Annie Charlotte Dalton
The Amber-Riders

The Amber-Riders

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The Amber-Riders

AND OTHER POEMS

by

ANNIE CHARLOTTE DALTON

AUTHOR OF

“THE MARRIAGE OF MUSIC,” “FLAME AND

ADVENTURE,” “THE SILENTT ZONE,” ETC.

[illustration]

THE RYERSON PRESS

TORONTO

1929

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OF THIS edition of “The

Amber Riders,” by Annie

Charlotte Dalton, two hundred

and fifty copies have

been printed, of which two

hundred and twenty-five are

for sale.

This is number 178.

COPYRIGHT, CANADA, 1929, BY

ANNIE CHARLOTTE DALTON

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AUTHOR’S NOTE

A FEW of the following poems were inspired by some of the eminent priests and men of letters who took a striking part in the late discussion of the question, “Where are the Dead?” which appeared in the columns of the “Daily News and Westminster Gazette” and was afterwards published in book form by Cassells & Co., Limited.

     With due deference to the exigencies of poetry, only portions of each article could be used; but, where-ever possible, some of the original phrases are included in the poems. At all times the spirit and meaning have been scrupulously studied and preserved with the reservation, that the various ideas have, inevitably, been described as they appear to the author of this book, and not perhaps as they were intended to be set forth by the several protagonists.

     Mind speaks to mind, but how little of the original message goes from one to the other, and again, how very much more is sometimes perceived than was consciously intended.

     Because of this, no names have been appended, but the poems in question are each distinguished by an asterisk.

     The remainder are altogether original, or rather they are as original in thought as any poems can be [unnumbered page] when the poet draws upon “a reservoir of experience very much larger than his own.”

     Amber, by the ancients, was supposed to be an emblem of immortality. Its origin is too well known to require any comment here. Much of it is of the Tertiary age.

     In explanation of the title, “Amber-Riders,” a few notes have been borrowed from Dr. O. C. Farrington’s little brochure on “Amber.” Our word, ‘electricity’ comes from the Greek word elektron which was the Greek name for amber. Amber was one of the first minerals in which electrical properties were noted.

     The Sicilian amber which is washed up by the sea like the Prussian, has a beautiful fluorescence, blood-red and chrysolite-green being not uncommon.

     In marshy regions men on horseback called amber-riders, follow the out-going tide in search of the yellow gum. It is often found entangled in seaweed and nets are sometimes used; it is also searched for by divers to some extent.

     From time immemorial amber has been cast upon the sea-shore and has afforded a livelihood to coast-dwellers.

     The poems are roughly arranged in the order of their size, as beads are threaded upon a string. Two or three have been taken from books now out of print.

A. C. D.

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CONTENTS

PAGE

Author’s Note

The Amber-Riders

3

The Kingdom

9

The Cloud

10

God is

11

Feel Not Dismay

12

A Solitary Bird

13

Life and Death

14

Now

15

Nasturtiums

16

The Child Heart

17

Ever On The Wing

18

Hidden Rivers

19

Intimacy

20

Life’s One Long Battle

21

Remembrance

22

The Riddle

23

The Highway

24

Goat’s Heart

25

Expectancy

26

The Quiet House

28

The Question

30

Shipwreck in Heaven

32

Apparition

34

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Many Mansions

36

To Margarette

38

Diffidence

40

The Palimpsest

42

God and Dragon

45

All Souls’ Day

48

Christ and Apollo

52

Reverie

57

Ballad of Sick Men

63

Cradles of Shadow

67

Intuition

70

The Morning Light

73

The Inn

75

Flood and Adventure

77

Acquiescence

79

The Song-Peddlers

82

To Emily Bronte

84

The Motorist

86

The Dragon-Fly

88

Springtime

90

Where are the Dead

91

Transfiguration

92

Holiday and Term

93

Mystery

94

In a Far Country

95

Shacks

96

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The Golden Age

97

Treasure-Trove

98

To a Child Asleep

99

Little Houses

100

I am a Nun

101

The Pessimist

102

Town-Lovers

103

The Song

104

Out of Work

105

The Candle

106

The Bird-House

107

Destiny

108

Appendix

109

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The Amber-Riders

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The Amber-Riders

I.

ONCE on a time, blown seeds of pine lay dreaming,

Burgeoning from infant pride to soaring trees;

Now their spilled gums from marsh and surf are gleaming,

Ride, ride, O amber-riders! to the seas.

II.

Follow—oh, haste—the wide retreating ocean,

Watch when the loath, tormented billows come;

Scanning with eager glance the white commotion,

Snatch from the thin, spent wave the amber gum.

III.

There, in the glimmering sea-stone, scarlet fire,

Sicilian fire or colder Baltic, hides;

Tells how that forest’s lambent cool desire

Smouldered unquenched beneath warm Tertiary Tides. [page 3]

IV.

Well, ah how well! wise Hellas knew and early

Found in crude childlike ways the electric spark;

Rubbing old silk with amber knew as nearly

As we who still are pondering in the dark.

V

Bees caught in glancing amber give remembrance

Of flowers, and honey made one summer’s day;

Tree, flower and honey-bee, all live in semblance,

But they—we still are pondering—where are they?

VI

Bright, bright, the immemorial fires are glowing,

Fluorescent still though trees and bees have died,

And what the mystic fires are, there’s no knowing,

But ride, O amber-hunters, seekers, ride!

VII

Even as you follow this retrieving ocean,

Searching lush weeds for fossils of a tree,

So do we ride with patience and emotion—

Riding, all riding to the Immortal Sea. [page 4]

VIII

Oh, when our amber-riding days seem over,

And we embark upon that darkening main,

What brighter worlds, what seas we shall discover,

Riding each amber beach and beach again! [page 5]

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Beads of Amber

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THE KINGDOM

THINE is the Kingdom which is my body,

Thine is the Power which is my soul,

Thine is the glory which is my spirit;

In the Kingdom of Man

Is the Kingdom of Heaven. [page 9]

THE CLOUD

THE cloud is a gift from the ocean,

In light, unhurrying motion,

        To water-course and tree;

And “the little stream becomes a river,”

And the gift is rendered again to the Giver,

      To the wide, unperishing Sea. [page 10]

GOD IS

ONCE on a time I heard men say,

“God IS.”  I made a God of clay

After their pattern and they broke

My God to pieces ere He spoke.

Yet none shall cry me, “Ichabod!

The veil is rent, thou hast no God.”

Myself hath heard, myself hath seen

His glory—let none come between. [page 11]

FEEL NOT DISMAY

        Feel not dismay

For that you cannot prove,

Your dead are living, they

Are in the hands of Love.

        When endeth all,

The sudden stars above,

Our reeling spirits fall

Into the lap of Love. [page 12]

A SOLITARY BIRD

A SOLITARY bird

Against the morning sky,

Of all things seen and heard,

None lifts the thoughts so high.

Oh, in that bird unknown,

Breasting the waves of light,

My soul foresees her own

Triumphant flight. [page 13]

LIFE AND DEATH

I ASK of Life one little boon,

’Tis this, that she would spare

The dainty beauty of my dreams,

They grow so very fair.

I ask of Death no boon, nor crave

Redemption from his schemes,

I know his dusky galleons guard

The homeland of my dreams. [page 14]

NOW

THIS is the hour and this the place

Our God hath chosen to show His face;

With sudden splendour, rare surprise,

To startle our dream-wearied eyes.

The chosen hour! the chosen place!

We cannot bear such blinding grace,

But trembling hold a burial dress

Before His lovely nakedness. [page 15]

NASTURTIUMS

CLARE brought me incense—

Aroma for the gods,

Scarlet and gold nasturtiums,

Fragrant flames;

Scented as spice of Araby,

Pungent and sweet,

What light intoxicates their amber frames!

Dearest of flowers! so beautiful, so droll—

Pondering, I know you for

The essence of her soul. [page 16]

THE CHILD-HEART

WHERE is she now?—

He who the child-heart shields,

Has taken her out to open fields,

To see His clouds, to hear His birds,

And to converse with flocks and herds.

There, a dull child put back to simpler things,

With joy she grows her infant wings;

For she who fought lean years with witless pain

And never grew, is home again. [page 17]

EVER ON THE WING

I AM a bee—a lover of the Sun—

A wilding bee and ever on the wing;

I build my mossy dome upon the dun

Warm earth in fresh young spring;

And though I fly above the garden fence,

And suck the garden’s sweetest sense,

No gardener shall my free soul shrive,

Nor draw me to his narrow hive,

While clover white and clover red,

Dainty bee-pastures round me spread;

While foliage of the tulip tree

Holds unctuous honey-dew for me,

And amber honey drowns regrets

In purple hearts of violets. [page 18]

HIDDEN RIVERS

BRIGHT streams which never reach the sea,

Rivers which plunge into eternal night,

Mysterious is your hidden journey’s end,

Unknown the sum of your delight.

What lonely Himalayan lake

By you is fed?   What seeming humble powers

Have you, which cleave the soaring mountain’s head,

And shake apart its toppling tower? [page 19]

INTIMACY

THIS is the place of which she spoke so seldom,

But here, I know, she spent her earlier days;

This is the house, perchance, that once she lived in,

And often had she walked these pleasant ways.

These are the streets where once she did her shopping,

Pure was her taste, unerring was her eye,

Such love she had for all things rich and human;

Great was her spirit when she came to die.

This place—it is not all I once imagined;

Seeing it now, I know not what I sought;

But sweet, ah sweet, her presence here, her magic—

I am surrounded by her love and thought. [page 20]

LIFE’S ONE LONG BATTLE

LIFE’S one long battle with reluctant flesh.

The soul, defied, in grim disease’s mesh,

Flutters and tears and breaks that mesh in vain—

Life’s one long battle with victorious pain,

And in the darkest hour weak love will say,

“Thy Lord, who loveth, takes thy health away.”

But I, who know the truth far better, cry,

“Nay, God is Love, and thou, false love, doth lie.”

How should He make a bright and musicked world

To house the deaf, the blind, the pain up-curled?

These, the half-born, let love and law respect,

But never, never crown them God’s elect;

The chosen of His heart are pure and whole,

As fair in body as divine in soul. [page 21]

REMEMBRANCE

A LITTLE path across a field

The springs of joy and grief unsealed—

It was so long since I had seen

A path so strait through fields so green.

A tiny path once used to lead

About a rolling wind-swept mead,

And right into a shady wood

Where bluebells loosened their fragrant flood,

And cloudless skies looked down into

A million other eyes of blue.

Had I not walked alone that day

I must have missed that little wat,

The tiny dreaming path which told

So ardently of days of old. [page 22]

THE RIDDLE

AS one may read some wonted word

In straitened sense of having erred,

And hesitating, pause to gaze

And spell the letters in amaze—

Or doubtful how the word should look,

Consult a safe and learned book,

Or ask some near familiar friend

The unfamiliar to amend;

So looking at your conduct strange,

I miss our cordial interchange,

And doubting ask, “Then whose the fault

That friendship thus should come to halt,

Do I mis-read or you mis-spell—

Who shall the truthful answer tell?

Or what the grave authorities

May settle which the true word is?” [page 23]

THE HIGHWAY

THE coach is at the door

And I shall soon depart,

’Tis good to fear no more

All that is in my heart.

’Tis good to be alive,

On God’s highway to go,

To care not to arrive

Loving the journey so.

With joy god-speed I make,

With laughter pay my toll,

No highwayman may take

The scrip which is my soul.

At every wayside inn,

I find his loving care,

Who did my jaunts begin

And meets me everywhere. [page 24]

GOAT’S HEART

     When a wild sheep is near to death, it descends to the shelter of a wooded valley and there awaits the end. The wild goat of the Rockies…is content too lie down and sleep forevermore…on the upland solitudes of his beloved hills.—Dan McGowan.

        Like a battening sheep, many days

        I would graze;

With my wandering heart upon the hill

        Took my fill,

        Broke my will,

In the mean and pleasant pasturing maze.

Aching for my heart on the hill.

        Limp and still,

Like a mountain sheep’s my body lies;

        Lying, dies;

        Dying, cries,

“But thy heart—it shall die on the hill.

        With the flying goat it shall leap

        Up the steep,

Panting, it shall breathe that upland air,

        Cold and rare,

        Waiting there

For the next supreme adventure of sheep.” [page 25]

EXPECTANCY

DEEPER than any sky,

Broader than any sea,

This ever-ruling ‘I’,

        This mystic ‘me.’

I shall not need a home,

Space will not hamper me,

When I go hence and roam

        Infinity.

I shall come face to face

(All that is best in me)

With love, divinest grace,

        And purity.

God will not me offend,

Intolerably bright,

For Christ through me will send

        His own sweet Light. [page 26]

I have communion now,

God’s spirit is in me;

With reverent love I bow

        To Mystery.

The Mystery—when I die,

No matter where I be,

That I shall still be I

        As He is He. [page 27]

THE QUIET HOUSE

THE boys are at home from school,

I can hear them in the street;

All day long in the heat and cool

        Their eager restless feet,

        To and fro, to and fro!

The boys are at home from school,

All have come home but ours;

With treasured toy and tool

They fill the happy hours,

But our boys’ feet have gone

From playing-field and street,

And silence broods upon

This quiet house—each neat,

Unruffled bed, each tidy room

Aches with a tense, intolerable gloom.

Oh, in my dreams I hear,

In sweet day-dreams I see

Our happy children playing near

As once they used to be.

God!—if to us no more [page 28]

Come eager running feet,

Guide them to Thine own door,

Along Thy pleasant street.

Oh, guide with love beyond

The best love we have given,

Bring them awhile, dear God, lest they despond,

To the playing-fields of Heaven. [page 29]

THE QUESTION

DEATH is the end of all,” one cried sincerely.

Or ever the echoes of his voice gave pause,

Came broken answers, pitifully, clearly,

Doubting his right to promulgate his cause.

And some who scorned the sounds of wrath and wailing,

Said from the depths of their own strange dismay:

“Such utterance is false and unavailing.

But if the dead do live—oh, where are they?

Where are the dead?  And none may call it foolish

To urge this question to all men supreme;

Nor may the wise and careful call them ghoulish

Who search old graves to solve an empty dream.

The modern spirit-waker, greatly daring,

Claims at a word to call from the abyss,

The single soul through time and space far-faring—

What torture does he leave, what ancient bliss? [page 30]

Is there no spot where mighty hosts assemble

Between our universe’s sundering poles?

Is there no spot to which with hands that tremble,

We point and say, “There live the dead men’s souls?”

Oh, you who think to hold the curse and blessing

Of God to loose or grant, what fit reply

Have you for us whose hearts are faint with guessing?

Where are our dead? we ask, as they we die.” [page 31]

SHIPWRECK IN HEAVEN

WHERE are the great gondolas and the gods,

Who once so sweetly plied from star to star,

Skimming the aerial seas with mighty helmsmen?

Curious, they leaned to men, they struck the bar—

There is shipwreck in heaven.

Where are the golden argosies that brought

Spices and balm and linens white to us?

Where are the peacocks and the apes the helmsmen

Stole from the magic isles, from ports of Zeus?

There is a shipwreck in heaven.

Where are the Nautilus-skiffs whose fragile sails

Furled mid the rushes of the back-set streams,

Waited the will and dance of fairy helmsmen—

Bright was the sward with other-worldly gleams?

There is a shipwreck in heaven. [page 32]

We are the wreckers, smoking are our hills,

We have built false beacons n our treacherous shore:

We have swept heaven’s seas, we have drowned the mighty helmsmen,

And the gods and the fairies come sailing no more;

There is shipwreck in heaven.

Sole mariner of its broad and shipless seas,

One god still rides above the sinister bar;

Hourly Death lands and takes with haughty helmsmen,

Dark, dark revenges for each helm and spar,

For the shipwrecks in heaven. [page 33]

APPARITION

MY SOUL, why lingerest thou?  The day

With all its pride and whims is past;

The gustful wind whirls night away,

The bullying rain beats thick and fast.

The streets grow wide, the lonely lamps

Companionship the lonely pools;

And down this church-door’s streaming clamps,

One grinning gargoyle lonelier drools.

Night’s noise and pageantry are gone,

And from yon lean and ghostly tower,

The wan-faced clock is booming ‘One!’

And lonely, lonely is the hour.

The village sleeps, yet hark! the hum

Of plaintive voices shunning sound,

And down the streets frail shadows come,

Walking their stolen nightly round. [page 34]

Their floating garments dim each light,

The rain-slit darkness veils their shame,

From each eye-socket’s emptied sight,

Flashes a strange and greenish flame.

No other torch have they—what gleam

Could light so well the wandering soul

Whose shuddering nights no dawns redeem,

Who strolls these streets on hell’s parole?

Glide on, glide on, pale revellers!

How silent seem your revelling

An yet the reaming village stirs

And trembles at some unknown thing. [page 35]

MANY MANSIONS

SOME would take the road

Following after God;

Some would hide in graves—

Weary, worn-out slaves!

Some are not so bright,

Some are not so brave,

Whither do these go

Their dear souls to save?

        “In my Father’s House—

        In their Father’s House

        Are many mansions.”

Some to Avalon

Many years are gone,

Some to Balder’s place,

Some to Allah’s grace.

Some are not so safe,

Some are not so sure,

Whither do these go

Their wan souls to cure?

        “In My Father’s House—

        In their Father’s House

        Are many mansions.” [page 36]

All that I can see

(Dread infinity)

All that I can guess

(Quickening loveliness)

Lies, a moonless sea

Full of light and foam,

In that dwindling isle

Hides the wanderer’s home?

        “In your Father’s House—

        In our Father’s House

        Are many Mansions.” [page 37]

TO MARGARETTE

I SAID,

“Is it well with him who left us lately?”

And one answered, “It is well,”

Sedately;

And even then his foot was on the stair

That led him to his rest,

She unaware

The darling guest

Would need her, loving ministrant, no more;

Even then he had his hand upon a Door,

Which, hospitable as hers, was ever on the latch

For him who had no hearthstone of his own

Save in the hearts of those who knew his match

Was matchless; he alone

Brought with him that clear atmosphere of joy,

The wisdom of a man shot puckishly; a boy

Still unafraid of life, a giant elf,

No humourless shadow of himself.

Was he, when he went from us;

The wistful jest, the merry quip,

Still hovering at his lip,

No murmur dolorous. [page 38]

He was a king who had no need

To carry with him scrip and screed;

A wizard whose sweet incantations

Gave joy and healing to the nations;

A friend whose heart, a noble shrine,

Harboured all thoughts and things divine,

And wrought within its compass worlds of beauty.

Ah, Margarette—

Ah, that we could pass

So with a smile up to that Garden Gate,

Where all the poets’ fairies wait;

Into that Garden Wild

Where fragrant blossoms strew their frail confetti;

And, turning at the Open Door,

Meet with a jest, a king of love and song once more. [page 39]

DIFFIDENCE

WHERE are the dead? With calm and level eyes,

The man of science sweeps the unanswering skies

And from his high, serene appraisal of man,

Essays the dumb Creator’s hidden plan.

With diffidence he speaks; humility

Tempers his judgement, crops his hope, and he

Speaks as he knows the truth—let no one dare

To hint of scorn or scepticism there.

“Life after death” he cries, “in ancient times

Was but the pallid eve of shadowy climes;

To-day men ask a greater boon than this,

They must survive, and so survive in bliss.

And, thus surviving they must be aware

Of full existence; others smiling dare

To say that death is all; and some, the verge

Of death is greater Life—in It we merge.

Where are the dead? We do not know and still

We fit a fond belief each to his will,

But seldom do we earnestly reflect

On what we really wish for, what expect. [page 40]

The tale our bodies tell binds fast the soul,

For mind and body do but halve the whole;

And when the body’s beauty falls away,

The beauty of the soul is, too, but clay.

Again: Are we immortal? Then must be

The newt, the worm, the jelly-fish, and we

Cannot but smile to think that these must share

(So evolution says) our Heavenly Fare.

Like some electric current works the mind,

In every change of matter do we find

Electric change, why should not thought and feeling

So spring to life and through the world be stealing?

So spring to life, to wander throughout space,

Wandering, loose patterns, in a fruitless chase,

And meeting naught to strike the electric spark,

Stream to life’s Spirit Pool, the unknown Dark?

This is to me the truth—not that I know

How, whither, why, the electric spirits go;

’Tis harder now to think of Heaven as such,

Man has grown up, is wise, and knows too much. [page 41]

THE PALIMPSEST

AGES ago, God wrote “I AM” in flaming script:

“I AM” an oriflamme

Whose sudden splendour smote the primal dark;

The startled mountains from their moorings slipped,

The sea grew chill and stark.

The man looked up and stayed His Hand

Like one, who loving ease, is irked and galled;

Making some pert and petulant demand,

He plucked the falling pen and slowly scrawled

(As humouring a child, God stood apart)

Over that great “I AM”—“Thou art”—

Over the great “I AM” he scrawled

The pot-hooks and the strokes he called

Magic, and vision:

Fantastic word and number too, he chose,

The new and cryptic language to transpose.

Till from his weary mind and heart arose

A slow derision.

Still o’er the blotted script he lingers

With itching, facile, busy fingers. [page 42]

New signs and auguries drawn,

The great “I AM” erased,

He cries, “At last—the gods be praised—

The only true god—the holy dawn!”

And cries again in that same breath,

“False God! false dawn!” and so to death.

With hands that tremble, swimming eyes that smart,

He writes of grace, simplicity, and truth,

All that he dreamed not in his captious youth;

“All these,” he cries, “and these, Thou art!

Enough of death, enough of strife”—And so to life.

Over the scrabbled scroll he leans and lingers,

And lo! beneath his empty, idle fingers,

A lovely face as from a crystal grows,

An unseen Face above him glows,

He feels his unseen Father move,

And in a keen ecstatic pain

Half feverishly he writes again,

“And Thou, and THOU art Love!” [page 43]

“Thou art—” “Thou art—” “Thou art”—

And God looks on and stays His Hands,

Making no petulant demand;

But, when the scribbling’s done

For sorry lack of scroll and sun,

And truth is whirled away with sham,

He will take up His pen,

And musingly will trace again,

On other stars for other men,

His great, august “I AM—” [page 44]

GOD AND DRAGON

ON HAREBELL banks we used to lie,

     And gazing at the friendly sky,

It seemed a pleasing thing to die,

      When we were young;

For heaven was then so near and dear,

Bright angels could their wings unfold

And bear us to her streets of gold

      When we were young.

Now grown, but young in heart, we find

That longing still in heaven to roam,

But far away her long hills wind

And God, He seldom seems at home.

Are there no fairy tales for those

Who loving Mary’s portion chose,

And sitting at the Master’s feet,

Cared not for savoury nor sweet,

      When they were young?

On harebell banks we may not lie,

And gazing at the frowning sky,

It seems no pleasing thing to die

      Now we are old;

For heaven is far to seek, and bleak— [page 45]

We know so much of sun and star,

Old-fashioned, too, bright angels are,

      Now we are old.

There are no fairy tales for us,

      Gleaming with gold

      And glamorous,

Like those our rocking mothers sung,

Like those our sterner fathers told,

      When we were young.

So, so I murmured, and to me

Came instant answer—from the sky

Nothing—but on my pillowing knee

Rested, from nowhere as it seemed,

Rested a book of ancient runes,

And from its leaves of gold up-gleamed

Rousal, assent and lullaby,

Mingling in one their alien tunes,

Singing of dragon, man, and fairy,

God, demi-god and wandering wight

Whose luckless star gave us delight

In far-off days, in fables airy.

New snarls of age, old feints of youth,

Glittering like cobwebs on a tree,

Here are set forth—with sacred truth

They shine and shine and capture me; [page 46]

And shivering thrills I loved to feel

      When I was young,

I feel, and care not to conceal

      Now I am old,

For I myself am god and dragon,

Tipping with Zeus the royal flagon,

Hiding with Python in his cave—

All things that be, I am and have.

O book of subtle wisdom! bright

With every man-discovered light,

Your pages flutter with the Breath

Of Life; no word, no hint of Death

These tales, these sacred fables hold;

The dazzling angel-wings unfold,

And heaven again is near and dear,

Over her long hills we may roam

And God forever be at home.

No more the prose of life decry,

Nor wish on harebell banks to lie,

Nor gaze up to the pleasant sky—

Soul! ’tis an easy thing to die

      Though we are old. [page 47]

ALL SOULS’ DAY

ON ALL SOULS’ DAY great Raphael came

To call from “classic wards of hell,”

The Muses Nine whose ancient fame

Philosophers and poets tell;

To bring them then before Jehovah

And His great criticizing choirs,

That there they might with joy recover

Their art of old, and tune their lyres.

Calliope and Clio sang

In laurel crowns heroic strains,

Thalia’s voice in rapture rang

In praise of flowers and shepherd swains.

Learned and lyric, nimble-footing,

Mnemosyne’s four graces see!

Triumphed no less flower-wreathed and fluting

Euterpe, grave Melpomene.

Ah! much I feared that Raphael rued

The Muses’ visitation well:

A thousand jealousies intrude

To waft sweet singers back to hell;

And even to high, amused Jehovah,

To saint and seraphim, was given

A little leisure to recover

From such transfigurance of heaven. [page 48]

Oh! that on Helicon could meet

That glorious sisterhood once more,

And I, a humble herd, entreat

Their music at the dancing floor!

But here there shines no sacred mountain,

No Muse bestows her lyric boon,

No Hippocrene, sparkling fountain,

Casts broken rainbows to the moon.

Perseus and Icarus still soar,

Stout Hercules performs great deeds,

Ulysses spoils the Ismarus shore,

Queens covet god-forbidden seeds;

For none of these I cry the Muses

To raise once more their song divine,

And thin were Raphael’s prim excuses

To these so pardonably mine.

Thousands of songs have fallen to dust!

Their soul and spirit lives anew;

The triple gift was theirs, so must

My song have soul and spirit too,

Fitly to praise the might and glory

Of men surpassing men of old;

Fitly to tell the grander story

Of those who have not fame or gold. [page 49]

Unlike chinchillas who must live

Ten thousand feet above low earth,

Where no rain is, that they may give

Their myriad-minded children birth,

The souls I sing live in the mire,

Like mice they come from field and fen;

The tender fruit of their desire

Is trampled neath the foot of men.

Humble, imperishable they,

Who have no name, whose deeds unknown,

A puff of wind has swept away

Lightly as summer’s seeds are blown.

I think sometimes their marching legions

Must crack the very roofs of heaven,

Their whelming floods out-stretch her legions,

Their wakened trumpets drown her Seven.

For, who can count the golden grain

Which paves the broad and lone sea-floors,

Or who the diamond drops of rain

Pouring from heaven’s high treasury-doors?

As vain to sing of humble gardeners,

Of vales bright-patterned with their toil;

Of crows and cobblers; gentle pardoners,

Who all souls’ frailty would assoil. [page 50]

Of runt and mongrel, clown and knave,

Those myriad mice of field and fen,

Who, having little soul to save,

Pour out their all for taller men;

Of outcasts leaping flimsy barriers;

Of saints, sans halo, crook and niche;

Unlettered loons; of unknown warriors,

Each in his own, unhonoured ditch.

On All Souls’ Day great Raphael came

To call from “classic wards of hell,”

The Muses Nine whose ancient fame

Philosophers and poets tell.

Alas! alas! ill-sung my story—

One lonely must may not divine

A whole wide world of hidden glory—

Raphael needs fetch again the Nine. [page 51]

CHRIST AND APOLLO

AND was there then no other way—

This tortured God, this traitor’s tree,

This potter’s field—oh, who will sing with me,

                Or pray as I must pray?

I sing of Calvary. Calvary reels,

And from dim shades of old enticed,

Apollo runs to hold the fainting Christ,

                A falling star reveals.

I sing sad Calvary’s curséd place,

Whose smoking blood-gouts nought congeals;

I sing Apollo, gentle god, who kneels

                With mercy-shining face.

He plucks the nails; how patiently

He laves the pale and tortured brow;

Each gaping wound with balm he staunches now,

                And fells the Sacred Tree.

Fresh water from the brook he brings;

Samaria’s greater son, he goes

And parts his scanty tale of tattered clothes,

                And takes his lyre and sings: [page 52]

“Alas for us whom men have loved!

To shadows dim they exile me,

And Thee they nailed unto this burning Tree,

Who once the wide hills roved.

“To Thee, Thy Father beauty gave

In overflowing measure, then,

What beauty lies in Thy sad wounds that men

                Must call on them to save?

“Thy laurel leaves, they trampled down,

To set this crackling Tree so high;

Stretched on Thy Cross the groaning millions die,

                But who shall bear Thy Crown?

“Thy radiant Crown—Ah me! what loss

To leave Thee dreaming on the shore,

On Judah’s pleasant hills, and evermore

                To part Thee from Thy Cross?

“To set apart Thy death and pain,

So Thy stopt youth, Thy shortened hour

A Dead Sea rose, a withered salt-marsh flower,

                Might spring and bloom again? [page 53]

“And thou, Apollo! skulking thus,

No Pythia, oracle, nor shrine—

What hast thou now, what pomp, what power is thine,

                O wandering child of Zeus?

“I see Dodona’s lovely hills,

Her rustling groves of sacred oak;

I hear the thunders that my Father woke,

                The murmuring of His rills.

Again I bring Admetus joy,

Or worship at the Vestals’ Fire,

Or aid sly Neptune with my golden lyre

                To build the walls of Troy.

“Again I go to glorious Crete,

To purge myself of Python’s blood;

To Delphi’s peerless shrine where panting stood

                My laurel-crowned athlete.

“Sometimes as in my youth serene,

With joyous heart the road I keep,

And there I hear distraught Cassandra weep

                With Mary Magdalene. [page 54]

“Sometimes when loudly North winds moan,

I come into the weary town,

And there I see fair Vestals falling down

                To worship stock and stone.

“Sometimes I long for something new,

And through enchanting countries range,

To find strange men and maids who passing strange

                Intoxications brew.

“And thrice to gloomy shrines I came,

And thrice I marked a gloomier throng;

And oh, Thou patient Lord of living Song!

                Men called them by Thy Name.

“Thy Name—What memory beguiles?

I would Thy strong Song-Brother be;

Two faithful Sons of mighty Lords are we—”

                The dying Saviour smiles.

He smiles (so Love on lover shone)

His tired eyes are full of speech,

His wounded fingers flicker, cannot reach,

                And answer makes He none. [page 55]

I sing no more Calvary. See,

Apollo rise—grim priests of pain

Have seized my Lords of Song, and even again,

                They nail One to a tree.

I sing no more—let lips be dumb—

But through the fields of my desire,

With burning Songs, immortal Songs of Fire,

                Christ and Apollo come! [page 56]

REVERIE

DEATH is forever wooing me, and life,

Cold as a stranger, doffs his hat and goes.

Brave death! I’ll bicker thus with you no more;

Now of your natural beauties I propose

To welcome tale and due; in scorn of strife,

I will make trusty peace with you, explore

All sweet necessity of you else mourned;

Life’s comedies are but old-fashioned shows;

Brave death! your comeliness hath me suborned.

Dark Regent of the Lethe stream! what calm,

What cool security broods at my breast,

Moving so smoothly on your waveless flood,

Dreaming the golden dreams of perfect rest.

Power, strength and beauty lift the nerveless arm,

Swiftly we glide about the enchanted wood,

Guiding our prow toward the distant foam,

Where whirlpools suck, and stronger souls deride,

Where rapids roar and timid souls go home. [page 57]

Fringing your tunnelled stream, on this near shore,

Your lovely leisure peoples banks and trees,

With knights and maids than life could have no fairer,

Satyrs and gnomes who careless loiterers seize,

Dallying upon the forest’s fern-pricked floor—

Rare lusty wooers, life can show no rarer.

Brave death! they fear not you. No gloomy portal

Gapes at their beauty with its dragon’s jaws;

Brave death! they know not you, they live immortal.

Yonder, across the stream, throbs life’s demesne;

There, far too seldom, I have walked the verge,

Peered through the trees, and pale with trembling wonder,

Dared for a moment in its crowd to immerge;

Tasted an hour its rapturous might-have-been,

Then from its blinding glare and deafening thunder,

Its hollowed laughter and its stifled screams,

Fled with a fainting heart across calm Lethe,

There, there to anchor fondly by my dreams. [page 58]

Once, when I ventured through life’s loveliest glade,

Silent and bright as you, O death! a soul

Poured out hot scarlet on the sun-soaked grass,

Breaking away from life and life’s control—

I, loving life, and him so ill-betrayed!

Gay life! and cheapened so—at such a pass.

Fair seemed, my haunted dreams, no rash men there

Sear with their blood the virginal bloom of spring,

Fools break not in, nor thieves nor murderers dare.

I, who must live in dreams on your parole,

Crossing no longer to the noisier bank,

Stare at these ghosts of life who hem me round,

Stare at their antics, or forgetting, thank

Each as it were of flesh and blood; cajole

Each to return to this enchanted ground.

Nought is all false nor true, I heard one say:

False, true, our hopes, our dreams, our expectations,

And death is but a short and covered way. [page 59]

Wild rolls this tunnelled stream, and still across,

Ghosts on the farther shore and ghosts on this,

Call to each other, pass the time of day,

And knowing nothing, finding nought amiss,

Speak of no larger gain, no greater loss,

Till ghost with ghost together launch away,

And which is dream and which is life none know;

Down, down together, all the way apart,

Both at the last on this strong stream must go.

Custom is all that baulks the daring soul,

Yet prisoned flames burst into sudden song.

And poet-rebels publish their despair

Of this abhorred and ever-increasing wrong.

Names are not names—a long dishonoured roll—

Words are not words, but Robot-bones and bare;

Oh, that the old Greek Titan fire might bring,

For man’s starved soul is like a curlew crying,

And all his body cries out to the Spring. [page 60]

Old words have lost their ancient power, though vast

Yawns the abyss from which new words are born,

Born like faint echoes from a distant flute,

Or brazen clanging from a frenzied horn;

Now is no language for our souls, aghast

Speak we in vain, the answering sense is mute;

There is no language, no, nor any speech,

In which to prove our lives, our passing dreams,

The old creation finds us out of reach.

Nameless is either bank—you, dark between,

O gulf of moving waters! have no name.

Time, Lethe, life and Death, Dream and Despair—

What are these signs but trifles for a game?

Grossly miscalled, what gentle things have been

Wrath and delusion, for our souls a snare!

Lost are the great mysterious names unheard;

Lost too, we know not if we dream or live,

Life? Death? We have no Master but the Word. [page 61]

Death is forever wooing me—in dream

I have been safe, but now even there his hand

With lifted finger beckons me away,

And patiently his boat rides on the stream.

Life has been good, my dreams have been so grand,

I know not whether to go forth or stay

Would be the better way. What thing I do,

Some new experience sweeps me from my feet;

If dreams then play me false, will Death be true? [page 62]

A BALLAD OF SICK MEN

ONCE greatly to adventure born,

Here must we lie, sick men outworn,

And our souls’ dreams must now reduce

To battling for our bodies’ use.

Into the silent heavens we stare,

Into our hearts—what silence there!

Death is away, his tale of men

Is short by two, we live again.

His tale of men—each virgin page

Is blotted on from age to age,

And death by men is still denied

As if no man nor brute had died.

They too will go. What thing shall be

To drown them deep in land or sea,

As strange and hostile forces broke

The ancient Paleolithic folk?

This sunlit earth re-cools its crust

In twilight born of gilded dust;

The sunshine-driven seasons fold

The crescent moon around the old. [page 63]

Pure and serene is our delight

In glamouries thinly lacing night;

Yon meteor-battered, stricken moon

Bestows on us this gentle boon.

Grim mountains floating sail the earth,

And in far seas the towering girth

Of icebergs tokening land give way—

So insubstantial too are they.

All things to their fulfilment go,

In timeless leisure ebb and flow;

And we sick men would ask to see

The meaning of our destiny.

Our Lord is Death. To him we give

The crown of life, that he may live,

The incense of our poisoned breath,

And well he us remembereth.

What art of surgeon probes the soul

In man’s dead body, part or whole?

Why vainly search for God each spot—

The Earth is His, but He is not. [page 64]

So we, His body—ah, what wealth

To be some part of Him in health,

But better far that we had died

Than lived, a cancer in His side.

Perfect by suffering must we be,

Perfect by pain—God! What of Thee—

Dost Thou grow irritant and pale

By tearing of Thy finger-nail?

Perfect by suffering—we and Thou—

Doth fever fret Thine unlined brow?

Nay! perfect Thou—then why and whence

Our agony, our putrescence?

And Thou art young and fair and strong,

Thy breath is fragrance—ah, how long

Shall men’s souls lie? To them they shame

Of foul things honoured by Thy Name.

Again into the heavens we stare,

Into our hearts—What silence there!

If men are fair-made parts of Thee

And Thou perfection—what are we? [page 65]

We, who through suffering grope our way

And know hell’s fire sole orb of day,

When our effete ordeal is done,

What eyes have we to see Thy Sun?

Our ears are deadened by the din

Of those with us in hell shut in,

Our limbs are cramped and drawn awry,

Our tongues grow dumb, our bosoms sigh.

But Thou art young and fair! Who said,

“Long is His beard and white His head”?

So men do lie, to them the shame

Who love the lie and speed the same.

We will be young as Thou art young,

We will be strong as Thou art strong,

We will be fair as Thou art fair,

And as Thou darest, we will dare.

Dare to revolt, and thrown amain,

Dare to destroy the fiefs of pain,

Dare to exalt Thy joys, and free,

Dare to be one in health with Thee! [page 66]

CRADLES OF SHADOW *

CRADLES of shadow, hourly shown,

That broken hearts may come and go,

In hallowed silence and unknown,

Lay down their piteous babes of woe.

Hark, Sister! hark—the cradle bell—

              O mournful knell!

Some trembling soul hath tolled the bell;

        Down in the street, against the wall,

        I see a staggering figure fall.

Nay, none may help her, from all eyes

              Frenzied she flies;

Loose in her arms her baby cries…

        (How slowly lazy Joseph creeps)

        And now she draws her cloak and weeps.

Hark, Sister, hark!  “Nine months have gone,

              Have come and gone;

Home—home and honour—I have none.

        Christ! for my lost, my dear love’s sake,

        I pray Thee now my soul to take.


* See appendix.


[page 67]

“What art thou still upon my breast?

              My aching breast—

              *        *        *        *        *  

O baby, baby, do not smile—

Thou art a traitor soul and vile!

What! art thou knocking at my heart,

              My poor, poor heart!

What! darest thou knock upon my heart,

Thou! devil-child! wouldst pluck and be

Suckled upon mine agony?

Poor baby!…What shouldst thou have been?

              Sweetly have been?

              *        *        *        *        *  

The first white lambkin of our spring,

And art—this foul abhorrent thing!

He, who shouldst thy dear father be,

              Ah, what is he? . .

He, who shouldst thy dear father be,

Lies scattered on his fields and fells,

A plaything for ten thousand shells. [page 68]

No dainty bridal-bed was mine,

              Ever was mine,

Oh,  what a bridal bed was mine—

I took my fill of pain and loss

Out-stretched upon a burning cross!

Nine woeful months have come and gone,

              O woe-begone!

Hope, hope and honour, thou hast none—

Die, baby! die…for my love’s sake!

And pray…the Lord…our souls…to take.”

No baby in the cradle sleeps.

The porter eyes the lying bell,

Across the sky pale shadows creep,

And homing winds sigh, “All is well!” [page 69]

INTUITION

OUR thoughts are strange and free.

          We do not know

The way we come or the way we go,

And the time is past when we could say,

“The Word has blown our doubt away,”

For now we watch with anxious look,

Those happy ones whom creed and book

Can comfort still and reassure—

Alas! for us there’s no such cure

Of souls. Our simple feeling

May be the true precursor of our fate,

So that our minds’ desire or state

Is every day revealing

What none may know, but all can guess,

Our future need of happiness;

Nay, even now we may rejoice

To anticipate the heaven of our own choice.

Love, death,—they take us by the hand

And lead us further to the Unknown Land

Than any other, but we know

Nothing beyond them, deaf and blind we go. [page 70]

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”—in vain

The scientific dogmatists explain

Their self-taught knowledge, through our rebel hearts

Rings a great Voice and deeper truth imparts.

Oh! if I knew beyond a shadow of doubt

That when I pass, my candle of soul goes out,

Nothing should rob me of my earnest faith,

That I have known at times a land where death

Has no control,—a land so fair,

Beauty and goodness reign immortal there.

Further, I bow, with ever-increasing awe,

Before the universe’s wonder and law,

Law so amazing, wonder so supreme,

Naught is impossible whilst man can dream.

Infinite littleness am I

Down-peering from the ship-hung sky;

Infinite littlenesses they are too,

Who crawl like ants across the spreading view;

Yet in each midget man

Works every impulse, urgent, warm and fine,

That breeds the spiritual greatness of this earth,

And gives their brave simplicities their birth. [page 71]

Time moving forward, we can well define

The increasing wide horizons the divine;

Time moving backwards, we may better scan

Life’s height and depth, the universal plan

That bids us fight and with our last faint breath,

Win to a world that IS, and knows not death. [page 72]

THE MORNING LIGHT

God is a Tree.

        Worlds as a leaf

        Hang cheerily

        Though life is brief.

God’s Seasons go.

        Go, summer rain,

        Come, winter snow,

        Leaf, bud again.

God is a Bird.

        A lovely song

        My heart hath heard

        The leaves among.

God is the Wind,

        (Rock little nest)

        If He is kind,

        Who dares molest?

God is a Sleep.

        Sleep, drowsy earth,

        Dreamlessly, deep,

        The Dawn is Birth. [page 73]

God is the Flash

        That split the sky—

        Tree, rent and crash,

        A tree must die.

God is a Storm.

        Fallen is the nest;

        Broken and calm,

        The feathered breast.

O bird!  O tree!

        The morning light

        You cannot see

        Is burning bright.

God’s Seasons go.

        Go, summer rain,

        Come, winter snow,

        World, bud again. [page 74]

THE INN

SHE is not dead but sleeping,” so I said

In my first grief, in sad and ignorant youth,

But over all the shadow of the dead,

A tear-stained crepe hung low—twice-hidden was truth.

The years sped on, but still her name was heard,

And still at times was heard the sound of weeping,

And still we fed our comfort with the word.

“She is at rest—she is not dead but sleeping.”

But now my youth has gone; now I am old,

Her mother too, in years I well could be,

And I have grown away, long uncontrolled,

As she has grown elsewhere, away from me.

And if we met—ah, what could be the greeting

From me, the elder, to the radiant young?

How strange, embarrassed, sad, would be the meeting,

With all things changed to which her heart had clung!

Oh, I am glad she is not sleeping; strong,

Full, is her life, the universe her range;

To her our separation is not long,

She knows that life and love are born of change. [page 75]

Her life is full, she has no time for grief,

She knows that nothing in this world is lasting;

And non remember with a glad relief,

The bitter fare from which they now are fasting.

Oh! if sometimes without God’s wayside Inn,

May meet the living souls men say have died,

Or sit beside the roaring fire within,

To sing new songs, I shall be satisfied. [page 76]

FLOOD AND ADVENTURE

I

A MIGHTY river overflows its banks,

And washes men like rodents from their holes;

Dark cloud-gods smite in swollen, serried ranks,

The intrepid bird-men climbing to the poles.

Sea-floors, marsh-meadows, jungles, frozen zones,

Awaiting man, are spattered with his bones.

Sucked in by whirlpools ere out-breathed by death,

Volcanoes toss him to the frenzied sky;

Omniscent, regnant, God-suspired, a breath—

What god may heed his too reluctant cry?

Still, still his spirit soars and swoops and searches

Beneath the firmament’s unkindly arches.

Ah! What is he? What radiant wings infold

This spaceless heart, this tireless heart so bold? [page 77]

II

Swamp-suffocated, men and serpents cling

To twigs which overhand and fringe the flood;

Ruthless and rude, the wilier reptiles sting

And drive to death the offscourings of half-good,

Snatched from foul death to fouler death these go,

Prey of old vulture, leach and carrion crow.

Self-murdered, self-accursed, immersed in time’s

Intoxicant—oh, not for these forgive

Old sordid ills—new scintillating crimes,

For these may presage death, but they will live!

Jail, dagger, flame-shot chair, or hangman’s noose,

Sourly their silver cords of life unloose,

And their torn spirits creep, abased and drooping,

From felon-cells, the comet’s long loop looping.

Ah! What is man? What hideous fetters hold

These crimeful hearts, these time-bound hearts so cold? [page 78]

ACQUIESCENCE

A LOVER of life, he said,

“What is this burning question of the dead

Which we may never answer? No, nor find

A little light with which to lead the blind,

For many things our minds may not conceive,

What’s birth? What’s death? Oh, let us not deceive

Ourselves with thinking of this countless host

Of dead—What is a spirit? What a ghost?

No answer.”

True lover of life, again he cried,

“Where is that vast assembly which has died?

On earth,—but no!” Once more he paused and sighed,

“There is no answer.”

“Oh, this vain talk of fabulous dimension—

Are then the dead in imminent suspension

Around us, through us, in us, we aware

Of nothing? Are they incarnated

In us, these dead men long beloved or hated

For stirring deeds or loathly crimes? Are we

Sitting in judgment on ourselves?” Said he,

“There comes no answer.” [page 79]

Thrice lover of life, he cried again,

“Are they alone—somewhere—it is in vain

To ask such idle questions, they must be

Working and doing, growing just as we;

If not, what is the inconstant Will—

What wasteful purpose could He fill, this God,

Who keeps them thus at a standstill?

No answer.”

“The mind grows dim,

How do those spirits skim

From planet-rim to planet-rim?

I think with him who set these thoughts aflame,

That matter, spirit, both, have but one name,

Are but one thing, and when the body goes

The soul goes too, shattered to atoms, those

Infinitesimal specks we cannot see,

Which are the spinning graves of you and me.

Nothing can be destroyed, in them lives mind,

Love, beaty, kindliness and all in kind;

To us or ours, all that we once held dear

In finer elements will re-appear.

There are no dead— [page 80]

What is, we shall not know,

It is our highest bliss

In ignorance to go,

Nor shall we ever cease to strive to know.” [page 81]

THE SONG-PEDDLERS

        THEY have brought to the city their harvest,

        They have come to the town with their wares;

        Hope, from the misty mountains,

        Faith, from the haunted meres;

        Love, from the glamorous valleys,

        Health from the isles;

        Sweetness and balm from the uplands,

        Laughter, heart-comfort, and smiles;

        Courage and strength from the ocean,

        Beauty, first-born of the brave;

        Joy for the birth and the marriage,

        Peace for the grave.

They have lure for the lonely; the restless

May buy from them wonder; the wild

Thrill and adventure; for they are the packmen

Blest with the luck and the heart of a child.

They have brought to your city their harvest,

They have come to your town with their wares,

They come with laughter and singing

Their mountain-bred ditties and airs. [page 82]

        Weary and footsore, triumphant,

        Torn from their dreams and their glamour

        Back from the mere, and the mountain,

        Fresh from the clear lilied pools,

        Fresh from the “love in the valleys,”

They are lost in your guttered dim alleys,

They are set in your round-about market,

        Pilloried targets for fools. [page 83]

TO EMILY BRONTE

        O heart that could not break,

Wild moorland heart forever strong and free!

        Thy song this song doth make,

Across the hills of time I answer thee.

        I see thy moorlands grim,

Harsh matrix for a soul unborn to roam;

        Tender the moors and dim

The eyes that see them from a distant home.

        How should a bright world guess

Thy bursting heart, the fulness of thy woe,

        Thy love, thy loneliness,

The strength a moorland-sheltered heart must know.

        No coward soul is thine,

Eternal God shines in thy fearless face;

        No coward soul is mine,

Across dim worlds thy footsteps I would trace. [page 84]

        I know not where thou art;

But this I know, when time shall call for me,

        When soul and body part,

That I shall search this universe for thee.

        O heart that would not break,

Wild moorland heart forever strong and free!

        Thy song my song doth make.

Across what hills, what worlds I follow thee! [page 85]

THE MOTORIST

A MOUNTAINOUS road

Going joyously up and down,

Giving thrills to the weak

And strength to the strong—

So, would I have my life.

Then wandering into town,

      End the brave Day

Mid comradeship and song.

What need for tears

Though this one Day be over?

At dawn the smoking road

Awaits the happy rover;

For, many a league

Of dust and fair fatigue,

And joyousness again

      He may recover—

Smoothed courses, halfway houses,

      Breathing spaces,

      Green twisting dells

And lively pleasant places,

      For many a league. [page 86]

Oh, lovely is the forest; and the rows

Of eglantine and plumy spiraea

Are lovely. Glittering grows

(How strangely beautiful) that mutineer,

      The bright arbutus!

Wild pagan is an alien fane,

Singing, I know not why,

      Puissant Spain

      Gay and austere.

Yes, lovely is the forest—and how clear

That walker in his stride

Taking yon mountain-side—

Wait! In a blithe new Day,

      Should I be chidden

If I would walk this road

      So often ridden?

If I, too, break away

Tramping lone trails alone,

Tramping steep mountains

In vigour all my own,

      Should I be chidden? [page 87]

THE DRAGON-FLY

LIFE of the tumbling sea,

Thou givest back to me

What indoor robbers took;

Here in this sunny nook,

Beneath this cedar tree,

I sit and joy in thee.

A panting dragon-fly

Drops, on my lap to lie;

She lifts her little face

And thanks me for the grace

Of timely rest

For wing and breast.

O sore mischance!

This dripping beach free-lance

Comes snuggling close

With cold wet nose, [page 88]

And with his foolish puppy-play

Doth scare my dragon-fly away,

For I had found a kinship sweet

In tiny face and folded feet,

And the pathetic eyes

That looked so large and wise.

O dragon-fly! Come once again—

There is so much, so much to explain…

Thou wert to me

A glimpse into infinity. [page 89]

SPRINGTIME

        Is it the time to sing, O lark?

        The sorrowful heavens are failing,

The sun and the moon and the stars are dark

And the winds of the morning are wailing—

        “It is the time, it is the time!”

        Is it the time to soar, O lark?

        In the meadows your love is a-nesting;

The leafless trees stand battered and stark,

For the shells of the foemen are questing—

        “It is the time, it is the time!”

        Is it the time to trust, O lark?

        No corn in the valley in springing;

The granaries lie in ruins, and hark!

The knell of the tocsin is ringing—

        “It is the time, it is the time!”

        Is it the time to live, O lark?

        When the idols of life are all broken?

The heaven of my soul is shuttered and dark,

And the words of my love are unspoken—

        “It is the time, it is the time!” [page 90]

WHERE ARE THE DEAD?

WHERE are the dead?” We ask in vain,

        In vain we paint their house above,

While others mark with cold disdain

        The paradise we love.

Now each must go to his own place,

Not one may snatch another’s dower,

But all may hold, in part, heaven’s grace,

        Imaginative power.

Heaven shares no thrones, no robs, no lyres,

And we alone may name her Name,

For what on earth are our desires,

        In heaven will be the same.

About us, in finite array,

A million galaxies remove,

Humbly for those we know we pray

        A heaven which they can love. [page 91]

TRANSFIGURATION

CLOUDS, pastures and meandering streams,

Oak trees, and cattle sunk in dreams,

The peace of God, the toil of folks,

And so we came to Cam-Lake-Oaks….

I had looked long upon the lovely scene,

When ready tears rushed to my wondering eyes;

Your trees, Your folks, Your world of blue and green—

Something I saw quite other than had been.

Oh God! it was rare and sweet surprise.

You seemed so near, as if your breath had passed

And stirred and wakened every living thing,

Which bonded into tenser life but cast

Me into deeper bondage sorrowing;

For, if the long years bring

To me no more

That strange and swift elation,

That holy earth and sky transfiguration,

That gracious unexpected ministration

Of rites undreamed before,

O God, how can I bear the great privation! [page 92]

HOLIDAY AND TERM

WHEN I arise and go

To join the living dead,

With wing-beats never slow

And high, incurious head,

I shall remember then

And know my home again.

But not for long, the stars,

Bright nurseries of heaven,

Will cramp with golden bars

Those larger powers given

To me on earth below;

Again I rise and go.

So holiday and term

Must ever alternate,

And if my will be firm

No tasks be desolate;

I know that I shall see

This world’s divinity. [page 93]

MYSTERY

I HAD a message and I sought

Sweetly to tell the precious thought,

But hardly came the words, though long

I dallied with the elusive song.

In after years I loosely shook

The fragment from an unused book,

And saw before me, calm and real,

The perfect form of my ideal.

The meaning which I could not write,

Or thought I could not, lay in sight;

The melody I could not sing,

Now sang to me, a lovey thing,

And brought to me a gift unsought,

With many a thought I had not thought. [page 94]

IN A FAR COUNTRY

IN A FAR country

            All is fair,

Joy is religion,

Work is communion,

            Song is prayer.

In a far country—

            “Where, oh where?”

How shall we find it?

            Do not fear,

Look not before you,

Look not behind you,

            All is near.

“Near?—that far country—”

            Here, oh here! [page 95]

SHACKS

        Mean hovels built from stately trees,

        Low canopies that forest kings

Have arched with royal bones to house such things,

        Such trivial things as these:

        Rough shelves, a broken glass, a comb,

        An axe, a gun, a box, a new

Bright stove, a bunk, a lamp, pots, pans, a few

        Stained photographs from home.

        Yet these have too a sacristan,

        Holy are they, their simple aim

To serve that pure, divine, fluorescent flame,

        The spirit of a man. [page 96]

THE GOLDEN AGE

THIS is the Golden Age

Of restlessness and youth,

Of joyousness, of pilgrimage,

And eager quest for truth.

We roam a wider plain

Than that our fathers knew,

But their old landmarks still remain,

Forever strange and new.

What rivalry can be,

What quarrel come between?

Gods visited our fathers, we

Draw near to the Unseen. [page 97]

TREASURE-TROVE

WHAT can we know of the Unknown?

Our very thoughts are not our own,

For round us, surging, lies a sea

Whose curious waves of strategy

Charmed treasure-trove retrieve.

O souls! How simple to believe

There is a fairer land,

                When we behold

The bursting bales unrolled

Before us on the strand. [page 98]

TO A CHILD ASLEEP

THIS body that to man-ship moves in sleep,

May all the powers of God-hood bless and keep,

So these soft limbs be not with fetters bound,

Nor this love-honoured head grow grey uncrowned,

Nor these shell-folded hands, unsceptred, fall

Apart in supplication, robbed of all;

So this fair body to its kingdom come,

And for all fairer soul provide a home;

So they together sail blue air or deep

On spirit-wings awake, as now asleep. [page 99]

LITTLE HOUSES

      Every city has a row,

      Long and thin,

Of little houses built for woe,

      And the little griefs go in.

      Every city digs a grave,

      Deep and wide,

A roomy tomb for the old and brave,

For the joys which have not died,

      And the little joys fall in,

      All is done—

Bright are the houses, long and thin,

      Where the little griefs live on. [page 100]

I AM A NUN

I AM A NUN who loves the streets;

An owl at highest noon astray;

As one who fasts mid savoury meats,

And sees the good wine poured away.

Let me but guess the joy which glows

Deep in men’s hearts, and sense the bliss,

Which silently in secret grows,

So comfort me for all I miss. [page 101]

THE PESSIMIST

OH! pity him! He has been starved so long,

The whole creation’s joy could not undo

The unforgivable wrong,

Life’s banquet and its light, its wine, its song,

So beautiful, so comforting to you,

In him breeds horror and a swift disgust.

He turns, he turns away because he must.

Impoverished child! He must at first be fed

With drops of milk and doled out crumbs of bread. [page 102]

TOWN-LOVERS

OH, ILL they know God’s friendly town

Who on its streets and houses frown;

And he his royal sonship proves

Who knows his fellowmen, and loves.

The city, man-warmed, fills his need

Which has for God the greater greed;

In Nature near to every Part,

In town he nestles to His Heart. [page 103]

THE SONG

I MADE a little song,

The Muses were not kind;

My soul said, “’Tis too long,

Nor is it to my mind.”

She brewed and gave me drink,

I could not hear nor see,

And while I could not think,

She sang my song for me. [page 104]

OUT OF WORK

THERE is a street down-town, where all day long,

Go silent men with lagging feet that look

As they were more familiar with rough ways

Than greasy pavements and the crowded streets;

Grey men with lagging feet and mutinous mouths—

Oh, fear those mutinous mouths, those lagging feet,

Those unseen, unraised eyes that brood and brood

On living death. [page 105]

THE CANDLE

AT NIGHT when God looks down

Upon this bright, lamp-studded town,

Each bright lamp winks and winks;

        I wonder what God thinks,

        I wonder if He knows

        Each tiny lamp that glows,

And if through darkness He can see

This unlit candle which is me. [page 106]

THE BIRD HOUSE

OH THOU UNKNOWN and sweetly Known!

Straight to Thy bird-hose I have flown,

For what I cannot see Thou mak’st me feel,

And what I cannot hear Thou makest me to know;

Time may not hide, nor space conceal

                The ways I go. [page 107]

DESTINY

THAT which we will to build,

         We shall build;

That which we will to be,

         We shall be;

That so determinately willed,

         Is Destiny. [page 108]

APPENDIX

CRADLES OF SHADOW

LESS than a year after the beginning of the Great War, the French Chamber of Deputies and Senate passed a bill to place a Berceau Des Ombres, or “Cradle of Shadows” in every Town Hall in the invaded provinces of Northern France. This cradle was placed on a turnstile cut in the stone wall surrounding the Town Hall.

     A large bell was placed nearby to summon the authorities within as soon as an infant was placed in the cradle.

     A mother could thus place her baby on the cradle, swing it inside, ring the bell and disappear. The child would be brought up at the expense of the state, and the mother would escape stigma.

     One case is known where the outraged mother, in a frenzy killed her baby after its birth, and probably there were others.

     No apology is needed for the inclusion of a war-poem at this time. In spite of past suffering, some of us are still in danger of forgetting the agony and the awful sacrifices of war. [page 109]

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