(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Eclogues : a book of poems"


1 


W 




#-^ 




U 




J^ * 


1^ /f 

^ . . , 


**-« 


1^ » 


)r 


'^: 


%r 


^: 


^)r 


■^ 









«. ^ 



;flr^< 






Mir -^ 






r; ll^ •^; §:, •^; S' 









* ^ .^^ 



^)r # V -^ 



^-r: 



^' -n ^/ 2.345 



Qy^.<j("l-^ <^'^ 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/ecloguesbookofpoOOreadrich 



ECLOGUES 



This is the ninth book issued by the Beaumont Press 
and the fifth printed by hand 30 copies have been 
printed on Japanese vellum signed by the author and 
artist and numbered i to 30 50 copies on cartridge 
paper numbered 31 to 80 and 120 copies on hand-made 



paper numbered 81 to 200 



ECLOGUES 

A BOOK OF POEMS 
HERBERT READ 



CONTENTS 

THE MEDITATION OF A LOVER ^^^ 

1 can just see the distant trees ... 9 

WOODLANDS 
Pine needles cover the silent ground : . 10 

PASTURELANDS 
We scurry over the pastures . . . 11 

THE POND 

Shrill green weeds . . . . . 12 

THE ORCHARD 

Grotesque patterns of blue-grey mould . 1 3 

APRIL 
To the fresh wet fields . . , . 14 

THE WOODMAN 

His russet coat and gleaming axe . . 15 

HARVEST HOME 

The waggons loom like blue caravans . 16 



CONTENTS 

Page 
THE AUTUMN OF THE WORLD 

As a host of bloodflecked clouds . . 17 

CURFEW 

Like a faun my head uplifted . . . 18 

CHILDHOOD 

The years come with their still perspective, 19 

ON THE HEATH 

White humours veining Earth, . . 23 

GARDEN PARTY 
I have assumed a conscious sociability, . 24 

ROOFS 
Above the vibrant town, . . , 25 

ETUDE 

That white hand poised . . . . 26 

CHAMP DE MANCEUVRES 

This hill indents my soul . . 27 



CONTENTS 




NOCTURNE 


Page 


I will make this girl a bed of ferns 


29 


WINTER GRIEF 




Life so brief 


30 


PROMENADE SOLENNELLE 




We walked mutely 


31 


THE SORROW OF UNICUME 




Fresh in the flush light gleam 


33 


NIGHT 




The dark steep roofs chisel 


35 


COLOPHON .... 


37 



To Evelyn 



THE AUTUMN OF THE WORLD 

AS A HOST of blood-flecked clouds 
skim the golden sky 

and melt in the vermilioned vastness 
There comes borne on a wind 

from the infinite womb of chaos 
the dank wafture of decay. 

Over the eternal waters of the sea 

that weep and find no solace of their cares 
Lethargic vultures flock and swirl 

and fill the echoes with their gloomy cries. 

Cold winds from arctic zones 

betray 

the transient things of earth : 
The last yellow leaves 

fall on the iridescent sward : 
The wind dies 

and the summer voices are forever quiet. 



CURFEW 

LIKE A FAUN my head uplifted 
In delicate mists : 

And breaking on my soul 
Tremulous waves that beat and cling 
To yellow leaves and dark green hills 

Bells in the autumn evening. 



iS 



<iiSi^ 




^^ 




^^^^^^-— . 


s 


'Wj 




^ 


Px 


!^ 




^ 


S 

\\\\>? 


^^S 







CHILDHOOD 



THE YEARS COME with their still perspective, 
enveloping the past in the light of romance. 

The old elm trees flock round the tiled farmstead and 
their silver-bellied leaves dance in the wind. Beneath 
their shade, and in the corner of the green, is a pond. 
In winter it is full of water, green with various weeds: 
and in Spring a lily will open in its centre. 



19 



Childhood I 

The ducks waddle in the mud and sail in circles round 
the pond, or preen their feathers on the bank. 

But in Summer the pond is dry, and its bed is glossy 
and baked by the sun, of a beautiful soft colour like 
the skins of the moles they catch and crucify on the 
stable doors. 

On the green the fowls pick grains, or chatter and 
fight. Their yellows, whites and browns, the metallic 
lustre of their darker feathers, and the crimson splash 
of their combs make an everchanging pattern on the 
grass. 

They drink with spasmodic upreaching necks by the 
side of the well. 

Under the stones by the well live green lizards curious 
to our eves. 

And the path from the well leads to a garden door 
set in the high wall whereon grow plums and apricots. 
The door is deep and narrow and opens on to paths 
bordered with box-hedges ; one path leads through 
the aromatic currant bushes, beneath the plum-trees, 
to the lawn where grows the wonder of our day-dreams, 
the monkey's-puzzle tree. On the other side of the 

2C 



Childhood I 

lawn three fir-trees rise sharply to the sky, their dark 
shades homing a few birds. 

And beyond is the orchard, and down its avenues of 
mould-smitten trees the path leads to the paddocks, 
with their mushrooms and fairy-rings, and to the flat- 
lands stretching till the girding hills complete our 
vision. 

But on a hill-top, cut clean against a sunrise, is the 
figure of a child, full of an impatient gesture. 



21 



CHILDHOOD 

II 

THE FARM is distant from the high-road 
half a mile; 

The child of the farm 
does not realise it for several years ; 
He wanders through the orchard, 
finds mushrooms in the paddock, 
or beetles in the pond. 

But one day he goes to the high-road, 
sees carts and carriages pass, 
and men go marketing. 

A traction-engine crashes into his vision 

with flame and smoke, 

and makes his eager soul retreat. 

He turns away : 

The huntsmen are galloping over the fields, 

Their red coats and the swift whimpering hcunds, 



ON THE HEATH 

WHITE HUMOURS veining Earth, 

The lymphic winds of Spring 

Veil an early morning 

When on the hill 

Men in cool sleeves dig the soil, 

Turning the loam or acrid manure 

With gripes that clink on stones. 

Silently horses speed on the sandy track. 

Lithe in white sweaters 

Two runners lean against a fountain. . 



23 



GARDEN PARTY 

I HAVE ASSUMED a conscious sociability, 

Pressed unresponding hfands, 

Sipped tea, 

And chattered aimlessly 

All afternoon, 

Achieving spontaneity 

Only 

When my eyes lit at the sight 

Of a scarlet spider 

Running over the bright 

Green mould of an apple-tree. 



24 



THE MEDITATION OF A LOVER 
AT DAYBREAK 

I CAN JUST SEE the distant trees 
And I wonder whether they will 
Or will not 

Bow their tall plumes at your passing 
In the carriage of the morning wind: 

Or whether they will merely 
Tremble against the cold dawnlight, 
Shaking a yellow leaf 

to the dew-wet earth. 




WOODLANDS 

PINE NEEDLES cover the silent ground 
pine trees chancel the woodland ways. 

We penetrate into the dark depths 
Where only garlic and hemlock grow 

Till we meet the blue stream 

Cleaving the green 

Twilight like a rhythmic sword. 

lO 




PASTURELANDS 

WE SCURRY over the pastures 

chasing the windstrewn oak-leaves. 

We kiss 

the fresh petals of cowslips and primroses. 

We discover frog-spawn in the wet ditch. 



II 




THE POND 

SHRILL GREEN WEEDS 

float on the black pond. 

A rising fish 

ripples the still water 

And disturbs my soul. 



12 




THE ORCHARD 

GROTESQUE patterns of blue-grey mould 
Cling to my barren apple-trees: 

But in spring 

Pale blossoms burst like little flowers 

Along black wavering twigs: 

And soon 

Rains wash the cold frail petals 
Downfallinor like tremulous flakes 
Even within my heart. 



13 



APRIL 

TO THE FRESH WET FIELDS 
and the white 
froth of flowers 

Came the wild errant 
swallows with a scream. 




nninuHIITmr ii ii M i ii ii miit i n 




=5>, 



THE WOODMAN 

HIS RUSSET COAT and gleaming axe 

Flit 

In the blue glades. 

The wild birds sing ; 

But the woodman he broods 

In the blue glades. 



^5 




HARVEST HOME 

The waggons loom like blue caravans in the duskf 
They lumber mysteriously down the moonlit lanes. 

We ride on the stacks of rust gold corn, 
Filling the sky with our song. 

The horses toss their heads and the harness-bells 
Jingle all the way. 



i6 




ROOFS 

ABOVE the vibrant town, 

Above its dull clamour, 

Roofs like ragged blades 

Break into the moist golden glow 

With mosaic of lustreful tiles 

And slates that gleam 

metallic. 

The first pale stars will soon illume 

The dying scene till sole 

Ethereal silhouettes pierce the gloom 



25 



ETUDE 

THAT WHITE HAND poised 

Above the ivory keys 

Will soon descend to 

Shatter 

The equable surface of my reverie. 

To what abortion 

Will the silence give birth ? 

Noon of moist heat and the moan 
Of raping beeSy 

And light like a sluice of molten gold 
On the satiatCy petitioning leaves. 

In yellow fieUs , 

Mute agony of reapers. 

Does the metallic horizon 
Give release ? 

Well, higher, 

against the wider void the immaculate 

angels of lust 
Lean 

on the swanbreasts of heaven. 



26 




CHAMP DE MANCEUVRES 

THIS HILL INDENTS my soul 

So that I saor 

Like a silver mist about its flanks. 

I dwell 

In the golden setting of the sun, 

While on the plain 

The illumined mists invade 

Leaf-burdened trees. . . 



27 



Champ de Manoeuvres 

And then 

The silent tides of melting light 

Assail the hill, imbue 

My errant soul. 

Mine empty body broods 

One with the inanimate rocks . . . 

The last red rays are fierce and irritant. 
Then wakes my body on the lonely hill, 
Gathering to its shell my startled soul. 



28 



NOCTURNE 

I WILL MAKE this girl a bed of ferns 

Beneath the trees, 

And she shall come to me naked and shy in the 

starlight, 
And when I kneel to kiss her body 
Faunish I will be aware of its human scent 
Mingled with the resin odours of the shrouded wood 
As salt in tears. 

We will be silent in the world ; 
And if she think good 
We will go down to the green pool 
To lie with our bellies on the cool grass 
And drink together. 

The flying beetles and the bats 

And the birds drowsy in the branches 

Shall be our companions. 

The sheep in the open fields 

Shall see our white bodies 

glimmering in the woodland dusk. 



29 



WINTER GRIEF 

LIFE SO BRIEF . . . 
Yet I am old 

with an era of grief. 

The earth unveils 

a sad nakedness 
And her hills 

droop round my sorrow. 
Into the stillness 

living things scream, 
And only the nerveless dead 

get tranquillity. 

From the funereal mould 
Late asters blaspheme. 



30 



-v 


^ 






__ 




^ — ~— !r^ ^*"^^ 




-^ 




^^^^^^ 








«Wk 


' - • _^^ 


S 








^v^"'****-^^ 








^^^^^^^"' 


NX 


"•-^ 


"^fS*-"^ 




^^F^ ^sM', ^: 


^ 


^ 




:^ 





PROMENADE SOLENNELLE 

WE WALKED MUTELY 

over black moors 
where gray walls crawl 
Sinuously into still horizons. 

I was mute — 

a stickybud 

only to unfurl 
In the germination of your mood. 



31 



Promenade Solennelle 

But you called gray rain 

to slake my heart : 
You called gray mist 

over the black moors. 

We passed black altars of rock, 

Two mute, processional, docile Christs 

Amid the unheeding 

Bleakness. 



THE SORROW OF UNICUME 

I 

FRESH in the flush light gleam 
the slape new furrows : 
ride the clean horizon rib 
lithe Unicume and his roan team. 

Man moulded with Earth — ^ 
like clay uprisen : 
his whistling mingles 
with the throstle's this even. 

Inward from furtive woods 
the stretched light stains : 
end-toil star now broods 
deeming resthaven due. 

Unyoked the roan team 
garthward he leads : 
hooves beat to harness clink ; 
the swollen sun bleeds. 

II 

When alone, Unicume 
seeks his darkening dale. 
Yoyi my white garden-rail — 
Heart's tomb within ! 



33 



The Sorrow of Unicume 

He lifts latch to the quiet room 
where yet it seems she breathes : 
he kneels to take her stark hands 
in caress mute with the gloom. 

" Draw the casement ; let me see 

last light without y 

Ah, fierce the white, white stars to hurt, 

their beauty a wild shout. 

Retch of flower scent, lush decay 
among time-burdened shrubs. 
And near and shallowly buried lay 
love once enfleshed, now fled. 

Ill 

Harsh my heart is, 
scalded with grief : 
my life a limp 
worm-eaten leaf 

White flower unfeeling^ 
you star the mould : 
evolved calmness, 
my livid heart enfold. 



34 



NIGHT 

THE dark steep roofs chisel 
The infinity of the sky : 

But the white moonlit gables 

Resemble 

Still hands at prayer. 



35 



HERE ENDS ECLOGUES A BOOK OF POEMS 

by Herbert Read The Cover and the Decorations 

designed by Ethelbert White The Typography 

and Binding arranged by Cyril W. Beaumont 

Printed by hand on his Press at 75 Charing 

Cross Road in the City of Westminster 

Completed December the Twentieth 

MDCCCCXIX 




Pressman 
Compositor 



Charles Wright 
C. W. Beaumont 



19/9 



7/ 



,^- 



'^ 



/ 



/^ 



^ * 



^v,-^ 












^^ii 



Ife ^ 



^ # '^^/^ -^^ 



1^ ^ 






^^^i** 






l^r ^ 



■i?:^ 







• ^» "^TJ^ 



m 




^ HiffiW.!!;.-.