Late Lyrics and Earlier
by Thomas Hardy
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Transcribed by David Price, email from the 1922 Macmillan and Co. edition.


Contents: Apology Weathers The maid of Keinton Mandeville Summer Schemes Epeisodia Faintheart in a Railway Train At Moonrise and Onwards The Garden Seat Barthelemon at Vauxhall "I sometimes think" Jezreel A Jog-trot Pair "The Curtains now are Drawn" "According to the Mighty Working" "I was not he" The West-of-Wessex Girl Welcome Home Going and Staying Read by Moonlight At a house in Hampstead A Woman's Fancy Her Song A Wet August The Dissemblers To a Lady Playing and Singing in the Morning "A man was drawing near to me" The Strange House "As 'twere to-night" The Contretemps A Gentleman's Epitaph on Himself and a Lady The Old Gown A night in November A Duettist to her Pianoforte "Where three roads joined" "And there was a great calm" Haunting Fingers The Woman I Met "If it's ever spring again" The Two Houses On Stinsford Hill at Midnight The Fallow Deer at the Lonely House The Selfsame Song The Wanderer A Wife Comes Back A Young Man's Exhortation At Lulworth Cove a Century Back A Bygone Occasion Two Serenades The Wedding Morning End of the Year 1912 The Chimes Play "Life's a bumper!" "I worked no wile to meet you" At the Railway Station, Upway Side by Side Dream of the City Shopwoman A Maiden's Pledge The Child and the Sage Mismet An Autumn Rain-scene Meditations on a Holiday An Experience The Beauty The Collector Cleans his Picture The Wood Fire Saying Good-bye On the tune called The Old-hundred-and-fourth The Opportunity Evelyn G. Of Christminster The Rift Voices from things growing in a Churchyard On the Way "She did not turn" Growth in May The Children and Sir Nameless At the Royal Academy Her Temple A Two-years' Idyll By Henstridge Cross at the year's end Penance "I look in her face" After the War "If you had known" The Chapel-organist Fetching Her "Could I but will" She revisits alone the church of her marriage At the Entering of the New Year They would not come After a romantic day The Two Wives "I knew a lady" A house with a History A Procession of Dead Days He Follows Himself The Singing Woman Without, not within her "O I won't lead a homely life" In the small hours The little old table Vagg Hollow The dream is—which? The Country Wedding First or Last Lonely Days "What did it mean?" At the dinner-table The marble tablet The Master and the Leaves Last words to a dumb friend A drizzling Easter morning On one who lived and died where he was born The Second Night She who saw not The old workman The sailor's mother Outside the casement The passer-by "I was the midmost" A sound in the night On a discovered curl of hair An old likeness Her Apotheosis "Sacred to the memory" To a well-named dwelling The Whipper-in A military appointment The milestone by the rabbit-burrow The Lament of the Looking-glass Cross-currents The old neighbour and the new The chosen The inscription The marble-streeted town A woman driving A woman's trust Best times The casual acquaintance Intra Sepulchrum The whitewashed wall Just the same The last time The seven times The sun's last look on the country girl In a London flat Drawing details in an old church Rake-hell muses The Colour Murmurs in the gloom Epitaph An ancient to ancients After reading psalms xxxix., xl. Surview


About half the verses that follow were written quite lately. The rest are older, having been held over in MS. when past volumes were published, on considering that these would contain a sufficient number of pages to offer readers at one time, more especially during the distractions of the war. The unusually far back poems to be found here are, however, but some that were overlooked in gathering previous collections. A freshness in them, now unattainable, seemed to make up for their inexperience and to justify their inclusion. A few are dated; the dates of others are not discoverable.

The launching of a volume of this kind in neo-Georgian days by one who began writing in mid-Victorian, and has published nothing to speak of for some years, may seem to call for a few words of excuse or explanation. Whether or no, readers may feel assured that a new book is submitted to them with great hesitation at so belated a date. Insistent practical reasons, however, among which were requests from some illustrious men of letters who are in sympathy with my productions, the accident that several of the poems have already seen the light, and that dozens of them have been lying about for years, compelled the course adopted, in spite of the natural disinclination of a writer whose works have been so frequently regarded askance by a pragmatic section here and there, to draw attention to them once more.

I do not know that it is necessary to say much on the contents of the book, even in deference to suggestions that will be mentioned presently. I believe that those readers who care for my poems at all—readers to whom no passport is required—will care for this new instalment of them, perhaps the last, as much as for any that have preceded them. Moreover, in the eyes of a less friendly class the pieces, though a very mixed collection indeed, contain, so far as I am able to see, little or nothing in technic or teaching that can be considered a Star-Chamber matter, or so much as agitating to a ladies' school; even though, to use Wordsworth's observation in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads, such readers may suppose "that by the act of writing in verse an author makes a formal engagement that he will gratify certain known habits of association: that he not only thus apprises the reader that certain classes of ideas and expressions will be found in his book, but that others will be carefully excluded."

It is true, nevertheless, that some grave, positive, stark, delineations are interspersed among those of the passive, lighter, and traditional sort presumably nearer to stereotyped tastes. For— while I am quite aware that a thinker is not expected, and, indeed, is scarcely allowed, now more than heretofore, to state all that crosses his mind concerning existence in this universe, in his attempts to explain or excuse the presence of evil and the incongruity of penalizing the irresponsible—it must be obvious to open intelligences that, without denying the beauty and faithful service of certain venerable cults, such disallowance of "obstinate questionings" and "blank misgivings" tends to a paralysed intellectual stalemate. Heine observed nearly a hundred years ago that the soul has her eternal rights; that she will not be darkened by statutes, nor lullabied by the music of bells. And what is to- day, in allusions to the present author's pages, alleged to be "pessimism" is, in truth, only such "questionings" in the exploration of reality, and is the first step towards the soul's betterment, and the body's also.

If I may be forgiven for quoting my own old words, let me repeat what I printed in this relation more than twenty years ago, and wrote much earlier, in a poem entitled "In Tenebris":

If way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst:

that is to say, by the exploration of reality, and its frank recognition stage by stage along the survey, with an eye to the best consummation possible: briefly, evolutionary meliorism. But it is called pessimism nevertheless; under which word, expressed with condemnatory emphasis, it is regarded by many as some pernicious new thing (though so old as to underlie the Christian idea, and even to permeate the Greek drama); and the subject is charitably left to decent silence, as if further comment were needless.

Happily there are some who feel such Levitical passing-by to be, alas, by no means a permanent dismissal of the matter; that comment on where the world stands is very much the reverse of needless in these disordered years of our prematurely afflicted century: that amendment and not madness lies that way. And looking down the future these few hold fast to the same: that whether the human and kindred animal races survive till the exhaustion or destruction of the globe, or whether these races perish and are succeeded by others before that conclusion comes, pain to all upon it, tongued or dumb, shall be kept down to a minimum by lovingkindness, operating through scientific knowledge, and actuated by the modicum of free will conjecturally possessed by organic life when the mighty necessitating forces— unconscious or other—that have "the balancings of the clouds," happen to be in equilibrium, which may or may not be often.

To conclude this question I may add that the argument of the so- called optimists is neatly summarized in a stern pronouncement against me by my friend Mr. Frederic Harrison in a late essay of his, in the words: "This view of life is not mine." The solemn declaration does not seem to me to be so annihilating to the said "view" (really a series of fugitive impressions which I have never tried to co-ordinate) as is complacently assumed. Surely it embodies a too human fallacy quite familiar in logic. Next, a knowing reviewer, apparently a Roman Catholic young man, speaks, with some rather gross instances of the suggestio falsi in his article, of "Mr. Hardy refusing consolation," the "dark gravity of his ideas," and so on. When a Positivist and a Catholic agree there must be something wonderful in it, which should make a poet sit up. But . . . O that 'twere possible!

I would not have alluded in this place or anywhere else to such casual personal criticisms—for casual and unreflecting they must be- -but for the satisfaction of two or three friends in whose opinion a short answer was deemed desirable, on account of the continual repetition of these criticisms, or more precisely, quizzings. After all, the serious and truly literary inquiry in this connection is: Should a shaper of such stuff as dreams are made on disregard considerations of what is customary and expected, and apply himself to the real function of poetry, the application of ideas to life (in Matthew Arnold's familiar phrase)? This bears more particularly on what has been called the "philosophy" of these poems—usually reproved as "queer." Whoever the author may be that undertakes such application of ideas in this "philosophic" direction—where it is specially required—glacial judgments must inevitably fall upon him amid opinion whose arbiters largely decry individuality, to whom IDEAS are oddities to smile at, who are moved by a yearning the reverse of that of the Athenian inquirers on Mars Hill; and stiffen their features not only at sound of a new thing, but at a restatement of old things in new terms. Hence should anything of this sort in the following adumbrations seem "queer "—should any of them seem to good Panglossians to embody strange and disrespectful conceptions of this best of all possible worlds, I apologize; but cannot help it.

Such divergences, which, though piquant for the nonce, it would be affectation to say are not saddening and discouraging likewise, may, to be sure, arise sometimes from superficial aspect only, writer and reader seeing the same thing at different angles. But in palpable cases of divergence they arise, as already said, whenever a serious effort is made towards that which the authority I have cited—who would now be called old-fashioned, possibly even parochial—affirmed to be what no good critic could deny as the poet's province, the application of ideas to life. One might shrewdly guess, by the by, that in such recommendation the famous writer may have overlooked the cold-shouldering results upon an enthusiastic disciple that would be pretty certain to follow his putting the high aim in practice, and have forgotten the disconcerting experience of Gil Blas with the Archbishop.

To add a few more words to what has already taken up too many, there is a contingency liable to miscellanies of verse that I have never seen mentioned, so far as I can remember; I mean the chance little shocks that may be caused over a book of various character like the present and its predecessors by the juxtaposition of unrelated, even discordant, effusions; poems perhaps years apart in the making, yet facing each other. An odd result of this has been that dramatic anecdotes of a satirical and humorous intention (such, e.g., as "Royal Sponsors") following verse in graver voice, have been read as misfires because they raise the smile that they were intended to raise, the journalist, deaf to the sudden change of key, being unconscious that he is laughing with the author and not at him. I admit that I did not foresee such contingencies as I ought to have done, and that people might not perceive when the tone altered. But the difficulties of arranging the themes in a graduated kinship of moods would have been so great that irrelation was almost unavoidable with efforts so diverse. I must trust for right note-catching to those finely-touched spirits who can divine without half a whisper, whose intuitiveness is proof against all the accidents of inconsequence. In respect of the less alert, however, should any one's train of thought be thrown out of gear by a consecutive piping of vocal reeds in jarring tonics, without a semiquaver's rest between, and be led thereby to miss the writer's aim and meaning in one out of two contiguous compositions, I shall deeply regret it.

Having at last, I think, finished with the personal points that I was recommended to notice, I will forsake the immediate object of this Preface; and, leaving Late Lyrics to whatever fate it deserves, digress for a few moments to more general considerations. The thoughts of any man of letters concerned to keep poetry alive cannot but run uncomfortably on the precarious prospects of English verse at the present day. Verily the hazards and casualties surrounding the birth and setting forth of almost every modern creation in numbers are ominously like those of one of Shelley's paper-boats on a windy lake. And a forward conjecture scarcely permits the hope of a better time, unless men's tendencies should change. So indeed of all art, literature, and "high thinking" nowadays. Whether owing to the barbarizing of taste in the younger minds by the dark madness of the late war, the unabashed cultivation of selfishness in all classes, the plethoric growth of knowledge simultaneously with the stunting of wisdom, "a degrading thirst after outrageous stimulation" (to quote Wordsworth again), or from any other cause, we seem threatened with a new Dark Age.

I formerly thought, like so many roughly handled writers, that so far as literature was concerned a partial cause might be impotent or mischievous criticism; the satirizing of individuality, the lack of whole-seeing in contemporary estimates of poetry and kindred work, the knowingness affected by junior reviewers, the overgrowth of meticulousness in their peerings for an opinion, as if it were a cultivated habit in them to scrutinize the tool-marks and be blind to the building, to hearken for the key-creaks and be deaf to the diapason, to judge the landscape by a nocturnal exploration with a flash-lantern. In other words, to carry on the old game of sampling the poem or drama by quoting the worst line or worst passage only, in ignorance or not of Coleridge's proof that a versification of any length neither can be nor ought to be all poetry; of reading meanings into a book that its author never dreamt of writing there. I might go on interminably.

But I do not now think any such temporary obstructions to be the cause of the hazard, for these negligences and ignorances, though they may have stifled a few true poets in the run of generations, disperse like stricken leaves before the wind of next week, and are no more heard of again in the region of letters than their writers themselves. No: we may be convinced that something of the deeper sort mentioned must be the cause.

In any event poetry, pure literature in general, religion—I include religion because poetry and religion touch each other, or rather modulate into each other; are, indeed, often but different names for the same thing—these, I say, the visible signs of mental and emotional life, must like all other things keep moving, becoming; even though at present, when belief in witches of Endor is displacing the Darwinian theory and "the truth that shall make you free, men's minds appear, as above noted, to be moving backwards rather than on. I speak, of course, somewhat sweepingly, and should except many isolated minds; also the minds of men in certain worthy but small bodies of various denominations, and perhaps in the homely quarter where advance might have been the very least expected a few years back—the English Church—if one reads it rightly as showing evidence of "removing those things that are shaken," in accordance with the wise Epistolary recommendation to the Hebrews. For since the historic and once august hierarchy of Rome some generation ago lost its chance of being the religion of the future by doing otherwise, and throwing over the little band of neo-Catholics who were making a struggle for continuity by applying the principle of evolution to their own faith, joining hands with modern science, and outflanking the hesitating English instinct towards liturgical reform (a flank march which I at the time quite expected to witness, with the gathering of many millions of waiting agnostics into its fold); since then, one may ask, what other purely English establishment than the Church, of sufficient dignity and footing, and with such strength of old association, such architectural spell, is left in this country to keep the shreds of morality together?

It may be a forlorn hope, a mere dream, that of an alliance between religion, which must be retained unless the world is to perish, and complete rationality, which must come, unless also the world is to perish, by means of the interfusing effect of poetry—"the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; the impassioned expression of science," as it was defined by an English poet who was quite orthodox in his ideas. But if it be true, as Comte argued, that advance is never in a straight line, but in a looped orbit, we may, in the aforesaid ominous moving backward, be doing it pour mieux sauter, drawing back for a spring. I repeat that I forlornly hope so, notwithstanding the supercilious regard of hope by Schopenhauer, von Hartmann, and other philosophers down to Einstein who have my respect. But one dares not prophesy. Physical, chronological, and other contingencies keep me in these days from critical studies and literary circles

Where once we held debate, a band Of youthful friends, on mind and art

(if one may quote Tennyson in this century of free verse). Hence I cannot know how things are going so well as I used to know them, and the aforesaid limitations must quite prevent my knowing hence- forward.

I have to thank the editors and owners of The Times, Fortnightly, Mercury, and other periodicals in which a few of the poems have appeared for kindly assenting to their being reclaimed for collected publication. T. H.

February 1922.


This is the weather the cuckoo likes, And so do I; When showers betumble the chestnut spikes, And nestlings fly: And the little brown nightingale bills his best, And they sit outside at "The Travellers' Rest," And maids come forth sprig-muslin drest, And citizens dream of the south and west, And so do I.


This is the weather the shepherd shuns, And so do I; When beeches drip in browns and duns, And thresh, and ply; And hill-hid tides throb, throe on throe, And meadow rivulets overflow, And drops on gate-bars hang in a row, And rooks in families homeward go, And so do I.


I hear that maiden still Of Keinton Mandeville Singing, in flights that played As wind-wafts through us all, Till they made our mood a thrall To their aery rise and fall, "Should he upbraid."

Rose-necked, in sky-gray gown, From a stage in Stower Town Did she sing, and singing smile As she blent that dexterous voice With the ditty of her choice, And banished our annoys Thereawhile.

One with such song had power To wing the heaviest hour Of him who housed with her. Who did I never knew When her spoused estate ondrew, And her warble flung its woo In his ear.

Ah, she's a beldame now, Time-trenched on cheek and brow, Whom I once heard as a maid From Keinton Mandeville Of matchless scope and skill Sing, with smile and swell and trill, "Should he upbraid!"

1915 or 1916.


When friendly summer calls again, Calls again Her little fifers to these hills, We'll go—we two—to that arched fane Of leafage where they prime their bills Before they start to flood the plain With quavers, minims, shakes, and trills. "—We'll go," I sing; but who shall say What may not chance before that day!

And we shall see the waters spring, Waters spring From chinks the scrubby copses crown; And we shall trace their oncreeping To where the cascade tumbles down And sends the bobbing growths aswing, And ferns not quite but almost drown. "—We shall," I say; but who may sing Of what another moon will bring!



Past the hills that peep Where the leaze is smiling, On and on beguiling Crisply-cropping sheep; Under boughs of brushwood Linking tree and tree In a shade of lushwood, There caressed we!


Hemmed by city walls That outshut the sunlight, In a foggy dun light, Where the footstep falls With a pit-pat wearisome In its cadency On the flagstones drearisome There pressed we!


Where in wild-winged crowds Blown birds show their whiteness Up against the lightness Of the clammy clouds; By the random river Pushing to the sea, Under bents that quiver There rest we.


At nine in the morning there passed a church, At ten there passed me by the sea, At twelve a town of smoke and smirch, At two a forest of oak and birch, And then, on a platform, she:

A radiant stranger, who saw not me. I queried, "Get out to her do I dare?" But I kept my seat in my search for a plea, And the wheels moved on. O could it but be That I had alighted there!


I thought you a fire On Heron-Plantation Hill, Dealing out mischief the most dire To the chattels of men of hire There in their vill.

But by and by You turned a yellow-green, Like a large glow-worm in the sky; And then I could descry Your mood and mien.

How well I know Your furtive feminine shape! As if reluctantly you show You nude of cloud, and but by favour throw Aside its drape . . .

—How many a year Have you kept pace with me, Wan Woman of the waste up there, Behind a hedge, or the bare Bough of a tree!

No novelty are you, O Lady of all my time, Veering unbid into my view Whether I near Death's mew, Or Life's top cyme!


Its former green is blue and thin, And its once firm legs sink in and in; Soon it will break down unaware, Soon it will break down unaware.

At night when reddest flowers are black Those who once sat thereon come back; Quite a row of them sitting there, Quite a row of them sitting there.

With them the seat does not break down, Nor winter freeze them, nor floods drown, For they are as light as upper air, They are as light as upper air!


Francois Hippolite Barthelemon, first-fiddler at Vauxhall Gardens, composed what was probably the most popular morning hymn-tune ever written. It was formerly sung, full-voiced, every Sunday in most churches, to Bishop Ken's words, but is now seldom heard.

He said: "Awake my soul, and with the sun," . . . And paused upon the bridge, his eyes due east, Where was emerging like a full-robed priest The irradiate globe that vouched the dark as done.

It lit his face—the weary face of one Who in the adjacent gardens charged his string, Nightly, with many a tuneful tender thing, Till stars were weak, and dancing hours outrun.

And then were threads of matin music spun In trial tones as he pursued his way: "This is a morn," he murmured, "well begun: This strain to Ken will count when I am clay!"

And count it did; till, caught by echoing lyres, It spread to galleried naves and mighty quires.


I sometimes think as here I sit Of things I have done, Which seemed in doing not unfit To face the sun: Yet never a soul has paused a whit On such—not one.

There was that eager strenuous press To sow good seed; There was that saving from distress In the nick of need; There were those words in the wilderness: Who cared to heed?

Yet can this be full true, or no? For one did care, And, spiriting into my house, to, fro, Like wind on the stair, Cares still, heeds all, and will, even though I may despair.


Did they catch as it were in a Vision at shut of the day— When their cavalry smote through the ancient Esdraelon Plain, And they crossed where the Tishbite stood forth in his enemy's way— His gaunt mournful Shade as he bade the King haste off amain?

On war-men at this end of time—even on Englishmen's eyes— Who slay with their arms of new might in that long-ago place, Flashed he who drove furiously? . . . Ah, did the phantom arise Of that queen, of that proud Tyrian woman who painted her face?

Faintly marked they the words "Throw her down!" rise from Night eerily, Spectre-spots of the blood of her body on some rotten wall? And the thin note of pity that came: "A King's daughter is she," As they passed where she trodden was once by the chargers' footfall?

Could such be the hauntings of men of to-day, at the cease Of pursuit, at the dusk-hour, ere slumber their senses could seal? Enghosted seers, kings—one on horseback who asked "Is it peace?" . . . Yea, strange things and spectral may men have beheld in Jezreel!

September 24, 1918.


Who were the twain that trod this track So many times together Hither and back, In spells of certain and uncertain weather?

Commonplace in conduct they Who wandered to and fro here Day by day: Two that few dwellers troubled themselves to know here.

The very gravel-path was prim That daily they would follow: Borders trim: Never a wayward sprout, or hump, or hollow.

Trite usages in tamest style Had tended to their plighting. "It's just worth while, Perhaps," they had said. "And saves much sad good-nighting."

And petty seemed the happenings That ministered to their joyance: Simple things, Onerous to satiate souls, increased their buoyance.

Who could those common people be, Of days the plainest, barest? They were we; Yes; happier than the cleverest, smartest, rarest.



The curtains now are drawn, And the spindrift strikes the glass, Blown up the jagged pass By the surly salt sou'-west, And the sneering glare is gone Behind the yonder crest, While she sings to me: "O the dream that thou art my Love, be it thine, And the dream that I am thy Love, be it mine, And death may come, but loving is divine."


I stand here in the rain, With its smite upon her stone, And the grasses that have grown Over women, children, men, And their texts that "Life is vain"; But I hear the notes as when Once she sang to me: "O the dream that thou art my Love, be it thine, And the dream that I am thy Love, be it mine, And death may come, but loving is divine."




When moiling seems at cease In the vague void of night-time, And heaven's wide roomage stormless Between the dusk and light-time, And fear at last is formless, We call the allurement Peace.


Peace, this hid riot, Change, This revel of quick-cued mumming, This never truly being, This evermore becoming, This spinner's wheel onfleeing Outside perception's range.



I was not he—the man Who used to pilgrim to your gate, At whose smart step you grew elate, And rosed, as maidens can, For a brief span.

It was not I who sang Beside the keys you touched so true With note-bent eyes, as if with you It counted not whence sprang The voice that rang . . .

Yet though my destiny It was to miss your early sweet, You still, when turned to you my feet, Had sweet enough to be A prize for me!


A very West-of-Wessex girl, As blithe as blithe could be, Was once well-known to me, And she would laud her native town, And hope and hope that we Might sometime study up and down Its charms in company.

But never I squired my Wessex girl In jaunts to Hoe or street When hearts were high in beat, Nor saw her in the marbled ways Where market-people meet That in her bounding early days Were friendly with her feet.

Yet now my West-of-Wessex girl, When midnight hammers slow From Andrew's, blow by blow, As phantom draws me by the hand To the place—Plymouth Hoe— Where side by side in life, as planned, We never were to go!

Begun in Plymouth, March 1913.


To my native place Bent upon returning, Bosom all day burning To be where my race Well were known, 'twas much with me There to dwell in amity.

Folk had sought their beds, But I hailed: to view me Under the moon, out to me Several pushed their heads, And to each I told my name, Plans, and that therefrom I came.

"Did you? . . . Ah, 'tis true I once heard, back a long time, Here had spent his young time, Some such man as you . . . Good-night." The casement closed again, And I was left in the frosty lane.



The moving sun-shapes on the spray, The sparkles where the brook was flowing, Pink faces, plightings, moonlit May, These were the things we wished would stay; But they were going.


Seasons of blankness as of snow, The silent bleed of a world decaying, The moan of multitudes in woe, These were the things we wished would go; But they were staying.


Then we looked closelier at Time, And saw his ghostly arms revolving To sweep off woeful things with prime, Things sinister with things sublime Alike dissolving.


I paused to read a letter of hers By the moon's cold shine, Eyeing it in the tenderest way, And edging it up to catch each ray Upon her light-penned line. I did not know what years would flow Of her life's span and mine Ere I read another letter of hers By the moon's cold shine!

I chance now on the last of hers, By the moon's cold shine; It is the one remaining page Out of the many shallow and sage Whereto she set her sign. Who could foresee there were to be Such letters of pain and pine Ere I should read this last of hers By the moon's cold shine!


O poet, come you haunting here Where streets have stolen up all around, And never a nightingale pours one Full-throated sound?

Drawn from your drowse by the Seven famed Hills, Thought you to find all just the same Here shining, as in hours of old, If you but came?

What will you do in your surprise At seeing that changes wrought in Rome Are wrought yet more on the misty slope One time your home?

Will you wake wind-wafts on these stairs? Swing the doors open noisily? Show as an umbraged ghost beside Your ancient tree?

Or will you, softening, the while You further and yet further look, Learn that a laggard few would fain Preserve your nook? . . .

—Where the Piazza steps incline, And catch late light at eventide, I once stood, in that Rome, and thought, "'Twas here he died."

I drew to a violet-sprinkled spot, Where day and night a pyramid keeps Uplifted its white hand, and said, "'Tis there he sleeps."

Pleasanter now it is to hold That here, where sang he, more of him Remains than where he, tuneless, cold, Passed to the dim.

July 1920.


"Ah Madam; you've indeed come back here? 'Twas sad—your husband's so swift death, And you away! You shouldn't have left him: It hastened his last breath."

"Dame, I am not the lady you think me; I know not her, nor know her name; I've come to lodge here—a friendless woman; My health my only aim."

She came; she lodged. Wherever she rambled They held her as no other than The lady named; and told how her husband Had died a forsaken man.

So often did they call her thuswise Mistakenly, by that man's name, So much did they declare about him, That his past form and fame

Grew on her, till she pitied his sorrow As if she truly had been the cause— Yea, his deserter; and came to wonder What mould of man he was.

"Tell me my history!" would exclaim she; "OUR history," she said mournfully. "But YOU know, surely, Ma'am?" they would answer, Much in perplexity.

Curious, she crept to his grave one evening, And a second time in the dusk of the morrow; Then a third time, with crescent emotion Like a bereaved wife's sorrow.

No gravestone rose by the rounded hillock; —"I marvel why this is?" she said. - "He had no kindred, Ma'am, but you near." —She set a stone at his head.

She learnt to dream of him, and told them: "In slumber often uprises he, And says: 'I am joyed that, after all, Dear, You've not deserted me!"

At length died too this kinless woman, As he had died she had grown to crave; And at her dying she besought them To bury her in his grave.

Such said, she had paused; until she added: "Call me by his name on the stone, As I were, first to last, his dearest, Not she who left him lone!"

And this they did. And so it became there That, by the strength of a tender whim, The stranger was she who bore his name there, Not she who wedded him.


I sang that song on Sunday, To witch an idle while, I sang that song on Monday, As fittest to beguile; I sang it as the year outwore, And the new slid in; I thought not what might shape before Another would begin.

I sang that song in summer, All unforeknowingly, To him as a new-comer From regions strange to me: I sang it when in afteryears The shades stretched out, And paths were faint; and flocking fears Brought cup-eyed care and doubt.

Sings he that song on Sundays In some dim land afar, On Saturdays, or Mondays, As when the evening star Glimpsed in upon his bending face And my hanging hair, And time untouched me with a trace Of soul-smart or despair?


Nine drops of water bead the jessamine, And nine-and-ninety smear the stones and tiles: - 'Twas not so in that August—full-rayed, fine— When we lived out-of-doors, sang songs, strode miles.

Or was there then no noted radiancy Of summer? Were dun clouds, a dribbling bough, Gilt over by the light I bore in me, And was the waste world just the same as now?

It can have been so: yea, that threatenings Of coming down-drip on the sunless gray, By the then possibilities in things Were wrought more bright than brightest skies to-day.



"It was not you I came to please, Only myself," flipped she; "I like this spot of phantasies, And thought you far from me." But O, he was the secret spell That led her to the lea!

"It was not she who shaped my ways, Or works, or thoughts," he said. "I scarcely marked her living days, Or missed her much when dead." But O, his joyance knew its knell When daisies hid her head!


Joyful lady, sing! And I will lurk here listening, Though nought be done, and nought begun, And work-hours swift are scurrying.

Sing, O lady, still! Aye, I will wait each note you trill, Though duties due that press to do This whole day long I unfulfil.

"—It is an evening tune; One not designed to waste the noon," You say. I know: time bids me go— For daytide passes too, too soon!

But let indulgence be, This once, to my rash ecstasy: When sounds nowhere that carolled air My idled morn may comfort me!


On that gray night of mournful drone, A part from aught to hear, to see, I dreamt not that from shires unknown In gloom, alone, By Halworthy, A man was drawing near to me.

I'd no concern at anything, No sense of coming pull-heart play; Yet, under the silent outspreading Of even's wing Where Otterham lay, A man was riding up my way.

I thought of nobody—not of one, But only of trifles—legends, ghosts— Though, on the moorland dim and dun That travellers shun About these coasts, The man had passed Tresparret Posts.

There was no light at all inland, Only the seaward pharos-fire, Nothing to let me understand That hard at hand By Hennett Byre The man was getting nigh and nigher.

There was a rumble at the door, A draught disturbed the drapery, And but a minute passed before, With gaze that bore My destiny, The man revealed himself to me.


"I hear the piano playing— Just as a ghost might play." "—O, but what are you saying? There's no piano to-day; Their old one was sold and broken; Years past it went amiss." "—I heard it, or shouldn't have spoken: A strange house, this!

"I catch some undertone here, From some one out of sight." "—Impossible; we are alone here, And shall be through the night." "—The parlour-door—what stirred it?" "—No one: no soul's in range." "—But, anyhow, I heard it, And it seems strange!

"Seek my own room I cannot— A figure is on the stair!" "—What figure? Nay, I scan not Any one lingering there. A bough outside is waving, And that's its shade by the moon." "—Well, all is strange! I am craving Strength to leave soon."

"—Ah, maybe you've some vision Of showings beyond our sphere; Some sight, sense, intuition Of what once happened here? The house is old; they've hinted It once held two love-thralls, And they may have imprinted Their dreams on its walls?

"They were—I think 'twas told me— Queer in their works and ways; The teller would often hold me With weird tales of those days. Some folk can not abide here, But we—we do not care Who loved, laughed, wept, or died here, Knew joy, or despair."


As 'twere to-night, in the brief space Of a far eventime, My spirit rang achime At vision of a girl of grace; As 'twere to-night, in the brief space Of a far eventime.

As 'twere at noontide of to-morrow I airily walked and talked, And wondered as I walked What it could mean, this soar from sorrow; As 'twere at noontide of to-morrow I airily walked and talked.

As 'twere at waning of this week Broke a new life on me; Trancings of bliss to be In some dim dear land soon to seek; As 'twere at waning of this week Broke a new life on me!


A forward rush by the lamp in the gloom, And we clasped, and almost kissed; But she was not the woman whom I had promised to meet in the thawing brume On that harbour-bridge; nor was I he of her tryst.

So loosening from me swift she said: "O why, why feign to be The one I had meant!—to whom I have sped To fly with, being so sorrily wed!" - 'Twas thus and thus that she upbraided me.

My assignation had struck upon Some others' like it, I found. And her lover rose on the night anon; And then her husband entered on The lamplit, snowflaked, sloppiness around.

"Take her and welcome, man!" he cried: "I wash my hands of her. I'll find me twice as good a bride!" —All this to me, whom he had eyed, Plainly, as his wife's planned deliverer.

And next the lover: "Little I knew, Madam, you had a third! Kissing here in my very view!" —Husband and lover then withdrew. I let them; and I told them not they erred.

Why not? Well, there faced she and I— Two strangers who'd kissed, or near, Chancewise. To see stand weeping by A woman once embraced, will try The tension of a man the most austere.

So it began; and I was young, She pretty, by the lamp, As flakes came waltzing down among The waves of her clinging hair, that hung Heavily on her temples, dark and damp.

And there alone still stood we two; She one cast off for me, Or so it seemed: while night ondrew, Forcing a parley what should do We twain hearts caught in one catastrophe.

In stranded souls a common strait Wakes latencies unknown, Whose impulse may precipitate A life-long leap. The hour was late, And there was the Jersey boat with its funnel agroan.

"Is wary walking worth much pother?" It grunted, as still it stayed. "One pairing is as good as another Where all is venture! Take each other, And scrap the oaths that you have aforetime made." . . .

—Of the four involved there walks but one On earth at this late day. And what of the chapter so begun? In that odd complex what was done? Well; happiness comes in full to none: Let peace lie on lulled lips: I will not say.



I dwelt in the shade of a city, She far by the sea, With folk perhaps good, gracious, witty; But never with me.

Her form on the ballroom's smooth flooring I never once met, To guide her with accents adoring Through Weippert's "First Set." {1}

I spent my life's seasons with pale ones In Vanity Fair, And she enjoyed hers among hale ones In salt-smelling air.

Maybe she had eyes of deep colour, Maybe they were blue, Maybe as she aged they got duller; That never I knew.

She may have had lips like the coral, But I never kissed them, Saw pouting, nor curling in quarrel, Nor sought for, nor missed them.

Not a word passed of love all our lifetime, Between us, nor thrill; We'd never a husband-and-wife time, For good or for ill.

Yet as one dust, through bleak days and vernal, Lie I and lies she, This never-known lady, eternal Companion to me!


I have seen her in gowns the brightest, Of azure, green, and red, And in the simplest, whitest, Muslined from heel to head; I have watched her walking, riding, Shade-flecked by a leafy tree, Or in fixed thought abiding By the foam-fingered sea.

In woodlands I have known her, When boughs were mourning loud, In the rain-reek she has shown her Wild-haired and watery-browed. And once or twice she has cast me As she pomped along the street Court-clad, ere quite she had passed me, A glance from her chariot-seat.

But in my memoried passion For evermore stands she In the gown of fading fashion She wore that night when we, Doomed long to part, assembled In the snug small room; yea, when She sang with lips that trembled, "Shall I see his face again?"


I marked when the weather changed, And the panes began to quake, And the winds rose up and ranged, That night, lying half-awake.

Dead leaves blew into my room, And alighted upon my bed, And a tree declared to the gloom Its sorrow that they were shed.

One leaf of them touched my hand, And I thought that it was you There stood as you used to stand, And saying at last you knew!

(?) 1913.


Since every sound moves memories, How can I play you Just as I might if you raised no scene, By your ivory rows, of a form between My vision and your time-worn sheen, As when each day you Answered our fingers with ecstasy? So it's hushed, hushed, hushed, you are for me!

And as I am doomed to counterchord Her notes no more In those old things I used to know, In a fashion, when we practised so, "Good-night!—Good-bye!" to your pleated show Of silk, now hoar, Each nodding hammer, and pedal and key, For dead, dead, dead, you are to me!

I fain would second her, strike to her stroke, As when she was by, Aye, even from the ancient clamorous "Fall Of Paris," or "Battle of Prague" withal, To the "Roving Minstrels," or "Elfin Call" Sung soft as a sigh: But upping ghosts press achefully, And mute, mute, mute, you are for me!

Should I fling your polyphones, plaints, and quavers Afresh on the air, Too quick would the small white shapes be here Of the fellow twain of hands so dear; And a black-tressed profile, and pale smooth ear; —Then how shall I bear Such heavily-haunted harmony? Nay: hushed, hushed, hushed you are for me!


Where three roads joined it was green and fair, And over a gate was the sun-glazed sea, And life laughed sweet when I halted there; Yet there I never again would be.

I am sure those branchways are brooding now, With a wistful blankness upon their face, While the few mute passengers notice how Spectre-beridden is the place;

Which nightly sighs like a laden soul, And grieves that a pair, in bliss for a spell Not far from thence, should have let it roll Away from them down a plumbless well

While the phasm of him who fared starts up, And of her who was waiting him sobs from near, As they haunt there and drink the wormwood cup They filled for themselves when their sky was clear.

Yes, I see those roads—now rutted and bare, While over the gate is no sun-glazed sea; And though life laughed when I halted there, It is where I never again would be.



There had been years of Passion—scorching, cold, And much Despair, and Anger heaving high, Care whitely watching, Sorrows manifold, Among the young, among the weak and old, And the pensive Spirit of Pity whispered, "Why?"


Men had not paused to answer. Foes distraught Pierced the thinned peoples in a brute-like blindness, Philosophies that sages long had taught, And Selflessness, were as an unknown thought, And "Hell!" and "Shell!" were yapped at Lovingkindness.


The feeble folk at home had grown full-used To "dug-outs," "snipers," "Huns," from the war-adept In the mornings heard, and at evetides perused; To day—dreamt men in millions, when they mused— To nightmare-men in millions when they slept.


Waking to wish existence timeless, null, Sirius they watched above where armies fell; He seemed to check his flapping when, in the lull Of night a boom came thencewise, like the dull Plunge of a stone dropped into some deep well.


So, when old hopes that earth was bettering slowly Were dead and damned, there sounded "War is done!" One morrow. Said the bereft, and meek, and lowly, "Will men some day be given to grace? yea, wholly, And in good sooth, as our dreams used to run?"


Breathless they paused. Out there men raised their glance To where had stood those poplars lank and lopped, As they had raised it through the four years' dance Of Death in the now familiar flats of France; And murmured, "Strange, this! How? All firing stopped?"


Aye; all was hushed. The about-to-fire fired not, The aimed-at moved away in trance-lipped song. One checkless regiment slung a clinching shot And turned. The Spirit of Irony smirked out, "What? Spoil peradventures woven of Rage and Wrong?"


Thenceforth no flying fires inflamed the gray, No hurtlings shook the dewdrop from the thorn, No moan perplexed the mute bird on the spray; Worn horses mused: "We are not whipped to-day"; No weft-winged engines blurred the moon's thin horn.


Calm fell. From Heaven distilled a clemency; There was peace on earth, and silence in the sky; Some could, some could not, shake off misery: The Sinister Spirit sneered: "It had to be!" And again the Spirit of Pity whispered, "Why?"


"Are you awake, Comrades, this silent night? Well 'twere if all of our glossy gluey make Lay in the damp without, and fell to fragments quite!"

"O viol, my friend, I watch, though Phosphor nears, And I fain would drowse away to its utter end This dumb dark stowage after our loud melodious years!"

And they felt past handlers clutch them, Though none was in the room, Old players' dead fingers touch them, Shrunk in the tomb.

"'Cello, good mate, You speak my mind as yours: Doomed to this voiceless, crippled, corpselike state, Who, dear to famed Amphion, trapped here, long endures?"

"Once I could thrill The populace through and through, Wake them to passioned pulsings past their will." . . . (A contra-basso spake so, and the rest sighed anew.)

And they felt old muscles travel Over their tense contours, And with long skill unravel Cunningest scores.

"The tender pat Of her aery finger-tips Upon me daily—I rejoiced thereat!" (Thuswise a harpsicord, as from dampered lips.)

"My keys' white shine, Now sallow, met a hand Even whiter. . . . Tones of hers fell forth with mine In sowings of sound so sweet no lover could withstand!"

And its clavier was filmed with fingers Like tapering flames—wan, cold— Or the nebulous light that lingers In charnel mould.

"Gayer than most Was I," reverbed a drum; "The regiments, marchings, throngs, hurrahs! What a host I stirred—even when crape mufflings gagged me well-nigh dumb!"

Trilled an aged viol: "Much tune have I set free To spur the dance, since my first timid trial Where I had birth—far hence, in sun-swept Italy!"

And he feels apt touches on him From those that pressed him then; Who seem with their glance to con him, Saying, "Not again!"

"A holy calm," Mourned a shawm's voice subdued, "Steeped my Cecilian rhythms when hymn and psalm Poured from devout souls met in Sabbath sanctitude."

"I faced the sock Nightly," twanged a sick lyre, "Over ranked lights! O charm of life in mock, O scenes that fed love, hope, wit, rapture, mirth, desire!"

Thus they, till each past player Stroked thinner and more thin, And the morning sky grew grayer And day crawled in.


A stranger, I threaded sunken-hearted A lamp-lit crowd; And anon there passed me a soul departed, Who mutely bowed. In my far-off youthful years I had met her, Full-pulsed; but now, no more life's debtor, Onward she slid In a shroud that furs half-hid.

"Why do you trouble me, dead woman, Trouble me; You whom I knew when warm and human? —How it be That you quitted earth and are yet upon it Is, to any who ponder on it, Past being read!" "Still, it is so," she said.

"These were my haunts in my olden sprightly Hours of breath; Here I went tempting frail youth nightly To their death; But you deemed me chaste—me, a tinselled sinner! How thought you one with pureness in her Could pace this street Eyeing some man to greet?

"Well; your very simplicity made me love you Mid such town dross, Till I set not Heaven itself above you, Who grew my Cross; For you'd only nod, despite how I sighed for you; So you tortured me, who fain would have died for you! —What I suffered then Would have paid for the sins of ten!

"Thus went the days. I feared you despised me To fling me a nod Each time, no more: till love chastised me As with a rod That a fresh bland boy of no assurance Should fire me with passion beyond endurance, While others all I hated, and loathed their call.

"I said: 'It is his mother's spirit Hovering around To shield him, maybe!' I used to fear it, As still I found My beauty left no least impression, And remnants of pride withheld confession Of my true trade By speaking; so I delayed.

"I said: 'Perhaps with a costly flower He'll be beguiled.' I held it, in passing you one late hour, To your face: you smiled, Keeping step with the throng; though you did not see there A single one that rivalled me there! . . . Well: it's all past. I died in the Lock at last."

So walked the dead and I together The quick among, Elbowing our kind of every feather Slowly and long; Yea, long and slowly. That a phantom should stalk there With me seemed nothing strange, and talk there That winter night By flaming jets of light.

She showed me Juans who feared their call-time, Guessing their lot; She showed me her sort that cursed their fall-time, And that did not. Till suddenly murmured she: "Now, tell me, Why asked you never, ere death befell me, To have my love, Much as I dreamt thereof?"

I could not answer. And she, well weeting All in my heart, Said: "God your guardian kept our fleeting Forms apart!" Sighing and drawing her furs around her Over the shroud that tightly bound her, With wafts as from clay She turned and thinned away.

LONDON, 1918.


If it's ever spring again, Spring again, I shall go where went I when Down the moor-cock splashed, and hen, Seeing me not, amid their flounder, Standing with my arm around her; If it's ever spring again, Spring again, I shall go where went I then.

If it's ever summer-time, Summer-time, With the hay crop at the prime, And the cuckoos—two—in rhyme, As they used to be, or seemed to, We shall do as long we've dreamed to, If it's ever summer-time, Summer-time, With the hay, and bees achime.


In the heart of night, When farers were not near, The left house said to the house on the right, "I have marked your rise, O smart newcomer here."

Said the right, cold-eyed: "Newcomer here I am, Hence haler than you with your cracked old hide, Loose casements, wormy beams, and doors that jam.

"Modern my wood, My hangings fair of hue; While my windows open as they should, And water-pipes thread all my chambers through.

"Your gear is gray, Your face wears furrows untold." "—Yours might," mourned the other, "if you held, brother, The Presences from aforetime that I hold.

"You have not known Men's lives, deaths, toils, and teens; You are but a heap of stick and stone: A new house has no sense of the have-beens.

"Void as a drum You stand: I am packed with these, Though, strangely, living dwellers who come See not the phantoms all my substance sees!

"Visible in the morning Stand they, when dawn drags in; Visible at night; yet hint or warning Of these thin elbowers few of the inmates win.

"Babes new-brought-forth Obsess my rooms; straight-stretched Lank corpses, ere outborne to earth; Yea, throng they as when first from the 'Byss upfetched.

"Dancers and singers Throb in me now as once; Rich-noted throats and gossamered fingers Of heels; the learned in love-lore and the dunce.

"Note here within The bridegroom and the bride, Who smile and greet their friends and kin, And down my stairs depart for tracks untried.

"Where such inbe, A dwelling's character Takes theirs, and a vague semblancy To them in all its limbs, and light, and atmosphere.

"Yet the blind folk My tenants, who come and go In the flesh mid these, with souls unwoke, Of such sylph-like surrounders do not know."

"—Will the day come," Said the new one, awestruck, faint, "When I shall lodge shades dim and dumb - And with such spectral guests become acquaint?"

"—That will it, boy; Such shades will people thee, Each in his misery, irk, or joy, And print on thee their presences as on me."


I glimpsed a woman's muslined form Sing-songing airily Against the moon; and still she sang, And took no heed of me.

Another trice, and I beheld What first I had not scanned, That now and then she tapped and shook A timbrel in her hand.

So late the hour, so white her drape, So strange the look it lent To that blank hill, I could not guess What phantastry it meant.

Then burst I forth: "Why such from you? Are you so happy now?" Her voice swam on; nor did she show Thought of me anyhow.

I called again: "Come nearer; much That kind of note I need!" The song kept softening, loudening on, In placid calm unheed.

"What home is yours now?" then I said; "You seem to have no care." But the wild wavering tune went forth As if I had not been there.

"This world is dark, and where you are," I said, "I cannot be!" But still the happy one sang on, And had no heed of me.


One without looks in to-night Through the curtain-chink From the sheet of glistening white; One without looks in to-night As we sit and think By the fender-brink.

We do not discern those eyes Watching in the snow; Lit by lamps of rosy dyes We do not discern those eyes Wondering, aglow, Fourfooted, tiptoe.


A bird bills the selfsame song, With never a fault in its flow, That we listened to here those long Long years ago.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

September 1920.

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


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

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

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

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


I—On Christmas Eve

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

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

II—A Year Later

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

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

From an old copy.


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

December 21, 1908.



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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 1904.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 1921.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

THE RIFT (SONG: Minor Mode)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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