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Isaac Rosenberg


(1890-1918)



Contents

The Poetry Collections

NIGHT AND DAY

YOUTH

MOSES

UNPUBLISHED POEMS

FRAGMENTS

The Poems

LIST OF POEMS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

LIST OF POEMS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

The Plays

MOSES

THE AMULET

THE UNICORN

ADAM

The Letters

INDEX OF LETTERS BY YEAR OF COMPOSITION

The Paintings

LIST OF PAINTINGS

The Prose

LIST OF PROSE WORKS

The Delphi Classics Catalogue



© Delphi Classics 2015

Version 1





Isaac Rosenberg





By Delphi Classics, 2015





COPYRIGHT


Isaac Rosenberg - Delphi Poets Series

First published in the United Kingdom in 2015 by Delphi Classics.

© Delphi Classics, 2015.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form other than that in which it is published.

Delphi Classics

is an imprint of

Delphi Publishing Ltd

Hastings, East Sussex

United Kingdom

Contact: sales@delphiclassics.com

www.delphiclassics.com





NOTE




When reading poetry on an eReader, it is advisable to use a small font size and landscape mode, which will allow the lines of poetry to display correctly.





Also available:





Explore War Poets with Delphi Classics





For the first time in publishing history, readers can explore all the poems, rare fragments and the poets’ letters.

www.delphiclassics.com





The Poetry Collections





Bristol, South West England — Rosenberg’s birthplace





Sights around Bristol, 1873





NIGHT AND DAY




Isaac Rosenberg was born in Bristol, the second of six children and eldest son of his parents, Barnett (formerly Dovber) and Hacha Rosenberg, who were Orthodox Jews from Dvinsk (now in Latvia). In 1897, the Rosenberg family moved to Cable Street, then a poor district of the East End of London, featuring a strong Jewish community. Rosenberg attended St. Paul’s School Whitechapel around the corner in Wellclose Square, until his fami; ly moved to Stepney in 1900, allowing him to experience Jewish schooling at the Baker Street School. Having shown an early interest in art, he left school at the age of fourteen and became an apprentice at a firm of engravers in Fleet Street.

However, the young Rosenberg was also interested in poetry, attending lectures in both literature and the arts. He completed his apprenticeship in 1911, and managed to find the finances to attend the Slade School of Fine Art at University College, London (UCL). He was taken up by Laurence Binyon and Edward Marsh, and began to write poetry seriously, in spite of often suffering from ill-health. In 1912, he published a pamphlet of ten poems, with the title Night and Day. Due to the development of his poetry, in time he would come to think of himself as a poet first and a painter second.





Self-portrait, c. 1910





CONTENTS


NIGHT AND DAY

NIGHT

DAY

TO J. H. AMSCHEWITZ

ASPIRATION

HEART’S FIRST WORD

WHEN I WENT FORTH

IN NOVEMBER

LADY, YOU ARE MY GOD

SPIRITUAL ISOLATION

TESS

O! IN A WORLD OF MEN AND WOMEN





Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) was a poet, dramatist and art scholar, who helped Rosenberg with his early poetic ventures.





NIGHT AND DAY


ARGUMENT

NIGHT. The Poet wanders through the night and questions of

the stars but receives no answer. He walks through the crowds

of the streets, and asks himself whether he is the scapegoat

to bear the sins of humanity upon himself, and to waste his

5 life to discover the secret of God, for all.

DAY. He wakes, and sees the day through his window. He feels

endowed with a larger capacity to feel and enjoy things, and

knows that by having communed with the stars, his soul has

exalted itself, and become wiser in intellectual experience,

10 He walks through the city, out into the woods, and lies under

the trees, dreaming through the sky-spaces.

He hears Desire sing a song of Immortality,

Hope, a song of love,

And Beauty, a song of the Eternal rhythm.

15 Twilight comes down and the poet hearkens to the song of the

evening star; for Beauty has taught him to hear, Hope to feel,

and Desire, a conception of attainment.

By thinking of higher things we exalt ourselves to what we think about.

Striving after the perfect — God, we attain nearer to

perfection than before.





NIGHT


When the night is warm with wings

Invisible, articulate,

Only the wind sings

To our mortal ears of fault.

5 And the steadfast eyes of fate

Gleam from Heaven’s brooding vault,

Through dull corporeal bars

We drink in the proud stars.

These, my earth-sundered fantasy

10 On pillared heights of thought doth see

In the dark heaven as golden pendulous birds,

Whose tremulous wings the wind translates to words,

From the thrilled heaven which is their rapturous nest.

Still, though they sleep not, thoughtful to illume,

15 They are not silent, only our sundering gloom

Makes their songs dumb to us — a tragic jest.

Sing to me, for my soul’s eyes

Anguish for those ecstasies

And voluptuous mysteries

20 That must somewhere be,

Or we could not know of them.

Sing to me, O sing to me,

Is your light from sun of them,

Or from boughs of golden stem

25 Trickling over ye,

That your nest is hanging on?

Though the sun’s face be on high,

Yet his fiery feet do lie

Fixed on earth, to give the sky

30 In our hands a while.

So our mortal hearts make bliss,

And we may a little smile.

Wherefore keep ye all your bliss?

What your gain for gain we miss?

35 Wherefore so beguile

With your shining, heard of none?

How can I burst this trammel of my flesh,

That is a continent ‘twixt your song and me?

How can I loosen from my soul this mesh

40 That dulls mine ears and blinds mine eyes to see?

When I had clambered over the walls of night,

Lo! still the night lay unperturbed behind.

Only in Heaven the starry birds of light

Swarmed as arrested in their showery flight.

45 O! could I bind your song as night can bind.

Sudden the night blazed open at my feet.

Like splintered crystal tangled with gold dust

Blared on my ear and eye the populous street.

Then, like a dark globe sprinkled with gold heat

50 Wherein dark waters move — dark gleaming seas,

So round the lit-faced shadows seemed the street.

They feel the skeleton rattle as they go.

‘Let us forget’, they cry, ‘soon we shall know, —

Drown in life’s carnival fate’s whisperings.’

55 Foul heat of painted faces, ribald breath,

Lewd leer, make up the pageant as they flow

In reeking passage to the house of death.

Then said I, what divides love’s name from lust?

Behold, what word can name the life for these?

60 For starven and not hungered, O! what crust?

Lean — starven, and they hunger not increase.

Starven of light, barriered ‘gainst purity,

A bruten lust of living their life’s lease.

A dream-empearled ladder to the moon,

65 A thought enguarded heavenly embassy

To treat with God for a perpetual June,

Colours my youth’s flower for them, for me.

One flower whose ardent fragrance wastes for all.

Fed with the sobbings of humanity.

70 The sobbing of the burden of their sins

Is all the guerdon strife to ease them wins.

Who seeks heaven’s sign, earth’s scapegoat must he be?

God gives no June, and Heaven is as a wall.

No symboled answer to my questionings —

75 Only the weak wind yearns, the stars wink not at all.





DAY


The fiery hoofs of day have trampled the night to dust;

They have broken the censer of darkness and its fumes are lost in light.

Like a smoke blown away by the rushing of the gust

When the doors of the sun flung open, morning leaped and smote the night.

5 The banners of the day flame from the east.

Its gorgeous hosts assail the heart of dreams.

They brush aside the strange and cowled priest

Who ministers to our pillows with moonbeams

And restful pageantry or lethe draught,

10 Sleep — who by day dwells in invisibleness —

Their noising stirs the waking veils of thought,

Ah! I am in the midst of their bright press.

I went to sleep in the night,

In the awed and shadowy night,

15 Pleading of those birds delight.

Where has the morning borne me to?

What has she done with the night?

And those birds flown whereto?

Surely some God hath breathed upon mine eyes

20 Between awake and waking, or poured strange wine

Of some large knowledge — for I am grown wise

And big with new life — eager and divine.

Last night I stripped my soul of all alloy

Of earth that did ensphere and fetter it.

25 I strove to touch the springs of all the night.

My brow felt spray, but hands and eyes were dry.

Last night my soul thought God — my soul felt God.

I prayed the stars this for my body’s dole.

Through prayer and thought to purified desires.

30 Through hallowed thought I was made half divine.

Shall I dream of shadow

Now I have the light;

Spoil the sunny meadow

To think of night?

35 Forth into the woods I will fare.

I will walk through the great clanging city

To seek what all have sought to find.

No face shall pass me

But I will question therein

40 Some mirrored subtlety,

Some wandering gleam that straggled through

Nativity, from the forgotten shelter of God’s skirts.

In all that Time has harvested,

Whether a seed from Heaven has sprung;

45 In all God has made mutable and swift

Some lustre of his smile to see.

And the dun monstrous buildings be a book

To read the malediction of lucre

That spreads a shade and shelter for a plague.

50 Noon blazes in the city, tumult whirled.

Flame crowned and garmented

With robes that flaunt

The splash of gold he throws

About my feet,

55 He weaves above my head

A golden chaunt,

A song that throbs and glows

Through all the noon-day heat.

No Pan-pipe melodies

60 Of wind and boughs.

No tired waves listless wash,

No silence deep

With spirit harmonies

Night only knows;

65 No tender breaking flush,

Dawn’s voice of dreams-asleep.

But buildings glorified,

Whose windows shine

And show the heaven, while far

70 Down the throng’d street

Mingles man’s song of pride

With the divine

Song of the day’s great star

Struck from the noon-day heat.

* * *

75 Shall I turn me to this tavern

And so rest me from the sultriness?

* * *

Dim-watery-lights, gleaming on gibbering faces,

Faces speechful, barren of soul and sordid.

Huddled and chewing a jest, lewd and gabbled insidious,

80 Laughter, born of its dung, flashes and floods like sunlight,

Filling the room with a sense of a soul lethargic and kindly.

Touches my soul with a pathos, a hint of a wide desolation.

* * *

Green foliage kisses my heart’s sight

Before I yet have left the street,

85 My heart feels summer-leaping light

These summer silent guests to greet.

The grassy plot with rows of trees,

Like some sweet pallisaded land

From off some land outcast of these,

90 Whose air you breathe is grinding sand.

These are the outskirts of the woods,

The shore of mighty forest seas,

Where Pan plays to the solitudes

His deep primordial melodies.

95 Where night and day like ships sail by,

And no man knoweth this miracle;

Eternal as the eternal sky

That is the earth’s dumb oracle.

* * *

I saw the face of God to-day,

100 I heard the music of his smile,

And yet I was not far away,

And yet in Paradise the while.

I lay upon the sparkling grass,

And God’s own mouth was kissing me,

105 And there was nothing that did pass

But blazed with divinity.

Divine — divine — upon my eyes,

Upon my hair — divine — divine,

The fervour of the golden skies,

110 The ardent gaze of God on mine.

Let me weave my fantasy

Of this web like broken glass

Gleaming through the fretted leaves

In a quaint intricacy,

115 Diamond tipping all the grass.

Hearken as the spirit heaves

Through the branches and the leaves

In the shudder of their pulse.

Delicate nature trembles so

120 To a ruder nature’s touch,

And of peace that these convulse

They have little who should have much.

Life is so.

Let me carve my fantasy

125 Of the fretwork of the leaves.

Then the trees bent and shook with laughter,

Each leaf sparkled and danced with glee.

On my heart their sobs came after,

Demons gurgling over me.

130 And my heart was chilled and shaken,

And I said through my great fear,

When the throat of tears is slaken

Joy must come for joy will hear.

Then spake I to the tree,

135 ‘Were ye your own desire

What is it ye would be?’

Answered the tree to me,

‘I am my own desire

I am what I would be.

140 If ye were your desire

Would ye lie under me,

And see me as you see?’

‘I am my own desire

While I lie under you,

145 And that which I would be

Desire will sing to you.’

Through the web of broken glass

I knew her eyes looked on me.

Soon through all the leaves did pass

150 Her trembling melody.

Yea! even the life within the grass

Made green stir

So to hear

Desire’s yearned song of immortality.

155 ‘Mortals — ancient syllables

Spoken of God’s mouth,

Do spirits them chronicle

So they be not lost?

‘Music, breathed ephemeral —

160 Fragrant maid and child;

Bellow, croak and droning —

Age and cumbrous man.

‘Music that the croaking hears:

Croak, to mate the music:

165 Do Angels stand and throw their nets

For you, from banks Eterne?

‘Surely the speech of God’s mouth

Shall not be for naught!

Music wrought of God’s passion

170 Less than vanished dew?

‘As the sea through cloud to sea,

Thought through deed to thought,

Each returneth as they were,

So man to God’s mouth?’

175 So man to God’s mouth,

Mouth whose breath we are.

How far — O — how far!

Spring of the soul’s drouth?

I heard a whisper once

180 Of a way to make it near,

And still that whisper haunts

Like a wonder round my ear.

Hope whispered to me,

I could not hear

185 The meaning to subdue me

Of the music most clear.

* * *

‘Music that the croaking hears,

Croak, to mate the music.’

Was it lorn Echo babbling to herself,

190 That none would mate and none would hear her?

‘I wander — I wander — O will she wander here?

Where’er my footsteps carry me I know that she is near.

A jewelled lamp within her hand and jewels in her hair,

I lost her in a vision once and seek her everywhere.

195 ‘My spirit whispers she is near, I look at you and you.

Surely she has not passed me, I sleeping as she flew.

I wander — I wander, and yet she is not here,

Although my spirit whispers to me that she is near.’

Verily my heart doth know the voice of Hope.

200 What doth he in these woods singing this wise?

‘By what far ways shall my heart reach to thine?

We, who have never parted — never met,

Nor done to death the joys that shall be yet,

Nor drained the cup of love’s delirious wine.

205 How shall my craving spirit know for mine

Thine, self-same seeking? Will a wild regret

For the lost days — the lonely suns that set,

Be for our love a token and a sign?

Will all the weary nights, the widowed days

210 That sundered long, all point their hands at thee?

Yea! all the stars that have not heard thy praise

Low murmur in thy charmed ear of me?

All pointing to the ending of the ways,

All singing of the love that is to be?’

215 Of love to be, wherefore of love to be?

I never have heard the stars though they look wistfully at me.

I have cried to them and they showed me Desire.

She brought me a passionate wistful dream of eternity.

I cried to them, and they showed me Hope — a fire.

220 He brought me a dream of love — he made my heart to feel

Vague shadowy longings — whereon loneliness had put a seal.

Wherefore? because love is the radiant smile of God,

Because love’s land is a heaven only by angels trod.

Where beauty sings and teaches her fair song

225 Of the eternal rhythm — ah! teach me.

‘Close thine eyes and under the eyelids that hide,

The glory thine eyes have seen in thy soul shall abide.

The beauty thy soul has heard shall flow into thy soul.

Lordship of many mysteries will be thine being beauty’s thrall.

230 ‘Close thine eyes and under the eyelids that hide,

A bridge build from Heaven as the earth is — wide,

For the bright and dense shapes that ‘twixt earth and heaven do pass,

Lutanists of day and even, to the pool and to the grass.

‘To the cloud and to the mountains, to the wind and to the stars,

235 Silvern tongued din of fountains, golden at the sunset bars.

‘So they sing the songs I taught them, and they lute the songs

I made

For the praise of Him who wrought them lauders of his sun and shade.

‘How may there be a silence? for the cosmic cycle would cease.

I am but the voice of God and these do lute my litanies.’

240 One night and one day and what sang Desire?

All that God sings betwixt them is not lost.

One night and one day, what did Beauty choir?

If our souls hearken little is the most,

And nothing is which is not living sound,

245 All flowing with the eternal harmony

That with creation’s first day was unwound.

One night and one day — what sang Hope to me?

That the next night and day love’s song must fill.

He showed me in a mirror, ecstasy,

250 And a new dawn break over the old hill.

Twilight’s wide eyes are mystical

With some far off knowledge;

Secret is the mouth of her,

And secret her eyes.

255 Lo! she braideth her hair

Of dim soft purple and thread of satin.

Lo! she flasheth her hand —

Her hand of pearl and silver in shadow.

Slowly she braideth her hair

260 Over her glimmering eyes,

Floating her ambient robes

Over the trees and the skies,

Over the wind-footing grass.

Softly she braideth her hair

265 With shadow deeper than thought.

To make her comely for night?

To make her meet for the night?

Slowly she heaveth her breast,

For the night to lie there and rest?

270 Hush, her eyes are in trance

Swooningly raised to the sky.

What heareth she so to enthral?

Filleth her sight to amaze?

‘From the sweet gardens of the sky

275 Whose roots are pleasures under earth,

Whose atmosphere is melody

To hail each deathless minute’s birth,

Between frail night and frailer day

I sing what soon the moon will say,

280 And what the sun has said in mirth.

‘I sing the centre of all bliss.

The peace like a sweet-smelling tree

That spreads its perfumed holiness

In unperturbed serenity.

285 Between the darkness and the light,

I hang above my message bright

The clamour of mortality.

‘Here, from the bowers of Paradise

Whose flowers from deep contentment grew,

290 To reach his hand out to the wise

My casement God’s bright eyes look through.

For him whose eyes do look for Him

He leans out through the seraphim

And His own bosom draws him to.’

300 I heard the evening star.





TO J. H. AMSCHEWITZ


In the wide darkness of the shade of days

Twixt days that were, and days that yet will be,

Making the days that are, gloom’d mystery,

What starshine glimmers through the nighted ways

Uplifting? and through all vain hope’s delays

What is it brings far joy’s foretaste to me?

A savour of a ship-unsullied sea,

A glimpse of golden lands too high for praise.

Life holds the glass but gives us tears for wine.

But if at times he changes in his hand

The bitter goblet for the drink divine,

I stand upon the shore of a strange land.

And when mine eyes unblinded of the brine

See clear, lo! where he stood before, you stand.





ASPIRATION


The roots of a dead universe are shrunken in my brain;

And the tinsel leafed branches of the charred trees are strewn;

And the chaff we deem’d for harvest shall be turned to golden grain,

While May no more will mimic March, but June be only June.

5 Lo! a ghost enleaguer’d city where no ghostly footfall came!

And a rose within the mirror with the fragrance of it hid;

And mine ear prest to the mouth of the shadow of a name;

But no ghost or speech or fragrance breathing on my faint eyelid.

I would crash the city’s ramparts, touch the ghostly hands without.

10 Break the mirror, feel the scented warm lit petals of the rose.

Would mine ears be stretched for shadows in the fading of the doubt?

Other ears shall wait my shadow, — can you see behind the brows?

For I would see with mine own eyes the glory and the gold.

With a strange and fervid vision see the glamour and the dream.

15 And chant an incantation in a measure new and bold,

And enaureole a glory round an unawaken’d theme.





HEART’S FIRST WORD


To sweeten a swift minute so

With such rare fragrance of sweet speech,

And make the after hours go

In a blank yearning each on each;

5 To drain the springs till they be dry,

And then in anguish thirst for drink,

So but to glimpse her robe thirst I,

And my soul hungers and I sink.

There is no word that we have said

10 Whereby the lips and heart are fire;

No look the linkéd glances read

That held the springs of deep desire.

And yet the sounds her glad lips gave

Are on my soul vibrating still.

15 Her eyes that swept me as a wave

Shine my soul’s worship to fulfil.

Her hair, her eyes, her throat and chin;

Sweet hair, sweet eyes, sweet throat, so sweet,

So fair because the ways of sin

20 Have never known her perfect feet.

By what far ways and marvellous

May I such lovely heaven reach?

What dread dark seas and perilous

Lie ‘twixt love’s silence and love’s speech?





WHEN I WENT FORTH


When I went forth as is my daily wont

Into the streets, into the eddying throng,

Lady — the thought of your sweet face was strong,

The grace of your sweet shape my ways did haunt.

About this spell clangoured the busy chaunt

Of traffic, like some hundred-throated song

Of storm set round some moon-flashed isle in wrong.

But soon usurped your robe’s undulant flaunt —

Your last words said — your ruby gaolers’ loss —

The instant and unanchored gleams across

My soul’s mirror that holds you there for aye;

The sounds that beat the guard down of sound’s gates,

But memory mastereth not, behind who waits,

Your speech — your face — his text by night and day.





IN NOVEMBER


Your face was like a day in June

Glad with the raiment of the noon,

And your eyes seemed like thoughts that stir

To dream of warm June nights that were.

5 The dead leaves dropped off one by one,

All hopeless in the withered sun.

Around, the listless atmosphere

Hung grey and quiet and austere.

As we stood talking in the porch

10 My pulse shook like a wind kissed torch,

Too sweet you seemed for anything

Save dreams whereof the poets sing.

Your voice was like the buds that burst

With latter spring to slake their thirst,

15 While all your ardent mouth was lit

With summer memories exquisite.





LADY, YOU ARE MY GOD


Lady, you are my God —

Lady, you are my heaven.

If I am your God

Labour from your heaven.

Lady, you are my God,

And shall not love win heaven?

If Love made me God

Deeds must win my heaven.

If my love made you God,

What more can I for heaven?





SPIRITUAL ISOLATION


Fragment

My Maker shunneth me.

Even as a wretch stricken with leprosy

So hold I pestilent supremacy.

Yea! He hath fled far as the uttermost star,

5 Beyond the unperturbed fastnesses of night,

And dreams that bastioned are

By fretted towers of sleep that scare His light.

Of wisdom writ, whereto

My burdened feet may best withouten rue,

10 I may not spell — and I am sore to do.

Yea! all seeing my Maker hath such dread,

Even mine own self-love wists not but to fly

To Him, and sore besped

Leaves me, its captain, in such mutiny.

15 Will, deemed incorporate

With me, hath flown ere love, to expiate

Its sinful stay where he did habitate.

Ah me! if they had left a sepulchre;

But no — the light hath changed not and in it

20 Of its same colour stir

Spirits I see not but phantasm’d feel to flit.

Air legioned such stirreth,

So that I seem to draw them with my breath.

Ghouls that devour each joy they do to death.

25 Strange glimmering griefs and sorrowing silences,

Bearing dead flowers unseen whose charnel smell

Great awe to my sense is

Even in the rose-time when all else is well.

In my great loneliness,

30 This haunted desolation’s dire distress,

I strove with April buds my thoughts to dress,

Therewith to reach to joy through gay attire;

But as I plucked came one of those pale griefs

With mouth of parched desire

35 And breathed upon the buds and charred the leaves.





TESS


The free fair life that has never been mine, the glory that might have been,

If I were what you seem to be and what I may not be!

I know I walk upon the earth but a dreadful wall between

My spirit and your spirit lies, your joy and my misery.

The angels that lie watching us, the little human play —

What deem they of the laughter and the tears that flow apart?

When a word of man is a woman’s doom do they turn and wonder and say,

‘Ah! why has God made love so great that love must burst her heart?’





O! IN A WORLD OF MEN AND WOMEN


O! in a world of men and women

Where all things seemed so strange to me,

And speech the common world called human

For me was a vain mimicry,

5 I thought — O! am I one in sorrow?

Or is the world more quick to hide

Their pain with raiment that they borrow

From pleasure in the house of pride?

O! joy of mine, O! longed for stranger,

10 How I would greet you if you came!

In the world’s joys I’ve been a ranger,

In my world sorrow is their name.





YOUTH




During the winter of 1913, Rosenberg’s health deteriorated. Afraid of consumption, his doctor advised him to seek a warmer climate. His sister Minnie had married and settled in South Africa. With the aid of a grant of £13 to cover his fare, Rosenberg sailed from Tilbury to Cape Town at the beginning of June 1914. At first excited by the beauty and light of the southern hemisphere country, he was soon irritated by the lack of cultural diversions there. However, hoping to receive commissions, he delivered a lecture on art, which was published in two parts in a local magazine. Meanwhile, Europe was engulfed in war and in February 1915, Rosenberg decided to leave South Africa, uncertain what he would find when he arrived home in England.

Soon, he knew he would have to decide whether to enlist. His first decision was to prepare for publication his second collection of poems, Youth. Featuring twenty-two poems, a few previously having appeared in Night and Day, the collection was divided into three sections and demonstrated a more conscious striving for an artistic whole.





CONTENTS


PART I. FAITH AND FEAR.

ASPIRATION

IN THE PARK.

DESIRE SINGS OF IMMORTALITY.

NOON IN THE CITY

NONE HAVE SEEN THE LORD OF THE HOUSE

A GIRL’S THOUGHTS

WEDDED.

MIDSUMMER FROST

PART II. THE CYNIC’S LAMP.

LOVE AND LUST

IN PICCADILLY

A MOOD

PART III. CHANGE AND SUNFIRE.

APRIL DAWN

IF YOU ARE FIRE

DIM-WATERY-LIGHTS, GLEAMING ON GIBBERING FACES

BREAK IN BY SUBTLER WAYS

LADY, YOU ARE MY GOD

THE ONE LOST

MY SOUL IS ROBBED

GOD MADE BLIND

THE DEAD HEROES

THE CLOISTER

EXPRESSION





The first edition





PART I. FAITH AND FEAR.





ASPIRATION


The roots of a dead universe are shrunken in my brain;

And the tinsel leafed branches of the charred trees are strewn;

And the chaff we deem’d for harvest shall be turned to golden grain,

While May no more will mimic March, but June be only June.

5 Lo! a ghost enleaguer’d city where no ghostly footfall came!

And a rose within the mirror with the fragrance of it hid;

And mine ear prest to the mouth of the shadow of a name;

But no ghost or speech or fragrance breathing on my faint eyelid.

I would crash the city’s ramparts, touch the ghostly hands without.

10 Break the mirror, feel the scented warm lit petals of the rose.

Would mine ears be stretched for shadows in the fading of the doubt?

Other ears shall wait my shadow, — can you see behind the brows?

For I would see with mine own eyes the glory and the gold.

With a strange and fervid vision see the glamour and the dream.

15 And chant an incantation in a measure new and bold,

And enaureole a glory round an unawaken’d theme.





IN THE PARK.


Let me weave my fantasy

Of this web like broken glass

Gleaming through the fretted leaves

In a quaint intricacy,

Diamond tipping all the grass.

Hearken as the spirit heaves

Through the branches and the leaves

In the shudder of their pulse.

Delicate nature trembles so

To a ruder nature’s touch,

And of peace that these convulse

They have little who should have much.

Life is so.

Let me carve my fantasy

Of the fretwork of the leaves.

Then spake I to the tree,

‘Were ye your own desire

What is it ye would be?’

Answered the tree to me,

‘I am my own desire

I am what I would be.

If ye were your desire

Would ye lie under me,

And see me as you see?’

‘I am my own desire

While I lie under you,

145 And that which I would be

Desire will sing to you.’





DESIRE SINGS OF IMMORTALITY.


‘Mortals — ancient syllables

Spoken of God’s mouth,

Do spirits them chronicle

So they be not lost?

‘Music, breathed ephemeral —

Fragrant maid and child;

Bellow, croak and droning —

Age and cumbrous man.

‘Music that the croaking hears:

Croak, to mate the music:

Do Angels stand and throw their nets

For you, from banks Eterne?

‘Surely the speech of God’s mouth

Shall not be for naught!

Music wrought of God’s passion

Less than vanished dew?

‘As the sea through cloud to sea,

Thought through deed to thought,

Each returneth as they were,

So man to God’s mouth?’





NOON IN THE CITY


Noon blazes in the city, tumult whirled.

Flame crowned and garmented

With robes that flaunt

The splash of gold he throws

About my feet,

He weaves above my head

A golden chaunt,

A song that throbs and glows

Through all the noon-day heat.

No Pan-pipe melodies

Of wind and boughs.

No tired waves listless wash,

No silence deep

With spirit harmonies

Night only knows;

No tender breaking flush,

Dawn’s voice of dreams-asleep.

But buildings glorified,

Whose windows shine

And show the heaven, while far

Down the throng’d street

Mingles man’s song of pride

With the divine

Song of the day’s great star

Struck from the noon-day heat.





NONE HAVE SEEN THE LORD OF THE HOUSE


Stealth-hushed, the coiled night nesteth

In woods where light has strayed;

She is the shadow of the soul —

A virgin and afraid,

5 That in the absent Sultan’s chamber resteth,

Sleepless for fear he call.

Lord of this moon-dim mansion,

None know thy naked light.

O! were the day, of Thee dim shade,

10 As of the soul is night,

O! who would fear when in the bourne’s expansion,

With Thy first kiss we fade.

But the sad night shivers,

And palely wastes and dies;

15 A wraith under day’s burning hair,

And his humid golden eyes.

He has browsed by immortal meadowed rivers;

O! were she nesting there!





A GIRL’S THOUGHTS


Dim apprehension of a trust

Comes over me this quiet hour,

As though the silence were a flower,

And this, its perfume, dark like dust.

My individual self would cling

Through fear, through pride, unto its fears.

It strives to shut out what it hears,

The founts of being, murmuring.

O! need, whose hauntings terrorize;

Whether my maiden ways would hide,

Or lose, and to that need subside,

Life shrinks, and instinct dreads surprise.





WEDDED.


The knotted moment that untwists

Into the narrow laws of love,

Its ends are rolled round our four wrists

That once could stretch and rove.

See our confined fingers stray

O’er delicate fibres that recoil,

And blushing hints as cold as clay;

Love is tired after toil.

But hush! two twin moods meet in air;

Two spirits of one gendered thought.

Our chained hands loosened everywhere

Kindness like death’s have caught.





MIDSUMMER FROST


A July ghost, aghast at the strange winter,

Wonders, at burning noon, (all summer seeming),

How, like a sad thought buried in light words,

Winter, an alien presence, is ambushed here.

5 See, from the fire-fountained noon there creep

Lazy yellow ardours towards pale evening,

To thread dark and vain fire

Over my unsens’d heart,

Dead heart, no urgent summer can reach,

10 Hidden as a root from air or a star from day;

A frozen pool whereon mirth dances;

Where the shining boys would fish.

My blinded brain pierced is,

And searched by a thought, and pangful

15 With bitter ooze of a joyous knowledge

Of some starred time outworn.

Like blind eyes that have slinked past God,

And light, their untasked inheritance,

(Sealed eyes that trouble never the Sun)

20 Yet has feel of a Maytime pierced.

He heareth the Maytime dances;

Frees from their airy prison, bright voices,

To loosen them in his dark imagination,

Powered with girl revels rare

25 And silks and merry colours,

And all the unpeopled ghosts that walk in words.

Till wave white hands that ripple lakes of sadness,

Until the sadness vanishes and the stagnant pool remains.

Underneath this summer air can July dream

30 How, in night-hanging forest of eating maladies,

A frozen forest of moon unquiet madness,

The moon-drunk haunted pierced soul dies;

Starved by its Babel folly, lying stark,

Unvexed by July’s warm eyes.





PART II. THE CYNIC’S LAMP.





LOVE AND LUST


No dream of mortal joy;

Yet all the dreamers die.

We wither with our world

To make room for her sky.

O lust! when you lie ravished,

Broken in the dust,

We will call for love in vain,

Finding love was lust.





IN PICCADILLY


Lamp-lit faces! to you

What is your starry dew?

Gold flowers of the night blue!

Deep in wet pavement’s slime,

Mud rooted, is your fierce prime,

To bloom in lust’s coloured clime.

The sheen of eyes that lust,

Dew, time made your trust,

Lights your passionless dust.





A MOOD


You are so light and gay,

So slight, sweet maid;

Your limbs like leaves in play,

Or beams that grasses braid;

5 O! joys whose jewels pray

My breast to be inlaid.

Frail fairy of the streets;

Strong, dainty lure;

For all men’s eyes the sweets

10 Whose lack makes hearts so poor;

While your heart loveless beats,

Light, laughing, and impure.

O! fragrant waft of flesh

Float through me so —

15 My limbs are in your mesh,

My blood forgets to flow.

Ah! lilied meadows fresh,

It knows where it would go.





PART III. CHANGE AND SUNFIRE.





APRIL DAWN


Pale light hid in light

Stirs the still day-spring;

Wavers the dull sight

With a spirit’s wing.

Dreams, in frail rose mist,

Lurking to waylay,

Subtle-wise have kist

Winter into May.

Nothing to the sight...

Pool of pulseless air.

Spirits are in flight,

And my soul their lair.





IF YOU ARE FIRE


If you are fire and I am fire,

Who blows the flame apart

So that desire eludes desire

Around one central heart?

A single root and separate bough,

And what blind hands between

That make our longing’s mutual glow

As if it had not been?





DIM-WATERY-LIGHTS, GLEAMING ON GIBBERING FACES


Dim-watery-lights, gleaming on gibbering faces,

Faces speechful, barren of soul and sordid.

Huddled and chewing a jest, lewd and gabbled insidious,

Laughter, born of its dung, flashes and floods like sunlight,

Filling the room with a sense of a soul lethargic and kindly.

Touches my soul with a pathos, a hint of a wide desolation.





BREAK IN BY SUBTLER WAYS


Break in by subtier nearer ways;

Dulled closeness is too far.

And separate we are

Through joined days.

The shine and strange romance of time

In absence hides and change.

Shut eyes and hear the strange

Perfect new chime.





LADY, YOU ARE MY GOD


Lady, you are my God —

Lady, you are my heaven.

If I am your God

Labour from your heaven.

Lady, you are my God,

And shall not love win heaven?

If Love made me God

Deeds must win my heaven.

If my love made you God,

What more can I for heaven?





THE ONE LOST


I mingle with your bones.

You steal in subtle noose

This lighted dust Jehovah loans

And now I lose.

5 What will the Lender say

When I shall not be found,

Safe sheltered at the Judgment Day,

Being in you bound?

He’ll hunt thronged wards of Heaven,

10 Call to uncoffined earth

‘Where is this soul unjudged, not given

Dole for good’s dearth?’

And I, lying so safe

Within you, hearing all,

15 To have cheated God shall laugh,

Freed by your thrall.





MY SOUL IS ROBBED


My soul is robbed by your most treacherous eyes

Treading its intricate infinities.

Stay there, rich robbers! what I lose is dross;

Since my life is your dungeon, where is loss?

5 Ah! as the sun is prisoned in the heaven,

Whose walls dissolve, of their own nature bereaven,

So do your looks, as idly, without strife,

Cover all steeps of sense, which no more pasture life.

Which no more feel, but only know you there,

10 In this blind trance of some white anywhere.

Come — come — that glance engendered ecstasy —

That subtle unspaced mutual intimacy

Whereby two spirits of one thought commune

Like separate instruments that play one tune,

15 And the whole miracle and amazement of

The unexpected flowering of love

Concentres to an instant that expands

And takes unto itself the strangest of strange lands.





GOD MADE BLIND


It were a proud God-guiling, to allure

And flatter, by some cheat of ill, our Fate

To hold back the perfect crookedness, its hate

Devised, and keep it poor,

5 And ignorant of our joy —

Masked in a giant wrong of cruel annoy,

That stands as some bleak hut to frost and night,

While hidden in bed is warmth and mad delight.

For all Love’s heady valour and loved pain

10 Towers in our sinews that may not suppress

(Shut to God’s eye) Love’s springing eagerness,

And mind to advance his gain

Of gleeful secrecy

Through dolorous clay, which his eternity

15 Has pierced, in light that pushes out to meet

Eternity without us, heaven’s heat.

And then, when Love’s power hath increased so

That we must burst or grow to give it room,

And we can no more cheat our God with gloom,

20 We’ll cheat Him with our joy.

For say! what can God do

To us, to Love, whom we have grown into?

Love! the poured rays of God’s Eternity!

We are grown God — and shall His self-hate be?





THE DEAD HEROES


Flame out, you glorious skies,

Welcome our brave,

Kiss their exultant eyes;

Give what they gave.

5 Flash, mailed seraphim,

Your burning spears;

New days to outflame their dim

Heroic years.

Thrills their baptismal tread

10 The bright proud air;

The embattled plumes outspread

Burn upwards there.

Flame out, flame out, O Song!

Star ring to star,

15 Strong as our hurt is strong

Our children are.

Their blood is England’s heart;

By their dead hands

It is their noble part

20 That England stands.

England — Time gave them thee;

They gave back this

To win Eternity

And claim God’s kiss.





THE CLOISTER


Our eyes no longer sail the tidal streets,

Nor harbour where the hours like petals float

By sensual treasures glittering through thin walls

Of women’s eyes and colour’s mystery.

The roots of our eternal souls were fed

On the world’s dung and now their blossoms gleam.

God gives to glisten in an angel’s hair

These He has gardened, for they please His eyes.





EXPRESSION


Call — call — and bruise the air:

Shatter dumb space!

Yea! We will fling this passion everywhere;

Leaving no place

5 For the superb and grave

Magnificent throng,

The pregnant queens of quietness that brave

And edge our song

Of wonder at the light,

10 (Our life-leased home),

Of greeting to our housemates. And in might

Our song shall roam

Life’s heart, a blossoming fire

Blown bright by thought,

15 While gleams and fades the infinite desire,

Phantasmed naught.

Can this be caught and caged?

Wings can be dipt

Of eagles, the sun’s gaudy measure gauged,

20 But no sense dipt

In the mystery of sense:

The troubled throng

Of words break out like smother’d fire through dense

And smouldering wrong.





MOSES




Following the publication of Youth, Rosenberg set about looking for work, but he could find nothing and struggled to make ends meet. Throughout the early autumn of 1915, he considered volunteering for the Royal Army Medical Corps, due to his pacific inclinations, but, being only just over five feet in height, he was too short to be accepted. With no money and no positive prospects, he had little choice than to enlist in October with the Infantry, allowing his mother to claim the Separation Allowance that was given to dependants. Rosenberg was then sent to the Bantam Battalion (a special unit for soldiers below the usual minimum height) of the 12th Suffolk Regiment stationed at Bury St. Edmunds. Although some recruits were later removed from the Battalion, being discovered to be of no military use, Rosenberg remained.

During his early days of difficult training, Rosenberg worked on a play titled Moses, which he had begun writing in South Africa. In May 1916, just before being posted overseas, Moses was published, with ten poems also included in the small book. The poet had little time to see how his third collection fared, as he set sail for France with his Battalion.





CONTENTS


SPRING 1916

GOD

I DID NOT PLUCK AT ALL; OR, FIRST FRUIT

CHAGRIN

IN THE PARK

DESIRE SINGS OF IMMORTALITY

WEDDED

MARCHING

SLEEP

HEART’S FIRST WORD





SPRING 1916


Slow, rigid, is this masquerade

That passes as through a difficult air;

Heavily — heavily passes.

What has she fed on? Who her table laid

5 Through the three seasons? What forbidden fare

Ruined her as a mortal lass is?

I played with her two years ago,

Who might be now her own sister in stone,

So altered from her May mien,

10 When round vague pink a necklace of warm snow

Laughed to her throat where my mouth’s touch had gone.

How is this, ruined Queen?

Who lured her vivid beauty so

To be that strained chilled thing that moves

15 So ghastly midst her young brood

Of pregnant shoots that she for men did grow?

Where are the strong men who made these their loves?

Spring! God pity your mood.





GOD


In his malodorous brain what slugs and mire,

Lanthorned in his oblique eyes, guttering burned!

His body lodged a rat where men nursed souls.

The world flashed grape-green eyes of a foiled cat

5 To him. On fragments of an old shrunk power,

On shy and maimed, on women wrung awry,

He lay, a bullying hulk, to crush them more.

But when one, fearless, turned and clawed like bronze,

Cringing was easy to blunt these stern paws,

10 And he would weigh the heavier on those after.

Who rests in God’s mean flattery now? Your wealth

Is but his cunning to make death more hard.

Your iron sinews take more pain in breaking.

And he has made the market for your beauty

15 Too poor to buy, although you die to sell.

Only that he has never heard of sleep;

And when the cats come out the rats are sly.

Here we are safe till he slinks in at dawn.

But he has gnawed a fibre from strange roots,

20 And in the morning some pale wonder ceases.

Things are not strange and strange things are forgetful.

Ah! if the day were arid, somehow lost

Out of us, but it is as hair of us,

And only in the hush no wind stirs it.

25 And in the light vague trouble lifts and breathes,

And restlessness still shadows the lost ways.

The fingers shut on voices that pass through,

Where blind farewells are taken easily...

Ah! this miasma of a rotting God!





I DID NOT PLUCK AT ALL; OR, FIRST FRUIT


I did not pluck at all,

And I am sorry now.

The garden is not barred,

But the boughs are heavy with snow,

The flake-blossoms thickly fall,

And the hid roots sigh, ‘How long will our flowers be marred?’

Strange as a bird were dumb,

Strange as a hueless leaf,

As one deaf hungers to hear

Or gazes without belief,

The fruit yearned ‘fingers, come’.

O, shut hands, be empty another year.





CHAGRIN


Caught still as Absalom,

Surely the air hangs

From the swayless cloud-boughs,

Like hair of Absalom

5 Caught and hanging still.

From the imagined weight

Of spaces in a sky

Of mute chagrin, my thoughts

Hang like branch-clung hair

10 To trunks of silence swung,

With the choked soul weighing down

Into thick emptiness.

Christ! end this hanging death,

For endlessness hangs therefrom.

15 Invisibly — branches break

From invisible trees —

The cloud-woods where we rush,

Our eyes holding so much,

Which we must ride dim ages round

20 Ere the hands (we dream) can touch,

We ride, we ride, before the morning

The secret roots of the sun to tread,

And suddenly

We are lifted of all we know

25 And hang from implacable boughs.





IN THE PARK


Let me weave my fantasy

Of this web like broken glass

Gleaming through the fretted leaves

In a quaint intricacy,

Diamond tipping all the grass.

Hearken as the spirit heaves

Through the branches and the leaves

In the shudder of their pulse.

Delicate nature trembles so

To a ruder nature’s touch,

And of peace that these convulse

They have little who should have much.

Life is so.

Let me carve my fantasy

Of the fretwork of the leaves.

Then spake I to the tree,

‘Were ye your own desire

What is it ye would be?’

Answered the tree to me,

‘I am my own desire

I am what I would be.

If ye were your desire

Would ye lie under me,

And see me as you see?’

‘I am my own desire

While I lie under you,

145 And that which I would be

Desire will sing to you.’





DESIRE SINGS OF IMMORTALITY


‘Mortals — ancient syllables

Spoken of God’s mouth,

Do spirits them chronicle

So they be not lost?

‘Music, breathed ephemeral —

Fragrant maid and child;

Bellow, croak and droning —

Age and cumbrous man.

‘Music that the croaking hears:

Croak, to mate the music:

Do Angels stand and throw their nets

For you, from banks Eterne?

‘Surely the speech of God’s mouth

Shall not be for naught!

Music wrought of God’s passion

Less than vanished dew?

‘As the sea through cloud to sea,

Thought through deed to thought,

Each returneth as they were,

So man to God’s mouth?’





WEDDED


The knotted moment that untwists

Into the narrow laws of love,

Its ends are rolled round our four wrists

That once could stretch and rove.

See our confined fingers stray

O’er delicate fibres that recoil,

And blushing hints as cold as clay;

Love is tired after toil.

But hush! two twin moods meet in air;

Two spirits of one gendered thought.

Our chained hands loosened everywhere

Kindness like death’s have caught.





MARCHING


(AS SEEN FROM THE LEFT FILE)

My eyes catch ruddy necks

Sturdily pressed back —

All a red brick moving glint.

Like flaming pendulums, hands

5 Swing across the khaki —

Mustard-coloured khaki —

To the automatic feet.

We husband the ancient glory

In these bared necks and hands,

10 Not broke is the forge of Mars;

But a subtler brain beats iron

To shoe the hoofs of death,

(Who paws dynamic air now).

Blind fingers loose an iron cloud

15 To rain immortal darkness

On strong eyes.





SLEEP


Godhead’s lip hangs

When our pulses have no golden tremours,

And his whips are flicked by mice

And all star-amorous things.

5 Drops, drops of shivering quiet

Filter under my lids.

Now only am I powerful.

What though the cunning gods outwit us here

In daytime and in playtime,

10 Surely they feel the gyves we lay on them

In our sleep.

O, subtle gods lying hidden!

O, gods with your oblique eyes!

Your elbows in the dawn, and wrists

15 Bright with the afternoon,

Do you not shake when a mortal slides

Into your own unvexed peace?

When a moving stillness breaks over your knees

(An emanation of piled aeons’ pressure)

20 From our bodies flat and straight,

And your limbs are locked,

Futilely gods’,

And shut your sinister essences?





HEART’S FIRST WORD


And all her soft dark hair,

Breathed for him like a prayer.

And her white lost face,

Was prisoned to some far place.

Love was not denied —

Love’s ends would hide.

And flower and fruit and tree

Were under its sea.

Yea! its abundance knelt

Where the nerves felt

The springs of feeling flow

And made pain grow.

There seemed no root or sky

But a pent infinity

Where apparitions dim

Sculptured each whim

In flame and wandering mist

Of kisses to be kist.





UNPUBLISHED POEMS





CONTENTS


ODE TO DAVID’S HARP

ZION

DAWN BEHIND NIGHT

A BALLAD OF WHITECHAPEL

A BALLAD OF TIME, LIFE AND MEMORY

DEATH

THE DEAD PAST

IN THE HEART OF THE FOREST

MY DAYS

THE WORLD RUMBLES BY ME

TO MR. AND MRS. LOWY, ON THEIR SILVER WEDDING

LINES WRITTEN IN AN ALBUM TO J.L.

GOD LOOKED CLEAR AT ME THROUGH HER EYES

BIRTHDAY SONG

THE PRESENT

NOCTURNE

THE KEY OF THE GATES OF HEAVEN

THE CAGE

BACCHANAL

NOW THE SPIRIT’S SONG HAS WITHERED

SO INNOCENT YOU SPREAD YOUR NET

THE NUN

WE ARE SAD WITH A VAGUE SWEET SORROW

PEACE

FLEET STREET

THE GARDEN OF JOY

THE POET

MY SONGS

TO NATURE

DON JUAN’S SONG

YOU AND I

LOVE TO BE

LIKE SOME FAIR SUBTLE POISON

TWILIGHT I.

AS WE LOOK

EVEN NOW YOUR EYES ARE MIXED IN MINE

PSYCHE’S LAMENT

KNOWLEDGE

RAPHAEL

O’ER THE CELESTIAL PATHWAYS

DUST CALLETH TO DUST

TO MICHAEL SHERBROOKE ON HEARING HIS RECITATION OF ‘THE RAVEN’

TWILIGHT II.

AS A BESIEGED CITY

CREATION

GLORY OF HUELESS SKIES

A QUESTION

APPARITION

A CARELESS HEART

THE POET II

THE BLIND GOD

WALK YOU IN MUSIC, LIGHT OR NIGHT

TWILIGHT III

O, BE THESE MEN AND WOMEN

A WARM THOUGHT FLICKERS

SONG

SPRING

ON A LADY SINGING

AS A SWORD IN THE SUN

AT SEA-POINT

O HEART, HOME OF HIGH PURPOSES

OF ANY OLD MAN

INVISIBLE ANCIENT ENEMY OF MINE

AT NIGHT

SUBJECTIVITY

WISTFULLY IN PALLID SPLENDOUR

HAVE WE SAILED AND HAVE WE WANDERED

FAR AWAY

GIRL’S SONG

I KNOW YOU GOLDEN

SACRED, VOLUPTUOUS HOLLOWS DEEP

THE EXILE

MY SOUL IS ROBBED

NIGHT

WHAT IF I WEAR YOUR BEAUTY

DAWN

UNDER THESE SKIES

THE FEMALE GOD

HER FABLED MOUTH

A BIRD TRILLING ITS GAY HEART OUT

SUMMER’S LIPS ARE AGLOW

I HAVE LIVED IN THE UNDERWORLD TOO LONG

I AM THE BLOOD

BEAUTY I

BEAUTY II

AUGURIES

ON RECEIVING NEWS OF THE WAR

THE FLEA

A WOMAN’S BEAUTY

BUT I AM THROWN WITH BEAUTY’S BREATH

IN HALF DELIGHT OF SHY DELIGHT

PAST DAYS ARE HIEROGLYPHS

WHO LOSES THE HOUR OF THE WIND?

DUSK AND THE MIRROR

THE MIRROR

SIGNIFICANCE

WEDDED

MIDSUMMER FROST II.

SLEEP II.

GREEN THOUGHTS ARE

LUSITANIA

THE TROOP SHIP

AUGUST 1914

THE JEW

FROM FRANCE

IN THE TRENCHES

BREAK OF DAY IN THE TRENCHES

HOME-THOUGHTS FROM FRANCE

A WORM FED ON THE HEART OF CORINTH

THE DYING SOLDIER

IN WAR

THE IMMORTALS

LOUSE HUNTING

RETURNING, WE HEAR THE LARKS

DEAD MAN’S DUMP

DAUGHTERS OF WAR

SOLDIER: TWENTIETH CENTURY

GIRL TO SOLDIER ON LEAVE

THE BURNING OF THE TEMPLE

THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM BY THE BABYLONIAN HORDES

THROUGH THESE PALE COLD DAYS





ODE TO DAVID’S HARP


Awake! ye joyful strains, awake!

In silence sleep no more;

Disperse the gloom that ever lies

O’er Judah’s barren shore.

5 Where are the hands that strung thee

With tender touch and true?

Those hands are silenced too.

The harp that faster caused to beat

The heart that throbbed for war,

10 The harp that melancholy calmed,

Lies mute on Judah’s shore.

One chord awake — one strain prolong

To wake the zeal in Israel’s breast;

Oh sacred lyre, once more, how long?

15 ’Tis vain, alas! in silence rest.

Many a minstrel fame’s elated

Envies thee thy harp of fame,

Harp of David — monarch minstrel,

Bravely — bravely, keep thy name.

20 Ay! every ear that listen’d,

Was charmed — was thrilled — was bound.

Every eye with moisture glisten’d

Thrilling to the harp’s sweet sound.

Hark! the harp is pouring

25 Notes of burning fire,

And each soul o’erpowering,

Melts the rousing ire.

Fiercer — shriller — wilder far

Than the iron notes of war,

30 Accents sweet and echoes sweeter,

Minstrel — minstrel, steeds fly fleeter

Spurred on by thy magic strains.

Tell me not the harp lies sleeping,

Set not thus my heart aweeping,

35 In the muse’s fairy dwelling

There thy magic notes are swelling.

But for list’ning mortals’ ear

Vainly wait, ye will not hear.

So clearly sweet — so plaintive sad

40 More tender tone no harper had.

O! when again shall Israel see

A harp so toned with melody?

1905





ZION


She stood — a hill-ensceptred Queen,

The glory streaming from her;

While Heaven flashed her rays between,

And shed eternal summer.

5 The gates of morning opened wide

On sunny dome and steeple.

Noon gleamed upon the mountain-side

Throng’d with a happy people.

And twilight’s drowsy, half closed eyes

10 Beheld that virgin splendour

Whose orbs were as her darkening skies,

And as her spirit, tender.

Girt with that strength, first born of right,

Held fast by deeds of honour,

15 Her robe she wove with rays more bright

Than Heaven could rain upon her.

Where is that light — that citadel?

That robe with woof of glory?

She lost her virtue and she fell,

20 And only left her story.

1906





DAWN BEHIND NIGHT


Lips! bold, frenzied utterance, shape to the thoughts that are prompted by hate

Of the red streaming burden of wrong we have borne and still bear;

That wealth with its soul-crushing scourges placed into its hands by fate,

Hath made the cement of its towers, grim-girdled by our despair.

5 Should it die in the death that they make, in the silence that follows the sob;

In the voiceless depth of the waters that closes upon our grief;

Who shall know of the bleakness assigned us for the fruits that we reap and they rob?

To pour out the strong wine of pity, outstretch the kind hand in relief.

In the golden glare of the morning, in the solemn serene of the night,

10 We look on each other’s faces, and we turn to our prison bar;

In pitiless travail of toil and outside the precious light,

What wonder we know not our manhood in the curse of the things that are?

In the life or the death they dole us from the rags and the bones of their store,

In the blood they feed but to drink of, in the pity they feign in their pride,

15 Lies the glimpse of a heaven behind it, for the ship hath left the shore,

That will find us and free us and take us where its portals are opened wide.

1909





A BALLAD OF WHITECHAPEL


God’s mercy shines,

And our full hearts must make record of this,

For grief that burst from out its dark confines

Into strange sunlit bliss.

5 I stood where glowed

The merry glare of golden whirring lights

Above the monstrous mass that seethed and flowed

Through one of London’s nights.

I watched the gleams

10 Of jagged warm lights on shrunk faces pale.

I heard mad laughter as one hears in dreams,

Or Hell’s harsh lurid tale.

The traffic rolled,

A gliding chaos populous of din.

15 A steaming wail at doom the Lord had scrawled

For perilous loads of sin.

And my soul thought,

‘What fearful land have my steps wandered to?

God’s love is everywhere, but here is naught

20 Save love His anger slew.’

And as I stood

Lost in promiscuous bewilderment,

Which to my mazed soul was wonder-food,

A girl in garments rent

25 Peered ‘neath lids shamed,

And spoke to me and murmured to my blood.

My soul stopped dead, and all my horror flamed

At her forgot of God.

Her hungered eyes,

30 Craving and yet so sadly spiritual,

Shone like the unsmirched corner of a jewel

Where else foul blemish lies.

I walked with her

Because my heart thought, ‘Here the soul is clean,

35 The fragrance of the frankincense and myrrh

Is lost in odours mean.’

She told me how

The shadow of black death had newly come

And touched her father, mother, even now

40 Grim-hovering in her home,

Where fevered lay

Her wasting brother in a cold bleak room,

Which theirs would be no longer than a day,

And then — the streets and doom.

45 Lord! Lord! dear Lord!

I knew that life was bitter, but my soul

Recoiled, as anguish-smitten by sharp sword,

Grieving such body’s dole.

Then grief gave place

50 To a strange pulsing rapture as she spoke,

For I could catch the glimpses of God’s grace,

And desire awoke.

To take this trust,

And warm and gladden it with love’s new fires,

55 Burning the past to ashes and to dust

Through purified desires.

We walked our way.

One way hewn for us from the birth of Time.

For we had wandered into Love’s strange clime

60 Through ways sin waits to slay.

Love’s euphony,

In Love’s own temple that is our glad hearts,

Makes now long music wild deliciously,

Now Grief hath used his darts.

65 Love infinite,

Chastened by sorrow, hallowed by pure flame —

Not all the surging world can compass it,

Love — love — O! tremulous name.

God’s mercy shines.

70 And my full heart hath made record of this.

Of grief that burst from out its dark confines

Into strange sunlit bliss.

1910





A BALLAD OF TIME, LIFE AND MEMORY


Hold wide the door and watch who passes here

From dawn through day to dawn,

Bravely as though their journey but begun,

Through change unchanged still.

5 She, wild eyed, runs and laughs, or walks and weeps;

But him, swift footed, never can outrun,

Nor creep and he before.

And all she has and all she knows is his;

But not all his for her.

10 He gives her of the spices and the myrrh

And wonderful strange fruits,

He gives her more of tears, and girds her round

With yearning bitterness,

With fears that kill the hopes they feed upon,

15 With hopes that smile at fears and smile on her,

Till fears again prevail.

And as she goes the roses fall and die;

And as she goes she weeps.

But lo! behind, what dim processional?

20 What maiden sings and sighs?

And holds an urn, and as the roses fall,

And the wine pours and spills,

She gathers in her lap and breathes on them;

And in the urn the spilled wine glows again,

25 Lit by her eyes divine.

And all the roses at her touch revive,

And blush and bloom again.

And by her side, whose name is Memory,

The ghosts of all the hours,

30 Some smiling as they smiled within the sun,

Some, stained and wan with tears.

To those she gives the roses as they fall,

And bids them tune the praises of their prime.

To these their tears and dust.

35 And those are happy loves and wreathed joys.

And these are sorrows pale.

Even as she sings so Time himself makes pause,

Even Time, Death’s conqueror,

And Life’s reverted face grows tenderer,

40 While the soul dreams and yearns,

Watching the risen faces of the hours,

And shrivelled Autumn change her face to June’s,

And dead wine live again,

And dust discrowned know Life it knew before

45 Touched with a softened light.

There is no leaf upon the naked woods,

No bird upon the boughs,

And Time leads Life through many waste places,

And dreams and shapes of death.

50 Yet is the voice of Summer not quite dumb,

Although her lips be stilled and silenter.

For Memory bids her rise

To sing within the palace of the soul,

And Life and Time are still.

1910





DEATH


Death waits for me — ah! who shall kiss me first?

No lips of love glow red from out the gloom

That life spreads darkly like a living tomb

Around my path. Death’s gift is best not worst.

For even the honey on life’s lips is curst.

And the worm cankers in the ripest bloom.

Yea, from Birth’s gates to Death’s, Life’s travailed womb

Is big with Rest, for Death, her life, athirst.

Death waits, and when she has kissed life’s warm lips

With her pale mouth, and made him one with her;

Held to him Lethe’s wine whereof he sips;

And stilled Time’s wings, earth shadowing sleepless whir;

Outside of strife, beyond the world’s blood drips,

Shadowed by peace, Rest dwells and makes no stir.

1910





THE DEAD PAST


Ah! will I meet you ever — you who have gone from me,

You, the I that was then and a moment hath changed into you.

So many moments have passed and changed the I into we,

So many many times but alas I remember so few.

5 I know you are dead, long perished, the boy that babbled and played

With the toys like the wind with the flowers and the clouds play with the moon,

I know you are dead long ago and hid in the grove I made

Of regrets that were soon forgotten, as snow is forgotten by June.

You too are dead, the shining face that laughed and wept without thought

10 Uttered the words of the heart, wept or leapt as was right.

O, were you taken to heaven, by God in a whirlwind caught,

I do not know yours was best, you not conscious of your delight.

O my life’s dead Springtime — why will you haunt me like ghosts,

You little buds that have died — and blossom in memory,

15 Will I meet you in some dead land and see your face in hosts,

Saying ‘The past is the future and you and the future are we’?

1911





IN THE HEART OF THE FOREST


In the heart of the forest,

The shuddering forest,

The moaning and sobbing

Sad shuddering forest —

5 The dark and the dismal

Persistent sad sobbing

Throughout the weird forest.

Ah! God! they are voices —

Dim ghosts of the forest

10 Unrestfully sobbing

Through wistful pale voices,

Whose breath is the wind and whose lips the sad trees;

Whose yearning great eyes

Death haunted for ever

15 Look from the dark waters,

And pale spirit faces

Wrought from the white lilies.





MY DAYS


My days are but the tombs of buried hours;

Which tombs are hidden in the piled years;

But from the mounds there springeth up such flowers

Whose beauty well repays its cost of tears.

Time, like a sexton, pileth mould on mould,

Minutes on minutes till the tombs are high;

But from the dust there falleth grains of gold,

And the dead corpse leaves what will never die.

It may be but a thought, the nursling seed

Of many thoughts, of many a high desire;

Some little act that stirs a noble deed,

Like breath rekindling a smouldering fire.

They only live who have not lived in vain,

For in their works their life returns again.

1911





THE WORLD RUMBLES BY ME


The world rumbles by me — can I heed?

The rose it is crimson — and I bleed.

The rose of my heart glows deep afar;

And I grope in the darkness ‘twixt star and star.

5 Only in night grows the flower of peace,

Spreading its odours of rest and ease.

It dies in the day like light in the night.

It revives like tears in the eyes of delight.

For the youth at my heart beats wild and loud;

10 And raves in my ear of a girl and a shroud.

Of a golden girl with the soul in her eyes,

To teach me love and to make me wise.

With the fire on her lips and the wine in her hands,

To bind me strong in her silken bands.

15 For time and fate are striding to meet

One unseen with soundless feet.

The world rustles by me — let me heed.

Clutched in its madness till I bleed.

For the rose of my heart glows deep afar.

20 If I stretch my hand, I may clasp a star.

1911





TO MR. AND MRS. LOWY, ON THEIR SILVER WEDDING


‘Ye hearken as ye list’, saith Time to all.

‘Ye hear me as I pass or do not hear.

I gather all the fruits of all the year,

I hoard them when the barren seasons call.

Then, though I flew with Spring, with them I crawl.

To soothe their vacant eyes and feet of fear

I bid the Spring’s sweet ghost rise from her bier,

And tender Memory come with light footfall.

‘Then, when the seasons hang their heads in shame

And grief, I bring my store of hoarded fruit;

To warm the hands of age, youth’s rosy flame;

And to old love the young love at the root,

Hallowed by me to silver sweet acclaim —

Hush — lo! the bride and bridegroom — hush! — be mute.’

1911





LINES WRITTEN IN AN ALBUM TO J.L.


The birds that sang in summer

Were silent till the spring;

For hidden were the flowers,

The flowers to whom they sing.

5 December’s jewelled bosom —

Closed mouth — hill-hidden vale —

Held seed full soon to blossom;

Held song that would not fail.

I, silent all the winter,

10 No flower for me to praise,

For this rich wealth of roses

My song shall I not raise?

The lilies and the roses,

White hands and damask cheeks;

15 The eyes where love reposes

And laughs before he speaks.

Could this make music to thee,

The music of sweet thought;

Thy laughing eyes might hearken

20 To sounds sweet visions wrought,

Till the deep roses tingle

The cheeks they nestle in,

While music still would mingle,

And pleasure still begin.

25 Thus, hidden in these pages

My thoughts shall silent lie

Till gentle fingers find them,

When idly bent to pry.

I see them fondly linger,

30 And quicken with their breath

The music of the singer,

Whose silence was its death.

1911





GOD LOOKED CLEAR AT ME THROUGH HER EYES


God looked clear at me through her eyes,

And when her fresh and sweet lips spake,

Through dawn-flushed gates of Paradise

Such silvern birds did wing and shake

5 God’s fervent music on my soul,

And with their jewelled quivering feet

Did rend apart the quiet stole

That shades from girl-fanned pulsing heat.

Upon a gold branch in my breast

10 They made their nest, while sweet and warm

Hung wav’ring thoughts like rose-leaves drest;

My soul the sky to keep from harm.

In the heart’s woods mysterious

Where feelings lie remote and far,

15 They fly with touch imperious,

And loose emotion’s hidden bar.

And to dark pools of brooding care,

And blinding wastes of loneliness,

They gleam a Paradisal air,

20 And warm with a divine caress.

1912





BIRTHDAY SONG


To thy cradle at thy birth

Did not all the fairies come,

Genie of heaven and earth

While ogres stood afar and dumb,

5 And thy cradle to embower

Spun a roof of sun and flowers,

Gave thee for thy lifelong dower

Beauteous gifts and beauteous hours?

Time stood by, a gardener mild,

10 Watched the bud unfold to rose,

June’s delight December’s child,

Red rose of December snows.

Twenty years and one year more

Time here layeth at thy feet;

15 But thy friends bring twenty score

Wishes that the rest be sweet.





THE PRESENT


Time, leveller, chaining fate itself to thee —

Hope frets her eager pettings on thy sand,

Wild waves that strive to overreach command

Of nature, much in sight. Eternity

Is but thyself made shoreless. Toward thy sea

The streams-to-be flow from the shadowland

Of rootless flowers no earthly breeze has fanned,

Weave with the past thy restless apathy.

Thou art the link ‘twixt after and before,

The one sole truth; the final ultimate

Endeavour of the ages. The loud roar

Of life around me is thy voice to fate

And Time — who looking on thee has grown hoar

While thou art yet — and freedom is so late.





NOCTURNE


Day, like a flower of gold fades on its crimson bed;

For the many chambered night unbars to shut its sweetness up;

From earth and heaven fast drawn together a heavy stillness is shed,

And our hearts drink the shadowy splendour from a brimming cup.

For the indrawn breath of beauty thrills the holy caves of night;

Shimmering winds of heaven fall gently and mysterious hands caress

Our wan brows with cooling rapture of the delicate starlight

Dropping from the night’s blue walls in endless veils of loveliness.





THE KEY OF THE GATES OF HEAVEN


A word leapt sharp from my tongue,

Could a golden key do more

Than open the golden door

For the rush of the golden song?

5 She spoke, and the spell of her speech —

The chain of the heart linked song —

Was on me swift and strong,

And Heaven was in my reach.

A word was the key thereof;

10 And my thought was the hand that turned.

And words that throbbed and burned,

Sweet birds from the shine of love,

Flew clear ‘tween the rosebud gate

That was parted beneath and above,

15 And a chain of music wove

More strong than the hand of fate.





THE CAGE


Air knows as you know that I sing in my cage of earth,

And my mouth dry with longing for your winsome mouth of mirth,

That passes ever my prison bars which will not fall apart,

Wearied unweariedly so long with the fretful music of my heart.

If you were a rose, and I, the wandering invisible air

To feed your scent and live, glad though you knew me not there,

Or the green of your stem that your proud petals could never meet,

I yet would feel the caresses of your shadow’s ruby feet.

O splendour of radiant flesh, O your heavy hair uncurled,

Binding all that my hopes have fashioned to crown me King of the world,

I sing to life to befriend me; she sends me your mouth of mirth,

And you only laugh as you pass me, and I weep in my cage of earth.

1912





BACCHANAL


If life would come to me

As she has never come,

The music of the spring,

The fullness of its prime;

5 With roses in her hair,

With laughter on her lips,

Ah! life! — we’d dance a tune.

Ah! life! we’d live — we’d live.

If life would come to me

10 With roses in her lap,

With wine between her hands,

And a fire upon her lips;

We would burn Time in that fire,

We would drown care in that wine,

15 And with music and with laughter

We would scare black death away.

If life would only come

As I would have her come,

With sweet breasts for my bed,

20 And my food her fiery wine;

If life would only come,

For we live not till it comes,

And it comes not till we feel

Its fire through all our veins.

1912





NOW THE SPIRIT’S SONG HAS WITHERED


Now the spirit’s song has withered

As a song of last year’s June

That has made the air its tomb.

Shall we ever find it after

Sighing in some summer tune

That is sealed now in gloom,

Safe for light and laughter?

Now the sky blooms full of colour,

Houses glow and windows shine

Glittering with impatient wings.

Where they go to may I follow

Since mine eyes have made them mine?

Shall I ever find these things

Hid in hill or hollow?

1911-12





SO INNOCENT YOU SPREAD YOUR NET


So innocent you spread your net,

I knew not I was caught in it,

Till when I vainly tried to rise

I read the reason in your eyes.

Your silken smiles had bound me fast;

Your nestling speech had tangled more;

But when I started up at last

I shook the fetters to the floor.





THE NUN


So thy soul’s meekness shrinks,

Too loth to show her face —

Why should she shun the world?

It is a holy place.

Concealed to itself

If the flower kept its scent,

Of itself amorous,

Less rich its ornament.

Use — utmost in each kind —

Is beauty, truth in one,

While soul rays light to soul

In one God-linked sun.





WE ARE SAD WITH A VAGUE SWEET SORROW


We are sad with a vague sweet sorrow

Whose touch is a scent of sighs;

A flower that weeps to a flower

The old tale that beauty dies.

Our smiles are full of a longing,

For we saw the gold flash of the years.

They passed, and we know where they came from,

The deep — deep well of tears.

1912





PEACE


Where the dreamy mountains brood

Ever in their ancient mood

Would I go and dream with them

Till I graft me on their stem.

With fierce energy I aspire

To be that the Gods desire

As the dreamy mountains are

And no God can break or mar.

Soon the world shall fade and be

One with still eternity

As the dreamy hills that lie

Silent to the passing sky.

1912





FLEET STREET


From north and south, from east and west,

Here in one shrieking vortex meet

These streams of life, made manifest

Along the shaking quivering street.

5 Its pulse and heart that throbs and glows

As if strife were its repose.

I shut my ear to such rude sounds

As reach a harsh discordant note,

Till, melting into what surrounds,

10 My soul doth with the current float,

And from the turmoil and the strife

Wakes all the melody of life.

The stony buildings blindly stare

Unconscious of the crime within,

15 While man returns his fellow’s glare

The secrets of his soul to win.

And each man passes from his place,

None heed. A shadow leaves such trace.





THE GARDEN OF JOY


In honey essenced bliss of sleep’s deceit

My sense lay drowned, and my soul’s eyes saw clear,

Unstranged to wonder, made familiar

By instant seeing. Eden’s garden sweet,

5 Shedding upon mine eyelids odorous heat

Of the light fingered golden atmosphere

Shaken through boughs whose whispering I could hear.

Beneath, within the covert’s cool retreat

Of the spread boughs stood shapes who swayed the boughs,

10 And bright fruit fell, laughing to leave green house;

While gleeful children dabbled with the sun

Caught the strange fruit, then ran with smiles of love

To earth, whose peoples as they ate thereof

Soft sank into the garden, one by one.

15 They lie within the garden, outside Time.

The ripened fulness of their soul’s desire

Glad on their tranquil faces. No fanged fire

Of hot insatiate pleasure, no pulsed chime

To summon to tusked orgy of earth’s slime,

20 Flickers the throne of rapture’s flushed empire

That glows, mild rays of the divine attire

Upon each face, sun of this day-spring clime.

They seem forever wondering — listening

Unto some tale of marvel, music told,

25 That the flowers weep in jewelled glistening

With envy of the joy that they must hold,

While in the dewy mirrors lady Spring

Trims herself by their smiles, their happy mould.

1912





THE POET


The trouble of the universe is on his wonder travelled eyes.

Ah, vain for him the starry quest, the spirit’s wistful sacrifice.

For though the glory of the heavens celestially in glimpses seen

Illumines his rapt gazing, still the senses shut him in.

No fellowship of suffering to meet his tear bewildered ways,

Alone he bears the burden of alienated days.

He is a part of paradise that all the earth has pressed between,

And when he calls unto the stars of paradise with heaven sweet songs

To his divided self he calls and sings the story of earth’s wrongs.

Himself he has himself betrayed, and deemed the earth a path of heaven,

And wandered down its sunless days, and too late knew himself bereaven.

For swiftly sin and suffering and earth-born laughter meshed his ways,

And caught him in a cage of earth, but heaven can hear his dewy lays.

1912





MY SONGS


Deep into the great heart of things

My mood passed, as my life became

One with the mighty whisperings

That breathe the pure ineffable name.

A pulse of all the life that stirs

Through still deep shade and wavering light,

The flowing of the wash of years

From out the starry infinite.

And flowing through my soul, the skies

And all the winds and all the trees

Mixed with its stream of light, to rise

And flow out in these melodies.





TO NATURE


Beneath the eternal wandering skies

O wilt thou rest awhile by me,

Immortal mother of mystery,

And breathe on my blind eyes!

Or is it that thou standest nigh,

And while I know that I am blind

I live, until thou passest by,

To leave me dead behind.

1912





DON JUAN’S SONG


The moon is in an ecstasy,

It wanes not nor can grow.

The heavens are in a mist of love,

And deepest knowledge know.

5 What things in nature seem to move

Bear love as I bear love?

And bear my pleasures so?

The moon will fade when morning comes,

The heavens will dream no more.

10 In our missed meetings are eyes hard?

What shadows fleck the door

Averted, when we part? What guard

Scents death in each vain word?

What haggard haunts the shore?

15 I bear my love as streams that bear

The sky still flow or shake.

Though deep within too far on high.

Light blossoms kiss and wake

The waters sooner than the sky.

20 And if they kiss and die!

God made them frail to break.





YOU AND I


You and I have met but for an instant;

And no word the gate-lips let from out them.

But the eyes, voice audible — the soul’s lips,

Stirr’d the depths of thought and feeling in me.

5 I have seen you somewhere, some sweet sometime,

Somewhere in a dim-remembered sometime.

Was it in the sleep-spun realm of dreamland?

In sweet woods, a faery flower of fancy?

If our hands touched would it bring us nearer?

10 As our souls touched, eyes’ flame meeting eyes’ flame.

If the lips spake would it lift the curtain

More than our mute bearing unaffected

Told the spirit’s secrets eloquently?

Strange! this vast and universal riddle!

15 How perplexing! Manifold the wonder.

You and I, we meet but for an instant,

Pause or pass, reflections in a mirror.

And I see myself and wonder at it.

See myself in you, a double wonder.

20 With my thought held in a richer casket,

Clothed and girt in shape of regal beauty.

Strange! we pause! New waves of life rush blindly,

Madly on the soul’s dumb silent breakers.

And a music strange is new awakened.

25 Fate the minstrel smites or holds the chord back.

Smites — new worlds undreamt of burst upon us.

All our life before was but embryo

Shaping for this birth — this living moment.





LOVE TO BE


When at that happy pause that holds sweet rest

As a hard burden, that it doth belate

And make him seem a laggard at the gate

Of long-wished night, while day rides down the west;

5 I, weighted from my toil, and sore distrest

In body and soul, the scourge of partial fate,

At such sweet pause, to silence consecrate,

Come thoughts swift changing fancy had bedrest

In colours of desire. I thought on her

10 I never yet have seen, my love to be.

I conjured up all glorious shapes that were;

And wondered what far clime, by what sad sea

She roaming? And what spirits minister?

What thoughts, and what vague shadowing of me?

15 By what far ways shall my heart reach to thine?

We, who have never parted — never met,

Nor done to death the joys that shall be yet,

Nor drained the cup of love’s delirious wine.

How shall my craving spirit know for mine

20 Thine, self-same seeking? Will a wild regret

For the lost days — the lonely suns that set,

Be for our love a token and a sign?

Will all the weary nights, the widowed days

That sundered long, all point their hands at thee?

25 Yea! all the stars that have not heard thy praise

Low murmur in thy charmed ear of me?

All pointing to the ending of the ways,

All singing of the love that is to be?





LIKE SOME FAIR SUBTLE POISON


Like some fair subtle poison is the cold white beauty you shed;

Pale flower of the garden I walk in, your scent is an amorous net

To lure my thoughts and pulses, by your useless phantom led

By misty hours and ruins with insatiate longing wet.

To lure my soul with the beauty of some enthralling sin.

To starve my body to hunger for the mystic rapture there.

O cruel; flesh and spirit your robe’s soft stir sucks in,

And your cold unseeing glances, and the fantasies of your hair.

And in the shining hollow of your dream-enhaunted throat

My mournful thoughts now wander and build desire a nest,

But no tender thoughts to crown the fiery dreams that float

Around those sinuous rhythms and dim languors of your breast.

1912





TWILIGHT I.


A murmur of many waters, a moving maze of streams;

A doubtful voice of the silence from the ghosts of the shadows of dreams,

The far adieu of the day as it touches the fingers of night,

Wakes all to the eye and ear but seem wings spread for the soul for flight.

Can we look behind or before us, can we look on the dreams that are done?

The lights gleam dim in the distance, the distance is dimmer when won.

Soon that shall fade dimmer behind us, and when the night before us is here,

Ah! who of us shall wait for the dawn, while the shadows of night disappear?





AS WE LOOK


As they have sung to me,

So shall they sing to you?

One song have they.

Nay, when the old be new,

5 Nay, when the blind shall see,

Then, when the night is day,

Shall this thing be.

For this is truth, and still

Ever throughout be truth

10 While the world sings.

Gladly it sings to youth;

Sadly to age and ill.

To love sweet whisperings

Its songs fulfil.

15 One song the roses sing;

One song the chirping birds.

But whoso hears,

He makes within the words

To his soul murmuring.

20 High hopes or lowly fears

One song shall bring.

One song, one voice, the sky

The star, the moon, the cloud:

One song the trees.

25 But some will see a shroud,

And some will dim descry

Immortal harmonies

That never die.

Each looks with eyes that are

30 But the soul’s curtain hung

Till thought draws clear.

One hears sweet songs, unsung

To some, and dumb the star,

To these while songs are near,

35 Fair things are far.





EVEN NOW YOUR EYES ARE MIXED IN MINE


Even now your eyes are mixed in mine.

I see you not, but surely, he —

This stricken gaze, has looked on thee.

From him your glances shine.

5 Even now I felt your hand in mine.

This breeze that warms my open palm

Has surely kist yours; such thrilled calm

No lull can disentwine.

The words you spoke just now, how sweet!

10 These grasses heard and bend to tell.

The green grows pale your speech to spell,

How its green heart must beat!

I breathe you. Here the air enfolds

Your absent presence, as fire cleaves,

15 Leaving the places warm it leaves.

Such warmth a warm word holds.

Bruised are our words and our full thought

Breaks like dull rain from some rich cloud.

Our pulses leap alive and proud.

20 Colour, not heat, is caught.





PSYCHE’S LAMENT


O! love, my love! once, and not long,

Yet seems it dreams of ancient days,

When nights were passion’s lips of song,

And thou his speech of honied praise.

5 ‘O love, my love’, in murmurs low

Burnt in my ears. Then I was thine.

O! love, my love! ‘twixt weepings now

The empty words are only mine.

O! sweetest love! O! cruel wings,

10 The darkening shadow of thy flight

Is all that dreary daylight brings

Of all that was so sweet at night.

O! sweetest love! once you called sweet,

Through kisses, her forlorn who weeps

15 That wings, too swift to hear their beat,

Of Time, flew with you... How he creeps.

O life, my life! I have no life

Whilst thou who hast my soul art far.

When night is not, while day has strife,

20 What life has the unwakened star?

O! life, my life, upon my brow

My tears like flowers are gathered up.

The fruit that sorrow did not sow

She turns to poison in her cup.





KNOWLEDGE


Within this glass he looks at he is fair.

Godlike his reach and shining in his eyes

The light that is the sun of Paradise.

Yet midst his golden triumph a despair

Lurks like a serpent hidden in his hair

And says ‘Proud wisdom I am yet more wise’.

But swift before his look the serpent dies,

Before his glory’s grandeur mirrored there.

This to himself, but what to us looks he?

A lank unresting spectre whose grey gaze

A moth by night — a ferret through the days —

A hunger that devours all it can see

And then feeds on himself but never slays

Insatiate with his own misery.





RAPHAEL


Dear, I have done; it shall be done. I know

I can paint on and on, and still paint on.

Another touch, and yet another touch.

Yet wherefore. ’Tis Art’s triumph to know this,

5 Long ere the soul and brain begin to flag,

And dim the first fresh flashes of the soul,

Before achievement, by our own desire

And loathing to desist in what we love,

Is wrought to ruin by much overtoil,

10 To know the very moment of our gain,

And fix the triumph with reluctant pause.

Come from the throne, sweet, kiss me on the cheek;

You have borne bravely, sweet, come, look with me.

Is it not well — think love — the recompense,

15 This binds the unborn ages at our feet.

Thus you shall look, my love, and never change

Throughout all changes. Time’s own conqueror,

While worshippers of climes and time unknown

Lingeringly look in wonder — here — at us.

20 What have we done — in these long hours, my love?

Long — long to you — whose patient labour was

To sit, and sit, a statue, movelessly.

Love we have woven a chain more glorious

Than crowns or Popes — to bind the centuries.

25 You are tired. I should have thought a little.

But you said nothing, sweet, and I forgot,

In rapture of my soul’s imaginings.

You — yes, ’twas thus you looked, ah, look again

That hint of smile — it was like wings for heaven,

30 And gave my spirit play to revel more

In dazzling visions. But ah! it mocked my hand.

There — there — before my eyes and in my brain

Limned perfect — but my fingers traitors were.

Could not translate, and heartsick was the strife.

35 But it is done — I know not how — perchance

Even as I, maddened, drew on hopelessly,

An angel taking pity — mayhap for thee —

Guided my hand and drew it easily.

And they will throng — admire with gaping mouth,

40 The students, ‘Look, what ease, what grace divine.

What balance and what harmony serene.’

And some, ‘Like noonday lakes to torrents wild,

After titanic Mighty Angelo.’

Ah, Angelo, he has no sweetness — true.

45 But ah, I would I had his breadth of wing.

Jove’s Thunders, and the giant craggy heights

Whose points cleave the high heavens, and at whose feet

The topmost clouds have end, afraid to soar.

And I too, shake my brow amongst the stars.

50 And this I know and feel, what I have done

Is but the seed plot of a mightier world.

Yea, world on world is forming in my brain.

I have no space to hold it. Time will show

I could draw down the Heavens, I could bend

55 Yon hoar age-scorning column with my hand

I feel such power. But where there’s sun there’s shade!

And these thoughts bring their shadow in their train.

Who lives? — see this, it is my hand — my name.

But who looks from the canvas, no — not me.

60 Some doubt of God — but the world lives who doubts?

Even thus our own creations mock at us.

Our own creations outlive our decay.

What do I labour for if all is thus?

I triumph, but my triumph is my scorn.

65 ’Tis true I love my labour, and the days

Pass pleasantly,

But what is it I love in it — desire

Accomplished? Never have I reached

The halfway of the purpose I have planned.

70 A hardship conquered? — a poor juggler’s feat

And his elatement mayhap betters mine.

The adoration of the gaping crowd,

Who praise, with jest, not knowing why they praise,

Then turn, and sing a lewd and smutty song.

75 Or kneel — bate breath — to my Lord Cardinal.

Or is it the approval of the wise?

I take it — sadly knowing what I know,

And feeling that this marvel of their world

Is little triumph to me, it being my world.

80 Their deeds being circumscribed — proportionate,

Within their limits; and mine loftier,

But (God how bounded yet) to do as thus

Is but my nature — therefore little pride

Their praises give me. Ah, but this gives pride

85 To know that there is one that does feel pride

When they praise me, and cannot hide the glow

Upon her cheeks to hear me spoken of.

Love — this is better — here to be with you,

My head upon your bosom while your hair

90 A loosened fire falls all about my face,

And through its tangles — like a prison bar

To shut my soul in — watch the shadows creep,

The long grey shadows creeping furtively.

I would I were a poet — love — this once.

95 I cannot tell my feelings...

How effable in this half-light you look,

Love, I would dream — the shadows thickly press.

You fade into my fancy — and become

A thought — a smile — a rapture of the brain,

100 A presence that embraces all things felt.

A twilight glamour — faery fantasy.

Your two eyes in the shadow, stars that dream

In quiet waters of the evening, draw

My spirit to them and enfold me there,

105 Love. I would sleep, dear love I would forget.

Love I would sleep, you watching, covering me,

Charmed by your love and sheltered ‘neath love’s wing,

Sweet, let the world pass as this day has passed,

What do you murmur — sleeping? Then will I.

1912





O’ER THE CELESTIAL PATHWAYS


O’er the celestial pathways the mortal and immortal strays;

For earth is a swift dream of God, and man one shape within His brain.

And there man meeteth sun and moon, immortal shapes of nights and days,

And in God’s glad mood he is glad and in God’s petulance has pain.

And there he dreams his dreamer’s face; forgets, nor knows himself a dream,

Until some shadow wavers by and leaves him but a trembling shade

To murmur in his impotence that nothing is, but all things seem,

And what they seem like man shall know when man beneath the dust is laid.

1912





DUST CALLETH TO DUST


A little dust whispered — a little grey dust,

As it whirled round my knees in the arms of the wind,

‘O wind lift me higher, sweet wind, lift me higher

To see through his eyes to the vast of his mind.’

Then I soon heard it murmur— ‘O brother, dear brother

How long must you guard that fierce temple of God?

So fixt to the earth and a foe to the wind —

O haste and with me kiss the cloud and the clod.’

1912





TO MICHAEL SHERBROOKE ON HEARING HIS RECITATION OF ‘THE RAVEN’


O! Keen magnificent pangs, luxurious opulent doom,

The exquisite tortures of death, felt, seen from the fullness of life,

A harrowing soul despair wrought out of a jewelled gloom,

My overcharged heart can endure not this pinnacled orient strife.

O master — take thought of our weakness, be not like God in his might;

He may forget — He is God, but why should you play with our hearts?

Lift them to ecstasy’s sunblaze, steep them in tear-dripping night.

1912





TWILIGHT II.


Mist-like its dusky panic creeps in the end to your proud heart:

O you will feel its kisses cold while it rends your limbs apart.

Have you not seen the withering rose and watched the lovely moon’s decay,

And more than mortal loveliness fade like the fainting stars away?

I have seen lovely thoughts forgot in wind, effacing dreams;

And dreams like roses wither leaving perfume not nor scent;

And I have tried to hold in net like silver fish the sweet starbeams,

But all these things are shadowed gleams of things beyond the firmament.

1913





AS A BESIEGED CITY


In the hushed pregnancy

And gleaming of hope,

When a joy’s infancy

Fills our stars’ horoscope,

5 Flowering like a mist

Heaven mixed but light unkist,

The soul is mixed in anguish,

For joy has not yet burst.

Expectant is the fear —

10 O! why the doubt?

Surely our friends are near,

And the strong foe cast out.

Ah! but if we are dead

In their loving fears, and shed

15 The tears for us in anguish,

And they turn from gates not burst.





CREATION


As the pregnant womb of night

Thrills with imprisoned light,

Misty, nebulous-born,

Growing deeper into her morn,

5 So man, with no sudden stride

Bloomed into pride.

In the womb of the All-spirit

The universe lay; the will

Blind, an atom, lay still,

10 The pulse of matter

Obeyed in awe

And strove to flatter

The rhythmic law.

But the will grew; nature feared

15 And cast off the child she reared,

Now her rival, instinct-led,

With her own powers impregnated.

Brain and heart, blood-fervid flowers,

Creation is each act of yours.

20 Your roots are God, the pauseless cause,

But your boughs sway to self-windy laws.

Perception is no dreamy birth

And magnifies transfigured earth.

With each new light, our eyes receive

25 A larger power to perceive.

If we could unveil our eyes,

Become as wise as the All-wise,

No love would be, no mystery.

Love and joy dwell in infinity.

30 Love begets love; reaching highest

We find a higher still, unseen

From where we stood to reach the first.

Moses must die to live in Christ,

The seed be buried to live to green.

35 Perfection must begin from worst.

Christ perceives a larger reachless love

More full, and grows to reach thereof.

The green plant yearns for its yellow fruit.

Perfection always is a root.

40 And joy, a motion that doth feed

Itself on light of its own speed,

And round its radiant circle runs,

Creating and devouring suns.

Thus human hunger nourisheth

45 The plan terrific — true design —

Makes music with the bones of death,

And soul knows soul to shine.

What foolish lips first framed ‘I sin’?

The virgin spirit grows within

50 To stature its eyes know to fail.

And all its edges weaken and pale

Where the flesh merges and is one;

A chalice of light for stagnation

To drink, but where no dust can come

55 Till the glass shatters and light is dumb.

Soul grows in freedom natural.

When in wild growths eventual

Its light casts shadow on other light,

All cry ‘That spirit is not white’.

60 As when God strides through the wrack of skies,

The plunging seas welcome paradise,

They say not ‘This dark period

Sheweth our bitter wrong to God’.

But revel in a dark delight,

65 And day is sweet and night is bright.

The jewelled green laughs myriadly.

The yearning pits swing and draw down

The rainbow-splintered mountains thrown

By wrestling giants beneath the sea.

70 An emanation like a voice

Spreads up, the spirits of our joys.

The sky receives it like an ear

Bent o’er the throbbing atmosphere.

Our thoughts like endless waterfalls

75 Are fed — to fill life’s palace halls

Until the golden gates do close

On endless gardens of repose.

A sun, long set, again shall rise,

Bloom in annihilation’s skies

80 Strong — strong — past ruin to endure,

More lost than bliss — than life more sure.

This universe shall be to me

Millions of years beneath the sea

Cast from my rock of changelessness

85 The centre of eternity.

And uncreated nothingness,

Found, what creation laboured for

The ultimate silence — Ah, no more

A happy fool in paradise,

90 But finite — wise as the All-wise. —





GLORY OF HUELESS SKIES


Glory of hueless skies

What pallid splendour flies

Like visible music touched

From the lute of our eyes.

5 The stars are sick and white

Old in the morning light

Like genius in a rabble

The obscure mars their might.

The forest of the world

10 Lights scattering hands have uphurled

The branches of thought are driven

The vapours of act are uncurled.

Deed against strenuous deed

Dark seed choking the seed

15 The impulses blind that blacken

The ways of life’s rough need.

Mountain and man and beast

Live flower and leaf diseased

Riot or revel in quiet

20 At the broad day’s feast.

1913





A QUESTION


What if you shut your eyes and look,

Yea, look with all the spirit’s eyes,

While mystic unrevealed skies

Unfold like pages of a book

Wherein new scenes of wonder rare

Are imaged, till the sense deceives

Itself, and what it sees believes —

Even what the soul has pictured there?





APPARITION


From her hair’s unfelt gold

My days are twined.

As the moon weaves pale daughters

Her hands may never fold.

Her eyes are hidden pools

Where my soul lies

Glimmering in their waters

Like faint and troubled skies.

Dream pure, her body’s grace,

A streaming light

Scatters delicious fire

Upon my limbs and face.





A CARELESS HEART


A little breath can make a prayer,

A little wind can take it

And turn it back again to air:

Then say, why should you make it?

An ardent thought can make a word,

A little ear can hear it,

A careless heart forget it heard:

Then why keep ever near it?





THE POET II


He takes the glory from the gold

For consecration of the mould,

He strains his ears to the clouds’ lips,

He sings the song they sang to him

And his brow dips

In amber that the seraphim

Have held for him and hold.

So shut in are our lives, so still,

That we see not of good or ill —

A dead world since ourselves are dead.

Till he, the master, speaks and lo!

The dead world’s shed,

Strange winds, new skies and rivers flow

Illumined from the hill.





THE BLIND GOD


Streaked with immortal blasphemies,

Betwixt his twin eternities

The shaper of mortal destinies

Sits in that limbo of dreamless sleep,

Some nothing that hath shadows deep.

The world is only a small pool

In the meadows of Eternity,

And the wise man and the fool

In its depths like fishes lie.

When an angel drops a rod

And he draws you to the sky

Will you bear to meet your God

You have streaked with blasphemy?

1913





WALK YOU IN MUSIC, LIGHT OR NIGHT


Walk you in music, light or night,

Spelled on your brows, plain to men’s sight

Is death and darkness written clear.

God only can neither read nor hear.

Ah men, ye are so skilled to write

This doom so dark in letters bright.

But how can God read human fear

Who cannot dry a human tear?

1913





TWILIGHT III


A sumptuous splendour of leaves

Murmurously fanning the evening heaven;

And I hear

In the soft living grey shadows,

In the brooding evanescent atmosphere,

The voice of impatient night.

The splendour shall vanish in a vaster splendour;

Its own identity shall lose itself,

And the golden glory of day

Give birth to the glimmering face of the twilight,

And she shall grow into a vast enormous pearl maiden

Whose velvet tresses shall envelop the world — Night.





O, BE THESE MEN AND WOMEN


O, be these men and women

That pass and cry like blowing flakes,

Seeking the parent cloud,

Seeking the parent sea?

5 Or like famished flames that fly

On a separate root of fire

Far from the nurturing furnace.

Or like scent from the flower

That hovers in doubt afar,

10 Or the colour of grasses

That flies to the spirit and spreads.

Are these things your dreams

That I too can watch?

When I dream my dreams

15 Do you see them too?

When the ghosts depart

Can you follow them,

Though I see them not.





A WARM THOUGHT FLICKERS


A warm thought flickers

An idle ray —

Being is one blush at root.

For the hours’ ungentle doom

5 Where one forsaking face

Hides ever — hides for our sighing

Is a hard bright leaf over clover

And bee-bitten shade.

What moons have hidden

10 Their month-long shine,

What buds uncover

And plead in vain,

While one opaque thought wearies

The weary lids of grief?

15 One thought too heavy

For words to bear,

For lips too tired

To curl to them.

1913





SONG


A silver rose to show

Is your sweet face,

And like the heavens’ white brow,

Sometime God’s battle place,

Your blood is quiet now.

Your body is a star

Unto my thought.

But stars are not too far

And can be caught —

Small pools their prisons are.





SPRING


I walk and I wonder

To hear the birds sing —

Without you my lady

How can there be Spring?

5 I see the pink blossoms

That slept for a year,

But who could have woke them

While you were not near?

Birds sing to the blossoms,

10 Blind, dreaming your pink;

These blush to the songsters,

Your music they think.

So well had you taught them

To look and to sing,

15 Your bloom and your music,

The ways of the Spring.





ON A LADY SINGING


She bade us listen to the singing lark

In tones far sweeter than its own.

For fear that she should cease and leave us dark

We built the bird a feigned throne,

Shrined in her gracious glory-giving ways

From sceptred hands of starred humility.

Praising herself the more in giving praise

To music less than she.

1913





AS A SWORD IN THE SUN


As a sword in the sun —

A glory calling a glory —

Our eyes seeing it run

Capture its gleam for our story.

Singer, marvellous gleam

Dancing in splendid light,

Here you have brought us our dream —

Ah! but its stay is its flight.





AT SEA-POINT


Let the earth crumble away,

The heavens fade like a breath,

The sea go up in a cloud,

And its hills be given to death.

5 For the roots of the earth are old,

And the pillars of heaven are tired.

The hands that the sea enfold

Have seen a new desired.

All things upon my sense

10 Are wasted spaces dull,

Since one shape passed like a song

Let God all things annul.

A lie with its heart hidden

Is that cruel wall of air

15 That held her there unbidden,

Who comes not at my prayer.

Gone who yet never came.

There is the breathing sea,

And the shining skies are the same,

20 But they lie — they lie to me.

For she stood with the sea below,

Between the sky and the sea,

She flew ere my soul was aware,

But left this thirst in me.

1914





O HEART, HOME OF HIGH PURPOSES


O heart, home of high purposes,

O hand with craft and skill,

Say, why this meagre dalliance

To do such greatness ill?

5 Marshal the flame-winged legions, yours, —

The thunder and the beauty;

Sweeten these sunsoiled days of ours,

We need your wizard duty.

Our parched lips yearn for music yet.

10 Find us some gate in air

To leave our world-stained lives behind,

And live a life more fair.

The vagrant clouds are alive with light

When the sun shines and sings,

15 When the wind blows they race in flight

So happy in their wings.

Help us, the helpless, breathe thy breath,

Show us new flowers, new ways to live,

Thy glory thaw our lips of death,

20 To you your feel of power we’ll give.

1914





OF ANY OLD MAN


Wreck not the ageing heart of quietness

With alien uproar and rude jolly cries,

Which satyr-like to a mild maiden’s pride

Ripens not wisdom, but a large recoil.

Give them their withered peace, their trial grave,

Their past youth’s three-scored shadowy effigy.

Mock them not with your ripened turbulence,

Their frost-mailed petulance with your torrid wrath,

While edging your boisterous thunders shivers one word,

Pap to their senile sneering, drug to truth.

The feigned ramparts of bleak ignorance.

‘Experience’ — crown of naked majesties,

That tells us nought we know not — but confirms.

O think! you reverend, shadowy, austere,

Your Christ’s youth was not ended when he died.

1914





INVISIBLE ANCIENT ENEMY OF MINE


Invisible ancient enemy of mine

My house’s foe

To rich my pride with wrongful suffering

Your vengeful gain

5 Coward and striker in the pit lined dark

Lie to my friends

Feed the world’s jealousy and pamper woe.

When I had bowed

I felt your smile, when my large spirit groaned

10 And hid its fire

Because another spirit leaned on it,

I knew you near.

O that the tortured spirit could amass

All the world’s pains,

15 How I would cheat you, leaving none for life,

You would recount

All you have piled on me, self-tortured count

Through all eternity.

1914





AT NIGHT


Crazed shadow from no golden body

That I can see, embraces me warm;

All is purple and closed

Round by night’s arm.

5 A brilliance wings from dark-lit voices,

Wild lost voices of shadows white.

See the long houses lean

To the weird flight.

Star-amorous things that wake at sleep-time

10 (Because the sun spreads wide like a tree

With no good fruit for them)

Thrill secrecy.

Pale horses ride before the morning

The secret roots of the sun to tread,

15 With hoofs shod with venom

And ageless dread,

To breathe on burning emerald grasses,

And opalescent dews of the day,

And poison at the core

20 What smiles may stray.

1914





SUBJECTIVITY


At my eyes’ anchoring levels

The pigmy skies foam over

The flat earth my senses see;

A vapour my lips might stir —

5 The heat of my breath might wither.

Strong eyes unfed, not baffled.

Yon bright and moving vapour

In a moment fades.

The beamy air, the roofless silence,

10 The smoke-throated, man-thundered street,

Die to an essence, a love spirit.

Whose feet compounded are

As my own breath back brought.

All things, that, brooding, are still,

15 Speak to me, untwist and twi