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Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on

the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall, The rabbit in his burrow keeps
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken

No guarded watch, in peace he sleeps; By the lonely Traveller's call.

The wolf that howls in challenging night

Cowers to her lair at morning light; And he felt in his heart their strangeness, The simplest bird entwines a nest Their stillness answering his cry,

Where she may lean her lovely breast, While his horse moved, cropping the dark Couched in the silence of the bough. turf,

But thou, O man, what rest hast thou? 'Neath the starred and leafy sky; For he suddenly smote on the door, even Louder, and lifted his head :

Thy emptiest solitude can bring “Tell them I came, and no one answered, Only a subtler questioning

In thy divided heart. Thy bed
That I kept my word,” he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,

Recalls at dawn what midnight said.
Though every word he spake

Seek how thou wilt to feign content, Fell echoing through the shadowiness of Thy flaming ardour is quickly spent;

Soon thy last company is gone, the still house

From the one man left awake:

And leaves thee — with thyself — alone. Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup, And the sound of iron on stone,

Pomp and great friends may hem thee And how the silence surged softly back

round, ward,

A thousand busy tasks be found;
When the plunging hoofs were gone. Earth's thronging beauties may beguile

Thy longing lovesick heart awhile;

And pride, like clouds of sunset, spread

A changing glory round thy head; SOFTLY along the road of evening,

But fade will all; and thou must come, In a twilight dim with rose,

Hating thy journey, homeless, home.
Wrinkled with age, and drenched with dew,
Old Nod, the shepherd, goes.

Rave how thou wilt; unmoved, remote,

That inward presence slumbers not, His drowsy flock streams on before him,

Frets out each secret from thy breast, Their fleeces charged with gold,

Gives thee no rally, pause, nor rest, To where the sun's last beam leans low

Scans close thy very thoughts, lest they On Nod the shepherd's fold.

Should sap his patient power away,

Answers thy wrath with peace, thy cry The hedge is quick and green with brier,

With tenderest taciturnity.
From their sand the conies creep;
And all the birds that fly in heaven
Flock singing home to sleep.

His lambs outnumber a noon's roses,

BE gentle, O hands of a child; a Yet, when night's shadows fall,

Be true: like a shadowy sea His blind old sheep-dog, Slumber-soon,

In the starry darkness of night Misses not one of all.

Are your eyes to me.

His are the quiet steeps of dreamland,

The waters of no more pain,
His ram's bell rings 'neath an arch of stars,

“Rest, rest, and rest again.”

But words are shallow, and soon
Dreams fade that the heart once knew;
And youth fades out in the mind,

In the dark eyes too.

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I think how, when our seasons all are But now my mind that gave to these sealed,

Gesture and shape, colour and song, Shall come the unchanging harvest from Goes hesitant and ill at ease, the field.

And the old touch is truant long,

Because the continents and seas I see the barns and comely manors planned

Are loud with lamentable wrong. By men who somehow moved in comely thought,

JAMES ELROY FLECKER Who, with a simple shippon to their hand,

THE OLD SHIPS As men upon some godlike business wrought;

I HAVE seen old ships sail like swans asleep I see the little cottages that keep

Beyond the village which men still cail Their beauty still where since Planta

Tyre, genet

With leaden age o'ercargoed, dipping deep Have come the shepherds happily to sleep, For Famagusta and the hidden sun

Finding the loaves and cups of cider set; That rings black Cyprus with a lake of fire; I see the twisted shepherds, brown and And all those ships were certainly so old old,

Who knows how oft with squat and noisy Driving at dusk their glimmering sheep to

gun, fold.

Questing brown slaves or Syrian oranges,

The pirate Genoese And now the valleys that upon the sun Hell raked them till they rolled Broke from their opal veils are veiled Blood, water, fruit, and corpses up the hold. again,

But now through friendly seas they softly And the last light upon the wolds is done,

run, And silence falls on flocks and fields and Painted the mid-sea blue or the shore-sea men;

green, And black upon the night I watch my hill, Still patterned with the vine and grapes in And the stars shine, and there an owly gold.

wing Brushes the night, and all again is still, But I have seen And, from this land of worship that I Pointing her shapely shadows from the sing,

dawn I turn to sleep, content that from my

sires And image tumbled on a rose-swept bay I draw the blood of England's midmost A drowsy ship of some yet older day; shires.

And, wonder's breath indrawn,

Thought I – who knows - who knows CLOUDS

but in that same

(Fished up beyond Aeaea, patched up new BECAUSE a million voices call

Stern painted brighter blue —) Across the earth distractedly,

That talkative, bald-headed seaman came Because the thrones of reason fall

(Twelve patient comrades sweating at the And beautiful battalions die, My mind is like a madrigal

From Troy's doom-crimson shore, Played on a lute long since put by. And with great lies about his wooden horse

Set the crew laughing, and forgot his In common use my mind is still Eager for every lovely thing

It was so old a ship — who knows who The solitudes of tarn and hill,

knows? Bright birds with honesty to sing,

And yet so beautiful, I watched in vain Bluebells and primroses that spill

To see the mast burst open with a rose, Cascades of colour on the spring. And the whole deck put on its leaves again.



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I care not if you bridge the seas,

Or ride secure the cruel sky, Or build consummate palaces

Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,

And statues and a bright-eyed love, And foolish thoughts of good and ill,

And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind

That falls at eve our fancies blow, And old Mæonides the blind

Said it three thousand years ago.

And, as into the tiny creek
We stole beneath the hanging crag,
We saw three queer, black, ugly birds –
Too big, by far, in my belief,
For guillemot or shag —
Like seamen sitting bolt-upright
Upon a half-tide reef:
But, as we near'd, they plunged from sight,
Without a sound, or spurt of white.
And still too mazed to speak,
We landed; and made fast the boat;
And climb'd the track in single file,
Each wishing he was safe afloat,
On any sea, however far,
So it be far from Flannan Isle:
And still we seem'd to climb, and climb,
As though we'd lost all count of time,
And so must climb for evermore.
Yet, all too soon, we reached the door
The black, sun-blister'd lighthouse-door,
That gaped for us ajar.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,

Student of our sweet English tongue, Read out my words at night, alone :

I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,

And never shake you by the hand, I send my soul through time and space

To greet you. You will understand.



As, on the threshold, for a spell,
We paused, we seem'd to breathe the smell
Of limewash and of tar,
Familiar as our daily breath,
As though 'twere some strange scent of

And so, yet wondering, side by side,
We stood a moment, still tongue-tied :
And each with black foreboding eyed
The door, ere we should fling it wide,

“Though three men dwell on Flannan Isle
To keep the lamp alight,
As we steer'd under the lee, we caught
No glimmer through the night!”

To leave the sunlight for the gloom :
Till, plucking courage up, at last,
Hard on each other's heels we pass'd
Into the living-room.

And fallen dead by the lighthouse wall:
And long we thought
On the three we sought,
And of what might yet befall.

Like curs a glance has brought to heel,
We listen'd, finching there:
And look’d, and look’d, on the untouch'd

And the overtoppled chair.

Yet, as we crowded through the door,
We only saw a table, spread
For dinner, meat and cheese and bread;
But all untouch'd; and no one there:
As though, when they sat down to eat,
Ere they could even taste,
Alarm had come; and they in haste
Had risen and left the bread and meat:
For at the table-head a chair
Lay tumbled on the floor.
We listen'd; but we only heard
The feeble cheeping of a bird
That starved upon its perch :
And, listening still, without a word,
We set about our hopeless search.

We seem'd to stand for an endless while,
Though still no word was said,
Three men alive on Flannan Isle,
Who thought on three men dead.


The night I left my father said:

“You'll go and do some stupid thing You've no more sense in that fat head

Than Silly Billy Witterling.

We hunted high, we hunted low,
And soon ransack'd the empty house;
Then o'er the Island, to and fro,
We ranged, to listen and to look
In every cranny, cleft or nook
That might have hid a bird or mouse:
But, though we search'd from shore to shore,
We found no sign in any place:
And soon again stood face to face
Before the gaping door :
And stole into the room once more
As frighten'd children steal.

“Not sense to come in when it rains

Not sense enough for that, you've got. You'll get a bullet through your brains,

Before you know, as like as not."

And now I'm lying in the trench

And shells and bullets through the night Are raining in a steady drench,

I'm thinking the old man was right.

Aye: though we hunted high and low,

And hunted everywhere,
Of the three men's fate we found no trace The smell of wet hay in the heat
Of any kind in any place,

All morning steaming round him rose,
But a door ajar, and an untouch'd meal, As, in a kind of nodding doze,
And an overtoppled chair.

Perched on the hard and jolting seat,

He drove the rattling jangling rake And, as we listen'd in the gloom

Round and around the Five Oaks Mead. Of that forsaken living-room

With that old mare he scarcely need A chill clutch on our breath

To drive at all or keep awake. We thought how ill-chance came to all Gazing with half-shut eyes Who kept the Flannan Light:

At her white flanks and grizzled tail And how the rock had been the death That flicked and ficked without avail, Of many a likely lad:

To drive away the cloud of flies How six had come to a sudden end

That hovered, closing and unclosing, And three had gone stark mad :

A shimmering hum and humming shimmer, And one whom we'd all known as friend Dwindling dim and ever dimmer Had leapt from the lantern one still night, In his dazzled sight, till, dozing,

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