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Lyra evangelistica : missionary verses of Mashonaland online

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Disprove our dotage as ye may
We'll to our frantic Bethlehem
Where low men love, and high men fear,
And ass and oxen knee the sod !
Seek Herod and Jerusalem!
Priests, that can see no Virgin here,
And but the shadow of a God !



SCORN AND PITY.



NOT BY MIGHT.

T 1 7ITH sjambok for your minister yon teacli ?

A Christ of Stripes you preach ?
With lash for talisman you exorcise
That which your God defies ?

Years since a hollow Crucifix was made
To sheathe a ready blade,
In Italy conjoined to bless or wound
Dagger and Cross were found.

Why not Christ's Form on your whip's handle set

In ebony or jet ?

What voice in Africa a caveat saith

To banns of Lash and Faith ?

Ah me! If Fear your mountains may remove
Will he not cast out Love ?
That a Power reigns by tenure of your rod
I grant but is he God ?



BLACK AND WHITE. 103



BLACK AND WHITE.

C ING one " Alas " and with that have done !

This is no new thing beneath the sun
With the Weak hard by did you think the Strong
Would keep his hands from the throat so long?

Sing not " Alas " for a starving land,
For a tax to pay with an empty hand !
To slave in a mine may be evil cheer
But the end of a life it is always near 1

Save an " Alas " for the Strong and Free
That were curst with the Weak man's company !
They robbed as lightly as drew their breath
My God ! Are they dead with the second death ?



ic 4 SCORN AND PITY.



ECCLESIASTES IN MASHONALAND.

(Some have thought that our country is that Ophir whose
gold enriched Solomon] .

*"PHE Fever grips. The Murrain smites.

The Locusts blind our Heavens of blue.
With the Mine-damp-rise up o' nights

Ghosts of the Men enslaved it slew.
Come Plagues a many Plagues a few

We lose to win another Day.
Justice, and Freedom, Commerce too

At Shrine of each in turn we pray.

Hark the wind howls about our Home

Wrench'd from weak Hands by Hands of Power !
" Pile Stone on Stone ! The Hour is come !

For plucking down will come an Hour !
Now o'er the Tilths your Tax-clouds lower,

Go, wring the Labour while ye may !
The Sweet for you ! For them the Sour !

What corneth after who shall say ? "

O King whose Voice is in the Wind
Why brood and mutter and complain ?

Burthens of happier Omen find 1
Behold the Vision of our Gain



ECCLESIASTES IN MASHONALAND. 105

The Diamond Shower, the Golden Rain,

The teeming Byres, the Floors heaped high !

" Vanity," wails he, "All is vain !

Soon the Long Home ! The Mourners' Cry ! "

() Sage whose Seal the Demons bound,

Who in Jerusalem wast Lord,
Why cumber with thy Sighs the Ground

Wherefrom thy Golden Affluence poured ?
Splash'd by the Slave-whip, stained of Sword

That yellow Dust they shipped thee came.
Preach not ! Confess that Dust abhorred

Worth ^Eons of the Worm and Flame !

(irim Haunter of our Mountains whence

Those Galleys laded Gold for thee,
(iibe not at us. Our Girth immense

Of Empire, is it Vanity ?
" What was," he wails, " again will be

There is nought new beneath the Sun.
Fruit of his Labour who shall see ?

To bitter Tides bright Rivers run !

"Oppression maketh W T ise Men mad

When Judgement's Hands are judged unclean
At Wisdom's Price, eat, drink, be glad!

Hath e'er the crooked straightened been ?



106 SCORN AND PITY.

One Fate is set for most, I ween,

For Rogues and Clowns, for High and Low,
To feed the Flowers and Grasses green

After ten feverish Years or so.

" Sum of the Ways I proved I tell,

' Many Inventions, little Cheer : '
The Way of God I proved not well,

Yet know I somewhat of its Fear.
End of these High Ones' matter hear

Whose Plagues pass not, whose Curses stay, -
To them, unthinking, God is near,

And there be Higher Ones than they 1 "



SHEPHERDS TO SHEPHERDS.



SHEPHERDS TO SHEPHERDS.

(An appeal to Oxford Scholars on behalf of the Mashonns
as against certain Mining Interests).

"V7"E that love the sheepfold songs of the dead

so well
Ye that dream white nights of yours in deep

Tempe's dell
Ye that in your visions ply shepherd's crook and

reed

Strive and cry for Arcady in her year of need !
Rally to them in their strait, pasture, tilth and

stall,
Rally to our succour, ye, we be shepherds all !

Arcady ? Yes, Arcady, ours the sacred name !

What if this grey river-chine hath not Ladon's
fame ?

In the chill vext mornings here goats and goat-
herds come,

In the still bright evenings hence wend our cattle
home.

Hark the clash of locking horns! How the red

bull sways I
Chase the thieving goats away from the tufted

maize !



io8 SCORN AND PITY.

Yon black bull shall glut the feast that shall bring

the rain,
Yonder goat make glad his ghost, his that sowed

the grain.

Think ye that our threshing-floors are of song
forlorn ?

Hark that music where our clubs bruise the mil-
let corn

Beating till the green rough heaps spill their
treasure brown,

List the Lityerses-chant as they thunder down !

List a lilt of robber men come to drive the cow !
List a lilt of one that's loth, will not marry now !
Boorish though the burthens be, ye will under-
stand.
Shadow of Theocritus ! Ye will save our land !

Who be these that preach for us drudgery divine,
Urging for our fallen state the redemptive mine '?
Are the gods grown angry then that the goats we

feed?
Are the gods grown angry then that we sow the

seed?

What your part or lot with these dolts that never

knew
Secrets from the open sky won by shepherds true ?



SHEPHERDS TO SHEPHERDS. 109

What have ye to do with these Jews that never

read
Aught of wild Thessalian spells, aught of Bion

dead ?

By the red ore that we forge, dashing stone on

stone,
By the thatched towns on the hills that were once

our own,
By our furrowed garden-ground, by our dappled

flocks,
By the graves our cold folk fill under burning

rocks,
Rally to them in their strait, pasture, tilth, and

stall,
Rally to our succour, ye, we be shepherds all



SCORN AND PITY.



A PILGRIMAGE.

(To take leave of Sir Marshal Clarke, K.C.M.G ,
Resident Commissioner) .

"T^vARK was our England of a vanish'd day

When priests on rich men fawning, poor

betrayed
(For whose dear sake the Word our flesh was

made).

Good was it then on some clear morn of May
To take aneath the downs the Pilgrims' Way,
And seek a Shrine where serfs and masters prayed
(To all that weary land a great rock's shade)
True Thomas' grave who said a tyrant Nay.

In this our land where sleeked is rich men's pride,
And scorned the washing of the lowly's feet
I, arch-betrayer, half remorseful hied
On pilgrimage thro' storms and summer heat
To hear one old heart true to England beat,
To see one grey rock front the enslaving tide.



TIME OF FAMINE. in



TIME OF FAMINE.
I. GOLDEN DROUTH.

"D RIGHT thro' the screen of the passion-flow'r's

leaves

Chivalric glances the sun at her fanciful face,
Deepening the cool of the porches heightening

the spray's clinging grace.
Chivalric Sun! While here on the deep-furrowed

hill-
Wilts the millet and withers the maize at your

tyrant will :
Daily pomp of your gold for the white drones

what is its cost ?
This to us black men and churls that the bread

we have swinked for is lost !



SCORN AND PITY.



II. CHRISTMAS IN FAMINE.

(1903}.

T N yon thatched hut hear Jesu's cry !

See Mary's dark breasts withered dry !
vSee how they fast that have not learned to pray
Child Jesu, this my Christmas feasting be
To keep Thy fast one day, instead of Thee,
And that day Christmas Day !



TIME OF FAMINE. 113



III. ON A MEALIE CROP.

(In our time of dearth in 1904, the maize cobs ripened
very early).

TIP, up, haste ever day by day !

Win inches slow by night unseen !
The rain clouds speed you ! Racers green,
Hopes of our land so hunger-lean !

The big drops bless your dusty way !
* * * *

Tho' all their tears the skies should spill,
Two months to tarry !

At the gate

What hoofs are those ? What news from Fate ?
" Ay, let them race with all their will
Yon pale horse shall outstride them still.
For ere their harvest course be sped
Night will be fallen, blank and dread,
Supperless babes be hushed in bed
Who cried so long and watched so late,
But might not wait, but might not wait ! "



n 4 SCORN AND PITY.



IV. FOUND STARVED.

(In a Maslionalaiid garden).

T~\IRE Fate, availing not to bend him, broke!
He bowed his neck to no step-father's yoke

Submissively for fill of blows and bread.
O:i Earth his mother's love in love he leaned
A suckling from her furrowed breast un weaned.

This year her dugs ran dry and he is dead.



TIME OF FAMINE. 115



V. LES REVENANTS.

(The wraiths of the victims of the Famine).

TTARK the hungry Wind's song, snatching at

the leaves
In the sighing maize-garth, thro' the grey rocks'

wall:
As we rend the ripe stalks, how it gibes and

grieves,
" All for you and nought for us ! " Is it Wind at

all?

Grey-heads twain and breast-babes throe ! Ye

that might not stay
Till the green sheaths ruddied and the white

gems grew !

Ye whose rustling fingers fright the crows away!
Might you only tell us how, we would share with

you.



I 2



Ii6 SCORN AND PITY.



MORS AFRICANA.

A FTER one pattern is the fate

Of many here or soon or late.
Witch-fevers whence we slipped of old
With tightening clench make good their hold
And charm us as March hares to run
Fierce sandy courses in full sun.
In out, out in, a clueless maze
Full four-score years in twenty days.

* * * *

As tho' in hares' green forms we drop at last.
How cool and soft the earth and grass, how fast
Our sleep ! Our courses done
God knows if lost or won !



SET OF SUN.



REQUIESCAT.



REQUIESCAT.

(For a Sister of Charity in England).

nPHERE in some garden set with rose and yew,
With gravelled ways and grass-plats trimly

shorn

Christ he your rest and cheer !
Here in a wild land that you never knew,
Among the coarse grass and the stunted corn,
I gave you one true tear.

Ah ! Save for Christ His Poor, too far we stayed
From one another.

Near you draw again,

O calm to work or pray !
'Tis but a dress (how worn!) in England laid,
New drest you follow in the Lamb's White Train
Whose Glory comes again and yet again

My ill-served Altar's way.



i2o SET OF SUN.



RESURGAT.

(For C.J.R.).

f~* OD be with you in your need !

When God's mills have ground you through-
All the coarse cruel chaff of you
Be there left one seed to sow !
Which in season may unfold
Your visionary might of old
Like some fecund vine to sprawl
On the widths of Sion's wall-
In penitence imperial !



A BISHOP'S LEAVE-TAKING.



A BISHOP'S LEAVE-TAKING.
(Lent, 1907).

HP HE rains are gone or going, and the wind

Blows harsh to winter now : but harsher far
Have tidings flown our folded peace to mar ;
Soon comes the irrevocable hour unkind
When you, our Father, leave your flock behind !
Shepherds may stay, but not as yours their care.
What of the goats that yet so heedless are ?
What of us sheep so newly washed and signed ?

Kind hearts as yours wear fast, 'tis hard hearts

thrive !

You fought our battles, ours who dully learned
And tired and spent you. Our blind fault forgive!
O dumb men's voice! Your manhood's words that

burned

Be for your eld to fires of comfort turned !
You were so proud to lead us scorned to drive !



SET OF SUN.



ON THE SAILING OF A BISHOP FOR
HOME.

(July, 1907).

XJO Michael he, but he could shine in war.

No Raphael he, but he could travellers

cheer.

No Gabriel he, but he with joy drew near
Men from their homes and God alike too far !
No Angel, but a man ! No heavenly star,
But a brave candle burning fast and clear
In our small candlestick so new yet dear
To Him whose charge both stars and candles
are!

O loss of ours that lack an Arthur sped !
What wars remain ! His Table Round were we.
Will some raw pedant* ruling in his stead
Rule out of date our old knight-errantry ?
Blest is his ship that seeks on yonder sea
A north of summer and a west of red !

* These lines were written before the choice of a chivalric
successor.



DEATH ON A MISSION. 123



DEATH ON A MISSION.

\7"E that cry and sing for your own dead

Shrill and fresh !

Sing awhile what time my times are sped !
Ye that sing what time ye thresh your corn,
Should God thresh
Sing awhile about the husk out-worn !

Ye that claim again the grave so soon,

Weeds wind-sown,

Grant one flower among you for my boon !

Sisters green, come wrap the bed above!

Brothers brown,

Ask awhile for him that loved vou love!



124 SET OF SUN.



IN THE HEAT.

"DE in this hour forgot

Day's yet remaining hours so hot
The sweat, the drouth, the ever blistering hands !
Remember now those dewy morning lands !
\Vith what a happy face the sun arose
Remember now !

* * * *

Thy long last hour of labour ended, thou
Wilt haply reach that crimson twilight-close
For which conspire the kindly days of men
Remember thy forgettings then !



NUNC DIMITTIS. 125



NUNC DJMITTIS.

IVTINE eyes have seen My God I glorify!

Mine eyes have seen Trust me ! I would
not lie.

Nay, trust me not, my tidings prove and try !
An you would see, come the same way as I
Way of the white fields where the sheaves we tie
Come!



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Online LibraryArthur Shearly CrippsLyra evangelistica : missionary verses of Mashonaland → online text (page 3 of 3)