WE loved, my love, and now it seems
Our love has brought to birth
Friendship, the fairest child of dreams,
The rarest gift of earth.
Soon die love's roses fresh and frail,
And when their bloom is o'er,
Not all our heart-wrung tears avail
To give them life once more.
But when true love with friendship lives,
As now, for thee and me,
Love brings the roses--Friendship gives
If you loved me I could trust you to your fancy's furthest bound
While the sun shone and the wind blew, and the world went round,
To the utmost of the meshes of the devil's strongest net . . .
If you loved me, if you loved me--but you do not love me yet!
I love you--and I cannot trust you further than the door!
But winds and worlds and seasons change, and you will love me more
And more--until I trust you, dear, as women do trust men -
I shall trust you, I shall trust you, but I shall not love you then!
This is where we end it, you and I.
Life's to live, you know, and death's to die;
I was yours
For the love in life that loves while life endures,
For the earth-path that the Heaven-flight ensures
I was yours.
You were mine
For the moment that a garland takes to twine,
For the human hour that sorcery shews divine
You were mine.
All is over.
You and I no more are love and lover;
Nought's to seek now, gain, attain, discover.
All is over.
IF Love and I were all alone
I might forget to grieve,
And for his pleasure and my own
Might happier garlands weave;
But you sit there, and watch us wear
The mourning wreaths you wove:
And while such mocking eyes you bear
I am not friends with Love.
Withdraw those cruel eyes, and let
Me search the garden through
That I may weave, ere Love be set,
The wreath of Love for you;
Till you, whom Love so well adorns,
Its hidden thorns discover,
And know at last what crown of thorns
It was you gave your lover.
The Way Of Love
THE butterfly loves the rose,
He flutters around her bed,
Till the soft curled leaves unclose,
And she raises her darling head.
He whispers of dawn and of dew,
Of love, and the heart of love,
Of worship, timid and true,
And she takes no joy thereof.
But when, through the noon's blind heat,
The arrogant bee flaunts by,
She yields him her heart's hid sweet,
And he leaves her alone, to die.
The depth of her dying bliss
Her grief-white butterfly knows:
And the bee laughs low in the kiss
Of another, a redder rose.
JOIN hands, my dear, clasp long and close and fast,
Even this present we shall soon call past,
And lay among the unforgotten days,
Not the less loved because they could not last.
Make haste to put our hasty words away,
And hide them with dead leaves of yesterday,
Cast them aside among forgotten things,
Keep the love warm that turns to green life's grey.
Each little thorn that pricks these present hours
Is sure to hide under our memories' flowers,
Till we shall say, turning the dry wreath over,
'How sweet they were--these dear dead days of ours!'
A MONTH of green and tender May,
All woods and walks awake with flowers,
Wide sunlit meadows for the day,
And moon-bathed paths for evening hours;
A bright brief dream that had no past,
And of the future knew no fear;
A kiss at first, a sigh at last--
Only last year.
Another spring, dim soulless woods;
No farewell kiss, no parting tear;
No stone to mark where silence broods
O'er the dead love we found so dear.
But, oh, to me the green seems grey,
The budding branches all are sere,
For sweet love's sake, that died one day,
Only last year.
Love And Life
LOVE only sings when Love is young,
When Love is young and still at play,
How shall we count the sweet songs sung
When Love and Joy kept holiday?
But now Love has to earn his bread
By lifelong stress and toil of tears,
He finds his nest of song-birds dead
That sang so sweet in other years.
For Love's a man now, strong and brave,
To fight for you, for you to live,
And Love, that once such bright songs gave,
Has better things than songs to give;
He gives you now a lifelong faith,
A hand to help in joy or pain,
And he will sing no more, till Death
Shall come to make him young again!
This was our house. To this we came
Lighted by love with torch aflame,
And in this chamber, door locked fast,
I held you to my heart at last.
This was our house. In this we knew
The worst that Time and Fate can do.
You left the room bare, wide the door;
You did not love me any more.
Where once the kind warm curtain hung
The spider's ghostly cloth is flung;
The beetle and the woodlouse creep
Where once I loved your lovely sleep.
Yet so the vanished spell endures,
That this, our house, still, still is yours.
Here, spite of all these years apart,
I still can hold you to my heart!
ONCE I loved, and my heart bowed down,
Subject and slave, for Love was a King;
He sat above with sceptre and crown,
Turning his eyes from my sorrowing.
The laugh of a god on his lips lay light--
His lips victorious that mocked my pain,
And I mourned in the cold and the outer night,
And my tears and my prayers were vain.
Now the old spell is over and done,
Myself I wear the ermine and gold,
My brows are crowned, I ascend the throne,
I have taken the sceptre and orb to hold.
I smile victorious, set far above
The music of voices that moan and pray,
My feet are wet with the tears of love,
And I turn my eyes away.
The enchanted hour,
The magic bower,
Where, crowned with roses,
Love love discloses.
'Kiss me, my lover;
Doubting is over,
Over is waiting;
Love lights our mating!'
'But roses wither,
Chill winds blow hither,
One thing all say, dear,
Love lives a day, dear!'
'Heed those old stories?
New glowing glories
Blot out those lies, love!
Look in my eyes, love!
'Ah, but the world knows -
Naught of the true rose;
Back the world slips, love!
Give me your lips, love!
'Even were their lies true,
Yet were you wise to
Swear, at Love's portal,
The god's immortal.'
Love Well The Hour
HEART of my heart, my life and light,
If you were lost what should I do?
I dare not let you from my sight,
Lest Death should fall in love with you.
Such countless terrors lie in wait.
The gods know well how dear you are:
What if they left me desolate
And plucked and set you for their star?
So hold my hand--the gods are strong,
And perfect joy so rare a flower
No man may hope to keep it long,
And I might lose it any hour.
So, kiss me close, my star, my flower,
Thus shall the future spare me this:
The thought that there was ever an hour
We might have kissed and did not kiss.
Love And Knowledge
THOUGH you and I so long have been so near--
Have felt each other's heart-beats hour by hour,
Have watered, plucked, and trampled passion's flower,
Have known so many days so very dear--
Yet still through every hour of every year
We have sought to win and failed to win the dower
Of perfect insight, and to gain the power
To see what we are, and not what we appear.
Yet you desire such knowledge--would possess,
You say, completion of love; if that were won
--Ah! by it might not haply be undone
The little measure of joy we knew before?
Though we should swear we loved each other more,
How surely we should love each other less!
The Maiden's Prayer
SPRING, pretty Spring, what treasure do you bring to me?
Green grass and buttercups, cherry-bloom and may?
Sunshine to be glad with me, and little birds to sing to me?
Warm nests to call me along the woodland way?
Spring, happy Spring, what wonder will you do for me?
Light the tulip lanterns, and set the furze a-fire?
Fill your sky with sails of cloud on waves of living blue for me?
Show me green cornfields and budding of the briar?
Spring, darling Spring, my days will not return to me,
You who see them fleeting, you, all time above,
You who move the whole world's heart, ah move one heart to turn to me,
--Bring me a lover, and teach me how to love!
The Poet To His Love
ALL the flight of thoughts here, shy, bold, scared, intrusive,
Fluttering in the sun, between the green and blue,
Wheeling, whirling, poising, lovely and elusive,
How to cage the flying thoughts, my winged delight, for you?
Set a springe of rhyme, and hope to catch them in it?
Strew my love as grain to lure them to the snare?
Watch the hours built up, slow minute piled on minute?
Still the wide sky guards their flight, and still the cage is bare.
Gleam of hovering feathers, brushing me to flout me!
Wings, be weary! Rest! Who loves you more than I?
Caught? Oh fluttering pinions whitening air about me!
Rustling wings, and distant flight, and empty cage and sky!
NOT to the terrible God, avenging, bright,
Whose altars struck their roots in flame and blood,
Not to the jealous God, whose merciless might
The infamy of unclean years withstood;
But to the God who lit the evening star,
Who taught the flower to blossom in delight,
Who taught His world what love and worship are
We pray, we two, to-night.
To no vast Presence too immense to love,
To no enthronèd King too great to care,
To no strange Spirit human needs above
We bring our little, intimate, heart-warm prayer;
But to the God who is a Father too,
The Father who loved and gave His only Son
We pray across the cradle, I and you,
For ours, our little one!
Through The Wood
THROUGH the wood, the green wood, the wet wood, the light wood,
Love and I went maying a thousand lives ago;
Shafts of golden sunlight had made a golden bright wood
In my heart reflected, because I loved you so.
Through the wood, the chill wood, the brown wood, the bare wood,
I alone went lonely no later than last year,
What had thinned the branches, and wrecked my dear and fair wood,
Killed the pale wild roses and left the rose-thorns sere?
Through the wood, the dead wood, the sad wood, the lone wood,
Winds of winter shiver through lichens old and grey,
You ride past forgetting the wood that was our own wood
All our own--and withered as ever a flower of May.
True Love And New Love
OVER the meadow and down the lane
To the gate by the twisted thorn:
Your feet should know each turn of the way
You trod so many many a day,
Before the old love was put out of its pain,
Before the new love was born.
Kiss her, hold her and fold her close,
Tell her the old true tale:
You ought to know each turn of the phrase,--
You learned them all in the poor old days
Before the birth of the new red rose,
Before the old rose grew pale.
And do not fear I shall creep to-night
To make a third at your tryst:
My ghost, if it walked, would only wait
To scare the others away from the gate
Where you teach your new love the old delight,
With the lips that your old love kissed.
To One Who Pleaded For Candour In Love
HERE is the dim enchanted wood
Your face, a mystery divine,
But half revealed, half understood,
Appears the counterpart of mine.
Beyond the wood the daylight lies;
Cruel and hard, it lies in wait
To steal the magic from your eyes
And from your lips the thrill of fate.
Ah, stay with me a little while
Here, where the magic shadows rest,
Where all my world is in your smile
And all my heaven on your breast.
Ah no!--cling close, what need to move,
What need to advance or explore?
We came here blindly, led by love,
Who will not lead us any more.
Thank God that here we two have stood,
Thank God this shade was ours to win;
Time with his axe has marked our wood
And he will let the daylight in.
The Veil Of Maya
SWEET, I have loved before. I know
This longing that invades my days;
This shape that haunts life's busy ways
I know since long and long ago.
This starry mystery of delight
That floats across my eager eyes,
This pain that makes earth Paradise,
These magic songs of day and night--
I know them for the things they are:
A passing pain, a longing fleet,
A shape that soon I shall not meet,
A fading dream of veil and star.
Yet, even as my lips proclaim
The wisdom that the years have lent,
Your absence is joy's banishment,
And life's one music is your name.
I love you to my heart's hid core:
Those other loves? how should one learn
From marshlights how the great fires burn?
Ah, no! I never loved before!
The Glow-Worm To Her Love
BENEATH cool ferns, in dewy grass,
Among the leaves that fringe the stream,
I hear the feet of lovers pass,
--I hide all day, and dream.
But when the night, with wide soft wings,
Droops on the trembling waiting wood,
And lulls the restless woodland things
Within its solitude,
Ah, then my soft green lamp I light,
That thou may'st find me by its fire--
Come, crown me, O my winged delight
My darling, my desire.
Yet they who praise the lamp I bear
Have never a word of praise for thee,
My love, my life, my King of Air,
Who lightest the lamp in me.
Thine, thine should be the praise they give
My King, who art all praise above,
Since but for thee I dream and live,
And light the lamp of love.
To His Lady
(Who asked a Song in Spring)
WHY do you bid your poet sing,
Who has no mind to song--
Who only wants to see the Spring,
Long sought and tarrying long?
The shivering, dreary winter through
My song enshrined my vow;
If then my songs were sweet to you,
Let me be silent now!
Have I not duly sung, my dear,
Your goodness and your grace?
Now that your rival, Spring, is here,
O let me see her face!
The hedge is white with buds of May,
The fields are green with Spring,
Oh, give your bard a holiday:
He does not want to sing!
He wants to listen; all alone,
He wants to steal away
To hear the ring-doves' tender tone,
And what the thrushes say.
He wants to hear what can't be heard
When you and love are near--
The sweet Spring's soft and secret word;
Oh, let him go, my dear!
DEAREST, if I almost cease to weep for you,
Do not doubt I love you just the same;
'Tis because my life has grown to keep for you
All the hours that sorrow does not claim.
All the hours when I may steal away to you,
Where you lie alone through the long day,
Lean my face against your turf and say to you
All that there is no one else to say.
Do they let you listen--do you lean to me?
Know now what in life you never knew,
When I whisper all that you have been to me,
All that I might never be to you?
Dear, lie still. No tears but mine are shed for you,
No one else leaves kisses day by day,
No one's heart but mine has beat and bled for you,
No one else's flowers push mine away.
No one else remembers--do not call to her,
Not alone she treads the churchyard grass;
You are nothing now who once were all to her,
Do not call her--let the strangers pass!
The Heart Of Sadness
IT is not, Dear, because I am alone,
For I am lonelier when the rest are near,
But that my place against your heart has grown
Too dear to dream of when you are not here.
I weep because my thoughts no more may roam
To meet, half-way, your longing thoughts of me,
To turn with these and spread glad wings for home,
For the dear haven where I fain would be.
When first we loved, I loved to steal away
To show to solitude what love could do,
To fill the waste space of the night and day
With thousand-wingèd dreams that flew to you;
But now through many tears I am grown wise
To know how mighty and how dear love is;
I dare not turn to him my longing eyes,
Nor even in dreams lean out my face to his,
Because, if once I let my caged heart go
Through dreams to seek you, I should follow too
Through wrong and right, through wisdom and through woe,
Through heaven and hell, until I won to you!
YOU bring your love too late, dear, I have no love to buy it,
I spent my love on worthless toys, at fairs you do not know;
I am a bankrupt trader--dear eyes, do not deny it,
I could have bought your love, dear, but that was long ago.
My soul has left me widowed, my heart has made me orphan,
Leave me--all good things, dear, have left me--leave me too!
For here is ice no tears of yours, no smiles of yours can soften:
Leave me, leave me, leave me, I have no love for you!
I have no flowers to give you, they grow not in my garden;
I have no songs to sing you, my songs have all been sung;
I have no hope of heaven, no faith in any pardon,
I might have loved you once, dear, when I was good and young.
I will not steal, nor cheat you; take back the heart you lent me.
O God, whom I have outraged, now teach me how to pray,
That love come never again so near me to torment me,
Lest I be found less faithful than, by Thy grace, to-day.
AH, turn your pretty eyes away!
You would not have me love again?
Love's pleasure does not live a day,
Immortal is Love's pain,
And I am tired of pain.
I have loved once--aye, once or twice;
The pleasure died, the pain lives here;
I will not look in your sweet eyes,
I will not love you, Dear,
Lest you should grow too dear.
For I am weary and afraid.
Have I not seen why life was fair,
And known how good a world God made,
How sweet the blossoms were,
How dear the green fields were?
And I have found how life was gray,
A mist-hung road, a quest in vain,
Until once more Love smiled my way
And fooled me once again,
And taught me grief again.
Now I will gather no more grief;
I only ask to see the sky,
The budding flower, the budding leaf,
And put old dreamings by,
The dreams Love tortures by.
For, being wise, I love no more;
You, if you will, snare with those eyes
Some fool who never loved before,
And teach him to be wise!
For why should you be wise?
Last night when I kissed you,
My soul caught alight;
And oh! how I missed you
The rest of the night -
Till Love in derision
Smote sleep with his wings,
And gave me in vision
A night that was clouded,
Long windows asleep;
Dark avenues crowded
With secrets to keep.
A terrace, a lover,
A foot on the stair;
The waiting was over,
The lady was there.
What a flight, what a night!
The hoofs splashed and pounded.
Dark fainted in light
And the first bird-notes sounded.
You slept on my shoulder,
Shy night hid your face;
But dawn, bolder, colder,
Beheld our embrace.
Your lips of vermilion,
Your ravishing shape,
The flogging postillion,
The village agape,
The rattle and thunder
Of postchaise a-speed . . .
My woman, my wonder,
My ultimate need!
We two matched for mating
Came, handclasped, at last,
Where the blacksmith was waiting
To fetter us fast . . .
At the touch of the fetter
The dream snapped and fell -
And I woke to your letter
That bade me farewell.
WHEN I was young how fair the skies,
Such folly of cloud, such blue depths wise,
Such dews of morn, such calms of eve,
So many the lure and the reprieve--
Life seemed a toy to break and mend
And make a charm of in the end.
Then slowly all the dew dried up
And only dust lay in the cup;
And since, to slake his thirst, man must,
I sought a cup that had no dust,
And found it at the Goat and Vine--
Mingled of brandy, beer and wine.
The goat-cup, straight, drew down the skies
And lit them in lunatick wise:
What had been rose went scarlet red,
And the pearl tints grew like the dead.
And the fresh primrose of the morn
Was the wet red of rain-spoiled corn.
Now, with a head that aches and nods
I hold weak hands out to the gods;
And oh! forgiving gods and kind,
They give me healing to my mind,
And show me once again the lawn
Green and clear-gemmed with dews of dawn.
O gods, who look down from above
Upon our tangle of lust and love,
And, in your purity, perceive
The worth of what our follies leave:
Give us but this, and sink the rest--
To know that dew and dawn are best.
The Jilted Lover To His Mother
You needn't pray for me, old lady, I don't want no one's prayer,
I'm fit and jolly as ever I was--you needn't think I care.
When I go whistling down the road, when the warm night is falling,
She needn't think I'm whistling her, it's another girl I'm calling.
If I pass her house a dozen times, or fifty times a day,
She needn't think I think of her, my work lies out that way.
If they should tell her I've grown thin (for that is what they've told me)
This cursed weather counts for that, and not the girl who sold me.
And if they say I'm off my feed I still can tip a can;
If I get drunk what's that to her? I am not her young man.
I know I've had a lucky let-off--she ain't no class, she ain't,
For all she looked like a bush o' roses and talked like a story book saint.
I never give a thought to her. Don't worry your old head,
I've quite forgot her pretty ways and the cruel things she said,
There's lots of other gals to be had as any chap can see,
So you cheer up, you've got no call to go and pray for me.
But all the same, if you want to pray, you'd best pray God take care of them,
For if I catch them two together, by hell! I'll swing for the pair of them.
The Husband Of To-Day
EYES caught by beauty, fancy by eyes caught;
Sweet possibilities, question, and wonder--
What did her smile say? What has her brain thought?
Her standard, what? Am I o'er it or under?
Flutter in meeting--in absence dreaming;
Tremor in greeting--for meeting scheming;
Caught by the senses, and yet all through
True with the heart of me, sweetheart, to you.
Only the brute in me yields to the pressure
Of longings inherent--of vices acquired;
All this, my darling, is folly--not pleasure,
Only my fancy--not soul--has been fired.
Sense thrills exalted, thrills to love-madness;
Fancy grown sad becomes almost love-sadness;
And yet love has with it nothing to do,
Love is fast fettered, sweetheart, to you.
Lacking fresh fancies, time flags--grows wingless;
Life without folly would fail--fall flat;
But the love that lights life, and makes death's self stingless--
You, and you only, have wakened that.
Sweet are all women, you are the best of them;
You are so dear because dear are the rest of them;
After each fancy has sprung, grown, and died,
Back I come ever, dear, to your side.
The strongest of passions--in joy--seeks the new,
But in grief I turn ever, sweetheart, to you.
THIS is Christ's birthday: long ago
He lay upon His Mother's knee,
Who kissed and blessed Him soft and low--
God's gift to her, as you to me.
My baby dear, my little one,
The love that rocks this cradling breast
Is such as Mary gave her Son:
She was more honoured, not more blest.
He smiled as you smile: not more sweet
Than your eyes were those eyes of His,
And just such little hands and feet
As yours Our Lady used to kiss.
The world's desire that Mother bore:
She held a King upon her knee:
O King of all my world, and more
Than all the world's desire to me!
I thank God on the Christmas morn,
For He has given me all things good:
This body which a child has borne,
This breast, made holy for his food.
High in high heaven Our Lady's throne
Beside her Son's stands up apart:
I sit on heaven's steps alone
And hold my king against my heart.
Across dark depths she hears your cry;
She sees your smile, through worlds of blue
Who was a mother, even as I,
And loved her Child, as I love you.
And to her heart my babe is dear,
Because she bore the Babe Divine,
And all my soul to hers draws near,
And loves Him for the sake of mine!
FAREWELL! How soon unmeasured distance rolls
Its leaden clouds between our parted souls!
How little to each other now are we--
And once how much I dreamed we two might be!
I, who now stand with eyes undimmed and dry
To say good-bye--
To say good-bye to all sweet memories,
Good-bye to tender questions, soft replies;
Good bye to hope, good-bye to dreaming too,
Good-bye to all things dear--good-bye to you,
Without a kiss, a tear, a prayer, a sigh--
Our last good-bye.
I had no chain to bind you with at all;
No grace to charm, no beauty to enthral;
No power to hold your eyes with mine, and make
Your heart on fire with longing for my sake,
Till all the yearning passed into one cry:
'Love, not good-bye!'
Ah, no--I had no strength like that, you know;
Yet my worst weakness was to love you so!
So much too well--so much too well--or ill--
Yet even that might have been pardoned still--
It would have been had I been you--you I!
How soon the bitter follows on the sweet!
Could I not chain your fancy's flying feet?
Could I not hold your soul--to make you play
To-morrow in the key of yesterday--?
Dear--do you dream that I would stoop to try?
1 It's all for nothing: I've lost im now.
2 I suppose it ad to be:
3 But oh I never thought it of im,
4 Nor e never thought it of me.
5 And all for a kiss on your evening out
6 An a field where the grass was down ...
7 And e as gone to God-knows-where,
8 And I may go on the town.
9 The worst of all was the thing e said
10 The night that e went away:
11 He said e'd a married me right enough
12 If I adn't a been so gay.
13 Me, gay! When I'd cried, and I'd asked him not,
14 But e said e loved me so;
15 An whatever e wanted seemed right to me ...
16 An how was a girl to know?
17 Well, the river is deep, and drowned folk sleep sound,
18 An it might be the best to do;
19 But when he made me a light-o-love
20 He made me a mother too.
21 I've ad enough sin to last my time,
22 If twas sin as I got it by,
23 But it aint no sin to stand by his kid
24 An work for it till I die.
25 But oh the long days and the death-long nights
26 When I feel it move and turn,
27 And cry alone in my single bed
28 And count what a girl can earn
29 To buy the baby the bits of things
30 He ought to a bought, by rights;
31 And wonder whether e thinks of Us ...
32 And if e sleeps sound o' nights.
The Wife Of All Ages
I DO not catch these subtle shades of feeling,
Your fine distinctions are too fine for me;
This meeting, scheming, longing, trembling, dreaming,
To me mean love, and only love, you see;
In me at least 'tis love, you will admit,
And you the only man who wakens it.
Suppose I yearned, and longed, and dreamed, and fluttered,
What would you say or think, or further, do?
Why should one rule be fit for me to follow,
While there exists a different law for you?
If all these fires and fancies came my way,
Would you believe love was so far away?
On all these other women--never doubt it--
'Tis love you lavish, love you promised me!
What do I care to be the first, or fiftieth?
It is the only one I care to be.
Dear, I would be your sun, as mine you are,
Not the most radiant wonder of a star.
And so, good-bye! Among such sheaves of roses
You will not miss the flower I take from you;
Amid the music of so many voices
You will forget the little songs I knew--
The foolish tender words I used to say,
The little common sweets of every day.
The world, no doubt, has fairest fruits and blossoms
To give to you; but what, ah! what for me?
Nay, after all I am your slave and bondmaid,
And all my world is in my slavery.
So, as before, I welcome any part
Which you may choose to give me of your heart.
O CHRIST, born on the holy day,
I have no gift to give my King;
No flowers grow by my weary way;
I have no birthday song to sing.
How can I sing Thy name and praise,
Who never saw Thy face divine;
Who walk in darkness all my days,
And see no Eastern stars a-shine?
Yet, when their Christmas gifts they bring,
How can I leave Thy praise unsung?
How stay from homage to the King,
And hold a silent, grudging tongue?
Lord, I found many a song to sing,
And many a humble hymn of praise
For Thy great Miracle of Spring,
The wonder of the waxing days.
When I beheld Thy days and years,
Did I not sing Thy pleasant earth?
The moons of love, the years of tears,
The mysteries of death and birth?
Have I not sung with all my soul
While soul and song were mine to yield,
Thy lightning crown, Thy cloud-control,
The dewy clover of Thy field?
Have I not loved Thy birds and beasts,
Thy streams and woods, Thy sun and shade;
Have I not made me holy feasts
Of all the beauty Thou hast made?
What though my tear-tired eyes, alas!
Won never grace Thy face to see?
I heard Thy footstep on the grass,
Thy voice in every wind-blown tree.
No music now I make or win,
Yet, Lord, remember I have been
The lover of Thy world, wherein
I found nought common or unclean.
Grown old and blind, I sing no more,
Thy saints in heaven sing sweet and strong,
Yet take the songs I made of yore
For echoes to Thy birthday song.
At Parting Ii
AND you could leave me now--
After the first remembered whispered vow
Which sings for ever and ever in my ears--
The vow which God among His Angels hears--
After the long-drawn years,
The slow hard tears,
Could break new ground, and wake
A new strange garden to blossom for your sake,
And leave me here alone,
In the old garden that was once our own?
How should I learn to bear
Our garden's pleasant ways and pleasant air,
Her flowers, her fruits, her lily, her rose and thorn,
When only in a picture these appear--
These, once alive, and always over-dear?
Ah--think again: the rose you used to wear
Must still be more than other roses be
The flower of flowers. Ah, pity, pity me!
For in my acres is no plot of ground
Whereon could any garden site be found,
I have but little skill
To water weed and till
And make the desert blossom like the rose;
Yet our old garden knows
If I have loved its ways and walks and kept
The garden watered, and the pleasance swept.
Yet--if you must--go now:
Go, with my blessing filling both your hands,
And, mid the desert sands
Which life drifts deep round every garden wall,
Make your new festival
Of bud and blossom--red rose and green leaf.
No blight born of my grief
Shall touch your garden, love; but my heart's prayer
Shall draw down blessings on you from the air,
And all we learned of leaf and plant and tree
Shall serve you when you walk no more with me
In garden ways; and when with her you tread
The pleasant ways with blossoms overhead
And when she asks, 'How did you come to know
The secrets of the ways these green things grow?'
Then you will answer--and I, please God, hear,
'I had another garden once, my dear'.
The Last Envoy
THIS wind, that through the silent woodland blows,
O'er rippling corn and dreaming pastures goes
Straight to the garden where the heart of spring
Faints in the heart of summer's earliest rose.
Dimpling the meadow's grassy green and grey,
By furze that yellows all the common way,
Gathering the gladness of the flowering broom,
And too persistent fragrance of the may--
Gathering whatever is of sweet and dear,
The wandering wind has passed away from here,
Has passed to where within your garden waits
The concentrated sweetness of the year.
And in your leafed enclosure as you stood,
Training your flowers to new beatitude--
Ah! did you guess the wind that kissed your hair
Had kissed my forehead in this solitude--
Had kissed my lips, and gathered there the heat
It breathed upon your mouth, my only sweet--
Had gathered from my eyes the tender thought
That drooped your eyes, and stirred your pulses' beat?
You only thought the sun's caress too warm
That lay upon your bosom and your arm;
You did not guess the wind had brought from me
The unacknowledged fancy's fire and charm--
You only said, 'Too strong these sunlit skies,
More dear the moments when the daylight dies!'
And then you dreamed of meetings by your gate
In sanctity of sunset and moonrise.
To-night, when he shall come and meet you there,
To kiss your lips and hands and eyes and hair,
To light with love and hope youth's waiting shrine--
Think of my love, and my assured despair!
To-night the wind will rob the languid flowers
Of secret scents kept close through daylit hours;
It will blow coolly over dewy lawns,
Where the laburnums fall in silent showers.
I, too, shall learn a secret then--shall wrest
Life's hidden things from out her languorous breast,
Shall learn the way that leads away from life
Into the land where nothing lives but rest.
You will not know that the cold air you prize,
After the stormy sweetness of his sighs,
Is cold from blowing through a moonlit wood
Over the hollow where a dead man lies!
THIS mystery of golden hair,
Of eyes and lips and bosom fair,
Is not--if one could really see--
Mere flesh and blood, like you and me:
This is a sphinx whose still lips say
This one thing ever, day by day,
To all who cross her in life's ways:
'Which is the way to love?' she says.
For every man who meets her eyes
In their deep depths the question lies;
And vainly would he seek to fly
Or put the wordless challenge by,
Unless within his soul be set
Some true-love vow as amulet:
This clasping, let him flee her spell,
Nor trust its guardian powers too well.
Nothing seems good to think about
But just to find that secret out;
We bring her fruits of earnest hours,
And offer choice of passion-flowers,
Of crowns, of heart's blood, of heart's ache,
Our hopes we spurn, our joys forsake,
While she looks down upon our pain
Without compassion or disdain.
She does not will to question thus--
Fate made her just to torture us;
Nor can she tell you, if she will,
Aught of your guesses, good or ill.
But if you fail to answer well,
Your own foiled heart prepares your hell,
And all your days you walk alone,
And curse the done and the undone.
She does not bid you for her sake
Your soul to wreck, your life to break,
Nor would she choose it for her part.
Only for ever in your heart
The haunting question must abide,
And clamour morn and eventide,
Until no single note your ear
Of all life's harmonies can hear.
Yet to some man it will be given
To find the key that opens heaven;
For him, beloved by all the Fates,
Answer as well as question waits
In those unwakened eyes of hers,
And when their calm that answer stirs,
From her stone sleep the sphinx will wake
Into a woman, for his sake.
What though one's whole life's light grows night
With that unanswered question's blight?
One's one poor chance is richly worth
The richest certainties of earth!
Myself would rather die, I know--
Starved, just because I want her so--
Than feast in highest heaven of bliss
On any other woman's kiss.
Such spells she has, I would not choose
One look or touch of hers to lose,
Though every touch and look have power
To sting me to my dying hour;
Though every breath of hers should bring
Frost on life's bud and blossoming,
What soul could ask a dearer death
Than to be withered by her breath?
The Stolen God--Lazarus To Dives
We do not clamour for vengeance,
We do not whine for fear;
We have cried in the outer darkness
Where was no man to hear.
We cried to man and he heard not;
Yet we thought God heard us pray;
But our God, who loved and was sorry -
Our God is taken away.
Ours were the stream and the pasture,
Forest and fen were ours;
Ours were the wild wood-creatures,
The wild sweet berries and flowers.
You have taken our heirlooms from us,
And hardly you let us save
Enough of our woods for a cradle,
Enough of our earth for a grave.
You took the wood and the cornland,
Where still we tilled and felled;
You took the mine and quarry,
And all you took you held.
The limbs of our weanling children
You crushed in your mills of power;
And you made our bearing women toil
To the very bearing hour.
You have taken our clean quick longings,
Our joy in lover and wife,
Our hope of the sunset quiet
At the evening end of life;
You have taken the land that bore us,
Its soil and stone and sod;
You have taken our faith in each other -
And now you have taken our God.
When our God came down from Heaven
He came among men, a Man,
Eating and drinking and working
As common people can;
And the common people received Him
While the rich men turned away.
But what have we to do with a God
To whom the rich men pray?
He hangs, a dead God, on your altars,
Who lived a Man among men,
You have taken away our Lord
And we cannot find Him again.
You have not left us a handful
Of even the earth He trod . . .
You have made Him a rich man's idol
Who came as a poor man's God.
He promised the poor His heaven,
He loved and lived with the poor;
He said that the rich man's shadow
Should never darken His door:
But bishops and priests lie softly,
Drink full and are fully fed
In the Name of the Lord, who had not
Where to lay His head.
This is the God you have stolen,
As you steal all else--in His name.
You have taken the ease and the honour,
Left us the toil and the shame.
You have chosen the seat of Dives,
We lie where Lazarus lay;
But, by God, we will not yield you our God,
You shall not take Him away.
All else we had you have taken;
All else, but not this, not this.
The God of Heaven is ours, is ours,
And the poor are His, are His.
Is He ours? Is He yours? Give answer!
For both He cannot be.
And if He is ours--O you rich men,
Then whose, in God's name, are ye?
Out Of The Fulness Of The Heart The Mouth Speaketh
In answer to those who have said that English Poets
give no personal love to their country.
ENGLAND, my country, austere in the clamorous council of nations,
Set in the seat of the mighty, wielding the sword of the strong,
Have we but sung of your glory, firm in eternal foundations?
Are not your woods and your meadows the core of our heart and our song?
O dear fields of my country, grass growing green, glowing golden,
Green in the patience of winter, gold in the pageant of spring,
Oaks and young larches awaking, wind-flowers and violets blowing,
What, if God sets us to singing, what save you shall we sing?
Who but our England is fair through the veil of her poets' praises,
What but the pastoral face, the fruitful, beautiful breast?
Are not your poets' meadows starred with the English daisies?
Were not the wings of their song-birds fledged in an English nest?
Songs of the leaves in the sunlight, songs of the fern-brake in shadow,
Songs of the world of the woods and songs of the marsh and the mere,
Are they not English woods, dear English marshland and meadow?
Have not your poets loved you? England, are you not dear?
Shoulders of upland brown laid dark to the sunset's bosom,
Living amber of wheat, and copper of new-ploughed loam,
Downs where the white sheep wander, little gardens in blossom,
Roads that wind through the twilight up to the lights of home.
Lanes that are white with hawthorn, dykes where the sedges shiver,
Hollows where caged winds slumber, moorlands where winds wake free,
Sowing and reaping and gleaning, spring and torrent and river,
Are they not more, by worlds, than the whole of the world can be?
Is there a corner of land, a furze-fringed rag of a by-way,
Coign of your foam-white cliffs or swirl of your grass-green waves,
Leaf of your peaceful copse, or dust of your strenuous highway,
But in our hearts is sacred, dear as our cradles, our graves?
Is not each bough in your orchards, each cloud in the skies above you,
Is not each byre or homestead, furrow or farm or fold,
Dear as the last dear drops of the blood in the hearts that love you,
Filling those hearts till the love is more than the heart can hold?
Therefore the song breaks forth from the depths of the hidden fountain
Singing your least frail flower, your raiment of seas and skies,
Singing your pasture and cornfield, fen and valley and mountain,
England, desire of my heart, England, delight of mine eyes!
Take my song too, my country: many a son and debtor
Pays you in praise and homage out of your gifts' full store;
Life of my life, my England, many will praise you better,
None, by the God that made you, ever can love you more!