TWELVE POEMS BY J. C. SQUIRE
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
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By J.C. SQUIRE
A. Spare, cut on
wood by W. Quick
The Morland Press Ltd
190 Ebury St. SW
ON A FRIEND RECENTLY DEAD I
A FRESH MORNING
ODE: IN A RESTAURANT
ON A FRIEND RECENTLY DEAD
HE stream goes fast.
When this that is the pres-
ent is the past,
'T will be as all the other
pasts have been,
A failing hill, a daily dim-
A far strange port with foreign life astir
The ship has left behind, the voyager
Will never return to; no, nor see again,
Though with a heart full of longing he may
Back to project himself, and once more count
The boats, the whitened walls that climbed
Mark the cathedral's roof, the gathered spires,
The vanes, the windows red with sunset's fires,
The gap of the market-place, and watch again
The coloured groups of women, and the men
Lounging at ease along the low stone wall
That fringed the harbour; and there beyond it
High pastures morning and evening scattered
Specks that were grazing sheep .... It is all
It is all blurred that once so brightly shone;
He cannot now with the old clearness see
The rust upon one ringbolt of the quay.
ND yesterday is dead, and
you are dead.
Your duplicate that hovered
in my head
Thins like blown wreathing
smoke, your features
To interrupted outlines, and all will go
Unless I tight dispersal with my will . . .
So I shall do it ... but too conscious still
That, when we walked together, had 1 known
How soon your journey was to end alone,
I should not now, that you have gone from
Be gathering derelict odds and ends of you;
But in the intense lucidity of pain
Your likeness would have burnt into my brain.
I did not know; lovable and unique,
As volatile as a bubble and as weak,
You sat with me, and my eyes registered
This thing and that, and sluggishly I heard
Your voice, remembering here and there a
1O in rny mind there's not
much left of you,
And that disintegrates;
but while a few
Patches of memory's
mirror still are bright
Nor your reflected image
there has quite
Faded and slipped away, it will be well
To search for each surviving syllable
Of voice and body andsoul. And some I'll find
Right to my hand, and some tangled and blind
Among the obscure weeds that fill the mind.
I plunge my thought's hooked resolute claws
Deep in the turbid past. Like drowned things
in the jaws
Of grappling-irons, your features to the verge
Of conscious knowledge one by one emerge.
Can I not make these scattered things unite? . .
I knit my brows and clench my eyelids tight
And focus to a point . . . Streams of dark
Convolve; and now spasmodically there flit
Clear pictures of you as you used to sit:
The way you crossed your legs stretched in
Elbow at rest and tumbler in the air,
Jesting on books and politics and worse,
And still good company when most perverse.
Here in this room not long before the end,
Here in this very room six months ago
You poised your foot and joked and chuckled
Beyond the window shook the ash-tree bough,
You saw books, pictures, as I see them now,
The sofa then was blue, the telephone
Listened upon the desk, and softly shone
Even as now the fire-irons in the grate,
And the little brass pendulum swung, a seal
Stamping the minutes; and the curtains on
window and door
Just moved in the air; and on the dark boards
of the floor
These same discreetly-coloured rugs were
lying . . .
And then you never had a thought of dying.
OU are not here, and all
the things in the room
Watch me alone in the
gradual growing gloom.
The you that thought and
felt are I know not
The you that sat and
drank in that arm-chair
Will never sit there again.
For months you have lain
Under a graveyard's green
In some place abroad where I've never
Perhaps there is a stone over you,
Or only the wood and the earth and the
grass cover you.
But it doesn't much matter; for dead and
decayed you lie
Like a million million others who felt they
would never die,
Like Alexander and Helen the beautiful,
And the last collier hanged for murdering his
All done with and buried in an equal bed.
ES, you are dead like all
the other dead.
You are not here, but I
am here alone.
And evening falls, fusing
tree, water and stone
Into a violet cloth, and
the frail ash-tree hisses
With a soft sharpness like a fall of mounded
And a steamer softly puffing along the river
Drawing a file of barges; and silence falls
And a bell tones; and the evening darkens;
and in sparse rank
The greenish lights well out along the other
I have no force left now; the sights and
Upon me unresisted, like raindrops on the
And striving not against my melancholy
Limp as a door that hangs upon one failing
Limp, with slack marrowless arms and thighs,
I sit and brood
On death and death and death. And quiet,
thin and cold,
Following of this one friend the hopeless
The weak appealing wraiths of notable men
Who died, pass through the air; and then,
host after host,
Innumerable, overwhelming, without form,
Rolling across the sky in awful silent storm,
The myriads of the undiflEerentiated dead
Whom none recorded, or of whom the record
spectacle appallingly sublime!
I see the universe one long dis-
And in the staggering abysses
of backward and forward time
Death chasing hard upon the
heels of creating life.
And I, I see myself as one of a heap of stones
Wetted a moment to life as the flying wave
Onward and never returning, leaving no mark
There's nothing to hope for. Blank cessation
numbs my mind,
And I feel my heart thumping gloomy against
My heavy belly hanging from my bones.
ELOW in the dark street
There is a tap of feet,
I rise and angrily meditate
How often I have let of
This thought of death
come over me.
How often I will sit and backward trace
The deathly history of the human race,
The ripplesof men who chatteredand were still,
Known and unknown, older and older, until
Before man's birth I fall, shivering and aghast
Through a hole in the bottom of the remotest
Till painfully my spirit throws
Her giddiness of?; and then as soon
As I recover and try to think again,
Life seems like death ; and all my body grows
Icily cold, and all my brain
Cold as the jagged craters of the moon. . . .
And I wonder is it not strange that I
Who thus have heard eternity's black laugh
And felt its freezing breath,
Should sometimes shut it out from memory
So as to play quite prettily with death,
And turn an easy epitaph?
can hear a voice whisper-
ing in my brain:
'Why this is the old
Criminal! day by day
Your own life is ebbing
And what have you done with it,
Except to become a maudlin hyprocrite ? '
Yes, I know, I know;
One should not think of death or the dead
overmuch ; but one's mind's made so
That at certain times the roads of thought
all lead to death,
And false reasoning clouds one's soul as a
window with breath
Is clouded in winter's air,
And all the faith one may have
Lies useless and dead as a body in the grave.
HERE was no song nor
shout of joy
Nor beam of moon or sun,
When she came back from
Long ago begun;
But twilight on the waters
Was quiet and grey,
And she glided steady, steady and pensive,
Over the open bay.
Her sails were brown and ragged,
And her crew hollow-eyed,
But their silent lips spoke content
And their shoulders pride;
Though she had no captives on her deck,
And in her hold
There were no heaps of corn or timber
Or silks or gold.
heard a voice that cried, "make
way for those who died !"
And all the coloured crowd
like ghosts at morning fled;
And down the waiting road,
rank after rank there strode,
In mute and measured march
a hundred thousand dead.
A hundred thousand dead, with firm and noise-
All shadowy-grey yet solid, with faces grey
And by the house they went, and all their
brows were bent
Straight forward; and they passed, and passed,
and passed, and passed.
But O there came a place, and O there came
That clenched my heart to see it, and sudden
turned my way;
And in the Face that turned I saw two eyes
Never-forgotten eyes, and they had things to
Like desolate stars they shone one moment,
and were gone,
And I sank down and put my arms across
And felt them moving past, nor looked to see
In steady silent march, our hundred thousand
HEN I seek truth, do I seek
Only that I may things de-
And, rich by striving, deck my
As with a vain unusual coat ?
Or seek I truth for other ends:
That she in other hearts may stir,
That even my most familiar friends
May turn from me to look on her?
So I this day myself was asking;
Out of the window skies were blue
And Thames was in the sunlight basking;
My thoughts coiled inwards like a screw.
I watched them anxious for a while;
Then quietly, as I did watch,
Spread in my soul a sudden smile:
I knew that no firm thing they'd catch.
And I remembered if I leapt
Upon the bosom of the wind
It would sustain me; question slept;
I felt that I had almost sinned.
A FRESH MORNING
OW am I a tin whistle
Through which God blows,
And I wish to God I were
But why, God only knows.
I and myself swore enmity. Alack,
Myself has tied my hands behind my back.
Yielding, I know there's no excuse in them
I was accomplice to the stratagem.
ODE: IN A RESTAURANT
N this dense hall of green
Mirrors and lights and
steam, there sit
Two hundred munching
While several score of
Like scurrying beetles over a fen,
With plates in fanlike spread; or fold
Napkins, or jerk the corks from bottles,
Ministers to greedy throttles.
Some make noises while they eat,
Pick their teeth or shuffle their feet,
Wipe their noses 'neath eyes that range
Or frown whilst waiting for their change.
Gobble, gobble, toil and trouble.
Soul ! this life is very strange,
And circumstances very foul
Attend the belly 's stormy howl.
How horrible this noise! this air how thick!
It is disgusting ... I feel sick . . .
Loosely I prod the table with a fork,
My mind gapes, dizzies, ceases to work . . .
The weak unsatisfied strain
Of a band in another room
Through this dull complex din
Comes winding thin and sharp!
The gnat-like mourning of the violin,
The faint strings of the harp.
The sounds pierce in and die again,
Like keen-drawn threads of ink dropped into
Of water, which curl and relax and soften
Briefly the music hovers in unstable poise,
Then melts away, drowned in the heavy sea
And I, I am now emasculate.
All my forces dissipate;
Conquered by matter utterly,
Moving not, willing not, I lie,
Like a man whom timbers pin
When the roof of a mine falls in.
ALT! ... as a cloud con-
I press my mind, recover
Dominion of my senses.
With newly flowing blood
I lift, and now float over
The restaurant's expanses
Like a draggled sea-gull over dreary flats of
An effort ... ah ... I urge and push,
And now with greater strength I flush,
The hall is full of my pinions' rush;
No drooping now, the place is mine,
Beating the walls with shattering wings,
Over the herd my spirit swings,
In triumph shouts "Aha, you swine!
Grovel before your lord divine!
I, only I, am real here! ..."
Through the uncertain firmament,
Still bestial in their dull content.
The despicable phantoms leer . . .
Hogs! even now in my right hand
I hold at my will the thunderbolts
Measured not in mortal volts,
Would crash you to annihilation!
Lit with a new illumination,
What need I of ears and eyes
Of flesh? Imperious I will rise,
Dominate you as a god
Who only does not trouble to wield the rod
Of death, or kick your weak spheroid
Like a football through the void!
Ha! was it but a dream?
And did it merely seem?
Ha! not yet free of your cage,
Soul, spite of all your rage?
Come now, this foe engage!
With explosion of your might
Oh heave, oh leap and flash up, soul,
Like a stabbing scream in the night!
Hurl aside this useless bowl
Of a body . . .
But there comes a shock
A soft, tremendous shock
Of contact with the body; I lose all power,
And fall back, back, like a solitary rower
Whose prow that debonair the waves did
Is suddenly hurled back by an iron tide.
O sadness, sadness, feel the returning pain
Of touch with unescapable mortal things
The cloth is linen, the floor is wood,
My plate holds cheese,my tumbler toddy ;
I cannot get free of the body,
And no man ever could.
Self! do not lose your hold on life,
Nor coward seek to shrink the strife
Of body and spirit; even now
(Not for the first timej, even now
Clear in your ears has rung the message
That tense abstraction is the passage
To nervelessness and living death.
Never forget while you draw breath
That all the hammers of will can never
Your chained soul from matter sever;
And though it be confused and mixed,
This is the world in which you're fixed.
Never despise the things that are.
Set your teeth upon the grit.
Though your heart like a motor beat,
Hold fast this earthly star,
The whole of it, the whole of it.
OOK on this crowd
now, calm now, look.
Remember now that
each one drew
Woman's milk (which
And year by year in
Scorn not them, nor scorn not their feasts
(Which you partake) nor call them beasts.
These be children of one Power
With you, nor higher you nor lower.
They also hear the harp and fiddle,
And sometimes quail before the riddle.
They also have hot blood, quick thought,
And try to do the things they ought,
They also have hearts that ache when
And sigh for days when they were young,
And curse their wills because they falter,
And know that they will never alter.
See these men in a world of men.
Material bodies? yes, what then?
These coarse trunks that here you see
Judge them not, lest judged you be,
Bow not to the moment's curse,
Nor make four walls a universe.
Think of these bodies here assembled,
Whence they have come, where they
With the strange force that fills us all,
Men and beasts both great and small.
Here within this fleeting home
Two hundred men have this day come;
Here collected for 'one day,
Each shall go his separate way.
Self, you can imagine nought
Of all the battles they have fought,
All the labours they have done,
All the journeys they have run.
O, they have come from all the world,
Borne by invisible currents, swirled
Like leaves into this vortex here
Flying, or like the spirits drear
Windborne and frail, whom Dante saw,
Who yet obeyed some hidden law.
Is it not miraculous
That they should here be gathered thus,
All to be spread before your view,
Who are strange to them as they to you?
Soul, how can you sustain without a sob,
The lightest thought of this titanic throb
Of earthly life, that swells and breaks
Into leaping scattering waves of fire,
Into tameless tempests of effort and storms of
That eternally makes
The confused glittering armies of humankind,
To their own heroism blind,
Swarm over the earth to build, to dig, and to
To mould and compel land and sea to their
will . , .
Whence we are here eating . . .
Standing here as on a high hill,
Strain, my imagination, strain forth to embrace
The energies that labour for this place,
This place, this instant. Beyond your island's
Listen, and hear the roaring impulsive surge,
The clamour of voices, the blasting of powder,
the clanging of steel,
The thunder of hammers, the rattle of oars . . .
For this one meal
Ten thousand Indian hamlets stored their
Manchurian peasants sweltered in their
And Greeks drove carts to Patras, and lone
Saw burning summer come and go again
And huddled from the winds of winter on
The fertile deserts of Saskatchewan.
To fabricate these things have been march-
ings and slaughters,
The sun has toiled and the moon has moved
Cities have laboured, and crowded plains, and
deep in the earth
Men have plunged unafraid with ardour to
wrench the worth
Of sweating dim-lit caverns, and paths have
Through forests where for uncounted years
nor sun nor moon
Have penetrated, men have driven straight
Through the dense bowels of mountains, and
climbed their frozen tops, and wrinkled
sailors have shouted at shouting gales
In the huge Pacific, and battled around the
And gasping, coasted to Rio, and turning to-
wards the morn,
Fought over the wastes to Spain, and battered
Sailed up the channel, and on into the Nore
To the city of masts and the smoky familiar
So, so of every substance you see around
Might a tale be unwound
Of perils passed, of adventurous journeys made
In man's undying and stupendous crusade.
This flower of man's energies Trade
Brought hither to hand and lip
By waggon, train or ship,
Each atom that we eat. . . .
Stare at the wine, stare at the meat.
The mutton which these platters fills
Grazed upon a thousand hills;
This bread so square and white and dry
Once was corn that sang to the sky;
And all these spruce, obedient wines
Flowed from the vatted fruit of vines
That trailed, a bright maternal host,
The warm Mediterranean coast,
Or spread their Bacchic mantle on
That Iberian Helicon
Where the slopes of Portugal
Crown the Atlantic's eastern wall.
mighty energy, never-
O patient toils and jour-
neys in the name
Of Trade! No journey
ever was the same
_ As another, nor ever came
again one; task;
And each man's face is an ever-changing mask.
From the minutest cell to the lordliest star
All things are unique, though all of their kin-
And though all things exist for ever, all life
And the oldest passions come to each heart
in a garment strange.
Though life be as brief as a flower and the
body but dust,
Man walks the earth holding both body and
spirit in trust;
And the various glories of sense are spread for
New pageants glow in the sunset, new stars
are born in the night,
And clouds come every day, and never a shape
And the grass grows every year, yet never the
same blade stirs
Another spring, and no delving man breaks
again the self-same clod
As he did last year though he stand once more
where last year he trod.
O wonderful procession fore-ordained by God !
Wonderful in unity, wonderful in diversity.
Contemplate it, soul, and see
How the material universe moves and strives
with anguish and glee!
I was born for that reason,
With muscles, heart and eyes,
To watch each following season,
To work and to be wise;
Not body and mind to tether
To unseen things alone,
But to traverse together
The known and the unknown.
My muscles were not welded
To waste away in sleep,
My bones were never builded
To throw upon a heap.
" Man worships God in action,"
Senses and reason call,
" And thought is putrefaction,
If thought is all in all!"
OST of the guests are
gone; look over there,
Against a pillar leans with
A tall, dark, pallid waiter.
There he stands
Limply, with vacant eyes
and listless hands.
He dreams of some small Tyrolean town,
A church, a bridge, a stream that rushes
down. . . .
A frustrate, hankering man, this one short time
Unconscious he into my gaze did climb;
He sinks again, again he is but one
Of many myriads underneath the sun,
Now faint, now vividl . . . How puzzling is
For now again, in spite of all,
The lights, the chairs, the diners, and the hall
Lost their opacity.
Fool! exert your will,
Finish your whisky up, and pay your bill.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below
ERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
6037 Squire -
S77t Twelve poems.
A 000 564 780 5