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Georgian Poetry 1918-19 by Various

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Within his troubled heart, on wings aglow
Soars into rapture, as from the quiet snow
The golden birds; and out of silence, song.


Still bathed in its moonlight slumber, the little white house by the
Stands silent against the red dawn;
And nothing I know of who sleeps there, to the travail of day yet
Behind the blue curtains undrawn:

But I dream as we march down the roadway, ringing loud and white-rimed
in the moonlight,
Of a little dark house on a hill
Wherein when the battle is over, to the rapture of day yet unwakened,
We shall slumber as dreamless and still.

* * * * *



Strawberries that in gardens grow
Are plump and juicy fine,
But sweeter far as wise men know
Spring from the woodland vine.

No need for bowl or silver spoon,
Sugar or spice or cream,
Has the wild berry plucked in June
Beside the trickling stream.

One such to melt at the tongue's root,
Confounding taste with scent,
Beats a full peck of garden fruit:
Which points my argument.

May sudden justice overtake
And snap the froward pen,
That old and palsied poets shake
Against the minds of men;

Blasphemers trusting to hold caught
In far-flung webs of ink
The utmost ends of human thought,
Till nothing's left to think.

But may the gift of heavenly peace
And glory for all time
Keep the boy Tom who tending geese
First made the nursery rhyme.

By the brookside one August day,
Using the sun for clock,
Tom whiled the languid hours away
Beside his scattering flock,

Carving with a sharp pointed stone
On a broad slab of slate
The famous lives of Jumping Joan,
Dan Fox and Greedy Kate;

Rhyming of wolves and bears and birds,
Spain, Scotland, Babylon,
That sister Kate might learn the words
To tell to Toddling John.

But Kate, who could not stay content
To learn her lesson pat,
New beauty to the rough lines lent
By changing this or that;

And she herself set fresh things down
In corners of her slate,
Of lambs and lanes and London Town.
God's blessing fall on Kate!

The baby loved the simple sound,
With jolly glee he shook,
And soon the lines grew smooth and round
Like pebbles in Tom's brook,

From mouth to mouth told and retold
By children sprawled at ease
Before the fire in winter's cold,
In June beneath tall trees;

Till though long lost are stone and slate,
Though the brook no more runs,
And dead long time are Tom, John, Kate,
Their sons and their sons' sons;

Yet, as when Time with stealthy tread
Lays the rich garden waste,
The woodland berry ripe and red
Fails not in scent or taste,

So these same rhymes shall still be told
To children yet unborn,
While false philosophy growing old
Fades and is killed by scorn.


Mother: Alice, dear, what ails you,
Dazed and white and shaken?
Has the chill night numbed you?
Is it fright you have taken?

Alice: Mother I am very well,
I felt never better;
Mother, do not hold me so,
Let me write my letter.

Mother: Sweet, my dear, what ails you?

Alice: No, but I am well.
The night was cold and frosty,
There's no more to tell.

Mother: Ay, the night was frosty,
Coldly gaped the moon,
Yet the birds seemed twittering
Through green boughs of June.

Soft and thick the snow lay,
Stars danced in the sky.
Not all the lambs of May-day
Skip so bold and high.

Your feet were dancing, Alice,
Seemed to dance on air,
You looked a ghost or angel
In the starlight there.

Your eyes were frosted starlight,
Your heart, fire, and snow.
Who was it said 'I love you?'

Alice: Mother, let me go!


Mary: Johnny, sweetheart, can you be true
To all those famous vows you've made?
Will you love me as I love you
Until we both in earth are laid?
Or shall the old wives nod and say
'His love was only for a day,
The mood goes by,
His fancies fly,
And Mary's left to sigh.'

Johnny: Mary, alas, you've hit the truth,
And I with grief can but admit
Hot-blooded haste controls my youth,
My idle fancies veer and flit
From flower to flower, from tree to tree,
And when the moment catches me
Oh, love goes by,
Away I fly,
And leave my girl to sigh.

Mary: Could you but now foretell the day,
Johnny, when this sad thing must be,
When light and gay you'll turn away
And laugh and break the heart in me?
For like a nut for true love's sake
My empty heart shall crack and break,
When fancies fly
And love goes by
And Mary's left to die.

Johnny: When the sun turns against the clock,
When Avon waters upward flow,
When eggs are laid by barn-door cock,
When dusty hens do strut and crow,
When up is down, when left is right,
Oh, then I'll break the troth I plight,
With careless eye
Away I'll fly
And Mary here shall die.


Mother: What's in that cupboard, Mary?

Mary: Which cupboard, mother dear?

Mother: The cupboard of red mahogany
With handles shining clear.

Mary: That cupboard, dearest mother,
With shining crystal handles?
There's nought inside but rags and jags
And yellow tallow candles.

Mother: What's in that cupboard, Mary?

Mary: Which cupboard, mother mine?

Mother: That cupboard stands in your sunny chamber,
The silver corners shine.

Mary: There's nothing there inside, mother,
But wool and thread and flax,
And bits of faded silk and velvet
And candles of white wax.

Mother: What's in that cupboard, Mary?
And this time tell me true.

Mary: White clothes for an unborn baby, mother..
But what's the truth to you?


'Cry from the thicket my heart's bird!'
The other birds woke all around;
Rising with toot and howl they stirred
Their plumage, broke the trembling sound,
They craned their necks, they fluttered wings,
'While we are silent no one sings,
And while we sing you hush your throat,
Or tune your melody to our note.'

'Cry from the thicket my heart's bird!'
The screams and hootings rose again:
They gaped with raucous beaks, they whirred
Their noisy plumage; small but plain
The lonely hidden singer made
A well of grief within the glade.
'Whist, silly fool, be off,' they shout,
'Or we'll come pluck your feathers out.'

'Cry from the thicket my heart's bird!'
Slight and small the lovely cry
Came trickling down, but no one heard;
Parrot and cuckoo, crow, magpie,
Jarred horrid notes, the jangling jay
Ripped the fine threads of song away;
For why should peeping chick aspire
To challenge their loud woodland choir?

Cried it so sweet, that unseen bird?
Lovelier could no music be,
Clearer than water, soft as curd,
Fresh as the blossomed cherry tree.
How sang the others all around?
Piercing and harsh, a maddening sound,
With 'Pretty Poll, Tuwit-tuwoo
Peewit, Caw Caw, Cuckoo-Cuckoo.'

How went the song, how looked the bird?
If I could tell, if I could show
With one quick phrase, one lightning word,
I'd learn you more than poets know;
For poets, could they only catch
Of that forgotten tune one snatch,
Would build it up in song or sonnet,
And found their whole life's fame upon it.


This is a wild land, country of my choice,
With harsh craggy mountain, moor ample and bare.
Seldom in these acres is heard any voice
But voice of cold water that runs here and there
Through rocks and lank heather growing without care.
No mice in the heath run nor no birds cry
For fear of the dark speck that floats in the sky.

He soars and he hovers rocking on his wings,
He scans his wide parish with a sharp eye,
He catches the trembling of small hidden things,
He tears them in pieces dropping from the sky:
Tenderness and pity the land will deny,
Where life is but nourished from water and rock,
A hardy adventure, full of fear and shock.

Time has never journeyed to this lost land,
Crakeberries and heather bloom out of date,
The rocks jut, the streams flow singing on either hand,
Careless if the season be early or late.
The skies wander overhead, now blue now slate:
Winter would be known by his cold cutting snow
If June did not borrow his armour also.

Yet this is my country beloved by me best,
The first land that rose from Chaos and the Flood,
Nursing no fat valleys for comfort and rest,
Trampled by no hard hooves, stained with no blood
Bold immortal country whose hill-tops have stood
Strongholds for the proud gods when on earth they go,
Terror for fat burghers in far plains below.

* * * * *



Since this is the last night I keep you home,
Come, I will consecrate you for the journey.

Rather I had you would not go. Nay come,
I will not again reproach you. Lie back
And let me love you a long time ere you go.
For you are sullen-hearted still, and lack
The will to love me. But even so
I will set a seal upon you from my lip,
Will set a guard of honour at each door,
Seal up each channel out of which might slip
Your love for me.

I kiss your mouth. Ah, love,
Could I but seal its ruddy, shining spring
Of passion, parch it up, destroy, remove
Its softly-stirring, crimson welling-up
Of kisses! Oh, help me, God! Here at the source
I'd lie for ever drinking and drawing in
Your fountains, as heaven drinks from out their course
The floods.

I close your ears with kisses
And seal your nostrils; and round your neck you'll wear--
Nay, let me work--a delicate chain of kisses.
Like beads they go around, and not one misses
To touch its fellow on either side.

And there
Full mid-between the champaign of your breast
I place a great and burning seal of love
Like a dark rose, a mystery of rest
On the slow bubbling of your rhythmic heart.
Nay, I persist, and very faith shall keep
You integral to me. Each door, each mystic port
Of egress from you I will seal and steep
In perfect chrism.

Now it is done. The mort
Will sound in heaven before it is undone.

But let me finish what I have begun
And shirt you now invulnerable in the mail
Of iron kisses, kisses linked like steel.
Put greaves upon your thighs and knees, and frail
Webbing of steel on your feet. So you shall feel
Ensheathed invulnerable with me, with seven
Great seals upon your outgoings, and woven
Chain of my mystic will wrapped perfectly
Upon you, wrapped in indomitable me.

* * * * *




Fit for perpetual worship is the power
That holds our bodies safely to the earth.

When people talk of their domestic gods,
Then privately I think of You.

We ride through space upon your shoulders
Conveniently and lightly set,
And, so accustomed, we relax our hold,
Forget the gentle motion of your body--
But You do not forget.

Sometimes you breathe a little faster,
Or move a muscle:
Then we remember you, O Master.


When people meet in reverent groups
And sing to their domestic God,
You, all the time, dear tyrant, (How I laugh!)
Could, without effort, place your hand among them,
And sprinkle them about the desert.

But all your ways are carefully ordered,
For you have never questioned duty.
We watch your everlasting combinations;
We call them Fate; we turn them to our pleasure,
And when they most delight us, call them beauty.


I rest my body on your grass,
And let my brain repose in you;
I feel these living moments pass,
And, from within myself to those far places
To be imagined in your times and spaces,
Deliberate the various acts you do:--

Sorting and re-arranging worlds of Matter
Keenly and wisely. Thus you brought our earth
Through stages, and from purpose back to purpose,
From fire to fog, to dust, to birth
Through beast to man, who led himself to brain--
Then you invoked him back to dust again.

By leave of you he places stone on stone;
He scatters seed: you are at once the prop
Among the long roots of his fragile crop.
You manufacture for him, and insure
House, harvest, implement and furniture,
And hold them all secure.


The hill ... The trees ... From underneath
I feel You pull me with your hand:
Through my firm feet up to my heart
You hold me,--You are in the land,
Reposing underneath the hill.

You keep my balance and my growth.
I lift a foot, but where I go
You follow: you, the ever-strong,
Control the smallest thing I do.

I have some little human power
To turn your purpose to my end,
For which I thank you every hour.
I stand at worship, while you send
Thrills up my body to my heart,
And I am all in love to know
How by your strength you keep me part
Of earth, which cannot let me go;
How everything I see around,
Whether it can or cannot move,
Is granted liberty of ground,
And freedom to enjoy your love;

Though you are silent always, and, alone
To You yourself, your power remains unknown.


Harold Monro

They are the angels of that watery world,
With so much knowledge that they just aspire
To move themselves on golden fins,
Or fill their paradise with fire
By darting suddenly from end to end.

Glowing a thousand centuries behind
In pools half-recollected of the mind,
Their large eyes stare and stare, but do not see
Beyond those curtains of Eternity.

When twilight flows into the room
And air becomes like water, you can feel
Their movements growing larger in the gloom,
And you are led
Backward to where they live beyond the dead.

But in the morning, when the seven rays
Of London sunlight one by one incline,
They glide to meet them, and their gulping lips
Suck the light in, so they are caught and played
Like salmon on a heavenly fishing line.

* * * *

Ghosts on a twilight floor,
Moving about behind their watery door,
Breathing and yet not breathing day and night,
They give the house some gleam of faint delight.


You little friend, your nose is ready; you sniff,
Asking for that expected walk,
(Your nostrils full of the happy rabbit-whiff)
And almost talk.

And so the moment becomes a moving force;
Coats glide down from their pegs in the humble dark;
The sticks grow live to the stride of their vagrant course.
You scamper the stairs,
Your body informed with the scent and the track and the mark
Of stoats and weasels, moles and badgers and hares.

We are going OUT. You know the pitch of the word,
Probing the tone of thought as it comes through fog
And reaches by devious means (half-smelt, half-heard)
The four-legged brain of a walk-ecstatic dog.

Out in the garden your head is already low.
(Can you smell the rose? Ah, no.)
But your limbs can draw
Life from the earth through the touch of your padded paw.

Now, sending a little look to us behind,
Who follow slowly the track of your lovely play,
You carry our bodies forward away from mind
Into the light and fun of your useless day.

* * * * *

Thus, for your walk, we took ourselves, and went
Out by the hedge and the tree to the open ground.
You ran, in delightful strata of wafted scent,
Over the hill without seeing the view;
Beauty is smell upon primitive smell to you:
To you, as to us, it is distant and rarely found.

Home ... and further joy will be surely there:
Supper waiting full of the taste of bone.
You throw up your nose again, and sniff, and stare
For the rapture known
Of the quick wild gorge of food and the still lie-down
While your people talk above you in the light
Of candles, and your dreams will merge and drown
Into the bed-delicious hours of night.


Here is the soundless cypress on the lawn:
It listens, listens. Taller trees beyond
Listen. The moon at the unruffled pond
Stares. And you sing, you sing.

That star-enchanted song falls through the air
From lawn to lawn down terraces of sound,
Darts in white arrows on the shadowed ground;
And all the night you sing.

My dreams are flowers to which you are a bee
As all night long I listen, and my brain
Receives your song, then loses it again
In moonlight on the lawn.

Now is your voice a marble high and white,
Then like a mist on fields of paradise,
Now is a raging fire, then is like ice,
Then breaks, and it is dawn.


The tough hand closes gently on the load;
Out of the mind, a voice
Calls 'Lift!' and the arms, remembering well their work,
Lengthen and pause for help.
Then a slow ripple flows from head to foot
While all the muscles call to one another:
'Lift! 'and the bulging bale
Floats like a butterfly in June.

So moved the earliest carrier of bales,
And the same watchful sun
Glowed through his body feeding it with light.
So will the last one move,
And halt, and dip his head, and lay his load
Down, and the muscles will relax and tremble.
Earth, you designed your man
Beautiful both in labour and repose.



To the heart, to the heart the white petals
Quietly fall.
Memory is a little wind, and magical
The dreaming hours.
As a breath they fall, as a sigh;
Green garden hours too langorous to waken,
White leaves of blossomy tree wind-shaken:
As a breath, a sigh,
As the slow white drift
Of a butterfly.
Flower-wings falling, wings of branches
One after one at wind's droop dipping;
Then with the lift
Of the air's soft breath, in sudden avalanches
Quietly, quietly the June wind flings
White wings,
White petals, past the footpath flowers
Adown my dreaming hours.
At the heart, at the heart the butterfly settles.
As a breath, a sigh
Fall the petals of hours, of the white-leafed flowers,
Fall the petalled wings of the butterfly.
To my heart, to my heart the white petals
Quietly fall.

To the years, other years, old and wistful
Drifts my dream.
Petal-patined the dream, white-mistful
As the dew-sweet haunt of the dim whitebeam
Because of memory, a little wind ...
It is the gossamer-float of the butterfly
This drift of dream
From the sweet of to-day to the sweet
Of days long drifted by.
It is the drift of the butterfly, it is the fleet
Drift of petals which my noon has thinned,
It is the ebbing out of my life, of the petals of days.
To the years, other years, drifts my dream....
Through the haze
Of summers long ago
Love's entrancements flow,
A blue-green pageant of earth,
A green-blue pageant of sky,
As a stream,
Flooding back with lovely delta to my heart.
Lo the petalled leafage is finer, under the feet
The coarse soil with a rainbow's worth
Of delicate colours lies enamelled,
Translucently glowing, shining.
Each balmy breath of the hours
From eastern gleam to westward gloam
Is meaning-full as the falling flowers:
It is a crystal syllable
For love's defining,
It is love alone can spell----
Yea, Love remains: after this drift of days
Love is here, Love is not dumb.
The touch of a silken hand, comradely, untrammelled
Is in the sunlight, a bright glance
On every ripple of yonder waterways,
A whisper in the dance
Of green shadows;
Nor shall the sunlight be shut out even from the dark.

Beyond the garden heavy oaks are buoyant on the meadows,
Their rugged bark
No longer rough,
But chastened and refined in the glowing eyes of Love.
Around us the petals fulfil
Their measure and fall, precious the petals are still.
For Love they once were gathered, they are gathered for Love again,
Whose glance is on the water,
Whose whisper is in the green shadows.
In the same comrade-hand whose touch is in the sunlight,
They are lying again.
Here Love is ... Love only of all things outstays
The drift of petals, the drift of days,
Petals of hours,
Of white-leafed flowers,
Petalled wings of the butterfly,
Drifting, quietly drifting by
As a breath, a sigh....


Brown earth, sun-soaked,
Beneath his head
And over the quiet limbs....
Through time unreckoned
Lay this brown earth for him. Now is he come.
Truly he hath a sweet bed.

The perfume shed
From invisible gardens is chaliced by kindly airs
And carried for welcome to the stranger.
Long seasons ere he came, this wilderness
They habited.

They, and the mist of stars
About him as a hush of vespering birds.
They, and the sun, the moon:
Naught now denies him the moon's coming,
Nor the morning trail of gold,
The luminous print of evening, red
At the sun's tread.

The brown earth holds him.
The stars and little winds, the friendly moon
And sun attend in turn his rest.
They linger above him, softly moving. They are gracious,
And gently-wise: as though remembering how his hunger,
His kinship, knew them once but blindly
In thoughts unsaid,
As a dream that fled.

So is he theirs assuredly as the seasons.
So is his sleep by them for ever companioned.
...And, perchance, by the voices of bright children playing
And knowing not: by the echo of young laughter
When their dancing is sped.

Truly he hath a sweet bed.


This cool quiet of trees
In the grey dusk of the north,
In the green half-dusk of the west,
Where fires still glow;
These glimmering fantasies
Of foliage branching forth
And drooping into rest;
Ye lovers, know
That in your wanderings
Beneath this arching brake
Ye must attune your love
To hushed words.
For here is the dreaming wisdom of
The unmovable things...
And more:--walk softly, lest ye wake
A thousand sleeping birds.

* * * * *



He lay, and those who watched him were amazed
To see unheralded beneath the lids
Twin tears, new-gathered at the price of pain,
Start and at once run crookedly athwart
Cheeks channelled long by pain, never by tears.
So desolate too the sigh next uttered
They had wept also, but his great lips moved,
And bending down one heard, 'A sprig of lime;
Bring me a sprig of lime.' Whereat she stole
With dumb signs forth to pluck the thing he craved.

So lay he till a lime-twig had been snapped
From some still branch that swept the outer grass
Far from the silver pillar of the bole
Which mounting past the house's crusted roof
Split into massy limbs, crossed boughs, a maze
Of close-compacted intercontorted staffs
Bowered in foliage wherethrough the sun
Shot sudden showers of light or crystal spars
Or wavered in a green and vitreous flood.
And all the while in faint and fainter tones
Scarce audible on deepened evening's hush
He framed his curious and last request
For 'lime, a sprig of lime.' Her trembling hand
Closed his loose fingers on the awkward stem
Covered above with gentle heart-shaped leaves
And under dangling, pale as honey-wax,
Square clusters of sweet-scented starry flowers.

She laid his bent arm back upon his breast,
Then watched above white knuckles clenched in prayer.

He never moved. Only at last his eyes
Opened, then brightened in such avid gaze
She feared the coma mastered him again ...
But no; strange sobs rose chuckling in his throat,
A stranger ecstasy suffused the flesh
Of that just mask so sun-dried, gouged and old
Which few--too few!--had loved, too many feared.
'Father!' she cried; 'Father!'
He did not hear.

She knelt and kneeling drank the scent of limes,
Blown round the slow blind by a vesperal gust,
Till the room swam. So the lime-incense blew
Into her life as once it had in his,
Though how and when and with what ageless charge
Of sorrow and deep joy how could she know?

Sweet lime that often at the height of noon
Diffusing dizzy fragrance from your boughs,
Tasselled with blossoms more innumerable
Than the black bees, the uproar of whose toil
Filled your green vaults, winning such metheglyn
As clouds their sappy cells, distil, as once
Ye used, your sunniest emanations
Toward the window where a woman kneels--
She who within that room in childish hours
Lay through the lasting murmur of blanch'd noon
Behind the sultry blind, now full now flat,
Drinking anew of every odorous breath,
Supremely happy in her ignorance
Of Time that hastens hourly and of Death
Who need not haste. Scatter your fumes, O lime,
Loose from each hispid star of citron bloom,
Tangled beneath the labyrinthine boughs,
Cloud on such stinging cloud of exhalations
As reek of youth, fierce life and summer's prime,
Though hardly now shall he in that dusk room
Savour your sweetness, since the very sprig,
Profuse of blossom and of essences,
He smells not, who in a paltering hand
Clasps it laid close his peaked and gleaming face
Propped in the pillow. Breathe silent, lofty lime,
Your curfew secrets out in fervid scent
To the attendant shadows! Tinge the air
Of the midsummer night that now begins,
At an owl's oaring flight from dusk to dusk
And downward caper of the giddy bat
Hawking against the lustre of bare skies,
With something of th' unfathomable bliss
He, who lies dying there, knew once of old
In the serene trance of a summer night
When with th' abundance of his young bride's hair
Loosed on his breast he lay and dared not sleep,
Listening for the scarce motion of your boughs,
Which sighed with bliss as she with blissful sleep,
And drinking desperately each honied wave
Of perfume wafted past the ghostly blind
Knew first th' implacable and bitter sense
Of Time that hastes and Death who need not haste.
Shed your last sweetness, limes!
But now no more.
She, fruit of that night's love, she heeds you not,
Who bent, compassionate, to the dim floor
Takes up the sprig of lime and presses it
In pain against the stumbling of her heart,
Knowing, untold, he cannot need it now.


For Anne.

All the loud winds were in the garden wood,
All shadows joyfuller than lissom hounds
Doubled in chasing, all exultant clouds
That ever flung fierce mist and eddying fire
Across heavens deeper than blue polar seas
Fled over the sceptre-spikes of the chestnuts,
Over the speckle of the wych-elms' green.
She shouted; then stood still, hushed and abashed
To hear her voice so shrill in that gay roar,
And suddenly her eyelashes were dimmed,
Caught in tense tears of spiritual joy;
For there were daffodils which sprightly shook
Ten thousand ruffling heads throughout the wood,
And every flower of those delighting flowers
Laughed, nodding to her, till she clapped her hands
Crying 'O daffies, could you only speak!'

But there was more. A jay with skyblue shaft
Set in blunt wing, skimmed screaming on ahead.
She followed him. A murrey squirrel eyed
Her warily, cocked upon tail-plumed haunch,
Then, skipping the whirligig of last-year leaves,
Whisked himself out of sight and reappeared
Leering about the hole of a young beech;
And every time she thought to corner him
He scrambled round on little scratchy hands
To peek at her about the other side.
She lost him, bolting branch to branch, at last--
The impudent brat! But still high overhead
Flight on exuberant flight of opal scud,
Or of dissolving mist, florid as flame.

Scattered in ecstasy over the blue. And she
Followed, first walking, giving her bright locks
To the cold fervour of the springtime gale,
Whose rush bore the cloud shadow past the cloud
Over the irised wastes of emerald turf.
And still the huge wind volleyed. Save the gulls,
Goldenly in the sunny blast careering
Or on blue-shadowed underwing at plunge,
None shared with her who now could not but run
The splendour and tumult of th' onrushing spring.

And now she ran no more: the gale gave plumes.
One with the shadows whirled along the grass,
One with the onward smother of veering gulls,
One with the pursuit of cloud after cloud,
Swept she. Pure speed coursed in immortal limbs;
Nostrils drank as from wells of unknown air;
Ears received the smooth silence of racing floods;
Light as of glassy suns froze in her eyes;
Space was given her and she ruled all space.

Spring, author of twifold loveliness,
Who flittest in the mirth of the wild folk,
Profferest greeting in the faces of flowers,
Blowest in the firmamental glory,
Renewest in the heart of the sad human
All faiths, guard thou the innocent spirit
Into whose unknowing hands this noontide
Thou pourest treasure, yet scarce recognised,
That unashamed before man's glib wisdom,
Unabashed beneath the wrath of chance,
She accept in simplicity of homage
The hidden holiness, the created emblem
To be in her, until death shall take her,
The source and secret of eternal spring.


Never am I so alone
As when I walk among the crowd--
Blurred masks of stern or grinning stone,
Unmeaning eyes and voices loud.

Gaze dares not encounter gaze, ...
Humbled, I turn my head aside;
When suddenly there is a face ...
Pale, subdued and grievous-eyed.

Ah, I know that visage meek,
Those trembling lips, the eyes that shine
But turn from that which they would seek
With an air piteous, divine!

There is not a line or scar,
Seal of a sorrow or disgrace,
But I know like sigils are
Burned in my heart and on my face.

Speak! O speak! Thou art the one!
But thou hast passed with sad head bowed;
And never am I so alone
As when I walk among the crowd.


O Nightingale my heart
How sad thou art!
How heavy is thy wing,
Desperately whirrd that thy throat may fling
Song to the tingling silences remote!
Thine eye whose ruddy spark
Burned fiery of late,
How dead and dark!
Why so soon didst thou sing,
And with such turbulence of love and hate?

Learn that there is no singing yet can bring
The expected dawn more near;
And thou art spent already, though the night
Scarce has begun;
What voice, what eyes wilt thou have for the light
When the light shall appear,
And O what wings to bear thee t'ward the Sun?


Put by the sun my joyful soul,
We are for darkness that is whole;

Put by the wine, now for long years
We must be thirsty with salt tears;

Put by the rose, bind thou instead
The fiercest thorns about thy head;

Put by the courteous tire, we need
But the poor pilgrim's blackest weed;

Put by--a'beit with tears--thy lute,
Sing but to God or else be mute.

Take leave of friends save such as dare
Thy love with Loneliness to share.

It is full tide. Put by regret.
Turn, turn away. Forget. Forget.

Put by the sun my lightless soul,
We are for darkness that is whole.

* * * * *



Between the erect and solemn trees
I will go down upon my knees;
I shall not find this day
So meet a place to pray.

Haply the beauty of this place
May work in me an answering grace,
The stillness of the air
Be echoed in my prayer.

The worshipping trees arise and run,
With never a swerve, towards the sun;
So may my soul's desire
Turn to its central fire.

With single aim they seek the light,
And scarce a twig in all their height
Breaks out until the head
In glory is outspread.

How strong each pillared trunk; the bark
That covers them, how smooth; and hark,
The sweet and gentle voice
With which the leaves rejoice!

May a like strength and sweetness fill
Desire, and thought, and steadfast will,
When I remember these
Fair sacramental trees!

* * * * *



When I'm asleep, dreaming and lulled and warm,--
They come, the homeless ones, the noiseless dead.
While the dim charging breakers of the storm
Bellow and drone and rumble overhead,
Out of the gloom they gather about my bed.
They whisper to my heart; their thoughts are mine.
'Why are you here with all your watches ended?
From Ypres to Frise we sought you in the Line.'
In bitter safety I awake, unfriended;
And while the dawn begins with slashing rain
I think of the Battalion in the mud.
'When are you going out to them again?
Are they not still your brothers through our blood?'


I am banished from the patient men who fight.
They smote my heart to pity, built my pride.
Shoulder to aching shoulder, side by side,
They trudged away from life's broad wealds of light.
Their wrongs were mine; and ever in my sight
They went arrayed in honour. But they died,--
Not one by one: and mutinous I cried
To those who sent them out into the night.

The darkness tells how vainly I have striven
To free them from the pit where they must dwell
In outcast gloom convulsed and jagged and riven
By grappling guns. Love drove me to rebel.
Love drives me back to grope with them through hell;
And in their tortured eyes I stand forgiven.


Now light the candles; one; two; there's a moth;
What silly beggars they are to blunder in
And scorch their wings with glory, liquid flame--
No, no, not that,--it's bad to think of war,
When thoughts you've gagged all day come back to scare you;
And it's been proved that soldiers don't go mad
Unless they lose control of ugly thoughts
That drive them out to jabber among the trees.

Now light your pipe; look, what a steady hand.
Draw a deep breath; stop thinking; count fifteen,
And you're as right as rain....
Why won't it rain?...
I wish there'd be a thunderstorm to-night,
With bucketsful of water to sluice the dark,
And make the roses hang their dripping heads.

Books; what a jolly company they are,
Standing so quiet and patient on their shelves,
Dressed in dim brown, and black, and white, and green,
And every kind of colour. Which will you read?
Come on; O _do_ read something; they're so wise.
I tell you all the wisdom of the world
Is waiting for you on those shelves; and yet
You sit and gnaw your nails, and let your pipe out,
And listen to the silence: on the ceiling
There's one big, dizzy moth that bumps and flutters;
And in the breathless air outside the house
The garden waits for something that delays.
There must be crowds of ghosts among the trees,--
Not people killed in battle,--they're in France,--
But horrible shapes in shrouds--old men who died
Slow, natural deaths,--old men with ugly souls,
Who wore their bodies out with nasty sins.

* * * * *

You're quiet and peaceful, summering safe at home;
You'd never think there was a bloody war on!...
O yes, you would ... why, you can hear the guns.
Hark! Thud, thud, thud,--quite soft ... they never cease--
Those whispering guns--O Christ, I want to go out
And screech at them to stop--I'm going crazy;
I'm going stark, staring mad because of the guns.


Does it matter?--losing your legs?...
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When the others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.

Does it matter?--losing your sight?...
There's such splendid work for the blind;
And people will always be kind,
As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light.

Do they matter?--those dreams from the pit?...
You can drink and forget and be glad,
And people won't say that you're mad;
For they'll know that you've fought for your country,
And no one will worry a bit.


(Egyptian Base Camp).

They are gathering round ...
Out of the twilight; over the grey-blue sand,
Shoals of low-jargoning men drift inward to the sound--
The jangle and throb of a piano ... tum-ti-tum ...
Drawn by a lamp, they come
Out of the glimmering lines of their tents, over the shuffling sand.

O sing us the songs, the songs of our own land,
You warbling ladies in white.
Dimness conceals the hunger in our faces,
This wall of faces risen out of the night,
These eyes that keep their memories of the places
So long beyond their sight.

Jaded and gay, the ladies sing; and the chap in brown
Tilts his grey hat; jaunty and lean and pale,
He rattles the keys ... Some actor-bloke from town ...
'God send you home'; and then 'A long, long trail;
I hear you calling me'; and 'Dixieland'....
Sing slowly ... now the chorus ... one by one
We hear them, drink them; till the concert's done.
Silent, I watch the shadowy mass of soldiers stand.
Silent, they drift away, over the glimmering sand.

KANTARA, April, 1918.


In fifty years, when peace outshines
Remembrance of the battle lines,
Adventurous lads will sigh and cast
Proud looks upon the plundered past.
On summer morn or winter's night,
Their hearts will kindle for the fight,
Reading a snatch of soldier-song,
Savage and jaunty, fierce and strong;
And through the angry marching rhymes
Of blind regret and haggard mirth,
They'll envy us the dazzling times
When sacrifice absolved our earth.

Some ancient man with silver locks
Will lift his weary face to say:
'War was a fiend who stopped our clocks
Although we met him grim and gay.'
And then he'll speak of Haig's last drive,
Marvelling that any came alive
Out of the shambles that men built
And smashed, to cleanse the world of guilt.
But the boys, with grin and sidelong glance,
Will think, 'Poor grandad's day is done.'
And dream of those who fought in France
And lived in time to share the fun.


I watch you, gazing at me from the wall,
And wonder how you'd match your dreams with mine,
If, mastering time's illusion, I could call
You back to share this quiet candle-shine.

For you were young, three hundred years ago;
And by your looks I guess that you were wise ...
Come, whisper soft, and Death will never know
You've slipped away from those calm, painted eyes.

Strange is your voice ... Poor ninny, dead so long,
And all your pride forgotten like your name.
_'One April morn I heard a blackbird's song.
And joy was in my heart like leaves aflame.'_

And so you died before your songs took wing;
While Andrew Marvell followed in your wake.
_'Love thrilled me into music. I could sing
But for a moment,--but for beauty's sake.'_

Who passes? There's a star-lit breeze that stirs
The glimmer of white lilies in the gloom.
Who speaks? Death has his silent messengers.
And there was more than silence in this room

While you were gazing at me from the wall
And wondering how you'd match your dreams with mine,
If, mastering time's illusion, you could call
Me back to share your vanished candle-shine.


Tossed on the glittering air they soar and skim,
Whose voices make the emptiness of light
A windy palace. Quavering from the brim
Of dawn, and bold with song at edge of night,
They clutch their leafy pinnacles and sing
Scornful of man, and from his toils aloof
Whose heart's a haunted woodland whispering;
Whose thoughts return on tempest-baffled wing;
Who hears the cry of God in everything,
And storms the gate of nothingness for proof.


Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on--on--and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

* * * * *



Come out and walk. The last few drops of light
Drain silently out of the cloudy blue;
The trees are full of the dark-stooping night,
The fields are wet with dew.

All's quiet in the wood but, far away,
Down the hillside and out across the plain,
Moves, with long trail of white that marks its way,
The softly panting train.

Come through the clearing. Hardly now we see
The flowers, save dark or light against the grass,
Or glimmering silver on a scented tree
That trembles as we pass.

Hark now! So far, so far ... that distant song ...
Move not the rustling grasses with your feet.
The dusk is full of sounds, that all along
The muttering boughs repeat.

So far, so faint, we lift our heads in doubt.
Wind, or the blood that beats within our ears,
Has feigned a dubious and delusive note,
Such as a dreamer hears.

Again ... again! The faint sounds rise and fail.
So far the enchanted tree, the song so low...
A drowsy thrush? A waking nightingale?
Silence. We do not know.


My lovely one, be near to me to-night.
For now I need you most, since I have gone
Through the sparse woodland in the fading light,
Where in time past we two have walked alone,
Heard the loud nightjar spin his pleasant note,
And seen the wild rose folded up for sleep,
And whispered, though the soft word choked my throat,
Your dear name out across the valley deep.
Be near to me, for now I need you most.
To-night I saw an unsubstantial flame
Flickering along those shadowy paths, a ghost
That turned to me and answered to your name,
Mocking me with a wraith of far delight.
... My lovely one, be near to me to-night.


The pale road winds faintly upward into the dark skies,
And beside it on the rough grass that the wind invisibly stirs,
Sheltered by sharp-speared gorse and the berried junipers,
Shining steadily with a green light, the glow-worm lies.

We regard it; and this hill and all the other hills
That fall in folds to the river, very smooth and steep,
And the hangers and brakes that the darkness thickly fills
Fade like phantoms round the light, and night is deep, so deep,--

That all the world is emptiness about the still flame,
And we are small shadows standing lost in the huge night.
We gather up the glow-worm, stooping with dazzled sight,
And carry it to the little enclosed garden whence we came,

And place it on the short grass. Then the shadowy flowers fade,
The walls waver and melt and the houses disappear
And the solid town trembles into insubstantial shade
Round the light of the burning glow-worm, steady and clear.


When a great wave disturbs the ocean cold
And throws the bottom waters to the sky,
Strange apparitions on the surface lie,
Great battered vessels, stripped of gloss and gold,
And, writhing in their pain, sea-monsters old,
Who stain the waters with a bloody dye,
With unaccustomed mouths bellow and cry
And vex the waves with struggling fin and fold.

And with these too come little trivial things
Tossed from the deeps by the same casual hand;
A faint sea flower, dragged from the lowest sand,
That will not undulate its luminous wings
In the slow tides again, lies dead and swings
Along the muddy ripples to the land.


What hast thou not withstood,
Tempest-despising tree,
Whose bloat and riven wood
Gapes now so hollowly,
What rains have beaten thee through many years,
What snows from off thy branches dripped like tears?

Calmly thou standest now
Upon thy sunny mound;
The first spring breezes flow
Past with sweet dizzy sound;
Yet on thy pollard top the branches few
Stand stiffly out, disdain to murmur too.

The children at thy foot
Open new-lighted eyes,
Where, on gnarled bark and root,
The soft warm sunshine lies--
Dost thou, upon thine ancient sides, resent
The touch of youth, quick and impermanent?

These at the beck of spring
Live in the moment still:
Thy boughs unquivering,
Remembering winter's chill,
And many other winters past and gone,
Are mocked, not cheated, by the transient sun.

Hast thou so much withstood,
Tempest-despising tree,
That now thy hollow wood
Stiffens disdainfully
Against the soft spring airs and soft spring rain,
Knowing too well that winter comes again?


Aristono, the fading shepherdess,
Gathers the young girls round her in a ring,
Teaching them wisdom of love,
What to say, how to dress,
How frown, how smile,
How suitors to their dancing feet to bring,
How in mere walking to beguile,
What words cunningly said in what a way
Will draw man's busy fancy astray,
All the alphabet, grammar and syntax of love.

The garden smells are sweet,
Daisies spring in the turf under the high-heeled feet,
Dense, dark banks of laurel grow
Behind the wavering row
Of golden, flaxen, black, brown, auburn heads,
Behind the light and shimmering dresses
Of these unreal, modern shepherdesses;
And gaudy flowers in formal patterned beds
Vary the dim long vistas of the park,
Far as the eye can see,
Till at the forest's edge the ground grows dark
And the flowers vanish in the obscurity.

The young girls gather round her,
Remembering eagerly how their fathers found her
Fresh as a spring-like wind in February,
Subtler in her moving heart than sun-motes that vary
At every waft of an opening and shutting door;
They gather chattering near,
Hush, break out in laughter, whisper aside,
Grow silent more and more,
Though she will never chide.
Now through the silence sounds her voice still clear,
And all give ear.
Like a silver thread through the golden afternoon,
Equably the voice discloses
All that age-old wisdom; like an endless tune
Aristono's voice wavers among the roses,
Level and unimpassioned,
Telling them how of nothing love is fashioned,
How it is but a movement of the mind,
Bidding Celia mark
That light skirts fluttering in the wind,
Or white flowers stuck in dark
Glistening hair, have fired the dull beholder,
Or telling Anais
That faint indifference ere now hath bred a kiss
Denied to flaunted snowy breast or shoulder.

The girls attend,
Each thinking on her friend,
Whether he be real or imaginary,
Whether he be loving or cold;
For each ere she grows old
Means to pursue her joy, and the whole unwary
Troop of their wishes has this wild quarry in cry,
That draws them ineluctably,
More and more as the summer slippeth by.
And Celia leans aside
To contemplate her black-silked ankle on the grass;
In remote dreaming pride,
Rosalind recalls the image in her glass;
Phillis through all her body feels
How divine energy steals,
Quiescent power and resting speed,
Stretches her arms out, feels the warm blood run
Ready for pursuit, for strife and deed,
And turns her glowing face up to the sun.
Phillida smiles,
And lazily trusts her lazy wit,
A slow arrow that hath often hit;
Chloe, bemused by many subtle wiles,
Grows not more dangerous for all of it,
But opens her red lips, yawning drowsily,
And shows her small white teeth,
Dimpling the round chin beneath,
And stretches, moving her young body deliciously.

And still the lesson goes on,
For this is an old story that is never done;
And now the precept is of ribbon and shoe,
What with linens and silks love finds to do,
And how man's heart is tangled in a string
Or taken in gauze like a weak and helpless thing.
Chloe falls asleep; and the long summer day
Drifts slowly past the girls and the warm roses,
Giving in dreams its hours away.
Now Stella throws her head back, and Phillis disposes
Her strong brown hands quietly in her lap,
And Rose's slender feet grow restless and tap
The turf to an imaginary tune.
Now all this grace of youthful bodies and faces
Is wrought to a glow by the golden weather of June;
Now, Love, completing grace of all the graces,
Strong in these hearts thy pure streams rise,
Transmuting what they learn by heavenly alchemies.
Swift from the listeners the spell vanishes,
And through the tinkling, empty words,
True thoughts of true love press,
Flying and wheeling nearer;
As through a sunny sky a flock of birds
Against the throbbing blue grows clearer and clearer,
So closer come these thoughts and dearer.

Helen rises with a laugh;
Chloe wakes;
All the enchantment scatters off like chaff;
The cord is loosened and the spell breaks.
Resolves that to-night she will be kind to her lover,
Unreflecting, warm and kind.
Celia tells the lessons over,
Counting on her fingers--one and two ...
Ribbon and shoe,
Skirts, flowers, song, dancing, laughter, eyes ...
Through the whole catalogue of formal gallantry
And studious coquetries,
Counting to herself maliciously.

But the old, the fading shepherdess, Aristono,
Rises stiffly and walks alone
Down the broad path where densely the laurels grow,
And over a little lawn, not closely mown,
Where wave the flowering grass and the rich meadowsweet.
She seems to walk painfully now and slow,
And drags a little on her high-heeled feet.
She stops at last below
An old and twisted plum-tree, whose last petal is gone,
Leans on the comfortable, rugged bole,
And stares through the green leaves at the drooping sun.
The tree and the warm light comfort her ageing soul.

On the other lawn behind her, out of sight,
The girls at play
Drive out melancholy by lively delight,
And the wind carries their songs and laughter away.
Some begin dancing and seriously tread
A modern measure up and down the grass,
Turn, slide with bending knees, and pass
With dipping hand and poising head,
Float through the sun in pairs, like newly shed
And golden leaves astray
Upon the warm wind of an autumn day,
When the Indian summer rules the air.
Others, having found,
Lying idly on the sun-hot ground,
Shuttlecocks and battledores,
Play with the buoyant feathers and stare
Dazzled at the plaything as it soars,
Vague against the shining sky,
Where light yet throbs and confuses the eye,
Then see it again, white and clear,
As slowly, poisdly it falls by
The dark green foliage and floats near.
But Celia, apart, is pensive and must sigh,
And Anais but faintly pursues the game.
An encroaching, inner flame
Burns in their hearts with the acrid smoke of unrest;
But gaiety runs like quicksilver in Rose's breast,
And Phillis, rising,
Walks by herself with high and springy tread,
All her young blood racing from heels to head,
Breeding new desires and a new surprising
Strength and determination,
Whereof are bred
Confidence and joy and exultation.

The long day closes;
Rosalind's hour draws near, and Chloe's and Rose's,
The hour that Celia has prayed,
The hour for which Anais and Stella have stayed,
When Helen shall forget her wit,
And Phillida by a sure arrow at length be hit,
And Phillis, the fleet runner, be at length overtaken;
When this bough of young blossoms
By the rough, eager gatherers shall be shaken.
Their eyes grow dim,
Their hearts flutter like taken birds in their bosoms,
As the light dies out of heaven,
And a faint, delicious tremor runs through every limb,
And faster the volatile blood through their veins is driven.

The long day closes;
The last light fades in the amber sky;
Warm through the warm dusk glow the roses,
And a heavier shade drops slowly from the trees,
While through the garden as all colours die
The scents come livelier on the quickening breeze.
The world grows larger, vaguer, dimmer,
Over the dark laurels a few faint stars glimmer;
The moon, that was a pallid ghost,
Hung low on the horizon, faint and lost,
Comes up, a full and splendid golden round
By black and sharp-cut foliage overcrossed.
The girls laugh and whisper now with hardly a sound
Till all sound vanishes, dispersed in the night,
Like a wisp of cloud that fades in the moon's light,
And the garden grows silent and the shadows grow
Deeper and blacker below
The mysteriously moving and murmuring trees,
That stand out darkly against the star-luminous sky;
Huge stand the trees,
Shadowy, whispering immensities,
That rain down quietude and darkness on heart and eye.
None move, none speak, none sigh
But from the laurels comes a leaping voice
Crying in tones that seem not man's nor boy's,
But only joy's,
And hard behind a loud tumultuous crying,
A tangled skein of noise,
And the girls see their lovers come, each vying
Against the next in glad and confident poise,
Or softly moving
To the side of the chosen with gentle words and loving
Gifts for her pleasure of sweetmeats and jewelled toys.

Dear Love, whose strength no pedantry can stir,
Whether in thine iron enemies,
Or in thine own strayed follower
Bemused with subtleties and sophistries,
Now dost thou rule the garden, now
The gatherers' hands have grasped the scented bough.

Slow the sweet hours resolve, and one by one are sped.
The garden lieth empty. Overhead
A nightjar rustles by, wing touching wing,
And passes, uttering
His hoarse and whirring note.
The daylight birds long since are fled,
Nor has the moon yet touched the brown bird's throat.

All's quiet, all is silent, all around
The day's heat rises gently from the ground,
And still the broad moon travels up the sky,
Now glancing through the trees and now so high
That all the garden through her rays are shed,
And from the laurels one can just descry
Where in the distance looms enormously
The old house, with all its windows black and dead.


As I lay in the early sun,
Stretched in the grass, I thought upon
My true love, my dear love,
Who has my heart for ever,
Who is my happiness when we meet,
My sorrow when we sever.
She is all fire when I do burn,
Gentle when I moody turn,
Brave when I am sad and heavy
And all laughter when I am merry.
And so I lay and dreamed and dreamed,
And so the day wheeled on,
While all the birds with thoughts like mine
Were singing to the sun.

* * * * *



Now when I sleep the thrush breaks through my dreams
With sharp reminders of the coming day:
After his call, one minute I remain
Unwaked, and on the darkness which is Me
There springs the image of a daffodil,
Growing upon a grassy bank alone,
And seeming with great joy his bell to fill
With drops of golden dew, which on the lawn
He shakes again, where they lie bright and chill.

His head is drooped; the shrouded winds that sing
Bend him which way they will: never on earth
Was there before so beautiful a ghost.
Alas! he had a less than flower-birth,
And like a ghost indeed must shortly glide
From all but the sad cells of memory,
Where he will linger, an imprisoned beam,
Or fallen shadow of the golden world,
Long after this and many another dream.


I wish this world and its green hills were mine,
But it is not; the wandering shepherd star
Is not more distant, gazing from afar
On the unreapd pastures of the sea,
Than I am from the world, the world from me.
At night the stars on milky way that shine
Seem things one might possess, but this round green
Is for the cows that rest, these and the sheep:
To them the slopes and pastures offer sleep;
My sleep I draw from the far fields of blue,
Whence cold winds come and go among the few
Bright stars we see and many more unseen.

Birds sing on earth all day among the flowers,
Taking no thought of any other thing
But their own hearts, for out of them they sing:
Their songs are kindred to the blossom heads,
Faint as the petals which the blackthorn sheds,
And like the earth--not alien songs as ours.
To them this greenness and this island peace
Are life and death and happiness in one;
Nor are they separate from the white sun,
Or those warm winds which nightly wash the deep
Or starlight in the valleys, or new sleep;
And from these things they ask for no release.

But we can never call this world our own,
Because we long for it, and yet we know
That should the great winds call us, we should go;
Should they come calling out across the cold,
We should rise up and leave the sheltered fold
And follow the great road to the unknown,
We should pass by the barns and haystacks brown,
Should leave the wild pool and the nightingale;
Across the ocean we should set a sail
And, coming to the world's pale brim, should fly
Out to the very middle of the sky,
On past the moon; nor should we once look down.


'And he, casting away his garment, rose and came to Jesus.'

And he cast it down, down, on the green grass,
Over the young crocuses, where the dew was--
He cast the garment of his flesh that was full of death,
And like a sword his spirit showed out of the cold sheath.

He went a pace or two, he went to meet his Lord,
And, as I said, his spirit looked like a clean sword,
And seeing him the naked trees began shivering,
And all the birds cried out aloud as it were late spring.

And the Lord came on, He came down, and saw
That a soul was waiting there for Him, one without flaw,
And they embraced in the churchyard where the robins play,
And the daffodils hang down their heads, as they burn away.

The Lord held his head fast, and you could see
That he kissed the unsheathed ghost that was gone free--
As a hot sun, on a March day, kisses the cold ground;
And the spirit answered, for he knew well that his peace was found.

The spirit trembled, and sprang up at the Lord's word--
As on a wild, April day, springs a small bird--
So the ghost's feet lifting him up, he kissed the Lord's cheek,
And for the greatness of their love neither of them could speak.

But the Lord went then, to show him the way,
Over the young crocuses, under the green may
That was not quite in flower yet--to a far-distant land;
And the ghost followed, like a naked cloud holding the sun's hand.


I sat in heaven like the sun
Above a storm when winter was:
I took the snowflakes one by one
And turned their fragile shapes to glass:
I washed the rivers blue with rain
And made the meadows green again.

I took the birds and touched their springs,
Until they sang unearthly joys:
They flew about on golden wings
And glittered like an angel's toys:
I filled the fields with flowers' eyes,
As white as stars in Paradise.

And then I looked on man and knew
Him still intent on death--still proud;
Whereat into a rage I flew
And turned my body to a cloud:
In the dark shower of my soul
The star of earth was swallowed whole.

* * * * *



Rivers I have seen which were beautiful,
Slow rivers winding in the flat fens,
With bands of reeds like thronged green swords
Guarding the mirrored sky;
And streams down-tumbling from the chalk hills
To valleys of meadows and watercress-beds,
And bridges whereunder, dark weed-coloured shadows,
Trout flit or lie,

I know those rivers that peacefully glide
Past old towers and shaven gardens,
Where mottled walls rise from the water
And mills all streaked with flour;
And rivers with wharves and rusty shipping,
That flow with a stately tidal motion
Towards their destined estuaries
Full of the pride of power;

Noble great rivers, Thames and Severn,
Tweed with his gateway of many grey arches,
Clyde, dying at sunset westward
In a sea as red as blood;
Rhine and his hills in close procession,
Placid Elbe, Seine slaty and swirling,
And Isar, son of the Alpine snows,
A furious turquoise flood.

All these I have known, and with slow eyes
I have walked on their shores and watched them,
And softened to their beauty and loved them
Wherever my feet have been;

And a hundred others also
Whose names long since grew into me,
That, dreaming in light or darkness,
I have seen, though I have not seen.

Those rivers of thought: cold Ebro,
And blue racing Guadiana,
Passing white houses, high-balconied
That ache in a sun-baked land,
Congo, and Nile and Colorado,
Niger, Indus, Zambesi,
And the Yellow River, and the Oxus,
And the river that dies in sand.

What splendours are theirs, what continents,
What tribes of men, what basking plains,
Forests and lion-hided deserts,
Marshes, ravines and falls:
All hues and shapes and tempers
Wandering they take as they wander
From those far springs that endlessly
The far sea calls.

O in reverie I know the Volga
That turns his back upon Europe,
And the two great cities on his banks,
Novgorod and Astrakhan;
Where the world is a few soft colours,
And under the dove-like evening
The boatmen chant ancient songs,
The tenderest known to man.

And the holy river Ganges,
His fretted cities veiled in moonlight,
Arches and buttresses silver-shadowy
In the high moon,
And palms grouped in the moonlight
And fanes girdled with cypresses,
Their domes of marble softly shining
To the high silver moon.

And that aged Brahmapootra
Who beyond the white Himalayas
Passes many a lamassery
On rocks forlorn and frore,
A block of gaunt grey stone walls
With rows of little barred windows,
Where shrivelled young monks in yellow silk
Are hidden for evermore....

But O that great river, the Amazon,
I have sailed up its gulf with eyelids closed,
And the yellow waters tumbled round,
And all was rimmed with sky,
Till the banks drew in, and the trees' heads,

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