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Georgian Poetry 1911-12 by Various

Part 3 out of 3

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Yet had there been no more than what is told,
Thou wouldst not now be lending ear to me.


Hearing such things, I think of my poor son,
Which makes me far too sad to smile at folly.


There, let me tell thee all just as it happened,
And of thy son I shall be speaking soon.


Delphis! Alas, are his companions still
No better than such ne'er-do-wells? I thought
His life was sager now, though he has killed
My hopes of seeing him a councillor.


How thou art quick to lay claim to a sorrow!
Should I have come so eagerly to thee
If all there was to tell thee were such poor news?


Forgive me; well know I there is no end
To Damon's kindness; my poor boy has proved it;
Could but his father so have understood him!


Let lie the sad contents of vanished years;
Why with complaints reproach the helpless dead?
Thy husband ne'er will cross thy hopes again.
Come, think of what a sky made yesterday
The worthy dream of thrice divine Apollo!
Hipparchus' plan was, we should take the road
(As, when such mornings tempt me, is my wont)
And cross the hills, along the coast, toward Mylae.
He in disguise, a younger handier Chloe,
Would lead my mule; must brown his face and arms:
And thereon straight to wake her he was gone.
Their voices from her cabin crossed the yard;
He swears those parts of her are still well made
Which she keeps too well hidden when about;--
And she, no little pleased; that interlards,
Between her exclamations at his figure,
Reproof of gallantries half-laughed at hers.
Anon she titters as he dons her dress
Doubtless with pantomime--
Head-carriage and hip-swagger.
A wench, more conscious of her sex than grace,
He then rejoined me, changed beyond belief,
Roguish as vintage makes them; bustling helps
Or hinders Chloe harness to the mule;--
In fine bewitching both her age and mine.
The life that in such fellows runs to waste
Is like a gust that pulls about spring trees
And spoils your hope of fruit, while it delights
The sense with bloom and odour scattered, mingled
With salt spume savours from a crested offing.
The sun was not long up when we set forth
And, coming to the deeply shadowed gate,
Found catchpolls lurked there, true to his surmise.
Them he, his beard disguised like face-ache, sauced;
(Too gaily for that bandaged cheek, thought I);
But they, whose business was to think,
Were quite contented, let the hussy pass,
Returned her kisses blown back down the road,
And crowned the mirth of their outwitter's heart.
As the steep road wound clear above the town,
Fewer became those little comedies
To which encounters roused him: till, at last,
He scarcely knew we passed some vine-dressers:
And I could see the sun's heat, lack of sleep,
And his late orgy would defeat his powers.
So, where the road grows level and must soon
Descend, I bade him climb into the car;
On which the mule went slower still and slower.
This creature who, upon occasions, shows
Taste very like her master's, left the highway
And took a grass-grown wheel-track that led down
Zigzag athwart the broad curved banks of lawn
Coating a valley between rounded hills
Which faced the sea abruptly in huge crags.
Each slope grew steeper till I left my seat
And led the mule; for now Hipparchus' snore
Tuned with the crooning waves heard from below.
We passed two narrow belts of wood and then
The sea, that first showed blue above their tops,
Was spread before us chequered with white waves
Breaking beneath on boulders which choked up
The narrowed issue seawards of the glen.
The steep path would no more admit of wheels:
I took the beast and tethered her to graze
Within the shade of a stunt ilex clump,--
Returned to find a vacant car; Hipparchus,
Uneasy on my tilting down the shafts,
And heated with strange clothes, had roused himself
And lay asleep upon his late disguise,
Naked 'neath the cool eaves of one huge rock
That stood alone, much higher up than those
Over, and through, and under which, the waves
Made music or forced milk-white floods of foam.
There I reclined, while vision, sound and scent
Won on my willing soul like sleep on joy,
Till all accustomed thoughts were far away
As from a happy child the cares of men.
The hour was sacred to those earlier gods
Who are not active, but divinely wait
The consummation of their first great deeds,
Unfolding still and blessing hours serene.
Presently I was gazing on a boy,
(Though whence he came my mind had not perceived).
Twelve or thirteen he seemed, with clinging feet
Poised on a boulder, and against the sea
Set off. His wide-brimmed hat of straw was arched
Over his massed black and abundant curls
By orange ribbon tied beneath his chin;
Around his arms and shoulders his sole dress,
A cloak, was all bunched up. He leapt, and lighted
Upon the boulder just beneath; there swayed,
And perked his head like an inquisitive bird,
As gravely happy; of all unconscious save
His body's aptness for its then employment;
His eyes intent on shells in some clear pool
Or choosing where he next will plant his feet.
Again he leaps, his curls against his hat
Bounce up behind. The daintiest thing alive,
He rocks awhile, turned from me towards the sea;
Unseen I might devour him with my eyes.
At last he stood upon a ledge each wave
Spread with a sheet of foam four inches deep;
He gazing at them saw them disappear
And reappear all shining and refreshed:
Then raised his head, beheld the ocean stretched
Alive before him in its magnitude.
None but a child could have been so absorbed
As to escape its spell till then, none else
Could so have voiced glad wonder in a song:--
All the waves of the sea are there!
In at my eyes they crush.
Till my head holds as fair a sea:
Though I shut my eyes, they are there!
Now towards my lids they rush,
Mad to burst forth from me
Back to the open air!--
To follow them my heart needs,
O white-maned steeds, to ride you;
Lithe-shouldered steeds,
To the western isles astride you
Amyntas speeds!'
'Damon!' said a voice quite close to me
And looking up ... as might have stood Apollo
In one vast garment such as shepherds wear
And leaning on such tall staff stood ... Thou guessest,
Whose majesty as vainly was disguised
As must have been Apollo's minding sheep.


Delphis! I know, dear Damon, it was Delphis!
Healthy life in the country having chased
His haggard looks; his speech is not wild now,
Nor wicked with exceptions to things honest:
Thy face a kindlier way than speech tells this.


Yea, dear Cydilla, he was altogether
What mountaineers might dream of for a king.


But tell me, is he tutor to that boy?


He is an elder brother to the lad.


Nay, nay, hide nothing, speak the worst at once.


I meant no hint of ill;
A god in love with young Amyntas might
Look as he did; fathers alone feel like him:
Could I convey his calm and happy speech
Thy last suspicion would be laid to rest.


Damon, see, my glad tears have drowned all fear;
Think'st thou he may come back and win renown,
And fill his father's place?
Not as his father filled it,
But with an inward spirit correspondent
To that contained and high imposing mien
Which made his father honoured before men
Of greater wisdom, more integrity.


And loved before men of more kindliness!


O Damon, far too happy am I now
To grace thy naughtiness by showing pain.
My Delphis 'owns the brains and presence too
That make a Pericles!' ... (the words are thine)
Had he but the will; and has he now?
Good Damon, tell me quick?


He dreams not of the court, and city life
Is what he rails at.


Well, if he now be wise and sober-souled
And loved for goodness, I can rest content.


My brain lights up to see thee happy! wait,
It may be I can give some notion how
Our poet spoke:
'Damon, the best of life is in thine eyes--
Worship of promise-laden beauty. Seems he not
The god of this fair scene?
Those waves claim such a master as that boy;
And these green slopes have waited till his feet
Should wander them, to prove they were not spread
In wantonness. What were this flower's prayer
Had it a voice? The place behind his ear
Would brim its cup with bliss and overbrim;
Oh, to be worn and fade beside his cheek!'--
'In love and happy, Delphis; and the boy?'--
'Loves and is happy'--
You hale from?'--
We have been out two days and crossed this ridge,
West of Mount Mycon's head. I serve his father,
A farmer well-to-do and full of sense,
Who owns a grass-farm cleared among the pines
North-west the cone, where even at noon in summer,
The slope it falls on lengthens a tree's shade.
To play the lyre, read and write and dance
I teach this lad; in all their country toil
Join, nor ask better fare than cheese, black bread,
Butter or curds, and milk, nor better bed
Than litter of dried fern or lentisk yields,
Such as they all sleep soundly on and dream,
(If e'er they dream) of places where it grew,--
Where they have gathered mushrooms, eaten berries,
Or found the sheep they lost, or killed a fox,
Or snared the kestrel, or so played their pipes
Some maid showed pleasure, sighed, nay even wept.
There to be poet need involve no strain,
For though enough of coarseness, dung--nay, nay,
And suffering too, be mingled with the life,
'Tis wedded to such air,
Such water and sound health!
What else might jar or fret chimes in attuned
Like satyr's cloven hoof or lorn nymph's grief
In a choice ode. Though lust, disease and death,
As everywhere, are cruel tyrants, yet
They all wear flowers, and each sings a song
Such as the hilly echo loves to learn.'
'At last then even Delphis knows content?'
'Damon, not so:
This life has brought me health but not content.
That boy, whose shouts ring round us while he flings
Intent each stone toward yon shining object
Afloat inshore ... I eat my heart to think
How all which makes him worthy of more love
Must train his ear to catch the siren croon
That never else had reached his upland home!
And he who failed in proof, how should he arm
Another against perils? Ah, false hope
And credulous enjoyment! How should I,
Life's fool, while wakening ready wit in him,
Teach how to shun applause and those bright eyes
Of women who pour in the lap of spring
Their whole year's substance? They can offer
To fill the day much fuller than I could,
And yet teach night surpass it. Can my means
Prevent the ruin of the thing I cherish?
What cares Zeus for him? Fate despises love.
Why, lads more exquisite, brimming with promise,
A thousand times have been lost for the lack
Of just the help a watchful god might give;
But which the best of fathers, best of mothers,
Of friends, of lovers cannot quite supply.
Powers, who swathe man's virtue up in weakness,
Then plunge his delicate mind in hot desire,
Preparing pleasure first and after shame
To bandage round his eyes,--these gods are not
The friends of men.'
The Delphis of old days before me stood,
Passionate, stormy, teeming with black thought,
His back turned on that sparkling summer sea,
His back turned on his love; and wilder words
And less coherent thought poured from him now.
Hipparchus waking took stock of the scene.
I watched him wend down, rubbing sleepy lids,
To where the boy was busy throwing stones.
He joined the work, but even his stronger arm
And heavier flints he hurled would not suffice
To drive that floating object nearer shore:
And, ere the rebel Delphis had expressed
Enough of anger and contempt for gods,
(Who, he asserted, were the dreams of men),
I saw the stone-throwers both take the water
And swimming easily attain their end.
The way they held their noses proved the thing
A tunny, belly floating upward, dead;
Both towed it till the current caught and swept it
Out far from that sweet cove; they laughing watched:
Then, suddenly, Amyntas screamed and Delphis
Turned to see him sink
Locked in Hipparchus' arms.
The god Apollo never
Burst through a cloud with more ease than thy son
Poured from his homespun garb
The rapid glory of his naked limbs,
And like a streak of lightning reached the waves:--
Wherein his thwarted speed appeared more awful
As, brought within the scope of comprehension,
Its progress and its purpose could be gauged.
Spluttering Amyntas rose, Hipparchus near him
Who cried 'Why coy of kisses, lovely lad?
I ne'er would harm thee; art thou not ashamed
To treat thy conquest thus?'
He shouted partly to drown the sea's noise, chiefly
The nearing Delphis to disarm.
His voice lost its assurance while he spoke,
And, as he finished, quick to escape he turned;
Thy son's eyes and that steady coming on,
As he might see them over ruffled crests,
Far better helped him swim
Than ever in his life he swam before.
Delphis passed by Amyntas;
Hipparchus was o'ertaken,
Cuffed, ducked and shaken;
In vain he clung about his angry foe;
Held under he perforce let go:
I, fearing for his life, set up a whoop
To bring cause and effect to thy son's mind,
And in dire rage's room his sense returned.
He towed Hipparchus back like one he'd saved
From drowning, laid him out upon that ledge
Where late Amyntas stood, where now he kneeled
Shivering, alarmed and mute.
Delphis next set the drowned man's mouth to drain;
We worked his arms, for I had joined them; soon
His breathing recommenced; we laid him higher
On sun-warmed turf to come back to himself;
Then we climbed to the cart without a word.
The sun had dried their limbs; they, putting on
Their clothes, sat down; at length, I asked the lad
What made him keen to pelt a stinking fish.
Blushing he said, 'I wondered what it was.
But that man, when he came to help, declared
'Twould prove a dead sea-nymph, and we might see,
By swimming out, how finely she was made.
I did not half believe, yet when we found
That foul stale fish, it made us laugh.' He smiled
And watched Hipparchus spit and cough and groan.
I moved to the car and unpacked bread and meat,
A cheese, some fruit, a skin of wine, two bowls.
Amyntas was all joy to see such things;
Ran off and pulled acanthus for our plates;
Chattering, he helped me set all forth,--was keen
To choose rock basin where the wine might cool;
Approved, was full as happy as I to praise:
And most he pleased me, when he set a place
For poor Hipparchus. Thus our eager work,
While Delphis, in his thoughts retired, sat frowning,
Grew like a home-conspiracy to trap
The one who bears the brunt of outside cares
Into the glow of cheerfulness that bathes
The children and the mother,--happy not
To foresee winter, short-commons or long debts,
Since they are busied for the present meal,--
Too young, too weak, too kind, to peer ahead,
Or probe the dark horizon bleak with storms.
Oh! I have sometimes thought there is a god
Who helps with lucky accidents when folk
Join with the little ones to chase such gloom.
That chance which left Hipparchus with no clothes,
Surely divinity was ambushed in it?
When he must put on Chloe's, Amyntas rocked
With laughter, and Hipparchus, quick to use
A favourable gust, pretends confusion
Such as a farmer's daughter red-faced shows
If in the dance her dress has come unpinned.
She suddenly grows grave; yet, seeing there
Friends only, stoops behind a sister-skirt.
Then, having set to rights the small mishap,
Holding her screener's elbows, round her shoulder
Peeps, to bob back meeting a young man's eye.
All, grateful for such laughs, give Hermes thanks.
And even Delphis at Hipparchus smiled
When, from behind me, he peeped bashful forth;
Amyntas called him Baucis every time,
Laughing because he was or was not like
Some wench ...
Why, Delphis, in the name of Zeus
How come you here?


What can have happened, Delphis?
Be brief for pity!


Nothing, mother, nothing
That has not happened time on time before
To thee, to Damon, when the life ye thought
With pride and pleasure yours, has proved a dream.
They strike down on us from the top of heaven,
Bear us up in their talons, up and up,
Drop us: we fall, are crippled, maimed for life.
'Our dreams'? nay, we are theirs for sport, for prey,
And life is the King Eagle,
The strongest, highest flyer, from whose clutch
The fall is fatal always.


Delphis, Delphis,
Good Damon had been making me so happy
By telling ...


How he watched me near the zenith?
Three years back
That dream pounced on me and began to soar;
Having been sick, my heart had found new lies;
The only thoughts I then had ears for were
Healthy, virtuous, sweet;
Jaded town-wastrel,
A country setting was the sole could take me
Three years back.
Damon might have guessed
From such a dizzy height
What fall was coming.


Ah my boy, my boy!


Sit down, be patient, let us hear and aid;--
Has aught befallen Amyntas?


Would he were dead!
Would that I had been brute enough to slay him!--
Great Zeus, Hipparchus had so turned his head,
His every smile and word
As we sat by our fire, stung my fool's heart.--
How we laughed to see him curtsey,
Fidget strings about his waist,--
Giggle, his beard caught in the chlamys' hem
Drawing it tight about his neck, 'just like
Our Baucis.' Could not sleep
For thinking of the life they lead in towns;
He said so: when, at last,
He sighed from dreamland, thoughts
I had been day-long brooding
Broke into vision.

A child, a girl,
Beautiful, nay more than others beautiful,
Not meant for marriage, not for one man meant,
You know what she will be;
At six years old or seven her life is round her;
A company, all ages, old men, young men,
Whose vices she must prey on.
And the bent crone she will be is there too,
Patting her head and chuckling prophecies.--
O cherry lips, O wild bird eyes,
O gay invulnerable setter-at-nought
Of will, of virtue--
Thou art as constant a cause as is the sea,
As is the sun, as are the winds, as night,
Of opportunities not only but events;--
The unalterable past
Is full of thy contrivance,
Goddess of ruin!

No girl; nay, nay,
Amyntas is young,
Is gay,
Has beauty and health--and yet
In his sleep I have seen him smile
And known that his dream was vile;
Those eyes which brimmed over with glee
Till my life flowed as fresh as the sea--
Those eyes, gloved each in a warm live lid,
May be glad that their visions are hid.

I taught myself to rhyme; the trick will cling.
Ah, Damon, day-lit vision is more dread
Than those which suddenly replace the dark!
When the dawn filtered through our tent of boughs
I saw him closely wrapped in his grey cloak,
His head upon a pile of caked thin leaves
Whose life had dried up full two years ago.
Their flakes shook in the breath from those moist lips;
The vow his kiss would seal must prove, I knew
As friable as that pale ashen fritter;
It had more body than reason dare expect
From that so beautiful creature's best intent.
He waking found me no more there; and wanders
Through AEtna's woods to-day
Calling at times, or questioning charcoal burners,
Till he shall strike a road shall lead him home;
Yet all his life must be spent as he spends
This day in whistling, wondering, singing, chatting,
In the great wood, vacant and amiable.


Can it be possible that thou desertest
Thy love, thy ward, the work of three long years,
Because chance, on an April holiday
Has filled this boy's talk with another man,
And wonder at another way of life?
Worse than a woman's is such jealousy;
The lad must live!


Live, live! to be sure, he must live!
I have lived, am a fool for my pains!
And yet, and yet,
This heart has ached to play the god for him:--
Mine eyes for his had sifted visible things;
Speech had been filtered ere it reached his ear;
Not in the world should he have lived, but breathed
Humanity's distilled quintessences;
The indiscriminate multitude sorted should yield him
Acquaintance and friend discerned, chosen by me:--
By me, who failed, wrecked my youth's prime, and dragged
More wonderful than his gifts in the mire!


Yet if experience could not teach and save
Others from ignorance, why, towns would be
Ruins, and civil men like outlaws thieve,
Stab, riot, ere two generations passed.


Where is the Athens that Pericles loved?
Where are the youths that were Socrates' friends?
There was a town where all learnt
What the wisest had taught!
Why had crude Sparta such treasonous force?
Could Philip of Macedon
Breed a true Greek of his son?
What honour to conquer a world
Where Alcibiades failed,
Lead half-drilled highland hordes
Whose lust would inherit the wise?
There is nothing art's industry shaped
But their idleness praising it mocked.
Thus Fate re-assumed her command
And laughed at experienced law.
What ails man to love with such pains?
Why toil to create in the mind
Of those who shall close in his grave
The best that he is and has hoped?
The longer permission he has,
The nobler the structure so raised,
The greater its downfall. Fools, fools,
Where is a town such as Pericles ruled?
Where youths to replace those whom Socrates loved?

Wise Damon, thou art silent;--Mother, thou
Hast only arms to cling about thy son.--
Who can descry the purpose of a god
With eyes wide-open? shut them, every fool
Can conjure up a world arriving somewhere,
Resulting in what he may call perfection.
Evil must soon or late succeed to good.
There well may once have been a golden age:
Why should we treat it as a poet's tale?
Yet, in those hills that hung o'er Arcady,
Some roving inebriate Daimon
Begat him fair children
On nymphs of the vineyard,
On nymphs of the rock:--
And in the heart of the forest
Lay bound in white arms,
In action creative a father
Without a thought for his child:--
A purposeless god,
The forbear of men
To corrupt, ape, inherit and spoil
That fine race beforehand with doom!

No, Damon, what's an answer worth to one
Whose mind has been flung open?
Only last night,
The gates of my spirit gave entrance
Unto the great light;
And I saw how virtue seduceth,
Not ended today or tomorrow
Like the passion for love,
Like the passion for life--
But perennial pain
And age-long effort.
Dead deeds are the teeth that shine
In the mouth that repeateth praise,
That spurs men to do high things
Since their fathers did higher before--
To give more than they hope to receive,
To slave and to die in a secular cause!
The mouth that smiles over-praise
Eats out the heart of each fool
To feed the great dream of a race.

Yet wearied peoples each in turn awake
From virtue, as a man from his brief love,
And, roughly shaken, face the useless truth;
No answer to brute fact has e'er been found.
Slaves of your slaves, caged in your furnished rooms,
Ushered to meals when reft of appetite--
Though hungry, bound to wait a stated hour--
Your dearest contemplation broken off
By the appointed summons to your bath;
Racked with more thought for those whom you may flog
Than for those dear; obsessed by your possessions
With a dull round of stale anxieties;--
Soon maintenance grows the extreme reach of hope
For those held in respect, as in a vice,
By citizens of whom they are the pick.
Of men the least bond is the roving seaman
Who hires himself to merchantman or pirate
For single voyages, stays where he may please,
Lives his purse empty in a dozen ports,
And ne'er obeys the ghost of what once was!
His laugh chimes readily; his kiss, no symbol
Of aught to come, but cordial, eager, hot,
Leaves his tomorrow free. With him for comrade
Each day shall be enough, and what is good
Enjoyed, and what is evil borne or cursed.
I go, because I will not have a home,
Or here prefer to there, or near to far.
I go, because I will not have a friend
Lay claim upon my leisure this day week.
I will be melted by each smile that takes me;
What though a hundred lips should meet with mine!
A vagabond I shall be as the moon is.
The sun, the waves, the winds, all birds, all beasts,
Are ever on the move, and take what comes;
They are not parasites like plants and men
Rooted in that which fed them yesterday.
Not even Memory shall follow Delphis,
For I will yield to all impulse save hers,
Therein alone subject to prescient rigour;
Lest she should lure me back among the dying--
Pilfer the present for the beggar past.
Free minds must bargain with each greedy moment
And seize the most that lies to hand at once.
Ye are too old to understand my words;
I yet have youth enough, and can escape
From that which sucks each individual man
Into the common dream.


Stay, Delphis, hear what Damon has to say!
He is mad!


Mad--yes--mad as cruelty!
* * * * *
Poor, poor Cydilla! was it then to this
That all my tale was prologue?
Think of Amyntas, think of that poor boy,
Bereaved as we are both bereaved! Come, come,
Find him, and say that Love himself has sent us
To offer our poor service in his stead.


Good Damon, help me find my wool; my eyes
Are blind with tears; then I will come at once!
We must be doing something, for I feel
We both shall drown our hearts with time to spare.

* * * * *



Ah whither dost thou float, sweet silent star,
In yonder floods of evening's dying light?
Before the fanning wings of rising night,
Methinks thy silvery bark is driven far
To some lone isle or calmly havened shore,
Where the lorn eye of man can follow thee no more.

How many a one hath watched thee even as I,
And unto thee and thy receding ray
Poured forth his thoughts with many a treasured sigh
Too sweet and strange for the remorseless day;
But thou hast gone and left unto their sight
Too great a host of stars, and yet too black a night.

E'en as I gaze upon thee, thy bright form
Doth sail away among the cloudy isles
Around whose shores the sea of sunlight smiles.
On thee may break no black and boisterous storm
To turn the tenour of thy calm career.
As thou wert long ago so now thou dost appear.

Art thou a tear left by the exiled day
Upon the dusky cheek of drowsy night?
Or dost thou as a lark carol alway
Full in the liquid glow of heavenly light?
Or, bent on discord and angelic wars,
As some bright spirit tread before the trooping stars?

The disenchanted vapours hide thee fast;
The watery twilight fades and night comes on;
One lingering moment more and thou art gone,
Lost in the rising sea of clouds that cast
Their inundations o'er the darkening air;
And wild the night wind wails the lightless world's despair.

* * * * *



Cuckoo, are you calling me,
Or is it a voice of wizardry?
In these woodlands I am lost,
From glade to glade of flowers tost.
Seven times I held my way,
And seven times the voice did say,
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! No man could
Issue from this underwood,
Half of green and half of brown,
Unless he laid his senses down.
Only let him chance to see
The snows of the anemone
Heaped above its greenery;
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! No man could
Issue from the master wood.

Magic paths there are that cross;
Some beset with jewelled moss
And boughs all bare; where others run,
Bluebells bathe in mist and sun
Past a clearing filled with clumps
Of primrose round the nutwood stumps;
All as gay as gay can be,
And bordered with dog-mercury,
The wizard flower, the wizard green,
Like a Persian carpet seen.
Brown, dead bracken lies between,
And wrinkled leaves, whence fronds of fern
Still untwist and upward turn.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! No man could
Issue from this wizard wood,
Half of green, and half of brown,
Unless he laid his senses down.

Seven times I held my way
Where new heaps of brushwood lay,
All with withies loosely bound,
And never heard a human sound.
Yet men have toiled and men have rested
By yon hurdles darkly-breasted,
Woven in and woven out,
Piled four-square, and turned about
To show their white and sharpened stakes
Like teeth of hounds or fangs of snakes.
The men are homeward sped, for none
Loves silence and a sinking sun.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Woodmen know
Souls are lost that hear it so,
Seven times upon the wind,
To lull the watch-dogs of the mind.

A stranger wood you shall not find!
Beech and birch and oak agree
Here to dwell in company.
Hazel, elder, few men could
Name the kinds of underwood.
Summer and winter haunt together,
And golden light with misty weather.
'Tis summer where this beech is seen
Defenceless in its virgin green;
All its leaves are smooth and thin,
And the sunlight passes in,
Passes in and filters through
To a green heaven below the blue.
Low the branches fall and trace
A circle round that mystic place,
Guarded on its outward side
By hyacinths in all their pride;
And within dim moons appear,
Wax and wane--I go not near!
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! How we fear
Sights and sounds that come and go
Without a cause for men to know!

Why for a whispered doubt should I
Shun that other beech-tree high,
Red and watchful, still and bare,
With a thousand spears in air,
Guarding yet its treasured leaf
From storm and hail and winter's grief?
Unregarded on the ground
Leaves of yester-year abound,
For what is autumn's gold to one
That hoards a life scarce yet begun?
Let me so renew my youth,
I defend it, nail and tooth,
Rooting deep and lifting high.
For this my dead leaves hiss and sigh
And glow as on the downward road
To the dog-snake's dread abode.
Noxious things of earth and air,
Get you hence, for I prepare
To flaunt my beauty in the sun
When all beside me are undone.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Pan shall see
The surge of my virginity
Overtop the sobered glade.
Luminous and unafraid
Near his sacred oak I'll spread
Lures to tempt him from his bed:
His couch, his lair his form shall be
By none but by the fair beech-tree.

O cunning Oak! What is your skill
To hold the god against my will?
Keep your favours back like me,
With disfavour he shall see
Orange hues of jealousy:
Show your leaf in early prime,
It shall be dark before its time:
Me you shall not rival ever.
Silver Birch, would you endeavour,
Trembling in your bridal dress,
To win at last a dog's caress?
Through your twigs so thin and dark
Shows the black and ashen bark,
Like a face that underneath
Tightened eyebrows looks on death.
Think not, dwarf, that Pan shall find
Aught about you to his mind.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! All shall try
To win him. But the beech and I,
Man and tree made one at last,
Alone have power to hold him fast.

Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Forth I creep,
When the flowers fall asleep,
And upgather odours rare
Floating on the misty air,
All to be imprisoned where
My sap is rising till they reach
The swelling twigs, and thence shall each
Separate scent be shaken free
As my flowers and leaves agree.
Rare in sooth those flowers shall be:
Cunningly will I devise
Colours to delight the eyes,
Slipping from my fissured stem
To get by stealth or stratagem
The glory of the morning petal.
Where the bees at noontide settle,
Mine to rifle all their sweets:
Honey and bee-bread on the teats
Of my blossoms shall be spread,
Till the lime-trees shake with dread
Of the marvels still to come
When their bees about me hum.

Welcome, welcome, cloudless night,
Is our labour ended quite?
Are the mortal and the tree
Now made one in ecstasy,
One in foretaste of the dawn?
Crescent moon, sink, sink outworn!
Stars be buried, stars be born,
Mount and dip to tell aright
The doings of the morrow's light!
Mists, assemble, hide me quite,
Till the sun with growing strength
Grips your veils, and length by length
Tears them down from head to foot;
Then to the challenge I am put!

Tell me busy, busy glade,
Half in light and half in shade,
Is your world of wood-folk there?
All are come but the mole and hare;
One is blind, and underground
Of that tumult hears no sound;
The other Pan has crept within,
To bask afield in the hare-skin.
All are come of woodland fowl
But the cuckoo and the owl;
The owl's asleep, and the cuckoo-bird
Nowhere seen is eachwhere heard.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Those that see
The leafing of this great beech-tree,
And its flowers of every kind,
Woodland lovers have in mind;
Those that breathe the scented wind
Or touch this bark of satin, could
Never issue from our wood.

Tell me, busy, busy glade,
Are little flying things afraid?
All are come of aery folk,
Gnats that hover like a smoke,
Butterflies and humble-bees,
Insects winged in all degrees,
Honey-toilers, pleasure-makers,
Of labours and of joys forsakers,
Round these boughs to live and die.
Only the moth and the dragon-fly
Keep their haunts and come not nigh:
The moth is moonstruck, she must creep
With twitching wings, and half-asleep,
Through folds of darkness; and that other,
The dragon-fly, Narcissus' brother,
Flashes all his burnished mail
In a still pool adown the dale.

Tell me, busy, busy glade,
Shifting aye in light and shade,
Are the dryads peeping forth,
More in wonder than in wrath,
Each beneath her own dear tree
Parting her hair that she may see
How queens put on their sovereignty?
All are come of Pan's own race,
Nymphs and satyrs fill the place,
Necks outstretched and ears a-twitching,
That Pan may know of all this witching.
Heedless stumble the goatfeet
Till four-footed things retreat.
Cries of Ah! and Ay! and Eh!
Scare the forest birds away,
And their notes that rang so clear
At dawn, you now shall rarely hear:
Only a robin here and there
Pitches high his trembling voice
In a challenge to rejoice.

Cuckoo! Cuckoo! How two notes
Stolen from all woodland throats
Make the satyrs stand like stone,
Waiting for Pan to call his own!
How the couching dryads seem
To root themselves as in a dream,
And the naiads, wan and whist,
To melt into an evening mist!

Tell me, silent, silent glade,
All in light that once was shade,
All in shade that once was light,
How went the creatures from my sight?
Where are the shapes that turned to stone,
And my tree that reigned alone?
Red and watchful, still and bare,
With a thousand spears in air,
Stands the beech that you would bind
Unlawfully to human mind.
Gone is every woodland elf
To the mighty god himself.
Mortal! You yourself are fast!
Doubt not Pan shall come at last
To put a leer within your eyes
That pry into his mysteries.
He shall touch the busy brain
Lest it ever teem again;
Point the ears and twist the feet,
Till by day you dare not meet
Men, or in the failing light
Mutter more than, Friend, good-night!

Tell me, whispering, whispering glade,
Am I eager or afraid?
Do I wish the god to come?
What shall I say if he be dumb?
Tell me, wherefore hiss and sigh
Those shrivelled leaves? Has Pan gone by?
Why do your thousand pools of light
Gaze like eyes that fade at night?
Pan has but twain, Pan's eyes are bright!
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! See, yon stakes
Gape and grin like fangs of snakes;
Not snakes nor hounds are mouthing thus;
Pan himself is watching us.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Now
The god is breasting the hill-brow.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Pan is near:
Joy runs trembling back to fear.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! All my blood
Knocks through the heart whose every thud
Chokes me, blinds me, drains my madness.
As one half-drowned, I feel life's gladness
Ooze from each pore. Towards the sun
Downhill I reel that fain would run.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Thornless seem
Briars that part as in a dream.
Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Hazel-boughs
Hurt not though they blood the brows.

Cuckoo! In a meadow prone
At last I lie, my wits my own;
And in my hand I clasp the flower
To counteract that magic power;
The cuckoo-flower, in a lilac sheet
Under body, head and feet.
Above me apple-blossoms fleck
The cloudless sky, a neighbouring beck
With many a happy gurgle goes
Down to the farm through alder-rows.
Strange it is, and it is sweet,
To hear the distant mill-wheel beat,
And the kindly cries of men
Turning the cattle home again,
The clank of pails and all the shades
Of laughter of the busy maids.
Now is come the evening star,
And my limbs new-blooded are.
So beside the stream I choose
A path that patient anglers use,
Which with many twists and turns
Brings me where a candle burns,
A lowly light, through cottage pane
Seen and hid and seen again.
Cuckoo! Now you call in vain.
I am far and I am free
From all woodland wizardry!

* * * * *



Mad Patsy said, he said to me,
That every morning he could see
An angel walking on the sky;
Across the sunny skies of morn
He threw great handfuls far and nigh
Of poppy seed among the corn;
And then, he said, the angels run
To see the poppies in the sun.

A poppy is a devil weed,
I said to him--he disagreed;
He said the devil had no hand
In spreading flowers tall and fair
Through corn and rye and meadow land,
By garth and barrow everywhere:
The devil has not any flower,
But only money in his power.

And then he stretched out in the sun
And rolled upon his back for fun:
He kicked his legs and roared for joy
Because the sun was shining down,
He said he was a little boy
And would not work for any clown:
He ran and laughed behind a bee,
And danced for very ecstasy.


I thought I heard Him calling. Did you hear
A sound, a little sound? My curious ear
Is dinned with flying noises, and the tree
Goes--whisper, whisper, whisper silently
Till all its whispers spread into the sound
Of a dull roar. Lie closer to the ground,
The shade is deep and He may pass us by.
We are so very small, and His great eye,
Customed to starry majesties, may gaze
Too wide to spy us hiding in the maze;
Ah, misery! the sun has not yet gone
And we are naked: He will look upon
Our crouching shame, may make us stand upright
Burning in terror--O that it were night!
He may not come ... what? listen, listen, now--
He is here! lie closer ... 'Adam, where art thou?'


So Eden was deserted, and at eve
Into the quiet place God came to grieve.
His face was sad, His hands hung slackly down
Along his robe; too sorrowful to frown
He paced along the grassy paths and through
The silent trees, and where the flowers grew
Tended by Adam. All the birds had gone
Out to the world, and singing was not one
To cheer the lonely God out of His grief--
The silence broken only when a leaf
Tapt lightly on a leaf, or when the wind,
Slow-handed, swayed the bushes to its mind.

And so along the base of a round hill,
Rolling in fern, He bent His way until
He neared the little hut which Adam made,
And saw its dusky rooftree overlaid
With greenest leaves. Here Adam and his spouse
Were wont to nestle in their little house
Snug at the dew-time: here He, standing sad,
Sighed with the wind, nor any pleasure had
In heavenly knowledge, for His darlings twain
Had gone from Him to learn the feel of pain,
And what was meant by sorrow and despair,--
Drear knowledge for a Father to prepare.

There he looked sadly on the little place;
A beehive round it was, without a trace
Of occupant or owner; standing dim
Among the gloomy trees it seemed to Him
A final desolation, the last word
Wherewith the lips of silence had been stirred.
Chaste and remote, so tiny and so shy,
So new withal, so lost to any eye,
So pac't of memories all innocent
Of days and nights that in it had been spent
In blithe communion, Adam, Eve, and He,
Afar from Heaven and its gaudery;
And now no more! He still must be the God
But not the friend; a Father with a rod
Whose voice was fear, whose countenance a threat,
Whose coming terror, and whose going wet
With penitential tears; not evermore
Would they run forth to meet Him as before
With careless laughter, striving each to be
First to His hand and dancing in their glee
To see Him coming--they would hide instead
At His approach, or stand and hang the head,
Speaking in whispers, and would learn to pray
Instead of asking, 'Father, if we may.'

Never again to Eden would He haste
At cool of evening, when the sun had paced
Back from the tree-tops, slanting from the rim
Of a low cloud, what time the twilight dim
Knit tree to tree in shadow, gathering slow
Till all had met and vanished in the flow
Of dusky silence, and a brooding star
Stared at the growing darkness from afar,
While haply now and then some nested bird
Would lift upon the air a sleepy word
Most musical, or swing its airy bed
To the high moon that drifted overhead.

'Twas good to quit at evening His great throne,
To lay His crown aside, and all alone
Down through the quiet air to stoop and glide
Unkenned by angels: silently to hide
In the green fields, by dappled shades, where brooks
Through leafy solitudes and quiet nooks
Flowed far from heavenly majesty and pride,
From light astounding and the wheeling tide
Of roaring stars. Thus does it ever seem
Good to the best to stay aside and dream
In narrow places, where the hand can feel
Something beside, and know that it is real.
His angels! silly creatures who could sing
And sing again, and delicately fling
The smoky censer, bow and stand aside
All mute in adoration: thronging wide,
Till nowhere could He look but soon He saw
An angel bending humbly to the law
Mechanic; knowing nothing more of pain,
Than when they were forbid to sing again,
Or swing anew the censer, or bow down
In humble adoration of His frown.
This was the thought in Eden as He trod--
... It is a lonely thing to be a God.

So long! afar through Time He bent His mind,
For the beginning, which He could not find,
Through endless centuries and backwards still
Endless for ever, till His 'stonied will
Halted in circles, dizzied in the swing
Of mazy nothingness.--His mind could bring
Not to subjection, grip or hold the theme
Whose wide horizon melted like a dream
To thinnest edges. Infinite behind
The piling centuries were trodden blind
In gulfs chaotic--so He could not see
When He was not who always had To Be.

Not even godly fortitude can stare
Into Eternity, nor easy bear
The insolent vacuity of Time:
It is too much, the mind can never climb
Up to its meaning, for, without an end,
Without beginning, plan, or scope, or trend
To point a path, there nothing is to hold
And steady surmise: so the mind is rolled
And swayed and drowned in dull Immensity.
Eternity outfaces even Me
With its indifference, and the fruitless year
Would swing as fruitless were I never here.

And so for ever, day and night the same,
Years flying swiftly nowhere, like a game
Played random by a madman, without end
Or any reasoned object but to spend
What is unspendable--Eternal Woe!
O Weariness of Time that fast or slow
Goes never further, never has in view
An ending to the thing it seeks to do,
And so does nothing: merely ebb and flow,
From nowhere into nowhere, touching so
The shores of many stars and passing on,
Careless of what may come or what has gone.

O solitude unspeakable! to be
For ever with oneself! never to see
An equal face, or feel an equal hand,
To sit in state and issue reprimand,
Admonishment or glory, and to smile
Disdaining what has happened the while!
O to be breast to breast against a foe!
Against a friend! to strive and not to know
The laboured outcome: love nor be aware
How much the other loved, and greatly care
With passion for that happy love or hate,
Nor know what joy or dole was hid in fate,
For I have ranged the spacy width and gone
Swift north and south, striving to look upon
An ending somewhere. Many days I sped
Hard to the west, a thousand years I fled
Eastwards in fury, but I could not find
The fringes of the Infinite. Behind
And yet behind, and ever at the end
Came new beginnings, paths that did not wend
To anywhere were there: and ever vast
And vaster spaces opened--till at last
Dizzied with distance, thrilling to a pain
Unnameable, I turned to Heaven again.
And there My angels were prepared to fling
The cloudy incense, there prepared to sing
My praise and glory--O, in fury I
Then roared them senseless, then threw down the sky
And stamped upon it, buffeted a star
With My great fist, and flung the sun afar:
Shouted My anger till the mighty sound
Rung to the width, frighting the furthest bound
And scope of hearing: tumult vaster still,
Thronging the echo, dinned My ears, until
I fled in silence, seeking out a place
To hide Me from the very thought of Space.

And so, He thought, in Mine own Image I
Have made a man, remote from Heaven high
And all its humble angels: I have poured
My essence in his nostrils: I have cored
His heart with My own spirit; part of Me,
His mind with laboured growth unceasingly
Must strive to equal Mine; must ever grow
By virtue of My essence till he know
Both good and evil through the solemn test
Of sin and retribution, till, with zest,
He feels his godhead, soars to challenge Me
In Mine own Heaven for supremacy.

Through savage beasts and still more savage clay,
Invincible, I bid him fight a way
To greater battles, crawling through defeat
Into defeat again: ordained to meet
Disaster in disaster; prone to fall,
I prick him with My memory to call
Defiance at his victor and arise
With anguished fury to his greater size
Through tribulation, terror, and despair.
Astounded, he must fight to higher air,
Climb battle into battle till he be
Confronted with a flaming sword and Me.

So growing age by age to greater strength,
To greater beauty, skill and deep intent:
With wisdom wrung from pain, with energy
Nourished in sin and sorrow, he will be
Strong, pure and proud an enemy to meet,
Tremendous on a battle-field, or sweet
To walk by as a friend with candid mind.
--Dear enemy or friend so hard to find,
I yet shall find you, yet shall put My breast
In enmity or love against your breast:
Shall smite or clasp with equal ecstasy
The enemy or friend who grows to Me.

The topmost blossom of his growing I
Shall take unto Me, cherish and lift high
Beside Myself upon My holy throne:--
It is not good for God to be alone.
The perfect woman of his perfect race
Shall sit beside Me in the highest place
And be My Goddess, Queen, Companion, Wife,
The rounder of My majesty, the life,
Of My ambition. She will smile to see
Me bending down to worship at her knee
Who never bent before, and she will say,
'Dear God, who was it taught 'Thee' how to pray?'

And through eternity, adown the slope
Of never-ending time, compact of hope,
Of zest and young enjoyment, I and She
Will walk together, sowing jollity
Among the raving stars, and laughter through
The vacancies of Heaven, till the blue
Vast amplitudes of space lift up a song,
The echo of our presence, rolled along
And ever rolling where the planets sing
The majesty and glory of the King.
Then conquered, thou, Eternity, shalt lie
Under My hand as little as a fly.

I am the Master: I the mighty God
And you My workshop. Your pavilions trod
By Me and Mine shall never cease to be,
For you are but the magnitude of Me,
The width of My extension, the surround
Of My dense splendour. Rolling, rolling round,
To steeped infinity, and out beyond
My own strong comprehension, you are bond
And servile to My doings. Let you swing
More wide and ever wide, you do but fling
Around this instant Me, and measure still
The breadth and the proportion of My Will.

Then stooping to the hut--a beehive round--
God entered in and saw upon the ground
The dusty garland, Adam, (learned to weave)
Had loving placed upon the head of Eve
Before the terror came, when joyous they
Could look for God at closing of the day
Profound and happy. So the Mighty Guest
Rent, took, and placed the blossoms in His breast.
'This,' said He gently, 'I shall show My queen
When she hath grown to Me in space serene,
And say "'twas worn by Eve."' So, smiling fair,
He spread abroad His wings upon the air.

* * * * *



Gone is he now.
One flower the less
Is left to make
For thee less lone
Earth's wilderness,
Where thou
Must still live on.

What hath been, ne'er
May be again.
Yet oft of old,
To cheat despair,
Tales false and fair
In vain
Of death were told.

O vain belief!
O'erweening dreams!
Trust not fond hope,
Nor think that bliss
Which neither seems,
Nor is,
Aught else than grief.

* * * * *


(These lists, which include poetical works only, are in some cases


Interludes and Poems. John Lane. 1908
Mary and the Bramble. Published by the Author. 1910
The Sale of St. Thomas. " " 1911
Emblems of Love. John Lane. 1912
Deborah (three act play) " " 1912


The Crier by Night (one act play). Unicorn Press. 1902.
(Out of print.) [1]
Midsummer Eve (one act pastoral) Peartree Press. 1905
The Riding to Lithend (one act play) " " 1909
The Gate of Smaragdus. Elkin Mathews. 1904
Chambers of Imagery (First Series). " 1907
Chambers of Imagery (Second Series). " 1912
A Vision of Giorgione. T. B. Mosher
(Portland, Maine, U.S.A.). 1910


Poems. Sidgwick and Jackson. 1911


The Wild Knight. Grant Richards. 1900
The Ballad of the White Horse. Methuen. 1911


The Soul's Destroyer. Alston Rivers. 1906
New Poems. Elkin Mathews. 1907
Nature Poems A. C. Fifield. 1908
Farewell to Poesy. " " 1910
Songs of Joy. " " 1911


Songs of Childhood. Longmans. 1902
Poems. Murray. 1906
The Listeners. Constable. 1912


Lyrical and Other Poems. Samurai Press. 1908. (Out of print.)
Poems of Men and Hours. David Nutt. 1911
Cophetua (one act play). " " 1911
Poems of Love and Earth. " " 1912


Forty-Two Poems. J. M. Dent and Sons. 1911


On the Threshold. Elkin Mathews. 1907
The Stonefolds. " " 1907
Daily Bread. " " 1910
Fires. " " 1912


('Poems of Love' will be published by Messrs Duckworth in February.)


Salt Water Ballads. Grant Richards. 1902
Ballads. Elkin Mathews. 1903
Ballads and Poems. " " 1910
The Everlasting Mercy. Sidgwick and Jackson. 1911
The Widow in the Bye Street. " " 1912


Poems. Elkin Mathews. 1906
Judas. Sampson Low. 1908
Before Dawn. Constable. 1911


The Vinedresser. Unicorn Press. 1899
The Little School. Pissarro. 1905
Poems. Duckworth. 1906
Mariamne. " 1911
A Sicilian Idyll, and Judith " 1911


Fables. Tinling and Co., Liverpool. 1907
Philosophies. Murray. 1910
Lyra Modulata. (Privately printed.) 1911


The Casket Songs. Longmans. 1912


Insurrections. Maunsel. 1909
The Hill of Vision. " 1912


Mallow and Asphodel. Macmillan. 1898
Sisyphus. Longmans. 1908
The Bride of Dionysus. " 1912

[Footnote 1: Reprinted in 'The Bibelot' for 1909. T. B. Mosher,
Portland, Maine, U.S.A.]

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