Part 2 out of 3
The shock was stern: the cohorts near to rout.
Staying the flight, tribune, centurion,
From heat of carnage 'neath th' enduring sun
Breathe blood, and smell its savour as they shout.
With haggard eyes, that count the dead about,
Each spearman marks the archers, all undone,
Whirl like heaped leaves before Euroclydon.
From the brown faces sweat falls gout by gout.
That fated hour--with many a shaft stuck o'er,
Streaming in burnished brass and purple weed,
Red with the scarlet flux of wounds full sore,
With trumpets shrilling forth their urgent need,
Against the sunset, on his frighted steed--
Surged, glorious, the ensanguined Emperor.
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
From the high terrace they might see far down,
Egypt asleep, by plague of heat opprest;
Old Father Nile, in beauty manifest,
Roll his rich flood towards many a famous town.
And lo, the Roman felt 'neath mail and gown
(Captain and slave, soothing a child to rest)
Relax and fail on his triumphant breast
That body made for love, by love o'erthrown.
Lifting her silken head and blanched face
To him whose senses reel at such rare grace
And piercing sweetness, she prefers her lips;
But stooping close, his ardent eyes behold
In those deep eyes, sewn thick with points of gold,
A hazardous sea bestrewn with fleeing ships.
_From the French of José Maria de Heredia_
* * * * *
If on a day it should befall
That love must have her funeral;
And men weep tears that love is dead,
That never more her gracious head
Can turn to meet their eyes and hold
Their hearts with chains of silky gold;
That never more her hands can be
As dear as was virginity;
That in her coffin there is laid
Beauty, the body of a maid,
The body of one so piteous-sweet,
With candles burning at her feet
And cowled monks singing requiem....
I think I would not go with them,
Her lordly lovers, to the place
Where lies that lovely mournful face,
That curving throat and marvellous hair
Under the sconces' yellow flare--
How shall a man be comforted
When love is dead, when love is dead?
But I would make my moan apart,
Keeping my dreams within my heart--
For guarded as a sepulchre
Shall be the house I built for her
Of silver spires and pinnacles
With carillons of mellow bells,
A house of song for her delight
Whose joy was as the strong sunlight--
But now love's ultimate word is said,
For love is dead, for love is dead!
But even should all hope be lost
Some memory, like a thin white ghost,
Might stealthily move in midnight hours
Among those silent sacred towers,
And glimmer on the moonlit lawn
Until the cold ironic dawn
Arises from her saffron bed--
When love is dead, when love is dead.
Lest, tortured by the world's strong sin,
Her little bruised heart should die--
Give her your heart to shelter in,
O earth and sky!
Kneel, sun, to clothe her round about
With rays to keep her body warm;
And, kind moon, shut the shadows out
That work her harm.
Yes, even shield her from my will's
Wild folly--hold her safe and close!--
For my rough hand in touching spills
Life from the rose.
But teach me, too, that I may learn
Your passion classical and cool;
To me, who tremble so and burn,
Praise! that when thick night circled over me
In chaos ere my time or world began,
Thy finger shaped my body cunningly,
Thy thought conceived me ere I was a man!
Thy Spirit breathed upon me in the dark
Wherein I strangely grew,
Bestowing glowing powers to the spark
The mouth of heaven blew!
Praise! that a babe I leapt upon the world
Spread at my feet in its magnificence,
With trees as giants, flowers as flags unfurled.
And rains as diamonds in their excellence!
Praise! for the solemn splendour of surprise
That came with breaking day;
For all the ranks of stars that met my eyes
When sunset burned away!
Praise! that there burst on my unfolding heart
The coloured radiance of leafy June,
With choirs of song-birds perfected in art,
And nightingales beneath the summer moon--
Praise! that this beauty, an unravished bride
Doth hold her lover still;
Doth hide and beckon, laugh at me, and hide
Upon each grassy hill.
Praise! that I know the dear capricious sky
In every infinitely varied mood--
Yet under her maternal wings can lie
The smallest chick among her countless brood!
Praise! that I hear the strong winds wildly race
Their chariots on the sea,
But feel them lift my hair and stroke my face
Softly and tenderly!
Praise! for the joy and gladness thou didst send,
When I have sat in gracious fellowship
In firelight for an evening with a friend.
When wine and magic entered at the lip!
For laughter which the fates can overthrow
Thy mercy doth accord--
To Thee, who didst my godlike joy bestow,
I lift my glass, O Lord!
Praise! that a lady leaning from her height,
A lady pitiful, a tender maid,
A queen majestical unto my sight,
Spoke words of love to me, and sweetly laid
Her hand within my own unworthy hand!
(Rise, soul, to greet thy guest,
Mysterious love, whom none shall understand,
Though love be all confessed!)
Praise! that upon my bent and bleeding back
Was stretched some share of Thy redeeming cross,
Some poverty as largess for my lack,
Some loss that shall prevent my utter loss!
Praise! that thou gavest me to keep joy sweet
The sanguine salt of pain!
Praise! for the weariness of questing feet
That else might quest in vain!
* * * * *
T. STURGE MOORE
TO GORDON BOTTOMLEY
Dear exile from the hurrying crowd,
At work I muse to you aloud;
Thought on my anvil softens, glows,
And I forget our art has foes;
For life, the mother of beauty, seems
A joyous sleep with waking dreams.
Then the toy armoury of the brain
Opining, judging, looks as vain
As trowels silver gilt for use
Of mayors and kings, who have to lay
Foundation stones in hope they may
Be honoured for walls others build.
I, in amicable muse,
With fathomless wonder only filled,
Whisper over to your ear
Listening two hundred odd miles north,
And give thought chase that, were you here,
Our talk would never run to earth.
Man can answer no momentous question:
Whence comes his spirit? Has it lived before?
Reason fails; hot springs of feeling spout
Their snowy columns high in the dim land
Of his surmise--violent divine decisions
That often rule him: and at times he views
Portraits of places he has never been to,
Yet more minute and vivid than remembrance,
Of boyhood homes, sail between sleep and waking
Like some mirage, refuting all experience
With topsy-turvy ships,
That steals by in dead calms through tropic haze:
And many a man in his climacteric years,
Thoughts and remembered words have roused from sleep
With knowledge that he lacked on lying down:
And I, lapped in a trance of reverie, doubt
Some spore of episodes
Anterior far beyond this body's birth,
Dispersed like puffs of dust impalpable,
Wind-carried round this globe for centuries,
May, breathed with common air, yet swim the blood,
And striking root in this or that brain, raise
One such seems half-implied in all I am,
And many times re-pondered shapes like this:
A child myself I watched a woman loll
Like to a clot of seaweed thrown ashore;
Heavy and limp as cloth soaked in black dye,
She glooms the noontide dazzle where a bay
Bites into vineyarded flats close-fenced by hills,
Over whose tops lap forests of cork and fir
And reach in places half down their rough slopes.
Lower, some few cleared fields square on the thickets
Of junipers and longer thorns than furze
So clumped that they are trackless even for goats
I know two things about that woman: first
She is a slave and I am free, and next
As mothers need their sons' love she needs mine.
Longings to utter fond compassionate sounds
Stir through me, checked by knowing wiser folk
Reprobate such indulgence. Ill at ease,
Mute, yet her captive, I thrust brown toes through
Loose sand no daily large tides overwhelm
To cake and roll it firm and smooth and clean
As the Atlantic remakes shores, you know.
But there, like trailing skirts, long flaws of wind
Obliterate the prints feet during calms
Track over and over its always lonely stretch,
Till some will have, it ghosts must rove at night;
For folk by day are rare, yet a still week
Leaves hardly ten yards anywhere uncrossed;
Tempest spreads all revirginate like snow,
Half burying dead wood snapped off from tossed trees,
Since right along the foreshore, out of reach
Of furious driven waves, three hundred pines
Straggle the marches between sand and soil.
Like maps of stone-walled fields their branching roots
Hold the silt still so that thin grass grows there,
Its blades whitened with travelling powdery drift
The besom of the lightest breeze sets stirring.
That woman's gaze toils worn from remote years,
Yet forward yearns through the bright spacious noon,
Beyond the farthest isle, whose filmy shape
Floats faint on the sea-line.
I, scooping grains up with the frail half-shell
Pale green and white-lined of sea-urchin, knew
What her eyes sought as often children know
Of grief or sin they could not name or think of
Yet sooth or shrink from, so I saw and longed
To heal her tender wound and yet said naught.
The energy of bygone joy and pain
Had left her listless figure charged with magic
That caught and held my idleness near hers.
Resentful of her power, my spirit chafed
Against its own deep pity, as though it were
Raised ghost and she the witch had bid it haunt me.
What's more I knew this slave by rights should glean
And faggot drift-wood, not lounge there and waste
My father's food dreaming his time away.
For then as now the common-minded rich
Grudged ease to those whose toil brought them in means
For every waste of life. At length I spoke,
Insulting both my inarticulate soul
And her with acted anger: "Lazy wretch,
Is it for eyes like yours to watch the sea
As though you waited for a homing ship?
My father might with reason spend his hours
Scanning the far horizon; for his Swan
Whose outward lading was full half a vintage
Is now months overdue." She turned on me
Her languor knit and, through its homespun wrap,
Her muscular frame gave hints of rebel will,
While those great caves of night, her eyes, faced mine,
Dread with the silence of unuttered wrongs:
At last she spoke as one who must be heeded.
Truly I am not clear
Whether her meaning was conveyed in words
(She mingled accents of an eastern tongue
With deformed phrases of our native Latin)
Or whether thought from her gaze poured through mine.
The gravity of recollected life
Was hers, condensed and, like a vision, flashed
Suddenly on the guilty mind, a whole
Compact, no longer a mere tedious string
Of moments negligible, each so small
As they were lived, but stark like a slain man
Who would alive have been ourself with twice
The skill, the knowledge, the vitality
Actually ours. Yea, as a tree may view
With fingerless boughs and lorn pole impotent,
An elephant gorged upon its leaves depart,
Men often have reviewed an unwieldy past,
That like a feasted Mammoth, leisured and slow,
Turned its back on their warped bones. Even thus,
Momentous with reproach, her grave regard
Made me feel mean, cashiered of rank and right,
My limbs that twelve good years had nursed were numbed
And all their fidgety quicksilver grew stiff,
Novel and fevering hallucinations
Invaded my attention. So daylight
When shutters are thrown back spreads through a house;
As then the dreams and terrors of the night
Decamp, so from my mind were driven
All its own thoughts and feelings. Close she leant
Propped on a swarthy arm, while the other helped
With eloquent gesture potent as wizard wand,
Veil the world off as with an airy web,
Or flowing tent a-gleam with pictured folds.
These tauten and distend--one sea of wheat,
Islanded with black cities, borders now
The voluminous blue pavilion of day.
There-under to the nearest of those towns
This woman younger by ten years made haste
While at her side ran a small boy of six.
They neared the walls, half a huge double gate
Lay prostrate, though the other by stone hinges
Hung to its flanking tower. The path they followed
Threaded an old paved road whose flags were edged
With dry grass and dry weeds, even cactuses
Had pushed the stones up or found root in muck heaps:
The path struck up the slope of the fallen door,
Basalt like midnight, o'er which dusty feet
Had greyed a passage, for it rested on
Some débris fallen from the left-hand tower,
And from its upper edge rude blocks like steps
Led down into the straight main street, that ran
Past eyeless buildings mined as it were from coal,
And earthquake-raised to light. Palaces and
Roofless wide-flighted colonnaded temples,
The uncemented walls piled-plumb with blocks
Squared, polished, fitted with daemonic patience.
Each gaping threshold high again as need be
Waited a nine-foot lord to enter hall,
Where the least draughty corner sheltered now
Half-tented hut or improvised small home
For Arab, brown, light-footed and proud-necked
As was this woman with the compelling voice.
Their present hutched and hived within that past
As bees in the parchment chest of Samson's lion;
And all seem conscious that their life was sweet,
Like mice who clean their faces after meals
And have such grace of movement, when unscared,
As wins the admiration even of those
Whose stores they rob and soil. I saw her eyes
Young with contentment in her son
And smaller babe and in their handsome sire,
And knew that many a supper had been relished
With hearts as joyous as waited while she cooked
And served upon returning to their cot
In hall where once far other hearts caroused.
They and their tribe could never reap a tithe
Of the vast harvest rustling round those ruins,
And over which a half-moon soon set forth
From black hills mounded up both east and south,
While north-west her light played on distant summits;
All the huge interspace floored with standing corn
Which kings afar send soldiery to reap,
Who now, beside a long canal cut straight
In ancient days, have pitched their noisy camp
Which on that vast staid silence makes a bruise
Of blare and riot that its robust health
Will certainly heal in a brief lapse of time.
One night, re-thought on after ten whole years,
Is like the condor high above the Andes,
A speck with difficulty found again
Once the attention quits it. And I next
Descried our woman under breathless noon,
Bathing in a clear lane of gliding water
Whose banks seem lonely as the path of light
Crossing mid ocean south of Capricorn.
Her son steals warily after a butterfly
And is as hushed with hope to capture it
As are the birds with heat. An insect hum
Circles the spot as round a cymbal's rim,
Long after it has clanged, tingles a throb
Which in a dream forgets the parent sound,
Oppressed by this protracted and awe-filled pause,
She hardly dares to wade the stream and moves
As though in dread to wake some sleeping god,
Yet still she nears and nears the further bank
Where there is shade under a shumac's eaves.
The brilliant surface cut her right in two,
And the reflection of her bronzed torso
Hid all beneath the polished gliding mirror;
How her face listened to that sleep divine
Whose audible breath was tuned to dreams of bliss!
Sudden, as though the woof of heaven were torn,
A strident shout rang from some neighbour shrubs
Three Nubian soldiers ran upon her with
Delighted oily faces. Screaming first
Commands to her small son to make for home,
She laboured to recross the current as when
In nightmares the scared soul expects to die
Tortured by mutiny in limbs like lead,
But as the playful lion of the sea
Climbs the rock ledges hard by Fingal's cave
To throw himself down into deep green baths,
While others barking follow his vigorous lead,
The foremost Abyssinian threw his weight
Before her with a splash that hid them both,
As the explosion of light-filled liquid parcels
Shot forth in all directions. In his arms
She re-appeared, a tragic terrified face
Beside his coarse one laughing with success.
Squeezing her with a pantomime of love,
He turns to follow an arrow with his eyes
That his companion, still upon the bank,
Has aimed towards her son's small head that bobbed
Like a black cork across the basking corn.
But from the level of the sunk stream bed
Neither he nor she could see the target aimed at,
Yet in the pause they heard the poor child scream;
A second arrow, second scream; she fought,
But soon like bundle bound, hung o'er his shoulder,
Helpless as a mouse in cat's mouth carried off
In search of quiet, there to play with it.
Those arrows missed?--or did they not? The child
Shrieked twice, yet scarcely like a wounded thing
She thought and hoped and still but thinks and hopes.
Where is that boy? Where is her husband now?
While she submitted body to force and soul
To the great shuddering violence of despair
How had their life progressed in that far place?
Compassion fused my consciousness with hers
And second-sighted eloquence arose
To claim my mind for rostrum,
But obstinately tranced
My eyes clung to their vision;
For regions to explore allure the boy
No stretch of thought or sea of feeling tempts.
Entranced, the mind I then had, haunted
Those basalt ruins. High on sable towers
Some silky patriarchal goat appears
And ponders silent streets, or suddenly
Some nanny, her huge bag swollen with milk,
Trots out on galleries that unfenced run
Round vacant courts, there, stopped by plaintive kids,
Lets them complete their meal. While always, always,
Throughout, those mazed, sullen and sun-soaked walls,
The steady, healthy wind,
Which often blows for weeks without a lull
Across that upland plain,
Flutes staidly. Moaning
Continuously as seas
Or forests before storm,
And, gathering moment,
Articulated by her woe, begins
With second-sighted eloquence
To wail through me,
Nigh as unheeded,
As though it still had been
For ah! the heart is cowed
And dares not use her strength,
Hears the kind impulse plead
Against the common avaricious fear,
Grants it but life, though sovereignty was due
Or doles it sway but one day out of seven
Or one a year.
So, so, and ever, so
In the close-curtained court
Those causes are deferred
Which most import;
These wait man's leisure.
These daily matters elbow;
His panic meanness
Jibs blindly ere it hear
What wisdom has prepared,
Bolts headlong ere it see
Her face unfold its smile.
Man after man, race after race
Drops jaded by the iterancy
Of petty fear.
Even as horses on the green steppes grazing,
Hundreds scattered through lonely peacefulness,
If shadow of cloud or red fox breaking earth
Delude but one with dream of a stealthy foe,
All are stampeded.
Their frantic torrent draws in,
With dire attraction, cumulative force,
Stragglers grazing miles from where it started;
On it thunders quite devoid of meaning.
The tender private soul
Thus takes contagion from the sordid crowd,
And shying at mere dread of loss,
Loses the whole of life.
Thus, in the vortex of a base turmoil,
Those myriad million energies wear down
That might have raised mankind
To live the life of gods.
Had but my soul been his,
As his was mine,
Those wind-resembling accents
Had found fit auditor.
Their second-sighted eloquence,
Welcomed with acclamation,
Had fired action.
But that was ages since: he was not then
What now I am,
Who have no longer
The opportunity then mine, then missed,--
Who still am dazed and troubled
Surmising others mine, others missed.
Passionate, never-wearied voice,
Tombed in thy brittle shell,
This human heart
Thou croonest age on age,
"Give and ask not,
Help and blame not,"
Heeded less than large and mottled cowry
The which at least some child may hold to ear
All smiles to listen.
Thou findest parables;
With fond imagination
For the successive
This boy, myself that was,
Musing visions by that woman raised,
Watched that land she came from, towned with ruins
Send mile-long files of laden camels out
With grain to hostile cities,--
Knew too the blue entrancing plain of waters
Teemed with fresh shoals, buoyed up indifferently,
Even the straight thought whispered at his ear,
"Thy lips might join with hers as with some cousin's,
Here, now, at noon,
Hugging her bereavéd sadness close,
And still, to-night, with equal satisfaction,
Thy mother's blind contentment with her son."
While half-seduced, half-chafed, his mind was shaken
As with conflicting gusts a choppy sea,
His eyes, still greedy of their visions,
Fastened a swarthy town enisled in wheat,
And to the ebon threshold of each house,
Conjured forth the man that each was planned for:
Great creatures smiling with his father's smile,
Muscular, wealthy and self-satisfied,
Wearing loud-coloured raiment, earrings, chains,
Armlet and buckle, all of clanking gold.
His spirit drank from theirs great draughts of pride
And read their minds more clearly than his own;
All, with one counsel like a chorus, dinned
His soul that then was mine,
With truths well-proved in action.
"Love is chaos,
For order's sake
Whatever must be, should be,"
Roared those bulls of Bashan.
Then their proud chant argued,
"How should this woman know
Her little lad again,
Who either now is bones
Under the fertile field,
Or well nigh a grown man?
Say they should cross at market
Both slaves would pass on, not a start the wiser.
What is she then to him
Or he to her
After these years?
To drag a life that might have been but is not
With toil of mind and heart,
Through dreary year on year,
Neglecting for its sake the life that is,
Spells folly and ingratitude to those
Who treat their slaves well.
Thy father's household and thyself should be
More to her now than those who may be dead,
The place she lives in dearer
Than any unattainable far land
Where she is more forgotten than old dreams.
Why make the day of evil worse
By dwelling on it after it has past?
Near things alone are real,
Now is the whole of time:
Places beyond the horizon are but pictures;
Memory cheats the eye with an illusion!"
"Your thoughts are sound, bold builders,
I am my father's son.
Behold this home-shore, these our hills, this bay,
And this our slave!--
Up, work, look sharp about it!"
Bounding a foot and fast retiring from her,
I stoop for stones strewn thick about the sand,
Aim them, fling them,
And, as my idle arm resumes the knack,
Score a hit and laugh
To see her stumble hurt, behind the pine trunks.
"Unless you work, I throw again,
To it and steady at it.
Mark me, drab, we Camilli
Mean what we say."
Stone after stone still flies,
But aimed to knock chips from the pine-boles now;
For she is busy gathering sticks, increasing
Her distance as she may. The noon is sultry,
Heated and clammy, I,
Towards the live waves turning, slip my tunic,
Then run in naked.
Cooled and soothed by swimming,
Both mind and heart from their late tumult tuned
To placid acquiescent health,
I float, suspended in the limpid water,
Passive, rhythmically governed;
So tranced worlds travel the dark shoreless ether.
"Where should this stream of pictures tend?"
No, Bottomley, you will not ask;
To you I am quite free to send
The unexpected, unexplained,
You will not take me thus to task.
So they be painted well, they live;
If ill, they yet may cling to fame
Associated with your name.
In which case you, and not I, give
That we are both contented with.
* * * * *
DOWN HERE THE HAWTHORN
Down here the hawthorn....
And a stir of wings,
Spring-lit wings that wake
Sudden tumult in the brake,
Tumult of blossom tide, tumult of foaming mist
Where the bright bird's tumultuous feathers kissed.
White mists are blinding me,
White mist of hedgerow, white mist of wings.
Down here the hawthorn
And a stir of wings....
Softly swishing, swift with spray
All along the green laneway
Dewdimmed, sunwashed, windsweet and winter-free
They flash upon the light,
They swing across the sight,
I cannot see, I cannot see!...
Down here the flowering hawthorn flings
Sleet of petals, petalled shells
Spread the coloured air that sings
Magic and a myriad spells
Spun by my count of Springs.
Down here the hawthorn....
And the flower-foam stirred
By a Spring-lit bird.
White hawthorn mist is blinding me.
I lower my gaze, and on this old
Brown bridle road
Crusted with golden moss and mould
The hedgerow flings
Blossom woven carpetings light lain
Under the farmer's lumbering load;
And, floating past the spent March wrack,
The footstep trail, the traveller's track.
Down here the hawthorn....
White mists are blinding me,
White mists that rime the fresh green bank
And sorrel tall
Upwaving, rank on rank,
Shall flush the bed whereon the windflowers sank.
I turn these Spring-bewildered eyes of mine,
I seek above the surf of hedgerow line
Where peeping branches reach, and reaching twine
Faint cherry or plum or eglantine.
But with pretence of whisperings
The year's young mischief-wind shall take
By storm these shy striplings,
And soon or later shake
Their slender limbs, and make
Free with their clinging may--
Strip from them in a single boisterous day
Their first and last vesture of pale bloom spray.
So, as to meet such lack
In bush or brack,
The kindly hedgerows make
Sure of a Springtime for these frailer things,
Shedding on each the lavish creamthorn flake.
Down here the hawthorn....
On all the green leaf-clusters round me clings
Thickly a spray of gentle blossomings
Everywhere as with many bells
The young year with white magic swells.
The morning rings.
White mist is blinding me,
I cannot see, I cannot see!
Blind grows the coloured air that sings
The marvel of a myriad spells
Spun by my count of Springs.
Sleet of petals, petalled shells
Falling with sudden poignancy
(As the sleet stings)
Upon the lightheart-hope which only clear sight knows.
And slowly drifts,
Lingering among the snows
Nor, though the snow lifts,
The wistful heartache as the fresh Spring flows
With slipping sureness to the time of the rose, and the withered rose.
Down here the hawthorn....
And heaping blossom stirred
By a joy-swift bird.
White mists are blinding me,
White mist of hedgerow, white mist of wings.
The bird's flight flings
Over the wrack
Of my life's track.
Down here the hawthorn....
The air of coloured years is blurred
By the Spring, by a bird.
White mists are blinding me,
White mists on the years to be.
I cannot see, I cannot see....
Hurl down, harsh hills, your bitterness
Of wind and storm.
Stem ye the drift of herded men
With your uncouthness
So, tasting of your power, they press
Back shrinking where upon their warm
Safe ways of smoothness
They feed their various lusts again.
Guard ye, wild hills, with scar and whip
Lest alien-hearted pigmies tame
Your trackless boulders,
And with their unclean cunning slip
The leash of civilry
Fast round your shoulders.
O keep ye from that shame.
Or they shall surely come, black hordes
Swarming as lice
With their obscenities and greed
Across your fastness,
Even your peaks that swing white swords,
Rent, splintered ice
Into the vastness
Of skies where fanged winds feed.
Hurl down, harsh hills, your bitterness,
Guard ye with flail
Of shattering wind and thong of sleet
Your pride uplifting
To the impaled stars; be pitiless
Before this unquiet trail
Of man-herds drifting
Against your stone still feet.
* * * * *
ON SEEING A PORTRAIT OF BLAKE.
Something moves in his dust,
Flame sleeps beneath the crust;
O whence had he those eyes
Lit with celestial surprise?
From what world blew that gust?
Are we near to Paradise?
Gather a chaplet of five stars
And the opalescent hue
Of the aureole brightness cast--
Red, hardly red, and blue, scarce blue,--
Round th' immaculate frosty moon,
Splintering light in glacial spars,
When November's loudening blast
Sweeps heaven's floor till burnished
More crystal than at August noon,
So we fit radiance may cast
Before his feet, around his head.
How visits he an earthly place,
Wanders among a mortal race?
How were his footsteps led
That still about his face
Lingers a ghostly trace
Of a secret influence shed
By a Hand the world denies,
In a land her most son flies,
As a gift upon him thrust
For an end he knoweth not,
Yet will shine because he must,
Shine and sing because he must
Reap a wrong he soweth not
Of contempt anger and distrust
For a world which boweth not
To the Flame which binds our dust.
Go net the moon, go snare the sun,
Set them upon his either hand!
Beneath his heels Leviathan
Roll your thick coils! His head be spanned
By rainbows tripled! Set a gem
At the Cross-scabbard of his sword
Whiter than lambwool or lilystem!
Place on his brow the diadem
Given the warrior of the Lord,
The crown-turrets of Jerusalem!
* * * * *
I'll sing a song of kings and queens
And falling leaves and flying rain,
With Time to mow, and Fate who gleans
Their good and evil, boon and bane.
I'll sing a song of leaves and rains
And flying queens and falling kings.
Yet doubt not reason still remains
Snug hidden at the core of things.
For every year an autumn brings
To round the root and fat the sheaves
And haply garner queens and kings
With falling rain and flying leaves.
The rain is salt with tears of queens
The leaves are red with blood of kings;
Unknowing what the mystery means
We puzzle at these splendid things.
For why great kings and rains should fall,
And wherefore leaves and queens should fly,
Or such rare wonders be at all,
You cannot tell; no more can I.
Yet this we know: new leaves and rain
Anon shall crown the vernal scene,
But dust of dynasts not again
Blows up into a king or queen.
GHOSTIES AT THE WEDDING.
Turn down a glass afore his place;
Draw up the dog-eared chair;
For though we shall not see his face,
I think he will be here
Our wedding day to share.
Turn up the glass where she would be
And put a red rose there.
Her quick, grey eyes we cannot see,
But weren't they everywhere,
And shall not they be here?
Though them old blids are in the grave
And their good light's gone out,
We'd sooner their kind ghosties have
Than all the living rout
As will be there no doubt.
For some are dead as cannot die.
Some flown as cannot flee.
You still do fancy 'em near by.
'Tis so with him and she,
At any rate to we.
* * * * *
ARTHUR K. SABIN
When old Anacreon sang the wine
Which made his utterance divine,
Perchance the eyes he gazed into
Were lucent as the sun-touched dew--
Brighter, perchance, than yours; and yet
Eyes like yours, smoulderingly lit
With the calm passion of the spirit.
No young Greek maid did e'er inherit....
Ah! twenty years are not enough
To mould to such celestial stuff
A soul, my dear, as yours is moulded,
Wherein all dreams of life lie folded,
And through whose doors a friend may slip
Into serene companionship.
She came, as one who in the light
Of many a sunset hour had grown
Half sad, half glad, because the night
So soon about her would be thrown.
With melancholy ages old,
And laughter fragrant as the Spring,
She came, and in her low voice told
Tales of rich joy and sorrowing.
She led me to her garden, fair
With flowers I love and whispering trees,
And to her arbour sheltered there
In peace, all redolent of peace.
With rapt delight of halting speech,
And commune, such as those have felt
Whose minds move silent each by each.
Whose hopes are kindred hopes, we dwelt.
But though with love and dreams of gold
She wove rare charms about that nest,
My heart lay aching still, and cold:
I could not rest, I could not rest.
The birds are quiet on the boughs,
And quiet are my slumbering trees....
O come a short while to my house
And share these evening silences.
Come! for the sunset's weary smile
Has faded; night is failing deep:
And we will rest a little while
And talk together ere we sleep.
It may be that in future years,
When life serenely yields its best
Of steadfast joy and fleeting tears,
And, blessing, you move on, thrice blest,--
Amid glad tasks of love and home,
And fond caresses every day,
A softened thought of me shall come
And fly to reach me when you pray;
Then I shall tremble where I sit
Unhelped through those gray years to be,
As, like a benediction, it
Shall flood in sweetness over me.
* * * * *
Last night, within our little town
The Dead came marching through;
In a long line, like living men,
Just as they used to do.
Only, so long a line it seemed
You'd think the Judgment Day
Had dawned, to see them slowly pass,
With faces turned one way.
They walked no longer foe and foe
But brother bound to brother;
Poor men, common men they walked
Friendly to one another.
Just as in life they might have done
Who stabbed and slew instead....
So quietly and evenly they walked
These million gentle dead.
Was it for you the aching past alone
Lived, that on you might fall the shadow of it?
For you, for you kings climbed a ravished throne,
And all these menacing, quenched fires were lit.
Wars that have left no more than a grey trace,
Where are they? Scattered foam, blown dust--ah, me!
How have they found their way into your face?
The new day is not yours, you only see
A battle raging in a desert place,
And blood-stained warriors seeking Sanctuary.
I cannot love you in the street; I met
You in the street once and turned my head away,
But I will meet you where the red sunset
With forlorn fire flashes the leaping spray.
We are too old, too old for all this noise,
No wine of such new vintage shall control
Us who have known, what passionate joys
Once in some far, dark City of the Soul.
We are kings still and have, as kings, the choice
To spurn the proffered half and claim the whole.
Let us find out a new way; for it is plain
That all these old, worn, trodden roads suffice
Only those who will return again
Seeking shelter in their homes from Paradise.
Oh! let us find some solitary, green
Forgotten garden, where the sunrays fall
All blind and blurred and indistinct between
Cypresses lofty as earth's boundary wall;
Beneath whose shade shall glimmer forth half seen
Your face through the soft darkness when I call.
If one, with visionary pen, should write
The love which might be ours, how would he call
These strange, perplexing fires veiled servants light
Down the dark vistas of our empty hall?
That love which might be ours, how would he name
That love? No bitter leaving of the brine,
No white or fading blossom twined like flame
Round any brow, Christian or Erycine,
Not all those loves blown to a windy fame
Shall find their counterpart in yours and mine.
Not Tristram, not Isolde, wild shades which dip
Their pinions like blown gulls in a waste sea,
Nor those mute lovers, who still, lip on lip,
Float on for ever, though they have ceased to be,
Not any of those who loved once;--far apart
We wander; the years have made us weak, we fail
To rush together with a single heart,
And we shall meet at last, only as pale
Autumnal mists no sun's shaft cleaves apart
When all the winds are still and no ships sail.
Yet we shall meet--it may be we shall meet
And count our days up-gathered, one by one,
Like poppies plucked among the burnished wheat,
Beneath the red gaze of the August sun;
And all our scattered dreams shall flutter home
At last. Oh! silent, age-long wandering
What since your setting forth have ye become?
What gift from those far waters do ye bring?--
_A splash of rain, salt taste of frozen foam,
Green sea-weed trailing from a broken wing_.
Or we shall find each other--on the brink
Of sleep some day, when the cool evening airs
Blow bubbles round the pool where wood-birds drink;
Or in the common Inn of wayfarers:
Both weary, both beside the wide fireplace
Drowsing, till at some sudden spark up-blown
Shall each awake to find there face to face
You and I very tired and alone;
And lo! your welcome from my eyes shall gaze
And in your eyes there shall I find my own.
I will pursue thee down these solitudes
Therefore, and thou shalt yet escape me not.
I will set traps for thee of subtle moods
And wound thee with the arrows of my thought.
In thickest forest ways though thou lie hid,
Or in some autumn vale of Brocelinde,
Or in whatever place of magic forbid,
I will pierce through the woven branches like a wind,
And drag thee from thy hiding-place amid
The secret laughter of the fairy-kind.
Oh, triumph still delaying! I must pass
Lonely a long time yet, for I know well
No fugitive fair dream that ever was
Left anywhere traces where her footprints fell.
I, lonely hunter in the woods of sleep.
The hunt is up--away! I ride, I ride
On a white steed, where black-boughed fir-trees keep
Watch and the kindly world is shut outside.
I am afraid, the haunted woods are deep!
I am afraid--afraid! Where dost thou hide?
* * * * *
W. KEAN SEYMOUR
For her the proud stars bend, she sees,
As never yet, dim sorceries
Breaking in silver magic wide
On the blue midnight's swirling tide,
With arrowy mist and spearing flame
That out of central beauty came.
The innumerate splendours of the skies
Are thronging in her shining eyes;
Her body is a fount of light
In the plumed garden of the night;
Her lily breasts have known the bliss
Of the cool air's unfaltering kiss.
She is made one with loveliness,
Enfranchised from the world's distress,
Given utterly to joy, a bride
With a bride's hunger satisfied.
Now, though she heavily walk, and know
The sharp premonitory throe
And the life leaping in the gloom
Of her most blessed and chosen womb,
It is as though foot never was
So light upon the glimmering grass.
She is shot through with the stars' light,
Helped by their calm, unwavering might.
In tall, lone-swaying gravity
Stoops to her there the eternal tree
Whose myriad fruitage ripens on
Beneath the light of moon and sun.
IN THE WOOD
Lone shadows move,
The night air stirs;
This hour of dying
Dreams was hers.
In this dusk place
Her throat gleamed white
In glimmering beauty
The snared stars saw us
Sway, and kiss.
Now the bats whirr,
The barn owls hoot,
Is dust, is mute.
Peace comes not here,
No dream-bird trills:
They haunt her lodging
In the hills.
Bring me some oranges on blue china,
With a jade-and-silver spoon,
And drowse on your silken mats beside me
In the burning noon.
Bring me red wine in cups of crystal,
With melons on chrysoprase,
And place them softly with jewelled fingers
Before my gaze.
Hasten, my dove of scented whisperings,
My lily, my Xacán!
Bring bubbling pipes for the cool shadows,
And my peacock fan.
And bid Isárrib, my chief musician,
Weave quiet songs within,
That my soul in the circles of a great glamour
May float and spin.
And O, you gaudy and whistling parrots
In your high, flowered maze,
Still your harsh, petulant quarrelling
With the mocking jays.
TO ONE WHO EATS LARKS
Ah, my brave Vitellius!
Ah, your tastes are marvellous!
When you eat your singing birds
Do you leave the bones--and words,
The proud music in the throat?...
Not a note, not a note?
Doubtless they were not so pleasant
As the brains of a young pheasant,
Or flamingoes' tongues, whose duty
Never was to utter beauty.
But they sang, but they fluted
And your rasping lies confuted,
And your ugliness laid bare
With a lyric in the air.
So you bought them on a string,
Dangling balls that used to sing,
And you gave them to the cook
With a fat and happy look.
But you ask me why this fuss!
Ah, my brave Vitellius,
I am never sure your stringers
May not string you other singers,
May not tire of lark and wren
And attempt to sell you men.
Please forgive me, but I've made
Certain songs ... and I'm afraid!
IF BEAUTY CAME TO YOU
If Beauty came to you,
Ah, would you know her grace,
And could you in your shadowed prison view
Unscathed her face?
Stepping as noiselessly
As moving moth-wings, so
Might she come suddenly to you or me
And we not know.
Amid these clangs and cries,
Alas, how should we hear
The shy, dim-woven music of her sighs
As she draws near.
Threading through monstrous, black,
Where the soul shapes its own abhorrèd rack
Of wasted powers?
* * * * *
The dreadful days go up and up, to fall
Through twilight to the sleepless dusk again,
Like tortured flies upon a window pane.
Wingless or broken-winged,
They crawl and crawl ...
Meaningless, striving--nowhere after all,
Till one is tired of heeding.
A stain of drab unloveliness the days remain
Unmoving now, save that across the wall,
A patch of sun behind a shadow of bars,
Creeps in a stupor.
Falters and dies.
Outside a day may slip
From noon-glow to a miracle of stars
With hours that flush and flood eternity;
The stagnant waters drip ... and drip.
They tell me I have sinned; that long ago
(Weeks--or a cycle of eternity)
This thing of dead desire lived lustily,
Was stirred with passion, and sinned.
It may be so;
As seas or hills may be.
I only know God's world has shrunken,
And that misery,
Shrinking my heart, has closed her walls on me,
Till in the dead, still soul the senses grow
Carious as the ulcer of thought eats deep.
Heavy, the slow lusts pace the barren mind
From end to end.
Barred door and window,
And the horrors creep on padded feet like warders.
Then the blind, pitiful night
When hot tears scald and fall.
Grey day-break and the silence of the cell:
The dull, numb pain of waking,
Fear clutching oblivion;
And then to hear
The brazen, blasphemous tolling of the bell,
A crash of doors,
The swell of brutal voices nearer and more near,
Bursts at the last about you.
Queer delight of movement.
Then ... the door shuts.
Hell darkens about you with the turning key,
The silence burns and sears you like a flame;
It battens as the worm that never dies;
Crawls back from distant noises; palpably
Lurks through the rhythm of the feet of shame,
Watching and watching out of hooded eyes.
THE SIXTH DAY
"And God said 'Let us make man in our image and let him have
God made you in His image, yet I saw
You stoop and seize a blind mole from the snare.
Blind with terror ... Blind
Your teeth gleamed bare behind the taut, white lips.
The trapper's law knows neither hate nor love.
You watched it paw,
Frantic with lust of life, the yielding air
And were amused.
Did you care, pitying one moment, see the swift hands claw
For life and darkness, know and hate your trap?
I saw your knuckles gleam, your hand swing free;
The blind face crashed against the wall.
Then death and stillness and----
Snaring the blind mole of humanity,
God made you in His image after all.
* * * * *
Closes her slanting eyes:
Dead is she long ago,
From her fan sliding slow
Parrot-bright fire's feathers
Gilded as June weathers,
Plumes like the greenest grass
Twinkle down; as they pass
Through the green glooms in Hell,
Fruits with a tuneful smell--
Grapes like an emerald rain
Where the full moon has lain,
Greengages bright as grass,
Melons as cold as glass
Piled on each gilded booth
Feel their cheeks growing smooth;
Apes in plumed head-dresses
Whence the bright heat hisses,
Nubian faces sly,
Pursing mouth, slanting eye,
Feel the Arabian
Winds floating from that fan:
See how each gilded face
Paler grows, nods apace:
"Oh, the fan's blowing
Cold winds.... It is snowing!"
THE LADY WITH THE SEWING-MACHINE
Across the fields as green as spinach,
Cropped as close as Time to Greenwich,
Stands a high house; if at all,
Spring comes like a Paisley shawl--
And youthfully ridiculous.
In each room the yellow sun
Shakes like a canary, run
On run, roulade, and watery trill--
Yellow, meaningless, and shrill.
Face as white as any clock's,
Cased in parsley-dark curled locks--
All day long you sit and sew,
Stitch life down for fear it grow,
Stitch life down for fear we guess
At the hidden ugliness.
Dusty voice that throbs with heat,
Hoping with your steel-thin beat
To put stitches in my mind,
Make it tidy, make it kind,
You shall not: I'll keep it free
Though you turn earth, sky and sea
To a patchwork quilt to keep
Your mind snug and warm in sleep!
PORTRAIT OF A BARMAID
Metallic waves of people jar
Through crackling green toward the bar
Where on the tables chattering-white
The sharp drinks quarrel with the light.
Those coloured muslin blinds the smiles,
Shroud wooden faces in their wiles--
Sometimes they splash like water (you
Yourself reflected in their hue).
The conversation loud and bright
Seems spinal bars of shunting light
In firework-spurting greenery.
O complicate machinery
For building Babel, iron crane
Beneath your hair, that blue-ribbed mane
In noise and murder like the sea
Without its mutability!
Outside the bar where jangling heat
Seems out of tune and off the beat--
A concertina's glycerine
Exudes, and mirrors in the green
Your soul: pure glucose edged with hints
Of tentative and half-soiled tints.
SOLO FOR EAR-TRUMPET
The carriage brushes through the bright
Leaves (violent jets from life to light);
Strong polished speed is plunging, heaves
Between the showers of bright hot leaves
The window-glasses glaze our faces
And jar them to the very basis--
But they could never put a polish
Upon my manners or abolish
My most distinct disinclination
For calling on a rich relation!
In her house--(bulwark built between
The life man lives and visions seen)--
The sunlight hiccups white as chalk,
Grown drunk with emptiness of talk,
And silence hisses like a snake--
Invertebrate and rattling ache....
Then suddenly Eternity
Drowns all the houses like a sea
And down the street the Trump of Doom
Blares madly--shakes the drawing-room
Where raw-edged shadows sting forlorn
As dank dark nettles. Down the horn
Of her ear-trumpet I convey
The news that "It is Judgment Day!"
"Speak louder: I don't catch, my dear."
I roared: "_It is the Trump we hear!_"
"The _What?_" "_THE TRUMP!_" "I shall complain!
.... the boy-scouts practising again."
* * * * *
The evening found us whom the day had fled,
Once more in bitter anger, you and I,
Over some small, some foolish, trivial thing
Our anger would not decently let die,
But dragged between us, shamed and shivering
Until each other's taunts we scarcely heard,
Until we lost the sense of all we said,
And knew not who first spoke the fatal word.
It seemed that even every kiss we wrung
We killed at birth with shuddering and hate,
As if we feared a thing too passionate.
However close we clung
One hour the next hour found us separate,
Estranged, and Love most bitter on our tongue.
To-night we quarrelled over one small head,
Our fruit of last year's maying, the white bud
Blown from our stormy kisses and the dead
First rapture of our wild, estranging blood.
You clutched him: there was panther in your eyes,
We breathed like beasts in thickets, on the wall
Our shadows in huge challenge seemed to rise,
The room grew dark with anger. Yet through all
The shame and hurt and pity of it you were
Still strangely and imperishably dear,
As one who loves the wild day none the less
That breaks in bitter hands the buds of Spring,
Whose cold hand stops the breath of loveliness,
And drives the wailing ghost of beauty past,
Making the rose,--even the rose, a thing
For pain to be remembered by at last.
I said: "My son shall wear his father's sword."
You said: "Shall hands once blossoms at my breast
Be stained with blood?" I answered with a word
More bitter, and your own, the bitterest
Stung me to sullen anger, and I said:
"My son shall be no coward of his line
Because his mother choose"; you turned your head
And your eyes grew implacable in mine.
And like a trodden snake you turned to meet
The foe with sudden hissing ... then you smiled,
And broke our life in pieces at my feet,
"Your child?" you said: "_Your_ child?"
The low bay melts into a ring of silver,
And slips it on the shore's reluctant finger
Though in an hour the tide will turn, will tremble,
Forsaking her because the moon persuades him.
But the black wood that leans and sighs above her
No tide can turn, no moon can slave nor summon.
Then comes the dark: on sleepy, shell-strewn beaches,
O'er long pale leagues of sand and cold, clear water
She hears the tide go out towards the moonlight.
The wood still leans ... weeping she turns to seek him,
And his black hair all night is on her bosom.
I came by night to Thèlus wood,
And though in dark and desperate places
Stubborned with wire and brown with blood
Undaunted April crept and sewed
Her violets in dead men's faces,
And in a soft and snowy shroud
Drew the scarred fields with gentle stitch;
Though in the valley where the ditch
Was hoarse with nettles, blind with mud,
She stroked the golden-headed bud,
And loosed the fern, she dared not here
To touch nor tend this murdered thing;
The wind went wide of it, the year
Upon this breast stopped short of Spring:
Beauty turned back from Thèlus Wood.
From broken brows the dim eyes stared,
Blistered and maimed the wide stumps grinned
From the black mouth of Thèlus bared
In laughter at some monstrous jest.
No creature moved there, weed nor wind.
Huge arms, half-torn from savage breast,
Hung wide, and tangled limbs and faces
Lay, as if giants blind and stark
With violent, with perverse embraces
Groped for each other in the dark.
A moaning rose--not of the wind,
--There was no wind, but hollowly
From its dim bed of mud each tree
Gave forth a sound, till trees and mud
Seemed but a single, sighing mouth,
A wound that spoke with lips uncouth,
And cried to me from Thèlus Wood.
I heard one tree say: "This was I
Who drew great clouds across the sky
To weep against me." This one said:
"I made a gloom where love might lie
All day and dream it night, a bed
Secret and soft, the birds' song had
A twilight sound the whole day there."
One said: "Last night I shook my hair
Before the mirror of the moon."
"I saw a corpse to-day," said one
"That was but buried yester-year."
And one, the smallest, sweetest thing--
A fair child-tree made never stir,
Dead before God had tended her
In the green nurseries of Spring.
She lay, the loveliest, loneliest,
Among the old and ruined trees,
And at each small and broken wrist
The white flowers grew like bandages.
Then from the ruined churchyard where
Old vaults and graves lay turned and tossed
And earth from earth was shaken bare,
Came murmurings of a tongueless host
That to each ghastly brother said:
"Who raised us from our sleep? Is this
The resurrection of the dead?
Upon our bodies no flesh grows,
No bright blood through our temples springs,
No glory spreads, no trumpet blows,
The air is not white and blind with wings.
And yet dragged up before us lie
The woods of Thèlus at our feet,
And strange hills sentinel the sky,
And where the road went yawns a pit.
The world is finished: let us sleep.
God has forgotten: we shall keep
Here a sweet, safe Eternity.
There is no other end than this,
And this is death, and that is peace."
But even as they ceased the stones
Were loosed, the earth shook where I stood,
And from far off the crouching guns
Swung slowly round on Thèlus Wood.
THE THIEF OF BEAUTY
The mind is Beauty's thief, the poet takes
The golden spendthrift's trail among the blooms
Where she stands tossing silver in the lakes,
And twisting bright swift threads on airy looms.
Her ring the poppy snatches, and the rose
With laughter plunders all her gusty plumes.
The poet gleans and gathers as she goes
Heedless of summer's end certain and soon,
Of winter rattling at the door of June.
When Beauty lies hand-folded, pale and still,
Forsaken of her lovers and her lords,
And winter keeps cold watch upon the hill,
Then he lets fall his bale of coloured words.
At frosty midnight June shall rise in flame,
Move at his magic with her bells and birds,
The rose will redden as he speaks her name.
He shall release earth's frozen bosom there,
And with great words shall cuff the whining air.
* * * * *
W. R. TITTERTON
THE HIGH WALL
I will build up a wall for Freedom to dwell therein,
A high wall with towers
And steel fangs for a gate.
For Freedom that lacks a home falleth by pit and gin,
A prey to the alien powers
That lie in wait.
I will build up a house for her where the ways divide,
A house set on a hill,
With a lamp in the topmost tower,
And a trumpet calling to arms, and a flag like a flame blown wide,
And a sword to save and to kill
As her bridal dower.
I will take her to wife, she that is life and death;
Life--for a trumpet calls;
Death--for it calls me still,
And I shall know love--a star, and a fluttering breath
Till the shadow of silence falls
In the house on the hill.
I will build up a house for her where the ways divide,
Four-square on the rock,
A high house and a great;
So, when I fly, spent, back from a broken ride,
Her key shall cry in the lock,
She shall stand in the gate.
She shall stand in the gate--the prize of the world to win,
Crowned with a cloud of flowers.
I will build up a wall, a wall, for Freedom to dwell therein
In the name of the most high God,
A wall with towers.
THE BROKEN SWORD
Soldier, soldier, burnishing your sword,
Is there no place for a wayfaring man in the courts of your lord?
A couch, and a crust, and a song, and a flagon of wine?
Haggard, begrimed though I be, and out at heel,
A lean, grey hop-and-go-one with a crutch of steel,
Brother-at-arms with death? Behold the sign:
I have tasted great weather on high, white, green-turreted cliffs by the
I have tramped the tough heather, the purple, the brown,
By pools of peat water; from the night to the day,
Till the moon has dropped down: the ghost of a minim, low down,
In a high-piping treble of grey.
In shy, dim recesses, mid tresses, green tresses.
Slow dipping, caressing, I've heard
A whisper, a chuckle of laughter, a scamper; and high,
High up in the air the cry, the call of a bird.
And when the night came with a flicker of wings
I have heard the earth breathing quiet and slow
Like a pulse in the tiny, wild tumult of things.
I have sung to the sun, and the moon and the stars,
In valleys uncharted of tumbled sea meadows
I have shouted aloud 'neath a sky whipped to smoke in the fret of my
And I fought as I fared; and my couch was a camp; and my songs were my
Soldier! Soldier! Cosetting your sword!
Have you no place for a harper-at-arms in the courts of your lord--
Prim fountains, clipped trees, and trim gardens, and music, and rest?
Nay, keep your sugared delights and your margents embroidered! My life
is the best.
In my ears is the sound of a bugle blown, and my pulses like
For the hungry blind onset, the rally, the stubborn defeat.
I, too, could have polished, and polished, and jeered at the wayfaring
man who passed by.
But I follow the fighting Apollo.
And I stand unashamed; and I raise up my shard of a sword; and I cry the
Please God they shall find but a hilt in my hand when I die!
Dark hurrying shapes beset my path that night--
Pushing and buffeting; and in my brain
Dark hurrying shapes beset my soul. In vain
I struggled; as a fevered dreamer might;
Or some spent, breathless swimmer, in despite
Of desperate stroke, thrust headlong to the main.
The waking nightmare, monstrous and inane,
Whirled, rushed, and huddled in its random flight.
Like a spent swimmer, battling with a swoon,
Silent I fought, yet seemed to cry aloud.
When, at the challenge of a marching tune,
Heard in a sudden stillness of the crowd,
I looked aloft, and saw the great round moon
Steadfast behind her ragged rout of cloud.
THE SILENT PEOPLE
The Silent People of No Man's Land
Calm they lie,
With a stare and vacant smile
At the vacant sky.
Over them swept the battle,
And stirred them not.
Armies passed over, beyond them.
They are forgot.
Calmly the earth deals with them,
Melts them away.
Nothing is left of them now but bones,
Bones and clay.
Bones of the Valley of Judgment,
Bones stripped clean.
We fought, day in, day out, and the others,
With this between.
Dawn comes white and finds them
Stark and cold.
Twilight creeps over and covers them,
Fold on fold.
Night cannot hide them from us.
In the dark, again,
We see the Silent People
Who once were men.
The Silent People of No Man's Land,