Sunlight and shade,
Moorland and glade,
Evening and day,
Winter and May,
Born of the Spring,
Thrushes that sing
From downy throats,
Be unto me
Each one of ye
Sister or brother;
And Earth be my mother!
The Ledbury Road
The road that leads to Ledbury
Oh ! it be such a pretty way.
As far as Wales you'll likely see.
Suppose the month be May.
The little birds they sing and sing,
The blackbirds and the thrushes do,
And after rain in early Spring
The grass looks green and new.
I wish that I were walking there,
Along that road so still and wide,
A lad without a thought or care.
My true-love at my side !
Dear, perchance 'neath the frost and snow-
One little golden flower is sleeping,
You shall find it, for you will know-
Whither at dawn the sun goes peeping.
Come then sweetheart, we two will go
Hand in hand, and a truce to weeping,
If, in spite of the winter's woe,
Safe in Nature's maternal keeping
Under the frost rime and under the snow,
One little primrose is daintily sleeping.
Oh ! my valley of shade and dreams !
Golden lights 'mid the distant blue,
Sun that pauses to kiss the dew,
Dew that trembles beneath its beams—
Fain were I but a bird above,
Floating, drifting on waves of air!
Ah ! the life of the birds is fair,
For they wing to the spheres they love.
And if I could but fly and sing
Thro' the sweetness of this dear day,
I would bring all the hope of May,
To thy heart, that is wan for Spring.
The Lost Word
High above a waveless sea,
On the hills of long ago.
There you lived awhile with me.
And we loved—I know.
For your hair I made a crown,
Twined it with these hands of mine,
Sun-warmed leaves and tendrils brown,
From the happy vine.
You were like some woodland thing,
Fear and rapture in your eyes,
Tender as a breath of Spring
Blown from April skies.
Then I called you, and you heard.
To your lover's arms you came :
Ah ! what was that magic word.
Your forgotten name !
Thoughts At Ajaccio
Kind Earth, upon whose mother breast
The fruitful trees in time of spring,
Put forth their endless blossoming
From North to South, from East to West,
Whose sweet deep-furrowed soil is blest
With striving seeds and budding flowers,
And all the potent toil of hours.
From sunrise until even's rest—
Stretch forth thy leafy arms at dawn,
And touch me, compass me around.
Fill me with scent of upturned ground.
Soft perfume from thy bosom drawn.
The gifts I bring thou wilt not scorn,
Poor though they must be while I live,
For in my hour of death I give
My heart, that one rose may be bom !
The Long Green Lanes Of England
Oh ! the long green lanes of England !
They be very far away,
And it's there that I'd be walking,
'Mid the hawthorn and the may.
Where the trees are all in blossom,
And the mating birds they sing
Fit to bust their little bodies.
Out of joy because it's Spring.
I'd be courting of my true love,
She'd be in her Sunday best.
With my arm around hei shoulder
And her head upon my breast.
For the new land it's a fine land,
Where a man can get a start ;
But there's that about the old land
That will grip his very heart :
For he'll mind him o' the cowslips.
Coming up all fresh and new
In the fields of early mornings,
Where the grass is white with dew.
Oh ! it's money, money, money,
' Go and try to earn a bit ;'
And ' America's the country
For the lad as doesn't quit.'
Seems that folks go mad on money.
Well, I'll have enough some day,
But the long green lanes of England
They be Oh ! so far away !
And so we closed the book, wherein we wrote
How many words of ecstasy and pain,
How oft repeated passion's deep refrain,
Like ebb and flow of tide, whose echo smote
Upon the hearing of our listening sense.
These pages will become the prey of years,
And time, who stretches forth an envious hand,
Shall make impossible to understand
Our burning words, that shine with unshed tears,
Ay, and we two may offer no defence !
The early mornings of awakening Spring
That smote our inspiration and desire
They still shall call, yet find no answering fire
Within the eyes of two at least, who bring
But wormwood, from the once so flowering path.
And limpid winter twilights when we gazed
Thro' frosted panes across the purpling snow,
Or turned our eyes towards the cheerful glow
Of logs, whose kindly voices cracked and blazed
With invitation to the sheltered hearth—
They too shall come in season as before,
Yet we be absent, and within the room
Our vacant places cast a little gloom ;
Then shall there fall a shadow on the floor,
As of one passing, who is yet unseen.
Perchance a pilgrim wind will pause to look
Within this volume where our tale unfolds,
And sorry at the text he there beholds,
Rustle with sighs the vellum of this book,
But leave no trace of where his breath has been.
Perchance a rose that through the casement bent,
Might cast her ardent eyes upon this lay,
And being touched, hide one soft leaf away
Between its pages, out of sentiment,
Then toss her wanton fragrance to the South.
Aye, many roses shall be born to grace
The garden, and the day will still rejoice,
Yet never at the echo of thy voice,
Nor shall a rose lift up its longing face
That we may cool our lips upon its mouth.
And side by side with petals and with sighs,
With overweening tenderness and trust,
Shall rest the deadly layer of choking dust :
A weary skull, its sockets bare of eyes,
With grinning pathos from the title page
Will bear stark record of its master Death.
Sightless, yet seeing all Eternity,
With silent voice that rings more truthfully
Than any words we quickened with our breath
More full of wisdom than the speech of sage.
We two have loved, and have outlived the laws
Of love, e'en as these bones survive their flesh
With awful vigour gleaming strangely fresh
Amid the ruin of their natal cause,
A peg on which the gods may hang their wit !
We two have cast each other in the flame
Of searing passion, that we deemed was life.
Alas ! those fiery billows flowing rife
Upon the sand, they have defaced love's name,
And there remains no smallest trace of it.
And yet we live, and walk upon the earth,
Beneath the pall of dusk the dome of dawn,
And all created creatures being born
Must do, and thus atone their hour of birth,
A living sacrifice to what! Who knows?
Poor futile things, we make our little moan,
And clasp our puny hands in useless prayers
To that which neither wots of us nor cares,
And in our grief behold, we stand alone,
Till our complaining lips in anguish close.
My eyes shall still behold the stars above,
And you, how oft will count the hosts of night,
But never, never can we feel delight
In them together, swearing that our love
Is more enduring than eternal things !
Oh ! blessed madness that possessed the heart,
Oh ! sweet unreason that could cloud the mind,
Alas ! that we have left you far behind,
And growing wise must lose the dearer part,
Of which not even the faintest perfume clings.
What would we not surrender overjoyed,
To hear once more the music that is still;
We sweep the strings, but lo ! no answering thrill
From shattered harps, that eager hands destroyed,
From souls whom ravishment has smitten dumb.
Oh ! for one hour snatched from the throbbing past,
Replete with its embodied ecstasy!
How little would we count Eternity,
How ready be, to know that hour, our last,
No matter what the penalty to come.
Oh ! bitterness, that we ourselves did write
These pages with heart's blood, yet cannot feel
To-day one little tremor o'er us steal
Save of regret for so much past delight !
The cup is spilt of which we two partook.
For this last time, oh ! once beloved, stay
Close here beside me, while my drying pen
Has still the strength to write our last Amen.
'Tis written .... there is nothing left to say,
And so together .... thus, we close the book.