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How shall a blind man dare
Venture along the roaring crowded street,
Or branching roads where I may never hit
The way he has gone? But someday if I sit
Quietly at this corner listening, there
May come this way the slow sound of his feet.



WHEN ALL IS SAID

When all is said
And all is done
Beneath the Sun,
And Man lies dead;

When all the earth
Is a cold grave,
And no more brave
Bright things have birth;

When cooling sun
And stone-cold world,
Together hurled,
Flame up as one--

O Sons of Men,
When all is flame,
What of your fame
And splendour then?

When all is fire
And flaming air,
What of your rare
And high desire

To turn the clod
To a thing divine,
The earth a shrine,
And Man the God?





* * * * *





FRANK PREWETT



TO MY MOTHER IN CANADA, FROM SICK-BED IN ITALY

Dear mother, from the sure sun and warm seas
Of Italy, I, sick, remember now
What sometimes is forgot in times of ease,
Our love, the always felt but unspoken vow.
So send I beckoning hands from here to there,
And kiss your black once, now white thin-grown hair
And your stooped small shoulder and pinched brow.

Here, mother, there is sunshine every day;
It warms the bones and breathes upon the heart;
But you I see out-plod a little way,
Bitten with cold; your cheeks and fingers smart.
Would you were here, we might in temples lie,
And look from azure into azure sky,
And paradise achieve, slipping death's part.

But now 'tis time for sleep: I think no speech
There needs to pass between us what we mean,
For we soul-venturing mingle each with each.
So, mother, pass across the world unseen
And share in me some wished-for dream in you;
For so brings destiny her pledges true,
The mother withered, in the son grown green.



VOICES OF WOMEN

Met ye my love?
Ye might in France have met him;
He has a wooing smile,
Who sees cannot forget him!
Met ye my Love?
--We shared full many a mile.

Saw ye my Love?
In lands far-off he has been,
With his yellow-tinted hair--
In Egypt such ye have seen;
Ye knew my love?
--I was his brother there.

Heard ye my love?
My love ye must have heard,
For his voice when he will
Tinkles like cry of a bird;
Heard ye my love?
--We sang on a Grecian hill.

Behold your love,
And how shall I forget him,
His smile, his hair, his song?
Alas, no maid shall get him
For all her love,
Where he sleeps a million strong.




THE SOMME VALLEY, JUNE, 1917

Comrade, why do you weep?
Is it sorrow for a friend
Who fell, rifle in hand,
His last stand at an end?

The thunder-lipped grey guns
Lament him, fierce and slow,
Where he found his dreamless bed,
Head to head with a foe.

The sweet lark beats on high
For the peace of those who sleep
In the quiet embrace of earth:
Comrade, why do you weep?



BURIAL STONES

The blue sky arches wide
From hill to hill;
The little grasses stand
Upright and still.

Only these stones to tell
The deadly strife,
The all-important schemes,
The greed for life.

For they are gone, who fought;
But still the skies
Stretch blue, aloof, unchanged,
From rise to rise.



SNOW-BUNTINGS

They come fluttering helpless to the ground
Like wreaths of wind-caught snow,
Uttering a plaintive, chirping sound,
And rise and fall, and know not where they go.

So small they are, with feathers ruffled blown,
Adrift between earth desolate and leaden sky;
Nor have they ever known
Any but frozen earth, and scudding clouds on high.

What hand doth guide these hapless creatures small
To sweet seeds that the withered grasses hold?--
The little children of men go hungry all,
And stiffen and cry with numbing cold.

In a sudden gust the flock are whirled away
Uttering a frightened, chirping cry,
And are lost like a wraith of departing day,
Adrift between earth desolate and leaden sky.



THE KELSO ROAD

Morning and evening are mine,
And the bright noon-day;
But night to no man doth belong
When the sad ghosts play.

From Kelso town I took the road
By the full-flood Tweed;
The black clouds swept across the moon
With devouring greed.

Seek ye no peace who tread the night;
I felt above my head
Blowing the cloud's edge, faces wry
In pale fury spread.

Twelve surly elves were digging graves
Beside black Eden brook;
Eleven dug and stared at me,
But one read in a book.

In Birgham trees and hedges rocked,
The moon was drowned in black;
At Hirsel woods I shrieked to find
A fiend astride my back.

His legs he closed about my breast,
His hands upon my head,
Till Coldstream lights beamed in the trees
And he wailed and fled.

Morning and evening are mine,
And the bright noon-heat,
But at night the sad thin ghosts
For their revels meet.



BALDON LANE

As I went down the Baldon lane,
Alone I went, as oft I went,
Weighing if it were loss or gain
To give a maidenhead.
I met, just as the day was spent,
A fancy man, a gentleman,
Who smiled on me, and then began,
'Come sit with me, my maid.'

With him had I no mind to sit
In Baldon lane for loss or gain,
Said I to him with feeble wit,
And close beside him crept;
The branches might have heard my pain,
The sudden cry, the maiden cry,--
My fancy man departed sly,
And woman-like, I wept.

I kept the roads until my bed,
A nine months' time, a weary time,
And then to Baldon woods I fled
In Spring-time weather mild;
The kindly trees, they fear no crime,
So back I came, to Baldon came,
Received their welcome without blame,
And moaned and dropped my child.

The poor brat gasped an hour or so,
A goodly child, a thoughtful child;
Perceiving nought for us but woe
It stretched and sudden died;
But I, when Spring breaks fresh and mild,
To Baldon lane return again,
For there's my home, and women vain
Must hold their homes in pride.



COME GIRL, AND EMBRACE

Come girl, and embrace
And ask no more I wed thee;
Know then you are sweet of face,
Soft-limbed and fashioned lovingly;--
Must you go marketing your charms
In cunning woman-like,
And filled with old wives' tales' alarms?

I tell you, girl, come embrace;
What reck we of churchling and priest
With hands on paunch, and chubby face?
Behold, we are life's pitiful least,
And we perish at the first smell
Of death, whither heaves earth
To spurn us cringing into hell.

Come girl, and embrace;
Nay, cry not, poor wretch, nor plead,
But haste, for life strikes a swift pace,
And I burn with envious greed:
Know you not, fool, we are the mock
Of gods, time, clothes, and priests?
But come, there is no time for talk.





* * * * *





PETER QUENNELL



PROCNE (A FRAGMENT)

So she became a bird, and bird-like danced
On a long sloe-bough, treading the silver blossom
With a bird's lovely feet;
And shaken blossoms fell into the hands
Of Sunlight. And he held them for a moment
And let them drop.
And in the autumn Procne came again
And leapt upon the crooked sloe-bough singing,
And the dark berries winked like earth-dimmed beads,
As the branch swung beneath her dancing feet.



A MAN TO A SUNFLOWER

See, I have bent thee by thy saffron hair
--O most strange masker--
Towards my face, thy face so full of eyes
--O almost legendary monster--
Thee of the saffron, circling hair I bend,
Bend by my fingers knotted in thy hair
--Hair like broad flames.
So, shall I swear by beech-husk, spindleberry,
To break thee, saffron hair and peering eye,
--To have the mastery?



PERCEPTION

While I have vision, while the glowing-bodied,
Drunken with light, untroubled clouds, with all this cold sphered sky,
Are flushed above trees where the dew falls secretly,
Where no man goes, where beasts move silently,
As gently as light feathered winds that fall
Chill among hollows filled with sighing grass;
While I have vision, while my mind is borne
A finger's length above reality,
Like that small plaining bird that drifts and drops
Among these soft lapped hollows;
Robed gods, whose passing fills calm nights with sudden wind,
Whose spears still bar our twilight, bend and fill
Wind-shaken, troubled spaces with some peace,
With clear untroubled beauty;
That I may rise not chill and shrilling through perpetual day,
Remote, amazèd, larklike, but may hold
The hours as firm, warm fruit,
This finger's length above reality.



PURSUIT

As wind-drowned scents that bring to other hills
Disquieting memories of silences,
Broad silences beyond the memory;
As feathered swaying seeds, as wings of birds
Dappling the sky with honey-coloured gold;
Faint murmurs, clear, keen-winged of swift ideas
Break my small silences;
And I must hunt and come to tire of hunting
Strange laughing thoughts that roister through my mind,
Hopelessly swift to flit; and so I hunt
And come to tire of hunting.





* * * * *





V. SACKVILLE-WEST



A SAXON SONG

Tools with the comely names,
Mattock and scythe and spade,
Couth and bitter as flames,
Clean, and bowed in the blade,--
A man and his tools make a man and his trade.

Breadth of the English shires,
Hummock and kame and mead,
Tang of the reeking byres,
Land of the English breed,--
A man and his land make a man and his creed.

Leisurely flocks and herds,
Cool-eyed cattle that come
Mildly to wonted words,
Swine that in orchards roam,--
A man and his beasts make a man and his home.

Children sturdy and flaxen
Shouting in brotherly strife,
Like the land they are Saxon,
Sons of a man and his wife,--
For a man and his loves make a man and his life.



MARIANA IN THE NORTH

All her youth is gone, her beautiful youth outworn,
Daughter of tarn and tor, the moors that were once her home
No longer know her step on the upland tracks forlorn
Where she was wont to roam.

All her hounds are dead, her beautiful hounds are dead,
That paced beside the hoofs of her high and nimble horse,
Or streaked in lean pursuit of the tawny hare that fled
Out of the yellow gorse.

All her lovers have passed, her beautiful lovers have passed,
The young and eager men that fought for her arrogant hand,
And the only voice which endures to mourn for her at the last
Is the voice of the lonely land.



FULL MOON

She was wearing the coral taffeta trousers
Someone had brought her from Ispahan,
And the little gold coat with pomegranate blossoms,
And the coral-hafted feather fan;
But she ran down a Kentish lane in the moonlight,
And skipped in the pool of the moon as she ran.

She cared not a rap for all the big planets,
For Betelgeuse or Aldebaran,
And all the big planets cared nothing for her,
That small impertinent charlatan;
But she climbed on a Kentish stile in the moonlight,
And laughed at the sky through the sticks of her fan.



SAILING SHIPS

Lying on Downs above the wrinkling bay
I with the kestrels shared the cleanly day,
The candid day; wind-shaven, brindled turf;
Tall cliffs; and long sea-line of marbled surf
From Cornish Lizard to the Kentish Nore
Lipping the bulwarks of the English shore,
While many a lovely ship below sailed by
On unknown errand, kempt and leisurely;
And after each, oh, after each, my heart
Fled forth, as, watching from the Downs apart,
I shared with ships good joys and fortunes wide
That might befall their beauty and their pride;

Shared first with them the blessèd void repose
Of oily days at sea, when only rose
The porpoise's slow wheel to break the sheen
Of satin water indolently green,
When for'ard the crew, caps tilted over eyes,
Lay heaped on deck; slept; mumbled; smoked; threw dice;
The sleepy summer days; the summer nights
(The coast pricked out with rings of harbour-lights),
The motionless nights, the vaulted nights of June
When high in the cordage drifts the entangled moon,
And blocks go knocking, and the sheets go slapping,
And lazy swells against the sides come lapping;
And summer mornings off red Devon rocks,
Faint inland bells at dawn and crowing cocks;

Shared swifter days, when headlands into ken
Trod grandly; threatened; and were lost again,
Old fangs along the battlemented coast;
And followed still my ship, when winds were most
Night-purified, and, lying steeply over,
She fled the wind as flees a girl her lover,
Quickened by that pursuit for which she fretted,
Her temper by the contest proved and whetted.
Wild stars swept overhead; her lofty spars
Reared to a ragged heaven sown with stars
As leaping out from narrow English ease
She faced the roll of long Atlantic seas.

Her captain then was I, I was her crew,
The mind that laid her course, the wake she drew,
The waves that rose against her bows, the gales,--
Nay, I was more: I was her very sails
Rounded before the wind, her eager keel,
Her straining mast-heads, her responsive wheel,
Her pennon stiffened like a swallow's wing;
Yes, I was all her slope and speed and swing,
Whether by yellow lemons and blue sea
She dawdled through the isles off Thessaly,
Or saw the palms like sheaves of scimitars
On desert's verge below the sunset bars,
Or passed the girdle of the planet where
The Southern Cross looks over to the Bear,
And strayed, cool Northerner beneath strange skies,
Flouting the lure of tropic estuaries,
Down that long coast, and saw Magellan's Clouds arise.

And some that beat up Channel homeward-bound
I watched, and wondered what they might have found,
What alien ports enriched their teeming hold
With crates of fruit or bars of unwrought gold?
And thought how London clerks with paper-clips
Had filed the bills of lading of those ships,
Clerks that had never seen the embattled sea,
But wrote down jettison and barratry,
Perils, Adventures, and the Act of God,
Having no vision of such wrath flung broad;
Wrote down with weary and accustomed pen
The classic dangers of sea-faring men;
And wrote 'Restraint of Princes,' and 'the Acts
Of the King's Enemies,' as vacant facts,
Blind to the ambushed seas, the encircling roar
Of angry nations foaming into war.



TRIO

So well she knew them both!



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Keywords: passed, kentish, beside, summer, between, strange, beneath, pursuit, silences, vision
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