Sometimes I know the way
You walk, up over the bay;
It is a wind from that far sea
That blows the fragrance of your hair to me.
Or in this garden when the breeze
Touches my trees
To stir their dreaming shadows on the grass
I see you pass.
In sheltered beds, the heart of every rose
Serenely sleeps to-night. As shut as those
Your garded heart; as safe as they fomr the beat, beat
Of hooves that tread dropped roses in the street.
Turn never again
On these eyes blind with a wild rain
Your eyes; they were stars to me.--
There are things stars may not see.
But call, call, and though Christ stands
Still with scarred hands
Over my mouth, I must answer. So
I will come--He shall let me go!
Fin de Fête
Sweetheart, for such a day
One mustn't grudge the score;
Here, then, it's all to pay,
It's Good-night at the door.
Good-night and good dreams to you,-
Do you remember the picture-book thieves
Who left two children sleeping in a wood the long night through,
And how the birds came down and covered them with leaves?
So you and I should have slept, -But now,
Oh, what a lonely head!
With just the shadow of a waving bough
In the moonlight over your bed.
From a Window
Up here, with June, the sycamore throws
Across the window a whispering screen;
I shall miss the sycamore more I suppose,
Than anything else on this earth that is out in green.
But I mean to go through the door without fear,
Not caring much what happens here
When I’m away: --
How green the screen is across the panes
Or who goes laughing along the lanes
With my old lover all the summer day.
In The Fields
Lord when I look at lovely things which pass,
Under old trees the shadow of young leaves
Dancing to please the wind along the grass,
Or the gold stillness of the August sun
on the August sheaves;
Can I believe there is a heavenlier world than this?
And if there is
Will the heart of any everlasting thing
Bring me these dreams that take my breath away?
They come at evening with the home-flying rooks
and the scent of hay,
Over the fields. They come in spring.
I So Liked Spring
I so liked Spring last year
Because you were here;-
The thrushes too-
Because it was these you so liked to hear-
I so liked you.
This year's a different thing,-
I'll not think of you.
But I'll like the Spring because it is simply spring
As the thrushes do.
The town is old and very steep,
A place of bells and cloisters and grey towers,
And black clad people walking in their sleep -
A nun, a priest, a woman taking flowers
To her new grave; and watched from end to end
By the great Church above, through the still hours:
But in the morning and the early dark
The children wake to dart from doors and call
Down the wide, crooked street, where, at the bend,
Before it climbs up to the park,
Ken's is the gabled house facing the Castle wall.
When first I came upon him there
Suddenly, on the half-lit stair,
I think I hardly found a trace
Of likeness to a human face
In his. And I said then
If in His image God made men,
Some other must have made poor Ken -
But for his eyes which looked at you
As two red, wounded stars might do.
He scarcely spoke, you scarcely heard,
His voice broke off in little jars
To tears sometimes. An uncouth bird
He seemed as he ploughed up the street,
Groping, with knarred, high-lifted feet
And arms thrust out as if to beat
Always against a threat of bars.
And oftener than not there'd be
A child just higher than his knee
Trotting beside him. Through his dim
Long twilight this, at least, shone clear,
That all the children and the deer,
Whom every day he went to see
Out in the park, belonged to him.
"God help the folk that next him sits
He fidgets so, with his poor wits."
The neighbours said on Sunday nights
When he would go to Church to "see the lights!"
Although for these he used to fix
His eyes upon a crucifix
In a dark corner, staring on
Till everybody else had gone.
And sometimes, in his evil fits,
You could not move him from his chair -
You did not look at him as he sat there,
Biting his rosary to bits.
While pointing to the Christ he tried to say
"Take it away."
Nothing was dead:
He said "a bird" if he picked up a broken wing,
A perished leaf or any such thing
Was just "a rose"; and once when I had said
He must not stand and knock there any more,
He left a twig on the mat outside my door.
Not long ago
The last thrush stiffened in the snow,
While black against a sullen sky
The sighing pines stood by.
But now the wind has left our rattled pane
To flutter the hedge-sparrow's wing,
The birches in the wood are red again
And only yesterday
The larks went up a little way to sing
What lovers say
Who loiter in the lanes to-day;
The buds begin to talk of May
With learned rooks on city trees,
And if God please
With all of these
We too, shall see another Spring.
But in that red brick barn upon the hill
I wonder - can one own the deer,
And does one walk with children still
As one did here -
Do roses grow
Beneath those twenty windows in a row -
And if some night
When you have not seen any light
They cannot move you from your chair
What happens there?
I do not know.
So, when they took
Ken to that place, I did not look
After he called and turned on me His eyes.
These I shall see -
Mew's brother Ken was an amiable idiot, whereas both her brother
Henry and her sister Freda were victims of what was then called
dementia praecox (schizophrenia).
Madeleine in Church (Extracts)
Here, in the darkness, where this plaster saint
Stands nearer than God stands to our distress.
And one small candle shines, but not so faint
As the far lights of everlastingness
I'd rather kneel than over there, in open day
Where Christ is hanging, rather pray
To something more like my own clay,
Not too divine ;
For, once, perhaps my little saint
Before he got his niche and crown,
Had one short stroll about the town ;
It brings him closer, just that taint
And anyone can wash the paint
Off our poor faces, his and mine !
Oh ! quiet Christ who never knew
The poisonous fangs that bite us through
And make us do the things we do.
See how we suffer and fight and die,
How helpless and how low we lie,
God holds You, and You hang so high,
Though no one looking long at You,
Can think You do not suffer too,
But, up there, from your still, star-lighted tree
What can You know, what can You really see
Of this dark ditch, the soul of me !
The jessamine music on the thin night air.
Or, sometimes, my own hands about me anywhere —
The sight of my own face (for it was lovely then)
even the scent of my own hair,
Oh ! there was nothing, nothing that did not sweep to the high seat
Of laughing gods, and then blow down and beat
My soul into the highway dust, as hoofs do the dropped roses
of the street.
I think my body was my soul,
And when we are made thus
Who shall control
Our hands, our eyes, the wandering passion of our feet.
Who shall teach us
To thrust the world out of our heart; to say,
till perhaps in death,
When the race is run.
But I shall not be in them.
Let Him take
The finer ones, the easier to break.
And they are not gone, yet, for me, the lights,
the colours, the perfumes,
Though now they speak rather in sumptuous rooms.
In silks and in gemlike wines;
Here, even, in this corner where my little candle shines
And overhead the lancet-window glows
With golds and crimsons you could almost drink
To know how jewels taste, just as I used to think
There was the scent in every red and yellow rose
Of all the sunsets.
But this place is grey,
And much too quiet. No one here.
Why, this is awful, this is fear !
How old was Mary out of whom you cast
So many devils? Was she young or perhaps for years
She had sat staring, with dry eyes, at this
and that man going past
Till suddenly she saw You on the steps of Simon's house
And stood and looked at You through tears.
I think she must have known by those
The thing, for what it was that had come to her.
For some of us there is a passion, I suppose
So far from earthly cares and earthly fears
That in its stillness you can hardly stir
Or in its nearness, lift your hand.
So great that you have simply got to stand
Looking at it through tears, through tears
Then straight from these there broke the kiss,
I think You must have known by this
The thing, for what it was, that had come to You:
She did not love You like the rest.
It was in her own way, but at the worst, the best,
She gave you something altogether new.
And through it all, from her, no word,
She scarcely saw You, scarcely heard:
Surely You knew when she so touched You with her hair.
Or by the wet cheek lying there,
And while her perfume clung to You from head to feet
all through the day
That You can change the things for which we care.
But even You, unless You kill us, not the way.
So Mary chose the dream of Him for what was left
to her of night and day,
It is the only truth: it is the dream in us that neither life nor death
nor any other thing can take away:
But if she had not touched Him in the doorway
of the dream could she have cared so
She was a sinner, we are what we are: the spirit
afterwards, but first, the touch.
I cannot bear to look at this divinely bent and gracious head:
When I was small I never quite believed that He was dead:
And at the Convent school I used to lie awake in bed
Thinking about His hands. It did not matter what they said,
He was alive to me, so hurt, so hurt ! And most of all
in Holy Week
When there was no one else to see
I used to think it would not hurt me too, so terribly.
If He had ever seemed to notice me
Or, if, for once, He would only speak.
Monsieur Qui Passe
A purple blot against the dead white door
In my friend's rooms, bathed in their vile pink light,
I had not noticed her before
She snatched my eyes and threw them back to me:
She did not speak till we came out into the night,
Paused at this bench beside the kiosk on the quay.
God knows precisely what she said--
I left to her the twisted skein,
Though here and there I caught a thread,--
Something, at first, about "the lamps along the Seine,
And Paris, with that witching card of Spring
Kept up her sleeve,--why you could see
The trick done on these freezing winter nights!
While half the kisses of the Quay--
Youth, hope,-the whole enchanted string
Of dreams hung on the Seine's long line of lights."
Then suddenly she stripped, the very skin
Came off her soul,-a mere girl clings
Longer to some last rag, however thin,
When she has shown you-well-all sorts of things:
"If it were daylight-oh! one keeps one's head--
But fourteen years!--No one has ever guessed--
The whole thing starts when one gets to bed--
Death?-If the dead would tell us they had rest!
But your eyes held it as I stood there by the door--
One speaks to Christ-one tries to catch
His garment's hem--
One hardly says as much to Him--no more:
It was not you, it was your eyes--I spoke to them."
She stopped like a shot bird that flutters still,
And drops, and tries to run again, and swerves.
The tale should end in some walled house upon a hill.
My eyes, at least, won't play such havoc there,--
Or hers--But she had hair!--blood dipped in gold;
And there she left me throwing back the first odd stare.
Some sort of beauty once, but turning yellow,
Pouah! These women and their nerves!
God! but the night is cold!
My face is against the grass - the moorland grass is wet -
My eyes are shut against the grass, against my lips
there are the little blades,
Over my head the curlews call, And now there is
the night wind in my hair;
My heart is against the grass and the sweet earth, -
it has gone still, at last;
It does not want to beat any more,
And why should it beat?
This is the end of the journey.
The Thing is found.
This is the end of all the roads -
Over the grass there is the night-dew
And the wind that drives up from the sea
along the moorland road,
I hear a curlew start out from the heath
And fly off calling through the dusk,
The wild, long, rippling call -:
The Thing is found and I am quiet with the earth;
Perhaps the earth will hold it or the wind,
or that bird's cry,
But it is not for long in any life I know.
This cannot stay,
Not now, not yet, not in a dying world, with me,
for very long;
I leave it here:
And one day the wet grass may give it back -
One day the quiet earth may give it back -
The calling birds may give it back as they go by -
To someone walking on the moor who starves for love
and will not know
Who gave it to all these to give away;
Or, if I come and ask for it again
Oh! then, to me.
My Heart is Lame
My heart is lame with running after yours so fast
Such a long way,
Shall we walk slowly home, looking at all the things we passed
Home down the quiet evening roads under the quiet skies,
Not saying much,
You for a moment giving me your eyes
When you could bear my touch.
But not to-morrow. This has taken all my breath;
Then, though you look the same,
There may be something lovelier in Love's face in death
As your heart sees it, running back the way we came;
My heart is lame.
On the Road to the Sea
We passed each other, turned and stopped for half an hour,
then went our way,
I who make other women smile did not make you--
But no man can move mountains in a day.
So this hard thing is yet to do.
But first I want your life:--before I die I want to see
The world that lies behind the strangeness of your eyes,
There is nothing gay or green there for my gathering, it may be,
Yet on brown fields there lies
A haunting purple bloom: is there not something in grey skies
And in grey sea?
I want what world there is behind your eyes,
I want your life and you will not give it me.
Now, if I look, I see you walking down the years,
Young, and through August fields--a face, a thought,
a swinging dream
perched on a stile--;
I would have liked (so vile we are!) to have taught you tears
But most to have made you smile.
To-day is not enough or yesterday: God sees it all--
Your length on sunny lawns, the wakeful rainy nights--; tell me--;
(how vain to ask), but it is not a question--just a call--;
Show me then, only your notched inches climbing up
the garden wall,
I like you best when you are small.
Is this a stupid thing to say
Not having spent with you one day?
No matter; I shall never touch your hair
Or hear the little tick behind your breast,
Still it is there,
And as a flying bird
Brushes the branches where it may not rest
I have brushed your hand and heard
The child in you: I like that best
So small, so dark, so sweet; and were you also then too grave
Always I think. Then put your far off little hand in mine;--
Oh! let it rest;
I will not stare into the early world beyond the opening eyes,
Or vex or scare what I love best.
But I want your life before mine bleeds away--
Here--not in heavenly hereafters--soon,--
I want your smile this very afternoon,
(The last of all my vices, pleasant people used to say,
I wanted and I sometimes got--the Moon!)
You know, at dusk, the last bird's cry,
And round the house the flap of the bat's low flight,
Trees that go black against the sky
And then--how soon the night!
No shadow of you on any bright road again,
And at the darkening end of this--what voice? whose kiss?
As if you'd say!
It is not I who have walked with you, it will not be I
who take away
Peace, peace, my little handful of the gleaner's grain
From your reaped fields at the shut of day.
Peace! Would you not rather die
Reeling,--with all the cannons at your ear?
So, at least, would I,
And I may not be here
To-night, to-morrow morning or next year.
Still I will let you keep your life a little while,
I have made you smile.
Down the long quay the slow boats glide,
While here and there a house looms white
Against the gloom of the waterside,
And some high window throws a light
As they sail out into the night.
At dawn they will bring in again
To women knitting on the quay
Who wait for him, their man of men;
I stand with them, and watch the sea
Which may have taken mine from me.
Just so the long days come and go.
The nights, ma Doué! the nights are cold!
Our Lady's heart is as frozen snow,
Since this one sin I have not told;
And I shall die or perhaps grow old
Before he comes. The foreign ships
Bring many a one of face and name
As strange as his, to buy your lips,
A gold piece for a scarlet shame
Like mine. But mine was not the same.
One night was ours, one short grey day
Of sudden sin, unshrived, untold.
He found me, and I lost the way
To Paradise for him. I sold
My soul for love and not for gold
He bought my soul, but even so,
My face is all that he has seen,
His is the only face I know,
And in the dark church, like a screen.
It shuts God out; it comes between;
While in some narrow foreign street
Or loitering on the crowded quay,
Who knows what others he may meet
To turn his eyes away from me?
Many are fair to such as he!
There is but one for such as I
To love, to hate, to hunger for;
I shall, perhaps, grow old and die,
With one short day to spend and store,
One night, in all my life, no more.
Just so the long days come and go,
Yet this one sin I will not tell
Though Mary's heart is as frozen snow
And all nights are cold for one warmed too well.
But, oh! ma Doué! the nights of Hell!
Tide be runnin' the great world over:
'Twas only last June month I mind that we
Was thinkin' the toss and the call in the breast
of the lover
So everlastin' as the sea.
Heer's the same little fishes that sputter an swim,
Wi' the moon's old glim on the grey, wet sand;
An' him no more to me mor me to him
Than the wind goin' over my hand.
Love love to-day, my dear
Love is not always here
Wise maids know how soon grows sere
The greenest leaf of Spring.
But no man knoweth
Whither it goeth
When the wind bloweth
So frail a thing.
Love love, my dear, to-day
If the ship's in the bay
If the bird has come your way
That sings on summer trees.
When his song faileth
And the ship saileth
No voice availeth
To call back these.
Toll no bell for me, dear Father, dear Mother,
Waste no sighs;
There are my sisters, there is my little brother
Who plays in the place called Paradise,
Your children all, your children for ever;
But I, so wild,
Your disgrace, with the queer brown face, was never,
Never, I know, but half your child !
In the garden at play, all day, last summer,
Far and away I heard
The sweet "tweet-tweet" of a strange new-comer,
The dearest, clearest call of a bird.
It lived down there in the deep green hollow,
My own old home, and the fairies say
The word of a bird is a thing to follow,
So I was away a night and a day.
One evening, too, by the nursery fire,
We snuggled close and sat round so still,
When suddenly as the wind blew higher,
Something scratched on the window-sill.
A pinched brown face peered in – I shivered;
No one listened or seemed to see;
The arms of it waved and the wings of it quivered,
Whoo – I knew it had come for me;
Some are as bad as bad can be !
All night long they danced in the rain,
Round and round in a dripping chain,
Threw their caps at the window-pane,
Tried to make me scream and shout
And fling the bedclothes all about:
I meant to stay in bed that night,
And if only you had left a light
They would never have got me out.
Sometimes I wouldn't speak, you see,
Or answer when you spoke to me,
Because in the long, still dusks of Spring
You can hear the whole world whispering:
The shy green grasses making love,
The feathers grow on the dear, grey dove,
The tiny heart of the redstart beat,
The patter of the squirrel's feet,
The pebbles pushing in the silver streams,
The rushes talking in their dreams,
The swish-swish of the bat's black wings,
The wild-wood bluebell's sweet ting-tings,
Humming and hammering at your ear,
Everything there is to hear
In the heart of hidden things,
But not in the midst of the nursery riot.
That's why I wanted to be quiet,
Couldn't do my sums, or sing,
Or settle down to anything.
And when, for that, I was sent upstairs
I did kneel down to say my prayers;
But the King who sits on your high church steeple
Has nothing to do with us fairy people !
'Times I pleased you, dear Father, dear Mother,
Learned all my lessons and liked to play,
And dearly I loved the little pale brother
Whom some other bird must have called away.
Why did They bring me here to make me
Not quite bad and not quite good,
Why, unless They're wicked, do They want,
in spite, to take me
Back to their wet, wild wood ?
Now, every night I shall see the windows shining,
The gold lamp's glow, and the fire's red gleam,
While the best of us are twining twigs
and the rest of us are whining
In the hollow by the stream.
Black and chill are Their nights on the wold;
And They live so long and They feel no pain:
I shall grow up, but never grow old,
I shall always, always be very cold,
I shall never come back again !
The Farmer's Bride
Three summers since I chose a maid,
Too young maybe-but more's to do
At harvest-time that a bide and woo.
When us was wed she turned afraid
Of love and me and all things human;
Like the shut of winter's day
Her smile went out, and `twadn't a woman-
More like a little frightened fay.
One night, in the Fall, she runned away.
"Out 'mong the sheep, her be," they said,
Should properly have been abed;
But sure enough she wadn't there
Lying awake with her wide brown stare.
So over seven-acre field and up-along across the down
We chased her, flying like a hare
Before out lanterns. To Church-Town
All in a shiver and a scare
We caught her, fetched her home at last
And turned the key upon her, fast.
She does the work about the house
As well as most, but like a mouse:
Happy enough to cheat and play
With birds and rabbits and such as they,
So long as men-folk keep away
"Not near, not near!" her eyes beseech
When one of us comes within reach.
The woman say that beasts in stall
Look round like children at her call.
I've hardly heard her speak at all.
Shy as a leveret, swift as he,
Straight and slight as a young larch tree,
Sweet as the first wild violets, she,
To her wild self. But what to me?
The short days shorten and the oaks are brown,
The blue smoke rises to the low grey sky,
One leaf in the still air falls slowly down,
A magpie's spotted feathers lie
An the black earth spread white with rime,
The berries redden up to Christmas-time.
What's Christmas-time without there be
Some other in the house than we!
She sleeps up in the attic there
Alone, poor maid. `Tis but a stair
Betwixt us. Oh! my God! the down,
The soft young down of her, the brown,
The brown of her-her eyes, her hair, her hair!
To-night again the moon's white mat
Stretches across the dormitory floor
While outside, like an evil cat
The pion prowls down the dark corridor,
Planning, I know, to pounce on me, in spite
For getting leave to sleep in town last night.
But it was none of us who made that noise,
Only the old brown owl that hoots and flies
Out of the ivy - he will say it was us boys -
Seigneur mon Dieu: the sacré soul of spies!
He would like to catch each dream that lies
Hidden behind our sleepy eyes:
Their dream ? But mine-it is the moon and the wood that sees;
All my long life how I shall hate the trees!
In the Place d'Armes the dusty planes, all Summer through,
Dozed with the market women in the sun and scarcely stirred
To see the quiet things that crossed the Square -,
A tiny funeral, the flying shadow of a bird,
The hump-backed barber Celéstin Lemaire,
Old Madame Michel in her three-wheeled chair,
And filing past to Vespers, two and two,
The demoiselles of the pensionnat
Towed like a ship through the harbour bar,
Safe into port, where le petit Jésus
Perhaps makes nothing of the look they shot at you:
Si, c'est defendu, mais que voulez-vous?
It was the sun. The sunshine weaves
A pattern on dull stones: the sunshine leaves
The portraiture of dreams upon the eyes
Before it dies:
All Summer through
The dust hung white upon the drowsy planes
Till suddenly they woke with the Autumn rains.
It is not only the little boys
Who have hardly got away from toys,
But I, who am seventeen next year,
Some nights, in bed, have grown cold to hear
That lonely passion of the rain
Which makes you think of being dead,
And of somewhere living to lay your head
As if you were a child again,
Crying for one thing, known and near
Your empty heart, to still the hunger and the fear
That pelts and beats with it against the pane.
But I remember smiling too
At all the sun's soft tricks and those Autumn dreads
In winter time, when the grey light broke slowly through
The frosted window-lace to drag us shivering from our beds.
And when at dusk the singing wind swung down
Straight from the stars to the dark country roads
Beyond the twinkling town,
Striking the leafless poplar boughs as he went by,
Like some poor, stray dog by the wayside lying dead,
We left behind us the old world of dread,
I and the wind as we strode whistling on under the Winter sky.
And then in Spring for three days came the Fair
Just as the planes were starting into bud
Above the caravans: you saw the dancing bear
Pass on his chain; and heard the jingle and the thud.
Only four days ago
They let you out of this dull show
To slither down the montagne russe and chaff the man
à la téte de veau
Hit, slick, the bull's eye at the tir,
Spin round and round till your head went queer
On the porcs-roulants. Oh! là là! fête!
Va pour du vin, et le tête-a-tête
With the girl who sugars the gaufres! Pauvrette,
How thin she was! but she smiled, you bet,
As she took your tip -"One does not forget
The good days, Monsieur". Said with a grace,
But sacrebleu: what a ghost of a face!
And no fun too for the demoiselles
Of the pensionnat, who were hurried past,
With their "Oh, que c'est beau - Ah, qu'elle est belle!"
A lap-dog's life from first to last! ;
The good nights are not made for sleep, nor the good days
for dreaming in,
And at the end in the big Circus tent we sat and shook
and stewed like sin!
Some children there had got - but where?
Sent from the south, perhaps - a red bouquet
Of roses, sweetening the fetid air
With scent from gardens by some far away blue bay.
They threw one at the dancing bear;
The white clown caught it. From St. Rémy's tower
The deep, slow bell tolled out the hour;
The black clown, with his dirty grin
Lay, sprawling in the dust, as She rode in.
She stood on a white horse-and suddenly you saw the bend
Of a far-off road at dawn, with knights riding by,
A field of spears - and then the gallant day
Go out in storm, with ragged clouds low down, sullen and grey
Against red heavens: wild and awful, such a sky
As witnesses against you at the end
Of a great battle; bugles blowing, blood and dust -
The old Morte d'Arthur, fight you must -.
It died in anger. But it was not death
That had you by the throat, stopping your breath.
She looked like Victory. She rode my way.
She laughed at the black clown and then she flew
A bird above us, on the wing
Of her white arms; and you saw through
A rent in the old tent, a patch of sky
With one dim star. She flew, but not so high -
And then she did not fly;
She stood in the bright moonlight at the door
Of a strange room, she threw her slippers on the floor -
You heard the patter of the rain,
The starving rain - it was this Thing,
Summer was this, the gold mist in your eyes;-
Oh God! it dies,
But after death-,
To-night the splendour and the sting
Blows back and catches at your breath,
The smell of beasts, the smell of dust, the scent of all the roses
in the world, the sea, the Spring,
The beat of drums, the pad of hoofs, music, the dream, the dream,
the Enchanted Thing!
At first you scarcely saw her face,
You knew the maddening feet were there,
What called was that half-hidden, white unrest
To which now and then she pressed
Her finger-tips; but as she slackened pace
And turned and looked at you it grew quite bare:
There was not anything you did not dare: -
Like trumpeters the hours passed until the last day of the Fair.
In the Place d'Armes all afternoon
The building birds had sung "Soon, soon",
The shuttered streets slept sound that night,
It was full moon:
The path into the wood was almost white,
The trees were very still and seemed to stare:
Not far before your soul the Dream flits on,
But when you touch it, it is gone
And quite alone your soul stands there.
Mother of Christ, no one has seen your eyes: how can men pray
Even unto you?
There were only wolves' eyes in the wood -
My Mother is a woman too:
Nothing is true that is not good,
With that quick smile of hers, I have heard her say; -
I wish I had gone back home to-day;
I should have watched the light that so gently dies
From our high window, in the Paris skies,
The long, straight chain
Of lamps hung out along the Seine:
I would have turned to her and let the rain
Beat on her breast as it does against the pane;-
Nothing will be the same again; -
There is something strange in my little Mother's eyes,
There is something new in the old heavenly air of Spring -
The smell of beasts, the smell of dust - The Enchanted Thing!
All my life long I shall see moonlight on the fern
And the black trunks of trees. Only the hair
Of any woman can belong to God.
The stalks are cruelly broken where we trod,
There had been violets there,
I shall not care
As I used to do when I see the bracken burn.
The Forest Road
The forest road,
The infinite straight road stretching away
World without end: the breathless road between the walls
Of the black listening trees: the hushed, grey road
Beyond the window that you shut to-night
Crying that you would look at it by day -
There is a shadow there that sings and calls
But not for you. Oh! hidden eyes that plead in sleep
Against the lonely dark, if I could touch the fear
And leave it kissed away on quiet lids -
If I could hush these hands that are half-awake,
Groping for me in sleep I could go free.
I wish that God would take them out of mine
And fold them like the wings of frightened birds
Shot cruelly down, but fluttering into quietness so soon.
Broken, forgotten things? there is no grief for them
in the green Spring
When the new birds fly back to the old trees.
But it shall not be so with you. I will look back.
I wish I knew that God would stand
Smiling and looking down on you when morning comes,
To hold you, when you wake, closer than I,
So gently though: and not with famished lips
or hungry arms:
He does not hurt the frailest, dearest things
As we do in the dark. See, dear, your hair -
I must unloose this hair that sleeps and dreams
About my face, and clings like the brown weed
To drowned, delivered things, tossed by the tired sea
Back to the beaches. Oh! your hair! If you had lain
A long time dead on the rough, glistening ledge
Of some black cliff, forgotten by the tide,
The raving winds would tear, the dripping brine would rust away
Fold after fold of all the loveliness
That wraps you round, and makes you, lying here,
The passionate fragrance that the roses are.
But death would spare the glory of your head
In the long sweetness of the hair that does not die:
The spray would leap to it in every storm,
The scent of the unsilenced sea would linger on
In these dark waves, and round the silence that was you -
Only the nesting gulls would hear - but there would
still be whispers in your hair;
Keep them for me; keep them for me. What is this
singing on the road
That makes all other music like the music in a dream -
Dumb to the dancing and the marching feet; you know,
in dreams, you see
Old pipers playing that you cannot hear,
And ghostly drums that only seem to beat. This seems to climb:
Is it the music of a larger place? It makes our room
too small: it is like a stair,
A calling stair that climbs up to a smile you scarcely see,
Dim, but so waited for; and you know what a smile is,
how it calls,
How if I smiled you always ran to me.
Now you must sleep forgetfully, as children do.
There is a Spirit sits by us in sleep
Nearer than those who walk with us in the bright day.
I think he has a tranquil, saving face: I think he came
Straight from the hills: he may have suffered there in time
And once, from those forsaken heights, looked down,
Lonely himself, on all the lonely sorrows of the earth.
It is his kingdom - Sleep. If I could leave you there -
If, without waking you, I could get up and reach the door -!
We used to go together. - Shut, scared eyes,
Poor, desolate, desperate hands, it is not I
Who thrust you off. No, take your hands away -
I cannot strike your lonely hands. Yes, I have struck your heart,
It did not come so near. Then lie you there
Dear and wild heart behind this quivering snow
With two red stains on it: and I will strike and tear
Mine out, and scatter it to yours. Oh! throbbing dust,
You that were life, our little wind-blown hearts!
The road! the road!
There is a shadow there: I see my soul,
I hear my soul, singing among the trees!
Lend me, a little while, the key
That locks your heavy heart, and I'll give you back--
Rarer than books and ribbons and beads bright to see,
This little Key of Dreams out of my pack.
The road, the road, beyond men's bolted doors,
There shall I walk and you go free of me,
For yours lies North across the moors,
And mine lies South. To what seas?
How if we stopped and let our solemn selves go by,
While my gay ghost caught and kissed yours, as ghosts don't do,
And by the wayside, this forgotten you and I
Sat, and were twenty-two?
Give me the key that locks your tired eyes,
And I will lend you this one from my pack,
Brighter than colored beads and painted books that make men wise:
Take it. No, give it back!
The Road to Kerity
Do you remember the two old people we passed
on the road to Kerity,
Resting their sack on the stones, by the drenched wayside,
Looking at us with their lightless eyes
through the driving rain, and then out again
To the rocks, and the long white line of the tide:
Frozen ghosts that were children once,
husband and wife, father, and mother,
Looking at us with those frozen eyes;
have you ever seen anything quite so chilled
or so old?
But we – with our arms about each other,
We did not feel the cold!
The Sunlit House
White, through the gate it gleamed and slept
In shattered sunshine. The parched garden flowers
Their scarlet petals from the beds unswept
Like children unloved and ill-kept
Dreamed through the hours Two blue hydrangeas
by the blistered door burned brown
Watched there, and no one in the town
Cared to go past it night or day
Though why this was they wouldn't say
But I, the stranger, knew that I must stay.
Pace up the weed-grown paths and down -
Till one afternoon - there is just a doubt -
Bit I fancy I heard a tiny shout -
From an upper window a bird flew out -
And I went my way.
From our low seat beside the fire
Where we have dozed and dreamed, and watched the glow
Or raked the ashes, stooping so
We scarcely saw the sun and rain
Through the small curtained window-pane,
Or looked much higher
Than this same quiet red or burned-out fire,
Tonight we heard a call,
A voice on the sharp air,
And felt a breath stirring our hair,
A flame within us. Something swift and tall
Swept in and out and that was all.
Was it a bright or a dark angel? Who can know?
It made no mark upon the snow;
But suddenly, in passing, snapped the chain,
Unbarred, flung wide the door
Which will not shut again:
And so we cannot sit here any more.
We must arise and go.
The world is cold without
And dark and hedged about
With mystery and enmity and doubt,
But we must go,
Though yet we do not know
Who called, or what marks we shall leave upon the snow.
A Quoi Bon Dire
Seventeen years ago you said
Something that sounded like Good-bye:
And everybody thinks you are dead
So I as I grow stiff and cold
To this and that say Good-bye too;
And everybody sees that I am old
And one fine morning in a sunny lane
Some boy and girl will meet and kiss and swear
That nobody can love their way again
While over there
You will have smiled, and I shall have tossed your hair
(1869 - 1928)