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AO - Alfred Noyes AmblesideOnline.org

AmblesideOnline Poems of Alfred Noyes 1880-1958

Alfred Noyes [Only poems that could be confirmed as public domain were used here.]

01. Old Japan from The Loom of Years, 1902
02. A Song of Sherwood from Collected Poems, 1906
03. The Highwayman, 1906
04. from The Barrel-Organ from Collected Poems, Vol I, 1913
05. A Loom of Years, from Collected Poems, Vol I, 1913
06. Butterflies from Collected Poems, Vol I, 1913
07. Mist in the Valley from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
08. A Song of the Plough from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
09. The Sky-Lark Caged from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
10. The Rock Pool from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
11. The Dream-Child's Invitation from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
12. On The Downs from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
13. A Mid-Day Carol from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
14. The Call of the Spring from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
15. The Two Worlds from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
16. Veterans (Written for the Relief Fund of the Crimean Veterans.) from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
17. The Lights of Home from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
18. The Fiddler's Farewell from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
19. Lavender from Collected Poems Vol II, 1913
20. A Spell: An Excellent Way to Get a Fairy! from Princess Mary's Gift Book, 1914
21. The Union (American Poems), 1917
22. A Prayer in Time of War, (London Daily Mail, 1917)
23. Kilmeny (A Song of the Trawlers), 1917
24. To the Memory of Cecil Spring-Rice, from New Morning Poems, 1918
25. Fishers of Men from New Morning Poems, 1918
26. Nippon [Japan] from New Morning Poems, 1918
27. The Humming Birds from New Morning Poems, 1918
28. The Lost Battle from New Morning Poems, 1918
29. The Symphony from New Morning Poems, 1918
30. The Matin-song of Friar Tuck from New Morning Poems, 1918
31. On a Mountain Top from New Morning Poems, 1918
32. The New Duckling from New Morning Poems, 1918
33. The Man Who Discovered the Use of a Chair from New Morning Poems, 1918
34. Cotton-Wool from New Morning Poems, 1918
35. Fashions from New Morning Poems, 1918
36. The Reward of Song from New Morning Poems, 1918
37. Song, 1918
38. The Elfin Artist from The Elfin Artist and Other Poems, 1920
39. Earth and Her Birds from The Elfin Artist and Other Poems, 1920
40. Sea-Distances from The Elfin Artist and Other Poems, 1920
41. Peter Quince from The Elfin Artist and Other Poems, 1920
42. Beauty in Darkness from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
43. The Making of a Poem from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
44. A Sky Song from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
45. A Return From the Air from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
46. The Rhythym of Life from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
47. The Rustling of Grass from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
48. The Sussex Sailor from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
49. The Searchlights from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
50. Old Grey Squirrel from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
51. After Rain from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
52. A Forest Song from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920
53. The Song-Tree from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

Various Songs from Drake, a 12-Book poem about Sir Francis Drake, published in 2 volumes, 1906, 1908:
     54. Song: Let not love go, too.
     55. Song: Beyond the Spanish Main.
     56. Song: In Devonshire, now, the Christmas chime
     57. Song: The happy Yule of England
     58. Song: The same sun is o'er us . . . All singing one tune.
     59. Reprise: The same Sun is o'er us . . . Ringed round with the sea.
     60. Song: It is the Spring-tide now!
     61. Song: How should we sing of thy beauty, England, mother of men
     62. Song: Good luck befall you, mariners all
     63. Song: "Love will find out the way."
     64. Song: Sing we the Rose


01. selections from Old Japan from The Loom of Years, 1902

In old Japan, by creek and bay,
     The blue plum-blossoms blow,
Where birds with sea-blue plumage gay
     Through sea-blue branches go;
Dragons are coiling down below
     Like dragons on a fan;
And pig-tailed sailors lurching slow
     Through streets of old Japan.

There, in the dim blue death of day,
     Where white tea-roses grow,
Petals and scents are strewn astray
     Till night be sweet enow;
Then lovers wander whispering low,
     As lovers only can,
Where rosy paper lanterns glow,
     Through streets of old Japan.

In old Japan they used to play
     A game forgotten now;
They filled a nacre-coloured tray
     With perfumes in a row,
Breathing of all the flowers that blow
     Where dark-blue rivers ran,
Like those upon the plates, you know,
     Through fields of old Japan;

Then with a silver spatula
     The mandarins would go
To test the scented dust and say,
     With many a hum and ho,
What flower of all the flowers that grow
     For joy of maid or man
Conceived the scents that puzzled so
     The brains of old Japan.

In old Japan, where poets pray
     With white uplifted brow,
What mystic floating scents delay
     Below the purple bough,
O'er plains no scythe of death may mow,
     Nor power of reason scan?
What mandarin musicians know
     The flower of old Japan?


02. A Song of Sherwood from Collected Poems, 1906

Sherwood in the twilight, is Robin Hood awake?
Grey and ghostly shadows are gliding through the brake,
Shadows of the dappled deer, dreaming of the morn,
Dreaming of a shadowy man that winds a shadowy horn.

Robin Hood is here again: all his merry thieves
Hear a ghostly bugle-note shivering through the leaves,
Calling as he used to call, faint and far away,
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Merry, merry England has kissed the lips of June:
All the wings of fairyland were here beneath the moon,
Like a flight of rose-leaves fluttering in a mist
Of opal and ruby and pearl and amethyst.

Merry, merry England is waking as of old,
With eyes of blither hazel and hair of brighter gold:
For Robin Hood is here again beneath the bursting spray
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Love is in the greenwood building him a house
Of wild rose and hawthorn and honeysuckle boughs:
Love is in the greenwood, dawn is in the skies,
And Marian is waiting with a glory in her eyes.

Hark! The dazzled laverock climbs the golden steep!
Marian is waiting: is Robin Hood asleep?
Round the fairy grass-rings frolic elf and fay,
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Oberon, Oberon, rake away the gold,
Rake away the red leaves, roll away the mould,
Rake away the gold leaves, roll away the red,
And wake Will Scarlett from his leafy forest bed.

Friar Tuck and Little John are riding down together
With quarter-staff and drinking-can and grey goose-feather.
The dead are coming back again, the years are rolled away
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Softly over Sherwood the south wind blows.
All the heart of England his in every rose
Hears across the greenwood the sunny whisper leap,
Sherwood in the red dawn, is Robin Hood asleep?

Hark, the voice of England wakes him as of old
And, shattering the silence with a cry of brighter gold
Bugles in the greenwood echo from the steep,
Sherwood in the red dawn, is Robin Hood asleep?

Where the deer are gliding down the shadowy glen
All across the glades of fern he calls his merry men--
Doublets of the Lincoln green glancing through the May
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day--

Calls them and they answer: from aisles of oak and ash
Rings the Follow! Follow! and the boughs begin to crash,
The ferns begin to flutter and the flowers begin to fly,
And through the crimson dawning the robber band goes by.

Robin! Robin! Robin! All his merry thieves
Answer as the bugle-note shivers through the leaves,
Calling as he used to call, faint and far away,
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.


03. The Highwayman, 1906 [Look for Loreena McKennit's haunting melody version of the poem; it might be on YouTube.]

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding--
   Riding--riding--
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh.
And he rode with a jeweled twinkle,
   His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jeweled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
   Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like moldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
   The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say--

"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize tonight,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
   Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
   (Oh, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.

He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching--
   Marching--marching--
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side.
There was death at every window;
   And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast.
"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say--
Look for me by moonlight;
   Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good.
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood.
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
   Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
   Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love's refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
   Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
   Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him--with her death.

He turned; he spurred to the west; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood.
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew gray to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
   The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shouting a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
   Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding--
   Riding--riding--
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
   Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.


04. from The Barrel-Organ from Collected Poems, Vol I, 1913

There's a barrel-organ carolling across a golden street
In the City as the sun sinks low;
And the music's not immortal; but the world has made it sweet
And fulfilled it with the sunset glow;
And it pulses through the pleasures of the City and the pain
That surround the singing organ like a large eternal light;
And they've given it a glory and a part to play again
In the Symphony that rules the day and night.

And now it's marching onward through the realms of old romance,
And trolling out a fond familiar tune,
And now it's roaring cannon down to fight the King of France,
And now it's prattling softly to the moon.
And all around the organ there's a sea without a shore
Of human joys and wonders and regrets;
To remember and to recompense the music evermore
For what the cold machinery forgets . . .

Yes; as the music changes,
Like a prismatic glass,
It takes the light and ranges
Through all the moods that pass;
Dissects the common carnival
Of passions and regrets,
And gives the world a glimpse of all
The colours it forgets.


05. A Loom of Years from Collected Poems, Vol I, 1913

In the light of the silent stars that shine on the struggling sea,
In the weary cry of the wind and the whisper of flower and tree,
Under the breath of laughter, deep in the tide of tears,
I hear the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

The leaves of the winter wither and sink in the forest mould
To colour the flowers of April with purple and white and gold:
Light and scent and music die and are born again
In the heart of a grey-haired woman who wakes in a world of pain.

The hound, the fawn, and the hawk, and the doves that croon and coo,
We are all one woof of the weaving and the one warp threads us through,
One flying cloud on the shuttle that carries our hopes and fears
As it goes thro' the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

The green uncrumpling fern and the rustling dewdrenched rose
Pass with our hearts to the Silence where the wings of music close,
Pass and pass to the Timeless that never a moment mars,
Pass and pass to the Darkness that made the suns and stars.

Has the soul gone out in the Darkness? Is the dust sealed from sight?
Ah, hush, for the woof of the ages returns thro' the warp of the night!
Never that shuttle loses one thread of our hopes and fears,
As it comes thro' the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

O, woven in one wide Loom thro' the throbbing weft of the whole,
One in spirit and flesh, one in body and soul,
Tho' the leaf were alone in its falling, the bird in its hour to die,
The heart in its muffled anguish, the sea in its mournful cry,

One with the flower of a day, one with the withered moon
One with the granite mountains that melt into the noon
One with the dream that triumphs beyond the light of the spheres,
We come from the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.


06. Butterflies from Collected Poems, Vol I, 1913

Sun-child, as you watched the rain
          Beat the pane,
Saw the garden of your dreams
     Where the clove carnation grows
          And the rose
Veiled with shimmering shades and gleams,

Mirrored colours, mystic gleams,
          Fairy dreams,
Drifting in your radiant eyes
     Half in earnest asked, that day,
          Half in play,
Where were all the butterflies?

Where were all the butterflies
          When the skies
Clouded and their bowers of clover
     Bowed beneath the golden shower?
          Every flower
Shook and the rose was brimming over.

Ah, the dog-rose trembling over
          Thyme and clover,
How it glitters in the sun,
     Now the hare-bells lift again
          Bright with rain
After all the showers are done!

See, when all the showers are done,
          How the sun
Softly smiling o'er the scene
     Bids the white wings come and go
          To and fro
Through the maze of gold and green.

Magic webs of gold and green
          Rainbow sheen
Mesh the maze of flower and fern,
     Cuckoo-grass and meadow-sweet,
          And the wheat
Where the crimson poppies burn.

Ay; and where the poppies burn,
          They return
All across the dreamy downs,
     Little wings that flutter and beat
          O'er the sweet
Bluffs the purple clover crowns.

Where the fairy clover crowns
          Dreamy downs,
And amidst the golden grass
     Buttercups and daisies blow
          To and fro
When the shadowy billows pass;

Time has watched them pause and pass
          Where Love was;
Ah, what fairy butterflies,
     Little wild incarnate blisses,
          Coloured kisses,
Floating under azure skies!

Under those eternal skies
          See, they rise:
Mottled wings of moony sheen,
     Wings in whitest star-shine dipped,
          Orange tipped,
Eyed with black and veined with green.

They were the fairies plumed with green
          Rianbow-sheen
Ere Time bade their host begone
     From that palace built of roses
          Which still dozes
In the greenwood all alone.

In the greenwood all alone
          And unknown:
Now they roam these mortal dells
     Wondering where that happy glade is,
          Painted ladies,
Admirals, and Tortoise-shells.

O, Fritillaries, Admirals,
          Tortoise-shells;
You, like fragments of the skies
     Fringed with Autumn's richest hues,
          Dainty blues
Patterned with mosaic dyes;

Oh, and you whose peacock dyes
          Gleam with eyes;
You, whose wings of burnished copper
     Burn upon the sunburnt brae
          Where all day
Whirrs the hot and grey grasshopper;

While the grey grasshopper whirrs
          In the furze,
You that with your sulphur wings
     Melt into the gold perfume
          Of the broom
Where the linnet sits and sings;

You that, as a poet sings,
          On your wings
Image forth the dreams of earth,
     Quickening them in form and hue
          To the new
Glory of a brighter birth;

You that bring to a brighter birth
          Dust and earth,
Rapt to glory on your wings,
     All transfigured in the white
          Living light
Shed from out the soul of things;

Heralds of the soul of things,
          You whose wings
Carry heaven through every glade;
     Thus transfigured from the petals
          Death unsettles,
Little souls of leaf and blade;

You that mimic bud and blade;
          Light and shade;
Tinted souls of leaf and stone,
     Flower and sunny bank of sand,
          Fairyland
Calls her children to their own;

Calls them back into their own
          Great unknown;
Where the harmonies they cull
     On their wings are made complete
          As they beat
Through the Gate called Beautiful.


07. Mist in the Valley from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

Mist in the valley, weeping mist
   Beset my homeward way.
No gleam of rose or amethyst
   Hallowed the parting day;
A shroud, a shroud of awful grey
   Wrapped every woodland brow,
And drooped in crumbling disarray
   Around each wintry bough.

And closer round me now it clung
   Until I scarce could see
The stealthy pathway overhung
   By silent tree and tree
Which floated in that mystery
   As--poised in waveless deeps--
Branching in worlds below the sea,
   The grey sea-forest sleeps.

Mist in the valley, mist no less
   Within my groping mind!
The stile swam out: a wilderness
   Rolled round it, grey and blind.
A yard in front, a yard behind,
   So strait my world was grown,
I stooped to win once more some kind
   Glimmer of twig or stone.

I crossed and lost the friendly stile
   And listened. Never a sound
Came to me. Mile on mile on mile
   It seemed the world around
Beneath some infinite sea lay drowned
   With all that e'er drew breath;
Whilst I, alone, had strangely found
   A moment's life in death.

A universe of lifeless grey
   Oppressed me overhead.
Below, a yard of clinging clay
   With rotting foliage red
Glimmered. The stillness of the dead,
   Hark!--was it broken now
By the slow drip of tears that bled
   From hidden heart or bough.

Mist in the valley, mist no less
   That muffled every cry
Across the soul's grey wilderness
   Where faith lay down to die;
Buried beyond all hope was I,
   Hope had no meaning there:
A yard above my head the sky
   Could only mock at prayer.

E'en as I groped along, the gloom
   Suddenly shook at my feet!
O, strangely as from a rending tomb
   In resurrection, sweet
Swift wings tumultuously beat
   Away! I paused to hark--
O, birds of thought, too fair, too fleet
   To follow across the dark!

Yet, like a madman's dream, there came
   One fair swift flash to me
Of distances, of streets a-flame
   With joy and agony,
And further yet, a moon-lit sea
   Foaming across its bars,
And further yet, the infinity
   Of wheeling suns and stars,

And further yet . . . O, mist of suns
   I grope amidst your light,
O, further yet, what vast response
   From what transcendent height?
Wild wings that burst thro' death's dim night
   I can but pause and hark;
For O, ye are too swift, too white,
   To follow across the dark!

Mist in the valley, yet I saw,
   And in my soul I knew
The gleaming City whence I draw
   The strength that then I drew,
My misty pathway to pursue
   With steady pulse and breath
Through these dim forest-ways of dew
   And darkness, life and death.


08. A Song of the Plough from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

               (Morning.)

Idle, comfortless, bare,
     The broad bleak acres lie:
The ploughman guides the sharp ploughshare
     Steadily nigh.

The big plough-horses lift
     And climb from the marge of the sea,
And the clouds of their breath on the clear wind drift
     Over the fallow lea.

Streaming up with the yoke,
     Brown as the sweet-smelling loam,
Thro' a sun-swept smother of sweat and smoke
     The two great horses come.

Up thro' the raw cold morn
     They trample and drag and swing;
And my dreams are waving with ungrown corn
     In a far-off spring.

It is my soul lies bare
     Between the hills and the sea:
Come, ploughman Life, with thy sharp ploughshare,
     And plough the field for me.

               (Evening.)

Over the darkening plain
     As the stars regain the sky,
Steals the chime of an unseen rein
     Steadily nigh.

Lost in the deepening red
     The sea has forgotten the shore:
The great dark steeds with their muffled tread
     Draw near once more.

To the furrow's end they sweep
     Like a sombre wave of the sea,
Lifting its crest to challenge the deep
     Hush of Eternity.

Still for a moment they stand,
     Massed on the sun's red death,
A surge of bronze, too great, too grand,
     To endure for more than a breath.

Only the billow and stream
     Of muscle and flank and mane
Like darkling mountain-cataracts gleam
     Gripped in a Titan's rein.

Once more from the furrow's end
     They wheel to the fallow lea,
And down the muffled slope descend
     To the sleeping sea.

And the fibrous knots of clay,
     And the sun-dried clote of earth
Cleave, and the sunset cloaks the grey
     Waste and the stony dearth!

O, broad and dusky and sweet,
     The sunset covers the weald;
But my dreams are waving with golden wheat
     In a still strange field.

My soul, my soul lies bare,
     Between the hills and the sea;
Come, ploughman Death, with thy sharp ploughshare,
     And plough the field for me.


09. The Sky-Lark Caged from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

Beat, little breast, against the wires.
     Strive, little wings and misted eyes
Which one wild gleam of memory fires
     Beseeching still the unfettered skies,
Whither at dewy dawn you sprang
Quivering with joy from this dark earth and sang.

And still you sing--your narrow cage
     Shall set at least your music free!
Its rapturous wings in glorious rage
     Mount and are lost in liberty,
While those who caged you creep on earth
Blind prisoners from the hour that gave them birth.

Sing! The great City surges round.
     Blinded with light, thou canst not know.
Dream! 'Tis the fir-woods' windy sound
     Rolling a psalm of praise below.
Sing, o'er the bitter dust and shame,
And touch us with thine own transcendent name.

Sing, o'er the City dust and slime;
     Sing, o'er the squalor and the gold,
The greed that darkens earth with crime,
     The spirits that are bought and sold.
O, shower the healing notes like rain,
And lift us to the height of grief again.

Sing! The same music swells your breast,
     And the wild notes are still as sweet
As when above the fragrant nest
     And the wide billowing fields of wheat
You soared and sang the livelong day,
And in the light of heaven dissolved away.

The light of heaven! Is it not here?
     One rapture, one ecstatic joy,
One passion, one sublime despair,
     One grief which nothing can destroy,
You--though your dying eyes are wet
Remember, 'tis our blunted hearts forget.

Beat, little breast, still beat, still beat,
     Strive, misted eyes and tremulous wings;
Swell, little throat, your Sweet! Sweet! Sweet!
     Thro' which such deathless memory rings:
Better to break your heart and die,
Than, like your gaolers, to forget your sky.


10. The Rock Pool from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

Bright as a fallen fragment of the sky,
     Mid shell-encrusted rocks the sea-pool shone,
Glassing the sunset-clouds in its clear heart,
A small enchanted world enwalled apart
               In diamond mystery,
Content with its own dreams, its own strict zone
     Of urchin woods, its fairy bights and bars,
     Its daisy-disked anemones and rose-feathered stars.

Forsaken for awhile by that deep roar
     Which works in storm and calm the eternal will,
Drags down the cliffs, bids the great hills go by
And shepherds their multitudinous pageantry,--
               Here, on this ebb-tide shore
A jewelled bath of beauty, sparkling still,
     The little sea-pool smiled away the sea,
     And slept on its own plane of bright tranquillity.

A self-sufficing soul, a pool in trance,
     Un-stirred by all the spirit-winds that blow
From o'er the gulfs of change, content, ere yet
On its own crags, which rough peaked limpets fret
               The last rich colours glance,
Content to mirror the sea-bird's wings of snow,
     Or feel in some small creek, ere sunset fails,
     A tiny Nautilus hoist its lovely purple sails;

And, furrowing into pearl that rosy bar,
     Sail its own soul from fairy fringe to fringe,
Lured by the twinkling prey 'twas born to reach
In its own pool, by many an elfin beach
               Of jewels, adventuring far
Through the last mirrored cloud and sunset-tinge
     And past the rainbow-dripping cave where lies
     The dark green pirate-crab at watch with beaded eyes,

Or fringed Medusa floats like light in light,
     Medusa, with the loveliest of all fays
Pent in its irised bubble of jellied sheen,
Trailing long ferns of moonlight, shot with green
               And crimson rays and white,
Waving ethereal tendrils, ghostly sprays,
     Daring the deep, dissolving in the sun,
     The vanishing point of life, the light whence life begun.

Poised between me, light, time, eternity,
     So tinged with all, that in its delicate brain
Kindling it as a lamp with her bright wings
Day-long, night-long, young Ariel sits and sings
               Echoing the lucid sea,
Listening it echo her own unearthly strain,
     Watching through lucid walls the world's rich tide,
     One light, one substance with her own, rise and subside.

And over soft brown woods, limpid, serene,
     Puffing its fans the Nautilus went its way,
And from a hundred salt and weedy shelves
Peered little horned faces of sea-elves:
               The prawn darted, half-seen,
Thro' watery sunlight, like a pale green ray,
     And all around, from soft green waving bowers,
     Creatures like fruit out-crept from fluted shells like flowers.

And, over all, that glowing mirror spread
     The splendour of its heaven-reflecting gleams,
A level wealth of tints, calm as the sky
That broods above our own mortality:
               The temporal seas had fled,
And ah, what hopes, what fears, what mystic dreams
     Could ruffle it now from any deeper deep?
     Content in its own bounds it slept a changeless sleep.

Suddenly, from that heaven beyond belief,
     Suddenly, from that world beyond its ken,
Dashing great billows o'er its rosy bars,
Shivering its dreams into a thousand stars,
               Flooding each sun-dried reef
With waves of colour, (as once, for mortal men
     Bethesda's angel) with blue eyes, wide and wild,
     Naked into the pool there stepped a little child.

Her red-gold hair against the far green sea
     Blew thickly out: her slender golden form
Shone dark against the richly waning West
As with one hand she splashed her glistening breast,
               Then waded up to her knee
And frothed the whole pool into a fairy storm! . . .
     So, stooping through our skies, of old, there came
     Angels that once could set this world's dark pool a-flame,

From which the seas of faith have ebbed away,
     Leaving the lonely shore too bright, too bare,
While mirrored softly in the smooth wet sand
A deeper sunset sees its blooms expand
               But all too phantom-fair,
Between the dark brown rocks and sparkling spray
     Where the low ripples pleaded, shrank and sighed,
     And tossed a moment's rainbow heavenward ere they died.

Stoop, starry souls, incline to this dark coast,
     Where all too long, too faithlessly, we dream.
Stoop to the world's dark pool, its crags and scars,
Its yellow sands, its rosy harbour-bars,
               And soft green wastes that gleam
But with some glorious drifting god-like ghost
     Of cloud, some vaguely passionate crimson stain:
     Rend the blue waves of heaven, shatter our sleep again!


11. The Dream-Child's Invitation from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

Once upon a time!--Ah, now the light is burning dimly.
     Peterkin is here again: he wants another tale!
Don't you hear him whispering--The wind is in the chimley,
     The ottoman's a treasure-ship, we'll all set sail?

All set sail? No, the wind is very loud to-night:
     The darkness on the waters is much deeper than of yore.
Yet I wonder--hark, he whispers--if the little streets are still as bright
     In old Japan, in old Japan, that happy haunted shore.

I wonder--hush, he whispers--if perhaps the world will wake again
     When Christmas brings the stories back from where the skies are blue,
Where clouds are scattering diamonds down on every cottage window-pane,
     And every boy's a fairy prince, and every tale is true.

There the sword Excalibur is thrust into the dragon's throat,
     Evil there is evil, black is black, and white is white:
There the child triumphant hurls the villain spluttering into the moat;
     There the captured princess only waits the peerless knight.

Fairyland is gleaming there beyond the Sherwood Forest trees,
     There the City of the Clouds has anchored on the plain
All her misty vistas and slumber-rosy palaces
     (Shall we not, ah, shall we not, wander there again?)

"Happy ever after" there, the lights of home a welcome fling
     Softly thro' the darkness as the star that shone of old,
Softly over Bethlehem and o'er the little cradled King
     Whom the sages worshipped with their frankincense and gold.

Once upon a time--perhaps a hundred thousand years ago--
     Whisper to me, Peterkin, I have forgotten when!
Once upon a time there was a way, a way we used to know
     For stealing off at twilight from the weary ways of men.

Whisper it, O whisper it--the way, the way is all I need!
     All the heart and will are here and all the deep desire!
Once upon a time--ah, now the light is drawing near indeed,
     I see the fairy faces flush to roses round the fire.

Once upon a time--the little lips are on my cheek again,
     Little fairy fingers clasped and clinging draw me nigh,
Dreams, no more than dreams, but they unloose the weary prisoner's chain
     And lead him from his dungeon! "What's a thousand years?" they cry.

A thousand years, a thousand years, a little drifting dream ago,
     All of us were hunting with a band of merry men,
The skies were blue, the boughs were green, the clouds were crisping isles of snow . . .
     . . . So Robin blew his bugle, and the Now became the
           Then.


12. On The Downs from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

Wide-eyed our childhood roamed the world
     Knee-deep in blowing grass,
And watched the white clouds crisply curled
     Above the mountain-pass,
And lay among the purple thyme
     And from its fragrance caught
Strange hints from some elusive clime
     Beyond the bounds of thought.

Glimpses of fair forgotten things
     Beyond the gates of birth,
Half-caught from far off ancient springs
     In heaven, and half of earth;
And coloured like a fairy-tale
     And whispering evermore
Half memories from the half-fenced pale
     Of lives we lived before.

Here, weary of the roaring town
     A-while may I return
And while the west wind roams the down
     Lie still, lie still and learn:
Here are green leagues of murmuring wheat
     With blue skies overhead,
And, all around, the winds are sweet
     With May-bloom, white and red.

And, to and fro, the bee still hums
     His low unchanging song,
And the same rustling whisper comes
     As through the ages long:
Through all the thousands of the years
     That same sweet rumour flows,
With dreaming skies and gleaming tears
     And kisses and the rose.

Once more the children throng the lanes,
     Themselves like flowers, to weave
Their garlands and their daisy-chains
     And listen and believe
The tale of Once-upon-a-time,
     And hear the Long-ago
And Happy-ever-after chime
     Because it must be so.

And by those thousands of the years
     It is, though scarce we see,
Dazed with the rainbows of our tears,
     Their steadfast unity,
It is, or life's disjointed schemes,
     These stones, these ferns unfurled
With such deep care--a madman's dreams
     Were wisdom to this world!

Dust into dust! Lie still and learn,
     Hear how the ages sing
The solemn joy of our return
     To that which makes the Spring:
Even as we came, with childhood's trust,
     Wide-eyed we go, to Thee
Who boldest in Thy sacred dust
     The heavenly Springs to be.


13. A Mid-Day Carol from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

What is the loveliest light that Spring
     Rosily parting her robe of grey
Girdled with leaflet green, can fling
     Over the fields where her white feet stray?
What is the merriest promise of May
     Flung o'er the dew-drenched April flowers?
Tell me, you on the pear-tree spray--
     Carol of birds between the showers.

What can life at its lightest bring
     Better than this on its brightest day?
How should we fetter the white-throat's wing
     Wild with joy of its woodland way?
Sweet, should love for an hour delay,
     Swift, while the primrose-time is ours!
What is the lover's royallest lay?--
     Carol of birds between the showers.

What is the murmur of bees a-swing?
     What is the laugh of a child at play?
What is the song that the angels sing?
     (Where were the tune could the sweet notes stay
Longer than this, to kiss and betray?)
     Nay, on the blue sky's topmost towers,
What is the song of the seraphim? Say--
     Carol of birds between the showers.

Thread the stars on a silver string,
     (So did they sing in Bethlehem's bowers!)
Mirth for a little one, grief for a king,
     Carol of birds between the showers.


14. The Call of the Spring from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

Come, choose your road and away, my lad,
     Come, choose your road and away!
We'll out of the town by the road's bright crown
     As it dips to the dazzling day.
It's a long white road for the weary;
     But it rolls through the heart of the May.

Though many a road would merrily ring
     To the tramp of your marching feet,
All roads are one from the day that's done,
     And the miles are swift and sweet,
And the graves of your friends are the mile-stones
     To the land where all roads meet.

But the call that you hear this day, my lad,
     Is the Spring's old bugle of mirth
When the year's green fire in a soul's desire
     Is brought like a rose to the birth;
And knights ride out to adventure
     As the flowers break out of the earth.

Over the sweet-smelling mountain-passes
     The clouds lie brightly curled;
The wild-flowers cling to the crags and swing
     With cataract-dews impearled;
And the way, the way that you choose this day
     Is the way to the end of the world.

It rolls from the golden long ago
     To the land that we ne'er shall find;
And it's uphill here, but it's downhill there,
     For the road is wise and kind,
And all the rough places and cheerless places
     Will soon be left behind.

Come, choose your road and away, away,
     We'll follow the gipsy sun;
For it's soon, too soon to the end of the day,
     And the day is well begun;
And the road rolls on through the heart of the May,
     And there's never a May but one.

There's a fir-wood here, and a dog-rose there,
     And a note of the mating dove;
And a glimpse, maybe, of the warm blue sea,
     And the warm white clouds above;
And warm to your breast in a tenderer nest
     Your sweetheart's little glove.

There's not much better to win, my lad,
     There's not much better to win!
You have lived, you have loved, you have fought, you have proved
     The worth of folly and sin;
So now come out of the City's rout,
     Come out of the dust and the din.

Come out,--a bundle and stick is all
     You'll need to carry along,
If your heart can carry a kindly word,
     And your lips can carry a song;
You may leave the lave to the keep o' the grave,
     If your lips can carry a song!

Come, choose your road and away, my lad,
     Come, choose your road and away!
We'll out of the town by the road's bright crown,
     As it dips to the sapphire day!
All roads may meet at the world's end,
     But, hey for the heart of the May!
Come, choose your road and away, dear lad,
     Come choose your road and away.


15. The Two Worlds from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

This outer world is but the pictured scroll
          Of worlds within the soul,
A coloured chart, a blazoned missal-book
          Whereon who rightly look
May spell the splendours with their mortal eyes
          And steer to Paradise.

O, well for him that knows and early knows
          In his own soul the rose
Secretly burgeons, of this earthly flower
          The heavenly paramour:
And all these fairy dreams of green-wood fern,
          These waves that break and yearn,
Shadows and hieroglyphs, hills, clouds and seas,
          Faces and flowers and trees,
Terrestrial picture-parables, relate
          Each to its heavenly mate.

O, well for him that finds in sky and sea
          This two-fold mystery,
And loses not (as painfully he spells
          The fine-spun syllables)
The cadences, the burning inner gleam,
          The poet's heavenly dream.

Well for the poet if this earthly chart
          Be printed in his heart,
When to his world of spirit woods and seas
          With eager face he flees
And treads the untrodden fields of unknown flowers
          And threads the angelic bowers,
And hears that unheard nightingale whose moan
          Trembles within his own,
And lovers murmuring in the leafy lanes
          Of his own joys and pains.

For though he voyages further than the flight
          Of earthly day and night,
Traversing to the sky's remotest ends
          A world that he transcends,
Safe, he shall hear the hidden breakers roar
          Against the mystic shore;
Shall roam the yellow sands where sirens bare
          Their breasts and wind their hair;
Shall with their perfumed tresses blind his eyes,
          And still possess the skies.

He, where the deep unearthly jungles are,
          Beneath his Eastern star
Shall pass the tawny lion in his den
          And cross the quaking fen.
He learnt his path (and treads it undefiled)
          When, as a little child,
He bent his head with long and loving looks
          O'er earthly picture-books.
His earthly love nestles against his side,
          His young celestial guide.


16. Veterans (Written for the Relief Fund of the Crimean Veterans.) from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

When the last charge sounds
     And the battle thunders o'er the plain,
Thunders o'er the trenches where the red streams flow,
     Will it not be well with us,
                    Veterans, veterans,
If, beneath your torn old flag, we burst upon the foe?

When the last post sounds
     And the night is on the battle-field,
Night and rest at last from all the tumult of our wars,
     Will it not be well with us,
                    Veterans, veterans,
If, with duty done like yours, we lie beneath the stars?

When the great reveille sounds
     For the terrible last Sabaoth,
All the legions of the dead shall hear the trumpet ring!
     Will it not be well with us,
                    Veterans, veterans,
If, beneath your torn old flag, we rise to meet our King?


17. The Lights of Home from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

Pilot, how far from home?--
     Not far, not far to-night,
     A flight of spray, a sea-bird's flight,
A flight of tossing foam,
     And then the lights of home!--

And, yet again, how far?
     And seems the way so brief?
     Those lights beyond the roaring reef
Were lights of moon and star,
     Far, far, none knows how far!

Pilot, how far from home?--
     The great stars pass away
     Before Him as a flight of spray,
Moons as a flight of foam!
     I see the lights of home.


18. The Fiddler's Farewell from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

With my fiddle to my shoulder,
     And my hair turning grey,
And my heart growing older
     I must shuffle on my way!
Tho' there's not a hearth to greet me
     I must reap as I sowed,
And--the sunset shall meet me
     At the turn of the road.

O, the whin's a dusky yellow
     And the road a rosy white,
And the blackbird's call is mellow
     At the falling of night;
And there's honey in the heather
     Where we'll make our last abode,
My tunes and me together
     At the turn of the road.

I have fiddled for your city
     Thro' market-place and inn!
I have poured forth my pity
     On your sorrow and your sin!
But your riches are your burden,
     And your pleasure is your goadt
I've the whin-gold for guerdon
     At the turn of the road.

Your village-lights'll call me
     As the lights of home the dead;
But a black night befall me
     Ere your pillows rest my head!
God be praised, tho' like a jewel
     Every cottage casement showed,
There's a star that's not so cruel
     At the turn of the road.

Nay, beautiful and kindly
     Are the faces drawing nigh,
But I gaze on them blindly
     And hasten, hasten by;
For O, no face of wonder
     On earth has ever glowed
Like the One that waits me yonder
     At the turn of the road.

Her face is lit with splendour,
     She dwells beyond the skies;
But deep, deep and tender
     Are the tears in her eyes:
The angels see them glistening
     In pity for my load,
And--she's waiting there, she's listening,
     At the turn of the road.


19. Lavender from Collected Poems Vol II 1913

Lavender, lavender
     That makes your linen sweet;
The hawker brings his basket
     Down the sooty street:
The dirty doors and pavements
     Are simmering in the heat:
He brings a dream to London,
     And drags his weary feet.

Lavender, lavender,
     From where the bee hums,
To the loud roar of London,
     With purple dreams he comes,
From ragged lanes of wild-flowers
     To ragged London slums,
With a basket full of lavender
     And purple dreams he comes.

Is it nought to you that hear him?
     With the old strange cry
The weary hawker passes,
     And some will come and buy,
And some will let him pass away
     And only heave a sigh,
But most will neither heed nor hear
     When dreams go by.

Lavender, lavender!
     His songs were fair and sweet,
He brought us harvests out of heaven,
     Full sheaves of radiant wheat;
He brought us keys to Paradise,
     And hawked them thro' the street;
He brought his dreams to London,
     And dragged his weary feet.

Lavender, lavender!
     He is gone. The sunset glows;
But through the brain of London
     The mystic fragrance flows.
Each foggy cell remembers,
     Each ragged alley knows,
The land he left behind him,
     The land to which he goes.


20. A Spell: An Excellent Way to Get a Fairy! from Princess Mary's Gift Book, 1914

Gather, first, in your left hand
     (This must be at fall of day)
Forty grains of yellow sand
     Where you think a mermaid lay.
I have heard a wizard hint
     It is best to gather it sweet
Out of the warm and fluttered dint
     Where you see her heart has beat.

Out of the dint in that sweet sand
Gather forty grains, I say;
Yet--if it fail you--understand
I can show you a better way.

Out of that sand you melt your glass
     While the veils of night are drawn.
Whispering, till the shadows pass,
     Nixie--pixie--leprechaun--
Then you blow your magic vial,
     Shape it like a crescent moon,
Set it up and make your trial,
     Singing, "Fairies, ah, come soon!"

Round the cloudy crescent go.
On the hill-top, in the dawn.
Singing softly, on tip-toe,
"Elaby Gathon! Elahy Gathon!
Nixie--pixie--leprechaun!"

Bring the blood of a white hen.
     Killed about the break of day.
While the cock in the echoing-glen
     Thrusts his gold neck every way,
Over the brambles, peering, calling.
     Under the ferns, with a sudden fear,
Far and wide, while the dews are falling.
     Clamouring, calling, everywhere.

Round the crimson vial go
On the hill-top, in the dawn.
Singing softly, on tip-toe,
"Nixie--pixie-leprechaun!"
And, if once will not suffice,
     Do it thrice.
If this fail, at break of day,
I can show you a better way.

Bring the buds of the hazel-copse
     Where two lovers kissed at noon:
Bring the crushed red wild thyme tops
     Where they walked beneath the moon;
Bring the four-leaved clover also,
     One of the white, and one of the red,
Mixed with the flakes of the may that fall so
     Lightly over the sky-lark's bed.

Round the fragrant vial go.
On the hill-top, in the dawn.
Singing softly, on tip-toe,
"Nixie--pixie--leprechaun!"
If this fail, at break of day,
I can show you a better way.

Bring an old and wizened child
     --Ah, tread softly and speak low--
Tattered, tearless, wonder-wild,
     From that under-world below;
Bring a withered child of seven
     Reeking from the City slime,
Out of hell into your heaven.
     Set her knee-deep in the thyme.

Bring her from the smoky City,
Set her on a fairy-throne.
Clothe her, feed her, of your pity
Leave her for an hour alone.

You shall need no spells or charms
     On that hill-top, in that dawn.
When she lifts her wasted arms
     You shall see a veil withdrawn.
There shall be no veil between them,
     Though her head be old and wise.
You shall know that she has seen them,
     By the glory in her eyes.

Round her irons, on the hill,
Earth shall toss a fairy fire.
Watch and listen and be still.
Lest you baulk your own desire.

When she sees four azure winds
     Light upon her claw-like hand;
When she lifts her head and sings,
     You shall hear and understand.
You shall hear a bugle calling,
     Wildly over the dew-dashed down,
And a sound as of the falling
     Ramparts of a conquered town.

You shall hear a sound like thunder.
And a veil shall be withdrawn,
When her eyes grow wide with wonder,
On that hill-top, in that dawn.


21. The Union (American Poems), 1917

You that have gathered together the sons of all races,
  And welded them into one,
Lifting the torch of your Freedom on hungering faces
  That sailed to the setting sun;

You that have made of mankind in your own proud regions
  The music of man to be,
How should the old earth sing of you, now, as your legions
  Rise to set all men free?

How should the singer that knew the proud vision and loved it,
  In the days when not all men knew,
Gaze through his tears, on the light, now the world has approved it;
  Or dream, when the dream comes true?

How should he sing when the Spirit of Freedom in thunder
  Speaks, and the wine-press is red;
And the sea-winds are loud with the chains that are broken asunder
  And nations that rise from the dead?

Flag of the sky, proud flag of that wide communion,
  Too mighty for thought to scan;
Flag of the many in one, and that last world-union
  That kingdom of God in man;

Ours was a dream, in the night, of that last federation,
  But yours is the glory unfurled--
The marshalled nations and stars that shall make one nation
  One singing star of the world.


22. A Prayer in Time of War (London Daily Mail, 1917)

Thou, whose deep ways are in the sea,
Whose footsteps are not known,
To-night a world that turned from Thee
Is waiting--at Thy Throne.

The towering Babels that we raised
Where scoffing sophists brawl,
The little Antichrists we praised--
The night is on them all.

The fool hath said . . . The fool hath said . . .
And we, who deemed him wise,
We who believed that Thou wast dead,
How should we seek Thine eyes?

How should we seek to Thee for power
Who scorned Thee yesterday?
How should we kneel, in this dread hour?
Lord, teach us how to pray!

Grant us the single heart, once more,
That mocks no sacred thing,
The Sword of Truth our fathers wore
When Thou wast Lord and King.

Let darkness unto darkness tell
Our deep unspoken prayer,
For, while our souls in darkness dwell,
We know that Thou art there.


23. Kilmeny (A Song of the Trawlers), 1917

Dark, dark, lay the drifters, against the red west,
As they shot their long meshes of steel overside;
And the oily green waters were rocking to rest
When Kilmeny went out, at the turn of the tide.
And nobody knew where that lassie would roam,
For the magic that called her was tapping unseen.
It was well nigh a week ere Kilmeny came home,
And nobody knew where Kilmeny had been.

She'd a gun at her bow that was Newcastle's best,
And a gun at her stern that was fresh from the Clyde,
And a secret her skipper had never confessed,
Not even at dawn, to his newly wed bride;
And a wireless that whispered above like a gnome,
The laughter of London, the boasts of Berlin.
O, it may have been mermaids that lured her from home,
But nobody knew where Kilmeny had been.

It was dark when Kilmeny came home from her quest,
With her bridge dabbled red where her skipper had died;
But she moved like a bride with a rose at her breast;
And "Well done, Kilmeny!" the admiral cried.
Now at sixty-four fathom a conger may come,
And nose at the bones of a drowned submarine;
But late in the evening Kilmeny came home,
And nobody knew where Kilmeny had been.

There's a wandering shadow that stares at the foam,
Though they sing all night to old England, their queen,
Late, late in the evening Kilmeny came home,
And nobody knew where Kilmeny had been.


24. To the Memory of Cecil Spring-Rice from New Morning Poems, 1918

Soldier of England, he shall live unsleeping
  Among his friends, with the old proud flag above;
For even today her honour is in his keeping.
  He has joined the hosts that guard her with their love.

They shine like stars, unnumbered happy legions,
  In that high realm where all our darkness dies.
He moves, with honour, in those loftier regions,
  Above this "world of passion and of lies":

For so he called it, keeping his own pure passion
  A silent flame before the true and good;
Not fawning on the throng in this world's fashion
  To come and see what all might see who would.

Soldier of England, brave and gentle knight,
The soul of Sidney welcomes you tonight.


25. Fishers of Men from New Morning Poems, 1918

Long, long ago He said,
He who could wake the dead,
  And walk upon the sea--
  "Come, follow Me.

"Leave your brown nets and bring
Only your hearts to sing,
  Only your souls to pray,
  Rise, come away.

"Shake out your spirit-sails,
And brave those wilder gales,
  And I will make you then
  Fishers of men."

Was this, then, what He meant?
Was this His high intent,
  After two thousand years
  Of blood and tears?

God help us, if we fight
For right, and not for might.
  God help us if we seek
  To shield the weak.

Then, though His heaven be far
From this blind welter of war,
  He'll bless us, on the sea
  From Calvary.


26. Nippon [Japan] from New Morning Poems, 1918

Last night, I dreamed of Nippon . . .
  I saw a cloud of white
Drifting before the sunset
  On seas of opal light.

Beyond the wide Pacific
  I saw its mounded snow
Miraculously changing
  In that deep evening glow,

To rosy rifts and hillocks,
  To orchards that I knew,
To snows of peach and cherry,
  And feathers of bamboo.

I saw, on twisted bridges,
  In blue and crimson gleams,
The lanterns of the fishers,
  Along the brook of dreams.

I saw the wreaths of incense
  Like little ghosts arise,
From temples under Fuji,
  From Fuji to the skies.

I saw that fairy mountain . . .
  I watched it form and fade.
No doubt the gods were singing,
  When Nippon isle was made.


27. The Humming Birds from New Morning Poems, 1918

Green wing and ruby throat,
  What shining spell, what exquisite sorcery,
Lured you to float
  And fight with bees round this one flowering tree?

Petulant imps of light,
  What whisper or gleam or elfin-wild perfumes
Thrilled through the night
  And drew you to this hive of rosy bloom?

One tree, and one alone,
  Of all that load this magic air with spice,
Claims for its own
  Your brave migration out of Paradise;

Claims you, and guides you, too,
  Three thousand miles across the summer's waste
Of blooms ye knew
  Less finely fit for your ethereal taste.

To poets' youthful hearts,
  Even so the quivering April thoughts will fly,--
Those irised darts,
  Those winged and tiny denizens of the sky.

Through beaks as needle-fine,
  They suck a redder honey than bees know.
Unearthly wine
  Sleeps in this bloom; and, when it falls, they go.


28. The Lost Battle from New Morning Poems, 1918

It is not over yet--the fight
  Where those immortal dreamers failed.
They stormed the citadels of night
  And the night praised them--and prevailed.
So long ago the cause was lost
  We scarce distinguish friend from foe;
But--if the dead can help it most--
  The armies of the dead will grow.

The world has all our banners now,
  And filched our watchwords for its own.
The world has crowned the "rebel's" brow
  And millions crowd his lordly throne.
The masks have altered. Names are names;
  They praise the "truth" that is not true.
The "rebel" that the world acclaims
  Is not the rebel Shelley knew.

We may not build that Commonweal.
  We may not reach the goal we set.
But there's a flag they dare not steal.
  Forward! It is not over yet.
We shall be dust and under dust
  Before we end that ancient wrong;
But here's a sword that cannot rust,
  And where's the death can touch a song?

So, when our bodies rot in earth
  The singing souls that once were ours,
Weaponed with light and helmed with mirth,
  Shall front the kingdoms and the powers.
The ancient lie is on its throne,
  And half the living still forget;
But, since the dead are all our own,
  Courage, it is not over yet.


29. The Symphony from New Morning Poems, 1918

Wonder in happy eyes
  Fades, fades away:
And the angel-coloured skies
  Whisper farewell.

Loveliness over the strings of the heart may stray
  In fugitive melodies;
But Oh, the hand of the Master must not stay,
  Even for a breath;

For to prolong one joy, or even to dwell
  On one rich chord of pain,
Beyond the pulse of the song, would untune heaven
  And drown the stars in death.

So youth with its love-note dies;
  And beauty fades in the air,
To make the master-symphony immortal,
  And find new life and deeper wonder there.


30. The Matin-song of Friar Tuck from New Morning Poems, 1918

["Te Deum laudamus" means "We praise thee, O God"]

I.
If souls could sing to heaven's high King
As blackbirds pipe on earth,
How those delicious courts would ring
With gusts of lovely mirth!
What white-robed throng could lift a song
So mellow with righteous glee
As this brown bird that all day long
Delights my hawthorn tree.
Hark! That's the thrush
With speckled breast
From yon white bush
Chaunting his best,
Te Deum! Te Deum laudamus!

II.
If earthly dreams be touched with gleams
Of Paradisal air,
Some wings, perchance, of earth may glance
Around our slumbers there;
Some breaths of may might drift our way
With scents of leaf and loam,
Some whistling bird at dawn be heard
From those old woods of home.
Hark! That's the thrush
With speckled breast
From yon white bush
Chaunting his best,
Te Deum! Te Deum laudamus!

III.
No King or priest shall mar my feast
Where'er my soul may range.
I have no fear of heaven's good cheer
Unless our Master change.
But when death's night is dying away,
If I might choose my bliss,
My love should say, at break of day,
With her first waking kiss:--
Hark! That's the thrush
With speckled breast,
From yon white bush
Chaunting his best,
Te Deum! Te Deum laudamus!


31. On a Mountain Top from New Morning Poems, 1918

On this high altar, fringed with ferns
  That darken against the sky,
The dawn in lonely beauty burns
  And all our evils die.

The struggling sea that roared below
  Is quieter than the dew,
Quieter than the clouds that flow
  Across the stainless blue.

On this bare crest, the angels kneel
  And breathe the sweets that rise
From flowers too little to reveal
  Their beauty to our eyes.

I have seen Edens on the earth
  With queenly blooms arrayed;
But here the fairest come to birth,
  The smallest flowers He made.

O, high above the sounding pine,
  And richer, sweeter far,
The wild thyme wakes. The celandine
  Looks at the morning star.

They may not see the heavens unfold.
  They breathe no out-worn prayer;
But, on a mountain, as of old,
  His glory fills the air.


32. The New Duckling from New Morning Poems, 1918

"I want to be new," said the duckling.
  "O, ho!" said the wise old owl,
While the guinea-hen cluttered off chuckling
  To tell all the rest of the fowl.

"I should like a more elegant figure,"
  That child of a duck went on.
"I should like to grow bigger and bigger,
  Until I could swallow a swan.

"I won't be the bond slave of habit,
  I won't have these webs on my toes.
I want to run round like a rabbit,
  A rabbit as red as a rose.

"I don't want to waddle like mother,
  Or quack like my silly old dad.
I want to be utterly other,
  And frightfully modern and mad."

"Do you know," said the turkey, "you're quacking!
  There's a fox creeping up thro' the rye;
And, if you're not utterly lacking,
  You'll make for that duck-pond. Good-bye!"

"I won't," said the duckling. "I'll lift him
  A beautiful song, like a sheep;
And when I have--as it were--biffed him,
  I'll give him my feathers to keep."

Now the curious end of this fable,
  So far as the rest ascertained,
Though they searched from the barn to the stable,
  Was that only his feathers remained.

So he wasn't the bond slave of habit,
  And he didn't have webs on his toes;
And perhaps he runs round like a rabbit,
  A rabbit as red as a rose.


33. The Man Who Discovered the Use of a Chair from New Morning Poems, 1918

The man who discovered the use of a chair,
  Odds--bobs--
    What a wonderful man!

He used to sit down on it, tearing his hair,
  Till he thought of a highly original plan.
For years he had sat on his chair, like you,
  Quite--still!
    But his looks were grim

For he wished to be famous (as great men do)
  And nobody ever would listen to him.

Now he went one night to a dinner of state
  Hear! hear!
    In the proud Guildhall!

And he sat on his chair, and he ate from a plate;
  But nobody heard his opinions at all;

There were ten fat aldermen down for a speech
  (Grouse! Grouse!
    What a dreary bird!
)
With five fair minutes allotted to each,
  But never a moment for him to be heard.

But, each being ready to talk, I suppose,
  Order! Order!
    They cried, for the Chair!
And, much to their wonder, our friend arose
  And fastened his eye on the eye of the Mayor.

"We have come," he said, "to the fourteenth course!
  "High--time,
    for the Chair
," he said.
Then, with both of his hands, and with all of his force,
  He hurled his chair at the Lord Mayor's head.

It missed that head by the width of a hair.
Gee--whizz!
    What a horrible squeak!

But it crashed through the big bay-window there
  And smashed a bus into Wednesday week.

And the very next day, in the decorous Times
  (Great--Guns--
    How the headlines ran!
)
In spite of the kings and the wars and the crimes,
  There were five full columns about that man.

Oh, if you get dizzy when authors write
  (My stars!
    And you very well may!
)
That white is black and that black is white,
  You should sit, quite still, in your chair and say:

It is easy enough to be famous now,
  (Puff--Puff!
    How the trumpets blare!
)
Provided, of course, that you don't care how,
  Like the man who discovered the use of a chair.


34. Cotton-Wool from New Morning Poems, 1918

Shun the brush and shun the pen,
Shun the ways of clever men,
When they prove that black is white,
Whey they swear that wrong is right,
When they roast the singing stars
Like chestnuts, in between the bars,
  Children, let a wandering fool
  Stuff your ears with cotton-wool.

When you see a clever man
Run as quickly as you can.
You must never, never, never
Think that Socrates was clever.
The cleverest thing I ever knew
Now cracks walnuts at the Zoo.
  Children, let a wandering fool
  Stuff your ears with cotton-wool.

Homer could not scintillate.
Milton, too, was merely great.
That's a very different matter
From talking like a frantic hatter.
Keats and Shelley had no tricks.
Wordsworth never climbed up sticks.
  Children, let a wandering fool
  Stuff your ears with cotton-wool.

Lincoln would create a gloom
In many a London drawing-room;
He'd be silent at their wit,
He would never laugh at it.
When they kissed Salome's toes,
I think he'd snort and blow his nose.
  Children, let a wandering fool
  Stuff your ears with cotton-wool.

They'd curse him for a silly clown,
They'd drum him out of London town.
Professor Flunkey, the historian,
Would say he was a dull Victorian.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke and John,
Bless the bed I rest upon.
  Children, let a wandering fool
  Stuff your ears with cotton-wool.

      Amen.


35. Fashions from New Morning Poems, 1918

Fashion on fashion on fashion,
  (With only the truth growing old!)
And here's the new purple of passion,
  (And love waiting out in the cold)
      Who'll buy?

They are crying new lamps for Aladdin,
  New worlds for the old and the true;
And no one remembers the story
  The magic was not in the new.

They are crying a new rose for Eden,
  A rose of green glass. I suppose
The only thing wrong with their rose is
  The fact that it isn't a rose.
      Who'll buy?

And here is a song without metre;
  And, here again, nothing is wrong;
(For nothing on earth could be neater)
  Except that--it isn't a song.

Well. Walk on your hands. It's the latest!
  And feet are Victorian now;
And even our best and our greatest
  Before that dread epithet bow.
      Who'll buy?

The furniture goes for a song, now.
  The sixties had horrible taste.
But the trouble is this--they've included
  Some better things, too, in their haste.

Were they wrapped in the antimacassars,
  Or sunk in a sofa of plush?
Did an Angelican bishop forget them,
  And leave them behind in the crush?
      Who'll buy?

Here's a turnex. It's going quite cheaply.
  (It lived with stuffed birds in the hall!
And, of course, to a mind that thinks deeply
  That settles it, once and for all.)

Here's item, a ring (very plain, sirs!),
  And item, a God (but He's dead!);
They say we shall need Him again, sirs,
  So--item, a cross for His head.
      Who'll buy?

Yes, you'll need it again, though He's dead, sirs.
  It is only the fashions that fly.
So here are the thorns for His head, sirs.
  They'll keep till you need 'em. Who'll buy?


36. The Reward of Song from New Morning Poems, 1918

Why do we make our music?
  Oh, blind dark strings reply:
Because we dwell in a strange land
  And remember a lost sky.
We ask no leaf of the laurel,
  We know what fame is worth;
But our songs break out of our winter
  As the flowers break out on the earth.

And we dream of the unknown comrade,
  In the days when we lie dead,
Who shall open our book in the sunlight,
  And read, as ourselves have read,
On a lonely hill, by a firwood,
  With whispering seas below,
And murmur a song we made him
  Ages and ages ago.

If making his may-time sweeter
  With dews of our own dead may,
One pulse of our own dead heart-strings
  Awake in his heart that day,
We would pray for no richer guerdon,
  No praise from the careless throng;
For song is the cry of a lover
  In quest of an answering song.

As a child might run to his elders
  With news of an opening flower
We should walk with our young companion
  And talk to his heart for an hour,
As once by my own green firwood,
  And once by a Western sea,
Thank God, my own good comrades
  Have walked and talked with me.

Too mighty to make men sorrow,
  Too weak to heal their pain
(Though they that remember the hawthorn
  May find their heaven again),
We are moved by a deeper hunger;
  We are bound by a stronger cord;
For love is the heart of our music,
  And love is its one reward.


37. Song, 1918

I came to the door of the House of Love
And knocked as the starry night went by;
And my true love cried "Who knocks?" and I said
"It is I."

And Love looked down from a lattice above
Where the roses were dry as the lips of the dead:
"There is not room in the House of Love
For you both," he said.

I plucked a leaf from the porch and crept
Away through a desert of scoffs and scorns
To a lonely place where I prayed and wept
And wove me a crown of thorns.

I came once more to the House of Love
And knocked, ah, softly and wistfully,
And my true love cried "Who knocks?" and I said
"None now but thee."

And the great doors opened wide apart
And a voice rang out from a glory of light,
"Make room, make room for a faithful heart
In the House of Love, to-night."


38. The Elfin Artist from The Elfin Artist and Other Poems, 1920

In a glade of an elfin forest
When Sussex was Eden-new,
I came on an elvish painter
And watched as his picture grew,
A harebell nodded beside him.
He dipt his brush in the dew.

And it might be the wild thyme round him
That shone in the dark strange ring;
But his brushes were bees' antennae,
His knife was a wasp's blue sting;
And his gorgeous exquisite palette
Was a butterfly's fan-shaped wing.

And he mingled its powdery colours,
And painted the lights that pass,
On a delicate cobweb canvas
That gleamed like a magic glass,
And bloomed like a banner of elf-land,
Between two stalks of grass;

Till it shone like an angel's feather
With sky-born opal and rose,
And gold from the foot of the rainbow,
And colours that no man knows;
And I laughed in the sweet May weather,
Because of the themes he chose.

For he painted the things that matter,
The tints that we all pass by,
Like the little blue wreaths of incense
That the wild thyme breathes to the sky;
Or the first white bud of the hawthorn,
And the light in a blackbird's eye;

And the shadows on soft white cloud-peaks
That carolling skylarks throw,--
Dark dots on the slumbering splendours
That under the wild wings flow,
Wee shadows like violets trembling
On the unseen breasts of snow;

With petals too lovely for colour
That shake to the rapturous wings,
And grow as the bird draws near them,
And die as he mounts and sings,--
Ah, only those exquisite brushes
Could paint these marvellous things.


39. Earth and Her Birds from The Elfin Artist and Other Poems, 1920

Brave birds that climb those blue
     Dawn-tinted towers,
With notes like showers of dew
     From elf-tossed flowers,
Shake your mad wings in mirth,
     Betray, betray
     The secret thoughts of May,
That heaven, once more, may marry our wild earth.

Dark gypsy, she would dance
     Unmated still,
Challenging, glance for glance,
     Her lord's high will,
But that her thoughts take wing
     While she lies sleeping;
     And, into glory leaping,
Like birds, at sunrise, to her bride-groom sing.

See how with cheeks aglow
     And lips apart,
While warm winds, murmuring low
     Lay bare her heart,
She dreams that she can hide
     Its rosy light
     In ferns and flowers this night,
And swim like Dian through this hawthorn-tide.

Then shame her, lavrocks, shame her,
     At break of day,
That heaven may trap and tame her
     This mad sweet May,
Let all your feathered choir
     Leave those warm nests
     Between her dawn-flushed breats,
And soar to heaven, singing her young desire.


40. Sea-Distances from The Elfin Artist and Other Poems, 1920

His native sea-washed isle
     Was bleak and bare.
Far off, there seemed to smile
     An isle more fair.

Blue as the smoke of Spring
     Its far hills rose,
A delicate azure ring
     Crowned with faint snows.

At dusk, a rose-red star
     Set free from wrong,
It beaconed him afar,
     His whole life long.

Not till old age drew nigh
     He voyaged there.
He saw the colours die
     As he drew near.

It towered above him, bleak
     And cold, death-cold.
From peak to phantom peak
     A grey mist rolled.

Then, under his arched hand,
     From that bare shore,
Back, at his own dear land,
     He gazed, once more.

Clothed with the tints he knew,
     He saw it smile,--
Opal, and rose and blue,
     His native isle.


41. Peter Quince from The Elfin Artist and Other Poems, 1920

[A poem about a changeling]

Peter Quince was nine year old
When he see'd what never was told.

When he crossed the fairy fern,
Peter had no more to learn.

Just as day began to die,
He see'd 'em rustling on the sky;

Ferns, like small green finger-prints
Pressed against them rosy tints,

Mother-o'-pearl and opal tinges
Dying along their whispering fringes,

Every colour, as it died,
Beckoning, "Come, to the other side."

Up he crept, by the shrew-mouse track.
A robin chirped, "You woant come back".

Through the ferns he crept to look.
There he found a gurt wide book;

Much too big for a child to hold.
Its clasps were made of sunset gold.

It smelled as old ship's timbers do.
He began to read it through.

All the magic pictures burned,
Like stained windows, as he turned

Page by big black-lettered page,
Thick as cream, and ripe with age.

There he read, till all grew dim.
Then green glow-worms lighted him.

There he read till he forgot
All that ever his teachers taught.

     . . . .

Someone, old as the moon, crept back,
Late that night by the shrew-mouse track.

Someone, taller maybe, by an inch.
Boys grow fast. He'll do at a pinch.

Only, folks that know'd him claim
Peter's wits were never the same.

Ev'ryone said that Peter Quince
H'aint been never the same child since.

Now he'd sit, in a trance, for hours,
Talkin' softly to bees and flowers.

Now, in the ingle-nook at night,
Turn his face from the candle-light;

Till, as you thought him fast asleep,
You'd see his eyes were wide and deep;

And, in their wild magic glow,
Rainbow colours 'ud come and go.

Dame Quince never could wholly wake him,
So they say, tho' she'd call and shake him.

He sat dreaming. He sat bowed
In a white sleep, like a cloud.

Over his dim face at whiles,
Flickered liddle elvish smiles.

     . . . .

Once, the robin at the pane,
Tried to chirp the truth again.

Peter Quince has crossed the fern.
Peter Quince will not return.

Drive the changeling from your chair!
That's not Peter dreaming there

Peter's crossed the fern to look.
Peter's found the magic book.

Ah, Dame Quince was busy sobbin',
So she couldn't hear poor Robin.

And the changeling, in a dream,
Supped that night, on pears and cream.

Night by night, he cleared his platter;
And--from moon to moon--grew fatter;

Mostly dumb, or muttering dimly
When the smoke blew down the chimley,

Peter's turned another Page.
I have almost earned my wage.

Then the good dame's eyelids shone.

     . . . .

This was many a year agone.
Peter Quince is reading on.


42. Beauty in Darkness from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

Beauty in darkness,
     Ivory-white
Sleeps like the secret
     Heart of the night.

Night may be boundless,
     Formless as death,
Here the white-breated one
     Still draws breath.

Music that vanished
     At eve, on the air,
Silently slumbers
     Till day-break here.

Here, at the heart
     Of the universe, glows
Exquisite, absolute,
     Love's deep rose.


43. The Making of a Poem from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

Last night a passionate tempest shook his soul
     With hatred and black anger and despair,
And the dark depths and every foaming shoal
     Ran wild as if they fought with the blind air.

To-day the skies unfold their flags of blue,
     The crisp white clouds their sails of snow unfurl,
And, on the shore, in colours rich and new
     The strange green seas cast up their loosened pearl.


44. A Sky Song from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

The devil has launched his great, grey craft
     To voyage in the sky;
But Life puts out with a thousand wings,
     To rake His Majesty fore and aft
          And prove that Wrong must die.

So has it been since time began,--
     When Death would mount and fly,
A swifter fleet, with sharper stings,
     Round him in lightning circles ran
          And proved that Death must die.

Invincible, he came of old.
     His galleons towered on high;
But Drake and his companions bold
     And this proud sea that laughs and sings
          Declared that Death must die.

So all these four free winds declare
     And these pure realms of sky;
And these new admirals of the air,
     Ay, Life with all her radiant wings
          Declares that Death must die.


45. A Return From the Air from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

Set the clocks going,
     Turn on the light.
Is that the old sea flowing
     Out there, in the night?
We have come back from faerie,
     To the world where Time still plods.
We have returned from an airy
     Ramble with the gods.

There are few changes showing.
     The fire shines bright.
But--set the clocks going.
     Turn on the light.
No, we have nothing to tell you
     That you would care to be told.
No, we have nothing to sell you
     That ever was bought with gold.

Ah, never look at our faces
     Till we forget our skies,
Or the gleam of the holy places
     Has faded from our eyes.
But--set the clocks going.
     Turn on the light,
Outside the winds are blowing.
     Shut the doors tight.

Is it an age or a minute
     That we have been away?
We have lived an aeon in it,
     That is all we dare to say.
Our knowledge was past all knowing.
     Our seeing was past all sight.
But--set the clocks going.
     Turn on the light.


46. The Rhythym of Life from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

"Come back, to the tidal sun,"
     The Angel of Morning said.
"There are no more songs to be won
     From the sad new pulseless dead;
But the pine-wood throbs with the truth
     It sang to the heart of a boy!
Come back, to the hills of youth,
     Enjoyer and giver of joy.

"Come back, to the tidal sea
     And its great storm-guiding tune,
By the service of law set free
     To sing with the sun and the moon ;
To pulse with the blood and the breath,
     And to ebb ere the flow can cloy,
In the rhythm of life and death,
     Enjoyer and giver of joy."


47. The Rustling of Grass from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

I cannot tell why,
But the rustling of grass,
As the summer winds pass
Through the field where I lie,
Bring to life a lost day,
Long ago, far away,
When in childhood I lay
Looking up at the sky
And the white clouds that pass,
Trailing isles of grey shadow
Across the gold grass . . .

O, the dreams that drift by
With the slow flowing years,
Hopes, Memories, tears,
In the rustling grass.


48. The Sussex Sailor from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

O, once, by Cuckmere Haven,
I heard a sailor sing
Of shores beyond the sunset,
And lands of lasting spring,
Of blue lagoons and palm trees
And isles where all was young;
But this was ever the burden
Of ev'ry note he sung:

"O, have you seen my true love
A-walking in that land?
Or have you seen her footprints
Upon that shining sand?
Beneath the happy palm trees,
By Eden whispers fanned . . .
O, have you seen my true love
A-walking in that land?"

And, once in San Diego,
I heard him sing again,
Of Amberley, Rye, and Bramber,
And Brede and Fairlight Glen:
The nestling hills of Sussex,
The russet-roofed elfin towns,
And the skylark up in a high wind
Carolling over the downs.

"From Warbleton to Wild Brook,
When May is white as foam,
O, have you seen my dearling
On any hills of home?
Or have you seen her shining,
Or only touch'd her hand.
O, have you seen my true love
A-walking in that land?"

And, once again, by Cowfold,
I heard him singing low,
'Tis not the leagues of ocean
That hide the hills I know.
The May that shines before me
Has made a ghost of May.
The valleys that I would walk in
Are twenty years away.

"Ah, have you seen my true love
A-walking in that land...
On hills that I remember,
In valleys I understand,
So far beyond the sunset,
So very close at hand,
O have you seen my true love
In that immortal land?"


49. The Searchlights from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

"Political morality differs from individual morality, because there is no power above the State."--General von Bernardi.

Shadow by shadow, stripped for fight,
The lean black cruisers search the sea.
Night-long their level shafts of light
Revolve, and find no enemy.
Only they know each leaping wave
May hide the lightning, and their grave.

And in the land they guard so well
Is there no silent watch to keep?
An age is dying and the bell
Rings midnight on a vaster deep.
But over all its waves, once more
The searchlights move, from shore to shore.

And captains that we thought were dead,
And dreamers that we thought were dumb,
And voices that we thought were fled,
Arise, and call us, and we come;
And "Search in thine own soul," they cry;
"For there, too, lurks thine enemy."

Search for the foe in thine own soul,
The sloth, the intellectual pride;
The trivial jest that veils the goal
For which our father lived and died;
The lawless dreams, the cynic Art,
That rend thy nobler self apart.

Not far, not far into the night,
These level swords of light can pierce;
Yet for her faith does England fight,
Her faith in this our universe,
Believing Truth and Justice draw
From founts of everlasting law;

The law that rules the stars, our stay,
Our compass through the world's wide sea,
The one sure light, the one sure way,
The one firm base of Liberty;
The one firm road that men have trod
Through Chaos to the throne of God.

Therefore a Power above the State,
The unconquerable Power, returns,
The fire, the fire that made her great
Once more upon her altar burns,
Once more, redeemed and healed and whole,
She moves to the Eternal Goal.


50. Old Grey Squirrel from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

A great while ago there was a schoolboy.
     He lived in a cottage by the sea.
And the very first thing he could remember
     Was the rigging of the schooners by the quay.

He could watch them from his bedroom window,
     With the big cranes hoisting out the freight.
And he used to dream of shipping as a sea-cook
     And sailing to the Golden Gate.

For he used to buy the yellow penny dreadfuls,
     And read them where he fished for conger eels,
And listened to the lapping of the water,
     The green and oily water round the keels.

There were trawlers with their shark-mouthed flat-fish,
     And the red nets hanging out to dry,
And the skate the skipper kept because he liked 'em
     And the landsmen never knew which ones to fry.

There were brigantines with timber out of Norroway,
     Oozing with the syrups of the pine.
There were rusty dusty schooners out of Sunderland,
     And ships of the Blue Cross line.

And to tumble down a hatch into the cabin
     Was better than the best of broken rules;
For the smell of 'em was like a Christmas dinner,
     And the feel of 'em was like a box of tools.

And, before he went to sleep in the evening,
     The very last thing that he could see
Was the sailor-men a-dancing in the moonlight
     By the capstan that stood beside the quay.

He is perched on a high stool in London.
     The Golden Gate is very far away.
They caught him, and they caged him, like a squirrel.
     He is totting up accounts, and going grey,

He will never, never, never sail to 'Frisco.
     But the very last thing that he will see
Will be sailor-men a-dancing in the sunrise
     By the capstan that stands beside the quay . . .

To the tune of an old concertina,
     By the capstan that stands upon the quay.


51. After Rain from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

Listen! On sweetening air
     The blackbird growing bold
Flings out, where green boughs glisten,
     Three splashes of wild gold.

Daughter of April, hear;
     And hear, O barefoot boy!
That carol of wild sweet water
     Has washed the world with joy.

Glisten, O fragrant earth
     Assoiled by heaven anew,
And O, ye lovers, listen,
     With eyes that glisten, too.


52. A Forest Song from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

Who would be a king
That can sit in the sun and sing?
Nay, I have a kingdom of mine own.
A fallen oak-tree is my throne.
     Then, pluck the strings, and tell me true
     If Caesar in his glory knew
     The worlds he lost in sun and dew.

Who would be a queen
That sees what my love hath seen?--
The blood of little children shed
To make one royal ruby red!
     Then tell me, music, why the great
     For quarreling trumpets abdicate
     This quick, this absolute estate.

Nay, who would sing in heaven,
Among the choral Seven
That hears--as Love and I have heard,
The whole sky listening to one bird?
     And where's the ruby, tell me where,
     Whose crimsons for one breath compare
     With this wild rose that all may share?


53. The Song-Tree from Collected Poems Vol III, 1920

Grow, my song, like a tree,
   As thou hast ever grown,
Since first, a wondering child,
   Long since, I cherished thee.
It was at break of day,
   Well I remember it,--
The first note that I heard,
   A magical undertone,
Sweeter than any bird
   --Or so it seemed to me--
And my tears ran wild.
   This tale, this tale is true.
The light was growing gray;
   And the rhymes ran so sweet
(For I was only a child)
   That I knelt down to pray.

Grow, my song, like a tree.
   Since then I have forgot
   A thousand dreams, but not
The song that set me free,
   So that to thee I gave
My hopes and my despairs,
   My boyhood's ecstasy,
My manhood's prayers.
   In dreams I have watched thee grow,
A ladder of sweet boughs,
   Where angels come and go,
And birds keep house.
   In dreams, I have seen thee wave
Over a distant land,
   And watched thy roots expand,
And given my life to thee,
   As I would give my grave.

Grow, my song, like a tree,
   And when I am grown old,
Let me die under thee,
   Die to enrich thy mould;
Die at thy roots, and so
   Help thee to grow.
Make of this body and blood
   Thy sempiternal food.
Then let some little child,
   Some friend I shall not see,
When the great dawn is gray,
   Some lover I have not known,
In summers far away,
   Sit listening under thee.
And in thy rustling hear
   That mystical undertone,
Which made my tears run wild,
   And made thee, O, how dear.

In the great years to be?
   I am proud then? Ah, not so.
I have lived and died for thee.
   Be patient. Grow.
Grow, my song, like a tree.



Various Songs from the 12-Book poem about Sir Francis Drake


54. Song

Now the purple night is past,
Now the moon more faintly glows,
Dawn has through thy casement cast
Roses on thy breast, a rose;
Now the kisses are all done,
Now the world awakes anew,
Now the charmed hour is gone,
Let not love go, too.

When old winter, creeping nigh,
Sprinkles raven hair with white,
Dims the brightly glancing eye,
Laughs away the dancing light,
Roses may forget their sun,
Lilies may forget their dew,
Beauties perish, one by one,
Let not love go, too.

Palaces and towers of pride
Crumble year by year away;
Creeds like robes are laid aside,
Even our very tombs decay!
When the all-conquering moth and rust
Gnaw the goodly garment through,
When the dust returns to dust,
Let not love go, too.

Kingdoms melt away like snow,
Gods are spent like wasting flames,
Hardly the new peoples know
Their divine thrice-worshipped names!
At the last great hour of all,
When Thou makest all things new,
Father, hear Thy children call,
Let not love go, too.


55. Song

The moon is up: the stars are bright:
The wind is fresh and free!
We're out to seek for gold to-night
Across the silver sea!
The world was growing grey and old,
Break out the sails again!
We re out to seek a Realm of Gold
Beyond the Spanish Main.

We're sick of all the cringing knees,
The courtly smiles and lies!
God, let Thy singing Channel breeze
Lighten our hearts and eyes!
Let love no more be bought and sold
For earthly loss or gain:
We're out to seek an Age of Gold
Beyond the Spanish Main.

Beyond the light of far Cathay,
Beyond all mortal dreams,
Beyond the reach of night and day
Our Eldorado gleams,
Revealing--as the skies unfold--
A star without a stain,
The Glory of the Gates of Gold
Beyond the Spanish Main.


56. Song

In Devonshire, now, the Christmas chime
     Is carolling over the lea;
And the sexton shovels away the snow
     From the old church porch, maybe;
And the waits with their lanthorns and noses a-glow
     Come round for their Christmas fee;
But, as in old England it's Christmas-time,
     Why, so is it here at sea,
          My lads,
     Why, so is it here at sea!

When the ship comes home, from turret to poop
     Filled full with Spanish gold,
There'll be many a country dance and joke,
     And many a tale to be told;
Every old woman shall have a red cloak
     To fend her against the cold;
And every old man shall have a big round stoup
     Of jolly good ale and old,
          My lads,
     Jolly good ale and old!


57. Song

Happy by the hearth sit the lasses and the lads, now.
     Roasting of their chestnuts, toasting of their toes!
When the door is opened to a blithe new-comer,
     Stamping like a ploughman to shuffle off the snows;
Rosy flower-like faces through the soft red fire light
     Float as if to greet us, far away at sea,
Sigh as they remember, and turn the sigh to laughter,
     Kiss beneath the mistletoe and wonder at their glee.
          With their "heigh ho, the holly!
          This life is most jolly!"
     Christmas-time is kissing-time;
          Away with melancholy!

Ah, the Yule of England, the happy Yule of England,
     Yule of berried holly and the merry mistletoe;
The boar's head, the brown ale, the blue snap dragon,
     Yule of groaning tables and the crimson log aglow!
Yule, the golden bugle to the scattered old companions,
     Ringing as with laughter, shining as through tears!
Loved of little children, oh guard the holy Yuletide,
     Guard it, men of England, for the child beyond the years,
With its "heigh ho, the holly!"
          Away with melancholy!
          Christmas-time is kissing-time,
     "This life is most jolly!"


58. Song

The same sun is o'er us,
     The same Love shall find us,
          The same and none other,
               Wherever we be;
With the same goal before us,
     The same home behind us,
          England, our mother,
               Ringed round with the sea.

When the breakers charged thundering
     In thousands all round us
          With a lightning of lances
               Uphurtled on high,
When the stout ships were sundering
     A rapture hath crowned us,
          Like the wild light that dances
               On the crests that flash by.

When the waters lay breathless
     Gazing at Hesper
          Guarding the golden
               Fruit of the tree,
Heard we the deathless
     Wonderful whisper
          Wafting the olden
               Dream of the sea.

No land in the ring of it
     Now, all around us
          Only the splendid
               Resurging unknown!
How should we sing of it?
     This that hath found us
          By the great sun attended
               In splendour, alone.

Ah! the broad miles of it,
     White with the onset
          Of waves without number
               Warring for glee.
Ah! the soft smiles of it
     Down to the sunset,
          Holy for slumber,
               The peace of the sea.

The wave's heart, exalted,
     Leaps forward to meet us,
          The sun on the sea-wave
               Lies white as the moon :
The soft sapphire-vaulted
     Deep heaven smiles to greet us,
          Free sons of the free-wave
               All singing one tune.

The same sun is o'er us,
     The same Love shall find us,
          The same and none other,
               Wherever we be;
With the same goal before us,
     The same home behind us,
          England, our mother,
               Queen of the sea.


59. Reprise

The same Sun is o'er us,
     The same Love shall find us,
          The same and none other
               Wherever we be;
With the same hope before us,
     The same home behind us,
          England, our mother,
               Ringed round with the sea.

No land in the ring of it
     Now, all around us
          Only the splendid
               Re-surging unknown;
How should we sing of it,
     This that hath found us
          By the great stars attended
               At midnight, alone?

Our highway none knoweth,
     Yet our blood hath discerned it!
          Clear, clear is our path now
               Whose foreheads are free,
Where the hurricane bloweth
     Our spirits have learned it,
          'Tis the highway of wrath, now,
               The storm's way, the sea.

When the waters lay breathless
     Gazing at Hesper
          Guarding that glorious
               Fruitage of gold,
Heard we the deathless
     Wonderful whisper
          We follow, victorious
               To-night, as of old.

Ah, the broad miles of it
     White with the onset
          Of waves without number
               Warring for glee;
Ah, the soft smiles of it
     Down to the sunset,
          Sacred for slumber
               The swan's bath, the sea!

When the breakers charged thundering
     In thousands all round us
          With a lightning of lances
               Up-hurtled on high,
When the stout ships were sundering
     A rapture hath crowned us
          Like the wild light that dances
               On the crests that flash by.

Our highway none knoweth,
     Yet our blood hath discerned it!
          Clear, clear is our path now
               Whose foreheads are free,
Where Euroclydon bloweth
     Our spirits have learned it,
          'Tis the highway of wrath, now,
               The storm's way, the sea!

Who now will follow us
     Where England's flag leadeth us,
          Where gold not inveigles,
               Nor statesmen betray?
Tho' the deep midnight swallow us,
     Let her cry when she needeth us,
          We return, her sea-eagles,
               The hurricane's way.

For the same Sun is o er us,
     The same Love shall find us,
          The same and none other
               Wherever we be;
With the same hope before us,
     The same home behind us,
          England, our mother,
               Ringed round with the sea.


60. Song

It is the Spring-tide now!
   Under the hawthorn-bough
      The milkmaid goes:
   Her eyes are violets blue
      Washed with the morning dew,
         Her mouth a rose.
           It is the Spring-tide now.

The lanes are growing sweet,
   The lambkins frisk and bleat
      In all the meadows:
   The glossy dappled kine
      Blink in the warm sunshine,
         Cooling their shadows.
           It is the Spring-tide now.

Soon hand in sunburnt hand
   Thro' God's green fairyland,
      England, our home,
   Whispering as they stray
      Adown the primrose way,
         Lovers will roam.
           It is the Spring-tide now.


61. Song

Chorus:
O you beautiful land,
     Deep-bosomed with beeches and bright
          With the flowery largesse of May
Sweet from the palm of her hand
     Out-flung, till the hedges grew white
          As the green-arched billows with spray.

White from the fall of her feet
     The daisies awake in the sun!
          Cliff-side and valley and plain
With the breath of the thyme growing sweet
     Laugh, for the Spring is begun;
          And Love hath turned homeward again.

Chorus

Where should the home be of Love,
     But there, where the hawthorn-tree blows,
          And the milkmaid trips out with her pail,
And the skylark in heaven above
     Sings, till the West is a rose
          And the East is a nightingale?

Chorus

There where the sycamore trees
     Are shading the satin-skinned kine,
          And oaks, whose brethren of old
Conquered the strength of the seas,
     Grow broad in the sunlight and shine
          Crowned with their cressets of gold;

Chorus

Deep-bosomed with beeches and bright
     With rose-coloured cloudlets above;
          Billowing broad and grand
Where the meadows with blossom are white
     For the foot-fall, the foot-fall of Love.
          O you beautiful land!

Chorus

How should we sing of thy beauty,
     England, mother of men,
          We that can look in thine eyes
And see there the splendour of duty
     Deep as the depth of their ken,
          Wide as the ring of thy skies.

Chorus


62. Song

Good luck befall you, mariners all
     That sail this world so wide!
Whither we go, not yet we know:
     We steer by wind and tide.
Be it right or wrong, I sing this song;
     For now it seems to me
Men steer their souls thro' rocks and shoals
     As mariners use by sea.
          As mariners use by sea,
                    My lads,
          As mariners use by sea!

And now they plough to windward, now
     They drive before the gale!
Now are they hurled across the world
     With torn and tattered sail;
Yet, as they will, they steer and still
     Defy the world s rude glee:
Till death overwhelm them, mast and helm,
     They ride and rule the sea.
          They ride and rule the sea
                    My lads,
          They ride and rule the sea!


63. Song

Ye that follow the vision
     Of the world's weal afar.
Have ye met with derision
     And the red laugh of war;
Yet the thunder shall not hurt you,
     Nor the battle-storms dismay;
Tho' the sun in heaven desert you,
     "Love will find out the way."

When the pulse of hope falters,
     When the fire flickers low
On your faith's crumbling altars,
     And the faithless gods go;
When the fond hope ye cherished
     Cometh, kissing, to betray;
When the last star hath perished,
     "Love will find out the way"

When the last dream bereaveth you,
     And the heart turns to stone;
When the last comrade leaveth you
     In the desert alone;
With the whole world before you
     Clad in battle-array,
And the starless night o'er you,
     "Love will find out the way"

Your dreamers may dream it
     The shadow of a dream,
Your sages may deem it
     A bubble on the stream;
Yet our kingdom draweth nigher
     With each dawn and every day;
Through the earthquake and the fire
     "Love will find out the way."

Love will find it, tho' the nations
     Rise up blind, as of old,
And the new generations
     Wage their warfares of gold;
Tho they trample child and mother
     As red clay into the clay,
Where brother wars with brother,
     "Love will find out the way"


64. Song

Sing we the Rose,
     The flower of flowers most glorious!
Never a storm that blows
     Across our English sea
But its heart breaks out wi' the Rose
     On England's flag victorious,
The triumphing flag that flows
     Thro' the heavens of Liberty.

Sing we the Rose,
     The flower of flowers most beautiful!
Until the world shall end
     She blossometh year by year,
Red with the blood that flows
     For England's sake, most dutiful,
Wherefore now we bend
     Our hearts and knees to her.

Sing we the Rose,
     The flower, the flower of war it is,
Where deep i' the midnight gloom
     Its waves are the waves of the sea,
And the glare of battle grows,
     And red over hulk and spar it is,
Till the grim black broadsides bloom
     With our Rose of Victory.

Sing we the Rose,
     The flower, the flower of love it is,
Which lovers aye shall sing
     And nightingales proclaim;
For O, the heaven that glows,
     That glows and burns above it is
Freedom's perpetual Spring,
     Our England's faithful fame.

Sing we the Rose,
     That Eastward still shall spread for us
Upon the dawn's bright breast,
     Red leaves wi' the foam impearled;
And onward ever flows
     Till eventide make red for us
A Rose that sinks i' the West
     And surges round the world;
               Sing we the Rose!



poems selected by Leslie Laurio