Georgian Poetry 1916-17 by Various

Produced by Clytie Siddall, Keren Vergon, and PG Distributed Proofreaders Published November 1917 GEORGIAN POETRY 1916-1917 TO EDMUND GOSSE FOURTH THOUSAND THE POETRY BOOKSHOP 35 DEVONSHIRE ST. THEOBALDS RD. LONDON W.C.1 MCMXVIII PREFATORY NOTE This third book of ‘Georgian Poetry’ carries to the end of a seventh year the presentation of chosen examples from the
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  • 1917
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Produced by Clytie Siddall, Keren Vergon, and PG Distributed Proofreaders

Published November 1917








This third book of ‘Georgian Poetry’ carries to the end of a seventh year the presentation of chosen examples from the work of contemporary poets belonging to the younger generation. Of the eighteen writers included, nine appear in the series for the first time. The representation of the older inhabitants has in most cases been restricted in order to allow full space for the new-comers; and the alphabetical order of the names has been reversed, so as to bring more of these into prominence than would otherwise have been done.

My thanks for permission to print the poems are due to Messrs. Chatto & Windus, Constable, Fifield, Heinemann, Macmillan, Elkin Mathews, Martin Secker, and Sidgwick & Jackson, and to the Editors of the ‘Nation’, the ‘New Statesman’, and ‘To-Day’.


September 1917.



Romance (from ‘The Hunter’) Ecstasy ” “
Magic ” ” The Hunter ” “
The Sky-sent Death ” ” The Caves of Auvergne


The Fifteen Acres (from ‘The Adventures of Seumas Beg’) Check ” ” “
Westland Row ” ” “
The Turn of the Road ” “
A Visit from Abroad ” “


A House (from ‘The Lily of Malud ‘) To a Bull-dog ” ” “
The Lily of Malud ” ” “


A Letter Home (from ‘The Old Huntsman’) The Kiss ” ” “
The Dragon and the Undying ” To Victory “
‘They’ “
‘In the Pink’ ” Haunted “
The Death-Bed “


‘Ah, Koelue …’


To—- (from ‘Ardours and Endurances’) The Assault ” ” “
Fulfilment ” ” “
The Philosopher’s Oration ” The Naiads’ Music ” “
The Prophetic Bard’s Oration ” The Tower “


Two Poems (from ‘Strange Meetings’) Every Thing ” ” “
Solitude ” ” “
Week-end ” ” “
The Bird at Dawn ” “


Seven Poems (from ‘Lollingdon Downs’)


The Gipsy Girl (from ‘Poems’) The Bells of Heaven ” Babylon “


It’s a Queer Time (from ‘Over the Brazier’) David and Goliath (from ‘Fairies and Fusiliers’) A Pinch of Salt ” “
Star Talk (from ‘Over the Brazier’) In the Wilderness ” “
The Boy in Church (from ‘Fairies and Fusiliers’) The Lady Visitor ” ” “
Not Dead ” ” “


Rupert Brooke (from ‘Friends’) Tenants ” “
For G. ” ” Sea-Change ” “
Battle (from ‘Battle’): I. The Return
II. The Dancers
III. Hit
Lament (from ‘Whin’)


Music Comes (from ‘Stone Trees’) November Skies ” ” ” Discovery ” ” “
‘It was the Lovely Moon’ ” Stone Trees “
The Pigeons (published in To-Day’) Happy is England Now (from ‘Stone Trees’)


May Garden (from ‘Tides’) The Midlands ” “
The Cotswold Farmers ” Reciprocity “
Birthright (from ‘Olton Pools’) Olton Pools ” ” “


The Scribe (from ‘Poems’) The Remonstrance ” The Ghost “
The Fool rings his Bells “


The White Cascade (from ‘Child Lovers’) Easter
Cowslips and Larks


Atlantis (from ‘An Annual of New Poetry, 1917’) New Year’s Eve, 1913 ” “
In Memoriam, A. M. W. ” “


In Memoriam, A. H.


The Volunteer


* * * * *



When I was but thirteen or so
I went into a golden land,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Took me by the hand.

My father died, my brother too,
They passed like fleeting dreams,
I stood where Popocatapetl
In the sunlight gleams.

I dimly heard the master’s voice
And boys far-off at play,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Had stolen me away.

I walked in a great golden dream
To and fro from school–
Shining Popocatapetl
The dusty streets did rule.

I walked home with a gold dark boy
And never a word I’d say,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Had taken my speech away:

I gazed entranced upon his face
Fairer than any flower–
O shining Popocatapetl
It was thy magic hour:

The houses, people, traffic seemed
Thin fading dreams by day,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
They had stolen my soul away!


I saw a frieze on whitest marble drawn Of boys who sought for shells along the shore, Their white feet shedding pallor in the sea, The shallow sea, the spring-time sea of green That faintly creamed against the cold, smooth pebbles.

The air was thin, their limbs were delicate, The wind had graven their small eager hands To feel the forests and the dark nights of Asia Behind the purple bloom of the horizon,
Where sails would float and slowly melt away.

Their naked, pure, and grave, unbroken silence Filled the soft air as gleaming, limpid water Fills a spring sky those days when rain is lying In shattered bright pools on the wind-dried roads, And their sweet bodies were wind-purified.

One held a shell unto his shell-like ear And there was music carven in his face,
His eyes half-closed, his lips just breaking open To catch the lulling, mazy, coralline roar Of numberless caverns filled with singing seas.

And all of them were hearkening as to singing Of far-off voices thin and delicate,
Voices too fine for any mortal wind To blow into the whorls of mortal ears– And yet those sounds flowed from their grave, sweet faces.

And as I looked I heard that delicate music, And I became as grave, as calm, as still As those carved boys. I stood upon that shore, I felt the cool sea dream around my feet, My eyes were staring at the far horizon:

And the wind came and purified my limbs, And the stars came and set within my eyes, And snowy clouds rested upon my shoulders, And the blue sky shimmered deep within me, And I sang like a carven pipe of music.


I love a still conservatory
That’s full of giant, breathless palms, Azaleas, clematis and vines,
Whose quietness great Trees becalms Filling the air with foliage,
A curved and dreamy statuary.

I like to hear a cold, pure rill
Of water trickling low, afar
With sudden little jerks and purls
Into a tank or stoneware jar,
The song of a tiny sleeping bird
Held like a shadow in its trill.

I love the mossy quietness
That grows upon the great stone flags, The dark tree-ferns, the staghorn ferns, The prehistoric, antlered stags
That carven stand and stare among
The silent, ferny wilderness.

And are they birds or souls that flit Among the trees so silently,
And are they fish or ghosts that haunt The still pools of the rockery!–
For I am but a sculptured rock
As in that magic place I sit.

Still as a great jewel is the air
With boughs and leaves smooth-carved in it, And rocks and trees and giant ferns,
And blooms with inner radiance lit, And naked water like a nymph
That dances tireless slim and bare.

I watch a white Nyanza float
Upon a green, untroubled pool,
A fairyland Ophelia, she
Has cast herself in water cool,
And lies while fairy cymbals ring
Drowned in her fairy castle moat.

The goldfish sing a winding song
Below her pale and waxen face,
The water-nymph is dancing by
Lifting smooth arms with mournful grace, A stainless white dream she floats on
While fairies beat a fairy gong.

Silent the Cattleyas blaze
And thin red orchid shapes of Death Peer savagely with twisted lips
Sucking an eerie, phantom breath
With that bright, spotted, fever’d lust That watches lonely travellers craze.

Gigantic, mauve and hairy leaves
Hang like obliterated faces
Full of dim unattained expression
Such as haunts virgin forest places When Silence leaps among the trees
And the echoing heart deceives.


“But there was one land he dared not enter.”

Beyond the blue, the purple seas,
Beyond the thin horizon’s line,
Beyond Antilla, Hebrides,
Jamaica, Cuba, Caribbees,
There lies the land of Yucatan.

The land, the land of Yucatan,
The low coast breaking into foam,
The dim hills where my thoughts shall roam The forests of my boyhood’s home,
The splendid dream of Yucatan!

I met thee first long, long ago
Turning a printed page, and I
Stared at a world I did not know
And felt my blood like fire flow
At that strange name of Yucatan.

O those sweet, far-off Austral days
When life had a diviner glow,
When hot Suns whipped my blood to know Things all unseen, then I could go
Into thy heart O Yucatan!

I have forgotten what I saw,
I have forgotten what I knew,
And many lands I’ve set sail for
To find that marvellous spell of yore, Never to set foot on thy shore
O haunting land of Yucatan!

But sailing I have passed thee by,
And leaning on the white ship’s rail Watched thy dim hills till mystery
Wrapped thy far stillness close to me And I have breathed ”tis Yucatan!

”Tis Yucatan, ’tis Yucatan!’
The ship is sailing far away,
The coast recedes, the dim hills fade, A bubble-winding track we’ve made,
And thou’rt a Dream O Yucatan!


“A German aeroplane flew over Greek territory dropping a bomb which killed a shepherd.”

‘Sitting on a stone a Shepherd,
Stone and Shepherd sleeping,
Under the high blue Attic sky;
Along the green monotony
Grey sheep creeping, creeping’.

Deep down on the hill and valley,
At the bottom of the sunshine,
Like great Ships in clearest water, Water holding anchored Shadows,
Water without wave or ripple,
Sunshine deep and clear and heavy,
Sunshine like a booming bell
Made of purest golden metal,
White Ships heavy in the sky
Sleep with anchored shadow.

Pipe a song in that still air
And the song would be of crystal
Snapped in silence, or a bronze vase Smooth and graceful, curved and shining. Tell an old tale or a history;
It would seem a slow Procession
Full of gestures; limbs and torso
White and rounded in the sunlight.

‘Sitting on a stone a Shepherd,
Stone and Shepherd sleeping,
Like a fragment of old marble
Dug up from the hillside shadow’.

In the sunshine deep and soundless
Came a faint metallic humming;
In the sunshine clear and heavy
Came a speck, a speck of shadow–
Shepherd lift your head and listen, Listen to that humming Shadow!

‘Sitting on a stone the Shepherd,
Stone and Shepherd sleeping
In a sleep dreamless as water,
Water in a white glass beaker,
Clear, pellucid, without shadow;
Underneath a sky-blue crystal
Sees his grey sheep creeping’.

In the sunshine clear and heavy
Shadow-fled a dark hand downward:
In the sunshine deep and soundless
Burst a star-dropt thing of thunder– Smoked the burnt blue air’s torn veiling Drooping softly round the hillside.

Boomed the silence in returning
To the crater in the hillside,
To the red earth fresh and bleeding, To the mangled heap remaining:
Far away that humming Shadow
Vanished in the azure distance.

‘Sitting on a stone no Shepherd,
Stone and Shepherd sleeping,
But across the hill and valley
Grey sheep creeping, creeping,
Standing carven on the sky-line,
Scattering in the open distance,
Free, in no man’s keeping’.


He carved the red deer and the bull
Upon the smooth cave rock,
Returned from war with belly full,
And scarred with many a knock,
He carved the red deer and the bull Upon the smooth cave rock.

The stars flew by the cave’s wide door, The clouds wild trumpets blew,
Trees rose in wild dreams from the floor, Flowers with dream faces grew
Up to the sky, and softly hung
Golden and white and blue.

The woman ground her heap of corn,
Her heart a guarded fire;
The wind played in his trembling soul Like a hand upon a lyre,
The wind drew faintly on the stone
Symbols of his desire:

The red deer of the forest dark,
Whose antlers cut the sky,
That vanishes into the mirk
And like a dream flits by,
And by an arrow slain at last
Is but the wind’s dark body.

The bull that stands in marshy lakes
As motionless and still
As a dark rock jutting from a plain Without a tree or hill,
The bull that is the sign of life,
Its sombre, phallic will.

And from the dead, white eyes of them The wind springs up anew,
It blows upon the trembling heart,
And bull and deer renew
Their flitting life in the dim past When that dead Hunter drew.

I sit beside him in the night,
And, fingering his red stone,
I chase through endless forests dark Seeking that thing unknown,
That which is not red deer or bull, But which by them was shown:

By those stiff shapes in which he drew His soul’s exalted cry,
When flying down the forest dark
He slew and knew not why,
When he was filled with song, and strength Flowed to him from the sky.

The wind blows from red deer and bull, The clouds wild trumpets blare,
Trees rise in wild dreams from the earth, Flowers with dream faces stare,
‘O Hunter, your own shadow stands
Within your forest lair!’

* * * * *



I cling and swing
On a branch, or sing
Through the cool, clear hush of
Morning, O:
Or fling my wing
On the air, and bring
To sleepier birds a warning, O:
That the night’s in flight,
And the sun’s in sight,
And the dew is the grass adorning, O: And the green leaves swing
As I sing, sing, sing,
Up by the river,
Down the dell,
To the little wee nest,
Where the big tree fell,
So early in the morning, O.

I flit and twit
In the sun for a bit
When his light so bright is shining, O: Or sit and fit
My plumes, or knit
Straw plaits for the nest’s nice lining, O: And she with glee
Shows unto me
Underneath her wings reclining, O:
And I sing that Peg
Has an egg, egg, egg,
Up by the oat-field,
Round the mill,
Past the meadow,
Down the hill,
So early in the morning, O.

I stoop and swoop
On the air, or loop
Through the trees, and then go soaring, O: To group with a troop
On the gusty poop
While the wind behind is roaring, O: I skim and swim
By a cloud’s red rim
And up to the azure flooring, O:
And my wide wings drip
As I slip, slip, slip
Down through the rain-drops,
Back where Peg
Broods in the nest
On the little white egg,
So early in the morning, O.


The night was creeping on the ground; She crept and did not make a sound
Until she reached the tree, and then She covered it, and stole again
Along the grass beside the wall.

I heard the rustle of her shawl
As she threw blackness everywhere
Upon the sky and ground and air,
And in the room where I was hid:
But no matter what she did
To everything that was without,
She could not put my candle out.

So I stared at the night, and she
Stared back solemnly at me.


Every Sunday there’s a throng
Of pretty girls, who trot along
In a pious, breathless state
(They are nearly always late)
To the Chapel, where they pray
For the sins of Saturday.

They have frocks of white and blue,
Yellow sashes they have too,
And red ribbons show each head
Tenderly is ringleted;
And the bell rings loud, and the
Railway whistles urgently.

After Chapel they will go,
Walking delicately slow,
Telling still how Father John
Is so good to look upon,
And such other grave affairs
As they thought of during prayers.


I was playing with my hoop along the road Just where the bushes are, when, suddenly, There came a shout,–I ran away and stowed Myself beneath a bush, and watched to see What made the noise, and then, around the bend, I saw a woman running. She was old
And wrinkle-faced, and had big teeth.–The end Of her red shawl caught on a bush and rolled Right off her, and her hair fell down.–Her face Was awful white, and both her eyes looked sick, And she was talking queer. ‘O God of Grace!’ Said she, ‘where is the child?’ and flew back quick The way she came, and screamed, and shook her hands; … Maybe she was a witch from foreign lands.


A speck went blowing up against the sky As little as a leaf: then it drew near
And broadened.–‘It’s a bird,’ said I, And fetched my bow and arrows. It was queer! It grew from up a speck into a blot,
And squattered past a cloud; then it flew down All crumply, and waggled such a lot
I thought the thing would fall.–It was a brown Old carpet where a man was sitting snug
Who, when he reached the ground, began to sew A big hole in the middle of the rug,
And kept on peeping everywhere to know Who might be coming–then he gave a twist And flew away…. I fired at him but missed.

* * * * *



Now very quietly, and rather mournfully, In clouds of hyacinth the sun retires,
And all the stubble-fields that were so warm to him Keep but in memory their borrowed fires.

And I, the traveller, break, still unsatisfied, From that faint exquisite celestial strand, And turn and see again the only dwelling-place In this wide wilderness of darkening land.

The house, that house, O now what change has come to it. Its crude red-brick facade, its roof of slate; What imperceptible swift hand has given it A new, a wonderful, a queenly state?

No hand has altered it, that parallelogram, So inharmonious, so ill-arranged;
That hard blue roof in shape and colour’s what it was; No, it is not that any line has changed.

Only that loneliness is now accentuate And, as the dusk unveils the heaven’s deep cave, This small world’s feebleness fills me with awe again, And all man’s energies seem very brave.

And this mean edifice, which some dull architect Built for an ignorant earth-turning hind, Takes on the quality of that magnificent Unshakable dauntlessness of human kind.

Darkness and stars will come, and long the night will be, Yet imperturbable that house will rest, Avoiding gallantly the stars’ chill scrutiny, Ignoring secrets in the midnight’s breast.

Thunders may shudder it, and winds demoniac May howl their menaces, and hail descend; Yet it will bear with them, serenely, steadfastly, Not even scornfully, and wait the end.

And all a universe of nameless messengers From unknown distances may whisper fear, And it will imitate immortal permanence, And stare and stare ahead and scarcely hear.

It stood there yesterday; it will to-morrow, too, When there is none to watch, no alien eyes To watch its ugliness assume a majesty
From this great solitude of evening skies.

So lone, so very small, with worlds and worlds around, While life remains to it prepared to outface Whatever awful unconjectured mysteries
May hide and wait for it in time and space.


(W. H. S., Capt. [Acting Major] R. F. A.; killed, April 12, 1917)

We shan’t see Willy any more, Mamie,
He won’t be coming any more:
He came back once and again and again, But he won’t get leave any more.

We looked from the window and there was his cab, And we ran downstairs like a streak,
And he said, ‘Hullo, you bad dog,’ and you crouched to the floor, Paralysed to hear him speak,

And then let fly at his face and his chest Till I had to hold you down,
While he took off his cap and his gloves and his coat, And his bag and his thonged Sam Browne.

We went upstairs to the studio,
The three of us, just as of old,
And you lay down and I sat and talked to him As round the room he strolled.

Here in the room where, years ago
Before the old life stopped,
He worked all day with his slippers and his pipe, He would pick up the threads he’d dropped,

Fondling all the drawings he had left behind, Glad to find them all still the same,
And opening the cupboards to look at his belongings … Every time he came.

But now I know what a dog doesn’t know, Though you’ll thrust your head on my knee, And try to draw me from the absent-mindedness That you find so dull in me.

And all your life you will never know What I wouldn’t tell you even if I could, That the last time we waved him away
Willy went for good.

But sometimes as you lie on the hearthrug Sleeping in the warmth of the stove,
Even through your muddled old canine brain Shapes from the past may rove.

You’ll scarcely remember, even in a dream, How we brought home a silly little pup, With a big square head and little crooked legs That could scarcely bear him up,

But your tail will tap at the memory
Of a man whose friend you were,
Who was always kind though he called you a naughty dog When he found you on his chair;

Who’d make you face a reproving finger And solemnly lecture you
Till your head hung downwards and you looked very sheepish: And you’ll dream of your triumphs too,

Of summer evening chases in the garden When you dodged us all about with a bone: We were three boys, and you were the cleverest, But now we’re two alone.

When summer comes again,
And the long sunsets fade,
We shall have to go on playing the feeble game for two That since the war we’ve played.

And though you run expectant as you always do To the uniforms we meet,
You’ll never find Willy among all the soldiers In even the longest street,

Nor in any crowd; yet, strange and bitter thought, Even now were the old words said,
If I tried the old trick and said ‘Where’s Willy?’ You would quiver and lift your head,

And your brown eyes would look to ask if I was serious, And wait for the word to spring.
Sleep undisturbed: I shan’t say ‘that’ again, You innocent old thing.

I must sit, not speaking, on the sofa, While you lie asleep on the floor;
For he’s suffered a thing that dogs couldn’t dream of, And he won’t be coming here any more.


The lily of Malud is born in secret mud. It is breathed like a word in a little dark ravine Where no bird was ever heard and no beast was ever seen, And the leaves are never stirred by the panther’s velvet sheen.

It blooms once a year in summer moonlight, In a valley of dark fear full of pale moonlight: It blooms once a year, and dies in a night, And its petals disappear with the dawn’s first light; And when that night has come, black small-breasted maids, With ecstatic terror dumb, steal fawn-like through the shades To watch, hour by hour, the unfolding of the flower.

When the world is full of night, and the moon reigns alone And drowns in silver light the known and the unknown, When each hut is a mound, half blue-silver and half black, And casts upon the ground the hard shadow of its back, When the winds are out of hearing and the tree-tops never shake, When the grass in the clearing is silent but awake ‘Neath a moon-paven sky: all the village is asleep And the babes that nightly cry dream deep:

From the doors the maidens creep,
Tiptoe over dreaming curs, soft, so soft, that not one stirs, And stand curved and a-quiver, like bathers by a river, Looking at the forest wall, groups of slender naked girls, Whose black bodies shine like pearls where the moonbeams fall.

They have waked, they knew not why, at a summons from the night, They have stolen fearfully from the dark to the light, Stepping over sleeping men, who have moved and slept again: And they know not why they go to the forest, but they know, As their moth-feet pass to the shore of the grass And the forest’s dreadful brink, that their tender spirits shrink: They would flee, but cannot turn, for their eyelids burn With still frenzy, and each maid, ere she leaves the moonlit space, If she sees another’s face is thrilled and afraid.

Now like little phantom fawns they thread the outer lawns Where the boles of giant trees stand about in twos and threes, Till the forest grows more dense and the darkness more intense, And they only sometimes see in a lone moon-ray A dead and spongy trunk in the earth half-sunk, Or the roots of a tree with fungus grey, Or a drift of muddy leaves, or a banded snake that heaves.

And the towering unseen roof grows more intricate, and soon It is featureless and proof to the lost forgotten moon. But they could not look above as with blind-drawn feet they move Onwards on the scarce-felt path, with quick and desperate breath, For their circling fingers dread to caress some slimy head, Or to touch the icy shape of a hunched and hairy ape, And at every step they fear in their very midst to hear A lion’s rending roar or a tiger’s snore…. And when things swish or fall, they shiver but dare not call.

O what is it leads the way that they do not stray? What unimagined arm keeps their bodies from harm? What presence concealed lifts their little feet that yield Over dry ground and wet till their straining eyes are met With a thinning of the darkness?

And the foremost faintly cries in awed surprise: And they one by one emerge from the gloom to the verge Of a small sunken vale full of moonlight pale. And they hang along the bank, clinging to the branches dank, A shadowy festoon out of sight of the moon; And they see in front of them, rising from the mud, A single straight stem and a single pallid bud In that little lake of light from the moon’s calm height.

A stem, a ghostly bud, on the moon-swept mud That shimmers like a pond; and over there beyond The guardian forest high, menacing and strange, Invades the empty sky with its wild black range.

And they watch hour by hour that small lonely flower In that deep forest place that hunter never found.

It shines without sound, as a star in space.

And the silence all around that solitary place Is like silence in a dream; till a sudden flashing gleam Down their dark faces flies; and their lips fall apart And their glimmering great eyes with excitement dart And their fingers, clutching the branches they were touching, Shake and arouse hissing leaves on the boughs.

And they whisper aswoon: Did it move in the moon?

O it moved as it grew!
It is moving, opening, with calm and gradual will And their bodies where they cling are shadowed and still, And with marvel they mark that the mud now is dark, For the unfolding flower, like a goddess in her power, Challenges the moon with a light of her own, That lovelily grows as the petals unclose, Wider, more wide with an awful inward pride Till the heart of it breaks, and stilled is their breath, For the radiance it makes is as wonderful as death.

The morning’s crimson stain tinges their ashen brows As they part the last boughs and slowly step again On to the village grass, and chill and languid pass Into the huts to sleep.
Brief slumber, yet so deep That, when they wake to day, darkness and splendour seem Broken and far-away, a faint miraculous dream; And when those maidens rise they are as they ever were Save only for a rare shade of trouble in their eyes. And the surly thick-lipped men, as they sit about their huts Making drums out of guts, grunting gruffly now and then, Carving sticks of ivory, stretching shields of wrinkled skin, Smoothing sinister and thin squatting gods of ebony, Chip and grunt and do not see.
But each mother, silently, Longer than her wont stays shut in the dimness of her hut, For she feels a brooding cloud of memory in the air, A lingering thing there that makes her sit bowed With hollow shining eyes, as the night-fire dies, And stare softly at the ember, and try to remember, Something sorrowful and far, something sweet and vaguely seen Like an early evening star when the sky is pale green: A quiet silver tower that climbed in an hour, Or a ghost like a flower, or a flower like a queen: Something holy in the past that came and did not last…. But she knows not what it was.

* * * * *



(‘To Robert Graves’)


Here I’m sitting in the gloom
Of my quiet attic room.
France goes rolling all around,
Fledged with forest May has crowned. And I puff my pipe, calm-hearted,
Thinking how the fighting started,
Wondering when we’ll ever end it,
Back to Hell with Kaiser send it,
Gag the noise, pack up and go,
Clockwork soldiers in a row.
I’ve got better things to do
Than to waste my time on you.


Robert, when I drowse to-night,
Skirting lawns of sleep to chase
Shifting dreams in mazy light,
Somewhere then I’ll see your face
Turning back to bid me follow
Where I wag my arms and hollo,
Over hedges hasting after
Crooked smile and baffling laughter, Running tireless, floating, leaping,
Down your web-hung woods and valleys, Garden glooms and hornbeam alleys,
Where the glowworm stars are peeping, Till I find you, quiet as stone
On a hill-top all alone,
Staring outward, gravely pondering
Jumbled leagues of hillock-wandering.


You and I have walked together
In the starving winter weather.
We’ve been glad because we knew
Time’s too short and friends are few. We’ve been sad because we missed
One whose yellow head was kissed
By the gods, who thought about him
Till they couldn’t do without him.
Now he’s here again; I’ve seen
Soldier David dressed in green,
Standing in a wood that swings
To the madrigal he sings.
He’s come back, all mirth and glory, Like the prince in a fairy story.
Winter called him far away;
Blossoms bring him home with May.


Well, I know you’ll swear it’s true
That you found him decked in blue
Striding up through morning-land
With a cloud on either hand.
Out in Wales, you’ll say, he marches Arm-in-arm with oaks and larches;
Hides all night in hilly nooks,
Laughs at dawn in tumbling brooks.
Yet, it’s certain, here he teaches
Outpost-schemes to groups of beeches. And I’m sure, as here I stand,
That he shines through every land,
That he sings in every place
Where we’re thinking of his face.


Robert, there’s a war in France;
Everywhere men bang and blunder,
Sweat and swear and worship Chance, Creep and blink through cannon thunder.
Rifles crack and bullets flick,
Sing and hum like hornet-swarms.
Bones are smashed and buried quick. Yet, through stunning battle storms,
All the while I watch the spark
Lit to guide me; for I know
Dreams will triumph, though the dark Scowls above me where I go.
_You_ can hear me; _you_ can mingle Radiant folly with my jingle.
War’s a joke for me and you
While we know such dreams are true!


To these I turn, in these I trust;
Brother Lead and Sister Steel.
To his blind power I make appeal;
I guard her beauty clean from rust.

He spins and burns and loves the air, And splits a skull to win my praise;
But up the nobly marching days
She glitters naked, cold and fair.

Sweet Sister, grant your soldier this; That in good fury he may feel
The body where he sets his heel
Quail from your downward darting kiss.


All night the flares go up; the Dragon sings And beats upon the dark with furious wings; And, stung to rage by his own darting fires, Reaches with grappling coils from town to town; He lusts to break the loveliness of spires, And hurls their martyred music toppling down.

Yet, though the slain are homeless as the breeze, Vocal are they, like storm-bewilder’d seas. Their faces are the fair, unshrouded night, And planets are their eyes, their ageless dreams. Tenderly stooping earthward from their height, They wander in the dusk with chanting streams; And they are dawn-lit trees, with arms up-flung, To hail the burning heavens they left unsung.


Return to greet me, colours that were my joy, Not in the woeful crimson of men slain,
But shining as a garden; come with the streaming Banners of dawn and sundown after rain.

I want to fill my gaze with blue and silver, Radiance through living roses, spires of green Rising in young-limbed copse and lovely wood, Where the hueless wind passes and cries unseen.

I am not sad; only I long for lustre,– Tired of the greys and browns and the leafless ash. I would have hours that move like a glitter of dancers Far from the angry guns that boom and flash.

Return, musical, gay with blossom and fleetness, Days when my sight shall be clear and my heart rejoice; Come from the sea with breadth of approaching brightness, When the blithe wind laughs on the hills with up-lifted voice.


The Bishop tells us: ‘When the boys come back They will not be the same; for they’ll have fought In a just cause: they lead the last attack On Anti-Christ; their comrades’ blood has bought New right to breed an honourable race.
They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.’

‘We’re none of us the same!’ the boys reply. For George lost both his legs; and Bill’s stone blind; Poor Jim’s shot through the lungs and like to die; And Bert’s gone syphilitic; you’ll not find A chap who’s served that hasn’t found _some_ change.’ And the Bishop said: ‘The ways of God are strange!’


So Davies wrote: ‘This leaves me in the pink.’ Then scrawled his name: ‘Your loving sweet-heart, Willie’ With crosses for a hug. He’d had a drink Of rum and tea; and, though the barn was chilly, For once his blood ran warm; he had pay to spend. Winter was passing; soon the year would mend.

He couldn’t sleep that night. Stiff in the dark He groaned and thought of Sundays at the farm, When he’d go out as cheerful as a lark
In his best suit to wander arm-in-arm With brown-eyed Gwen, and whisper in her ear The simple, silly things she liked to hear.

And then he thought: to-morrow night we trudge Up to the trenches, and my boots are rotten. Five miles of stodgy clay and freezing sludge, And everything but wretchedness forgotten. To-night he’s in the pink; but soon he’ll die. And still the war goes on; _he_ don’t know why.


Evening was in the wood, louring with storm. A time of drought had sucked the weedy pool And baked the channels; birds had done with song. Thirst was a dream of fountains in the moon, Or willow-music blown across the water
Leisurely sliding on by weir and mill.

Uneasy was the man who wandered, brooding, His face a little whiter than the dusk.
A drone of sultry wings flicker’d in his head.

The end of sunset burning thro’ the boughs Died in a smear of red; exhausted hours
Cumber’d, and ugly sorrows hemmed him in.

He thought: ‘Somewhere there’s thunder,’ as he strove To shake off dread; he dared not look behind him, But stood, the sweat of horror on his face.

He blundered down a path, trampling on thistles, In sudden race to leave the ghostly trees. And: ‘Soon I’ll be in open fields,’ he thought, And half remembered starlight on the meadows, Scent of mown grass and voices of tired men, Fading along the field-paths; home and sleep And cool-swept upland spaces, whispering leaves, And far off the long churring night-jar’s note.

But something in the wood, trying to daunt him, Led him confused in circles through the brake. He was forgetting his old wretched folly, And freedom was his need; his throat was choking; Barbed brambles gripped and clawed him round his legs, And he floundered over snags and hidden stumps. Mumbling: ‘I will get out! I must get out!’ Butting and thrusting up the baffling gloom, Pausing to listen in a space ‘twixt thorns, He peers around with boding, frantic eyes. An evil creature in the twilight looping Flapped blindly in his face. Beating it off, He screeched in terror, and straightway something clambered Heavily from an oak, and dropped, bent double, To shamble at him zigzag, squat and bestial.

Headlong he charges down the wood, and falls With roaring brain–agony–the snapt spark– And blots of green and purple in his eyes. Then the slow fingers groping on his neck, And at his heart the strangling clasp of death.


He drowsed and was aware of silence heaped Round him, unshaken as the steadfast walls; Aqueous like floating rays of amber light, Soaring and quivering in the wings of sleep,– Silence and safety; and his mortal shore Lipped by the inward, moonless waves of death.

Some one was holding water to his mouth. He swallowed, unresisting; moaned and dropped Through crimson gloom to darkness; and forgot The opiate throb and ache that was his wound. Water–calm, sliding green above the weir; Water–a sky-lit alley for his boat,
Bird-voiced, and bordered with reflected flowers And shaken hues of summer: drifting down, He dipped contented oars, and sighed, and slept.

Night, with a gust of wind, was in the ward, Blowing the curtain to a glimmering curve. Night. He was blind; he could not see the stars Glinting among the wraiths of wandering cloud; Queer blots of colour, purple, scarlet, green, Flickered and faded in his drowning eyes.

Rain; he could hear it rustling through the dark; Fragrance and passionless music woven as one; Warm rain on drooping roses; pattering showers That soak the woods; not the harsh rain that sweeps Behind the thunder, but a trickling peace Gently and slowly washing life away.

* * * * *

He stirred, shifting his body; then the pain Leaped like a prowling beast, and gripped and tore His groping dreams with grinding claws and fangs. But some one was beside him; soon he lay Shuddering because that evil thing had passed. And Death, who’d stepped toward him, paused and stared.

Light many lamps and gather round his bed. Lend him your eyes, warm blood, and will to live. Speak to him; rouse him; you may save him yet. He’s young; he hated war; how should he die When cruel old campaigners win safe through?

But Death replied: ‘I choose him.’ So he went, And there was silence in the summer night; Silence and safety; and the veils of sleep. Then, far away, the thudding of the guns.

* * * * *



Ah, Koelue!
Had you embalmed your beauty, so
It could not backward go,
Or change in any way,
What were the use, if on my eyes
The embalming spices were not laid
To keep us fixed,
Two amorous sculptures passioned endlessly? What were the use, if my sight grew,
And its far branches were cloud-hung, You small at the roots, like grass,
While the new lips my spirit would kiss Were not red lips of flesh,
But the huge kiss of power?
Where yesterday soft hair through my fingers fell, A shaggy mane would entwine,
And no slim form work fire to my thighs, But human Life’s inarticulate mass
Throb the pulse of a thing
Whose mountain flanks awry
Beg my mastery–mine!
Ah! I will ride the dizzy beast of the world My road–my way!

* * * * *



Asleep within the deadest hour of night And turning with the earth, I was aware
How suddenly the eastern curve was bright, As when the sun arises from his lair.
But not the sun arose: it was thy hair Shaken up heaven in tossing leagues of light.

Since then I know that neither night nor day May I escape thee, O my heavenly hell!
Awake, in dreams, thou springest to waylay; And should I dare to die, I know full well Whose voice would mock me in the mourning bell, Whose face would greet me in hell’s fiery way.


The beating of the guns grows louder. ‘Not long, boys, now’.
My heart burns whiter, fearfuller, prouder. Hurricanes grow
As guns redouble their fire.
Through the shaken periscope peeping, I glimpse their wire:
Black earth, fountains of earth rise, leaping, Spouting like shocks of meeting waves,
Death’s fountains are playing,
Shells like shrieking birds rush over; Crash and din rises higher.
A stream of lead raves
Over us from the left … (we safe under cover!) Crash! Reverberation! Crash!
Acrid smoke billowing. Flash upon flash. Black smoke drifting. The German line
Vanishes in confusion, smoke. Cries, and cry Of our men, ‘Gah, yer swine!
Ye’re for it’, die
In a hurricane of shell.

One cry:
‘We’re comin’ soon! look out!’
There is opened hell
Over there; fragments fly,
Rifles and bits of men whirled at the sky: Dust, smoke, thunder! A sudden bout
Of machine guns chattering …
And redoubled battering,
As if in fury at their daring!…

No good staring.

Time soon now … home … house on a sunny hill … Gone like a flickered page:
Time soon now … zero … will engage….

A sudden thrill–
‘Fix bayonets!’
Gods! we have our fill
Of fear, hysteria, exultation, rage, Rage to kill.

My heart burns hot, whiter and whiter, Contracts tighter and tighter,
Until I stifle with the will
Long forged, now used
(Though utterly strained)–
O pounding heart,
Baffled, confused,
Heart panged, head singing, dizzily pained– To do my part.

Blindness a moment. Sick.
There the men are!
Bayonets ready: click!
Time goes quick;
A stumbled prayer … somehow a blazing star In a blue night … where?
Again prayer.
The tongue trips. Start:
How’s time? Soon now. Two minutes or less. The gun’s fury mounting higher …
Their utmost. I lift a silent hand. Unseen I bless Those hearts will follow me.
And beautifully,
Now beautifully my will grips,
Soul calm and round and filmed and white!

A shout: ‘Men, no such order as retire!’

I nod.
The whistle’s ‘twixt my lips … I catch
A wan, worn smile at me.
Dear men!
The pale wrist-watch …
The quiet hand ticks on amid the din. The guns again
Rise to a last fury, to a rage, a lust: Kill! Pound! Kill! Pound! Pound!
Now comes the thrust!
My part … dizziness … will … but trust These men. The great guns rise;
Their fury seems to burst the earth and skies!

They lift.

Gather, heart, all thoughts that drift; Be steel, soul,
Compress thyself
Into a round, bright whole.
I cannot speak.

Time. Time!

I hear my whistle shriek,
Between teeth set;
I fling an arm up,
Scramble up the grime
Over the parapet!
I’m up. Go on.
Something meets us.
Head down into the storm that greets us.

A wail.
Lights. Blurr.
On, on. Lead. Lead. Hail.
Spatter. Whirr! Whirr!
‘Toward that patch of brown;
Direction left’. Bullets a stream.
Devouring thought crying in a dream. Men, crumpled, going down….
Go on. Go.
Deafness. Numbness. The loudening tornado. Bullets. Mud. Stumbling and skating.
My voice’s strangled shout:
‘Steady pace, boys!’
The still light: gladness.
‘Look, sir. Look out!’
Ha! ha! Bunched figures waiting.
Revolver levelled quick!
Flick! Flick!
Red as blood.
Germans. Germans.
Good! O good!
Cool madness.


Was there love once? I have forgotten her. Was there grief once? grief yet is mine. Other loves I have, men rough, but men who stir More grief, more joy, than love of thee and thine.

Faces cheerful, full of whimsical mirth, Lined by the wind, burned by the sun;
Bodies enraptured by the abounding earth, As whose children we are brethren: one.

And any moment may descend hot death
To shatter limbs! pulp, tear, blast Beloved soldiers who love rough life and breath Not less for dying faithful to the last.

O the fading eyes, the grimed face turned bony, Oped mouth gushing, fallen head,
Lessening pressure of a hand shrunk, clammed, and stony! O sudden spasm, release of the dead!

Was there love once? I have forgotten her. Was there grief once? grief yet is mine. O loved, living, dying, heroic soldier,
All, all, my joy, my grief, my love, are thine!


(From ‘A Faun’s Holiday’)

Meanwhile, though nations in distress Cower at a comet’s loveliness
Shaken across the midnight sky;
Though the wind roars, and Victory, A virgin fierce, on vans of gold
Stoops through the cloud’s white smother rolled Over the armies’ shock and flow
Across the broad green hills below, Yet hovers and will not circle down
To cast t’ward one the leafy crown; Though men drive galleys’ golden beaks
To isles beyond the sunset peaks,
And cities on the sea behold
Whose walls are glass, whose gates are gold, Whose turrets, risen in an hour,
Dazzle between the sun and shower,
Whose sole inhabitants are kings
Six cubits high with gryphon’s wings And beard and mien more glorious
Than Midas or Assaracus;
Though priests in many a hill-top fane Lift anguished hands–and lift in vain– Toward the sun’s shaft dancing through
The bright roof’s square of wind-swept blue; Though ‘cross the stars nightly arise
The silver fumes of sacrifice;
Though a new Helen bring new scars, Pyres piled upon wrecked golden cars,
Stacked spears, rolled smoke, and spirits sped Like a streaked flame toward the dead:
Though all these be, yet grows not old Delight of sunned and windy wold,
Of soaking downs aglare, asteam,
Of still tarns where the yellow gleam Of a far sunrise slowly breaks,
Or sunset strews with golden flakes The deeps which soon the stars will throng.

For earth yet keeps her undersong
Of comfort and of ultimate peace,
That whoso seeks shall never cease
To hear at dawn or noon or night.
Joys hath she, too, joys thin and bright, Too thin, too bright, for those to hear
Who listen with an eager ear,
Or course about and seek to spy,
Within an hour, eternity.
First must the spirit cast aside
This world’s and next his own poor pride And learn the universe to scan
More as a flower, less as a man.
Then shall he hear the lonely dead
Sing and the stars sing overhead,
And every spray upon the heath,
And larks above and ants beneath;
The stream shall take him in her arms; Blue skies shall rest him in their calms; The wind shall be a lovely friend,
And every leaf and bough shall bend Over him with a lover’s grace.
The hills shall bare a perfect face Full of a high solemnity;
The heavenly clouds shall weep, and be Content as overhead they swim
To be high brothers unto him.

No more shall he feel pitched and hurled Uncomprehended into this world;
For every place shall be his place, And he shall recognize its face.
At dawn he shall upon his path;
No sword shall touch him, nor the wrath Of the ranked crowd of clamorous men.
At even he shall home again,
And lay him down to sleep at ease,
One with the Night and the Night’s peace. Ev’n Sorrow, to be escaped of none,
But a more deep communion
Shall be to him, and Death at last
No more dreaded than the Past,
Whose shadow in the brain of earth
Informs him now and gave him birth.


(From ‘A Faun’s Holiday’)

Come, ye sorrowful, and steep
Your tired brows in a nectarous sleep: For our kisses lightlier run
Than the traceries of the sun
By the lolling water cast
Up grey precipices vast,
Lifting smooth and warm and steep
Out of the palely shimmering deep.

Come, ye sorrowful, and take
Kisses that are but half awake:
For here are eyes O softer far
Than the blossom of the star
Upon the mothy twilit waters,
And here are mouths whose gentle laughters Are but the echoes of the deep
Laughing and murmuring in its sleep.

Come, ye sorrowful, and see
The raindrops flaming goldenly
On the stream’s eddies overhead
And dragonflies with drops of red
In the crisp surface of each wing
Threading slant rains that flash and sing, Or under the water-lily’s cup,
From darkling depths, roll slowly up The bronze flanks of an ancient bream
Into the hot sun’s shattered beam,
Or over a sunk tree’s bubbled hole
The perch stream in a golden shoal: Come, ye sorrowful; our deep
Holds dreams lovelier than sleep.

But if ye sons of Sorrow come
Only wishing to be numb:
Our eyes are sad as bluebell posies, Our breasts are soft as silken roses,
And our hands are tenderer
Than the breaths that scarce can stir The sunlit eglantine that is
Murmurous with hidden bees.
Come, ye sorrowful, and steep
Your tired brows in a nectarous sleep.

Come, ye sorrowful, for here
No voices sound but fond and clear
Of mouths as lorn as is the rose
That under water doth disclose,
Amid her crimson petals torn,
A heart as golden as the morn;
And here are tresses languorous
As the weeds wander over us,
And brows as holy and as bland
As the honey-coloured sand
Lying sun-entranced below
The lazy water’s limpid flow:
Come, ye sorrowful, and steep
Your tired brows in a nectarous sleep.


(From ‘A Faun’s Holiday’)

‘Be warned! I feel the world grow old, And off Olympus fades the gold
Of the simple passionate sun;
And the Gods wither one by one:
Proud-eyed Apollo’s bow is broken,
And throned Zeus nods nor may be woken But by the song of spirits seven
Quiring in the midnight heaven
Of a new world no more forlorn,
Sith unto it a Babe is born,
That in a propped, thatched stable lies, While with darkling, reverent eyes
Dusky Emperors, coifed in gold,
Kneel mid the rushy mire, and hold
Caskets of rubies, urns of myrrh,
Whose fumes enwrap the thurifer
And coil toward the high dim rafters Where, with lutes and warbling laughters, Clustered cherubs of rainbow feather,
Fanning the fragrant air together,
Flit in jubilant holy glee,
And make heavenly minstrelsy
To the Child their Sun, whose glow
Bathes them His cloudlets from below…. Long shall this chimed accord be heard,
Yet all earth hushed at His first word: Then shall be seen Apollo’s car
Blaze headlong like a banished star; And the Queen of heavenly Loves
Dragged downward by her dying doves; Vulcan, spun on a wheel, shall track
The circle of the zodiac;
Silver Artemis be lost,
To the polar blizzards tossed;
Heaven shall curdle as with blood;
The sun be swallowed in the flood;
The universe be silent save
For the low drone of winds that lave The shadowed great world’s ashen sides
As through the rustling void she glides. Then shall there be a whisper heard
Of the Grave’s Secret and its Word, Where in black silence none shall cry
Save those who, dead-affrighted, spy How from the murmurous graveyards creep
The figures of eternal sleep.
Last: when ’tis light men shall behold, Beyond the crags, a flower of gold
Blossoming in a golden haze,
And, while they guess Zeus’ halls now blaze, Shall in the blossom’s heart descry
The saints of a new hierarchy!’

He ceased … and in the morning sky
Zeus’ anger threatened murmurously. I sped away. The lightning’s sword
Stabbed on the forest. But the word Abides with me. I feel its power
Most darkly in the twilit hour,
When Night’s eternal shadow, cast
Over earth hushed and pale and vast, Darkly foretells the soundless Night
In which this orb, so green, so bright, Now spins, and which shall compass her
When on her rondure nought shall stir But snow-whorls which the wind shall roll From the Equator to the Pole …

For everlastingly there is
Something Beyond, Behind: I wis
All Gods are haunted, and there clings, As hound behind fled sheep, the things
Beyond the Universe’s ken:
Gods haunt the Half-Gods, Half-Gods men, And Man the brute. Gods, born of Night,
Feel a blacker appetite
Gape to devour them; Half-Gods dread But jealous Gods; and mere men tread
Warily lest a Half-God rise
And loose on them from empty skies
Amazement, thunder, stark affright, Famine and sudden War’s thick night,
In which loud Furies hunt the Pities Through smoke above wrecked, flaming cities.

For Pan, the Unknown God, rules all.
He shall outlive the funeral,
Change, and decay, of many Gods,
Until he, too, lets fall his rods
Of viewless power upon that minute
When Universe cowers at Infinite!


It was deep night, and over Jerusalem’s low roofs The moon floated, drifting through high vaporous woofs. The moonlight crept and glistened silent, solemn, sweet, Over dome and column, up empty, endless street; In the closed, scented gardens the rose loosed from the stem Her white showery petals; none regarded them; The starry thicket breathed odours to the sentinel palm; Silence possessed the city like a soul possessed by calm.

Not a spark in the warren under the giant night, Save where in a turret’s lantern beamed a grave, still light: There in the topmost chamber a gold-eyed lamp was lit– Marvellous lamp in darkness, informing, redeeming it! For, set in that tiny chamber, Jesus, the blessed and doomed, Spoke to the lone apostles as light to men en-tombed; And spreading his hands in blessing, as one soon to be dead, He put soft enchantment into spare wine and bread.

The hearts of the disciples were broken and full of tears, Because their lord, the spearless, was hedged about with spears; And in his face the sickness of departure had spread a gloom, At leaving his young friends friendless. They could not forget the tomb. He smiled subduedly, telling, in tones soft as voice of the dove, The endlessness of sorrow, the eternal solace of love; And lifting the earthly tokens, wine and sorrowful bread, He bade them sup and remember one who lived and was dead. And they could not restrain their weeping. But one rose up to depart, Having weakness and hate of weakness raging within his heart, And bowed to the robed assembly whose eyes gleamed wet in the light. Judas arose and departed: night went out to the night.

Then Jesus lifted his voice like a fountain in an ocean of tears, And comforted his disciples and calmed and allayed their fears. But Judas wound down the turret, creeping from floor to floor, And would fly; but one leaning, weeping, barred him beside the door. And he knew her by her ruddy garment and two yet-watching men: Mary of Seven Evils, Mary Magdalen.
And he was frighted at her. She sighed: ‘I dreamed him dead. We sell the body for silver….’
Then Judas cried out and fled Forth into the night!… The moon had begun to set: A drear, deft wind went sifting, setting the dust afret; Into the heart of the city Judas ran on and prayed To stern Jehovah lest his deed make him afraid.

But in the tiny lantern, hanging as if on air, The disciples sat unspeaking. Amaze and peace were there. For _his_ voice, more lovely than song of all earthly birds, In accents humble and happy spoke slow, consoling words.

Thus Jesus discoursed, and was silent, sitting up-right, and soon Past the casement behind him slanted the sinking moon; And, rising for Olivet, all stared, between love and dread, Seeing the torrid moon a ruddy halo behind his head.

* * * * *



(Numbers I and X in ‘Strange Meetings’)


If suddenly a clod of earth should rise, And walk about, and breathe, and speak, and love, How one would tremble, and in what surprise Gasp: ‘Can _you_ move?’

I see men walking, and I always feel: ‘Earth! How have you done this? What can you be?’ I can’t learn how to know men, or conceal How strange they are to me.


A flower is looking through the ground, Blinking at the April weather;
Now a child has seen the flower:
Now they go and play together.

Now it seems the flower will speak,
And will call the child its brother– But, oh strange forgetfulness!–
They don’t recognize each other.


Since man has been articulate,
Mechanical, improvidently wise,
(Servant of Fate),
He has not understood the little cries And foreign conversations of the small
Delightful creatures that have followed him Not far behind;
Has failed to hear the sympathetic call Of Crockery and Cutlery, those kind
Reposeful Teraphim
Of his domestic happiness; the Stool He sat on, or the Door he entered through: He has not thanked them, overbearing fool! What is he coming to?

But you should listen to the talk of these.