Page images

He seemed to hear a murmuring stream And see her face within the pool !
And gaze into a rippling pool
Beneath thick branches dark and cool He'd known her always. Why, at school
And gazing, gazing till a gleam

They'd sat together in the class.
Within the darkness caught his eyes, He'd always liked her well enough,
He saw there smiling up at him

Young Polly Dale - and they had played A young girl's face, now rippling dim, At Prisoners' Base and Who's Afraid, Now ilashing clear ...

At Tiggy and at Blindman's Buff,

Without surprise A hundred times together He marked the eyes translucent blue,

Ay, The full red lips that seemed to speak, He'd always known her ... It was The curves of rounded chin and cheek,

strange, The low, broad brow, sun-tanned ... Though he had noticed that a change

He knew Had come upon her she was shy, That face, yet could not call to mind And quieter, since she left school Where he had seen it; and in vain And put her hair up he'd not seen Strove to recall . when sudden rain Her face, till from the glancing sheen Crashed down and made the clear pool blind, It looked up at him from the pool . . And it was lost ...

And, with a jerk He'd always known her. Every day, That well-night shook him from his seat, He'd nod to her as they would pass. He wakened to the steamy heat

He'd always known her, as a lass . And clank and rattle.

He'ld never know her just that way

Still at work Again now The stolid mare kept on; and still

In a different wise Over her hot, white flanks the flies

They'ld meet — for how could he forget Hung humming. And his dazzled eyes

His dream ... The next time that they Closed gradually again, until

met He dozed ...

He’ld look into a woman's eyes.
And stood within the door
Of Dinchill dairy, drinking there
Thirst-quenching draughts of stone-cold

The scoured white shelves and sanded floor 'Twas jolly, swinging through the air,
And shallow milk-pans creamy-white With young Dick Garland sitting there
Gleamed coldly in the dusky light ., Tugging the rope with might and main,
And then he saw her, stooping down His round face flushed, his arms astrain,
Over a milk-pan, while her eyes

His laughing blue eyes shining bright, Looked up at him without surprise As they went swinging through the light Over the shoulder of her gown

As they went swinging, ever higher Her fresh print gown of speedwell blue ... Until it seemed that they came nigher The eyes that looked out of the cool At every swing to the blue sky — Untroubled crystal of the pool

Until it seemed that by-and-by Looked into his again.

The boat would suddenly swing through He knew

That sunny dazzle of clear blue
Those eyes now

And they, together ...
From his dreamy doze

A sudden jolting of the rake

She'd hardly thought she'ld get away: Aroused him.

The mistress was that cross, and she
Startled broad awake Had only told her after tea
He sat upright, lost in amaze

That ere she left she must set to
That he should dream of her - that lass! And turn the parlour out. She knew,


[ocr errors]

Ay, well enough, that it meant more As

up and down and up and down
Than two hours' work. And so at four Beyond the low roofs of the town
She'd risen that morn; and done it all They swung and swung
Before her mistress went to call
And batter at her bedroom door

And he was glad At six to rouse her. Such a floor,

To pay for her, the foolish lad, So hard to sweep; and all that brass

And happy to be swinging there To polish! Any other lass

With her, and rushing through the air, But her would have thrown up the place,

So high into the burning blue And told the mistress to her face ...

It seemed that they would swing right

through . But how could she! Her money meant 'Twas well that she had caught the train, So much to them at home.

'Twas spent

She'd had to run with might and main So quickly, though so hard to earn. To catch it: and Dick waiting there She'd got to keep her place, and learn With tickets ready ... To hold her tongue. Though it was hard,

How his hair The little house in Skinner's Yard

Shone in the sunshine, and the light Must be kept going. She would rob Made his blue, laughing eyes so bright The bairns if she should lose her job, Whenever he looked up at her . And they'd go hungry ...

Since the night She’ld like to sit, and never stir They'd brought home father, cold and Again out of that easy seat white,

With no more mats to shake and beat Upon a stretcher, mother and she

And no more floors to sweep, no stairs Had had to struggle ceaselessly

To scrub, and no more heavy chairs To keep a home together at all.

To move for she was sleepy now 'Twas lucky she was big and tall

Dick's hair had fallen over his brow And such a strong lass for fifteen.

Into his eyes.

He shook them free, She couldn't think where they'ld have been And laughed to her. 'Twas queer that he

' If she'd not earned enough to feed

Should think it worth his while to pay, And help to keep the bairns from need And give her such a holiday Those five young hungry mouths . .. But she was sleepy now.

'Twas rare, As they were rushing through the air And she

To see Dick's blue eyes shining bright For one long day beside the sea

As they went swinging through the light, Was having a rare holiday

As they went swinging ever higher 'Twas queer that Dick should want to pay

Until it seemed that they came nigher So much good money, hardly earned,

At every swing to the blue sky —
To bring her with him

Until it seemed that by-and-by
Their boat would suddenly swing through

That sunny dazzle of clear blue ...

How it burned, That blazing sun in the blue sky!

If she could swing for evermore And it was good to swing so high

With Dick above the golden shore, So high into the burning blue,

With no more parlour-floors to sweep Until it seemed they'ld swing right through If she could only swing and sleep

And wake to see Dick's eyes burn bright,

To see them laughing with delight And good just to be sitting there

As suddenly they swung right through And watching Dick with tumbled hair That sudden dazzle of clear blue And his red necktie floating free

And they two, sailing on together Against the blue of sky and sea,

For ever through that shining weather!

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

What if still in chasmal beauty looms that

wild weird western shore,
The woman now is elsewhere · whom

the ambling pony bore, And nor knows nor cares for Beeny, and

will laugh there nevermore.

And I heard them say “Home !” and I

knew them
For souls of the felled

On the earth's nether bord
Under Capricorn, whither they'd

And I neared in my awe, and gave heed-

fulness to them
With breathings inheld.



[ocr errors]

THE thick lids of Night closed upon me
Alone at the Bill

Then, it seemed, there approached from
Of the Isle by the Race ?

the northward Many-caverned, bald, wrinkled of face

A senior soul-flame And with darkness and silence the spirit

Of the like filmy hue: was on me

And he met them and spake: “Is it To brood and be still.

you, O my men?” Said they, “Aye! We

bear homeward and hearthward II

To feast on our fame!”
No wind fanned the flats of the ocean,
Or promontory sides,

Or the ooze by the strand,
Or the bent-bearded slope of the land, “I've flown there before you,” he said
Whose base took its rest mid everlong

then : motion

“Your households are well :
Of criss-crossing tides.

But -- your kin linger less
On your glory and war-mightiness

Than on dearer things.”. “Dearer?”

cried these from the dead then, Soon from out of the Southward seemed

“Of what do they tell ?”
A whirr, as of wings
Waved by mighty-vanned flies,

Or by night-moths of measureless size, Some mothers muse sadly, and murmur
And in softness and smoothness well-nigh Your doings as boys —
beyond hearing

Recall the quaint ways
Of corporal things.

Of your babyhood's innocent days.

Some pray that, ere dying, your faith IV

had grown firmer, And they bore to the bluff, and alighted

And higher your joys.
A dim-discerned train
Of sprites without mould,

Frameless souls none might touch or

A father broods: ‘Would I had set him might hold –

To some humble trade, On the ledge by the turreted lantern,

And so slacked his high fire,

And his passionate martial desire;
By men of the main.

Had told him no stories to woo him and i The “Race" is the turbulent sea-area off the

whet him Bill of Portland, where contrary tides meet.

To this dire crusade!””

[blocks in formation]


“And, General, how hold out our sweet- And, towering to seaward in legions,

They paused at a spot
Sworn loyal as doves?”

Overbending the Race “Many mourn; many think That engulphing, ghast, sinister place It is not unattractive to prink

Whither headlong they plunged, to the Them in sables for heroes. Some fickle

fathomless regions
and fleet hearts

Of myriads forgot.
Have found them new loves.”

And the spirits of those who were homing

Passed on rushingly, “And our wives ?” quoth another re

Like the Pentecost Wind; signedly,

And the whirr of their wayfaring “Dwell they on our deeds?” "Deeds of home; that live yet And surceased on the sky, and but left in

thinned Fresh as new deeds of fondness or

the gloaming
Ancient words that were kindly expressed

Sea-mutterings and me.
or unkindly,
These, these have their heeds."


CHRISTMAS EVE and twelve of the clock. XII

“Now they are all on their knees,” - “Alas! then it seems that our glory An elder said as we sat in a flock Weighs less in their thought

By the embers in hearthside ease. Than our old homely acts, And the long-ago commonplace facts We pictured the meek mild creatures Of our lives - held by us as scarce part

of our story,

They dwelt in their strawy pen,
And rated as nought!"

Nor did it occur to one of us there

To doubt they were kneeling then.

[blocks in formation]
« EelmineJätka »