O thrush, is it true?
Your song tells
Of a world born anew,
Of fields gold with buttercups, woodlands all blue
With hyacinth bells;
Of primroses deep
In the moss of the lane,
Of a Princess asleep
And dear magic to do.
Will the sun wake the princess? O thrush, is it true?
Will Spring come again?

Will Spring come again?
Now at last
With soft shine and rain
Will the violet be sweet where the dead leaves have lain?
Will Winter be past?
In the brown of the copse
Will white wind-flowers star through
Where the last oak-leaf drops?
Will the daisies come too,
And the may and the lilac? Will Spring come again?
O thrush, is it true?

IF through the rain and wind along the street,
Where the wet stone reflects the flickering gas,
Some weeping autumn night your wandering feet,
Lost in a lonely world, should chance to pass;
If, passing many doors that welcomed you
When robes of good renown your dear name wore,
Your feet again, as once they used to do,
Paused at my door,--

Should I shut fast my heart for the old ill,
The old wrong done, the sorrow and the sin?
Or--only knowing that I love you still--
Should I throw wide the door and let you in?
Come--with your sins--my tears shall wash them all,
The heart you broke still waits to be your home.
Yet if you came. . . . Oh! lost beyond recall
You never more will come.

WHEN head and hands and heart alike are weary;
When Hope with folded wings sinks out of sight;
When all thy striving fails to disentangle
From out wrong's skein the golden thread of right;
When all thy knowledge seems a marsh-light's glimmer,
That only shows the blackness of the night;

In the dark hour when victory seems hopeless,
Against thy lance when armies are arrayed,
When failure writes itself upon thy forehead,
By foes outnumbered and by friends betrayed;
Still stand thou fast, though faith be bruised and wounded,
Still face thy future, still be undismayed!

While one true man speaks out against injustice,
While through men's chorused 'Right!' clear rings his 'Wrong!'

Freedom still lives. One day she will reward him
Who trusted in her though she tarried long,
Who held her creed, was faithful till her coming,
Who, for her sake, strove, suffered, and was strong.

She will bring crowns for those who love and serve her;
If thou canst live for her, be satisfied;
If thou canst die for her, rejoice! Our brothers
At least shall crown our graves and say, 'These died
Believing in the sun when night was blackest,
And by our dawn their faith is justified!'

The Dead To The Living

Work while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

IN the childhood of April, while purple woods
With the young year's blood in them smiled,
I passed through the lanes and the wakened fields,
And stood by the grave of the child.
And the pain awoke that is never dead
Though it sometimes sleeps, and again
It set its teeth in this heart of mine,
And fastened its claws in my brain:
For it seemed so hard that the little hands
And the little well-loved head
Should be out of reach of my living lips,
And be side by side with the dead--
Not side by side with us who had loved,
But with these who had never seen
The grace of the smile, the gold of the hair,
And the eyes of my baby-queen.
Yet with trees about where the brown birds build,
And with long green grass above,

She lies in the cold sweet breast of earth
Beyond the reach of our love;
Whatever befalls in the coarse loud world,
We know she will never wake.
When I thought of the sorrow she might have known,
I was almost glad for her sake. . . .
Tears might have tired those kiss-closed eyes,
Grief hardened the mouth I kissed;
I was almost glad that my dear was dead
Because of the pain she had missed.
Oh, if I could but have died a child
With a white child-soul like hers,
As pure as the wind-flowers down in the copse,
Where the soul of the spring's self stirs;
Or if I had only done with it all,
And might lie by her side unmoved!
I envied the very clods of earth
Their place near the child I loved!

And my soul rose up in revolt at life,
As I stood dry-eyed by her grave,
When sudden the grass of the churchyard sod
Rolled back like a green smooth wave;
The brown earth looked like the brown sea rocks,
The tombstones were white like spray,
And white like surf were the curling folds
Of the shrouds where the dead men lay;
For each in his place with his quiet face
I saw the dead lie low,
Who had worked and suffered and found life sad,
So many sad years ago.
Unchanged by time I saw them lie
As when first they were laid to rest,
The tired eyes closed, the sad lips still,
And the work-worn hands on the breast.
There were some who had found the green world so grey,
They had left it before their time,
And some were little ones like my dear,
And some had died in their prime;
And some were old, they had had their fill
Of bitter unfruitful hours,
And knew that none of them, none, had known
A flower of a hope like ours!

Through their shut eyelids the dead looked up,
And without a voice they said:
'We lived without hope, without hope we died,
And hopeless we lie here dead;
And death is better than life that draws
Pain in, as it draws in breath,
If life never dreams of a coming day
When life shall not envy death.
Through the dark of our hours and our times we lived,
Uncheered by a single ray
Of such hope as lightens the lives of you
Who are finding life hard to-day;
With our little lanterns of human love
We lighted our dark warm night--
But you in the chill of the dawn are set
With your face to the eastern light.
Freedom is waiting with hands held out
Till you tear the veil from her face--
And when once men have seen the light of her eyes,
And felt her divine embrace,
The light of the world will be risen indeed,
And will shine in the eyes of men,
And those who come after will find life fair,
And their lives worth living then!
Will you strive to the light in your loud rough world,
That these things may come to pass,
Or lie in the shadow beside the child,
And strive to the sun through the grass?'

'My world while I may,' I cried; 'but you
Whose lives were as dark as your grave?'
'We too are a part of the coming light,'
They called through the smooth green wave.
Their white shrouds gleamed as the flood of green
Rolled over and hid them from me--
Hid all but the little hands and the hair,
And the face that I always see.


'SWEET are the lanes and the hedges, the fields made red with the clover,
With tall field-sorrel, and daisies, and golden buttercups glowing;
Sweet is the way through the woods, where at sundown maiden and lover
Linger by stile or by bank where wild clematis is growing.
Fair is our world when the dew and the dawn thrill the half-wakened roses,
Fair when the corn-fields grow warm with poppies in noonlight gleaming,
Fair through the long afternoon, when hedges and hay-fields lie dreaming,
Fair as in lessening light the last convolvulus closes

'Scent of geranium and musk that in cottage windows run riot,
Breath from the grass that is down in the meadows each side the highway,
Slumberous hush of the churchyard where we one day may lie quiet,
Murmuring wind through the leaves bent over the meadow byway,
Deeps of cool shadow, and gleams of light on high elm-tops shining,
Such peace in the dim green brake as the town, save in dreams, knows never,
But in, through, under it all, the old pain follows us ever--
Ever the old despair, the old unrest and repining.

'Dark is the City's face; but her children who know her find her
Mother to them who are brothers, mindful of brotherhood's duty;
To each of us, lonely, unhelped, the grave would be warmer, kinder,
Than the cold unloving face of our world of blossom and beauty.
Poverty deep and dark cowers under the thatch with the swallows,
Cruel disease lies hid in the changeful breast of the waters,
Drink sets snares for our sons, and shame digs graves for our daughters,
Want and care crush the flower of a youth that no life-fruit follows.

'What are the woodland sweets--the meadow's fair flowery treasure--
When we are hungry and sad, and stupid with work and with sorrows?
Leisure for nothing but sleep, and with heart but for sleep in our leisure;
The work of to-day still the same as yesterday's work, and to-morrow's.
Ever the weary round--the treadmill of innocent lives--
Hopeless and helpless, and bowing our backs like a hound's to the lashes;
What can seem fair to the eyes that are smarting and sore with the ashes
Blown from the fires that consume the souls of our children and wives?

'Dreams sometimes we have had of an hour when we might speak plainly,
Raise the mantle and show how the iron eats into our bosom,
The rotting root of the Nation, the worm at the heart of its blossom,
Dreaming we said, 'We will speak, when the time for it comes, not vainly.'
Ah--but the time comes never--Life, we are used to bear it,
Starved are our brains and grow not, our hands are fit but for toiling,
If we stretched them out their touch to our masters' hand would be soiling;
Weak is our voice with disuse--too weak for our lords to hear it!'


'So has the spark died out that the torch of hope dropped among you?
So is the burden bound more fast to the shrinking shoulder?
Far too faint are your cries to be heard by the men who wrong you?
And if they heard they are high, and the air as men rise grows colder!
Yet you are men though so weak, and in mine and workshop your brothers,
Stronger in head, and in heart not less sad, for deliverance are striving;
These will stand fast, and will face the cruel unjust and ungiving,
And you in our ranks shall be 'listed, our hands fast clasped in each other's!

'For in the night of our sorrow cold lights are breaking and brightening
Out in the eastern sky; through the drifting clouds, wind-driven,
Over the earth new gleams and glories are laughing and lightening,
Clearer the air grows each moment, brighter the face of the heaven.
Turn we our face to the east--oh, wind of the dawn, blow to us
Freshness and strength and resolve! The star of old faith grows paler
Before the eyes of our Freedom, though still wrath's red mists veil her,
For this is our battle day; revenge, like our blood, runs through us.

'This is our vengeance day. Our masters, made fat with our fasting,
Shall fall before us like corn when the sickle for harvest is strong:
Old wrong shall give might to our arm--remembrance of wrong shall make lasting
The graves we will dig for the tyrants we bore with too much and too long.
The sobs of our starving children, the tears of our heart-sick mothers,
The moan of your murdered manhood crushed out by their wanton pressure,
The wail of the life-long anguish that paid the price of their pleasure,
These will make funeral music to speed the lost souls of them, brothers!

'Shoulder to shoulder we march, and for those who go down mid the fighting
With rifles in hand and pikes, and the red flag over them flying,
Glad shall our hearts be for them--who die when our sun is lighting
The warm, wide heavens, and sheds its lovely light on their dying.
Fight, though we lose our dearest--fight, though the battle rages
Fiercer and hotter than ever was fight in the world before:
We must fight--how can men do less? If we die, what can men do more?
And the sun of Freedom shall shine across our graves to the ages!'

THREE months had passed since she had knelt before
The grate of the confessional, and he,
--The priest--had wondered why she came no more
To tell her sinless sins--the vanity
Whose valid reason graced her simple dress--
The prayers forgotten, or the untold beads--
The little thoughtless words, the slight misdeeds,
Which made the sum of her unrighteousness.

She was the fairest maiden in his fold,
With her sweet mouth and musical pure voice,
Her deep grey eyes, her hair's tempestuous gold,
Her gracious graceful figure's perfect poise.
Her happy laugh, her wild unconscious grace,
Her gentle ways to old, or sick, or sad,
The comprehending sympathy she had,
Had made of her the idol of the place.

And when she grew so silent and so sad,
So thin and quiet, pale and hollow-eyed,
And cared no more to laugh and to be glad
With other maidens by the waterside--
All wondered, kindly grieved the elders were,
And some few girls went whispering about,
'She loves--who is it? Let us find it out!'
But never dared to speak of it to her.

But the priest's duty bade him seek her out
And say, 'My child, why dost thou sit apart?
Hast thou some grief? Hast thou some secret doubt?
Come and unfold to me thine inmost heart.
God's absolution can assuage all grief
And all remorse and woe beneath the sun.
Whatever thou hast said, or thought, or done,
The Holy Church can give thy soul relief.'

He stood beside her, young and strong, and swayed
With pity for the sorrow in her eyes--
Which, as she raised them to his own, conveyed
Into his soul a sort of sad surprise--

For in those grey eyes had a new light grown,
The light that only bitter love can bring,
And he had fancied her too pure a thing
For even happy love to dare to own.

Yet all the more he urged on her--'Confess,
And do not doubt some comfort will be lent
By Holy Church thy penitence to bless.
Trust her, my child.' With unconvinced consent
She answered, 'I will come;' and so at last
Out of the summer evening's crimson glow,
With heart reluctant and with footsteps slow
Into the cool great empty church she passed.

'By my own fault, my own most grievous fault,
I cannot say, for it is not!' she said,
Kneeling within the grey stone chapel's vault;
And on the ledge her golden hair was spread
Over the clasping hands that still increased
Their nervous pressure, poor white hands and thin,
While with hot lips she poured her tale of sin
Into the cold ear of the patient priest.

'Love broke upon me in a dream; it came
Without beginning, for to me it seemed
That all my life this thing had been the same,
And never otherwise than as I dreamed.
I only knew my heart, entire, complete,
Was given to my other self, my love--
That I through all the world would gladly move
So I might follow his adorèd feet.

'I dreamed my soul saw suddenly appear
Immense abysses, infinite heights unknown;
Possessed new worlds, new earths, sphere after sphere,
New sceptres, kingdoms, crowns, became my own.
When I had all, all earth, all time, all space,
And every blessing, human and divine,
I hated the possessions that were mine,
And only cared for his belovèd face.

'I dreamed that in unmeasured harmony,
Rain of sweet sounds fell on my ravished sense,
And thrilled my soul with swelling ecstasy,
And rose to unimagined excellence.

And while the music bade my heart rejoice,
And on my senses thrust delicious sway,
I wished the perfect melody away,
And in its place longed for his worshipped voice.

'And at the last I felt his arms enfold,
His kisses crown my life--his whispered sighs
Echo my own unrest--his spirit hold
My spirit powerless underneath his eyes,
My face flushed with new joy, and felt more fair:
He clasped me close, and cried, 'My own, my own!'
And then I woke in dawn's chill light, alone,
With empty arms held out to empty air.

'I never knew I loved him till that dream
Drew from my eyes the veil and left me wise.
What I had thought was reverence grew to seem
Only my lifelong love in thin disguise.
And in my dream it looked so sinless too,
So beautiful, harmonious, and right;
The vision faded with the morning light,
The love will last as long as I shall do.

'But in the world where I have wept my tears,
My love is sinful and a bitter shame.
How can I bear the never-ending years,
When every night I hear him call my name?
For though that first dream's dear delight is past,
Yet since that night each night I dream him there
With lips caressing on my brow and hair,
And in my arms I hold my heaven fast!'

'Child, have you prayed against it?' 'Have I prayed?
Have I not clogged my very soul with prayer;
Stopped up my ears with sound of praying, made
My very body faint with kneeling there
Before the sculptured Christ, and all for this,
That when my lips can pray no more, and sleep
Shuts my unwilling eyes, my love will leap
To dreamland's bounds, to meet me with his kiss?

'Strive against this?--what profit is the strife?
If through the day a little strength I gain,
At night he comes and calls me 'love' and 'wife,'
And straightway I am all his own again.

And if from love's besieging force my fight
Some little victory have hardly won,
What do I gain? As soon as day is done,
I yield once more to love's delicious might.'

'Avoid him!' 'Ay, in dewy garden walk
How often have I strayed, avoiding him.
And heard his voice mix with the common talk,
Yet never turned his way. My eyes grow dim
With weeping over what I lose by day
And find by night, yet never have to call
My own. O God! is there no help at all--
No hope, no chance, and no escapeful way?'

'And who is he to whom thy love is given?'
'What? Holy Church demands to know his name?
No rest for me on earth, no hope of heaven
Unless I tell it? Ah, for very shame
I cannot--yet why not?--I will--I can!
I have grown mad with brooding on my curse.
Here! Take the name, no better and no worse
My case will be. Father, thou art the man!'

An icy shock shivered through all his frame--
An overwhelming cold astonishment;
But on the instant the revulsion came,
His blood felt what her revelation meant,
And madly rushed along his veins and cried:
'For you too life is possible, and love
No more a word you miss the meaning of,
But all your life's desire unsatisfied.'

Then through his being crept a new strange fear--
Fear of himself, and through himself, for her;
His every fibre felt her presence near,
Disquiet in his breast began to stir.
'Lord Christ,' his soul cried, while his heart beat fast,
'Give strength in this, my hour of utmost need.'
And with the prayer strength came to him indeed,
And with calm voice he answered her at last.

'Child, go in peace! Wrestle, and watch, and pray,
And I will spend this night in prayer for thee,
That God will take thy strange great grief away.
Thou hast confessed thy sin. Absolvo te.'

Silence most absolute a little while,
Then passed the whisper of her trailing gown
Over the knee-worn stones, and soft died down
The dim deserted incense-memoried aisle.

She passed away, and yet, when she was gone,
His heart still echoed her remembered sighs:
What sin unpardonable had he done
That evermore those grey unquiet eyes
Floated between him and the dying day?
How had she grown so desperately dear?
Why did her love-words echo in his ear
Through all the prayers he forced his lips to say?

All night he lay upon the chancel floor,
And coined his heart in tears and prayers, and new
Strange longings he had never known before.
Her very memory so thrilled him through,
That to his being's core a shiver stole
Of utter, boundless, measureless delight,
Even while with unceasing desperate might
His lips prayed for God's armour for his soul!

The moon had bathed the chancel with her light,
But now she crept into a cloud. No ray
Was left to break the funeral black of night
That closely hung around the form that lay
So tempest-tossed within, so still without.
'God! I love her, love her, love her so!
Oh, for one spark of heaven's fire to show
Some way to cast this devil's passion out!

'I cannot choose but love--Thou knowest, Lord--
Yet is my spirit strong to fly from sin,
But oh, my flesh is weak, too weak the word
I have to clothe its utter weakness in!
I am Thy priest, vowed to be Thine alone,
Yet if she came here with those love-dimmed eyes,
How could I turn away from Paradise?
Should I not wreck her soul, and blast my own?

'Christ, by Thy passion, by Thy death for men,
Oh, save me from myself, save her from me!'
And at the word the moon came out again
From her cloud-palace, and threw suddenly

A shadow from the great cross overhead
Upon the priest; and with it came a sense
Of strength renewed, of perfect confidence
In Him who on that cross for men hung dead.

Beneath that shadow safety seemed to lie;
And as he knelt before the altar there,
Beside the King of Heaven's agony
Light seemed all pangs His priest might have to bear--
His grief, his love, his bitter wild regret,
Would they not be a fitting sacrifice,
A well-loved offering, blessed in the eyes
That never scorned a sad heart's offering yet?

But as the ghostly moon began to fade,
And moonlight glimmered into ghostlier dawn,
The shadow that the crucifix had made
With twilight mixed; and with it seemed withdrawn
The peace that with its shadowy shape began,
And as the dim east brightened, slowly ceased
The wild devotion that had filled the priest--
And with full sunlight he sprang up--a man!

'Ten thousand curses on my priestly vow--
The hated vow that held me back from thee!
Down with the cross! no death-dark emblems now!
I have done with death: life wakes for thee and me!'
He tore the cross from out his breast, and trod
The sacred symbol underfoot and cried,
'I am set free, unbound, unsanctified!
I am thy lover--not the priest of God!'

He strode straight down the church and passed along
The grave-set garden's dewy grass-grown slope:
The woods about were musical with song,
The world was bright with youth, and love, and hope;
The flowers were sweet, and sweet his visions were,
The sunlight glittered on the lily's head
And on the royal roses, rich and red,
And never had the earth seemed half so fair.

Soon would he see her--soon would kneel before
Her worshipped feet, and cry, 'I am thine own,
As thou art mine, now, and for evermore!'
And she should kiss the lips that had not known

The kiss of love in any vanished year.
And as he dreamed of his secured delight,
Round the curved road there slowly came in sight
A mourning band, and in their midst a bier.

He hastened to pass on. Why should he heed
A bier--a blot on earth's awakened face?
For to his love-warm heart it seemed indeed
That in sweet summer's bloom death had no place.
Yet still he glanced--a pale concealing fold
Veiled the dead, quiet face--and yet--and yet--
Did he not know that hand, so white and wet?
Did he not know those dripping curls of gold?

'We came to you to know what we should do,
Father: we found her body in the stream,
And how it happed, God knows!' One other knew--
Knew that of him had been her last wild dream--
Knew the full reason of that life-disdain--
Knew how the shame of hopeless love confessed
And unreturned had seemed to stain her breast,
Till only death could make her clean again.

They left her in the church where sunbeams bright
Gilded the wreathèd oak and carven stone
With golden floods of consecrating light;
And here at last, together and alone,
The lovers met, and here upon her hair
He set his lips, and dry-eyed kissed her face,
And in the stillness of the holy place
He spoke in tones of bitter blank despair:

'Oh, lips so quiet, eyes that will not see!
Oh, clinging hands that not again will cling!
This last poor sin may well be pardoned thee,
Since for the right's sake thou hast done this thing.
Oh, poor weak heart, for ever laid to rest,
That could no longer strive against its fate,
For thee high heaven will unbar its gate,
And thou shalt enter in and shalt be blessed.

'The chances were the same for us,' he said,
'Yet thou hast won, and I have lost, the whole;
Thou wouldst not live in sin, and thou art dead--
But I--against thee I have weighed my soul,

And, losing thee, have lost my soul as well.
I have cursed God, and trampled on His cross;
Earth has no measurement for all my loss,
But I shall learn to measure it in hell!'