Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Fires of Driftwood by Isabel Ecclestone Mackay

Part 2 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

I MAY not lift him in my arms. His face I may not see--
Are angel hands more tender than a mother's hands may be?
And does he smile to hear the song an angel stole from me?

The wise King said, "He cannot come but I will go to him!"
O David! did you seek with words to make the grave less grim?
And did you think to cheat, with words, the jealous seraphim?

So! he will learn of heaven--he, who scarcely knew the earth.
All fullness waits the baby eyes that never looked on dearth--
The mystery of death usurps the mystery of birth!

What light has earth to give me for the light that heaven beguiled?
What is the calm of heaven to him who has not known the wild?--
O, we are both bereft, bereft--the mother and the child!


I BUILT myself a pleasant house.
Content was I to dwell in it--
Its door was fast against the wind
With all the gusty swell of it.

It had two windows, high and clear,
With trees and skies to shine through them,
They were acquainted with the moon,
And every star was mine through them.

Its walls were silent walls; its hearth
Held little fires to gladden me--
And though the nights might weep outside
No sob crept through to sadden me.

Then came your hand upon the latch
(Although I had not sent for you)
And all Outside came blowing in
The way I had not meant it to!

Upon the hearth my tended flame
Leapt to a blaze and died in it.
The night sought out a hidden place
I had forgot and sighed in it.

My window that had known the stars
Seemed suddenly not high at all.
The trees drew back; the friendly birds
Swept dumbly by, too shy to call.

Said you: "It is a pleasant house,
But surely somewhat small for two!"--
And at your word my walls fell down,
Leaving no house at all, just you.

The Sea's Withholding

THE ladye's bower faced the sea,
Its casements framed a sea-born day.
She saw the fishers sail away,
And, far and high,
The gulls sweep by
Within the hollow of the sky!

She saw the laggard twilight come
And, chased by rippling wakes of foam,
She saw the fisher fleet come home--
Brown sails a-sheen
Against the green
With shadows creeping in between!

She saw, when it was evening, all
Day's banners stream in crimson rout
Till night's soft finger blurred them out,
And, high and far,
A perfect star
Shone where the keys of heaven are!

"O far and constant star," she said,
"O passing sail, O passing bird,
O passing day--bring you no word
Of winds that steer
His ship a-near?
Where sails my love that sails not here?

"The days in splendid pageant pass,
In lovely peace the nights go by,
And day and night are sweet; but I--
I cannot say
Lo, the bright day!
Can it be dawn and love away?"

Love Unkind

OUT upon the bleak hillside, the bleak hillside, he lay--
Her lips were red, and red the stream that slipped his life away.
Ah, crimson, crimson were her lips, but his were turning gray.

The troubled sky seemed bending low, bending low to hide
The foam-white face so wild upturned from off the bleak hillside--
White as the beaten foam her face, and she was wond'rous eyed.

The soft, south-wind came creeping up, creeping stealthily
To breathe upon his clay-cold face--but all too cold was he,
Too cold for you to warm, south-wind, since cold at heart was she!

Sweet morning peeped above the hill, above the hill to find
The shattered, useless, godlike thing the night had left behind--
Wept the sweet morn her crystal tears that love should prove unkind!

Christmas in Heaven

HOW hushed they were in Heaven that night,
How lightly all the angels went,
How dumb the singing spheres beneath
Their many-candled tent!

How silent all the drifting throng
Of earth-freed spirits, strangely torn
By dim and half-remembered pain
And joy but newly born!

The Glory in the Highest flamed
With awful, unremembered ray--
But quiet as the falling dew
Was He who went away.

So swift He went, His passing left
A low, bright door in Heaven ajar--
With God it was a covenant,
To man it seemed a star.

I Whispered to the Bobolink

I WHISPERED to the bobolink:
"Sweet singer of the field,
Teach me a song to reach a heart
In maiden armor steeled."

"If there be such a song," sang he,
"No bird can tell its mystery."

I bent above the sweetest rose,
A deeper sweet to stir--
"O Rose," I begged, "what charm will wake
The deep, sweet heart of her?"

"Alas, poor lover," sighed the rose,
"The charm you seek no flower knows."

I wandered by the midnight lake
Where heaven lay confessed
"Tell me," I cried, "what draws the stars
To lie upon your breast?"

The silence woke to soft reply
"When Heaven stoops--demand not why!"

"Alas, sweet maid, love's potent charm
I cannot beg or buy,
I cannot wrest it from the wind
Or steal it from the sky--"

Breathless, I caught her whisper low,
"I love you--why, I do not know!"


SLANTING rain and a sky of gray,
Drifting mist and a wind astray,
The leaden end of a leaden day
And you--away!

Light in the west! The sky's pale dome
Gemmed with a star; a scented gloam
Of bursting buds and rain-wet loam
And you--at home!

The Mother

LAST night he lay within my arm,
So small, so warm--a mystery
To which God only held the key--
But mine to keep from fear and harm!

Ah! He was all my own, last night,
With soft, persuasive, baby eyes,
So wondering and yet so wise,
And hands that held my finger tight.

Why was it that he could not stay--
Too rare a gift? Yet who could hold
A treasure with securer hold
Than I, to whom love taught the way?

As with a flood of golden light
The first sun tipped earth's golden rim
So all my world grew bright with him
And with his going fell the night--

O God, is there an angel arm
More strong, more tender than the rest?
Lay Thou my baby on his breast
To keep him safe from fear and harm!

The Vassal

WIND of the North, O far, wild wind
Born of a far, lone sea--
When suns are soft and breezes kind
Why are you kin to me?

Uncounted years above the sea,
Rock-fortressed from its rage,
The fishermen, your fathers, kept
A barren heritage--
Grim as the sea they forced to pay
The sea-toll of their wage.

And lo! The fate which made you hers
And gave you of her best
And set you in a sunny place,
Down-sloping to the West,
Forgot to change your fisher's heart
Serf to the sea's unrest!

Wind of the North! O bitter wind,
I hear the wild seas fret--
In the dim spaces of the mind
They claim me vassal yet!

The Troubadour

THE wind blows salt from off the sea
And sweet from where the land lies green;
I travel down the great highway
That runs so straight and white between--
I watch the sea-wind strain the sheet,
The land-wind toss the yellow wheat!

Song is my mistress, fickle she,
Yet dear beyond all dearth of speech;
Child of the winds of land and sea
She charms me with the charm of each--
Full soft and sweet she sings and then
She sings wild songs for sailor-men!

No staff I carry in my hand,
No pack I carry on my back,
No foot of earth I call my own,
For castle or for cot I lack--
I travel fast, I travel slow,
And where my mistress bids I go!

My gems, the pearl upon the leaf
At mystic hour of the morn;
My gold, the gold that rims the sea
A moment ere the day is born;
And on my breezy couch o' nights
The stars shine down--my taper lights!

Happy am I that sing of love,
Yet from the thrall of love am free;
Happy am I that sing of pain
And quick forget what pain may be!
I sing of death--and lo! To me
Life is supremest ecstacy!

Indian Summer

I HAVE strayed from silent places,
Where the days are dreaming always;
And fair summer lies a-dying,
Roses withered on her breast.
I have stolen all her beauty,
All her softness, all her sweetness;
In her robe of folden sunshine
I am drest.

I will breathe a mist about me
Lest you see my face too clearly,
Lest you follow me too boldly
I will silence every song.
Through the haze and through the silence
You will know that I am passing;
When you break the spell that holds you,
I am gone!

The Unchanged

IF we could salvage Babylon
From times's grim heap of dust and bones;
If we could charm cool waters back
To sing against her thirsty stones;
If, on a day,
We two should stray
Down some long, Babylonian way--
Perhaps the strangest sight of all
Would be the street boys playing ball.

If through Pompeii's agelong night
A yellow sun again might shine,
And little, sea-born breezes lift
The hair of lovers sipping wine,
If, in some fair,
Dim temple there,
We watched Pompeii come to prayer--
Not the strange altar would surprise
But strangeness of familiar eyes!

Ay, should our magic straightly wake
Atlantis from her sea-rocked sleep
And we on some Processional
Look down where dancing maidens leap,
If one flushed maid
Beside us stayed
To tie more firm her loosened braid--
Would not the shaking wonder be
To find her just like you and me?


A BIRD, a wild-flower and a tree--
I care for them, not they for me.

I see all heaven in a pool--
But the frog there takes me for a fool.

To this dead thrush a tear I gave--
All Spring shall sing above my grave,

And naught I spend my heart upon
Know lack or loss that I am gone--

A bird, a wild-flower and a tree,
I cherish them; they suffer me!

Last Things

THERE is no one to do it for me,
But I know what I shall do
When the last dawn breaks o'er me
And the last night is through.

I shall set in pleasant order
The little books I knew,
With flowers on the window ledge
In a shallow bowl of blue.

I'll leave the out door swinging,
(As it might swing for you)
And on the clean swept door-sill
Wild roses I shall strew--

So when pale Death comes trailing
Her branch of sodden rue
She'll gather up my gay content
And know contentment too!

Callous Cupid

CUPID does not care for sighs
Does not care for lover's weeping!
Fair One, dry your pretty eyes,
Cupid does not care for sighs,
Laugh with him if you are wise,
Steel the heart he has in keeping;
Cupid does not care for sighs
Does not care for lover's weeping!

The Meeting

SHE flitted by me on the stair--
A moment since I knew not of her.
A look, a smile--she passed! but where
She flitted by me on the stair
Joy cradled exquisite despair;
For who am I that I should love her?
She flitted by me on the stair--
A moment since I knew not of her!

The Piper

I'VE heard the pipes of Pan
Somewhere, just beyond,--
Over the edge of dawn, I think,
Where the clouds hang soft on the world's dim brink,
Where the red suns rise and the blue stars sink,
I heard the pipes of Pan!

Hush! what you heard was the wind,
The feet of the wind through the leaves,
Or the sigh of the waking night as it stirred.
Or a bird's note afar,
Or the deep breath of June,
Or the fall of a star,
Or the shimmering skirts of the sea-slipping tide
In the wake of the wandering moon!

Nay! 'twas the pipes of Pan!
Somewhere--just beyond--
My soul awoke with a rapturous sigh
(Would I wake my soul for a night bird's cry?)
I heard the winds of the worlds sweep by
To follow the pipes of Pan!

Stay! 'twas a voice that you heard,
A voice that you love, in the wood,
The vibrating note of a half spoken word--
For the great Pan is slain,
Of his pipings we know not one magical strain,
They have fled down the years of a world that was young
Oh, ages and ages ago!

Nay, 'twas the pipes of Pan!
Somewhere--just beyond--
Far as a star, yet piercing sweet,
A passionate, poignant, rhythmic beat--
Till my mad blood raced with my racing feet
To follow the piper--Pan!


THE highways and the byways, the kind sky folding all,
And never a care to drag me back and never a voice to call;
Only the call of the long, white road to the far horizon's wall.

The glad seas and the mad seas, the seas on a night in June,
And never a hand to beckon back from the path of the new-lit moon;
Never a night that lasts too long or a dawn that breaks too soon!

The shrill breeze and the hill breeze, the sea breeze, fierce and bold,
And never a breeze that gives the lie to a tale that a breeze has told;
Always the tale of the strange and new in the countries strange and old.

The lone trail and the known trail, the trail you must take on trust,
And never a trail without a grave where a wanderer's bones are thrust--
Never a look or a turning back till the dust shall claim the dust!


WHEN life wakened in the Spring
All the world was gold and green!
Sunlight lay on everything,
Sailing cloud and soaring wing,
Emerald banks where snow had been,
Drifts of daffodils between.

When Life's pulse beat strong and high
Shone the world in gold and blue!
Canopied with turquoise sky
Summer passed superbly by,
Bluest midnight cupped the dew
Golden morn might sparkle through!

Now that life would rest again
Soft she lies in gold and brown,
Brown the fields and gold the grain,
Brown the little pools of rain,
Gold the leaves that falter down
To brown pavements in the town.

The Materialist

MY soul has left its tent of clay
And seeks from star to star,
'Mid flaming worlds that are to be,
And fruitful worlds that are,
The Voice which spake and said "Live on!"
(When Death said, "You may die")
And sent my spirit wandering
The stairway of the sky.

Still must I seek what on the earth
I sought as fruitlessly--
The world I knew, the heaven I scorned
Lost in infinity:
Alone, and on the ageless breath
Of cosmic whirlwinds spun,
I hurtle through the outer dark
Toward some fantastic sun!--

O God! how happy is the leaf,
A sweet and soulless thing,
Dying to live but in the green
Of yet another Spring--
These heights, these depths, these flaming worlds,
This stairway of the sky
I'd give, had no Voice said "Live on!"
When Death said, "You may die."

Tir Nan Og

THE breeze blows out from the land and it seeks the sea,
O and O! that my sail were set and away--
Fast and free on its wings would my sailing be
To the west: to the Tir Nan Og, where the blessed stay!

The darkness stirs, it awakes, it outspreads its arms,
O and O! and the birds in their nests are still,
The red-browed hill bleats low with the lamb's alarms,
And a sound of singing comes from the slipping rill.

My soul is awake alone, all alone in the earth,
O and O! and around is the lonely night.
As with the sun, would my soul go forth to its birth--
O'er the darkling sea, to the west--to the light, to the light!

Do they say, "Be content with the land of the Innis Fail,
O and O! there is friendship here, there is song."
But they smile to your face, when you turn they stammer and rail
And the song of the singer has tears and is over long!

A call comes out of the west and it calls a name,
O and O! it is soft, it is far, it is low--
Sweet, so sweet that it touches my soul with a flame
That burns the heart from my breast with the wish to go!

(Translated from the Celtic.)

The Little Man in Green

'TWAS a little man in green,
And he sat upon a stone;
And he sat there all alone,

"One and two," so whispered he.
('Twas an ancient man and hoar)
"One and two," and then no more--
Never, "Three".

Hawthorn trees were quick with May--
"Sir," said I, "Good-day to you"!
But he counted. "One and two"
In strange way.

Fool I was--oh, fool was I
(Who should know the ways of them!)
That I touched his cloak's green hem,
Passing by.

I was fey with spring and mirth--
Speaking him without a thought--
Now is joy a thing forgot
On the earth.

Ere the sweet thorn-buds were through,
Wife and child doom-stricken lay,
Cold as winter, white as spray--
"One and two!"

Now I seek eternally
That grim Counter of the fen,
Praying he may count again--
Counting, "Three".

* In the bad chance of a meeting with the "Little People" the
mortal is cautioned not to speak to them nor to touch, but to pass
by quickly with averted eye.--Old tale.

The Enchantress

I FEAR Eileen, the wild Eileen--
The eyes she lifts to mine,
That laugh and laugh and never tell
The half that they divine!

She draws me to her lonely cot
Ayont the Tulloch Hill;
And, laughing, draws me to her door
And, laughing, holds me still.

I bless myself and bless myself,
But in the holy sign,
There seems to be no heart of love,
To still the pain in mine.

The morning, bright above the moor,
Is bright no more for me--
A weary bit of burning pain
Is where my heart should be!

For since the wild, sweet laugh of her
Has drawn me to her snare,
The only sunlight in the world
Is shining from her hair.

Yet well I know, ah, well I know
Why 'tis so sweet and wild--
She slept beneath a faery thorn,
She is a faery child!

And so I leave my mother lone,
No meal to fill the pot,
And follow, follow wild Eileen.
If so I will or not.

I fear to meet her in the glen,
Or seek her by the shore;
I fear to lift her cabin's latch,
But--should she come no more!--

O Eileen Og, O wild Eileen,
My heart is wracked with fear
Lest you should meet your faery kin,
And, laughing, leave me here!

The Banshee

THE Banshee cries on the rising wind
"O-hoho, O hoho-o-o!"
The dead to free and the quick to bind--
(Close fast the shutter and draw the blind!)
"O-hoho, O hoho-o-o!"

Why are you paler my dearest dear?
"O-hoho, O hoho-o-o!"
'Tis but the wind in the elm tree near--
(Acushla, hush! lest the Banshee hear!)
"O-hoho, O hoho-o-o!"

See, how the crackling fire up-springs,
"O-hoho, O hoho-o-o!"
Up and up on its flame-red wings;
Hark, how the cheerful kettle sings!
"O-hoho, O hoho-o-o!"

Core of my heart! How cold your lips!
"O-hoho, O hoho-o-o!"
White as the spray the wild wind whips,
Still as your icy finger tips!
"O-hoho, O hoho-o-o!"

On the rising wind the Banshee cries--
"O-hoho, O hoho-o-o!"
I kiss your hair. I kiss your eyes--
The kettle is dumb; the red flame dies!
"Ochone! Ochone! Ochone!"

The Witch

HER hair was gold and warm it lay
Upon the pallor of her brow;
Her eyes were deep, aye, deep and gray--
And in their depths he drowned his vow.

She wandered where the sands were wet,
Weaving the sea-weed for a crown,
And there at eve a monk she met--
A holy monk in cowl and gown.

She held him with her witch's stare
(A sweet, child-look--it witched him well!)
Upon his lip she froze the prayer,
And in his ear she breathed a spell.

He babbled ever of her name
And of her brow that gleamed like dawn,
And of her lips--a lovely shame
No holy man should think upon.

They hunted her along the sea,
"Witch, Witch!" they cried and hissed their hate--
Her hair unbound fell to her knee
And made a glory where she sate.

Her song she hushed and, wonder-eyed,
She gazed upon their bell and book;
The zealous priests were fain to hide
Lest they be holden by her look.

Most innocent she seemed to be
("The Devil's sly!" the fathers say)
Her eyes were dreaming eyes that see
Things strange and fair and far away.

They stood her in the judgment hall.
"Confess," they cried, "the blasting spell
That holds yon crazed monk in thrall?"
"Good sirs," she said, "he loved me well."

They haled her to a witch's doom,
They matched her shining hair with flame--
But ever through the cloister's gloom
The mad monk babbles of her name!

And, when the red sun droppeth down
And wet sand gleameth ghostily,
Men see her weave a sea-weed crown
Between the twilight and the sea.

Fairy Singing

SHE was my love and the pulse of my heart;
Lovely she was as the flowers that start
Straight to the sun from the earth's tender breast,
Sweet as the wind blowing out of the west--
Elana, Elana, my strong one, my white one,
Soft be the wind blowing over your rest!

She crept to my side
In the cold mist of morning.
"O wirra" she cried,
"'Tis farewell now, mavourneen!
When the crescent moon hung
Like a scythe in the sky,
I heard in the silence
The Little Folks cry.

"'Twas like a low sighing,
A sobbing, a singing;
It came from the west,
Where the low moon was swinging:
'Elana, Elana'
Was all of their crying.
Mavrone! I must go--
To refuse them, I dare not.
Alone I must go;
They have called and they care not--
Naught do they care that they call me apart
From the warmth and the light and the love of your heart.
Hark! How their singing
Comes winging, comes winging,
Through your close arms, beloved,
Straight to my heart!"

White grew her face as the thorn's tender bloom,
White as the mist from the valley of doom!
Swift was her going--her head on my breast
Drooped like a flower that winter has pressed--
Elana, Elana! My strong one, my white one!
Empty the arms that your beauty had blessed.

Killed in Action

MY father lived his three-score years; my son lived twenty-two;
One looked long back on work well done, and one had all to do--
Yet which the better served his world, I know not, nor do you!

Life taught my father all her lore till he grew wise and gray,
She did but whisper to my son before she turned away--
Yet which her deepest secret held only they two might say.

Peace brought my father restful days, with love and fame for wage;
War gave my son an unmarked grave and an unwritten page--
Who shall declare which gift conveyed the greater heritage?

Spring Came In

SPRING came in with a red-wing's feather
And yellow clumps of the wild marshmallow--
O happy bird, can you tell me whether
In distant France they have April weather?
And little pools that are sunny and shallow?

My soul is awake and my pulse is racing--
My heart is aware that the birds are mating--
Oh, my heart's like a cloud that the wind is chasing
O'er the earth's green blur with its silver tracing
To that sad France where there's someone waiting!

O Spring! begone with your too-sweet clover
And all your bees with honey to carry--
Come again when the war is over,
Come, dear Spring, when you bring my lover!
Yet come no more, should he tarry . . . tarry!

From the Trenches

OH, to be in Canada now that Spring is merry,
Happy apple blossoms gay against the smiling green;
Here the lilac's purple plume and here the pink of cherry,
Hillsides just a drift of bloom with clover in between!

Oh, to be in Canada! there's a road that rambles
Through a leafing maple-wood and up a windy hill,
Velvet pussy-willows press soft hands amid the brambles
Fringing round a sky-filled pool where cattle drink their fill.

Oh, to be in Canada! there's a farmhouse hidden
Where the hollow meets the hill and Spring's first footsteps show--
Not a drop of honey there to any bee forbidden,
Not a cherry on a tree but all the robins know!

Oh, to be in Canada, now that Spring is calling
Sweet, so sweet it breaks the heart to let its sweetness through,
Oh, to breast the windy hill while yet the dew is falling--
Waking all the meadow-larks to carol in the blue!

Smile upon us, Canada! None shall fail who love you
While they hold a memory of your fields where flowers are--
High the task to keep unstained the skies that bend above you,
Proud the life that shields you from the flaming wind of war!

The Reasons

THEY sat before a dugout
In the unfamiliar quiet of silenced guns.
And one said:
"Now that it's over
What about a bit of truth?
Let us say why we came to fight--
No frills--
You first, old Fire-eater!"--

One with a whimsical face spoke freely;
"I?--I sought some stir,
Some urge in living,
Some sense in dying.
I sought a mountain top
With a view!"

"And the answer?"

"I have seen others find
What I sought."

. . . . . . .

"I don't know that it's anyone's business
Why I came,"
(Another spoke as if unwillingly),
"A girl laughed, I think--
Funny?--Yes, funny as hell!"--

. . . . . . .

His neighbor said,
"I was a business man,
No sentiment,
Nothing of that kind,--
But the band played
And, suddenly, I saw
My country,
A woman, with hands outstretched,
Her back to the wall--"

"U--um," they nodded,
"She's got a pull,
That old lady."

. . . . . . .

"As for me," the speaker was abrupt,
"I was afraid!
I saw pictures,
I heard things--
I couldn't sleep
For the Beast that was abroad--
That's what brought me!"

. . . . . . .

They sat silent for a moment
In the sun.
Then an older man said briefly,
"We were all afraid . . . . .
. . . But what of hate?
Did no one come because of hate?"

. . . . . . .

They looked at this man
But he added nothing,
And no one questioned.

. . . . . . .

A fresh-faced boy spoke modestly;
"Our family are all Army people--
So, of course--
And it's all over now.
We got through.
But it was a near thing--


TO-DAY is a room
With windows upon one side
And upon the other
A door--
Through the windows we may look
But cannot pass;
Through the door we must pass
But cannot look,
And there are no windows
Upon that side.


A YEAR is a thief
Who comes in the guise of a friend
Saying, "Let us travel together,
We have much to give each other.
See, I hold back nothing--
For what is giving
Between friends?"

Yet when the year departs
He takes his gifts with him--
"Oh, Robber!" we cry,
Aghast and weeping,
"Nay," he replies, "I did but lend.
Still, for your weeping, I will leave you something.

It is not the real thing
But you may keep it always."


I SEE a spirit
Young and eager,
Beautiful, too, I think,
(Although I cannot see it clearly)
It is, by right of its own being,
One with all lovely, youthful things;
And they, its age-old kindred,
Welcome it
Saying, "Come, you too are one of us!"

. . . . . . .

This spirit is my own happy ghost--
But I, myself,--alas!


THERE was a man, once, and a woman
Whose love was so entire
That an angel, watching them,
Said wistfully, "Would I were no angel
But a mortal,
Loving so, and so beloved!"
. . . . Yet, when these two mated,
A muddied drop, from some forgotten vial of ancestry,
Brought them a child whose mind was dark;
Who lived--and never called them by their names . . .
. . . . They tended her
For twenty years.
Only when she died
Did they weep, whispering,
The years could find no answer,
Though they went questioning
Until the end.

. . . . . . .

Still wondering
They wandered out into the other country . . . .
It was lonely there,
Being parted from familiar things,
And there was no one to answer questions,
But, suddenly,
(As a wind blows or a swallow flies against the sun)
Came a young girl--eager!
She ran to them,
Calling dear names,
(Names that would open heaven)
"Who are you?" they entreated, trembling . . . .
But they knew!--
Had they not dreamed her so
For twenty years?


THE knowledge of love
Is like sudden sun upon a river--
The slipping water
Is instantly opaque and glorious.
No longer can we look into it
Counting the pebbles,
Watching the ribboned water-reeds,
Or searching idly
For that something which we lost
(A ring with gems)
It is all glamour, now!
We turn away, shading our eyes.


I THOUGHT of friendship
As a golden ring,
Round as the world
Yet fitted to my finger;
I thought of friendship
As a path in spring
Where there are flowers
And the footsteps linger;
I thought of friendship
As a globe of light,
Yellow before the doorway of my life,
A flame diffused
Yet potent against night;
I thought--but thought itself in ruin lies
Since, yesterday, you passed with lowered eyes!

The Returned Man

THEY thought that he would come back
Less boyish,
But still a hero with tales to tell.
So, when there were no tales,
Only blank silences--
When he lay for hours
Staring through leafing branches
And forgot them
They tried to arouse him, saying:
"The war is over."
But when he turned on them
His shadowed eyes
They stammered--
Knowing that they lied!


(For the unknown soldier buried in Westminster Abbey.)

YOU who died fighting
For me and my little children;
You who are a million
Yet are but one,
I lay upon your grave
A rose and a tear--
The tear is the world's sorrow,
The rose is your joy.

For One Who Went in Spring

SHE did not go, as others do,
With backward look and beckoning;
With no farewell for anything
She passed the open doorway through.

The little things she left behind
Lie where they fell from hands content--
Fame a forgotten incident
And life a season out of mind.

The spring will find her footstep gone,
But spring is kind to vanished things,
Camas and buttercups she brings
With green that tears have brightened on.

And we, who walked with her last year
While April in the lilacs stirred,
Will turn with sudden look or word--
Forgetting that she is not here.

Book of the day: