Poems New and Old
by John Freeman
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Come and fill me As the wind fills Leafy wide boughs of a tree; Come and windlike Cleanse my slumbrous branches, Come and moonlike bathe the leaves of me.


Eve has gone and Night follows, Every bush is now a ghost; Every tree looms Lofty large and sombre; All day's simple friendliness is lost.

See the poplars Black in blackness, In all their leaves there is no sigh. 'Neath that darkling Cedar who dare wander Now, or under the vast oak would lie!...

Till that tingling Silence broken Every clod renews its breath; Birds, leaves, grasses Heave as one, then sleep on Full of sweeter sleep and unlike death.


Only joy now Come like music Falling clear from strings of light; Come like shadow Drinking up late sunrays, Come like moonrays sweeping the round night.

See how night is Opening flowerlike: Open so thy bosom to me. See how earth falls Easeful into silence: Let my moth-wing'd thought so fall on thee.

While the lamp's beam Primrose golden Now is like a shifting spear Borne in battle, Seen awhile then hidden, Bold then beaten—now long lost, and here!


The tall slaves bow if that capricious King But glances as he passes; Their dark hoods drawing over abashed faces They bow humbly, unappealingly. The dark robes round their shuddering bodies cling, They bow and but whisper as he passes.

They have not learned to look into his eyes, If he insults to answer, To stand with head erect and angry arching bosom: They bow humbly, unappealingly, As though he mastered earth and the violet inky skies, And whisper piteously for only answer.

So they stand, tall slaves, ashamed of their great height, And if he comes raving, Shouting from the west, furious and moody, They bow more humbly, unappealingly, Ashamed to remember how they lived in that calm light; They droop until he passes, tired of raving.

Only when he's gone they lift their darkened brows, Light comes back to their eyes, Their leaves caress the light, the light laves their branches, They move loverlike, appealingly; Slaves now no more the poplars lift and shake their boughs, And there's a heaven of evening in their eyes.


In the hush of early even The clouds came flocking over, Till the last wind fell from heaven And no bird cried.

Darkly the clouds were flocking, Shadows moved and deepened, Then paused; the poplar's rocking Ceased; the light hung still

Like a painted thing, and deadly. Then from the cloud's side flickered Sharp lightning, thrusting madly At the cowering fields.

Thrice the fierce cloud lighten'd, Down the hill slow thunder trembled; Day in her cave grew frightened, Crept away, and died.


Here in the shade of the tree The hours go by Silent and swift, Lightly as birds fly. Then the deep clouds broaden and drift, Or the cloudless darkness and the worn moon. Waking, the dreamer knows he is old, And the day that he dreamed was gone Is gone.


Within the greenhouse dim and damp The heat floats like a cloud. Pale rose-leaves droop from the rust roof With rust-edged roses bowed. As I go in Out flies the startled wren.

By the tall dark fir tree he sings Morn after morn still, Shy and bold he flits and sings Tinily sweet and shrill. As I go out His song follows me about ...

About the orchard under trees Beaded with cherries bright, Past the rat-haunted Honeybourne And up those hills of light: As up I go His notes more sweetly flow.

Or down those dark hills when night's there Full of dark thoughts and deep, A thin clear soundless music comes Like stars in broken sleep. When I come down All those dark thoughts are flown.

And now that sweetness is more sweet, Here where the aeroplanes Labouring and groaning in the height Lift their lifeless vans:— Sweet, sweet to hear The far off wren singing clear.


In these green fields, in this green spring, In this green world of burning sweet That drives its sour from everything And burns the Arctic with new heat, That seems so slow and flies so fleet On half-seen wing;

In this green world the birds are all With motion mad, are wild with song; The grass leaps like a sudden wall Flung up against a foe that long Strode round and wrought his frosty wrong. The bright winds call,

The bright winds answer; the clouds rise White from the grave, shaking their head, Strewing the grave-clothes through the skies, In languid drifting shadow shed Upon the fields where, slowly spread, Each shadow dies.

In every wood is green and gold, The unbridged river runs all green With queenly swan-clouds floating bold Down to the mill's swift guillotine. Beyond the mill each murdered queen Floats white and cold.

—If I could rise up in a cloud And look down on the new earth in flight, Shadow-like cast my thought's thin shroud Back upon these fields of light; And hear the winds of day and night Meet, singing loud!


Over the pool of sleep The night mists creep, Then faint thin light and then clear day, Noontide, and lingering afternoon; Then that Wanderer, the Moon Wandering her old wild way.

How many spirits follow Her in that dark hollow! Like a lost lamb she roams on high Through the cold and soundless sky, And stares down into her deep Reflection in the pool of sleep.

How many follow Her in that lone hollow! She sees them not nor would she hear Though both shape and sound were clear, But stares, stares into the pool Of her fear and beauty full.

Far in strange gay skies She pales and dies, Forgetting that bright transitory Reflection of astonished glory, Nor heeds the spirits that follow Her into day's bright hollow.


There is a garden where the seeded stems of thin long grass are bowed Beneath July's slow rains and heat and tired children's trailing feet; And the trees' neglected branches droop and make a cloud beneath the cloud, And in that dark the crimson dew of raspberries shines more sweet than sweet.

The flower of the tall acacia's gone, the acacia's flower is white no more, The aspen lifts his pithless arms, the aspen leaves are close and still; The wind that tossed the clouds along, gray clouds and white like feathers bore, Lets even a feather faintly fall and smoke spread hugely where it will.

But though the acacia's flower is gone and raspberries bear bright fruit untasted, Beauty lives there, oh rich and rare, past the sum of eager June. The lime tree's pyramid of flower and leaf and yellow flower unwasted Rises at eve and bars the breast wild-heaving of the timid moon.

Now the tall pear-trees unrebuked lift their green fingers to the sky; Their lower boughs are crossed like arms of templars in long stony sleep. Their arms are crossed as though the wind, returning from wild war on high, Had touched them with an angry breath, or whispered from his cavern deep.

A foxglove lifts her bells and bells silent above the singing grass, Still the old marigold her light sprinkles like riches to the poor. Snapdragon still his changeling blossom shakes with the burden of the bees, And the strong bindweed creeps and winds and springs on high a conqueror.

* * * * *

Would now her eyes grieve to behold snapdragon, foxglove, marigold Daily diminish in their sweet and bindweed wreathing over all— Weed and grass and weed and grass, friendless, melancholy, cold, Wreathing the earth like wreathing snow from bare wall to low greening wall?

Old were her eyes that lingered on old trees and grass and flowers trim. She smelt the ripe pears when they drooped and fell and broke upon the path. Old were her thoughts of things of old; her present thoughts were few and dim; Her eyes saw not the things she saw; she listened, to no living breath.

Her youth and prime and autumn time bloomed in her thought all light and sweet: No wallflower more of sweet could hold, of sunny light no marigold. Fruit on her mind's boughs ripened full, in summer's and calm autumn's heat: Then fell, for there came none to pick; but winter came, and she was old.

Now if her sons come they will find—not her: her empty garden only, The wallflower done and snapdragon still swinging with the greedy bees, Marigold glittering in the grass, scant foxglove ringing faintly, lonely, Close red fruit beading the long boughs and bindweed wreathing where it please.

A tawny lean cat Marmalade slinks like a panther through the tall Thin bending grass and watches long a scholar thrush rehearsing song; Or children running in the sun hunt and hunt a well lost ball; But most the garden sleeps away the day, but still, when eves are long,

When eves are long and no moon rises, and nervous, still, is all the air, That small stiff figure moves again, silent amid the hushing grass; In the firm-carven lime tree's shade she moves, and meets her old thoughts there, Then in the deepening dark is lost, or her light steps unnoted pass.

Only that careless garden keeps secure her memory though it sleeps, And the bright flowers and tyrant weed and tall grass shaking its loud seed Less lovely were if wanting her who like a living thought still creeps And sees what once she saw and music hears of her living sons and dead.


That lime tree on the distant rising ground (If it was a lime tree) showed her yellow leaves Above the renewed green of wet August grass— First Autumn yellow that on first Autumn eves Too soon was found.

Comfortless lime tree! Scarce an aspen leaf Like a green butterfly flitted to the ground; There was no sign of Autumn in the grass. Even the long garden beds their beauty brief— Their mignonette,

Nasturtium and sweet-william and red stocks, And clover crouching in the border grass, And blood-like fuschia, eve's primrose and white phlox And honeysuckle—waved all their smell and hue Morn and eve anew.

But that far lime tree yellowing by the oak, Warning oak, elm and poplar and each fresh tree Shaking in the south wind delightedly, And clover in the closeness of the grass, Warns also me.

And now when all the trees are standing still Beneath the purple and white of the west sky, And time is standing still—as stand it will— That early yellowing lime with palsied fingers Cannot be still.


Thou shaking thy dark shadows down, Like leaves before the first leaves fall, Pourest upon the head of night Her loveliest loveliness of all— Dark leaves that tremble When soft airs unto softer call.

O, darker, softer fall her thoughts Upon the cold fields of my mind, Weaving a quiet music there Like leaf-shapes trembling in least wind: Dark thoughts that linger When the light's gone and the night's blind.

I see her there beneath your boughs. Dark chestnut, though you see her not; Her white face and white hands are clear As the moon in your stretched arms caught; But stranger, clearer, The living shadows of her thought.


Ah, bird singing late in the gloam While the evening shadow thickens, And the dizzy bat-wings roam, And the faint starlight quickens;

And her bud eve's primrose bares Before night's cold fingers come: Thine are such lonely airs, Bird singing late in the gloam!


It covered all The cold east wall, Its green, thin gold, purple, brown, And flame running up and down; Lifting its quiet bosom to every wind that crept Up the high wall and in its darkness slept. Then when the wind slept all the creeper turned To undiminishing fire that burned and burned and burned.

But one black night (For not in the light May such treacheries be done) Came with dishonoured weapon one And cut the stem just where the branches thin Their million-leaf'd wild wandering begin: Cut the firm stem quite through, and so it bled, And all the million leaves shivered and hung there dead.

The wall how cold, The house how old Became when that warm bright fire died, And the fond wind could no more hide. And it was strange that so much death could be From one dark night-hour's darker felony; And how the leaves being dead could not cast down Their colours in bright pools of red and gold and brown.

—It did not die, But flamed on high Morn after morn, even when white snow Covered all brightness, high and low; And in the night when the snow glimmered wan Still beautiful as a fire its brightness shone: Its million quiet leaves quivering in my mind, When from no earthly meadows crept the remembered wind.


They stood like men that hear immortal speech Moving among their branches, and like trees We stood and watched them, and in our still branches Echoes of that immortal music stirred. October days had touched their breasts with light, With yellow light and red light and wan green; And the gray cloud that grew from low to high Made the warm light more warm, the green more wan. We stood and watched them and in our still branches We felt the warm light glow, though now the rain Was loud upon the leaves. And standing there You cried, "O, that sweet smell, where is the fire? Where is the fire?" For sharp upon the rain The smell came of a wood fire and clung round Hanging upon our branches, till we saw No more those lighted trees nor heard the rain— Knew only the deep echoes and the smell Of a wood fire that breathed its smoke across From some near hearth, or undiscovered world.


The red sun stared unwinking at the East Then slept under a cloak of hodden gray; The rimy fields held the last light of day, A little tender yet. And I remember How black against the pale and wintry west Stood the confused great army of old trees, Topping that lean, enormous-shouldered hill With crossing lances shivering and then still. I looked as one that sees Queens passing by and lovelier than he dreamed, With fringe of silver light following their feet, And all those lances vail'd, and solemn Knights Watching their Queens as with eyes grave and sweet They left for the gray fields those airy heights. Nothing had lovelier seemed— Not April's noise nor the early dew of June, Nor the calm languid cow-eyed Autumn Moon, Nor ruffling woods the greenest I remember— Than this pale light and dark of cold December.


On the wide fields the water gleams like snow, And snow like water pale beneath pale sky, When old and burdened the white clouds are stooped low. Sudden as thought, or startled near bird's cry, The whiteness of first light on hills of snow New dropped from skiey hills of tumbling white Streams from the ridge to where the long woods lie; And tall ridge-trees lift their soft crowns of white Above slim bodies all black or flecked with snow. By the tossed foam of the not yet frozen brook Black pigs go straggling over fields of snow; The air is full of snow, and starling and rook Are blacker amid the myriad streams of light. Warm as old fire the Red House burns yet bright Beneath the unmelting snows of pine and larch, While February moves as slow, as slow As Spring might never come, never come March.

Amid such snows, by generations haunted, By echoes, memories and dreams enchanted, Firm when dark winds through the night stamp and shout, Brightest when time silvers the world all about, That old house called The Heart burns, burns, and still Outbraves the mortal threat of the hanging hill.


The dead white on the fields' dead white Turned the peace to misery. Tall bony trees their wild arms thrust Into the cold breast of the night. Brightly the stars shone in their dust. The hard wind's gust Scratched like a bird the frozen snow.

Against the dead light grew the gold, Lifting its beam to that high dust; The lamp within the hut's small pane Called the world to life again. Arms of the trees atremble thrust Defiance at the cold Night of narrow shrouding snow.

A human beam, small spear of light, Lifting its beauty to that high Indifference of starry dust. The aching trees were comforted, And their brave arms more deeply thrust Into the sky. Earth's warm light fingered the dead snow.


A gray day and quiet, With slow clouds of gray, And in dull air a cloud that falls, falls All day.

The naked and stiff branches Of oak, elm, thorn, In the cold light are like men aged and Forlorn.

Only a gray sky, Grass, trees, grass again, And all the air a cloud that drips, drips, All day.

Lovely the lonely Bare trees and green grass— Lovelier now the last hours of slow winter Slowly pass.


That you might happier be than all the rest, Than I who have been happy loving you, Of all the innocent even the happiest— This I beseeched for you.

Until I thought of those unending skies— Of stagnant cloud, or fleckless dull blue air, Of days and nights delightless, no surprise, No threat, no sting, no fear;

And of the stirless waters of the mind, Waveless, unfurrowed, of no living hue, With dead eaves dropping slowly in no wind, And nothing flowering new.

And then no more I wished you happiness, But that whatever fell of joy or woe I would not dare, O Sweet, to wish it less, Or wish you less than you.


Flesh and blood, bone and skin, Are the house that beauty lives in. Formed in darkness, grown in light Are they the substance of delight. Who could have dreamed the things he sees In these strong lovely presences— In cheeks of children, thews of men, Women's bodies beloved of men? Who could have dreamed a thing so wise As that clear look of the child's eyes? Who the thin texture of her hand But with a hand's touch understand? Shaped in eternity were these Body's miracles, where the seas Their continuous rhythm learned, And the stars in their bright order burned. From stars and seas was motion caught When flesh, blood, bone and skin were wrought Into swift lovely liveliness. Oh, but beauty less and less Than beauty grows. The cheeks fall in, Colour dies from the smooth skin, And muscles slack and bones are brittle; Veins and arteries little by little Delay the tides of the blood: That is a ditch that was a flood. Then all but dry bones disappears, White bones that lie a hundred years Cheated of resurrection.... Where is that beauty gone? Escaped even while we watched it so, And none guessed the way it would go? Only it's fled, and here alone Lie blood and skin and flesh and bone. Where is the beauty that was here? —Nowhere, everywhere.


Bind up, bind up your dark bright hair And hide the smouldering sunken fire. Let it be held no more than fair, Nor yourself guess how rare, how rare Its movement, colour and deep fire.

Your eyes they have their consciousness, Your lips their grave reflective smile, Your hands their cunning for distress: Your hair has only beauteousness And hid flame for its only guile.

That glowing hair on shoulders white Is pride past sum: take care, take care! Even to dream of wish'd delight Too much perturbs the ebb of night— Bind up, bind up your burning hair!


Thy hand my hand, Thine eyes my eyes, All of thee Caught and confused with me: My hand thy hand My eyes thine eyes, All of me Sunken and discovered anew in thee....

No: still A foreign mind, A thought By other yet uncaught; A secret will Strange as the wind: The heart of thee Bewildering with strange fire the heart in me.

Hand touches hand, Eye to eye beckons, But who shall guess Another's loneliness? Though hand grasp hand Though the eye quickens, Still lone as night Remain thy spirit and mine, past touch and sight.


How could I know, how could I guess That here was your great happiness— In mine? And how could I know Your love infinite must grow?

Suddenly at dawn I wake To see the cruse of colour break Over the East, and then the gray Creep up with light of common day ... No, no, no! again that bright Flashing, flushing, flooding light Leading on day, until I ache With love to see the dark world wake.

O, with such second flood your love Painted my earth and heaven above, With such wild magnificence As bruised my heart in every sense, In every nerve. Was ever man Fit this renewed love to sustain?

Now in these days when Autumn's leaf Is red and gold, and for a brief Day the earth flowers ere it dies, What if Spring came with new surprise, Came ere the aspen shivered bare Or the beech coins glittered in cold air, Before the rough wind the maple stripped And this bare moon on bare boughs stepped! Vain thought—O, yet not wholly vain: Even to me Love has come again, Moving from your quick breast where he Fluttered in his wondering infancy.


Your face has lost The clearness it once wore, And your brow smooth and white Its look of light; Your eyes that were So careless, are how deep with care!

O, what has done This cruelty to you? Is it only Time makes strange Your look with change, Or something more Than the worst pang Time ever bore?—

Regret, regret! So bitter that it changes Bright youth to madness, Poisoning mere sadness ... O, vain glass that shows Less than the bitterness the heart knows.


I know how fire burns, How from the wrangling fumes Rose and amber blooms, And slowly dies.

Nothing's so swift as fire, There's nothing alive so fierce. The lifted lances pierce, Sink, and upspring.

Like an Indian sword it leaps Out of the smoking sheath. Even the winged feet of death Learn speed from fire;

And pain its cunning learns; Languor its sweet From the decaying heat That never dies.

I know how fire burns Unguessed, save for tears, When the thousand-fanged flame spears The body's guard;

Or when the mind, the mind Is ever-glowing wood, And fire runs in the blood Lunatic, blind;

When remorse burns and burns And burns always, always— The fire that surest slays Or surest numbs.

I know how fire burns But how I cannot tell. And Heaven burns like Hell Yet the Heart endures.

'Tis the immortal Flame In mortal life that's bitter, Or than all sweet sweeter Though life burns down.

Teach me, fire, but this, Nor alone destroying burn:— Of thy warmth let me learn, But most thy light.


In that dark silent hour When the wind wants power, And in the black height The sky wants light, Stirless and black In utter lack, And not a sound Escapes from that untroubled round:—

To wake then In the dark, and ache then Until the dark is gone— Lonely, yet not alone; Hearing another's breath All the quiet beneath, Knowing one sleeps near That day held dear

And dreams held dear; but now In this sharp moment—how Share the moment's sweetness, Forgo its completeness, Nor be alone Now the dark is grown Spiritual and deep More than in dreams and sleep?

O, it is pain, 'tis need That so will plead For a little loneliness. If it be pain to miss Loved touch, look and lip, Companionship Yet is verier pain Then, then

In that dark silent hour When the wind wants power, And you, near or far, sleep, And your released thoughts toward me creep While I, imprisoned, awake, Ache—ache To be for one Long, little moment with myself alone.


Let no tears fall If then they fell not. If eyes told nothing, Now let them tell not. Once there was time For words, looks and tears: That time is past, is past— Heart, thou shalt tell not!

Beyond any speech Is silence bitter, As between love and love Nothing is sweeter. Once there was time, time yet For words, looks and tears ... Past, past, past, past— Nothing so bitter!

Now if tears come That then fell never; If eyes such sad, sad things Look now for ever; If words, looks or tears Tremble with telling, Oh, what returning voice is it whispers Never, never, never!


O, what insect is it That burrows in the heart and frets The heart's near nerves, Leaving its unclean Stigmata in the mind serene, Making the proud how mean?

It is not common hate, Anger has not such deadly cunning To annul, to chill. Wild anger is not So cunning even while so hot; Hate is too soon forgot.

There is no sword so sharp With lightnings as the wanton tongue; Nothing that burns like words— Bubbling flames that spread In the now unspiritual head, By sleepless fevers fed.

O evil words that are The knives of desolating thought! And though words be still The hot eyes yet dart Burning deaths from this mad heart Into that torn heart.

O Love, forget, forget, Put by that glittering edge, put by; Slay the insect with light; Smother that smoky glow, Scatter the silver ash like snow When thy spring airs blow!


From far-off it came near Deep-charactered and clear, Until I saw the features close to mine And the eyes unhappy shine.

It was Sorrow's face, Wanting kindness and grace, And wanting strength of silence, and the power To abide a luckier hour.

The first fear turned to hating As I saw him dumbly waiting, For it was my true likeness that he wore And would wear evermore:—

My face that was to be When his years' misery With here a little and there a little had made My strong spirit afraid.

I saw his face and hated, Seeing mine so sad-fated. And then I struck and killed him, knowing that he Had else slain me.


I have never loved you yet, if now I love.

If Love was born in that bright April sky And ran unheeding when the sun was high, And slept as the moon sleeps through Autumn nights While those dear steady stars burn in their heights:

If Love so lived and ran and slept and woke And ran in beauty when each morning broke, Love yet was boylike, fervid and unstable, Teased with romance, not knowing truth from fable.

But Winter after Autumn comes and stills The petulant waters and the wild mind fills With silence; and the dark and cold are bitter, O, bitter to remember past days sweeter.

Then Spring with one warm cloudy finger breaks The frost and the heart's airless black soil shakes; Love grown a man uprises, serious, bright With mind remembering now things dark and light.

O, if young Love was beautiful, Love grown old Experienced and grave is not grown cold. Life's faithful fire in Love's heart burns the clearer With all that was, is and draws darkling nearer.

I have never loved you yet, if now I love.


The pigeons, following the faint warm light, Stayed at last on the roof till warmth was gone, Then in the mist that's hastier than night Disappeared all behind the carved dark stone, Huddling from the black cruelty of the frost. With the new sparkling sun they swooped and came Like a cloud between the sun and street, and then Like a cloud blown from the blue north were lost, Vanishing and returning ever again, Small cloud following cloud across the flame That clear and meagre burned and burned away And left the ice unmelting day by day.

... Nor could the sun through the roof's purple slate (Though his gold magic played with shadow there And drew the pigeons from the streaming air) With any fiery magic penetrate. Under the roof the air and water froze, And no smoke from the gaping chimney rose. The silver frost upon the window-pane Flowered and branched each starving night anew, And stranger, lovelier and crueller grew; Pouring her silver that cold silver through, The moon made all the dim flower bright again.

... Pouring her silver through that barren flower Of silver frost, until it filled and whitened A room where two small children waited, frightened At the pale ghost of light that hour by hour Stared at them till though fear slept not they slept. And when that white ghost from the window crept, And day came and they woke and saw all plain, Though still the frost-flower blinded the window-pane, And touched their mother and touched her hand in vain, And wondered why she woke not when they woke; And wondered what it was their sleep that broke When hand in hand they stared and stared, so frightened; They feared and waited, and waited all day long While all the shadows went and the day brightened, All the ill shadows but one shadow strong.

Outside were busy feet and human speech And daily cries and horns. Maybe they heard, Painfully wondering still, and each to each Leaning, and listening if their mother stirred— Cold, cold, Hungering as the long slow hours grew old, Though food within the cupboard idle lay Beyond their thought, or but beyond their reach. The soft blue pigeons all the afternoon Sunned themselves on the roof or rose at play, Then with the shrinking light fluttered away; And once more came the icy hearted moon, Staring down at the frightened children there That could but shiver and stare.

... How many hours, how many days, who knows? Neighbours there were who thought they had gone away To return some luckier or luckless day. No sound came from the room: the cold air froze The very echo of the children's sighs. And what they saw within each other's eyes, Or heard each other's heart say as they peered At the dead mother lying there, and feared That she might wake, and then might never wake, Who knows, who knows? None heard a living sound their silence break.

In those cold days and nights how many birds Flittering above the fields and streams all frozen Watched hungrily the tended flocks and herds— Earth's chosen nourished by earth's wise self-chosen! How many birds suddenly stiffened and died With no plaint cried, The starved heart ceasing when the pale sun ceased! And when the new day stepped from the same cold East The dead birds lay in the light on the snow-flecked field, Their song and beautiful free winging stilled.

I walked under snow-sprinkled hills at night, And starry sprinkled, skies deep blue and bright. The keen wind thrust with his knife against the thin Breast of the wood as I went tingling by And heard a weak cheep-cheep—no more—the cry Of a bird that crouched the smitten wood within.... But no one heeded that sharp spiritual cry Of the two children in their misery, When in the cold and famished night death's shade More terrible the moon's cold shadows made. How was it none could hear That bodiless crying, birdlike, sharp and clear?

I cannot think what they, unanswered, thought When the night came again and shadows moved As the moon through the ice-flower stared and roved, And that unyielding Shadow came again. That Shadow came again unseen and caught The children as they sat listening in vain, Their starved hearts failing ere the Shadow removed. And when the new morn stepped from the same cold East They lay unawakening in the barren light, Their song and their imaginations bright, Their pains and fears and all bewilderment ceased.... While the brief sun gave New beauty to the death-flower of the frost, And pigeons in the frore air swooped and tossed, And glad eyes were more glad and grave less grave.

There is not pity enough in heaven or earth, There is not love enough, if children die Like famished birds—oh, less mercifully. A great wrong's done when such as these go forth Into the starless dark, broken and bruised, With mind and sweet affection all confused, And horror closing round them as they go. There is not pity enough!

And I have made, children, these verses for you, Lasting a little longer than your breath, Because I have been haunted with your death; So men are driven to things they hate to do. Jesus, forgive us all our happiness, As Thou dost blot out all our miseries.




Let me not see your grief! O, let not any see That grief, Nor how your heart still rocks Like a temple with long earthquake shocks. Let me not see Your grief.

These eyes have seen such wrong, Yet remained cold: Ills grown strong, Corruption's many-headed worm Destroying feet that moved so firm— Shall these eyes see Your grief?

And that black worm has crawled Into the brain Where thought had walked Nobly, and love and honour moved as one, And brave things bravely were begun.... Now, can thought see Unabashed your grief?

Into that brain your grief Has run like cleansing fire: Your grief Through these unfaithful eyes has leapt And touched honour where it lightly slept. Now when I see In memory your grief

There is no thought that's not Yours, yours, No love that sleeps, No spiritual door that opens not In the green quiet village of thought Shining with light, And silent to your silence.



I did not say, "Yes, we had better part Since love is over or must be suppressed." I did not say, "I'll hold you in my heart Saint-like, and in the thought of your thought rest, And pray for you and wish you happiness In a better love than mine."

I was another man to another woman, Tears falling or burnt dry were nothing then. I struck your heart, I struck your mind; inhuman, Future and past I stabbed and stabbed again, Cursing the very thought of your happiness In another love than mine:

—Then left you sick to death, and I like death. It was a broken body bore me away— A broken mind—poisoned by my own breath, And love self-poisoned.... Was it but yesterday? —Forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive, Forgive!


When through our bodies our two spirits burn Escaping, and no more our true eyes turn Outwards, and no more hands to fond hands yearn;

Then over those poor grassy heaps we'll meet One morning, tasting still the morning's sweet, Sensible still of light, dark, rain, cold, heat;

And see 'neath the green dust that dust of gray Which was our useless bodies laid away, Mocked still with menace of a Judgment Day.

We then that waiting dust at last will call, Each to the other's,—"Rise up at last, O small Ashes that first-love held loveliest of all!

"'Tis Judgment Day, arise!" And they will arise, The dust will lift, and spine, ribs, neck, head, knees At the sound remember their old unities,

And stand there, yours with mine, as once they stood Beloved, obeyed, despised, with that swift blood, Those looks and trembling lips, heart's pause and thud.

* * * * *

"And was it these that love-galled thought pursued And with his immortality indued, Nor was by their mortality quite subdued?

"This was the bony hand that held my hand, The shoulders whereon all my world might stand: They fell, but in their fall was I unmanned?

"This was the breast my eyes delighted in, The ribs were faint as now under the skin: They mouldered, but not my love mouldered within.

"Away, away! This was not truly thee— A mortal bravery, Time's delinquency, A dream that held me from thee, thee from me.

"It was not in these bodies that we drew Near, nearer: never, never by these we knew Transfusion past all sense of 'I' and 'You.'

"It was youth's blindness held the body so dear: Slowly, slowly, year after bewildered year, The dark thinned and the eyes of love grew clear,

"And thought following thought, enlinking each, Ran where the delighting body could not reach, And had speech when there was no voice for speech;

"So that we scarce grieved when those bodies died, And our eyes more than our true spirits cried; But as when trees fall, the free wind that sighed

"Awhile in their fond branches ceases not, But sings a moment over the cumbered spot, Then flies away:—our unentangled thought,

"Our vivid spirits of love, unbroken moved And lifted no more sense-confined, and roved And knew till then we had not utterly loved ...

"Leave now this dust!"

And then the dust will sink, The upheaved mound to its old shape will shrink, And we shall turn again from Time's dusk brink.

* * * * *

Will it be thus? It will be thus. Even now, Though body to body submissively still bow, 'Tis not on body's blood that our loves grow.

Though I am old and you are old, though nerves Slacken, and beauty slowly lose its curves, And greedy Time the bone and sinew starves,

Like some lean Captain gloating over a town That has not fallen, but will fall, every stone O'erthrust and every bravery overthrown;

Who entering the defeated walls at last Finds emptiness, and hears an escaping blast, Triumphant from the shining east hills cast,

And knows defeat in victory.... O that rare Music is ours, is ours—prelusive air Caught from the Judgment music high and severe.

Will it indeed be thus? Yes, thus! The body burns, Not with desire, and into pale smoke turns, And there is only flame towards flame that yearns.

While that ill lecherous Time among the stones Sits musing and rocking his old brittle bones, Irked by long shadows, mocked by those bright far tones.


You were a gipsy as you bent Your dark hair over the black grate. Hardly the west light above the hill Showed your shadow, crooked and still. The bellows hissed, and one bright spark Deepened the hasty dark.

The bellows hissed, and the old smell Crept on the air of smoking peat, And round the spark a bubbling flame Grew bright and loud. Sweeping the gloom Lunatic shadows fled and came Whirling about the room.

Then as you raised your head I saw In the clear light of the bubbling fire Your dark hair all lined with the gray Sprinkled by years and sorrow and pain ... Till as the bellows idle lay Shadow swept back again.


Where are you going with eyes so dull, You whose eyes were beautiful, You whose hair with the light was gay, And now is thin and harsh and gray? Is it age alone or age and tears That has slowly rubbed your beauty away?

Where were you going when your swift eyes Were like merry birds under May skies?— In your cheeks the colours fluttering brave As you danced with the wind and ran with the wave. From what bright star was your brightness caught? What to your music the music gave?

Now is your beauty a thing of old, The fire is sunken, the ashes cold. But if sweet singing on your ear stray, Or the praise is uttered of yesterday, Or of courage and nobleness one word said— Like a cloud Time's ravage is brushed away.


A winter sky of pale blue and pale gold, Bare trees, a wind that made the wood-path cold, And one slow-moving figure, gray and old.

We met where the soft path falls from the wood Down to the village. As I came near she stood And answered when I spoke, drawing the hood

Back from her face. I saw only her eyes, Large and sad. I could not bear those eyes. They were like new graves. I could not bear her eyes.

But what we said as each passed on is gone. We looked and spoke and passed like strangers on, I to the high wood, she towards the paling sun.

And there, where the clear-heavened small pool lies, And the tallest beeches brush the bending skies, In pool and tree I saw again her eyes.


Happy are they whom men and women love, And you were happy as a river that flows Down between lonely hills, and knows The pang and virtue of that loneliness, And moves unresting on until it move Under the trees that stoop at the low brink And deepen their cool shade, and drink And sing and hush and sing again, Breathing their music's many-toned caress; While the river with his high clear music speaks Sometimes of loneliness, of hills obscure, Sometimes of sunlight dancing on the plain, Or of the night of stars unbared and deep Multiplied in his depths unbared and pure; Sometimes of winds that from the unknown sea creep, Sometimes of morning when most clear it breaks Spilling its brightness on his breast like rain:— And then flows on in loneliness again Towards the unknown near sea. Was it in mere happiness or pain? There were things said that spoke of naked pain, With nothing between the wound and the sharp-edged world; Things seen that told of such perplexity As darkened night with night: but was that pain? And there were things created all delight, Making delight fruitful a hundred fold: Sweetness of earth, energy of sun and rain, Colour and shape, flowers and grasses bright, And the clear firm body of a bare lovely hill, And woods around its feet fast caught and curled, And the cold sweets of lonely travelled night.... And was that happiness?—or something more, That gathered happiness and pain like flowers Half perished, and let them perish; and brightened still In those dark mental journeys of cold hours That found you what you were and left you stronger, Shutting a door and opening a door?... O door that you have passed so quickly through, Ere we well knew what man you were, nor knew What you had shown in life but a little longer! It was not pain nor happiness for you, Not any named delight or pang of sense, But swift fulfilment past all sense or thought Of what you were with all that time could make you; No separate gift, spiritual influence, But something wrought From your own heart, with all that life could make you.


Bring your beauty, bring your laughter, bring even your fears, Bring the grief that is, the joy that was in other years, Bring again the happiness, bring love, bring tears.

There was laughter once, there were grave, happy eyes, Talk of firm earth, old earth-sweeping mysteries: There were great silences under clear dark skies.

Now is silence, now is loneliness complete; all is done. The thrush sings at dawn, too sweet, up creeps the sun: But all is silent, silent, for all that was is done.

Yet bring beauty and bring laughter, and bring even tears, And cast them down; strew your happiness and fears, Then leave them to the darkness of thought and years.

Fears in that darkness die; they have no spring. Grief in that darkness is a bird that wants wing.... O love, love, your brightness, your beauty bring.


The wild October sky Rises not so high, The tree's roots that creep Into the earth's body thrust not so deep As our high and dark thought.

Yet thought need not roam Far off to bring you home. The sky is our wild mind, Your roots are round our spirits twined, To ours are your hearts caught.

O, never buried dead! The living brain in the head Is not so quick as you Burning our conscious darkness through With brightness past our thought.


At evening when the aspens rustled soft And the last blackbird by the hedge-nest laughed, And through the leaves the moon's unmeaning face Looked, and then rose in dark-blue leafless space; Watching the trees and moon she could not bear The silence and the presence everywhere. The blackbird called the silence and it came Closing and closing round like smoke round flame. Into her heart it crept and the heart was numb, Even wishes died, and all but fear was dumb— Fear and its phantoms. Then the trees were enlarged, And from their roundness unguessed shapes emerged, Or no shape but the image of her fear Creeping forth from her mind and hovering near. If a bat flitted it was an evil thing; Sadder the trees grew with every shadowy wing— Their shape enlarged, their arms quivered, their thought Stirring in the leaves a silent anguish wrought. "What are they thinking of, the evil trees, Nod-nodding, standing in malignant ease? Something against man's mortal heart was sworn Once, when their dark Powers were conceived and born; And in such fading or such lightless hours The world is delivered to these plotting Powers." No physical swift blow she dreaded, not Lightning's quick mercy; but her heart grew hot And cold and hot with uncomprehended sense Of an assassin spiritual influence Moving in the unmoving trees.... Till, as she stared, Her eyes turned cowards at last, and no more dared. Yet could she never rise and shut the door: Perhaps those Powers would batter at the door, And that were madness. So right through the house She set the doors all wide when she could arouse The body's energy to serve the mind. Then the air would move, and any little wind Would cleanse awhile the darkness and diminish Her fear, and the dumb shadow-war would finish.

But it was not the trees, the birds, the moon; Birds cease, months fly, green seasons wither soon: Nature was constant all the seasons through, Sinister, watchful, and a thick cloud drew Over the mind when its simplicity Challenged what seemed with thought of what must be.... She wondered, seeing how a child could play Lightly in a shady field all day: For in that golden, brief, benignant weather When spring and summer calling run together And the sun's fresh and hot, she saw deep guile In the sweetness of that unconditioned smile. Sweetness not sweetness was but indifference Or wantonness disguised, to her grave sense; And if she could have seen the things she felt She'd looked for darkness, and lit shapes that knelt Appealing, unregarded, at a high Altar uprising from the pit to the sky.... Had the trees consciousness, with flowers and clouds And winds that hung like thin clouds in the woods, And stars and silence:—had they each a mind Bending on hers, clear eyes on her eyes blind? In the green dense heights—elm, oak, ash, yew or beech She scarce saw—was there not a brain in each, An undiscovered centre of quick nerves By which (like man) the tree lives, masters, serves, Waxes and wanes? Oppressed her mind would shrink From thought, and into her trembling body sink.

Something of this had childhood taught her when Sickly she lay and peered again and again At gray skies and white skies and void bright blue, And watched the sun the bare town-tree boughs through, And then through leafy boughs and once more bare. Or in the west country's heavy hill-drawn air Had felt the green grass pushing within her veins, Tangling and strangling: and the warm spring rains Tapping all night upon her childish head: She shivered, lying lonely on her bed, With all that life all round and she so weak, Longing to speak—yet what was there to speak? And as she grew and health came and love came And life was happier, happier, still the same Inhuman spirit rose whenever she Held in her thoughts more than her eyes could see. Behind the happiest hours the dark cloud hung Distant or nearing, and its dullness flung On the south meadows of her thought, the fairest Shrinking in shadow; aspirations rarest Falling, like shot birds in a reedy fen, Slain by the old Enemy of men. Life ebbed while men strove for the means of life; The grudging earth turned labour into strife. The moving hosts within the heavy clod Seemed infinite in malice; frost and flood, Season and inter-season, were conspired In smiling or sour mockery; and untired And undelighted, man scratched and scratched on, And what he did, by Nature was undone. She saw men twisted more than rocks or trees, Bruised, numbed, by age and labour and the disease Of labour in the cold fields; women worn By many child-bearings, and their self-scorn Because of time and their lost woman's powers. Bitter was Nature to women; for those hours Of the spirit's and the body's first delight Passed soon, and the long day, evening, night Of life uncherished; bitterest when even That brief hour was denied, of dancing heaven, Dewy love, and fulfilled desires. But age Of all ills made her pity and anger rage. To see and smell the calm months bud and bloom, April's first warmth, June's hues and slow perfume, The sweetness drifting by in those long hours While, out of her she nursed, the vital powers Were pressed by pain and pressed by pain renewed, Till, closing the life-long vicissitude, Came starving death with full-heaped summer, and Wrung the last pangs that spirit could withstand ... Or to see age in its prison slowly freeze With impotence more disastrous than disease, While trees flowered on, or all the winter through Upheld brave arms and with spring flowered anew Above those living graves and graves of the dead;— 'Twas all such bitterness, but she nothing said. She saw men as courageous boats that sailed On all the seas, and some a far port hailed Perhaps to sail again, or anchor there Forever; some would quietly disappear In stormless waters, and some in storms be broken And all be hidden and no clear meaning spoken, Nor any trace upon the waters linger. Where the boat went the wind with hasty finger, Savage and sly as aught of land could be, Erased the little wrinkling of the sea. O, in such enmity was man enisled, Such loneliness, by foolish shades beguiled, That it was bravery to see and live, But cowardice to see and to forgive, The wrong of evil, the wrong of death to life, The defeat of innocence, the waste of strife,— The heavy ills of time, injustice, pain— In field and forest and flood rose huge and plain, Brushing her mind with darkness, till she thought Not with her brain, but all her nerves were wrought Into an apprehension burning strong, Unslackening, of mortality's old wrong. But if her eyes she raised to those clear lonely Altitudes of stars and ether only, Her eyes fell and rebuked her as forbidden With human mind to question what was hidden. At summer dusk the broad moon rising high Put gentleness in the vast strength of the sky, Easing its weight; or the hot summer sun Made noonday kind, and the hours lightly run. But in those blazing midnights of the stars Gathered and brightening for immortal wars With spears and darts and arrows of sharp light, She read the indifference of the infinite, The high strife flashing through eternity While on the earth stared mortals but as she.

O 'twas a living world that rose around And in her sentience burned a hollow wound. Such easy brightness as the poets see, Or easy gloom, or hues of faerie, She never saw, but into her own heart peered To find what spirit indeed it was she feared:— Whether in antique days a divine foe Sprung branchlike from dense woods had wrought her woe; Whether in antique days a pagan rite (Herself a pagan still) unfilmed her sight And taught her secrets never to be forgot, And by man's generation pardoned not.... The same blood in ancestral veins ran fleet As now made hers a road for pain's quick feet. Into the marrow of her hidden life Had poured the agony of their termless strife With immaterial and material things; And as a bird an unlearned music sings Because a million generations sang, So in her breast the old alarum rang, So the old sorrowfulness in her thought Renewed, and apprehensions all untaught; As if indeed a creature primitive Still did she in the world's dim morning live, That wanted human warmth and gentleness To make its solitude a little less.

Kindness gave solitude the lovely light She loved, and made less terrible black midnight. Even as a bird its unlearned music pours Though windows all be blind and shut the doors, And sings on still though no faint sound be heard But wind and leaves and another lonely bird: So poured she untaught kindness all around And in that human music comfort found— Music her own and music heard from others, Prime music of all lovers, children, mothers, Precarious music between all men sounding, The horror of silent and dark Powers confounding. Singing that music she could bravely live; Hearing it, find less sorrow to forgive.


Time like a cloud Has risen from the East And whelmed the sky over Even to the wide-arched West, Darkening the blue, Embrowning the early gold, Until no more the eternal Sun Looks simply through.

In each man's eyes The cloud is set, With but the chill light Of silver January skies. On each man's heart Time's firm shadow falls, And the mind throws but a candle's beam On the dark walls.

But on those walls Man paints his dream Rejoicing purely In the faithful candle's beam: Lives by its beauty, Pictures his heart's delight, And with that only beam outbraves Time's gathering night.

O spiritual flame, Calm, faithful, bright! Time may whelm over All but this candle's light: Shadow but shadow is; Dark though it lies 'Tis blazon'd with man's long-dreamed dreams, Pierced by his eyes.


The fire burns low Where it has burned ages ago, Sinks and sighs As it has done to a hundred eyes Staring, staring At the last cold smokeless glow.

Here men sat Lonely and watched the golden grate Turn at length black; Heard the cooling iron crack: Shadows, shadows, Watching the shadows come and go.

And still the hiss I hear, the soft fire's sob and kiss, And still it burns And the bright gold to crimson turns, Sinking, sinking, And the fire shadows larger grow.

O dark-cheeked fire, Wasting like spent heart's desire, You that were gold, And now crimson will soon be cold— Cold, cold, Like moon-shadows on new snow.

Shadows all, They that watched your shadows fall. But now they come Rising around me, grave and dumb.... Shadows, shadows, Come as the fire-shadows go.

And stay, stay, Though all the fire sink cold as clay, Whispering still, Ancestral wise Familiars—till, Staring, staring, Dawn's wild fires through the casement glow.


Cherry and pear are white, Their snows lie sprinkled on the land like light On darkness shed. Far off and near The orchards toss their crowns of delight, And the sun casts down Another shining crown.

The wind tears and throws down Petal by petal the crown Of cherry and pear till the earth is white, And all the brightness is shed In the orchards far off and near, That tossed by the road and under the green hill; And the wind is fled.

Far, far off the wind Has shaken down A brightness that was as the brightness of cherry or pear When the orchards shine in the sun. —Oh there is no more fairness Since this rareness, The radiant blossom of English earth—is dead!


All the night through I drank Sleep like water or cool cider; Life flowed over and I sank Down below the night of clouds.... Then on a pale horse was rider Through long brushing woods Where the owl in silence broods, Quavers, and is quiet again; Where the grass dark and rank Breathes on the still air its rain. Rain and dark and green and sound Closing slowly round Swept me as I rode, And rode on until I came Where a white cold river flowed Under woods thin and bare In the moon's long candle flame. Through the woods the wind crawled Leviathan, and here and there Branches creaked and old winds howled Sick for home. All the night I saw the river, As a girl that sees beside her Love, between fear and fear Riding, and is dumb. The white horse turned to cross the river, But the waters like a wall Rose and hung dark over all; And as they fell the river wider Wider grew, and sky was bare Save of the sick candle's stare. Death the divider Glittered cold and dark and deep Under banks of fear. But that rider Trembling, bright, rode on, Trembling and bright rode on Through green lanes of sleep.


When this burning flesh Burns down in Time's slow fire to a glowing ash; When these lips have uttered The last word, and the ears' last echoes fluttered; And crumbled these firm bones As in the chemic air soft blackened stones; When all that was mortal made Owns its mortality, proud yet afraid;

Then when I stumble in The broad light, from this twilight weak and thin, What of me will change, What of that brightness will be new and strange? Shall I indeed endure New solitude in that high air and pure, Aching for these fingers On which my assured hand now shuts and lingers?

Now when I look back On manhood's and on childhood's far-stretched track, I see but a little child In a green sunny world-home; there enisled By another, cloudy world Of unsailed waters all around him curled, And he at home content With the small sky of wonders over him bent:—

Lonely, yet not alone Since all was friendly being all unknown; To-day yesterday forgetting, And never with to-morrow's sorrow fretting; Not seeing good from ill Since but to breathe and run and sleep was well; Asking nor fearing nought Since the body's nerves and veins held all his thought....

Such a child again shall I Stray in some valley of infinity, Where infinite finite seems And nothing more immortal than my dreams? Where earthly seasons play Still with their snows and blossoms and night and day, And no unsetting sun Brightens the white cloud and awakes the moon?

In such half-life's half-light To cloak with mortal an immortal sight? With uninformed desire, Shorn passion, gentle mind, contented fire, Ignorant love; to run But with the little journeys of the sun, And at evening sleep With birds and beasts, and stars rocked in the deep?

But maybe this man's mind Will leave not its maturity behind, And nothing will forget Of all that teased or eased it here, while yet A mortal dress it wore; And these quick-darting thoughts and probings sore More sharply then will turn; And lonelier and yet hungrier the heart burn.

O, I would not forget Earth is too rich, too dark, too sour, too sweet:— Nor be divorced quite From the late tingling of the nerves' delight. Less I would never be Than the deep-graving years have made of me— A memory, pulse, mind, Seed and harvest, a reaper and sower blind.

I shall no more be I If I forget the world's joy and agony; If I forget how strong Is the assault of scarce-rebuked wrong. I shall no more be I If my ears hear not earth's embittered cry Perpetual; and forget The unrighteous shackles on man's ankle set;

If no more my heart beat Quicker because on earth is something sweet; I shall no more be I If the ancestral voices no more sigh Familiar in my brain, And leave me to cold silence and its pain, And the bewildered stare On an unhomely land in biting air:

If the blood no more vex The heart with the importunities of sex, If indeed marriage bind No more body to body, mind to mind, And love be powerless, cold, That once by love's strength only was controlled, And that chief spiritual force Be dam'd back and stretch frozen to its source....

To the Heavenly Power I cry, Foiled by these dreams of immortality, "Let all be as Thou wilt, And the foundations in Thy dark mind built; Even infinity Be but imagination's dream of Thee; And let thought still, still Vainly its waves on night's cliff break and spill.

"But, Heavenly Power," I'd cry, Knowing how, near or far, He still is nigh, "When this burning flesh Is burnt away to a little driven ash, What thing soever shall rise From that cold ash unseen to unseen skies, Grant that so much of me Shall rise as may remember Thy world, and Thee."


Now the long-bearded chilly-fingered winter Over the green fields sweeps his cloak and leaves Its whiteness there. It caught on the wild trees, Shook whiteness on the hedges and left bare South-sloping corners and south-fronting smooth Barks of tall beeches swaying 'neath their whiteness So gently that the whiteness does not fall. The ash copse shows all white between gray poles, The oaks spread arms to catch the wandering snow. But the yews—I wondered to see their dark all white, To see the soft flakes fallen on those grave deeps, Lying there, not burnt up by the yews' slow fire. Could Time so whiten all the trembling senses, The youth, the fairness, the all-challenging strength, And load even Love's grave deeps with his barren snows? Even so. And what remains? The hills of thought That shape Time's snows and melt them and lift up Green and unchanging to the wandering stars.


The days of these two years like busy ants Have gone, confused and happy and distressed, Rich, yet sad with aching wants, Crowded, yet lonely and unblessed.

I stare back as they vanish in a swarm, Seeming how purposeless, how mean and vain, Till creeping joy and brief alarm Are gone and prick me not again.

The days are gone, yet still this heart of fire Smouldering, smoulders on with ancient love; And the red embers of desire I would not, oh, nor dare remove!

Where is the bosom my head rested on, The arms that caught my boy's head, the soft kiss? Where is the light of your eyes gone?— For now I know what darkness is....

It is the loneliness, the loneliness, Since she that brought me here has left me here With the sharp need of her to press Sudden upon the nerve of fear;

It is the loneliness that wounds me still, Shut from the generations that are past, That with their blood my warm veins fill And on my spirit their spirit cast;

That haunt me so and yet how strangely keep Beyond communion, alone, alone, Like that huge ancient hill asleep, With to-day's noisy winds o'erblown.

There from the hill is sprung a single thorn, Wind-twisted, straining from the earth to the skies, Thin branches pleading with wild morn And root that pressed in darkness lies.

From the unknown of earth and heaven are brought Her strength, her weakness, death and bravest life; Shadow and light and wind have wrought Beauty from change, calm out of strife.

That tree upon the unchanging hill am I, Alone upon the dark unwhispering hill:— You in the stirless cold past lie, But I ache warm and lonely still.

There's not a storm tossing among my boughs, Nor gentle air drawn under quiet skies, There's not an idle cloud that flows Across the mind, nor bird that cries,

But says (if I have eyes, or ears to hear), "You in this mortal being are alone." And morn and noon and night-stars clear Repeat, "Alone, alone, alone."

Yet the tree in wild storm her dark boughs shakes, Thrusting her roots in the earth, her arms to heaven, Fresh washed with dew when morning breaks; And new light back to the light is given.

* * * * *

Is it that I that loved have yet forgot? Is it that I that looked have yet been blind? Longing, have yet remembered not Nor heard you whispering in my mind?

But at a word you are nearer now than when We sat and spoke, or merely looked and thought, Knowing all speech superfluous then, Since what we needed, silence brought;—

And your warm bosom my head rested on, The arms that caught my boy's head, the soft kiss, The brown grave eyes that gently shone— Are here again, and brightness is.

Two years have gone, but nearer now are you, Being dearer now; and this false loneliness Is but a dream that cloudlike grew, Then growing cloudlike less and less

Passes away, leaving me like the tree Bright with the sun and wind and lingering dew; Homely is all the world for me Being sweeter with the sense of you.


Just as this wood, cast on the snaky fire, Crushes the curling heads till smoke is thickened And the ash sinks beneath the billet's weight, And then again the hissing heads are quickened: Just as this wood, by fretful fangs new stung, Glows angrily, then whitens in the grate And slowly smouldering smoulders away, And dies defeated every famished tongue And nothing's left but a memory of heat And the sunk crimson telling warmth was sweet: Just as this wood, once green with Spring's swift fire Dies to a pinch of ashes cold and gray.... Just as this wood——


I rose up with the sun And climbed the hill. I saw the white mists run And shadows run Down into hollow woods.

I went with the white clouds That swept the hill. A wind struck the low hedge trees And clustering trees, And rocked in each tall elm.

The long afternoon was calm When down the hill I came, and felt the air cool, The shadows cool; And I walked on footsore,

Saying, "But two hours more, Then, the last hill.... Surely this road I know, These hills I know, All the unknown is known,

"And that barn, black and lone, High on the hill— There the long road ends, The long day ends, And travelling is over." ...

Nor thought nor travelling's over. Here on the hill The black barn is a shivering ruin, A windy cold ruin. I must go on and on,

Where often my thought has gone, Up hill, down hill, Beyond this ruin of Time; Forgetting Time I must follow my thought still.


Let Honour speak, for only Honour can End nobly what in nobleness began. Nor hate nor anger may, though just their cause, This strife prolong, if Honour whisper, Pause! Let Honour speak. For Honour keeps the ashes of the dead, Accounts the anguish of all widowhead, All childlessness, all sacrifice, defeat, And all our dead have died for, though to live was sweet. Let Honour speak, Nor weariness nor weakness murmur, Stay! Nor for this Now England's To be betray. All else be dumb, for only Honour can End nobly what in nobleness began.


So many were there talking that I heard Nothing at first quite plain, as I sat down; Until from this man's gibe and that keen word, Another's chilly smile or peevish frown, I caught their talk—but added none of mine. They said how she still fumbled with her fate, How she had banished visitants divine, How long her sleep had been, her sloth how great, How others had drawn near and passed her by, While she luxuriously had dreamed, dreamed on, She, she her own eternal enemy, And wanting brain, brain, brain would be undone. The glasses tinkled as they talked and laughed, And if the door a moment hung ajar The noises of the street, remotely soft, Crept in as from a world sunken afar. And still they talked, and then well pleased were pleased To talk of other things—another's wife, Money that ministers to a mind diseased, And queer extravagant whims of death and life.... But I rose up, flushed at the careless slander, Heedless what other laughing things were said, And my bruised thoughts began to lift and wander Far off, as from that jargoning I fled. I saw the sharp green hills, the silver clouds At rest upon the hills, the silver streams Creeping between prone shoulders of dark woods. I saw wide marshlands laved with level beams Of the last light; I saw ships on the sea That foamed hard by, stinging the fretful shore; I smelt old ships on the deserted quay That English sailors sailed, and will no more; I thought of men I loved, and of dead men I had longed to know—and each heroic ghost Rose and moved on, and left me alone again Aching for love and splendour glimpsed and lost.

God knows what things I thought when anger broke Her narrow dam and swept my spirit clean. Yet I for very shame not a word spoke, But to my heart's heart caught the things I had seen, And England, England! murmuring, stood and stared, Swept like a lover with sweet influence In brain and bone—and happy that I had spared Her nobleness the indignity of defence.


In thin clear light unshadowed shapes go by Small on green fields beneath the hueless sky. They do not stay for question, do not hear Any old human speech: their tongue and ear Seem only thought, for when I spoke they stirred not And their bright minds conversing my ear heard not. —Until I slept or, musing, on a heap Of warm crisp fern lay between sense and sleep Drowsy, still clinging to a strand of thought Spider-like frail and all unconscious wrought. For thinking of that unforgettable thing, The war, that spreads a loud and shaggy wing On things most peaceful, simple, happy and bright, Until the spirit is blind though the eye is light; Thinking of all that evil, envy, hate, The cruelty most dark, most desolate; Thinking of the English dead—"How can you dead," I muttered, "with your life and young joy shed, How can you but in these new lands of life Relume the fiery passion of old strife— Just anger, mortal hate, the natural scorn Of men true-born for all things foully born?" For I had thought that not death's touch could still In man's clean spirit the hate of good for ill.

But now to see their shapes go lightly by On those vast fields, clear 'neath the hueless sky, With not one furious gesture, and (when seen With but the broad dark hedgerow space between) No eye's disdain, no thin drawn face of grief, But pondering calm or lightened look and brief Smile almost gay;—yet all seen in the air That driv'n mist makes unreal everywhere— "So strange," I breathed, "How can you English dead Forget them for whose life your life was shed?"

It was no voice that answered, yet plain word Less plain is than the unspoken that I heard, As I lay there on the dry heap of fern And watched them pass, mix, disappear and return, And felt their mute speech into empty senses burn: "Earth's is the strife. The Heavenly Powers that sent The gray globe spinning in the firmament, The Heavenly Powers that soon or late will stay The spinning, as a child that tires of play, And globe by spent globe put forgot away In some vast airless hollow: could they see Or seeing endure immortal misery Made out of mortal, and undying hate Earth's perishing agonies perpetuate? O spirits unhappy, if from earth men brought The mind's disease, the sickness of mad thought! Sooner the Heavenly Powers would let them lie Eternally unrising 'neath a sky Arctic and lonely, where death's starven wind Raged full-delighted:—sooner would those kind Serenities man's generation cast Back into nothingness, than heaven should waste With finite anguish infinitely prolonged Until the Eternal Spring were stained and wronged. O, even the Heavenly Powers at such a breath From mortal shores would fade and fade to death."

—Was it a voice or but a thought I heard, Mine or another's, in my boughs that stirred Waking the leafy darkness of the mind? Was it a voice, or but a new-roused wind That answered—"O, I know, I know, I know! The oldest rivers into the full sea flow And there are lost: so everything is lost, On midnight waves into oblivion tost. Yet—the high passion, the pity, the joy and pride, The righteousness for which these men have died, The courage, the uncounted sacrifice, The love and beauty, all that's beyond all price; That this, the immortal heart of mortal man, Should be—O tell me what, tell me again, again— Petals lost on the river of the years When April sweetness pauses, fades and disappears! That this high Quarrel should be quenched in death As some vexed petty plaint unworthy breath; That the blood and the tears should never rise Renewed, accusing in grave judgment skies ... Tell me again—O, rather tell me not Lest that ill telling never be forgot."

And then I rose from that warm ferny heap And my thoughts climbed from the abyss of sleep. No more in human guise did cloud-shapes pass, Nor sighed with sad intelligence the grass. I saw the hueless sky break into blue, And I remembered how that heaven I knew When, a small child, I gazed at the great height, And thought of nothing but the blue and white, Pools of sweet blue swimming in fields of light. And as tired men from mine and stithy turn While still the midnight fires unslackened burn Flushing their road, and so reach home and then Dream of old childhood's days and dream again; So I forgot those inward fires and found Old happiness like dew lying all around. Under the hedge I stood and far below Saw on the Worcester Plain the swift clouds flow Like ships on seas no greener than the Plain That shone between October sun and rain; And thinking how time's plenteousness would bring Back and more bright the young delicious Spring, Between wet brambles thrust my hand, and tasted Ripe berries on neglected boughs that wasted.


Where is that country? The unresting mind Like a lapwing nears and leaves it and returns. I know those unknown hill-springs where they rise, I know the answer of the elms to the wind When the wind on their heaving bosom lies And sleeps. I know the grouping pines that crown The long green hill and fling their darkness down, A never-dying shadow; and well I know How in the late months the whole wide woodland burns Unsmoking, and the earth hangs still as still. I know the town, the hamlets and the lone Shelterless cottage where the wind's least tone Is magnified, and his far-flung thundering shout Brings near the incredible end of the world. I know! Even in sleep-walk I should linger about Those lanes, those streets sure-footed, and by the unfenced stream go, Hearing the swift waters past the locked mill flow. Where is that country? It lies in my mind, Its trees and grassy shape and white-gashed hill And springs and wind and weather; its village stone And solitary stone are in my mind; And every thought familiarly returns To find its home, and birdlike circling still Above the smouldering beeches of November And the bare elms and rattled hedgerows of December. That native country lies deep in my mind For every thought and true affection's home. And like that mental land are you become, Part of that land, and I the thought that turns Towards home. And as in that familiar land I find Myself among each tree, spring, road and hill, And at each present step my past footsteps remember; So you in all my inward being lies, In you my history, my earth and stream and skies. Your late fire is it that in my boughs yet burns, Your stone that to my passing footfall cries.



Last night a sword-light in the sky Flashed a swift terror on the dark. In that sharp light the fields did lie Naked and stone-like; each tree stood Like a tranced woman, bound and stark. Far off the wood With darkness ridged the riven dark.

And cows astonished stared with fear, And sheep crept to the knees of cows, And conies to their burrows slid, And rooks were still in rigid boughs, And all things else were still or hid. From all the wood Came but the owl's hoot, ghostly, clear.

In that cold trance the earth was held It seemed an age, or time was nought. Sure never from that stone-like field Sprang golden corn, nor from those chill Gray granite trees was music wrought. In all the wood Even the tall poplar hung stone still.

It seemed an age, or time was none ... Slowly the earth heaved out of sleep And shivered, and the trees of stone Bent and sighed in the gusty wind, And rain swept as birds flocking sweep. Far off the wood Rolled the slow thunders on the wind.

From all the wood came no brave bird, No song broke through the close-fall'n night, Nor any sound from cowering herd: Only a dog's long lonely howl When from the window poured pale light. And from the wood The hoot came ghostly of the owl.


It was the lovely moon—she lifted Slowly her white brow among Bronze cloud-waves that ebbed and drifted Faintly, faintlier afar. Calm she looked, yet pale with wonder, Sweet in unwonted thoughtfulness, Watching the earth that dwindled under Faintly, faintlier afar. It was the lovely moon that lovelike Hovered over the wandering, tired Earth, her bosom gray and dovelike, Hovering beautiful as a dove.... The lovely moon:—her soft light falling Lightly on roof and poplar and pine— Tree to tree whispering and calling, Wonderful in the silvery shine Of the round, lovely, thoughtful moon.


Far off a lonely hound Telling his loneliness all round To the dark woods, dark hills, and darker sea;

And, answering, the sound Of that yet lonelier sea-hound Telling his loneliness to the solitary stars.

Hearing, the kennelled hound Some neighbourhood and comfort found, And slept beneath the comfortless high stars.

But that wild sea-hound Unkennelled, called all night all round— The unneighboured and uncomforted cold sea.


Sleep, sleep, you great and dim trees, sleeping on The still warm, tender cheek of night, And with her cloudy hair

Brushed: sleep, for the violent wind is gone; Only remains soft easeful light, And shadow everywhere,

And few pale stars. Hardly has eve begun Dreaming of day renewed and bright With beams than day's more fair;

Scarce the full circle of the day is run, Nor the yellow moon to her full height Risen through the misty air.

But from the increasing shadowiness is spun A shadowy shape growing clear to sight, And fading. Was it Hector there,

Great-helmed, severe?—and as the last sun shone Seeming in solemn splendour dight Such as dream heroes bear;

And such his shape as heroes stare upon In sleep's tumultuary fight When a cry's heard, "Beware!" ...

—'Twas Hector, but the moment-splendour's gone: Shadow fast deepens into night, Night spreads—cold, wide, bare.


There is a place of grass With daisies like white pools, Or shining islands in a sea Of brightening waves.

Swallows, darting, brush The waves of gentle green, As though a wide still lake it were, Not living grass.

Evening draws over all, Grass and flowers and sky, And one rich bird prolongs the sweet Of day on the edge of dark.

The grass is dim, the stars Lean down the height of heaven; And the trees, listening in all their leaves, Scarce-breathing stand.

Nothing is as it was: The bird on the bough sings on; The night, pure from the cloud of day, Is listening.


Small yellow stones That, lifted, through my idle fingers fall Leaving a score— And these I toss between the parted lips Of the lapping sea, And the sea tosses again with millions more— Yellow and white stones; Then drawing back her snaky long waves all, Leaves the stones Yellow and white upon the sandy shore.... As they were bones Yellow and white left on the silent shore Of an unfoaming far unvisioned Sea.


The angry wind That cursed at me Was nothing but an evil sprite Vexed with any man's delight.

And strange it seemed That a dark wind Should run down from a mountain steep And shout as though the world were asleep.

But when he ceased And silence was— Who could but fear what evil sprite Crept through the tunnels of the night?


Clear from the deep sky pours the moon Her silver on the heavy dark; The small stars blink.

Against the moon the maple bough Flutters distinct her leafy spears; All sound falls weak....

Weak the train's whistle, the dog's bark, Slow steps; and rustling into her nest At last, the thrush.

All's still; only earth turns and breathes. Then that amazing trembling note Cleaves the deep wave

Of silence. Shivers even that silvery one; Sigh all the trees, even the cedar dark ——O joy, and I.


It was a night of smell and dew When very old things seemed how new; When speech was softest in the still Air that loitered down the hill; When the lime's sweetness could but creep Like music to slow ears of sleep; When far below the lapping sea Lisped but of tired tranquillity.... No, 'twas a night that seemed almost Of real night the little ghost, As though a painter painted it Out of the shallows of his wit— The easy air, the whispered trees, Faint prattle of strait distant seas, Pettiness all: but hark, hark! Large and rich in the narrow dark Music rose. Was music never Braver in her pure endeavour Against the meanness of the world. Her purple banner she unfurled Of stars and suns upon the night Amazed with the strange living light. The notes rose where the dark trees knelt; Their fiery joy made stillness melt As flame in woods the low boughs burns, Sere leaves, dry bushes, flame-shaped ferns. The notes rose as great birds that rise Majestically in lofty skies, And in white clouds are lost; and then Briefly they hushed, and woke again Renewed. Slowly silence came As smoke after sinking flame That spreads and thins across the sky When day pales before it die.


The naked stars, deep beyond deep, Burn purely through the nerved night. Over the narrow sleep Of men tired of light;

Deep within deep, as clouds behind Huge grey clouds hidden gleaming rise, Untroubled by sharp wind In cold desert skies.

Cold deserts now with infinite host Of gathered spears at watch o'er small Armies of men lost In glooms funereal.

O bitter light, all-threatening stars, O tired ghosts of men that sleep After stern mortal wars 'Neath skies chill and steep.

These mortal hills, this flickering sea, This shadowy and thoughtful night, Throb with infinity, Burn with immortal light.


It stands there Tall and solitary on the edge Of the last hill, green on the green hill. Ten o'clock the tree's called, no one knows why. Perhaps it was planted there at ten o'clock Or someone was hanged there at ten o'clock— A hundred such good reasons might be found, But no one knows. It vexed me that none knew, Seeing it miles and miles off and then nearer And nearer yet until, beneath the hill, I looked up, up, and saw it nodding there, A single tree upon the sharp-edged hill, Holding its leaves though in the orchard all Leaves and fruit were stripped or hung but few Red and yellow over the littered grass. —It vexed me, the brave tree and senseless name, As I went through the valley looking up And then looked round on elm and beech and chestnut And all that lingering flame amid the hedge That marked the miles and miles. Then I forgot: For through the apple-orchard's shadow I saw Between the dark boughs of the cherry-orchard A great slow fire which Time had lit to burn The mortal seasons up, and leave bare black Unchanging Winter.



The moon gave no light. The clouds rode slowly over, broad and white, From the soft south west. The wind, that cannot rest, Soothed and then waked the darkness of the yew Until the tree was restless too.

Of all the winds I knew I thought, and how they muttered in the yew, Or raved under the eaves, Or nosed the fallen dry leaves, Or with harsh voice holloa'd the orchard round, With snapped limbs littering the ground.

And I thought how the yew Between the window and the west his shadow threw, Grave and immense, Darkening the dark past thought and sense, And how the moon would make the darkness heavenly bright: But the moon gave no light.


Than these November skies Is no sky lovelier. The clouds are deep; Into their gray the subtle spies Of colour creep, Changing that high austerity to delight, Till even the leaden interfolds are bright. And, where the cloud breaks, faint far azure peers Ere a thin flushing cloud again Shuts up that loveliness, or shares. The huge great clouds move slowly, gently, as Reluctant the quick sun should shine in vain, Holding in bright caprice their rain. And when of colours none, Not rose, nor amber, nor the scarce late green, Is truly seen,— In all the myriad gray, In silver height and dusky deep, remain The loveliest, Faint purple flushes of the unvanquished sun.


Winter is fallen On the wretched grass, Dark winds have stolen All the colour that was. No leaf shivers: The bare boughs bend and creak as the wind moans by Fled is the fitful gleam of brightness From the stooping sky.

A robin scatters Like bright rain his song, Of merry matters The sparrows gossip long. Snow in the sky Lingers, soon to cover the world with white, And hush the slender enchanting music And chill the delight.

But snow new fallen On the stiffened grass Gives back beauty stolen By the winds as they pass:— Turns the climbing hedge Into a gleaming ladder of frozen light: And hark, in the cold enchanted silence A cry of delight!


A late and lonely figure stains the snow, Into the thickening darkness dims and dies. Heavily homeward now the last rooks go, And dull-eyed stars stare from the skies. A whimpering wind Sounds, then's still and whimpers again.

Yet 'twas a morn of oh, such air and light! The early sun ran laughing over the snow, The laden trees held out their arms all white And whiteness shook on the white below. Lovely the shadows were, Deep purple niches, 'neath a dome of light.

And now night's fall'n, the west wind begins to creep Among the stiff trees, over the frozen snow; An hour—and the world stirs that was asleep, A trickle of water's heard, stealthy and slow, First faintly here and there, And then continual everywhere.

And morn will look astonished for the snow, And the warm, wind will laugh, "It's gone, gone, gone!"— And will, when the immortal soft airs blow, This mortal face of things change and be gone So—and with none to hear How in the night the wind crept near?


The sea Was even as a little child that sleeps And keeps All night its great unconsciousness of day. No spray Flashed when the wave rose, drooped, and slowly drew away. No sound From all that slumbering, full-bosomed water came; The sea Lay mute in childlike sleep, the moon was a gold candle-flame. No sound Save when a faint and mothlike air fluttered around. No sound: But as a child that dreams and in his full sleep cries, So turned the sleeping sea and heaved her bosom of slow sighs.


Weave cunningly the web Of twilight, O thou subtle-fingered Eve! And at the slow day's ebb With small blue stars the purple curtain weave. If any wind there be, Bid it but breathe lightly as woodland violets o'er the sea; If any moon, be it no more than a white fluttering feather. Call the last birds together.

O Eve, and let no wisp Of day's distraction thine enchantment mar; Thy soft spell lisp And lure the sweetness down of each blue star. Then let that low moan be A while more easeful, trembling remote and strange, far oversea; So shall the easeless heart of love rest then, or only sigh, Hearing the swallows cry!


Why dost thou, darksome Nightingale, Sing so distractingly—and here? Dawn's preludings prick my ear, Faint light is creeping up the vale, While on these dead thy rarer Song falls, dark night-farer.

Were it not better thou shouldst sing Where the drenched lilac droops her plume, Spreading frail banners of perfume? Or where the easeless pines enring The river-lulled village Whose lads the lilac pillage?

Oh, if aught songful these hid bones Might reach, like the slow subtle rain, Surely the dead had risen again And listened, white by the white stones; Back to rich life song-charmed, By ghostly joys alarmed.

This may not be. And yet, oh still Pour like night dew thy richer speech Some late-lost youth perchance to reach, Or unloved girl; and stir and fill Their passionless cold bosoms Under red wallflower blossoms!


Under the linden branches They sit and whisper; Hardly a quiver Of leaves, hardly a lisp or Sigh in the air. Under the linden branches They sit, and shiver At the slow air's fingers Drawn through the linden branches Where the year's sweet lingers; And sudden avalanches Of memories, fears, Shake from the linden branches Upon them sitting With hardly a sigh or a whisper Or quiver of tears.


The wind fought with the angry trees. All morning in immense unease They wrestled, and ruin strawed the ground, And the north sky frowned. The oak and aspen arms were held Defiant, but the death was knelled Of slender saplings, snappy boughs, Twigs brittle as men's vows. How moaned the trees the struggle through! Anger almost to madness grew. The aspen screamed, and came a roar Of the great wind locked in anguish sore, Desolate with defeat ... and then Quiet fell again: The trees slept quiet as great cows That lie at noon under broad boughs. How pure, how strange the calm; but hist!... Was it the trees by the wind kissed? Or from afar, where the wind's hid, A throb, a sob?


O linger late, poor yellow whispering leaves! As yet the eves Are golden and the simple moon looks through The clouds and you. O linger yet although the night be blind, And in the wind You wake and lisp and shiver at the stir And sigh of her Whose rimy fingers chill you each and all: And so you fall As dead as hopes or dreams or whispered vows.... O then the boughs That bore your busy multitude shall feel The cold light steal Between them, and the timorous child shall start, Hearing his heart Drubbing affrighted at the frail gates, for lo, The ghostly glow Of the wild moon, caught in the barren arms Of leafless branches loud with night's alarms!


Beauty walked over the hills and made them bright. She in the long fresh grass scattered her rains Sparkling and glittering like a host of stars, But not like stars cold, severe, terrible. Hers was the laughter of the wind that leaped Arm-full of shadows, flinging them far and wide. Hers the bright light within the quick green Of every new leaf on the oldest tree. It was her swimming made the river run Shining as the sun; Her voice, escaped from winter's chill and dark, Singing in the incessant lark.... All this was hers—yet all this had not been Except 'twas seen. It was my eyes, Beauty, that made thee bright; My ears that heard, the blood leaping in my veins, The vehemence of transfiguring thought— Not lights and shadows, birds, grasses and rains— That made thy wonders wonderful. For it has been, Beauty, that I have seen thee, Tedious as a painted cloth at a bad play, Empty of meaning and so of all delight. Now thou hast blessed me with a great pure bliss, Shaking thy rainy light all over the earth, And I have paid thee with my thankfulness.


The noisy fire, The drumming wind, The creaking trees, And all that hum Of summer air And all the long inquietude Of breaking seas——

Sweet and delightful are In loneliness. But more than these The quiet light From the morn's sun And night's astonished moon, Falling gently upon breaking seas.

Such quietness Another beauty is— Ah, and those stars So gravely still More than light, than beauty pour Upon the strangeness Of the heart's breaking seas.


Away, away— Through that strange void and vast Brimmed with dying day; Away, So that I feel Only the wind Of the world's swift-rolling wheel.

See what a maze Of whirling rays! The sharp wind Weakens; the air Is but thin air, Not fume and flying fire.... O, heart's desire, Now thou art still And the air chill.

And but a stem Of clear cold light Shines in this stony dark. Farewell, world of sense, Too fair, too fair To be so false! Hence, hence Rosy memories, Delight of ears, hands, eyes. Rise When I bid, O thou Tide of the dark, Whelming the pale last, Reflection of that vast Too-fair deceit.

Ah, sweet To miss the vexing heat Of the heart's desire: Only to know All's lost, lost.... Sweet To know the lack of sweet.

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