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THE POEMS OE 
OSCAR WILDE 



POEMS 

BY 

OSCAR WILDE 

WITH THE BALLAD OF 
BEADING GAOL 


METHUEN & CO. LTD. 
36 ESSEX STREET W.C. 
LONDON 


Thirteenih Edtiion 



First Puhluhed’--' 

Ravenna .,**.« iRfS 

Poems tSSf 

„ Fifth Edition , . . . jSSj 

TkeSpitinx aS’;/ 

The Bailad of Reading Gaoi . . iSg8 


First Issued hy Methuen and Co. {Limiied 
Editions on Handmade Paj^er and 


Japanese Vellum') . 

, . March iQoS 

Seventh Edition 

(F'eap. Stto) . SeptemheriQog 

Eighth Edition 

( M 

) . Novemher jqoQ 

Ninth Edition 

( M 

,, ) . Pecemher iqoq 

Tenth Edition 

( H 

,, ) . Norrmher/oro 

Eleventh Edition 

( » 

„ ) . December jgrr 

Twelfth Edition 

( „ 

1, ) , April Jtgts 

Thirteenth Edition ( , , 

„ ) . June igto 


mTM 

This volkuUon of WiUld» Pofim eontmm the volunui 
of 1881 in Us entirciifj ‘ Th(i i^pkinxf ‘ Thv Ho! fad of 
Reading OaoV and ^Itavmna.^ Of the UncoUeckd 
Poam pnUhhed in the Uniform EMU Ion of 1908, a 
feWj Imludiwj the Tramlaiions from iht Greek and 
the Polish, arc omMkd, Two new poems, * Xh'sespoir ’ 
ami which T Imre, reoentlg discovered in 

manuscript, arc now printed for the frst time. 
Particulars as to the origmal puhlication of each 
poem will he found in M IHhUographg of the Poemn 
of Oscar Wilde f hg Stuart Mason, Lomlon, 1907. 


Motmnr Mohh 



CONTENTS 

POEMS (1881) : 

PAGE 

H(Slaa ! . 3 

EfjEUTBEBIA : 

Sonnet to Liberty 7 

Ave Imperatrix * 8 

^To Milton 14 

Louis Napoleon . 15 

Sonnet on tlio Massaore of the Oliristians in 

Bulgaria IB 

Quantum Mutata . * « » ♦ . • 17 

Xjibertatia Sacra Fames . . » » . • 18 

Thoorotikos . 19 

Thk Gam»en or I^koh 2l 

K<»ha Mystuia : 

Ue(juicHcat * . 39 

Bonnet on approaching Italy 40 

Ban Munato . 41 

Ave Mana Orntia Vleua 42 

Italia 43 

Sonnet written in Holy Week at Genoa . . 44 

Romo Unvisited 45 



vi 


POEMS 


Urbs Sacra yEtorna 





PAGE 

‘19 

Sonnet on hearing the Dios Ir.u sung in tlio Sistme 
Chapel 

%0 

Easter Day .... 




. 

51 

3il Tenebris .... 




. 

52 

Vita Kuova .... 




. 

55 

Madonna Mia .... 





5‘t 

The How Helen . , • 




• 

55 

The Burden of Ityh . . . 

* 


• 


61 

Wind Fdowbrs : 

Impression du Matin 


« 



85 

i^agdalen Walks . 

. 

• 


, 

84 

Athanasia , . „ . 

• 




86 

Serenade .... 


, 



89 

Bndymion .... 


• 



91 

La Bella Donna della mia Mento 





95 

Chanson 


• 



95 

OuARWriDFH .... 



• 


97 

Flowers of Gold ; 

ImprosaiouH ; i. Los SilhoiK'ttc’s 

. 

• 


. 

135 

TT. La I'kiite do la Luno 



* 

136 

^riio (Jrave <d* Keats 





137 

Theocritus: AVillanello 


• 


. 

i:i8 

In the Gold Room : A Thiinnony 


. 



139 

Ballade de Marguerite . 





MO 

The Dole of the King’s Daughter 





143 

Amor Intolleotualia 





i-tn 

^anta Docca .... 





146 

A Vision 




i 

147 

Imiiroasion do Voyage . 




# 

148 



CONTENTS 


vii 


The Grave of Shelley , . . , 

By the Arno 

Impeesbions EE TnjijlmE : 

Fabien doi Franchi .... 

Plifedro 

Sonnets written at the Lyceum Theatre 

I. Portia 

ii. Queen Henrietta Maria . 
in. Oamma ...40 

Panthea 

The Fourth Movement : 

Impression : Le R(5veillon 
AtYerona ..... 
Apologia . . . * . 

Quia MuUum xlmavi 
Silontium AmoriH ...» 

Her Voice ..... 

My Voice ..... 
Taodium Yitm , . . . ’ . 

Humanitae ..... 

Flower of Lovi ; 
i’aykyuiki»o:£ uras . 


rNCOLLEOTKH POEMS (18r(MS93) : 
From S}«'u\g Oavs to Winter 

Tnstitue 

Tlie True Knowledge 


PAGE 

. 149 

. 150 


. 155 

. 15C 

. 157 

. 158 

. 159 

. 161 


. 175 

. 17G 

. 177 

. 179 

. 180 
. 181 
, 183 

. 184 

. 185 


‘211 


‘217 

‘219 

‘220 



viii 


POEMS 


PAf.E 


ImpreaHionH : i. LoJai’din . * * « *221 

ir. La. M«r 222 

Under the Balcony 22:i 

The Harlot’s Honso ...... 225 

Lc Jardin dos TuihuioH 227 

On the Sale by Auction of Ivtiain’ Love Lettora . 22H 

Tho New Kemorse ....... 22?) 

Fantaisics DecomtivoH ; i. Lo J'annean . . . 255 

II, Lch BallouH , . 232 

Canzonet 233 

Symphony in Yellow 235 

In tho Forest 23G 

To my Wife : With a Copy of my Poems . . 237 

With a Copy of ‘A House of Pomegranates* . 238 

Boses and But>, 239 

Ddsospoir 242 

I*an : Double Villanelle 241} 

'THK SPHINX (1894) 245 

TflL BALLAD OF HFA1)1N<4 OAOL (181KS) . . 2<J9 

RAVENNA (1878) 305 



POEMS 




HJ^LAS! 

T O drijt with evert/ passion till 7ny soul 

Is a strmged lute on which all winds can piay^ 
Is it for this that I have given away 
Mine ancient wisdom, and austere control^ 

Methinks my life is a twice^written sc7'oU 
Scrawled over on some boyish holiday 
With idle songs for pipe and virelay, 

Which do hut mar the sec7'et of the whole. 

Sm*ely the7*e was a time I might have trod 
The sunlit heights, and from lifers dissonance 
Sb*uck one clear chord to reach the ears of God: 

Is that time dead ? lo / with a little rod 
I did hut touch the honey of romance — 
lAnd must I lose a soul*s inheritance? 




eleutheria 




SONNET TO LIBERTY 

N ot that I love thy children, whose dull eyes 
See nothing save their own unlovely woe, 
Whose minds know nothing, nothing care to 
know, — 

But that the roar of thy Democracies, 

Thy reigns of Terror, thy great Anarchies, 

Mirror my wildest passions like the sea 

And give my rage a brother ! Liberty 1 

For this sake only do thy dissonant cries 
Delight my discreet soul, else might all kings 
By bloody knout or treacherous cannonades 
Rob nations of their rights inviolate 
And I remain unmoved — and yet, and yet, 

These Christs that die upon the barricades, 

God knows it I am with them, in some things. 



FOEMS 


AVK IMPFIRATEIX 

S ET in this sloruij Norlhcni st% 

Queen of thcHC resiles^ fields of tide, 
England ! what shall men say of thee^ 
Before whose feet the worlds divide ? 

The earth, a brittle globe of glass, 

Lies in the hollow of thy hand. 

And through its heart of crystal pass, 

Like shadows through a twilight land, 

i’he spears oferimson-sniU'd w’ar, 

The long whilc-en^sttal w’aves of fight, 
And all the deadly fin's wiiieli are 
'ilic toi'chos of the lords of Night, 

The yellow haipards, si rained and lean, 
Tlu^ treacherous Ihissian knows so well, 
With gaping blackened jaws an* s(H*n 
1. cap through llu* had of sen^auung slicll 

i'hc strong sea-lion of Rnglancrs wars 
Hath left his sapphire cave of sea, 

To battle with the storm that mars 
The stars of England’s chivalry. 



AXE mimiATRlX 


0 


The brazen-throated clnrion blows 
Across the PaLhan’s reedy fen, 
.And the sleeps of Indian snows 
Shake Lo tlie tread of armed men. 


And an Aft^han chief, who lies 

Bencalli his cool pome^iMiiatc-Lrees, 
Clulclies liis sword in tierce surmise 
When on the inounLaiii-side lie secs 

The fleet- foot Marri scout, who comes 
To tell hoAv he hath heard afar 
The measured roll of hlnglisli drums 
Beat at the gales of Kandahar. 

For souUu'ru wind and <*asl wind m<M‘l 

Where*, girl and enmmed by sword and fiia*, 
hhiglaud with bare and bloody h'ct 
Climhs the sl(‘t'p road of widt* empire. 

() lonely Himalayan height, 
drey pillar of tin; Indian sky, 

Wlierc saw’sL Ihou last in clanging flight 
Our winged dogs of V^ictory 

'Fhc almond-groves of Samarcaiid, 
liokhai-a, wdi<*rc retl lilies blow, 
yVnd Oxus, by whose yellow sand 

Idle grave white-lurl)ane<l mciadianls go: 



10 


POEMS 


And on from thence lo Ispahan^, 

The gilded garden of the sun, 
Whence the long dusty caravan 
Brings cedar wood and ven-milion ; 


And that dread oily of C'Jabool 

Set at the mountaitx’s scarped feet, 

Whose marble tanks arc ever full 
With water for the noonday heat : 

Where through the narrow straight Bazaar 
A little maid Circassian 

Is led, a present from the Czar 

Unto some old and bearded khan, — 

Here htiva our wild war-eagles flown, 

And flapped wide wings in fiery fight 

But the sad dove, tlnit si Is alone 
In England-— -she hath no d(‘light 

In vain the laughing girl will lean 
To greet her love with love-lit eyes; 

Down in scum; treacherous black ravine, 
Clutciung his flag, the <lead boy lies. 

And many a moon and sun will sec 
The lingering wistful children wail 

To climb upon their father's knee ; 

And in each house made desolate 



AVJ5 IMimiATKlX 


n 


Pale women who liavc lost their lord 
Will kiss the relies of I he slain — 

Some ianiishcd 0 });uiletlc — some sword — 
Poor toys to soothe siieh aiiiruished pain. 

For not in quiet Ihighsh lit'lds 

Arc these^ our brotlun-s^ lain lo rest^ 

Where we mi^ht deck their broken shields 
With all the flowers the dead love best. 

For some are by the Delhi walls^ 

And many in tlie Aiyiau land, 

And many where the (Janies falls 

Tliroug'h seven mouliis of shifting sand. 

And some in Russian wal('rs he. 

Anti others in Ihe seas wlueh are 

The portals to ihe Iv-isl, or by 

The wind-swept luaghts of ''IVafalgar. 

O wandering graves I O restless sleep i 
() silence of the sunless day ! 

O still ravine ! ( ) stormy tleep 1 

(live up your prey I (dve u[) your prey ! 

And thou wJiost' wounds are never healed. 
Whose weary race is mwer wem, 

O CromwclFs Jhi gland i must thou yield 
For every inch of ground a sou.^ 



12 


POEMS 


Go ! crown with thorns ihy gold-crowned head, 
Change thy glad song to song* of pain ; 

Wind and wild wave have got thy dead, 

And will not yield them back again. 

Wave and wild wind and ib reign shore 
Possess the fl()W(;r of .English land — 

Lips that thy lips shall kiss no niorc^ 

Hands that shall never clasp Ihy hand. 

What profit now that we have bound 

The whole round world with nets of gold, 

If hidden in our heart is found 
The care that groweth never old ? 

What profit that our galleys ride, 
Pinc-foresi-like, on every main? 

Ruin and wreck arc at our side. 

Grim warders of the House of Pain, 

Where are the brave, the strong, the fleet? 
Where is our Ehiglish <*hivalry ? 

Wild grasses arc their burial-sheet, 

And sobbing waves their threnody. 

O loved ones lying far away, 

What word of love can dead lips send ! 

O wasted dust! O senseless clay 1 
Is this the end I is this the end ! 



AVE IMFERATRIX 


IS 


Peace, peace ! we wrong the noble dead 
To vex their solemn slumber so ; 

Though childless, and with thorn-crowned head, 
Up the steep road must England go, 

Yet when this fiery web is spun, 
tier watchmen shall descry from far 
The young Republic like a sun 

Rise fi'om these crimson seas of war. 



14 


POEMS 


TO MILTON 


M ILTON ! 1 think thy spirit hath passed 

From these white cliffs and high-embattled 
towers ; 

This gorgeous fiery-coloured world of ours 
Seems fallen into ashes dull and gi’ey. 

And the age changed unto a mimic play 
Wherein we waste our else too-crowded 
hours : 


For all our pomp and pageantry and powers 
We arc but fib to delve tlxc common clay, 
Seeing tliis little isle on which we stands 
This Knglaudj this sea-lion of the sea, 

By ignorant demagogues is held in fee, 

Who love her not : Dear God ! is this the land 
Which bare a triple empire in her hand 
When ('romwell spake the -word Democracy! 



ELEUTHERIA 


15 


LOUIS NAPOLEON 

E agle of AusterUtz l where were thy wings 
When far away upon a barbarous strand, 
In hght unequal, by an obscure hand^ 
Fell the last scion of thy brood of Kings ! 

Poor boy ! thou shalt not flaunt thy cloak of red. 
Or ride in state through Paris in the van 
Of thy returning legions, but instead 
Thy mother France, free and republican, 

Shall on thy dead and crownless forehead place 
The better laurels of a soldier’s crown, 

That not dishonoured should thy soul go 
down 

To tell the mighty Sire of thy race 

That France hath kissed the mouth of Liberty, 
And found it sweeter than his honied bees. 
And that the giant wave Democracy 
Breaks on The shores where Kings lay couched 
at ease. 



16 


POEMS 


SONNl^T 

ON THE MAHHACIUC Oh' THE CIIHIHTIANS 
IN JJULCfAHlA 

C HRIST, dost thou live indeed? or are thy 
bones 

Still straitened in tlieir rock-hewn sepulchre ? 
And was thy Rising only dreanu‘d by Her 
Whose love of thee for all her sin atones ? 

For here the air is horrid with nnnfs f^roans, 

The prioHlH who call upon Ihy name are slalin 
Dost thou not hear the bitUn' wail of pain 
From those whoso children In*, upon tlie stones? 
Come down, H S<m of (*od 1 iiua*sluous giooni 
Curtains the land, and throne'll the starless nif‘*ht 
Over thy Cross a Crescent moon I stte 1 
if thou in very truth didst burst the tomb 
Come down, () Son of Man ! a.nd slmw thy 
ini^ht, 

Lest Mahomet In’: crowned insUvul of Thee ! 



BLEUTHERIA 


17 


QUANTUM MUTATA 

T here was a time in Europe long ago 

When no man died for freedom anywhere, 
But England's lion leaping from its lair 
Laid hands on the oppressor 1 it was so 
While England could a great Republic show. 
Witness the men of Piedmont, chiefest care 
Of Cromwell, when with impotent despair 
The Pontiff in his painted portico 
Trembled before our stern ambassadors. 

How comes it then that from such high estate 
We have thus fallen, save that Luxury 
With barren merchandise piles up the gate 
Where noble thoughts and deeds should enter 
by: 

Else might we still be Milton’s heritors. 



1'8 


POEMS 


LIBERTATIS SACRA FAMES 

A LBEIT nurtured in dcmoci'acy^ 

Jx, And liking best that stale republican 
Where every man is Kinglike and no man 
Is crowned above his fellows^ yet I see^ 

Spite of this modern fret for Liberty^ 

Belter the rule of Onc^ whom all obey. 

Than to let clamorous demagogues betray 
Our freedom with the kiss of anarchy. 

Wherefore I love them not whose hands profane 
Plant the r<Hl flag upon the piled-up slna^t 
P\)r no right cause, bcmsalh wliosc ignorant 
reign 

AriSj CulLurCj Reverence, Honour, all things 
fade, 

Save Treason and the dagger of her trade, 

Or Murder with his silent bloody feet. 



ELEUTHERIA 


19 


THEORETIKOS 

T his mighty empire hath but feet of clay : 
Of all its ancient chivalry and might 
Our little island is forsaken quite : 

Some enemy hath stolen its crown of bay, 

And from its hills that voice hath passed away 
Which spake of Freedom : O come out of it, 
Come out of it, my Soul, thou art not fit 
For this vile traffic-house, where day by day 
Wisdom and reverence are sold at mart. 

And the rude people rage with ignorant cries 
Against an heritage of centuries. 

It mars my calm : wherefore in dreams of Art 
And loftiest culture I would stand apart. 
Neither for God, nor for his enemies. 




THE GARDEN OF EROS 




THE GARDEN OF EROS 


I T is full summer now^ the heart of June; 

Not yet the sunburnt reapers are astir 
Upon the upland meadow whei'e too soon 
Rich autumn time, the seasons usurer^ 

Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees. 

And see his treasure scattered by the wild and 
spendthrift breeze. 

Too soon indeed ! yet here the daffodil. 

That love-child of the Spring, has lingered on 
To vex the rose with jealousy, and still 
The harebell spreads her azure pavilion. 

And like a strayed and wandering reveller 
Abandoned of its brothers, whom long since 
June^s messenger 

The missel-thrush has frighted from the glade, 
One pale narcissus loiters fearfully 
Close to a ^ladowy nook, where half afraid 
Of their own loveliness some violets lie 
That will not look the gold sun in the face 
For fear of too much splendour, — ah I methinks 
it is a place 


23 



24 


POEMS 


Which should be trodden by Persephone 
When wearied of the flowerless fields of Dis ! 
Or danced on by the lads of Arcady ! 

The hidden secret of eternal bliss 
Known to the Grecian here a man might flndj 
Ah! you and I may And it now if Love and 
Sleep be kind. 


There are the flowers which mourning Herakles 
Strewed on the tomb of Hylas, columbine^ 

Its white doves all a-flutter where the breeze 
Kissed them too harshly^ the small celandine^ 
That yellow-kirtled chorister of eve^ 

And lilac lady's-smock, — but let them bloom 
alone, and leave 


Yon spirM hollyhock red-crocketed 

To sway its silent chimes, else must the bee, 
Its little bellringer, go seek instead 
Some other pleasaunce ; the anemone 
That weeps at daybi*eak, like a silly girl 
Before her love, and hardly lets the butterflies 
unfurl 


Their painted wings beside it, — bid it pine 
In pale virginity ; the winter snow 
Will suit it better than those lips of thine 
Whose flres would but scorch it, rather go 



THE GARDEN OF EROS 


25 


And pluck that amorous flower which blooms 
alonc% 

Fed by the pander wind with dust of kisses not 
its own. 

The triiui])el'-'inoulhs oi’rcd convolvulus 
So dear to maidens^ creamy meadow-sweet 
Whiter than Juno’s throat and odorous 
As all Arabia^ hyacinths the feet 
Of Huntress Dian would be loth to mar 
For any da})pled fawn, — pluck these, and those 
fond flowers which are 


Fairer than what Queen Venus trod upon 
Beneath the pines of Ida, cucharis, 
lliat mornin«' star which docs not dread the sun, 
And buddin<>' marjoram which but to kiss 
Would sweeicu Cylberaja’s lips and make 
Adonis j (talons, — these for thy head, — and for 
thy girdle take 

Yon curving spray of purple clematis 

Whose gorgeous dye oulfiames the Tyrian 
Kins, 

And foxgloves with their jiodding chalices. 

But that one narciss which the startled Spring 
Lei from her kirtle fall when first she heard 
In her own woods the wild tempestuous song of 
summer’s bird. 



20 


POEMS 


Ah ! leave it foi’ a subtle memory 

Of those sweet tremulous clays of rain and sun, 
When April laughed between her tears to sec * 
The eaidy primi’osc with shy footsteps run 
From the gnarled oak-tree roots till all the wold, 
Spite of its brown and trampled leaves, grew 
bright with shimmering gold 


Nay, pluck it too, it is not half so sweet 
As thou thyself, my souFs idolatry ! 

And when thou art a~wearied at thy feet 
Shall oxlips weave their brightest tapestry, 
For thee the woodbine shall forget its pride 
And veil its tangled whorls, and thou shalt 
walk on daisies pied. 


And I will cut a reed by yonder spring 

And make the wood-gods jealous, and old Pan 
Wonder what young intruder dares to sing 
In these still haunts, where never foot of man 
Should tread at evening, lest he chance to spy 
The marble limbs of Artemis and all ber 
company. 


And I will tell thee why the jacinth wears 
Such dread embroidery of dolorous moan, 
And why the hapless nightingale forbears 
To sing her song at noon, but weeps alone 



THE GARDEN OF EROS 


27 


When the fleet swallow sleeps, and rich men 
feast, 

And why the laurel trembles when she sees the 
lightening east. 


And I will sing how sad Proserpina 

Unto a grave and gloomy Lord was wed, 

And lure the silver-breasted Helena 

Back from the lotus meadows of the dead. 

So shalt thou see that awful loveliness 
For which two mighty Hosts met fearfully in 
war’s abyss 1 


And then I ’ll pipe to thee that Grecian tale 
How Cynthia loves tlie lad Endymion, 

And hidden isi a grey and misty veil 

Hies to the clifls of I^atmos once the Sun 
Leaps from his occ^an bed in fruitless chase 
Of those pale flying feci which fade away in his 
embrace. 


And if my flute can breathe sweet melody, 

We may behold Her face who long ago 
Dwelt among men by the J%ean s<m. 

And whose sad house with pillaged portico 
And friezeless wall and columns toppled down 
Looms o’er the ruins of that fair and violet 
cinctured town. 



28 


POEMS 


Spirit of Beauty 1 tarry still awhile, 

They are not dead, thine ancient votaries ; 
Some few there are to whom thy radiant smile 
Is better than a thousand victories, 

Though all the nobly slain of Waterloo 
Rise up in wrath against them ! tarry still, there 
are a few 


Who for thy sake would give their manlihood 
And consecrate their being ; I at least 
Have done so, made thy lips my daily food. 

And in thy temples found a goodlier feast 
Than this starved age can give me, spite of all 
Its new-found creeds so sceptical and so dog- 
matical. 


Here not Cephissos, not Ilissos flows, 

The woods of white Colonos are not here, 

On our bleak hills the olive never blows, 

No simple priest conducts his lowing steer 
Up the steep marble way, nor through the town 
Do laughing maidens bear to thee the crocus- 
flowered gown. 


Yet tarry I for the boy who loved thee best. 
Whose very name should be a memory 
To make thee linger, sleeps in silent rest 
Beneath the Roman walls, and melody 



THE GARDEN OF EROS 


29 


Still mourns her sweetest lyre ; none can play 
The lute of Adonais ; with his lips Song passed 
away. 


Nay^ when Keats died the Muses still had left 
One silver voice to sing his threnody^ 

But ah ! too soon of it we were bereft 

When on that riven night and stormy sea 
Panthea claimed her singer as her own. 

And slew the mouth that praised her; since 
which time we walk alone. 


Save for that fiery heart, that morning star 
Of re-arisen England, whose clear eye 
Saw from our tottering throne and waste of 
war 

The grand Greek limbs of young Democracy 
Rise mightily like Hesperus and bring 
The great Republic 1 him at least thy love hath 
taught to sing, 


And he hath been with thee at Thessaly, 

And seen white Atalanta fleet of foot 
In passionless and fierce virginity 

Hunting the tusked boar, his honied lute 
Hath pierced the cavern of the hollow hill. 

And Venus laughs to know one knee will bow 
before her still. 



so 


POEMS 


And he hath kissed the lips of Proserpine, 

And sung the Galilacan's requiem, 

That wounded forehead dashed with blood and 
wine 

He hath discrowned, the Ancient Gods in him 
Have found their last, most ardent worshipper, 
And the new Sign grows grey and dim before its 
conqueror. 

Spirit of Beauty 1 tarry with us still, 

It is not quenched the torch of poesy, 

The star that shook above the Eastern hill 
Holds unassailed its argent armoury 
From all the gathering gloom and fretful fight — 
O tarry with us still 1 for through the long and 
common night, 


Morris, our sweet and simple Chaucer's child, 
Dear heritor of Spenser s tuneful reed, 

With soft and sylvan pipe has oft beguiled 
The weary soul of man in troublous need, 

And from the far and flowerless fields of ice 
Has brought fair flowers to make an earthly 
paradise. 


We know them all, Gudrun the strong men's 
bride, 

Aslaug and Olafson we know them all. 

How giant Grettir fought and Sigurd died, 



THE GARDEN OP EROS 


SI 


And wliat enchantment held the king in thrall 
When lonely Brynhild wrestled with the powers 
That war against all passion, ah ! how oft 
through summer hours. 

Long listless summer hours when the noon 
Being enamoured of a damask rose 
Forgets to journey westward, till the moon 
The pale usurper of its tribute grows 
From a thin sickle to a silver shield 
And chides its loitering car — how oft, in some 
cool grassy field 

Far from the cricket-ground and noisy eight, 

At Bagley, where the rustling bluebells come 
Almost before the blackbird finds a mate 
And overstay the swallow, and the hum 
Of many murmuring bees flits through the 
leaves, 

Flavc I lain poring on the dreamy tales his fancy 
weaves, 

And through their unreal woes and mimic pain 
Wept for myself, and so was purified. 

And in their simple mirth grew glad again ; 

For as I sailed upon that pictured tide 
The strength and splendour of the storm was 
mine 

Without the storm's red ruin, for the singer is 
divine ; 



32 


POEMS 


The little laugh of water falling down 
Is not so musical^ the clammy gold 
Close hoarded in the tiny waxen town 
Has less of sweetness in it^ and the old 
Half-withered reeds that waved in Arcady 
Touched by his lips breaS forth again to fresher 
harmony. 

Spirit of Beauty, tarry yet awhile ! 

Although the cheating merchants of the mart 
With iron roads profane our lovely isle, 

And break on whirling wheels the limbs of Art, 
Ay ! though the crowded factories beget 
The blind worm Ignorance that slays the soul, O 
tarry yet I 

For One at least there is, — He bears his name 
From Dante and the seraph Gabriel, — 

Whose double laurels burn with deathless flame 
To light thine altar ; He too loves thee well, 
Who saw old Merlin lured in Vivien's snare, 

And the while feet of angels coming down the 
golden stair, 

Loves thee so well, that all the World for him 
A gorgeous-coloured vestiiure must wear, 

And Sorrow take a purple diadem, 

Or else be no more Sorrow, and Despair 
Gild its own thorns, and Pain, like Adon, be 
Even in anguish beautiful ; — such is the empery 



THE GARDEN OF EROS 


33 


Which Painters hold, and such the heritage 
This gentle solemn Spirit doth possess. 

Being a better mirror of his age 
In all his pity, love, and weariness^ 

Than those who can but copy common things. 
And leave the Soul unpainted with its mighty 
questionings. 


But they are few, and all romance has flown, 
And men can prophesy about the sun. 

And lecture on his arrows — how, alone. 

Through a waste void the soulless atoms rim, 
How from each tree its weeping nymph has fled. 
And that no more hnid English reeds a Naiad 
show's her head. 


Methinks these new Acta?ons boast too soon 
That they have spied on beauty ; what if we 
Have analysed the rainbow, robbed the moon 
Of her most ancient, chastest mystery. 

Shall I, the last Endymion, lose all hope 
Because rude eyes peer at my mistress through 
a telescope ! 


What profit if this scientific age 

Burst through our gates with all its retinue 
Of modern miracles ! Can it assuage 

One lover s breaking heart ? what can it do 
c 



34 


POEMS 


To make one life more beautiful^ one day 
More godlike in its period ? but now the Age of 
Clay 


Returns in horrid cycle, and the earth 
Hath boz’ue again a noisy progeny 
Of ignorant Titans, whose ungodly birth 
Hurls them against the august hierarchy 
Which sat upon Olympus ; to the Dust 
They have appealed, and to that barren arbiter 
they must 


Repair for judgment; let them, if they can, 
From Natural Warfare and insensate Chance, 
Create the new Ideal rule for man 1 
Methiiiks that was not my inheritance ; 

For I was nurtured otherwise, my soul 
Passes from higher heights of life to a moi'e 
supreme goal. 


Lo ! while we spake the earth did turn away 
Her visage from the God, and Plecate's boat 
Rose silver-laden, till the jealous day 
Blew all its torches out : I did not note 
The waning hours, to young Endymions 
Time's palsied fingers count in vain his rosary of 
suns ! 



THE GARDEN OF EROS 


35 


Mark how the yellow iris wearily 

Leans back its throat, as though it would be 
kissed 

By its false chamberer, the dragon-fly. 

Who, like a blue vein on a girFs white wrist, 
Sleeps on that snowy primrose of the night, 
Which 'gins to flush with crimson shame, and 
die beneath the light. 


Come let us go, against the pallid shield 

Of the wan sky the almond blossoms gleam. 
The corncrake nested in the unmown field 
Answers its mate, across the misty stream 
On fitful wing the startled curlews fly. 

And in his sedgy bed the lark, for joy that Day 
is nigh. 


Scatters the pearled dew from off the grass. 

In tremulous ecstasy to greet the sun, 

Who soon in gilded panoply will pass 

Forth from yon orange-curtained pavilion 
Hung in the burning east : see, the red rim 
O'erfcoj^s the expectant hills I it is the God 1 for 
love of him 


Already the shrill lark is out of sight. 

Flooding with waves of song this silent 
dell,— 



POEMS 


Ah I there is something more in that bird’s 
flight 

Than could be tested in a crucible ! — 

But the air freshens, let us go, why soon 
The woodmen will be here ; how we have lived 
this night of June I 



ROSA MYSTICA 




REQUIESCAT 


T read lightly, she is near 
Under the snow, 

Speak gently, she can hear 
The daisies grow. 

All her bright golden hair 
Tarnished with rust, 

She that was young and fair 
Fallen to dust. 

Lily-like, white as snow, 

She hardly knew 
She was a woman, so 
Sweetly she grew. 

Colfm-board, heavy stone. 

Lie on her breast, 

I vex my heart alone, 

She is at rest. 

Peace, Peace, she cannot hear 
•Lyre or sonnet, 

All my life 's buried here, 
Heap earth upon it. 


Avignon. 



40 


POEMS 


SONNET ON APPROACHING ITALY 

I RE ACHED the Alps: the soul within me 
burned, 

Italia, my Italia, at thy name : 

And when from out the mountain’s heart I 
came 

And saw the land for which my life had yearned, 
I laughed as one who some great prize had 
earned : 

And musing on the marvel of thy fame 
I watched the day, till marked with wounds 
of dame 

The turquoise sky to burnished gold was turned. 
The piiic-trees waved as waves a woman’s hair, 
Aird in the orchards every twining spray 
Was breaking into flakes of blossoming foam : 
But when I knew that far away at Rome 
In evil bonds a second Peter lay, 

I wept to see the land so very faix\ 

TubinI' 



ROSA MYSTICA 


41 


SAN MINIATO 

S EEj I have climbed the mountain side 
Up to this holy house of God, 

Where once that Angel- Painter trod 
Who saw the heavens opened wide^ 

And throned upon the crescent moon 
The Virginal white Queen of Grace, — 
Mary ! could I but see thy face 
Death could not come at all too soon. 

O crowned by God with thorns and pain I 
Mother of Christ ! O mystic wife 1 
My heart is weary of this life 
And over-sad to sing again. 

O crowned by God with love and flame ! 
O crowned by Christ the Holy One ! 

O listen ere the searching sun 
Show to the world my sin and shame. 



42 


POEMS 


AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA 

AS this His coming ! I had hoped to 

A scene of wondrous glory, as was told 
Of some great God who in a rain of gold 
Broke open bars and fell on Danae : 

Or a dread vision as when Semele 

Sickening for love and unappeased desire 
Prayed to see God’s clear body, and the fire 
Caught her brown limbs and slew her utterly : 
With such glad dreams I sought this holy place, 
And now with wondering eyes and heart I 
stand 

Before this supreme mystery of Love : 

Some kneeling girl with passionless pale face, 
An angel with a lily in his hand. 

And over both the white wings of a Dove. 


Florence. 



ROSA MYSTICA 


43 


ITALIA 

I TALIA ! thou art fallen, though with sheen 
Of battle-spears thy clamorous armies stride 
From the north Alps to the Sicilian tide ! 

Ay ! fallen, though the nations hail thee Queen 
Because rich gold in every town is seen, 

And on thy sapphire-lake in tossing pride 
Of wind-filled vans thy myriad galleys ride 
Beneath one flag of red and white and green. 

O Fair and Strong ! O Strong and Fair in vain 1 
Look southward where Rome’s desecrated 
town 

Lies mourning for her God-anointed King ! 
Look heaven-w’ard ! shall God allow this thing ? 
Nay 1 but some flame-girt Raphael shall come 
down, 

And smite the Spoiler with the sword of pain. 
Venice. 



44 


POEMS 


SONNET 

WRITTEN IN HOLY WEEK AT GENOA 

I WANDERED through Scoglietto's far 
retreat^ 

The oranges on each overhanging spray 
Burned as bright lamps of gold to shame the 
day; 

Some startled bird with fluttering wings and 
fleet 

Made snow of all the blossoms ; at my feet 
Like silver moons the pale narcissi lay : 

And the curved waves that streaked the great 
green bay 

Laughed i' the sun^ and life seemed very sweet. 
Outside the young boy-priest passed singing 
cleai% 

' Jesus the son of Mary has been slain, 

O come and fill his sepulchre with flowers.' 
Ah^ God ! Ah, God 1 those dear Hellenic hours 
Had drowned all memory of Thy bitter pain. 
The Cross, the Crown, the Soldiex's and the 
Spear, 



ROSA MYSTICA 


ROME UNVISITED 

I 

T he corn has turned from grey to red, 
Since first my spirit wandered forth, 
From the drear cities of the north. 

And to Italia's mountains fled. 

And here I set my face towards home. 

For all my pilgrimage is done. 

Although, methinks, yon blood-red sun 
Marshals the way to Holy Rome. 

O Blessed Lady, who dost hold 
Upon the seven hills thy reign ! 

0 Mother without blot or stain, 

Crowned with bright crowns of triple gold ! 

O Roma, Roma, at thy feet 
I lay this barren gift of song ! 

For, ah I the way is steep and long 
That leads unto thy sacred street. 



46 


POEMS 


II 


AND yet wliat joy it were for me 
JTX, To turn my feet unto the souths 
And journeying towards the Tiber mouth 
To kneel again at Fiesole 1 


And wandering through the tangled pines 
That break the gold of Arno’s stream^, 
To see the purple mist and gleam 
Of morning on the Apennines. 


By many a vineyard-hidden home, 
Orchard and olive-garden grey. 

Till from the drear Campagna^s way 
The seven hills bear up the dome I 



ROME UNVISITED 


47 


III 

A PILGRIM from the northern seas — 
What joy for me to seek alone 
The wondrous Temple and the throne 
Of Him who holds the awful keys ! 

Whenj bright with purple and with gold;, 
Come priest and holy Cardinal, 

And borne above the heads of all 
The gentle Shepherd of the Fold. 

O joy to see before I die 
The only God-anointed King, 

And hear the silver trumpets ring 
A triumph as He passes by ! 

Or at the brazen-piilared shrine 
Holds high the mystic sacrifice, 

And shows his God to human eyes 
Beneath the veil of bread and wine. 



48 


POEMS 


IV 

F or lo^ what changes time can bring ! 
The cycles of revolving years 
May free my heart from all its fears. 
And teach my lips a song to sing. 

Before yon field of trembling gold 
Is garnei’ed into dusty sheaves. 

Or ere the autumn's scarlet leaves 
Flutter as birds adown the wold, 

I may have run the glorious race, 

And caught the torch while yet aflame. 
And called upon the holy name 
Of Him who now doth hide His face. 


Arona. 



ROSA MYSTICA 


49 


URBS SACRA STERNA 

R ome l what a scroll of History thine has 
been ; 

In the first days thy sword republican 
Ruled the whole world for many an age's 
span : 

Then of the peoples wert thou royal Queen^ 

Till in thy streets the bearded Goth was seen ; 
And now upon thy walls the breezes fan 
(Ah^ city crowned by God, discrowned by 
man !) 

The hated flag of red and white and green. 

When was thy glory 1 when in search for power 
Thine eagles flew to greet the double sun. 
And the wild nations shuddered at thy rod ? 
Nay, but thy glory tarried for this hour. 

When pilgrims kneel before the Holy One, 
The prisoned shepherd of the Church of God. 

Monte Makio. 


D 



50 


POEMS 


SONNET 

ON HEARING THE DIES IR^E SUNG IN THE 
SISTINE CHAPEL 

N ay, Lord, not thus ! white lilies in the 
spring. 

Sad olive-groves, or silver-breasted dove. 

Teach me more clearly of Thy life and love 
Than terrors of red flame and thundering. 

The hillside vines dear memories of Thee bring ; 
A bird at evening flying to its nest 
Tells me of One who had no place of re^t : 

I think it is of Thee the sparrows sing. 

Come rather on some autumn afLernoon, 

When red and bi'own are burnished on the 
leaves. 

And the fields echo to the glean ei'’s song, 
Come when the splendid fulness of the moon 
Looks down upon the rows of golden sheaves. 
And reap Thy harvest ; we have waited long. 



ROSA MYSTICA 


51 


EASTER DAY 

T he silver trumpets rang across the Dome : 
The people knelt upon the ground with 
awe : 

And borne upon the necks of men I saw, 

Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome. 
Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than 
foam, 

xAnd, king-like, swathed himself m royal red. 
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head : 
In splendour and in light the Pope passed home. 
My heart stole back across wide wastes of years 
To One who wandered by a lonely sea, 

And sought in vain for an}?" place of rest : 

^ Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest. 

I, only I, must wander wearily. 

And bruise my feet, and drink wine salt with 
tears/ 



62 


POEMS 


E TENEBRIS 

C OME down^ O Christy and help me I reach 
thy hand; 

For I am drowning in a stormier sea 
Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee : 

The wine of life is spilt upon the sand. 

My heart is as some famine-murdered land 
Whence all good things have perished utterly^ 
And well I know my soul in Hell must lie 
If I this night before God’s throne should stand. 
‘ He sleeps perchance^ or rideth to the chase, 
Like Baal, when his prophets howled that 
name 

From moi’n to noon on Carmel’s smitten 
height/ 

Nay, peace, I shall behold, before the night, 

The feet of brass, the robe more white than 
flame. 

The wounded hands, the weary human face. 



ROSA MYSTICA 


58 


VITA NUOVA 

I STOOD by the luivintageable sea 

Till the wet waves drenched face and hair 
with spray ; 

The long red fires of the dying day 
Burned in the west ; the wind piped drearily ; 
And to the land the clamorous gulls did flee : 

^ Alas ! ’ I cried^ * my life is full of pain. 

And who can garner fruit or golden grain 
From these waste fields which travail cease- 
lessly 

My nets gaped wide with many a break and 
flaw, 

Nathless I threw them as my final cast 
Into the sea, and waited for the end. 

When lo ! a sudden glory ! and I saw 

From the black waters of my tortured past 
The argent splendour of white limbs ascend ! 



54 


POEMS 


MADONNA MIA 

A LILY-GIRL, not made for this world’s 
pain. 

With brown, soft hair close braided by her 
ears. 

And longing eyes half veiled by slumberous 
tears 

Like bluest water seen through mists of rain : 
Pale cheeks whereon no love hath left its stain, 
Red underlip drawn in for fear of love, 

And white throat, whiter than the silvered 
dove. 

Through whose wan mai’blc creeps one purple 
vein. 

Yet, though my lips shall praise her without 
cease. 

Even to kiss her feet I am not bold. 

Being o’ershadowed by the wings of awe. 

Like Dante, when lie stood with Beatrice 
Beneath the flaming Lion's breast, and saw 
The seventh Crystal, and the SCair of Gold. 



EOSA MYSTICA 




THE NEW HELEN 

W HEKE hast thou been since round the 
walls of Troy 

The sons of God fought in that great emprise ? 
Why dost thou walk our common earth 
again ? 

Hast thou forgotten that impassioned boy^ 

His purple galley and his Tyrian men 
And treacherous Aphrodite’s mocking eyes ? 
For surely it was thou, who, like a star 
Hung in the silver silence of the night. 

Didst lure the Old World’s chivalry and might 
Into the clamorous crimson waves of war ! 


Or didst thou rule the fire-laden moon ? 

In amorous Sid on was fchy temple built 
Over the light and laughter of the sea 
Where, behind lattice scarlet-wrought and 
giltj 

Some brown-limbed girl did weave thee 

tapestry, 

All through the waste and wearied hours of 
noon ; 



56 * 


POEMS 


Till her wan cheek with flame of passion 
burned,, 

And she rose up the sea-washed lips to kiss 
Of some glad Cyprian sailor, safe returned 
From Calpe and the cliffs of Herakles ! 


No ! thou art Helen, and none other one ! 

It was for thee that young Sarpeddn died, 
And Memn6n’s manhood was untimely 
spent ; 

It was for thee gold-crested Hector tried 
With Thetis’ child that evil race to run, 

In the last year of thy beleaguerment ; 

Ay ! even now the glory of thy fame 

Burns in those fields of trampled asphodel. 
Where the high lords whom Ilion knew so 
well 

Clash ghostly shields, and call upon thy name. 


Where hast thou been ? in that enchanted land 
Whose slumbering vales forlorn Calypso knew, 
Where never mower rose at break of day 
But all unswathed the trammelling grasses 
grew, 

And the sad shepherd saw the talLcorn stand 
Till summer’s I’ed had changed to withered 
grey ? 

Didst thou lie there by some Letha'an stream 
Deep brooding on thine ancient memory, 



THE NEW HELEN 


57 


The ci^ash of broken spears^ the fiery gleam 
From shivered helm, the Grecian battle- 
cry ? 


Nay, thou wert hidden in that hollow hill 
With one who is forgotten utterly. 

That discrowned Queen men call the 
Erycine ; 

Hidden away that never mightst thou see 
The face of Her, before whose mouldering 
shrine 

To-day at Rome the silent nations kneel ; 

Who gat from Love no joyous gladdening. 

But only Love’s intolerable pain, 

Only a swoi'd to pierce her heart in twain. 
Only the bittenress of child-bearing. 


The lotus-leaves which heal the wounds of 
Death 

Lie in thy hand ; O, be thou kind to me, 
While yet I know the summer of my 
days; 

For hardly can my tremulous lips draw breath 
To fill the silver trumpet with thy praise, 

So bowed ;im I before thy mystery ; 

So bowed and broken on Love’s terrible wheel, 
That I have lost all hope and heart to sing, 
Yet care I not what ruin time may bring 
If in thy temple thou wilt let me kneel. 



58 


POEMS 


AlaSj alas^ thou wilt not tarry here^ 

But, like that bird, the servant of the sun. 
Who flies before the north wind and thd 
night, 

So wilt thou fly our evil land and drear, 

Back to the lower of thine old delight, 

And the red lips of young Euphorion ; 

Nor shall I ever see thy face again. 

But in this poisonous garden-close must stay. 
Crowning my brows with the thorn-crown of 
pain. 

Till ail my loveless life shall pass away. 


O Helen 1 Helen 1 Helen ! yet a while, 

Yet for a little while, 0, tarry here. 

Till the dawn cometh and the shadows dee ! 
For in the gladsome sunlight of thy smile 
Of heaven or hell I have no thought or fear, 
Seeing I know no other god but thee : 

No other god save him, before whose feet 
In nets of gold the tired planets move, 

The incarnate spirit of spiritual love 
Who in thy body holds his joyous seat. 


Thou wert not born as common women are ! 

But, girt with silver splendour of the foam, 
Didst from the depths of sapphire seas 
arise { 

And at thy coming some immortal star, 



THE NEW HELEN 


59 


Bearded with flame, blazed in the Eastern 
skies. 

And waked the shepherds on thine island- 
home. 

Thoa shait not die : no asps of Egypt creep 
Close at thy heels to taint the delicate air ; 

No sullen-blooming poppies stain thy hair, 
Those scarlet heralds of eternal sleep. 

Lily of love, pure and inviolate ! 

Tower of ivory ! red rose of fire I 

Thou hast come down our darkness to 
illume : 

For we, close-caught in the wide nets of Fate, 
Wearied with waiting for the World’s Desire, 
Aimlessly wandered in the House of gloom. 
Aimlessly sought some slumberous anodyne 
For wasted lives, for lingering wretchedness, 
Till we beheld thy re-arisen shrine, 

And the white glory of thy loveliness. 




THE BURDEN OF ITYS 




THE BURDEN OF ITYS 

T his English Thames is holier far than 
RomCj 

Those harebells like a sudden flush of sea 
Breaking across the Avoodland^ 'with the foam 
Of meado'w-sweet and 'white anemone 
Tb fleck their blue waves^ — God is likelier there 
Than hidden in that crystal-hearted star the pale 
monks bear 1 

Those violet-gleaming butterflies that take 
Yon creamy lily for their pavilion 
Are monsignorcs^ and 'where the rushes shake 
A lazy pike lies basking in the sun^ 

His eyes half shut, — he is some mitred old 
Bishop iwparlihus I look at those gaudy scales all 
green and gold. 

The 'wnnd the restless prisoner of the trees 
Does well for PaljEStrinaj one would say 
The mighty roaster's hands were on the keys 
Of the Maria organ, which they play 
When early on some sapphire Easter morn 
In a high litter red as blood or sin the Pope is 
borne 


63 



64 


POEMS 


From his dark House out to the Balcony 

Above the bronze gates and the crowded 
square^ 

Whose very fountains seem for ecstasy 
To toss their silver lances in the aii% 

And stretching out weak hands to East and 
West 

In vain sends peace to peaceless lands, to restless 
nations rest. 


Is not yon lingering orange after-glow 

That stays to vex the moon more fair than 
all 

Rome's lordliest pageants ! strange^ a year ago 
I knelt before some crimson Cardinal 
Who bare the Host across the Esquiline, 

And now^ — those common poppies in the wheat 
seem twice as fine. 


The blue-green beanhelds yonder, tremulous 
With the last shower, sweeter perfume bring 

Through this cool evening than the odorous 
Flame-jewelled censers the young deacons 
swing, 

When the grey priest unlocks the curtained 
shrine, 

And makes God's body from the common fruit 
of corn and vine. 



THE BURDEN OF ITYS 


65 


Poor Fra Giovanni bawling at the mass 

Were out of tune now, for a small brown bird 

Sings overhead j and through the long cool 
grass 

I see that throbbing throat which once I 
heard 

On starlit hills of dower-starred Arcady, 

Once where the white and crescent sand of 
Salamis meets sea. 

Sweet is the swallow twittering on the eaves 
At daybreak, when the mower whets his 
scythe. 

And stock-doves murmur, and the milkmaid 
leaves 

Her little lonely bed, and carols blithe 

To see the heavy-lowing cattle wait 

Stretching their huge and dripping mouths across 
the farmyard gate. 

And sweet the hops upon the Kentish leas, 

And sweet the wind that lifts the new-mown 
hay. 

And sweet the fretful swarms of grumbling 
bees 

That round .and round the linden blossoms 
play; 

And sweet the heifer breathing in the stall. 

And the green bursting figs that hang upon the 
red-brick wall. 

E 



66 


POEMS 


And sweet to hear the cuckoo mock the spring 
While the last violet loiters by the well^ 

And sweet to hear the shepherd Daphnis sing 
The song of Linus through a sunny dell 
Of warm Arcadia where the corn is gold 
And the slight lithe-limbed reapers dance about 
the wattled fold. 

And sweet with young Lycoris to recline 
In some Illyrian valley far away, 

Where canopied on herbs amaracine 

We too might waste the summer-tranced day 
Matching our reeds in sportive rivalry. 

While far beneath us frets the troubled purple 
of the sea. 

But sweeter far if silver-sandalled foot 

Of some long-hidden God should ever tread 
The Nimeham meadows, if with reeded flute 
Pressed to his lips some Faun might raise his 
head 

By the green water-flags, ah ! sweet indeed 
To see the heavenly herdsman call his white- 
fleeced flock to feed. 

Then sing to me thou tuneful chorister, 

Though what thou sing’st be thine own 
requiem ! 

Tell me thy tale thou hapless chronicler 



THE BURDEN OF ITYS 


67 


Of thine own tragedies 1 do not contemn 
These unfamiliar haunts^ this English field, 

For many a lovely coronal our northern isle can 
yield 

Which Grecian meadows know not, many a 
rose 

"Which all day long in vales jEolian 
A lad might seek in vain for over-grows 

Our hedges like a wanton courtesan 
Unthrifty of its beauty ; lilies too 
llissos never mirrored star our streams, and 
cockles blue 

Dot the green wheat which, though they are 
the signs 

For swallows going south, would never spread 
Their azure tents between the Attic vines ; 

Even that little weed of ragged red. 

Which bids the robin pipe, in Arcady 
Would be a tx’espasser, and many an unsung 
elegy 

Sleeps in the reeds that fringe our winding 
Thames 

Which to awake were sweeter ravishment 
Than ever Syrinx wept for ; diadems 

Of brown bee-studded orchids which were 
meant 



POEMS 


For Cytheraea’s brows are hidden here 
Unknown to Cytheraea^ and by yonder pasturing 
steer 

There is a tiny yellow daffodil, 

The butterfly can see it from afar. 

Although one summer evening's dew could 
fill 

Its little cup twice over ere the star 
Had called the lazy shepherd to his fold 
And be no prodigal ; each leaf is flecked with 
spotted gold 

As if Jove's gorgeous leman Danae 

Hot from his gilded arms had stooped to 
kiss 

The trembling petals, or young Mercury 
Low-flying to the dusky ford of Dis 
Had with one feather of bis pinions 
Just brushed them ! the slight stem which bears 
the burden of its suns 

Is hardly thicker than the gossamer. 

Or poor Arachnc’s silver tapestry, — 

Men say it bloomed upon the sepulchre 
Of One I sometime worshipped, but to me 
It seems to bring diviner memories 
Of faun -loved Heliconian glades and blue 
nymph-haunted seas. 



THE BURDEN OF ITYS 


69 


Of an untrodden vale at Tenape where 
On the clear river s marge Narcissus lies. 

The tangle of the forest in his hair. 

The silence of the woodland in his eyes. 
Wooing that drifting imagery which is 
No sooner kissed than broken; memories of 
Salmacis 

Who IS not boy nor girl and yet is both, 

Fed by two fires and unsatisfied 
Through their excess, each passion being loth 
For love's own sake to leave the other's side 
Yet killing love by staying; memories 
Of Oreads peeping through the leaves of silent 
moonlit trees. 


Of lonely Ariadne on the wharf 

At Naxos, when she saw the treacherous crew 
Far out at sea, and waved her crimson scarf 
And called false Theseus back again nor knew 
That Dionysos on an amber pard 
Was close behind her ; memories of what 
Mseonia's bard 

With sightless eyes beheld, the wall of Troy, 
Queen Helen lying in the ivory room, 

And at her side an amorous red-lipped boy 
Trimming with dainty hand his helmet’s 
plume. 



70 


POEMS 


And far away the moil^ the shout^ the groan, 

As Hector shielded off the spear and Ajax 
hurled the stone ; 


Of winged Pci*scus with his flawless sword 
Cleaving the snaky tresses of the witch, 

And all those tales imperishably stored 

In little Grecian urns, freightage more rich 
Than any gaudy galleon of Spain 
Bare from the Indies ever ! these at least bring 
back again. 


For well I know they are not dead at all. 

The ancient Gods of Grecian poesy : 

They arc asleep, and when they hear thee call 
Will wake and think Tis vei*y Thessaly, 

This Thames the Daulian waters, this cool 
glade 

The yellow-iriscd mead where once young Itys 
laughed and played. 


If it was thou dear jasmine-cradled bird 
Who from the leafy stillness of thy throne 
Sang bo the wondrous boy, until he heard 
The horn of Atalanta faintly blown 
Across the Cumnor hills, and ’wandering 
Through Bagley wood at evening found the 
Attic poets' spring, — 



THE BURDEN OF ITYS 


71 


Ah ! tiny sober-suited advocate 

That pleadest for tlie moon against the day ! 
If thou didst make the shepherd seek his mate 
On that sweet questing, when Proserpina 
Forgot it was not Sicily and leant 
Across the mossy Sandford stile in ravished 
wonderment, — 

Light-winged and bright-eyed miracle of the 
wood ! 

If ever thou didst soothe with melody 
One of that little clan, that brotherhood 
Which loved the morning-star of Tuscany 
More than the perfect sun of Raphael 
And is immortal, sing to me 1 for I too love 
thee well. 

Sing on ! sing on ! let the dull world grow 
young, 

Let elemental things take form again,, 

And the old shapes of Beauty walk among 
The simple garths and open crofts^ as when 
The son of Leto bare the willow rod. 

And the soft sheep and shaggy goats followed 
the boyish God. 

Sing on ! sing on 1 and Bacchus will be here 
Astride upon his gorgeous Indian throne. 

And over whimpering tigers shake the spear 
With yellow ivy crowned and gummy cone. 



72 


POEMS 


While at his side the wanton Bassarid 
Will throw the lion by the mane and catch the 
mountain kid ! 


Sing on ! and I will wear the leopard skill;, 

And steal the mooned wings of AshLaroth, 
Upon whose icy chariot we could win 
Cithseron in an hour ere the froth 
Has over-brimmed the wine-vat or the Faun 
Ceased from the treading I ay, before the flicker- 
ing lamp of dawn 

Has scared the hooting owlet to its nest. 

And warned the bat to close its filmy vans. 
Some Mainad girl with vine-leaves on her breast 
Will filch their beech-nuts from the sleeping 
Pans 

So softly that the lit lie nested thrush 
Will never wake, and then with shrilly laugh and 
leap will rush 

Down tlie green valley where the fallen dew 
Lies thick beneath I he elm and count her 
store. 

Till Ihc brown Satyrs in a jolly crew 

Trample the loosestrife down along the shove, 
And where their horned master sits in state 
Bring strawberries and bloomy plums upon a 
wicker crate 1 



THE BURDEN OF ITYS 


73 


Sing on I and soon with passion- wearied face 
Through the cool leaves Apollo’s lad will 
corne^ 

The Tyrian prince his bristled boar will chase 
Adown the chestnut-copses all a-bloom. 

And ivory-limbedj grey-eyed^ with look of pride, 
After yon velvet-coated deer the virgin maid 
will ride. 

Sing on 1 and I the dying boy will see 

Stain with his purple blood the waxen bell 
That overweighs the jacinth, and to me 
The wretched Cyprian her woe will tell. 

And I will kiss her mouth and streaming eyes. 
And lead her to the myi'tle-hidden grove where 
Adon lies ! 

Cry out aloud on Itys I memory 

That foster-brother of remorse and pain 
Drops poison in mine ear, — O to be free. 

To burn one’s old ships i and to launch again 
Into the white-plumed battle of the waves 
And fight old Proteus for the spoil of coral- 
flowered caves ! 

O for Medea with her poppied spell ! 

O for the secret of the Colchian shrine 1 
O for one leaf of that pale asphodel 
Which binds the tired brows of Proserpine, 



74 


POEMS 


And sheds such wondrous dews at eve that she 

Dreams of the fields of Enna, by the far Sicilian 
sea. 

Where oft the golden-girdled bee she chased 
From lily to lily on the level mead, 

Ere yet her sombre Lord had bid her tasle 
The deadly fruit of that pomegranate seed, 

Ere the black steeds had harried her away 

Down to the faint and fiowerless land, the sick 
and sunless day. 

O for one midnight and as paramour 
The Venus of the little Melian farm ! 

0 that some antique statue for one hour 
Might wake to passion, and that I could 

charm 

The Dawn at Florence from its dumb despair. 

Mix with those mighty limbs and make that 
giant breast my lair I 

Sing on ! sing on 1 I would be drunk with life, 
Drunk with tlie trampled vintage of my 
youth, 

1 would forget the wearying wasted strife. 

The riven veil, the Gorgon eyes of Truth, 

The prayerless vigil and the cry for prayer. 

The barren gifts, the lifted arms, the dull in- 
sensate air 1 



THE BURDEN OF ITYS 


7o 


Sing on ! sing on 1 O feathered Niobe^ 

Thou canst make sorrow beautiful, and steal 
From joy its sweetest music, not as we 

Who by dead voiceless silence strive to heal 
Our too unteiited wounds, and do but keep 
Pain barricadoed in our hearts, and murder 
pillowed sleep. 

Sing louder yet, why must I still behold 
The wan white face of that deserted Christ, 
Whose bleeding hands my hands did once 
enfold, 

Whose smitten lips my lips so oft have 
kissed, 

And now in mute and marble misery 
Sits in his lone dishonoured House and weeps, 
perchance for me ? 

O Memory cast down thy wreathed shell ! 

Break thy hoarse lute O sad Melpomene ! 

O Sorrow, Sorrow keep thy cloistered cell 
Nor dim with tears this limpid Castaly ! 

Cease, Philomel, thou dost the forest wrong 
To vex its sylvan quiet with such wild impassioned 
song ! 

Cease, cease, or if ’tis anguish to be dumb 

Take from the pastoral thrush her simpler air. 
Whose jocund carelessness doth more become 
This English woodland than thy keen despair. 



76 


POEMS 


Ah ! cease and let the north wind bear thy lay 
Back to the I'ocky hills of Thrace, the stormy 
Daulian bay, 

A moment more, the startled leaves had stirred, 
Endymion would have passed across the mead 
Moonstruck with love, and this still Thames 
had heard 

Pan plash and paddle groping for some reed 
To lure from her blue cave that Naiad maid 
Who for such piping listens half in joy and half 
afraid. 

A moment more, the waking dove had cooed, 
The silver daughter of the silver sea 
With the fond gyves of clinging hands had 
wooed 

Pier wanton from the chase, and Dryope 
Plad thrust aside the branches of her oak 
To see the lusty gold-haired lad rein in his 
snorting yoke. 

A moment more, the trees had stooped to kiss 
Pale Daphne just awakening from the swoon 
Of tremulous laurels, lonely Salmaeis 

Had bared his barren beauty to the moon. 

And through the vale with sad voluptuous smile 
Antinous had wandered, the red lotus of the 
Nile 



THE BURDEN OF ITYS 


77 


Down leaning from his black and clustering 
haii% 

To shade those slumberous eyelids' caverned 
bliss, 

Or else on yonder grassy slope with bare 
High-tuniced limbs miravished Artemis 
Had bade her hounds give tongue, and roused 
the deer 

From his green ambuscade with shrill halloo 
and pricking spear. 

Lie still, lie still, O passionate heart, lie still ! 

O Melancholy, fold thy raven wing ! 

O sobbing Dryad, from thy hollow hill 

Come not with such despondent answering ! 
No more thou winged Marsyas complain, 

Apollo loveth not to hear such troubled songs 
of pain ! 

It was a dream, the glade is tenantless. 

No soft Ionian laughter moves the air, 

The Thames creeps on in sluggish leadenness, 
And from the copse left desolate and bare 
Fled is young Bacchus with his revelry, 

Yet still from Nuneham wood there comes that 
thrilling melody 

So sad, that one might think a human heart 
Brake in each separate note, a quality 
Which music sometimes has, being the Art 



78 


POEMS 


Which is most nigh to tears and memory ; 

Poor mourning Philomel^ what dost thou fear ? 

Thy sister doth not haunt these fields, Paiidion 
is not here, 

Here is no cruel Lord wuth murderous blade, 

No woven web of bloody heraldiues. 

But mossy dells for roving comrades made, 

Warm valleys where the tired student lies 

With half-shut book, and many a winding 
walk 

Where rustic lovers stray at eve in happy simple 
talk. 

The harmless rabbit gambols with its young 
Across the ti*ampled towing-path, where late 

A troop of laughing boys in jostling throng 
Cheered with their noisy cries the racing 
eight ; 

The gossamer, with ravelled silver threads, 

Woidcs at its little loom, and from the dusky 
red-eaved sheds 


Of the lone Farm a flickering light shines ont 
Where the swinkcd shepherd drives his bleat- 
ing flock 

Back to their wattled sheep-cotes, a faint shout 
Comes from some Oxford boat at Sandford 
lock, 



THE BUm>m OF ITYS 


79 


And starts tlie moor-lien from the sedgy rill^ 

And the dim lenginoning shadows flit like 
s-wallows up the hill. 

The heron passes homeward to the mere. 

The blue mist creeps among the shivering 
trees, 

Gold world by world the silent stars appear. 

And like a blossom blown before the breeze 

A white moon drifts across the shimmering 
sky, 

Mute arbitress of all thy sad, thy rapturous 
threnody. 

She does not heed thee, wherefore should she 
heed, 

She knows Endyinion is not far away ; 

T is I, 't is I, whose soul is as the reed 
Which has no message of its own to play. 

So pipes another’s bidding, it is I, 

Drifting with every wind on the wide sea of 
misery. 

Ah ! the brown bird has ceased : one exquisite 
trill 

About thes*om.bre woodland seems to cling 

Dying in music, else the air is still. 

So still that one might hear the bat’s small 



80 


POEMS 


Wander and wheel above the pines, or tell 
Each tiny dew-drop dripping from the bluebelFs 
brimming cell. 

And far away across the lengthening wold, 
Across the willowy flats and thickets brown, 
Magdalen’s tall tower tipped with tremulous 
gold 

Marks the long High Street of the little town. 
And warns me to return ; I must not wait, 

Hark I ’t is the curfew booming from the bell at 
Christ Church gate. 



WIND FLOWERS 




IMPRESSION DU MATIN 

T he Thames nocturne of blue and gold 
Changed to a Harmony in grey : 

A barge with ochre-coloured hay 
Dropt from the wharf: and chili and cold 

The yellow fog came creeping down 
The bridges, till the houses' walls 
Seemed changed to shadows and St. Paul's 
Loomed like a bubble o'er the town. 

Then suddenly arose the clang 

Of waking life ; the streets were stirred 
With country waggons : and a bird 
Flew to the glistening roofs and sang. 

But one pale woman all alone, 

The daylight kissing her wan hair, 
Loitei*ed beneath the gas lamps' flare. 
With lips of flame and heart of stone. 



84 


POEMS 


MAGDALEN WALKS 

T he little white clouds are racing over the 
sky. 

And the fields are strewn with the gold of the 
flower of March, 

The daffodil breaks under foot, and the 
tasselled larch 

Sways and swings as the thrush goes hurrying by. 

A delicate odour is borne on the wings of the 
morning bi*eeze. 

The odour of deep wet grass, and of brown 
new-furrowed earth. 

The birds are singing for joy of the Spring's 
glad birth. 

Hopping from branch Lo branch on the rocking 
trees. 

And all the woods are alive with the murmur 
and sound of Spring, 

And the I'ose-bud breaks into pink on the 
climbing briar. 

And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire 
Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring. 



MAGDALEN WALKS 


85 


And the plane to the pine-tree is whispering 
some tale of love 

Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its 
mantle of green, 

And the gloom of the wych-elm’s hollow is lit 
with the iris sheen 

Of the burnished rainbow throat and the silver 
bi*east of a dove. 

See 1 the lark starts up from his bed in the 
meadow there, 

Breaking the gossamer threads and the nets 
of dew, 

And flashing adown the river, a flame of blue I 

The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds 
the air. 



86 


POEMS 


ATHANASIA 

T O that gaunt House of Art which lacks for 
naught 

Of all the great things men have saved from 
Time, 

The withered body of a girl was brought 

Dead ere the world's glad youth had touched 
its prime. 

And seen by lonely Arabs lying hid 
In the dim womb of some black pyramid. 

But when they had unloosed the linen band 
Which swathed the Egyptian's body, — lo ! 
was found 

Closed in the wasted hollow of her hand 
A little seed, which sown in English ground 
Did wondrous snow of starry blossoms bear 
And spread rich odours through our spring-tide 
aix\ 

With such strange arts this flower did allure 
That all forgotten was the asphodel, 

And the brown bee, the lily's paramour. 

Forsook the cup where he was wont to dwell, 
For not a thing of earth it seemed to be, 

But stolen from some heavenly Arcady, 



ATHANASIA 


87 


In vain the sad narcissus^ wan and white 
At its o'wn beauty, hung across the stream. 
The purple dragon-fly had no delight 

With its gold dust to make his wings a-gleam. 
Ah I no delight the jasmine-bloom to kiss. 

Or brush the rain-pearls from the eucharis. 

For love of it the passionate nightingale 
Forgot the hills of Thrace, the cruel king. 
And the pale dove no longer cared to sail 

Through the wet woods at time of blossoming. 
But round this flower of Egypt sought to float. 
With silvered wing and amethystine throat. 


While the hot sun blazed in his tower of blue 
A cooling wind crept from the land of snows, 
And the warm south with tender tears of dew 
Drenched its white leaves when Hesperos 
up-rose 

Amid those sea-green meadows of the sky 
On which the scarlet bars of sunset lie. 

But when o'er wastes of hly-haunted field 

The tired birds had stayed their amorous 
tune, . 

And broad and glittering like an argent shield 
High in the sapphire heavens hung the moon. 
Did no strange dream or evil memory make 
Each tremulous petal of its blossoms shake? 



88 


POEMS 


Ah no ! to this bright flower a thousand years 
Seemed but the lingering of a summer's day^ 
It never knew the tide of cankering fears 

Which turn a boy^s gold hair to withei*ed 
gi'ey, 

The dread desire of death it never knew, 

Or how all folk that they were born must rue. 

For we to death with pipe and dancing go. 

Nor would we pass the ivory gate again. 

As some sad river wearied of its flow 

Through the dull plains, the haunts of com- 
mon men. 

Leaps loverdike into the terrible sea I 
And counts it gain to die so gloriously. 

We mar our lordly ’‘strength in barren strife 
With the vrorld's legions led by clamorous 
care. 

It never feels decay but gathers life 

From the pure sunlight and the supreme air, 
We live beneath Time's wasting sovereignty, 

It is the child of all eternity. 



WIND FLOWERS 


89 


SERENADE 

(for music) 

T he western wind is blowing fair 
Across the dark JEgean sea^ 

And at the secret marble stair 
My Tyrian galley waits for thee. 

Come down ! the purple sail is spread^ 
The watchman sleeps within the town, 
O leave thy lily-flowered bed^ 

O Lady mine come dowp, come down ^ 

She will not come, I know her well. 

Of lover s vows she hath no care. 

And little good a man can tell 
Of one so cruel and so fair. 

True love is but a woman's toy. 

They never know the lover's pain. 

And I who loved as loves a boy 

Must love in vain, must love in vain. 

O noble pilot, tell me true. 

Is that the sheen of golden hair? 

Or is it but the tangled dew 

That binds the passion-flowers there ? 



90 


POEMS 


Good sailor come and tell me now 
Is thab my Lady's lily hand ? 

Or is it but the gleaming prow^ 

Or is it but the silver sand ? 

No ! no ! 'tis not the tangled dew^ 

'Tis not the silver-fretted sand^ 

It is my own dear Lady true 
With golden hair and lily hand 1 
O noble pilot, steer for Troy, 

Good sailor, ply the labouring oar. 

This is the Queen of life and joy 
Whom we must bear from Grecian shore ! 

The waning sky grows faint and blue, 

It wants an hour still of day. 

Aboard ! aboard 1 my gallant crew, 

O Lady mine, away ! away ! 

O noble pilot, steer for Troy, 

Good sailor, ply the labouring oar, 

O loved as only loves a boy ! 

O loved for ever evermore ! 



WIND FLOWERS 


ENDYMION 

(foe music) 

T he apple trees are hnng with gold, 
And birds are loud in Arcady, 
The sheep lie bleating in the fold. 

The wild goat runs across the wold. 

But yesterday his love he told, 

I know he will come back to me. 

O rising moon ! O Lady moon 1 
Be you my lover’s sentinel. 

You cannot choose but know him well, 
For he is shod with purple shoon. 

You cannot choose but know my love. 
For he a shepherd’s crook doth bear. 
And he is soft as any dove. 

And brown and curly is his hair- 

The turtle now has ceased to call 
Upon her crimson-footed groom. 

The grey wolf prowls about the stall. 

The lily*s singing seneschal 
Sleeps in the lily-bell, and all 
The violet hills are lost in gloom. 



92 


POEMS 


O risen moon ! O holy moon ! 

Stand on the top of Helice, 

And if my own true love you see^ 

Ah I if you see the purple slioon, 

The hazel crooks the lad’s brown hair^ 

The goaUskin wrapped about his arm, 
Tell him that I am waiting where 
The rushlight glimmers in the Farm. 

The falling dew is cold and chill. 

And no bird sings in Arcady, 

The little fauns have left the hill, 

Even the tired daffodil 
Has closed its gilded doors, and still 
My lover comes not back to me. 

False moon 1 False moon ! 0 waning moon ! 
Where is my own true lover goiie^ 

Where are the lips vermilion, 

The shepherd’s crook, the purple slioon? 
Why spread that silver pavilion, 

Why wear that veil of drifting mist ? 

Ah 1 thou hast young Endymion, 

Thou hast the lips that should be kissed ! 



WIND FLOWERS 


LA BELLA DONNA DELLA MIA 
MENTE 

M y limbs are wasted with a flame^ 
My feet are sore with travelling. 
For, calling on my Lady's name, 

My lips have now forgot to sing. 

O Linnet in the wild-rose bi’ake 
Strain for my Love thy melody, 

O Lark sing louder for lo ^e's sake. 

My gentle Lady passeth by. 

She is too fair for any man 

To see or hold his heart's delight, 
Fairer than Queen or courtesan 
Or moonlit water in. the night. 

Her hair is bound with myrtle leaves, 
(Green leaves upon her golden hair I) 
Green grasses through the yellow sheaves 
Of autumn corn are not more fair. 

Her little lips, more made to kiss 
Than to cry bitt<^rly j^or pain, 

Are tremulou^as brook-water is. 

Or roses after evening rain. 



94 


POEMS 


Her neck is like white melilote 
Flushing for pleasure of the sun^ 

The throbbing of the linnet’s throat 
Is not so sweet to look upon. 

As a pomegranate, cut in twain, 

White-seeded, is her crimson mouth. 

Her cheeks are as the fading stain 

Where the peach reddens to the south. 

O twining hands ! O delicate 

White body made for love and pain ! 

O House of love ! O desolate 
Pale flower beaten by the rain ! 



WIND FLOWERS 


95 


CHANSON 

A RING of gold and a milk-white dove 
Are goodly gifts for thee. 

And a hempen rope for your own love 
To hang upon a tree. 

For you a House of Ivory, 

(Roses are white in the rose-bower) I 
A narrow bed for me to lie, 

(White, O white, is the hemlock flower) I 

Myrtle and jessamine for you, 

(O the red rose is fair to see) 1 
For me the cypress and the rue, 

(Finest of all is rosemarj^) ! 

For you three lovers of your hand, 

(Green grass where a man lies dead) ! 
For me three paces on the sand, 

(Plant lilies at my head) ! 



CHARMIDES 




CHARMIDES 


I 

H e was a Grecian lad, who coming home 
With pulpy figs and wine from Sicily 
Stood at his galley’s prow, and let the foam 
Blow through his crisp brown curls uncon- 
sciously. 

And holding wave and wind in boy’s despite 
Peered from his dripping seat across the wet 
and stormy night. 

Till with the dawn he saw a burnished spear 
Like a thin thread of gold against the sky. 
And hoisted sail, and strained the creaking gear. 
And bade the pilot head her lustily 
Against the nor’ west gale, and all day long 
Held on his way, and marked the rowers* time 
with measured* song, 

And when the faint Corinthian hills were red 
Dropped anchor in a little sandy bay. 

And with fresh boughs of olive crowned his 
head, 


99 



100 


POEMS 


And brushed from cheek and throat the 
hoary spray, 

And washed his limbs with oil, and from the 
hold 

Brought out his linen tunic and his sandals 
brazen-soled, 


And a rich robe stained with the fishes’ juice 
Which of some swarthy trader he had bought 
Upon the sunny quay at Syracuse, 

And was with Tyrian broideries inwrought. 
And by the questioning merchants made his way 
Up through the soft and silver woods, and when 
the labouring day 


Had spun its tangled web of crimson cloud, 
Clomb the high hill, and with swift silent feet 
Crept to the fane unnoticed by the crowd 
Of busy priests, and from some dark retreat 
Watched the young swains his frolic playmates 
bring 

The firstling of their little flock, and the shy 
shepherd fling 

The crackling salt upon the flame, or hang 
His studded crook against the temple wall 
To Her who keeps away the ravenous fang 
Of the base wolf from homestead and from 
stall ; 



CHARMIDES 


101 


And then the clear- voiced maidens 'gan to sing. 
And to the altar each man brought some goodly 
ofFering, 

A beeclien cup brimming with milky foam, 

A fair cloth wrought with cunning imagery 
Of hounds in chase, a waxen honey-comb 

Dripping \vith oozy gold which scarce the 
bee 

Had ceased from building, a black skin of oil 
Meet for the wrestlers, a great boar the fierce 
and Avhite-tusked spoil 


Stolen from Artemis that jealous maid 
To please Athena, and the dappled hide 
Of a tall stag who in some mountain glade 
Had met the shaft; and then the herald 
cried, 

And from the pillared precinct one by one 
Went the glad Greeks Avell pleased that they 
their simple vows had done. 

And the old priest put out the waning fires 
Save that one lamp wdiose restless ruby glowed 
For ever in the cell, and the shrill lyi’cs 

Came fainter on the Avind, as doAvn the road 
In joyous dance these country folk did pass. 

And Avith stout hands the Avarder closed the 
gates of polished brass. 



102 


POEMS 


Long time he lay and hardly dared to breathe. 
And heard the cadenced drip of spilt-out wine, 
And the rose-petals falling from the wreath 
As the night breezes wandered through the 
shrine. 

And seemed to be in some entranced swoon 
Till through the open roof above the full and 
brimming moon 

Flooded with sheeny waves the marble floor, 
When from his nook up leapt the venturous 
lad. 

And flinging wide the cedar-carven door 
Beheld an awful image saffron-clad 
And armed for battle 1 the gaunt Griffin glared 
From the huge helm, and the long lance of 
wreck and ruin flared 

Like a red rod of flame, stony and steeled 
The Gorgon's head its leaden eyeballs rolled, 
And writhed its snaky horrors through the 
shield, 

And gaped aghast with bloodless lips and cold 
In passion impotent, while with blind gaze 
The blinking owl between the feet hooted in 
shrill amaze. 

The lonely fisher as he trimmed his lamp 
Far out at sea off Sunium, or cast 
The net for tunnies, heard a brazen ti*amp 



CHARMIDES 


103 


Of horses smite the waves^ and a wild blast 
Divide the folded curtains of the night. 

And knelt upon the little poop, and prayed in 
holy fright. 


And guilty lovers in their venery 

Forgat a little while their stolen sweets, 
Deeming they heard dread Dian’s bitter cry ; 

And the grim watchmen on their lofty seats 
Ran to their shields in haste precipitate. 

Or strained black-bearded throats across the 
dusky parapet. 

For round the temple rolled the clang of arms. 
And the twelve Gods leapt up in marble 
fear, 

And the air quaked with dissonant alarums 
Till huge Poseidon shook his mighty spear, 
And on the frieze the prancing horses neighed. 
And the low tread of hurrying feet rang from 
the cavalcade. 

Ready for death with parted lips he stood, 

And well content at such a price to see 
That calm wide brow, that terrible maidenhood. 
The marvel of that pitiless chastity. 

Ah I well content indeed, for never wight 
Since Troy's young shepherd prince had seen so 
wonderful a sight. 



104 


POEMS 


Ready for death he stood, but lo I the air 
Grew silent^ and the horses ceased to neigh. 
And off his brow he tossed the clustering hair. 
And from his limbs he threw the cloak away ; 
For whom would not such love make desperate ? 
And Higher came, and touched her throat, and 
with hands violate 

Undid the cuirass, and the crocus gown, 

And bared the breasts of polished ivory. 

Till from the waist the peplos falling down 
Left visible the secret mystery 
Which to no lover will Athena show. 

The grand cool flanks, the crescent thighs, the 
bossy hills of snow. 

Those who have never known a lover’s sin 
Let them not read my ditty, it will be 
To their dull ears so musicless and thin 
That they will have no joy of it, but ye 
To whose wan cheeks now creeps the lingering 
smile. 

Ye who have learned who Eros is, — O listen 
yet awhile. 


A little space he let his greedy eyes 

Rest on the burnished image, till mere sight 
Half swooned for surfeit of such luxuries. 

And then his lips in hungering delight 



CHARMIDES 


105 


Fed on her lips, and round the towered neck 
He flung his arms, nor cared at all his passion’s 
will to check. 

Never I ween did lover hold such tryst. 

For all night long he murmured honeyed 
word, 

And saw her sweet unravished limbs, and kissed 
Her pale and argent body undisturbed. 

And paddled with the polished throat, and 
pressed 

His hot and beating heart upon her chill and 
icy breast. 

It was as if Numidian javelins 

Pierced through and through his wild and 
whirling brain, 

And his nerves thrilled like throbbing violins 
In exquisite pulsation, and the pain 
Was such sweet anguish that he never drew 
His lips from hers till overhead the lark of 
warning flew. 

They who have never seen the daylight peer 
Into a darkened room, and drawn the curtain, 
And with dull eyes and wearied from some dear 
And worshipped body risen, they for certain 
Will never know of what I try to sing. 

How long the last kiss was, how fond and late 
his lingering. 



106 


POEMS 


The moon was girdled with a crystal rim, 

The sign which shipmen say is ominous 
Of wrath in heaven, the wan stars were dim^ 

And the low lightening east was tremulous 
With the faint fluttering wings of flying dawn^ 
Ere from the silent sombre shrine his lover had 
withdrawn. 

Down the steep rock with hurried feet and 
fast 

Clomb the brave lad^ and reached the cave of 
Pan, 

And heard the goat-foot snoring as he passed, 
And leapt upon a grassy knoll and ran 
Like a young fawn unto an olive wood 
Which in a shady valley by the well-built city 
stood ; 

And sought a little stream, which well he knew, 
For oftentimes with boyish careless shout 
The green and crested grebe he would pursue, 
Or snare in woven net the silver trout. 

And down amid the startled reeds he lay 
Panting in breathless sweet affright, and waited 
for the day. 

On the green bank he lay, and let one hand 
Dip in the cool dark eddies listlessly, 

And soon the breath of morning came and fanned 
His hot flushed cheeks, or lifted wantonly 



CHARMIDES 


107 


The tangled curls from olF his forehead, while 
He on the running water gazed with strange 
and secret smile. 

And soon the shepherd in rough woollen cloak 
With his long crook undid the wattled cotes, 
And from the stack a thin blue wreath of smoke 
Curled through the air across the ripening 
oats. 

And on the hill the yellow house-dog bayed 
As through the crisp and rustling fern the heavy 
cattle strayed. 

And when the light-foot mower went afield 
Across the meadows laced with threaded 
dew, 

And the sheep bleated on the misty weald, 

And from its nest the waking corncrake 
fiew, 

Some woodmen saw him lying by the stream 
And marvelled much that any lad so beautiful 
could seem. 

Nor deemed him born of mortals, and one said, 

‘ It is young Hylas, that false runaway 
Who with a Naiad now would make his bed 
Forgetting Herakles,' but others, ^Nay, 

It is Narcissus, his own paramour. 

Those are the fond and crimson lips no woman 
can allure/ 



108 


POEMS 


And when they nearer came a third one cried, 

^ It is young Dionysos who has hid 
His spear and fawnskin by the river side 
Weary of hunting with the Bassarid, 

And wise indeed were we away to fly : 

They live not long who on the gods immortal 
come to spy/ 

So turned they back, and feared to look behind. 
And told the timid swain how they had seen 
Amid the reeds some woodland God reclined. 
And no man dared to cross the open green, 
And on that day no olive-tree was slain. 

Nor rushes cut, but all deserted was the fair 
domain. 

Save when the neat-herd's lad, his empty pail 
Well slung upon his back, with leap and 
bound 

Raced on the other side, and stopped to hail, 
Hoping that he some comrade new had found. 
And gat no answer, and then half afraid 
Passed on his simple way, or down the still and 
silent glade 

A little girl ran laughing from the*farm. 

Not thinking of love's secret mysteries. 

And when she saw the white and gleaming 
arm 

And all his manlihood, with longing eyes 



CHARMIDES 


109 


Whose passion mocked her sweet virginity 
Watched him awhile, and then stole back sadly 
and wearily. 


Far off he heard the city’s hum and noise. 

And now and then the shriller laughter where 
The passionate purity of brown-limbed boys 
Wrestled or raced in the clear healthful air, 
And how and then a little tinkling bell 
As the shorn wether led the sheep down to the 
mossy well. 


Through the grey willows danced the fretful 
gnat, 

The grasshopper chirped idly from the tree, 

In sleek and oily coat the water-rat 
Breasting the little ripples manfully 
Made for the wild-duck's nest, from bough to 
bough 

Hopped the shy finch, and the huge tortoise 
crept across the slough. 


On the faint wind floated the silky seeds 
As the bright scythe swept through the 
waving grass, 

The ouzel-cock splashed circles in the reeds 
And flecked with silver whorls the forest's 
glass, 



110 


POEMS 


Which scarce had caught again its imagery 
Ere from its bed the dusky tencli leapt at the 
dragon-fly. 

But little care had he for any thing 

Though up and down the beech the squirrel 
played. 

And from the copse the linnet "gan to sing 
To her brown mate her sweetest serenade ; 

Ah I little care indeed, for he had seen 
The breasts of Pallas and the naked wonder of 
the Queen. 

But when the herdsman called his straggling 
goats 

With whistling pipe across the rocky road, 
And the shard-beetle with its trumpet-notes 
Boomed through the darkening woods, and 
seemed to bode 

Of coming storm, and the belated crane 
Passed homeward like a shadow, and the dull 
big drops of rain 

Fell on the patteiing fig-leaves, up he rose. 

And from the gloomy forest went his way 
Past sombre homestead and wet orchard-close. 
And came at last unto a little qnay, 

And called his mates aboard, and took his seat 
On the high poop, and pushed from land, and 
loosed the dripping sheet. 



CHARMIDES 


111 


And steered across the bay^ and when nine suns 
Passed down the long and laddered way of gold, 
And nine pale moons had breathed their orisons 
To the chaste stars their confessors, or told 
Their dearest secret to the downy moth 
That will not fly at noonday, through the foam 
and surging froth 

Came a great owl with yellow sulphurous eyes 
And lit upon the ship, whose timbers creaked 
As though the lading of three argosies 

Were in the hold, and flapped its wings and 
shrieked. 

And darkness straightway stole across the deep. 
Sheathed was Orion’s sword, dread Mars him- 
self fled down the steep. 

And the moon hid behind a tawny mask 

Of drifting cloud, and from the ocean’s marge 
Rose the red plume, the huge and horned 
casque. 

The seven-cubit spear, the brazen targe ! 

And clad in bright and burnished panoply 
Athena strode across the stretch of sick and 
shivering sea ! 

To the dull sailors’ sight her loosened locks 
Seemed like the jagged storm-rack, and her 
feet 

Only the spume that floats on hidden rocks. 



112 


POEMS 


And, marking how the rising waters beat 
Against the rolling ship, the pilot cried 
To the young helmsman at the stern to luff to 
windward side. 

But he, the overbold adulterer, 

A dear profaner of great mysteries, 

An ardent amorous idolater. 

When he beheld those grand relentless eyes 
Laughed loud for joy, and crying out ' I come ' 
Leapt from the lofty poop into the chill and 
churning foam. 

Then fell from the high heaven one bright 
star. 

One dancer left the circling galaxy, 

And back to Athens on her clattering car 
In all the piide of venged divinity 
Pale Pallas swept with shrill and steely clank, 
And a few gurgling bubbles rose where her boy 
lover sank. 

And the mast shuddered as the gaunt owl flew 
With mocking hoots after the wrathful 
Queen, 

And the old pilot bade the trembling crew 
Hoist the big sail, and told how he had seen 
Close to the stern a dim and giant form. 

And like a dipping swallow the stout ship 
dashed through the storm. 



CHAEMIDES 


113 


And no man dared to speak of Charmides 

Deeming that he some evil thing had wrought. 
And when they reached the strait Symplegades 
They beached their galley on the shore^, and 
sought 

The toll-gate of the city hastily^ 

And in the market showed their brown and 
pictured pottery. 


n 



114 


POEMS 


II 

B ut some good Triton-god had ruth^ and 
bare 

The boy's drowned body back to Grecian 
land^ 

And mermaids combed his dank and dripping 
hair 

And smoothed his brow^ and loosed his 
clenching hand. 

Some brought sweet spices from far Araby, 

And others bade the halcyon sing her softest 
lullaby. 

And when he neared his old Athenian home, 

A mighty billow rose up suddenly 
Upon whose oily back the clotted foam 
Lay diapered in some strange fantasy, 

And clasping him unto its glassy breast 
Swept landward, like a white-maned steed upon 
a venturous quest ! 

Now where Colonos leans unto the sea 

There lies a long and level stretch of lawn ; 
The rabbit knows it, and the mountain bee 



CHAEMIPES 


115 


For it deserts Hymettus, and tlie Faun 
Is not afraid^ for never through the day 
Comes a cry ruder than the shout of shepherd 
lads at play. 

But often from the thorny labyrinth 

And tangled branches of the circling wood 
The stealthy hunter sees young Hyacinth 

Hurling the polished disk^ and draws his hood 
Over his guilty gaze^ and creeps away, 

Nor dares to wind his horn, or — else at the first 
break of day 

The Dryads come and throw the leathern ball 
Along the reedy shore, and circumvent 
Some goat-eared Pan to be their seneschal 
For fear of bold Poseidon's ravishment, 

And loose their girdles, with shy timorous eyes, 
Lest from the surf his azure arms and purple 
beard should rise. 

On this side and on that a rocky cave. 

Hung with the yellow-belled laburnum, stands ; 
Smooth is the beach, save where some ebbing 
wave 

Leaves its faint outline etched upon the sands, 
As though it feared to be too soon forgot 
By the green rush, its playfellow, — ^and yet, it 
is a spot 



116 


POEMS 


So small, that the inconstant butterfly 

Could steal the hoarded money from each 
flower 

Ere it was noon, and still not satisfy 
Its over-greedy love, — within an hour 
A sailor boy^ were he but rude enow 
To land and pluck a garland for his galley's 
painted prow, 


Would almost leave the little meadow bare. 

For it knows nothing of great pageantry. 

Only a few narcissi here and there 
Stand separate in sweet austerity. 

Dotting the un-mown grass with silver stars, 

And here and there a daffodil waves tiny 
scimitars. 


Hither the billow bi-ought him, and was glad 
Of such dear servitude, and where the land 
Was virgin of all waters laid the lad 

Upon the golden margent of the strand, 

And like a lingering lover oft returned 
To kiss those pallid limbs which once with 
intense fire burned, 


Ere the v/et seas had quenched that holocaust. 
That self-fed flame, that passionate lustihead. 
Ere grisly death with chill and nipping frost 



CHARMIDES 


117 


Had withered up those lilies white and red 
Which, while the boy would through the forest 
range. 

Answered each other in a sweet antiphonal 
counter-change. 

And when at dawn the wood-nymphs, hand-in- 
hand. 

Threaded the bosky dell, their satyr spied 
The boy’s pale body stretched upon the sand. 
And feared Poseidon’s treachery, and cried. 
And like bright sunbeams flitting through a 
glade 

Each startled Dryad sought some safe and leafy 
ambuscade. 

Save one white girl, who deemed it would not be 
So dread a thing to feel-a sea-god’s arms 
Crushing her breasts in amorous tyranny. 

And longed to listen to those subtle charms 
Insidious lovers weave when they would win 
Some fenced fortress, and stole back again, nor 
thought it sin 

To yield her treasure unto one so fair. 

And lay beside him, thirsty with love’s drouth. 
Called him soft names, played with his tangled 
hair. 

And with hot lips made havoc of his mouth 



118 


POEMS 


Afraid he might not wake, and then afraid 
Lest he might wake too soon, fled back, and 
then, fond renegade. 

Returned to fresh assault, and all day long 
Sat at his side, and laughed at her new toy. 
And held his hand, and sang her sweetest song, 
Then frowned to see how froward was the boy 
Who would not with her maidenhood entwine, 
Nor knew that three days since his eyes had 
looked on Proserpine, 

Nor knew what sacrilege his lips had done. 

But said, ^ He will awake, I know him well, 
He will awake at evening when the sun 
Hangs his red shield on Coi*inth's citadel ; 

This sleep is but a cruel treachery 
To make me love him more, and in some cavern 
of the sea 

Deeper than ever falls the fisher* s line 
Already a huge Triton blows his horn. 

And weaves a garland from the crystalline 
And drifting ocean-tendrils to adorn 
The emerald pillars of our bridal bed, 

For sphered in foaming silver, and with coral 
crowned head. 

We two will sit upon a throne of pearl, 

And a blue wave will be our canopy. 



CHAKMIDES 


119 


And at our feet the water-snakes will curl 
In all their amethystine panoply 
Of diamonded mail^ and we will mark 
The mullets swimming by the mast of some 
storm-foundered bark, 

Vermilion-finned Avith eyes of bossy gold 

Like flakes of crimson light, and the great 
deep 

His glassy-portaled chamber will unfold. 

And we will see the painted dolphins sleep 
Cradled by murmuring halcyons on the rocks 
Where Proteus in quaint suit of green pastures 
his monstrous flocks. 

And tremulous opal-hued anemones 

Will wave their purple fringes where 'we tread 
Upon the mirrored floor, and argosies 

Of fishes flecked with tawny scales will thread 
The drifting cordage of the shattered wreck* 
And honey-coloured amber beads our twining 
limbs will deck.* 

But when that baffled Lord of War the Sun 
With gaudy pennon flying passed away 
Into his brazen House, and one by one 
The little yellow stars began to stray 
Across the field of heaven, ah I then indeed 
She feared his lips upon her lips would never 
care to feed, 



1120 


POEMS 


And criedj ^ Awake^ already tke pale moon 
Washes the trees with silver, and the wave 
Creeps grey and chilly up this sandy dune. 

The croaking frogs are out, and from the 
cave 

The night-jar shrieks, the fluttering bats repass, 
And the brown stoat with hollow flanks creeps 
through the dusky grass. 

Nay, though thou art a God, be not so coy. 

For in yon stream there is a little reed 
That often whispers how a lovely boy 
Lay with her once upon a grassy mead, 

Who when his cruel pleasure he had done 
Spread wings of rustling gold and soared aloft 
into the sun. 

Be not so coy, the laurel trembles still 
With great Apollo’s kisses, and the fir 
Whose clustering sisters fringe the seaward hill 
Hath many a tale of that bold ravisher 
Whom men call Boreas, and I have seen 
The mocking eyes of Hermes through the 
poplar’s silvery sheen. 

Even the jealous Naiads call me fair, 

And every morn a young and ruddy swain 
Woos me with apples and with locks of hair. 

And seeks to soothe my vii'ginal disdain 



CHARMIDES 


121 


By all the gifts the gentle wood-nymphs love ; 
But yesterday he brought to me an iris-plumaged 
dove 


With little crimson feet^ which with its store 
Of seven spotted eggs the cruel lad 
Had stolen from the lofty sycamore 

At daybreak, when her amorous comrade had 
Flow'll off in search of berried juniper 
Which most they love; the fretful wasp, that 
earliest vintager 


Of the blue grapes, hath not persistency 
So constant as this simple shepherd-boy 
For my poor lips, his joyous purity 

And laughing sunny eyes might well decoy 
A Dryad from her oath to Artemis ; 

For very beautiful is he, his mouth was made 
to kiss ; 


His argent forehead, like a rising moon 
Over the dusky hills of meeting brows. 

Is crescent shaped, the hot and Tyrian noon 
Leads from the myrtle-grove no goodlier 
spouse 

For Cytheraea, the first silky down 
Fringes his blushing cheeks, and his young 
limbs are strong and brown 



122 


POEMS 


And he is rich^ and fat and fleecy herds 
Of bleating sheep upon his meadows lie, 

And many an earthen bowl of yellow curds 
Is in his homestead for the thievish fly 
To swim and drown in, the pink clover mead 
Keeps its sweet store for him, and he can pipe 
on oaten reed. 

And yet I love him not ; it was for thee 

I kept my love; I knew that thou would'st 
come 

To rid me of this pallid chastity. 

Thou fairest flower of the flowerless foam 
Of all the wide -®gean, brightest star 
Of ocean s azure heavens where the mirrored 
planets are 1 

I knew that thou would*st come, for when at first 
The dry wood burgeoned, and the sap of 
Spring 

Swelled in my green and tender bark or burst 
To myriad multitudinous blossoming 
Which mocked the midnight with its mimic 
moons 

That did not dread the dawn, and first the 
thrushes’ rapturous tunes 

Startled the squirrel from its granary, 

And cuckoo flowers fringed the narrow lane, 
Through my young leaves a sensuous ecstasy 



CHAEMIBES 


12a 


Crept like new wine, and every mossy vein 
Throbbed with the fitful pulse of amorous blood. 
And the wild winds of passion shook my slim 
stem’s maidenhood. 

The trooping fawns at evening came and laid 
Their cool black noses on my lowest boughs. 
And on my topmost branch the blackbird made 
A little nest of grasses for his spouse. 

And now and then a twittering wren would light 
On a thin twig which hardly bare the weight of 
such delight. 

I was the Attic shepherd’s trysting place. 
Beneath my shadow Amaryllis lay. 

And round my trunk would laughing Daphnis 
chase 

The timorous girl, till tired out with play 
She felt his hot breath stir her tangled hair, 

:^nd turned, and looked, and fled no more from 
such delightful snare. 

Then come away unto my ambuscade 

Where clustering woodbine weaves a canopy 
f'or amorous pleasaunce, and the rustling shade 
Of Paphian myrtles seems to sanctify 
The dearest rites of love ; there in the cool 
And green recesses of its farthest depth there is 
a pool. 



124 


POEMS 


The ouzePs haunt^ the wild bee's pasturage. 

For round its rim great creamy lilies float 
Through their fiat leaves in verdant anchorage. 
Each cup a white-sailed golden-laden boat 
Steered by a dragon-fly, — be not afraid 
To leave this wan and wave-kissed shore, surely 
the place was made 


For lovers such as we ; the Cyprian Queen, 

One arm around her boyish paramour, 

Strajs often there at eve, and I have seen 
The moon strip off her misty vestiture 
For young Endymion's eyes ; be not afraid, 

The panther feet of Dian never tread that secret 
glade. 


Nay if thou wilPst, back to the beating brine, 
Back to the boisterous billow let us go. 

And walk all day beneath the hyaline 
Huge vault of Neptune's watery portico, 

And watch the purple monsters of the deep 
Sport in ungainly play, and from his lair keen 
Xiphias leap. 


For if my mistress find me lying here 
She will not ruth or gentle pity show, 

But lay her boar-spear down, and with austere 
Relentless fingers string the cornel bow. 



CHAEMIDES 


125 


And draw the feathered notch against her breast^ 
And loose the arched cord ; aj, even now upon 
the quest 

I hear her hurrying feet^ — awake> awal^e. 

Thou laggard in love’s battle 1 once atdeast 
Let me drink deep of passion’ s wine, and slake 
My parched being with the nectarous feast 
Which even Gods affect ! O come. Love, come, 
Still we have time to reach the cavern of thine 
azure home/ 

Scarce had she spoken when the shuddering 
trees 

Shook, and the leaves divided, and the air 
Grew conscious of a God, and the grey seas 
Crawled backward, and a long and dismal 
blare 

Blew from some tasselled hom, a sleuth-hound 
bayed. 

And like a flame a barbed reed flew whizzing 
down the glade. 

And where the little flowers of her breast 
\ Just brake into their milky blossoming. 

This murderous paramour, this unbidden guest. 
Pierced and struck deep in horrid chambering. 
And ploughed a bloody furrow with its dart. 

And dug a long red road, and cleft with wingM 
death her heart. 



126 


POEMS 


Sobbing her life out with a bitter cry 
On the boy's body fell the Dryad maid, 
^.Sobbing for incomplete virginity, 

. -»And raptures unenjoyed, and pleasures dead, 
And all the pain of things unsatisfied. 

And the bright drops of crimson youth crept 
down her throbbing side. 


Ah ! pitiful it was to hear her moan, 

And very pitiful to see her die 
Ere she had yielded up her sweets, or known 
The joy of passion, that dread mystery 
Which not to know is not to live at all. 

And yet to know is to be held in death's most 
deadly thrall. 


But as it hapt the Queen of Cythere, 

Who with Adonis all night long had lain 
Within some shepherd's hut in Arcady, 

On team of silver doves and gilded wain 
Was journeying Paphos-ward, high up afar 
From mortal ken between the mountains and 
the morning star. 


And when low down she spied the hapless pair. 
And heard the Oread's faint despairing cry. 
Whose cadence seemed to play upon the air 
As though it were a viol, hastily 



CHARMIBES 


127 


She bade her pigeons fold each straining plume, 
And dropt to earth, and reached the strand, and 
saw their dolorous doom. 

For as a gardener turning back his head 
To catch the last notes of the linnet, mows 
With careless scythe too near some flower bed. 
And cuts the thorny pillar of the rose. 

And with the flower’s loosened loveliness 
Strews the brown mould ; or as some shepherd 
lad in wantonness 

Driving his little flock along the mead 

Treads down two daffodils, which side by 
side 

Have lured the lady-bird with yellow brede 
And made the gaudy moth forget its pride. 
Treads down their brimming golden chalices 
Under light feet which were not made for such 
rude ravages ; 

Or as a schoolboy tired of his book 

Flings himself down upon the reedy grass 
And plucks two water-lilies from the brook. 

And for a time forgets the hour glass. 

Then wearies of their sweets, and goes his 
way, 

And lets the hot sun kill them, even so these 
lovers lay. 



128 


POEMS 


And Venus cried^ is dread Artemis 

Whose bitter hand hath wrought this cruelty, 
Or else that mightier maid whose care it is 
To guard her strong and stainless majesty 
Upon the hill Athenian, — alas ! 

That they who loved so well unloved into death’s 
house should pass/ 

So with soft hands she laid the boy and girl 
In the great golden waggon tenderly. 

Her white throat whiter than a moony pearl 
Just threaded with a blue vein’s tapestry 
Had not yet ceased to throb, and still her breast 
Swayed like a wind-stirred lily in ambiguous 
unrest. 

And then each pigeon spread its milky van, 

The bright car soared into the dawning sky, 
And like a cloud the aerial caravan 
Passed over the iEgean silently, 

Till the faint air was troubled with the song 
From the wan mouths that call on bleeding 
Thammuz all night long. 


But when the doves had reached their wonted 
goal 

Where the wide stair of orb^d marble dips 
Its snows into the sea, her fluttering soul 
Just shook the trembling petals of her lips 



CUARYiWES 


129 


And passed into the void, and Venus knew 
That one fair maid the less would walk amid 
her retinuCj 


And bade her servants carve a cedar chest 
With all the wonder of this histoiy. 

Within whose scented womb their limbs should 
rest 

Where olive-trees make tender the blue sky 
On the low hills of Paphos, and the Faun 
Pipes in the noonday, and the nightingale sings 
on till dawn. 

Nor failed they to obey her hest, and ere 
The morning bee had stung the daffodil 
With tiny fretful spear, or from its lair 
The waking stag had leapt across the rill 
And roused the ouzel, or the lizard crept 
Athwart the sunny rock, beneath the grass their 
bodies slept. 

And when day brake, within that silver shrine 
Fed by the flames of cressets tremulous. 

Queen Venus knelt and prayed to Proserpine 
That she whose beauty made Death amorous 
Should beg a guerdon from her pallid Lord, 

And let Desire pass across dread Charon’s icy 
ford. 


1 



130 


POEMS 


in 

I N melancholy moonless Acheron, 

Far from the goodly earth and joyous "day, 
Where no spring ever buds, nor ripening sun 
Weighs down the apple trees, nor flowery 
May 

Chequers with chestnut blooms the grassy floor, 
Where thrushes never sing, and piping linnets 
mate no more, 

There by a dim and dark Lethaean well 
Young Charmides was lying ; wearily 
He plucked the blossoms from the asphodel. 
And with its little rifled treasury 
Strewed the dull waters of the dusky stream. 
And watched the white stars founder, and the 
land was like a aream. 

When as he gazed into the watery gla^ 

And through his brown hair’s cuny tangles 
scanned 

His own wan face, a shadow seemed to pass 
Across the mirror, and a little hand 



CHAEMIDES 


ISl 


Stole into Ms, and warm lips timidly 
Brushed his pale cheeks, and breathed their 
secret forth into a sigh. 


Then turned he round his weary eyes and saw, 
And ever nigher still their faces came. 

And nigher ever did their young mouths draw 
Until they seemed one perfect rose of flame. 
And longing arms around her neck he cast. 

And felt her throbbing bosom, and his breath 
came hot and fast, 


And all his hoarded sweets were hers to kiss. 
And all her maidenhood was his to slay, 

And limb to limb in long and rapturous bliss 
Their passion waxed and waned, — O why 
essay 

To pipe again of love, too venturous reed I 
Enough, enough that Eros laughed upon that 
flowerless mead. 

Too venturous poesy, O why essay 

To pipe again of passion I fold thy wings 
O’er darxM Icarus and bid thy lay 

Sleep hidden in the lyre’s silent strings 
Till thou hast found the old Castalian rill. 

Or from the Lesbian waters plucked drowned 
Sappho’s golden quill 1 



132 


POEMS 


Enough, enough that he whose life had been 
A fiery pulse of sin, a splendid shame. 

Could in the loveless land of Hades glean 

One scorching harvest from those fields of 
flame 

Where passion walks with naked unshod feet 
And is not wounded, — ah i enough that once 
their lips could meet 

In that wild throb when all existences 
Seemed narrowed to one single ecstasy 
Which dies through its own sweetness and the 
stress 

Of too much pleasure, ere Persephone 
Had bade them serve her by the ebon throne 
Of the pale God who in the fields of Enna 
loosed her zone. 



FLOWERS OF GOLD 




IMPRESSIONS 


I 

LES SILHOUETTES 

T he sea is flecked with bars of grey. 
The dull dead wind is out of tune. 
And like a withered leaf the moon 
Is blown across the stormy bay. 

Etched clear upon the pallid sand 
Lies the black boat : a sailor boy 
Clambers aboard in careless joy 
With laughing face and gleaming hand. 

And overhead the curlews cry. 

Where through the dusky upland grass 
The young brown-throated reapers pass. 
Like silhouettes against the sky. 



136 


POEMS 


II 


LA FUITE DE LA LUNE 


T O outer senses there is peace, 

A dreamy peace on either hand 
Deep silence in the shadowy land, 
Deep silence where the shadows cease. 


Save for a cry that echoes shrill 
From some lone bird disconsolate ; 
A corncrake calling to its mate ; 
The answer from the misty hill. 


And suddenly the moon withdraws 
Her sickle from the lightening skies, 
And to her sombre cavern flies, 
Wrapped in a veil of yellow gauze. 



FLOWERS OF GOLD 


m 


THE GRAVE OF KEATS 

R id of the world’s injustice^ and his pain, 

He rests at last beneath God’s veil of 
blue : 

Taken from life when life and love were new 
The youngest of the martyrs here is lain, 

Fair as Sebastian, and as early slain. 

No cypress shades his grave, no funeral yew, 
But gentle violets weeping with the dew 
Weave on his bones an ever-blossoming chain. 

O proudest heart that broke for misery ! 

0 sweetest lips since those of Mitylene 1 
0 poet-painter of our English Land ! 

Thy name was writ in water it shall stand : 

And tears like mine will keep thy memory 
green. 

As Isabella did her Basil-ti'ee, 


Rome. 



POEMS 


US 


THEOCRITUS 


A VILLANELLE 


O SINGER of Persephone ! 

In the dim meadows desolate 
Dost thou remember Sicily ? 


Still through the ivy flits the bee 
Wliere Amaryllis lies in state ; 
O Singer of Persephone 1 


Simaetha calls on Hecate 

And hears the wild dogs at the gate 
Dost thou remember Sicily ? 

Still by the light and laughing sea 
Poor Poly ph erne bemoans his fate ; 

O Singer of Persephone 1 

And still in boyish rivalry 

Young Daphnis challenges his mate 
Dost thou remember Sicily ? 


Slim Lacon keeps a goat for thee. 

For thee the jocund shepherds wait 
O Singer of Persephone ! 

Dost thou remember Sicily ? 



FLOWERS OF GOLD 


ISd 


IN THE GOLD ROOM 

A HARMONY 

H er ivory hands on the ivory keys 
^ Strayed in a fitful fantasy^ 

Like the silver gleam when the poplar trees 
Rustle their pale leaves listlessly. 

Or the drifting foam of a restless sea 
When the waves show their teeth in the flying 
breeze. 

Her gold hair fell on the wall of gold 
Like the delicate gossamer tangles spun 
On the burnished disk of the marigold. 

Or the sunflower turning to meet the sun 
When the gloom of the dark blue night is 
done. 

And the spear of the lily is aureoled. 

And her sweet red lips on these lips of mine 
Burned like the ruby fire set 
In the swinging lamp of a crimson shrine, 

Or the bleeding wounds of the pomegranate. 
Or the heart of the lotus drenched and wet 
With the spilt-out blood of the rose-red wine. 



140 


POEMS 


BALLADE DE MARGUERITE 

(normande) 

I AM weary of lying within the chase 

When the knights are meeting in market- 
place. 

Nay^ go not thou to the red-roofed town 
Lest the hoofs of the war-horse tread thee down. 

But I would not go where the Squires ride^ 

I would only walk by my Lady's side. 

Alack 1 and alack ! thou art overbold, 

A Forester's son may not eat off gold. 

Will she love me the less that my Father is seen 
Each Martinmas day in a doublet green ? 

Perchance she is sewing at tapestrie. 

Spindle and loom are not meet for thee. 

Ah, if she is working the arras bright 
I might ravel the threads by the fire-light. 



FLOWERS OF GOLD 


141 


Perchance she is hunting of the deer, 

How could you follow o’er hill and mere? 

Ah, if she is riding with the court, 

I might run beside her and wind the morte. 

Perchance she is kneeling in St. Denys, 

(On her soul may our Lady have gramercy !) 

Ah, if she is praying in lone chapelle, 

I might swing the censer and ring the belL 

Come in, my son, for you look sae pale, 

The father shall fill thee a stoup of ale. 

But who are these knights in bright array ? 
Is it a pageant the rich folks play ? 

’T is the King of England from over sea. 
Who has come unto visit our fair countrie. 

But why does the curfew toll sae low ? 

And why do the mourners walk a-row ? 

O ’t is Hugh of Amiens my sister’ s son 
Who is lying stark, for his day is done. 

Nay, nay, for I see white lilies clear. 

It is no strong man who lies on the bier. 



142 


POEMS 


0 ^tis old Dame Jeannette that kept the hail, 

1 knew she would die at the autumn fall. 

Dame Jeannette had not that gold-brown hair. 
Old Jeannette was not a maiden fair, 

O 't is none of our kith and none of our kin, 
(Her soul may our Lady assoil from sin !) 

But I hear the boy's voice chaunting sweet*, 

^ Elle est morte, la Marguerite.' 

Come in, my son, and lie on the bed. 

And let the dead folk bury their dead. 

O mother, you know I loved her true : 

O mother, hath one grave room for two ? 



FLOWERS OF GOLD 


143 


THE DOLE OF THE KING’S 
DAUGHTER 

(BKETOX) 

S EVEN stars in the still water, 

And seven in the sky ; 

Seven sins on the King’s daughter. 

Deep in her soul to lie. 

Red roses are at her feet^ 

(Roses are red in her red-gold hair) 
And O where her bosom and girdle meet 
Red roses are hidden there. 

Fair is the knight who lieth slain 
Amid the rush and reed. 

See the lean fishes that are fain 
Upon dead men to feed. 

Sweet is the page that lieth there, 

(Cloth of gold is goodly prey,) 

See the black ravens in the air. 

Black, O black as the night are they. 



144 


POEMS 


What do they there so stark and dead ? 

(There is blood upon her hand) 

Why are the lilies flecked with red ? 

(There is blood on the river sand.) 

There are two that ride firom the south and 

eastj 

And two from the north and west. 

For the black raven a goodly feast^ 

For the King’s daughter rest. 

Thei*e is one man who loves her true, 

(Red, O red, is the stain of gore !) 

He hath duggen a grave by the darksome 
yew, 

(One grave will do for four.) 

No moon in the still heaven, 

In the black water none. 

The sins on her soul are seven, 

The sin upon his is one. 



FLOWERS OF GOLD 


145 


AMOR INTELLECTUALIS 

O FT have we trod the vales of Castaly 

And heard sweet notes of sylvan music 
blown 

From antique reeds to common folk unknown : 
And often launched our bark upon that sea 
Which the nine Muses hold in empery. 

And ploughed free furrows through the wave 
and foam, 

Nor spread reluctant sail for more safe home 
Till we had freighted well our argosy. 

Of which despoiled treasures these remain, 
Bordello's passioiij and the honeyed line 
Of young Endymion, lordly Tamburlaine 

Driving his pampered jades, and, more than 
these, 

The seven-fold vision of the Florentine, 

And grave-browed Milton's solemn harmonies. 



146 


POEMS 


SANTA DECCA 

T he Gods are dead : no longer do we bring 
To grey-eyed Pallas crowns of olive- 
leaves ! 

Demeter s child no more hath tithe of sheaves^ 
And in the noon the careless shepherds sing^ 

For Pan is dead, and all the wantoning 
By secret glade and devious haunt is o’er : 
Young Hylas seeks the water-springs no more ; 
Great Pan is dead, and Mary’s son is King. 

And yet — perchance in this sea-tranced isle, 
Chewing the bitter fruit of memory, * 

Some God lies hidden in the asphodel. 

Ah Love! if such there be, then it were well 
For us to fly his anger : nay, but see. 

The leaves are stirring : let us watch awhile. 


Corfu. 



FLOWERS OF GOLD 


147 


A VISION 

T WO crowned Kings/ and One that stood 
alone 

With no green weight of laurels round his 
head. 

But with sad eyes as one uncomforted, 

And wearied with man’s never-ceasing moan 
For sins no bleating victim can atone^ 

And sweet long lips with tears and kisses fed. 
Girt -was he in a garment black and red, 

And at his feet I marked a broken stone 
Which sent up lilies, dove-like, to his knees. 
Now at their sight, my heart being lit -with flame, 
I cried to Beatrice, ^ Who are these ? ’ 

And she made answer, knowing well each name, 
^ JEschylos first, the second Sopiiokles, 

And last (wide stream of tears !) Euripides.’ 



148 


POEMS 


IMPRESSION DE VOYAGE 

T he sea was sapphire coloured, and the sky 
Burned like a heated opal through the 
air; 

We hoisted sail ; the wind was blowing fair 
For the blue lands that to the eastward lie. 

From the steep prow I marked with quickening 
eye 

Zak3nithos, every olive grove and creek, 
Ithaca’s cliiF, Lycaon’s snowy peak. 

And all the flower-strewn hills of Arcady. 

The flapping of the sail against the mast, 

The ripple of the water on the side, 

The ripple of girls’ laughter at the stern, 

The only sounds : — when ^gan the West to burn. 
And a red sun upon the seas to ride, 

I stood upon the soil of Greece at last ! 

Katakolo. 



FLOWERS OF GOLD 


149 


THE GRAVE OP SHELLEY 

L ike bumt-out torches by a sick man’s bed 
^ Gaunt cypress-trees stand round the sun- 
bieached stone ; 

Here doth the little night-owi make her 
throne^ 

And the slight lizard show his jewelled head. 
And, where the chaliced poppies flame to red. 

In the still chamber of yon pyramid 
Surely some Old-World Sphinx lurks darkly 
hid, 

Grim warder of this pleasaunce of the dead. 

Ah ! sweet indeed to rest within the womb 
Of Earth, great mother of eternal sleep, 

But sweeter far for thee a restless tomb 
In the blue cavern of an echoing deep. 

Or where the tall ships founder in the gloom 
Against the rocks of some wave-shattered 
steep. 


Rome. 



150 


POEMS 


BY THE ARNO 

T he oleander on the wall 

Grows crimson in the dawning lights 
Though the grey shadows of the night 
Lie yet on Florence like a pall. 

The dew is bright upon the hill, 

And bright the blossoms overhead. 

But ah ! the grasshoppers have fled. 

The little Attic song is still. 

Only the leaves are gently stirred 
By the soft breathing of the gale. 

And in the almond-scented vale 
The lonely nightingale is heard. 

The day will make thee silent soon. 

O nightingale sing on for love ! 

While yet upon the shadowy grove 
Splinter the arrows of the moon. 

Before across the silent lawn 
In sea-green vest the morning steals. 

And to love’s frightened eyes reveals 
The long white fingers of the dawn 



FLOWERS OF GOLD 


151 


Fast climbing up the eastern sky 
To grasp and slay the shuddering nighty 
All careless of my heart’s delight. 

Or if the nightingale should die. 




IMPRESSIONS DE TH£1tRE 




FABIEN DEI FEANCHI 


To My Friend Henry Irving 

T he silent roonij the heavy creeping shade. 
The dead that travel fast, the opening 
door. 

The murdered brother rising through the floor. 
The ghost’s white fingers on thy shoulders laid. 
And then the lonely duel in the glade. 

The broken swords, the stifled scream, the 
gore, 

Thy grand revengeful eyes when all is o’er, — 
These things are well enough, — but thou wert 
made 

For more august creation I frenzied Lear 
Should at thy bidding w'ander on the heath 
With the shrill fool to mock him, Romeo 
For thee should lure his love, and desperate fear 
Pluck Richard’s recreant dagger from its sheath — 
Thou trumpet set for Shakespeare’s lips to 
blow ! 



156 


POEMS 


PHJ^DRE 

To Sarah Bernhardt 

H OW vain and dull this common world must 
seem 

To such a One as thou^ who should’st have 
talked 

At Florence with Mirandola, or walked 
Through the cool olives of the Academe : 

Thou should’ st have gathered reeds from a green 
stream 

For Goat-foot Pan’s shrill pipings and have 
played 

With the white girls in that Phseacian glade 
Where grave Odysseus wakened from his dream. 

Ah 1 surely once some urn of Attic clay 

Held thy wan dust^ and thou hast come again 
Back to this common world so dull and vaia. 
For thou wert weary of the sunless day^ 

The heavy fields of scentless asphodel. 

The loveless lips with which men kiss in Hell 



IMPRESSIONS DE THEATRE 


157 


WRITTEN AT THE LYCEUM 
THEATRE 

I 

PORTIA 

To Ellen Terry 

I MARVEL not Bassanio was so bold 
To peril all he had upon the lead^ 

Or that proud Aragon bent low his head 
Or that Morocco's fiery heart grew cold : 

For in that gorgeous dress of beaten gold 
Which is more golden than the golden sun 
No woman Veronese looked upon 
Was half so fair as thou whom I behold. 

Yet fairer when with wisdom as your shield 
The sober-suited lawyer's gown you donned, 
And would not let the laws of Venice yield 
Antonio’s heart to that accursed Jew — 

O Portia ! take my heart : it is thy due : 

I think I will not quarrel with the Bond. 



158 


POEMS 


n 

QUEEN HENRIETTA MARIA 
To Ellen Terry 

I N the lone tent, waiting for victory. 

She stands with eyes marred by the mists 
of pain. 

Like some wan lily overdrenched with rain : 
The clamorous clang of arms, the ensanguined 

sky, 

War’s ruin, and the wreck of chivalry 

To her proud soul no common fear can bring : 
Bravely she tarrieth for her Lord the King, 
Her soul a-fiame with passionate ecstasy. 

O Hair of Gold ! 0 Crimson Lips 1 O Face 

Made for the luring and the love of man ! 
With thee I do forget the toil and stress, 

The loveless road that knows no resting place. 
Time’s straitened pulse, the soul’s dread 
weariness, 

My freedom, and my life republican 1 



IMPRESSIONS DE THEATRE 


loD 


m 

GAMMA 

To Ellex Terry 

A S one who poring on a Grecian urn 

Scans the fair shapes some Attic hand 
hath madcj 

God with slim goddess, goodly man with 
maid, 

And for their beauty’s sake is loth to turn 
And face the obvious day, must I not yearn 
For many a secret moon of indolent bliss. 
When in the midmost shrine of Artemis 
I see thee standing, antique-limbed, and stern ? 

And yet — ^methinks I ’d rather see thee play 
That serpent of old Nile, whose witchery 
Made Emperors drunken, — come, great Egypt, 
shake 

Our stage with all thy mimic pageants I Nay^ 
I am grown sick of unreal passions, make 
The world thine Actium, me thine Anthony ^ 




PANTHEA 




PANTHEA 


N AYj let us walk from fire unto fire, 

From passionate pain to deadlier de- 
light,— 

I am too young to live without desire. 

Too young art thou to waste this summer 
night 

Asking those idle questions which of old 
Man sought of seer and oracle, and no reply was 
told. 


For, sweet, to feel is better than to know. 

And wisdom is a childless heritage, 

One pulse of passion — youth's first fiery glow, — 
Are worth the hoarded proverbs of the sage ; 
Vex not thy soul with dead philosophy. 

Have we not lips to kiss with, hearts to love and 
eyes to see 1 


Dost thou not hear the murmuring nightingale, 
Like water bubbling from a silver jar. 

So soft she sings the envious moon is pale. 
That high in heaven she is hung so far 



164 


POEMS 


She cannot hear that love-enraptured tune^ — 
Mark how she wreathes each horn with mistj 
yon late and labouring moon. 

White lilies, in whose cups the gold bees dream, 
The fallen snow of petals where the breeze 
Scatters the chestnut blossom, or the gleam 
Of boyish limbs in water, — are not these 
Enough for thee, dost thou desire more ? 

Alas 1 the Gods will give nought else from their 
eternal store. 


For our high Gods have sick and wearied grown 
Of all our endless sins, our vain endeavour 
For wasted days of youth to make atone 

By pain or prayer or priest, and never, never, 
Hearken they now to either good or ill, 

But send their rain upon the just and the unjust 
at will. 


They sit at ease, our Gods they sit at ease. 
Strewing with leaves of rose their scented 
wine. 

They sleep, they sleep, beneath the rocking 
trees 

Where asphodel and yellow lotus twine. 
Mourning the old glad days before they knew 
What evil things the heart of man could dream, 
and dreaming do. 



PANTHEA 


165 


And far beneath the brazen floor they see 
Like swarming flies the crowd of little men, 
The bustle of small lives, then wearily 

Back to their lotus-haunts they turn again 
Kissing each others' mouths, and mix more 
deep 

The poppy-seeded draught which brings soft 
purple-lidded sleep. 


There all day long the golden-vestured sun, 
Their torch-bearer, stands with his torch 
ablaze. 

And, when the gaudy web of noon is spun 
By its twelve maidens, through the crimson 
haze 

Fresh from Endymion’s arms comes forth the 
moon, 

And the immortal Gods in toils of mortal passions 
swoon. 


There walks Queen Juno through some dewy 
mead, 

Her grand white feet flecked with the saffron 
dust 

Of wind-stirred lilies, while young Ganymede 
Leaps in the hot and amber-foaming must, 

His curls all tossed, as when the eagle bare 
The frightened boy from Ida through the blue 
Ionian air. 



166 


POEMS 


There in the green heart of some garden close 
Queen Venus with the shepherd at her side^ 
Her warm soft body like the briar rose 

Which would be white yet blushes at its 
pride. 

Laughs low for love, till jealous Salmacis 
Peers through the myrtle-leaves and sighs for 
pain of lonely bliss. 

There never does that dreary north-wind blow 
Which leaves our English forests bleak and 
bare. 

Nor ever falls the swift white-feathered snow, 
Nor ever doth the red-toothed lightning dare 
To wake them in the silver-fretted night 
When we lie weeping for some sweet sad sin, 
some dead delight, 

Alas ! they know the far Lethsean spring, 

The violet-hidden waters well they know. 
Where one whose feet with tired wandering 
Are faint and broken may take heart and go. 
And from those dark depths cool and crystalline 
Drink, and draw balm, and sleep for sleepless 
souls, and anodyne. 

But we oppress our natures, God or Fate 
Is our enemy, we starve and feed 
On vain repentance — O we are born too late ! 
What balm for us in bruised poppy seed 



PANTHEA 


167 


Who ciwvd into one finite pulse of time 
The joy of infinite love and the fierce pain of 
infinite crime. 

O we are wearied of this sense of guilt. 

Wearied of pleasure's paramour despair, 
VVearied of every temple we have built, 

W^earied of every right, unanswered prayer. 
For man is weak ; God sleeps : and heaven is 
high : 

One fiery-coloured moment: one great love; 
and lo ! we die. 

Ah ! but no ferry-man with labouring pole 

Nears his black shallop to the flowerless 
strand. 

No little coin of bronze can bring the soul 
Over Death's river to the sunless land. 

Victim and wine and vow are all in vain. 

The tomb is sealed; the soldiers watch; the 
dead rise not again. 

We are resolved into the supreme air. 

We are made one with what we touch and see, 
With our heart's blood each crimson sun is fair. 
With our young lives each spring-impassioned 
tree 

Flames into green, the wildest beasts that range 
The moor our kinsmen are, all life is one, and all 
is change. 



168 


POEMS 


With beat of systole and of diastole 

One grand great life throbs through earth’s 
giant heart, 

And mighty waves of single Being roll 

From nerveless germ to man, for we are part 
Of every rock and bird and beast and hill. 

One with the things that prey on us, and one 
with what we kill. 

From lower cells of waking life we pass 

To full perfection ; thus the world grows old ; 
We who are godlike now were once a mass 
Of quivering purple flecked with bars of gold, 
Unsenlient or of joy or misery, 

And tossed in terrible tangles of some wild and 
wind-swept sea. 

This hot hard flame with which our bodies burn 
Will make some meadow blaze with daffodil, 
Ay ! and those argent breasts of thine will turn 
To water-lilies ; the brown fields men till 
Will be more fruitful for our love to-night. 
Nothing is lost in nature, all things live in 
Death’s despite. 

The boy’s first kiss, the hyacinth’s first bell, 

The man’s last passion, and the last red spear 
That from the lily leaps, the asphodel 

Which will not let its blossoms blow for fear 



PANTHEA 


169 


Of too mucli beauty, and the timid shame 
Of the young bridegroom at his lover s eyes, — 
these ^vith the same 


One sacrament are consecrate, the earth 
Not we alone hath passions hymeneal. 

The yellow buttercups that shake for mirth 
At daybreak know a pleasure not less real 
Than we do, when in some fresh-blossoming 
wood. 

We firaw the spring into our hearts, and feel 
that life is good. 

So when men bury us beneath the yew 
Thy crimson-stained mouth a rose will be, 

And tby soft eyes lush bluebells dimmed with 
dew. 

And when the white narcissus wantonly 
Kisses the wind its playmate some faint joj’’ 

Will thrill our dust, and we will be again fond 
maid and boy. 


And thus without life's conscious torturing pain 
In some sweet flower we will feel the sun. 
And from the linnet's throat will sing again. 
And as two gorgeous-mailed snakes will run 
Over our graves, or as two tigers creep 
Through the hot jungle where the yellow-eyed 
huge lions sleep 



170 


POEMS 


And give them battle ! How my heart leaps up 
To think of that grand living after death 
In beast and bird and flower, when this cup, 
Being filled too full of spirit, bursts for 
breath. 

And with the pale leaves of some autumn day 
The soul eartlfs earliest conqueror becomes 
earth's last great prey. 

O think of it ! We shall inform ourselves 
Into all sensuous life, the goat-foot Faun, 

The Centaur, or the merry brighl'eyed Elves 
That leave their dancing rings to spite the 
dawn 

Upon the meadows, shall not be more near 
Than you and I to nature's mysteries, for we 
shall hear 

The thrush's heart beat, and the daisies grow. 
And the wan snowdrop sighing for the sun 
On sunless days in winter, we shall know 
By whom the silver gossamer is spun. 

Who paints the diapered fritillaries, 

On what wide wings from shivering pine to pine 
the eagle flies. 

Ay ! had we never loved at all, who knows 
If yonder daffodil had lured the bee 
Into its gilded womb, or any rose 

Had hung with crimson lamps its little tree ! 



PANTHEA 


171 


Methinks no leaf would ever bud in spring, 

But for the lovers’ lips that kiss, the poets’ lips 
that sing. 


Is the light vanished from our golden sun. 

Or is this daedal-fashioned earth less fair. 

That 'we are nature’s heritors, and one 

With every pulse of life that beats the air ? 
Rather new suns across the sky shall pass. 

New splendour come unto the flower, new glory 
to the grass. 

And we two lovers shall not sit afar. 

Critics of nature, but the joyous sea 
Shall be our raiment, and the bearded star 
Shoot arrows at our pleasure ! We shall be 
Part of the mighty universal whole, 

And through all aeons mix and mingle with the 
Kosmic Soul 1 


We shall be notes in that great Symphony 
Whose cadence circles through the rhythmic 
spheres. 

And all the live World’s throbbing heart shall 
be 

One with our heart; the stealthy creeping 
years 

Have lost their terrors now, we shall not die. 

The Universe itself shall be our Immortality. 




THE FOURTH MOVEMENT 




IMPRESSION 

LE EEVEILLON 


T he sky is laced with fitful red. 

The circling mists and shadows flee. 
The dawn is rising from the sea, 

Like a white lady from her bed. 

And jagged brazen arrows fall 
Athwart the feathers of the night, 

And a long wave of yellow light 
Breaks silently on tower and hall. 

And spreading wide across the wold 
Wakes into flight some fluttering bird. 

And all the chestnut tops are stirred, 

And all the branches streaked with gold. 


175 



176 


POMIS 


AT VERONA 

H OW steep the stairs within Kings* houses 
are 

For exile- wearied feet as mine to tread^ 

And O how salt and bitter is the bread 
Which falls from this Hound’s table^ — better far 
That I had died in the red ways of war. 

Or that the gate of Florence bare my head. 
Than to live thus, by all things comraded 
Which seek the essence of my soul to mar, 

^ Curse God and die : what better hope than 
this? 

tie hath forgotten thee in all the bliss 
Of his gold city, and eternal day * — 

Nay peace : behind my prison’s blinded bars 
I do possess what none can take away 
My love, and all the glory of the stars. 



THE FOURTH MOVEMENT 


177 


APOLOGIA 

I S it tliy will that I should wax and wane^ 
Barter my cloth of gold for hodden grey. 
And ’at thy pleasure -weave that w^eb of pain 
Whose brightest threads are each a w'asted 
day ? 


Is it thy will — Love that I love so well — 

That my SouFs House should be a tortured 
spot 

Wherein, like evil paramours, must dwell 

The quenchless flame, the w'orm that dieth 
not? 

Nay, if it be thy will I shall endure. 

And sell ambition at the common mart. 

And let dull failure be my vestiture, 

And sorrow' dig its grave within my heart. 


Perchance it may be better so — at least 
I have not made my heart a heart of stone. 
Nor starved my boyhood of its goodly feast. 

Nor walked where Beauty is a thing unknowm. 

H 



178 


POEMS 


Many a man hath done so ; sought to fence 
In straitened bonds the soul that should be 
free. 

Trodden the dusty road of common sense, 

While all the forest sang of liberty. 

Not marking how the spotted hawk in flight 
Passed on wide pinion through the lofty air. 
To where some steep untrodden mountain height 
Caught the last tresses of the Sun God’s hair. 

Or how the little flower he trod upon, 

The daisy, that white-feathered shield of gold. 
Followed with wistful eyes the wandering sun 
Content if once its leaves were aureoled. 

But surely it is something to have been 
The best beloved for a little while. 

To have walked hand in hand with Love, and 
seen 

His purple wings flit once across thy smile. 

Ay ! though the gorged asp of passion feed 
On my boy’s heart, yet have I burst the bars, 
Stood face to face with Beauty, known indeed 
The Love which moves the Sun and all the 
stars ! 



THE FOURTH MOVEMENT 


179 


QUIA MULTUM AMAVI 

D ear Hearty I think the young impassioned 
priest 

When first he takes from out the hidden 
. shrine 

His God imprisoned in the Eucharist. 

And eats the breads anci drinks the dreadful 
'v^'ine. 

Feels not such awful wonder as I felt 

When firsL my smitten eyes beat full on thee, 
And all night long before thy feet I knelt 
Till thou wert wearied of Idolatry. 

Ah I hadst thou liked me less and loved me 
more, 

Through all those summer days of joy and 
rain, 

I had not now been sorrow’s heritor. 

Or stood a lackey in the House of Pain. 

Yet, though remorse, youth’s white-faced sene- 
schal. 

Tread on m}’ heels with all his retinue, 

I am most glad I loved thee — think of all 

The suns that go to make one speedwell blue! 



180 


POEMS 


SILENTIUM AMORIS 

AS often-times the too resplendent sun 
XX HuiTies the pallid and reluctant moon 
Back to her sombre cave, ere she hath won 
A single ballad from the nightingale. 

So doth thy Beauty make my lips to fail. 
And all my sweetest singing out of tune. 

And as at dawn across the level mead 

On wings impetuous some wind will come. 
And with its too harsh kisses break the reed 
Which was its only instrument of song, 

So my too stormy passions work me wrong. 
And for excess of Love my Love is dumb. 

But surely unto Thee mine eyes did show 
Why I am silent, and my lute unstrung ; 
Else it were better we should part, and go. 
Thou to some lips of sweeter melody, 

And I to nurse the barren memory 
Of unkissed kisses, and songs never sung. 



THE FOUETH MOVEMENT 


181 


HER VOICE 

T he wild bee reels from bough to bough 
With his furry coat and his gauzy wing. 
Now in a lily-cup, and now 
Setting a jacinth bell a-swing. 

In his wandering ; 

Sit closer love : it was here I trow 
I made that vow. 

Swore that two lives should be like one 
As long as the sea-gull loved the sea. 

As long as the sunflower sought the sun, — 

It shall be, I said, for eternity 
'Twixt you and me 1 

Dear friend, those times are over and done ; 
Love’s web is spun. 

Look upward where the poplar trees 
Sway and swa,y in the summer air. 

Here in the valley never a breeze 
Scatters the thistledown, but there 
Great winds blow fair 
From the mighty murmuring mystical seas. 
And the wave-lashed leas. 



182 


POEMS 


Look upward where the white gull screams. 
What does it see that we do not see ? 
is that a star ? or the lamp that gleams 
On some outward voyaging argosy, — 

Ah ! can it be 

We have lived our lives in a land of dreams ! 
How sad it seems. 

Sweet, there is nothing left to say 
But this, that love is never lost. 

Keen winter stabs the breasts of May 
Whose crimson roses burst his frost. 

Ships tempest-tossed 
Will find a harbour in some bay, 

And so we may. 

And there is nothing left to do 
But to kiss once again, and part. 

Nay, there is nothing w'e should rue, 

I have my beauty, — you your Art, 

Nay, do not start, 

One world was not enough for two 
Like me and you. 



THE FOURTH MOVEMENT 


183 


MY VOICE 

W ITHIN this restless^ hurried, modem 
world 

We took our hearts’ full pleasure — You and I, 
And now the white sails of our ship are furled, 
And spent the lading of our argosy. 

Wherefore my cheeks before their time are wan, 
For very weeping is my gladness fled. 

Sorrow has paled my young mouth’s vermilion. 
And Ruin draws the curtains of my bed. 

But all this crowded life has been to thee 
No more than lyre, or lute, or subtle spell 
Of viols, or the music of the sea 

That sleeps- a mimic echo, in the shell 



184 


POEMS 


T.EDIUM YITM 

T O stab my youth with desperate knives^ to 
wear 

This paltry age's gaudy livery, 

To let each base hand filch my treasury, 

To mesh my soul within a woman's hair. 

And be mere Fortune's lackeyed groom, — I 
swear 

I love it not ! these things are less to me 
Than the thin foam that frets upon the sea. 

Less than the thistledown of summer air 
Which hath no seed : better to stand aloof 
Far from these slanderous fools who mock my 
life 

Knowing me not, better the lowliest roof 
Fit for the meanest hind to sojourn in. 

Than to go back to that hoarse cave of strife 
Where my white soul first kissed the mouth of 
sin. 



HUMANITAD 




HUMANITAD 


I T is full winter now ; the trees are bare. 

Save where the cattle huddle from the cold 
Beneath the pine, for it doth never wear 
The Autumn* s gaudy livery whose gold 
Her jealous brother pilfers, but is true 
To the green doublet; bitter is the wind, as 
though it blew 

From Saturn’s cave ; a few thin wisps of hay 
Lie on the sharp black hedges, where the wain 
Dragged the sweet pillage of a summer’s day 
From the low meadows up the narrow lane ; 
Upon the half-thawed snow the bleating sheep 
Press close against the hurdles, and the shiver- 
ing house-dogs creep 

From the shut stable to the frozen stream 
And back again disconsolate, and miss 
The bawling shepherds and the noisy team ; 

And overhead in circling listlessness 
The cawing rooks whirl round the frosted stack. 
Or crowd the dripping boughs ; and in the fen 
the ice-pools crack 


187 



188 


POEMS 


Where the gaunt bittern stalks among the reeds 
And flaps his wings, and stretches back his 
neck. 

And hoots to see the moon ; across the meads 
Limps the poor frightened hare, a little speck ; 
And a stray seamew with its fretful cry 
Flits like a sudden drift of snow against the dull 
grey sky. 

Full winter: and the lusty goodman brings 
His load of faggots from the chilly byre. 

And stamps his feet upon the hearth, and flings 
The sappy billets on the waning fire, 
x\nd laughs to see the sudden lightening scare 
His children at their play ; and yet, — the Spring 
is in the air. 


Already the slim crocus stirs the snow, 

xVnd soon yon blanched fields will bloom 
again 

With nodding cowslips for some lad to mow, 

For with the first warm kisses of the rain 
The winter’s icy sorrow breaks to tears. 

And the brown thrushes mate, and with bright 
eyes the rabbit peers 

From the dark warren where the fir-cones lie. 
And treads one snowdrop under foot, and 
runs 



HUMANITAD 


189 


Over the mossy knoll^ and blackbirds fly 
Across our path at evening, and the suns 
Stay longer with us ; ah ! how good to see 
Grass-girdled Spring in all her joy of laughing 
greenery 

Dance through the hedges till the early rose, 
(That sweet repentance of the thorny briar !) 
Burst from its sheathM emerald and disclose 
The little quivering disk of golden fire 
Which the bees know so well, for with it 
come 

Pale boy’s-love, sops-in-wine, and daffadillies all 
in bloom. 

Then up and down the field the sower goes. 
While close behind the laughing younker 
scares 

With shrilly whoop the black and thie\ish 
crows. 

And then the chestnut-tree its gloiy wears. 
And on the grass the creamy blossom falls 
In odorous excess, and faint half-whispered 
madrigals 


Steal from the bluebells’ nodding carillons 
Each breezy mom, and then white jessamine, 
That star of its own heaven, snap-dragons 
With lolling crimson tongues, and eglantine 



190 


POEMS 


In dusty velvets clad usurp the bed 
And woodland empery, and when the lingering 
rose hath shed 

Red leaf by leaf its folded panoply;, 

And pansies closed their purple lidded eyes^ 
Chrysanthemums from gilded argosy 

Unload their gaudy scentless mei^chandise. 
And violets getting overbold withdraw 
From their shy nooks^ and scarlet berries dot 
the leafless haw. 

O happy field ! and O thrice happy tree ! 

Soon will your Queen in daisy-flowered 
smock 

And crown of flower-de-luce trip down the 
lea, 

Soon will the lazy shepherds drive their flock 
Back to the pasture by the pool, and soon 
Through the green leaves will float the hum of 
murmuring bees at noon. 

Soon will the glade be bright with bellamour, 
The flower which wantons love, and those 
sweet nuns 

Vale-lilies in their snowy vestiture 

Will tell their beaded pearls, and carnations 
With mitred dusky leaves ■will scent the wind. 
And straggling traveller’s-joy each hedge with 
yellow stars will bind. 



HUMANITAD 


191 


Dear Bride of Nature and most bounteous 
Spring ! 

That canst give increase to the sweet-breath*d 
kine^ 

And to the kid its little horns, and bring 
The soft and silky blossoms to the vine. 

Where is that old nepenthe which of yore 
Man got from poppy root and glossy-berried 
mandragore 1 

There was a time when any common bird 
Could make me sing in unison, a time 
When all the strings of boyish life were stirred 
To quick response or more melodious rhyme 
By eveiy forest idyll ; — do I change ? 

Or rather doth some evil thing through thy fair 
pleasaunce range ? 

Nay, naj^^, thou art the same : "tis I who seek 
To vex with sighs thy simple solitude. 

And because fruitless tears bedew my cheek 
Would have thee weep with me in brother- 
hood ; 

Fool 1 shall each wronged and restless spirit dare 
To taint such wine with the salt poison of his 
own despair 1 

Thou art the same : Tis I whose wretched soul 
Takes discontent to be its paramour, 

And gives its kingdom to the rude control 



192 


POEMS 


Of what should be its servitor^ — foi* sure 
Wisdom is somewhere, though the stormy sea 
Contain it not, and the huge deep answer is 
not in me/ 

To burn wdth one clear flame, to stand erect 
In natural honour, not to bend the knee 
In profitless prostrations whose effect 
Is by itself condemned, what alchemy 
Can teach me this ? what herb Medea brewed 
Will bring the unexultant peace of essence not 
subdued ? 

The minor chord which ends the harmony, 

And for its answering brother waits in vain 
Sobbing for incompleted melody. 

Dies a Swan's death ; but I the heir of pain, 

A silent Memnon with blank lidless eyes. 

Wait for the light and music of those suns which 
never rise. 


The quenched-out torch, the lonely cypress- 
gloom. 

The little dust stored in the narrow urn, 

The gentle XAIPE of the Attic tomb, — 

Were not these better far than to return 
To my old fitful restless malady, 

Or spend my days within the voiceless cave of 
misery ? 



HUMANITAD 


193 


Nay i for perchance that poppy-crowned God 
Is like the watcher by a sick man's bed 
Who talks of sleep but gives it not; his rod 
Hath lost its virtue, and^ when all is said. 
Death is to.o rude, too obvious a key 
To solve one single secret in a life's philosophy. 

And Love ! that noble madness, whose august 
And inextinguishable might can slay 
The soul with honeyed drugs, — alas I 1 must 
From such sweet ruin play the runaway. 
Although too constant memory never can 
Forget the arched splendour of those brows 
Olympian 

Which for a little season made my youth 
So soft a swoon of exquisite indolence 
That all the chiding of more prudent Truth 
Seemed the thin voice of jealousy, — O Hence 
Thou huntress deadlier than Artemis I 
Go seek some other quarry ! for. of thy too 
perilous bliss 


My lips have drunk enough, — no more, no 
more, — 

Though Love himself should turn his gilded 
prow 

Back to the troubled waters of this shore 

Where I am wrecked and stranded, even now 

N 



194 


POEMS 


The chariot wheels of passion sweep too near. 
Hence I Hence 1 I pass unto a life more barren 
more austere. 

More barren — ay, those arms will never lean 
Down through the trellised vines and draw 
my soul 

In sweet reluctance through the tangled green ; 

Some other head must wear that aureole. 

For I am Hers who loves not any man 
Whose white and stainless bosom bears the sign 
Gorgonian. 

Let Venus go and chuck her dainty page, 

And kiss his mouth, and toss his curly hair. 
With net and spear and hunting equipage 
Let young Adonis to his tryst repair, 

But me her fond and subtle-fashioned spell 
Delights no more, though I could win her 
dearest citadel. 


Ay, though I were that laughing shepherd boy 
Who from Mount Ida saw the little cloud 
Pass over Tenedos and lofty Troy 
And knew the coming of the Queen, and 
bowed 

In wonder at her feet, not for the sake 
Of a new Helen would I bid her hand the apple 
take. 



HUMaNITAD 


195 


Then rise supreme Alhena argent-limbed : 

Andj if my iips be music-less^ inspire 
At least my life : vas not lliy gloiy hymned 
By One who gave to thee his sword and lyre 
Like iEschylos at weil-fought Marathon, 

And died to show' that Milton’s England still 
could bear a son ! 

And. yet I cannot tread the Portico 
And live without desire, fear and pain, 

Or nurture that wise calm which long ago 
The grave Athenian master taught to men. 
Self-poised, self-centred, and self-comforted, 

To watch the world’s vain phantasies go by with 
uu-I)()wc*d head. 


Alas 1 that serene brow, those eloquent lips. 
Those eyes that mirrored all eternity, 

Rest m their own Colonos, an eclipse 
Hath come on Wisdom, and Mnemosyne 
Is childless ; in tlie night which she had made 
For lofty secure flight Athena’s owl itself hath 
stray ed . 

Nor much with Science do i care to climb. 
Although by strange and subtle w'icchery 
She draw the moon from heaven : the Muse 
Time 

Unrolls her gorgeous-coloured tapestry 



196 


POEMS 


To no less eager eyes ; often indeed 
In the great epic of Polymnia's scroll I love to 
read 


How Asia sent her myriad hosts to war 
Against a little town, and panoplied 
In gilded mail with jewelled scimitar. 

White-shielded, purple-crested, rode the Mede 
Between the waving poplars and the sea 
Which men call Artemisium, till he saw Ther- 
mopylae 


Its steep ravine spanned by a narrow wall, 

And on the nearer side a little brood 
Of careless lions holding festival ! 

And stood amazed at such hardihood. 

And pitched his tent upon the reedy shore, 

And stayed two days to wonder, and then crept 
at midnight o'er 


Some unfrequented height, and coming down 
The autumn forests treacherously slew 
What Sparta held most dear and was the 
crown 

Of far Eurotas, and passed on, nor knew 
How God had staked an evil net for him 
In the small bay at Salamis, — and yet, the page 
grows dim. 



HUMANITAD 


197 


Its cadenced Greek delights me not^ I feel 
With such a goodly time too out of tune 
To love it much : for like the Dial’s wheel 
That from its blinded darkness strikes the 
noon 

Yet never sees the sun, so do my eyes 
Restlessly follow that which from my cheated 
vision flies. 


O for one grand unselfish simple life 

To teach us what is Wisdom! speak ye 
hills 

Of lone Helvellyn, for this note of strife 

Shunned your untroubled crags and crystal 
rills, 

Where is that Spirit which living blamelessly 

Yet dared to kiss the smitten mouth of his own 
century ! 


Speak ye Rydalian laurels ! where is He 

Whose gentle head ye sheltered, that pure 
soul 

Whose gracious days of uncrowned majesty 
Through lowliest conduct touched the lofty 
goal 

Where Love and Duty mingle ! Him at least 

The most high Laws were glad of. He had sat 
at Wisdom’s feast, 



198 


POKMS 


But we are Learning’s changelings, know by rote 
The clarion watchword of each Grecian school 
And follow none, the flawless sword which 
smote 

The pagan Hydra is an effete tool 
Which we ourselves have blunted, what man 
now 

Shall scale the august ancient heights and to 
old Reverence bow ? 

One such indeed I saw, but, Ichabod ! 

Gone is that last dear son of Italy, 

Who being man died for the sake of God, 

And whose nn-risen bones sleep peacefully, 

O guard him, guard him well, my Giotto’s 
tower. 

Thou marble lily of the lily town ! let not the 
lour 

Of the rude tempest vex his slumber, or 
The Arno with its tawny troubled gold 
O’er-leap its marge, no mightier conqueror 
Clomb the high Capitol in the days of old 
When Rome was indeed Rome, for Liberty 
Walked like a Bride beside him, at which sight 
pale Mystery 

Fled shi'i eking to her farthest sombrest cell 
With an old man who grabbled rusty keys. 
Fled shuddering, for that immemorial knell 



HUMANITAD 


199 


With which oblivion buries dynasties 
Swept like a wounded eagle on the blast. 

As to the holy heart of Rome the great triumvir 
passed. 

He knew the holiest heart and heights of Rome, 
He drave the base wolf from the lion’s lair. 
And now lies dead by that empyreal dome 
Which overtops Valdarno hung in air 
By Brunelleschi — O Melpomene 
Breathe through thy melancholy pipe thy 
sweetest threnody ! 

Breathe through the tragic stops such melodies 
That Joy’s self may grow jealous, and the Nine 
Forget awhile their discreet emperies. 

Mourning for him who on Rome's lordliest 
shrine 

Lit for men’s lives the light of Marathon, 

And bare to sun-forgotten fields the fire of the 
sun ! 

O guard him, guard him well, my Giotto’s 
tower. 

Let some young Florentine each eventide 
Bring coronals of that enchanted flower 
Which the dim woods of Vallombrosa hide. 
And deck the marble tomb wherein he lies 
Whose soul is as some mighty orb unseen of 
mortal eyes. 



200 


POEMS 


Some mighty orb whose cycled wanderings. 
Being tempest- driven to the farthest rim 
Where Chaos meets Creation and the wings 
Of the eternal chanting Cherubim 
Are pavilioned on Nothing, passed away 
Into a moonless void, — and yet, though he is 
dust and clay, 


He is not dead, the immemorial Fates 
Forbid it, and the closing shears refrain, 

Lift up your heads ye everlasting gates ! 

Ye argent clarions, sound a loftier strain! 

For the vile thing he hated lurks within 
Its sombre house, alone with God and memories 
of sin. 


Still what avails it that she sought her cave 
That murderous mother of red harlotries ? 

At Municli on the marble architrave 

The Grecian boys die smiling, but the seas 
Which wash ^Fgina fret in loneliness 
Not mirroring their beauty, so our lives grow 
colourless 


For lack of our ideals, if one star 

Flame torch-like in the heavens the unjust 
Swift daylight kills it, and no trump of war 
Can wake to passionate voice the silent dust 



HUMANITAD 


201 


Which was Mazzini once ! rich Niobe 
For all her stony sorrows hath her sons, but 
Italy ! 

What Easter Day shall make her children rise, 
Who were not Gods yet suffered ? what sure 
feet 

Shall find their grave-clothes folded ? what clear 
eyes 

Shall see them bodily ? O it were meet 
To roll the stone from off the sepulchre 
And kiss the bleeding roses of their wounds, in 
love of Fler 

Our Italy 1 our mother visible ! 

Most blessed among nations and most sad. 

For whose dear sake the young Calabrian fell 
That day at Aspromonte and was glad 
That in an age when God was bought and sold 
One man could die for Liberty ! but we, burnt 
out and cold. 

See Honour smitten on the cheek and gyves 
Bind the sweet feet of Mercy: Poverty 
Creeps through our sunless lanes and with sharp 
knives 

Cuts the warm throats of children stealthily, 
And no word said : — O we are wretched men 
Unworthy of our great inheritance! where is 
the pen 



202 


POEMS 


Of austere Milton ? where the mighty sword 
Which slew its master righteously ? the 
years 

Have lost their ancient leader, and no word 
Breaks from the voiceless tripod on our 
ears : 

While as a ruined mother in some spasm 
Bears a base child and loathes it, so our best 
enthusiasm 

Genders unlawful children, Anarchy 
Freedom’s own Judas, the vile prodigal 
Licence who steals the gold of Liberty 
And yet has nothing. Ignorance the real 
One Fratricide since Cain, Envy the asp 
That stings itself to anguish, Avarice whose 
palsied grasp 

Is in its extent stiffened, moneyed Greed 
For whose dull appetite men waste away 
Amid the whirr of wheels and are the seed 
Of things which slay their sower, these each 
day 

Sees rife in England, and the gentle feet 
Of Beauty tread no more the stones of each 
unlovely street. 

What even Cromwell spared is desecrated 
By weed and w^orm, left to the stormy play 
Of wind and beating sno\v, or renovated 



HUMANITAD 


203 


By more destructful bands : Time’s worst 
decay 

Will wreathe its ruins with some loveliness, 

But these new Vandals can but make a rain- 
proof barrenness. 

Where is that Art which bade the Angels sing 
Through Lincoln's lofty choir, till the air 
Seems from such marble harmonies to ring 
With sweeter song than common lips can dare 
To draw from actual reed ? ah ! where is now 
The cunning hand which made the flowering 
hawthorn branches bow 

For Southwell's arch, and carved the House of 
One 

Who loved the lilies of the field with all 
Our dearest English flowers ? the same sun 
Rises for us : the seasons natural 
Weave the same tapestry of green and grey : 

The unchanged hills are with us ; but that Spirit 
hath passed away. 

And yet perchance it may be better so. 

For Tyranny is an incestuous Queen, 

Murder her brother is her bedfellow. 

And the Plague chambers with her ; in 
obscene 

And bloody paths her treacherous feet are set ; 
Better the empty desert and a soul inviolate ! 



204 


POEMS 


For gentle brotherhood, the harmony 
Of living in the healthful air, the swift 
Clean beauty of strong limbs when men are free 
And w'omen chaste, these are the things 
wdiich lift 

Our souls up more than even Agnolo's 
Gaunt blinded Sibyl poring o'er the scroll of 
human woes. 

Or Titian's little maiden on the stair 
White as her own sweet lily and as tall. 

Or Mona Lisa smiling through her hair, — 

Ah ! someho-w life is bigger after all 
Than any painted Angel, could we see 
The God that is within us ! The old Greek 
serenity 

Which curbs the passion of that level line 
Of marble youths, who with untroubled eyes 
And chastened limbs ride round Athena's shrine 
And mirror her divine economies, 

And balanced symmetry of what in man 
Would else wage ceaseless warfare, — this at 
least within the span 


Between our mother's kisses and the grave 
Might so inform our lives, that we could win 
Such mighty empires that from her cave 

Temptation w'ould grow hoarse, and pallid Sin 



HUMANITAD 


20B 


Would walk ashamed of his adulteries. 

And Passion creep from out the House of Lust 
with startled eyes. 

To make the Body and the Spirit one 

With ail right things, till no thing live in 
vain 

From morn to noon, but in sweet unison 
With every pulse of flesh and throb of brain 
The Soul in flawless essence high enthroned. 
Against all outer vain attack invincibly bas- 
tioned, 

Mark with serene impartiality 

The strife of things, and yet be comforted, 
Knowing that by the chain causality 
All separate existences are wed 
Into one supreme whole, whose utterance 
Is joy, or holier praise ! ah I surely this were 
governance 

Of Life in most august omnipresence. 

Through which the rational intellect woidd 
find 

In passion its expression, and mere sense. 
Ignoble else, lend fire to the mind, 

And being joined with it in harmony 
More mystical than that which binds the stars 
planetary. 



206 


POEMS 


Strike from their several tones one octave chord 
Whose cadence being measureless would Ey 
Through all the circling spheres^ then to its 
Lord 

Return refreshed with its new empeiy 
And more exultant power, — this indeed 
Could we but reach it were to find the last, the 
perfect creed. 

Ah ! it was easy when the world was young 
To keep one's life free and inviolate, 

From our sad lips another song is rung, 

By our own hands our heads are desecrate, 
Wanderers in drear exile, and dispossessed 
Of what should be our own, we can but feed on 
wild unrest. 

Somehow the grace, the bloom of things has 
flown, 

And of all men we are most wretched who 
Must live each other's lives and not our own 
For very pity's sake and then undo 
All that we lived for — it was otherwise 
When soul and body seemed to blend in mystic 
symphonies. 


But we have left those gentle haunts to pass 
With weary feet to the new Calvary, 
Where we behold, as one who in a glass 



HUMANITAB 


207 


Sees his own face^ self-slain Humanity, 

And in the dumb reproach of that sad gaze 
Learn what an awful phantom the red hand of 
man can raise. 


O smitten mouth ! O forehead crowned with 
thorn ! 

O chalice of all common miseries ! 

Thou for our sakes that loved thee not hast 
borne 

An agony of endless centuries. 

And we were vain and ignorant nor knew 
That when we stabbed thy heart it was our own 
real hearts we slew. 


Being ourselves the sowers and the seeds. 

The night that covers and the lights that 
fade. 

The spear that pierces and the side that bleeds, 
The lips betraying and the life betrayed ; 

The deep hath calm : the moon hath rest ; but 
we 

Lords of the natural world arc yet our own 
dread enemy. 


Is this the end of all th<it primal force 
Which, in its changes being still the same. 
From eyeless Chaos cleft its upward course. 



208 


POEMS 


Through ravenous seas and whirling rocks 
and dame^ 

Till the suns met in heaven and began 

Their cycles^, and the morning stars sang, and 
the Word was Man I 

Nay, nay, we are but crucified, and though 
The bloody sweat fails from our brows like 
rain. 

Loosen the nails — we shall come down I know. 
Staunch the red wounds — we shall be whole 
again. 

No need have we of hyssop-laden rod, 

That which is purely human, that is Godlike, 
that is God, 



FLOWER OF LOVE 




rATKTHIKPOS EPflS 

S WEET, I blame you not, for mine the fault 
was, had I not been made of common 
, clay 

I had climbed the higher heights unclimbed 
yet, seen the fuller air, the larger day. 

From the wildness of my wasted passion I had 
struck a better, clearer song. 

Lit some lighter light of freer freedom, battled 
with some Hydra-headed wong. 

Had my lips been smitten into music by the 
kisses that but made them bleed. 

You had walked with Bice and the angels on 
that verdant and enamelled mead, 

I had trod the road which Dante treading saw 
the suns of seven circles shine. 

Ay! perchance had seen the heavens opening, 
as they opened to the Florentine. 

And the mighty nations would have crowned 
me, who am crownless now and without 
name, 


211 



212 


POEMS 


And some orient dawn had found me kneeling 
on the threshold of the House of Fame. . 

I had sat within that marble circle where the 
oldest bard is as the young. 

And the pipe is ever dropping honey, and the 
lyre's strings are ever strung. 


Keats had lifted up his hymeneal curls from but 
the poppy-seeded wine. 

With ambrosial mouth had kissed my forehead, 
clasped the hand of noble love in mine. 


And at springtide, when the apple-blossoms brush 
the burnished bosom of the dove, 

Two young lovers lying in an orchard would 
have read the story of our love. 


Would have read the legend of my passion, 
known the bitter secret of my heart, 

Kissed as we have kissed, but never parted as 
we two are fated now to part. 


For the crimson flower of our life is eaten by 
the cankerworm of truth, 

^hd no hand can gather up the fallen withered 
petals of the rose of youth. 



rAYKYniKPOS EPGS 


213 


Yet I am not sorry that I loved you — ah 1 what 
. else had I a boy to do, — 

For the hungry teeth of time devour, and the 
silent-footed years pursue. 

Rudderless, we drift athwart a tempest, and 
when once the storm of youth is past, 
Without lyre, without lute or chorus. Death 
the silent pilot comes at last. 

And within the grave there is no pleasure, for 
the blindworm battens on the root. 

And Desire shudders into ashes, and the tree of 
Passion bears no fruit. 

Ah ! what else had I to do but love you, God’s 
own mother was less dear to me. 

And less dear the Cytheraean rising like an 
argent lily from the sea. 

I have made my choice, have lived my poems, 
and, though youth is gone in wasted days, 

I have found the lover s crown of myrtle better 
than the poet’s crown of bays. 




UNCOLLECTED POEMS 




FROM SPRING DAYS TO WINTER 

(for music) 

I N the glad springtime when leaves were 
green, 

O merrily the throstle sings ! 

I sought, amid the tangled sheen. 

Love whom mine eyes had never seen, 

O the glad dove has golden wings ! 


Between the blossoms red and white, 
O merrily the throstle sings ! 

My love first came into my sight, 

O perfect vision of delight, 

O the glad dove has golden wings ! 


The yellow apples glowed like fire, 

O merrily the throstle sings ] 

O Love too great for lip or lyre. 
Blown rose of love and of desire, 

O the glad dove has golden wings I 


217 



218 


POEMS 


But now with snow the tree is grey^ 

Ah, sadly now the throstle sings 1 
My love is dead : ah ! well-a-day. 

See at her silent feet I lay 
A dove with broken wings 1 
Ah, Love ! ah. Love 1 that thou wert slain — 
Fond Dove, fond Dove return again ! 



UNCOLLECTED POEMS 


210 


TRISTITIiE 


AiXivovy alXtvov eliriy to 5 * viKaroD, 


O WELL for him who lives at ease 

With garnered gold in wide domain. 
Nor heeds the splashing of the rain, 

The crashing down of forest trees. 

O well for him who ne'er hath known 
The travail of the hungry years, 

A father grey with grief and tears, 

A mother weeping all alone. 

But well for him whose foot hath trod 
The weary road of toil and strife. 

Yet from the sorrows of his life 
Builds ladders to be nearer God. 



220 


POEMS 


THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE 

. . . avayKaloiS S’ e)((ei 
filov Sepl^eiv &(TT€ KdpTTLpov (rrdxvvp 
Kal rov pev elvat rov Be pr}, 

T hou knowest all ; I seek in vain 

What lands to till or sow with seed- 
The land is black with briar and weed, 
Nor cares for falling tears or rain. 

Thou knowest all ; I sit and wait 

With blinded eyes and hands that fail. 
Till the last lifting of the veil 
And the first opening of the gate. 

Thou knowest all ; I cannot see. 

I trust I shall not live in vain, 

I know that we shall meet again 
In some divine eternity. 



UNCOLLECTED POEMS 


221 


IMPRESSIONS 

I 

LE JARDIN 

T he lily’s withered chalice falls 
Around its rod of dusty gold, 

And from the beech-trees on the wold 
The last wood-pigeon coos and calls. 

The gaudy leonine sunflower 

Hangs black and barren on its stalky 
And down the windy garden walk 
The dead leaves scatter, — hour by hour. 

Pale privet-petals white as milk 
Are blown into a snowy mass : 

The roses lie upon the grass 
Like little shreds of crimson silk. 



222 


FOEIVIS 


n 

LA MER 

A WHITE mist drifts across the shrouds^ 
A wild moon in this wintry sky 
Gleams like an angry lion’s eye 
Out of a mane of tawny clouds. 

The muffled steersman at the wheel 
Is but a shadow in the gloom ; — 

And in the throbbing engine-room 
Leap the long rods of polished steel. 

The shattered storm has left its trace 
Upon this huge and heaving dome, 

For the thin threads of yellow foam 
Float on the waves like ravelled lace. 



UNCOLLECTED POEMS 


223 


UNDER THE BALCONY 

O BEAUTIFUL star with the crimson 
mouth 1 

O moon with the brows of gold I 
' Rise up, rise up, from the odorous south ! 

And light for my love her way. 

Lest her little feet should stray 
On the windy hill and the wold ! 

O beautiful star with the crimson month I 
O moon with the brows of gold ! 

O ship that shakes on the desolate sea ! 

O ship with the wet, while sail ! 

Put in, put in, to the port to me I 
For my love and I would go 
To the land where the daffodils blow 
In the heart of a violet dale 1 
O ship that shakes on the desolate sea ! 

O ship with the wet, white sail! 

O rapturous bird with the low, sweet note ! 

O bird that sits on the spray I 
Sing on, sing on, from your soft brown throat I 
And my love in her little bed 
Will listen, and lift her head 



224 


POEMS 


From the pillow, and come my way ! 

O rapturous bird with the low, sweet note ! 

O bird that sits on the spray ! 

O blossom that hangs in the tremulous air ! 

O blossom with lips of snow ! 

Come down, come down, for my love to wear ! 
You will die on her head in a crown. 

You will die in a fold of her gown, 

To her little light heart you will go I 
O blossom that hangs in the tremulous air I 
O blossom with lips of snow ! 



UNCOLLECTED POEMS 


225 


THE HARLOT’S HOUSE 

W E caught the tread of dancing feet. 

We loitered down the moonlit street, 
And stopped beneath the harlot’s house. 

Inside, above the din and fray. 

We heard the loud musicians play 
The ^ Treues Liebes Her^ ’ of Strauss. 

Like strange mechanical grotesques. 

Making fantastic arabesques, 

The shadows raced across the blind. 

We watched the ghostly dancers spin 
To sound of horn and violin. 

Like black leaves wheeling in the wind. 

Like wire-pulled automatons. 

Slim silhouetted skeletons 

Went sidling through the slow quadrille. 

Then took each other by the hand, 

And danced a stately saraband ; 

Their laughter echoed thin and shrill. 



226 


POEMS 


Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed 
A phantom lover to her breast. 
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing. 

Sometimes a horrible marionette 
Came out, and smoked its cigarette 
Upon the steps like a live thing. 

Then, turning to my love, I said, 

^ The dead are dancing with the dead. 
The dust is whirling with the dust/ 

But she — she heard the violin. 

And left my side, and entered in : 

Love passed into the house of lust 

Then suddenly the tune went false. 

The dancers wearied of the waltz. 

The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl. 

And down the long and silent street. 
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet. 
Crept like a frightened girl. 



UNCOLLECTED POEMS 


227 


LE JARDIN DES TUILERIES 

T his winter air is keen and cold, 

And keen and cold this winter sun. 
But round ray chair the children run 
Like little things of dancing gold. 

Sometimes about the painted kiosk 
The mimic soldiers strut and stride. 
Sometimes the blue-eyed brigands hide 
In the bleak tangles of the bosk. 

And sometimes, while the old nurse cons 
Her book, they steal across the square. 
And launch their paper navies where 
Huge Triton writhes in greenish bronze. 

And now in mimic flight they flee, 

And now they rush, a boisterous band — 
And, tiny hand on tiny hand. 

Climb up the black and leafless tree. 

Ah ! cruel tree I if I were you. 

And children climbed me, for their sake 
Though it be winter I would break 
Into spring blossoms white and blue I 



228 


POEMS 


ON THE SALE BY AUCTION OF 
KEATS’ LOVE LETTERS 

T hese are the letters which Endymion 
wrote 

To one he loved in secret, and apart. 

And now the brawlers of the auction mart 
Bargain and bid for each poor blotted note. 

Ay ! for each separate pulse of passion quote 
The merchant’s price. I think they love not 
art 

Who bi*eak the crystal of a poet’s heart 
That small and sickly eyes may glare and gloat. 

Is it not said that many years ago, 

111 a far Eastern town, some soldiers ran 
With torches through the midnight, and began 
To wrangle for mean raiment, and to throw 
Dice for the garments of a wretched man. 

Not knowing the God’s wonder, or His woe ? 



UNCOLLECTED POEMS 


229 


THE NEW REMORSE 

T he sin was mine ; I did not understand. 

So now is music prisoned in her cave, 

, Save where some ebbing desultory wave 
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand. 
And in the withered hollow of this land 
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave, 
That hardly can the leaden willow crave 
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand. 

But who is this who cometh by the shore ? 

(Nay, love, look up and wonder !) Who is this 
Who cometh in dyed garments from the 
South ? 

It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss 
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth. 

And I shall weep and worship, as before. 



230 


POEMS 


FANTAISIES DfiCORATIVES 

I 

LE PANNEAU 

U NDER the rose-tree's dancing shade 
There stands a little ivory girl, 
Pulling the leaves of pink and pearl 
With pale green nails of polished jade. 

The red leaves fall upon the mould. 

The white leaves flutter, one by one, 
Down to a blue bowl where the sun. 
Like a great dragon, writhes in gold. 

The white leaves float upon the air. 

The red leaves flutter idly down, 

Some fall upon her yellow gown, 

And some upon her raven hair. 

She takes an amber lute and sings. 

And as she sings a silver crane 
Begins his scarlet neck to strain. 

And flap his burnished metal wdngs. 



UNCOLLECTED POEMS 


231 


She takes a lute of amber bright. 

And from the thicket where he lies 
Her lover, with his almond eyes. 
Watches her movements in delight. 

And now she gives a cry of fear. 

And tiny tears begin to start : 

A thorn has wounded with its dart 
The pink-veined sea-shell of her ear. 

And now she laughs a meriy note : 
There has fallen a petal of the rose 
J ust where the yellow satin shows 
The blue-veined flower of her throat. 

With pale green nails of polished jade, 
Pulling the leaves of pink and pearl. 
There stands a little ivory girl 
Under the rose-tree's dancing shade. 



232 


POEMS 


n 

LES BALLONS 

AGAINST these turbid turquoise skies 
XX The light and luminous balloons 
Dip and drift like satin moons, 

Drift like silken butterflies ; 

Reel with every windy gust. 

Rise and reel like dancing girls. 

Float like strange transparent pearls, 
Fall and float like silver dust. 

Now to the low leaves they cling, 

Each with coy fantastic pose. 

Each a petal of a rose 
Straining at a gossamer string. 

Then to the tall trees they climb. 

Like thin globes of amethyst. 
Wandering opals keeping tryst 
With the rubies of the lime. 



CANZONET 


I HAVE no store 

Of gryphon-guarded gold ; 
Now, as before. 

Bare is the shepherd's fold. 

Rubies nor pearls 
Have I to gem thy throat ; 

Yet woodland girls 
Have loved the shepherd's note. 

Then pluck a reed 
And bid me sing to thee, 

For I would feed 
Thine ears with melody. 

Who art more fair 
Than fairest fleur-de-lys, 

More sweet and rare 
Than sweetest ambergris. 


What dost thou fear ? 
Young Hyacinth is slain, 
Pan is not here, 

And will not come again, 



234 


POEMS 


No horned Fann 
Treads down the yellow leas. 
No God at dawn 
Steals through the olive trees. 

Hylas is dead, 

Nor will he e'er divine 
Those little red 
Rose-petalled lips of thine. 

On the high hill 
No ivory dryads play, 

Silver and still 
Sinks the sad autumn day. 



SYMPHONY IN YELLOW 


AN omnibus across the bridge 
XX Crawls like a yellow butterfly. 
And, here and there, a passer-by 
Shows like a little restless midge. 

Big barges full of yellow hay 

Are moored against the shadowy wharf. 
And, like a yellow silken scarf. 

The thick fog hangs along the quay. 

The yellow leaves begin to fade 
And flutter from the Temple elms. 

And at my feet the pale green Thames 
Lies like a rod of rippled jade. 



POEMS 


IN THE FOREST 

O UT of the mid-wood's twilight 
Into the meadow's dawn^ 

Ivory limbed and brown-eyed. 

Flashes my Faun ! 

He skips through the copses singing. 

And his shadow dances along, 

And I know not which I should follow, 
Shadow or song I 

O Hunter, snare me his shadow ! 

O Nightingale, catch me his strain ! 
Else moonstruck with music and madness 
I track him in vain ! 



TO MY WIFE 


WITH A COPY OF MY POEMS 

I CAN write no stately proem 
As a prelude to my lay ; 

From a poet to a poem 
I would dare to say. 

For if of these fallen petals 
One to you seem fair. 

Love will waft it till it settles 
On your hair. 

And when wind and winter harden 
All the loveless land, 

It will whisper of the garden, 

You will understand. 



288 


POEMS 


WITH A COPY OF HOUSE OF 
POMEGRANATES’ 

G O, little book. 

To him who, on a lute with horns of 
pearl. 

Sang of the white feet of the Golden Girl : 

And bid him look 

Into thy pages ; it may hap that he 
May find that golden maidens dance through 
thee. 



UNCOLLECTED POEMS 


289 


ROSES AND RUE 

To L. L. 

C OULD we dig up this long-buried 
treasure^ 

Were it worth the pleasure^ 

We never could learn love’s song. 

We are parted too long. 

Could the passionate past that is fled 
Call back its dead, 

Could we live it all over again. 

Were it worth the pain 1 

I remember we used to meet 
By an ivied seat. 

And you warbled each pretty word 
With the air of a bird ; 

And your voice had a quaver in it, 

Just like a linnet. 

And shook, as the blackbird* s throat 
With its last big note ; 

And your eyes, they were green and grey 
Like an April day. 

But lit into amethyst 
When I stooped and kissed ; 



240 


POEMS 


And your mouth, it would never smile 
For a long, long while. 

Then it rippled all over with laughter 
Five minutes after. 

You were always afraid of a shower. 
Just like a flower : 

I remember you started and ran 
When the rain began. 

I remember I never could catch you. 
For no one could match you. 

You had wonderful, luminous, fleet. 
Little wings to your feet. 

I remember your hair — did I tie it ? 
For it always ran riot — 

Like a tangled sunbeam of gold : 
These things are old. 

I remember so well the room. 

And the lilac bloom 

That beat at the dripping pane 
In the warm June rain ; 

And the colour of your gown. 

It was amber-brown. 

And two yellow satin bows 
From your shoulders rose. 



UNCOLLECTED POEMS 


241 


And the handkerchief of French lace 
Which you held to your face — 

Had a small tear left a stain ? 

Or was it the rain ? 

On your hand as it waved adieu 
There were veins of blue ; 

In your voice as it said good-bye 
Was a petulant cry^ 

^ You have only wasted your life/ 

(Ah, that was the knife !) 

When I rushed thi’ough the garden gate 
It was all too late. 

Could we live it over again. 

Were it worth the pain, 

Could the passionate past that is fled 
Call back its dead I 

Well, if my heart must break. 

Dear love, for your sake. 

It will break in music, I know. 

Poets’ hearts break so. 

But strange that I was not told 
That the brain can hold 

In a tiny ivoiy cell 
God’s heaven and hell. 



242 


POEMS 


DlfiSESPOIR 

T he seasons send their ruin as they go, 

For in the spring the narciss shows its 
head 

Nor withers till the rose has flamed to red. 

And in the autumn purple violets blow. 

And the slim crocus stirs the winter snow ; 
Wherefore yon leafless trees will bloom again 
And this grey land grow green with summer rain 
And send up cowslips for some boy to mow. 

But what of life whose bitter hungry sea 
Flows at our heels, and gloom of sunless night 
Covers the days which never more return ? 
Ambition, love and all the thoughts that burn 
We lose too soon, and only find delight 
In withered husks of some dead memory. 



UNCOLLECTED POEMS 


248 


PAN 

DOtTBLE VILLANELLE 
I 

O GOAT-FOOT God of Arcady ! 

This modem world is grey and old^ 
And what remains to us of thee ? 

No more the shepherd lads in glee 
Throw apples at thy wattled fold, 

O goat-foot God of Arcady ! 

Nor through the laurels can one see 
Thy soft brown limbs, thy beard of gold. 
And what remains to us of thee ? 

And dull and dead our Thames would be, 
For here the winds are chill and cold, 

O goat-foot God of Arcady ! 

Then keep the tomb of Helice, 

Thine olive-woods, thy vine-clad wold. 
And what remains to us of thee ? 

Though many an unsung elegy 
Sleeps in the reeds our rivers hold, 

O goat-foot God of Arcady ! 

Ah, what remains to us of thee ? 



244 


POEMS 


II 

AH, leave the hills of Arcady, 

/X Thy satyrs and their wanton play^ 
This modern world hath need of thee. 

No nymph or Faun indeed have we. 

For Faun and nymph are old and grey, 
Ah, leave the hills of Arcady ! 

This is the land where liberty 

Lit grave-browed Milton on his way, 

This modern world hath need of thee ! 

A land of ancient chivalry 
Where gentle Sidney saw the day, 

Ah, leave the hills of Arcady! 

This fierce sea-lion of the sea. 

This England lacks some stronger lay. 
This modern world hath need of thee 1 

Then blow some trumpet loud and free, 
And give thine oaten pipe away, 

Ah, leave the hills of Arcady ! 

This modern world hath need of thee I 



THE SPHINX 

TO 

MAKCEL SCHWOB 
IN FBIENDSHIP 
ANB 

IN ADMIKATION, 




THE SPHINX 


I N a dim comer of my room for longer than 
my fancy thinks 

A beautiful and silent Sphinx has watched me 
through the shifting gloom. 

Inviolate and immobile she does not rise she 
does not stir 

For silver moons are naught to her and naught 
to her the suns that reel. 

Red follows grey across the air, the waves of 
moonlight ebb and flow 

But with the Dawn she does not go and in the 
night-time she is there. 

Dawn follows Dawn and Nights grow old and 
all the while this curious cat 
Lies couching on the Chinese mat with eyes of 
satin rimmed with gold. 

Upon the mat she lies and leers and on the 
tawny throat of her 

Flutters the soft and silky fur or ripples to her 
pointed ears. 



248 


POEMS 


Come forth, my lovely seneschal ! so somnolent, 
so statuesque ! 

Come forth you exquisite grotesque ! half woman 
and half animal I 

Come forth my lovely languorous Sphinx! and 
put your head upon my knee ! 

And let me stroke your throat and see your 
body spotted like the Lynx J 

And let me touch those curving claws of yellow 
ivory and grasp 

The tail that like a monstrous Asp coils round 
your heavy velvet paws ! 



A THOUSAND weary centuries are thine 
while I have hardly seen 
Some twenty summers cast their green for 
Autumn's gaudy liveries. 

But you can read the Hieroglyphs on the 
great sandstone obelisks. 

And you have talked with Basilisks, and you 
have looked on HippogrifFs. 

O tell me, were you standing by when Isis to 
Osiris knelt ? 

And did you watch the Egyptian melt her union 
for Antony 

And drink the jewel-drunken wine and bend 
her head in mimic awe 

To see the huge proconsul draw the salted tunny 
from the brine ? 

And did you mark the Cyprian kiss white Adon 
on his catafalque ? 

And did you follow Amenalk, the God of 
Heliopolis ? 



250 


POEMS 


And did you talk with Thoth^ and did you hear 
the moon-horned lo weep ? 

And know the painted kings who sleep beneath 
the wedge-shaped Pyramid ? 



THE SPHINX 


251 


L ift up your large black satin eyes which are 
^ like cushions where one sinks ! 

Farwn at my feet, fantastic Sphinx ! and sing me 
all your memories ! 

Sing to me of the Jewish maid who wandered 
with the Holy Child, 

And how you led them through the wild, and 
how they slept beneath your shade. 

Sing to me of that odorous green eve when 
crouching by the marge 

You heard from Adrian's gilded barge the 
laughter of Antinous 

And lapped the stream and fed your drouth and 
watched with hot and hungry stare 
The ivory body of that rare young slave with 
his pomegranate mouth ! 

Sing to me of the Labyrinth in which the twi- 
formed bull was stalled ! 

Sing to me of the night you crawled across the 
temple's granite plinth 



262 


POEMS 


When through the purple corridors the screaming 
scarlet Ibis flew 

In terror, and a horrid dew dripped from the 
moaning Mandragores, 

And the great torpid crocodile within the tank 
shed slimy tears. 

And tare the jewels from his ears and staggered 
back into the Nile, 

And the priests cursed you with shrill psalms as 
in your claws you seized their snake 

And crept away with it to slake your passion by 
the shuddering palms* 



THE SPHINX 


253 


W HO were your lovers? who were they 
who wrestled for you in the dust ? 
Which was the vessel of your Lust? What 
Leman had you^ every clay ? 

Did giant Lizards come and crouch before you 
on the reedy banks ? 

Did Gryphons with great metal flanks leap on 
you in your trampled couch ? 

Did monstrous hippopotami come sidling toward 
you in the mist ? 

Did gilt-scaled dragons width e and twist with 
passion as you passed them by ? 

And from the brick-built Lycian tomb what 
horrible Chimera came 

With fearful heads and fearful flame to breed 
new wonders from your womb ? 



254 


POEMS 


O R had you shameful secret quests and did 
you harry to your home 

Some Nei’eid coiled in amber foam with curious 
rock crystal breasts ? 

Or did you treading through the froth call to 
the brown Sidonian 

For tidings of Leviathan, Leviathan or Be- 
hemoth ? 

Or did you when the sun was set climb up the 
cactus-covered slope 

To meet your swarthy Ethiop whose body was 
of polished jet ? 

Or did you while the earthen skiffs dropped 
down the grey Nilotic flats 
At twilight and the flickering bats flew round 
the temple's triple glyphs 

Steal to the border of the bar and swim across 
the silent lake 

And slink into the vault and make the Pyramid 
your lupanar 



THE SPHINX 


255 


Till from each black sarcophagus rose up the 
painted swathed dead ? 

Or did you lure unto your bed the ivory-horned 
Tragelaphos ? 

Or did you love the god of dies who plagued 
the Hebrews and was splashed 

With wine unto the waist? or Pasht, who had 
green beryls for her eyes ? 

Or that young god^ the Tyrian, who was more 
amorous than the dove 

Of Ashtaroth ? or did you love the god of the 
Assyrian 

Whose wings, like strange transparent talc, rose 
high above bis hawk-faced head, 

Painted with silver and with red and ribbed with 
rods of Oreichalch ? 

Or did huge Apis from his car leap down and 
lay before your feet 

Big blossoms of the honey-sweet and honey- 
coloured nenuphar ? 



m 


POEMS 


H ow subtle-secret is your smile ! Did you 
love none then ? Nay, I know 
Great Ammon was your bedfellow ! He lay with 
you beside the Nile ! 

The river-horses in the slime trumpeted when 
they saw him come 

Odorous with Syrian galbanum and smeared with 
spikenard and with thyme. 

He came along the river bank like some tall 
galley argent-sailed. 

He strode across the waters, mailed in beauty, 
and the waters sank. 

He strode across the desert sand: he reached 
the valley where you lay : 

He waited till the dawn of day : then touched 
your black breasts with his hand. 

You kissed his mouth with mouths of flame : 

you made the horned god your own : 

You stood behind him on his throne : you called 
him by his secret name. 



THE SPHINX 


267 


You whispered monstrous oracles into the 
caverns of his ears : 

With blood of goats and hlocxl of steers you 
taught him monstrous miracles. 

White Amhion was your bedfellow 1 Your 
chamber was the steaming Nile I 

AnH with your curved archaic smile you watched 
bis passion come and go. 



258 


POEMS 


W ITH Syrian oils his brows were bright: 

and wide-spread as a tent at noon 
His marble limbs made pale the moon and lent 
the day a larger light. 

His long hair was nine cubits’ span and coloured 
like that yellow gem 

Which hidden in their garment’s hem the 
merchants bring from Kurdistan. 

His face was as the must that lies upon a vat of 
new-made wine : 

The seas could not insapphirine the perfect azure 
of his eyes. 

His thick soft throat was white as milk and 
threaded with thin veins of blue : 

And curious pearls like frozen dew were 
broidered on his flowing silk. 



THE SPHINX 


250 


O N pearl and porphyry pedestalled he was 
too bright to look upon : 

For on his ivory breast there shone the wondrous 
ocean-emerald. 

That mystic moonlit jewel which some diver of 
the Colchian caves 

Had found beneath the blackening waves and 
carried to the Colchian witch. 

Before his gilded galiot ran naked vine-wreathed 
corybants, 

And lines of swaying elephants knelt down to 
draw his chariot. 

And lines of swarthy Nubians bare up his litter 
as he rode 

Down the great granite-paven road between the 
nodding peacock-fans. 

The merchants brought him steatite from Sidon 
in their painted ships : 

The meanest cup that touched his lips was 
fashioned from a chrysolite. 



260 


POEMS 


The merchants brought him cedar chests of rich 
apparel bound with cords : 

His train was borne by Memphian lords ; young 
kings were glad to be his guests. 

Ten hundred shaven priests did bow to Ammon s 
altar day and night, 

Ten hundred lamps did wave their light through 
Ammon's carven house — and now 

Foul snake and speckled adder with their young 
ones crawl from stone to stone 

For ruined is the house and prone the great 
rose-marble monolith I 

Wild ass or trotting jackal comes and couches 
in the mouldering gates : 

Wild satyrs call unto their mates across the 
fallen fluted drums. 

And on the summit of the pile the blue-faced 
ape of Horns sits 

And gibbers while the fig-tree splits the pillars 
of the peristyle 



THE SPHINX 


261 


T he god is scattered here and there : deep 
hidden in the windy sand 
I saw his giant granite hand still clenched in 
impotent despair. 

And many a wandering caravan of stately 
negroes silken-shawled, 

Crossing the desert, halts appalled before the 
neck that none can span. 

And many a bearded Bedouin draws back his 
yellow-striped burnous 

To gaze upon the Titan thews of him who was 
thy paladin. 



262 


POEMS 


G O, seek his fragments on the moor and 
wash them in the evening dew. 

And from their pieces make anew thy mutilated 
paramour ! 

Go, seek them where they lie alone and from 
their broken pieces make 
Thy bruised bedfellow ! And wake mad passions 
in the senseless stone ! 

Charm his dull ear with Syrian hymns ) he loved 
your body ! oh, be kind. 

Pour spikenard on his hair, and wind soft rolls 
of linen round his limbs 1 

Wind round his head the figured coins! stain 
with red fruits those pallid lips 1 
Weave purple for his shrunken hips 1 and purple 
for his barren loins ! 



THE SPHINX 


263 


A way to Egypt l Have no fear. Only one 
L God has ever died. 

Only one God has let His side be wounded by a 
soldier s spear. 

But these, thy lovers, are not dead. Still by the 
hundred-cubit gate 

Dog-faced Anubis sits in state with lotus-lilies 
for thy head. 

Still from his chair of porphyry gaunt Memnon 
strains his lidless eyes 

Across the empty land, and cries each yellow 
morning unto thee. 

And Nilus with his bi'oken horn lies in his black 
and oozy bed 

And till thy coming will not spi ead his waters on 
the withering corn. 

Your lovers are not dead, I know. They will 
rise up and hear your voice 
And clash their cymbals and rejoice and run to 
kiss your mouth ! And so. 



264 


POEMS 


Set wings upon your argosies! Set horses to 
your ebon car I 

Back to your Nile ! Or if you are grown sick of 
dead divinities 

Follow some roving lion’s spoor across the copper- 
coloured plain^ 

Reach out and hale him by the mane and bid 
him be your paramour ! 

Couch by his side upon the grass and set your 
white teeth in his throat 

And when you hear his dying note lash your 
long flanks of polished brass 

And take a tiger for your mate, whose amber 
sides are flecked with black, 

And ride upon his gilded back in triumph 
through the Theban gate, 

And toy with him in amorous jests, and when 
he turns, and snarls, and gnaws, 

O smite him with your jasper claws I and bruise 
him with your agate breasts 1 



THE SPHINX 


2m 


W HY are you tarrying? Get hence! I 
weary of your sullen ways, 

I weary of your steadfast gaze, your somnolent 
magnificence. 

Your horrible and heavy breath makes the light 
flicker in the lamp, 

And on my brow I feel the damp and dreadful 
dews of night and death. 

Your eyes are like fantastic moons that shiver 
in some stagnant lake, 

Your tongue is like a scarlet snake that dances 
to fantastic tunes. 

Your pulse makes poisonous melodics, and your 
black throat is like the hole 
Left by some torch or burning coal on Saracenic 
tapestries. 

Away ! The sulphur-coloured stars are hurrying 
through the Western gate ! 

Away! Or it may be too late to climb their 
silent silver cars ! 



266 


POEMS 


See, the dawn shivers round the grey gilt-dialled 
towers, and the rain 

Streams down each diamonded pane and blurs 
with tears the wannish day. 

What snake-tressed fury fresh from Hell, with 
uncouth gestures and unclean, 

Stole from the poppy-drowsy queen and led you 
to a student’s cell ? 



THE SPHINX 


267 


W HAT songless tongueless ghost of sin crept 
through the curtains of the night. 

And saw my taper burning bright, and knocked, 
and bade you enter in ? 

Are there not others more accursed, whiter with 
leprosies than I ? 

Are Abana and Pharphar dry that you come here 
to slake your thirst ? 

Get hence, you loathsome mystery! Hideous 
animal, get hence ! 

You wake in me each bestial sense, you make me 
what I would not be. 

You make my creed a barren sham, you wake 
foul dreams of sensual life. 

And Atys with his blood-stained knife were 
better than the thing I am. 

False Sphinx! False Sphinx! By reedy Styx 
old Charon, leaning on his oar. 

Waits for my coin. Go thou before, and leave 
me to my crucifix. 



268 


POEMS 


Whose pallid burden, sick with pain, watches 
the world with wearied eyes. 

And weeps for every soul that dies, and weeps 
for every soul in vain. 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 




IN MEMOKIAM 

C. T. W. 


SOMETIME TROOPER OP THE ROYAL HORSE GUARDS 
OBIIT H.M. PRISON, READING, BERKSHIRE 
JULY 7 , 1896 




THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 

I 

H e did not wear his scarlet coat. 

For blood and wine are red. 

And blood and wine were on liis hands 
When they found him with the dead, 
The poor dead woman whom he loved, 
And murdered in her bed. 

He walked amongst the Trial Men 
In a suit of shabby grey ; 

A cricket cap was on his head. 

And his step seemed light and gay ; 

But I never saw a man who looked 
So wistfully at the day. 

I never saw a man who looked 
With such a wistful eye 
, Upon that little tent of blue 
Which prisoners call the sky. 

And at every drifting cloud that went 
With sails of silver by. 



274 


POEMS 


I walked, with other souls in pain^ 
Within another ring, 

And was wondering if the man had done 
A great or little thing. 

When a voice behind me whispered low, 
' That fellow 's got to swing* 


Dear Christ ! the very prison walls 
Suddenly seemed to reel, 

And the sky above my head became 
Like a casque of scorching steel ; 
And, though I was a soul in pain. 
My pain I could not feel. 


I only knew what hunted thought 
Quickened his step, and why 
He looked upon the garish day 
With such a wistful eye ; 

The man had killed the thing he loved, 
And so he had to die. 

r 

Yet each man kills the thing he loves. 
By each let this be heard, 

Some do it with a bitter look, 

Some with a flattering word, 

The coward does it with a kiss, 

The brave man with a sword ! 



THE BALLAB OF READING GAOL 275 


Some kill their love when they are young, 
And some when they ai'e old ; 

Some strangle with the hands of Lust, 
Some with the hands of Gold : 

The kindest use a knife, because 
The dead so soon grow cold. 


Some love too little, some too long. 

Some sell, and others buy ; 

Some do the deed with many tears, 

And some without a sigh : 

For each man kills the thing he loves. 
Yet each man does not die. 

He does not die a death of shame 
On a day of dark disgrace. 

Nor have a noose about his neck, 

Nor a cloth upon his face. 

Nor drop feet foremost through the floor 
Into an empty space. 


He does not sit with silent men 
Who watch him night and day ; 

Who watch him when he tries to weep. 
And when he tries to pray ; 

Who watch him lest himself should rob 
The prison of its prey. 



270 


POEMS 


He does not wake at dawn to see 
Dread figures throng his room^ 

The shivering Chaplain robed in white. 
The Sheriff stern with gloom, 

And the Governor all in shiny black. 
With the yellow face of Doom. 


He does not rise in piteous haste 
To put on convict-clothes. 

While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, 
and notes 

Each new and nerve-twitched pose, 
Fingering a watch whose little ticks 
Are like horrible hammer-blows. 


He does not know that sickening thirst 
That sands one’s throat, before 
The hangman with his gardener’s gloves 
Slips through the padded door. 

And binds one with three leathern thongs, 
That the throat may thirst no more. 


He does not bend his head to hear 
The Burial Office read. 

Nor, while the terror of his soul 
Tells him he is not dead, 

Cross his own coffin, as he moves 
Into the hideous shed. 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 277 


He does not stare upon the air 
Through a little roof of glass : 

He does not pray with lips of clay 
For his agony to pass ; 

Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek 
The kiss of Caiaphas. 



278 


POEMS 


II 

S IX weeks our guardsman walked the yard, 
In the suit of shabby grey : 

His cricket cap was on his head, 

And his step seemed light and gay, 

But I never saw a man who looked 
So wistfully at the day. 


I never saw a man who looked 
With such a wistful eye 
Upon that little tent of blue 
Which prisoners call the sky. 

And at every wandering cloud that trailed 
Its ravelled fleeces by. 


He did not wring his hands, as do 
Those witless men who dare 
To try to rear the changeling Hope 
In the cave of black Despair : 

He only looked upon the sun, 

And drank the morning air. 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 279 


He did not wring his hands nor weep. 
Nor did he peek or pine. 

But he drank the air as though it held 
Some healthful anodyne ; 

With open mouth he drank the sun 
As though it had been wine ! 

And I and all the souls in pain. 

Who tramped the other ring. 

Forgot if we ourselves had done 
A great or little thing. 

And watched with gaze of dull amaze 
The man who had to swing. 


And strange it was to see him pass 
With a step so light and gay. 

And strange it was to see him look 
So wistfully at the day. 

And strange it was to think that he 
Had such a debt to pay. 


For oak and elm have pleasant leaves 
That in the spring-time shoot : 

But grim to see is the gallows-tree. 
With its adder-bitten root. 

And, green or dry, a man must die 
Before it bears its fruit I 



280 


POEMS 


The loftiest place is that seat of grace 
For which all worldlings try : 

But who would stand in hempen band 
Upon a scaffold high, 

And through a murderer's collar take 
His last look at the sky ? 


It is sweet to dance to violins 
When Love and Life are fair : 

To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes 
Is delicate and rare ; 

But it is not sweet with nimble feet 
To dance upon the air ! 


So with curious eyes and sick surmise 
We watched him day by day. 

And wondered if each one of us 
Would end the self-same way. 

For none can tell to what red Hell 
His sightless soul may stray. 


At last the dead man walked no more 
Amongst the Trial Men, 

And I knew that he was standing up 
In the black dock’s dreadful pen. 
And that never would I see his face 
In God’s sweet world again. 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 281 


Like two doomed skips that pass in storm 
We had crossed each other’s way : 

But we made no sign, we said no word. 
We had no word to say ; 

For we did not meet in the holy night. 
But in the shameful day. 

A prison wall was round us both. 

Two outcast men we were : 

The world had thrust us from its heart, 
And God from out His care : 

And the iron gin that waits for Sin 
Had caught us in its snare. 



282 


POEMS 


III 

I N Debtors" Yard tfie stones are hardj 
And the dripping wall is high. 

So it was there he took the air 
Beneath the leaden sky, 

And by each side a Warder walked. 

For fear the man might die. 


Or else he sat with those who watched 
His anguish night and day ; 

Who watched him when he rose to weep. 
And when he crouched to pray ; 

Who watched him lest himself should rob 
Their scaffold of its prey. 


The Governor was strong upon 
The Regulations Act : 

The Doctor said that Death was but 
A scientific fact : 

And twice a day the Chaplain called, 
And left a little tract. 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 283 


And twice a day he smoked his pipe^ 
And drank his quart of beer : 

His soul was resolute, aiid held 
No hiding-place for fear; 

He often said that he was glad 
The hangman's hands were near. 


But why he said so strange a thing 
No Warder dared to ask : 

For he to whom a watcher's doom 
Is given as his task, 

Must set a lock upon his lips, 

And make his face a mask. 


Or else he might be moved, and try 
To comfort or console : 

And what should Human Pity do 
Pent up in Murderers' Hole ? 

What word of grace in such a place 
Could help a brother's soul ? 

? 

With slouch and swing around the ring 
We trod the Fools' Parade! 

We did not care : we knew we were 
The Devil's Own Brigade : 

And shaven head and feet of lead 
Make a merry masquerade. 



284 


POEMS 


We tore tlie tarry rope to shreds 
With blunt and bleeding nails ; 

We rubbed the doors^ and scrubbed the floors. 
And cleaned the shining rails : 

And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank, 
And clattered with the pails. 


We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones, 
We turned the dusty drill : 

We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns. 
And sweated on the mill : 

But in the heart of every man 
Terror was lying still. 


So still it lay that every day 

Crawled like a weed-clogged wave : 
And we forgot the bitter lot 
That waits for fool and knave. 

Till once, as we tramped in from work, 
We passed an open grave. 


With yawning mouth the yellow hole 
Gaped for a living thing ; 

The very mud cried out for blood 
To the thirsty asphalte ring : 

And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair 
Some prisoner had to swing. 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 285 


Right in we went^ with soul intent 
On Death and Dread and Doom : 

The hangman, with his little bag. 

Went shuffling through the gloom : 

And each man trembled as he crept 
Into his numbered tomb. 

r 

That night the empty corridors 
Were full of forms of Fear, 

‘ And up and down the iron town 
Stole feet we could not hear. 

And through the bars that hide the stai*s 
White faces seemed to peer. 


He lay as one who lies and dreams 
In a pleasant meadow-land. 

The watchers watched him as he slept. 
And could not understand 
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep 
With a hangman close at hand. 


But there is no sleep when men must weep 
Who never yet have wept : 

So we — the fool, the fraud, the knave — 
That endless vigil kept. 

And through each brain on hands of pain 
Another's terror crept. 



286 


POEMS 


Alas ! it is a fearful thing 
To feel another s guilt ! 

For, right within, the sword of Sin 
Pierced to its poisoned hilt. 

And as molten lead were the tears we shed 
For the blood we had not spilt. 


The Warders with their shoes of felt 
Crept by each padlocked door, 

And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe, 
Grey figures on the floor, 

And wondered why men knelt to pray 
Who never prayed before. 


All through the night we knelt and prayed, 
Mad mourners of a corse I 
The troubled plumes of midnight were 
The plumes upon a hearse : 

And bitter wine upon a sponge 
Was the savour of Remorse. 


The grey cock crew, the red cock crew. 
But never came the day : 

And crooked shapes of Ten'or crouched, | 
In the corners where we lay : 

And each evil sprite that walks by night 
Before us seemed to play. 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 287 


They glided past, they glided fast. 

Like travellers through a mist : 

They mocked the moon in a rigadoon 
Of delicate turn and twist, 

And with formal pace and loathsome grace 
The phantoms kept their tryst. 


With mop and mow, we saw them go. 

Slim shadows hand in hand : 

About, about, in ghostly rout 
They trod a saraband : 

And the damned grotesques made arabesques. 
Like the wind upon the sand I 


With the pirouettes of marionettes. 

They tripped on pointed tread : 

But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear, 
As their grisly masque they led, 

And loud they sang, and long they sang, 
For they sang to wake the dead. 


^ Oho ! ' they cried, ^ The world is 7vide, 
But fettered limbs go lame! 

And once, or twice, to throw the dice 
Is a gentlemanly game, 

Bat he does not win who plays with Sin 
In the secret House of Shayne! 



288 


POEMS 


No things of air these antics were^ 

That frolicked %vith such glee : 

To men whose lives were held in gyves, 

And whose feet might not go free. 

Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living 
things, 

Most terrible to see. 


Around, around, they waltzed and wound ; 

Some wheeled in smirking pairs ; 

With the mincing step of a demirep 
Some sidled up the stairs : 

And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer. 
Each helped us at our prayers. 


The morning wind began to moan, 

But still tlie night went on : 

Through its giant loom the web of gloom 
Crept till each thread was spun : 

And, as we prayed, we grew afraid 
Of the Justice of the Sun. 


The moaning wind went wandering round 
The weeping prison-wall : 

Till like a wheel of turning steel 
We felt the minutes crawl : 

O moaning wind 1 what had we done 
To have such a seneschal ? 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 289 


At last I saw the shadowed bars^ 

Like a lattice wrought in lead^ 

Move right across the whitewashed wall 
That faced my three-plank bed. 

And I knew that somewhere in the world 
God’s dreadful dawn was red. 


At six o’clock we cleaned our cells. 

At seven all was still, 

But the sough and swing of a mighty wing 
The prison seemed to fill. 

For the Lord of Death with icy breath 
Had entered in to kill. 


He did not pass in purple pomp. 

Nor I'ide a moon-white steed. 

Three yards of cord and a sliding board 
Are all the gallows’ need ; 

So with rope of shame the Herald came 
To do the secret deed. 


We were as men who through a fen 
Of filthy darkness grope : 

We did not dare to breathe a prayer, 
Or to give our anguish scope ; 
Something was dead in each of us, 
And what was dead was Hope. 



290 


POEMS 


Foc^Ian^s grim Justice goes its way, 
^nd will not swerve aside : 

It slays the weak, it slays the strongs 
It has a deadly stride : 

With iron heel it slays the strong. 
The monstrous parricide ! 


We waited for the stroke of eight : 

Each tongue was thick with thirst : 

For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate 
That makes a man accursed. 

And Fate will use a running noose 
For the best man and the worst. 


We had no other thing to do, 

Save to wait for the sign to come : 

So, like things of stone in a valley lone, 
Quiet we sat and dumb : 

But each man’s heart beat thick and quick. 
Like a madman on a drum ! 


With sudden shock the prison-clock 
Smote on the shivering air, 

And from all the gaol rose up a wail 
Of impotent despair. 

Like the sound that frightened marshes hear 
From some leper in his lair. 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 291 


And as one sees most fearful things 
In the crystal of a dream. 

We saw the greasy hempen rope 
Hooked to the blackened beam. 

And heard the prayer the hangman's snare 
Strangled into a scream. 


And all the woe that moved him so 
That he gave that bitter cry, 

And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats, 
None knew so well as I : 

For he who lives more lives than one 
More deaths than one must die. 



292 


POEMS 


IV 

T here is no chapel on the day 
On which they hang a man : 
The Chaplain's heart is far too sick^ 
Or his face is far too wan. 

Or there is that written in his eyes 
Which none should look upon. 


So they kept us close till nigh on noon, 
And then they rang the bell. 

And the Warders with their jingling keys 
Opened each listening cell, 

And down the iron stair we tramped. 
Each from his separate Hell. 


Out into God’s sweet air we went. 

But not in wonted way, 

For this man's face was white with fear, 
And that man’s face was grey, 

And I never saw sad men who looked 
So wistfully at the day. 



THE BALLAD OF BEADING GAOL 293 


I never saw sad men who looked 
With such a wistful eye 
Upon that little tent of blue 
We prisoners called the sky. 

And at every cai*eless cloud that passed 
In happy freedom by. 


But there were those amongst us all 
Who walked with downcast head, 
And knew that, had each got his due. 
They should have died instead : 

He had but killed a thing that lived. 
Whilst they had killed the dead. 


For he who sins a second time 
Wakes a dead soul to pain, 

And draws it from its spotted shroud, 
And makes it bleed again, 

\nd makes it bleed great gouts of blood, 
And makes it bleed in vain ! 

r 

Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb 
With crooked arrows starred. 

Silently we went round and round 
The slippery asphalte yard ; 

Silently we went round and round, 

And no man spoke a word 



294 


POEMS 


Silently we went round and rounds 
And through each hollow mind 
The Memory of dreadful things 
Rushed like a dreadful wind. 

And Horror stalked before each man, 
And Terror crept behind. 

r 

The Warders strutted up and down. 

And kept their herd of brutes, 

Their uniforms were spick and span. 

And they wore their Sunday suits. 

But we knew the work they had been at. 
By the quicklime on their boots. 


For where a grave had opened wide. 
There was no grave at all : 

Only a stretch of mud and sand 
By the hideous prison-wall. 

And a little heap of burning lime. 
That the man should have his pall. 


For he has a pall, this wretched man, 
Such as few men can claim : 

Deep down below a prison-yard, 
Naked for greater shame, 

He lies, with fetters on each foot. 
Wrapt in a sheet of flame ! 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 295 


And all the while the burning lime 
Eats flesh and bone away, 

It eats the brittle bone by night. 
And the soft flesh by day. 

It eats the flesh and bone by turns. 
But it eats the heart alway. 


For three long years they will not sow 
Or root or seedling there : 

For three long years the unblessed spot 
Will sterile be and bare. 

And look upon the wondering sky 
With unreproachful stare. 


They think a murderer*s heart would taint 
Each simple seed they sow. 

It is not true ! God's kindly earth 
Is kindlier than men know. 

And the red rose would but blow more red, 
The white rose whiter blow. 


Out of his mouth a red, red rose I 
Out of his heart a white 1 
For who can say by what strange way, 
Christ brings His will to light. 

Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore 
Bloomed in the great Pope’s sight 



296 


POEMS 


But neither milk-white rose nor red 
May bloom in prison-air ; 

The shard^ the pebble, and the flint. 
Are what they give us there : 

For flowers have been known to heal 
A common man’s despair. 


So never will wine-red rose or w^hite, 
Petal by petal, fall 

On that sti’etch of mud and sand that lies 
By the hideous prison-wall. 

To tell the men who tramp the yard 
That God's Son died for all. 


Yet though the hideous prison- wall 
Still hems him round and round, 
And a spirit may not walk by night 
That is with fetters bound, 

And a spirit may but weep that lies 
In such unholy ground. 


He is at peace — this wretched man — 
At peace, or will be soon : 

There is no thing to make him mad. 
Nor does Terror walk at noon. 

For the lampless Earth in which he lies 
Has neither Sun nor Moon, 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 207 


They hanged him as a beast is hanged : 

They did not even toll 
A requiem that might have brought 
Rest to his startled soul. 

But hurriedly they took him out, 

And hid him in a hole. 


They stripped him of his canvas clothes. 
And gave him to the flics : 

They mocked the swollen purple throat. 
And the stark and staring eyes : 

And with laughter loud they heaped the 
shroud 

In which their convict lies. 


The Chaplain wotdd not kneel to pray 
By his dishonoured grave : 

Nor max’k it with that blessed Cross 
That Christ for sinners gave, 
Because the man was one of those 
Whom Christ came down to save. 


Yet all is well; he has but passed 
To Life's appointed bourne : 

And alien tears will fill for him 
Pity's long-broken urn, 

For his mourners will be outcast men. 
And outcasts always mourn 



298 


POEMS 


V 

I KNOW not whether Laws be right, 
Or whether Laws be wrong; 

All that we know who lie in gaol 
Is that the wall is strong ; 

And that each day is like a year, 

A year wdiose days are long. 


But this I know, that every Law 
That men have made for Man, 

Since first Man took his brother's life, 
And the sad world began, 

But straws the wheat and saves the chaff 
With a most evil fan. 


This too I know — and wise it were 
If each could know the same — 

That every prison that men build 
Is built with bricks of shame. 

And bound with bars lest Christ should see 
How men their brothers maim. 



THE BALLAD OF READINO GAOL 291) 


With bars they blur the gracious moon. 

And blind the goodly sun : 

And they do well to hide their Hell, 

For in it things are done 
That Son of God nor son of Man 
Ever should look upon ! 

V 

The vilest deeds like poison weeds, 

Bloom well in prison-air ; 

It is only what is good in Man 
That wastes and withers there : 

Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate. 

And the Warder is Despair. 

For they starve the little frightened child 
Till it weeps both night and <lay : 

And they scourge the weak, and (log the 
fool, 

And gibe the old and grey. 

And some grow mad, and all grow bad, 

And none a word may say. 

Each narrow cell in which we dwell 
Is a foul and <lark latrine. 

And the fetid breath of living Death 
Chokes up each grated screen, 

And all, but Lust, is turned to dust 
In Humanity's machine. 



POEMS 


The brackish water that we drink 
Creeps with a loathsome slime^ 

And the bitter bread they weigh in scales 
Is full of chalk and lime^ 

And Sleep will not lie dowii;, but walks 
Wild-eyed, and cries to Time. 

r 

But though lean Hunger and green Thirst 
Like asp with adder fight, 

We have little care of prison fiire. 

For what chills and kills outright 
Is that every stone one lifts by day 
Becomes one's heart by night. 


With midnight always in one's heart, 
And twilight in one's cell, 

We turn the crank, or tear the rope, 
Each in his separate Hell, 

And the silence is more awful far 
Than the sound of a brazen bell. 


And never a human voice comes near 
To speak a gentle word : 

And the eye that watches through the door 
Is pitiless and hard : 

And by all forgot, we rot and rot. 

With soul and body marred. 



THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL 301 


And thus we rust Life’s iron chain 
Degraded and alone : 

And some men curse, and some men weep. 
And some men make no moan : 

But God’s eternal Laws are kind 
And break the heart of stone. 

r 

And every human heart that breaks. 

In prison-cell or yard. 

Is as that broken box that gave 
Its treasure to the Lord, 

And filled the unclean leper s house 
With the scent of costliest nard. 


Ah ! happy they whose hearts can break 
Aiul peace of pardon win ! 

How else may man make straight his plan 
And cleanse his soul from Sin ? 

How else but through a broken heart 
May Loixl Christ eiiter in ? 

V 

And he of tlie swollen piu^plc tlmoat, 

And the stark and staring eyes. 

Waits for the holy hands that took 
The Thief to Paradise ; 

broken and a contrite hQa«:t 
The Lord will imt despise, 



POEMS 


The man in red who reads the Law 
Gave him three weeks of life. 
Three little weeks in which to heal 
His soul of his soul’s strife. 

And cleanse from every blot of blood 
The hand that held the knife. 


And with tears of blood he cleansed the 
hand. 

The hand that held the steel: 

For only blood can wipe out blood, 

And only tears can heal : 

And the crimson stain that was of Cain 
Became Christ’s snow-white seal. 



THE BALLAD OF BEADING GAOL SOS 


vr 

I N Reading gaol by Reading town 
There is a pit of shame^ 

And in it lies a wretched man 
Eaten by teeth of flame. 

In a burning winding-sheet he lies, 

And his grave has got no name. 

And there, till Christ call forth the dead. 
In silence let him lie : 

No need to waste the foolish tear, 

Or heave the windy sigli : 

The man had killed the thing he loved, 
And so he had to die. 


And all men kill the thing they love. 
By all let this be heard. 

Some do it with a bitter look, 

Some with a flattering word. 

The coward does it with a kiss. 

The brave man with a sword I