poem – new year’s night

Now you are mine, to-night at last I say it;
You’re a dove I have bought for sacrifice,
And to-night I slay it.

Here in my arms my naked sacrifice!
Death, do you hear, in my arms I am bringing
My offering, bought at great price.

She’s a silvery dove worth more than all I’ve got.
Now I offer her up to the ancient, inexorable God,
Who knows me not.

Look, she’s a wonderful dove, without blemish or spot!
I sacrifice all in her, my last of the world,
Pride, strength, all the lot.

All, all on the altar! And death swooping down
Like a falcon. ‘Tis God has taken the victim;
I have won my renown.

poem – study

Somewhere the long mellow note of the blackbird
Quickens the unclasping hands of hazel,
Somewhere the wind-flowers fling their heads back,
Stirred by an impetuous wind. Some ways’ll
All be sweet with white and blue violet.
(Hush now, hush. Where am I?—Biuret—)

On the green wood’s edge a shy girl hovers
From out of the hazel-screen on to the grass,
Where wheeling and screaming the petulant plovers
Wave frighted. Who comes? A labourer, alas!
Oh the sunset swims in her eyes’ swift pool.
(Work, work, you fool——!)

Somewhere the lamp hanging low from the ceiling
Lights the soft hair of a girl as she reads,
And the red firelight steadily wheeling
Weaves the hard hands of my friend in sleep.
And the white dog snuffs the warmth, appealing
For the man to heed lest the girl shall weep.
(Tears and dreams for them; for me
Bitter science—the exams are near.
I wish I bore it more patiently.
I wish you did not wait, my dear,
For me to come: since work I must:
Though it’s all the same when we are dead.—
I wish I was only a bust,
All head.)

poem – trust

Oh we’ve got to trust
one another again
in some essentials.

Not the narrow little
bargaining trust
that says: I’m for you
if you’ll be for me. –

But a bigger trust,
a trust of the sun
that does not bother
about moth and rust,
and we see it shining
in one another.

Oh don’t you trust me,
don’t burden me
with your life and affairs; don’t
thrust me
into your cares.

But I think you may trust
the sun in me
that glows with just
as much glow as you see
in me, and no more.

But if it warms
your heart’s quick core
why then trust it, it forms
one faithfulness more.

And be, oh be
a sun to me,
not a weary, insistent
personality

but a sun that shines
and goes dark, but shines
again and entwines
with the sunshine in me

till we both of us
are more glorious
and more sunny.

poem – butterfly

Butterfly, the wind blows sea-ward,
strong beyond the garden-wall!
Butterfly, why do you settle on my
shoe, and sip the dirt on my shoe,
Lifting your veined wings, lifting them?
big white butterfly!

Already it is October, and the wind
blows strong to the sea
from the hills where snow must have
fallen, the wind is polished with
snow.
Here in the garden, with red
geraniums, it is warm, it is warm
but the wind blows strong to sea-ward,
white butterfly, content on my shoe!

Will you go, will you go from my warm
house?
Will you climb on your big soft wings,
black-dotted,
as up an invisible rainbow, an arch
till the wind slides you sheer from the
arch-crest
and in a strange level fluttering you go
out to sea-ward, white speck!

poem – humming bird

I can imagine, in some other world
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.

Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.

I believe there were no flowers, then
In the world where the humming-bird flashed ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.

Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.

We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.

poem – the minister

DIM thro’ the sculptured aisles the sunbeam falls
More like a dream
Of some imagined beam,
Than actual daylight over mortal walls.

A strain of music like the rushing wind,
But deep and sweet
As when the waters meet
In one mysterious harmony combined.

So swells the mighty organ, rich and full,
As if it were the soul
Which raised the glorious whole
Of that fair building, vast and wonderful.

Doth not the spirit feel its influence,
All vain and feverish care,
All thoughts that worldly are,
Strife, tumult, mirth, and fear are vanished hence.

The world is put aside, within the heart
Those hopes arise
Thrice sacred mysteries,
In which our earthly nature has no part.

Oh, Christian Fane, the soul expands in thee,
Thine altar and thy tomb
Speak of the hope and doom
Which leads and cheers man to eternity.

poem – the african prince

IT was a king in Africa,
He had an only son;
And none of Europe’s crowned kings
Could have a dearer one.

With good cane arrows five feet long,
And with a shining bow,
When but a boy, to the palm woods
Would that young hunter go.

And home he brought white ivory,
And many a spotted hide:
When leopards fierce and beautiful
Beneath his arrows died.

Around his arms, around his brow,
A shining bar was rolled;
It was to mark his royal blood,
He wore that bar of gold.

And often at his father’s feet,
The evening he would pass;
When, weary of the hunt, he lay
Upon the scented grass.

Alas! it was an evil day,
When such a thing could be:
When strangers, pale and terrible,
Came o’er the distant sea.

They found the young prince mid the woods,
The palm woods deep and dark:
That day his lion-hunt was done,
They bore him to their bark.

They bound him in a narrow hold,
With others of his kind;
For weeks did that accursed ship
Sail on before the wind.
Now shame upon the cruel wind,
And on the cruel sea,
That did not with some mighty storm,
Set those poor captives free:

Or, shame to those weak thoughts, so fain
To have their wilful way:
God knoweth what is best for all—
The winds and seas obey.

At length a lovely island rose
From out the ocean wave;
They took him to the market-place,
And sold him for a slave.

Some built them homes, and in the shade
Of flowered and fragrant trees,
They half forgot the palm-hid huts
They left far o’er the seas.

But he was born of nobler blood,
And was of nobler kind;
And even unto death, his heart
For its own kindred pined.

There came to him a seraph child
With eyes of gentlest blue:
If there are angels in high heaven,
Earth has its angels too.

She cheered him with her holy words,
She soothed him with her tears;
And pityingly she spoke with him
Of home and early years.

And when his heart was all subdued
By kindness into love,
She taught him from this weary earth
To look in faith above.

She told him how the Saviour died
For man upon the tree;
‘He suffered,’ said the holy child,
‘For you as well as me.’

Sorrow and death have need of faith—
The African believed;
As rain falls fertile on the earth
Those words his soul received.

He died in hope as only those
Who die in Christ depart—
One blessed name within his lips,
One hope within his heart.

poem – the crusader

He is come from the land of the sword and shrine,
From the sainted battles of Palestine;
The snow plumes wave o’er his victor crest,
Like a glory, the red cross hangs at his breast;
His courser is black, as black can be,
Save the brow star, white as the foam of the sea,
And he wears a scarf of broidery rare,
The last love gift of his lady fair;
It bore for device a cross and a dove,
And the words – ‘I am vowed to my God and my love.’

He comes not back the same that he went;
For his sword has been tried, and his strength has been spent,
His golden hair has a deeper brown,
And his brow has caught a darker frown;
And his lip has lost its youthful red,
And the shade of the South o’er his cheek is spread,
But stately his step, and his bearing high,
And wild the light of his fiery eye;
And proud in the lists were the maiden bright,
Who might claim the Knight of the Cross for her knight.

He rides for the home he had pined to see,
In the court, in the camp, in captivity!
He reached the castle – his own step was all
That echoed within the deserted hall;
He stood on the roof of the ancient tower;
And, for banner, there waved one pale wall flower,
And, for sound of the trumpet and peal of the horn,
Came the scream of the owl, on the night wind borne.
The turrets were falling, the vassals were flown,
And the bat ruled the halls, he had called his own;
His heart throbbed high – Oh! never again
Might he soothe with sweet thoughts his spirit’s pain;
He never might think of his boyish years,
Till his eyes grew dim with those sweet warm tears,
Which hope and memory shed when they meet –
The grave of his kindred was at his feet –
He stood alone, the last of his race,
With the cold wide world for his dwelling place;
The home of his fathers gone to decay,
All but their memory had passed away –
No one to welcome, no one to share
The laurel, he no more was proud to wear.
He came, in the pride of his war-success,
But to weep over very desolateness.

They pointed him to a barren plain,
Where his father, his brothers, his kinsmen were slain;
They shewed him the lowly grave, where slept
The maiden, whose scarf he so truly had kept;
But they could not shew him one living thing,
To which his withered heart could cling –

Amid the warriors of Palestine
Is one, the first in the battle line.
It is not for glory he seeks the field,
For a blasted tree is upon his shield,
And the motto it bears is, ‘I fight for a grave.’
He found it – That warrior has died with the brave.

poem – hebe

YOUTH! thou art a lovely time,
With thy wild and dreaming eyes;
Looking onwards to their prime,
Coloured by their April skies,
Yet I do not wish for thee,
Pass, oh! quickly pass from me.

Thou hast all too much unrest,
Haunted by vain hopes and fears;
Though thy cheeks with smiles be drest,
Yet that cheek is wet with tears.
Bitter are the frequent showers,
Falling in thy sunny hours.

Let my heart grow calm and cold,
Calm to sorrow, cold to love;
Let affections loose their hold,
Let my spirit look above.
I am weary—youth pass on.
All thy dearest gifts are gone.

She in whose sweet form the Greek
Bade his loveliest vision dwell;
She of yon bright cup and cheek,
From her native heaven fell:
Type of what may never last,
Soon the heaven of youth is past.

Oh! farewell—for never more
Can thy dreams again be mine;
Hope and truth and faith are o’er,
And the heart which was their shrine
Has no boon of thee to seek,
Asking but to rest or break.

poem – a suttee

GATHER her raven hair in one rich cluster,
Let the white champac light it, as a star
Gives to the dusky night a sudden lustre,
Shining afar.

Shed fragrant oils upon her fragrant bosom,
Until the breathing air around grows sweet;
Scatter the languid jasmine’s yellow blossom
Beneath her feet.

Those small white feet are bare—too soft are they
To tread on aught but flowers; and there is roll’d
Round the slight ankle, meet for such display,
The band of gold.

Chains and bright stones are on her arms and neck;
What pleasant vanities are linked with them,
Of happy hours, which youth delights to deck
With gold and gem.

She comes! So comes the Moon, when she has found
A silvery path wherein thro’ heaven to glide.
Fling the white veil—a summer cloud—around;
She is a bride!

And yet the crowd that gather at her side
Are pale, and every gazer holds his breath.
Eyes fill with tears unbidden, for the bride—
The bride of Death!

She gives away the garland from her hair,
She gives the gems that she will wear no more;
All the affections, whose love-signs they were,
Are gone before.

The red pile blazes—let the bride ascend,
And lay her head upon her husband’s heart,
Now in a perfect unison to blend—
No more to part.