Edward Dowden.

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B| A WOMAN'S RELIQUARY




PR

4613
D445
W6
1971



A WOMAN'S RELIC^UARY



Cr^-^




THE CUALA PRESS

CHURCHTOWN

DUNDRUM

MCMXIII ,6



TABLE OF CONTENTS


PAGE


The Rosary
Song a Shadow
Silence and Speech
A Garden Inclosed


I
I

2
2


The Well


3


Afar


3


Premonitions


4


Bud and Blossom


4


The Haven


5


Manna


5


Love's Nudity


6


Miracles


6


Love's Law


7


Love's Artistry
Credo quia Impossible


7

8


Harvest


8


A Moment


9


Grief in Joy
Giving and Taking


9

10


The Interpreter
December


10

1 1


4 Will'


1 1


Love's Sacrament


12


Ave atquc Vale
The Resting Place
Impersonal


12

13

13



Babblement 14

Gratitude 14

Embayed 1 5

The Bowman 15

Gift on Gift 1 6

The Chapel 16

Exchanges 17

Surprises 1 8

Charity and Knowledge 1 8

The Potter's Wheel 19

The Holy of Holies 19

Gold Hair 20

The Pitcher 21

Turf 2 1

Pons Signatus 22

The Plummet 22

Community 23

Indulgences 24

Love Tokens 24

Britomart 25

Love's Chord 25

Hours and Moments 26

Old Letters 27

The Triumph of Love 27

The Book of Hours ^ 28

The Couch 28

Sea- Anemones 29



Burnet Roses 29

Spring in Autumn 30

The Pilgrim ^o

Sunrise o i

The Lost Dian 3 1



Secrets



32



Clouds 32

Song and Sunset 31

Nature's Need 33

Waking 34

The Village Well 34

Blossoms 3^

A Farewell 36

New Horizons 37

Past and Present 37

Poverty and Plenty 38

Wise Foolishness 39

Childhood 40

The Rival 41

Sixteen Years 4 1

Truths and Truth 4:5

Madonna 42

Justice 43

Liberality 43



The Wave
Speech a C
The Source 4^



44
Speech a Cloud 45



The Violin 4^

Sea-Mews' Cries 47

The North Wind 47

The Rapids 4^

The Challenge 49

Knowledge and Truth 49

Exchange of Sex 5°

The Stone-Breaker 5 ^

The New Circe 5^

Discipline 53

Eventide 53

Transition 54

Gloaming 54

In the Storm 5S

Bethesda 55

Winnings 5"

Love and Death 5°

The Blessed Ones 57

Intimate Sorrow 57

Lachrymatories 5°

Love's Lord 59



Three hundred copies of this
book have been printed.



EDITOR'S NOTE
A reviewer not long since congratulated me on the
possession of some interesting manuscripts, which,
as a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, I have had
the good fortune to come across. Some years ago I
purchased a handful of books from a lady, now dead^
and among them a slender morocco-bound volume
containing the verses which here I print. She told
me that she was the only surviving relation, a niece
of the writer of these poems. 'You may do what you
please with them,' she said; 'the writer and the per-
son addressed are both dead ; the marriage was child-
less.' No wrong therefore can be done to anyone by
the present publication. A sequence of a hundred
love lyrics addressed to a wife is perhaps too much
for the general public ; but possibly some of the ver-
ses may ultimately find their way into anthologies.
My task as editor has been that of securing an ac-
curate text; and, for convenience of reference, I
have prefixed a title to each poem, which however
may be disregarded by a reader of the sequence.
The general title 'A Woman's Reliquary' is writ-
ten on the first page of the manuscript.

Edward Dowden.

Publishers note.

If readers desire to attribute authorship of this book
to the editor^ no wrong is done to anyone.



The secret may be whispered in the shrine.
Life's central word, or cried in all men's ears

Down from the mountain height, it yet is mine:
— He only who had heard the secret hears.



I
THE ROSARY

The beads thus at your girdle hung
Have little lustre as you see.

My verses faintly said or sung,
A poor believer's rosary.

Yet think for v^hat they stand, nor part
With these, if only coloured clay;

This meant an Ave from his heart,
And this, though pale, a Gloria.

II
SONG A SHADOW

The little breezes of my song

Waft perfumes, each a pallid wraith

Of hope, of memories treasured long.
And ever love, and ever faith:

Or think them shadows that across
The everlasting hills have run.

Whose life was merely sunshine's loss;
Yet flying shades confess the sun.



Ill
SILENCE AND SPEECH

Others, with desolate arms, have flung

Their hands to heaven, and cried their grief.

And found, because a woe was sung.
Sad measured fragments of relief.

If such my lot, these lips were dumb;

Song were a broken, idle toy;
Lean to me, my beloved; come,

And hear what may be told of joy.

IV

A GARDEN INCLOSED

My soul a garden is inclosed.

But never wall was builded there

Save heaven's bright boundary circumposed,
The depths of blue untrammell'd air.

No garth is guarded half so sure,
And here are blossoms for the bee,

And here, to make my bourne secure.
Horizons of infinity.



V

THE WELL

I stoop'd to many streams that run

Through the hot plain, and drank with greed,
Lores and new lores ! — yet found not one

But left some smatch of marish-wecd.

Blest be this well that holds the heaven
Radiant and calm within its breast!

Who stoopcth here to him is given
Joy at the midmost heart of rest.

VI

AFAR

I saw you then how far away,

As one might see at morning's birth

Some Oread of strange hills at play
On the uplifted rim of earth ;

Nothing beyond you but the light

Of dawn and heaven's pellucid shell;

So with God's world, swung clear of night.
How should not all be safe and well ?



VII

PREMONITIONS

Auroral pulses; quiverings

Too faint to flush the pallid East;

Nor yet the stir of earliest wings;
But morn awakens, night has ceased.

Dreams and the phantoms of the dark
Troop earthwards; see, across the lawn

A light breath lifts the leaves, and hark !
The alleluias of the dawn.



VIII

BUD AND BLOSSOM

O sweet and blind commotion of the sap

When the first ray thrills in the folded flower !

Virginal rapture tremulous; some great hap
Befallen; a law declared; a quickening power.

And henceforth life shall surely have a part
In all that joy which makes the many One;

The petals sever; the whole scented heart
Lies naked for encounter with the sun.



IX

THE HAVEN

It was not love, but o'er the array
Of maiden faces clustering there

My glance careered, which well might stay.
For this was frank and that was fair.

No haven for my sail that drove,
No pharos; sunniest isles I passed;

Then suddenly — it was not love —
The haven, and an anchor cast.



X

MANNA

I lived on manna day and night,

So long ! and still could live indeed;

Nor murmured that such bread was light,
My heaven-sent coriander-seed;

I lived on manna night and day,
No other food I craved or knew;

Without my tent each morn it lay
Pearl-pure, and sweet as honey-dew.



XI

LOVE'S NUDITY

Naked this soul, for good or ill.

Must stand before her eyes;
So dear, so dread, his word and will

Who builded Paradise.

What if that gaze confirm my fear ?

What if those eyes approve ?
What if, so seen, she call me near
To hide me in her love?
XII
MIRACLES

That day you came and went faith grew

In miracle; one while
The dream swam up — was all not true ? —

Of wondering Theophile;

Snows on the roofs, the ways, outspread;

But lo ! the radiant boy,
And in heap'd arms great roses red

Pluck'd from God's garth of joy;

Pluck'd from God's garth of joy, and all

The air was one warm stream
Of summer. Can such things befall ?

Or is it but a dream ?
6



XIII

LOVE'S LAW

If it were possible to spare

Your ears my dreaded truth.
Fashions of friendship I might wear

For pride perhaps or ruth.

But this is law, not choice — to lay

My whole soul in your hand;
My part is only to obey.

And yours to understand.

My part to speak and there to end;

Be you strict arbiter;
Grant nought of all I need, my friend,

If granting be to err.

XIV

LOVE'S ARTISTRY

Search me and know me; understand
Sense, spirit, passion, thought:

Yet wherefore doubt ? The craftsman's hand
Should know the thing it wrought.

Here joy has dealt with me, here pain;

Here ran your hand, here stay'd:
V^as not a foolish carver fain

Of his own ivory maid .?

7



XV

CREDO QUIA IMPOSSIBILE

silence, now all golden, what a word,
A star, into your shadowy waters fell !

1 dare believe a shining thing I heard,

Because impossible.



XVI

HARVEST

Wide harvest: all the plain
Is wealth; on every tree

Fulfilment; not in vain

May's hope, June's prophecy.

Joy is the vintager

Who treads the wine-press; lo !
A great, a golden year.

And, stamp'd, the clusters flow.



XVII

A MOMENT

Free forester of Dian's train,

Yet swift arms girdled her about

At one glad word: and how refrain ?

The dykes were down, the floods were out:

Life was abroad; it was not I

Who wrought a thing I knew not of;
It was the whole world's ecstasy

That woke and trembled into love.



XVIII

GRIEF IN JOY

Grave joy; heaven's arch is deep
And clear; still, still endures

That grief although I cease to weep;
Take it, for I am yours:

And not less pure appears
My heaven encircling earth,

And tenderer for that rain of tears ;
Grave joy — a sacred birth.



XIX

GIVING AND TAKING

Cross over from your side

Of giver for my sake.
Conceive what praises hide,

Know once the love I take:

So faith will rest assured,

Nor praise and wonder ache,

Joy may be well endured,
Cross over for my sake.

XX

THE INTERPRETER

Have I not look'd away from you ?

When to the compass of one face
Did I contract the revenue

Of beauty or the springs of grace ?

But if a deeper heaven lies bare
Now; and a more enchanted sea

Heaves; if the lit clouds are aware;
If the first star with mystery

Is laden; if some tremulous need

Stirs in the midnight's brooding wings,

Shall I not search your eyes to read
The secret in the face of things ?

lO



XXI

DECEMBER

Flowerless December, but this morn
Of whirling rain and ruining cloud

Behold ! a flower of light is born

By all heaven's gentleness o'erbow'd;

Earth-born, yet scarce to earth akin;

The chalice opening late; no rose —
That is for youth ; yet peer within !

Like gold the lily-pollen glows.



XXII
'I WILL'

At last achievement past gainsay;

'I will' was spoken, and 'I will;'
Southward we sped toward cape and bay,

And talk'd of cloud and stream and hill.

Pearl of great price, not bought indeed,
Given to my breast, I own with awe,

Since given where greatest was the need
Also for you this thing was law.



1 1



XXIII

LOVE'S SACRAMENT

Let not thy sacramental bread and wine,
Lord Love, be found so sweet upon my lips

That I forget the Presence, which is thine;
Let not the lighted cloud the light eclipse.

Nay, for a joy o'erripe turns sullenncss

Or wanes; heaven's gift is over at the prime

Thy will it is in thine own way to bless;
Angels descend the ladder angels climb.

XXIV

AVE ATQUE VALE

Ah Love ! When all is gain'd,

Graces no heart can tell.
Then first I know the attain'd

Is unattainable.

The wave that climbs and falls

Is still in radiant flight.
Wind-driven, more drawn by calls

Borne from the infinite.

Horizons ever new,

Cries that will ne'er be mute.
Love's welcome an adieu.

Love's conquest a pursuit.
12



XXV

THE RESTING PLACE

Where her heart throbs (come life, come death)

I lay my hand, nor can rehearse
The thoughts, but know that love and faith

Are pillars of the universe.



XXVI

IMPERSONAL

Awe fell on me: we two shall be no more
Estrays, but still some part, whate'er ensue,

Of the vast sea that heaves without a shore.
Life limitless, love infinite — we two;

A sparkle in the smile of God's glad deep,
A fruit that falls not from the unfading tree,

A flash of colour in the bow where leap
The sunlit torrents of eternity.



13



XXVII

BABBLEMENT

Once more my idle word
Craves to possess your ear.

All heard before, all heard
Only once more to hear.

This endless babbling stream

Far in the hills arose,
Through gloom it ran and gleam.

The chaliced rock o'erflows;

And should a slumbrous peace
Fall on your lids, the rill

Scarce heeds, nor yet will cease
Because inaudible.



XXVIII

GRATITUDE

Now silence ! weighing down a steep descent
I sink to ultimate peace in final good;

Below life's joyance lies this pure content,
Where all I am is merely gratitude.

14



XXIX

EMBAYED

Where bliss is calm as deep
Here let my shallop rest;

Heaven bends above us; sleep
Invades her sacred breast:

A mirror'd heaven below;

O'erhead — love's infinite;
Here would I rest, nor know

The rapids of delight.



XXX

THE BOWMAN

No stronghold brave she gained; in one so poor
No treasure-house; and yet I make my claim —

Ay, proud to be the crenell'd aperture

Through which the unerring Bowman took his aim

And if his arrow struck the noblest heart.
How should I be remorseful ? By his grace

Toward his high stand she glanced with sudden start.
And through the loophole dusk beheld His face.

15



XXXI

GIFT ON GIFT

Love's kingdom first, a spirit divine,
I sought and all his righteousness;

These things are added and are mine;
He who would bless would doubly bless.

Love's kingdom which long since I sought
I have not left, I cannot leave;

But in his hand the Master brought
To Eden's bower the gracious Eve.



XXXII

THE CHAPEL

The starry chapel, where I bow

My head in thanks or lift in praise,

Has altars four; at each a vow
I make, at each a hymn I raise.

Her brain: whose poignant quivering flame
Leaps, laughs and lightens from the pyre;

Dry logs I gathered — such my claim —
And laid in order: hers the fire.

i6



Her soul: not as the Scribes it spoke.

Sundering things real from things that seem;

I felt the austere control; I woke,
And on the altar left a dream.

Her breast, Love's shrine: for very awe

So long, so long, I stood apart;
Then bow'd to dread benignant law,

And on the coals I cast a heart.

An altar last, whose incensed air

Quickens the breath like wildrose wine

Inhaled when all the land is fair.

And girdling heaven shows earth divine.

XXXIII

EXCHANGES

Receive my gift, Beloved, such a dower

As heaven rejects not, and the breathing soil

Offers as purest incense — your own power
In blissful swift recoil.

All April gleams; breeze, sunshine, shower renew
The earth, and skyward floats a vernal drift;

The lit clouds sunder; see, a tenderer blue
Owns the reverting gift.

17 d



XXXIV

SURPRISES

The presage tells of rest, deep rest;

Joy enters wing'd for flight;
The clouds that pause around the West

Are thriird and fill'd with light.

The presage tells of joy : such need,
Such hope, is straight withdrawn;

Rest, lucid rest, has Love decreed,
The hush of earliest dawn.

XXXV

CHARITY AND KNOWLEDGE

Faith, Hope and Charity — these three,

The greatest Charity, 'tis writ;
But 'Trinity in Unity'

The word wdre had I utter'd it.

For what is Hope but Love that bends

Forth in the race with quickening breath ?

And there are hours when Love ascends
To lose and find itself in Faith.

Knowledge, 'tis written, has her place
Lower than Love; and yet I own

At times this seems Love's loveliest grace —
Merely to know and to be known.

i8



XXXVI

THE POTTER'S WHEEL

You took this fictile clay — a heart —
Shaped it to what you chose to make;

Applaud a little your own art,
Nay, cherish for the artist's sake.

To pressure light and strict it grew,
Curved as the potter's hand gave law;

Was it a chalice, wine or dew

Glimmering to hold, that you foresaw?

Nor think your artistry at end;

Still whirls the wheel — O joy and fear!
Mar for a moment, still to mend,

Fashion it unto honour. Dear.



XXXVII

THE HOLY OF HOLIES

My brave, marauding honey-bee,

Down the deep flower-neck you have push'd
Your way to some dear mystery

Of gladness, and your hum is hush'd.



19



Even in a blossom's heart there Ues
An inmost chamber of the heart,

Mystery beyond all mysteries,

Where the last veil is drawn apart.

Found you a sun-warm'd palace there,
A white tent where you lie enturl'd,

A cell, a temple, a chaste lair

That holds the sweetness of the world?

O my wise honey-bee! such joy

Lives not, you k.now% with buzz or bruit;
Be happy in your hush'd employ;

I pause, I ponder, and am mute.

XXXVIII

GOLD HAIR

That glory mass'd, your girlhood's vaunt.
The gold great hair by me unseen,

Was it the aureole of a saint?
Was it the rigol of a queen?

Yet here is wealth enough to bribe
A world of hearts; take but this one

Bright ingot sever'd from its tribe.
This wheat-sheaf in the August sun.
20



XXXIX

THE PITCHER

With what marmoreal grace the maid
Bore her brimm'd pitcher from the well,

One white arm curved, a hip that sway'd,
A foot that firmly fell.

The vessel on my shoulder set

Fluctuates with full felicity;
Add strength to bear my gladness, let

My burden steady me.



XL
TURF

Thank God for simple, honest, close-knit turf,
Sound footing for plainfeet; nor moss, nor mire;

No silvery quicksand, no hot sulphurous scurf
Flung from a turmoil'd fire.

So far your hand has led me: what is worth
A question now of all the heavens conceal?

Here shall we lie, and better love the Earth,
And let the planets reel.

21



XLI

PONS SIGNATUS

Still the clear spirit's dignity;

To me love's inmost shrine reveal'd;
Yet with no squander'd sweetness she

Gives largess from the fountain seal'd.

Never the blossom overblown,
And therefore a perpetual bride,

For whom the spirit's loosen'd zone
Has worth, nor will be laid aside.



XLII

THE PLUMMET

I let my plummet sink and sink
Into this sea of blessing; when.

Or where should it touch shoal? I think
Love lies beyond our furthest ken.

Above, the sun-smit waves career;

They have their voices wild and free;
Below them, where no eye can peer,

Love's great glad taciturnity.

22



XLIII

COMMUNITY

Of all her joys the Earth has need;

The kindly Mother finds her part
In plumping nut, and feathering seed,

And heart that ripens upon heart.

Her gifts to her own breast return —
Pride of the marshall'd spears of grain,

Passion of clouds that flush and burn,
And love's pulsating old refrain.

With all her infants' glee is stirred

The spirit within her, grave and sweet.

The leap of lamb, the cry of bird,

And hands that touch and lips that meet.

And it may be that half her store
Of life and warmth is treasured up

From hearts like ours, her wine that bore,
And danced her dance, and crown'd her cup.

O blind it were to deem that we

Are in our proper bliss inisled !
The old Mother own'd community

Who bended over us and smiled.

23



XLIV

INDULGENCES

Ah, why has Love no general store

Wherein their merits in excess
Of duty saints Hke you could pour.

And folk like me their happiness ?

Through us the sun would mount, and want
Be lighten'd; each might have his share;

Love's Vicar could indulgence grant
Plenary or particular.



XLV
LOVE TOKENS

Two gifts: mere sparkling granite this;

Why given that day my heart inquires;
I think because in earth's abyss

It felt the glow of central fires.

And now the earliest daffodils.

Sun-lovers, comrades of the breeze,

Through which earth's sudden rapture thrills.
And spring's awaken'd ecstasies.



24



XLVI

BRITOMART

Smile if you will at my dear need,

O bright-hair'd daughter of the North !

Yes, you are stronger; but we read

Out of the strong came sweetness forth.

With me life's proper flame aspires

Through needs; each day new call I make

For bread, for wine, man's heart desires;
But Dian strength would give, not take.

Yet who was she that lay and toss'd,

O'ercome with mighty throes of heart,

Deep-struck, her virgin freedom lost ?
— Not Amoret, it was Britomart.



XLVII
LOVE'S CHORD

Stand off from me; be still your own;

Love's perfect chord maintains the sense
Through harmony, not unison,

Of finest difference.

25



See not as I see; set your thought

Against my thought; call up your will

To grapple mine; gay bouts we fought,
Let us be wrestlers still.

Then, if we cannot choose but mate
And mingle wholly, it will be

The doom of law, a starry fate,
And glad necessity.



XLVIII
HOURS AND MOMENTS

Yes, if need were we two could dare
To part, and still the days were bright,

Though less than these swift days that wear
Their nimbus of glad morn, glad night.

Good hours would chime upon the clock;

But ah, the moments ! which could be
The wing'd keybe'arer that unlocks

The gates of immortality ?



26



XLIX

OLD LETTERS

Your letters flinging their good seed —
Wit, counsel, wisdom, thought —

Words that could shape my dream, my deed,
I miss them, do I not ?

Yes, but how words dissect, divide

Our truths; their swiftest play
Hastens too slowly, strikes too wide,

Falters or falls away.

And now our meanings, whole and sole,

From sense to spirit outleap;
Truth now with joy is integral.

Deep answers unto deep.

So when speech comes to claim its share,

We feel, all words beneath.
Tremblings of heart oracular,

Accords of life and death.

L

THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE

Framed in old verse Italian

See Love in triumph charioted.

His captives follow maid and man
With corded wrist and bended head:
27



Glad children rather should be here,
Young heirs who never felt the rod.

Clad in the love that casts out fear,
And freedom of the sons of God.

LI

THE BOOK OF HOURS

Blown sea-cliff, dreaming pasturage,

The moor, broad cornland flaunting flowers,

Each place we moved in is a page
Of my illumined Book of Hours.

Bird, bloom and bee are in the marge.
How fresh the tinctures, free the grace !

But in the midst and limn'd at large
The aureoled wonder of her face.

LII

THE COUCH

Sure resting-place above the shock

Of waters, safe from clambering waves,

Here be your couch, the living rock
Lull'd by the gulphing of the caves.

I shall be human still, and feast

My sense, your spy for brave things done:
Hug nature you, a drowsed sea-beast,

Slow-breathing, saturate with the sun.

28



LIII

SEA-ANEMONES

Look ! the waves' wash has reach'd this drain'd alcove
Its crimson blooms retracted know at hand

The tidal flow; peer now ! they thrill, they move,
Petals and anthers waver and expand.

'Praised, praised be God for thee,' my heart has cried,

*My little brother, the anemone !
My spirit has also heard a jubilant tide.

And known the blissful whelming of the sea.'

LIV

BURNET ROSES
On sand-dunes of this western sea

Here, mid the bent grass, roses shine,
Clear-carven, chaliced ivory,

Brimm'd with the summer's perfumed wine.

Never those orbed splendours fed

From garden-mould, June's tended train.

Crimson or gold, soft-bosomed,

Darted such transport to the brain.



29



How well with sweetness strength agrees !

The liberal air, the spacious light,
The sounding waves, have fashioned these;

Take them; such things are yours by right.

LV
SPRING IN AUTUMN

We are alone with sea and sun;

Give the child's instinct in you play,
And where the laughing ripples run

Step barefoot touch'd by wind and spray;

And let me smile; the autumn day

Mimics the springtime; seasons meet

One moment; let my fancies stray

With the glad ripples round your feet.

LVI

THE PILGRIM

The sunset trance is in her eyes;

I know the spirit's homeless flight;
Estranged from earth, a pilgrim hies

To seek the founts of light.



30



Love frames no cage, love weaves no net;

I would not whisper a recall,
Nor choose to capture what is yet

Remote and virginal.

LVII
SUNRISE

Lo ! on yon eastern marge the sun:
The waves a miracle confess,

And awed, illumined tremors run
Through the sea-spaces measureless.

I knew that mystery of the spear,

The shaft of flame, the poignant ray;

But knew not if 'twere bliss or fear
Such seizure by the arisen day.

LVIII

THE LOST DIAN

And if I lose your image, Dear,
One moment in the joy of you.

Think, the moon-marvel in the mere
A moment since was mirror'd true:

There lay the Dian, till at once

Thrill'd all the waters, and, behold !

The disk is scatter'd, and there runs
A rippled race of quivering gold.

31



LIX

SECRETS

Noontide and summer; not a breeze
Abroad, and all the landscape shines;

Yet hush ! what murmur'd mysteries !
There sounds a going in the pines.

Our spirits, rooted firm in earth,

Reach heavenward; not a branch astir;

Yet secrets as of death and birth

Are breath'd, nor crave interpreter.

LX
CLOUDS

Hourlong today I watch'd across the plain
The speechless intercourse of cloud and hill,


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