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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



THE ELFIN ARTIST



WORKS OF ALFRED NO YES



COLLECTED POEMS 2 Vols.

THE LORD OF MISRULE

A BELGIAN CHRISTMAS EVE

THE WINE- PRESS

WALKING SHADOWS Prose

TALES OF THE MERMAID TAVERN

SHERWOOD

THE ENCHANTED ISLAND

AND OTHER POEMS
DRAKE: AN ENGLISH EPIC
POEMS

THE FLOWER OF OLD JAPAN
THE GOLDEN HYNDE
THE NEW MORNING




AND OTHER POEMS



BY
ALFRED NOYES




NEW YORK

FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
PUBLISHERS



Copyright, 1919, 1920, by
ALFRED NOYES



Copyright, 1920, by
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY



All rights reserved, including -that of translation
into foreign languages.



6027



TO

MY WIFE



1Q274Q1



CONTENTS

PAGE

THE ELFIN ARTIST i

EARTH AND HER BIRDS 4

MOUNTAIN LAUREL 6

SEA-DISTANCES 10

THE INN OF APOLLO 12

THE VICTORIOUS DEAD 14

PETER QUINCE 18

THE GREEN MAN 23

THE SILVER CROOK 26

THE SUSSEX SAILOR 34

THE BEE IN CHURCH 37

IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 39

INTERPRETATIONS 43

THE IMMIGRANTS 45

THE MAYFLOWER 46

THE MAN THAT WAS A MULTITUDE ... 52

THE RIDDLES OF MERLIN 60

THE LAST OF THE SNOW 63

A SPRING HAT 67

A MEETING 7 1

THE ISLE OF MEMORIES 74

vii



CONTENTS

PAGE

BEAUTY IN DARKNESS ........ 7 8

HOUSE-HUNTING 79

A BALLAD OF THE EASIER WAY 82

CUBISM 84

A DEVONSHIRE SONG 86

A DEVONSHIRE CHRISTMAS 89

THE BRIDE-ALE 93

THE UNCHANGING 100

BEAUTIFUL ON THE BOUGH 102

As WE FORGIVE 104

THE MAKING OF A POEM 107

To AN "UNPRACTICAL MAN" 108

CHRISTMAS, 1919 109

DISTANT VOICES in

FOR A BOOK OF TALES IJ 3

A SKY SONG 115

A RETURN FROM THE AIR 117

COURT-MARTIAL 119

A VICTORY DANCE . 122

THE RHYTHM OF LIFE 126

THE ROLL OF HONOUR 127

To CERTAIN PHILOSOPHERS 131

A CHANT OF THE AGES 132

THE GIPSY 145

THE GARDEN OF PEACE 147

IN MEMORIAM: HENRY LA BARRE JAYNE . . 152

viii



CONTENTS

PAGE

THE RUSTLING OF GRASS 154

THE REMEMBERING GARDEN 155

THE TRUE REBELLION 157

To THE PESSIMISTS icg

FOUR SONGS, AFTER VERLAINE 165

I. Autumn x6r

II. Rain X 66

III. Illusion 167

IV. The Angel !6y

THE STATUE ij O

DEDICATION c



IX



THE ELFIN ARTIST



IN a glade of an elfin forest
When Sussex was Eden-new,
I came on an elvish painter

And watched as his picture grew.
A harebell nodded beside him.
He dipt his brush in the dew.

And it might be the wild thyme round him
That shone in that dark strange ring;

But his brushes were bees' antennae,
His knife was a wasp's blue sting;

And his gorgeous exquisite palette
Was a butterfly's fan-shaped wing.

And he mingled its powdery colours
And painted the lights that pass,

On a delicate cobweb canvas

That gleamed like a magic glass,

And bloomed like a banner of elf-land,
Between two stalks of grass;

[i]



THE ELFIN ARTIST

Till it shone like an angel's feather

With sky-born opal and rose,
And gold from the foot of the rainbow,

And colours that no man knows;
And I laughed in the sweet May weather,

Because of the themes he chose.

For he painted the things that matter,

The tints that we all pass by,
Like the little blue wreaths of incense

That the wild thyme breathes to the sky;
Or the first white bud of -the hawthorn,

And the light in a blackbird's eye ;

And the shadows on soft white cloud-peaks

That carolling skylarks throw,
Dark dots on the slumbering splendours

That under the wild wings flow,
Wee shadows like violets trembling

On the unseen breasts of snow;

With petals too lovely for colour
That shake to the rapturous wings,

[2]



THE ELFIN ARTIST

And grow as the bird draws near them,
And die as he mounts and sings;

Ah, -only those exquisite brushes

Could paint these marvellous things.



[3]



EARTH AND HER BIRDS

(SHADOW-OF-A-LEAF SINGS)

BRAVE birds that climb those blue
Dawn-tinted towers,
With notes like showers of dew

From elf-tossed flowers,
Shake your mad wings in mirth,
Betray, betray

The secret thoughts of May,
That heaven, once more, may marry our
wild earth.

Dark gipsy, she would dance

Unmated still,
Challenging, glance for glance,

Her lord's high will,
But that her thoughts take wing

While she lies sleeping;

And, into glory leaping,
Like birds, at sunrise, to her bride-groom
sing.

[4]



EARTH AND HER BIRDS

See how with cheeks aglow

And lips apart,
While warm winds, murmuring low

Lay bare her heart,
She dreams that she can hide

Its rosy light

In ferns and flowers this night,
And swim like Dian through this hawthorn-
tide.

Then shame her, lavrocks, shame her,
At break of day,

That heaven may trap and tame her
This mad sweet May.

Let all your feathered choir
Leave those warm nests
Between her dawn-flushed breasts,

And soar to heaven, singing her young de-
sire.



MOUNTAIN LAUREL*

(A Connecticut poet returns to his hills singing)

I HAVE been wandering in the lonely valleys,
Where mountain laurel grows
And, in among the rocks, and the tall dark pine-
trees

The foam of the young bloom flows,
In a riot of rose-white stars, all drenched with. the

dew-fall,

And musical with the bee,
Let the fog-bound cities over their dead wreaths

quarrel.
Wild laurel for me I

Wild laurel mountain laurel

Bright as the breast of a cloud at break of day,
White- flowering laurel, wild mountain laurel,

Rose-dappled snowdrifts, warm with the honey
of May!

* Dedicated to my friends Carl and E. B. Stoeckel, in memory
of one of their music festivals at Norfolk, Connecticut.

[6]



MOUNTAIN LAUREL

On the happy hill-sides, in the green valleys of

Connecticut,
Where the trout-streams go carolling to the

sea,
I have laughed with the lovers of song and heard

them singing
"Wild laurel for me!"

Far, far away is the throng that has never known

beauty,

Or looked upon unstained skies.
Dfd they think that my songs would scramble for

withered bay-leaves

In the streets where the brown fog lies?
They never have seen their wings, then, beating

westward,

To the heights where song is free,
To the hills where the laurel is drenched with the

dawn's own colours,
Wild laurel for me 1

Wild laurel mountain laurel

Where Robert o' Lincoln sings in the dawn and
the dew,

[7]



MOUNTAIN LAUREL

White-flowering laurel wild mountain laurel
Where song springs fresh from the heart, and

the heart is true!
They have gathered the sheep to their fold, but

where is the eagle?
They have bridled their steeds, but when have

they tamed the sea,
They have caged the wings, but never the heart

of the singer,
'Wild laurel for me!"

If I never should find you again, O, lost com-
panions,

When the rose-red month begins,
With the wood-smoke curling blue by the Indian

river,

And the sound of the violins,
In dreams the breath of your green glens would

still haunt me,
Where night and her stars, drawing down on

blossom and tree,
Turn earth to heaven, and whisper their love till

daybreak.
Wild laurel for me !

[8]



MOUNTAIN LAUREL

Wild laurel mountain laurel

O t mount again, wild wings, to the stainless

blue,

White-flowering laurel, wild mountain laurel,
And all the glory of song that the young heart

knew.
I have lived. I have loved. I have sung in the

happy valleys,

Where the trout-streams go carolling to the sea,
I have met the lovers of song in the sunset bring-
ing
"Wild laurel for me!"



[91



SEA-DISTANCES

HIS native sea-washed isle
Was bleak and bare.
Far off, there seemed to smile
An isle more fair.

Blue as the smoke of Spring

Its far hills rose,
A delicate azure ring

Crowned with faint snows.

At dusk, a rose-red star
Set free from wrong,

It beaconed him afar,
His whole life long.

Not till old age drew nigh

He voyaged there.
He saw the colours die

As he drew near.
[10]



SEA-DISTANCES

It towered above him, bleak

And cold, death-cold.
From peak to phantom peak

A grey mist rolled.

Then, under his arched hand,
From that bare shore,

Back, at his own dear land,
He gazed, once more.

Clothed with the tints he knew,

He saw it smile,
Opal, and rose and blue,

His native isle.



[Hi



THE INN OF APOLLO

HAVE you supped at the Inn of Apollo,
While the last light fades from the

West?
Has the Lord of the sun, at the world's end,

Poured you his ripest and best?.
O, there's wine in that Inn of Apollo;

Wine, mellow and deep as the sunset,

With mirth in it, singing as loud
As the skylark sings in a high wind,

High oVer a crisp white cloud.
Have you laughed in that Inn of Apollo?

Was the whole world molten in music

At once, by the heat of that wine?
Did the stars and the tides and your own heart

Dance with the heavenly Nine?
For they dance in that Inn of Apollo.

[12]



THE INN OF APOLLO

Was their poetry croaked by the sages,
Or born in a whisper of wings?

For the music that masters the ages,
Be sure, is the music that sings!

Yes, they sing in that Inn of Apollo.



[131



THE VICTORIOUS DEAD



NOW, for their sake, our lands grow lovelier,
There's not one grey cliff shouldering
back the sea,

Nor one forsaken hill that does not wear
The visible radiance of their memory.

Our highlands are not lonely as of old;

For all their crags with that pure light are

crowned;

And, round our Sussex farms, from fold to fold,
Tread where you will, you tread on haunted
ground.

There's not one glen where happy hearts could

roam

That is not filled with tenderer shadows now.
There's not one lane that used to lead them home
But breathes their thoughts to-day from every
bough.



THE VICTORIOUS DEAD

There's not one leaf on all these quickening trees,
Nor way-side flower but breathes their messages.



II

Now, in the morning of a nobler age,

Though night-born eyes, long-taught to fear

the sun,
Would still delay that glorious heritage,

Make firm, O God, the peace our dead have
won.

For folly shakes the tinsel on its head

And points us back to darkness and to hell,

Cackling, "Beware of visions," while our dead
Whisper, "It was for visions that we fell."

They never knew the secret game of power.

All that this earth can give they thrust aside.
They crowded all their youth into an hour,

And, for one fleeting dream of right, they died.

Oh, if we fail them, in that awful trust,
How should we bear those voices from the dust?
[15]



THE VICTORIOUS DEAD

III

You, broken-hearted, comfort you again I
Eternal Justice guards the gift they gave.

The goal of all that struggling hope and pain
Is not the sophists' universal grave.

Our sun shall perish; but they cannot die.

Their realm of light is far more true than ours.
Behind the veil of earth and sea and sky

They live and move and work with nobler
powers.

They have thrust wide open every long-locked
portal

Of man's dark mind to that eternal light;
Cast off this flesh in proof of things immortal,

And built an altar that out-shines our night.

The faith they proved is of immortal worth.
The souls that proved it are not dust and earth.
[16]



THE VICTORIOUS DEAD

IV

A little while we may not see their eyes

Or touch their hands, for they are far too near;

But soul to soul, the life that never dies

Speaks to the life that waits its freedom here.

They have made 1 their land one living shrine.

Their words
Are breathed in glory from each woodland

bough;
And, where the may-tree shakes with song of

birds,
Their young unwhispered joys are singing now.

By meadow and mountain, river and hawthorn-
brake,

In sacramental peace, from sea to sea,
The land they loved grows lovelier for their sake,

Shines with their hope, enshrines their memory,

Communes with heaven again, and makes us

whole,

Through man's new faith in man's immortal soul.
[I?]



PETER QUINCE

PETER QUINCE was nine years old,
When he see'd what never was told.

When he crossed the fairy fern,
Peter had no more to learn.

Just as the day began to die,
He see'd 'em rustling on the sky;

Ferns, like small green finger-prints
Pressed against them rosy tints,

Mother-o'-pearl and opal tinges
Dying along their whispering fringes,

Every colour, as it died,
Beaconing, Come, to the other side.

Up he crept, by the shrew-mouse track,
A robin chirped, You ivoant come back.
[18]



PETER QUINCE

Through the ferns he crept to look.



There he found a gurt wide book;

Much too big for a child to hold.
Its clasps were made of sunset gold.

It smelled like old ship's timbers do.
He began to read it through.

All the magic pictures burned,
Like stained windows, as he turned

Page by big black-lettered page,
Thick as cream, and ripe with age

There he read, till all grew dim.
Then green glow-worms lighted him.

There he read till he forgot
All that ever his teachers taught.


Someone, old as the moon, crept back,
Late that night by the shrew-mouse track.

[19]



PETER QUINCE

Someone, taller maybe, by an inch.
Boys grow fast. He'll do at a pinch.

Only, folks that know'd him claim
Peter's wits were never the same.

Ev'ryone said that Peter Quince
H'aint been never the same child since.

Now he'd sit, in a trance, for hours,
Talkin' softly to bees and flowers.

Now, in the ingle-nook at night,
Turn his face from the candle-light;

Till, as you thought him fast asleep,
You'd see his eyes were wide and deep ;

And, in their wild magic glow,
Rainbow colours 'ud come and go.

Dame Quince never could wholly wake him,
So they say, tho' she'd call and shake him.

He sat dreaming. He sat bowed
In a white sleep, like a cloud.

[20]



PETER QUINCE

Over his dim face at whiles,
Flickered liddle elvish smiles.


Once, the robin at the pane,
Tried to chirp the truth again.

Peter Quince has crossed the fern.
Peter Quince will not return.

Drive the changeling from your chair !
That's not Pfter dreaming there.

Peter's crossed the fern to look.
Peter's found the magic book.

Ah, Dame Quince was busy sobbin',
So she couldn't hear poor Robin.

And the changeling, in a dream,
Supped that night, on pears and cream.

Night by night, he cleared his platter;
And from moon to moon grew fatter;

Mostly dumb, or muttering dimly
When the smoke blew down the chimley,

[21]



PETER QUINCE

Peter's turned another page,
I have almost earned my wage.

Then the good dame's eyelids shone.


This was many a year agone.
Peter Quince is reading on.



[22]



i



THE GREEN MAN

N those old days at Brighthelmstone,

When art was half Chinese,
And Venus, dipped by Martha Gunn,

Improved the shining seas;
When every dandy walked the Steyne

In something strange and new,
The Green Man,
The Green Man,

Made quite a how-dy-doo.

Green pantaloons, green waistcoat,

Green frock and green cravat,
Green gloves and green silk handkerchief,

Green shoes and tall green hat,
He took the air in a green gig,

From eight o'clock till ten;
O, the Green Man,

The Green Man,

Was quite successful then.
[23]



THE GREEN MAN

And though, beneath that golden dome,

That Chinese pup of Paul's,
With snow and azure, rose and foam,

He danced at routs and balls,
Though all the laughing flowers on earth

Around the room he'd swing,
The Green Man,

The Green Man,

Remained a leaf of Spring.

His rooms, they said, his chairs, his bed,

Were green as meadows are.
He dined on hearts of lettuces.

He wore an emerald star.
O, many a fop in blue and gold

His little hour might shine,
Till the Green Man,

The Green Man,

Came strutting up the Steyne.

His name, I think, was William White,

He wished to keep it green.
His fond ambition reached its height

When Brighton's frolic queen,
[24]



THE GREEN MAN

FitzHerbert, stopped her crimson chairv

And dropped her flirting fan,
With "Tee, hee, hee !

O, look! O, see!

Here comes that odd Green Man!'*

Alack, he reached it all too well,

Despite his will to fame,
Thenceforth he shone for beau and belle

By that ambiguous name;
So William White was quite forgot,

By matron, fop, and maid;
Ay, White became

The Green Man;

Became an April shade.

Now, even his green and ghostly gig,

The green whip in his hand,
The green lights in his powdered wig,

Are vanished from the land.
Green livery, darkling emerald star, . . ,

Not even their wraiths are seen.
And nobody knows

The Green Man,

Although his grave is green.
[25]



THE SILVER CROOK

/WAS mistuk, once, for the Poape of
Roame . . .

The drawled fantastic words came floating down
Behind me, five long years ago, when last
I left the old shepherd, Bramble, by his fold.
Bramble was fond, you'll judge, of his own

tales,

And cast a gorgeous fly for the unwary:
But I was late, and could not listen then,
Despite his eager leer.

Yet, many a night,

And many a league from home, out of a dream
Of white chalk coasts, and roofs of Horsham

stone,

Coloured like russet apples, there would come
Music of sheep-bells, baaing of black-nosed lambs,
Barking of two wise dogs, crushed scents of

thyme,

A silver crook, bright as the morning star.
[26]



THE SILVER CROOK

Above the naked downs. Then Bramble's voice,
/ was mistuk, once, for the Poape of Roame,
Would almost wake me, wondering what he

meant.

Now, five years later, while the larks went up
Over the dew-ponds in a wild-winged glory,
And all the Sussex downs, from weald to sea,
Were patched like one wide crazy quilt, in squares
Of yellow and crimson, clover and mustard-flower,
Edged with white chalk, I found him once again.
He leaned upon his crook, unbudged by war,
Unchanged, and leering eagerly as of old.

How should I paint old Bramble the shrewd

face,
Brown as the wrinkled loam, the bright brown

eyes,

The patriarchal beard, the moleskin cap,
The boots that looked like tree-stumps, the loose

cloak

Tanned by all weathers, every inch of him
A growth of Sussex soil. His back was bent
Like wind-blown hawthorn, turning from the sea,
With roots that strike the deeper.
[27]



THE SILVER CROOK

Well content

With all his world, and boastful as a child,
In splendid innocence of the worldling's way,
Whose murderous ego skulks behind a hedge
Of modest privet, no, I cannot paint him.
Better to let him talk, and paint himself.
"Marnin'," he said; and swept away five years.

With absolute dominion over time,
Waiving all prelude, he picked up the thread
We dropped that day, and cast his bait again :
/ was mistuk, once, for the Poape of Roame.
"Tell me," I said. "Explain. I've dreamed of

it."

"I racken you doan't believe it. Drunken Dick,
'Ull tell you 'tis as true's I'm stannin' here.
It happened along of this old silver crook.
I call it silver 'cos it shines so far.
My wife can see it over at Ovingdean
When I'm on Telscombe Tye. They doan't mek

crooks

Like this in Sussex now. They've lost the way
To shape 'em. That's what they French papists

knowed

Over at Arundel. They tried to buy
[28]



THE SILVER CROOK

My crook, to carry in church. But I woan't

sell 'en.

I've heerd there's magic in a crook like this,
White magic. Well, I rackon it did save Dick
More ways than one, that night, from the old

Black Ram.

I've med a song about it. There was once
A Lunnon poet, down here for his health,
Asked me to sing it to 'un, an' I did.
It med him laff, too. 'Sing it again,' he says
'But go slow, this time.' 'No, I woan't,' I says
(7 knowed what he was trying) . 'No,' I says,
'I woan't go slow. You'll ketch 'un if I do.'
You see, he meks a tedious mort of money
From these here ballad books, an' I wer'n't goin'
To let these Lunnon chuckle-heads suck my brains.
I med it to thet ancient tune you liked,
The Brown Girl 'Member it?"

Bramble cleared his throat,
Spat at a bee, leaned forward on his crook,
Fixed his brown eyes upon a distant spire,
Solemnly swelled his lungs, once, twice, and thrice;
Then, like an old brown thrush, began to sing:

[29]



THE SILVER CROOK

"The Devil turns round when he hears the
sound

Of bells in a Sussex foald.
One crack, I rackon, from this good crook

Would make old Scratch leave hoald.
They can't shape crooks to-day like mine,

For the liddle folk helped 'em then.
I've heerd some say as they've see'd 'en shine

From Ditchling to Fairlight Glen.

I loaned 'em a loanst o' my crook one day

To carry in Arundel.

They'd buy 'en to show in their church, they
say;

But goald woan't mek me sell.
I never should find a crook so slick,

So silver in the sun;
And, if you talk to Drunken Dick,

He'll tell you what it's done.

You'll find him spannelling round the Plough;

And, Lord ! when Dick was young,
He'd drink enough to draown a cow,

And roughen a tiger's tongue.

[30]



THE SILVER CROOK

He'd drink Black Ram till his noase turned blue,
And the liddle black mice turned white.

You ask 'en what my crook can do,
An' what he see'd that night.

He says, as through the fern he ran

('Twas Pharisees' fern, say I),
A wild potatur, as big as a man,

Arose and winked its eye.
He says it took his arm that night,

And waggled its big brown head,
Then sang: 'This world will never go right

Till Drunken Dick be dead!

He shook it off and, rambling round,

Among the goalden gorse,
He heers a kin' of sneering sound

Pro-ciddin' from a horse,
Which reared upright, then said out loud

(While Dick said, Til be danged!')
'His parents will be tedious proud

When Drunken Dick is hanged!'

I rackon 'twould take a barrel of ale,
Betwix' my dinner and tea,



THE SILVER CROOK

To mek me see the very nex' thing

That Drunken Dick did see;
For first he thought 'twas elephants walked

Behind him on the Tye,
And then he saw fower ricks of straw

That heaved against the sky.

He saw 'em lift. He saw 'em shift.

He saw gurt beards arise,
He saw 'em slowly lumbering down

A hundred times his size;
And, as he ran, he heer'd 'em say,

Whenever his head he turned,
'This world will never be bright and gay

Till Drunken Dick be burned'

And then as Dick escaped again

And squirmed the churchyard through,
The cock that crowns the weather-vane

Cried 'How d'ye doodle doof
'Why, how d'ye doodle doo?' says Dick,

'/ know why you go round/
'There'll be no luck' that rooster shruck,

'Till Drunken Dick be drowned!'
[32]



THE SILVER CROOK

And then, as Dick dodged round they barns,

And med for the white chalk coast,
He meets Himself, with the two black horns,

And eyes 'twud mek you roast.
'Walcome ! walcome!' old Blackamoor cried,

' 'Tis muttonless day in hell,
So I think I'll have your kidneys, fried,

And a bit of your liver as well.'

Then Dick he loosed a tarr'ble shout,

And the Devil stopped dead to look;
And the sheep-bells rang, and the moon came

out,

And it shone on my silver crook.
'I rackon,' says Dick, 'if you're oald Nick,

You'd batter be scramblin' home;
For those be the ringers of Arundel,

And that is the Poape of Roame.' "



[33]



THE SUSSEX SAILOR

OONCE, by Cuckmere Haven,
I heard a sailor sing
Of shores beyond the sunset,

And lands of lasting spring,
Of blue lagoons and palm trees

And isles where all was young;
But this was ever the burden
Of every note he sung:

O, have you seen my true love

A-walking in that land?
Or have you seen her footprints

Upon that shining sand?
Beneath the happy palm trees,

By Eden whispers fanned . . .
O, have you seen my true love

A-walking in that land?

And, once in San Diego,
I heard him sing again,
[34]



THE SUSSEX SAILOR

Of Amberley, Rye, and Bramber,
And Brede and Fairlight Glen:

The nestling hills of Sussex,
The russet-roofed elfin towns,

And the skylark up in a high wind,
Carolling over the downs.

From Warbleton to Wild Brook

When May is white as foam,
O, have you seen my dearling

On any hills of home?
Or have you seen her shining,

Or only touched her hand?
O, have you seen my true love

A-walking in that land.

And, once again, by Cowfold,

I heard him singing low,
'Tis not the leagues of ocean

That hide the hills I know.
The May that shines before me

Has made a ghost of May.
The valleys that I would walk in

Are twenty years away.

[351



THE SUSSEX SAILOR

Ah, have you seen my true love

A-walking in that land . . .
On hills that I remember,

In valleys I understand,
So far beyond the sunset,

So very close at hand,
O, have you seen my true love

In that immortal land?



[36]



THE BEE IN CHURCH

THE nestling church at Ovingdean
Was fragrant as a hive in May;
And there was nobody within
To preach, or p'raise, or pray.

The sunlight slanted through the door,
And through the panes of painted glass,

When I stole in, alone, once more
To feel the ages pass.

Then, through the dim grey hush there droned
An echoing plain-song on tne air,


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Online LibraryAlfred NoyesThe elfin artist and other poems → online text (page 1 of 5)