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was that much to ask?
(Winter still gloomed, with scarce a bud yet showing).
He loved her ill, if he resigned the task.
'Somewhere,' she cried, 'there must be blossom blowing.'
It seems my lady wept and the troll swore
By Heaven he hated tears: he'd cure her spleen;
Where she had begged one flower, he'd shower four-score,
A haystack bunch to amaze a China Queen.

Cold fog-drawn Lily, pale mist-magic Rose
He conjured, and in a glassy cauldron set
With elvish unsubstantial Mignonette
And such vague bloom as wandering dreams enclose.
But she?
Awed,
Charmed to tears,
Distracted,
Yet--
Even yet, perhaps, a trifle piqued--who knows?



FOX'S DINGLE

Take now a country mood,
Resolve, distil it:--
Nine Acre swaying alive,
June flowers that fill it,

Spicy sweet-briar bush,
The uneasy wren
Fluttering from ash to birch
And back again.

Milkwort on its low stem,
Spread hawthorn tree,
Sunlight patching the wood,
A hive-bound bee....

Girls riding nim-nim-nim,
Ladies, trot-trot,
Gentlemen hard at gallop,
Shouting, steam-hot.

Now over the rough turf
Bridles go jingle,
And there's a well-loved pool,
By Fox's Dingle,

Where Sweetheart, my brown mare,
Old Glory's daughter,
May loll her leathern tongue
In snow-cool water.



THE GENERAL ELLIOTT

He fell in victory's fierce pursuit,
Holed through and through with shot,
A sabre sweep had hacked him deep
Twixt neck and shoulderknot....

The potman cannot well recall,
The ostler never knew,
Whether his day was Malplaquet,
The Boyne or Waterloo.

But there he hangs for tavern sign,
With foolish bold regard
For cock and hen and loitering men
And wagons down the yard.

Raised high above the hayseed world
He smokes his painted pipe,
And now surveys the orchard ways,
The damsons clustering ripe.

He sees the churchyard slabs beyond,
Where country neighbours lie,
Their brief renown set lowly down;
_His_ name assaults the sky.

He grips the tankard of brown ale
That spills a generous foam:
Oft-times he drinks, they say, and winks
At drunk men lurching home.

No upstart hero may usurp
That honoured swinging seat;
His seasons pass with pipe and glass
Until the tale's complete.

And paint shall keep his buttons bright
Though all the world's forgot
Whether he died for England's pride
By battle, or by pot.



THE PATCHWORK BONNET

Across the room my silent love I throw,
Where you sit sewing in bed by candlelight,
Your young stern profile and industrious fingers
Displayed against the blind in a shadow-show,
To Dinda's grave delight.

The needle dips and pokes, the cheerful thread
Runs after, follow-my-leader down the seam:
The patchwork pieces cry for joy together,
O soon to sit as a crown on Dinda's head,
Fulfilment of their dream.

Snippets and odd ends folded by, forgotten,
With camphor on a top shelf, hard to find,
Now wake to this most happy resurrection,
To Dinda playing toss with a reel of cotton
And staring at the blind.

Dinda in sing-song stretching out one hand
Calls for the playthings; mother does not hear:
Her mind sails far away on a patchwork Ocean,
And all the world must wait till she touches land;
So Dinda cries in fear,

Then Mother turns, laughing like a young fairy,
And Dinda smiles to see her look so kind,
Calls out again for playthings, playthings, playthings;
And now the shadows make an Umbrian _Mary
Adoring_, on the blind.





* * * * *





RICHARD HUGHES



THE SINGING FURIES

The yellow sky grows vivid as the sun:
The sea glittering, and the hills dun.

The stones quiver. Twenty pounds of lead
Fold upon fold, the air laps my head.

Both eyes scorch: tongue stiff and bitter:
Flies buzz, but no birds twitter:
Slow bullocks stand with stinging feet,
And naked fishes scarcely stir for heat.

White as smoke,
As jetted steam, dead clouds awoke
And quivered on the Western rim.
Then the singing started: dim
And sibilant as rime-stiff reeds
That whistle as the wind leads.
The South whispered hard and sere,
The North answered, low and clear;
And thunder muffled up like drums
Beat, whence the East wind comes.
The heavy sky that could not weep
Is loosened: rain falls steep:
And thirty singing furies ride
To split the sky from side to side.

They sing, and lash the wet-flanked wind:
Sing, from Col to Hafod Mynd,
And fling their voices half a score
Of miles along the mounded shore:
Whip loud music from a tree,
And roll their pćan out to sea
Where crowded breakers fling and leap,
And strange things throb five fathoms deep.

The sudden tempest roared and died:
The singing furies muted ride
Down wet and slippery roads to hell:
And, silent in their captors' train,
Two fishers, storm-caught on the main:
A shepherd, battered with his flocks;
A pit-boy tumbled from the rocks;
A dozen back-broke gulls, and hosts
Of shadowy, small, pathetic ghosts,
--Of mice and leverets caught by flood;
Their beauty shrouded in cold mud.



MOONSTRUCK

Cold shone the moon, with noise
The night went by.
Trees uttered things of woe:
Bent grass dared not grow:

Ah, desperate man with haggard eyes
And hands that fence away the skies,
On rock and briar stumbling,
Is it fear of the storm's rumbling,
Of the hissing cold rain,
Or lightning's tragic pain
Drives you so madly?
See, see the patient moon;
How she her course keeps
Through cloudy shallows and across black deeps,
Now gone, now shines soon.
Where's cause for fear?

'I shudder and shudder
At her bright light:
I fear, I fear,
That she her fixt course follows
So still and white
Through deeps and shallows
With never a tremor:
Naught shall disturb her.
I fear, I fear
What they may be
That secretly bind her:
What hand holds the reins
Of those sightless forces
That govern her courses.
Is it Setebos
Who deals in her command?
Or that unseen Night-Comer
With tender curst hand?
--I shudder, and shudder.'

Poor storm-wisp, wander!
Wind shall not hurt thee,
Rain not appal thee,
Lightning not blast thee;
Thou art worn so frail,
Only the moonlight pale
To an ash shall burn thee,
To an invisible Pain.



VAGRANCY

When the slow year creeps hay-ward, and the skies
Are warming in the summer's mild surprise,
And the still breeze disturbs each leafy frond
Like hungry fishes dimpling in a pond,
It is a pleasant thing to dream at ease
On sun-warmed thyme, not far from beechen trees.

A robin flashing in a rowan-tree,
A wanton robin, spills his melody
As if he had such store of golden tones
That they were no more worth to him than stones:
The sunny lizards dream upon the ledges:
Linnets titter in and out the hedges,
Or swoop among the freckled butterflies.

Down to a beechen hollow winds the track
And tunnels past my twilit bivouac:
Two spiring wisps of smoke go singly up
And scarcely tremble in the leafy air.

--There are more shadows in this loamy cup
Than God could count: and oh, but it is fair:
The kindly green and rounded trunks, that meet
Under the soil with twinings of their feet
And in the sky with twinings of their arms:
The yellow stools: the still ungathered charms
Of berry, woodland herb, and bryony,
And mid-wood's changeling child, Anemone.

* * * * *

Quiet as a grave beneath a spire
I lie and watch the pointed climbing fire,
I lie and watch the smoky weather-cock
That climbs too high, and bends to the breeze's shock,
And breaks, and dances off across the skies
Gay as a flurry of blue butterflies.

But presently the evening shadows in,
Heralded by the night-jar's solitary din
And the quick bat's squeak among the trees;
--Who sudden rises, darting across the air
To weave her filmy web in the Sun's bright hair
That slowly sinks dejected on his knees....

Now is he vanished: the bewildered skies
Flame out a desperate and last surmise;
Then yield to Night, their sudden conqueror.

From pole to pole the shadow of the world
Creeps over heaven, till itself is lit
By the very many stars that wake in it:
Sleep, like a messenger of great import,
Lays quiet and compelling hands athwart
The easy idlenesses of my mind.
--There is a breeze above me, and around:
There is a fire before me, and behind:
But Sleep doth hold me, and I hear no sound.

In the far West the clouds are mustering,
Without hurry, noise, or blustering:
And soon as Body's nightly Sentinel
Himself doth nod, I open furtive eyes....

With darkling hook the Farmer of the Skies
Goes reaping stars: they flicker, one by one,
Nodding a little; tumble,--and are gone.



POETS, PAINTERS, PUDDINGS

Poets, painters, and puddings; these three
Make up the World as it ought to be.

Poets make faces
And sudden grimaces:
They twit you, and spit you
On words: then admit you
To heaven or hell
By the tales that they tell.

Painters are gay
As young rabbits in May:
They buy jolly mugs,
Bowls, pictures, and jugs:
The things round their necks
Are lively with checks,
(For they like something red
As a frame for the head):
Or they'll curse you with oaths,
That tear holes in your clothes.
(With nothing to mend them
You'd best not offend them.)

Puddings should be
Full of currants, for me:
Boiled in a pail,
Tied in the tail
Of an old bleached shirt:
So hot that they hurt,
So huge that they last
From the dim, distant past
Until the crack o' doom
Lift the roof off the room.

Poets, painters, and puddings; these three
Crown the day as it crowned should be.





* * * * *





WILLIAM KERR



IN MEMORIAM D. O. M.

Chestnut candles are lit again
For the dead that died in spring:
Dead lovers walk the orchard ways,
And the dead cuckoos sing.

Is it they who live and we who are dead?
Hardly the springtime knows
For which today the cuckoo calls,
And the white blossom blows.

Listen and hear the happy wind
Whisper and lightly pass:
'Your love is sweet as hawthorn is,
Your hope green as the grass.

'The hawthorn's faint and quickly gone,
The grass in autumn dies;
Put by your life, and see the spring
With everlasting eyes.'



PAST AND PRESENT

Daisies are over Nyren, and Hambledon
Hardly remembers any summer gone:
And never again the Kentish elms shall see
Mynn, or Fuller Pilch, or Colin Blythe.
--Nor shall I see them, unless perhaps a ghost
Watching the elder ghosts beyond the moon.
But here in common sunshine I have seen
George Hirst, not yet a ghost, substantial,
His off-drives mellow as brown ale, and crisp
Merry late cuts, and brave Chaucerian pulls;
Waddington's fury and the patience of Dipper;
And twenty easy artful overs of Rhodes,
So many stanzas of the Faerie Queen.



THE AUDIT

Mere living wears the most of life away:
Even the lilies take thought for many things,
For frost in April and for drought in May,
And from no careless heart the skylark sings.

Those cheap utilities of rain and sun
Describe the foolish circle of our years,
Until death takes us, doing all undone,
And there's an end at last to hopes and fears.

Though song be hollow and no dreams come true,
Still songs and dreams are better than the truth:
But there's so much to get, so much to do,
Mary must drudge like Martha, dainty Ruth

Forget the morning music in the corn,
And Rachel grudge when Leah's boys are born.



THE APPLE TREE

Secret and wise as nature, like the wind
Melancholy or light-hearted without reason,
And like the waxing or the waning moon
Ever pale and lovely: you are like these
Because you are free and live by your own law;
While I, desiring life and half alive,
Dream, hope, regret and fear and blunder on.
Your beauty is your life and my content,
And I will liken you to an apple-tree,
Mary and Margaret playing under the branches,
And everywhere soft shadows like your eyes,
And scattered blossom like your little smiles.



HER NEW-YEAR POSY

When I seek the world through
For images of you,
Though apple-blossom is glad
And the lily stately-sad,
Gilliflowers kind of breath,
Rosemary true till death;
Though the wind can stir the grass
To memories as you pass.
And the soft-singing streams
Are music like your dreams;
Though constant stars embrace
The quiet of your face,
Your smile lights up sunrise,
And evening's in your eyes--
Each so shadows its part,
All cannot show your heart;
And weighing the beauty of earth
I see it so little worth,
When reckoned beside you,
That I hold heaven for true
--But all my heaven is you.



COUNTING SHEEP

Half-awake I walked
A dimly-seen sweet hawthorn lane
Until sleep came;
I lingered at a gate and talked
A little with a lonely lamb.
He told me of the great still night,
Of calm starlight,
And of the lady moon, who'd stoop
For a kiss sometimes;
Of grass as soft as sleep, of rhymes
The tired flowers sang:
The ageless April tales
Of how, when sheep grew old,
As their faith told,
They went without a pang
To far green fields, where fall
Perpetual streams that call
To deathless nightingales.
And then I saw, hard by,
A shepherd lad with shining eyes,
And round him gathered one by one
Countless sheep, snow-white;
More and more they crowded
With tender cries,
Till all the field was full
Of voices and of coming sheep.
Countless they came, and I
Watched, until deep
As dream-fields lie
I was asleep.



THE TREES AT NIGHT

Under vague silver moonlight
The trees are lovely and ghostly,
In the pale blue of the night
There are few stars to see.

The leaves are green still, but brown-blent:
They stir not, only known
By a poignant delicate scent
To the lonely moon blown.

The lonely lovely trees sigh
For summer spent and gone:
A few homing leaves drift by,
Poor souls bewildered and wan.



THE DEAD

How shall the living be comforted for the dead
When they are gone, and nothing's left behind
But a vague music of the words they said
And a fast-fading image in the mind?

Let no forgetting sully that dim grace;
Our heart's infirmity is too easily won
To set a new love in the old love's place
And seek fresh vanity under the sun.

Time brings to us at last, as night the stars,
The starry silence of eternity:
For there is no discharge in our long wars,
Nor balm for wounds, nor love's security.

Be patient to the end, and you shall sleep
Pillowed on heartsease and forget to weep.





* * * * *





D.H.



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Keywords: there's, furies, lonely, without, lovely, blossom, patchwork, bright, beauty, hawthorn
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