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POEMS



Ex Libria
C. K. OGDEN



POEMS



BY
BERNARD WATERS



LONDON
GRANT RICHARDS LTD.

ST. MARTIN'S STREET
1922



Printed in Great Britain at

The Mayflower Press, Plymouth.

William Brendon & Son, Ltd.



I



to45"

A3I ?C



SANTA BARBAKA



TO

THOMAS A. HERBERT



CONTENTS



The Door .

An Autumn Night

An Old World Song

Rain .

Recurrence

For One Fallen

Sonnet

Sonnet

Sonnet

Autumn, 1920

Song .

The Window

The Survivor

Nocturne .

Nocturne .

Alone in the House

A Line of Thought

Furze-Bushes

In City Streets

The Old House

An Autumn Vesperale

The Storm

Foolish Rhymes

Upon Receiving a Letter

A Love Song

Afterday .

Requiem .

Soave

The End of a Page

Departure from the Old House

An Egotist's Finale .

7



PAGE

9
10

II
12
13
15
16

17
18

19
22

23

24

25
26
27
28
30
31
32
33
34
36
Z7
38
39
40

41
42
44
46



THE DOOR

THE door of my room gives me visions
Of the forest whence it came,
Where first it kissed the sunHght
In some spot without a name ;
Where it grew to treehood's splendour
And reared its leafy head,
Gazing o'er its infant comrades
And the axe-hewn Dead.
It grew old, very old.
As the Summers passed.
Saw more of time than a man does
And lived more till at last

It swayed down to the stroke of the axe,
With the swish of its curse on the air.
And fell with a thud on the cold earth.
And lay there ;

To be cut and sawn, severed and gashed
And dragged, skinned, beaten and lashed
With chains, hammered and planed.
Till its glory and glamour waned
In the grip of human need.

Greenshoots kiss the sunlight
In the forest whence it came.
And they gaze at the axe-hewn Dead,
In some spot without a name.

9



AN AUTUMN NIGHT

NOW charmed is the earth
With the moon's shining,
And in the garden
The chrysanthemums bloom
In deeper colour than they show
In the particular light of Day.
Before me lies
A pool of mist.
Above which the trees
Seem to arise

Like floating balls of foliage,
Trunkless and unhampered.
And the Moon rests
On the railway line,
As though it had been rolled
There from a distant town.
There is a lingering rose,
A salvia's last bloom,
A chill in the air,
A note of warning,
The scent of approaching decease
And the magic of an Autumn Night.



lO



AN OLD WORLD SONG

WHO taught thee first such alchemy
As I in thee behold ?
Thou turn'st the lead of dull Despair
To Hope with its shining gold ;
Never was there a day of Spring
Nor heat of Summer sun
Could bring to bloom the blossoms
In my heart as thou hast done.
This that is I is part of thee,
Else how could'st thou divine
The very thought and needs that are
The complement to mine ?
We intertwine, we coincide
And intermingled fold ;
Who taught thee first this alchemy
Which I in thee behold ?



II



RAIN

STEADY, insistent,
Cruel, unceasing.
Inevitably falls the rain ;
Squelching the grass.
Sodden the tired earth,
Draggled the leafless trees ;
Grey and o'ercast.
Changeless in colour.
Unkindly lowers the sky ;
Windless and still.
The day with its drabness
Is neutral and sexlessly vile ;
Yet in the deep ground
Roots with their curlings
Drink in the moisture as human's take food
And soon the sunshine,
With his comrade the warm-wind,
Will fill our hearts with thanks overflowing
As roots with their leaves.
And leaves with their blossoms
Show us the need of the raining persistent.



12



11



RECURRENCE

HERE am I, weary for want of Sleep,
Yet cannot reach a state of just repose ;
Stubbornly still though my body I keep,
My eyelids protestingly unclose
And I am wide, wide awake
While the world slumbers on
And quietly through the clouds doth break
A moon, as I am, pale and wan ;
And in a moment of nervous fear
A sense of the heaving night doth come,
And the rhythm of all things I can hear
Like the muffled silence of a soft-played drum.
The rhythm that controls all things
With its ceaseless come and go ;
Birth from nothingness it brings
And in turn, it deals Death's blow ;
Before the first beginning it began,
'Twill beat long after all final time
And its last beating only can
Vibrate into life some other clime.
Where it will plot the circled moving
Of a mass of birth and death through space
And its eternal recurrence proving,
Reach again its starting-place :
The secret touch of Creation's hand
That moves as we may not understand —

13



When we pass through Death's door,

Do we thus recur once more ;

At the start or the end or the middle,

This is the cosmic unsolvable riddle.

At last there is the dawn again.

And sleep has recurred to my weary brain. . . .



H



I



FOR ONE FALLEN

IF you could speak, if I could only hear
Your voice once more, the last fond words
you said.
Just feel Your hand's firm grip or see that tear
Which glistened in your steadfast eye unshed ;

'Twas not a tear of sorrow but of pride
To think that Freedom's cause had need of thee ;
They said you spoke of England when you died.
Of peaceful English sunsets calm and free.

Though now in earth your form imprisoned lies
Beneath a cross, in unfamiliar ways
Yet Death hath set you free. Your soul-bird flies,
Your mortal shape is all of you that stays.

In life, for home, your spirit ever yearned.
In Death, for evermore it hath returned.



15



SONNET

FAIR maid in all thy Summer loveliness,
Enrich thy soul's parched land with kindly
showers ;
Let not Autumn compel thee to confess

Thy verdure died in Passion's burning hours
Or was chilled to death by th' unseasoned blast

Of pride ; within Love's intuitive care,
The wondrous latent beauteousness thou hast

Shall bloom in curtseying sweetness on the air
And Autumn be a time of golden days,

FiUed with the sense that labour soon shall cease,
Then may we safely wander different ways
Fast bound together by our joint increase ;
And in the Winter of our lives shall fall
A white and shining radiance over all.



i6



SONNET

WOULD that my love for thee were not so
deep

And full of life, my heart not wholly thine,
Then might I numb the wounds, thou gav'st, in
sleep,

Not waking, thirsting for the ruby wine
I tasted at thy lips ; if thou had'st turned

Thine eyes in loathing from the sight of me,
My protestations and my longings spurned,

Yet would I have bowed 'neath thy soul's decree.
Did'st thou not kiss me so seemingly inspired

That e'en my senses scarce could be believed.
Yet loved'st me not and soon of worship tired.

Cast down thy plaything broken and deceived.
Had I been trampled 'neath thy feet as dirt.

Thou could'st not have giv'n me a greater hurt.



17



SONNET

THOU potent pleader of a wrongful cause
Would'st make the tested scales of justice
waver ;
How could I, decreed to obey thy laws,

Refrain from ceding judgment in thy favour ?
Full well I know you did me purposed wrong

To test the probings of thy love's deceit ;
Seeming indifferent, silent overlong.

Yet wooing reconciliation sweet.
With mem'ried kiss, the curvings of thy dress.

The gleaming lights fast captured in thine eyes,
Minute essentials of thy loveliness.

And when I spoke, thy look of faint surprise.
In Cupid's Court, defendants jury are.
The plaintiffs being prisoners at the Bar.



AUTUMN, 1920

RESTLESS is the present night,
Fearfully it seems to shiver,
No wind there is and yet
Strangely the leaves quiver.
Rigid though the trunks must be.
The old twisted forms, — plain
Against the depthless sky —
Are moving monuments of Pain.
Warm though the night is
And softened the formal line,
The moon is sick of the familiar.
Chilled damp is the spine.
Autumn has not yet mellowed
To full-bosomed sadness ;
Still snivels the petulant earth
For Summer and departed gladness.
Nature, a nervous old man
At the hurry of dying.
Feels tragedy, knows not the calm
And beauteous trust lying
In the prayer he yearly weaves
In the rustling utterance of leaves.

Life is too cruelly inevitable
And Man is too present here
And the bareness of achievement.
Like the twisted trunks, too clear ;

19



Humanity and its full-veined leaves
Falling at a touch in their prime
Into the clutch of the sniggering wind
To be dust in the lap of time.
Humanity — a twisted trunk,
Twisted with an exact pain —
A growth of embryo growths
And disentegration again.

A women pregnant with life,
A poet pregnant with thought.
Both with their pangs of birth,
Till life into void is brought.
Struggling like candle-light wan
Till there comes the Autumn swooning
And soon too soon are they gone.
Ere has ceased the parent's crooning.

Among the limbless dust of time
Are the shadowy bodies cast,
Bodied pain of several souls
Each pitifully like the last.

Restless though the present night.
It will mellow with brown regret
And a rain and a blustering wind
Will inevitably beget
20



A state to meet winter pain,
And the puppets will show again
And strut about the same old stage,
From year to year, from age to age.



21



SONG

I KNOW not why we have drifted apart,
For I love you as dearly as ever ;
Our love was not sold on the merchant's mart,

Yet something has come to sever.
In the drama of love have I played my part

And alone to the night am I singing.
The plaintive song of my secret heart.

With the curtain downward ringing.
Again and again from sleep do I start.

From delights of dreams that are broken
By the subtle woundings of memory's dart

And the curse of forgiveness unspoken.

I know not why we have drifted apart,
For I love you as dearly as ever.



22



THE WINDOW

STRANGE lights flicker down the road
Past the window of dreams,
Each guiding a mystic load
With its flickering beams,
And having passed, sheds its rays
Down other stranger, lonelier ways ;
They leave me gloriously alone.
Drunk with nothingness, breathing the unknown
Soft sweet absence of those beams.
Moulding a vision lately flown
Past the window of dreams.



23



THE SURVIVOR

ONE golden morn, when Summer was born,
I sat in the garden and read
Of men who fought, fell, and bled, —
The unforgotten Dead ;
I dreamed of those I knew
And from the grass there flew,
Into the air over my head.
Visions of those I knew,
My unforgotten Dead ;
Suddenly I felt old and worn
With the pain to bear and the pain borne,
Until a wonder within me grew.
For the air was soft and the sky blue
On that golden morn when Summer was born.



24



NOCTURNE

IS the night only a time for sleep ?
'Tis then I am to quiet places lead,
Surrounded oft' by thoughtful trees that sweep
Across and intermingle overhead
And form a tomb of silence and dead sound ;
Tranquillity, that sweetest flower, doth bloom,
Casting its sexless perfume around,
And eyes are sightless in the downy gloom ;
No conscious thought or movement stirs the brain
With sense of touch or knowing hearts that break,
And I, a wanderer in the soul's domain.
Sleep not, lest in sleeping have to wake.



25



NOCTURNE

THERE are dim and distant sounds
In the eerie echoes of night
And mournfully I stand alone
And catch them in their flight ;
Vague whisperings 'twixt wind and wind
Of a hundred passions conceived,
A strident sound and a sweet sound.
With a silence interleaved ;
The world recedes as doth a dream
Which has been yet is never known,
And thoughts, as fragrant as rose's scent,
On the winds of silence are blown ;
For a poet's art too fugitive.
For the breath of life too slight ;
So mournfully I stand alone
And catch them in their flight.



26



I



ALONE IN THE HOUSE

WHO has not breasted the chill flood of
silence
That freezes the blood to red ice in your veins ?
The silence broken by thunderous heart-beats
Or mysterious taps on the window-panes ;
The fire is stop't in the midst of its flickering
And fingers grip tight on the arm of the chair ;
Is it fear or the bony clutch of cowardice
That you sweat and shiver — sitting there ?



27



A LINE OF THOUGHT

I CHANCED upon a line of thought, a thin line
And traced its sinuous course from start to end ;
Knew its twists and turns and the fine
Thin thread of movement of my mind ;
Stumbled over, felt and saw the bricks
And mounds, stray wood and undergrowth, that lend
The traveller reason (cause his path to wind
About and about), a sinuous course to fix.
For one pale fainting second did I rest
Content, thinking on the progress won,
Then scurrying blindly back, I rushed,
Wild, half-mad, to where I had begun ;
Conscious of a something I had missed.
Again I traced the steps, slower still.
Heeding not the path, but suddenly wise,
With wrinkled brow, hand in hair and fist
Clenched with mental strain ; penetrating eyes
Sought the hidden soul of neighbouring things.
Feared, felt and understood the shadowy light
That dwells 'neath trees, suggestive paths and ways,
Capillary thoughts, leading from the vein
Of meditation, whose pulse and course I traced . . .
Pools, flowers and little lissome ferns and slight
Scarce-heard messengers that float and laze
In fairy slothf ulness, in visions placed
To move us with mocking amaze.
28



The journey recomplete, back I sprang, knowing

That about my head there swirled

A universe of thought, shocking

With its magnitude, the mind's conceptive power

Across the sky a myriad stars it hurled,

Over reason's ramparts flowing.

I heard a long silent voice that intoned

In guttural accents, faint and mocking,

The memories of some lost white world.

That brought Dead Eternities to flower ;

Writhing with mortality, — I moaned.



29



FURZE-BUSHES

AMONG the bushes' clustered gold we found
An alcove too quiet for whispering
And flung ourselves on the comforting ground,
Closed our eyes and shut out everything
That was common to both. Hands touched not

hands,
Our spirits wandered down their several ways ;
Personal memories, individual strands
Of impulse, till as a branch that sways
On a windless day, seeming without sign
Or cause, so through our slow-opening eyes
Our spirits shone to meet and intertwine.
And from your lips came the faintest of sighs
For our love and sudden was the secret fear ;
Then were we content, knowing each was near.



30



i



IN CITY STREETS

OFT on the pavement's edge have I stood,
Watching the passing of women and men
And known I was one of the brotherhood
Who wield the sledge-hammer, use the pen,
Or weave a subtle needle through cloths.
Or touch the hat when opening doors.
Or flutter aimlessly round like moths,
Or to-morrow set sail for distant shores.
One night the sun shone down the street
And turned dirty windows to liquid gold.
And the face of the fallen seemed strangely sweet
And the paper-woman was not so old.
And stilled my gamut of feeling and thought
And the surge of desolation until
Near by I heard a woman bought
And I turned away with a sudden chill.



31



THE OLD HOUSE

THE old house lies lonely amid the trees,
Unloved, unregretted in the growing dusk.
Till Night and her shadows its outlines seize
And fold into nothingness the pathetic husk.

Once at this hour of night the windows shone
With a welcoming light to the traveller's eyes ;
Now, its light and its life for ever gone
And rats and mice have taken their prize.

Yet when the Moon in high heaven shines.
Casting strange shapes on roof and on walls
Where it pierces through the leaning pines,
A stranger wonder the heart enthralls. —

At a spectral house and a spectral bride

And the ghostly bridegroom lately wed.

The voices that sound not, the steps that glide

And the greeting of those whom we know to be dead.



32



AN AUTUMN VESPERALE

LOW down is the sun and low his rays,
Which, with their roseate pressure, beauty
mould
In tiny caverns 'mid the fallen leaves ;
There is no single thing untouched with sweet
And saddened loveliness. Already
Has the broad brown moon stolen into sight
And waits the daylight's passing which shall bring
The time to bloom in full-fledged brightness.
There is the sadness of desolation
In the unswaying nakedness of trees.
And the sweep of sky and the slumberous earth
Insist on their imminent dying ;
Yet the calm fortitude of things natural,
Like a woman, made aware of motherhood,
Exhales a strength that is born of sorrow,
As the sod smells sweet, when dug after rain.



33



THE STORM

THE air is thick, unclean and warm
And filled with mutterings of a storm ;
Spidery Fear a web he weaves
And silent are the leaves ;
The angry sun sinks down in flame,
As though to leave the earth in shame ;
Not darkness, but a cloak of green ;
Across the sky strange lights are seen,

Quiv'ring, shiv'ring

In the distance far,

Burning, glowing

Not as a star
But as a fierce unbridled fire
With unwholesome thin desire ;
The furtive clouds slink past
As though they hate the whirling blast.
Like ships upon a gurly sea
Which from coming horrors flee,
A sudden wind, a blinding light
Of myriad shades 'twixt black and white,
Shatters the equipoise ;
Racking lights and black noise,
As if the hells of mental sin
Have upgathered in the din ;
The parched earth, all athirst.
The trembling trees all accurst ;

34



The panting grass cries out in pain
And craves the blessedness of rain ;
It seems as though all mortal shame
Has taken form in sound and flame,
And filth, baseness, vicious thought
And every secret sin that's wrought,
Man's habits uncontrolled, his lust.
His soul choked up with passion's rust.
All, All, upsprung to flame form
And leap within the storm ;
Earth atwist with violent pain
And razor light cuts in twain

The moaning sky ;
Like the thudding of a flood
Pent up, the surging blood
Beats against the shiv'ring brain,
Swells up and up and up and bursts in
Rain, Rain, Rain, Rain,
Rain, Rain, Rain.



35



FOOLISH RHYMES



YOUTH and Laughter,
What comes after ?
After Laughter — Love,
What is Love ?
A stolen kiss,
A moment's bliss,
A fragrant glove.
What's after Love ?

Why saddened eyes
And harsh cries
And drawn-out sighs.
And after,
What comes after ?
Laughter.

II

What is sin ?

Dark and damp ;
What is prayer ?

A glowing lamp ;
What is lust ?

Creaking rust ;
What is cheer ?

Too much beer ;
What is Death ?

Lack of breath.

36



I



UPON RECEIVING A LETTER

HOW sweet in recollection are our friends ;
Their bright eyes, gleaming over fallen
years,
The blur of time dissolve and distance blends
About the image that our mind prepares,
A deeper understanding, loveliness.
And radiance full of shades we never knew ;
Even as the rose that to lips we press
At even sun is sweeter for the dew.
Perchance one word a landmark in our heart,
Minds mutually intermingled in a dream.
Or kiss snatched at the moment when our part
Was played and fading the visionary gleam.

Let not our souls grow too insensitive

To kiss their memoried lips and make them live.



37



A LOVE SONG

WHEN Love awakens there shall be a radiance
Like to the sun's setting on a rainy day,
The breathed-in air bring roses to your cheeks,
Your eyes shall shine like stars in softened sky ;
The clouds that lowered their black bosoms of late
Shall fondle you against their crimson breasts
And the moon, majestic, will mount the heavens
Mated in beauty with the death of eve ;
All time distilled to a moment's sweetness ;
Life, glimmering, a jewel in your grasp,
Your soul spreading its wings at the touch
Of hand on hand, of lips upon your lips.



38



AFTERDAY

ALONG nerve and sinew doth old-age creep
And it is time for sleep ;
Not the deep dead sleep of forgetting,
The cold and unmeasured clasp of Death,
Rather a sweet and silent dreaming
With an ancient yet a new Spring's breath ;
What was, but unlike that of days
When Youth was hot and sex and sex
A lure, shimmering and quivering between
One and one — arms, bosoms and necks,
The curves thereof, the suggestions of dress.
Touched the nerve of impulse ; lip to lip.
Soul and soul burnt to unity in the kiss-fire,
Then was the lissomeness of Youth let slip.
To bequeath a cold dry quivering,
A shoulder-shrugging, tired-eyed shivering.

Calmness now as of an ancient land

With slow moving and full-bosomed streams,

Reclining 'neath another sun, a later moon

Than those that lit your quietly folded dreams ;

Emotion, a crystal that faintly glows

In the fitful gleam of yesterdays

And is only sensed, as the scent of a rose,

Or the curve of a branch that sways,

When Night has put the sun away

And sweet is the af terday.

39



REQUIEM

BRING in the body
And there let it rest,
And lay the flowers
On the heaveless breast.

Till the flowers wither
And the Quiet Room
Is filled with a holy
And a scented gloom.

When the last blossom
Has died at her breast,
With the fragrance flown
Has her spirit to rest.



40



SOAVE

SHE came through the blue haze
Of a quiet dream,
Down through ethereal ways

As a lingering beam
Of radiance, softly she shone

Among mortal things,
I drew breath — she was gone
On dreamy wings.



41



THE END OF A PAGE

THE Room is getting cold, one gas-light burns^
And the fire is now a monotonous red glow ;
The old bookcase and the books in it,
Old and ancient in matter and in age —
Gathered mental flowers and weeds of men
Who dreamed strange dreams and moved
In a stranger way to our modern eyes ;
The speech on wings or stilts, the poetry
Fetches out saliva with its utter sweetness,
Or, direct as the passage of a needle-point,
Pierces the epidermis of a latter age ;
To whom our own tempestuous and neurotic time
Is a swish on cheek with a splint of steel.
My dirty boots lie in the fender — rigid
And unceasingly grim ticks the clock ;
Dregs in cup and glass late mouth-touched, the

flowers
Dead in vase, the cloth, sofa and the pictures
And the feeling of a room half-asleep —
Grows the coldness, I shiver a little.
Huddle close to the now dead fire.
Mentally doze, start to transient life.
Languish, visions and old dreams, dreamt
Again and again, switch o'er my forehead ;
The seconds pass, cold grows all, at last
I draw the last smoke from my cigarette and, flung
42



In the ashy grate, it gleams with anguish, drops

Into its nether ash, its ultimate dust

And swells the earth-bunch of death matter,

I shiver again, turn out light and the dark

Closes round me like the clutch of a black

And potent liqueur — drift upstairs and into bed

I creep, a nether ash, in the day's last ash,

Dropped into its ultimate dust,

I will go, one night, finally into ultimate dust

And wake on earth again, atomic, in flower

Or part of a brick of a house where beings dwell

Who light a life to smoke its timorous length,

Perhaps to the end, perhaps not, of its nether ash,

Inevitably, irrevocably flicker and gleam

And then, the ultimate dust, the ultimate dust.



43



DEPARTURE FROM THE OLD HOUSE

I AM leaving this old house,
Creeping from it like a mouse,
This house, where my mother died
And the rooms, where with pride
I hung pictures on the wall
And wiped my feet within the hall ;
Everything has a familiar touch,
I know it is nothing much,
One can do it, without any tears,
Leave the place you've loved for years.
The van will come for its load
And I shall set off down the road
And leave this old house
Like a creeping mouse.

There is no room for sentiment.
Away with such futile grief,
Here the railings are ancient and bent,
There they are new beyond belief
And the locks will turn with keys.
And the doors will really close,
And the pipes cannot freeze
And no one knows

What unsuspected details I shall find
To please my sentimental mind.
Discoveries that will beget
Content where now is regret.

44



There is no room for sentiment,

Yet my thoughts are backwards bent,

Leaving this old house

Like a creeping mouse,

The house, with the room inside,

Where my mother died.



45



AN EGOTIST'S FINALE

SOMETIMES my words wing with ease
Much the same as the singing trees,
Words and phrases formed complete,
Empty, passionless and sweet ;
Yet in hours, turgid and dark
When the gas is lit and lone dogs bark.
There rises in my aching brain
A mountain of thought, in twain
It cleaves a nebulous mental sky.
With mental effort and strain I try
To bind my senses to my will
And climb the thought, struggle until
My vision embraces every side
Of its rolling landscape wide.
Discovers its caves, its lines and steeps,


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