Alfred Noyes.

Collected poems, Volume 1 online

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Still clinging to the day that once was ours.

No more with fevered brain
Plunging across the gulfs of Space and Time
Would we revisit this our earthly clime

We two, if we could ever come again;

Not as we came of old,

But reverencing the flesh we now despise

And gazing out with consecrated eyes,
Each of us glad of the other's hand to hold.

So we should wander nigh

Our mortal home, and see its little roof

Keeping the deep eternal night aloof
And yielcUng us a refuge from the sky.

We should steal in, once more.
Under the cloudy lilac at the gate,
Up the walled garden, then with hearts elate

Forget the stars and dose our cottage door.

Oh then, as children use
To make themselves a little hiding-place.
We would rejoice in narrowness of space.

And God shoidd give us nothing more to lose.

How good it all would seem
To souls, that from the seonian ebb and flow
Came down to hear once more the to and fro

Swing o' the dock dictate its hourly theme.



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74 THE OPTIMIST

How dear the strange recall
From vast antiphonies of joy and pain
Beyond the grave, to these old books again,

That cosy lamp, those pictures on the wall.

Home! Home! The old desire I
We would shut out the innumerable skies,
Draw close the curtains, then with patient eyei
Bend o'er the hearth; laugh at our memories.

Or watch them crumbling in the crimson fire.



ART, THE HERALD

"The voice of one crying in the wilderneas"



Beyond; beyond; and yet again beyond!
What went ye out to seek, oh foolish-fond?

Is not the heart of all things here and now?
Is not the circle infinite, and the centre
Everywhere, if ye would but hear and enter?

Come; the porch bends and the great pillars bow



II

Come; come and see the secret of the sun;

The sorrow that holds the warring worlds in one:

The pain that holds Eternity in an hour;
One God in every seed self-sacrificed,
One star-eyed, star-crowned universal Christ,

Re-crucified in every wayside flower.



THE OPTIMIST

Teach me to live and to forgive

The death that all must die
Who pass in slumber through this heaven

Of earth and sea and sky;



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THE OPTIMIST 76

Who live by grace of Time and Spaoe

At which their peace is priced;
And cast their lots upon the robe

That wraps the cosmic Christ ;

Who cannot see the world-wide Tree

Where Love lies bleeding still;
This imiversal cross of God

Our star-crowned Igdrasil.

Teach me to live; I do not ask

For length of earthly da3rs,
Or that my heaven-appointed task

Should faU in pleasant ways;

If in this hour of warmth and light

The last great knell were knoUed;
If Death should close mine eyes to-night

And all the tale be told;

While I have lips to speak or sing

And power to draw this breath,
Shall I not praise my Lord and King

Above all else, for death?

When on a golden eve he drove

His keenest sorrow deep
Deep in my heart, and called it love;

I did not wince or weep.

A wild Hosanna shook the world

And wakened all the sky,
As through a white and burning light

Her passionate face went by.

When on a golden dawn he called

My best beloved away,
I did not shrink or stand appalled

Before the hopeless day.



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76 A POST-IMPRESSION

The joy of that triumphant dearth
And anguish cannot die;

The joy that casts aside this earth
For immortality.



I would not change one word of doom

Upon the dreadful scroll,
That gave her body to the tomb

And freed her fettered soul.



For now each idle breeze can bring

The kiss I never seek;
The nightingale has heard her sing.

The rose caressed her cheek.



And every pang of every grief
That ruled my soul an hour,

Has given new splendours to the leaf.
New glories to the flower;



And melting earth into the heaven
Whose inmost heart is pain,

Has drawn the veils apart and given
Her soul to mine again.



A POST-IMPRESSION

I

He sat with his foolish mouth agape at the golden glare of
the sea,
And his wizened and wintry flaxen locks fluttered around his
ears,
And his foolish infinite eyes were full of the sky's own glitter
and glee.
As he dandled an old Dutch Doll on his knee and sang the
song of the spheres.



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A POST-IMPRESSION 77

II

Blue and red and yeUow and green they are meUing away in

the white;
Hey! but the wise old world woe wrong and my idiot heart wae

right;
Yes; and the merry-go-round of the stare rolls to my cracked

old tune.
Hey! diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped aver

the moon.

Ill

Then he cradled his doU on his crooning heart and cried as a
sea-bird cries;
And the hot sun reeled like a drunken god through the
violent violet vault:
And the hillside cottage that danced to the deep debauch of
the perfumed skies
Grew palsied and white in the purple heath as a pillar of
Dead Sea salt.

IV

There were three gaunt sun-flowers nigh lus chair: they were

yellow as death and tall;
And they threw their sharp blue shadowy stars on the blind

white wizard wall;
And they nodded their heads to the weird old hymn that

daunted the light of the noon,
Hey! diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over

the moon.



The little dog laughed and leered with the white of his eye as
he sidled away
To stare at the dwarfish hiinchback waves that crawled to
the foot of the hill,
For his master's infinite mind was wide to the wealth of the
night and the day;
The walls were down: it was one with the Deep that only
a God can fill.



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78 A POST-IMPRESSION

VI

Then a tiny maiden of ten sweet summers arrived with a

song and a smile,
And she swung on the elfin garden-gate and sung to the sea

for a while.
And a phantom face went weeping by and a ghost began to

croon
Hey! diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over

the moon.

VII

And she followed a butterfly up to his chair; and the moon-calf
caught at her hand
And stared at her wide blue startled eyes and muttered,
"My dear, I have been.
In fact, I am there at this moment, I think, in a wonderful
fairy-land:"
And he bent and he whispered it low in her ear — "/ know
why the grass is green,

VIII

"I know why the daisy is white, my dear, I know why the

seas are blue;
I know that the world is a dream, my dear, and I know that the

dream is true;
I know why the rose and the toad-stool grow, as a curse and

a crimson boon,
Hey! diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over

the moon,

IX

''If I gaze at a rose, do you know, it grows till it overshadows
the earth.
Like a wonderful Tree of Knowledge, my dear, the Tree
of our evil and good;
But I dare not teU you the terrible vision that gave the toad-
stool birth,
The dream of a heart that breaks, my dear, and a Tree
that is bitter with blood.



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A POST-IMPRESSION 79

X

"Ohy Love may wander wide as the wind that blows from

sea to sea,
But a wooden dream, for me, my dear, and a painted memory;
For the God that has bidden the toad-stool grow has writ

in his cosmic rune,
Hey! diddle, diddUf the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over

the moon"

XI

Then he stared at the child and he laughed aloud, and she sud-
denly screamed and fled,
As he dreamed of enticing her out thro' the ferns to a qiuury
that gapped the hill,
To hurtle her down and grin as her gold hair scattered around
her head
Far, far below, like a sunflower disk, so crimson-spattered
and still.

XII

''Ah, hush!" h^ cried; and his dark old eyes were wet with a

sacred love
As he kissed the wooden face of his doll and winked at the

skies above,
"I know, I know why the toad-stools grow, and the rest of the

world will, soon;
Hey! diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over

the moon"

XIII

Blue and red and yellow and green they are all mixed up in the

white;
Hey! bui the wise old world was wrong and my idiot heart was

right;
Yes; and the merry-go-round of the stars rolls to my cracked

old tune.
Hey! diddle, diddle, the eat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over

the moon"



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80 THE BARRELORGAN

THE BARREM)RGAN

Thebe'b a barrel-organ carolling across a golden street

In the City as the sun sinks low;
And the music's not immortal; but the world has made it
sweet

And fulfilled it with the simset glow;
And it pulses through the pleasures of the Gty and the pain

That surround the singing organ like a large eternal light;
And they've given it a glory and a part to play again

In the Symphony that rules the day and night.

And now it's marching onward through the realms of old
romance.

And trolling out a fond familiar tune,
And now it's roaring cannon down to fight the King of France,

And now it's prattling softly to the moon,
And all around the organ there's a sea without a shore

Of human joys and wonders and regrets;
To remember and to recompense the music evermore

For what the cold machinery forgets. . . .

Yes; as the music changes,

Like a prismatic glass.
It takes the light and ranges

Through all the moods that pass;
Dissects the common carnival

Of passions and regrets,
And gives the world a glimpse of all

The colours it forgets.

And there La Traviata sighs

Another sadder song;
And there II Trovatore cries

A tale of deeper wrong;
And bolder knights to battle go

With sword and shield and lance,
Than ever here on earth below

Have whirled into — a dance! —



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THE BARREL-ORGAN 81

Go down to Eew in lilao-time, in lilao-time, in lilao-time;

Go down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn't far from London I)
And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer's
wonderland;

Go down to Kew in Ulac-time (it isn't far from London!^

The cherry-trees are seas of bloom and soft perfume and
sweet perfume,
The cherry-l^ees are seas of bloom (and oh, so near to
London I)
And there they say, when dawn is high and all the world's
a blaze of Ay
The cuckoo, though he's very shy, will sing a song for London.

The Dorian nightingale is rare and yet they say you'll hear
him there

At Eew, at Kew in lilac-time (and oh, so near to London!)
The linnet and the throstle, too, and after dark the long halloo

And golden-eyed turwhit, turwhoo of owls that ogle London.

For Noah hardly knew a bird of any kind that isn't heard

At Kew, at Kew in lilac-time (and oh, so near to London!)
And when the rose begins to pout and all the chestnut spires
are out
You'll hear the rest without a doubt, all chorussmg for
London. —

Came dovm to Kew in lUcuAimey in lilac4ime, in lilac4ime;

Came down to Kew in lilao4ime {U isnH far from London!)
And you ehaU wander hand in hand v^ lorn in summer'B
wonderland;

Come down to Kew in lilac4ime (it isn't far from London!)

And then the troubadour begins to thrill the golden street,

In the City as the sun sinks low;
And in all the gaudy busses there are scores of weary feet
Marking time, sweet time, with a dull mechanic beat,
And a thousand hearts are plunging to a love they'll never

meet.
Through the meadows of the sunset, through the poppies and
the wheat,
In the land where the dead dreams go.



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82 THE BARREL^RGAN

Verdi, Verdi, when you wrote II Travatore did you dream

Of the City when the sun sinks low,
Of the organ and the monkey and the many-coloured stream
On the Piccadilly pavement, of the myriad eyes that seem
To be litten for a moment with a wild Italian gleam
Ab A chela morte parodies the world's eternal theme

And pulses with the sunset-glow.



There's a thief, perhaps, that listens with a face of frozen
stone
In the City as the sun sinks low;
There's a portly man of business with a balance of hb own.
There's a clerk and there's a butcher of a soft reposeful tone.
And they're all of them returning to the heavens they have

known:
They are crammed and jammed in busses and — they're each
of them alone
In the land where the dead dreams go.



There's a very modish woman and her smile is very bland

In the City as the sun sinks low;
And her hansom jingles onward, but her little jewelled hand
Is clenched a little tighter and she cannot understand
What she wants or why she wanders to that undiscovered land,
For the parties there are not at all the sort of thing she planned.

In the land where the dead dreams go.



There's a rowing man that listens and his heart is crying

out
In the City as the sim sinks low;
For the barge, the eight, the Isis, and the coach's whoop

and shout,
For the minute-gim, the counting and the long dishevelled

rout.
For the howl along the tow-path and a fate that's still in

doubt.
For a roughened oar to handle and a race to think about
In the land where the dead dreams go.



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THE BARREIrORGAN 83

There's a labourer that listens to the voices of the dead

In the City as the sun sinks low;
And his hand begins to tremble and his face to smoulder red
As he sees a loafer watching him and— there he turns his head
And stares into the sunset where his April love is fled,
For he hears her softly singing and his lonely soul is led

Through the land where the dead dreams go.

There's an old and haggard demi-rep, it's ringing in her ears.

In the City as the sim sinks low;
With the wild and empty sorrow of the love that blights and

sears,
Oh, and if she hurries onward, then be sure, be sure she hears,
Hears and bears the bitter burden of the unforgotten years,
And her laugh's a little harsher and her eyes are brimmed with
tears
For the land where the dead dreams go.

There's a barrel-organ carolling across a golden street

In the City as the sim sinks low;
Though the music's only Verdi there's a world to make it

sweet
Just as yonder yellow sunset where the earth and heaven

meet
Mellows all the sooty City! Hark, a hundred thousand feet
Are marching on to glory through the poppies and the wheat
In the land where the dead dreams go.

So it's Jeremiah, Jeremiah,

What have you to say
When you meet the garland girls

Tripping on their way?

All around my gala hat

I wear a wreath of roses
(A long and lonely year it is

I've waited for the May I)
If any one should ask you,

The recuson why I wear it i
My own love, my true love

Is coming home to-day.



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84 THE BARREL-ORGAN

And it's buy a bunch of violets for the lady

(IV 8 lilao4%me in London; it's lilac-time in London!)

Buy a bunch of violets for the lady
While the sky bums blue above:

On the other side the street you'll find it shady

{IV B lilac-time in London; it's lilac-time in London!)

But buy a bunch of violets for the lady,
And tell her she's your own true love.

There's a barrel-organ carolling across a golden street

In the City as the sun sinks glittering and slow;
And the music's not immortal; but the world has made it

sweet
And enriched it with the harmonies that make a song complete
In the deeper heavens of music where the night and morning,
meet,

As it dies into the sunset-glow;
And it pulses through the pleasures of the City and the pain

That surround the singing organ like a large eternal light.
And they've given it a glory and a part to play again

In the Symphony that rules the day and night.

And there, as the music changes,

The song runs round again.
Once more it turns and ranges

Through all its joy and pain,
Dissects the conmion carnival

Of pcussions and regrets;
And the wheeling world remembers all

The wheeling song forgets.

Once more La Traviata sighs

Another sadder song:
Once more II Trovatore cries

A tale of deeper wrong;
Once more the knights to battle go

With sword and shield and lance
Till once, once more, the shattered foe

Has whirled into — a dance f



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THE UTANY OF WAR 85

Came doum to Kew in Ulac-Hme, in lilac4ime, in lilac4ime;

Come dovm to Kew in lilac-time (it isn't far from London!)
And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer's
wonderland;

Come doum to Kew in lilao4ime {it isn't far from London!)

THE LITANY OF WAR

Sandalphon, whose white wings to heaven upbear

The weight of human praj'^er,
Stood silent in the still eternal Light

Of God, one dreadful night.
His wings were clogged with blood and foul with mire,

His body seared with fire.
"Hast thou no word for Me?" the Master said.

The angel sank his head:

"Word from the nations of the East and West/'

He moaned, "that blood is best.
The patriot prayers of either half of earth,

Hear Thou, and judge their worlii.
Oiit of the obscene seas of slaughter, hear.

First, the first nation's prayer:
'0 God, deliver Thy people. Let Thy sword

Destroy our enemies, Lord!'

Pure as the first, as passionate in trust

That their own cause is just;
Puppets as fond in those dark hands of greed;

As fervent in their creed;
As blindly moved, as utterly betrayed,

As urgent for Thine aid;
Out of the obscene seas of slaughter, hear

The second nation's prayer:
'0 God, deliver Thy people. Let Thy sword

Destroy our enemies, Lord.'

Over their slaughtered children, one great cry

From either enemy!
From either host, thigh-deep in filth and shame.

One prayer, one and the same;



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86 THE ORIGIN OF LIFE

Out of the obscene seas of slaughter, hear,
From East and West, one prayer:

'0 God, deliver Thy people. Let Thy sword
Destroy our enemies, Lord.' "

Then, on the Cross of His creative pain,

God bowed His head again.
Then, East and West, over all seas and lands,

Out-stretched His pierced hands.
"And yet," Sandalphon whispered, "men deny

The Eternal Calvary."

THE ORIGIN OF LIFE

[WriUen in answer to certain scientific prorummcementsl

I

In the beginningf — Slowly grope we back

Along the narrowing track.
Back to the deserts of the world's pale prime.

The mire, the clay, the slime;
And then . . . what then? Surely to something less;

Back, back, to Nothingness!

II

You dare not halt upon that dwindling wayt

There is no gulf to stay
Your footsteps to the last. Go back you musti

Far, far below the dust,
Descend, descend! Grade by dissolving grade.

We follow, unafraid!
Dissolve, dissolve this moving world of men

Into thin air — and then?

Ill

O pioneers, O warriors of the Light,

In that abysmal night,
Will you have coiirage, then, to rise and tell

Earth of this miracle?
Will you have courage, then, to bow the head,

And say, when all is said —



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THE ORIGIN OF UFE 87

"Out of this Nothingness arose our thoughtl

This blank abysmal Nought
Woke, and brought forth that lighted City street^

Those towers, that armoured fleet?" • . «



IV

When you have seen those vacant primal skies

Beyond the centuries.
Watched the pale mists across their darkness flow.

As in a lantern-show,
Weaving, by merest "chance," out of thin air.

Pageants of praise and prayer;
Watched the great hills like clouds arise and set.

And one — named Olivet;
When you have seen, as a shadow passing away,

One child clasp hands and pray;
When you have seen emerge from that dark mire

One martyr, ringed with fire;
Or, from that Nothingness, by special grace.

One woman's love-lit face,



Will you have courage, then, to front that law

(From which your sophists draw
Their only right to flout one human creed)

That nothing can proceed —
Not even thought, not even love — ^from less

Than its own nothingness?
The law is yours! But dare you waive your pride,

And kneel where you denied?
The law is yours! Dare you re-kindle, then.

One faith for faithless men,
And say you found, on that dark road you trod,
In the bepinning — GODt



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88 THE LAST BATTLE

THE LAST BATTLE

EiKGS of the earth, Kings of the earth, the trumpet rings
for warning.
And like the golden swords that ray from out the setting
sun
The shout goes out of the trumpet mouth across the hills of
morning,
Wake; for the last great battle dawns and all the wars are
done.

Now all the plains of Europe smoke with marching hooves of
thunder,
And through each ragged mountain-gorge the guns begin to
gleam;
And. round a hundred cities where the women watch and
wonder,
The tramp of passing armies aches and faints into a dream.

The King of Ind is drawing nigh: a hundred leagues are
clouded
Along his loud earth-shaking march from east to western
sea:
The King o' the Setting Sun is here and all the seas are
shrouded
With sails that carry half the world to front Eternity.



Soon shall the darkness roll around the grappling of the nations,
A darkness lit with deadly gleams of blood and steel and fire;

Soon shall the last great psean of earth's war-'Wom generations
Roar through the thimder-douded air round War's red
funeral pyre.



But here defeat and victory are both allied with heaven,
The enfolding sky makes every foe the centre of her dome,

Each fights for God and his own right, and unto each is given
The right to find the heart of heaven where'er he finds
his home.



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THE PAItADOX 89

O, who shall wm, and who shall loee, and who nhall take the

glory

Here at the meetmg of the roads, where every cause is right?

0, who shall live, and who shall die, and who shall tell the

story?

Each strikes for faith and fatherland in that immortal fight.

High on the grey old hills of Time the last immortal rally,
Under the storm of the last great tattered flag, shall laugh
to see

The blood of Armageddon roll from every smoking valley,
Shall laugh aloud, then rush on death for Grod and chivalry.

Kings of the earth, Kings of the earth, 0, which of you then
shall inherit
The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory? for the world's
old light grows dim
And the cry of you all goes up all night to the dark enfolding
Spirit,
Each of you fights for God and home; but God, ah, what
of Him?



THE PARADOX

<'IAmthatIAm"



All that is broken shall be mended;

All that is lost shall be found;

I will bind up every wound
When that which is begim shall be ended.
Not peace I brought among you but a sword

To divide the night from the day.
When I sent My worlds forth in their battle-array

To die and to live.

To give and to receive,
Saith the Lord.



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90 THE PARADOX

II

Of old time they said none is good save our God;

But ye that have seen how the ages have shrunk from my rod,

And how red is the wine-press wherein at my bidding they

trod,
Have answered and said that with Eden I fashioned the snake,
That I mould you of clay for a moment, then mar you and

break.
And there is none evil but I, the supreme Evil, God.

Lo, I say unto both, I am neither;

But greater than either;
For meeting and mingling in Me they become neither evil nor

good;
Their cycle is rounded, they know neither hunger nor food,
They need neither sickle nor seed-time, nor root nor fruit.

They are ultimate, infinite, absolute.
Therefore I say unto all that have sinned.

East and West and South and North

The wings of my measureless love go forth
To cover you all: they are free as the wings of the wind.

Ill

Consider the troubled waters of the sea

Which never rest;
As the wandering waves are ye;

Yet assuaged and appeased and forgiven,

As the seas are gathered together under the infinite glory
of heaven,

I gather you all to my breast.
But the sins and the creeds and the sorrows that trouble the
sea

Relapse and subside.
Chiming like chords in a world-wide symphony

As they cease to chide;
For they break and they are broken of sound and hue.
And they meet and they murmur and they mingle anew.
Interweaving, intervolving, like waves: they have no stay:
They are all made as one with the deep, when they sink and
are vanished away;



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THE PARADOX 91

Yea, all is toned at a turn of the tide
To a calm and golden harmony;
But I — shall I wonder or greatly care,

For their depth or their height?
Shall it be more than a song in my sight
How many wandering waves there were,
Or how many colours and changes of light?

It is your eyes that see
And take heed of these things: they were fashioned t(X

you, not for Me.

IV

With the stars and the clouds I have clothed M3rself here

for your eyes
To behold That which Is. I have set forth the strength of the

skies
As one draweth a picture before you to make your hearts wise;
That the infinite souls I have fashioned may know as I know,
Visibly revealed
In the flowers of the field,
Yea, declared by the stars in their courses, the tides in their

flow.



Online LibraryAlfred NoyesCollected poems, Volume 1 → online text (page 5 of 26)