had I no eyes how clearly would I see;

Had I no ears how deeply would I hear;

Freed of all proof at last myself I’d be

Without confusion, phantasy or fear.

                               −−ELIZABETH BIBESCO.

[handwritten: Vancouver Province

                  Aug 20, 1925] [unnumbered page]

The RYERSON
POETRY
CHAP-BOOKS

The Ear Trumpet

By Annie C. Dalton

Author of The Marriage Music, Flame and Adventure, etc.

***

THE EAR TRUMPET

EDITH SITWELL

Made a solo

of her auntie,

her rich auntie

and her trumpet,

such a trumpet

as old ladies

give to stranger-

folk to blow in.

Down the trumpet

scornful Edith

sang and chortled

her fine solo

of the Judgement-

day, and crack of

DOOM . . . [page 1]

Auntie prattled

of her boy-scouts,

Edith roaring

of the Judgement-

day, still roaring

down the trumpet—

Some day Edith,

too, may need one.

How she’ll shiver

when she knows it

thinking of that

scornful solo,

thinking of the

Day of Judgement;

of the solo,

of her laughter;

of her laughter

and the trumpet;

of HER dreadful,

dreadful trumpet

and the crashing

Trump of Doom!

Foolish, foolish

Edith Siwell

sang a solo

of her auntie,

her rich auntie,

and her trumpet,

such a trumpet

as old ladies

give to stranger-folk

to blow in.

***

TO ELIZABETH BIBESCO

OPEN thine eyes and gloat upon the moon,

Now, whilst thou canst lest he no more be there;

Open thine eyes and drink the magic up,

The magic of this world so good and fair. [page 2]

Oh, speak not of those spectral livid moons,

Of fading moons escaping in their mist,

Red moons, brain-burning through the lurid night,

Searing the mused and hapless exorcist.

Shut not thine ears to each enticing tune,

Lest no bird sing, nor stream on pebble play,

Lest in thy heart such deviltries should ring

As drench and wash thy earth and heaven away.

Seal not thy nostrils to each scented thought

That hides in flowered shade, or sunlit prison,

Oh, lovely things by senses can be bought;

On perfume souls to Eden have arisen.

If thou wert crippled, deaf and dumb, and blind,

With all the odours of the world turned out,

In that grey emptiness thou then shouldst find

No answer to life’s riddle, do no doubt.

Hadst though no eyes, how dimly wouldst thou see;

Hadst thou no ears, how dully wouldst thou hear,

Straining to hold thy waning self, to be

Lost in confusion, phantasy and fear.

Vain as thy moons the words which thou hast said,

Frail as thy moons this fancy thou hast spyn,

Nought canst thou know of Living-Death – his dead

Salute and pardon thee, mistaken one!

Ah! could we now but hear as thou canst hear—

And if we could but see as thou canst see—

And if we too could run as thou canst run—

How very far from Hades we would flee!

In austere beauty lives thy lovely song,

(Unholily so wed to barren untruth)

Mournful and sweet, that beauty aches, we long

For our lost usage, splendour, power and youth. [page 3]

TO VIOLA MEYNELL

I

WE WERE just saying—I had not thought

That anyone so moving tale could tell

Of those experiences too dearly bought,

That on them knowing hearts should care to dwell.

We were just saying—Have you thus said

With kindly gesture to a bursting heart?

Have you? . . . Then blessing be upon your head!

Like Mary, you have chosen the loving part.

We were just saying—Was that kind word

Once said to you waiting in silent pain?

And did you know the joy of hope deferred—

The joy of having some dear soul explain?

We were just saying—O simple thing!

But, ’tis the simple things that make life glad;

Deaf though the ears, birds in the heart can sing,

Thrice deafened are the ears when the heart is sad.

We were just saying—Strange tale well told—

How many hearts will bless the loving thought?

How many callous ones will fear the bold

Light, you have thrown the havoc they have wrought.

II

They were just saying

But you I may not tell,

’Tis such a dreadful story

It must have been thought out in hell.

The story of your father—

Who died;

The story of your mother too—

A guiltless homicide;

And you sit there in innocence,

In semi-silence, trustful ignorance,

The misery unheard!

Oh, not by a word,

Or even a glance

Of mine, must pass

To you . . .  [page 4]

This frightful tragedy that was

Of one, the slain, and one that slew,

Two lovers to each other true.

They were just saying

Nay! but those innocent eyes,

So eloquently praying

To share the eagerness, the great surprise

Upon their animated faces,

Pierce to my very heat—Ah! what sweet lies

Shall I call up to fill the places

Of those grim tales, so grossly nurtured, vile?

Dear lady with the wistful smile!

Ask me no more what the tart tongues say—

Cold, evil spite their speech debases,

And I—I can but pray,

 “Ask me no more!”

Hot is my heart and sore,

Pure is the air without the door, . . .

Ah! come away,

The very furniture grimaces!

***

MARIE BASHKIRTSEFF SAID—

MARIE BASKIRTSEFF said,

(From some dim place she said)
So many years I have been dead

To this dull world, and still

Good folks are saying with a will,

“Surely Marie was past praying for.”

Or

“She is wilful, she is wild,

Half a savage, half a child.”

“In such a year,” they say,

“She threw all decency away,

So and so, thus and thus;

Credulous and mutinous,

Calamitous and amorous,

Were the things she gloried in:”

All their humour turned to gall,

One and all

On my reputation fall,

And smack their lips on storied sin. [page 5]

“Farrago!

Snobbish and selfish farrago!”

That is their name for thee,

Belovèd diary!

Come, let us make enquiry,

Is that all the Philistines can know?

Then let the true and tragic tale begin,

Of that and this,

Right well I wis,

None ever heard

These say a word.

Of this, the horror that I knew,

The serpent grief that coiled and threw

Its small, glittering eyes on me,

Green and snaky eyes that held

All my will, and me compelled

To the numbing misery

Of some fascinated bird—

Of all this,

Well I wis—

Never a word!

Of this, the hooded snake that drew

And watched me circle round and round,

Of how I fluttered, fell, and flew

Frantic spaces from the ground;

Of the singing in my ears,

Hideous clamour, mocking jeers,

Of the devastating fears,

Dear and familiar things unheard,

Of the awful hope deferred—

Oh, well I wis

Of all this—

Never a word!

Of the hidden, dull despair,

Of the grievous lassitude,

Of the crowning horror where

Blossomed love and plenitude;

Of the odious, choking shame,

Dissimulation, anger, blame,

Embarrassment, I overcame,

Of ridicule, mistakes absurd,

Of all this,

Well I wis—

Not a word! [page 6]

Of all this anguish borne in secret,

Loss of trust in God and man,

Of the great ambition shattered,

Budding hope and darling plan;

Of the soundless wind and rain

Beating on the window-pane;

Of the unturths told in vain;

Of the voiceless bird and beast,

Of the songless, laughless feast,

Of the mind to madness spurred,

Never a word!

Of life’s last keen extremity,

Fear of laughter, fear of pity,

Of the death that would not smite,

Of my heart pierced-uncontrite,

Living, thrilling, mad-to-live,

Quick, ceremented, splenitive,

Broken heart!

Of my youth so over-yeared,

Of all this,

Too well I wis,

Not a word . . .

Ah! never a word. [page 7]

NOTES

  1. “The Ear-Trumpet,” an answer to the poem, “Solo for Ear-Trumpet,” by Edith Sitwell, in “Modern British Poetry,” by Louis Untermeyer.—Harcourt, Brace & Co.
  2. “To Elizabeth Bibesco,” a parody on her poem, “O, I will shut my eyes.”
  3. “To Viola Meynell,” a poem in two parts; the first one addressed to the author of a striking short story, entitled “We Were Just Saying,” illustrates that phrase, with which a thoughtful person usually begins an explanation of a conversation to one who is partially deaf, and which is always so welcome and productive of delight.

The second half of the poem portrays the thoughtlessness with which people so often discuss the affairs of the deafened in their presence.

The story is included in Mrs. Meynell’s book, “Young Mrs. Cruse.”—Harcourt, Brace & Co.

  1. “Marie Bashkirtseff said:” A protest against the action of her reviewers, who, whilst criticizing her conduct severely, usually omit the agony of her growing deafness, and the remarkable account which she gives of it – the most poignant and comprehensive description of partial deafness ever written. [page 8] 

[inside back cover]

THE
RYERSON POETRY
CHAP-BOOKS

Lorne Pierce—Editor

 The Ryerson Press believes that lovers of poetry care more for poetry of high quality than for costly bindings.

¶ Furthermore, we believe that the cause of Canadian poetry can best be served by enabling the author more frequently to reach his audience.

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By Annie C. Dalton.

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