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Late Lyrics and Earlier by Thomas Hardy

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With never a fault in its flow,
That we listened to here those long
Long years ago.

A pleasing marvel is how
A strain of such rapturous rote
Should have gone on thus till now
Unchanged in a note!

- But it's not the selfsame bird. -
No: perished to dust is he . . .
As also are those who heard
That song with me.


There is nobody on the road
But I,
And no beseeming abode
I can try
For shelter, so abroad
I must lie.

The stars feel not far up,
And to be
The lights by which I sup
Set out in a hollow cup
Over me.

They wag as though they were
Panting for joy
Where they shine, above all care,
And annoy,
And demons of despair -
Life's alloy.

Sometimes outside the fence
Feet swing past,
Clock-like, and then go hence,
Till at last
There is a silence, dense,
Deep, and vast.

A wanderer, witch-drawn
To and fro,
To-morrow, at the dawn,
On I go,
And where I rest anon
Do not know!

Yet it's meet--this bed of hay
And roofless plight;
For there's a house of clay,
My own, quite,
To roof me soon, all day
And all night.


This is the story a man told me
Of his life's one day of dreamery.

A woman came into his room
Between the dawn and the creeping day:
She was the years-wed wife from whom
He had parted, and who lived far away,
As if strangers they.

He wondered, and as she stood
She put on youth in her look and air,
And more was he wonderstruck as he viewed
Her form and flesh bloom yet more fair
While he watched her there;

Till she freshed to the pink and brown
That were hers on the night when first they met,
When she was the charm of the idle town
And he the pick of the club-fire set . . .
His eyes grew wet,

And he stretched his arms: "Stay--rest!--"
He cried. "Abide with me so, my own!"
But his arms closed in on his hard bare breast;
She had vanished with all he had looked upon
Of her beauty: gone.

He clothed, and drew downstairs,
But she was not in the house, he found;
And he passed out under the leafy pairs
Of the avenue elms, and searched around
To the park-pale bound.

He mounted, and rode till night
To the city to which she had long withdrawn,
The vision he bore all day in his sight
Being her young self as pondered on
In the dim of dawn.

"--The lady here long ago -
Is she now here?--young--or such age as she is?"
"--She is still here."--"Thank God. Let her know;
She'll pardon a comer so late as this
Whom she'd fain not miss."

She received him--an ancient dame,
Who hemmed, with features frozen and numb,
"How strange!--I'd almost forgotten your name! -
A call just now--is troublesome;
Why did you come?"


Call off your eyes from care
By some determined deftness; put forth joys
Dear as excess without the core that cloys,
And charm Life's lourings fair.

Exalt and crown the hour
That girdles us, and fill it full with glee,
Blind glee, excelling aught could ever be
Were heedfulness in power.

Send up such touching strains
That limitless recruits from Fancy's pack
Shall rush upon your tongue, and tender back
All that your soul contains.

For what do we know best?
That a fresh love-leaf crumpled soon will dry,
And that men moment after moment die,
Of all scope dispossest.

If I have seen one thing
It is the passing preciousness of dreams;
That aspects are within us; and who seems
Most kingly is the King.



Had I but lived a hundred years ago
I might have gone, as I have gone this year,
By Warmwell Cross on to a Cove I know,
And Time have placed his finger on me there:

"YOU SEE THAT MAN?"--I might have looked, and said,
"O yes: I see him. One that boat has brought
Which dropped down Channel round Saint Alban's Head.
So commonplace a youth calls not my thought."

"YOU SEE THAT MAN?"--"Why yes; I told you; yes:
Of an idling town-sort; thin; hair brown in hue;
And as the evening light scants less and less
He looks up at a star, as many do."

"YOU SEE THAT MAN?"--"Nay, leave me!" then I plead,
"I have fifteen miles to vamp across the lea,
And it grows dark, and I am weary-kneed:
I have said the third time; yes, that man I see!

"Good. That man goes to Rome--to death, despair;
And no one notes him now but you and I:
A hundred years, and the world will follow him there,
And bend with reverence where his ashes lie."

September 1920.

Note.--In September 1820 Keats, on his way to Rome, landed one day on
the Dorset coast, and composed the sonnet, "Bright star! would I were
steadfast as thou art." The spot of his landing is judged to have
been Lulworth Cove.


That night, that night,
That song, that song!
Will such again be evened quite
Through lifetimes long?

No mirth was shown
To outer seers,
But mood to match has not been known
In modern years.

O eyes that smiled,
O lips that lured;
That such would last was one beguiled
To think ensured!

That night, that night,
That song, that song;
O drink to its recalled delight,
Though tears may throng!


I--On Christmas Eve

Late on Christmas Eve, in the street alone,
Outside a house, on the pavement-stone,
I sang to her, as we'd sung together
On former eves ere I felt her tether. -
Above the door of green by me
Was she, her casement seen by me;
But she would not heed
What I melodied
In my soul's sore need -
She would not heed.

Cassiopeia overhead,
And the Seven of the Wain, heard what I said
As I bent me there, and voiced, and fingered
Upon the strings. . . . Long, long I lingered:
Only the curtains hid from her
One whom caprice had bid from her;
But she did not come,
And my heart grew numb
And dull my strum;
She did not come.

II--A Year Later

I skimmed the strings; I sang quite low;
I hoped she would not come or know
That the house next door was the one now dittied,
Not hers, as when I had played unpitied;
- Next door, where dwelt a heart fresh stirred,
My new Love, of good will to me,
Unlike my old Love chill to me,
Who had not cared for my notes when heard:
Yet that old Love came
To the other's name
As hers were the claim;
Yea, the old Love came

My viol sank mute, my tongue stood still,
I tried to sing on, but vain my will:
I prayed she would guess of the later, and leave me;
She stayed, as though, were she slain by the smart,
She would bear love's burn for a newer heart.
The tense-drawn moment wrought to bereave me
Of voice, and I turned in a dumb despair
At her finding I'd come to another there.
Sick I withdrew
At love's grim hue
Ere my last Love knew;
Sick I withdrew.

From an old copy.


Tabitha dressed for her wedding:-
"Tabby, why look so sad?"
"--O I feel a great gloominess spreading, spreading,
Instead of supremely glad! . . .

"I called on Carry last night,
And he came whilst I was there,
Not knowing I'd called. So I kept out of sight,
And I heard what he said to her:

"'--Ah, I'd far liefer marry
YOU, Dear, to-morrow!' he said,
'But that cannot be.'--O I'd give him to Carry,
And willingly see them wed,

"But how can I do it when
His baby will soon be born?
After that I hope I may die. And then
She can have him. I shall not mourn!'


You were here at his young beginning,
You are not here at his aged end;
Off he coaxed you from Life's mad spinning,
Lest you should see his form extend
Shivering, sighing,
Slowly dying,
And a tear on him expend.

So it comes that we stand lonely
In the star-lit avenue,
Dropping broken lipwords only,
For we hear no songs from you,
Such as flew here
For the new year
Once, while six bells swung thereto.


"Awake! I'm off to cities far away,"
I said; and rose, on peradventures bent.
The chimes played "Life's a Bumper!" on that day
To the measure of my walking as I went:
Their sweetness frisked and floated on the lea,
As they played out "Life's a Bumper!" there to me.

"Awake!" I said. "I go to take a bride!"
--The sun arose behind me ruby-red
As I journeyed townwards from the countryside,
The chiming bells saluting near ahead.
Their sweetness swelled in tripping tings of glee
As they played out "Life's a Bumper!" there to me.

"Again arise." I seek a turfy slope,
And go forth slowly on an autumn noon,
And there I lay her who has been my hope,
And think, "O may I follow hither soon!"
While on the wind the chimes come cheerily,
Playing out "Life's a Bumper!" there to me.



I worked no wile to meet you,
My sight was set elsewhere,
I sheered about to shun you,
And lent your life no care.
I was unprimed to greet you
At such a date and place,
Constraint alone had won you
Vision of my strange face!

You did not seek to see me
Then or at all, you said,
--Meant passing when you neared me,
But stumblingblocks forbade.
You even had thought to flee me,
By other mindings moved;
No influent star endeared me,
Unknown, unrecked, unproved!

What, then, was there to tell us
The flux of flustering hours
Of their own tide would bring us
By no device of ours
To where the daysprings well us
Heart-hydromels that cheer,
Till Time enearth and swing us
Round with the turning sphere.


"There is not much that I can do,
For I've no money that's quite my own!"
Spoke up the pitying child -
A little boy with a violin
At the station before the train came in, -
"But I can play my fiddle to you,
And a nice one 'tis, and good in tone!"

The man in the handcuffs smiled;
The constable looked, and he smiled, too,
As the fiddle began to twang;
And the man in the handcuffs suddenly sang
"This life so free
Is the thing for me!"
And the constable smiled, and said no word,
As if unconscious of what he heard;
And so they went on till the train came in -
The convict, and boy with the violin.


So there sat they,
The estranged two,
Thrust in one pew
By chance that day;
Placed so, breath-nigh,
Each comer unwitting
Who was to be sitting
In touch close by.

Thus side by side
Blindly alighted,
They seemed united
As groom and bride,
Who'd not communed
For many years -
Lives from twain spheres
With hearts distuned.

Her fringes brushed
His garment's hem
As the harmonies rushed
Through each of them:
Her lips could be heard
In the creed and psalms,
And their fingers neared
At the giving of alms.

And women and men,
The matins ended,
By looks commended
Them, joined again.
Quickly said she,
"Don't undeceive them -
Better thus leave them:"
"Quite so," said he.

Slight words!--the last
Between them said,
Those two, once wed,
Who had not stood fast.
Diverse their ways
From the western door,
To meet no more
In their span of days.


'Twere sweet to have a comrade here,
Who'd vow to love this garreteer,
By city people's snap and sneer
Tried oft and hard!

We'd rove a truant cock and hen
To some snug solitary glen,
And never be seen to haunt again
This teeming yard.

Within a cot of thatch and clay
We'd list the flitting pipers play,
Our lives a twine of good and gay
Enwreathed discreetly;

Our blithest deeds so neighbouring wise
That doves should coo in soft surprise,
"These must belong to Paradise
Who live so sweetly."

Our clock should be the closing flowers,
Our sprinkle-bath the passing showers,
Our church the alleyed willow bowers,
The truth our theme;

And infant shapes might soon abound:
Their shining heads would dot us round
Like mushroom balls on grassy ground . . .
--But all is dream!

O God, that creatures framed to feel
A yearning nature's strong appeal
Should writhe on this eternal wheel
In rayless grime;

And vainly note, with wan regret,
Each star of early promise set;
Till Death relieves, and they forget
Their one Life's time!



I do not wish to win your vow
To take me soon or late as bride,
And lift me from the nook where now
I tarry your farings to my side.
I am blissful ever to abide
In this green labyrinth--let all be,
If but, whatever may betide,
You do not leave off loving me!

Your comet-comings I will wait
With patience time shall not wear through;
The yellowing years will not abate
My largened love and truth to you,
Nor drive me to complaint undue
Of absence, much as I may pine,
If never another 'twixt us two
Shall come, and you stand wholly mine.


You say, O Sage, when weather-checked,
"I have been favoured so
With cloudless skies, I must expect
This dash of rain or snow."

"Since health has been my lot," you say,
"So many months of late,
I must not chafe that one short day
Of sickness mars my state."

You say, "Such bliss has been my share
From Love's unbroken smile,
It is but reason I should bear
A cross therein awhile."

And thus you do not count upon
Continuance of joy;
But, when at ease, expect anon
A burden of annoy.

But, Sage--this Earth--why not a place
Where no reprisals reign,
Where never a spell of pleasantness
Makes reasonable a pain?

December 21, 1908.



He was leaning by a face,
He was looking into eyes,
And he knew a trysting-place,
And he heard seductive sighs;
But the face,
And the eyes,
And the place,
And the sighs,
Were not, alas, the right ones--the ones meet for him -
Though fine and sweet the features, and the feelings all abrim.


She was looking at a form,
She was listening for a tread,
She could feel a waft of charm
When a certain name was said;
But the form,
And the tread,
And the charm
Of name said,
Were the wrong ones for her, and ever would be so,
While the heritor of the right it would have saved her soul to know!


There trudges one to a merry-making
With a sturdy swing,
On whom the rain comes down.

To fetch the saving medicament
Is another bent,
On whom the rain comes down.

One slowly drives his herd to the stall
Ere ill befall,
On whom the rain comes down.

This bears his missives of life and death
With quickening breath,
On whom the rain comes down.

One watches for signals of wreck or war
From the hill afar,
On whom the rain comes down.

No care if he gain a shelter or none,
Unhired moves one,
On whom the rain comes down.

And another knows nought of its chilling fall
Upon him at all,
On whom the rain comes down.

October 1904.


'Tis May morning,
No cloud warning
Of rain to-day.
Where shall I go to,
Go to, go to? -
Can I say No to

Well--what reason
Now at this season
Is there for treason
To other shrines?
Tristram is not there,
Isolt forgot there,
New eras blot there
Sought-for signs!

Stratford-on-Avon -
Poesy-paven -
I'll find a haven
There, somehow! -
Nay--I'm but caught of
Dreams long thought of,
The Swan knows nought of
His Avon now!

What shall it be, then,
I go to see, then,
Under the plea, then,
Of votary?
I'll go to Lakeland,
Lakeland, Lakeland,
Certainly Lakeland
Let it be.

But--why to that place,
That place, that place,
Such a hard come-at place
Need I fare?
When its bard cheers no more,
Loves no more, fears no more,
Sees no more, hears no more
Anything there!

Ah, there is Scotland,
Burns's Scotland,
And Waverley's. To what land
Better can I hie? -
Yet--if no whit now
Feel those of it now -
Care not a bit now
For it--why I?

I'll seek a town street,
Aye, a brick-brown street,
Quite a tumbledown street,
Drawing no eyes.
For a Mary dwelt there,
And a Percy felt there
Heart of him melt there,
A Claire likewise.

Why incline to THAT city,
Such a city, THAT city,
Now a mud-bespat city! -
Care the lovers who
Now live and walk there,
Sit there and talk there,
Buy there, or hawk there,
Or wed, or woo?

Laughters in a volley
Greet so fond a folly
As nursing melancholy
In this and that spot,
Which, with most endeavour,
Those can visit never,
But for ever and ever
Will now know not!

If, on lawns Elysian,
With a broadened vision
And a faint derision
Conscious be they,
How they might reprove me
That these fancies move me,
Think they ill behoove me,
Smile, and say:

"What!--our hoar old houses,
Where the past dead-drowses,
Nor a child nor spouse is
Of our name at all?
Such abodes to care for,
Inquire about and bear for,
And suffer wear and tear for -
How weak of you and small!"

May 1921.


Wit, weight, or wealth there was not
In anything that was said,
In anything that was done;
All was of scope to cause not
A triumph, dazzle, or dread
To even the subtlest one,
My friend,
To even the subtlest one.

But there was a new afflation -
An aura zephyring round,
That care infected not:
It came as a salutation,
And, in my sweet astound,
I scarcely witted what
Might pend,
I scarcely witted what.

The hills in samewise to me
Spoke, as they grayly gazed,
--First hills to speak so yet!
The thin-edged breezes blew me
What I, though cobwebbed, crazed,
Was never to forget,
My friend,
Was never to forget!


O do not praise my beauty more,
In such word-wild degree,
And say I am one all eyes adore;
For these things harass me!

But do for ever softly say:
"From now unto the end
Come weal, come wanzing, come what may,
Dear, I will be your friend."

I hate my beauty in the glass:
My beauty is not I:
I wear it: none cares whether, alas,
Its wearer live or die!

The inner I O care for, then,
Yea, me and what I am,
And shall be at the gray hour when
My cheek begins to clam.

Note.--"The Regent Street beauty, Miss Verrey, the Swiss
confectioner's daughter, whose personal attractions have been so
mischievously exaggerated, died of fever on Monday evening, brought
on by the annoyance she had been for some time subject to."--London
paper, October 1828.


Fili hominis, ecce ego tollo a te desiderabile oculorum tuorom in
plaga.--EZECH. xxiv. 16.

How I remember cleaning that strange picture!
I had been deep in duty for my sick neighbour -
His besides my own--over several Sundays,
Often, too, in the week; so with parish pressures,
Baptisms, burials, doctorings, conjugal counsel -
All the whatnots asked of a rural parson -
Faith, I was well-nigh broken, should have been fully
Saving for one small secret relaxation,
One that in mounting manhood had grown my hobby.

This was to delve at whiles for easel-lumber,
Stowed in the backmost slums of a soon-reached city,
Merely on chance to uncloak some worthy canvas,
Panel, or plaque, blacked blind by uncouth adventure,
Yet under all concealing a precious art-feat.
Such I had found not yet. My latest capture
Came from the rooms of a trader in ancient house-gear
Who had no scent of beauty or soul for brushcraft.
Only a tittle cost it--murked with grime-films,
Gatherings of slow years, thick-varnished over,
Never a feature manifest of man's painting.

So, one Saturday, time ticking hard on midnight
Ere an hour subserved, I set me upon it.
Long with coiled-up sleeves I cleaned and yet cleaned,
Till a first fresh spot, a high light, looked forth,
Then another, like fair flesh, and another;
Then a curve, a nostril, and next a finger,
Tapering, shapely, significantly pointing slantwise.
"Flemish?" I said. "Nay, Spanish . . . But, nay, Italian!"
- Then meseemed it the guise of the ranker Venus,
Named of some Astarte, of some Cotytto.
Down I knelt before it and kissed the panel,
Drunk with the lure of love's inhibited dreamings.

Till the dawn I rubbed, when there gazed up at me
A hag, that had slowly emerged from under my hands there,
Pointing the slanted finger towards a bosom
Eaten away of a rot from the lusts of a lifetime . . .
- I could have ended myself in heart-shook horror.
Stunned I sat till roused by a clear-voiced bell-chime,
Fresh and sweet as the dew-fleece under my luthern.
It was the matin service calling to me
From the adjacent steeple.


"This is a brightsome blaze you've lit good friend, to-night!"
"--Aye, it has been the bleakest spring I have felt for years,
And nought compares with cloven logs to keep alight:
I buy them bargain-cheap of the executioners,
As I dwell near; and they wanted the crosses out of sight
By Passover, not to affront the eyes of visitors.

"Yes, they're from the crucifixions last week-ending
At Kranion. We can sometimes use the poles again,
But they get split by the nails, and 'tis quicker work than mending
To knock together new; though the uprights now and then
Serve twice when they're let stand. But if a feast's impending,
As lately, you've to tidy up for the corners' ken.

"Though only three were impaled, you may know it didn't pass off
So quietly as was wont? That Galilee carpenter's son
Who boasted he was king, incensed the rabble to scoff:
I heard the noise from my garden. This piece is the one he was on .
. .
Yes, it blazes up well if lit with a few dry chips and shroff;
And it's worthless for much else, what with cuts and stains thereon."


We are always saying
"Good-bye, good-bye!"
In work, in playing,
In gloom, in gaying:
At many a stage
Of pilgrimage
From youth to age
We say, "Good-bye,

We are undiscerning
Which go to sigh,
Which will be yearning
For soon returning;
And which no more
Will dark our door,
Or tread our shore,
But go to die,
To die.

Some come from roaming
With joy again;
Some, who come homing
By stealth at gloaming,
Had better have stopped
Till death, and dropped
By strange hands propped,
Than come so fain,
So fain.

So, with this saying,
"Good-bye, good-bye,"
We speed their waying
Without betraying
Our grief, our fear
No more to hear
From them, close, clear,
Again: "Good-bye,


We never sang together
Ravenscroft's terse old tune
On Sundays or on weekdays,
In sharp or summer weather,
At night-time or at noon.

Why did we never sing it,
Why never so incline
On Sundays or on weekdays,
Even when soft wafts would wing it
From your far floor to mine?

Shall we that tune, then, never
Stand voicing side by side
On Sundays or on weekdays? . . .
Or shall we, when for ever
In Sheol we abide,

Sing it in desolation,
As we might long have done
On Sundays or on weekdays
With love and exultation
Before our sands had run?

(FOR H. P.)

Forty springs back, I recall,
We met at this phase of the Maytime:
We might have clung close through all,
But we parted when died that daytime.

We parted with smallest regret;
Perhaps should have cared but slightly,
Just then, if we never had met:
Strange, strange that we lived so lightly!

Had we mused a little space
At that critical date in the Maytime,
One life had been ours, one place,
Perhaps, till our long cold daytime.

- This is a bitter thing
For thee, O man: what ails it?
The tide of chance may bring
Its offer; but nought avails it!


I can see the towers
In mind quite clear
Not many hours'
Faring from here;
But how up and go,
And briskly bear
Thither, and know
That are not there?

Though the birds sing small,
And apple and pear
On your trees by the wall
Are ripe and rare,
Though none excel them,
I have no care
To taste them or smell them
And you not there.

Though the College stones
Are smit with the sun,
And the graduates and Dons
Who held you as one
Of brightest brow
Still think as they did,
Why haunt with them now
Your candle is hid?

Towards the river
A pealing swells:
They cost me a quiver -
Those prayerful bells!
How go to God,
Who can reprove
With so heavy a rod
As your swift remove!

The chorded keys
Wait all in a row,
And the bellows wheeze
As long ago.
And the psalter lingers,
And organist's chair;
But where are your fingers
That once wagged there?

Shall I then seek
That desert place
This or next week,
And those tracks trace
That fill me with cark
And cloy; nowhere
Being movement or mark
Of you now there!

(SONG: Minor Mode)

'Twas just at gnat and cobweb-time,
When yellow begins to show in the leaf,
That your old gamut changed its chime
From those true tones--of span so brief! -
That met my beats of joy, of grief,
As rhyme meets rhyme.

So sank I from my high sublime!
We faced but chancewise after that,
And never I knew or guessed my crime. . .
Yes; 'twas the date--or nigh thereat -
Of the yellowing leaf; at moth and gnat
And cobweb-time.


These flowers are I, poor Fanny Hurd,
Sir or Madam,
A little girl here sepultured.
Once I flit-fluttered like a bird
Above the grass, as now I wave
In daisy shapes above my grave,
All day cheerily,
All night eerily!

- I am one Bachelor Bowring, "Gent,"
Sir or Madam;
In shingled oak my bones were pent;
Hence more than a hundred years I spent
In my feat of change from a coffin-thrall
To a dancer in green as leaves on a wall.
All day cheerily,
All night eerily!

- I, these berries of juice and gloss,
Sir or Madam,
Am clean forgotten as Thomas Voss;
Thin-urned, I have burrowed away from the moss
That covers my sod, and have entered this yew,
And turned to clusters ruddy of view,
All day cheerily,
All night eerily!

- The Lady Gertrude, proud, high-bred,
Sir or Madam,
Am I--this laurel that shades your head;
Into its veins I have stilly sped,
And made them of me; and my leaves now shine,
As did my satins superfine,
All day cheerily,
All night eerily!

- I, who as innocent withwind climb,
Sir or Madam.
Am one Eve Greensleeves, in olden time
Kissed by men from many a clime,
Beneath sun, stars, in blaze, in breeze,
As now by glowworms and by bees,
All day cheerily,
All night eerily! {2}

- I'm old Squire Audeley Grey, who grew,
Sir or Madam,
Aweary of life, and in scorn withdrew;
Till anon I clambered up anew
As ivy-green, when my ache was stayed,
And in that attire I have longtime gayed
All day cheerily,
All night eerily!

- And so they breathe, these masks, to each
Sir or Madam
Who lingers there, and their lively speech
Affords an interpreter much to teach,
As their murmurous accents seem to come
Thence hitheraround in a radiant hum,
All day cheerily,
All night eerily!


The trees fret fitfully and twist,
Shutters rattle and carpets heave,
Slime is the dust of yestereve,
And in the streaming mist
Fishes might seem to fin a passage if they list.

But to his feet,
Drawing nigh and nigher
A hidden seat,
The fog is sweet
And the wind a lyre.

A vacant sameness grays the sky,
A moisture gathers on each knop
Of the bramble, rounding to a drop,
That greets the goer-by
With the cold listless lustre of a dead man's eye.

But to her sight,
Drawing nigh and nigher
Its deep delight,
The fog is bright
And the wind a lyre.


She did not turn,
But passed foot-faint with averted head
In her gown of green, by the bobbing fern,
Though I leaned over the gate that led
From where we waited with table spread;
But she did not turn:
Why was she near there if love had fled?

She did not turn,
Though the gate was whence I had often sped
In the mists of morning to meet her, and learn
Her heart, when its moving moods I read
As a book--she mine, as she sometimes said;
But she did not turn,
And passed foot-faint with averted head.


I enter a daisy-and-buttercup land,
And thence thread a jungle of grass:
Hurdles and stiles scarce visible stand
Above the lush stems as I pass.

Hedges peer over, and try to be seen,
And seem to reveal a dim sense
That amid such ambitious and elbow-high green
They make a mean show as a fence.

Elsewhere the mead is possessed of the neats,
That range not greatly above
The rich rank thicket which brushes their teats,
And HER gown, as she waits for her Love.



Sir Nameless, once of Athelhall, declared:
"These wretched children romping in my park
Trample the herbage till the soil is bared,
And yap and yell from early morn till dark!
Go keep them harnessed to their set routines:
Thank God I've none to hasten my decay;
For green remembrance there are better means
Than offspring, who but wish their sires away."

Sir Nameless of that mansion said anon:
"To be perpetuate for my mightiness
Sculpture must image me when I am gone."
- He forthwith summoned carvers there express
To shape a figure stretching seven-odd feet
(For he was tall) in alabaster stone,
With shield, and crest, and casque, and word complete:
When done a statelier work was never known.

Three hundred years hied; Church-restorers came,
And, no one of his lineage being traced,
They thought an effigy so large in frame
Best fitted for the floor. There it was placed,
Under the seats for schoolchildren. And they
Kicked out his name, and hobnailed off his nose;
And, as they yawn through sermon-time, they say,
"Who was this old stone man beneath our toes?"


These summer landscapes--clump, and copse, and croft -
Woodland and meadowland--here hung aloft,
Gay with limp grass and leafery new and soft,

Seem caught from the immediate season's yield
I saw last noonday shining over the field,
By rapid snatch, while still are uncongealed

The saps that in their live originals climb;
Yester's quick greenage here set forth in mime
Just as it stands, now, at our breathing-time.

But these young foils so fresh upon each tree,
Soft verdures spread in sprouting novelty,
Are not this summer's, though they feign to be.

Last year their May to Michaelmas term was run,
Last autumn browned and buried every one,
And no more know they sight of any sun.


Dear, think not that they will forget you:
--If craftsmanly art should be mine
I will build up a temple, and set you
Therein as its shrine.

They may say: "Why a woman such honour?"
--Be told, "O, so sweet was her fame,
That a man heaped this splendour upon her;
None now knows his name."


Yes; such it was;
Just those two seasons unsought,
Sweeping like summertide wind on our ways;
Moving, as straws,
Hearts quick as ours in those days;
Going like wind, too, and rated as nought
Save as the prelude to plays
Soon to come--larger, life-fraught:
Yes; such it was.

"Nought" it was called,
Even by ourselves--that which springs
Out of the years for all flesh, first or last,
Commonplace, scrawled
Dully on days that go past.
Yet, all the while, it upbore us like wings
Even in hours overcast:
Aye, though this best thing of things,
"Nought" it was called!

What seems it now?
Lost: such beginning was all;
Nothing came after: romance straight forsook
Quickly somehow
Life when we sped from our nook,
Primed for new scenes with designs smart and tall . . .
--A preface without any book,
A trumpet uplipped, but no call;
That seems it now.


(From this centuries-old cross-road the highway leads east to London,
north to Bristol and Bath, west to Exeter and the Land's End, and
south to the Channel coast.)

Why go the east road now? . . .
That way a youth went on a morrow
After mirth, and he brought back sorrow
Painted upon his brow
Why go the east road now?

Why go the north road now?
Torn, leaf-strewn, as if scoured by foemen,
Once edging fiefs of my forefolk yeomen,
Fallows fat to the plough:
Why go the north road now?

Why go the west road now?
Thence to us came she, bosom-burning,
Welcome with joyousness returning . . .
--She sleeps under the bough:
Why go the west road now?

Why go the south road now?
That way marched they some are forgetting,
Stark to the moon left, past regretting
Loves who have falsed their vow . . .
Why go the south road now?

Why go any road now?
White stands the handpost for brisk on-bearers,
"Halt!" is the word for wan-cheeked farers
Musing on Whither, and How . . .
Why go any road now?

"Yea: we want new feet now"
Answer the stones. "Want chit-chat, laughter:
Plenty of such to go hereafter
By our tracks, we trow!
We are for new feet now.

During the War.


"Why do you sit, O pale thin man,
At the end of the room
By that harpsichord, built on the quaint old plan?
--It is cold as a tomb,
And there's not a spark within the grate;
And the jingling wires
Are as vain desires
That have lagged too late."

"Why do I? Alas, far times ago
A woman lyred here
In the evenfall; one who fain did so
From year to year;
And, in loneliness bending wistfully,
Would wake each note
In sick sad rote,
None to listen or see!

"I would not join. I would not stay,
But drew away,
Though the winter fire beamed brightly . . . Aye!
I do to-day
What I would not then; and the chill old keys,
Like a skull's brown teeth
Loose in their sheath,
Freeze my touch; yes, freeze."

(SONG: Minor)

I look in her face and say,
"Sing as you used to sing
About Love's blossoming";
But she hints not Yea or Nay.

"Sing, then, that Love's a pain,
If, Dear, you think it so,
Whether it be or no;"
But dumb her lips remain.

I go to a far-off room,
A faint song ghosts my ear;
WHICH song I cannot hear,
But it seems to come from a tomb.


Last Post sounded
Across the mead
To where he loitered
With absent heed.
Five years before
In the evening there
Had flown that call
To him and his Dear.
"You'll never come back;
Good-bye!" she had said;
"Here I'll be living,
And my Love dead!"

Those closing minims
Had been as shafts darting
Through him and her pressed
In that last parting;
They thrilled him not now,
In the selfsame place
With the selfsame sun
On his war-seamed face.
"Lurks a god's laughter
In this?" he said,
"That I am the living
And she the dead!"


If you had known
When listening with her to the far-down moan
Of the white-selvaged and empurpled sea,
And rain came on that did not hinder talk,
Or damp your flashing facile gaiety
In turning home, despite the slow wet walk
By crooked ways, and over stiles of stone;
If you had known

You would lay roses,
Fifty years thence, on her monument, that discloses
Its graying shape upon the luxuriant green;
Fifty years thence to an hour, by chance led there,
What might have moved you?--yea, had you foreseen
That on the tomb of the selfsame one, gone where
The dawn of every day is as the close is,
You would lay roses!


(A.D. 185-)

I've been thinking it through, as I play here to-night, to play never
By the light of that lowering sun peering in at the window-pane,
And over the back-street roofs, throwing shades from the boys of the
In the gallery, right upon me, sitting up to these keys once more . .

How I used to hear tongues ask, as I sat here when I was new:
"Who is she playing the organ? She touches it mightily true!"
"She travels from Havenpool Town," the deacon would softly speak,
"The stipend can hardly cover her fare hither twice in the week."
(It fell far short of doing, indeed; but I never told,
For I have craved minstrelsy more than lovers, or beauty, or gold.)

'Twas so he answered at first, but the story grew different later:
"It cannot go on much longer, from what we hear of her now!"
At the meaning wheeze in the words the inquirer would shift his place
Till he could see round the curtain that screened me from people
"A handsome girl," he would murmur, upstaring, (and so I am).
"But--too much sex in her build; fine eyes, but eyelids too heavy;
A bosom too full for her age; in her lips too voluptuous a look."
(It may be. But who put it there? Assuredly it was not I.)

I went on playing and singing when this I had heard, and more,
Though tears half-blinded me; yes, I remained going on and on,
Just as I used me to chord and to sing at the selfsame time! . . .
For it's a contralto--my voice is; they'll hear it again here to-
In the psalmody notes that I love more than world or than flesh or
than life.

Well, the deacon, in fact, that day had learnt new tidings about me;
They troubled his mind not a little, for he was a worthy man.
(He trades as a chemist in High Street, and during the week he had
His fellow-deacon, who throve as a book-binder over the way.)
"These are strange rumours," he said. "We must guard the good name
of the chapel.
If, sooth, she's of evil report, what else can we do but dismiss
"--But get such another to play here we cannot for double the price!"
It settled the point for the time, and I triumphed awhile in their
And my much-beloved grand semibreves went living on under my fingers.

At length in the congregation more head-shakes and murmurs were rife,
And my dismissal was ruled, though I was not warned of it then.
But a day came when they declared it. The news entered me as a
I was broken; so pallid of face that they thought I should faint,
they said.
I rallied. "O, rather than go, I will play you for nothing!" said I.
'Twas in much desperation I spoke it, for bring me to forfeit I could
Those melodies chorded so richly for which I had laboured and lived.
They paused. And for nothing I played at the chapel through Sundays
Upheld by that art which I loved more than blandishments lavished of

But it fell that murmurs again from the flock broke the pastor's
Some member had seen me at Havenpool, comrading close a sea-captain.
(Yes; I was thereto constrained, lacking means for the fare to and
Yet God knows, if aught He knows ever, I loved the Old-Hundredth,
Saint Stephen's,
Mount Zion, New Sabbath, Miles-Lane, Holy Rest, and Arabia, and
Above all embraces of body by wooers who sought me and won! . . .
Next week 'twas declared I was seen coming home with a lover at dawn.
The deacons insisted then, strong; and forgiveness I did not implore.
I saw all was lost for me, quite, but I made a last bid in my throbs.
High love had been beaten by lust; and the senses had conquered the
But the soul should die game, if I knew it! I turned to my masters
and said:
"I yield, Gentlemen, without parlance. But--let me just hymn you
ONCE more!
It's a little thing, Sirs, that I ask; and a passion is music with
They saw that consent would cost nothing, and show as good grace, as
knew I,
Though tremble I did, and feel sick, as I paused thereat, dumb for
their words.
They gloomily nodded assent, saying, "Yes, if you care to. Once
And only once more, understand." To that with a bend I agreed.
- "You've a fixed and a far-reaching look," spoke one who had eyed me
"I've a fixed and a far-reaching plan, and my look only showed it,"
said I.

This evening of Sunday is come--the last of my functioning here.
"She plays as if she were possessed!" they exclaim, glancing upward
and round.
"Such harmonies I never dreamt the old instrument capable of!"
Meantime the sun lowers and goes; shades deepen; the lights are
turned up,
And the people voice out the last singing: tune Tallis: the Evening
(I wonder Dissenters sing Ken: it shows them more liberal in spirit
At this little chapel down here than at certain new others I know.)
I sing as I play. Murmurs some one: "No woman's throat richer than
"True: in these parts, at least," ponder I. "But, my man, you will
hear it no more."
And I sing with them onward: "The grave dread as little do I as my

I lift up my feet from the pedals; and then, while my eyes are still
From the symphonies born of my fingers, I do that whereon I am set,
And draw from my "full round bosom," (their words; how can _I_ help
its heave?)
A bottle blue-coloured and fluted--a vinaigrette, they may conceive -
And before the choir measures my meaning, reads aught in my moves to
and fro,
I drink from the phial at a draught, and they think it a pick-me-up;
Then I gather my books as to leave, bend over the keys as to pray.
When they come to me motionless, stooping, quick death will have
whisked me away.

"Sure, nobody meant her to poison herself in her haste, after all!"
The deacons will say as they carry me down and the night shadows
"Though the charges were true," they will add. "It's a case red as
scarlet withal!"
I have never once minced it. Lived chaste I have not. Heaven knows
it above! . . .
But past all the heavings of passion--it's music has been my life-
love! . . .
That tune did go well--this last playing! . . . I reckon they'll bury
me here . . .
Not a soul from the seaport my birthplace--will come, or bestow me .
. . a tear.


An hour before the dawn,
My friend,
You lit your waiting bedside-lamp,
Your breakfast-fire anon,
And outing into the dark and damp
You saddled, and set on.

Thuswise, before the day,
My friend,
You sought her on her surfy shore,
To fetch her thence away
Unto your own new-builded door
For a staunch lifelong stay.

You said: "It seems to be,
My friend,
That I were bringing to my place
The pure brine breeze, the sea,
The mews--all her old sky and space,
In bringing her with me!"

--But time is prompt to expugn,
My friend,
Such magic-minted conjurings:
The brought breeze fainted soon,
And then the sense of seamews' wings,
And the shore's sibilant tune.

So, it had been more due,
My friend,
Perhaps, had you not pulled this flower
From the craggy nook it knew,
And set it in an alien bower;
But left it where it grew!

(SONG: Verses 1, 3, key major; verse 2, key minor)

Could I but will,
Will to my bent,
I'd have afar ones near me still,
And music of rare ravishment,
In strains that move the toes and heels!
And when the sweethearts sat for rest
The unbetrothed should foot with zest
Ecstatic reels.

Could I be head,
Head-god, "Come, now,
Dear girl," I'd say, "whose flame is fled,
Who liest with linen-banded brow,
Stirred but by shakes from Earth's deep core--"
I'd say to her: "Unshroud and meet
That Love who kissed and called thee Sweet! -
Yea, come once more!"

Even half-god power
In spinning dooms
Had I, this frozen scene should flower,
And sand-swept plains and Arctic glooms
Should green them gay with waving leaves,
Mid which old friends and I would walk
With weightless feet and magic talk
Uncounted eves.


I have come to the church and chancel,
Where all's the same!
- Brighter and larger in my dreams
Truly it shaped than now, meseems,
Is its substantial frame.
But, anyhow, I made my vow,
Whether for praise or blame,
Here in this church and chancel
Where all's the same.

Where touched the check-floored chancel
My knees and his?
The step looks shyly at the sun,
And says, "'Twas here the thing was done,
For bale or else for bliss!"
Of all those there I least was ware
Would it be that or this
When touched the check-floored chancel
My knees and his!

Here in this fateful chancel
Where all's the same,
I thought the culminant crest of life
Was reached when I went forth the wife
I was not when I came.
Each commonplace one of my race,
Some say, has such an aim -
To go from a fateful chancel
As not the same.

Here, through this hoary chancel
Where all's the same,
A thrill, a gaiety even, ranged
That morning when it seemed I changed
My nature with my name.
Though now not fair, though gray my hair,
He loved me, past proclaim,
Here in this hoary chancel,
Where all's the same.



Our songs went up and out the chimney,
And roused the home-gone husbandmen;
Our allemands, our heys, poussettings,
Our hands-across and back again,
Sent rhythmic throbbings through the casements
On to the white highway,
Where nighted farers paused and muttered,
"Keep it up well, do they!"

The contrabasso's measured booming
Sped at each bar to the parish bounds,
To shepherds at their midnight lambings,
To stealthy poachers on their rounds;
And everybody caught full duly
The notes of our delight,
As Time unrobed the Youth of Promise
Hailed by our sanguine sight.


We stand in the dusk of a pine-tree limb,
As if to give ear to the muffled peal,
Brought or withheld at the breeze's whim;
But our truest heed is to words that steal
From the mantled ghost that looms in the gray,
And seems, so far as our sense can see,
To feature bereaved Humanity,
As it sighs to the imminent year its say:-

"O stay without, O stay without,
Calm comely Youth, untasked, untired;
Though stars irradiate thee about
Thy entrance here is undesired.
Open the gate not, mystic one;
Must we avow what we would close confine?
Albeit the fault may not be thine."

December 31. During the War.


I travelled to where in her lifetime
She'd knelt at morning prayer,
To call her up as if there;
But she paid no heed to my suing,
As though her old haunt could win not
A thought from her spirit, or care.

I went where my friend had lectioned
The prophets in high declaim,
That my soul's ear the same
Full tones should catch as aforetime;
But silenced by gear of the Present
Was the voice that once there came!

Where the ocean had sprayed our banquet
I stood, to recall it as then:
The same eluding again!
No vision. Shows contingent
Affrighted it further from me
Even than from my home-den.

When I found them no responders,
But fugitives prone to flee
From where they had used to be,
It vouched I had been led hither
As by night wisps in bogland,
And bruised the heart of me!


The railway bore him through
An earthen cutting out from a city:
There was no scope for view,
Though the frail light shed by a slim young moon
Fell like a friendly tune.

Fell like a liquid ditty,
And the blank lack of any charm
Of landscape did no harm.
The bald steep cutting, rigid, rough,
And moon-lit, was enough
For poetry of place: its weathered face
Formed a convenient sheet whereon
The visions of his mind were drawn.


I waited at home all the while they were boating together -
My wife and my near neighbour's wife:
Till there entered a woman I loved more than life,
And we sat and sat on, and beheld the uprising dark weather,
With a sense that some mischief was rife.

Tidings came that the boat had capsized, and that one of the ladies
Was drowned--which of them was unknown:
And I marvelled--my friend's wife?--or was it my own
Who had gone in such wise to the land where the sun as the shade is?
--We learnt it was HIS had so gone.

Then I cried in unrest: "He is free! But no good is releasing
To him as it would be to me!"
"--But it is," said the woman I loved, quietly.
"How?" I asked her. "--Because he has long loved me too without
And it's just the same thing, don't you see."


I knew a lady when the days
Grew long, and evenings goldened;
But I was not emboldened
By her prompt eyes and winning ways.

And when old Winter nipt the haws,
"Another's wife I'll be,
And then you'll care for me,"
She said, "and think how sweet I was!"

And soon she shone as another's wife:
As such I often met her,
And sighed, "How I regret her!
My folly cuts me like a knife!"

And then, to-day, her husband came,
And moaned, "Why did you flout her?
Well could I do without her!
For both our burdens you are to blame!"


There is a house in a city street
Some past ones made their own;
Its floors were criss-crossed by their feet,
And their babblings beat
From ceiling to white hearth-stone.

And who are peopling its parlours now?
Who talk across its floor?
Mere freshlings are they, blank of brow,
Who read not how
Its prime had passed before

Their raw equipments, scenes, and says
Afflicted its memoried face,
That had seen every larger phase
Of human ways
Before these filled the place.

To them that house's tale is theirs,
No former voices call
Aloud therein. Its aspect bears
Their joys and cares
Alone, from wall to wall.


I see the ghost of a perished day;
I know his face, and the feel of his dawn:
'Twas he who took me far away
To a spot strange and gray:
Look at me, Day, and then pass on,
But come again: yes, come anon!

Enters another into view;
His features are not cold or white,
But rosy as a vein seen through:
Too soon he smiles adieu.
Adieu, O ghost-day of delight;
But come and grace my dying sight.

Enters the day that brought the kiss:
He brought it in his foggy hand
To where the mumbling river is,
And the high clematis;
It lent new colour to the land,
And all the boy within me manned.

Ah, this one. Yes, I know his name,
He is the day that wrought a shine
Even on a precinct common and tame,
As 'twere of purposed aim.
He shows him as a rainbow sign
Of promise made to me and mine.

The next stands forth in his morning clothes,
And yet, despite their misty blue,
They mark no sombre custom-growths
That joyous living loathes,
But a meteor act, that left in its queue
A train of sparks my lifetime through.

I almost tremble at his nod -
This next in train--who looks at me
As I were slave, and he were god
Wielding an iron rod.
I close my eyes; yet still is he
In front there, looking mastery.

In the similitude of a nurse
The phantom of the next one comes:
I did not know what better or worse
Chancings might bless or curse

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