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Harriett Jay

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{The New Rome 1898}







“He’s a long way off, is Jesus—and we’ve got to make it loud!”


Glory! Hallelujah! March along together!
March along, march along, every kind of weather!
Wet or dry, shower or shine, ready night and day,
Travelling to Jesus, singing on the way!
He is waiting for us, yonder in the sky,
Stooping down his shining head to


“ ’ALLELOOJAH! ’alleloojah! Round the corner of the street
They’re a-coming and a-singing, with a sound of tramping feet.
Throw the windy open, Jenny—leat me ’ear the fife and drum—                          [2:3]
Garn! the cold can’t ’arm me, Jenny—ain’t I book’d for Kingdom Come?
I’ve got the doctor’s ticket for a third-class seat, ye know,
And the Lord’ll blow his whistle, and the train begin to go . . .
’Alleloojah! How I love ’em!—and the music—and the rhyme—                          190
My ’eart’s a-marchin’ with ’em, and my feet is beatin’ time!
Lift me up, and let me see them—Lord, how bright they looks to-day!
Ain’t it ’eavenly? Men and women, boys and gels, they march away!
Who’s that wavin’? It’s the Captain, bless his ’art! He sees me plain—
It was ’im as ’ad me chris’en’d, call’d me “ ’Alleloojah Jane!”
And the minute I was chris’en’d, somethink lep’ in my inside,
And I saw, fur off and shining, Golden Gates as open’d wide,
And I ’eard the Angels ’oller, and I answered loud and clear,
And the blessèd larfing Jesus cried, ‘You’ve got to march up ’ere!
And I march’d and lep’ and shouted till my throat was sick and sore,
Down I tumbled with diptheery, and I couldn’t march no more!”

Glory! Hallelujah! Sound the fife and drum!
Brother, won’t you join us, bound for Kingdom Come?
Wear our regimentals, spick and span and gay,
And be always ready to listen and obey?
Form in marching order, stepping right along,
While above the angels smile and

“Are they gone? Well, lay me down, Jenny—for p’r’aps this very day                   191
The Lord’ll read the roll-call, so there ain’t much time to stay.
But afore I leave yer, Jenny, for the trip as all must take,
Jest you ’ear me bless the music that fust blew my soul awake. . . .
I was born in dirt and darkness—I was blind and dumb with sin—
For the typhus ’ad took father, and my mother’s-milk was gin,
And at sixteen I was walkin’ like the other gels ye meet,
And I kep’ a little sister by my earnin’s on the street.
Well, they say ’twas orful sinful, but ’twas all I'd got to do,
For I ’ad to get my livin’, and to keep my sister too;
And poor Bess, yer see, was sickly—for she’d never been the same
Since she got a kick from father on the back, wot made her lame;—
As for mother, she was berried too, thank God! One winter night
Been run over by a Pickford, when mad drunk, and serve her right!
So we two was left together, and poor Bess, ’twas ’ard for ’er,
For her legs was thin as matches, and she couldn’t scursly stir;
But so pretty! with her thin face, and her silken yeller ’air,
And so ’andy with her needle, in her invalidy chair,
And when at night I left her to walk out in street and lane,
Tho’ I come ’ome empty-’anded, she’d a kiss for sister Jane.
But ’twas ’ard, and allays ’arder, just to keep ourselves at all,
Me so precious black and ugly, Bess so ’flicted and so small,
For tho’ only one year younger, she’d ’a past for twelve or less;                          192 [4:23]
But, Lor bless ye, she was clever, and could read and spell, could Bess!
(She’d learnt it at the ’ospital from some kind nuss, yer see.)
When I brought ’er ’ome a paper she could read the noos to me,
All the p’lice noos and the murders, and the other rum things there,
And for ’ours I’d sit and listen, by her invalidy chair!

Well, one night as I was climbin’ up the stair, tir’d out and sad,
For the luck had been ag’in me, and ’twas pourin’ down like mad,
I ’eard her voice a-screaming! and from floor to floor I ran,
Till I reach’d our room and sor ’er, and beside her was a man,
An ugly Spanish sailor as was lodgin’ in the place,
And the beast was ’olding Bessie and a-kissing of her face,
And she cried and scream’d and struggled, a-tryin’ to get free,
And the beast he ’eard me comin’ and turned round ’is face to me,
And I sor it black and ugly with the drink and worse beside,
And I screech’d, ‘Let go my sister!’ while she ’id her face and cried.
Then the man look’d black as thunder, and he swore he’d ’ave my life
If I stay’d there, and his fingers began feelin’ for his knife,
But I lep’ and seized a poker as was lying by the grate,
And I struck ’im on the forrid (bet your life he got it straight—
For I felt as strong as twenty!), and he guv an angry groan,                                   193
Drew the knife, and lep’ to stab me, then roll’d over like a stone!
And the landlord and the lodgers came a-rushin’ up the stair,
While I knelt by Bess, who’d fainted in her invalidy chair!

Well, Jenny, no one blamed me!—and the p’lice said ‘Serve him right!’—
I never saw his face ag’in arter that drefful night;
But ever arter that poor Bess seem’d dull and full of care,
And she droop’d and droop’d and sicken’d in her invalidy chair.
Some trouble of the ’art, they said (that shock was her death-blow!)
And I watched her late and early, and I knew as she must go;
And the doctor gave her physic, and she’d all as she could eat,
And I bought her many a relish, when I’d luck upon the street;
But one mornin’, close on Easter, when I waken’d in our bed,
I turn’d and see her lyin’ with her arms out, stiff and dead!
And I cried a bit and kiss’d her, then got out o’ bed and drest,
Wash’d her face, put on clean linen, placed her ’ands upon her breast,
And she look’d . . . she look’d . . . so pretty!
                   God was good! I’d luck just then—
I scraped the money somehow, till I’d nigh on one pound ten,
And I bought poor Bess a coffin, and a grave where she could lie—                      194
She got no workus berryin’—thank God for that, sez I!
And the neighbours sor me foller, all a-gatherin’ in a crowd,
And I never felt as lonesome, but I never felt so proud!

Arter that, I sort o’ drifted ’ere and there about the town,
Like a smut blown from a chimbly, and a long time comin’ down!
And I took to drink like mother, and the drink it made me mad,
So, between the streets and prison, well, my luck was orful bad!
I was ’onest, tho’, and never robb’d a man, or thief’d (not me!)
Tho’ they quodded me for fightin’ and bad langwidge, don’t yer see?
And at last, somehow or other, how it come about ain’t clear,
I was took to the Lock ’Ospital, and kep’ there nigh a year.                                   [7:8]
And I felt—well, now, I’ll tell yer—like a bit of orange peel,
All muddy and all rotten, wot you squash beneath your ’eel!
Well, the doctors ’eal’d and cured me, but one mornin’, when they said
I must go to a reformat’ry, sez I, ‘No, strike me dead!’
And I felt a kind o’ loathin’ for them all, and thought of Bess
Lyin’ peaceful there at Stepney in her clean white fun’ral dress.
And I left the Lock next mornin’—I was wild, ye see, to go—                                [7:15]
And ’twas Christmas, when I trampled back to Stepney thro’ the snow—
And I met a chap who treated me and made me blazin’ tight,
And I lost my ’ed and waken’d in the streets at dead o’ night,
And the snow was fallin’, fallin’, and ’twas thick upon the ground,                          195
And I’d got no place to go to, and my ’ed was whirlin’ round,
When I see a lamp afore me, and a door stood open wide,
And I took it for a publick, till they sang a psalm inside,
And I sez, ‘It’s them Salvationists!’ and turned to go away,
When one comes out, their Captain, and calls out for me to stay;
And he touch’d me on the shoulder, and he sez, ‘Wot’s up, my lass?’
And I sez, ‘I ain’t teetotal!’ and I larf’d, and tried to pass,
But he looked me in the face, he did, and sez, ‘Wot brings ye ’ere?
Speak out, if you’re in trouble, and we’ll ’elp ye, never fear!”
And I sez, ‘I ain’t in trouble!’ but he looks me in the eyes,
And he answers sharp and sudden, ‘Don’t you tell me any lies—
The Lord Jesus ’ates a liar!’ and at that I shut my fist,
I’d ’a struck ’im if ’ed let me, but he ketch’d me by the wrist,                                 [7:32]
And he whisper’d, oh, so gentle, ‘You’re our sister, lass,’ he said,
‘And to-night I think our sister ’as no place to lay her ’ed!
Come in—your friends are waitin’—they’ve been waitin’ many a day—
And at last you’ve come, my sister, and I think you’ve come to stay!’”

Glory! Hallelujah! Fighting for the Lord!
Sinners kneel before us, fearing fire and sword!
Never you take service with the Devil’s crew—                             
Here you’ll get promotion, if you’re straight and true!
Jesus is Field-Marshal! Jesus, Heaven’s King,
Points us forward, forward, while we

“Still a-playin’ in the distance! ‘Alleloojah! Fife and drum!                                    [9:1]
’Ere’s my blessin’ on the music, now I’m bound for Kingdom Come!
Well, that night?—They guv me shelter, and a shakedown nice and clean,
And no one ax’d no questions—who I was, or wot I’d been—
But next mornin’ when I wakened, with a ’ed that split in two,
In there comes a nice old lady, and sez smilin’, ‘How d’ye do?’
And I nods and answers sulky, for ‘she’s come to preach,’ thinks I,
But we gets in conwersation, and at last, the Lord knows why,
I tells her about Bessie,—and I see her eyes grew dim,                                           [9:9]
And outside, while I was talkin’, sounds the loud Salvation ’ymn.
‘Well,’ sez she, ‘she’s gone to glory, and she’s up among the Blest,
For it’s poor gels like your sister as Lord Jesus likes the best!’
And from that she got me talkin’ of myself, and when she ’eard
All my story as I’ve told yer, up she got without a word,
And she kiss’d me on the forrid! then she sez, ‘All that’s gone past!                        197
And there’s lots of life before you, now you’ve come to us at last!’
Then I larf’d—‘I ain’t Salvationist, and never mean to be;                                       [9:17]
Tho’ a-prayin’ and a-singin’ may suit you, it won’t suit me!
But she sez, ‘You just ’ave patience, for the thing wot’s wrong with you
Is just this—you’re downright wretched, all for want of work to do!
One so pretty should be ’appy as a bird upon a tree’
(Me pretty! and me ’appy!) ‘for the Lord, my dear,’ sez she,
‘Likes nice cheerful folks about Him, and can’t bear to see them sad,
For He’s fond of fun and music and of everythink that’s glad!’

“Well, she got me work, and told me folks must labour every one,
And I said I’d be teetotal (just to please her, and for fun!)
But I allays hated working, and my ’eart felt dull and low,
And thinks I, ‘The publick’s better, and religion ain’t no go,’
For somethink black and ’eavy seem’d a-workin’ in my breast,
And I used to go ’ysteric, and I never felt at rest. . . .
But one mornin’, when the Army was a-gatherin’, I stood by,
And they ’ollered, ‘Glory, glory, to our Father in the sky!’
And I thought the tune was jolly, and I sang out loud and gay,
And the minute I begun it, ’arf my trouble pass’d away,
And the louder as I sung it, that great lump I felt inside
Grew a-lighter and a-lighter, while I lep’ and sung and cried!
And when the song was over, up the Captain comes to me,                                    198
And he sez, ‘That voice of yourn, Jane, is as good as any three!
Why, you’re like a op’ry singer!’ he sez, larfin’. . . . ‘Never mind,’
He sez (for I look’d sulky, and his ’art was allays kind!)                                         [10:16]
‘Never mind—there’s many among us of such singin’ would be proud—
He’s a long way off, is Jesus, so we’ve got to make it loud!’
Then they march’d, and I went marchin’, for I seem’d gone mad that day,
And my ’art inside was dancin’ every footstep of the way.
Yes, and that there singin’ saved me! for the louder as I sung,
Why, the more my load was lighten’d, and it seem’d as how I sprung
From the ground right up to Jesus, and I ’eard Him ’oller clear,
‘Keep a-marchin’ and a-singin’, for you’ve got to get up ’ere!’”

Glory! Hallelujah! March along together!
March along, march along, every kind of weather!
Wet or dry, shower or shine, ready night and day,
Travelling to Jesus, singing on the way!
He is waiting for us, yonder in the sky,
Stooping down His shining head, to

“Coming back? Ah, yes, I ’ear them, louder, louder, as they come;                        199
Lord, if I might only jine them, march ag’in to fife and drum!
. . . I feels faint. . . . A drop o’ water!—There, I’m better, but my ’ed
Is a-swimmin’ to the music. . . . Now it’s stop’t. . . . Wot’s that ye said?
They’re a-standing ’neath the windy? Lift me up, and let me see,
For the sight of them as saved me is like life and breath to me!
No, I can’t!—all’s black afore me—and my singin’s a’most done. . . .
Now, it’s lighter! I can see them! all a-standin’ in the sun!
Look, look, it’s the Lord Jesus! He’s a-formin’ them in line,
His white ’orse is golden-bridled, and ’is eyes—see, how they shine!
’E’s a-speakin’! Read the Roll-Call! They’re a-throngin’ one and all,
With their things in marchin’ order, they’re a-answ’rin’ to the call.
My turn will soon be comin’, for the march must soon begin. . . .
Alleloojah Jane! That’s me, sir! Ready? Ready, sir! Fall in!


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
v. 2, l. 3: Throw the windy open, Jenny—let me ’ear the fife and drum—
v. 3, l. 6: While above the angels smile and Join Our Song!
v. 4, l. 23: For tho’ only one year younger, she’d ’a’ passed for twelve or less;
v. 7, l. 8: I was took to a big ’ospital, and kep’ there nigh a year,

[Note: The London Lock Hospital was founded in 1746, by William Bromfeild, it was the first voluntary hospital for venereal diseases. It was taken over by the National Health Service in 1948 and closed in 1953. The original building for the hospital was at Grosvenor Place, near Hyde Park, (1746-1841). In 1842 it moved to Harrow Road, Westbourne Grove. The Lock Asylum for the Reception of Penitent Female Patients (also known as the Lock Rescue Home) was proposed in 1787 and opened in 1792 with the aim of providing a refuge/reformatory for women with venereal diseases who had been treated at the Lock Hospital, but had no steady life to which to return. The girls were taught needlework and other skills which it was hoped would fit them for service. The Asylum moved to the new building in Harrow Road in 1849 and changed its name to “Rescue Home” in 1893. The full name of the London Lock now being the London Lock Hospital and Rescue Home.
Information extracted from the AIM25 site.]

v. 7, l. 15: And I left the place next mornin’—I was wild, ye see, to go—
v. 7, l. 32: I’d ’a’ struck ’im if'e’d let me, but he ketch’d me by the wrist,
v. 9, l.1: ‘Still a-playin’ in the distance! ‘Allelujah! Fife and drum!
v. 9, l. 9: I tells her about Bessy,—and I see her eyes grow dim,
v. 9, l. 17: Then I larf’d—‘I ain’t Salvationist, and never mean to be!
v. 10, l. 16: He sez (for I look’d sulky, and his ’eart was allays kind!) ]





NOUGHT is so base that Nature cannot turn
         Its dross to shining gold,
No lamb so lost that it may never learn
         The footpath to the fold.

Be sure this trampled clay beneath our feet
         Hath life as fair as ours,
Be sure this smell of foulness is as sweet
         As scent of fresh young flowers.

All is a mystery and a change,—a strife
         Of evil powers with good:
Sin is the leaven wherewith the bread of life
         Is fashion’d for our food.

God works with instruments as foul as these,
         Sifts Souls from dregs of sense,
Death is his shadow—Sorrow and Disease
         Are both his hand-maidens!

Out of the tangled woof of Day and Night
         His web of Life is spun:
Dust in the beam is just as surely Light
         As yonder shining Sun!







“The magistrate asked her what she had to say for herself. ‘Only this,
sir,’ she replied, ‘I was a gentleman’s daughter once.’”—P


“Annie! Annie!”
     Hark, it is father’s call!
See, he is coming! Run
To meet him, little one,
     In the golden evenfall.
Yonder down the lane
     His voice calls clear:
“Annie!” he cries again—
     Run down and meet him, dear!
The long day’s toil is done,
     The hour of rest has come—
Haste to him, little one—
     Ride on his shoulder home!

. . . What voice is it she hears across the storm,
The haggard Waif who stands with dripping form
     Shivering beneath the lamps of the dark street?
With slant moist beams upon the Rain’s black walls
The dreary gaslight falls,
     And all around the wings o’ the Tempest beat!
O hark! O hark!
The voice calls clear i’ the dark—
     She hears—she moans—and moaning wanders on;                       202
A mist before her eyes,
A stone in her heart, she flies
     Into the rainy darkness, and is gone!

What a Night! strong and blind
Down the street swoops the Wind,
     Falls breathless, then moans!
While again and again
Like a spirit in pain,
     On the black slippery stones
         Sobs the Rain! . . .

“Annie! Annie!”
     Hark, it is Father’s call!
See, he is coming! Run
To meet him, little one,
     In the golden evenfall!

. . . Out from the darkness she hath crept once more,
     That strange voice ringing hollow over all;
Close to the theatre’s great lighted door,
Where smiling ladies, while the raindrops pour,
     Wait for their carriages, and linkmen bawl.
She pauses watching, while they laugh and pass
Tripping across the pavement ’neath the gas,
Then rattling home. Home? Ah, what home hath she,
     Who once was bright and glad as any there?
Fifty years old, this is her Jubilee!
And round her Life is like an angry Sea
     Breaking to ululations of despair!
. . . Who hath not seen her, on dark nights of rain,                               203
     Or when the Moon is chill on the chill street,
Creeping from shade to shade in grief and pain,
Showing her painted cheeks for man’s disdain
     And wrapt in woe as in a winding sheet?
Sin hath so stain’d it none may recognise
     The face that once was innocent and fair,
And hollow rings are round the hungry eyes,
     And shocks of grey replace the golden hair;
And all her chance is, when the drink makes blind
The foulest and the meanest of mankind,
To hide her stains and force a hideous mirth,
     And gain her body’s food the old foul way—
Ah, loathsome dead sea fruit that eats like earth,
     Her mouth is foul with it both night and day!
So that corruption and the stench of Death
Consume her body and pollute her breath,
And all the world she looks upon appears
A dismal charnel-house of lust and tears!
Sick of the horror that corrupts the flesh,
Tangled in vice as in a spider’s mesh,
Scenting the lazar-house, in soul’s despair,
She sees the gin shop’s bloodshot eyeballs glare,
And creepeth in, the feverish drug to drain
That blots the sense and blinds the aching brain;
And then with feeble form and faltering feet
Again she steals into the midnight street,
Seeks for her prey, and wofully takes flight
To join her spectral sisters of the Night!

What a Night! fierce and blind
Down the street swoops the Wind!
     How it moans! how it groans!                                           204
While again and again
Like a spirit in pain,
     On the black slippery stones
         Sobs the Rain!
See! like ghosts to and fro
     Living forms swiftly pass,
With their shadows below
     In the gleam of the gas;
And the swells, wrapt up warm,
     With their weeds blazing bright,
Hurry home thro’ the Storm . . .
     It’s a Hell of a Night!

Hell? She is in it, and these shapes she sees,
     While crawling on, are hateful and accurst!
Light laughter of light lips, mad images
     Of dainty creatures delicately nurst,
Cries of the revel, blackness, and the gleam
Of ghastly lights, are blended in her dream
Of Hell that lives and is, the Hell she knows,
With all its mockery of human woes!
Darkly, as in a glass, she seëth plain
The vision of dead days that live again:
The house, beyond these streets, where she was born;
     The father’s face in death; the hungry home;
The fight for bread; the hungry and forlorn
     Cry for a help and guide that would not come;
The glimmer of glad halls, the forms therein
     Beck’ning and laughing till she joined their mirth;
Then, pleasures sultry with the sense of sin,
     And those foul dead sea fruits that taste of earth;
Then, blackness of disease and utter shame,                                        205
And all Hell’s infamies without a name!
Then, all the bloom of sense and spirit fled,
The slow descent to midnight gulfs of dread
Like this she sees!—Then, in a wretched room
Deep ’mid the City’s sunless heart of gloom,
Another life awakening ’neath her heart,
A sickly babe with crying lips apart
Moaning for food!—and into Hell she creeps
     Once more to feed it, haunting the black street,—
Yea, in the garret where her infant sleeps
     Hell’s hideous rites are done, that it may eat!
Then, Death once more! The sickly life at rest;
     The child’s light coffin that a child might bear;
The mother’s hunger tearing at her breast,
     And only Drink to drown the soul’s despair.
She sees it all, on this her Jubilee,
     While the Night moans and the sick Hell-lights gleam. . . .
O God! O Motherhood! Can these things be,
     And men still say that Hell is but a dream?

“Annie! Annie!”
     What voice is this that cries,
Amid the lights of Hell,
Where these live shadows dwell
     Under the rain-rent skies? . . .
What a night! All one hears
Is the torrent of tears
     On a World plung’d in pain;
All one sees is the swarm
Of dim waifs in the Storm,
Flitting hither and thither,
(O God, who knows whither?)
     Like ghosts, thro’ the Rain!

. . . Annie! . . .
     She hears the voice, ev’n while she crawls
     ’Neath the black arches on the riverside,
Then moaning low upon her face she falls . . .
Annie! . . . She stirs, and listens as it calls,
     With eyes that open wide.
Lost there to Man, dead to the Storm and Strife,
     She lies and keeps her Jubilee till morn,
O’er her, a heap of rags, the waves of Life
     Wash weary and forlorn . . .
Is all, then, done? Nay, from the depths of Night
That voice still cries, and dimly gleams a Light . . .
“Annie!”—She listens—Thro’ the Tempest wild
     One cometh softly—she can see him come!—
“Father! I’m Annie! I’m your little child!”
     And father lifts her up, to bear her Home!






COURAGE, and face the strife of Humankind
     In patience, O my brother:
We come from the eternal Night to find,
     And not to lose, each other!

Think’st thou thy God hath toil’d thro’ endless Time
     With ceaseless strong endeavour,
To fashion these and thee from ooze and slime,
     Then blot his work for ever?

Age after age hath roll’d in billowy strife
     On the eternal Ocean,
Bearing us hither to these sands of Life
     With sure and steadfast motion.

Dead? Nought that lives can die. We live, and see!
     So hush thy foolish grieving:
This Universe was made that thou might’st be
     Incarnate, self-perceiving.

Still thine own Soul, if thou would’st still the strife
     Of phantoms round thee flying;
Remember that the paradox of Life
     Is Death, the Life undying.



How? Thou be saved, and one of these be lost?
     The least of these be spent, and thou soar free?
Nay! for these things are thou—these tempest-tost
     Waves of the darkness are but forms of thee.

Shall these be cast away? Then rest thou sure
     No hopes abide for thee if none for these.
Would’st thou be heal’d? Then hast thou these to cure;
     Thine is their shame, their foulness, their disease.

By these, thy shadows, shalt thou rise or fall;
     Thro’ these and thee, God reigns, or rests down-trod;
Let Him but lose but one, He loses all,
     And losing all, He too is lost, ev’n God.

These shapes are only images of thee,
     Nay, very God is thou and all things thine:
Thou art the Eye with which Eternity
     Surveys itself, and knows itself Divine!






THE bugle is blowing from elfin dells
     With a hark and a hey halloo!
The dark clouds part as the music swells,
And the Heaven where eternal summer dwells
     Shines bonnie and bright and blue! . . .

A child I dwelt in the wild north-land,
     In a City beside the Sea,—
The morning I slept on the yellow strand
     I had summers seven and three!

Tired with playing on the sands so fair
     I slept in the white moon’s beam,
And the good folk found me sleeping there
     And twined me away in a dream!

They wetted my lips with the honey-dew
     And my lids with the euphrasie,
And I open’d my eyes beneath the blue
     Still Heaven o’ Faërie!

I saw the fields of the silvern grain
     And the hills of the purple sheen,
And the King of Elfland with all his train
     Rode o’er the uplands green;

I learn’d the spell o’ the Elfin land                                                        210
     And the songs the Pixies sing,—
The woven charm of the waving hand
     That makes the magic Ring!

I heard what mortals cannot hear,
The dew-wash’d blue-bells tinkling clear
     Under the starry skies,
And the Fay-folk throng’d on the grassy ground,
And the Kelpie swam in the burn, like a hound
     With great sad human eyes. . . .

They bore me back from the Land of Light
     To my sleeping place by the Sea,
But when I waken’d my face was bright
     With a golden glamorie!

As I wander’d back on the ocean sand
     I sang full loud and free,—
For the things I had seen in the Elfinland,
And the sweetness I could not understand,
     Had turn’d to a melodie!



Lonely I dwelt by the sad sea-shore
     In a world of women and men,—
When I lookt on the Spirits of Light once more
     I had summers seven and ten!

They gather’d at night around my bed,                                                211
     All in the pale moon’s beam,
“Sing of the Fairy World,” they said,
     “And the Dream within the Dream!

“Sing, for a World that is weary and grieves,
     Of a World that is ever bright,
Of the Spirits that hide among flowers and leaves
     And play in the starry Light!

“Sing, for the hearts that are sad and old,
     Of the hearts that ever are young!”
And they set in my arms a harp of gold,
     And I wander’d forth,—and I sung.

I sung my song by the cottage door
     And up at the lordly hall,
And I wove the light of the magic lore
With the love that is birthright of rich and poor
     And blesses great and small.

Then into the City I singing pass’d
     And the walls closed round on me,
Till the Cloud of the World shut out at last
     The Heaven o’ Faërie!



From lane to lane, from street to street,
     I walked for weary years,
And a band of lead was around my feet
     And my song was still’d with tears.

The smoke of the City above my head                                                212
     Shut out the starry sky,
And the sounds around me were as the tread
     Of legions thundering by!

And I tried to sing, but no song would come
     From my frozen lips of clay,—
By the living Waters I wandered dumb
     And watch’d them rolling away!



Full many a year my heart was sore
     And the World grew dark to me,—
When I heard the music I loved once more
     I had summers a score and three!

There came a bird in the dead of night
     And sang and waken’d me,
And I felt the beams of the Land of Light
     And open’d mine eyes to see!

The clouds of the City were cleft in twain,
     The gleam of the skies shone through,—
And voices from Elfland cried again
     With a hark and a hey halloo!

The banners of Elfland waved on high,
     The streets were grassy green,
Everywhere ’neath the starry sky
     The Fairy Folk were seen!

The pale Fay-King with his golden crown                                            213
     Went by and beckon’d me,
And troops of children followed him down
     To the sands of a crystal Sea;—

And some were blind, and some were lame,
     And all were ragged and poor,
And they flock’d and flock’d with glad acclaim,
     As he passed, from every door!

And down to a silvern strand they hied
     And bathed in the water clear,
And the King stood by them radiant-eyed,
     While the Good Folk gather’d near.

Back they flocked to the City cold,
     Between the dark and the light,
And a gentle Shepherd with crook of gold
Gather’d them into the dusky fold
     Like lambs wash’d clean and white!

From the shining dove-cots overhead
     Whose doors swung open wide,
The Fays of heaven took wing and fled
     Like doves in the eventide;

And the Fays of the woods came thronging in,
     With the Fays of field and stream,
And they filled the City of shame and sin
     With the sound of a summer dream!

Have you heard the croon of a cushat creep                                       214
     Through the boughs of a leafy dell?
Like the cushat’s call, from the boughs of Sleep
(Deep! deep! deep! deep!)
     The magic murmur fell!

And the little children lay content
     While the Fays their vigil kept,
And honeysuckle and hawthorn scent
     Blew round them as they slept!

And ever the bugles of Elfland blew
     And the magic notes ran free,—
The Heavens were open, the stars shone thro’
     With a golden glamorie!



The bugle blows from the elfin dells
     With a hark and a hey halloo,
And the magic song of the fields and fells
     Rings on beneath the blue!

Be it rain or wind, be it shine or snow,
     I echo that song to men,—
The fairies are with me still, altho’
     I have winters five times ten!

The mist that floats before human eyes
     Hides the heaven o’ Faërie,
The cloud o’ the sense around them lies,
     They are blind and cannot see;

Yet the folk of Elfland are busy yet                                                     215
     In street and alley and lane,—
They dry the eyes that are weary and wet,
     And they heal the heart’s dull pain!

From door to door the Good Folk fly,
     With liberal heart and hand,
And wherever the little children cry
     Is the light o’ the Fairy Land.

The little box of mignonette,
On the window-sill of the sick-room set,
     Holds flowers the Fay-folk sow—
The thrush in his wicker cage, that swings
In the smoky lane, laughs loud and sings
     A song the Good Folk know!

They are with us yet, they are busy yet,
     They are here from night to morn,
And they remember tho’ we forget
     The land where the Light is born!

At dead of night with a soft footfall
Thro’ the wards of the children’s hospital
     They flock with light and song,—
On the still white beds the moonlight lies,
And the pale sick children open their eyes
     And see the shining throng.



The bugle blows from the elfin dells
     With a hark and a hey halloo!
The Land where eternal summer dwells,
The Land of magical songs and spells,
     Again shines bright and blue!

Be it sun or snow, be it rain or wind,
     I echo that music here,
Tho’ my heart beats faint and my eyes grow blind
     And the wintertide is near.

I hear the sound of a funeral bell
     Go thro’ the World grown gray,—
I hear the wise men ringing the knell
     Of a God that is dead, they say.

I hear the weeping, I hear the groans,
     I see the mourners stir,
I watch the sextons who heap the stones
     On the mouth of the Sepulchre!

But I only smile, for the Fays by night
     Make the day’s long labour vain,—
Legions from Elfland, laughing light,
     Open the grave again!

When the gates o’ the grave are openëd
     And the lambs sleep in the fold,
The Fay-King arises, quick not dead,
And the gleam of the moonlight is round his head,
     And his shroud is shining gold!

He stands and smiles on the folk asleep,                                             217
     Yea, stoops and comforts them,
But the men and women that sleep not, creep
     To touch his raiment hem!

And I hear his voice ring clear and mild
     Over the earth and the sea,—
“Except thou be as a little Child,
     Thou shalt not come to Me!”

And I see the faces of old old men
     Grow foolish and glad and young,
And I hear the grandam crooning again
     The songs the Fays have sung;

And men and women forget their care
     And cry like lambs in the night,
For the King of Elfland finds them there,
And the spirits of Elfland fill the air
     With dreams from the Land of Light;

And the graves are open, and shining crowds
     Throng from the fields of Sleep,
And we see our loved ones in their shrouds,
That fall and leave them like breaking clouds,
     And we clasp their hands and weep!

Yea, this is the work the Fay-folk do
     In the name of their gentle King,—
Ah, well for men if they surelier knew
     The message the Good Folk bring!

Alas for the life of ashes and sand,                                                       218
     Alas for the World grown gray,
If the gentle dream of the Fairy Land,
The Light in the lattice of Heaven, the Hand
     That beckons, should fade away!



The New Rome continued

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The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law


The Critical Response
Harriett Jay


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