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"AH, are you digging on my grave,
My loved one? -- planting rue?"
-- "No: yesterday he went to wed
One of the brightest wealth has bred.
'It cannot hurt her now,' he said,
'That I should not be true.'"
"Then who is digging on my grave,
My nearest dearest kin?"
-- "Ah, no: they sit and think, 'What use!
What good will planting flowers produce?
No tendance of her mound can loose
Her spirit from Death's gin.'"
"But someone digs upon my grave?
My enemy? -- prodding sly?"
-- "Nay: when she heard you had passed the Gate
That shuts on all flesh soon or late,
She thought you no more worth her hate,
And cares not where you lie.
"Then, who is digging on my grave?
Say -- since I have not guessed!"
-- "O it is I, my mistress dear,
Your little dog , who still lives near,
And much I hope my movements here
Have not disturbed your rest?"
"Ah yes! You dig upon my grave...
Why flashed it not to me
That one true heart was left behind!
What feeling do we ever find
To equal among human kind
A dog's fidelity!"
"Mistress, I dug upon your grave
To bury a bone, in case
I should be hungry near this spot
When passing on my daily trot.
I am sorry, but I quite forgot
It was your resting place."
THEY sing their dearest songs--
He, she, all of them--yea,
Treble and tenor and bass.
And one to play;
With the candles mooning each face....
Ah, no; the years O!
How the sick leaves reel down in throngs!
They clear the creeping moss--
Elders and juniors--aye,
Making the pathways neat
And the garden gay;
And they build a shady seat....
Ah, no; the years, the years;
See, the white storm-birds wing across!
They are blithely breakfasting all--
Men and maidens--yea,
Under the summer tree,
With a glimpse of the bay,
While pet fowl come to the knee....
Ah, no; the years O!
And the rotten rose is ripped from the wall.
They change to a high new house,
He, she, all of them--aye,
Clocks and carpets and chairs
On the lawn all day,
And brightest things that are theirs....
Ah, no; the years, the years;
Down their carved names the raindrop plows.
I LEANT upon a coppice gate,
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to me
The Century's corpse outleant,
Its crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind its death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervorless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead,
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited.
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
With blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew,
And I was unaware.
THE Roman Road runs straight and bare
As the pale parting-line in hair
Across the heath. And thoughtful men
Contrast its days of Now and Then,
And delve, and measure, and compare;
Visioning on the vacant air
Helmeted legionnaires, who proudly rear
The Eagle, as they pace again
The Roman Road.
But no tall brass-helmeted legionnaire
Haunts it for me. Uprises there
A mother's form upon my ken,
Guiding my infant steps, as when
We walked that ancient thoroughfare,
The Roman Road.
THIS is the weather the cuckoo likes,
And so do I;
When showers betumble the chestnut spikes,
And nestlings fly;
And the little brown nightingale bills his best,
And they sit outside at 'The Traveller's Rest,'
And maids come forth sprig-muslin drest,
And citizens dream of the south and west,
And so do I.
This is the weather the shepherd shuns,
And so do I;
When beeches drip in browns and duns,
And thresh and ply;
And hill-hid tides throb, throe on throe,
And meadow rivulets overflow,
And drops on gate bars hang in a row,
And rooks in families homeward go,
And so do I.
'HAD he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have set us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!
'But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.
'I shot him dead because--
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although
'He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
Off-hand like--just as I--
Was out of work--had sold his traps--
No other reason why.
'Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat, if met where any bar is,
Or help to half a crown.'
THAT night your great guns, unawares,
Shook all our coffins as we lay,
And broke the chancel window-squares,
We thought it was the Judgement-day
And sat upright. While drearisome
Arose the howl of wakened hounds:
The mouse let fall the altar-crumb,
The worms drew back into the mounds,
The glebe cow drooled. Till God called, "No;
It's gunnery practice out at sea
Just as before you went below;
The world is as it used to be:
"All nations striving strong to make
Red war yet redder. Mad as hatters
They do more for ChristÚs sake
Than you who are helpless in such matters.
"That this is not the judgment-hour
For some of them's a blessed thing,
For if it were they'd have to scour
Hells floor for so much threatening...
"Ha, ha. It will be warmer when
I blow the trumpet (if indeed
I ever do; for you are men,
And rest eternal sorely need)."
So down we lay again. "I wonder,
Will the world ever saner be,"
Said one, "than when He sent us under
In our indifferent century!"
And many a skeleton shook his head.
"Instead of preaching forty year,"
My neighbor Parson Thirdly said,
"I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer."
Again the guns disturbed the hour,
Roaring their readiness to avenge,
As far inland as Stourton Tower,
And Camelot, and starlit Stonehenge.
WOMAN much missed, how you call to me, call to
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.
Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!
Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?
Thus I; faltering forward,
Leaves around me falling,
Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward,
And the woman calling.
ONLY a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.
Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.
Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War's annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.
sum sicut foenum, et aruit cor meum." - Ps. ci ["My heart is smitten
and withered like grass" - Psalm 102:5]
But my bereavement-pain
It cannot bring again:
Twice no one dies.
But, since it once hath been,
No more that severing scene
Can harrow me.
Birds faint in dread:
I shall not lose old strength
In the lone frost's black length:
Strength long since fled!
Leaves freeze to dun;
But friends can not turn cold
This season as of old
For him with none.
Tempests may scath;
But love can not make smart
Again this year his heart
Who no heart hath.
Black is night's cope;
But death will not appal
One who, past doubtings all,
Waits in unhope.
"Considerabam ad dexteram, et videbam; et non erat
qui cognosceret me... Non est qui requirat animan meam." - Ps. cxli
["I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would
know me;...no man cared for my soul." - Psalm 142:4.]
WHEN the clouds' swoln bosoms echo back the
shouts of the many and strong
That things are all as they best may be, save a few to be right ere
And my eyes have not the vision in them to discern what to these is so
The blot seems straightway in me alone; one better he were not here.
The stout upstanders say, All's well with us; ruers have nought to
And what the potent say so oft, can it fail to be somewhat true?
Breezily go they, breezily come; their dust smokes around their
Till I think I am one born out of due time, who has no calling here.
Their dawns bring lusty joys, it seems; their evenings all that is
Our times are blessed times, they cry: Life shapes it as is most meet,
And nothing is much the matter; there are many smiles to a tear;
Then what is the matter is I, I say. Why should such a one be here?...
Let him in whose ears the low-voiced Best is killed by the clash of
Who holds that if way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at
Who feels tht delight is a delicate growth cramped by crookedness,
custom and fear,
Get him up and be gone as one shaped awry; he disturbs the order here.
mihi, quia incolatus meus prolongatus est! Habitavi cum habitantibus Cedar;
multum incola fuit anima mea." - Ps. cxix ["Woe is me, that I sojourn
in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt with
him that hateth peace." - Psalm 120:5-6]
THERE have been times when I well might have
passed and the ending have come--
Points in my path when the dark might have stolen on me, artless,
Ere I had learnt that the world was a welter of futile doing:
Such had been times when I well might have passed, and the ending have
Say, on the noon when the half-sunny hours told that April was nigh,
And I upgathered and cast forth the snow from the crocus-border,
Fashioned and furbished the soil into a summer-seeming order,
Glowing in gladsome faith that I quickened the year thereby.
Or on that loneliest of eves when afar and benighted we stood,
She who upheld me and I, in the midmost of Egdon together,
Confident I in her watching and ward through the blackening heather,
Deeming her matchless in might and with measureless scope endued.
Or on that winter-wild night when, reclined by the chimney-nook quion,
Slowly a drowse overgat me, the smallest and feeblest of folk there,
Weak from my baptism of pain; when at times and anon I awoke there--
Heard of a world wheeling on, with no listing or longing to join.
Even then! while unweeting that vision could vex or that knowledge
That sweets to the mouth in the belly are bitter, and tart, and
Then, on some dim-coloured scene should my briefly raised curtain have
Then might the Voice that is law have said "Cease!" and the ending
THE church flings forth a battled shade
Over the moon-blanched sward:
The church; my gift; whereto I paid
My all in hand and hoard;
Lavished my gains
With stintless pains
To glorify the Lord.
I squared the broad foundations in
Of ashlared masonry;
I moulded mullions thick and thin,
Hewed fillet and ogee;
Each sculptured head
With nimb and canopy.
I called in many a craftsmaster
To fix emblazoned glass,
To figure Cross and Sepulchure
On dossal, boss, and brass.
My gold all spent,
My jewels went
To gem the cups of Mass.
I borrowed deep to carve the screen
And raise the ivoried Rood;
I parted with my small demesne
To make my owings good.
Until debt-free I stood.
So closed the task. "Deathless the Creed
Here substanced!" said my soul:
"I heard me bidden to this deed,
And straight obeyed the call.
Illume this fane,
That not in vain
I build it, Lord of all!"
But, as it chanced me, then and there
Did dire misfortunes burst;
My home went waste for lack of care,
My sons rebelled and curst;
Till I confessed
That aims the best
Were looking like the worst.
Enkindled by my votive work
No burnng faith I find;
The deeper thinkers sneer and smirk,
And give my toil no mind;
From nod and wink
I read they think
That I am fool and blind.
My gift to God seems futile, quite;
The world moves as erstwhile;
And powerful Wrong on feeble Right
Tramples in olden style.
My faith burns down,
I see no crown;
But Cares, and Griefs, and Guile.
So now, the remedy? Yea, this:
I gently swing the door
Here, of my fane--no soul to wis--
And cross the patterned floor
To the rood-screen
That stands between
The nave and inner chore.
The rich red windows dim the moon,
But little light need I;
I mount the prie-dieu, lately hewn
From woods of rarest dye;
Then from below
My garment, so,
I draw this cord, and tie
One end thereof around the beam
Midway 'twixt Cross and truss:
I noose the nethermost extreme,
And in ten seconds thus
I journey hence--
To that land whence
No rumour reaches us.
Well: Here at morn they'll light on one
Dangling in mockery
Of what he spent his substance on
Blindly and uselessly!...
"He might," they'll
"Have built, some
A cheaper gallows-tree!"
I WALKED in loamy Wessex lanes, afar From
rail-track and from highway, and I heard In field and farmstead many an
ancient word Of local lineage like 'Thu bist', 'Er war',
'Ich woll', 'Er sholl', and by-talk similar,
Nigh as they speak who
in this month's moon gird At England's very loins, thereunto
spurred By gangs whose glory threats and slaughters are.
There seemed a Heart crying: 'Whosoever they be
At root and bottom
of this, who flung this flame Between kin folk tongued even as are we,
'Sinister, ugly, lurid, be their fame;
May their familiars grow to
shun their name, And their brood perish everlastingly.'
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