II. SAINT JOSEPH.
(Guardian of Christ's flight into Africa).
\X/'ATCHFUL as Angels be !
Have I no word for thee ?
Him had'st thou failed in flight of fear,
Nor gained our southern refuge here,
What hope to-day for me ?
I that have failed Him utterly,
Acclaim and praise His Pardon free,
Part handiwork of thine !
For thou did'st fence Him, Babe Divine,.
From sword and cold and penury,
Safe for these nails of mine.
CERTAIN PATRON SAINTS. 45
III. SAINT FRANCIS.
A LL fellow-lives at peace or daily wars
Sundered as island stars
In his blind love's blue Heaven have lot and part,
All worlds find room in one unworldly heart !
4 6 CHRIST'S YEAR.
IV. FOR SAINT CECILY'S DAY.
T T OW far are viols and organs, and how mute
Our shepherds and our song-birds ! Yet,
Your feast-day lacks not here the shrill fine flute
Of noon-tide cicale and the full-horned plaint
Of sunset dove. What gold and silver noise
Thrills with yon dipping sun, yon moon's arch
blue November skies so tense and clear,
1 see you thrilling.
Could I only hear !
But you are far : in vain mine ears must ache,
For 'tis but whispered music that ye make
She is to you so near.
CERTAIN PATRON SAINTS 47
V. SAINT AUSTIN.
C AVED as by lightning, by one flash that showed
Thy one and only Heaven - predestined
Long-time thou knewest their perplexity
Before whose feet a many footpaths be !
Look back and understand and pray aright
For one who threads thine Africa to-night !
Mark how around him deepens twilight's gray!
Mark how way crosses way !
48 CHRIST'S YEAR.
VI. SAINTS OF AFRICA.
T_T APLY amid the Saints at rest
But little ease or joy have ye,
Antony, Cyril, Cyprian,
Perpetua, Felicity !
Egypt your Canaan was, ye built
In Carthage-town Jerusalem,
Glory your Libyan deserts filled
Shechinah of the Ark of Shem.
He hangs, the Christ of Ham,
Worm and no man these many years,
And who is there will take Him down
Of all the crowd He moves to tears ?
Your Christ, your God ! Five gaping wounds
Are in His Hands, His Feet, His Side
Eclipse of Faith, Stark Cruelty,
Slave-thirst, Gold-hunger, Japheth's Pride.
Then for sad /Ethiopia cry,
Sisters and brothers, " Lord how long?
Bring Thou her flocks again, and fence
Her sheep and goats alike from wrong ! "
GUARDIAN ARCHANGELS. 49
(On Michaelmas Eve).
HTRAVELLING my winding track so dusty
At moon-rise late and red,
I hail you, Angels, on your sacred night,
Travellers, that in your own blue road delight
With whirling star-dust spread !
Michael, hill-warden, whom the serpents shun
Where high my camp-fires shine,
Gabriel, whose Greeting hails the hot day done,
And Uriel, solace in brave heats of sun,
Accept three Aves mine !
But most thee, Raphael, who the livelong way
Carest for traveller's need,
I praise for joys of each well-stridden day,
For roofless night-beds walled by boulders grey
Where sleep was sleep indeed !
SATURNIA REGNA 53
T T A PLY 'twas here the Titans hurled their last :
The rocks remain.
Here crag-drifts at the ensuing gods they cast
Not all in vain.
Here at this world-end, space to sleep they
To fold their goats, and reap their furrowed
Passed they at last ; their earth-old wisdom fills
Their tarrying place.
Their ponderous patient lore informs the hills,
The hilhnen's race
Who love to tend the goats and thresh the grain,
And blow dull embers red of Saturn's reign.
Ah me ! New urgent gods have feoffed the land :
The end grows nigh.
Those slow full joys dolts will not understand
They doom to die.
Our Tree-bound Titan, Who poor herdmen loves,
Suffers awhile these dwarf usurping Joves.
54 WILD NATURE.
A MASHONA HUSBANDMAN.
yOU find him listless ; of but little worth
To drudge for you, and dull to understand ?
Come watch him hoe his own rain -mellowed
See how the man outbulks his body's girth !
As new-yoked oxen ply his shoulders grand.
He frolics, revels, ravins deep in earth ;
A kid about a swarthy mother's dugs
He tussles greedily, and panting tugs.
Swell in full streams, ye skies, his harvest mirth !
LOVE PAGAN. 55
(A cattle-price is paid for brides in Mashonaland).
OUN-SHINE and hoe-shine !
Delve and delve away !
Hoe-head that I wrought her
Busy shines to-day.
Had I but four cattle
I would wed her now ;
She is sweet of favour,
She is strong to plow.
Eye-shine and fire-shine !
How her spoon's heft plies !
While the black pot bubbles,
While the bright fire sighs !
She 'twas brewed the brown beer,
She 'twas ground the meal !
How can I four cattle
Beg or buy or steal ?
Twelve months I'll hire me
For a miner's hire-
Take the kicks and curses,
Dare the earth-damp's ire.
56 WILD NATURE.
I will buy four cattle,
Snatch my maid and run,
She shall reap my red grain,
She shall bear my son !
I. WAITING FOR THE RAINS.
T~*HE land is black with fires and bare,
Ere the warm rushing of the rains,
Yet blood-dipt leaf and bloom declare
How sap runs high in forest veins.
Blue Cup with sunrise-ruddied brink
Hast no drops yet for Earth to drink ?
Copper and gold dance eastern trees,
As pipes the wind and climbs the sun,
Hark ! Leaden fall of oranges !
See ! Branch-flow'rs from moon-silver spun
God, when wilt press within Thy Cup
One wine-skin cloud for Earth to sup ?
58 WILD NATURE.
II. AFTER RAINS.
TT7HERE the fire scathed, the green grass
Our black bowls bring of milk no dearth,
The hard hearts* of a hundred hoes
Beat at the melted heart of Earth !
Their nightly lauds for drunkards' fill,
Cricket and frog sing hoarse or shrill.
New births are ripening in the womb;
Our furrowed gardens, big with seed,
Grow jocund at the thunder-gloom,
And lap and suck for mothers' need.
To hoe ! To hoe ! Ere mounts the sun !
The wine is poured ; the feast begun !
* Our Mashonaland hoes are often somewhat of a heart shape.
SUMMER RAIN-SONGS. 59
\~\ 7IDELY spread thy wings of dun-grey woof
O'er our tilths, O Rain !
Bill and coo and chuckle on my roof
All a night again !
Brood and scatter silver-fluttering sheen
O'er our valley's nest, and round its arching
Till the brown seeds hatch, the tender new-fledged
Tongue by tongue, leaps forth to drink !
60 WILD NATURE.
"TAOWN the brown hill path that I tread
Dances a runnel blue and gilt
The rain is fallen, fallen,
The skies' full pride is spilt
Deep loving colours take again
The heavens and earth at fall of rain.
O skies that I might shed myself
As you, spill pride, and only slake
Fellow-dust parching, parching,
All for my pride's dear sake !
Then God's clear shinings might be seen
On these brave hills of heathen green !
T THOUGHT of English woods in autumns
Dim blush of morn and evening bloom of gold.
Less bitter-sweet is here the season's death,
Rare here the enhancing haze, the mist-veils grey ;
What harsh-rayed sunshine, winds of scolding
Browbeat our summer as she wends her wav !
62 WILD NATURE.
\ 1 7 HEN the June airs are cold,
And grass is brown and dead-
Flame of the sun-flovv'r's gold,
Flame of the tulip's red,
Come with the south-east wind
Blowing so fierce behind;
Stay with the night around
Enchant this desert ground !
A DEAD CHAMELEON. 63
A DEAD CHAMELEON.
"P) REAMING my dingy dreams to-day I trod
Blindly, and crushed yon prism gay of God
Whereon the mould's and grasses' tints would
Hue after hue as on a wizard's glass !
Heaven ne'er in Saint was shown more manifest
Than Earth in thee ! Back to our old Earth's
Mirror of hers, glassing her fondest green !
Sleep and awake to wear a new Earth's sheen !
64 WILD NATURE.
A FRANCISCAN PRAYER.
~\\7 HEN we are past
Woodlands and moonshine nights-
Consume them not nor in the dust-wrack cast !
Save them for bat and owl,
And all night beasts that prowl,
And for night-warbling birds therein to sing
All an eternal spring;
When we are past
Fresh uplands, flaming dawns
Consume them not nor in the dust-wrack cast !
Save them for horse and hound,
Elm rooks and larks a-ground,
And for the proud red cocks therein to crow
The east's abiding glow !
When we are past
Bare veld and breadths of sky
Consume them not nor in the dust-wrack cast !
Save them for all shy things
Fleet-footed, wild of wings
To hold thanksgiving there, as well they may,
That we are gone for aye !
TO SOME POET IN ENGLAND. 65
TO SOME POET IN ENGLAND.
(From an African Arcadia).
"DUT twice a thousand years too late
You mourn your shepherds' Paradise-
These very years when, wound by wound,
Our true Arcadia dies.
Fond child of light, you dream at home.
C'lild of this world wise Philistine
Your brother comes. Perforce she digs
Her own grave in his mine.
Hers are the blue Sicilian skies,
Here Daphnis and Menalcas stray,
And reap and fold and sing and love
Till they be taxed away.
Mock lover of the goats and grain,
The threshers' song, the gorges lone,
Dream on for she is nought to you
Till she be dead and gone !
AD VIAM VIATOR.
AD VIAM VIATOR.
(~* OD of the Road, I hail Thee, I that hold
My roofless nights so august and so dear.
Men count their travellings trouble, toil, and fear,
But I unwilling, when my home is near,
Leave the scorch'd plains, the darkling thickets
Loth as one haled from shrine he sought to pray
Roads are Thy shrines, Thou saidst " I am the
(In dread of Famine).
T T ERE, Pan, on grey rock slab we set for Thee
Thy Feast the White Cake and the Red
Shepherd and Lamb, we, lost goats, offer up
In pastoral wise Thine own Divinity.
The scared moon dips, the hardy sun comes up
To spy our Secret from yon cloudy hill !
O Pan that Thou by cloud and sun mayst fill
Our hills with food, we lift Thy Cake and Cup.
Heart of all good in men and beasts and earth,
Here on the hill our hearts, we lift them up !
Life- Blood and Flesh White Cake and Red in
We break and pour Thee for our drought and
"D ISE and go the rock-path grey
In the dusk before the day !
On, on, through the treeless brown,
While the sun swings up and down
On his own blue open way !
Crackling branches parched and dry
Pile them for your night-fire high !
Rest, your pilgrim feet unshod,
Smoke and dream and own your God
In the bright stare of His sky !
72 THE WAY.
TO THE VELD.
DAGGED brown carpet, vast and bare,
Seamed with grey rocks, scathed black with
Stage-carpet, foil for all that's fair !
O'er thy grim stretches dance in air
Sun, moon and stars in dazzling wear,
Enhancing splendours by thy shame.
Poor, unloved ! Take my love and praise
Not most because so faery-fine
Heav'n peeps at poverty of thine,
Nor because thy mute exile days
Teach best the worth of greenwood ways,
And meadows where deep waters shine !
Nay most for all thy weariness
The homeless void, the endless track,
Noon-thirst, and wintry night's distress
For all tense stretchings on the rack
That gave me my lost manhood back !
LIGHTNING SONG. 73
COME men God lights
With stars bland shining or benignant moon,
On calm and clement nights
To find their lonely homes or late or soon.
God give as many light
As walk by night !
For light I sue
As up the hill-track thro' the storm I grope
Sky-flashes gold and blue !
That I may stray not, blind to home and hope.
God give as many light
As walk by night !
74 THE WAY.
ON A STEAM SHIP NEAR SUEZ.
(Bound for Africa).
"G*YES of fire and fuming breath, breasting waves
Jewel-speckled Dragon, thro' the night you go :
Desert banks on either hand white aud weary
Great Saint Michael, great Saint George, count
her not a foe,
Haven let her win !
Great Saint Michael, great Saint George, let this
Dragon by !
Hearken not to south lands that against her cry
" Ere her snake's brood scathe our shores, tread
her down to die ! "
Not all her blood is venom. God's Blood may
Tread but on our Sin !
THE LOST WAY. 75
THE LOST WAY.
'"PHRO' night I stride, my way unknown,
Gnawing my bitter thoughts alone
Haply yet further from my bed,
And morning's Meal of Angels' Bread.
How glad my feet a roadway gain -
Deep gored and torn by wheels of wain.
In hope and fear, great miles I pace,
Wistful for some remembered place.
The way bends wide ! That bend I know
And lo to East the late moon's glow !
Above yon pasture juts her horn !
Two mercies mend my night forlorn
I face for home, I've light to see
Little I grudge how far I be.
76 THE WAY.
TO MY CARRIERS.
WE that fared coarsely whilst I fared so fine,
Ye that bare much when I so little bore,
Ye that toil-weary drudged so I might dine,
Ye that kind feet for me unkindly wore !
Black slough, white sandy waste, and swollen
And weltering suns God set o'er us to shine
Fury of latter rains upon us poured
Ye were their victors, tho' men's praise is mine !
Laban I seem in Eyes of God above
A master most uncertain, mean, untrue
Ye were my Jacobs, I was set to prove
In sun and storm the mettled worth of you !
Ill-paid, ill-sung, take heart of grace to-day,
God's goat-herd princes, Israels yet to be,
Our journey ended, I my " Mizpah " say
" Our Lord for ever watch 'twixt you and me ! "
BY A CAMP-FIRE. 77
BY A CAMP-FIRE.
(Two fellow Missionaries meeting between their distant
'"PHE night grows dumb, our children sleep,
Yon fire is high yet, and we keep
(So used to sit alone we twain)
Our Feast of Concord once again !
A little wistfully we speak
Of how our host is scant and weak
Lest we be sanguine of our wars
We catch the eyes of frosty stars.
Lest too despondent words be said
The kindly fire burns deeper red.
* * * *
Tyrants are Space and Time, yet we
Gazing on one another be,
Fanning our low flames, each for each,
With accord or discord of speech.
Christ Who in Space and Time's despite
Hast joined two friends this long glad night
If without grudging we obey
To-morrow those hard masters' sway,
If each go lonely on his way
Grant us again like holiday !
78 THE WAY.
AT A TREE ALTAR.
, nymphs and shepherds, keep with me
The sunrise tryst of primal Pan
To save our Syrinx souls that ran
His breathless race of victory
Sweating red Drops of Agony.
God's Lamb, Man's Scape-Goat, driven afar,
Our flocks upon the wild hills bless !
Lo we are met in wilderness
Beneath Thy Tree of Thorns and War
Whose leaves our nation's healing are.
THE VELD FIRES' VISION. 79
THE VELD FIRES' VISION.
TV/T Y head was dull, the moon was dazzling
I saw great towers, heard bells of Oxford town
How gleamed the meadows broad, the sun gone
Thro' silver oozings of a river went
My wayworn feet with ripplings of content !
Good feet to forward go, the while my mind
Rebuilding those rich streets lagged far behind !
I woke to smoke-drifts and the red flames' ire,
About my path were pillared clouds of fire
My home beyond thatch'd roof and rock and
Waited in heavenly simplicity.
8o THE WAY.
(After a holiday journey across the Sawi River).
HAT of those days ?
Spoilt children everyone
Light come, light going, blinded by the sun
Of their own joy as little sleepy elves
Sated at whiles with too much green and gold
Become by usage old,
Dazed too at whiles by pleasures fresh and new
And weary of themselves !
My God, renew
And wash the life in them, and shape and mould
Those small ill days to Visions purged and strong
Of heights and deeps and spaces wild and wide
Marches that won indomitable plains,
A siege that scaled a fiery mountain's side,
Of roofless Night's innumerable gains,
Of Dawn a rosebud ere its folds divide,
Of sunken Sawi with his torn bright skeins,
Of simple flocks God tends and man disdains,
Of humble joys that met, and shamed my pride !
THAT COUNTRY FROM
WHENCE WE CAME OUT.
A REFRAIN. 83
T^ELL the tune his feet beat
On the ground all day
Black-burnt ground and green grass
Seamed with rocks of grey
" England," " England," " England,"
That one word they say.
Now they tread the beech-mast,
Now the ploughland's clay,
Now the faery ball-floor of her fields in May.
Now her red June sorrel, now her new-turned hay,
Now they keep the great road, now by sheep-path
Still it's " England," " England,"
" England " all the way !
84 THAT COUNTRY WHENCE WE CAME.
A LYKE-WAKE CAROL.
(South African Spring is England's Autumn).
(^ ROW old and die, rich Day,
Over some English field
Chartered to come away
What time to Death you yield !
Pass, frost-white ghost, and then
Come forth to banish'd men !
I see the stubble's sheen,
The mist and ruddled leaves,
Here where the new Spring's green
For her first rain-drops grieves.
Here beechen leaves drift red
Last week in England dead.
For English eyes' delight
Those Autumn ghosts go free
Ghost of the field hoar-white,
Ghost of the crimson tree.
Grudge them not, England dear,
To us thy banished here !
ENCAMPED IN APRIL. 85
ENCAMPED IN APRIL.
(English Spring is South African Autumn).
\\7RAP your eyes, lie deaf and blind !
Fear the hums and stings !
Yet fear more the thrush's bill
That in England sings.
Press the torn hem to your eyes
On your cold hill bed !
Lest they spy some painted mead
Gold and white and red.
All in vain ! With Sleep's grey fall
Birds flute, flow'rs arise.
When you wake, the Autumn stars
Shine on shining eyes.
T GO through the fields of blue water
On the South road of the sea.
High to North the East-Country
Holds her green fields to me
For she that I gave over,
Gives not over me.
Last night I lay at Good Easter
Under a hedge I knew,
Last night beyond High Easter
I trod the May-floors blue
Till from the sea the sun came
Bidding me wake and rue.
Roding (that names eight churches)
Banks with the paigles* pight
Chelmer whose mill and willows
Keep one red tower in sight
Under the Southern Cross run
Beside the ship to-night.
* Essex cowslips.
Ah ! I may not seek back now,
Neither be turned nor stayed.
Yet should I live, I'd seek her
Once that my vows are paid !
And should I die I'd haunt her
I being what God made !
England has greater counties
Their peace to hers is small.
Low hills, rich fields, calm rivers
In Essex seek them all,
Essex, where I that found them
Found to lose them all !
THAT COUNTRY WHENCE WE CAME
OXFORD IN AFRICA.
'""POWERS and crimson heaven and a two-day
Misting river meadows where the dusks are slow !
How could I renounce you ? Life is short enow
Anywise our God-speed must have seemed too
At your shrine-gate watching, never voice I knew,
Never voice nor vision. Were I lingering still
I a withering Tithon, you with Time at will
Would you yet reward me for my truth to you ?
Long ago I left you, now at last you speak
O'er the wine-dark furrows of th' estranging main
Mortal feet that flee you, turning not again,
Lo your feet immortal to the world's end seek !
THE ROUND. 89
T IFE'S a whirl, a whirl, a whirl-
How dizzy goes the round
Hearing the foreign speech,
Tramping the foreign ground !
Life's a whirl, a whirl, a whirl
Spin on and round and come
In feigning or in sooth,
To sleep at last at home !
QO THAT COUNTRY WHENCE WE CAME.
AFTER THREE YEARS.
/~"\ FIELDS and little street and faces kind
How are you changed and I !
You that three years this day I left behind
Beneath a sobbing sky.
We meet no more.
Time's growth and Time's decay
Re-fashion hearts and scene :
We cannot meet again, we are to-day
Other than we have been.
Those were our sires, who took that long farewell
Three years agone, but we
For love of them that loved each other well
Yearn yet across the sea.
AT MICHAELMAS. , gi
(Harvest Thanksgiving Day hi an Essex village).
A RE all those fallen Angels fall'n so far
That none regrets his star ?
Is there to-day no would-be Reaper blithe
With heavenly hook and scythe,
Who cries " Alas ! I reap but housetop grass ! "
Love-in-the- Ruins, unto Thee I pray
For exiles all to-day !
This very day where Essex stubbles shine
On one small happy shrine,
The shingled spire with mellow mirth will call,
From street and farm and hall,
Folk unto priest for reapers' Lauds and Feast.
What time my county sings her carrying song
Christ, is it sin to long ?
92 THAT COUNTRY WHENCE \VE CAME
THRIVE the goats to the huts and the bulls to
the stall !
Bring home ! Home !
Gray blue doves from the maize garths fly,
Pied crows and black to the woods go by,
Then home ! Home !
Drive thy fancies to west down the Heav'n's red
Bring home ! Home!
Men may see far in this blindman's light
Six thousand miles they are short to-night
Then home ! Home !
DREAMS OF PASSAGE. 93
DREAMS OF PASSAGE.
\inSTFUL dreams I send you;
Must they come to you
All embittered by the brine
Of those leagues of blue ?
Wistful dreams you send me ;
Must they come to me
Salt and bitter from the foam
Of the wide sad sea ?
Nay, their latest travels
Scent them ere they come.
Home's own roses hedge you,
Me green hopes of home.
94 THAT COUNTRY WHENCE WE CAME.
QTREW our green earth flowers ! Our blue
Mount in wreath and spray !
Set the Figures Three within the Rock-Cave
All a Christmas Day !
And its O to dream of English gables under snow-
And its Ah to wake and know them years and
years away !
Dark babe-burthened mothers, hail the Mother
Fair as England's May !
Let us back again to where we once clung
On a Christmas Day !
And its O to dream of those same mothers on
whose breasts we lay
And its Ah to wake and know them half the earth
Small brown goatherds, dance and sing to Jesus
On His Bed of hay !
You to-day He heeds, as once He heeded
Me on Christmas Day!
AT CHRISTMAS. 95
And its O to dream of Things we once saw, ere
we said God " Nay ! "
And its Ah to wake and know them half a life
Poor-men brothers, up and hie to Joseph
By the Crib to pray !
Gentler hearts and sterner wills we'll ask for
On our Christmas Day !
And its O to guess what man I might be, would I
but obey !
Is it I that heed at last the Bidding ? Wend at
last the Way ?
g6 THAT COUNTRY WHENCE WE CAM?:.
'""PO this south land o'er the sea
Came I, bringing Song with me,
But in the night the fairies came
Under the Southern Cross's flame,
And changed him for another one.
Ah such an one!
If Song may not leave his home
Why lend Regret with me to roam ?
Who feigns with whistle fever-thin
Blackbirds the leafless branches in,
So loud and sweet ere March is gone
From England gone !
TO A HOME MISSIONARY. 97
TO A HOME MISSIONARY.
(Rejected for foreign service) .
" A RE those all goodly well-steered boats that
To cast their nets in Christ's far fisheries?"
" Nay, there's my crazy ' Pride of Life ' for one."
" Are all the stay-at-homes but hulks at ease ? "
" Nay, there's your ' Faith ' white-sailed beneath
Netting miraculous draughts in inland seas."
g8 THAT COUNTRY WHENCE WE CAME.
(For the Pan-Anglican Conference in England).
"VJ OW from purple wear to penitence !
Now from crimson robes to sacrifice !
Now from jewelled cross to crosses of offence '.
Now from heroes' words to heroes' agonies!
Now leave palace- walks for wilderness !
Now leave banquetings for camp-fire bread !
Now leave echoing aisle for some dark hut's
Now leave multitudes to seek one sheep unfed !
Now from Dome of Paul to task of Paul !
Peter's Abbey-Church to Peter's fate !
Never will you win without your losing all :
Give Heav'n's Vine to grow your dung of earthly
SCORN AND PITY.
TO CERTAIN NEW SHEPHERDS. 101
TO CERTAIN NEW SHEPHERDS.
1\/T UST ye too wend to Bethlehem ?
Is there no room then in the Inn
That ye must crowd our stable dear ?
Go rather to Jerusalem
And with the Sadducee your kin
Renounce our Star for candles clear !
Nod o'er your scrolls till blush of day,