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Grass of Parnassus












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To this edition of Grass of Parnassus about
thirty new pieces, either unpublished or hitherto
uncollected, have been added. Some of these
had appeared in Scribners, Longman's, and
Blackwood' s Magazines, in the Scots Observer,
and the Illustrated Londo7i News. One or two
omissions have also been made. The author
cannot resist the pleasure of mentioning that
the versions from the Greek Anthology were
prompted by the encouraging kindness of the
late Mr. James Russell Lowell.




Vale xiii

To E. M. S XV



Twilight on Tweed
Clevedon Church
Metempsychosis .



Lost in Hades 8

An Old Garden g

A Star in the Night lo

A Sunset on Yarrow ii

Another Way 12



With a Fairy Book 17

A Dialogue 19

Martial in Town 21

April on Tweed 23



Tired of Towns 25

Scythe Song 27

Pen and Ink 28

A Dream 30

The Singing Rose 31

A Review in Rhyme 34

Colinette 36

A Sunset of Watteau 38

Nightingale Weather 40

Love and Wisdom 42

Good-bye 44

An Old Prayer 46

A LA Belle HfeLfeNE 47

Sylvie et Aurelie 49

A Lost Path 51

The Shade of Helen 53

The Song of Orpheus 55

The Grave of Orpheus 56

The Banks of Wye 57

The End of the Term 59



Seekers for a City 63

The White Pacha 66

Midnight, January 25, 1886 68

England 69

Advance. Australia 71

Colonel Burnaby 73

Melville and Coghill 74

To Colonel Ian Hamilton 75





Grass of Parnassus 79

She 80

Herodotus in Egypt 81

Gerard de Nerval 82


Love's Miracle 84

Dreams 85

Two Sonnets of the Sirens 86

A Nativity of Sandro Botticelli 88



The Seekers for Ph^acia 9^

A Song of Ph^acia 93

The Departure from Ph^acia 95

A Ballad of Departure 97

They hear the Sirens for the Second Time . . 98

Circe's Isle revisited 100

The Limit of Lands 102



Hymn to the Winds 107

Moonlight 108

The Grave and the Rose 109

A Vow TO Heavenly Venus no



Of his Lady's Old Age iii

Shadows of his Lady 112

April 113

An Old Tune 117

Old Loves 118

A Lady of High Degree 120

Iannoula 122

The Milk-white Doe 123


The Melancholy Muses 129

An Aspiration 131

Ballade of the Penitents 134

To IsAACK Walton 136

Shameful Death 137

The Salmo Irritans 139

A Song of Life and Golf 141

The Old Love and the New 143

Disillusions of Astronomy 145

Tout finit par des Chansons 148

To Daniel Elzevir 150

The Last Chance 152



Sea Dirge 155

The Age of Wisdom 156

Cleophantis 157




The Spinning Woman i59

From Diotimus (or Leon i das) 160

Heraclitus 161

Gifts 162

Changeful Beauty ...... 163

Rhodanthe 164

The Prophet 165

Lais 166

Clearista 167

The Fisherman's Tomb 168

Of his Death 169

Rhodope 170

To a Girl 171

To THE Ships 172

Sappho i73

Erinna 174

A Late Convert i75

The Limit of Life 176

Winter Roses i77

The Wayside Well 178

To THE Nymphs i79

The Talisman 180

To Pan and the Nymphs 181

To Demeter and the Hours 182

To Aphrodite of the Fair Voyage 183

To THE Sea 184

Telling the Bees 185

Dewy Garlands 186

Heliodore 187

A Good-night 188

Heliodore dead 189

( xiii )


Once the Muse was fair,

Once : when we were young,

Gay and debonair,

Or with pensive air.
So she came, she sung.

Often, through the noise
Of the running stream,

Would we hear her voice,

Hear it and rejoice,

" Dream not 'twas a dream."

Could we see her now

Come at a command.
Withered on her brow
Were the wreath, the bough
Broken in her hand.


Nay, as erst the Morn

Floating far away,
More in ruth than scorn
Left her love outworn,

Once his locks were grey,

So, for ever young,

Ever fair, the Muse
Leaves us, who have sung
Till the lute's unstrung.
Doth her grace refuse.

'Tis not she, but we,

That are weary now ;
Well, howe'er it be,
Her we shall not see.
Broken is the bough.

( XV )


E. M. S.

" Prima dicta mihi, summa dicenda Camena."

The years will pass, and hearts will range,

You conquer Time, and Care, and Change.

Though Time doth still delight to shed

The dust on many a younger head ;

Though Care, oft coming, hath the guile

From younger lips to steal the smile ;

Though Change makes younger hearts wax cold.

And sells new loves for loves of old.

Time, Change, nor Care, hath learned the art

To fleck your hair, to chill your heart,

To touch your tresses with the snow,

To mar your mirth of long ago.

Change, Care, nor Time, while life endure.

Shall spoil our ancient friendship sure,

The love which flows from sacred springs,

In " old unhappy far-off things,"

From sympathies in grief and joy,

Through all the years of man and boy.

xvi TO E. M. S.

Therefore, to you, the rhymes I strung

When even this " brindled " head was young

I bring, and later rhymes I bring

That flit upon as weak a wing.

But still for you, for yours, they sing !




" Our Faith and Troth
All time and space controules
Above the highest sphere we meet
Unseen^ unknowne, and greet as Angels greet.''''

Col. Richard Lovelace, 1649.

( 3 )

Twilight on Tweed,

Three crests against the saffron sky,

Beyond the purple plain,
The kind remembered melody

Of Tweed once more again.

Wan water from the border hills,
Dear voice from the old years,

Thy distant music lulls and stills,
And moves to quiet tears.

Like a loved ghost thy fabled flood
Fleets through the dusky land ;

Where Scott, come home to die, has stood,
My feet returning stand.

A mist of memory broods and floats,

The Border waters flow;
The air is full of ballad notes,

Borne out of long ago.


Old songs that sung themselves to me,
Sweet through a boy's day-dream,

While trout below the blossom'd tree
Plashed in the golden stream.

* * * «

Twilight, and Tweed, and Eildon Hill,

Fair and too fair you be ;
You tell me that the voice is still

That should have welcomed me.


( 5 )

Chvedon Church.

In Memoriam
H. B.

Westward I watch the low green hills of Wales,

The low sky silver grey,
The turbid Channel with the wandering sails

Moans through the winter day.
There is no colour but one ashen light

On tower and lonely tree,
The little church upon the windy height

Is grey as sky or sea.
But there hath he that woke the sleepless Love

Slept through these fifty years.
There is the grave that has been wept above

With more than mortal tears.
And far below I hear the Channel sweep

And all his waves complain,
As Hallam's dirge through all the years must keep

Its monotone of pain.


Grey sky, brown waters, as a bird that flies.

My heart flits forth from these
Back to the winter rose of northern skies,

Back to the northern seas.
And lo, the long waves of the ocean beat

Below the minster grey,
Caverns and chapels worn of saintly feet.

And knees of them that pray.
And I remember me how twain were one

Beside that ocean dim,
I count the years passed over since the sun

That lights me looked on him,
And dreaming of the voice that, save in sleep,

Shall greet me not again,
Far, far below I hear the Channel sweep

And all his waves complain.

( 7 )


I SHALL not see thee, nay, but I shall know
Perchance, the grey eyes in another's eyes,
Shall guess thy curls in gracious locks that flow-
On purest trows, yea, and the swift surmise
Shall follow and track, and find thee in disguise
Of all sad things, and fair, where sunsets glow,
When through the scent of heather, faint and low.
The weak wind whispers to the day that dies.

From all sweet art, and out of all old rhyme,
Thine eyes and lips are hght and song to me ;

The shadows of the beauty of all time,
In song or story are but shapes of thee ;

Alas, the shadowy shapes ! ah, sweet my dear,
Shall life or death bring all thy being near ?

( 8 )

Lost in Hades.

I DREAMED that somewhere in the shadowy place,
Grief of farewell unspoken was forgot
In welcome, and regret remembered not ;

And hopeless prayer accomplished turned to praise

On lips that had been songless many days ;
Hope had no more to hope for, and desire
And dread were overpast, in white attire

New born we walked among the new world's ways.

Then from the press of shades a spirit threw
Towards me such apples as these gardens bear ;

And turning, I was 'ware of her, and knew
And followed her fleet voice and flying hair, —

Followed, and found her not, and seeking you
I found you never, dearest, anywhere.

( 9 )

An Old Garden.

The autumn sun is warm, the soft winds moan,
The golden fruits make sweet September air
In gardens where the apple blossoms were

Through these old Aprils that we twain have known.

I pass along the pathAvays overgrown ;
Of all the flowers a single poppy there
Droops her tired head, a faded flower and fair,

One poppy that the wandering breeze hath sown.

Here be no roses, and thou lack'st the rose,

No lilies fragrant in the lily bed ;
One poppy in the bare untended close,

Droops, and the sun is shrouded overhead ;
The grey sea-mist upon the sea-wind blows,

Chill j and methinks the summer-time is dead.


A Star in the Night.

The perfect piteous beauty of thy face
Is like a star the dawning drives away"
Mine eyes may never see in the bright day

Thy pallid halo, thy supernal grace ;

But in the night from forth the silent place
Thou comest, dim in dreams, as doth a stray
Star of the starry flock that in the grey

Is seen, and lost, and seen a moment's space.

And as the earth at night turns to a star,
Loved long ago, and dearer than the sun,

So in the spiritual place afar,

At night our souls are mingled and made one,

And wait till one night fall, and one dawn rise.

That brings no noon too splendid for your eyes.

( II )

A Sunset on Yarrow.

The wind and the day had lived together,

They died together, and far away
Spoke farewell in the sultry weather,
Out of the sunset, over the heather,

The dying wind and the dying day.

Far in the south, the summer levin
Flushed, a flame in the grey soft air :

We seemed to look on the hills of heaven ;

You saw within, but to me 'twas given
To see your face, as an angel's, there.

Never again, ah surely never

Shall we wait and watch, where of old we stood,
The low good-night of the hill and the river.
The faint light fade, and the wan stars quiver,

Twain grown one in the solitude.

( 12 )

A not hey IVay.

Come to me in my dreams, and then,
One saith, I shall be well again.
For then the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

Nay, come not thou in dreams, my sweet,
With shadowy robes, and silent feet,
And with the voice, and with the eyes
That greet me in a soft surprise.

Last night, last night, in dreams we met,
And how, to-day, shall I forget,
Or how, remembering, restrain
Mine incommunicable pain ?


Nay, where thy land and people are,
Dwell thou remote, apart, afar,
Nor mingle with the shapes that sweep
The melancholy ways of Sleep.

But if, perchance, the shadows break,
If dreams depart, if men awake,
If face to face at length we see.
Be thine the voice to welcome me.


( 17 )

With a Fairy Book.

To E. A. C.

Too late they come, too late for you,
These old friends that are ever new,
Enchanted in our volume blue,

For you ere now have wandered o'er
A world of tales untold of yore,
And learned the later fairy-lore !

Nay, as within her briery brake

The Sleeping Beauty did awake,

Old tales may rouse them for your sake,

And you once more may voyage through
The forests that of old we knew,
The fairy forests deep in dew.

Where you, resuming childish things,
Shall listen when the Blue Bird sings.
And sit at feast with fairy Kings,



And taste their wine, ere all be done,
And face more welcome shall be none
Among the guests of Oberon.

Ay, of that feast shall tales be told,
The marvels of that world of gold,
To children young, when you are old.

When you are old ! Ah, dateless " when,"
For youth shall perish among men,
And Spring herself be ancient then !

( 19 )

A Dialogue.


Oh, have you found the Fount of Youth,

Or have you faced the Fire of Kor?
Or whence the form, the eyes, the mouth,

The voice, the grace we praised of yore ?
Ah, lightly must the years have sped,

The long, the labour-laden years.
That cast no snows upon your head,

Nor dim your eyes with any tears !
And gently must the heart have beat.

That, after many days, can send
So soft, so kind a blush to greet

The advent of so old a friend.


Another tale doth it repeat,

My mirror ; and it tells me true !
But Time, the thief of all things sweet,
, Has failed to steal one grace ixom you.


One touch of youth he cannot steal,

One trait there is he leaves you yet ;
The boyish loyalty, the leal

Absurd, impossible regret !
These are the magic : these restore

A phantom of the April prime,
Show you the face you liked of yore.

And give me back the thefts of Time


Martial in Town.

Last night, within the stifling train,
Lit by the foggy lamp o'erhead,
Sick of the sad Last News, I read

Verse of that joyous child of Spain,

Who dwelt when Rome was waxing cold,
Within the Roman din and smoke.
And like my heart to me they spoke,

These accents of his heart of old : —

Brother, had we but time to live,
Arid fleet the careless hours together,

With all that leisure has to give
Of perfect life and peaceful iveather,

The Rich Maris halls, the anxious faces.
The weary Forum, courts, and cases

Should know us not ; but quiet nooks.
But summer shade by field and zuell,

But country rides, and talk of books,
At home, with these, we fain would divell !


Now neither lives, but day by day
Sees the suns wasting in the west,

And feels their flight, and doth delay
To lead the life he loveth best.

So from thy city prison broke,

Martial, thy wail for life misspent.

And so, through London's noise and smoke
My heart replies to the lament.

For dear as Tagus with his gold,
And swifter Salo, were to thee,

So dear to me the woods that fold
The streams that circle Fernielea !

( 23 )

April on Tweed.

As birds are fain to build their nest

The first soft sunny day,
So longing wakens in my breast

A month before the May,
When now the wind is from the West,

And Winter melts away.

The snow lies yet on Eildon Hill,

But soft the breezes blow.
If melting snows the waters fill.

We nothing heed the snow.
But we must up and take our will, —

A fishing will we go !

Below the branches brown and bare,

Beneath the primrose lea.
The trout lies waiting for his fare,

A hungry trout is he ;
He's hooked, and springs and splashes there

Like salmon from the sea !


Oh, April-tide's a pleasant tide,

However times may fall,
And sweet to welcome Spring, the Bride,

You hear the mavis call;
But all adown the water-side

The Spring's most fair of all.

( 25 )

Tired of Towns.

" When we spoke to her of the New Jerusalem, she said she
would rather go to a country place in Heaven." — Letters from
the Black Country. _

I'm weary of towns, it seems a'most a pity
We didn't stop down i' the country and clem,

And you say that I'm bound for another city,
For the streets o' the New Jerusalem.

And the streets are never like Sheffield, here,
Nor the smoke don't cling like a smut to them ;

But the water o' life flows cool and clear
Through the streets o' the New Jerusalem.

And the houses, you say, are of jasper cut,
And the gates are gaudy wi' gold and gem ;

But there's times I could wish as the gates was shut —
The gates o' the New Jerusalem.


For I come from a country that's over-built
Wi' streets that stifle, and walls that hem,

And the gorse on a common's worth all the gilt
And the gold of your New Jerusalem.

And I hope that they'll bring me, in Paradise,
To green lanes leafy wi' bough and stem —

To a country place in the land o' the skies,
And not to the New Jerusalem.

( 27 )

Scythe Song.

Mowers, weary and brown, and blithe,

What is the word methinks ye know,
Endless over-word that the Scythe

Sings to the blades of the grass below ?
Scythes that swing in the grass and clover,

Something, still, they say as they pass ;
What is the word that, over and over,

Sings the Scythe to the flowers and grass ?

Hush, ah hush, the Scythes are saying,

Hush, and heed not, and fall asleep ;
Hush, they say to the grasses swaying,

Hush, they sing to the clover deep !
Hush — 'tis the lullaby Time is singing —

Hush, and heed not, for all things pass.
Hush, ah hush ! and the Scythes are swinging

Over the clover, over the grass !

( 28 )

Pen and htk.

Ye wanderers that were my sires,

Who read men's fortunes in the hand,
Who voyaged with your smithy fires

From waste to waste across the land,
Why did you leave for garth and town

Your life by heath and river's brink,
Why lay your gipsy freedom down

And doom your child to Pen and Ink ?

You wearied of the wild-wood meal

That crowned, or failed to crown, the day ;
Too honest or too tame to steal

You broke into the beaten way :
Plied loom or awl like other men,

And learned to love the guineas' chink —
Oh, recreant sires, who doomed me then

To earn so few — with Pen and Ink !


Where it hath fallen the tree must lie.

'Tis over late for me to roam,
Yet the caged bird who hears the cry

Of his wild fellows fleeting home,
May feel no sharper pang than mine,

Who seem to hear, whene'er I think,
Spate in the stream, and wind in pine,

Call me to quit dull Pen and Ink.

For then the spirit wandering,

That slept within the blood, awakes ;
For then the summer and the spring

I fain would meet by streams and lakes ;
But ah, my Birthright long is sold.

But custom chains me, link on link,
And I must get me, as of old.

Back to my tools, to Pen and Ink.

( 30 )

A Dream.

Why will you haunt my sleep ?

You know it may not be,
The grave is wide and deep,

That sunders you and me ;
In bitter dreams we reap

The sorrow we have sown,
And I would I were asleep,

Forgotten and alone !

We knew and did not know.

We saw and did not see.
The nets that long ago

Fate wove for you and me ;
The cruel nets that keep

The birds that sob and moan
And I would we were asleep.

Forgotten and alone !

The Singing Rose.

" La Rose qui chante et I'herbe qui egare."

White Rose on the grey garden wall.
Where now no night-wind whispereth,

Call to the far-off flowers, and call
With murmured breath and rnusical

Till all the Roses hear, and all
Sing to my Love what the White Rose saith.

White Rose on the grey garden wall

That long ago we sung !
Again you come at Summer's call,—
Again beneath my windows all

With trellised flowers is hung,
With clusters of the roses white
Like fragrant stars in a green night.


Once more I hear the sister towers

Each unto each reply,
The bloom is on those limes of ours,
The weak wind shakes the bloom in showers,

Snow from a cloudless sky ;
There is no change this happy day
Within the College Gardens grey !

St. Mary's, Merton, Magdalen — still
Their sweet bells chime and swing,

The old years answer them, and thrill

A wintry heart against its will
With memories of the Spring —

That Spring we sought the gardens through

For flowers which ne'er in gardens grew !

For we, beside our nurse's knee,

In fairy tales had heard
Of that strange Rose which blossoms free
On boughs of an enchanted tree.

And sings like any bird !
And of the weed beside the way
That leadeth lovers' steps astray !

In vain we sought the Singing Rose

Whereof old legends tell,
Alas ! we found it not 'mid those


Within the grey old College close,

That budded, flowered, and fell,—
We found that herb called " Wanderin<^ "
And meet no more, no more in Spring !

Yes, unawares the unhappy grass

That leadeth steps astray.
We trod, and so it came to pass
That never more we twain, alas.

Shall walk the self-same way.
And each must deem, though neither knows,
That neither found the Singing Rose


( 34 )

A Review in Rhyme.

A LITTLE of Horace, a little of Prior,
A sketch of a Milkmaid, a lay of the Squire —
These, these are " on draught " " At the Sign of the
Lyre ! "

A child in Blue Ribbons that sings to herself,
A talk of the Books on the Sheraton shelf,
A sword of the Stuarts, a wig of the Guelph,

A lai^ z. pantonm, a ballade^ a rondeau,

A pastel t»y Greuze, and a sketch by Moreau,

And the chimes of the rhymes that sing sweet as they


A fan, and a folio, a ringlet, a glove,

'Neath a dance by Laguerre on the ceiling above.

And a dream of the days when the bard was in love,


A scent of dead roses, a glance at a pun,

A toss of old powder, a glint of the sun,

They meet in the volume that Dobson has done !

If there's more that the heart of a man can desire.
He may search, in his Swinburne, for fury and fire ;
If he's wise— he'll alight " At the Sign of the Lyre ! "

( 36 )


For a Sketch by Mr. G. Leslie, R.A.

France your country, as we know ;

Room enough for guessing yet,
What lips now or long ago,

Kissed and named you — Colinelte.
In what fields from sea to sea,

By what stream your home was set,
Loire or Seine was glad of thee,

Marne or Rhone, O Colinette ?

Did you stand with maidens ten.

Fairer maids were never seen,
When the young king and his men

Passed among the orchards green ?
Nay, old ballads have a note

Mournful, we would fain forget ;
No such sad old air should float

Round your young brows, Colinette.


Say, did Ronsard sing to you,

Shepherdess, to lull his pain,
When the court went wandering through

Rose pleasances of Touraine ?
Ronsard and his favourite Rose

Long are dust the breezes fret ;
You, within the garden close,

You are blooming, Colinette.

Have I seen you proud and gay.

With a patched and perfumed beau,
Dancing through the summer day.

Misty summer of Watteau ?
Nay, so sweet a maid as you

Never walked a minuet
With the splendid courtly crew ;

Nay, forgive me, Colinette.

Not from Greuze's canvases

Do you cast a glance, a smile ;
You are not as one of these,

Yours is beauty without guile.
Round your maiden brows and hair

Maidenhood and Childhood met
Crown and kiss you, sweet and fair,

New art's blossom, Colinette.

( 38 )

A Simset of IVatfemi.


The silk sail fills, the soft winds wake,

Arise and tempt the seas ;
Our ocean is the Palace lake.
Our waves the ripples that we make

Among the mirrored trees.


Nay, sweet the shore, and sweet the song,

And dear the languid dream ;
The music mingled all day long
With paces of the dancing throng,
And murmur of the stream.

An hour ago, an hour ago.

We rested in the shade ;

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