Wednesday, August 16, 2017

THE MAN HE KILLED

“Had he and I but met
  By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
  Right many a nipperkin!

  “But ranged as infantry,
  And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
  And killed him in his place.

  “I shot him dead because -
  Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
    That’s clear enough; although

    “He thought he’d ’list, perhaps,
    Off-hand like - just as I -
Was out of work - had sold his traps -
    No other reason why.

    “Yes; quaint and curious war is!
    You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat if met where any bar is.
    Or help to half-a-crown.”
103
-o0o-

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

THE IMPERCIPIENT
(at a Cathedral Service)

That from this bright believing band
An outcast I should be,
That faiths by which my comrades stand
Seem fantasies to me,
And mirage-mists their Shining Land,
Is a drear destiny.

Why thus my soul should be consigned
To infelicity,
Why always I must feel as blind
To sights my brethren see,
Why joys they've found I cannot find,
Abides a mystery.

Since heart of mine knows not that ease
Which they know; since it be
That He who breathes All's Well to these
Breathes no All's Well to me,
My lack might move their sympathies
And Christian charity!

I am like a gazer who should mark
An inland company
Standing upfingered, with, "Hark! hark!
The glorious distant sea!"
And feel, "Alas, 'tis but yon dark
And wind-swept pine to me!"

Yet I would bear my shortcomings
With meet tranquillity,
But for the charge that blessed things
I'd liefer have unbe.

O, doth a bird deprived of wings
Go earth-bound wilfully!
. . . .
Enough. As yet disquiet clings
About us. Rest shall we. 
102
-o0o-

Monday, August 14, 2017

FAINTHEART IN A RAILWAY TRAIN

At nine in the morning there passed a church, 
At ten there passed me by the sea, 
At twelve a town of smoke and smirch, 
At two a forest of oak and birch, 
And then, on a platform, she. 

A radiant stranger, who saw not me, 
I said, “Get out to her do I dare?” 
But I kept my seat in my search for a plea, 
And the wheels moved on. O could it but be 
That I had alighted there!
101
-o0o-

Sunday, August 13, 2017

TO A WELL-NAMED DWELLING

Glad old house of lichened stonework,
What I owed you in my lone work,
Noon and night!
Whensoever faint or ailing,
Letting go my grasp and failing,
You lent light.

How by that fair title came you?
Did some forward eye so name you
Knowing that one,
Sauntering down his century blindly,
Would remark your sound, so kindly,
And be won?

Smile in sunlight, sleep in moonlight,
Bask in April, May, and June-light,
Zephyr-fanned;
Let your chambers show no sorrow,
Blanching day, or stuporing morrow,
While they stand.
100
-o0o-

Saturday, August 12, 2017

SNOW IN THE SUBURBS

Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward, when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.
The palings are glued together like a wall,
And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.

A sparrow enters the tree,
Whereon immediately
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him and showers his head and eyes,
And overturns him,
And near inurns him,
And lights on a nether twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.

The steps are a blanched slope,
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
And we take him in.
99
-o0o-

Friday, August 11, 2017

I WAS THE MIDMOST

I was the midmost of my world
When first I frisked me free,
For though within its circuit gleamed
But a small company,
And I was immature, they seemed
To bend their looks on me.

She was the midmost of my world
When I went further forth,
And hence it was that, whether I turned
To south, east, west, or north,
Beams of an all-day Polestar burned
From that new axe of earth.

Where now is midmost in my world?
I trace it not at all:
No midmost shows it here, or there,
When wistful voices call
"We are fain! We are fain!" from everywhere
On Earth's bewildering ball!
98
-o0o-

Thursday, August 10, 2017

ON THE DEPARTURE PLATFORM

We kissed at the barrier ; and passing through
She left me, and moment by moment got
Smaller and smaller, until to my view
                She was but a spot ;

A wee white spot of muslin fluff
That down the diminishing platform bore
Through hustling crowds of gentle and rough
               To the carriage door.

Under the lamplight’s fitful glowers,
Behind dark groups from far and near,
Whose interests were apart from ours,
                 She would disappear,

Then show again, till I ceased to see
That flexible form, that nebulous white ;
And she who was more than my life to me
                 Had vanished quite.

We have penned new plans since that fair fond day,
And in season she will appear again -
Perhaps in the same soft white array -
                 But never as then !

- "And why, young man, must eternally fly
A joy you’ll repeat, if you love her well ?"
- O friend, nought happens twice thus ; why,
                 I cannot tell !
97
-o0o-