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WAYSIDE POSIES - continued


18. Glen-Oona.

[There is a long poem (never reprinted in any subsequent Collection) in North Coast and other Poems called ‘The Exiles of Oona’. For that reason, and none  other, I’ve included ‘Glen-Oona’ here as a possible poem by Buchanan.]




AND is there still joy in the vale of Glen-Oona?
     Oh, sings there the lark as it sings not elsewhere?
Is life still a dream in the vale of Glen-Oona?
     Hushed and sweet as the breath of the clear mountain air?

Thirty years since I went from the vale of Glen-Oona,
     Thirty years since we parted in anger and pride;
With a heart full of darkness I went from Glen-Oona,
     For the petulant hope of my boyhood had died.

And I cursed her who dwelt in the vale of Glen-Oona,
     And I turned from her face that was false through her tears,
And I fled far away from the vale of Glen-Oona
     Till my sorrow was dulled by the ministrant years.

But memory loved the clear vale of Glen-Oona,
     And graced it and gave it the glory of dawn,
Till there grew up another and rarer Glen-Oona,
     More beautiful far than the one that was gone.

And now, once again, I look down on Glen-Oona,
     Asleep in the sunshine that falls from the hill;
But this is a colder and greyer Glen-Oona,
     And my heart, unresponsive, refuses to thrill.

Oh, where is the olden and golden Glen-Oona
     I saw when the sea-winds spoke softly and low?
I would I could turn from this vale of Glen-Oona
     To the vale that I loved in the years long ago.


19. The Island Bee.

20. A Vesper Hymn.

[In the Special Collections Library of Pennsylvania State University there is the following item:

“Robert Buchanan letter and poem:
This collection contains an undated manuscript poem and a letter. The poem, entitled A Vesper hymn, is in three verses and is presumably in Buchanan’s hand. Robert Buchanan’s signature is pasted on the bottom of the page. ...”]




SWEET is the little scented spot
     Where we have dwelt for many a year,
And sweet still seems our wedded lot,
     Now the grey sleeping-time is near;
Chill lies the dew—the moments fleet—
The shadows lengthen at our feet—
     The quiet of the Night is near us now;
Yet peaceful is the Night, though Light be sweet:—
     This is God’s truth, I trow.

We have been happy many a day,
     We have been weary many more;
We have been sad—we have been gay;
     Life has been sweet—life has been sore;
And oft, in sorrows manifold,
The Light from heaven seemed cruel cold,
     And Death looked hitherward with pitiless brow;
But Death looks very mildly on the old:—
     This is God’s truth, I trow.

We are so old and sleepy-eyed,
     We scarcely heed the things we see,—
To rest together side by side
     Will be relief to thee and me!
Our eyes are dim, our heads are white,
We can no longer bear the Light,
     Our children drink the joy we tire of now,
While still and sweet and holy comes the Night:—
     This is God’s truth, I trow.


21. Rain.

[‘Rain’ is by Buchanan and shares several lines with a longer poem with the same title, which was published in The Athenæum (26 May, 1860).]



NOW, breathing up from beds of balm,
     The Angel of the Spring appears,
With wings that droop in pensive calm,
     And eyes that startle light from tears;
And where she goes she leaves behind
     Her footprints green in wood and lane,
And in her changeful path the wind
     Blows the wild shadows of the rain.

Oh, watch them blown from hill to hill,
     O’er silent streams and breezy downs,
From thorp to thorp, from vill to vill,
     And over solitary towns.
Oh, watch them go, Oh, watch them blow,
     With silvery gleams of light between,
While branches grow, and waters flow,
     And woods and lawns grow dewy green!

Oh, dark and still across the ground
     The melancholy shadows fly,
And where they pass, with weeping sound,
     Unseen the Angel passes by.
Yet often, while the sweet show’rs flow,
     A glory flits from place to place,
And, girdled by the beauteous Bow,
     Comes a strange glimmer of her face!


22. Stainley Ferry.

23. Norlan Farm.

24.The Old Cart.

25. Kitty Morris.

26. A Vagrant’s Song.

27. Summer Storm.

[‘Summer Storm’ is by Buchanan and is a reworking of ‘Wife and I’ which was originally published in Once A Week (21 June, 1862).]




WE quarrelled this morning, my wife and I—
We were out of temper and scarce knew why,
     Tho’ the cause was trivial—common;
But to look at us then, you’d have sworn that we both
Were a couple of enemies cruel and wroth,
     Not a wedded man and woman.

Wife, like a tragedy queen in a play,
Tossed her sweet little head in as spiteful a way
     As so gentle a woman was able;
She clenched her lips with a sneer and frown;
While I, being rougher, stamped up and down,
     Like a careless groom in a stable.

You’d have thought us the bitterest (seeing us then)
Of little women and little men,
     You’d have laughed at our spite and passion,
And would never have dreamed that a storm like this
Would be rainbowed out into tears with a kiss,
     Till we talked in the old fond fashion.

The storm was over in less than an hour,
It was followed at once by a sunny shower,
     And that again by embraces;
Yet so little the meaning: was understood
That we almost felt ashamed to be good,
     And wore a blush on our faces.

Then she, as a woman, much braver became,
And tried to bear the whole weight of the blame,
     By her kindness herself reproving;
Then, seeing her humble and knowing her true,
I all at once became humble too,
     And very contrite and loving.

But, seeing me acting a humble part,
She laughed outright with a frolic heart—
     With as careless a laugh as Cupid;
And the laughter echoed along my brain,
Till I almost felt in a passion again,
     And became quite stubborn and stupid.

And this was the time for her arms to twine
Around this stubbornest neck of mine
     Like the arms of a maid round a lover;
And feeling them there with their love, you know,
I laughed quite a different laugh, and so
     The summer storm was over!


28. Our Little One.

[No connection to Buchanan, beyond being very similar to his other ‘dead baby’ poems of the early 1860s.]




ALL day long the house was glad
     With the patter of little happy feet;
Never was stranger’s face so sad,
     But it brightened to see a thing so sweet:
Hither and thither all the day,
     Here did our little one laugh and leap,
Till his eyes grew dim as the world grew gray,
And in his little bed he lay,
     Tired, tired, and fast asleep.

But all the house is very still,
     The world looks awful beyond the door;
All is still, and all is chill,
     And our little one will wake no more.
Yet it does not seem that he is dead—
     His slumber does not seem so deep;
’T is only dark because day has fled,
And he is lying on his bed,
     Tired, tired, and fast asleep.

Alas! he smiles as if he dreams!
     Can Death indeed be such as this?
He lies so prettily, it seems
     That I could wake him with a kiss.
’T is like the nights that used to be—
     Only I wring my hands and weep,
And the night is very dark, and, see!
There on his little bed lies he,
     Tired, tired, and fast asleep.


29. Autumnal Song.

30. Winter Song.

31, Doctor Tom.

32. The Heath.

33. Sailor’s Love.

34. ‘Which Would You Kiss?’

35. Mother Rumour.

[‘Mother Rumour’ is also mentioned in ‘The Waxwork’, which is anonymous, but I believe is by Buchanan. There is also a ‘Goody Blane’ (‘Meg Blane’) and one of Buchanan’s regular themes, capital punishment. Of course, all this may just be coincidence.]




WHAT did Mother Rumour do?
Over the whole wide world she flew,
Upsetting kings, reversing laws,
In her state coach drawn by pies and daws.

A speaking-trumpet in her hand,
She cried aloud thro’ every land;
English, Spanish, Turkish, Greek—
Every tongue the witch could speak.

Everywhere her notes were heard,
By man and woman, beast and bird:
Such a babble in the air!
’T was chatter, chatter, everywhere!—

From the Sultan’s bright seraglio,
Where languid trouser’d beauties blow,
To Goody Blake and Goody Blane
Gossiping in an English lane.

Little king or queen could do
But noisy Mother Rumour knew;
Not a thing, however small,
But she was warned about it all:

Terrible things and wicked things,
Court and cottage whisperings,
Shrieks of pain and cries of power,
Cooings from my lady’s bower.

Kings and courtiers saw her pass,
Pretty sinners cried ‘Alas!’
Treason hunched his back,—while she
Doomed him to the gallows-tree.

The murderer, as he turned to fly,
Shrieked to hear her dreadful cry,
And tore his hair:—for as he flew,
All the pallid people knew!

Two magpies, sitting on a fir,
Croaked chuckling, as they looked at her,
‘What a world the world must be,
Ruled by such a witch as she!’

But the lark went up to Heaven’s gate,
And sang his ditty early and late—
‘Hither, hither!’ was his cry,
‘The witch can never soar as high!’


36. Where The Wind Comes Frae.

[The only reason to include this as a possible Buchanan poem, is the Scottish dialect.]




OH weel I mind, Oh weel I mind,
     Tho’ now my locks are snaw,
How oft langsyne I sought to find
     What made the bellows blaw!
How, cuddling on my grannie’s knee,
     I questioned night and day,
And still the thing that puzzled me
     Was—where the wind came frae?

Tho’ I hae dwelt for many a year
     Thro’ pleasure and thro’ pain,
Still must I rax my wits and speir,
     And wish the puzzle plain?
The warld o’ men wi’ change on change
     Rolls darkly on its way,
And still I ask, in wonder strange,
     Where, where the wind comes frae?

The wind that beats the widow’s face
     Outside the rich man’s door,
The wind that drives the human race,
     And levels rich and poor;
The wind that breaks a people’s chain,
     Or doth a monarch slay,—
While weary men in doubt or pain
     Ask—where the wind comes frae?

Oh, I hae striven, loved, and sinned,
     And I hae lost in tears,
But now the hollow eerie Wind
     Sounds sweeter in mine ears.
Depart, O life! come soon, O death!
     Till I am blest as they,
Who, brightening beneath His breath,
     Wake—where the wind comes frae!


37. Peace.

[‘Peace’ is mentioned in a letter to the Brothers Dalziel of 22nd August, 1866 as follows:

“Put ‘Peace’ first by all means,—but arrange all the rest just as you like.”

Whether that is significant and indicates Buchanan’s authorship, I don’t know. I also have no idea why its position was changed from first to last.]




WAR thunders out of other lands,
And men are slain by human hands,
And mothers’ moans and widows’ tears
Sadden the sweetness of the years.

But here in England blooms the palm,
Is breathed the prayer and sung the psalm;
Though, sleepless on his iron height,
The Lion’s eye is rolled in light.

The stream unreddened sweeps along;
The poet hums a quiet song;
Yet, from the anvil’s piercing tongue
The war-cry of the sword is rung.

In English meadows sleeps the lamb,
Meek symbol of the pure ‘I AM’;
But dark in yon celestial sky
A taloned Fate is sailing by.

But keep, O England, peaceful rule;
Far from thy shores be knave and fool;
Lest the slow anger of thy sons
Loose the swift lightning of their guns.

And pour, O God, around this isle
The living splendour of Thy smile,
That all our bays and peaks may be
Havens and thrones of Liberty!


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The Fleshly School Controversy
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Harriett Jay


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