Georgian Poetry 1920-22 online

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The Poetry Bookshop
35 Devonshire St. Theobalds Rd.
London W.C.1



When the fourth volume of this series was published three years ago,
many of the critics who had up till then, as Horace Walpole said of God,
been the dearest creatures in the world to me, took another turn. Not
only did they very properly disapprove my choice of poems: they went on
to write as if the Editor of 'Georgian Poetry' were a kind of public
functionary, like the President of the Royal Academy; and they
asked - again, on this assumption, very properly - who was E.M. that he
should bestow and withhold crowns and sceptres, and decide that this or
that poet was or was not to count.

This, in the words of Pirate Smee, was 'a kind of a compliment', but it
was also, to quote the same hero, 'galling'; and I have wished for an
opportunity of disowning the pretension which I found attributed to me
of setting up as a pundit, or a pontiff, or a Petronius Arbiter; for I
have neither the sure taste, nor the exhaustive reading, nor the ample
leisure which would be necessary in any such role.

The origin of these books, which is set forth in the memoir of Rupert
Brooke, was simple and humble. I found, ten years ago, that there were a
number of writers doing work which appeared to me extremely good, but
which was narrowly known; and I thought that anyone, however
unprofessional and meagrely gifted, who presented a conspectus of it in
a challenging and manageable form might be doing a good turn both to the
poets and to the reading public. So, I think I may claim, it proved to
be. The first volume seemed to supply a want. It was eagerly bought; the
continuation of the affair was at once taken so much for granted as to
be almost unavoidable; and there has been no break in the demand for the
successive books. If they have won for themselves any position, there is
no possible reason except the pleasure they have given.

Having entered upon a course of disclamation, I should like to make a
mild protest against a further charge that Georgian Poetry has merely
encouraged a small clique of mutually indistinguishable poetasters to
abound in their own and each other's sense or nonsense. It is natural
that the poets of a generation should have points in common; but to my
fond eye those who have graced these collections look as diverse as
sheep to their shepherd, or the members of a Chinese family to their
uncle; and if there is an allegation which I would 'deny with both
hands', it is this: that an insipid sameness is the chief characteristic
of an anthology which offers - to name almost at random seven only out of
forty (oh ominous academic number!) - the work of Messrs. Abercrombie,
Davies, de la Mare, Graves, Lawrence, Nichols and Squire.

The ideal 'Georgian Poetry' - a book which would err neither by omission
nor by inclusion, and would contain the best, and only the best poems of
the best, and only the best poets of the day - could only be achieved, if
at all, by dint of a Royal Commission. The present volume is nothing of
the kind.

I may add one word bearing on my aim in selection. Much admired modern
work seems to me, in its lack of inspiration and its disregard of form,
like gravy imitating lava. Its upholders may retort that much of the
work which I prefer seems to them, in its lack of inspiration and its
comparative finish, like tapioca imitating pearls. Either view - possibly
both - may be right. I will only say that with an occasional exception
for some piece of rebelliousness or even levity which may have taken my
fancy, I have tried to choose no verse but such as in Wordsworth's phrase

The high and tender Muses shall accept
With gracious smile, deliberately pleased.

There are seven new-comers - Messrs. Armstrong, Blunden, Hughes, Kerr,
Prewett and Quennell, and Miss Sackville-West. Thanks and
acknowledgments are due to Messrs. Jonathan Cape, Chatto and Windus, R.
Cobden-Sanderson, Constable, W. Collins, Heinemann, Hodder and
Stoughton, John Lane, Macmillan, Martin Secker, Selwyn and Blount,
Sidgwick and Jackson, and the Golden Cockerel Press; and to the Editors
of 'The Cbapbook', 'The London Mercury' and 'The Westminster

E. M.

July, 1922



Ryton Firs


The Buzzards (from 'The Buzzards')
Honey Harvest
Miss Thompson Goes Shopping (from 'The Buzzards')


The Poor Man's Pig (from 'The Shepherd')
Almswomen (from 'The Waggoner')
Perch-fishing " " "
The Giant Puffball (from 'The Shepherd')
The Child's Grave " " "
April Byeway " " "


The Captive Lion (from 'The Song of Life')
A Bird's Anger " " "
The Villain " " "
Love's Caution " " "
Wasted Hours (from 'The Hour of Magic')
The Truth (from 'The Song of Life')


The Moth (from 'The Veil')
'Sotto Voce' " "
Sephina (from 'Flora ')
Titmouse (from 'The Veil')
Suppose (from 'Flora')
The Corner Stone (from 'The Veil')


Persuasion (from 'Seeds of Time')


I Will Ask (from 'Poems New and Old')
The Evening Sky " " "
The Caves " " "
Moon-Bathers (from 'Music')
In Those Old Days (from 'Poems New and Old')
Caterpillars (from 'Music')
Change " "


Fire (from 'Neighbours')
Barbara Fell " "
Philip and Phoebe Ware " "
By the Weir " "
Worlds " "


Lost Love (from 'The Pier-Glass')
Morning Phoenix " "
A Lover Since Childhood
Sullen Moods
The Pier-Glass (from 'The Pier-Glass')
The Troll's Nosegay " "
Fox's Dingle " "
The General Elliott (from 'On English Poetry')
The Patchwork Bonnet (from 'The Pier-Glass')


The Singing Furies (from 'Gipsy-Night')
Moonstruck " "
Vagrancy " "
Poets, Painters, Puddings "


In Memoriam D. O. M.
Past and Present
The Audit
The Apple Tree
Her New-Year Posy
Counting Sheep
The Trees at Night
The Dead




Thistledown (from 'Real Property')
Real Property " " "
Unknown Country " " "


Night Rhapsody (from 'Aurelia')
November " "


After London
On a Friend who died suddenly upon the Seashore
When All is Said


To my Mother in Canada
Voices of Women (from 'Poems')
The Somme Valley " "
Burial Stones " "
Snow-Buntings " "
The Kelso Road " "
Baldon Lane " "
Come Girl, and Embrace "


A Man to a Sunflower


A Saxon Song (from 'Orchard and Vineyard')
Mariana in the North " " "
Full Moon " " "
Sailing Ships " " "
Trio " " "
Bitterness " " "
Evening " " "


The Rock Pool (from 'The Island of Youth')
The Glade " " "
Memory " " "
Woman's Song
The Wind
A Lonely Place


Elegy (from 'Poems,' 2nd series)
Meditation in Lamplight " "
Late Snow " "


The Quails
Song at Santa Cruz


* * * * *



'The Dream'

All round the knoll, on days of quietest air,
Secrets are being told; and if the trees
Speak out - let them make uproar loud as drums -
'Tis secrets still, shouted instead of whisper'd.

There must have been a warning given once:
No tree, on pain of withering and sawfly,
To reach the slimmest of his snaky toes
Into this mounded sward and rumple it;
All trees stand back: taboo is on this soil. -

The trees have always scrupulously obeyed.
The grass, that elsewhere grows as best it may
Under the larches, countable long nesh blades,
Here in clear sky pads the ground thick and close
As wool upon a Southdown wether's back;
And as in Southdown wool, your hand must sink
Up to the wrist before it find the roots.
A bed for summer afternoons, this grass;
But in the Spring, not too softly entangling
For lively feet to dance on, when the green
Flashes with daffodils. From Marcle way,
From Dymock, Kempley, Newent, Bromesberrow,
Redmarley, all the meadowland daffodils seem
Running in golden tides to Ryton Firs,
To make the knot of steep little wooded hills
Their brightest show: O bella età de l'oro!
Now I breathe you again, my woods of Ryton:
Not only golden with your daffodil-fires
Lying in pools on the loose dusky ground
Beneath the larches, tumbling in broad rivers
Down sloping grass under the cherry trees
And birches: but among your branches clinging
A mist of that Ferrara-gold I first
Loved in the easy hours then green with you;
And as I stroll about you now, I have
Accompanying me - like troops of lads and lasses
Chattering and dancing in a shining fortune -
Those mornings when your alleys of long light
And your brown rosin-scented shadows were
Enchanted with the laughter of my boys.

'The Voices in the Dream'

Follow my heart, my dancing feet,
Dance as blithe as my heart can beat.
Only can dancing understand
What a heavenly way we pass
Treading the green and golden land,
Daffodillies and grass.

I had a song, too, on my road,
But mine was in my eyes;
For Malvern Hills were with me all the way,
Singing loveliest visible melodies
Blue as a south-sea bay;
And ruddy as wine of France
Breadths of new-turn'd ploughland under them glowed.
'Twas my heart then must dance
To dwell in my delight;
No need to sing when all in song my sight
Moved over hills so musically made
And with such colour played. -
And only yesterday it was I saw
Veil'd in streamers of grey wavering smoke
My shapely Malvern Hills.
That was the last hail-storm to trouble spring:
He came in gloomy haste,
Pusht in front of the white clouds quietly basking,
In such a hurry he tript against the hills
And stumbling forward spilt over his shoulders
All his black baggage held,
Streaking downpour of hail.
Then fled dismayed, and the sun in golden glee
And the high white clouds laught down his dusky ghost.

For all that's left of winter
Is moisture in the ground.
When I came down the valley last, the sun
Just thawed the grass and made me gentle turf,
But still the frost was bony underneath.
Now moles take burrowing jaunts abroad, and ply
Their shovelling hands in earth
As nimbly as the strokes
Of a swimmer in a long dive under water.
The meadows in the sun are twice as green
For all the scatter of fresh red mounded earth,
The mischief of the moles:
No dullish red, Glostershire earth new-delved
In April! And I think shows fairest where
These rummaging small rogues have been at work.
If you will look the way the sunlight slants
Making the grass one great green gem of light,
Bright earth, crimson and even
Scarlet, everywhere tracks
The rambling underground affairs of moles:
Though 'tis but kestrel-bay
Looking against the sun.

But here's the happiest light can lie on ground,
Grass sloping under trees
Alive with yellow shine of daffodils!
If quicksilver were gold,
And troubled pools of it shaking in the sun
It were not such a fancy of bickering gleam
As Ryton daffodils when the air but stirs.
And all the miles and miles of meadowland
The spring makes golden ways,
Lead here, for here the gold
Grows brightest for our eyes,
And for our hearts lovelier even than love.
So here, each spring, our daffodil festival.

How smooth and quick the year
Spins me the seasons round!
How many days have slid across my mind
Since we had snow pitying the frozen ground!
Then winter sunshine cheered
The bitter skies; the snow,
Reluctantly obeying lofty winds,
Drew off in shining clouds,
Wishing it still might love
With its white mercy the cold earth beneath.
But when the beautiful ground
Lights upward all the air,
Noon thaws the frozen eaves,
And makes the rime on post and paling steam
Silvery blue smoke in the golden day.
And soon from loaded trees in noiseless woods
The snows slip thudding down,
Scattering in their trail
Bright icy sparkles through the glittering air;
And the fir-branches, patiently bent so long,
Sigh as they lift themselves to rights again.
Then warm moist hours steal in,
Such as can draw the year's
First fragrance from the sap of cherry wood
Or from the leaves of budless violets;
And travellers in lanes
Catch the hot tawny smell
Reynard's damp fur left as he sneakt marauding

Across from gap to gap:
And in the larch woods on the highest boughs
The long-eared owls like grey cats sitting still
Peer down to quiz the passengers below.

Light has killed the winter and all dark dreams.
Now winds live all in light,
Light has come down to earth and blossoms here,
And we have golden minds.
From out the long shade of a road high-bankt,
I came on shelving fields;
And from my feet cascading,
Streaming down the land,
Flickering lavish of daffodils flowed and fell;
Like sunlight on a water thrill'd with haste,
Such clear pale quivering flame,
But a flame even more marvellously yellow.
And all the way to Ryton here I walkt
Ankle-deep in light.
It was as if the world had just begun;
And in a mind new-made
Of shadowless delight
My spirit drank my flashing senses in,
And gloried to be made
Of young mortality.
No darker joy than this
Golden amazement now
Shall dare intrude into our dazzling lives:
Stain were it now to know
Mists of sweet warmth and deep delicious colour,
Those lovable accomplices that come
Befriending languid hours.

* * * * *



When evening came and the warm glow grew deeper
And every tree that bordered the green meadows
And in the yellow cornfields every reaper
And every corn-shock stood above their shadows
Flung eastward from their feet in longer measure,
Serenely far there swam in the sunny height
A buzzard and his mate who took their pleasure
Swirling and poising idly in golden light.
On great pied motionless moth-wings borne along,
So effortless and so strong,
Cutting each other's paths, together they glided,
Then wheeled asunder till they soared divided
Two valleys' width (as though it were delight
To part like this, being sure they could unite
So swiftly in their empty, free dominion),
Curved headlong downward, towered up the sunny steep,
Then, with a sudden lift of the one great pinion,
Swung proudly to a curve and from its height
Took half a mile of sunlight in one long sweep.

And we, so small on the swift immense hillside,
Stood tranced, until our souls arose uplifted
On those far-sweeping, wide,
Strong curves of flight, - swayed up and hugely drifted,
Were washed, made strong and beautiful in the tide
Of sun-bathed air. But far beneath, beholden
Through shining deeps of air, the fields were golden
And rosy burned the heather where cornfields ended.

And still those buzzards wheeled, while light withdrew
Out of the vales and to surging slopes ascended,
Till the loftiest-flaming summit died to blue.


Late in March, when the days are growing longer
And sight of early green
Tells of the coming spring and suns grow stronger,
Round the pale willow-catkins there are seen
The year's first honey-bees
Stealing the nectar: and bee-masters know
This for the first sign of the honey-flow.

Then in the dark hillsides the Cherry-trees
Gleam white with loads of blossom where the gleams
Of piled snow lately hung, and richer streams
The honey. Now, if chilly April days
Delay the Apple-blossom, and the May's
First week come in with sudden summer weather,
The Apple and the Hawthorn bloom together,
And all day long the plundering hordes go round
And every overweighted blossom nods.
But from that gathered essence they compound
Honey more sweet than nectar of the gods.

Those blossoms fall ere June, warm June that brings
The small white Clover. Field by scented field,
Round farms like islands in the rolling weald,
It spreads thick-flowering or in wildness springs
Short-stemmed upon the naked downs, to yield
A richer store of honey than the Rose,
The Pink, the Honeysuckle. Thence there flows
Nectar of clearest amber, redolent
Of every flowery scent
That the warm wind upgathers as he goes.

In mid-July be ready for the noise
Of million bees in old Lime-avenues,
As though hot noon had found a droning voice
To ease her soul. Here for those busy crews
Green leaves and pale-stemmed clusters of green strong flowers
Build heavy-perfumed, cool, green-twilight bowers
Whence, load by load, through the long summer days
They fill their glassy cells
With dark green honey, clear as chrysoprase,
Which housewives shun; but the bee-master tells
This brand is more delicious than all else.

In August-time, if moors are near at hand,
Be wise and in the evening-twilight load
Your hives upon a cart, and take the road
By night: that, ere the early dawn shall spring
And all the hills turn rosy with the Ling,
Each waking hive may stand
Established in its new-appointed land
Without harm taken, and the earliest flights
Set out at once to loot the heathery heights.

That vintage of the Heather yields so dense
And glutinous a syrup that it foils
Him who would spare the comb and drain from thence
Its dark, full-flavoured spoils:
For he must squeeze to wreck the beautiful
Frail edifice. Not otherwise he sacks
Those many-chambered palaces of wax.

Then let a choice of every kind be made,
And, labelled, set upon your storehouse racks -
Of Hawthorn-honey that of almond smacks:
The luscious Lime-tree-honey, green as jade:
Pale Willow-honey, hived by the first rover:
That delicate honey culled
From Apple-blosson, that of sunlight tastes:
And sunlight-coloured honey of the Clover.
Then, when the late year wastes,
When night falls early and the noon is dulled
And the last warm days are over,
Unlock the store and to your table bring
Essence of every blossom of the spring.
And if, when wind has never ceased to blow
All night, you wake to roofs and trees becalmed
In level wastes of snow,
Bring out the Lime-tree-honey, the embalmed
Soul of a lost July, or Heather-spiced
Brown-gleaming comb wherein sleeps crystallised
All the hot perfume of the heathery slope.
And, tasting and remembering, live in hope.


Miss Thompson In her lone cottage on the downs,
at Home. With winds and blizzards and great crowns
Of shining cloud, with wheeling plover
And short grass sweet with the small white clover,
Miss Thompson lived, correct and meek,
A lonely spinster, and every week
On market-day she used to go
Into the little town below,
Tucked in the great downs' hollow bowl
Like pebbles gathered in a shoal.

She goes So, having washed her plates and cup
a-Marketing. And banked the kitchen-fire up,
Miss Thompson slipped upstairs and dressed,
Put on her black (her second best),
The bonnet trimmed with rusty plush,
Peeped in the glass with simpering blush,
From camphor-smelling cupboard took
Her thicker jacket off the hook
Because the day might turn to cold.
Then, ready, slipped downstairs and rolled
The hearthrug back; then searched about,
Found her basket, ventured out,
Snecked the door and paused to lock it
And plunge the key in some deep pocket.
Then as she tripped demurely down
The steep descent, the little town
Spread wider till its sprawling street
Enclosed her and her footfalls beat
On hard stone pavement, and she felt
Those throbbing ecstasies that melt
Through heart and mind, as, happy, free,
Her small, prim personality
Merged into the seething strife
Of auction-marts and city life.

She visits Serenely down the busy stream
the Boot-maker. Miss Thompson floated in a dream.
Now, hovering bee-like, she would stop
Entranced before some tempting shop,
Getting in people's way and prying
At things she never thought of buying:
Now wafted on without an aim,
Until in course of time she came
To Watson's bootshop. Long she pries
At boots and shoes of every size -
Brown football-boots with bar and stud
For boys that scuffle in the mud,
And dancing-pumps with pointed toes
Glossy as jet, and dull black bows;
Slim ladies' shoes with two-inch heel
And sprinkled beads of gold and steel -
'How anyone can wear such things!'
On either side the doorway springs
(As in a tropic jungle loom
Masses of strange thick-petalled bloom
And fruits mis-shapen) fold on fold
A growth of sand-shoes rubber-soled,

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Online LibraryVariousGeorgian Poetry 1920-22 → online text (page 1 of 7)