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Full text of "Poems"

*b LIBRARY 





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BY GILBERT KEITH 
CHESTERTON 



BURNS fcf GATES, LTD. 

28 ORCHARD STREET 

LONDON, W. 

1917 



FIFTH THOUSAND 



^ CONTENTS 

THREE DEDICATIONS 

TO EDMUND CLERIHEW BENTLEY: P. 3. 

TO HILAIRE BELLOC: P. /. 

TO M. E. W. : P. 9. 

WAR POEMS 

LEPANTO: P. 13. 

THE MARCH OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN 1913: P. 22. 

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS: P. 25. 

THE WIFE OF FLANDERS: P. 2J. 

THE CRUSADER RETURNS FROM CAPTIVITY: P. 29. 

LOVE POEMS 

GLENCOE : P. 35. 

LOVE'S TRAPPIST : P. 36. 

CONFESSIONAL: p. 37. 

MUSIC: P. 38. 

THE DELUGE : P. 39. 

THE STRANGE MUSIC : P. 40. 

THE GREAT MINIMUM: P. 42. 

THE MORTAL ANSWERS: P. 44. 

A MARRIAGE SONG: P. 46. 

BAY COMBE : P. 49. 



RELIGIOUS POEMS 

THE WISE MEN : P. 55. 

THE HOUSE OF CHRISTMAS: P. 58. 

A SONG OF GIFTS TO GOD : P. 60. 

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: P. 63. 

A HYMN FOR THE CHURCH MILITANT: P. 65. 

THE BEATIFIC VISION: P. 67. 

THE TRUCE OF CHRISTMAS: P. 69. 

A HYMN: P. 71. 

A CHRISTMAS SONG FOR THREE GUILDS: P. 72. 

THE NATIVITY: P. 76. 

A CHILD OF THE SNOWS : P. 79. 

A WORD: p. 80. 

RHYMES FOR THE TIMES 

ANTICHRIST, OR THE REUNION OF CHRISTENDOM: 

AN ODE: p. 87. 

THE REVOLUTIONIST, OR LINES TO A STATESMAN : P. 90. 

THE SHAKESPEARE MEMORIAL: P. 93. 

THE HORRIBLE HISTORY OF JONES: P. 95. 

THE NEW FREETHINKER: P. 98. 

IN MEMORIAM P. D.: P. IOI. 

SONNET WITH THE COMPLIMENTS OF THE SEASON: 

P. 103. 

A SONG OF SWORDS: p. 104. 
A SONG OF DEFEAT: p. 107. 
SONNET: P. 109. 
AFRICA: P. no. 
vi 



CONTENTS 

THE DEAD HERO: P. III. 
AN ELECTION ECHO: P. 113. 
THE SONG OF THE WHEELS: P. 115. 
THE SECRET PEOPLE: P. I2O. 

MISCELLANEOUS POEMS 

LOST: p. 127. 

BALLAD OF THE SUN: P. 129. 

TRANSLATION FROM DU BELLAY: P. 130. 

THE HIGHER UNITY: P. 131. 

THE EARTH'S VIGIL: P. 133. 

ON RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION: P. 135. 

WHEN I CAME BACK TO FLEET STREET: P. 137. 

A CIDER SONG: p. 140. 

THE LAST HERO: p. 142. 

BALLADES 

BALLADE D'UNE GRANDE DAME: P. 147. 

A BALLADE OF AN ANTI-PURITAN: P. 149. 

A BALLADE OF A BOOK-REVIEWER: P. 151. 

A BALLADE OF SUICIDE: P. 153. 

A BALLADE OF THE FIRST RAIN: P. 155. 



VH 



AUTHOR'S NOTE 

MT thanks are due to the editors of THE 
DAILY NEWS, THE NATION, THE NEW 
WITNESS, THE COMMONWEALTH, THE 
DAILY HERALD, THE PALL MALL MAGAZINE, 
and THE ENGLISH HYMNAL, for allowing me to 
republish poems which have already appeared 
in their columns; to Mr. John Lane and to 
Messrs. Arrow smith for the reissue of two 
dedicatory poems; to my personal friends who 
possess MSS. of some of my earlier efforts; and 
finally to my wife for the poems which appear 
on pages 35 to 51. 






TO EDMUND CLERIHEW BENTLEY 

THE DEDICATION OF THE MAN WHO 
WAS 7HURSDAT 

A CLOUD was on the mind of men, and 
wailing went the weather, 
Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul when we 

were boys together. 

Science announced nonentity and art admired decay ; 
The world was old and ended : but you and I were 

gay- 
Round us in antic order their crippled vices came 
Lust that had lost its laughter, fear that had lost its 

shame. 
Like the white lock of Whistler, that lit our aimless 

gloom, 
Men showed their own white feather as proudly as 

a plume. 

Life was a fly that faded, and death a drone that stung; 
The world was very old indeed when you and I were 

young. 
They twisted even decent sin to shapes not to be 

named : 
Men were ashamed of honour; but we were not 

ashamed. 

3 



TO EDMUND CLERIHEW BENTLEY 

Weak if we were and foolish, not thus we failed, not 

thus ; 
When that black Baal blocked the heavens he had 

no hymns from us. 
Children we were our forts of sand were even as 

weak as we, 
High as they went we piled them up to break that 

bitter sea. 

Fools as we were in motley, all jangling and absurd, 
When all church bells were silent our cap and bells 

were heard. 

Not all unhelped we held the fort, our tiny flags 

unfurled ; 
Some giants laboured in that cloud to lift it from the 

world. 
I find again the book we found, I feel the hour that 

flings 
Far out offish-shaped Paumanok some cry of cleaner 

things; 
And the Green Carnation withered, as in forest fires 

that pass, 
Roared in the wind of all the world ten million 

leaves of grass ; 
Or sane and sweet and sudden as a bird sings in the 

rain 

Truth out of Tusitala spoke and pleasure out of pain. 
4 



ro EDMUND CLERIHEW BENTLET 
Yea, cool and clear and sudden as a bird sings in the 



Dunedin to Samoa spoke, and darkness unto day. 
But we were young; we lived to see God break 

their bitter charms, 
God and the good Republic come riding back in 

arms: 
We have seen the city of Mansoul, even as it rocked, 

relieved 
Blessed are they who did not see, but being blind, 

believed. 



This is a tale of those old fears, even of those emptied 

hells, 
And none but you shall understand the true thing 

that it tells 
Of what colossal gods of shame could cow men and 

yet crash, 
Of what huge devils hid the stars, yet fell at a pistol 

flash. 
The doubts that were so plain to chase, so dreadful 

to withstand 
Oh, who shall understand but you ; yea, who shall 

understand ? 
The doubts that drove us through the night as we 

two talked amain, 

5 



TO EDMUND CL ERIHEJV BENTL EY 

And day had broken on the streets e'er it broke upon 

the brain. 
Between us, by the peace of God, such truth can 

now be told; 
Yea, there is strength in striking root, and good in 

growing old. 
We have found common things at last, and marriage 

and a creed, 
And I may safely write it now, and you may safely 

read. 



TO HILAIRE BELLOC 

THE DEDICATION OF THE NAPOLEON OF 
NOTTING HILL 

FOR every tiny town or place 
God made the stars especially; 
Babies look up with owlish face 
And see them tangled in a tree : 
You saw a moon from Sussex Downs, 

A Sussex moon, untravelled still, 
I saw a moon that was the town's, 
The largest lamp on Campden Hill. 

Yea, Heaven is everywhere at home, 

The big blue cap that always fits, 
And so it is (be calm ; they come 

To goal at last, my wandering wits), 
So is it with the heroic thing; 

This shall not end for the world's end, 
And though the sullen engines swing, 

Be you not much afraid, my friend. 

This did not end by Nelson's urn 
Where an immortal England sits 

Nor where your tall young men in turn 
Drank death like wine at Austerlitz. 



ro HILAIRE BELLOC 

And when the pedants bade us mark 
What cold mechanic happenings 

Must come; our souls said in the dark, 
l< Belike ; but there are likelier things." 

Likelier across these flats afar, 

These sulky levels smooth and free, 
The drums shall crash a waltz of war 

And Death shall dance with Liberty; 
Likelier the barricades shall blare 

Slaughter below and smoke above, 
And death and hate and hell declare 

That men have found a thing to love. 

Far from your sunny uplands set 

I saw the dream; the streets I trod, 
The lit straight streets shot out and met 

The starry streets that point to God ; 
The legend of an epic hour 

A child I dreamed, and dream it still, 
Under the great grey water-tower 

That strikes the stars on Campden Hill. 



TO M. E. W. 

WORDS, for alas my trade is words, a 
barren burst of rhyme, 
Rubbed by a hundred rhymesters, bat- 
tered a thousand times, 
Take them, you, that smile on strings, those nobler 

sounds than mine, 

The words that never lie, or brag, or flatter, or 
malign. 

I give a hand to my lady, another to my friend, 
To whom you too have given a hand; and so 

before the end 
We four may pray, for all the years, whatever suns 

be set, 

The sole two prayers worth praying to live and 
not forget. 

The pale leaf falls in pallor, but the green lear turns 

to gold ; 
We that have found it good to be young shall 

find it good to be old ; 
Life that bringeth the marriage bell, the cradle and 

the grave, 

Life that is mean to the mean of heart, and only 
brave to the brave. 

9 



TO M. E. W. 

In the calm of the last white winter, when all the 

past is ours, 
Old tears are frozen as jewels, old storms frosted 

as flowers. 
Dear Lady, may we meet again, stand up again, we 

four, 

Beneath the burden of the years, and praise the 
earth once more. 



10 



II 



LEPANTO 

WHITE founts falling in the Courts of 
the sun, 
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling 

as they run ; 
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of 

all men feared, 

It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard, 
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his 

lips, 
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with 

his ships. 
They have dared the white republics up the capes 

of Italy, 
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of 

the Sea, 
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony 

and loss, 
And called the kings of Christendom ror swords 

about the Cross. 

The cold queen of England is looking in the glass ; 
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass; 

*3 



LEPANrO 

From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish 

gu"> 

And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in 
the sun. 

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard, 
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince 

has stirred, 
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted 

stall, 
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the 

wall, 
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird 

has sung, 
That once went singing southward when all the 

world was young. 

In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid, 
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the 

Crusade. 

Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far, 
Don John of Austria is going to the war, 
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold 
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold, 
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums, 
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the 

cannon, and he comes. 

Don John laughing in the brave beard curled, 
14 



LEPANTO 

Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the 

world, 

Holding his head up for a flag of all the free. 
Love-light of Spain hurrah ! 
Death-light of Africa ! 
Don John of Austria 
Is riding to the sea. 

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star, 

(Don John of Austria is going to the war.) 

He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri's 

knees, 

His turban that is woven of the sunsets and the seas. 
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his 

ease, 
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than 

the trees, 
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder 

sent to bring 

Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing. 
Giants and the Genii, 
Multiplex of wing and eye, 
Whose strong obedience broke the sky 
When Solomon was king. 

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of 
the morn, 

15 



LEPANTO 

From temples where the yellow gods shut up their 

eyes in scorn; 
They rise in green robes roaring from the green 

hells of the sea 
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures 

be; 

On them the sea- valves cluster and the grey sea- 
forests curl, 
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the 

pearl; 
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks 

of the ground, 
They gather and they wonder and give worship to 

Mahound. 
And he saith, " Break up the mountains where the 

hermit-folk can hide, 

And sift the red and silver sands lest boneof saintabide, 
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not 

giving rest, 
For that which was our trouble comes again out of 

the west. 
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under 

sun, 
Of knowledge and or sorrow and endurance of things 

done, 
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, 

and I know 
16 



LEPANro 

The voice that shook our palaces four hundred 

years ago : 
It is he that saith not ' Kismet ' ; it is he that 

knows not Fate; 

It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate ! 
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the 

wager worth, 
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on 

the earth." 

For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar, 
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.) 
Sudden and still hurrah ! 
Bolt from Iberia! 
Don John of Austria 
Is gone by Alcalar. 

St. Michael's on his Mountain in the sea-roads of 

the north 

(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.) 
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift 
And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift. 
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of 

stone; 
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is 

gone alone; 
The North is full of tangled things and texts and 

aching eyes 

c 17 



LEPANTO 

And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise, 
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty 

room, 
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer 

face of doom, 
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in 

Galilee, 

But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea. 
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse 
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his 

lips, 
Trumpet that sayeth ha ! 

Domino gloria \ 
Don John of Austria 
Is shouting to the ships. 

King Philip 's in his closet with the Fleece about his 

neck 

(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.} 
The walls are hung with velvet that is black and 

soft as sin, 
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs 

creep in. 
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the 

moon, 
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very 



soon 



18 



LEPANTO 

And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and 

grey 
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered 

from the day, 

And death is in the phial and the end of noble work, 
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk. 
Don John's hunting, and his hounds have bayed 
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid. 
Gun upon gun, ha! ha! 
Gun upon gun, hurrah ! 
Don John of Austria 
Has loosed the cannonade. 

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle 

broke, 

(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.} 
The hidden room in man's house where God sits all 

the year, 
The secret window whence the world looks small 

and very dear. 
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea 
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is 

mystery ; 
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross 

and Castle dark, 
They veil the plumed lions on the galleys of St. 

Mark; 

19 



LEPANrO 

And above the ships are palaces of brown, black- 
bearded chiefs, 

And below the ships are prisons, where with multi- 
tudinous griefs, 

Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring 
race repines 

Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the 
mines. 

They are lost like slaves that swat, and in the skies 
of morning hung 

The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was 
young. 

They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen 
or fleeing on 

Before the high Kings' horses in the granite of 
Babylon. 

And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in 
hell 

Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice 
of his cell, 

And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no 
more a sign 

(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!) 

Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop, 

Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop, 

Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds, 

Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds, 

20 



LEPAffrO 

Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea 
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for 

liberty. 

Vivat Hispania! 
Domino Gloria! 
Don John of Austria 
Has set his people free ! 

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the 

sheath 

(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.} 
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in 

Spain, 
Up which a lean and foolish knight ror ever rides in 

vain, 
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles 

back the blade. . . . 
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade."] 



21 



THE MARCH OF THE BLACK 
MOUNTAIN 



WHAT will there be to remember 
Of us in the days to be? 
Whose faith was a trodden ember 

And even our doubt not free ; 
Parliaments built of paper, 

And the soft swords of gold 
That twist like a waxen taper 

In the weak aggressor's hold ; 
A hush around Hunger, slaying 

A city of serfs unfed ; 
What shall we leave for a saying 

To praise us when we are dead ? 
But men shall remember the Mountain 

That broke its forest chains, 
And men shall remember the Mountain 

When it arches against the plains : 
And christen their children from it 

And season and ship and street, 
When the Mountain came to Mahomet 

And looked small before his feet. 
22 



MARCH OF rHE BLACK MOUNTAIN 

His head was as high as the crescent 

Of the moon that seemed his crown, 
And on glory of past and present 

The light of his eyes looked down ; 
One hand went out to the morning 

Over Brahmin and Buddhist slain, 
And one to the West in scorning 

To point at the scars of Spain ; 
One foot on the hills for warden 

By the little Mountain trod ; 
And one was in a garden 

And stood on the grave of God. 
But men shall remember the Mountain, 

Though it fall down like a tree, 
They shall see the sign of the Mountain 

Faith cast into the sea ; 
Though the crooked swords overcome it 

And the Crooked Moon ride free, 
When the Mountain comes to Mahomet 

It has more life than he. 

But what will there be to remember 

Or what will there be to see 
Though our towns through a long November 

Abide to the end and be ? 
Strength of slave and mechanic 

Whose iron is ruled by gold, 

23 



MARCH OF rHE BLACK MOUNTAIN 

Peace of immortal panic, 

Love that is hate grown cold 
Are these a bribe or a warning 

That we turn not to the sun, 
Nor look on the lands of morning 

Where deeds at last are done ? 
Where men shall remember the Mountain 

When truth forgets the plain 
And walk in the way of the Mountain 

That did not fail in vain; 
Death and eclipse and comet, 

Thunder and seals that rend : 
When the Mountain came to Mahomet ; 

Because it was the end. 



BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS 

OF old with a divided heart 
I saw my people's pride expand, 
Since a man's soul is torn apart 
By mother earth and fatherland. 

I knew, through many a tangled tale, 

Glory and truth not one but two: 
King, Constable, and Amirail 

Took me like trumpets: but I knew 

A blacker thing than blood's own dye 

Weighed down great Hawkins on the sea ; 

And Nelson turned his blindest eye 
On Naples and on liberty. 

Therefore to you my thanks, O throne, 

O thousandfold and frozen folk, 
For whose cold frenzies all your own 

The Battle of the Rivers broke; 

Who have no faith a man could mourn, 

Nor freedom any man desires; 
But in a new clean light of scorn 

Close up my quarrel with my sires; 

25 



BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS 

Who bring my English heart to me, 
Who mend me like a broken toy; 

Till I can see you fight and flee, 
And laugh as if I were a boy. 



26 



THE WIFE OF FLANDERS 



C)W and brown barns thatched and repatched 
and tattered 
Where I had seven sons until to-day, 
A little hill of hay your spur has scattered. . . . 
This is not Paris. You have lost the way. 

You, staring at your sword to find it brittle, 
Surprised at the surprise that was your plan, 

Who shaking and breaking barriers not a little 
Find never more the death-door of Sedan. 

Must I for more than carnage call you claimant, 
Paying you a penny for each son you slay ? 

Man, the whole globe in gold were no repayment 
For what you have lost. And how shall I repay ? 

What is the price of that red spark that caught me 

From a kind farm that never had a name? 
What is the price of that dead man they brought 

me? 
For other dead men do not look the same. 

27 



THE WlfE OF FLANDERS 

How should I pay for one poor graven steeple 
Whereon you shattered what you shall not know, 

How should I pay you, miserable people ? 
How should I pay you everything you owe ? 

Unhappy, can I give you back your honour? 

Though I forgave would any man forget? 
While all the great green land has trampled on her 

The treason and terror of the night we met. 

Not any more in vengeance or in pardon 
An old wife bargains for a bean that's hers. 

You have no word to break: no heart to harden. 
Ride on and prosper. You have lost your spurs. 



28 



THE CRUSADER RETURNS FROM 
CAPTIVITY 

1HAVE come forth alive from the land of purple 
and poison and glamour, 
Where the charm is strong as the torture, being 

chosen to change the mind; 

Torture of wordless dance and wineless feast with- 
out clamour, 

Palace hidden in palace, garden with garden 
behind ; 

Women veiled in the sun, or bare as brass in the 

shadows, 
And the endless eyeless patterns where each thing 

seems an eye. . . . 
And my Stride is on Caesar's sand where it slides to 

the English meadows, 

To the last low woods of Sussex and the road that 
goes to Rye. 

In the cool and careless woods the eyes, of the 

eunuchs burned not, 

But the wild hawk went before me, being free 
to return or roam, 

29 



THE CRUSADER RETURNS FROM CAPTIVITY 

The hills had broad unconscious backs; and the 

tree-tops turned not, 

And the huts were heedless of me: and I knew 
I was at home. 

And I saw my lady afar and her holy freedom upon 

her, 
A head, without veil, averted, and not to be 

turned with charms, 
And I heard above bannerets blown the intolerant 

trumpets of honour, 

That usher with iron laughter the coming of 
Christian arms. 

My shield hangs stainless still; but I shall not go 

where they praise it, 
A sword is still at my side, but I shall not ride 

with the King. 
Only to walk and to walk and to stun my soul and 

amaze it, 

A day with the stone and the sparrow and every 
marvellous thing. 

I have trod the curves of the Crescent, in the maze 

of them that adore it, 

Curved around doorless chambers and unbeholden 
abodes, 

3 



THE CRUSADER RETURNS FROM CAPTIVITY 

But I walk in the maze no more; on the sign of 

the cross I swore it, 

The wild white cross of freedom, the sign of the 
white cross-roads. 

And the land shall leave me or take, and the 

Woman take me or leave me, 
There shall be no more Night, or nightmares seen 

in a glass ; 
But Life shall hold me alive, and Death shall never 

deceive me 

As long as I walk in England in the lanes that let 
me pass. 



3 1 



Ill 



GLENCOE 

THE star-crowned cliffs seem hinged upon the 
sky, 
The clouds are floating rags across them 

curled, 

They open to us like the gates of God 
Cloven in the last great wall of all the world. 

I looked, and saw the valley of my soul 
Where naked crests fight to achieve the skies, 
Where no grain grows nor wine, no fruitful thing, 
Only big words and starry blasphemies. 

But you have clothed with mercy like a moss 

The barren violence of its primal wars, 

Sterile although they be and void of rule, 

You know my shapeless crags have loved the stars. 

How shall I thank you, O courageous heart, 
That of this wasteful world you had no fear ; 
But bade it blossom in clear faith and sent 
Your fair flower-feeding rivers: even as here 

The peat burns brimming from their cups of stone 
Glow brown and blood-red down the vast decline 
As if Christ stood on yonder clouded peak 
And turned its thousand waters into wine. 

35 



LOVE'S TRAPPIST 

THERE is a place where lute and lyre are 
broken, 
Where scrolls are torn and on a wild wind go, 
Where tablets stand wiped naked for a token, 
Where laurels wither and the daisies grow. 

Lot I too join the brotherhood of silence, 
I am Love's Trappist and you ask in vain, 
For man through Love's gate, even as through 

Death's gate, 
Goeth alone and comes not back again. 

Yet here I pause, look back across the threshold, 
Cry to my brethren, though the world be old, 
Prophets and sages, questioners and doubters, 
O world, old world, the best hath ne'er been told ! 



CONFESSIONAL 

NOW that I kneel at the throne, O Queen, 
Pity and pardon me. 
Much have I striven to sing the same, 
Brother of beast and tree; 
Yet when the stars catch me alone 
Never a linnet sings 
And the blood of a man is a bitter voice 
And cries for foolish things. 

Not for me be the vaunt of woe; 

Was not I from a boy 

Vowed with the helmet and spear and spur 

To the blood-red banner of joy? 

A man may sing his psalms to a stone, 

Pour his blood for a weed, 

But the tears of a man are a sudden thing, 

And come not of his creed. 

Nay, but the earth is kind to me, 

Though I cry for a star, 

Leaves and grasses, feather and flower, 

Cover the foolish scar, 

Prophets and saints and seraphim 

Lighten the load with song, 

And the heart of a man is a heavy load 

For a man to bear along. 

37 



MUSIC 

SOUNDING brass and tinkling cymbal, 
He that made me sealed my ears, 
And the pomp of gorgeous noises, 
Waves of triumph, waves of tears, 

Thundered empty round and past me, 

Shattered, lost for ever more, 
Ancient gold of pride and passion, 

Wrecked like treasure on a shore. 

But I saw her cheek and forehead 

Change, as at a spoken word, 
And I saw her head uplifted 

Like a lily to the Lord. 

Nought is lost, but all transmuted, 
Ears are sealed, yet eyes have seen ; 

Saw her smiles (O soul be worthy !), 
Saw her tears (O heart be clean !). 



THE DELUGE 

THOUGH giant rains put out the sun, 
Here stand I for a sign. 
Though Earth be filled with waters dark, 
My cup is filled with wine. 
Tell to the trembling priests that here 

Under the deluge rod, 
One nameless, tattered, broken man 
Stood up and drank to God. 

Sun has been where the rain is now, 

Bees in the heat to hum, 
Haply a humming maiden came, 

Now let the Deluge come: 
Brown of aureole, green of garb, 

Straight as a golden rod, 
Drink to the throne of thunder now! 

Drink to the wrath of God. 

High in the wreck I held the cup, 

I clutched my rusty sword, 
I cocked my tattered feather 

To the glory of the Lord. 
Not undone were the heaven and earth, 

This hollow world thrown up, 
Before one man had stood up straight, 

And drained it like a cup.- 

39 



THE STRANGE MUSIC 

OTHER loves may sink and settle, other loves 
may loose and slack, 
But I wander like a minstrel with a harp 

upon his back, 
Though the harp be on my bosom, though I finger 

and I fret, 

Still, my hope is all before me: for I cannot play it 
yet. 

In your strings is hid a music that no hand hath ere 

let fall, 
In your soul is sealed a pleasure that you have not 

known at all; 
Pleasure subtle as your spirit, strange and slender as 

your frame, 
Fiercer than the pain that folds you, softer than 

your sorrow's name. 

Not as mine, my soul's anointed, not as mine the 

rude and light 
Easy mirth of many faces, swaggering pride of song 

and fight; 
40 






THE STRANGE MUSIC 

Something stranger, something sweeter, something 

waiting you afar, 
Secret as your stricken senses, magic as your sorrows 

are. 

But on this, God's harp supernal, stretched but to 

be stricken once, 
Hoary Time is a beginner, Life a bungler, Death a 

dunce. 
But I will not fear to match them no, by God, I 

will not fear, 
I will learn you, I will play you and the stars stand 

still to hear. 



THE GREAT MINIMUM 

IT is something to have wept as we have wept, 
It is something to have done as we have done, 
It is something to have watched when all men 

slept, 
And seen the stars which never see the sun. 

It is something to have smelt the mystic rose, 
Although it break and leave the thorny rods, 
It is something to have hungered once as those 
Must hunger who have ate the bread of gods. 

To have seen you and your unforgotten face, 

Brave as a blast of trumpets for the fray, 

Pure as white lilies in a watery space, 

It were something, though you went from me to-day. 

To have known the things that from the weak are 

furled, 

Perilous ancient passions, strange and high ; 
It is something to be wiser than the world, 
It is something to be older than the sky. 

In a time of sceptic moths and cynic rusts, 
And fatted lives that of their sweetness tire, 
In a world of flying loves and fading lusts, 
It is something to be sure of a desire. 
42 






THE GREAT MINIMUM 

Lo, blessed are our ears for they have heard ; 
Yea, blessed are our eyes for they have seen : 
Let thunder break on man and beast and bird 
And the lightning. It is something to have been. 



43 



THE MORTAL ANSWERS 

COME AWAY 

WITH THE FAIRIES, HAND IN HAND, 
FOR THE WORLD IS MORE FULL OF WEEPING 
THAN YOU CAN UNDERSTAND. 

W. B. TEATS. 

FROM the Wood of the Old Wives' Fables 
They glittered out of the grey, 
And with all the Armies of Elf-land 
I strove like a beast at bay; 

With only a right arm wearied, 

Only a red sword worn, 
And the pride of the House of Adam 

That holdeth the stars in scorn. 

For they came with chains of flowers 

And lilies lances free, 
There in the quiet greenwood 

To take my grief from me. 

And I said, " Now all is shaken 

When heavily hangs the brow, 
When the hope of the years is taken 

The last star sunken. Now 

44 



MORTAL ANSWERS 

" Hear, you chattering cricket, 
Hear, you spawn of the sod, 

The strange strong cry in the darkness 
Of one man praising God, 

" That out of the night and nothing 
With travail of birth he came 

To stand one hour in the sunlight 
Only to say her name. 

"Falls through her hair the sunshine 
In showers; it touches, see, 

Her high bright cheek in turning; 
Ah, Elfin Company, 

"The world is hot and cruel, 

We are weary of heart and hand, 

But the world is more full of glory 
Than you can understand." 



45 






A MARRIAGE SONG 

WHY should we reck of hours that rend 
While we two ride together ? 
The heavens rent from end to end 
Would be but windy weather, 
The strong stars shaken down in spate 

Would be a shower of spring, 
And we should list the trump of fate 
And hear a linnet sing. 

We break the line with stroke and luck, 

The arrows run like rain, 
If you be struck, or I be struck, 

There 's one to strike again. 
If you befriend, or I befriend, 

The strength is in us twain, 
And good things end and bad things end, 

And you and I remain. 

Why should we reck of ill or well 

While we two ride together? 
The fires that over Sodom fell 

Would be but sultry weather. 
46 



A MARRIAGE SONG 

Beyond all ends to all men given 

Our race is far and fell, 
We shall but wash our feet in heaven, 

And warm our hands in hell. 

Battles unborn and vast shall view 

Our faltered standards stream, 
New friends shall come and frenzies new, 

New troubles toil and teem ; 
New friends shall pass and still renew 

One truth that does not seem, 
That I am I, and you are you, 

And Death a morning dream. 

Why should we reck of scorn or praise 

While we two ride together? 
The icy air of godless days 

Shall be but wintry weather. 
If hell were highest, if the heaven 

Were blue with devils blue, 
I should have guessed that all was even, 

If I had dreamed of you. 

Little I reck of empty prides, 

Of creeds more cold than clay ; 
To nobler ends and longer rides, 

My lady rides to-day. 

47 



A MARRIAGE SONG 

To swing our swords and take our sides 

In that all-ending fray 
When stars fall down and darkness hides, 

When God shall turn to bay. 

Why should we reck of grin and groan 

While we two ride together? 
The triple thunders of the throne 

Would be but stormy weather. 
For us the last great fight shall roar, 

Upon the ultimate plains, 
And we shall turn and tell once more 

Our love in English lanes. 



48 



BAY COMBE 

WITH leaves below and leaves above, 
And groping under tree and tree, 
I found the home of my true love 
Who is a wandering home for me. 

Who, lost in ruined worlds aloof, 
Bore the dread dove wings like a roof; 
Who, past the last lost stars of space 
Carried the fire-light on her face. 

Who, passing as in idle hours, 
Tamed the wild weeds to garden flowers; 
Stroked the strange whirlwind's whirring wings, 
And made the comets homely things. 

Where she went by upon her way 
The dark was dearer than the day; 
Where she paused in heaven or hell, 
The whole world's tale had ended well. 



With leaves below and leaves 
And groping under tree and 
I found the home of my true 
Who is a wandering home for me. 

E 49 



BAY COMBE 

Where she was flung, above, beneath, 
By the rude dance of life and death, 
Grow she at Gotham die at Rome, 
Between the pine trees is her home. 

In some strange town, some silver morn, 
She may have wandered to be born ; 
Stopped at some motley crowd impressed, 
And called them kinsfolk for a jest. 

If we again in goodness thrive, 
And the dead saints become alive, 
Then pedants bald and parchments brown 
May claim her blood for London town. 

But leaves below and leaves above. 
And groping under tree and tree, 
I found the home of my true love, 
Who is a wandering home for me. 

The great gravestone she may pass by, 
And without noticing, may die ; 
The streets of silver Heaven may tread, 
With her grey awful eyes unfed. 

The city of great peace in pain 
May pass, until she find again 
This little house of holm and fir 
GOD built before the stars for her. 
5 



BAY COMBE 

Here in the fallen leaves is furled 
Her secret centre of the world. 
We sit and feel in dusk and dun 
The stars swing round us like a sun. 

For leaves below and leaves above, 
And groping under tree and tree, 
I found the home of my true love, 
Who is a wandering home for me. 



IV 



THE WISE MEN 

STEP softly, under snow or rain, 
To find the place where men can pray; 
The way is all so very plain 
That we may lose the way. 

Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore 
On tortured puzzles from our youth, 

We know all labyrinthine lore, 

We are the three wise men of yore, 
And we know all things but the truth. 

We have gone round and round the hill, 

And lost the wood among the trees, 
And learnt long names for every ill, 
And served the mad gods, naming still 

The Furies the Eumenides. 

The gods of violence took the veil 

Of vision and philosophy, 
The Serpent that brought all men bale, 
He bites his own accursed tail, 

And calls himself Eternity. 

55 



THE WISE MEN 

Go humbly ... it has hailed and snowed 
With voices low and lanterns lit ; 

So very simple is the road, 
That we may stray from it. 

The world grows terrible and white, 

And blinding white the breaking day; 
We walk bewildered in the light, 
For something is too large for sight, 
And something much too plain to say. 

The Child that was ere worlds begun 

(. . . We need but walk a little way, 
We need but see a latch undone . . .) 
The Child that played with moon and sun 
Is playing with a little hay. 

The house from which the heavens are fed, 
The old strange house that is our own, 

Where tricks of words are never said, 

And Mercy is as plain as bread, 
And Honour is as hard as stone. 

Go humbly; humble are the skies, 

And low and large and fierce the Star; 
So very near the Manger lies 

That we may travel far. 
56 



THE WISE MEN 

Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes 
To roar to the resounding plain, 

And the whole heaven shouts and shakes, 
For God Himself is born again, 

And we are little children walking 
Through the snow and rain. 



57 



THE HOUSE OF CHRISTMAS 

THERE fared a mother driven forth 
Out of an inn to roam; 
In the place where she was homeless 
All men are at home. 
The crazy stable close at hand, 
With shaking timber and shifting sand, 
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand 
Than the square stones of Rome. 

For men are homesick in their homes, 

And strangers under the sun, 

And they lay their heads in a foreign land 

Whenever the day is done. 

Here we have battle and blazing eyes, 

And chance and honour and high surprise, 

But our homes are under miraculous skies 

Where the yule tale was begun. 

A Child in a foul stable, 
Where the beasts feed and foam; 
Only where He was homeless 
Are you and I at home; 
58 



THE HOUSE OF CHRISTMAS 

We have hands that fashion and heads that know, 
But our hearts we lost how long ago! 
In a place no chart nor ship can show 
Under the sky's dome. 

This world is wild as an old wives' tale, 

And strange the plain things are, 

The earth is enough and the air is enough 

For our wonder and our war ; 

But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings 

And our peace is put in impossible things 

Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings 

Round an incredible star. 

To an open house in the evening 

Home shall men come, 

To an older place than Eden 

And a taller town than Rome. 

To the end of the way of the wandering star, 

To the things that cannot be and that are, 

To the place where God was homeless 

And all men are at home. 



59 



A SONG OF GIFTS TO GOD 

WHEN the first Christmas presents came, 
the straw where Christ was rolled 
Smelt sweeter than their frankincense, 

burnt brighter than their gold, 
And a wise man said, "We will not give j the thanks 
would be but cold." 

"Nay," said the next, "To all new gifts, to this gift 

or another, 
Bends the high gratitude of God ; even as He now, 

my brother, 
Who had a Father for all time, yet thanks Him for 

a Mother. 

"Yet scarce for Him this yellow stone or prickly 

smells and sparse, 
Who holds the gold heart of the sun that fed these 

timber bars, 
Nor any scentless lily lives for One that smells the 

stars." 
60 



A SONG OF GIFTS TO GOD 

Then spake the third of the Wise Men ; the wisest 

of the three: 
"We may not with the widest lives enlarge His 

liberty, 
Whose wings are wider than the world. It is not 

He, but we. 

"We say not He has more to gain, but we have 

more to lose. 
Less gold shall go astray, we say, less gold, if thus 

we choose, 
Go to make harlots of the Greeks and hucksters of 

the Jews. 

" Less clouds before colossal feet redden in the under- 
light, 

To the blind gods from Babylon less incense burn 
to-night, 

To the high beasts of Babylon, whose mouths make 
mock of right." 

Babe of the thousand birthdays, we that are young 

yet grey, 
White with the centuries, still can find no better 

thing to say, 
We that with sets and whims and wars have wasted 

Christmas Day. 

61 



A SONG OF GIFTS TO GOD 

Light Thou Thy censer to Thyself, for all our fires 

are dim, 
Stamp Thou Thine image on our coin, for Caesar's 

face grows dim, 
And a dumb devil of pride and greed has taken hold 

of him. 

We bring Thee back great Christendom, churches 

and towns and towers, 
And if our hands are glad, O God, to cast them 

down like flowers, 
'Tis not that they enrich Thine hands, but they are 

saved from ours. 



62 



THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN 

SAID the Lord God, " Build a house, 
Build it in the gorge of death, 
Found it in the throats of hell. 
Where the lost sea muttereth, 
Fires and whirlwinds, build it well." 

Laboured sternly flame and wind, 

But a little, and they cry, 
" Lord, we doubt of this Thy will, 

We are blind and murmur why," 
And the winds are murmuring still. 

Said the Lord God, " Build a house, 
Cleave its treasure from the earth, 

With the jarring powers of hell 

Strive with formless might and mirth, 

Tribes and war-men build it well." 

Then the raw red sons of men 

Brake the soil, and lopped the wood, 

But a little and they shrill, 

" Lord, we cannot view Thy good," 

And the wild men clamour still. 

63 



THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN 

Said the Lord God, " Build a house, 
Smoke and iron, spark and steam, 

Speak and vote and buy and sell; 
Let a new world throb and stream, 

Seers and makers, build it well." 

Strove the cunning men and strong, 

But a little and they cry, 
" Lord, mayhap we are but clay, 

And we cannot know the why," 
And the wise men doubt to-day. 

Yet though worn and deaf and blind, 
Force and savage, king and seer 

Labour still, they know not why ; 
At the dim foundation here, 

Knead and plough and think and ply. 

Till at last, mayhap, hereon, 
Fused of passion and accord, 

Love its crown and peace its stay 
Rise the city of the Lord 

That we darkly build to-day. 



64 



A HYMN FOR THE CHURCH 
MILITANT 

GREAT God, that bo west sky and star, 
Bow down our towering thoughts to thee, 
And grant us in a faltering war 
The firm feet of humility. 

Lord, we that snatch the swords of flame, 

Lord, we that cry about Thy car, 
We too are weak with pride and shame, 

We too are as our foemen are. 

Yea, we are mad as they are mad, 

Yea, we are blind as they are blind, 
Yea, we are very sick and sad 

Who bring good news to all mankind. 

The dreadful joy Thy Son has sent 

Is heavier than any care ; 
We find, as Cain his punishment, 

Our pardon more than we can bear. 

Lord, when we cry Thee far and near 
And thunder through all lands unknown 

The gospel into every ear, 

Lord, let us not forget our own. 

F 65 



A HYMN FOR THE CHURCH MILITANT 

Cleanse us from ire of creed or class, 
The anger of the idle kings; 

Sow in our souls, like living grass, 
The laughter of all lowly things. 



66 



THE BEATIFIC VISION 

THEN Bernard smiled at me, that I should 
gaze 
But I had gazed already ; caught the view, 
Faced the unfathomable ray of rays 

Which to itself and by itself is true. 

Then was my vision mightier than man's speech ; 

Speech snapt before it like a flying spell; 
And memory and all that time can teach 

Before that splendid outrage failed and fell. 

As when one dreameth and remembereth not 

Waking, what were his pleasures or his pains, 

[With every feature of the dream forgot, 

The printed passion of the dream remains : 

(Even such am I; within whose thoughts resides 
No picture of that sight nor any part 

|Nor any memory: in whom abides 

Only a happiness within the heart, 

[A. secret happiness that soaks the heart 

As hills are soaked by slow unsealing snow, 
secret as that wind without a chart 
Whereon did the wild leaves of Sibyl go. 

6? 



THE BEATIFIC VISION 

O light uplifted from all mortal knowing, 

^Send back a little of that glimpse of thee, 
That of its glory I may kindle glowing 
One tiny spark for all men yet to be. 



68 



THE TRUCE OF CHRISTMAS 

PASSIONATE peace is in the sky 
And in the snow in silver sealed 
The beasts are perfect in the field, 
And men seem men so suddenly 

(But take ten swords and ten times ten 

And blow the bugle in praising men ; 

For we are for all men under the sun, 

And they are against us every one ; 

And misers haggle and madmen clutch, 

And there is peril in praising much, 

And we have the terrible tongues uncurled 

That praise the world to the sons of the world.) 

The idle humble hill and wood 

Are bowed upon the sacred birth, 

And for one little hour the earth 

Is lazy with the love of good 

(But ready are you, and ready am I, 
If the battle blow and the guns go by ; 
For we are for all men under the sun, 
And they are against us every one ; 
And the men that hate herd all together, 
To pride and gold, and the great white feather, 

69 



THE TRUCE OF CHRISTMAS 

And the thing is graven in star and stone 
That the men who love are all alone.) 

Hunger is hard and time is tough, 
But bless the beggars and kiss the kings, 
For hope has broken the heart of things, 
And nothing was ever praised enough. 
(But hold the shield for a sudden swing 
And point the sword when you praise a thing, 
For we are for all men under the sun, 
And they are against us every one ; 
And mime and merchant, thane and thrall 
Hate us because we love them all; 
Only till Christmastide go by 
Passionate peace is in the sky.) 



A HYMN 

OGOD of earth and altar, 
Bow down and hear our cry, 
Our earthly rulers falter, 
Our people drift and die; 
The walls of gold entomb us, 
The swords of scorn divide, 
Take not thy thunder from us, 
But take away our pride. 

From all that terror teaches, 

From lies of tongue and pen, 
From all the easy speeches 

That comfort cruel men, 
From sale and profanation 

Of honour and the sword, 
From sleep and from damnation, 

Deliver us, good Lord ! 

Tie in a living tether 

The prince and priest and thrall, 
Bind all our lives together, 

Smite us and save us all; 
In ire and exultation 

Aflame with faith, and free, 
Lift up a living nation, 

A single sword to thee. 



A CHRISTMAS SONG FOR THREE 
GUILDS 

TO BE SUNG A LONG TIME AGO OR HENCE 

THE CARPENTERS 

ST. JOSEPH to the Carpenters said on a 
Christmas Day: 
"The master shall have patience and the 

'prentice shall obey ; 
And your word unto your women shall be nowise 

hard or wild : 

For the sake of me, your master, who have wor- 
shipped Wife and Child. 
But softly you shall frame the fence, and softly 

carve the door, 
And softly plane the table as to spread it for the 

poor, 
And all your thoughts be soft and white as the 

wood of the white tree. 
But if they tear the Charter, let the tocsin speak 

for me ! 
Let the wooden sign above your shop be prouder to 

be scarred 
Than the lion-shield of Lancelot that hung at 

Joyous Garde." 
72 



A CHRISTMAS SONG FOR THREE GUILDS 
THE SHOEMAKERS 

St. Crispin to the shoemakers said on a Christ- 

mastide: 
"Who fashions at another's feet will get no good 

of pride. 
They were bleeding on the Mountain, the feet that 

brought good news, 
The latchet of whose shoes we were not worthy to 

unloose. 
See that your feet offend not, nor lightly lift your 

head, 
Tread softly on the sunlit roads the bright dust of 

the dead. 
Let your own feet be shod with peace; be lowly 

all your lives. 
But if they touch the Charter, ye shall nail it with 

your knives. 
And the bill-blades of the commons drive in all as 

dense array 
As once a crash of arrows came, upon St. Crispin's 

Day." 

THE PAINTERS 

St. Luke unto the painters on Christmas Day he said : 
"See that the robes are white you dare to dip in 
gold and red; 

73 



ACHRIsrMAS SONG FOR THREE GUILDS 

For only gold the kings can give, and only blood 

the saints ; 
And his high task grows perilous that mixes them 

in paints. 
Keep you the ancient order; follow the men that 

knew 
The labyrinth of black and white, the maze of green 

and blue; 
Paint mighty things, paint paltry things, paint silly 

things or sweet. 
But if men break the Charter, you may slay them 

in the street. 
And if you paint one post for them, then . . . but 

you know it well, 
You paint a harlot's face to drag all heroes down to 

hell." 



ALL TOGETHER 

Almighty God to all mankind on Christmas Day 

said He: 
" I rent you from the old red hills and, rending, 

made you free. 
There was charter, there was challenge ; in a blast 

of breath I gave ; 
You can be all things other ; you cannot be a slave. 

74 



A CHRISTMAS SONG FOR THREE GUILDS 

You shall be tired and tolerant of fancies as they fade, 
But if men doubt the Charter, ye shall call on the 

Crusade 
Trumpet and torch and catapult, cannon and bow 

and blade, 
Because it was My challenge to all the things I 

made." 



75 



THE NATIVITY 

THE thatch on the roof was as golden, 
Though dusty the straw was and old, 
The wind had a peal as of trumpets, 
Though blowing and barren and cold, 
The mother's hair was a glory 
Though loosened and torn, 
For under the eaves in the gloaming 
A child was born. 

Have a myriad children been quickened, 
Have a myriad children grown old, 

Grown gross and unloved and embittered, 
Grown cunning and savage and cold? 

God abides in a terrible patience, 
Unangered, unworn, 

And again for the child that was squandered 
A child is born. 

What know we of aeons behind us, 

Dim dynasties lost long ago, 
Huge empires, like dreams unremembered, 

Huge cities for ages laid low? 
76 



THE NATIVITY 

This at least that with blight and with blessing, 

With flower and with thorn, 
Love was there, and his cry was among them, 
"A child is born." 

Though the darkness be noisy with systems, 

Dark fancies that fret and disprove, 
Still the plumes stir around us, above us 

The wings of the shadow of love: 
Oh ! princes and priests, have ye seen it 

Grow pale through your scorn. 
Huge dawns sleep before us, deep changes, 
A child is born. 

And the rafters of toil still are gilded 
With the dawn of the star of the heart, 

And the wise men draw near in the twilight, 
Who are weary of learning and art, 

And the face of the tyrant is darkened, 
His spirit is torn, 

For a new King is enthroned; yea, the sternest, 
A child is born. 

And the mother still joys for the whispered 

First stir of unspeakable things, 
Still feels that high moment unfurling 

Red glory of Gabriel's wings. 

77 



THE 

Still the babe of an hour is a master 

Whom angels adorn, 
Emmanuel, prophet, anointed, 
A child is born. 

And thou, that art still in thy cradle, 
The sun being crown for thy brow, 

Make answer, our flesh, make an answer, 
Say, whence art thou come who art thou? 

Art thou come back on earth for our teaching 
To train or to warn ? 

Hush how may we know ? knowing only 
A child is born. 



A CHILD OF THE SNOWS 

THERE is heard a hymn when the panes are 
dim, 
And never before or again, 

When the nights are strong with a darkness long, 
And the dark is alive with rain. 

Never we know but in sleet and in snow, 

The place where the great fires are, 
That the midst of the earth is a raging mirth 

And the heart of the earth a star. 

And at night we win to the ancient inn 
Where the child in the frost is furled, 

We follow the feet where all souls meet 
At the inn at the end of the world. 

The gods lie dead where the leaves lie red, 

For the flame of the sun is flown, 
The gods lie cold where the leaves lie gold, 

And a Child comes forth alone. 



79 



A WORD 

A WORD came forth in Galilee, a word like 
to a star; 
It climbed and rang and blessed and burnt 

wherever brave hearts are; 

A word of sudden secret hope, of trial and increase 
Of wrath and pity fused in fire, and passion kissing 

peace. 
A star that o'er the citied world beckoned, a sword 

of flame; 

A star with myriad thunders tongued: a mighty 
word there came. 

The wedge's dart passed into it, the groan of tim- 
ber-wains, 

The ringing of the rivet nails, the shrieking of the 
planes; 

The hammering on the roofs at morn, the busy 
workshop roar; 

The hiss of shavings drifted deep along the windy 
floor; 

The heat-browned toiler's crooning song, the hum 
of human worth 

Mingled of all the noise of crafts, the ringing word 
went forth. 

80 



A WORD 

The splash of nets passed into it, the grind of sand 
and shell, 

The boat-hook's clash, the boat-oars' jar, the cries 
to buy and sell, 

The flapping of the landed shoals, the canvas crack- 
ling free, 

And through all varied notes and cries, the roaring 
of the sea, 

The noise of little lives and brave, of needy lives 
and high; 

In gathering all the throes of earth, the living word 
went by. 

Earth's giant sins bowed down to it, in Empire's 
huge eclipse, 

When darkness sat above the thrones, seven thun- 
ders on her lips, 

The woe of cities entered it, the clang of idols' falls, 

The scream of filthy Caesars stabbed high in their 
brazen halls, 

The dim hoarse floods of naked men, the world- 
realms snapping girth, 

The trumpets of Apocalypse, the darkness of the 
earth : 

The wrath that brake the eternal lamp and hid the 
eternal hill, 

G 81 



A WORD 

A world's destru&ion loading, the word went on- 
ward still 

The blaze of creeds passed into it, the hiss of horrid 
fires, 

The headlong spear, the scarlet cross, the hair-shirt 
and the briars, 

The cloistered brethren's thunderous chaunt, the 
errant champion's song, 

The shifting of the crowns and thrones, the tangle 
of the strong. 

The shattering fall of crest and crown and shield 

and cross and cope, 
The tearing of the gauds of time, the blight of 

prince and pope, 
The reign of ragged millions leagued to wrench a 

loaded debt, 
Loud with the many throated roar, the word went 

forward yet. 
The song of wheels passed into it, the roaring and 

the smoke 
The riddle of the want and wage, the fogs that burn 

and choke. 
The breaking of the girths of gold, the needs that 

creep and swell, 
The strengthening hope, the dazing light, the 

deafening evangel, 
82 



A WORD 

Through kingdoms dead and empires damned, 

through changes without cease, 
With earthquake, chaos, born and fed, rose, and 

the word was " Peace." 



ANTICHRIST, OR THE REUNION OF 
CHRISTENDOM: AN ODE 

"A BILL WHICH HAS SHOCKED THE CONSCIENCE OF 
EVERY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY IN EUROPE." MR. 
F. E. SMITH, ON THE WELSH DISESTABLISHMENT BILL. 

ARE they clinging to their crosses, 
F. E. Smith, 
Where the Breton boat-fleet tosses, 

Are they, Smith? 
Do they, fasting, tramping, bleeding, 

Wait the news from this our city? 
Groaning "That's the Second Reading! " 
Hissing " There is still Committee ! " 
If the voice of Cecil falters, 

If McKenna's point has pith, 
Do they tremble for their altars? 

Do they, Smith ? 

Russian peasants round their pope 

Huddled, Smith, 

Hear about it all, I hope, 

Don't they, Smith? 

In the mountain hamlets clothing 
Peaks beyond Caucasian pales, 

87 



ANTICHRIST, OR THE REUNION 

Where Establishment means nothing 
And they never heard of Wales, 

Do they read it all in Hansard 

With a crib to read it with 

"Welsh Tithes: Dr. Clifford Answered." 
Really, Smith ? 

In the lands where Christians were, 

F. E. Smith, 
In the little lands laid bare, 

Smith, O Smith ! 

Where the Turkish bands are busy, 
And the Tory name is blessed 
Since they hailed the Cross of Dizzy 
On the banners from the West ! 
Men don't think it half so hard if 

Islam burns their kin and kith, 
Since a curate lives in Cardiff 

Saved by Smith. 

It would greatly, I must own, 

Soothe me, Smith, 
If you left this theme alone, 

Holy Smith ! 
For your legal cause or civil 

You fight well and get your feej 
88 



OF CHRISTENDOM: AN ODE 

For your God or dream or devil 
You will answer, not to me. 

Talk about the pews and steeples 

And the Cash that goes therewith! 

But the souls of Christian peoples. . . . 
Chuck it, Smith ! 



89 



THE REVOLUTIONIST: OR LINES TO 
A STATESMAN 

"l WAS NEVER STANDING BY WHILE A REVOLUTION 
WAS GOING ON." SPEECH BT THE RT. HON. WALTER 
LONG. 

WHEN Death was on thy drums, Demo- 
cracy, 
And with one rush of slaves the world 

was free, 

In that high dawn that Kings shall not forget, 
A void there was and Walter was not yet. 
Through sacked Versailles, at Valmy in the fray, 
They did without him in some kind of way; 
Red Christendom all Walterless they cross, 
And in their fury hardly feel their loss . . . 
Fades the Republic; faint as Roland's horn, 
Her trumpets taunt us with a sacred scorn . . . 
Then silence fell : and Mr. Long was born. 

From his first hours in his expensive cot 
He never saw the tiniest viscount shot. 
In deference to his wealthy parents' whim 
The wildest massacres were kept from him. 
90 



THE REVOLUTIONIST: OR LINES TO A STATESMAN 

The wars that dyed Pall Mall and Brompton red 
Passed harmless o'er that one unconscious head : 
For all that little Long could understand 
The rich might still be rulers of the land. 
Vain are the pious arts of parenthood, 
Foiled Revolution bubbled in his blood ; 
Until one day (the babe unborn shall rue it) 
The Constitution bored him and he slew it. 

If I were wise and good and rich and strong 

Fond, impious thought, if I were Walter Long 

If I could water sell like molten gold, 

And make grown people do as they are told, 

If over private fields and wastes as wide 

As a Greek city for which heroes died, 

I owned the houses and the men inside 

If all this hung on one thin thread of habit 

I would not revolutionize a rabbit. 

I would sit tight with all my gifts and glories, 
And even preach to unconverted Tories, 
That the fixed system that our land inherits, 
Viewed from a certain standpoint, has its merits. 
I 'd guard the laws like any Radical, 
And keep each precedent, however small, 
However subtle, misty, dusty, dreamy, 
Lest man by chance should look at me and see me; 

91 



THE REVOLUTIONIST: OR LINES TO A STATESMAN 

Lest men should ask what madman made me lord 
Of English ploughshares and the English sword; 
Lest men should mark how sleepy is the nod 
That drills the dreadful images of God ! 

Walter, be wise! avoid the wild and new, 
The Constitution is the game for you. 
Walter, beware ! scorn not the gathering throng, 
It suffers, yet it may not suffer wrong, 
It suffers, yet it cannot suffer Long. 
And if you goad it these grey rules to break, 
For a few pence, see that you do not wake 
Death and the splendour of the scarlet cap, 
Boston and Valmy, Yorktown and Jemmappes, 
Freedom in arms, the riding and the routing, 
The thunder of the captains and the shouting, 
All that lost riot that you did not share 
And when that riot comes you will be there. 



92 



THE SHAKESPEARE MEMORIAL 

LORD Lilac thought it rather rotten 
That Shakespeare should be quite forgotten, 
And therefore got on a Committee 
With several chaps out of the city, 
And Shorter and Sir Herbert Tree, 
Lord Rothschild and Lord Rosebery 
And F.C.G. and Comyns Carr, 
Two dukes and a dramatic star, 
Also a clergyman now dead ; 
And while the vain world careless sped 
Unheeding the heroic name 
The souls most fed with Shakespeare's flame 
Still sat unconquered in a ring, 
Remembering him like anything. 

Lord Lilac did not long remain, 
Lord Lilac did not come again. 
He softly lit a cigarette 
And sought some other social set 
Where, in some other knots or rings, 
People were doing cultured things, 
Miss Zwilt's Humane Vivarium 
The little men that paint on gum 

93 



THE SHAKESPEARE MEMORIAL 

The exquisite Gorilla Girl. . . . 
He sometimes, in this giddy whirl 
(Not being really bad at heart), 
Remembered Shakespeare with a start- 
But not with that grand constancy 
Of Clement Shorter, Herbert Tree, 
Lord Rosebery and Comyns Carr 
And all the other names there are; 
Who stuck like limpets to the spot, 
Lest they forgot, lest they forgot. 

Lord Lilac was of slighter stuff ; 
Lord Lilac had had quite enough. 



94 



THE HORRIBLE HISTORY OF JONES 

JONES had a dog; it had a chain j 
Not often worn, not causing pain; 
But, as the I.K.L. had passed 
Their " Unleashed Cousins Act " at last, 
Inspectors took the chain away; 
Whereat the canine barked u hurray " ! 
At which, of course, the S.P.U. 
(Whose Nervous Motorists' Bill was through), 
Were forced to give the dog in charge 
For being Audibly at Large. 
None, you will say, were now annoyed, 
Save haply Jones the yard was void. 
But something being in the lease 
About " alarms to aid police," 
The U.S.U. annexed the yard 
For having no sufficient guard ; 
Now if there 's one condition 
The C.C.P. are strong upon 
It is that every house one buys 
Must have a yard for exercise; 
So Jones, as tenant, was unfit, 
His state of health was proof of it. 
Two doctors of the T.T.U.'s 

95 



THE HORRIBLE HISTORY OF JONES 

Told him his legs from long disuse, 
Were atrophied ; and saying " So 
From step to higher step we go 
Till everything is New and True," 
They cut his legs off and withdrew. 
You know the E.T.S.T.'s views 
Are stronger than the T.T.U.'s: 
And soon (as one may say) took wing 
The Arms, though not the Man, I sing. 
To see him sitting limbless there 
Was more than the K.K. could bear 
" In mercy silence with all speed 
That mouth there are no hands to feed ; 
What cruel sentimentalist, 
O Jones, would doom thee to exist 
Clinging to selhsh Selfhood yet? 
Weak one! Such reasoning might upset 
The Pump Act, and the accumulation 
Of all constructive legislation; 
Let us construct you up a bit " 
The head fell off when it was hit : 
Then words did rise and honest doubt, 
And four Commissions sat about 
Whether the slash that left him dead 
Cut off his body or his head. 

An author in the Isle of Wight 
96 



THE HORRIBLE HISTORY OF JONES 

Observed with unconcealed delight 
A land of old and just renown 
Where Freedom slowly broadened down 
From Precedent to Precedent . . . 
And this, I think, was what he meant. 



97 



THE NEW FREETHINKER 

JOHN Grubby, who was short and stout 
And troubled with religious doubt, 
Refused about the age of three 
To sit upon the curate's knee; 
(For so the eternal strife must rage 
Between the spirit of the age 
And Dogma, which, as is well known, 
Does simply hate to be outgrown). 
Grubby, the young idea that shoots, 
Outgrew the ages like old boots; 
While still, to all appearance, small, 
Would have no Miracles at all ; 
And just before the age of ten 
Firmly refused Free Will to men. 
The altars reeled, the heavens shook, 
Just as he read of in the book ; 
Flung from his house went forth the youth 
Alone with tempests and the Truth, 
Up to the distant city and dim 
Where his papa had bought for him 
A partnership in Chepe and Deer 
Worth, say, twelve hundred pounds a year. 



THE NEW FREETHINKER 

But he was resolute. Lord Brute 
Had found him useful ; and Lord Loot, 
With whom few other men would aft, 
Valued his promptitude and ta&; 
Never did even philanthropy 
Enrich a man more rapidly: 
'Twas he that stopped the Strike in Coal, 
For hungry children racked his soul ; 
To end their misery there and then 
He filled the mines with Chinamen 
Sat in that House that broke the Kings, 
And voted for all sorts of things 
And rose from Under-Sec, to Sec. 
With scarce a murmur or a check. 
Some grumbled. Growlers who gave less 
Than generous worship to success, 
The little printers in Dundee 
Who got ten years for blasphemy, 
(Although he let them off with seven) 
Respedt him rather less than heaven. 
No matter. This can still be said: 
Never to supernatural dread, 
Never to unseen deity, 
Did Sir John Grubby bend the knee; 
Never did dream of hell or wrath 
Turn Viscount Grubby from his path ; 
Nor was he bribed by fabled bliss 

99 



THE HEW FREETHINKER 

To kneel to any world but this. 
The curate lives in Camden Town, 
His lap still empty of renown, 
And still across the waste of years 
John Grubby, in the House of Peers, 
Faces that curate, proud and free, 
And never sits upon his knee. 



100 



IN MEMORIAM P. D. 

NICE, JANUARY 30, 



IF any in an island cradle curled 
Of comfort, may make offerings to you, 
Who in the day of all denial blew 
A bugle through the blackness of the world, 

An English hand would touch your shroud, in trust 
That truth again be told in English speech, 
And we too yet may practise what we preach, 
Though it were practising the bayonet thrust, 

Cutting that giant neck from sand to sand, 
From sea to sea ; it was a little thing 
Beside your sudden shout and sabre-swing 
That cut the throat of thieves in every land. 

Heed not if half-wits mock your broken blade : 
Mammon our master doeth all things ill. 
You are the Fool that charged a windmill. Still, 
The Miller is a Knave; and was afraid. 

Lay down your sword. Ruin will know her own. 
Let each small statesman sow his weak wild oat, 
Or turn his coat to decorate his coat, 
Or take the throne and perish by the throne. 

101 



IN MEMORIAM P. D. 

Lay down your sword. And let the White Flag 

fade 

To grey; and let the Red Flag fade to pink, 
For these that climb and climb ; and cannot sink 
So deep as death and honour, Deroulede. 



102 



SONNET WITH THE COMPLIMENTS 
OF THE SEASON 

TO A POPULAR LEADER MUCH TO BE CONGRATULATED 
ON THE AVOIDANCE OF A STRIKE AT CHRISTMAS 

1KNOW you. You will hail the huge release, 
Saying the sheathing of a thousand swords, 
In silence and injustice, well accords 
With Christmas bells. And you will gild with grease 
The papers, the employers, the police, 
And vomit up the void your windy words 
To your New Christ; who bears no whip of cords 
For them that traffic in the doves of peace. 

The feast of friends, the candle-fruited tree, 
I have not failed to honour. And I say 
It would be better for such men as we, 
And we be nearer Bethlehem, if we lay 
Shot dead on scarlet snows for liberty, 
Dead in the daylight upon Christmas Day. 



103 



A SONG OF SWORDS 

"A DROVE OF CATTLE CAME INTO A VILLAGE CALLED 
SWORDS, AND WAS STOPPED BY THE RIOTERS." 



DAILY PAPER. 

IN the place called Swords on the Irish road 
It is told for a new renown 
How we held the horns of the cattle, and how 
We will hold the horns of the devil now 
Ere the lord of hell, with the horn on his brow, 
Is crowned in Dublin town. 

Light in the East and light in the West, 
And light on the cruel lords, 
On the souls that suddenly all men knew, 
And the green flag flew and the red flag flew, 
And many a wheel of the world stopped, too, 
When the cattle were stopped at Swords. 

Be they sinners or less than saints 

That smite in the street for rage, 

We know where the shame shines bright ; we know 

You that they smite at, you their foe, 

Lords of the lawless wage and low, 

This is your lawful wage. 
104 



A SONG OF SWORDS 

You pinched a child to a torture price 
That you dared not name in words; 
So black a jest was the silver bit 
That your own speech shook for the shame of it, 
And the coward was plain as a cow they hit 
When the cattle have strayed at Swords. 

The wheel of the torment of wives went round 
To break men's brotherhood; 
You gave the good Irish blood to grease 
The clubs of your country's enemies; 
You saw the brave man beat to the knees: 
And you saw that it was good. 

The rope of the rich is long and long 
The longest of hangmen's cords; 
But the kings and crowds are holding their breath, 
In a giant shadow o'er all beneath 
Where God stands holding the scales of Death 
Between the cattle and Swords. 

Haply the lords that hire and lend, 
The lowest of all men's lords, 
Who sell their kind like kine at a fair, 
Will find no head of their cattle there; 
But faces of men where cattle were: 
Faces of men and Swords. 

105 



And the name shining and terrible, 
The sternest of all man's words, 
Still mark that place to seek or shun, 
In the streets where the struggling cattle run- 
Grass and a silence of judgement done 
In the place that is called Swords. 



1 06 



A SONG OF DEFEAT 

THE line breaks and the guns go under, 
The lords and the lackeys ride the plain; 
I draw deep breaths of the dawn and thunder, 
And the whole of my heart grows young again. 
For our Chiefs said "Done," and I did not deem it; 

Our Seers said " Peace," and it was not peace; 
Earth will grow worse till men redeem it, 
And wars more evil, ere all wars cease. 
But the old flags reel and the old drums rattle, 
As once in my life they throbbed and reeled; 
I have found my youth in the lost battle, 
I have found my heart on the battlefield. 
For we that fight till the world is free, 
We are not easy in victory: 
We have known each other too long, my brother, 
And fought each other, the world and we. 

And I dream of the days when work was scrappy, 

And rare in our pockets the mark of the mint, 
When we were angry and poor and happy, 

And proud of seeing our names in print. 
For so they conquered and so we scattered, 

When the Devil rode and his dogs smelt gold, 
And the peace of a harmless folk was shattered ; 

When I was twenty and odd years old. 

107 



A SONG OF DEFEAT 

When the mongrel men that the market classes 

Had slimy hands upon England's rod, 
And sword in hand upon Afric's passes 
Her last Republic cried to God. 

For the men no lords can buy or sell, 
They sit not easy when all goes well, 
They have said to each other what naught can 

smother, 
They have seen each other, our souls and hell. 

It is all as of old ; the empty clangour, 

The Nothing scrawled on a five-foot page, 
The huckster who, mocking holy anger, 

Painfully paints his face with rage. 
And the faith of the poor is faint and partial, 

And the pride of the rich is all for sale, 
And the chosen heralds of England's Marshal 

Are the sandwich-men of the " Daily Mail." 
And the niggards that dare not give are glutted, 

And the feeble that dare not fail are strong, 
So while the City of Toil is gutted, 
I sit in the saddle and sing my song. 
For we that fight till the world is free, 
We have no comfort in victory; 
We have read each other as Cain his brother, 
We know each other, these slaves and we. 



1 08 



SONNET 

ON HEARING A LANDLORD ACCUSED (FALSELY, FOR 

ALL THE BARD CAN SAY) OF NEGLECTING ONE OF THE 

NUMEROUS WHITE HORSES THAT WERE OR WERE NOT 

CONNECTED WITH ALFRED THE GREAT 

IF you have picked your lawn of leaves and snails, 
If you have told your valet, even with oaths, 
Once a week or so, to brush your clothes, 
If you have dared to clean your teeth, or nails, 
While the Horse upon the holy mountain fails 
Then God that Alfred to his earth betrothes 
Send on you screaming all that honour loathes, 
Horsewhipping, Hounsditch, debts, and Daily Maih. 

Can you not even conserve? For if indeed 

The White Horse fades: then closer creeps the fight 

When we shall scour the face of England white, 

Plucking such men as you up like a weed, 

And fling them far beyond a shaft shot right 

When Wessex went to battle for the creed. 



109 



AFRICA 

A SLEEPY people, without priests or kings, 
Dreamed here, men say, to drive us to the 
sea: 

O let us drive ourselves ! For it is free 
And smells of honour and of English things. 
How came we brawling by these bitter springs, 

We of the North ? two kindly nations we ? 
Though the dice rattles and the clear coin rings, 

Here is no place for living men to be. 
Leave them the gold that worked and whined for it, 
Let them that have no nation anywhere 

Be native here, and fat and full of bread ; 
But we, whose sins were human, we will quit 
The land of blood, and leave these vultures there, 
Noiselessly happy, feeding on the dead. 



no 



THE DEAD HERO 

WE never saw you, like our sires, 
For whom your face was Freedom's 
face, 
Nor know what office-tapes and wires 

With such strong cords may interlace ; 
We know not if the statesmen then 
Were fashioned as the sort we see, 
We know that not under your ken 
Did England laugh at Liberty. 

Yea, this one thing is known of you, 

We know that not till you were dumb, 
Not till your course was thundered through, 

Did Mammon see his kingdom come. 
The songs of theft, the swords of hire, 

The clerks that raved, the troops that ran 
The empire of the world's desire, 

The dance of all the dirt began. 

The happy jewelled alien men 

Worked then but as a little leaven ; 
From some more modest palace -then 

The Soul of Dives stank to Heaven. 

in 



DEAD HERO 

But when they planned with lisp and leer 
Their careful war upon the weak, 

They smote your body on its bier, 
For surety that you could not speak. 

A hero in the desert died ; 

Men cried that saints should bury him, 
And round the grave should guard and ride, 

A chivalry of Cherubim. 
God said: " There is a better place, 

A nobler trophy and more tall; 
The beasts that fled before his face 

Shall come to make his funeral. 

" The mighty vermin of the void 

That hid them from his bended bow, 
Shall crawl from caverns overjoyed, 

Jackal and snake and carrion crow. 
And perched above the vulture's eggs, 

Reversed upon its hideous head, 
A blue-faced ape shall wave its legs 

To tell the world that he is dead." 



112 



AN ELECTION ECHO 

1906 

THIS is their trumpet ripe and rounded, 
They have burnt the wheat and gathered the 
chaff, 
And we that have fought them, we that have watched 

them, 
iave we at least not cause to laugh? 

STever so low at least we stumbled 

Dead we have been but not so dead 
As these that live on the life they squandered, 
As these that drink of the blood they shed. 

We never boasted the thing we blundered, 
We never flaunted the thing that fails, 
We never quailed from the living laughter, 
To howl to the dead who tell no tales. 

'Twas another finger at least that pointed 
3ur wasted men or our emptied bags, 
t was not we that sounded the trumpet 
n front of the triumph of wrecks and rags. 

i 113 



AN ELECTION ECHO 

Fear not these, they have made their bargain, 
They have counted the cost of the last of raids, 
They have staked their lives on the things that live 

not, 
They have burnt their house for a fire that fades. 

Five years ago and we might have feared them, 
Been drubbed by the coward and taught by the dunce ; 
Truth may endure and be told and re-echoed, 
But a lie can never be young but once. 

Five years ago and we might have feared them ; 
Now, when they lift the laurelled brow, 
There shall naught go up from our hosts assemble 
But a laugh like thunder. We know them now. 



114 



THE SONG OF THE WHEELS 

WRITTEN DURING A FRIDAY AND SATURDAY IN 
AUGUST 



KING Dives he was walking in his garden all 
alone, 
Where his flowers are made of iron and his 

trees are made of stone, 
And his hives are full of thunder and the lightning 

leaps and kills, 
For the mills of God grind slowly ; and he works 

with other mills. 
Dives found a mighty silence; and he missed the 

throb and leap, 
The noise of all the sleepless creatures singing him 

to sleep. 
And he said : " A screw has fallen or a bolt has 

slipped aside 
Some little thing has shifted ": and the little things 

replied : 

" Call upon the wheels, master, call upon the 

wheels; 
We are taking rest, master, finding how it feels, 

"5 



THE SONG OF THE WHEELS 

Strict the law of thine and mine: theft we ever 

shun 
All the wheels are thine, master tell the wheels to 

run! 
Yea, the Wheels are mighty gods set them going 

then! 
We are only men, master, have you heard of men ? 

" O, they live on earth like fishes, and a gasp is all 

their breath. 
God for empty honours only gave them death and 

scorn of death, 
And you walk the worms for carpet and you tread 

a stone that squeals 
Only, God that made them worms did not make 

them wheels. 
Man shall shut his heart against you and you shall 

not find the spring. 

Man who wills the thing he wants not, the intoler- 
able thing 
Once he likes his empty belly better than your empty 

head 
Earth and heaven are dumb before him: he is stronger 

than the dead. 

" Call upon the wheels, master, call upon the wheels, 
Steel is beneath your hand, stone beneath your heels, 
116 



THE SONG OF THE WHEELS 

Steel will never laugh aloud, hearing what we heard, 
Stone will never break its heart, mad with hope 

deferred 

Men of tacl: that arbitrate, slow reform that heals 
Save the stinking grease, master, save it for the 

wheels. 

" King Dives in the garden, we have naught to give 

or hold 
(Even while the baby came alive the rotten sticks 

were sold.) 
The savage knows a cavern and the peasants keep a 

plot, 
Of all the things that men have had lo! we have 

them not. 
Not a scrap of earth where ants could lay their 

eggs- 
Only this poor lump of earth that walks about on 

legs- 
Only this poor wandering mansion, only these two 

walking trees, 
Only hands and hearts and stomachs what have you 

to do with these ? 
You have engines big and burnished, tall beyond our 

fathers' ken, 
Why should you make peace and traffic with such 

feeble folk as men ? 

117 



THE SONG OF THE WHEELS 

" Call upon the wheels, master, call upon the 

wheels, 

They are deaf to demagogues, deaf to crude appeals ; 
Are our hands our own, master? how the doctors 

doubt ! 
Are our legs our own, master? wheels can run 

without 

Prove the points are delicate they will understand. 
All the wheels are loyal ; see how still they 

stand!" 

King Dives he was walking in his garden in the 

sun, 
He shook his hand at heaven, and he called the 

wheels to run, 
And the eyes of him were hateful eyes, the lips of 

him were curled, 
And he called upon his father that is lord below the 

world, 
Sitting in the Gate of Treason, in the gate of broken 

seals, 
" Bend and bind them, bend and bind them, bend 

and bind them into wheels, 
Then once more in all my garden there may swing 

and sound and sweep 
The noise of all the sleepless things that sing the 

soul to sleep." 
118 



THE SONG OF THE WHEELS 

Call upon the wheels, master, call upon the wheels. 
Weary grow the holidays when you miss the meals, 
Through the Gate of Treason, through the gate within, 
Cometh fear and greed of fame, cometh deadly sin ; 
If a man grow faint, master, take him ere he kneels, 
Take him, break him, rend him, end him, roll him^ 
crush him with the wheels. 



THE SECRET PEOPLE 

SMILE at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite 
forget. 
For we are the people of England, that never 

has spoken yet. 
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheer- 

fully, 
There is many a free French peasant who is richer 

and sadder than we. 
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or 

so wise. 
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in 

our eyes ; 
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes 

are wet : 
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken 

yet. 

The fine French kings came over in a flutter of flags 

and dames. 
We liked their smiles and battles, but we never could 

say their names. 
120 



THE SECRET PEOPLE 

The blood ran red to Bosworth and the high French 

lords went down ; 
There was naught but a naked people under a naked 

crown. 
And the eyes of the King's Servants turned terribly 

every way, 
And the gold of the King's Servants rose higher 

every day. 
They burnt the homes of the shaven men, that had 

been quaint and kind, 
Till there was no bed in a monk's house, nor food 

that man could find. 
The inns of God where no man paid, that were the 

wall of the weak, 
The King's Servants ate them all. And still we did 

not speak. 



And the face of the King's Servants grew greater 

than the King: 
He tricked them, and they trapped him, and stood 

round him in a ring. 
The new grave lords closed round him, that had 

eaten the abbey's fruits, 
And the men of the new religion, with their bibles 

in their boots, 



121 



THE SECRET PEOPLE 

We saw their shoulders moving, to menace or 

discuss, 
And some were pure and some were vile ; but none 

took heed of us. 
We saw the King as they killed him, and his face 

was proud and pale; 
And a few men talked of freedom, while England 

talked of ale. 

A war that we understood not came over the world 

and woke 
Americans, Frenchmen, Irish ; but we knew not the 

things they spoke. 
They talked about rights and nature and peace and 

the people's reign : 
And the squires, our masters, bade us fight ; and 

never scorned us again. 
Weak if we be for ever, could none condemn us 

then; 
Men called us serfs and drudges; men knew that we 

were men. 

In foam and flame at Trafalgar, on Albuera plains, 
We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in 

chains, 

We lay in living ruins; firing and fearing not 
The strange fierce face of the Frenchmen who knew 

for what they fought, 
122 



THE SECRET PEOPLE 

And the man who seemed to be more than man we 

strained against and broke; 
And we broke our own rights with him. And still 

we never spoke. 

Our patch of glory ended; we never heard guns 

again. 
But the squire seemed struck in the saddle ; he was 

foolish, as if in pain 
He leaned on a staggering lawyer, he clutched a 

cringing Jew, 
He was stricken; it may be, after all, he was stricken 

at Waterloo. 
Or perhaps the shades of the shaven men, whose 

spoil is in his house, 
Come back in shining shapes at last to spoil his last 

carouse : 
We only know the last sad squires ride slowly 

towards the sea, 
And a new people takes the land : and still it is not 

we. 

They have given us into the hand of the new unhappy 

lords, 
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry 

their swords. 

123 



SECRET PEOPLE 

They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright 

dead alien eyes ; 
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man 

looks at flies. 
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the 

ancient wrongs, 
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know 

no songs. 

We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong 

and sweet, 
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the 

street. 
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose 

the first, 
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath 

be the worst. 
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and 

our rest 
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer 

is best. 
But we are the people of England ; and we have 

not spoken yet. 
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget. 



124 



VI 



LOST 

SO you have gained the golden crowns, so you 
have piled together 
The laurels and the jewels, the pearls out of 

the blue, 
But I will beat the bounding drum and I will fly 

the feather 

For all the glory I have lost, the good I never 
knew. 

I saw the light of morning pale on princely human 

faces, 

In tales irrevocably gone, in final night enfurled, 
I saw the tail of flying fights, a glimpse of burning 

blisses, 

And laughed to think what I had lost the wealth 
of all the world. 

Yea, ruined in a royal game I was before my cradle ; 
Was ever gambler hurling gold who lost such 

things as I ? 
The purple moth that died an hour ere I was born 

of woman, 

That great green sunset God shall make three 
days after I die. 

127 



LOST 

When all the lights are lost and done, when all the 

skies are broken, 
Above the ruin of the stars my soul shall sit in 

state, 

With a brain made rich, with the irrevocable sunsets, 
And a closed heart happy in the fullness of a fate. 

So you have gained the golden crowns and grasped 

the golden weather, 
The kingdoms and the hemispheres that all men 

buy and sell, 
But I will lash the leaping drum and swing the 

flaring feather, 

For the light of seven heavens that are lost to me 
like hell. 



128 



BALLAD OF THE SUN 

OWELL for him that loves the sun, 
That sees the heaven-race ridden or run, 
The splashing seas of sunset won, 
And shouts for vi&ory. 

God made the sun to crown his head, 
And when death's dart at last is sped, 
At least it will not find him dead, 
And pass the carrion by. 

O ill for him that loves the sun ; 
Shall the sun stoop for anyone ? 
Shall the sun weep for hearts undone 
Or heavy souls that pray ? 

Not less for us and everyone 
Was that white web of splendour spun; 
O well for him who loves the sun 
Although the sun should slay. 



129 



TRANSLATION FROM DU BELLAY 

HAPPY, who like Ulysses or that lord 
Who raped the fleece, returning full and 
sage, 
With usage and the world's wide reason stored, 

With his own kin can wait the end of age. 
When shall I see, when shall I see, God knows! 

My little village smoke ; or pass the door, 
The old dear door of that unhappy house 

That is to me a kingdom and much more? 
Mightier to me the house my fathers made 

Than your audacious heads, O Halls of Rome ! 
More than immortal marbles undecayed, 

The thin sad slates that cover up my home ; 
More than your Tiber is my Loire to me, 

Than Palatine my little Lyr6 there; 
And more than all the winds of all the sea 

The quiet kindness of the Angevin air. 



130 



THE HIGHER UNITY 

" The Rev. Isaiah Bunter has disappeared into the interior 
of the Solomon Islands, and it is feared that he may have been 
devoured by the natives, as there has been a considerable 
revival of religious customs among the Polynesians." 

A real paragraph from a real Paper; only the names altered. 

IT was Isaiah Bunter 
Who sailed to the world's end, 
And spread religion in a way 
That he did not intend. 

He gave, if not the gospel-feast, 

At least a ritual meal ; 
And in a highly painful sense 

He was devoured with zeal. 

And who are we (as Henson says) 
That we should close the door? 

And should not Evangelicals 
All jump at shedding Gore? 

And many a man will melt in man, 

Becoming one, not two, 
When smacks across the startled earth 

The Kiss of Kikuyu. 



THE HIGHER 

When Man is the Turk, and the Atheist, 

Essene, Erastian Whig, 
And the Thug and the Druse and the Catholic, 

And the crew of the Captain's gig. 



132 



THE EARTH'S VIGIL 

THE old earth keepeth her watch the same, 
Alone in a voiceless void doth stand, 
Her orange flowers in her bosom flame, 
Her gold ring in her hand. 
The surfs of the long gold-crested morns 

Break ever more at her great robe's hem, 
And evermore come the bleak moon-horns, 
But she keepeth not watch for them. 

She keepeth her watch through the aeons, 
But the heart of her groweth not old, 

For the peal of the bridegroom's paeans, 
And the tale she once was told. 

The nations shock and the cities reel, 

The empires travail and rive and rend, 
And she looks on havoc and smoke and steel, 

And knoweth it is not the end. 
The faiths may choke and the powers despair, 

The powers re-arise and the faiths renew, 
She is only a maiden, waiting there, 

For the love whose word is true. 




THE EARTH'S VIGIL 

For the peal of the bridegroom's paeans, 
And the tale she once was told. 

Through the cornfield's gleam and the cottage shade, 

They wait unwearied, the young and old, 
Mother for child and man for maid, 

For a love that once was told. 
The hair grows grey under thatch or slates, 

The eyes grow dim behind lattice panes, 
The earth-race wait as the old earth waits, 

And the hope in the heart remains. 

She keepeth her watch through the aeons, 
But the heart of her groweth not old, 

For the peal of the bridegroom's paeans, 
And the tale she once was told. 

God's gold ring on her hand is bound, 

She fires with blossom the grey hill-sides, 
Her fields are quickened, her forests crowned, 

While the love of her heart abides, 
And we from the fears that fret and mar 

Look up in hours and behold awhile 
Her face, colossal, mid star on star, 

Still looking forth with a smile. 

She keepeth her watch through the aeons, 
But the heart of her groweth not old, 

For the peal of the bridegroom's paeans, 
And the tale she once was told. 



ON RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION 

WHEN Adam went from Paradise 
He saw the Sword and ran ; 
The dreadful shape, the new device, 
The pointed end of Paradise, 
And saw what Peril is and Price, 
And knew he was a man. 

When Adam went from Paradise, 

He turned him back and cried 
For a little flower from Paradise; 
There came no flower from Paradise; 
The woods were dark in Paradise, 

And not a bird replied. 

For only comfort or contempt, 

For jest or great reward, 
Over the walls of Paradise, 
The flameless gates of Paradise, 
The dumb shut doors of Paradise, 

God flung the flaming sword. 

It burns the hand that holds it 
More than the skull it scores; 



ON RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION 

It doubles like a snake and stings, 
Yet he in whose hand it swings 
He is the most masterful of things, 
A scorner of the stars. 



'36 



WHEN I CAME BACK TO FLEET 
STREET 

WHEN I came back to Fleet Street, 
Through a sunset nook at night, 
And saw the old Green Dragon 
With the windows all alight, 
And hailed the old Green Dragon 
And the Cock I used to know, 
Where all good fellows were my friends 
A little while ago; 

I had been long in meadows, 

And the trees took hold of me, 
And the still towns in the beech-woods, 

Where men were meant to be. 
But old things held; the laughter, 

The long unnatural night, 
And all the truth they talk in hell, 

And all the lies they write. 

For I came back to Fleet Street, 

And not in peace I came; 
A cloven pride was in my heart, 

And half my love was shame. 



irHEN I CAME BACK TO FLEET STREET 

I came to fight in fairy-tale, 

Whose end shall no man know 

To fight the old Green Dragon 
Until the Cock shall crow ! 

Under the broad bright windows 

Of men I serve no more, 
The groaning of the old great wheels 

Thickened to a throttled roar: 
All buried things broke upward; 

And peered from its retreat, 
Ugly and silent, like an elf, 

The secret of the street. 

They did not break the padlocks, 

Or clear the wall away. 
The men in debt that drank of old 

Still drink in debt to-day; 
Chained to the rich by ruin, 

Cheerful in chains, as then 
When old unbroken Pickwick walked 

Among the broken men. 

Still he that dreams and rambles 

Through his own elfin air, 
Knows that the street 's a prison, 

Knows that the gates are there : 
138 



WHEN I CAME BACK TO FLEET STREET 

Still he that scorns or struggles 

Sees, frightful and afar, 
All that they leave of rebels 

Rot high on Temple Bar. 

All that I loved and hated, 

All that I shunned and knew, 
Clears in broad battle lightning, 

Where they, and I, and you, 
Run high the barricade that breaks 

The barriers of the street, 
And shout to them that shrink within, 

The Prisoners of the Fleet. 



A CIDER SONG 

TO y. s. M. 

EXTRACT FROM A ROMANCE WHICH IS NOT 
YET WRITTEN AND PROBABLY NEVER WILL BE. 

THE wine they drink in Paradise 
They make in Haute Lorraine ; 
God brought it burning from the sod 
To be a sign and signal rod 
That they that drink the blood of God 
Shall never thirst again. 

The wine they praise in Paradise 
They make in Ponterey, 
The purple wine of Paradise, 
But we have better at the price; 
It 's wine they praise in Paradise, 
It 's cider that they pray. 

The wine they want in Paradise 
They find in Plodder's End, 
The apple wine of Hereford, 
Of Hafod Hill and Hereford, 
Where woods went down to Hereford, 
And there I had a friend. 
140 



A CIDER SONG 

The soft feet of the blessed go 
In the soft western vales, 
The road the silent saints accord, 
The road from Heaven to Hereford, 
Where the apple wood of Hereford 
Goes all the way to Wales. 



141 



THE LAST HERO 

THE wind blew out from Bergen from the 
dawning to the day, 
There was a wreck of trees and fall of towers 

a score of miles away, 

And drifted like a livid leaf I go before its tide, 
Spewed out of house and stable, beggared of flag and 

bride. 
The heavens are bowed about my head, shouting 

like seraph wars, 
With rains that might put out the sun and clean the 

sky of stars, 
Rains like the fall of ruined seas from secret worlds 

above, 
The roaring of the rains of God none but the lonely 

love. 
Feast in my hall, O foemen, and eat and drink and 

drain, 

You never loved the sun in heaven as I have loved 
the rain. 

The chance of battle changes so may all battle be ; 
I stole my lady bride from them, they stole her back 

from me. 
142 



THE LAST HERO 

I rent her from her red-roofed hall, I rode and saw 

arise 
More lovely than the living flowers the hatred in her 

eyes. 
She never loved me, never bent, never was less 

divine; 
The sunset never loved me ; the wind was never 

mine. 

Was it all nothing that she stood imperial in duresse? 
Silence itself made softer with the sweeping of her 

dress. 

you who drain the cup of life, O you who wear 

the crown, 

You never loved a woman's smile as I have loved 
her frown. 

The wind blew out from Bergen from the dawning 

to the day, 
They ride and run with fifty spears to break and bar 

my way, 

1 shall not die alone, alone, but kin to all the powers, 
As merry as the ancient sun and fighting like the 

flowers. 
How white their steel, how bright their eyes ! I love 

each laughing knave, 
Cry high and bid him welcome to the banquet of the 

brave. 

H3 



LAST HERO 

Yea, I will bless them as they bend and love them 
where they lie, 

When on their skulls the sword I swing falls shatter- 
ing from the sky. 

The hour when death is like a light and blood is 
like a rose, 

You never loved your friends, my friends, as I shall 
love my foes. 

Know you what earth shall lose to-night, what rich, 

uncounted loans, 
What heavy gold of tales untold you bury with my 

bones ? 
My loves in deep dim meadows, my ships that rode 

at ease, 

Ruffling the purple plumage of strange and secret seas. 
To see this fair earth as it is to me alone was given, 
'The blow that breaks my brow to-night shall break 

the dome of heaven. 
The skies I saw, the trees I saw after no eyes shall 

see. 
To-night I die the death of God; the stars shall 

die with me: 
One sound shall sunder all the spears and break the 

trumpet's breath : 
You never laughed in all your life as I shall laugh in 

death. 
144 



VII 



BALLADE D'UNE GRANDE DAME 

HEAVEN shall forgive you Bridge at dawn, 
The clothes you wear or do not wear 
And Ladies' Leap-frog on the lawn 
And dyes and drugs, and petit s verres. 
Your vicious things shall melt in air ... 
. . . But for the Virtuous Things you do, 
The Righteous Work, the Public Care, 
It shall not be forgiven you. 

Because you could not even yawn 
When your Committees would prepare 
To have the teeth of paupers drawn, 
Or strip the slums of Human Hair; 
Because a Doctor Otto Maehr 
Spoke of " a segregated few " 
And you sat smiling in your chair 
It shall not be forgiven you. 

Though your sins cried to Father Vaughan, 
These desperate you could not spare 
Who steal, with nothing left to pawn ; 
You caged a man up like a bear 

47 



BALLADE D' UNE GRANDE DAME 

For ever in a jailor's care 
Because his sins were more than two . . . 
... I know a house in Hoxton where 
It shall not be forgiven you. 

ENVOI 

Princess, you trapped a guileless Mayor 
To meet some people that you knew . . . 
When the Last Trumpet rends the air 
It shall not be forgiven you. 



148 



A BALLADE OF AN ANTI-PURITAN 

THEY spoke of Progress spiring round, 
Of Light and Mrs. Humphry Ward 
It is not true to say I frowned, 
Or ran about the room and roared; 
I might have simply sat and snored 
I rose politely in the club 
And said, " I feel a little bored ; 
Will some one take me to a pub? " 

The new world's wisest did surround 

Me ; and it pains me to record 

I did not think their views profound, 

Or their conclusions well assured ; 

The simple life I can't afford, 

Besides, I do not like the grub 

I want a mash and sausage, " scored " 

Will someone take me to a pub? 

I know where Men can still be found, 
Anger and clamorous accord, 
And virtues growing from the ground, 
And fellowship of beer and board, 

149 



A BALLADE OF AN ANTI-PURITAN 

And song, that is a sturdy cord, 
And hope, that is a hardy shrub, 
And goodness, that is God's last word 
Will someone take me to a pub ? 

ENVOI 

Prince, Bayard would have smashed his sword 
To see the sort of knights you dub 
Is that the last of them O Lord ! 
Will someone take me to a pub? 



150 



A BALLADE OF A BOOK-REVIEWER 

1HAVE not read a rotten page 
Of Sex-Hate " or The Social Test," 
And here comes "Husks" and "Heritage" . . 

Moses, give us all a rest ! 

" Ethics of Empire "!...! protest 

1 will not even cut the strings, 

I'll read "Jack Redskin on the Quest " 
And feed my brain with better things. 

Somebody wants a Wiser Age 
(He also wants me to invest) ; 
Somebody likes the Finnish Stage 
Because the Jesters do not jest; 
And grey with dust is Dante's crest, 
The bell of Rabelais soundless swings; 
And the winds come out of the west 
And feed my brain with better things. 

Lord of our laughter and our rage, 
Look on us with our sins oppressed ! 
I, too, have trodden mine heritage, 
Wickedly wearying of the best. 



A BALLADE OF A BO O K- REVIEWE R 

Burn from my brain and from my breast 
Sloth, and the cowardice that clings, 
And stiffness and the soul's arrest: 
And feed my brain with better things. 

ENVOI 

Prince, you are host and I am guest, 
Therefore I shrink from cavillings . . . 
But I should have that fizz suppressed 
And feed my brain with better things. 



152 



A BALLADE OF SUICIDE 

THE gallows in my garden, people say, 
Is new and neat and adequately tall. 
I tie the noose on in a knowing way 
As one that knots his necktie for a ball ; 
But just as all the neighbours on the wall 
Are drawing a long breath to shout " Hurray ! " 
The strangest whim has seized me. . . . After all 
I think I will not hang myself to-day. 

To-morrow is the time I get my pay 

My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall 

I see a little cloud all pink and grey 

Perhaps the rector's mother will not call 

I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall 

That mushrooms could be cooked another way 

I never read the works of Juvenal 

I think I will not hang myself to-day. 

The world will have another washing day; 
The decadents decay; the pedants pall; 
And H. G. Wells has found that children play, 
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall; 

M 153 



A BALLADE OF SUICIDE 

Rationalists are growing rational 

And through thick woods one finds a stream astray, 

So secret that the very sky seems small 

I think I will not hang myself to-day. 

ENVOI 

Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal, 
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way ; 
Even to-day your royal head may fall 
I think I will not hang myself to-day. 



154 



A BALLADE OF THE FIRST RAIN 

THE sky is blue with summer and the sun, 
The woods are brown as autumn with the tan, 
It might as well be Tropics and be done, 
I might as well be born a copper Khan ; 
I fashion me an oriental fan 
Made of the wholly unreceipted bills 
Brought by the ice-man, sleeping in his van 
(A storm is coming on the Chiltern Hills). 

I read the Young Philosophers for fun 
Fresh as our sorrow for the late Queen Anne 
The Dionysians whom a pint would stun, 
The Pantheists who never heard of Pan. 
But through my hair eledtric needles ran, 
And on my book a gout of water spills, 
And on the skirts of heaven the guns began 
(A storm is coming on the Chiltern Hills). 

O fields of England, cracked and dry and dun, 
O soul of England, sick of words, and wan ! 
The clouds grow dark; the down-rush has begun. 
It comes, it comes, as holy darkness can, 

155 



A BALLADE OF THE FIRST RAIN 

Black as with banners, ban and arriere-ban ; 
A falling laughter all the valley fills, 
Deep as God's thunder and the thirst of man: 
(A storm is coming on the Chiltern Hills). 

ENVOI 

Prince, Prince-Elective on the modern plan, 
Fulfilling such a lot of People's Wills, 
You take the Chiltern Hundreds while you can- 
A storm is coming on the Chiltern Hills. 



156 




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PR 4453 .C4 P6 1917 SMC 
Chesterton, G. K. 
Poems 47083894