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Harriett Jay

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{A Selection of Poems}





     O my fountain of a maiden,
         Sweet to hear and bright to see,
     Now before mine eyes love-laden
         Dancing, thrilling, flashing free,—
Still thy sparkling bliss a moment, sit thee
               down, and look at me.

     Gaze into my face, my dearest!
         Through thy gleaming, golden hair;
     Meet mine eyes—ah! thine are clearest
         When my image floateth there;
Now, they still themselves, like waters when
               the windless skies are fair.

     In those depths of limpid azure
         See my baby likeness beam!
     Deep blue with reflected pleasure
         From some heavenly dome of dream,
Crystal currents of thy spirit swim around
               it, glance, and gleam!

     Hold my hand, and heark’ning to me
         For a space, be calm and cold.
     While that liquid look flows through me
         And I love thee twenty-fold,
I am smiling at a story thy dead mother
               often told.

     When thou wast a little blossom
         Blown about thy village home,
     Thou didst on that mother’s bosom
         Put a question troublesome:
‘Mother, please, where did you find me?
               whence do little children come?’

     And the dame with bright beguiling
         Kiss’d her answer first, my dear!
     But, still prest, she answer’d smiling—
         ‘In the orchard Well so clear,
Thou wert seen one sunny morning, sleeping,
               and we brought thee here.’

     With a look as grave as this is
         Thou didst ponder thoughts profound;
     On the next day with fond kisses
         Clinging mother’s neck around—
‘Mother! mother! I’ve been looking in the
               Well where I was found!

     ‘Bright and clear it is! but—mother!’
         (Here thine eyes look’d wonderingly)
     ‘In the well there is another
         Just the very same as me!—
And it is awake and moving—and its pretty
               eyes can see!

     ‘When I stretch my arms unto it,
         Out its little arms stretch too!
     Apple-blossoms red I threw it,
         And it broke away from view—
Then again it look’d up laughing through
               the waters deep and blue!’

     Then thy gentle mother kiss’d thee,
         Clari, as I kiss thee now,
     With a wondering fondness bless’d thee,
         Smooth’d the bright hair from thy brow—
Saying, ‘’Tis a little Sister, happy-eyed and
               sweet as thou!

     ‘Underneath the deep pure water
         Dwell its parents in green bowers—
     Yes, it is their little daughter,
         Just the same as thou art ours;
And it loves to lie there, looking at the
               pleasant orchard flowers.

     ‘Every day, while thou art growing,
         Thou wilt find thy Sister fair—
     Even when the skies are snowing
         And the water freezes there,
Break the blue ice,—through the water with
               a cold cheek she will stare!

     ‘As thou changest, growing taller,
         She will change, through all the years—
     Well thou may’st thy Sister call her,
         She will share thy hopes and fears,
She will wear the face thou wearest, sweet
               in smiles and sad in tears.

     ‘Ah, my darling! may’st thou ever
         See her look as kind and bright,
     Find her woeful-featured never
         In the pleasant orchard light—
May you both be glad and happy, when
               your golden locks are white!’

     Golden locks!—what, these grow hoary?
         Wrinkles mar a face like this?
     Break the charm of the old story
         With the magic of a kiss—
Here thou art, my deep-eyed darling, as
               thou wast,—a thing of bliss.

     Does she love thee? does she miss thee?
         Thy sweet Sister in the well?
     Does she mourn because I kiss thee—
         Fearing what she cannot tell?—
For you both are link’d together by a truth
               and by a spell.

     Darling, be my love and duty
         Judged by her! and prove me so;
     When upon her mystic beauty
         Thou perceivest shame or woe;
When she changes into sadness, may God
               judge,and strike me low!

     Thou and thy sweet Sister move in
         A diviner element,
     Clear as light, more sweet to love in
         Than my world so turbulent;
Holy waters bathe and bless you, peaceful,
               bright, and innocent.

     And within those eyes of azure
         See! my baby image beam,
     Deep blue with reflected pleasure
         From some heavenly dome of dream,
Crystal currents of thy spirit swim around
               it, glance, and gleam.

     O my fountain of a maiden,
         Be thy days for ever blest,
     Dancing in mine eyes love-laden,
         Lying smiling on my breast,—
Brighter than a fount, in motion, deeper
               than a well, at rest.






I would not be lying yonder,
     Where thou, beloved, art lying,
Though the nations should crown me living,
     And murmur my praises dying.

Better this fierce pulsation,
     Better this aching brain,
Than dream, and hear faintly above me
     The cry of the wind and the rain;

Than lie in the kirkyard lonely,
     With fingers and toes upcurled,
And be conscious of never a motion
     Save the slow rolling round of the world.

I would not be lying yonder,
     Though the seeds I had sown were springing!
I would not be sleeping yonder,
     And be done with striving and singing!

For the eyes are blinded with mildew,
     The lips are clammy with clay,
And worms in the ears are crawling,—
     But the brain is the brain for aye!

The brain is warm and glowing,
     Whatever the body be;
It stirs like a thing that breatheth,
     And dreams of the Past and To be!

Ay! down in the deep damp darkness
     The brains of the dead are hovelled!
They gleam on each other with radiance,
     Transcending the eye that is shrivelled!

Each like a faint lamp lighteth
     The skull wherein it dwelleth!
Each like a lamp turneth brighter
     Whenever the kirk-bell knelleth!

I would not be lying yonder
     Afar from the music of things,
Not were my green grave watered
     By the tears of queens and kings.

If the brain like a thing that breatheth
     Is full of the Past and To be,
The silence is far more awful
     Than the shriek and the agony;

And the hope that sweetened living
     Is gone with the light of the sun,
And the struggle seems wholly over,
     And nothing at all seems done;

And the dreams are heavy with losses,
     And sins, and errors, and wrongs,
And you cannot hear in the darkness
     If the people are singing your songs!

There’s only the slow still rolling
     Of the dark world round and round,
Making the dream more wondrous,
     Though it render the sleep more sound.

’Tis cold, cold, cold and weary,
     Cold in a weary place:
The sense of the sin is present
     Like the gleam of a demon’s face!

What matter the tingling fingers
     That touch the song above you?
What matter the young man’s weeping,
     And longing to know you and love you?

Nought has been said and uttered,
     Nought has been seen or known,—
Detraction, the adder above you,
     Is sunned on the cold grave-stone.



Yet ’tis dark here, dark,
     And the voices call from below!
’Tis so dark, dark, dark,
     That it seems not hard to go!

’Tis dark, dark, dark,
     And we close our eyes and are weary!
’Tis dark, dark, dark,
     And the waiting seems bitter and dreary!

And yonder the sun is shining,
     And the green, long grass hath grown,
And the cool kirk-shade looks pleasant,
     And you lie so alone, so alone!

The world is heartless and hollow,
     And singing is sad without you,
And I think I could bear the dreaming
     Were mine arms around about you;

Were thy lips to mine, belovéd,
     And thine arms around me too,
I think I could lie in silence,
     And dream as we used to do!

The flesh and the bones might wither,
     The blood be dried like dew,
The heart might crumble to ashes,
     Till dust was dust anew;

And the world with its slow still motion
     Might roll on its heavenward way,—
And our brains upon one another
     Would gleam till the Judgment Day!


* David Gray, Author of The Luggie, and other Poems.




     Late in the gloaming of the year,
         I haunt the melancholy Mere;
A Phantom I, where phantoms brood,
         In that soul-searching solitude.
         Hiding my forehead in the dim
     Hem of His robe, I question Him!





Can I be calm, beholding everywhere
     Disease and Anguish busy, early and late?
     Can I be silent, nor compassionate
The evils that both Soul and Body bear?
Oh, what have sickly Children done, to share
     Thy cup of sorrows? yet their dull, sad pain
Makes the earth awful;—on the tomb’s dark stair
     Moan Idiots, with no glimmer in the brain.
No shrill Priest with his hangman’s cord can beat
     Thy mercy into these—ah nay, ah nay!
The Angels Thou hast sent to haunt the street
     Are Hunger and Distortion and Decay.
Lord! that mad’st Man, and send’st him foes so fleet,
     Who shall judge Thee upon Thy judgment day?





Now, sitting by her side, worn out with weeping,
Behold, I fell to sleep, and had a vision,
Wherein I heard a wondrous Voice intoning:

Crying aloud, ‘The Master on His throne
Openeth now the seventh seal of wonder,
And beckoneth back the angel men name Death.

And at His feet the mighty Angel kneeleth,
Breathing not; and the Lord doth look upon him,
Saying, ‘Thy wanderings on earth are ended.’

And lo! the mighty Shadow sitteth idle
Even at the silver gates of heaven,
Drowsily looking in on quiet waters,
And puts his silence among men no longer.

         .         .         .         .         .

The world was very quiet. Men in traffic
Cast looks over their shoulders; pallid seamen
Shivered to walk upon the decks alone;

And women barred their doors with bars of iron,
In the silence of the night; and at the sunrise
Trembled behind the husbandmen afield.

I could not see a kirkyard near or far;
I thirsted for a green grave, and my vision
Was weary for the white gleam of a tombstone

But hearkening dumbly, ever and anon
I heard a cry out of a human dwelling,
And felt the cold wind of a lost one’s going.

One struck a brother fiercely, and he fell,
And faded in a darkness; and that other
Tore his hair, and was afraid, and could not perish.

One struck his aged mother on the mouth,
And she vanished with a gray grief from his hearthstone.
One melted from her bairn, and on the ground

With sweet unconscious eyes the bairn lay smiling.
And many made a weeping among mountains,
And hid themselves in caverns, and were drunken.

I heard a voice from out the beauteous earth,
Whose side rolled up from winter into summer,
Crying, ‘I am grievous for my children.’

I heard a voice from out the hoary ocean,
Crying, ‘Burial in the breast of me were better,
Yea, burial in the salt flags and green crystals.’

I heard a voice from out the hollow ether,
Saying, ‘The thing ye cursed hath been abolished—
Corruption, and decay, and dissolution!’

And the world shrieked, and the summertime was bitter,
And men and women feared the air behind them;
And for lack of its green graves the world was hateful.

         .         .         .         .         .

Now at the bottom of a snowy mountain
I came upon a woman thin with sorrow,
Whose voice was like the crying of a seagull.

Saying, ‘O Angel of the Lord, come hither,
And bring me him I seek for on thy bosom,
That I may close his eyelids and embrace him.

‘I curse thee that I cannot look upon him!
I curse thee that I know not he is sleeping!
Yet know that he has vanished upon God!

‘I laid my little girl upon a wood-bier,
And very sweet she seemed, and near unto me;
And slipping flowers into her shroud was comfort.

‘I put my silver mother in the darkness,
And kissed her, and was solaced by her kisses,
And set a stone, to mark the place, above her.

‘And green, green were their quiet sleeping-places,
So green that it was pleasant to remember
That I and my tall man would sleep beside them.

‘The closing of dead eyelids is not dreadful,
For comfort comes upon us when we close them,
And tears fall, and our sorrow grows familiar;

‘And we can sit above them where they slumber,
And spin a dreamy pain into a sweetness,
And know indeed that we are very near them.

‘But to reach out empty arms is surely dreadful,
And to feel the hollow empty world is awful,
And bitter grow the silence and the distance.

‘There is no space for grieving or for weeping;
No touch, no cold, no agony to strive with,
And nothing but a horror and a blankness!’

         .         .         .         .         .

Now behold I saw a woman in a mud-hut
Raking the white spent embers with her fingers,
And fouling her bright hair with the white ashes.

Her mouth was very bitter with the ashes;
Her eyes with dust were blinded; and her sorrow
Sobbed in the throat of her like gurgling water.

And all around the voiceless hills were hoary,
But red light scorched their edges; and above her
There was a soundless trouble of the vapours.

‘Whither, and O whither,’ said the woman,
‘O Spirit of the Lord, hast Thou conveyed them,
My little ones, my little son and daughter?

‘For, lo! we wandered forth at early morning,
And winds were blowing round us, and their mouths
Blew rose-buds to the rose-buds, and their eyes

‘Looked violets at the violets, and their hair
Made sunshine in the sunshine, and their passing
Left a pleasure in the dewy leaves behind them;

‘And suddenly my little son looked upward,
And his eyes were dried like dew-drops; and his going
Was like a blow of fire upon my face.

‘And my little son was gone. My little daughter
Looked round me for him, clinging to my vesture;
But the Lord had drawn him from me, and I knew it

‘By the sign He gives the stricken, that the lost one
Lingers nowhere on the earth, on hill or valley,
Neither underneath the grasses nor the tree-roots.

‘And my shriek was like the splitting of an ice-reef,
And I sank among my hair, and all my palm
Was moist and warm where the little hand had filled it.

‘Then I fled and sought him wildly, hither and thither—
Though I knew that he was stricken from me wholly
By the token that the Spirit gives the stricken.

‘I sought him in the sunlight and the starlight,
I sought him in great forests, and in waters
Where I saw mine own pale image looking at me.

‘And I forgot my little bright-haired daughter,
Though her voice was like a wild-bird’s far behind me,
Till the voice ceased, and the universe was silent.

‘And stilly, in the starlight, came I backward
To the forest where I missed him; and no voices
Brake the stillness as I stooped down in the starlight,

‘And saw two little shoes filled up with dew,
And no mark of little footsteps any farther,
And knew my little daughter had gone also.’

         .         .         .         .         .

But beasts died; yea, the cattle in the yoke,
The milk-cow in the meadow, and the sheep,
And the dog upon the doorstep: and men envied.

And birds died; yea, the eagle at the sungate,
The swan upon the waters, and the farm-fowl,
And the swallows on the housetops: and men envied.

And reptiles; yea, the toad upon the roadside,
The slimy, speckled snake among the grass,
The lizard on the ruin: and men envied.

The dog in lonely places cried not over
The body of his master; but it missed him
And whined into the air, and died, and rotted.

The traveller’s horse lay swollen in the pathway,
And the blue fly fed upon it; but no traveller
Was there; nay, not his footprint on the ground.

The cat mewed in the midnight, and the blind
Gave a rustle, and the lamp burnt blue and faint,
And the father’s bed was empty in the morning.

The mother fell to sleep beside the cradle,
Rocking it, while she slumbered, with her foot,
And wakened,—and the cradle there was empty.

I saw a two-years’ child, and he was playing;
And he found a dead white bird upon the doorway,
And laughed, and ran to show it to his mother.

The mother moaned, and clutched him, and was bitter,
And flung the dead white bird across the threshold;
And another white bird flitted round and round it,

And uttered a sharp cry, and twittered and twittered,
And lit beside its dead mate, and grew busy,
Strewing it over with green leaves and yellow.

So far, so far to seek for were the limits
Of affliction; and men’s terror grew a homeless
Terror, yea, and a fatal sense of blankness.

There was no little token of distraction,
There was no visible presence of bereavement,
Such as the mourner easeth out his heart on.

There was no comfort in the slow farewell,
Nor gentle shutting of belovëd eyes,
Nor beautiful broodings over sleeping features.

There were no kisses on familiar faces,
No weaving of white grave-clothes, no last pondering
Over the still wax cheeks and folded fingers.

There was no putting tokens under pillows,
There was no dreadful beauty slowly fading,
Fading like moonlight softly into darkness.

There were no churchyard paths to walk on, thinking
How near the well-beloved ones are lying.
There were no sweet green graves to sit and muse on,

Till grief should grow a summer meditation,
The shadow of the passing of an angel,
And sleeping should seem easy, and not cruel.

Nothing but wondrous parting and a blankness.

         .         .         .         .         .

But I awoke, and, lo! the burthen was uplifted,
And I prayed within the chamber where she slumbered,
And my tears flowed fast and free, but were not bitter.

I eased my heart three days by watching near her,
And made her pillow sweet with scent and flowers,
And could bear at last to put her in the darkness.

And I heard the kirk-bells ringing very slowly,
And the priests were in their vestments, and the earth
Dripped awful on the hard wood, yet I bore it.

And I cried, ‘O unseen Sender of Corruption,
I bless Thee for the wonder of Thy mercy,
Which softeneth the mystery and the parting.

‘I bless Thee for the change and for the comfort,
The bloomless face, shut eyes, and waxen fingers,—
For Sleeping, and for Silence, and Corruption.’





How in the end the Judgment dread
Shall by the Lord thy God be said,—
While brightly in a City of Rest
Shall flash the fountains of the Blest,
And gladdening around the Throne
All mortal men shall smile,—save one. . . .
Children of Earth, hear, last and first,
The Vision of the Man Accurst.


Judgment was over; all the world redeem’d
Save one Man,—who had sinned all sins, whose soul
Was blackness and foul odour. Last of all,
When all was lamb-white, through the summer Sea
Of ministering Spirits he was drifted
On to the white sands; there he lay and writhed,
Worm-like, black, venomous, with eyes accurst
Looking defiance, dazzled by the light
That gleam’d upon his clench’d and blood-stain’d hands;
While, with a voice low as a funeral bell,
The Seraph, sickening, read the sable scroll,
And as he read the Spirits ministrant
Darken’d and murmur’d, ‘Cast him forth, O Lord!’
And, from the Shrine where unbeheld He broods,
The Lord said, ‘’Tis the basest mortal born—
Cast him beyond the Gate!’

                                       The wild thing laugh’d
Defiant, as from wave to wave of light
He drifted, till he swept beyond the Gate,
Past the pale Seraph with the silvern eyes;
And there the wild Wind, that for ever beats
About the edge of brightness, caught him up,
And, like a straw, whirl’d round and lifted him,
And on a dark shore in the Underworld
Cast him, alone and shivering; for the Clime
Was sunless, and the ice was like a sheet
Of glistening tin, and the faint glimmering peaks
Were twisted to fantastic forms of frost,
And everywhere the frozen moonlight steam’d
Foggy and blue, save where the abysses loom’d
Sepulchral shadow. But the Man arose,
With teeth gnash’d beast-like, waved wild feeble hands
At the white Gate (that glimmer’d far away,
Like to the round ball of the Sun beheld
Through interstices in a wood of pine),
Cast a shrill curse at the pale Judge within
Then groaning, beast-like crouch’d.

                                     Like golden waves
That break on a green island of the south,
Amid the flash of many plumaged wings,
Passed the fair days in Heaven. By the side
Of quiet waters perfect Spirits walked,
Low singing, in the star-dew, full of joy
In their own thoughts and pictures of those thoughts
Flash’d into eyes that loved them; while beside them,
After exceeding storm, the Waters of Life
With soft sea-sound subsided. Then God said,
‘’Tis finished—all is well!’ But as He spake
A voice, from out the lonely Deep beneath,
                 Then to the Seraph at the Gate,
Who looketh on the Deep with steadfast eyes
For ever, God cried, ‘What is he that mocks?’
The Seraph answered, ‘’Tis the Man accurst!’
And, with a voice of most exceeding peace,
God ask’d, ‘What doth the Man?’

                                       The Seraph said:
‘Upon a desolate peak, with hoar-frost hung,
Amid the steaming vapours of the Moon,
He sitteth on a throne, and hideously
Playeth at judgment; at his feet, with eyes
Slimy and luminous, squats a monstrous Toad;
Above his head pale phantoms of the Stars
Fulfil cold ministrations of the Void,
And in their dim and melancholy lustre
His shadow, and the shadow of the Toad
Beneath him, linger. Sceptred, thron’d, and crown’d,
The foul judgeth the foul, and sitting grim,
         With a voice of most exceeding peace
The Lord said, ‘Look no more!’

                                     The Waters of Life
Broke with a gentle sea-sound gladdening—
God turn’d and blest them; as He blest the same,
A voice from out the lonely Void beneath,

                   Then to the Seraph at the Gate,
Who looketh on the Deep with steadfast eyes
For ever, God cried, ‘What is he that shrieks?’
The Seraph answered, ‘’Tis the Man accurst!’
And, with a voice of most exceeding peace,
God ask’d, ‘What doth the Man?’

                                       The Seraph said:
‘Around him the wild phantasms of the fog
Moan in the rheumy hoar-frost and cold steam.
Long time, crown’d, sceptred, on his throne he sits
Playing at judgment; then with shrill voice cries—
“’Tis finished, thou art judged!” and, fiercely laughing,
He thrusteth down an iron heel to crush
The foul Toad, that with dim and luminous eyes
So stareth at his Soul. Thrice doth he lift
His foot up fiercely—lo! he shrinks and cowers—
Then, with a wild glare at the far-off Gate,
Rushes away, and, rushing through the dark,

         With a voice of most exceeding peace
The Lord said, ‘Look no more!’

                                     The Waters of Life,
The living, spiritual Waters, broke,
Fountain-like, up against the Master’s Breast,
Giving and taking blessing. Overhead
Gather’d the shining legions of the Stars,
Led by the ethereal Moon, with dewy eyes
Of lustre: these have been baptised in fire,
Their raiment is of molten diamond,
And ’tis their office, as they circling move
In their blue orbits, evermore to turn
Their faces heavenward, drinking peace and strength
From that great Flame which, in the core of Heaven,
Like to the white heart of a violet burns,
Diffusing rays and odour. Blessing all,
God sought their beauteous orbits, and behold!
The Eyes innumerably glistening
Were turned away from Heaven, and with sick stare,
Like the blue gleam of salt dissolved in fire,
They searched the Void, as human faces look
On horror.

                     To the Seraph at the Gate,
Who looketh on the Deep with steadfast eyes,
God cried, ‘What is this thing whereon they gaze?’
The Seraph answered, ‘On the Man accurst.’
And, with a voice of most exceeding peace,
God ask’d, ‘What doth the Man?’

                                         The Seraph said:
‘O Master! send Thou forth a tongue of fire
To wither up this worm! Serene and cold,
Flooded with moon-dew, lies the World, and there
The Man roams; and the image of the Man
In the wan waters of the frosty sphere
Falleth gigantic. Up and down he drifts,
Worm-like, black, venomous, with eyes accursed,
Waving his bloody hands in fierce appeal,
So that the gracious faces of Thy Stars
Are troubled, and the stainless tides of light
Shadow pollution. With wild, ape-like eyes,
The wild thing whining peers through horrent hair,
And rusheth up and down, seeking to find
A face to look upon, a hand to touch,
A heart that beats; but all the World is void
And beauteous. All alone in the Cold Clime,
Alone within the lonely universe,
Crawleth the Man accurst!’

                                       Then said the Lord,
‘Doth he repent?’ And the fair Seraph said,
‘Nay he blasphemeth! Send Thou forth Thy fire!’
But with a voice of most exceeding peace,
Out of the Shrine where unbeheld He broods,
God said, ‘What I have made, a living Soul,
Cannot he unmade, but endures for ever.’
Then added, ‘Call the Man!’

                                         The Seraph heard,
And in a low voice named the lost one’s name;
The wild Wind that for ever beats the Gate
Caught up the word, and fled through the cold Void.
’Twas murmur’d on, as a lorn echo fading,
From peak to peak. Swift as a wolf the Man
Was rushing o’er a waste, with shadow streaming
Backward against a frosty gleaming wind,
When like a fearful whisper in his ear
’Twas wafted; then his blanch’d lips shook like leaves
In that chill wind, his hair was lifted up,
He paused, his shadow paused, like stone and shadow,
And shivering, glaring round him, the Man moaned,
‘Who calls?’ and in a moment he was ’ware
Of the white light streaming from the far Gate,
And looming, blotted black against the light,
The Seraph with uplifted forefinger,
Naming his name!

                           And ere the Man could fly,
The wild Wind in its circuit swept upon him,
And, like a straw, whirled him and lifted him,
And cast him at the Gate,—a bloody thing—
Mad, moaning, horrible, obscene, unclean;
A body swollen and stainëd like the wool
Of sheep that in the rainy season crawl
About the hills, and sleep on foul damp beds
Of bracken rusting red. There, breathing hard,
Glaring with fiery eyes, panted the Man,
With scorch’d lips drooping, thirsting as he heard
The flowing of the Fountains far within.

     Then said the Lord, ‘Is the Man there?’ and ‘Yea,’
Answered the Seraph pale. Then said the Lord,
‘What doth the Man?’ The Seraph, frowning, said:
‘O Master, in the belly of him is fire,
He thirsteth, fiercely thrusting out his hands,
And threateneth, seeking water!’ Then the Lord
Said, ‘Give him water—let him drink!’

                                       The Seraph,
Stooping above him, with forefinger bright
Touched the gold kerbstone of the Gate, and lo!
Water gush’d forth and gleamed; and lying prone
The Man crawl’d thither, dipt his fever’d face,
Drank long and deeply; then, his thirst appeased,
Thrust in his bloody hands unto the wrist,
And let the gleaming Fountain play upon them,
And looking up out of his dripping hair,
Grinned mockery at the giver.

                                     Then the Lord
Said low, ‘How doth the Man?’ The Seraph said:
‘It is a snake! He mocketh all Thy gifts,
And in a snake’s voice half-articulate,
Blasphemeth!’ Then the Lord: ‘Doth the Man crave
To enter in?’ ‘Not so,’ the Seraph said,
‘He saith——’ ‘What saith he?’ ‘That his Soul is filled
With hate of Thee and of Thy ways; he loathes
Pure pathways where the fruitage of the Stars
Hangeth resplendent, and he spitteth hate
On all Thy Children. Send Thou forth Thy fire!
In no wise is he better than the beasts,
The gentle beasts, that come like morning dew
And vanish. Let him die!’ Then said the Lord:
‘What I have made endures; but ’tis not meet
This thing should cross my perfect work for ever.
Let him begone!’ Then cried the Seraph pale:
‘O Master! at the frozen Clime he glares
In awe, shrieking at Thee!’ ‘What doth he crave?’
‘Neither Thy Heaven nor by Thy holy ways.
He murmureth out he is content to dwell
In the Cold Clime for ever, so Thou sendest
A face to look upon, a heart that beats,
A hand to touch—albeit like himself,
Black, venomous, unblest, exiled, and base:
Give him this thing, he will be very still,
Nor trouble Thee again.’

                           The Lord mused.

Scarce audible trembled the Waters of Life—
Over all Heaven the Snow of the same Thought
Which rose within the Spirit of the Lord
Fell hushedly; the innumerable Eyes
Swam in a lustrous dream.

                                       Then said the Lord:
‘In all the waste of worlds there dwelleth not
Another like himself—behold he is
The basest Mortal born. Yet ’tis not meet
His cruel cry, for ever piteous,
Should trouble my eternal Sabbath-day.
Is there a Spirit here, a human thing,
Will pass this day from the Gate Beautiful
To share the exile of this Man accurst,—
That he may cease the shrill pain of his cry,
And I have peace?’

                                 Hushedly, hushedly,
Snow’d down the Thought Divine—the living Waters
Murmured and darkened. But like mournful mist
That hovers o’er an autumn pool, two Shapes,
Beautiful, human, glided to the Gate
And waited.
                   ‘What art thou?’in a stern voice
The Seraph said, with dreadful forefinger
Pointing to one. A gentle voice replied,
‘I will go forth with him whom ye call curst!
He grew within my womb—my milk was white
Upon his lips. I will go forth with him!’
‘And thou?’ the Seraph said. The second Shape
Answered, ‘I also will go forth with him;
I have kist his lips, I have lain upon his breast,
I bare him children, and I closed his eyes;
I will go forth with him!’

                                     Then said the Lord,
‘What Shapes are these who speak?’ The Seraph answered:
‘The woman who bore him and the wife he wed—
The one he slew in anger—the other he stript,
With ravenous claws, of raiment and of food.’
Then said the Lord, ‘Doth the Man hear?’ ‘He hears,’
Answer’d the Seraph; ‘like a wolf he lies,
Venomous, bloody, dark, a thing accurst,
And hearkeneth, with no sign!’ Then said the Lord:
‘Show them the Man,’ and the pale Seraph cried,

                   Hushedly, hushedly, hushedly,
In heaven fell the Snow of Thought Divine,
Gleaming upon the Waters of Life beneath,
And melting,—as with slow and lingering pace,
The Shapes stole forth into the windy cold,
And saw the thing that lay and throbbed and lived,
And stooped above him. Then one reach’d a hand
And touch’d him, and the fierce thing shrank and spat,
Hiding his face.

                     ‘Have they beheld the Man?’
The Lord said; and the Seraph answer’d ‘Yea;’
And the Lord said again, ‘What doth the Man?’

‘He lieth like a log in the wild blast,
And as he lieth, lo! one sitting takes
His head into her lap, and moans his name,
And smoothes his matted hair from off his brow,
And croons in a low voice a cradle song;
And lo! the other kneeleth at his side,
Half-shrinking in the old habit of her fear,
Yet hungering with her eyes, and passionately
Kissing his bloody hands.’

                                         Then said the Lord,
‘Will they go forth with him?’ A voice replied,
‘He grew within my womb—my milk was white
Upon his lips. I will go forth with him!’
And a voice cried, ‘I will go forth with him;
I have kist his lips, I have lain upon his breast,
I bare him children, and I closed his eyes;
I will go forth with him!’

                                             Still hushedly
Snowed down the Thought Divine, the Waters of Life
Flow’d softly, sadly; for an alien sound,
A piteous human cry, a sob forlorn
Thrill’d to the heart of Heaven.

                                               The Man wept.

     And in a voice of most exceeding peace
The Lord said (while against the Breast Divine
The Waters of Life leapt, gleaming, gladdening):
‘The Man is saved; let the Man enter in!’






All on a windy night of yule,
     When snow was falling white
We sat all warm in the marish farm
     Around the yule-logs bright.

The clock ticked low, and the wind did blow,
     And the snow was heaped and blown;
And we laughed and talked, but granddad sat
     As still as any stone.

As still he sat as a cold, gray stone
     Upon the lone sea-sands,
His thin, gray hair as white as foam,
     Like drifting weeds his hands.

His eyes were dead, and dull, and cold,
     As the jelly-fish on the rock,
His ears were closed, and his heart kept time
     To the ticking of the clock.

His cheeks were pale, his lips were dumb,
     He sat in the ingle-glow,
Still as a stone on the lone sea-sand,
     Though the tide doth come and go;

Though the sun may come on its moist, cold side,
     And make a glistering gleam;
Though the storm may dash, and the lightning flash,
     And the startled sea-bird scream.

Too late! too late! he is old, so old,
     He hears no human call;
He cannot smile, he cannot weep,
His blood flows on as dark as sleep -
     He lives, and that is all.



“Granddad, granddad, look up and speak
     To thy grandchild Marjorie!”
He does not stir, but sits and smiles,
     Like one who doth not see.

He sits and faintly feels the fire,
     And fondles his thin knees;
Flash the light, and rattle the log -
     He neither hears nor sees.

“Granddad! here is thy daughter Joan,
     Come o’er with Cousin Jane!”
“Ay, ay,” he cries, with a feeble flush,
     Then his soul shuts again.

“Ay, ay” - the words have a strange sea-sound
     As they leave his feeble lips,
Of the blowing wind and the tossing sea,
     And the men who sail in ships.

All year long he sat by the fire,
     And we had heard strange tales
Of his life of old, when he tossed and rolled
     Amid the lonesome gales.

And often when his chair was wheeled
     Without into the sun,
And he sat in the porch, we whispered low
     Of the deeds that he had done.

For round his life a mystery hung,
     No soul could wholly clear,
And we children had heard that he had been
     A bloody buccaneer;

That the stain of blood was on his hands,
     That his soul was black and deep,
That he had seen such sights as made
     His spirit shriek in sleep;

That the red, round gold his hands had gained
     Was dyed with blood of men;
And, as we spake, our voices sank,
     And we looked at him again.

Sometimes his face would flash to fire,
     And his hands would clutch his chair,
And some bloody scene within his soul
     Would shake him unaware.

Sometimes his cold lips would unclose,
     And talk in a strange tongue,
And his voice would quicken, his thin arms move,
     And all his ways grow young.

Sometimes his voice was fierce and loud,
     As if he trod the deck;
Sometimes he seemed to toil like men
     Who swim from ships a-wreck.

But ever the life he lived went on
     Within his soul alone;
To all the wash of the waves of life
     He kept as cold as stone.

Yet oft his face would lie in peace,
     As if he knew no sin,
With a light that came not from without,
     But issued from within;

A light like glistening light that sleeps
     On the wet rock by the sea,
As if his thoughts were all at rest,
And some blue heaven within his breast
     Was opening tranquilly.



Suddenly on that night of yule,
     While we sat whispering there,
The old worn shape waved up his arms,
     And sprang from out his chair.

“See, see!” he cried, and his hair was blown
     Around his brow and eyes;
He pointed with his skinny hand,
     And uttered eager cries.

“Now, granddad, granddad, sit thee down,
     There is no creature nigh!”
He answered not, but stood erect,
     With wildly-glistening eye.

“Hush! man the boats!” and in our sight
     Firm up and down he trod.
“Form line! who stirs a footstep dies!
     She’s sinking - pray to God!

“Nail down the hatches! If the slaves
     Climb up, we all must drown.
If one among them stirs a foot,
     Shoot, hew, and hack him down!

“Away - she sinks!” and both his ears
     He stopped as he did speak.
“Saved, saved!” he moaned, then trembling stood
     With tears upon his cheek.

“God pardon me, and cleanse my soul!”
     He murmured with thin moan,
Then raised his hands into the air,
     And dropped as dead as stone!



Next: ‘The Ballad of Judas Iscariot’

A Selection of Poems - the List








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