The Whirligig Of Time

Before your feet,
My love, my sweet,
Behold! your slave bows down;
And in his hands
From other lands
Brings you another crown.

For in far climes,
In bygone times,
Myself was royal too:
Oh, I have been
A king, my queen,
Who am a slave for you!

How soft the lamplight falls
On pictures, books,
And pleasant coloured walls
And curtains drawn!
How happily one looks
On glowing flame and ember;
Ah, why should one remember
Dew and dawn!

Here age and wisdom sit
Calm and discreet,
Life and the fruit of it
Are here in truth,
Whose gathering once was sweet--
Wisdom and age! Well met!
Yet neither can forget
Folly and youth!

AGE pauses on his toilsome way
To let youth pluck her flowers of play;
Flowers are not always, but we may
Cut thorns and thistles any day.

Would Fate but hold her hand one hour,
Then might we pluck love's perfect flower;
Yet full security might miss
The perfume of one hour like this.

For all our joys are snatched from Fate,
Through years her ban makes desolate;
We wrest our love from doubt and fear,
And find it so more sweet, more dear.

THE white snow falls on hill and dale,
The snow falls white by square and street,
Falls on the town, a bridal veil,
And on the fields a winding-sheet.

A winding-sheet for last year's flowers,
For last year's love, and last year's tear,
A bridal veil for the New Hours,
For the New Love and the New Year.

Soft snow, spread out his winding-sheet!
Spin fine her veil, O bridal snow!
Cover the print of her dancing feet,
And the place where he lies low.

Sunrise is in your eyes, and in your heart
The hope and bright desire of morn and May.
My eyes are full of shadow, and my part
Of life is yesterday.

Yet lend my hand your hand, and let us sit
And see your life unfolding like a scroll,
Rich with illuminated blazon, fit
For your arm-bearing soul.

My soul bears arms too, but the scroll's rolled tight,
Yet the one strip of faded brightness shown
Proclaims that when 'twas splendid in the light
Its blazon matched your own.

Christmas Roses

THE summer roses all are gone--
Dead, laid in shroud of rain-wet mould;
And passion's lightning time is done,
And Love is laid out white and cold.
Summer and youth for us are dead,
What do old age and winter bring instead?

They bring us memories of old years,
And Christmas roses, cold and sweet,
Which, washed by not unhappy tears,
I bring and lay beside your feet,
With gifts that come with flowers like these--
Friendship, remembrance of our past, and peace!

To Her: In Time Of War

Once I made for you songs,
Rondels, triolets, sonnets;
Verse that my love deemed due,
Verse that your love found fair.
Now the wide wings of war
Hang, like a hawk's, over England,
Shadowing meadows and groves;
And the birds and the lovers are mute.

Yet there's a thing to say
Before I go into battle,
Not now a poet's word
But a man's word to his mate:
Dear, if I come back never,
Be it your pride that we gave
The hope of our hearts, each other,
For the sake of the Hope of the World.

Spring In War-Time

Now the sprinkled blackthorn snow
Lies along the lover’s lane
Where last year we used to go-
Where we shall not go again.

In the hedge the buds are new,
By our wood the violets peer-
Just like last year’s violets too,
But they have no scent this year.

Every bird has heart to sing
Of its nest, warmed by its breast;
We had heart to sing last spring,
But we never built our nest.

Presently red roses blown
Will make all the garden gay..
Not yet have the daisies grown
On your clay.

IN the coming year enfolded
Bright and sad hours lie,
Waiting till you reach and live them
As the year rolls by.

In the happy hours and radiant
I would like to be
Somewhere out of sight, forgotten,
Your delight to see.

But when you are tired and saddened,
Vexed with life, dismayed,
I would steal your grief, and lay it
Where my own is laid--

Bleed my heart out in your service
If, set free from pain,
You, through me, found life worth living,
Glad and fair again.

The wine of life was rough and new,
But sweet beyond belief,
And wrong was false, and right was true -
The rose was in the leaf.

In that good sunlight well we knew
The hues of wrong and right;
We slept among the roses through
The long enchanted night.

Now to our eyes, made dim with years,
Right intertwines with wrong.
How can we hear, with these tired ears,
The old, the magic song?

But this we know--wine once was red,
Roses were red and dear;
Once in our ears the truths were said
That now the young men hear!

To Vera, Who Asked A Song

IF I only had time!
I could make you a rhyme.
But my time is kept flying
By smiling and sighing
And living and dying for you.
The song-seed, I sow it,
I water and hoe it,
But never can grow it.
Ah, traitress, you know it!
What is a poor poet to do?

Ah, let me take breath!
I am harried to death
By the loves and the graces
That crowd where your face is
That lurk in your laces and throng.
Call them off for a minute,
Once let me begin it
The devil is in it
If I can not spin it
As sweet as a linnet, your song!

NEVER a ring or a lock of hair
Or a letter stained with tears,
No crown for the princely hour to wear,
To be mocked of the rebel years.
Not a spoken vow, not a written page
And never a rose or a rhyme
To tell to the wintry ear of age
The tale of the summer time.

Never a tear or a farewell kiss
When the time is come to part;
For the kiss would burn and the tear would hiss
On the smouldering fire in my heart.
But let me creep to the kindly clay,
And nothing be left to tell
How I played in your play a year and a day,
And died when the curtain fell!

In The People's Park

Many's the time I've found your face
Fresh as a bunch of flowers in May,
Waiting for me at our own old place
At the end of the working day.
Many's the time I've held your hand
On the shady seat in the People's Park,
And blessed the blaring row of the band
And kissed you there in the dark.

Many's the time you promised true,
Swore it with kisses, swore it with tears:
'I'll marry no one without it's you -
If we have to wait for years.'
And now it's another chap in the Park
That holds your hand like I used to do;
And I kiss another girl in the dark,
And try to fancy it's you!

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.

The Old Dispensation

O THOU, who, high in heaven,
To man hast given
This clouded earthly life
All storm and strife,
Blasted with ice and fire,
Love and desire,
Filled with dead faith, and love
That change is master of--

O Thou, who mightest have given
To all Thy heaven,
But who, instead, didst give
This life we live--
Who feedest with blood and tears
The hungry years--
I make one prayer to Thee,
O Great God! grant it me.

Some day when summer shows
Her leaf, her rose,
God, let Thy sinner lie
Under Thy sky,
And feel Thy sun's large grace
Upon his face;
Then grant him this, that he
May not believe in Thee!

The Old Dispensation

O THOU, who, high in heaven,
To man hast given
This clouded earthly life
All storm and strife,
Blasted with ice and fire,
Love and desire,
Filled with dead faith, and love
That change is master of--

O Thou, who mightest have given
To all Thy heaven,
But who, instead, didst give
This life we live--
Who feedest with blood and tears
The hungry years--
I make one prayer to Thee,
O Great God! grant it me.

Some day when summer shows
Her leaf, her rose,
God, let Thy sinner lie
Under Thy sky,
And feel Thy sun's large grace
Upon his face;
Then grant him this, that he
May not believe in Thee!

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!

Spring Song Iii

HERE'S the Spring-time, Sweet!
Earth's green gown is new,
Lambs begin to bleat,
Doves begin to coo,
Birds begin to woo
In the wood and lane;
Sweet, the tale is true
Spring is here again!

I have been discreet
All the winter through;
Now, before your feet,
Blossoms let me strew.
Flowers, as yet, are few;
Will my lady deign
Take this flower or two?
Spring is here again

Make the year complete,
Give the Spring her due!
All the flowers entreat,
All the song-birds sue.
'Twixt the green and blue
Let Love wake and reign,
Let me worship you--
Spring is here again!

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.

Gray is the sea, and the skies are gray;
They are ghosts of our blue, bright yesterday;
And gray are the breasts of the gulls that scream
Like tortured souls in an evil dream.

There is white on the wings of the sea and sky,
And white are the gulls' wings wheeling by,
And white, like snow, is the pall that lies
Where love weeps over his memories.

For the dead is dead, and its shroud is wrought
Of good unfound and of wrong unsought;
Yet from God's good magic there ever springs
The resurrection of holy things.

See--the gold and blue of our yesterday
In the eyes and the hair of a child at play;
And the spell of joy that our youth beguiled
Is woven anew in the laugh of the child.

THERE are white moon daisies in the mist of the meadow
Where the flowered grass scatters its seeds like spray,
There are purple orchis by the wood-ways' shadow,
There are pale dog-roses by the white highway;
And the grass, the grass is tall, the grass is up for hay,
With daisies white like silver and buttercups like gold,
And it's oh! for once to play thro' the long, the lovely day,
To laugh before the year grows old!

There is silver moonlight on the breast of the river
Where the willows tremble to the kiss of night,
Where the nine tall aspens in the meadow shiver,
Shiver in the night wind that turns them white.
And the lamps, the lamps are lit, the lamps are glow-worms light,
Between the silver aspens and the west's last gold.
And it's oh! to drink delight in the lovely lonely night,
To be young before the heart grows old!

Prayer In Time Of War

Now Death is near, and very near,
In this wild whirl of horror and fear,
When round the vessel of our State
Roll the great mountain waves of hate.
God! We have but one prayer to-day -
O Father, teach us how to pray.

For prayer is strong, and very strong;
But we have turned from Thee so long
To follow gods that have no power
Save in the safe and sordid hour,
That to Thy feet we have lost the way . . .
O Father, teach us how to pray.

We have done ill, and very ill,
Set up our will against Thy will.
That our soft lives might gorge, full-fed,
We stole our brothers' daily bread.
Lord, we are sorry we went astray -
O Father, teach us how to pray.

Now in this hour of desperate strife
For England's life, her very life,
Teach us to pray that life may be
A new life, beautiful to Thee,
And in Thy hands that life to lay.
O Father, teach us how to pray.

New College Gardens, Oxford

ON this old lawn, where lost hours pass
Across the shadows dark with dew,
Where autumn on the thick sweet grass
Has laid a weary leaf or two,
When the young morning, keenly sweet,
Breathes secrets to the silent air,
Happy is he whose lingering feet
May wander lonely there.

The enchantment of the dreaming limes,
The magic of the quiet hours,
Breathe unheard tales of other times
And other destinies than ours;

The feet that long ago walked here
Still, noiseless, walk beside our feet,
Poor ghosts, who found this garden dear,
And found the morning sweet!

Age weeps that it no more may hold
The heart-ache that youth clasps so close,
Pain finely shaped in pleasure's mould,
A thorn deep hidden in a rose.
Here is the immortal thorny rose
That may in no new garden grow--
Its root is in the hearts of those
Who walked here long ago.

Seed-Time And Harvest

MY hollyhocks are all awake,
And not a single rose is lost;
My wallflowers, for dear pity's sake,
Have fought the winter's cruel frost;
Pink peony buds begin to peer,
And flags push up their sword-blades fine:
I know there will not be this year
A brighter garden plot than mine.

I'll sow the seeds of mignonette,
Of snapdragon and sunflowers tall,
And scarlet poppies I will set
To flower against the southern wall;
Already all my lilies show
The green crowns baby lilies wear,
And all my flowers will grow and blow,
Because Love's hand has set them there.

I'll plant and water, sow and weed,
Till not an inch of earth shows brown,
And take a vow of each small seed
To grow to greenness and renown:
And then some day you'll pass my way,
See gold and crimson, bell and star,
And catch my garden's soul, and say:
'How sweet these cottage gardens are!'

WE climb the hill; the mist conceals
That valley where we could not stay;
Surely this hill's crest, gained, reveals
The glory of the sunlit day.
The hill is climbed. Still shadow-land--
Still darkling looms another hill.
Oh, weary feet!--climb that to find
A new ascent, 'mid shadows still!
We dare not stop or think of rest,
This one hill may be all that lies
Between us and our souls' desire--
The splendour of the eastern skies.

Through long long lives we till and tend,
Sow, weed, and water, all in vain;
Without the flower we looked to find,
Each year springs blooms and dies again.
Bowed down with our unanswered prayers,
Our face averted from our past,
We watch each year grow green, and cry,
'Surely this brings our flower at last!'
Failure on failure! What! tired out?
Too tired to live? Heart, dare you die
When this new year may bud and bear
Your longed-for flower of Liberty?

At Evening Time There Shall Be Light

THE day was wild with wind and rain,
One grey wrapped sky and sea and shore,
It seemed our marsh would never again
Wear the rich robes that once it wore.
The scattered farms looked sad and chill,
Their sheltering trees writhed all awry,
And waves of mist broke on the hill
Where once the great sea thundered by.

Then God remembered this His land,
This little land that is our own,
He caught the rain up in His hand,
He hid the winds behind His throne,
He soothed the fretful waves to rest,
He called the clouds to come away,
And, by blue pathways, to the west,
They went, like children tired of play.

And then God bade our marsh put on
Its holy vestment of fine gold;
From marge to marge the glory shone
On lichened farm and fence and fold;
In the gold sky that walled the west,
In each transfigured stone and tree,
The glory of God was manifest,
Plain for a little child to see!

OUR boat has drifted with the stream
That stirs the river's full sweet bosom
And now she stays where gold flags gleam
By meadow-sweet's pale foam of blossom.

Sedge-warblers sing the sun the song
The nightingale sings to the shadows;
Forget-me-nots grow all along
The fringes of the happy meadows.

See the wet lilies' golden beads!
The river-nymphs for necklace string them,
And in the sighing of the reeds
You hear the song their lovers sing them.

Gold sun, blue air, green shimmering leaves,
The weir's old song--the wood's old story--
Such spells the enchanting Summer weaves
She holds me in a web of glory.

And you--with head against my arm
And subtle wiles that seek to hold me--
Not even you can add a charm
To the sweet sorceries that enfold me.

Yet lean there still! The hour is ours;
If we should move the charm might shiver
And joyless sun and scentless flowers
Might mock a disenchanted river.

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.

Quieta Ne Movete Ii

IF one should wake one's frozen faith
In sunlight of her radiant eyes,
Bid it forget its dream of death,
In this new dream of Paradise,
Bid it forget the long, slow pain,
The agony when, all in vain,
It fought for life, and how one swore,
Once cold, it should not waken more;

If hope one buried long ago
Should thrill beneath those smiles of hers,
Should in one's sere life stir and grow,
As in brown woods the young spring stirs;
If, breaking icy bonds of grief,
One's soul should start to bud and leaf,
It might forget in that springtide
How last year's leaves fell off and died.

If from warm faith and hope set high
A lovely living child was born,
With lips more pure than starlit sky,
And eyes as clear as summer morn,
Child-love might grow till one forgot
Old love, that was and now is not--
Forgot that far-off time of tears,
And all these desolated years.

And yet of faith, hope, love, one knows
So well what end the years will make,
If one should dig beneath Time's snows
And wake them now for her sweet sake.
New life may mean new joy; but then,
What lives again may die again,
And to that second death there may
Be no new resurrection-day.

'It is the skylark come.' For shame!
Robert-a-Cockney is thy name:
Robert-a-Field would surely know
That skylarks, bless them, never go!

* * *

Love of my life, bear witness here
How we have heard them all the year;
How to the skylark's song are set
The days we never can forget.
At Rustington, do you remember?
We heard the skylarks in December;
In January above the snow
They sang to us by Hurstmonceux
Once in the keenest airs of March
We heard them near the Marble Arch;
Their April song thrilled Tonbridge air;
May found them singing everywhere;
And oh, in Sheppey, how their tune
Rhymed with the bean-flower scent in June.
One unforgotten day at Rye
They sang a love-song in July;
In August, hard by Lewes town,
They sang of joy 'twixt sky and down;
And in September's golden spell
We heard them singing on Scaw Fell.
October's leaves were brown and sere,
But skylarks sang by Teston Weir;
And in November, at Mount's Bay,
They sang upon our wedding day!

* * *

Mr.-a-Field, go forth, go forth,
Go east and west and south and north;
You'll always find the furze in flower,
Find every hour the lovers' hour,
And, by my faith in love and rhyme,
The skylark singing all the time!

The Promise Of Spring

JUST a whisper, half-heard,
But our heart knows the word;
Caresses that seem
Like love's lips in a dream;
Yet we know she is here,
The desirèd, the dear,
The love of the year!
In the murmur of boughs,
In the softening of skies,
In the sun on the house,
In the daffodil's green
(Half an inch, half-unseen
Mid the mournful brown mould
Where the rotten leaf lies)
Her story is told.

O Spring, darling Spring,
O sweet days of blue weather
The thrushes shall sing,
Fields shall grow green again,
Daisies be seen again,
Hedges grow white;
Then down the lane,
Grown leafy again,
Shall go lovers together--
Lovers who see again
Sunshine and showers,
Perfume and flowers,
Dewy dear hours,
Dream and delight.

Warm shall nests be again,
Winter's behind us;
Springtime shall find us,
Taking our hands,
Lead us away from the cold and the snow,
Into the green world where primroses grow.
Winter, hard winter, forgotten, forgiven;
All the old pain paid, to seventy times seven,
All the new glory a-glow.
Love, when Spring calls, will you still turn away?
Winter has wooed you in vain, and shall May?
Love, when Spring calls, will you go?

HOW can I tell you how I love you, dear?
There is no music now the world is old;
The songs have all been sung, the tales all told
Broken the vows are all this many a year.

Had we but met when all the world was new,
When virgin blossoms decked untrodden fields,
I had plucked all the buds that summer yields
And woven a garland, worthy even of you.

Or had I sung when rhymes were yet unwed,
And crowned their marriage in the songs I made,
I had laid them down before you unafraid,
Meet offering to your grace and goodlihead.

But all the dreams are dreamed, and no new heat
Touches life's altars, all the scents are burnt,
The truths all taught and all the lessons learnt,
And no new stars lead kings to kiss Love's feet.

For now in this grey world, of youth bereft,
Love has no throne, no sceptre and no crown;
His groves are hushed, his altars are cast down,
And we who worship--we have nothing left.

And yet--your lips ! The God has built him there
An altar which has known nor flower nor flame:
There may we burn the incense to Love's name,
There the immortal virgin rose be fair.

So--since my lips have known but one desire,
And all my flowers of life are vowed to you--
For us, at least, the old world has something new:
For me the altar--and for you the fire!

A PRINCESS, sleeping in enchanted bowers,
Earth springs to waking at Spring's voice and kiss,
And after winter's cold, unlovely hours,
Laughs out to find how beautiful she is.

Spring flings a song across the field and fold,
And sighs it through the glad wood's tangled ways;
And million, million tales of love are told,
And dreams are dreamed of undivided days.

In hollows where so late but dead leaves lay,
Through the dead leaves the primroses push up;
And wind-flowers fleck the copse, and fields are gay
With daisies and the budding buttercup.

So in our hearts, though thick the dead leaves lie
Of grief--heaped up by winds of old despair--
May there not be a spring-time by-and-by,
When flowers of joy shall blossom even there?

So long has Winter held our hearts in his,
We dare not dream of Spring and all her flowers?
Ah! the undreamed-of happiness it is
That comes--the dreamed-of joy is never ours!

When late the trees were brown and hedges bare,
And keen east wind cut sharp as human pain,
Did the Earth guess how soon she would be fair
With Spring's dear dainty loveliness again?

We do not guess of joy, but hope alone--
Like life's mysterious force that thrills the earth--
Lives in our souls, unrecognised, unknown,
Till time shall bring unhoped-for joy to birth.

LOVE, through your varied views on Art
Untiring have I followed you,
Content to know I had your heart
And was your Art-ideal, too.

As, dear, I was when first we met.
('Twas at the time you worshipped Leighton,
And were attempting to forget
Your Foster and your Noel Paton.)

'Love rhymes with Art,' said your dear voice,
And, at my crude, uncultured age,
I could but blushingly rejoice
That you had passed the Rubens stage.

When Madox Brown and Morris swayed
Your taste, did I not dress and look
Like any Middle Ages maid
In an illuminated book?

I wore strange garments, without shame,
Of formless form and toneless tones,
I might have stepped out of the frame
Of a Rossetti or Burne-Jones.

I stole soft frills from Marcus Stone,
My waist wore Herkomer's disguise,
My slender purse was strained, I own,
But--my silk lay as Sargent's lies.

And when you were abroad--in Prague--
'Mid Cherets I had shone, a star;
Then for your sake I grew as vague
As Mr. Whistler's ladies are.

But now at last you sue in vain,
For here a life's submission ends:
Not even for you will I grow plain
As Aubrey Beardsley's 'lady friends.'

Here I renounce your hand--unless
You find your Art-ideal elsewhere;
I will not wear the kind of dress
That Laurence Housman's people wear!

For The New Year

FLUSHED with a crimson sunrise beauty,
The fair new year its promise gave;
Such dreams we had of love, of duty,
Of heights to scale, of foes to brave!
Oh, how hope's fire our future lighted--
How much to do, how much to know,
Yet on its brink we shrank affrighted
A year ago.

And now the year is done--its pleasure
So brief, so bright--its hours of pain;
Some moments' memories we treasure,
Some recollections loathe in vain.
Oh, for a brain where could not waken
Remembrances of purpose crossed,
Of trusts abandoned, aims forsaken,
And chances lost!

The changing seasons thrust upon us
Another year, fair-faced and new;
What evil have the old years done us
That this in its turn will not do?
This, too, will die, and leave us grieving
For all the ills its arms enfold--
For faiths betrayed, for friends deceiving,
And love grown cold.

We have been fooled. The hopes that fooled us--
We know them now--have been a lie;
The star that led, the light that ruled us--
We scorn them, and we pass them by.
Shut out hope's light; past is the season
When rose-red glow seemed good to see.
Look--by the cold white light of reason,
These things shall be:

A long, dim vista, blank and dreary--
The same hard failure, small success;
The same tired heart, the brain still weary
Of its intense self-consciousness;
The old despair, the old repining,
And, through the future's deepest night,
Down life's untrodden ways still shining,
The old hope's light!

WHEN I am young again I'll hoard my bliss,
Nor deem that inexhaustible it is,
Remembering old age comes after this,
Joy grows to pain;
Nor waste one moment of youth's rose-sweet hours,
Nor trample one of all its countless flowers,
But drink the summer sun and soft spring showers,
When I am young again.

I will be wise with wisdom dearly won
By those who through life's wood have nearly run;
Learn what to do, and what to leave undone,
Risk or refrain.
I will not seek into my mouth to take
The bitter apple of the acrid lake,
But at clear fountains all my thirsts will slake,
When I am young again.

I will not brush the bloom to reach the core,
Remembering how it chanced with me before,
And bloom once lost returns not any more,
Hard cores remain:
I will fence round with prudence and secure
A lasting bloom whose freshness shall endure;
Oh, I will guard my peach of youth, be sure,
When I am young again.

When I am young again, I'll spend no breath
On bitter words the heart remembereth
When bitterness is swallowed up by Death
Holding sole reign;
I'll love so well that if they pass to sleep
Before me, I shall have no watch to keep
Over their tears-only my tears to weep
When I am young again.

I will not lightly joy nor idly grieve,
Nor for a heaven itself one soul deceive,
Nor will I be deceived, vainly believe,
Nor love in vain.
Come back, lost youth! Ah, Fate, that one gift give!
Then I will show that I have learned to live;
Youth shall be wise--and two and two make five--
When I am young again!

MY beautiful beech, your smooth grey coat is trimmed
With letters. Once, each stood for all things dear
To foolish lovers, dead this many a year,
Whose lamp of lighted love so soon was dimmed.
You have seen them come and go,
And heard their kisses and vows
Under your boughs,
The pitiful vows they swore,
Have seen their poor tears flow,
Have seen them part; to meet, and to return, no more!

And in old winters, through your branches bare,
The north wind drove the blue home-scented smoke
That on the glowing Christmas hearth awoke
Where the old logs, with eager flicker and flare,
Sang their low crackling song
Of peace and of good will.
The old song is still,
The old voices have died away,
The hearth has been cold so long,
And the bright faces dimmed and covered up with clay.

And summer after summer wakes to glow
The ordered pleasance with the clipped box-hedge,
The drooping lilac by the old moat's edge,
The roses, that throw you kisses from below,
The orchard pink and white,
The sedge's whispered words,
The nesting birds,
All these return to revel round your feet.
And in the untroubled night
The nightingale still sings, the jasmine still is sweet.

My beautiful beech, I carve upon you here
The master-letter which begins her name
Through whom, to me, the royal summer came,
And nightingale and rose, and all things dear.
And, in some far-off time,
I shall come here, weary and old,
When the hearth in my heart is cold
And the birds that nest there flown;
I will remember this summer in all its prime
And say, 'There was a day--
Thank God, the Giver, an unforgotten day,
When I walked here, not alone,
--O God of pity and sorrow, not alone!'

THE morning broke in a pearly haze,
Then the east grew duskly red:
'Oh, my only day, oh, my day of days,
To-day he will come,' I said.

As the sun climbed up in the clearer sky,
The mists fell down at his feet;
'There is sunshine too in my heart,' said I,
'For to-day is the day we meet;

Perhaps even now he is journeying fast--
Perhaps he is almost here.'
And my heart leaped up at each foot that passed,
With the thought that he might be near.

In my garden the fairest flowers that grew
I plucked for him, sweet, dew-wet,
And held them ready, the whole day through,
To gladden him when we met.

The sun shone warm on the longing earth,
That thrilled to his fervent kiss;
But what to me was the sun's smile worth,
When I longed for that smile of his?

The hours in their flight seemed strangely slow
For the sake of the hour to be;
'Go swiftly now--and more slowly go
When he shall be here with me.'

But the level light of late afternoon
Fell cold on me, still alone;
My flowers were dying, gathered too soon,
And my whole day's work undone.

With empty heart and unsatisfied
I turned from the red sunset:
'Short time for his coming is left,' I cried,
'It shall not be evening yet.'

But the sky grows pale, and a weak wind wakes,
And long flights of birds go home,
And slowly and surely the day's spell breaks,
And I know that he will not come.

Perhaps he has never turned my way,
Nor known how my heart would wait;
Perhaps he has sought me the whole long day,
And has failed at my very gate;

Perhaps all these hours of increasing pain
Have been only a dream of a day,
And after the night I shall wake again,
And 'To-day he comes,' I shall say.

WITH garlands to grace it, with laughter to greet it,
Christmas is here, holly-red and snow-white,
Hung round with quaint legends, and old-as-life stories
Of mystical beauty and lifelong delight;
With dreams of the Christ-child, with Santa Claus fables,
Without doubts to trouble or questions to break
The absolute faith in the triumph of goodness,
In God and in nature on guard for its sake;
Without fear of death, with no memories of grief,
Believing life clear as our cloudless belief;
What wonder if rose-coloured Christmas appear
As the happiest day of our happy child year?

With the swiftness of thought, with the spring's incompleteness,
Childhood has passed, and its place is filled up;
Hope suns our youth into midsummer sweetness,
And the roses of love wreathe our life's golden cup.
We shall do--we shall dare--and our faith has no limit,
Wrong must go down 'neath the sword of the right
And life is so joyous, and may be so glorious,
And day looks so long, and so distant the night.
We love--there are chances--and if we should meet
The woman who holds all our heart at her feet
At Christmas--would that not make Christmas more dear
Than all other days of our love-lightened year?

With the sadness of tears, with the speed of the swallow,
Youth has gone by, and its hope and its faith;
Love has grown into grief, and remembrance is anguish,
And down the dim years sound the footsteps of death.
There sit at our feast (for we still hold our revels)
The phantom of hope and the spectre of truth.
This life we believed in--how has it rewarded
The passionate faith of our long-ago youth?
Our hearth is deserted--our Christmas Day seems
But the ghost of a day from a lifetime of dreams.
Oh, lost voices that call us--we hear you--we hear!
Oh, most desolate day of our desolate year!