Copyright
Bernard Miall.

Poems online

. (page 1 of 6)
Online LibraryBernard MiallPoems → online text (page 1 of 6)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


POEMS BYA.B.MIALL






LIBRARY



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.



Class




POEMS



POEMS



BY



A. BERNARD MIALL




JOHN LANE, THE BOD LEY HEAD,
LONDON AND NEW YORK



1899



TO



W. HUGH CHESSON



Dittisham, Oct. 22, 1898.




Many of these verses have appeared in the Pall Mall
Gazette, and in the Westminster Gazette and Btidgct;
some in the Speaker, one in the Yellow Book, and one in
the New Saturday, a paper since defunct. I take this
opportunity of acknowledging my thanks to the editors
of these journals.



CONTENTS
BOOK I

PAGE

The Rose with Four Petals I

The Sea of Death 3

The Crucified II

The Watcher 15

The Fortunate Islands . . . . 1 8

The Message of Nature 24

The Mirror and the Veil 25

The Recluse 26

The Shy Thoughts 28

In Vino Veritas 29

Beauty 30

The Winds of the Cross ways .... 30

BOOK II

The Demand ... k ... 37

The Challenge 38

Blanche 39

The Burden of Pity ...... 40

Forget 41

A Commonplace Tragedy 43

The Strand . .44

The Burden of Loving 46

Ingratitude 47

A Laodicean ....... 48

Love the Jailer .49

xi



Contents



PAGE

Persistency 50

The Burden of Constancy 52

The Burden of Singing 53

A Prayer 55

The Burden of Memory 56

The Fruit of Travail 61

The Dead Soul 63

Threnody 64

The Stranger 66

A Ballad of Light Living 68

To One Awakening .70

Elegy 72

Woodlands 75

The Drifting Fain 76

Wood and Wind. - 77

Winter's Joy 79

Renunciation Si

A Song in Winter ...... 84

A Song of the West 86

The Blossom of Love 87

The Hour . 88

A Wish 90

The Castaway ....... 91

Then 93

The Heart 95

Last Words 95

The Revenge 96

In Prison 98

The Bridal Night ...... 99

xii



Contents



BOOK III

PAGE

The Escape from Fate 1 1 1

The Farewell . . . . . . .113

In Alienation 115

A Light Ending 118

The Voice at Night 122

A Dream of One Dead . . . . .126
The Revolt 127

BOOK IV

Wind of the West 137

Penumbra 138

The Night Wind 138

After Rain 140

August 142

The Circular Saw 144

The Laughter of Summer 147

The Rain 153

White Fire 156

The Snow ....:. * . 158

Night in Autumn . . . . . .164

The Wind 167



xiu



BOOK I




POEMS



THE ROSE WITH FOUR PETALS

HIS life is in the likeness of a rose

Having four petals and a heart of fire ;
The petals that the wind eternal blows
Are hope and memory, wisdom and desire.

One petal holds the mingled love and fear
And imminence of all unknown, to be ;

The life that goes to death from year to year,
The lands desired by eyes that cannot see.

One petal holds the wisdom of dead things,
Dead loves, dead hates, regrets that cannot die,

The dust of slain desires with broken wings,
The splendour of deciduous joys gone by.



The Rose with Four Petals

And one, nepenthe for what might have been,
The bitterness, the sad imagined sweet,

Grown dim for sick desires that throng between,
The land of wandering lusts with weary feet.

One holds the secret of all holy things

Breathed faintly where the mountain lands are
steep,

In one eternal harmony, that sings
To all except the dead, and men that sleep.

This flower is in the likeness of a cross
That man is bound upon till he expire.

One arm, in sorrow of eternal loss,
Points to the failing of the sunset fire.

One arm is pointed to the Eastern night
That sends no herald of its coming years

Save the thick darkness of its ultimate might,
The veil and limit of its hopes and fears.

The stem is rooted in the silent earth ;

All things that sleep, undreaming, lie therein;
All things that wait, yet may not come to birth ;

The seed of holiness, the honey of sin.



The Sea of Death



The stem points up to the ethereal deep

Where drift the indifferent stars across our

sight,

Where, in the austere skies that know not sleep,
The wind creeps thro' the awful peace of
night.

This Rose of Life shall live its meed of days
Till the eternal wind that pitiless blows

Sweep the four petals down its infinite ways,
Leaving the heart and fruitage of the rose.



THE SEA OF DEATH

'TWERE, at the eastern limit of the land

k Fulfilled of night, and the elusive haze,
Golden, of plain-girt cities, the silent cliff
Fronts the blue void of immemorial dawn.

How long have I beheld the equal sky,
Forecasting with expectant heart increase
Of brighter azure, or the warmer flush
Of dawn the insistent herald how long fled
From all discomfortable ways of men,

i B 2



The Sea of Death



Harsh night of cities, cast about with lights
Of gold extinguishing the foam of stars,
Harsh voices and harsh footfalls, banishing
The holy silence of the gracious dark,
Warm radiance of dwellings, casting forth
The fearful silence of the drifting stars,
The questioning stillness of the infinite skies,
The call to quest in the enticing night ?

Long have I lain, thro' years oblivious
Of all the backward lands, all ways of men,
High on the verge of this precipitous cliff,
Above the silence of the blood-red sea
Where the white bodies float for evermore ;
Nor to expectance of mine inward heart
Has form of cloud or dim increase of light
Moved in the twilight heavens of the east,
Nor the wind blown, nor any voice of man
Or wheeling seafowl ever come : no sound,
Save the swift crepitant start of stones that fall
From agelong rest, and with small sullen plunge
Divide the silence of the sea of blood,
That from the cliff out to the utter verge
Where the blue heavens are founded on the sea,
By stir of wind or wave untroubled lies,



The Sea of Death



Nor any wind wakes in the space between.

But on the silence of the blood-red sea
The naked and white bodies wake in death,
Ascend the dimness of the middle air,
And hang before me in the blue of night :
Thereof are faces frozen with all fear,
Whose tears suffuse the whiteness of their flesh,
Flesh whitened past the awful hue of death,
Mouths writhen past the pain of mortal men ;
White bodies too of women, whose long hair
Hangs heavy and thick with dropping forth of

blood,

Continual, dripping in the sea beneath ;
Therewith are faces blind with mocking eyes,
And lips of awful warning, muttering
Horror unspeakable in speech unheard ;
Therewith are brows blest with an infinite peace,
A solace and a quiet ineffable.

White hang the bodies over the red sea,
Beneath the blue seas of the upper air,
White, but in death awakened, horrible,
With lips that shriek not, and blind eyes of

death,
And hair down-dripping to the sinister sea.

Yet, when above the backward lands of men



The Sea of Death



Slumber and silence gain a passing hold,
When the skies darken, nor reverberate
The flash of myriad lights, nor bruit of life,
Far in the eastern lands of dawn witheld.
Looms a still figure, slowly quickening
Like dawn to full perfection beautiful ;
At whose advent, as one whose life is done
Sinks with last breath upon his latest bed,
Sink the white bodies as one dying man,
The middle air vacating that they held,
Relapse, and float upon the sea of blood.

In the eastern blue, remote, more beautiful
Than dawn or dreams or love in any land,
She, in dark radiance waxing, reigns supreme,
Her white feet gleaming on the ultimate sea,
Her brows dividing the high home of stars.
As one beloved in dreams, and far more fair,
She stands, girt round with violet garniture
More soft and strange than is the blue of night,
Whose dimness is more kind within her eyes ;
Fair raiment cast about her fairer limbs,
Whose perfedl whiteness yet is white therethro',
Like foam of twilit seas on windy waves ;
And her white arms flash in the holy sky,
White hands put by the shadow of the hair



The Sea of Death



Fallen across her brows imperial

And eyes of awful quiet, shining forth

Beholding only silence and the night.

Whereat, beholding those white brows of hers,

Than life more glad and more serene than sleep,

Beholding her immortal lips whereon

Love hangs divided with a pitying scorn,

And mournful pride with graciousness, my heart

Yearns to the white perfection of her breast,

Shaking my body with hard hopeless blows,

Like a thick silver fish caught among nets,

To leave my body and go forth to her ;

My lips too yearn to taste the quietness

Of her hair's shadowy downfall, and my veins,

Like lovers aching to caress her own,

Strain with harsh longing through my inner

flesh.

But she, who, standing grave, inscrutable,
Beyond the world, dim in dim outer space,
Waits far beyond the passionate voice of men,
Scorns them that love her with a sweet, calm

pride,

And is not kind to worship. Yet my heart
Leaps with thick pain and sullen blows, as tho'
To force my body to the extreme verge,



The Sea of Death



And hurl me downward in the sea of blood,
So the slow drift of that corpse-laden tide
Might carry forth my load of extreme love,
To leave me at her gracious feet, on shores
Unseen, unknown, undreamed of: yet I know
O heart, be told thereof, persuaded quite,
And no more fallen in passion ! that her feet
Are not on any sea, nor any shore,
But are established in the waste of night,
Space unattainable. But now my hands,
The cliff being shorn by gradual decay
Affording for my elbows no more rest,
Heavily hang before my wearied eyes,
Heavy with blood in every vein surcharged,
And wet with blood about the blackened nails.
Then my pained eyes behold red sea alone;
Therein no stars are mirrored, no pale star,
Nor faint blue flush of the enclosing skies,
Nor broken nor still image of her form,
Who stands beyond the verge, inscrutable :
Only the bodies float with arms outheld,
Rigid and white and writhen, cruciform,
With eyes that see not questioning the sky ;
Also the frail red poppies jutting forth
From the cliff's face of white, quiver and writhe

8



The Sea of Death



To the distempered riot of my blood,

Like little dusky flames that have no heat,

And stones released fall turning in the sea,

And are engulfed by a red shuddering mouth

That opens, and is not. O, I am fain

To fall, with such a plunge and tide of blood

As by expectance or long fear, my heart

Knows, to be one among the bounden dead,

To know no more desiring or despair,

But that dumb fear takes hold on me, whose

might

Grips at my heart when out of sullen sea
Rise the white faces, vacuous and blind,
Or writhen with a fear unspeakable,
Yet some are covered with an extreme peace ;
But which of them I were I know not now,
Nor anything but fear ; for which these hands
Grope in the short hard grasses of the verge,
To pluck my body backward, till mine eyes
Behold the brow and eyes of my desire.
Thereto, as though before my questioning
And perfect worship softened, those grave lips
Are stirred in quiet speech, that falls upon
Mine ears long sick with silence, as a dream
On men of dreamless slumber wearied out :




\

of THE
UNIVERSITY

or ,/



The Sea of Death



Falls like the voice of stars and sky and air,
And, as in dreams, I know that all is well,
Beyond all speech, all dreaming, well ; and I
Am fallen in bliss so perfect, that it comes
As naturally to me as my breath ;
Whereat I waken in that twilit place,
And think to walk among the fields of corn
Or seek a happier sea. Then, as a dream
To drowsing men is sweet beyond belief,
Yet, when the dreamer fully wakens, gone,
Utterly past ; only the great desire
Of that he knows is joy is left in him
While the dream hangs behind the gates of sleep,
So the soft shock of that desired truth
Scatters the flock of all my wary sense,
And I awake, and know the truth I heard
And knew, is gone ; above in bluest sky
White stars are desolate, in blood-red sea
White corpses veer upon a stagnant tide.



10



The Crticified



THE CRUCIFIED

*TI> Y the sea hang the dead, the crucified.

hey rest ; the years blow by them ; they

are still.

The years roll past them from the seas of Time,
The years fashioned without them pass them by,
The years they know not in Eternity
Are born in grayness, and are gathered up,
And swept as clouds along the foamless sea,
And break behind them into tides of light
That they may see not ; into rustling rain
That shall not cool their foreheads or gray lips,
That lean for ever to the silent sea
Whereby their ancient crosses are made sure ;
That no ship ever sailed, nor any wave
Ruffled, nor cry of bird nor man disturbed ;
Whereby they rest ; yet are not of the sea,
Nor of the years, nor anything that is.

Theirs is not pain, nor sorrow ; yet their pain
Shall live for ever, and shall testify
The misery of all unfruitful things,
And all dead sorrow never comforted.



ii



The Crucified



For roses wither, and the kindly earth
Receives their petals as the snow-soft ewe
Her trembling young ; or maidens gather them,
To shed some treasured sweetness of old scent ;
The grape is trodden under dancing feet,
And thereof cometh wine ; the seething corn
Falls, and is pleasant bread ; the night is born
Because the sunset lessens from the sky,
And happy memories follow happiness,
And weariness grows peace ; yea, all these things
Being born to die, in dying are fulfilled,
For they have seed, for they are born in death ;
And it is good ; but pain shall never die,
That is a barren stem without a flower,
That has no fruit, but is already crowned.

The dead sleep on for ever ; on their eyes
Lies a great weariness, because their eyes
Never shall see ; their lips, that shall not speak,
Are hopeless ; and their hands, that long ago
Strove with the nails in agony, are still,
And have no strength, for they shall strive no

more.

Over their bodies lies the weariness
Of all that shall not be : for these have been.



12



The Crucified



The flowers that were their hearts are fall'n to

dust,

Blossom and evil weed and delicate flower,
And at their birth their tears and laughter died.
The winds have lost the echoes of their songs,
And all their ancient wisdom is as dust ;
Only, around their brows, the crown of thorns,
Only the nails immoveable through their limbs,
Only the cross, the circumstance of pain,
That lives, and has no power to harm the dead
That shall not dream, nor wake ; who are wrapped

in rest

And shall not wake to know it ; who rest not.
They have forgotten all, and all their joy
Is dead, and all their pain unsolaced yet
Is no more pain ; but ah ! their endless rest
Is no repose for these : there are none such.

The flowers that were their hearts have fall'n to

dust,

And the good seed has flourished, and the earth
Is fragrant with the fairness of their hearts,
And shadowed by the coolness of their dreams.
Therefore, when we are glad of any spring,
Or any delicate flower or soft song,



The Crucified



Shall we not say : Remember now their sleep,
Think of the silent ones whose voices now
Are heard; they taught us to call fairness fair,
And all the wonder of the earth is theirs.

Yea, roses fall, and thereof roses spring,

And all their gladness laughs until to-day ;

Only the cross decays, only the nails

Are rusted to the core : only the crown

Of thorns is a dead thing and out of mind

For us : and yet these things shall never change.

O vanity of living and of death !
Their pain is dead, it is clean out of mind,
They are forgotten, and their gladness lives,
And sweeps away behind them with the years.

O happiness of living and of death !

All pain shall die, for this has of itself

No life, being evil ; and at length shall die.

Only the roses of our rose-gardens

Shall gladden days that are not, that shall be

Made shadowy with the sweetness of their

dreams

And ours ; and theirs shall mingle with our own,
And these be one, and we be one with them.



The Watcher



THE WATCHER

IGH in the silence of embattled towers,
When night held all the heavens and wet

earth,

She stood, awaiting the faint flower of day
In pure chill eastern heavens, where remote *
Light waxed austere through some expectant

while,

Till the grey river of dawn above the hills
Drew on a soft similitude of flame
And rose to utter radiance, and the sun
Struck on the towers, and those expectant lips.
Then she that waited, leaning to the east,
Held her tired mouth forth to the paling sun,
Whose fresh light lived among her fallen hair,
And laved her throat and bosom and pure brows
With softness of sweet colour ; and the day
Woke shortly at the coming of the sun.
From all wide hills and leafy valley roads,
After the birds had sung a little while
To the wet earth yet sleeping, flowed the bruit
Of men fast journeying ; the wind of the day
Wafted a murmur and clatter of many hooves
Up to that watcher in the silent towers ;



The Watcher



With sound of singing in the distant ways,
And sound of laughter on the awakened hills,
But yet no song was as the song she knew.
Men brake out of all woodland ways, and high
On shadowy hills came darkly from the sun,
And made the morning flash with burning steel,
All the hot forenoon journeying by the tower,
Whereon she watching heard the laugh and song
And graver speech rise mingled ; till her heart
Grew sick and laboured at the approach of noon,
For no way came the banner that she knew,
Also among brown faces on the road
That face she loved, set with expectant mien,
That face her heart ached after, and her eyes,
Was not discerned in all the indifferent throng.
Also the odour of hot summer grass,
The kindly breath of the hill-scented wind,
And flowerful perfume of the cooler ways,
Mocked her with perfect incense ; till the noon
Struck, and upon the first note of the bell
Her heart smote thickly on her tender side
And stayed her hearing with hard muffled blows ;
For then no foot fell on the castle steps,
Though all wide gates lay open ; and the square
Of shadow where the stairway entered up



16



The Watcher



Gave up no sound at all, no sight but black.
Thereat at noon she turned her weeping face
Toward the west, and watched with hopeless eyes
The silent fields that journeyed to the west,
The golden lands of the departing sun.
All afternoon, by white and cloudy ways,
Men hurried westward, bowed in driven dust,
Shrinking in drifting smoke, and when the sun
Slowly and with intolerable light
Pained the near heavens till their life ran out
In fiery death along the level earth,
Clouds hurried from the backward east, and

wind,

Sending a herald of confused sound,
Smote on the towers, and, shrieking toward the

west,

Rapt the shrill moan of desolated woods
And bore it forth in greyness ; and the day
Was drowned in rain, and night came down the

wind.
Then she that watched, with blown hair rained

upon

And garments pressed against her by the wind,
Cast forth her arms helpless along the walls,
And sank to kneeling and most bitter tears,



The Fortunate Islands



Hiding her face from the grey rustling rain.
Majestic clouds, borne on the urgent air,
Brought up the night within their nets of rain,
And darkness darkness overtook. The night
Was fallen as if day had never been,
And she, forsaken, abandoned to the rain,
Covered her eyes, or lifted up her face
To gaze into the roaring wet abyss
When the sun vanished, when the day went by,
Nor turned her to the east, whereto the sun
Was bounden with his majesties of gold,
And the unwelcome and incredible day.



THE FORTUNATE ISLANDS



flushed as a rose's petal the moon
floats low in the east,
In a lavender twilight falling, refreshened the

birds awake,
Stirring the heart of the silence as night airs

trouble the lake

That all the day long lay dreaming, now that
the heat has ceased,



18



The Fortunate Islands

I am sick for a fortunate land, be it west that it

lie or east,
Where life is a lovely thing to possess for its

own fair sake.

I am sick for the dim sweet isle girt round with
a rainy sea

Mingled of many colours, flashing or windy or
white,

Or still as the face of the maiden you love at
the fall of night,

The fortunate far-off isle where the blest un-
dying be,

But I think no sail ever sailed or shone on the
changing sea,

Tho' the sound thereof and the savour shadow
me day and night.

But here in the passage of seasons, the watching

of infinite seas,
We have seen or have dreamed we beheld the

islands that know not of change ;
Crowned with their shadowy trees, past over the

seas that range,

19 c 2



The Fortunate Islands

And girded about with a drowsy mist and a

golden ease,
Made sweet with the odour of hot thick flowers

and the drone of bees,
The islands unchanging endure in the stress of

the seas that change.

Ah, there in the light of the moon, in the islands

of all desired,
The days that are dead are possessed, and the

days that never will be,
In the islands at rest like a sleep on the breast

of the tranquil sea,
Like a kiss upon shadowy eyes, as a dream falls

down on the tired,
The islands of all things dead and the haven of

all desired,
Where the dead would ever have been, where

ever the weary would be.

AH the day long there the sunlight, deep in the

green deep ways,
Lies with the strenuous silence of one not tired,

but at peace,



20



The Fortunate Islands

And ceases at length as kisses content of their
answer cease ;

There for delight of the day none numbers the
passage of days,

None of the folk that wend in the windless whis-
pering ways,

Till the stars awake in a dream, till the dream
of their waking cease.

For a magical slumber is woven of music of

winds breathed o'er
The sigh of the trees abandoned no wind of the

day has fanned,
And the coolness of odorous dew shed over the

charmed land,
And the langourous ripple of waves awake on

a drowsed shore,
While the stars shake low in the sea till the

hush of the night is o'er,
Till as fair a day as another tread over them

toward the land.

And these need hardly remember, they need not

to hope at all,
For the dawn of their skies is the birth of a life

enduring the day,



21



The Fortitnate Islands

And whether the sun shall set or endure they

shall hardly say,
And the darkness is only peace refashioned

about dewfall ;
They rejecft not the perfect hour at hand for the

hunger of all,
The day is utterly theirs, and theirs is the happier

way.

O slender and white and supple, O heavy and

sweet of hair,
With the floating purple of dreams and desire

for your garniture,
Were ever your loves less lovely, being for ever

sure,
Your days less desirable ever, being for ever

fair?
Is the end attained of desire less dear than

desiring there,
Less fair than a last forgetting the knowledge

that lives endure ?

There do ye weary of pleasure complete or con-
ceive a desire

For a thing unknown, untasted, for days that
tarry or cease ?



22



The Fortunate Islands

Shall a twilight ever untroubled fail of familiar
peace,

Or the sun by unfailing splendour veil or de-
crease his fire ?

Nay, have ye hearkened, as we, to the voice of
a last desire

For the coast of an ultimate island, a stillness of
infinite peace ?

We have dreamed that at fall of the dew down-
shed in your shrouded land

Your most quiet hands and happy forth- holding
as languidly

Your tresses lift in the coolness, ye gaze apart
to the sea,

Mournful indeed for us, who know not if we
understand,

But I know no sail ever sailed or shone by the
fortunate land,

Not one of all songs ever lost on the water
strayed over the sea.



23



The Message of Nature



THE MESSAGE OF NATURE

*T* CAME to thee enraptured, and I found

Thy wind swift laughter and thy sun a

smile,

And all thy thick trees amorous of the air ;
Even the old leaves rain-rotten on the ground
Had but to wait a short appointed while
Again to be alive in thee and fair.

came to thee in anguish, and I found
Thy wind a lament full of all affright,
Thy desolated woods a stricken race ;
And all of thee was born to die : the ground
Conceived and thrust doomed things into the

light,
And flaunted death in every living face.

I came to thee with neither joy nor grief,
Too wise to hope, too stubborn to despair ;
I found thee vacant as my own soul was.
Void of significance flapped every leaf,
Wind was a mere dull passage of dead air,
And hills were heaps of earth o'errun with grass.



24



The Mirror and the Veil



THE MIRROR AND THE VEIL

the holy place of the forest

Laughing I went :
Over the heart of Nature
Laughing I bent,
To see what she hid there,
But in the happy place
All that was reflected
Was my laughing face.

To the strong heart of the forest

Weeping I went,

To find of Nature

The secret of her content ;

Low in the mournful pool


1 3 4 5 6

Online LibraryBernard MiallPoems → online text (page 1 of 6)