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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES










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LOVE'S ARGUMENT

AND OTHER POEMS



Seventeenth Edition, completing Fiftieth Thousand.

CONCERNING ISABEL CARNABY

BY THE SAME AUTHOR
Illustrated by FRED. PEQRAMj

Crown Hvo. Cloth, 6s.



LONDON: HODDER AND STOUGHTON




onigravura lyMBBa Annan &Soii8,GlaB 3 [7w. from aFnotngra{i"hlyMi3sAlinBHbgliBiL



LOVE'S ARGUMENT

AND OTHER POEMS



BY



ELLEN THORNEYCROFT FOWLER

AUTHOR or 'CONCERNING ISABEL CARXABY,' 'A DOUBLE THREAD,'
'THE FARRINGDONS," 'CUPID'B GARDEN,' ETC.



LONDON
HODDER AND STOUGHTON

27 PATERNOSTER ROW
1900



Edinburgh : T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to Her Majesty



JL



DEDICATION

To A. or B. or C. whoe'er may find
Something herein according to his mind
I write this book, and others of its kind.



*>

SA p< t 7. . \
_: c>v-' -*>-



NOTE

I HAVE to thank the Editors of the
British Weekly, the Lady's Realm., the
Sunday at Home, the Speaker, and
the Sunday Magazine for allowing
me to reprint certain of these poems
which have already appeared in those
magazines.



CONTENTS

PART I
SECULAR VERSES

PAGE

LOVE'S ARGUMENT ..... 3

THE MILLENNIUM ..... 5

A HOLIDAY RESORT . .7

TO YOU ...... 9

THE FICTION OF TO-DAY . . . .10

AN UNDERSTUDY ... .12

A NEW YEAR'S WISH . . . . .14

A SONG OF WAR . . . 16

A SUMMING-UP . .18

THE BLISS OF IGNORANCE . 20

IF I WERE YOU ... 21

UNEQUAL . . 22

JACK AND JILL ... 24

ODE TO SUNRISE ON THE RIGI . . .29

CHRISTMAS DAY . . . . . .31

A PLEA FOR THE PEN 33



CONTENTS

PAGE

THE NEW COINAGE . . . . .38

WHAT THE CHILDREN SAY . 39

DOST THOU NOT KNOW?. . . . .41

DAFFADOWNDILLY . . .42

LILIES OF LENT .... 43

CORNFLOWERS . . .44

A CHRISTMAS CAROL . . . . .46

A NEW YEAR'S GREETING . 47

A SONG OF SPRING . . 49

BENEATH THE FADING LEAVES . 51

THE COUNTRY OF CONCEIT . . 52

DESPOTISM . .54



PA RT II
SACRED VERSES

A HYMN OF PRAISE . . . . .59

THE LEGEND OF SIR LEONARD . . . .63

A GRAVEN IMAGE . . . . .70

THE LEGEND OF THE LITTLE SOUL . . 76

LIFE'S REMEDY ...... 82

FRAGMENTS ...... 84

A CHRISTMAS HYMN . . . . .85

AN EPIPHANY HYMN . . . . .87



CONTENTS

A LENTEN HYMN

AN EASTER HYMN

A WHITSUNTIDE HYMN .

HYMN FOR S. PETER'S DAY

A HARVEST HYMN

AN AUTUMN HYMN

A HYMN FOR WOMEN WORKERS .

LOST AND FOUND

PANTOMIME CHILDREN

AN UNPROFITABLE SERVANT

THE FOOL THAT SAID IN HIS HEART

BLOSSOMS

SUNLIGHT AND MOONLIGHT

THE APPLE TREE

LOVE AND DUTY

TIME



XI

PAGE

88

89

91

92

9*

96

99

101

103

104

106

108

110

111

114

115



A NEW YEAR S WISH
SPRING .
SUMMER .
AUTUMN



PART III

SONNETS



119
120
121

122



xii CONTENTS

PAGE

WINTER . .... 123

PATIENCE . .124

ON AN OLD PORTRAIT . . . . .125

ON A SUIT OF ARMOUR . ... 126

ASLEEP ..... .127

FORGETFULNESS . .... 128

TWO POINTS OF VIEW . . . . .129

A BOON ....... 131

FAIRYLAND . ... 132

ERRATA . .... 133

IN TIME OF WAR . . .134

THE CHAPEL ROYAL, SAVOY . . . .135

THEM THAT SIT AT MEAT . . . .136

TO THE PLANET MARS . . . . .137

A BIRTHDAY GREETING . .138

BYGONE YEARS ... ,.139



PART I
SECULAR VERSES



LOVE'S ARGUMENT.

As it fell on a day

That a traveller grey
Was trudging along life's road,

Who should chance to come by

And his plight to espy
But Love 'neath his archer's load ?

Whilst the wanderer gazed

At the vision, amazed
And doubtful if it were true ;

' You are weary and sad,'

Quoth the radiant lad ;

* Pray what can I do for you ? '

' You go on your way,'
Sighed the traveller grey ;

* For oft have I heard it told

(And with singular truth)
That love sojourns with youth,
And cannot abide the old.'
With a mischievous smile
That was brimful of guile,



LOVE'S ARGUMENT

' That saying,' quoth Love, * is true :

Your adorable She,

Whosoever she be,
Will always seem young to you.'

' You can go to your play,'
Sighed the traveller grey ;

' No friend in my need you '11 prove :
For my visage is worn,
And 'tis oftentimes sworn

That beauty alone wins love.'
With a light-hearted laugh,
That was careless as chaff,

* That saying,' quoth Love, ' is true :
For your lady of grace,
Whatsoever her face,

Will always seem fair to you.'

4 If I fail, as you say,'
Sighed the traveller grey,

' The faults of my queen to scan,
Can her fancy's fond flight
Make a worshipful knight

Of a weary and worn old man ? '
' I have frequently heard
A proverbial word,'

Quoth Love, ' which is trite and true,
In colloquial use
What is sauce for the goose

Is sauce for the gander too.'



THE MILLENNIUM.

SWEETHEAET, when this lifetime is ended

And the morrow a new life brings ;
When our changeable wills have been bended

To the changeless orders of things ;
We will sit on the edge of a planet,

We two, for a thousand years,
And will talk of what really began it

In the so-called valley of tears.

We will sit on the edge of a planet,

Poised high in the midst of space ;
While the heaven-sent breezes that fan it

Shall kiss us full in the face.
We will talk of the hour when I met you

Of the days when we met again
Of the years when I tried to forget you,

And tried (how I tried !) in vain.

We shall wonder (nay, hardly shall wonder
It will all be explained by then)

Why we two were the twain kept asunder
In a world of women and men.



6 THE MILLENNIUM

We^shall smile at bright days that are over,
And at brighter ones never begun,

Which we planned, Dear, when you were my lover
In the country beneath the sun.

Long silence shall serve but to sweeten

The sound of life's triumph-chord,
When the years that the locust hath eaten

To us shall be all restored :
When it 's proved beyond doubt or debating

We were meant to be one at last,
We '11 forget the long season of waiting,

Which will fade as a dream that 's past.

There 's so much I am wanting to tell you

So much you must tell to me
Of the manifold things that befell you

This side of eternity.
And we '11 scorn, since our passion outran it.

Time's dart that was winged with fears,
When we sit on the edge of a planet,

We two, for a thousand years.



A HOLIDAY RESORT.

As a place of residence Eden was closed

When Adam and Eve left home ;
And no one can live there, it is supposed,

For many a year to come ;
But now and again, in the summer days,

The gardens are open thrown,
That the public may walk down the grassy ways :

And nobody walks alone.

There is growing still from its old-world root

The dangerous Knowledge-Tree,
With its whispering leaves and its wondrous fruit,

As of old it was wont to be.
And if visitors gather and eat of such,

They are banished forthwith pro tern. ;
For they see too clearly and know too much,

So Eden is not for them.

In the centre is standing the Tree of Life,

As it stood in primeval springs ;
And under its shadows soft winds are rife

Soft winds that have angels 1 wings.



8 A HOLIDAY RESORT

The commonplace people who seek its shade
And feel on their brows its breath,

Go forward rejoicing and unafraid,
Since love cannot taste of death.

There is room for us all in that Eden grove,

'Neath the mystical azure skies ;
For none are too foolish and young to love,

And none are too old and wise.
Yet each man will swear as he passes through,

Ere his holiday time is done,
That the place is constructed to hold but two-

Himself and another one.

We can go there only as trippers now :

Yet a message has come to me
(No matter who told me, or when, or how

Twas the highest authority) :
That Eden again in the fulness of days

Shall be as it was before ;
The people shall enter its gates with praise,

And they shall go out no more.



TO YOU.

DEABEST, half my day is over,

Half my journey plodded through,

Yet I Ve found nor friend nor lover
That can be compared with you.

Half the joys of life I Ve tasted,
Drunk of pleasures not a few,

Yet I feel completely wasted

Was each hour not spent with you.

I have mixed in sweet confusion

Friendships old and friendships new,

And I Ve come to this conclusion
There is nobody like you.

Wealth and rank I Ve passed unheeding,
Hardly giving each its due,

For my heart and soul were needing
Nothing in the world but you.

Therefore may I be forgiven

If I hold it to be true
Heaven scarcely will be heaven

If it is not shared with you.
B



THE FICTION OF TO-DAY.

IT chanced upon an evil day

I took a volume in my hand

A volume which I longed to say
My soul could understand.

I dipped into its mystic lore

With all the eagerness of youth,

Nor dreamed but that its pages bore
The sign and seal of truth.

I viewed it not with such disgust

As wiser heads would feel for it ;

But trusted it as I would trust
The words of Holy Writ ;

Yet when upon its strength I leaned,

And strove thereby my steps to trace,

It proved as false as any fiend
And mocked me to my face.

When knowledge to account was turned,
Who then so great a fool as I ?

The so-called science I had learned
Was one pernicious lie.



THE FICTION OF TO-DAY 11

Too late it was myself to save

From mischief which was bound to be :
But woe to whosoever gave

So base a book to me !

And woe to careless souls and blind,

Who let such trash their tables spread,

And leave some fresh, untutored mind
To read what I have read !



The volume which so grossly lied

Which led me wrong and cost me dear-
Was only Bradshaivs Railway Guide
For some preceding year.



AN UNDERSTUDY.

THE Devil's hoofs were muddy
With sleep his eyes were dim ;

He sought an understudy

To play his part for him,

Whilst he took rest and washed and dressed
Within his palace grim.

4 Although I am expected

To need a breathing space,
No duty is neglected

Till some one fills my place
And works,' quoth he, ' such ill for me

That evil grows apace.'

There was a pious woman

Who dwelt beneath the sun :

In willing service no man

Did more than she had done ;

She strove to preach, to train and teach
And counsel every one.

She clothed the poor and needy

In suitable attire ;
She nursed the sick and seedy

And raised them from the mire ;



AN UNDERSTUDY IS

No godly work she seemed to shirk,
No pleasure to desire.

Yet lightened she her labours

(So-called) of Christian love,
By stories of her neighbours

Too subtle to disprove :
She roared as sweet, this dame discreet,

As any sucking dove.

She cheered each dry committee

With tales of absent folk,
And let nor truth nor pity

Impair her little joke ;
Till loves were soiled and lives were spoiled

By every word she spoke.

With talk her tasks beguiling,

She blackened peopled names ;
Nor dreamed that such reviling

Annulled her saintly claims,
And turned to nought the good she wrought

(According to Saint James).

The Devil saw the matron,

And merrily cried he
* I 'm proud to be the patron

Of gossips such as she !
Whilst I lie still she '11 work my will

And be my deputy.'



A NEW YEAR'S WISH.

A HAPPY, happy year to the friends I left behind me

Who said farewell at some cross-road with many a parting

tear :

Of what they used to be to me old memories oft remind me ;
' For auld lang syne ' I wish to them the happiest New
Year!

A happy, happy year to the friends that walk beside me

Who make life's path a pleasant place because their steps

are near :
Their smiles of comfort light the way, their words of counsel

guide me ;

I wish them from mine inmost heart the happiest New
Year!

A happy, happy year to the friends that yet await me

Whose faces, still unknown to me, the future shall make

clear :
Some day their hands will clasp my own, some day their love

elate me ;

Meanwhile I warmly wish for them the happiest New
Year!



A NEW YEAR'S WISH 15

A happy, happy year to the friends that ne'er shall meet me,
But who will let my written words sometimes their spirits

cheer :
Perchance in other worlds than this their kindred souls may

greet me ;
And here and now I wish to them the happiest New Year !



A SONG OF WAR.

(1889-1900.)

ENGLAND lay asleep 'mid the tumult of the nations,
While her sons beheld no visions and her daughters dreamed
no dreams ;

For they dwelt at ease in Zion,
And they taught the British lion
To wax fat in pleasant pastures and lie down by peaceful

streams.

So with laughter and with song they upraised their invocations
To the gods that they had fashioned of the stuff they found to
hand;

And they said in their prosperity,
' There is nothing, of a verity,
That can harm the rank and fashion of this well-appointed land ! '

But behold ! an angel came, who was clothed in clouds and

thunder,

While the morning gleamed behind him like a battle-flag
unfurled ;

And he sware by Him That liveth
And the life to all things giveth,

That this time of peace and plenty should no longer lull the
world.



A SONG OF WAR 17

But the people were too drowsy to be filled with awe and wonder
At an angel who was standing on the field and on the flood ;

So he roused the cannon's rattle,

And he called to them by battle,
And by noise of great confusion, and by garments rolled in blood.

England woke at last, like a giant from her slumbers,
And she turned to swords her ploughshares, and her pruning-
hooks to spears ;

While she called her sons and bade them
Be the men that God had made them

Ere they fell away from manhood in the careless, idle years.
And her sons obeyed her call, and went forth in mighty numbers,
For the honour of their country to expend their latest breath ;
While the angel, who had saved them '
From the slumber that enslaved them,

Rode before them on the pale horse, and the rider's name was
Death.

England lifts her head in her glory as a nation,
While her daughter-lands walk with her down the dark and
thorny ways ;

Of a truth they learned to love her
When the clouds were black above her,

As they never could have loved her in the happy, golden days.
She hath prayed and wrestled sore she hath wrought her own

salvation

Yet the angel-hand hath touched her in the hollow of her thigh ;
And her eyes are dim with weeping
For her heroes who are sleeping,
Now their warfare is accomplished, 'neath the sunny Southern sky.



A SUMMING-UP.

You took my love and played with it ;
Then stabbed it by your subtle wit

To serve your selfish ends, Dear.
That love grew sick and maimed and halt,
And died at last, was not my fault :
So bury him within a vault,

And let us still be friends, Dear.

i

You took my heart and made it beat ;
Then trampled it beneath your feet

To hide its cracks and creases.
Unless I make a great mistake,
A heart thus hurt was bound to break :
So say no more, for mercy's sake,

But sweep up all the pieces.

You took my faith and tore its threads
Into a thousand tiny shreds,

And left me here without it.
Had I defied your magic sway,
My faith would be intact to-day :
So let us throw the rags away,

And waste no time about it.



A SUMMING-UP 19

You took my life and filled it all ;
Then turned its sweetness into gall

And doomed it to despair, Dear.
The life you spoiled is nearly done :
But if there be another one,
In some strange land beyond the sun,

I hope you won't be there, Dear.



THE BLISS OF IGNORANCE.

You thought you ""d searched me in and out,

And yet you never knew
That all I ever thought about
Was you.

My soul was in your sight unfurled

You said, yet never guessed
That I loved you in all the world
The best.

You vowed you had my spirit's lore

Safe at your finger ends,
Yet never found that we were more
Than friends.

You read in every word I spoke

Strange meanings for your part,
Yet never dreamed that once you broke
My heart.

Be thankful then that you, my own,

With clever, sightless eyes,
Were ignorant, whilst I alone
Was wise.



IF I WERE YOU.

IF I were you I should feel proud

Of all the talents I possessed ;
And by no comments of the crowd
Could be distressed.

If I were you I would not heed

The paltry praise of meaner men ;
For I should be too strong to need
Such solace then.

It I were you I should be dead

To critics whether great or small ;
For I should know I stood a head
Above them all.

If I were you my heart would be
Itself a kingdom ever new ;
But I 'd make room in it for me
If I were you.



UNEQUAL.

HE never speaks a word to me

That 's not considerate and kind ;
Nor shows, when in my company,
An absent mind.

My wildest wishes he fulfils

Without a protest on his part ;
My faintest show of friendship thrills
His faithful heart.

Yet though he lives for me alone,

And knows, save me, no joy on earth,
The love I feel for him, I own,
Is little worth.



He 'd give his all for my sole sake,

And ask from me no answering grace ;
Yet in my thoughts he has to take
A lower place.



UNEQUAL

For I am everything to him,

While he is nothing much to me ;
And in this world of humour grim
Such things must be.

Since love to some is but a joke

To some a curse life's wheel to clog-
He 's no worse off than wiser folk,
My little dog !



JACK AND JILL.

(SONGS OF FIVE CENTURIES.)

SIXTEENTH.

IT was a shepherd and his love
Up a mountain path did rove,

Searching for a silver rill :
But he stumbled 'mid the lilies,
She among the daffodillies,

And they rolled adown the hill.
Thus it fell one afternoon
In the merry month of June.

SEVENTEENTH.

They left behind the daisied vale
And climbed the purple hill ;

And 'twixt them bore the empty pail
They longed yet feared to fill.

They feasted at the upper spring,
Each drinking with soft eyes

To each, while Philomel did sing
Her sweetest lullabies.



JACK AND JILL 25

He fell. In vain she sought the joy

From solitude that springs,
Then followed fast the recreant boy

With unconfined wings.



EIGHTEENTH.

Jack (of what vale the history doth not mention)

Forsook the valley Avith a fixed intention,

With gentle Mistress Gillian by his side

To act as friend, philosopher and guide.

They left behind their unassuming home,

Aping ' the wise who soar but never roam ' ;

They left behind the undulating dale,

The verdant meadow and the smiling vale

The land of flowery field and foaming flood,

Where drowsy cattle chewed the soothing cud

And turned their steps to scale the cloud-girt mountain,

Crowned on its summit by a sparkling fountain.

The object of this perilous ascent

Was to procure a grateful condiment

A pailful of the draught the hillsides proffer,

Which < cheers but not inebriates ' the quaffer.

But as the travellers climbed, becoming warm

' Swelled from the vale and midway met the storm ?

Jack, to his everlasting grief and shame,

Failed in the purpose wherewithal he came ;

Fell from the cliffs where royal eaglets nestle,

And straight was followed by the weaker vessel.



6 JACK AND JILL

Twere sad to tell, and sadder still to trace

The decadence from honour to disgrace

Of England's famous son and lovely daughter,

Who failed to win their promised meed of water ;

But left the legend of their empty pail

' To point a moral and adorn a tale. 1



NINETEENTH.

They clambered when the sun was low
Across the swiftly melting snow,1
And strove to intercept its flow

With pails of iron-mongery.

He fell, and broke his golden head,
And she believing he was dead
Decided to remain unwed,

In deference to his memory.

Then, having heard of the Suttee,
She cried, ' Ah ! it were well with me
If I lay dead along with thee,

Thou pearl of English chivalry ! '

So down she flung her body flat.
Which roused him from his swoon ; whereat
She answered to his cry ' Who 's that ? '
* Tis I, sir, rolling rapidly ! '



JACK AND JILL 27

TWENTIETH.

My Lady Jill, the highly gifted daughter

Of Lord Portcullis, took it in her head
That she would advocate the use of water

Of all intoxicating drinks instead ;
So begged a House of Commons man to teach
Her how to make a great teetotal speech.

And (as is natural when a woman asks

A man to teach her what she doesn't know)

She showed him how to compass hopeless tasks,
And trained him in the way he should not go ;

For angels, by enthusiasm led,

Rush in where even fools would fear to tread.

She said ('tis well to notice all the while

She fancied she was being taught by him)

* My dear Sir John, you really mustn't smile

As if the thing were just a passing whim :
'Tis a great cause, and needs proceedings risky.
You 11 have some tea ? Or would you fancy whisky ?

* Tea ? Very well. Sugar ? One lump or two ?

You see I clearly am ordained to teach ;
And it is really very nice of you

To help me to compose my opening speech.
I shall begin by showing it is wrong
To take too much of anything that 's strong.



38 JACK AND JILL

4 Then I shall say a Bishop must not drink ;

Though he may take a little, I have heard,
Just for the sake of No, I do not think

It comme il/aut to use the Pauline word.
I'll just prescribe a spoonful, should there cease
To be beneath his apron perfect peace.

' As for the minor clergy Well, you seem
Extremely shy and ill at ease, Sir John.

Your tea 's too strong, you say, with too much cream ?
Then, a la Polly, put the kettle on.

But don't be shy of me because I 'm clever :

People are never frightened of me never.

' Now you 've upset it all, you tremble so !

What's wrong with you I really cannot tell.
You want to ask me something ? Do you know

You've made me feel absurdly shy as well?

Good gracious ! All the afternoon has gone !

And we forgot the temperance speech dear John.'



ODE TO SUNRISE ON THE RIGI.

O GLORIOUS Sun ! thou 'rt rising fair and bright,

And tipping all the snow-crowned hills with gold ;
While we stand shivering in the morning light,
And catching cold.

Thou 'rt smiling on the vales in verdure clad

Thy face on them its new-born glory sheds ;
While we are wondering we could be so mad
As leave our beds.

Thou 'rt gilding with thy wealth the growing grain,

And gladdening all the earth with sweet surprise ;
While we are vowing we '11 ne'er rise again
To see thee rise.

The land by thee in golden sheen is drest,

And thou hast crowned each purple-mantled hill ;
But we, alas ! are looking not our best
In deshabille.

Thou 'rt waking with thy beams the flocks and herds ;

All nature can thy gentle influence feel ;
While we are envying the little birds
Their morning meal.



80 ODE TO SUNRISE ON THE RIGI

O glorious Sun ! with grandeur unalloyed

Thou Vt filling heaven and earth and land and sea ;
Yet we can feel an inward, aching void
Unfilled by thee.

Tis a fair vision, meet for fays and elves,
To see thee as a giant-monarch rise ;
But for the future we 11 content ourselves
With sunset skies.

Though grand thou art when first thy lamp is lit,

And thou ascend'st thy throne, with new-crowned head ;
* Nothing becomes thee like the leaving it '
As Shakespeare said.

Thou play'st thy part the best, thou actor great,
When robed in rosy clouds at close of day ;
Or else, perhaps, we don^t appreciate
A matinee.

If early habits are a sign of sense

(As taught us by that prig, the early bird),
Close early ; but so early to commence
Is quite absurd.

O'glorious Sun ! if thou wouldst feast our eyes

On all the wealth thy dawning hath in store,
Rise later or be kind enough to rise
The day before.



CHRISTMAS DAY

THAT festive season has come round again,

Which is the time for 'jest and youthful jollity' ;

When we are all supposed to give the rein

To * quips and cranks ' and similar frivolity ;

And men are bidden to be bright and gay

And ready for roast-beef on Christmas Day.



Baronial halls were ' decked with holly green '

(As Scott remarked) when Christmas was poetical ;

The beauteous ' damsel donned her kirtle sheen '
To make the Yule-tide even more aesthetical ;

And ' merry men ' to woodlands hied away

To ' gather mistletoe ' for Christmas Day.

All this is changed : the holly far afield

Is left this holiday for winds to whistle to ;

The scant supply the verdant-grocers yield
Is all that we are treated to in mistletoe ;

And damsels don their second-best array

To dine with relatives on Christmas Day.



CHRISTMAS DAY

The season of its seasoning is bereft,
Owing to ancient usages' declivity ;

The Bore's Head is the only relic left

To grace the hospitable Bored's festivity ;

The winds are gruesome, and the skies are grey,

And life 's a * Winter's Tale ' on Christmas Day,

We 'd give our tearful, ' crimson-tipped ' eyes


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Online LibraryEllen Thorneycroft FowlerLove's argument, and other poems → online text (page 1 of 5)