Men, Women and Ghosts by Amy Lowell

Men, Women and Ghosts by Amy Lowell Men, Women and Ghosts by Amy Lowell “`. . . See small portions of the Eternal World that ever groweth’: . . . . So sang a Fairy, mocking, as he sat on a streak’d tulip, Thinking none saw him: when he ceas’d I started from the trees,
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Men, Women and Ghosts
by Amy Lowell

[Note on text: Lines longer than 78 characters are broken and the continuation is indented two spaces. Some obvious errors have been corrected.]

Men, Women and Ghosts

by Amy Lowell [American (Massachusetts) poet and critic — 1874-1925.]

“`. . . See small portions of the Eternal World that ever groweth’: . . . . So sang a Fairy, mocking, as he sat on a streak’d tulip, Thinking none saw him: when he ceas’d I started from the trees, And caught him in my hat, as boys knock down a butterfly.” William Blake. “Europe. A Prophecy.”

`Thou hast a lap full of seed,
And this is a fine country.’
William Blake.

Preface

This is a book of stories. For that reason I have excluded all purely lyrical poems. But the word “stories” has been stretched to its fullest application. It includes both narrative poems, properly so called; tales divided into scenes; and a few pieces of less obvious story-telling import in which one might say that the dramatis personae are air, clouds, trees, houses, streets, and such like things.

It has long been a favourite idea of mine that the rhythms of `vers libre’ have not been sufficiently plumbed, that there is in them a power of variation which has never yet been brought to the light of experiment. I think it was the piano pieces of Debussy, with their strange likeness to short vers libre poems, which first showed me the close kinship of music and poetry, and there flashed into my mind the idea of using the movement of poetry in somewhat the same way that the musician uses the movement of music.

It was quite evident that this could never be done in the strict pattern of a metrical form, but the flowing, fluctuating rhythm of vers libre seemed to open the door to such an experiment. First, however, I considered the same method as applied to the more pronounced movements of natural objects. If the reader will turn to the poem, “A Roxbury Garden”, he will find in the first two sections an attempt to give the circular movement of a hoop bowling along the ground, and the up and down, elliptical curve of a flying shuttlecock.

From these experiments, it is but a step to the flowing rhythm of music. In “The Cremona Violin”, I have tried to give this flowing, changing rhythm to the parts in which the violin is being played. The effect is farther heightened, because the rest of the poem is written in the seven line Chaucerian stanza; and, by deserting this ordered pattern for the undulating line of vers libre, I hoped to produce something of the suave, continuous tone of a violin. Again, in the violin parts themselves, the movement constantly changes, as will be quite plain to any one reading these passages aloud.

In “The Cremona Violin”, however, the rhythms are fairly obvious and regular. I set myself a far harder task in trying to transcribe the various movements of Stravinsky’s “Three Pieces `Grotesques’, for String Quartet”. Several musicians, who have seen the poem, think the movement accurately given.

These experiments lead me to believe that there is here much food for thought and matter for study, and I hope many poets will follow me in opening up the still hardly explored possibilities of vers libre.

A good many of the poems in this book are written in “polyphonic prose”. A form about which I have written and spoken so much that it seems hardly necessary to explain it here. Let me hastily add, however, that the word “prose” in its name refers only to the typographical arrangement, for in no sense is this a prose form. Only read it aloud, Gentle Reader, I beg, and you will see what you will see. For a purely dramatic form, I know none better in the whole range of poetry. It enables the poet to give his characters the vivid, real effect they have in a play, while at the same time writing in the `decor’.

One last innovation I have still to mention. It will be found in “Spring Day”, and more fully enlarged upon in the series, “Towns in Colour”. In these poems, I have endeavoured to give the colour, and light, and shade, of certain places and hours, stressing the purely pictorial effect, and with little or no reference to any other aspect of the places described. It is an enchanting thing to wander through a city looking for its unrelated beauty, the beauty by which it captivates the sensuous sense of seeing.

I have always loved aquariums, but for years I went to them and looked, and looked, at those swirling, shooting, looping patterns of fish, which always defied transcription to paper until I hit upon the “unrelated” method. The result is in “An Aquarium”. I think the first thing which turned me in this direction was John Gould Fletcher’s “London Excursion”, in “Some Imagist Poets”. I here record my thanks.

For the substance of the poems — why, the poems are here. No one writing to-day can fail to be affected by the great war raging in Europe at this time. We are too near it to do more than touch upon it. But, obliquely, it is suggested in many of these poems, most notably those in the section, “Bronze Tablets”. The Napoleonic Era is an epic subject, and waits a great epic poet. I have only been able to open a few windows upon it here and there. But the scene from the windows is authentic, and the watcher has used eyes, and ears, and heart, in watching.

Amy Lowell
July 10, 1916.

Contents

Figurines in Old Saxe

Patterns
Pickthorn Manor
The Cremona Violin
The Cross-Roads
A Roxbury Garden
1777

Bronze Tablets

The Fruit Shop
Malmaison
The Hammers
Two Travellers in the Place Vendome

War Pictures

The Allies
The Bombardment
Lead Soldiers
The Painter on Silk
A Ballad of Footmen

The Overgrown Pasture

Reaping
Off the Turnpike
The Grocery
Number 3 on the Docket

Clocks Tick a Century

Nightmare: A Tale for an Autumn Evening The Paper Windmill
The Red Lacquer Music-Stand
Spring Day
The Dinner-Party
Stravinsky’s Three Pieces “Grotesques”, for String Quartet Towns in Colour
Red Slippers
Thompson’s Lunch Room — Grand Central Station An Opera House
Afternoon Rain in State Street
An Aquarium

The two sea songs quoted in “The Hammers” are taken from `Songs: Naval and Nautical, of the late Charles Dibdin’, London, John Murray, 1841. The “Hanging Johnny” refrain, in “The Cremona Violin”, is borrowed from the old, well-known chanty of that name.

———————
Men, Women and Ghosts
———————

Figurines in Old Saxe

Patterns

I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills. I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan, I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes. Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the plashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin, A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding, But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown! I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground. All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths, And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths, A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover, Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me, Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops, And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon — I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke. “Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight, The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman. “No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment. No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun, Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband. In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.” Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow. I shall go
Up and down,
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead, Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

Pickthorn Manor

I

How fresh the Dartle’s little waves that day! A steely silver, underlined with blue,
And flashing where the round clouds, blown away, Let drop the yellow sunshine to gleam through And tip the edges of the waves with shifts And spots of whitest fire, hard like gems Cut from the midnight moon they were, and sharp As wind through leafless stems.
The Lady Eunice walked between the drifts Of blooming cherry-trees, and watched the rifts Of clouds drawn through the river’s azure warp.

II

Her little feet tapped softly down the path. Her soul was listless; even the morning breeze Fluttering the trees and strewing a light swath Of fallen petals on the grass, could please Her not at all. She brushed a hair aside With a swift move, and a half-angry frown. She stopped to pull a daffodil or two, And held them to her gown
To test the colours; put them at her side, Then at her breast, then loosened them and tried Some new arrangement, but it would not do.

III

A lady in a Manor-house, alone,
Whose husband is in Flanders with the Duke Of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, she’s grown Too apathetic even to rebuke
Her idleness. What is she on this Earth? No woman surely, since she neither can
Be wed nor single, must not let her mind Build thoughts upon a man
Except for hers. Indeed that were no dearth Were her Lord here, for well she knew his worth, And when she thought of him her eyes were kind.

IV

Too lately wed to have forgot the wooing. Too unaccustomed as a bride to feel
Other than strange delight at her wife’s doing. Even at the thought a gentle blush would steal Over her face, and then her lips would frame Some little word of loving, and her eyes Would brim and spill their tears, when all they saw Was the bright sun, slantwise
Through burgeoning trees, and all the morning’s flame Burning and quivering round her. With quick shame She shut her heart and bent before the law.

V

He was a soldier, she was proud of that. This was his house and she would keep it well. His honour was in fighting, hers in what He’d left her here in charge of. Then a spell Of conscience sent her through the orchard spying Upon the gardeners. Were their tools about? Were any branches broken? Had the weeds Been duly taken out
Under the ‘spaliered pears, and were these lying Nailed snug against the sunny bricks and drying Their leaves and satisfying all their needs?

VI

She picked a stone up with a little pout, Stones looked so ill in well-kept flower-borders. Where should she put it? All the paths about Were strewn with fair, red gravel by her orders. No stone could mar their sifted smoothness. So She hurried to the river. At the edge
She stood a moment charmed by the swift blue Beyond the river sedge.
She watched it curdling, crinkling, and the snow Purfled upon its wave-tops. Then, “Hullo, My Beauty, gently, or you’ll wriggle through.”

VII

The Lady Eunice caught a willow spray To save herself from tumbling in the shallows Which rippled to her feet. Then straight away She peered down stream among the budding sallows. A youth in leather breeches and a shirt
Of finest broidered lawn lay out upon An overhanging bole and deftly swayed
A well-hooked fish which shone
In the pale lemon sunshine like a spurt Of silver, bowed and damascened, and girt With crimson spots and moons which waned and played.

VIII

The fish hung circled for a moment, ringed And bright; then flung itself out, a thin blade Of spotted lightning, and its tail was winged With chipped and sparkled sunshine. And the shade Broke up and splintered into shafts of light Wheeling about the fish, who churned the air And made the fish-line hum, and bent the rod Almost to snapping. Care
The young man took against the twigs, with slight, Deft movements he kept fish and line in tight Obedience to his will with every prod.

IX

He lay there, and the fish hung just beyond. He seemed uncertain what more he should do. He drew back, pulled the rod to correspond, Tossed it and caught it; every time he threw, He caught it nearer to the point. At last The fish was near enough to touch. He paused. Eunice knew well the craft — “What’s got the thing!” She cried. “What can have caused —
Where is his net? The moment will be past. The fish will wriggle free.” She stopped aghast. He turned and bowed. One arm was in a sling.

X

The broad, black ribbon she had thought his basket Must hang from, held instead a useless arm. “I do not wonder, Madam, that you ask it.” He smiled, for she had spoke aloud. “The charm Of trout fishing is in my eyes enhanced
When you must play your fish on land as well.” “How will you take him?” Eunice asked. “In truth I really cannot tell.
‘Twas stupid of me, but it simply chanced I never thought of that until he glanced Into the branches. ‘Tis a bit uncouth.”

XI

He watched the fish against the blowing sky, Writhing and glittering, pulling at the line. “The hook is fast, I might just let him die,” He mused. “But that would jar against your fine Sense of true sportsmanship, I know it would,” Cried Eunice. “Let me do it.” Swift and light She ran towards him. “It is so long now Since I have felt a bite,
I lost all heart for everything.” She stood, Supple and strong, beside him, and her blood Tingled her lissom body to a glow.

XII

She quickly seized the fish and with a stone Ended its flurry, then removed the hook, Untied the fly with well-poised fingers. Done, She asked him where he kept his fishing-book. He pointed to a coat flung on the ground. She searched the pockets, found a shagreen case, Replaced the fly, noticed a golden stamp Filling the middle space.
Two letters half rubbed out were there, and round About them gay rococo flowers wound
And tossed a spray of roses to the clamp.

XIII

The Lady Eunice puzzled over these.
“G. D.” the young man gravely said. “My name Is Gervase Deane. Your servant, if you please.” “Oh, Sir, indeed I know you, for your fame For exploits in the field has reached my ears. I did not know you wounded and returned.” “But just come back, Madam. A silly prick To gain me such unearned
Holiday making. And you, it appears, Must be Sir Everard’s lady. And my fears At being caught a-trespassing were quick.”

XIV

He looked so rueful that she laughed out loud. “You are forgiven, Mr. Deane. Even more, I offer you the fishing, and am proud
That you should find it pleasant from this shore. Nobody fishes now, my husband used
To angle daily, and I too with him. He loved the spotted trout, and pike, and dace. He even had a whim
That flies my fingers tied swiftly confused The greater fish. And he must be excused, Love weaves odd fancies in a lonely place.”

XV

She sighed because it seemed so long ago, Those days with Everard; unthinking took The path back to the orchard. Strolling so She walked, and he beside her. In a nook Where a stone seat withdrew beneath low boughs, Full-blossomed, hummed with bees, they sat them down. She questioned him about the war, the share Her husband had, and grown
Eager by his clear answers, straight allows Her hidden hopes and fears to speak, and rouse Her numbed love, which had slumbered unaware.

XVI

Under the orchard trees daffodils danced And jostled, turning sideways to the wind. A dropping cherry petal softly glanced
Over her hair, and slid away behind. At the far end through twisted cherry-trees The old house glowed, geranium-hued, with bricks Bloomed in the sun like roses, low and long, Gabled, and with quaint tricks
Of chimneys carved and fretted. Out of these Grey smoke was shaken, which the faint Spring breeze Tossed into nothing. Then a thrush’s song

XVII

Needled its way through sound of bees and river. The notes fell, round and starred, between young leaves, Trilled to a spiral lilt, stopped on a quiver. The Lady Eunice listens and believes.
Gervase has many tales of her dear Lord, His bravery, his knowledge, his charmed life. She quite forgets who’s speaking in the gladness Of being this man’s wife.
Gervase is wounded, grave indeed, the word Is kindly said, but to a softer chord
She strings her voice to ask with wistful sadness,

XVIII

“And is Sir Everard still unscathed? I fain Would know the truth.” “Quite well, dear Lady, quite.” She smiled in her content. “So many slain, You must forgive me for a little fright.” And he forgave her, not alone for that,
But because she was fingering his heart, Pressing and squeezing it, and thinking so Only to ease her smart
Of painful, apprehensive longing. At Their feet the river swirled and chucked. They sat An hour there. The thrush flew to and fro.

XIX

The Lady Eunice supped alone that day, As always since Sir Everard had gone,
In the oak-panelled parlour, whose array Of faded portraits in carved mouldings shone. Warriors and ladies, armoured, ruffed, peruked. Van Dykes with long, slim fingers; Holbeins, stout And heavy-featured; and one Rubens dame, A peony just burst out,
With flaunting, crimson flesh. Eunice rebuked Her thoughts of gentler blood, when these had duked It with the best, and scorned to change their name.

XX

A sturdy family, and old besides,
Much older than her own, the Earls of Crowe. Since Saxon days, these men had sought their brides Among the highest born, but always so,
Taking them to themselves, their wealth, their lands, But never their titles. Stern perhaps, but strong, The Framptons fed their blood from richest streams, Scorning the common throng.
Gazing upon these men, she understands The toughness of the web wrought from such strands And pride of Everard colours all her dreams.

XXI

Eunice forgets to eat, watching their faces Flickering in the wind-blown candle’s shine. Blue-coated lackeys tiptoe to their places, And set out plates of fruit and jugs of wine. The table glitters black like Winter ice. The Dartle’s rushing, and the gentle clash Of blossomed branches, drifts into her ears. And through the casement sash
She sees each cherry stem a pointed slice Of splintered moonlight, topped with all the spice And shimmer of the blossoms it uprears.

XXII

“In such a night –” she laid the book aside, She could outnight the poet by thinking back. In such a night she came here as a bride. The date was graven in the almanack
Of her clasped memory. In this very room Had Everard uncloaked her. On this seat Had drawn her to him, bade her note the trees, How white they were and sweet
And later, coming to her, her dear groom, Her Lord, had lain beside her in the gloom Of moon and shade, and whispered her to ease.

XXIII

Her little taper made the room seem vast, Caverned and empty. And her beating heart Rapped through the silence all about her cast Like some loud, dreadful death-watch taking part In this sad vigil. Slowly she undrest,
Put out the light and crept into her bed. The linen sheets were fragrant, but so cold. And brimming tears she shed,
Sobbing and quivering in her barren nest, Her weeping lips into the pillow prest,
Her eyes sealed fast within its smothering fold.

XXIV

The morning brought her a more stoic mind, And sunshine struck across the polished floor. She wondered whether this day she should find Gervase a-fishing, and so listen more,
Much more again, to all he had to tell. And he was there, but waiting to begin
Until she came. They fished awhile, then went To the old seat within
The cherry’s shade. He pleased her very well By his discourse. But ever he must dwell Upon Sir Everard. Each incident

XXV

Must be related and each term explained. How troops were set in battle, how a siege Was ordered and conducted. She complained Because he bungled at the fall of Liege. The curious names of parts of forts she knew, And aired with conscious pride her ravelins, And counterscarps, and lunes. The day drew on, And his dead fish’s fins
In the hot sunshine turned a mauve-green hue. At last Gervase, guessing the hour, withdrew. But she sat long in still oblivion.

XXVI

Then he would bring her books, and read to her The poems of Dr. Donne, and the blue river Would murmur through the reading, and a stir Of birds and bees make the white petals shiver, And one or two would flutter prone and lie Spotting the smooth-clipped grass. The days went by Threaded with talk and verses. Green leaves pushed Through blossoms stubbornly.
Gervase, unconscious of dishonesty, Fell into strong and watchful loving, free He thought, since always would his lips be hushed.

XXVII

But lips do not stay silent at command, And Gervase strove in vain to order his. Luckily Eunice did not understand
That he but read himself aloud, for this Their friendship would have snapped. She treated him And spoilt him like a brother. It was now “Gervase” and “Eunice” with them, and he dined Whenever she’d allow,
In the oak parlour, underneath the dim Old pictured Framptons, opposite her slim Figure, so bright against the chair behind.

XXVIII

Eunice was happier than she had been
For many days, and yet the hours were long. All Gervase told to her but made her lean More heavily upon the past. Among
Her hopes she lived, even when she was giving Her morning orders, even when she twined Nosegays to deck her parlours. With the thought Of Everard, her mind
Solaced its solitude, and in her striving To do as he would wish was all her living. She welcomed Gervase for the news he brought.

XXIX

Black-hearts and white-hearts, bubbled with the sun, Hid in their leaves and knocked against each other. Eunice was standing, panting with her run Up to the tool-house just to get another Basket. All those which she had brought were filled, And still Gervase pelted her from above. The buckles of his shoes flashed higher and higher Until his shoulders strove
Quite through the top. “Eunice, your spirit’s filled This tree. White-hearts!” He shook, and cherries spilled And spat out from the leaves like falling fire.

XXX

The wide, sun-winged June morning spread itself Over the quiet garden. And they packed
Full twenty baskets with the fruit. “My shelf Of cordials will be stored with what it lacked. In future, none of us will drink strong ale, But cherry-brandy.” “Vastly good, I vow,” And Gervase gave the tree another shake. The cherries seemed to flow
Out of the sky in cloudfuls, like blown hail. Swift Lady Eunice ran, her farthingale,
Unnoticed, tangling in a fallen rake.

XXXI

She gave a little cry and fell quite prone In the long grass, and lay there very still. Gervase leapt from the tree at her soft moan, And kneeling over her, with clumsy skill Unloosed her bodice, fanned her with his hat, And his unguarded lips pronounced his heart. “Eunice, my Dearest Girl, where are you hurt?” His trembling fingers dart
Over her limbs seeking some wound. She strove To answer, opened wide her eyes, above
Her knelt Sir Everard, with face alert.

XXXII

Her eyelids fell again at that sweet sight, “My Love!” she murmured, “Dearest! Oh, my Dear!” He took her in his arms and bore her right And tenderly to the old seat, and “Here I have you mine at last,” she said, and swooned Under his kisses. When she came once more To sight of him, she smiled in comfort knowing Herself laid as before
Close covered on his breast. And all her glowing Youth answered him, and ever nearer growing She twined him in her arms and soft festooned

XXXIII

Herself about him like a flowering vine, Drawing his lips to cling upon her own. A ray of sunlight pierced the leaves to shine Where her half-opened bodice let be shown Her white throat fluttering to his soft caress, Half-gasping with her gladness. And her pledge She whispers, melting with delight. A twig Snaps in the hornbeam hedge.
A cackling laugh tears through the quietness. Eunice starts up in terrible distress.
“My God! What’s that?” Her staring eyes are big.

XXXIV

Revulsed emotion set her body shaking As though she had an ague. Gervase swore, Jumped to his feet in such a dreadful taking His face was ghastly with the look it wore. Crouching and slipping through the trees, a man In worn, blue livery, a humpbacked thing, Made off. But turned every few steps to gaze At Eunice, and to fling
Vile looks and gestures back. “The ruffian! By Christ’s Death! I will split him to a span Of hog’s thongs.” She grasped at his sleeve, “Gervase!

XXXV

What are you doing here? Put down that sword, That’s only poor old Tony, crazed and lame. We never notice him. With my dear Lord
I ought not to have minded that he came. But, Gervase, it surprises me that you
Should so lack grace to stay here.” With one hand She held her gaping bodice to conceal
Her breast. “I must demand
Your instant absence. Everard, but new Returned, will hardly care for guests. Adieu.” “Eunice, you’re mad.” His brain began to reel.

XXXVI

He tried again to take her, tried to twist Her arms about him. Truly, she had said Nothing should ever part them. In a mist She pushed him from her, clasped her aching head In both her hands, and rocked and sobbed aloud. “Oh! Where is Everard? What does this mean? So lately come to leave me thus alone!” But Gervase had not seen
Sir Everard. Then, gently, to her bowed And sickening spirit, he told of her proud Surrender to him. He could hear her moan.

XXXVII

Then shame swept over her and held her numb, Hiding her anguished face against the seat. At last she rose, a woman stricken — dumb — And trailed away with slowly-dragging feet. Gervase looked after her, but feared to pass The barrier set between them. All his rare Joy broke to fragments — worse than that, unreal. And standing lonely there,
His swollen heart burst out, and on the grass He flung himself and wept. He knew, alas! The loss so great his life could never heal.

XXXVIII

For days thereafter Eunice lived retired, Waited upon by one old serving-maid.
She would not leave her chamber, and desired Only to hide herself. She was afraid
Of what her eyes might trick her into seeing, Of what her longing urge her then to do. What was this dreadful illness solitude Had tortured her into?
Her hours went by in a long constant fleeing The thought of that one morning. And her being Bruised itself on a happening so rude.

XXXIX

It grew ripe Summer, when one morning came Her tirewoman with a letter, printed
Upon the seal were the Deane crest and name. With utmost gentleness, the letter hinted His understanding and his deep regret.
But would she not permit him once again To pay her his profound respects? No word Of what had passed should pain
Her resolution. Only let them get
Back the old comradeship. Her eyes were wet With starting tears, now truly she deplored

XL

His misery. Yes, she was wrong to keep Away from him. He hardly was to blame.
‘Twas she — she shuddered and began to weep. ‘Twas her fault! Hers! Her everlasting shame Was that she suffered him, whom not at all She loved. Poor Boy! Yes, they must still be friends. She owed him that to keep the balance straight. It was such poor amends
Which she could make for rousing hopes to gall Him with their unfulfilment. Tragical
It was, and she must leave him desolate.

XLI

Hard silence he had forced upon his lips For long and long, and would have done so still Had not she — here she pressed her finger tips Against her heavy eyes. Then with forced will She wrote that he might come, sealed with the arms Of Crowe and Frampton twined. Her heart felt lighter When this was done. It seemed her constant care Might some day cease to fright her.
Illness could be no crime, and dreadful harms Did come from too much sunshine. Her alarms Would lessen when she saw him standing there,

XLII

Simple and kind, a brother just returned From journeying, and he would treat her so. She knew his honest heart, and if there burned A spark in it he would not let it show. But when he really came, and stood beside Her underneath the fruitless cherry boughs, He seemed a tired man, gaunt, leaden-eyed. He made her no more vows,
Nor did he mention one thing he had tried To put into his letter. War supplied
Him topics. And his mind seemed occupied.

XLIII

Daily they met. And gravely walked and talked. He read her no more verses, and he stayed Only until their conversation, balked
Of every natural channel, fled dismayed. Again the next day she would meet him, trying To give her tone some healthy sprightliness, But his uneager dignity soon chilled
Her well-prepared address.
Thus Summer waned, and in the mornings, crying Of wild geese startled Eunice, and their flying Whirred overhead for days and never stilled.

XLIV

One afternoon of grey clouds and white wind, Eunice awaited Gervase by the river.
The Dartle splashed among the reeds and whined Over the willow-roots, and a long sliver Of caked and slobbered foam crept up the bank. All through the garden, drifts of skirling leaves Blew up, and settled down, and blew again. The cherry-trees were weaves
Of empty, knotted branches, and a dank Mist hid the house, mouldy it smelt and rank With sodden wood, and still unfalling rain.

XLV

Eunice paced up and down. No joy she took At meeting Gervase, but the custom grown Still held her. He was late. She sudden shook, And caught at her stopped heart. Her eyes had shown Sir Everard emerging from the mist.
His uniform was travel-stained and torn, His jackboots muddy, and his eager stride Jangled his spurs. A thorn
Entangled, trailed behind him. To the tryst He hastened. Eunice shuddered, ran — a twist Round a sharp turning and she fled to hide.

XLVI

But he had seen her as she swiftly ran, A flash of white against the river’s grey. “Eunice,” he called. “My Darling. Eunice. Can You hear me? It is Everard. All day
I have been riding like the very devil To reach you sooner. Are you startled, Dear?” He broke into a run and followed her,
And caught her, faint with fear,
Cowering and trembling as though she some evil Spirit were seeing. “What means this uncivil Greeting, Dear Heart?” He saw her senses blur.

XLVII

Swaying and catching at the seat, she tried To speak, but only gurgled in her throat. At last, straining to hold herself, she cried To him for pity, and her strange words smote A coldness through him, for she begged Gervase To leave her, ’twas too much a second time. Gervase must go, always Gervase, her mind Repeated like a rhyme
This name he did not know. In sad amaze He watched her, and that hunted, fearful gaze, So unremembering and so unkind.

XLVIII

Softly he spoke to her, patiently dealt With what he feared her madness. By and by He pierced her understanding. Then he knelt Upon the seat, and took her hands: “Now try To think a minute I am come, my Dear,
Unharmed and back on furlough. Are you glad To have your lover home again? To me,
Pickthorn has never had
A greater pleasantness. Could you not bear To come and sit awhile beside me here?
A stone between us surely should not be.”

XLIX

She smiled a little wan and ravelled smile, Then came to him and on his shoulder laid Her head, and they two rested there awhile, Each taking comfort. Not a word was said. But when he put his hand upon her breast And felt her beating heart, and with his lips Sought solace for her and himself. She started As one sharp lashed with whips,
And pushed him from her, moaning, his dumb quest Denied and shuddered from. And he, distrest, Loosened his wife, and long they sat there, parted.

L

Eunice was very quiet all that day,
A little dazed, and yet she seemed content. At candle-time, he asked if she would play Upon her harpsichord, at once she went
And tinkled airs from Lully’s `Carnival’ And `Bacchus’, newly brought away from France. Then jaunted through a lively rigadoon To please him with a dance
By Purcell, for he said that surely all Good Englishmen had pride in national
Accomplishment. But tiring of it soon

LI

He whispered her that if she had forgiven His startling her that afternoon, the clock Marked early bed-time. Surely it was Heaven He entered when she opened to his knock. The hours rustled in the trailing wind
Over the chimney. Close they lay and knew Only that they were wedded. At his touch Anxiety she threw
Away like a shed garment, and inclined Herself to cherish him, her happy mind
Quivering, unthinking, loving overmuch.

LII

Eunice lay long awake in the cool night After her husband slept. She gazed with joy Into the shadows, painting them with bright Pictures of all her future life’s employ. Twin gems they were, set to a single jewel, Each shining with the other. Soft she turned And felt his breath upon her hair, and prayed Her happiness was earned.
Past Earls of Crowe should give their blood for fuel To light this Frampton’s hearth-fire. By no cruel Affrightings would she ever be dismayed.

LIII

When Everard, next day, asked her in joke What name it was that she had called him by, She told him of Gervase, and as she spoke She hardly realized it was a lie.
Her vision she related, but she hid The fondness into which she had been led. Sir Everard just laughed and pinched her ear, And quite out of her head
The matter drifted. Then Sir Everard chid Himself for laziness, and off he rid
To see his men and count his farming-gear.

LIV

At supper he seemed overspread with gloom, But gave no reason why, he only asked
More questions of Gervase, and round the room He walked with restless strides. At last he tasked Her with a greater feeling for this man
Than she had given. Eunice quick denied The slightest interest other than a friend Might claim. But he replied
He thought she underrated. Then a ban He put on talk and music. He’d a plan
To work at, draining swamps at Pickthorn End.

LV

Next morning Eunice found her Lord still changed, Hard and unkind, with bursts of anger. Pride Kept him from speaking out. His probings ranged All round his torment. Lady Eunice tried To sooth him. So a week went by, and then His anguish flooded over; with clenched hands Striving to stem his words, he told her plain Tony had seen them, “brands
Burning in Hell,” the man had said. Again Eunice described her vision, and how when Awoke at last she had known dreadful pain.

LVI

He could not credit it, and misery fed Upon his spirit, day by day it grew.
To Gervase he forbade the house, and led The Lady Eunice such a life she flew
At his approaching footsteps. Winter came Snowing and blustering through the Manor trees. All the roof-edges spiked with icicles In fluted companies.
The Lady Eunice with her tambour-frame Kept herself sighing company. The flame
Of the birch fire glittered on the walls.

LVII

A letter was brought to her as she sat, Unsealed, unsigned. It told her that his wound, The writer’s, had so well recovered that To join his regiment he felt him bound. But would she not wish him one short “Godspeed”, He asked no more. Her greeting would suffice. He had resolved he never should return. Would she this sacrifice
Make for a dying man? How could she read The rest! But forcing her eyes to the deed, She read. Then dropped it in the fire to burn.

LVIII

Gervase had set the river for their meeting As farthest from the farms where Everard Spent all his days. How should he know such cheating Was quite expected, at least no dullard Was Everard Frampton. Hours by hours he hid Among the willows watching. Dusk had come, And from the Manor he had long been gone. Eunice her burdensome
Task set about. Hooded and cloaked, she slid Over the slippery paths, and soon amid
The sallows saw a boat tied to a stone.

LIX

Gervase arose, and kissed her hand, then pointed Into the boat. She shook her head, but he Begged her to realize why, and with disjointed Words told her of what peril there might be From listeners along the river bank.
A push would take them out of earshot. Ten Minutes was all he asked, then she should land, He go away again,
Forever this time. Yet how could he thank Her for so much compassion. Here she sank Upon a thwart, and bid him quick unstrand

LX

His boat. He cast the rope, and shoved the keel Free of the gravel; jumped, and dropped beside Her; took the oars, and they began to steal Under the overhanging trees. A wide
Gash of red lantern-light cleft like a blade Into the gloom, and struck on Eunice sitting Rigid and stark upon the after thwart. It blazed upon their flitting
In merciless light. A moment so it stayed, Then was extinguished, and Sir Everard made One leap, and landed just a fraction short.

LXI

His weight upon the gunwale tipped the boat To straining balance. Everard lurched and seized His wife and held her smothered to his coat. “Everard, loose me, we shall drown –” and squeezed Against him, she beat with her hands. He gasped “Never, by God!” The slidden boat gave way And the black foamy water split — and met. Bubbled up through the spray
A wailing rose and in the branches rasped, And creaked, and stilled. Over the treetops, clasped In the blue evening, a clear moon was set.

LXII

They lie entangled in the twisting roots, Embraced forever. Their cold marriage bed Close-canopied and curtained by the shoots Of willows and pale birches. At the head, White lilies, like still swans, placidly float And sway above the pebbles. Here are waves Sun-smitten for a threaded counterpane Gold-woven on their graves.
In perfect quietness they sleep, remote In the green, rippled twilight. Death has smote Them to perpetual oneness who were twain.

The Cremona Violin

Part First

Frau Concert-Meister Altgelt shut the door. A storm was rising, heavy gusts of wind
Swirled through the trees, and scattered leaves before Her on the clean, flagged path. The sky behind The distant town was black, and sharp defined Against it shone the lines of roofs and towers, Superimposed and flat like cardboard flowers.

A pasted city on a purple ground,
Picked out with luminous paint, it seemed. The cloud Split on an edge of lightning, and a sound Of rivers full and rushing boomed through bowed, Tossed, hissing branches. Thunder rumbled loud Beyond the town fast swallowing into gloom. Frau Altgelt closed the windows of each room.

She bustled round to shake by constant moving The strange, weird atmosphere. She stirred the fire, She twitched the supper-cloth as though improving Its careful setting, then her own attire Came in for notice, tiptoeing higher and higher She peered into the wall-glass, now adjusting A straying lock, or else a ribbon thrusting

This way or that to suit her. At last sitting, Or rather plumping down upon a chair,
She took her work, the stocking she was knitting, And watched the rain upon the window glare In white, bright drops. Through the black glass a flare Of lightning squirmed about her needles. “Oh!” She cried. “What can be keeping Theodore so!”

A roll of thunder set the casements clapping. Frau Altgelt flung her work aside and ran, Pulled open the house door, with kerchief flapping She stood and gazed along the street. A man Flung back the garden-gate and nearly ran Her down as she stood in the door. “Why, Dear, What in the name of patience brings you here?

Quick, Lotta, shut the door, my violin I fear is wetted. Now, Dear, bring a light. This clasp is very much too worn and thin. I’ll take the other fiddle out to-night
If it still rains. Tut! Tut! my child, you’re quite Clumsy. Here, help me, hold the case while I — Give me the candle. No, the inside’s dry.

Thank God for that! Well, Lotta, how are you? A bad storm, but the house still stands, I see. Is my pipe filled, my Dear? I’ll have a few Puffs and a snooze before I eat my tea.
What do you say? That you were feared for me? Nonsense, my child. Yes, kiss me, now don’t talk. I need a rest, the theatre’s a long walk.”

Her needles still, her hands upon her lap Patiently laid, Charlotta Altgelt sat
And watched the rain-run window. In his nap Her husband stirred and muttered. Seeing that, Charlotta rose and softly, pit-a-pat,
Climbed up the stairs, and in her little room Found sighing comfort with a moon in bloom.

But even rainy windows, silver-lit
By a new-burst, storm-whetted moon, may give But poor content to loneliness, and it
Was hard for young Charlotta so to strive And down her eagerness and learn to live In placid quiet. While her husband slept, Charlotta in her upper chamber wept.

Herr Concert-Meister Altgelt was a man Gentle and unambitious, that alone
Had kept him back. He played as few men can, Drawing out of his instrument a tone
So shimmering-sweet and palpitant, it shone Like a bright thread of sound hung in the air, Afloat and swinging upward, slim and fair.

Above all things, above Charlotta his wife, Herr Altgelt loved his violin, a fine
Cremona pattern, Stradivari’s life
Was flowering out of early discipline When this was fashioned. Of soft-cutting pine The belly was. The back of broadly curled Maple, the head made thick and sharply whirled.

The slanting, youthful sound-holes through The belly of fine, vigorous pine
Mellowed each note and blew
It out again with a woody flavour Tanged and fragrant as fir-trees are
When breezes in their needles jar.

The varnish was an orange-brown
Lustered like glass that’s long laid down Under a crumbling villa stone.
Purfled stoutly, with mitres which point Straight up the corners. Each curve and joint Clear, and bold, and thin.
Such was Herr Theodore’s violin.

Seven o’clock, the Concert-Meister gone With his best violin, the rain being stopped, Frau Lotta in the kitchen sat alone
Watching the embers which the fire dropped. The china shone upon the dresser, topped By polished copper vessels which her skill Kept brightly burnished. It was very still.

An air from `Orfeo’ hummed in her head. Herr Altgelt had been practising before
The night’s performance. Charlotta had plead With him to stay with her. Even at the door She’d begged him not to go. “I do implore You for this evening, Theodore,” she had said. “Leave them to-night, and stay with me instead.”

“A silly poppet!” Theodore pinched her ear. “You’d like to have our good Elector turn Me out I think.” “But, Theodore, something queer Ails me. Oh, do but notice how they burn, My cheeks! The thunder worried me. You’re stern, And cold, and only love your work, I know. But Theodore, for this evening, do not go.”

But he had gone, hurriedly at the end, For she had kept him talking. Now she sat Alone again, always alone, the trend
Of all her thinking brought her back to that She wished to banish. What would life be? What? For she was young, and loved, while he was moved Only by music. Each day that was proved.

Each day he rose and practised. While he played, She stopped her work and listened, and her heart Swelled painfully beneath her bodice. Swayed And longing, she would hide from him her smart. “Well, Lottchen, will that do?” Then what a start She gave, and she would run to him and cry, And he would gently chide her, “Fie, Dear, fie.

I’m glad I played it well. But such a taking! You’ll hear the thing enough before I’ve done.” And she would draw away from him, still shaking. Had he but guessed she was another one,
Another violin. Her strings were aching, Stretched to the touch of his bow hand, again He played and she almost broke at the strain.

Where was the use of thinking of it now, Sitting alone and listening to the clock! She’d best make haste and knit another row. Three hours at least must pass before his knock Would startle her. It always was a shock. She listened — listened — for so long before, That when it came her hearing almost tore.

She caught herself just starting in to listen. What nerves she had: rattling like brittle sticks! She wandered to the window, for the glisten Of a bright moon was tempting. Snuffed the wicks Of her two candles. Still she could not fix To anything. The moon in a broad swath
Beckoned her out and down the garden-path.

Against the house, her hollyhocks stood high And black, their shadows doubling them. The night Was white and still with moonlight, and a sigh Of blowing leaves was there, and the dim flight Of insects, and the smell of aconite,
And stocks, and Marvel of Peru. She flitted Along the path, where blocks of shadow pitted

The even flags. She let herself go dreaming Of Theodore her husband, and the tune
From `Orfeo’ swam through her mind, but seeming Changed — shriller. Of a sudden, the clear moon Showed her a passer-by, inopportune
Indeed, but here he was, whistling and striding. Lotta squeezed in between the currants, hiding.

“The best laid plans of mice and men,” alas! The stranger came indeed, but did not pass. Instead, he leant upon the garden-gate,
Folding his arms and whistling. Lotta’s state, Crouched in the prickly currants, on wet grass, Was far from pleasant. Still the stranger stayed, And Lotta in her currants watched, dismayed.

He seemed a proper fellow standing there In the bright moonshine. His cocked hat was laced With silver, and he wore his own brown hair Tied, but unpowdered. His whole bearing graced A fine cloth coat, and ruffled shirt, and chased Sword-hilt. Charlotta looked, but her position Was hardly easy. When would his volition

Suggest his walking on? And then that tune! A half-a-dozen bars from `Orfeo’
Gone over and over, and murdered. What Fortune Had brought him there to stare about him so? “Ach, Gott im Himmel! Why will he not go!” Thought Lotta, but the young man whistled on, And seemed in no great hurry to be gone.

Charlotta, crouched among the currant bushes, Watched the moon slowly dip from twig to twig. If Theodore should chance to come, and blushes Streamed over her. He would not care a fig, He’d only laugh. She pushed aside a sprig Of sharp-edged leaves and peered, then she uprose Amid her bushes. “Sir,” said she, “pray whose

Garden do you suppose you’re watching? Why Do you stand there? I really must insist Upon your leaving. ‘Tis unmannerly
To stay so long.” The young man gave a twist And turned about, and in the amethyst
Moonlight he saw her like a nymph half-risen From the green bushes which had been her prison.

He swept his hat off in a hurried bow. “Your pardon, Madam, I had no idea
I was not quite alone, and that is how I came to stay. My trespass was not sheer Impertinence. I thought no one was here, And really gardens cry to be admired.
To-night especially it seemed required.

And may I beg to introduce myself?
Heinrich Marohl of Munich. And your name?” Charlotta told him. And the artful elf
Promptly exclaimed about her husband’s fame. So Lotta, half-unwilling, slowly came
To conversation with him. When she went Into the house, she found the evening spent.

Theodore arrived quite wearied out and teased, With all excitement in him burned away.
It had gone well, he said, the audience pleased, And he had played his very best to-day,
But afterwards he had been forced to stay And practise with the stupid ones. His head Ached furiously, and he must get to bed.

Part Second

Herr Concert-Meister Altgelt played, And the four strings of his violin
Were spinning like bees on a day in Spring. The notes rose into the wide sun-mote
Which slanted through the window, They lay like coloured beads a-row,
They knocked together and parted, And started to dance,
Skipping, tripping, each one slipping Under and over the others so
That the polychrome fire streamed like a lance Or a comet’s tail,
Behind them.
Then a wail arose — crescendo — And dropped from off the end of the bow, And the dancing stopped.
A scent of lilies filled the room, Long and slow. Each large white bloom
Breathed a sound which was holy perfume from a blessed censer, And the hum of an organ tone,
And they waved like fans in a hall of stone Over a bier standing there in the centre, alone. Each lily bent slowly as it was blown. Like smoke they rose from the violin — Then faded as a swifter bowing
Jumbled the notes like wavelets flowing In a splashing, pashing, rippling motion Between broad meadows to an ocean
Wide as a day and blue as a flower, Where every hour
Gulls dipped, and scattered, and squawked, and squealed, And over the marshes the Angelus pealed, And the prows of the fishing-boats were spattered With spray.
And away a couple of frigates were starting To race to Java with all sails set,
Topgallants, and royals, and stunsails, and jibs, And wide moonsails; and the shining rails Were polished so bright they sparked in the sun. All the sails went up with a run:
“They call me Hanging Johnny,
Away-i-oh;
They call me Hanging Johnny,
So hang, boys, hang.”
And the sun had set and the high moon whitened, And the ship heeled over to the breeze. He drew her into the shade of the sails, And whispered tales
Of voyages in the China seas,
And his arm around her
Held and bound her.
She almost swooned,
With the breeze and the moon
And the slipping sea,
And he beside her,
Touching her, leaning —
The ship careening,
With the white moon steadily shining over Her and her lover,
Theodore, still her lover!

Then a quiver fell on the crowded notes, And slowly floated
A single note which spread and spread Till it filled the room with a shimmer like gold, And noises shivered throughout its length, And tried its strength.
They pulled it, and tore it,
And the stuff waned thinner, but still it bore it. Then a wide rent
Split the arching tent,
And balls of fire spurted through, Spitting yellow, and mauve, and blue.
One by one they were quenched as they fell, Only the blue burned steadily.
Paler and paler it grew, and — faded — away. Herr Altgelt stopped.

“Well, Lottachen, my Dear, what do you say? I think I’m in good trim. Now let’s have dinner. What’s this, my Love, you’re very sweet to-day. I wonder how it happens I’m the winner
Of so much sweetness. But I think you’re thinner; You’re like a bag of feathers on my knee. Why, Lotta child, you’re almost strangling me.

I’m glad you’re going out this afternoon. The days are getting short, and I’m so tied At the Court Theatre my poor little bride Has not much junketing I fear, but soon
I’ll ask our manager to grant a boon. To-night, perhaps, I’ll get a pass for you, And when I go, why Lotta can come too.

Now dinner, Love. I want some onion soup To whip me up till that rehearsal’s over. You know it’s odd how some women can stoop! Fraeulein Gebnitz has taken on a lover,
A Jew named Goldstein. No one can discover If it’s his money. But she lives alone
Practically. Gebnitz is a stone,

Pores over books all day, and has no ear For his wife’s singing. Artists must have men; They need appreciation. But it’s queer
What messes people make of their lives, when They should know more. If Gebnitz finds out, then His wife will pack. Yes, shut the door at once. I did not feel it cold, I am a dunce.”

Frau Altgelt tied her bonnet on and went Into the streets. A bright, crisp Autumn wind Flirted her skirts and hair. A turbulent, Audacious wind it was, now close behind, Pushing her bonnet forward till it twined The strings across her face, then from in front Slantingly swinging at her with a shunt,

Until she lay against it, struggling, pushing, Dismayed to find her clothing tightly bound Around her, every fold and wrinkle crushing Itself upon her, so that she was wound
In draperies as clinging as those found Sucking about a sea nymph on the frieze
Of some old Grecian temple. In the breeze

The shops and houses had a quality
Of hard and dazzling colour; something sharp And buoyant, like white, puffing sails at sea. The city streets were twanging like a harp. Charlotta caught the movement, skippingly She blew along the pavement, hardly knowing Toward what destination she was going.

She fetched up opposite a jeweller’s shop, Where filigreed tiaras shone like crowns, And necklaces of emeralds seemed to drop And then float up again with lightness. Browns Of striped agates struck her like cold frowns Amid the gaiety of topaz seals,
Carved though they were with heads, and arms, and wheels.

A row of pencils knobbed with quartz or sard Delighted her. And rings of every size
Turned smartly round like hoops before her eyes, Amethyst-flamed or ruby-girdled, jarred
To spokes and flashing triangles, and starred Like rockets bursting on a festal day.
Charlotta could not tear herself away.

With eyes glued tightly on a golden box, Whose rare enamel piqued her with its hue, Changeable, iridescent, shuttlecocks
Of shades and lustres always darting through Its level, superimposing sheet of blue,
Charlotta did not hear footsteps approaching. She started at the words: “Am I encroaching?”

“Oh, Heinrich, how you frightened me! I thought We were to meet at three, is it quite that?” “No, it is not,” he answered, “but I’ve caught The trick of missing you. One thing is flat, I cannot go on this way. Life is what
Might best be conjured up by the word: `Hell’. Dearest, when will you come?” Lotta, to quell

His effervescence, pointed to the gems Within the window, asked him to admire
A bracelet or a buckle. But one stems Uneasily the burning of a fire.
Heinrich was chafing, pricked by his desire. Little by little she wooed him to her mood Until at last he promised to be good.

But here he started on another tack;
To buy a jewel, which one would Lotta choose. She vainly urged against him all her lack Of other trinkets. Should she dare to use A ring or brooch her husband might accuse Her of extravagance, and ask to see
A strict accounting, or still worse might be.

But Heinrich would not be persuaded. Why Should he not give her what he liked? And in He went, determined certainly to buy
A thing so beautiful that it would win Her wavering fancy. Altgelt’s violin
He would outscore by such a handsome jewel That Lotta could no longer be so cruel!

Pity Charlotta, torn in diverse ways. If she went in with him, the shopman might Recognize her, give her her name; in days To come he could denounce her. In her fright She almost fled. But Heinrich would be quite Capable of pursuing. By and by
She pushed the door and entered hurriedly.

It took some pains to keep him from bestowing A pair of ruby earrings, carved like roses, The setting twined to represent the growing Tendrils and leaves, upon her. “Who supposes I could obtain such things! It simply closes All comfort for me.” So he changed his mind And bought as slight a gift as he could find.

A locket, frosted over with seed pearls, Oblong and slim, for wearing at the neck, Or hidden in the bosom; their joined curls Should lie in it. And further to bedeck
His love, Heinrich had picked a whiff, a fleck, The merest puff of a thin, linked chain
To hang it from. Lotta could not refrain

From weeping as they sauntered down the street. She did not want the locket, yet she did. To have him love her she found very sweet, But it is hard to keep love always hid.
Then there was something in her heart which chid Her, told her she loved Theodore in him, That all these meetings were a foolish whim.

She thought of Theodore and the life they led, So near together, but so little mingled. The great clouds bulged and bellied overhead, And the fresh wind about her body tingled; The crane of a large warehouse creaked and jingled; Charlotta held her breath for very fear, About her in the street she seemed to hear: “They call me Hanging Johnny,
Away-i-oh;
They call me Hanging Johnny,
So hang, boys, hang.”

And it was Theodore, under the racing skies, Who held her and who whispered in her ear. She knew her heart was telling her no lies, Beating and hammering. He was so dear,
The touch of him would send her in a queer Swoon that was half an ecstasy. And yearning For Theodore, she wandered, slowly turning

Street after street as Heinrich wished it so. He had some aim, she had forgotten what. Their progress was confused and very slow, But at the last they reached a lonely spot, A garden far above the highest shot
Of soaring steeple. At their feet, the town Spread open like a chequer-board laid down.

Lotta was dimly conscious of the rest, Vaguely remembered how he clasped the chain About her neck. She treated it in jest,
And saw his face cloud over with sharp pain. Then suddenly she felt as though a strain Were put upon her, collared like a slave, Leashed in the meshes of this thing he gave.

She seized the flimsy rings with both her hands To snap it, but they held with odd persistence. Her eyes were blinded by two wind-blown strands Of hair which had been loosened. Her resistance Melted within her, from remotest distance, Misty, unreal, his face grew warm and near, And giving way she knew him very dear.

For long he held her, and they both gazed down At the wide city, and its blue, bridged river. From wooing he jested with her, snipped the blown Strands of her hair, and tied them with a sliver Cut from his own head. But she gave a shiver When, opening the locket, they were placed Under the glass, commingled and enlaced.

“When will you have it so with us?” He sighed. She shook her head. He pressed her further. “No, No, Heinrich, Theodore loves me,” and she tried To free herself and rise. He held her so, Clipped by his arms, she could not move nor go. “But you love me,” he whispered, with his face Burning against her through her kerchief’s lace.

Frau Altgelt knew she toyed with fire, knew That what her husband lit this other man Fanned to hot flame. She told herself that few Women were so discreet as she, who ran
No danger since she knew what things to ban. She opened her house door at five o’clock, A short half-hour before her husband’s knock.

Part Third

The `Residenz-Theater’ sparked and hummed With lights and people. Gebnitz was to sing, That rare soprano. All the fiddles strummed With tuning up; the wood-winds made a ring Of reedy bubbling noises, and the sting
Of sharp, red brass pierced every ear-drum; patting From muffled tympani made a dark slatting

Across the silver shimmering of flutes; A bassoon grunted, and an oboe wailed;
The ‘celli pizzicato-ed like great lutes, And mutterings of double basses trailed
Away to silence, while loud harp-strings hailed Their thin, bright colours down in such a scatter They lost themselves amid the general clatter.

Frau Altgelt in the gallery, alone,
Felt lifted up into another world.
Before her eyes a thousand candles shone In the great chandeliers. A maze of curled And powdered periwigs past her eyes swirled. She smelt the smoke of candles guttering, And caught the glint of jewelled fans fluttering

All round her in the boxes. Red and gold, The house, like rubies set in filigree,
Filliped the candlelight about, and bold Young sparks with eye-glasses, unblushingly Ogled fair beauties in the balcony.
An officer went by, his steel spurs jangling. Behind Charlotta an old man was wrangling

About a play-bill he had bought and lost. Three drunken soldiers had to be ejected. Frau Altgelt’s eyes stared at the vacant post Of Concert-Meister, she at once detected The stir which brought him. But she felt neglected When with no glance about him or her way, He lifted up his violin to play.

The curtain went up? Perhaps. If so, Charlotta never saw it go.
The famous Fraeulein Gebnitz’ singing Only came to her like the ringing
Of bells at a festa
Which swing in the air
And nobody realizes they are there. They jingle and jangle,
And clang, and bang,
And never a soul could tell whether they rang, For the plopping of guns and rockets
And the chinking of silver to spend, in one’s pockets, And the shuffling and clapping of feet, And the loud flapping
Of flags, with the drums,
As the military comes.
It’s a famous tune to walk to,
And I wonder where they’re off to. Step-step-stepping to the beating of the drums. But the rhythm changes as though a mist Were curling and twisting
Over the landscape.
For a moment a rhythmless, tuneless fog Encompasses her. Then her senses jog
To the breath of a stately minuet. Herr Altgelt’s violin is set
In tune to the slow, sweeping bows, and retreats and advances, To curtsies brushing the waxen floor as the Court dances. Long and peaceful like warm Summer nights When stars shine in the quiet river. And against the lights Blundering insects knock,
And the `Rathaus’ clock
Booms twice, through the shrill sounds Of flutes and horns in the lamplit grounds. Pressed against him in the mazy wavering Of a country dance, with her short breath quavering She leans upon the beating, throbbing
Music. Laughing, sobbing,
Feet gliding after sliding feet;
His — hers —
The ballroom blurs —
She feels the air
Lifting her hair,
And the lapping of water on the stone stair. He is there! He is there!
Twang harps, and squeal, you thin violins, That the dancers may dance, and never discover The old stone stair leading down to the river With the chestnut-tree branches hanging over Her and her lover.
Theodore, still her lover!

The evening passed like this, in a half faint, Delirium with waking intervals
Which were the entr’acts. Under the restraint Of a large company, the constant calls
For oranges or syrops from the stalls Outside, the talk, the passing to and fro, Lotta sat ill at ease, incognito.

She heard the Gebnitz praised, the tenor lauded, The music vaunted as most excellent.
The scenery and the costumes were applauded, The latter it was whispered had been sent From Italy. The Herr Direktor spent
A fortune on them, so the gossips said. Charlotta felt a lightness in her head.

When the next act began, her eyes were swimming, Her prodded ears were aching and confused. The first notes from the orchestra sent skimming Her outward consciousness. Her brain was fused Into the music, Theodore’s music! Used
To hear him play, she caught his single tone. For all she noticed they two were alone.

Part Fourth

Frau Altgelt waited in the chilly street, Hustled by lackeys who ran up and down
Shouting their coachmen’s names; forced to retreat A pace or two by lurching chairmen; thrown Rudely aside by linkboys; boldly shown
The ogling rapture in two bleary eyes Thrust close to hers in most unpleasant wise.

Escaping these, she hit a liveried arm, Was sworn at by this glittering gentleman And ordered off. However, no great harm
Came to her. But she looked a trifle wan When Theodore, her belated guardian,
Emerged. She snuggled up against him, trembling, Half out of fear, half out of the assembling

Of all the thoughts and needs his playing had given. Had she enjoyed herself, he wished to know. “Oh! Theodore, can’t you feel that it was Heaven!” “Heaven! My Lottachen, and was it so?
Gebnitz was in good voice, but all the flow Of her last aria was spoiled by Klops,
A wretched flutist, she was mad as hops.”

He was so simple, so matter-of-fact,
Charlotta Altgelt knew not what to say To bring him to her dream. His lack of tact Kept him explaining all the homeward way How this thing had gone well, that badly. “Stay, Theodore!” she cried at last. “You know to me Nothing was real, it was an ecstasy.”

And he was heartily glad she had enjoyed Herself so much, and said so. “But it’s good To be got home again.” He was employed
In looking at his violin, the wood
Was old, and evening air did it no good. But when he drew up to the table for tea Something about his wife’s vivacity

Struck him as hectic, worried him in short. He talked of this and that but watched her close. Tea over, he endeavoured to extort
The cause of her excitement. She arose And stood beside him, trying to compose
Herself, all whipt to quivering, curdled life, And he, poor fool, misunderstood his wife.

Suddenly, broken through her anxious grasp, Her music-kindled love crashed on him there. Amazed, he felt her fling against him, clasp Her arms about him, weighing down his chair, Sobbing out all her hours of despair.
“Theodore, a woman needs to hear things proved. Unless you tell me, I feel I’m not loved.”