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R. F. Murray: His Poems with a Memoir by Andrew Lang by R. F. Murray/Andrew Lang

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To speak the truth?

Not that they wilfully deceive:
They fondly cherish
A constancy which they would grieve
To think might perish.

They cherish it until they think
`Twas always theirs.
So, if the truth they sometimes blink,
`Tis unawares.

Yet unawares, I must profess,
They do deceive
Themselves, and those who questionless
Their tale believe.

For I have loved, I freely own,
A score of times,
And woven, out of love alone,
A hundred rhymes.

Boys will be fickle. Yet, when all
Is said and done,
I was not one whom you could call
A flirt--not one

Of those who into three or four
Their hearts divide.
My queens came singly to the door,
Not side by side.

Each, while she reigned, possessed alone
My spirit loyal,
Then left an undisputed throne
To one more royal,

To one more fair in form and face
Sweeter and stronger,
Who filled the throne with truer grace,
And filled it longer.

So, love by love, they came and passed,
These loves of mine,
And each one brighter than the last
Their lights did shine.

Until--but am I not too free,
Most courteous stranger,
With secrets which belong to me?
There is a danger.

Until, I say, the perfect love,
The last, the best,
Like flame descending from above,
Kindled my breast,

Kindled my breast like ardent flame,
With quenchless glow.
I knew not love until it came,
But now I know.

You smile. The twenty loves before
Were each in turn,
You say, the final flame that o'er
My soul should burn.

Smile on, my friend. I will not say
You have no reason;
But if the love I feel to-day
Depart, `tis treason!

If this depart, not once again
Will I on paper
Declare the loves that waste and wane,
Like some poor taper.

No, no! This flame, I cannot doubt,
Despite your laughter,
Will burn till Death shall put it out,
And may be after.

TRAFALGAR SQUARE

These verses have I pilfered like a bee
Out of a letter from my C. C. C.
In London, showing what befell him there,
With other things, of interest to me.

One page described a night in open air
He spent last summer in Trafalgar Square,
With men and women who by want are driven
Thither for lodging, when the nights are fair.

No roof there is between their heads and heaven,
No warmth but what by ragged clothes is given,
No comfort but the company of those
Who with despair, like them, have vainly striven.

On benches there uneasily they doze,
Snatching brief morsels of a poor repose,
And if through weariness they might sleep sound,
Their eyes must open almost ere they close.

With even tramp upon the paven ground,
Twice every hour the night patrol comes round
To clear these wretches off, who may not keep
The miserable couches they have found.

Yet the stern shepherds of the poor black sheep
Will soften when they see a woman weep.
There was a mother there who strove in vain,
With sobs, to hush a starving child to sleep.

And through the night which took so long to wane,
He saw sad sufferers relieving pain,
And daughters of iniquity and scorn
Performing deeds which God will not disdain.

There was a girl, forlorn of the forlorn,
Whose dress was white, but draggled, soiled, and torn,
Who wandered like a ghost without a home.
She spoke to him before the day was born.

She, who all night, when spoken to, was dumb,
Earning dislike from most, abuse from some,
Now asked the hour, and when he told her `Two,'
Wailed, `O my God, will daylight never come?'

Yes, it will come, and change the sky anew
From star-besprinkled black to sunlit blue,
And bring sweet thoughts and innocent desires
To countless girls. What will it bring to you?

A SUMMER MORNING

Never was sun so bright before,
No matin of the lark so sweet,
No grass so green beneath my feet,
Nor with such dewdrops jewelled o'er.

I stand with thee outside the door,
The air not yet is close with heat,
And far across the yellowing wheat
The waves are breaking on the shore.

A lovely day! Yet many such,
Each like to each, this month have passed,
And none did so supremely shine.
One thing they lacked: the perfect touch
Of thee--and thou art come at last,
And half this loveliness is thine.

WELCOME HOME

The fire burns bright
And the hearth is clean swept,
As she likes it kept,
And the lamp is alight.
She is coming to-night.

The wind's east of late.
When she comes, she'll be cold,
So the big chair is rolled
Close up to the grate,
And I listen and wait.

The shutters are fast,
And the red curtains hide
Every hint of outside.
But hark, how the blast
Whistled then as it passed!

Or was it the train?
How long shall I stand,
With my watch in my hand,
And listen in vain
For the wheels in the lane?

Hark! A rumble I hear
(Will the wind not be still?),
And it comes down the hill,
And it grows on the ear,
And now it is near.

Quick, a fresh log to burn!
Run and open the door,
Hold a lamp out before
To light up the turn,
And bring in the urn.

You are come, then, at last!
O my dear, is it you?
I can scarce think it true
I am holding you fast,
And sorrow is past.

AN INVITATION

Dear Ritchie, I am waiting for the signal word to fly,
And tell me that the visit which has suffered such belating
Is to be a thing of now, and no more of by-and-by.
Dear Ritchie, I am waiting.

The sea is at its bluest, and the Spring is new creating
The woods and dens we know of, and the fields rejoicing lie,
And the air is soft as summer, and the hedge-birds all are mating.

The Links are full of larks' nests, and the larks possess the sky,
Like a choir of happy spirits, melodiously debating,
All is ready for your coming, dear Ritchie--yes, and I,
Dear Ritchie, I am waiting.

FICKLE SUMMER

Fickle Summer's fled away,
Shall we see her face again?
Hearken to the weeping rain,
Never sunbeam greets the day.

More inconstant than the May,
She cares nothing for our pain,
Nor will hear the birds complain
In their bowers that once were gay.

Summer, Summer, come once more,
Drive the shadows from the field,
All thy radiance round thee fling,
Be our lady as of yore;
Then the earth her fruits shall yield,
Then the morning stars shall sing.

SORROW'S TREACHERY

I made a truce last night with Sorrow,
The queen of tears, the foe of sleep,
To keep her tents until the morrow,
Nor send such dreams to make me weep.

Before the lusty day was springing,
Before the tired moon was set,
I dreamed I heard my dead love singing,
And when I woke my eyes were wet.

THE CROWN OF YEARS

Years grow and gather--each a gem
Lustrous with laughter and with tears,
And cunning Time a crown of years
Contrives for her who weareth them.

No chance can snatch this diadem,
It trembles not with hopes or fears,
It shines before the rose appears,
And when the leaves forsake her stem.

Time sets his jewels one by one.
Then wherefore mourn the wreaths that lie
In attic chambers of the past?
They withered ere the day was done.
This coronal will never die,
Nor shall you lose it at the last.

HOPE DEFERRED

When the weary night is fled,
And the morning sky is red,
Then my heart doth rise and say,
`Surely she will come to-day.'

In the golden blaze of noon,
`Surely she is coming soon.'
In the twilight, `Will she come?'
Then my heart with fear is dumb.

When the night wind in the trees
Plays its mournful melodies,
Then I know my trust is vain,
And she will not come again.

THE LIFE OF EARTH

The life of earth, how full of pain,
Which greets us on our day of birth,
Nor leaves us while we yet retain
The life of earth.

There is a shadow on our mirth,
Our sun is blotted out with rain,
And all our joys are little worth.

Yet oh, when life begins to wane,
And we must sail the doubtful firth,
How wild the longing to regain
The life of earth!

GOLDEN DREAM

Golden dream of summer morn,
By a well-remembered stream
In the land where I was born,
Golden dream!

Ripples, by the glancing beam
Lightly kissed in playful scorn,
Meadows moist with sunlit steam.

When I lift my eyelids worn
Like a fair mirage you seem,
In the winter dawn forlorn,
Golden dream!

TEARS

Mourn that which will not come again,
The joy, the strength of early years.
Bow down thy head, and let thy tears
Water the grave where hope lies slain.

For tears are like a summer rain,
To murmur in a mourner's ears,
To soften all the field of fears,
To moisten valleys parched with pain.

And though thy tears will not awake
What lies beneath of young or fair
And sleeps so sound it draws no breath,
Yet, watered thus, the sod may break
In flowers which sweeten all the air,
And fill with life the place of death.

THE HOUSE OF SLEEP

When we have laid aside our last endeavour,
And said farewell to one or two that weep,
And issued from the house of life for ever,
To find a lodging in the house of sleep -

With eyes fast shut, in sunless chambers lying,
With folded arms unmoved upon the breast,
Beyond the noise of sorrow and of crying,
Beyond the dread of dreaming, shall we rest?

Or shall there come at last desire of waking,
To walk again on hillsides that we know,
When sunrise through the cold white mist is breaking,
Or in the stillness of the after-glow?

Shall there be yearning for the sound of voices,
The sight of faces, and the touch of hands,
The will that works, the spirit that rejoices,
The heart that feels, the mind that understands?

Shall dreams and memories crowding from the distance,
Shall ghosts of old ambition or of mirth,
Create for us a shadow of existence,
A dim reflection of the life of earth?

And being dead, and powerless to recover
The substance of the show whereon we gaze,
Shall we be likened to the hapless lover,
Who broods upon the unreturning days?

Not so: for we have known how swift to perish
Is man's delight when youth and health take wing,
Until the winter leaves him nought to cherish
But recollections of a vanished spring.

Dream as we may, desire of life shall never
Disturb our slumbers in the house of sleep.
Yet oh, to think we may not greet for ever
The one or two that, when we leave them, weep!

THE OUTCAST'S FAREWELL

The sun is banished,
The daylight vanished,
No rosy traces
Are left behind.
Here in the meadow
I watch the shadow
Of forms and faces
Upon your blind.

Through swift transitions,
In new positions,
My eyes still follow
One shape most fair.
My heart delaying
Awhile, is playing
With pleasures hollow,
Which mock despair.

I feel so lonely,
I long once only
To pass an hour
With you, O sweet!
To touch your fingers,
Where fragrance lingers
From some rare flower,
And kiss your feet.

But not this even
To me is given.
Of all sad mortals
Most sad am I,
Never to meet you,
Never to greet you,
Nor pass your portals
Before I die.

All men scorn me,
Not one will mourn me,
When from their city
I pass away.
Will you to-morrow
Recall with sorrow
Him whom with pity
You saw to-day?

Outcast and lonely,
One thing only
Beyond misgiving
I hold for true,
That, had you known me,
You would have shown me
A life worth living -
A life for you.

Yes: five years younger
My manhood's hunger
Had you come filling
With plenty sweet,
My life so nourished,
Had grown and flourished,
Had God been willing
That we should meet.

How vain to fashion
From dreams and passion
The rich existence
Which might have been!
Can God's own power
Recall the hour,
Or bridge the distance
That lies between?

Before the morning,
From pain and scorning
I sail death's river
To sleep or hell.
To you is given
The life of heaven.
Farewell for ever,
Farewell, farewell!

YET A LITTLE SLEEP

Beside the drowsy streams that creep
Within this island of repose,
Oh, let us rest from cares and woes,
Oh, let us fold our hands to sleep!

Is it ignoble, then, to keep
Awhile from where the rough wind blows,
And all is strife, and no man knows
What end awaits him on the deep?

The voyager may rest awhile,
When rest invites, and yet may be
Neither a sluggard nor a craven.
With strength renewed he quits the isle,
And putting out again to sea,
Makes sail for his desired haven.

LOST LIBERTY

Of our own will we are not free,
When freedom lies within our power.
We wait for some decisive hour,
To rise and take our liberty.

Still we delay, content to be
Imprisoned in our own high tower.
What is it but a strong-built bower?
Ours are the warders, ours the key.

But we through indolence grow weak.
Our warders, fed with power so long,
Become at last our lords indeed.
We vainly threaten, vainly seek
To move their ruth. The bars are strong.
We dash against them till we bleed.

AN AFTERTHOUGHT

You found my life, a poor lame bird
That had no heart to sing,
You would not speak the magic word
To give it voice and wing.

Yet sometimes, dreaming of that hour,
I think, if you had known
How much my life was in your power,
It might have sung and flown.

TO J. R.

Last Sunday night I read the saddening story
Of the unanswered love of fair Elaine,
The `faith unfaithful' and the joyless glory
Of Lancelot, `groaning in remorseful pain.'

I thought of all those nights in wintry weather,
Those Sunday nights that seem not long ago,
When we two read our Poet's words together,
Till summer warmth within our hearts did glow.

Ah, when shall we renew that bygone pleasure,
Sit down together at our Merlin's feet,
Drink from one cup the overflowing measure,
And find, in sharing it, the draught more sweet?

That time perchance is far, beyond divining.
Till then we drain the `magic cup' apart;
Yet not apart, for hope and memory twining
Smile upon each, uniting heart to heart.

THE TEMPTED SOUL

Weak soul, by sense still led astray,
Why wilt thou parley with the foe?
He seeks to work thine overthrow,
And thou, poor fool! dost point the way.

Hast thou forgotten many a day,
When thou exulting forth didst go,
And ere the noon wert lying low,
A broken and defenceless prey?

If thou wouldst live, avoid his face;
Dwell in the wilderness apart,
And gather force for vanquishing,
Ere thou returnest to his place.
Then arm, and with undaunted heart
Give battle, till he own thee king.

YOUTH RENEWED

When one who has wandered out of the way
Which leads to the hills of joy,
Whose heart has grown both cold and grey,
Though it be but the heart of a boy -
When such a one turns back his feet
From the valley of shadow and pain,
Is not the sunshine passing sweet,
When a man grows young again?

How gladly he mounts up the steep hillside,
With strength that is born anew,
And in his veins, like a full springtide,
The blood streams through and through.
And far above is the summit clear,
And his heart to be there is fain,
And all too slowly it comes more near
When a man grows young again.

He breathes the pure sweet mountain breath,
And it widens all his heart,
And life seems no more kin to death,
Nor death the better part.
And in tones that are strong and rich and deep
He sings a grand refrain,
For the soul has awakened from mortal sleep,
When a man grows young again.

VANITY OF VANITIES

Be ye happy, if ye may,
In the years that pass away.
Ye shall pass and be forgot,
And your place shall know you not.

Other generations rise,
With the same hope in their eyes
That in yours is kindled now,
And the same light on their brow.

They shall see the selfsame sun
That your eyes now gaze upon,
They shall breathe the same sweet air,
And shall reck not who ye were.

Yet they too shall fade at last
In the twilight of the past,
They and you alike shall be
Lost from the world's memory.

Then, while yet ye breathe and live,
Drink the cup that life can give.
Be ye happy, if ye may,
In the years that pass away,

Ere the golden bowl be broken,
Ere ye pass and leave no token,
Ere the silver cord be loosed,
Ere ye turn again to dust.

`And shall this be all,' ye cry,
`But to eat and drink and die?
If no more than this there be,
Vanity of vanity!'

Yea, all things are vanity,
And what else but vain are ye?
Ye who boast yourselves the kings
Over all created things.

Kings! whence came your right to reign?
Ye shall be dethroned again.
Yet for this, your one brief hour,
Wield your mockery of power.

Dupes of Fate, that treads you down
Wear awhile your tinsel crown
Be ye happy, if ye may,
In the years that pass away.

LOVE'S WORSHIP RESTORED

O Love, thine empire is not dead,
Nor will we let thy worship go,
Although thine early flush be fled,
Thine ardent eyes more faintly glow,
And thy light wings be fallen slow
Since when as novices we came
Into the temple of thy name.

Not now with garlands in our hair,
And singing lips, we come to thee.
There is a coldness in the air,
A dulness on the encircling sea,
Which doth not well with songs agree.
And we forget the words we sang
When first to thee our voices rang.

When we recall that magic prime,
We needs must weep its early death.
How pleasant from thy towers the chime
Of bells, and sweet the incense breath
That rose while we, who kept thy faith,
Chanting our creed, and chanting bore
Our offerings to thine altar store!

Now are our voices out of tune,
Our gifts unworthy of thy name.
December frowns, in place of June.
Who smiled when to thy house we came,
We who came leaping, now are lame.
Dull ears and failing eyes are ours,
And who shall lead us to thy towers?

O hark! A sound across the air,
Which tells not of December's cold,
A sound most musical and rare.
Thy bells are ringing as of old,
With silver throats and tongues of gold.
Alas! it is too sweet for truth,
An empty echo of our youth.

Nay, never echo spake so loud!
It is indeed thy bells that ring.
And lo, against the leaden cloud,
Thy towers! Once more we leap and spring,
Once more melodiously we sing,
We sing, and in our song forget
That winter lies around us yet.

Oh, what is winter, now we know,
Full surely, thou canst never fail?
Forgive our weak untrustful woe,
Which deemed thy glowing face grown pale.
We know thee, mighty to prevail.
Doubt and decrepitude depart,
And youth comes back into the heart.

O Love, who turnest frost to flame
With ardent and immortal eyes,
Whose spirit sorrow cannot tame,
Nor time subdue in any wise -
While sun and moon for us shall rise,
Oh, may we in thy service keep
Till in thy faith we fall asleep!

BELOW HER WINDOW

Where she sleeps, no moonlight shines
No pale beam unbidden creeps.
Darkest shade the place enshrines
Where she sleeps.

Like a diamond in the deeps
Of the rich unopened mines
There her lovely rest she keeps.

Though the jealous dark confines
All her beauty, Love's heart leaps.
His unerring thought divines
Where she sleeps.

REQUIEM

For thee the birds shall never sing again,
Nor fresh green leaves come out upon the tree,
The brook shall no more murmur the refrain
For thee.

Thou liest underneath the windswept lea,
Thou dreamest not of pleasure or of pain,
Thou dreadest no to-morrow that shall be.

Deep rest is thine, unbroken by the rain,
Ay, or the thunder. Brother, canst thou see
The tears that night and morning fall in vain
For thee?

THOU ART QUEEN

Thou art queen to every eye,
When the fairest maids convene.
Envy's self can not deny
Thou art queen.

In thy step thy right is seen,
In thy beauty pure and high,
In thy grace of air and mien.

Thine unworthy vassal I,
Lay my hands thy hands between;
Kneeling at thy feet I cry
Thou art queen!

IN TIME OF DOUBT

`In the shadow of Thy wings, O Lord of Hosts, whom I extol,
I will put my trust for ever,' so the kingly David sings.
`Thou shalt help me, Thou shalt save me, only
Thou shalt keep me whole,
In the shadow of Thy wings.'

In our ears this voice triumphant, like a blowing trumpet, rings,
But our hearts have heard another, as of funeral bells that toll,
`God of David where to find Thee?' No reply the question brings.

Shadows are there overhead, but they are of the clouds that roll,
Blotting out the sun from sight, and overwhelming earthly things.
Oh, that we might feel Thy presence! Surely we could rest our soul
In the shadow of Thy wings.

THE GARDEN OF SIN

I know the garden-close of sin,
The cloying fruits, the noxious flowers,
I long have roamed the walks and bowers,
Desiring what no man shall win:

A secret place to shelter in,
When soon or late the angry powers
Come down to seek the wretch who cowers,
Expecting judgment to begin.

The pleasure long has passed away
From flowers and fruit, each hour I dread
My doom will find me where I lie.
I dare not go, I dare not stay.
Without the walks, my hope is dead,
Within them, I myself must die.

URSULA

There is a village in a southern land,
By rounded hills closed in on every hand.
The streets slope steeply to the market-square,
Long lines of white-washed houses, clean and fair,
With roofs irregular, and steps of stone
Ascending to the front of every one.
The people swarthy, idle, full of mirth,
Live mostly by the tillage of the earth.

Upon the northern hill-top, looking down,
Like some sequestered saint upon the town,
Stands the great convent.

On a summer night,
Ten years ago, the moon with rising light
Made all the convent towers as clear as day,
While still in deepest shade the village lay.
Both light and shadow with repose were filled,
The village sounds, the convent bells were stilled.
No foot in all the streets was now astir,
And in the convent none kept watch but her
Whom they called Ursula. The moonlight fell
Brightly around her in the lonely cell.
Her eyes were dark, and full of unshed woe,
Like mountain tarns which cannot overflow,
Surcharged with rain, and round about the eyes
Deep rings recorded sleepless nights, and cries
Stifled before their birth. Her brow was pale,
And like a marble temple in a vale
Of cypress trees, shone shadowed by her hair.
So still she was, that had you seen her there,
You might have thought you were beholding death.
Her lips were parted, but if any breath
Came from between them, it were hard to know
By any movement of her breast of snow.

But when the summer night was now far spent,
She kneeled upon the floor. Her head she leant
Down on the cold stone of the window-seat.
God knows if there were any vital heat
In those pale brows, or if they chilled the stone.
And as she knelt, she made a bitter moan,
With words that issued from a bitter soul, -
`O Mary, Mother, and is this thy goal,
Thy peace which waiteth for the world-worn heart?
Is it for this I live and die apart
From all that once I knew? O Holy God,
Is this the blessed chastening of Thy rod,
Which only wounds to heal? Is this the cross
That I must carry, counting all for loss
Which once was precious in the world to me?
If Thou be God, blot out my memory,
And let me come, forsaking all, to Thee.
But here, though that old world beholds me not,
Here, though I seek Thee through my lonely lot,
Here, though I fast, do penance day by day,
Kneel at Thy feet, and ever watch and pray,
Beloved forms from that forsaken world
Revisit me. The pale blue smoke is curled
Up from the dwellings of the sons of men.
I see it, and all my heart turns back again
From seeking Thee, to find the forms I love.

`Thou, with Thy saints abiding far above,
What canst Thou know of this, my earthly pain?
They said to me, Thou shalt be born again,
And learn that worldly things are nothing worth,
In that new state. O God, is this new birth,
Birth of the spirit dying to the flesh?
Are these the living waters which refresh
The thirsty spirit, that it thirst no more?
Still all my life is thirsting to the core.
Thou canst not satisfy, if this be Thou.
And yet I dream, or I remember how,
Before I came here, while I tarried yet
Among the friends they tell me to forget,
I never seemed to seek Thee, but I found
Thou wert in all the loveliness around,
And most of all in hearts that loved me well.

`And then I came to seek Thee in this cell,
To crucify my worldliness and pride,
To lay my heart's affections all aside,
As carnal hindrances which held my soul
From hasting unencumbered to her goal.
And all this have I done, or else have striven
To do, obeying the behest of Heaven,
And my reward is bitterness. I seem
To wander always in a feverish dream
On plains where there is only sun and sand,
No rock or tree in all the weary land,
My thirst unquenchable, my heart burnt dry.
And still in my parched throat I faintly cry,
Deliver me, O Lord: bow down Thine ear!

`He will not answer me. He does not hear.
I am alone within the universe.
Oh for a strength of will to rise and curse
God, and defy Him here to strike me dead!
But my heart fails me, and I bow my head,
And cry to Him for mercy, still in vain.
Oh for some sudden agony of pain,
To make such insurrection in my soul
That I might burst all bondage of control,
Be for one moment as the beasts that die,
And pour my life in one blaspheming cry!'

The morning came, and all the convent towers
Were gilt with glory by the golden hours.
But where was Ursula? The sisters came
With quiet footsteps, calling her by name,
But there was none that answered. In her cell,
The glad, illuminating sunshine fell
On form and face, and showed that she was dead.
`May Christ receive her soul!' the sisters said,
And spoke in whispers of her holy life,
And how God's mercy spared her pain and strife,
And gave this quiet death. The face was still,
Like a tired child's, that lies and sleeps its fill.

UNDESIRED REVENGE

Sorrow and sin have worked their will
For years upon your sovereign face,
And yet it keeps a faded trace
Of its unequalled beauty still,
As ruined sanctuaries hold
A crumbled trace of perfect mould
In shrines which saints no longer fill.

I knew you in your splendid morn,
Oh, how imperiously sweet!
I bowed and worshipped at your feet,
And you received my love with scorn.
Now I scorn you. It is a change,
When I consider it, how strange
That you, not I, should be forlorn.

Do you suppose I have no pain
To see you play this sorry part,
With faded face and broken heart,
And life lived utterly in vain?
Oh would to God that you once more
Might scorn me as you did of yore,
And I might worship you again!

POETS

Children of earth are we,
Lovers of land and sea,
Of hill, of brook, of tree,
Of all things fair;
Of all things dark or bright,
Born of the day and night,
Red rose and lily white
And dusky hair.

Yet not alone from earth
Do we derive our birth.
What were our singing worth
Were this the whole?
Somewhere from heaven afar
Hath dropped a fiery star,
Which makes us what we are,
Which is our soul.

A PRESENTIMENT

It seems a little word to say -
FAREWELL--but may it not, when said,
Be like the kiss we give the dead,
Before they pass the doors for aye?

Who knows if, on some after day,
Your lips shall utter in its stead
A welcome, and the broken thread
Be joined again, the selfsame way?

The word is said, I turn to go,
But on the threshold seem to hear
A sound as of a passing bell,
Tolling monotonous and slow,
Which strikes despair upon my ear,
And says it is a last farewell.

A BIRTHDAY GIFT

No gift I bring but worship, and the love
Which all must bear to lovely souls and pure,
Those lights, that, when all else is dark, endure;
Stars in the night, to lift our eyes above;

To lift our eyes and hearts, and make us move
Less doubtful, though our journey be obscure,
Less fearful of its ending, being sure
That they watch over us, where'er we rove.

And though my gift itself have little worth,
Yet worth it gains from her to whom `tis given,
As a weak flower gets colour from the sun.
Or rather, as when angels walk the earth,
All things they look on take the look of heaven -
For of those blessed angels thou art one.

CYCLAMEN

I had a plant which would not thrive,
Although I watered it with care,
I could not save the blossoms fair,
Nor even keep the leaves alive.

I strove till it was vain to strive.
I gave it light, I gave it air,
I sought from skill and counsel rare
The means to make it yet survive.

A lady sent it me, to prove
She held my friendship in esteem;
I would not have it as she said,
I wanted it to be for love;
And now not even friends we seem,
And now the cyclamen is dead.

LOVE RECALLED IN SLEEP

There was a time when in your face
There dwelt such power, and in your smile
I know not what of magic grace;
They held me captive for a while.

Ah, then I listened for your voice!
Like music every word did fall,
Making the hearts of men rejoice,
And mine rejoiced the most of all.

At sight of you, my soul took flame.
But now, alas! the spell is fled.
Is it that you are not the same,
Or only that my love is dead?

I know not--but last night I dreamed
That you were walking by my side,
And sweet, as once you were, you seemed,
And all my heart was glorified.

Your head against my shoulder lay,
And round your waist my arm was pressed,
And as we walked a well-known way,
Love was between us both confessed.

But when with dawn I woke from sleep,
And slow came back the unlovely truth,
I wept, as an old man might weep
For the lost paradise of youth.

FOOTSTEPS IN THE STREET

Oh, will the footsteps never be done?
The insolent feet
Thronging the street,
Forsaken now of the only one.

The only one out of all the throng,
Whose footfall I knew,
And could tell it so true,
That I leapt to see as she passed along,

As she passed along with her beautiful face,
Which knew full well
Though it did not tell,
That I was there in the window-space.

Now my sense is never so clear.
It cheats my heart,
Making me start
A thousand times, when she is not near.

When she is not near, but so far away,
I could not come
To the place of her home,
Though I travelled and sought for a month and a day.

Do you wonder then if I wish the street
Were grown with grass,
And no foot might pass
Till she treads it again with her sacred feet?

FOR A PRESENT OF ROSES

Crimson and cream and white -
My room is a garden of roses!
Centre and left and right,
Three several splendid posies.

As the sender is, they are sweet,
These lovely gifts of your sending,
With the stifling summer heat
Their delicate fragrance blending.

What more can my heart desire?
Has it lost the power to be grateful?
Is it only a burnt-out fire,
Whose ashes are dull and hateful?

Yet still to itself it doth say,
`I should have loved far better
To have found, coming in to-day,
The merest scrap of a letter.'

IN TIME OF SORROW

Despair is in the suns that shine,
And in the rains that fall,
This sad forsaken soul of mine
Is weary of them all.

They fall and shine on alien streets
From those I love and know.
I cannot hear amid the heats
The North Sea's freshening flow

The people hurry up and down,
Like ghosts that cannot lie;
And wandering through the phantom town
The weariest ghost am I.

A NEW SONG TO AN OLD TUNE--FROM VICTOR HUGO

If a pleasant lawn there grow
By the showers caressed,
Where in all the seasons blow
Flowers gaily dressed,
Where by handfuls one may win
Lilies, woodbine, jessamine,
I will make a path therein
For thy feet to rest.

If there live in honour's sway
An all-loving breast
Whose devotion cannot stray,
Never gloom-oppressed -
If this noble breast still wake
For a worthy motive's sake,
There a pillow I will make
For thy head to rest.

If there be a dream of love,
Dream that God has blest,
Yielding daily treasure-trove
Of delightful zest,
With the scent of roses filled,
With the soul's communion thrilled,
There, oh! there a nest I'll build
For thy heart to rest.

THE FIDDLER

There's a fiddler in the street,
And the children all are dancing:
Two dozen lightsome feet
Springing and prancing.

Pleasure he gives to you,
Dance then, and spare not!
For the poor fiddler's due,
Know not and care not.

While you are prancing,
Let the fiddler play.
When you're tired of dancing
He may go away.

THE FIRST MEETING

Last night for the first time, O Heart's Delight,
I held your hand a moment in my own,
The dearest moment which my soul has known,
Since I beheld and loved you at first sight.

I left you, and I wandered in the night,
Under the rain, beside the ocean's moan.
All was black dark, but in the north alone
There was a glimmer of the Northern Light.

My heart was singing like a happy bird,
Glad of the present, and from forethought free,
Save for one note amid its music heard:
God grant, whatever end of this may be,
That when the tale is told, the final word
May be of peace and benison to thee.

A CRITICISM OF CRITICS

How often have the critics, trained
To look upon the sky
Through telescopes securely chained,
Forgot the naked eye.

Within the compass of their glass
Each smallest star they knew,
And not a meteor could pass
But they were looking through.

When a new planet shed its rays
Beyond their field of vision,
And simple folk ran out to gaze,
They laughed in high derision.

They railed upon the senseless throng
Who cheered the brave new light.
And yet the learned men were wrong,
The simple folk were right.

MY LADY

My Lady of all ladies! Queen by right
Of tender beauty; full of gentle moods;
With eyes that look divine beatitudes,
Large eyes illumined with her spirit's light;

Lips that are lovely both by sound and sight,
Breathing such music as the dove, which broods
Within the dark and silence of the woods,
Croons to the mate that is her heart's delight.

Where is a line, in cloud or wave or hill,
To match the curve which rounds her soft-flushed cheek?
A colour, in the sky of morn or of even,
To match that flush? Ah, let me now be still!
If of her spirit I should strive to speak,
I should come short, as earth comes short of heaven.

PARTNERSHIP IN FAME

Love, when the present is become the past,
And dust has covered all that now is new,
When many a fame has faded out of view,
And many a later fame is fading fast -

If then these songs of mine might hope to last,
Which sing most sweetly when they sing of you,
Though queen and empress wore oblivion's hue,
Your loveliness would not be overcast.

Now, while the present stays with you and me,
In love's copartnery our hearts combine,
Life's loss and gain in equal shares to take.
Partners in fame our memories then would be:
Your name remembered for my songs; and mine
Still unforgotten for your sweetness' sake.

A CHRISTMAS FANCY

Early on Christmas Day,
Love, as awake I lay,
And heard the Christmas bells ring sweet and clearly,
My heart stole through the gloom
Into your silent room,
And whispered to your heart, `I love you dearly.'

There, in the dark profound,
Your heart was sleeping sound,
And dreaming some fair dream of summer weather.
At my heart's word it woke,
And, ere the morning broke,
They sang a Christmas carol both together.

Glory to God on high!
Stars of the morning sky,
Sing as ye sang upon the first creation,
When all the Sons of God
Shouted for joy abroad,
And earth was laid upon a sure foundation.

Glory to God again!
Peace and goodwill to men,
And kindly feeling all the wide world over,
Where friends with joy and mirth
Meet round the Christmas hearth,
Or dreams of home the solitary rover.

Glory to God! True hearts,
Lo, now the dark departs,
And morning on the snow-clad hills grows grey.
Oh, may love's dawning light
Kindled from loveless night,
Shine more and more unto the perfect day!

THE BURIAL OF WILLIAM--THE CONQUEROR

Oh, who may this dead warrior be
That to his grave they bring?
`Tis William, Duke of Normandy,
The conqueror and king.

Across the sea, with fire and sword,
The English crown he won;
The lawless Scots they owned him lord,
But now his rule is done.

A king should die from length of years,
A conqueror in the field,
A king amid his people's tears,
A conqueror on his shield.

But he, who ruled by sword and flame,
Who swore to ravage France,
Like some poor serf without a name,
Has died by mere mischance.

To Caen now he comes to sleep,
The minster bells they toll,
A solemn sound it is and deep,
May God receive his soul!

With priests that chant a wailing hymn,
He slowly comes this way,
To where the painted windows dim
The lively light of day.

He enters in. The townsfolk stand
In reverent silence round,
To see the lord of all the land
Take house in narrow ground.

While, in the dwelling-place he seeks,
To lay him they prepare,
One Asselin FitzArthur speaks,
And bids the priests forbear.

`The ground whereon this abbey stands
Is mine,' he cries, `by right.
`Twas wrested from my father's hands
By lawlessness and might.

Duke William took the land away,
To build this minster high.
Bury the robber where ye may,
But here he shall not lie.'

The holy brethren bid him cease;
But he will not be stilled,
And soon the house of God's own peace
With noise and strife is filled.

And some cry shame on Asselin,
Such tumult to excite,
Some say, it was Duke William's sin,
And Asselin does right.

But he round whom their quarrels keep,
Lies still and takes no heed.
No strife can mar a dead man's sleep,
And this is rest indeed.

Now Asselin at length is won
The land's full price to take,
And let the burial rites go on,
And so a peace they make.

When Harold, king of Englishmen,
Was killed in Senlac fight,
Duke William would not yield him then
A Christian grave or rite.

Because he fought for keeping free
His kingdom and his throne,
No Christian rite nor grave had he
In land that was his own.

And just it is, this Duke unkind,
Now he has come to die,
In plundered land should hardly find
Sufficient space to lie.

THE DEATH OF WILLIAM RUFUS

The Red King's gone a-hunting, in the woods his father made
For the tall red deer to wander through the thicket and the glade,
The King and Walter Tyrrel, Prince Henry and the rest
Are all gone out upon the sport the Red King loves the best.

Last night, when they were feasting in the royal banquet-hall,
De Breteuil told a dream he had, that evil would befall
If the King should go to-morrow to the hunting of the deer,
And while he spoke, the fiery face grew well-nigh pale to hear.

He drank until the fire came back, and all his heart was brave,
Then bade them keep such woman's tales to tell an English slave,
For he would hunt to-morrow, though a thousand dreams foretold
All the sorrow and the mischief De Breteuil's brain could hold.

So the Red King's gone a-hunting, for all that they could do,
And an arrow in the greenwood made De Breteuil's dream come true.
They said `twas Walter Tyrrel, and so it may have been,
But there's many walk the forest when the leaves are thick and
green.

There's many walk the forest, who would gladly see the sport,
When the King goes out a-hunting with the nobles of his court,
And when the nobles scatter, and the King is left alone,
There are thickets where an English slave might string his bow
unknown.

The forest laws are cruel, and the time is hard as steel
To English slaves, trod down and bruised beneath the Norman heel.
Like worms they writhe, but by-and-by the Norman heel may learn
There are worms that carry poison, and that are not slow to turn.

The lords came back, by one and two, from straying far apart,
And they found the Red King lying with an arrow in his heart.
Who should have done the deed, but him by whom it first was seen?
So they said `twas Walter Tyrrel, and so it may have been.

They cried upon Prince Henry, the brother of the King,
And he came up the greenwood, and rode into the ring.
He looked upon his brother's face, and then he turned away,
And galloped off to Winchester, where all the treasure lay.

`God strike me,' cried De Breteuil, `but brothers' blood is thin!
And why should ours be thicker that are neither kith nor kin?'
They spurred their horses in the flank, and swiftly thence they
passed,
But Walter Tyrrel lingered and forsook his liege the last.

They say it was enchantment, that fixed him to the scene,
To look upon his traitor's work, and so it may have been.
But presently he got to horse, and took the seaward way,
And all alone within the glade, in state the Red King lay.

Then a creaking cart came slowly, which a charcoal-burner drove.
He found the dead man lying, a ghastly treasure-trove;
He raised the corpse for charity, and on his wagon laid,
And so the Red King drove in state from out the forest glade.

His hair was like a yellow flame about the bloated face,
The blood had stained his tunic from the fatal arrow-place.
Not good to look upon was he, in life, nor yet when dead.
The driver of the cart drove on, and never turned his head.

When next the nobles throng at night the royal banquet-hall,
Another King will rule the feast, the drinking and the brawl,
While Walter Tyrrel walks alone upon the Norman shore,
And the Red King in the forest will chase the deer no more.

AFTER WATERLOO

On the field of Waterloo we made Napoleon rue
That ever out of Elba he decided for to come,
For we finished him that day, and he had to run away,
And yield himself to Maitland on the Billy-ruffium.

`Twas a stubborn fight, no doubt, and the fortune wheeled about,
And the brave Mossoos kept coming most uncomfortable near,
And says Wellington the hero, as his hopes went down to zero,
`I wish to God that Blooker or the night was only here!'

But Blooker came at length, and we broke Napoleon's strength,
And the flower of his army--that's the old Imperial Guard -
They made a final sally, but they found they could not rally,
And at last they broke and fled, after fighting bitter hard.

Now Napoleon he had thought, when a British ship he sought,
And gave himself uncalled-for, in a manner, you might say,
He'd be treated like a king with the best of every thing,
And maybe have a palace for to live in every day.

He was treated very well, as became a noble swell,
But we couldn't leave him loose, not in Europe anywhere,
For we knew he would be making some gigantic undertaking,
While the trustful British lion was reposing in his lair.

We tried him once before near the European shore,
Having planted him in Elba, where he promised to remain,
But when he saw his chance, why, he bolted off to France,
And he made a lot of trouble--but it wouldn't do again.

Says the Prince to him, `You know, far away you'll have to go,
To a pleasant little island off the coast of Africay,
Where they tell me that the view of the ocean deep and blue,
Is remarkable extensive, and it's there you'll have to stay.'

So Napoleon wiped his eye, and he wished the Prince good-bye,
And being stony-broke, made the best of it he could,
And they kept him snugly pensioned, where his Royal Highness
mentioned,
And Napoleon Boneyparty is provided for for good.

Now of that I don't complain, but I ask and ask in vain,
Why me, a British soldier, as has lost a useful arm
Through fighting of the foe, when the trumpets ceased to blow,
Should be forced to feed the pigs on a little Surrey farm,

While him as fought with us, and created such a fuss,
And in the whole of Europe did a mighty deal of harm,
Should be kept upon a rock, like a precious fighting cock,
And be found in beer and baccy, which would suit me to a charm?

DEATH AT THE WINDOW

This morning, while we sat in talk
Of spring and apple-bloom,
Lo! Death stood in the garden walk,
And peered into the room.

Your back was turned, you did not see
The shadow that he made.
He bent his head and looked at me;
It made my soul afraid.

The words I had begun to speak
Fell broken in the air.
You saw the pallor of my cheek,
And turned--but none was there.

He came as sudden as a thought,
And so departed too.
What made him leave his task unwrought?
It was the sight of you.

Though Death but seldom turns aside
From those he means to take,
He would not yet our hearts divide,
For love and pity's sake.

MAKE-BELIEVES

When I was young and well and glad,
I used to play at being sad;
Now youth and health are fled away,
At being glad I sometimes play.

A COINCIDENCE

Every critic in the town
Runs the minor poet down;
Every critic--don't you know it?
Is himself a minor poet.

ART'S DISCIPLINE

Long since I came into the school of Art,
A child in works, but not a child in heart.
Slowly I learn, by her instruction mild,
To be in works a man, in heart a child.

THE TRUE LIBERAL

The truest Liberal is he
Who sees the man in each degree,
Who merit in a churl can prize,
And baseness in an earl despise,
Yet censures baseness in a churl,
And dares find merit in an earl.

A LATE GOOD NIGHT

My lamp is out, my task is done,
And up the stair with lingering feet
I climb. The staircase clock strikes one.
Good night, my love! good night, my sweet!

My solitary room I gain.
A single star makes incomplete
The blackness of the window pane.
Good night, my love! good night, my sweet!

Dim and more dim its sparkle grows,
And ere my head the pillows meet,
My lids are fain themselves to close.
Good night, my love! good night, my sweet!

My lips no other words can say,
But still they murmur and repeat
To you, who slumber far away,
Good night, my love! good night, my sweet!

AN EXILE'S SONG

My soul is like a prisoned lark,
That sings and dreams of liberty,
The nights are long, the days are dark,
Away from home, away from thee!

My only joy is in my dreams,
When I thy loving face can see.
How dreary the awakening seems,
Away from home, away from thee!

At dawn I hasten to the shore,
To gaze across the sparkling sea -
The sea is bright to me no more,
Which parts me from my home and thee.

At twilight, when the air grows chill,
And cold and leaden is the sea,
My tears like bitter dews distil,
Away from home, away from thee.

I could not live, did I not know
That thou art ever true to me,
I could not bear a doubtful woe,
Away from home, away from thee.

I could not live, did I not hear
A voice that sings the day to be,
When hitherward a ship shall steer,
To bear me back to home and thee.

Oh, when at last that day shall break
In sunshine on the dancing sea,
It will be brighter for the sake
Of my return to home and thee!

FOR SCOTLAND

Beyond the Cheviots and the Tweed,
Beyond the Firth of Forth,
My memory returns at speed
To Scotland and the North.

For still I keep, and ever shall,
A warm place in my heart for Scotland,
Scotland, Scotland,
A warm place in my heart for Scotland.

Oh, cruel off St. Andrew's Bay
The winds are wont to blow!
They either rest or gently play,
When there in dreams I go.

And there I wander, young again,
With limbs that do not tire,
Along the coast to Kittock's Den,
With whinbloom all afire.

I climb the Spindle Rock, and lie
And take my doubtful ease,
Between the ocean and the sky,
Derided by the breeze.

Where coloured mushrooms thickly grow,
Like flowers of brittle stalk,
To haunted Magus Muir I go,
By Lady Catherine's Walk.

In dreams the year I linger through,
In that familiar town,
Where all the youth I ever knew,
Burned up and flickered down.

There's not a rock that fronts the sea,
There's not an inland grove,
But has a tale to tell to me
Of friendship or of love.

And so I keep, and ever shall,
The best place in my heart for Scotland,
Scotland, Scotland,
The best place in my heart for Scotland!

THE HAUNTED CHAMBER

Life is a house where many chambers be,
And all the doors will yield to him who tries,
Save one, whereof men say, behind it lies
The haunting secret. He who keeps the key,

Keeps it securely, smiles perchance to see
The eager hands stretched out to clutch the prize,
Or looks with pity in the yearning eyes,
And is half moved to let the secret free.

And truly some at every hour pass through,
Pass through, and tread upon that solemn floor,
Yet come not back to tell what they have found.
We will not importune, as others do,
With tears and cries, the keeper of the door,
But wait till our appointed hour comes round.

NIGHTFALL

Let me sleep. The day is past,
And the folded shadows keep
Weary mortals safe and fast.
Let me sleep.

I am all too tired to weep
For the sunlight of the Past
Sunk within the drowning deep.

Treasured vanities I cast
In an unregarded heap.
Time has given rest at last.
Let me sleep.

IN TIME OF SICKNESS

Lost Youth, come back again!
Laugh at weariness and pain.
Come not in dreams, but come in truth,
Lost Youth.

Sweetheart of long ago,
Why do you haunt me so?
Were you not glad to part,
Sweetheart?

Still Death, that draws so near,
Is it hope you bring, or fear?
Is it only ease of breath,
Still Death?

Footnotes:

{1} Mr. Butler lectures on Physics, or, as it is called in
Scotland, Natural Philosophy.

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