Glenn Hughes.

Broken lights, a book of verse online

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God made the dark for silence. Mark the hush
That falls so swiftly on the purpling hills.
The feathery singers crouch within the brush,
Leaving but dreamy echoes of their trills.

The sea lies quiet, too, throbbing but calm ;
The wind dies with the flickering western light ;
And out of heaven a faint mysterious psalm
Rises, then fades sung by the choirs of night.

Sound is no more. Those drooping poplars there
Tall shadowy fingers that seek out the clouds
Whisper no longer; bathed by the soft air,
They merge with Silence and assume her shrouds.


(To M. H.)

When I went to the Farm last,

And shut the wooden gate upon the town,

I stopped in wonder,

For the trees

That all the winter through had stood so stark,

Now burst upon my eyes with flowering splendor,

L,ike a host of dancing maidens

Pink and white,

And fluttering in the freshness of the wind

With spotless and sweet-scented gowns.

By the walk,

Where it curves for the sake of the crumbling bricks

Ivy-grown, and piled in broken lines,

High-headed flowers,

Nodding, and blushing quietly,

Whispered among themselves,

And I could hear :

"There is one who should be passing by,

But we have not seen her since we bloomed.

Our red and purple and yellow-white

Must not fade out till once again

She walks this path,

And loves us as in other years."


Their voices caught upon the wind,
And the lovely blossoms of the trees
Murmured and sang; I heard them sing
"Where are the eyes that should lift up
In radiance to watch us dance ?
We cannot fall till some warm night
We feel her glance and hear her sigh,
As in those other faded years."

So went the song from lip to lip,

Among the velvet-coated folk,

Until two bright anemones

At the garden's end, lifted it up

To the blue sky,

And the remembering place

Grew sweetly loud with the soft melody.


How lonely he who walks in dignity
Along the paths of loveliness, with pride
In love of beauty as his certain guide !
Scorning the common fetters, he is free-
Free as the lifting wind upon the sea;
Free as the skylarks when they sunward glide.
Knowing the pure, and seeing naught beside,
His is the wisdom of eternity.

The way of glory is a lonely one,
Lit by few candles, cheered by little song ;
Yet there are garlands when the race is done,
And there are tears and kisses from the throng
For him who walks in silent pride, alone,
Seeking the stars, to make their light his own.



Let there be music breaking on the night
While moonlight streams among the cypresses.
Come, Love, that I may stroke thy golden hair
To the rhythm of an ancient melody.

Bring wine, bring wine ! scarlet and crimson. So !
There Venus shines, silver, above the sea.
Hail, stars ! dear lovely candle-lights of heaven !
Stay the grey dawn, for night is wondrous sweet !


The tilted crescent moon
Grew red above the sea;
The liquid air of June
Caressed me tenderly.

The wide and darkening sky
Was edged with violet
Where mountains, reaching high,
The sun's last colors met.

Beside the crescent moon
Dipped in the blood of day,
Hung Venus, star of June,
Queen of the heavenly way.

I fled from beauty then
Too lovely was the night !
I hid myself from men
And wept in strange delight.



Across the house-tops, piled with white,
Across the sea, all gray and dark,
In winter's robes of sallow light,
Slowly the tireless clouds embark. .

They hang above the water's edge
In stern and ordered dignity;
They break and form an upper ledge
More sombre still. Between we see

The still and veiled white of space,
The pallid radiance of the sun
Whose glory lingers, though its face
Points to new worlds, now the day's done.

Clouds drift, and crumble, turn to gray,
Then gather into black once more;
A tender creeping-arm of day,
Saffron and pink, starts from the shore


To climb the ominous, wind-torn walls,
But it touches the first too timidly,
And lacking^ the strength, wavers and falls
From the ragged ramparts, into the sea.

Clouds drifting in the winter light,

Drifting into havens of mist,

Drifting into havens of night

Where winds are born, and stars have kissed.


You have no need of strength, who are so strong
Though weakness. Surely never bars of steel
Protected half so well as those frail charms
You throw about yourself. I cannot say
Just what they are ; I doubt if you quite know.
Yet there you stand, wistful, alluring, bold,
A half-smile on your lips, and in your eyes
All of the lights that snare and break the heart.

To seize you by those delicate, limp arms !
To fold you in against me, feel your hair
Brush softly on my face, to meet your lips
Ah, why can I not break this barrier down !
What is there 'hovers in between us so,
Like magic that the fairies make I will !

I lean to touch you There is something comes

Out of the air, out of the burning space
Beyond my finger-tips! And I must stand
Barred by that subtle force, helpless and dumb,
Like some blind child before a bolted door.



How quietly you stepped into my heart!
Gentler than moonlight, sudden as the sight
Of ghosts that stand beside us in the dark.
Before, all was at peace, when instantly
Music began, and flowers seemed everywhere.
I could have sworn I dreamed, yet sober Time
Lies not, and by his lips I did not sleep.

How terrible your leaving! I am torn,

Struggling with pain that somehow will not die.

Tears come and go, washing the open wounds,

But leaving salt to sting them as they heal.

The echoes of mad music taunt my soul,

And heaps of blackened flowers ensnare my feet.

Days pass . . . weeks pass . . . the sun and moon go by,

And still the pain of tearing you away

Goes on. How fast you cling ! How close you grew !

Twining your silken tendrils round my life

Till it was prisoner, ignorant of its bonds,

And doomed to suffer ere it could be free.



You were not there, and oh ! the pain
That rose and ached within my heart.
To look upon your face again !
To see the hot blood upward start
Until your cheeks glow with its stain !

You were not there ! The lights went pale,
The music died upon the air;
The laughter and the wit grew stale
Besides the keenness of despair
Beside dear hopes grown poor and frail.

Life was a madness, joy a mask,
And merriment a' fevered dream
As irksome as an endless task
Thrust on us by the gods, who scheme
To trick us out of what we ask.

You were not there ! I am grown old.
The colors of the night and day
Are all the same : there is no gold ;
Sunset and sea and flowered way
Blend into darkness, and are cold.



Let the gross world go by

As it will ;

And let the sad hours die

We have still

In spite of winged time

And despair

That which makes all things sublime,

All things fair.

Where music is, where lights

Ever burn,

Wherei perfumes of sweet nights

Turn on turn

Flood the earth, 'tis there the soul

Wakes and sings

Like a skylark with no goal

But swift wings.

Art is a steady light,

A sweet song,

A if lower of delight

Borne) along

By white hands in the dark

Toward that sea

Where all men shall embark

And be free.



Where is the beauty that has fled

Down the long corridors of life,

Leaving ruin?

This woman, and others like her, once awakened

Fires that leaped in sudden rapture,

Filled men's hearts with flaming passion,

And their eyes with shooting lights

That were god-like.

O Creation !

O divine impulse that opens doors to heaven !

How unfathomable your transcience is !

The tresses of this woman, with their fragrance,

The beauty of her bosom, with its whiteness,

The crimson of her cheek

Gone, gone forever!

Through the tears that fall from eyes once filled with splendor,

Comes a faint and awful gleam of something dying.

Is it death? .... Or is it rather

But the passing through a dim, mysterious doorway

Into corridors where Sight and Time both vanish,

And the Soul alone may follow

In its hour of understanding?



The windy days are over, Love,
The sea is calm at last;
The fields are full of quiet, Love,
As though no storm had passed.

The gentle birds of heaven, Love,
Are gliding in the sky;
And I shall be here singing, Love,
Till thou come passing by.



Until this hour I thought the night
Held\ many a lovely thing,
For I have seen the stars grow bright
And heard the sweet birds sing.

But these I have forgot at last,
And all my love is new,
For lo ! the night that is so vast
Holds but the moon and you !



The night has lips, for in the dark

That fell about me in the silent woods,

I heard a wistful murmuring,

A faint and mystic uttering of words

That made a song.

I thought it was the flowers that spoke,

But they were all asleep;

The! tender leaves hung still as death

Upon the towering trees ;

It was too early for the dew

That kisses dreaming blades of summer grass.

The night has lips,

Ah, Cherished One !

It was of you they sang !

And sometime in the dark that crumples down

Out of the star-strewn heaven of the woods,

I shall translate their song

For your soul to understand.



Our love is full of sorrow, Dearest One !

Full of the sadness of a perfect bloom,

Which, bending in the night where none may hear,

Drops tear-like petals to the silent earth.

Yet would I gladly give all lighter joys,
All quick bright laughter, and all merriment,
For one full hour of sombre loveliness
Deep in the shadowed cloister of your soul.



How June came in I noticed well
'Twas not with glowing sun,
But from her arms grey showers fell,
That did the hills o'errun.

Yet now June is my mistress fair ;
The rain was but a veil
To hide the blushes she did wear
Upon her cheeks so pale.



Walking through dead leaves,
With the wind my only fellow-
How the blood of the leaves is dried,
And turned to a ghastly yellow !

Heart of Summer is dead
Buried in Autumn's sorrow;
And yesterday's glory yields
To the pageant of bleak tomorrow.

Walking through dead leaves,
With the ghost of Summer sighing,
And the wind my only fellow,
Singing, "Dying, all is dying!"



Oh, what a night for sleep !
With the song of the summer rain,
And the cool earth-scents that creep
Past the dripping window-pane.
The smell of the garden flowers
Comes laden with moist delight,
And the magic-fingered hours
Weave sleep from the film of night.



Love is a little flame.
Oh, blow it softly, softly then !
And let no wind of scorn or shame
Cut off its light from men.

Life is a darksome night.
Oh, fan love's delicate white fire !
And let no tears of bitter spite
Quench aught of its desire.


Breath of the wind at sun-lit morn,
Perfume of the rose;
Smell of the sea on west-wind borne,
Hush of the bright day's close ;

Path of the moon across the sky,
Light of the stars above ;
Lips' caress and a maiden's sigh
These are the things I love !



There was a time when every night
My dreams were filled with you,
But since our parting, they have changed,
As dreams and all things do.

Sleep brings me now from out the deep,
Strange faces of today;
And yet there are still midnights when
All these hasten away.

I think it is. when I have grown
Sick of the world, and sad ;
Or else when sudden moonlight has
Made me divinely mad ;

That out of all the silent past
There rises as of old,
The vision of your lovely face
In a light that dim stars hold.



Why did you kiss me

When the moon sank back of the island,

And the stars lay pillowed in the filmy clouds ?

Was it not enough that your arms were about me,

And that your eyes were shining into mine ?

You knew, Beloved, that our souls could never meet,
For the highway that you travel is not mine,
And the sun is not more distant from the earth
Than you from me.

I have lain these nights with open eyes
In the vast and terrible shadows
That surround me,
And the days, that once were gay,
Now hurt me with their brightness.

The things you told me I have forgotten,

And the warm touch of your hands I scarce remember,

But the kiss that burned my lips

Is with me ever !

And eternity is filled with an aching sadness,

And a moon that is sinking behind the island,

While the stars lie pillowed in the filmy clouds.



The blue that is the hue of heaven
Glints on the valley hills,
And swift as dreams that cross the night
Are the memories it distils.

I know a light not born of sun,
Nor yet of midnight skies,
And T have seen its lustre in
The deepness of your eyes.

The blue that enfolds the valley hills
Shines with a magic grace,
But the blessed light that is in your eyes
I shall love through time and space.



God knows what dreary stretches lie
In the vast regions of my heart
Bleak places where all flowers die,
And birds flee from the wind's keen smart.

But this I know : though desolate
Such of my heart's dark spaces be,
Fair fields there are, inviolate,
Glowing and warm with love of thee.



"Life what is life?" I asked the world,
The world did not reply ;
Its bitter lip with scorn was curled,
And mocking was its eye.

But then you came, and now I stand
From the grim world apart ;
For life was in the soft white hand
You laid upon my heart.



The songs I made for you are dead,

For the aching of my heart has drowned their melody.

It is the winter of our love,

And the rose leaves that were scattered in the summer

Lie black and scentless on forgotten paths.

Ah, desolate, desolate with nameless yearning

Is my heart that was so light in other days,

And somewhere in a garden,

Where a bird is singing in the sunshine

I can see you sitting, weeping,

With your gold hair all about you,

And a beautiful, deep sorrow in your eyes.



Now who shall judge of another's love?
Give ear, my friends, give ear!
Scorn not that red fire from above
Which God has planted here.

Each man is as a child before
The things his fellows do;
And it were well if he forbore
From judging false and true.

A lover knows his mistress' art,
And though the mask be thin,
He worships still with beating heart
The soul that dwells within.

God pity lovers ! Were they wise
As those whose laughter sounds,
There were no witchery in eyes,
Nor magic in love's wounds.


Too harsh for beauty is the creed
That subtle critics make ;
Too cheap the purpose that they read
Beneath each poor heart- ache.

Love is more wise than these : it lays
A dream on every scar,
And over human frailty plays
The soft light of a star.




I know a lonely island

Beside a northern shore,

Where wind and rain and beating wave

Have ruled for evermore.

Here do the sea-birds clamor
In grey-white, whirling flocks ;
Over the surf, over the sand,
Over the naked rocks.

In pools of dark sea- water,
Left by the ebbing tide,
The starfish and the shining crab
Lie stranded, side by side.

A curving line of driftwood
Marks where the sea can reach,
And stringy heaps of drying kelp
Litter the even beach.

Back from the sea's dominion
Are wind-blown clumps of pine,
Grown thick with moss and tangled brake
And wild blackberry vine.


Here in the humid darkness
A bird sings, unafraid,
Sings to the drearest solitude,
And yet is undismayed.

O lonely, lonely island

Beside a northern shore,

May wind and rain and beating wave

Rule thee forevermore!



If I should live a hundred years
I still should think with joyous tears
Of one bright garden by the sea,
Where beauty dwelt so bounteously.

Where fox-gloves leaned above the fence,
And sweet allysum's magic scents
Lifted upon the charmed air
To woo the poppies, tall and fair.

A bank of daisies, bold and white,
Nodded and quivered with delight,
While drooping honey-suckle vines
Flooded the air with fairy wines.

No wind could pass this garden by
Without a tender, wistful sigh ;
No star could fall through skies of night
Without a wish to end its flight

Upon this spot, among these flowers,
Where God forgets to count the hours,
And where the morning dwells forever
In dew and blossom dying never.




Rain in the islands,

With the black clouds flying,

And the last faint spots of sunlight fading on the sea.

Changing, hurrying, shifting of shadows,

And the high grey fan of rain-streaks in the east.

Darker, darker,

With the wind rising and falling more loudly in the trees,

The waves' slap sounding stronger and quicker on the sand,

Where the drift-wood,

Sad, spent, weather-weary travelers of the deep,

Lie grimly, white and naked to the rain,

When it shall come.

Swift whirr of the branches,

An audible sigh, as from the heavens,

A closing in of shadows,

And the parting flicker of white light;

Spatter on the rocks,

Steady settling-down of the ominous grey-blackness,

A strange earth-murmur of languid resignation ;

From the ferns

And the hill-flowers

A soft and sleepy rustle,

As of gratified desire,

And then the rain . . the rain .



Sometimes you were a woman to me, Carmel,

With odors of wild lilac in your hair,

And softest moonlight playing over you.

A gentle music rose upon your lips,

And you caressed me, charmed me into dreams.

But other times you were a strong man, Carmel,
With pine-scent and the pungent smell of earth ;
A great wind played about you, and the black night
Challenged you to battle. There was sea-spray
Upon your hair I wept in silent pride.



Was ever such a night for stars

Above this silent prairie land,

Where lonely years have left their scars

In rocky buttes that darkly stand

Against the liquid film of night

So richly flecked with golden light!

There is a peace here, native, strong,
That lies upon this rolling waste
As though the gods had labored long
And, wearying, had turned to taste
The joys of dreamless sleep. No breath
Is heard. It is a peace like death.

Yet hark ! A murmur on the hill !
The wind among the grasses wakes;
A cricket strums and then is still.
How sweet the music that night makes !
Starlight and quiet once again
On lonely butte and barren plain.



Blue streaks hissing in the air,

Bursts of red fire on the ground ;

Zing ! of a hurtling rocket,

Plop ! when it showers fire.

Whirl of green and yellow lights

In a dazzling framework spelling WELCOME.

And everywhere on the dusty field,

Scuffling amid the peanuts and confetti,

People, open-mouthed, with eyes uplifted

To the miracle of gaudy pyrotechnics.

Later, with the rockets lying dead

Upon the prairie, and the grounds

Left littered and unpeopled, lo! the stars!

The calm, eternal stars, set in the black vault

Of midnight, gazing down in pity and great wonder.



Tucson, the storied city, Old Tucson !
Where Spain first met the ancient savage race
That dwelt among these cliffs, that built upon
These barren high plateaux their dwelling-place.

This is the great memorial of a time

When intrepidity led men afar

Into the terrors of a burning clime,

Through hostile mountains toward an alien star.

A land of bronze and purple mystery,
Where sunsets linger in the fevered air,
And unreal shadows play so silently
Until the looming night falls everywhere.

The Santa Ritas with their red and gold,
The Catalinas with their violet :
What naked color! What a treasure-hold
Of wild bright beauty, in such splendor set!

Tucson, Tucson ! a heritage from Spain,

With memories of ages buried deep ;

This is a storied city on a plain

Enfolded by great hills where shadows sleep.



A dazzling mystery in white,

A sacred dream amid the waste

Of arid desert : such a sight

As men cannot forget, despite

The great world's worry and its haste.

The Mission San Xavier del Bac
Gleams here against the monotone
Of sand and cactus and bare rock.
Here Farther Kino and his flock
Builded a shrine from mud and stone.

Above the portals and the walls
Two stately Moorish towers rise,
And from their bells go forth the calls
To prayer when purple twilight falls
And peace upon the desert lies.

The viviendas cluster near
Within the massive gates. The dead
Sleep all so safely, sheltered here
In campo santo. Roses rear
Above them bits of vivid red.

The high walls stand against the sky
Like fortresses. Here is the yard



Where cattle fed in years gone by,

Secure from prowling beast. Here lie

The ancient ploughshares, dull and scarred.

The chapel door stands open wide,
And there within that sacred place
The holy things of God abide.
Great arches rise on either side,
And heavy shadows interlace.

The altar and the reredos,

The saints in niches filled with gloom,

The sombre benches in two rows,

All covered with a light that flows

From dark-stained windows through the room.

Such colors ! coral, amethyst,

Olive and jade, rich violet,

Dull red and ochre, shades of mist

Before the sun when clouds have kissed

And all their fragile beauties met.

The art of Spain, old world design,
Hewed out and painted by the hands
Of Indians whose ancient line
Goes back to days when myths entwine
With memories of primal bands.


An alien God, an alien art ;
So old to us, to them so new !
Ten thousand years they dwelt apart
Among the cliffs, in the hot heart
Of desert space beneath the blue.

And San Xavier del Bac still stands
Alone amid the wilderness,
A white and holy place. The hands
That builded it are in the sands
That hold eternal quietness.



This is the land of spaces, where the sky
Sweeps out and up beyond all reckoning;
Where lustrous clouds of white in columns fly,
L,ike circling gulls with gleaming breast and wing.

This is the land of spaces, where the plain
Flows on until it merges with the blue ;
Where earthly measures fail, and sharp lines wane
Before the lines of heaven which shine through.

This is the land of spaces, for the wind
Breathes of an unknown haven, calm and sure
A haven that my soul may one day find
When I am body- free and spirit-pure.



So quiet was the Sabbath day
So bright the sun upon the hills !
Vancouver in calm beauty lay
The beauty that the West distils.

All tranquil was the Bay's soft blue,
Save where it lapped the curving shore ;
The great, dark trees were silent too
Hushed by some wind that went before.

It was so peaceful on the street ;
The sunlight lay untroubled there ;
And yet one felt a far-off beat
A strange full rhythm in the air.

The quiet broke. The sunlight flared.
Along the wide unpeopled way
A troop of soldiers Death had spared
Marched slowly out to where men pray.

Back from the reddened fields of France
These came and as they marched along,
No word they spoke, no single glance
Threw they aside. They sang no song.


And they were proud how greatly proud
No man could measure. They were stern
Stern with the wisdom God allowed
To those who see Death and return.

Here was a leg gone ; there an arm ;
Another held his head awry;
But all the terror, all the charm
Was deep within each soldier's eye.

If heaven and hell can meet on earth
And crowd together in one space,
They both were there (in lieu of mirth)
vShining and dark in each man's face.

The wrath of war, the love of land,
The kindling fires of martial pride ;
The fears and hopes of men who stand
With Horror's shadow at their side.

The music of madness and pain,
The reeling colors of the spheres ;
The parch of sun, the chill of rain,
The thrill of laughter and of tears ;

Mud, smoke, and heat and then more mud,
A black and grey and bloody world


With men all rising like a flood

That rushed and plunged and darkly swirled.

So still it was ; the men had passed,
Yet from their eyes this had they told.
And now the morning sunlight cast
Shadows of blue and spots of gold.

O Soldiers that went out to pray
Beside the mountains of the West,
The British Lion stood that day
Upon the highest sunlit crest.

Over the sea his great eyes stared,
Out of the heavens came his strength ;


Online LibraryGlenn HughesBroken lights, a book of verse → online text (page 2 of 3)