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POEMS

FIRST SERIES



THE RIVERSIDE PRESS LIMITED. EDINBURGH




POEMS

FIRST SERIES
BY J. C. SQUIRE



LONDON
MARTIN SECKER

XVII BUCKINGHAM STREET
ADELPHI



LONDON: MARTIN SECKER (LTD) 1918



DEDICATION

Lord, I have seen at harvest festival

In a white lamp-lit Asking-village church,

Horn the poor folk, lacking fine decorations,

Offer the first-j ruits of their various toils :

Not only fruit and blossom of the fields,

Ripe corn and poppies, scabious, marguerites,

Melons and marrows, carrots and potatoes,

And pale round turnips and sweet cottage flowers,

But gifts of other produce, heaped brown nets,

Fine pollack, silver fish with umber backs,

And handsome green-dark-blue-striped mackerel,

And uglier, hornier creatures from the sea,

Lobsters, long-clawed and eyed, and smooth flat crabs,

Ranged with the flowers upon the window-niches,

To lie in that symbolic contiguity

While lusty hymns of gratitude ascend.

Sol

Here offer all I have found :

A few bright stainless flowers

And richer, earthlier blooms, and homely grain,

And roots that grew distorted in the dark,

And shapes of livid hue and sprawling form

Dragged from the deepest waters I have searched.

Most diverse gifts, yet all alike in this :

They are all the natural products of my mind

And heart and senses ;

And all with labour grown, or plucked, or caught.



PREFACE

THE title of this book was chosen for this reason. Had the

volume been called and Other Poems it might have

given a false impression that its contents were entirely new.
Had it been called Collected Poems the equally false impres-
sion might have been given that there was something of
finality about it. The title selected seemed best to convey
both the fact that it was a collection and that, under Pro-
vidence, other (and, let us hope, superior) collections will
follow it.

The book contains all that I do not wish to destroy of
the contents of four volumes of verse. A number of small
corrections have been made. There are added, also, a few
recent poems not previously published. The earliest of the
poems now reprinted is dated 1905, in which year I was
twenty-one. Some of the subsequent years, such as 1914 and
1915, contributed nothing to this book : the greater number
of the poems were written in 1911-1912 and 1916-1917.

Some of the poems were not written as I should now write
them; and many of them reflect transient, though mostly
recurrent, moods which I do not necessarily think worthy of
esteem.

J. C. S.

March 1918.



YEAR PAGE

DEDICATION 5

PREFACE 7

1905 IN A CHAIR 11

A DAY 12

1907 THE ROOF 14

1910 TOWN 16
FRIENDSHIP'S GARLAND 21

1911 A CHANT 24
THE THREE HILLS 25
AT NIGHT 26
LINES 27
FLORIAN'S SONG 30

1912 ANTINOMIES ON A RAILWAY STATION 31
TREE-TOPS 35
ARTEMIS ALTERA 36
EPILOGUE 37
DIALOGUE 38
STARLIGHT 41
SONG 42
CREPUSCULAR 43
FOR Music 44
THE FUGITIVE 45
ECHOES 47

1913 THE MIND OF MAN 49
A REASONABLE PROTESTATION 52
IN THE PARK 57
IN THE ORCHARD 59
THE SHIP . 60
ODE : IN A RESTAURANT 6l

9



FAITH 71

A FRESH MORNING 72

INTERIOR 73

1913-14 ON A FRIEND RECENTLY DEAD 74

1916 THE MARCH 80
PROLOGUE: IN DARKNESS 81
THE LILY OF MALUD 82

1917 A HOUSE 87
BEHIND THE LINES 89
ARAB SONG 90
THE STRONGHOLD 92
To A BULL-DOG 93
THE LAKE 96
PARADISE LOST 97
ACACIA TREE 98
AUGUST MOON 100
SONNET 102
SONG 103
A GENERATION 104
UNDER 105
RIVERS 107
I SHALL MAKE BEAUTY ... 115
ENVOI 116



10



IN A CHAIR

THE room is full of the peace of night,

The small flames murmur and flicker and sway,

Within me is neither shadow, nor light,

Nor night, nor twilight, nor dawn, nor day.

For the brain strives not to the goal of thought,
And the limbs lie wearied, and all desire

Sleeps for a while, and I am naught
But a pair of eyes that gaze at a fire.



11



A DAY

I. MORNING

THE village fades away

Where I last night came,
Where they housed me and fed me

And never asked my name.

The sun shines bright, my step is light,

I, who have no abode,
Jeer at the stuck, monotonous

Black posts along the road.



II. MIDDAY

The wood is still,

As here I sit
My heart drinks in

The peace of it.

A something stirs
I know not where,

Some quiet spirit
In the air.

O tall straight stems !

O cool deep green !
O hand unfelt !

O face unseen !
12



III. EVENING

The evening closes in,

As down this last long lane

I plod ; there patter round
First heavy drops of rain.

Feet ache, legs ache, but now
Step quickens as I think

Of mounds of bread and cheese
And something hot to drink.



IV. NIGHT

Ah ! sleep is sweet, but yet

I will not sleep awhile
Nor for a space forget

The toil of that last mile ;

But lie awake and feel

The cool sheets' tremulous kisses
O'er all my body steal . . .

Is sleep as sweet as this is ?



13



THE ROOF

I

WHEN the clouds hide the sun away
The tall slate roof is dull and grey,
And when the rain adown it streams
'Tis polished lead with pale-blue gleams.

When the clouds vanish and the rain
Stops, and the sun comes out again,
It shimmers golden in the sun
Almost too bright to look upon.

But soon beneath the steady rays
The roof is dried and reft of blaze,
'Tis dusty yellow traversed through
By long thin lines of deepest blue.

Then at the last, as night draws near,
The lines grow faint and disappear,
The roof becomes a purple mist,
A great square darkening amethyst

Which sinks into the gathering shade
Till separate form and colour fade,
And it is but a patch which mars
The beauty of a field of stars.

II

It stands so lonely in the sky
The sparrows never come thereby,
The glossy starlings seldom stop
To preen and chatter on the top.
14



For a whole week sometimes up there
No wing-wave stirs the quiet air,
The roof lies silent and serene
As though no life had ever been ;

Till some bright afternoon, athwart
The edge two sudden shadows dart,
And two white pigeons with pink feet
Flutter above and pitch on it.

Jerking their necks out as they walk
They talk awhile their pigeon-talk,
A low continuous murmur blent
Of mock reproaches and content.

Then cease, and sit there warm and white
An hour, till in the fading light
They wake, and know the close of day,
Flutter above, and fly away,

Leaving the roof whereon they sat
As 'twas before, a peaceful flat
Expanse, as silent and serene
As though no life had ever been.



15



TOWN

MOSTLY in a dull rotation

We bear our loads and eat and drink and sleep,
Feeling no tears, knowing no meditation

Too tired to think, too clogged with earth to weep.

Dimly convinced, poor groping wretches,

Like eyeless insects in a murky pond
That out and out this city stretches,

Away, away, and there is no beyond.

No larger earth, no loftier heaven,

No cleaner, gentler airs to breathe. And yet,
Even to us sometimes is given

Visions of things we other times forget.

Some day is done, its labour ended,

And as we sit and brood at windows high,

A steady wind from far descended,

Blows off the filth that hid the deeper sky ;

There are the empty waiting spaces,

We watch, we watch, unwinking, pale and dumb,
Till gliding up with noiseless paces,

Night covers all the wide arch : Night has come.

Not that sick false night of the city,
Lurid and low and yellow and obscene,

But mother Night, pure, full of pity,

The star-strewn Night, blue, potent and serene.
16



O, as we gaze the clamour ceases,

The turbid world around grows dim and small,
The soft-shed influence releases

Our shrouded spirits from their dusty pall.

No more we hear the turbulent traffic,

Not scorned but unremembered is the day ;

The Night, all luminous and seraphic,
Has brushed its heavy memories away.

The great blue Night so clear and kindly,
The little stars so wide-eyed and so still,

Open a door for souls that blindly

Had wandered, tunnelling the endless hill ;

They draw the long-untraversed portal,
Our souls slip out and tremble and expand,

The immortal feels for the immortal,

The eternal holds the eternal by the hand.

Impalpably we are led and lifted,

Softly we shake into the gulf of blue,

The last environing veil is rifted

And lost horizons float into our view.

Lost lands, lone seas, lands that afar gleam
With a miraculous beauty, faint yet clear,

Forgotten lands of night and star-gleam,

Seas that are somewhere but that are not here.

Borne without effort or endeavour,

Swifter and more ethereal than the wind,

In level track we stream, whilst ever
The fair pale panorama rolls behind.

B 17



Now fleets below a tranced moorland,

A sweep of glimmering immobility ;
Now craggy cliff and dented foreland

Pass back and there beyond unfolds the sea.

Now wastes of water heaving, drawing,

Great darkling tracts of patterned restlessness,

With whitened waves round rough rocks mawing
And licking islands in their fierce caress.

Now coasts with capes and ribboned beaches
Set silent 'neath the canopy sapphirine,

And estuaries and river reaches.

Phantasmal silver in the night's soft shine.

Ah, these fair woods the spirit crosses,

These quiet lakes, these stretched dreaming fields,
These undulate downs with piny bosses

Pointing the ridges of their sloping shields.

These valleys and these heights that screen them,
These tawnier sands where grass and tree are not,

Ah, we have known them, we have seen them,
We saw them long ago and we forgot ;

We know them all, these placid countries,
And what the pathway is and what the goal ;

These are the gates and these the sentries
That guard that ancient fortress of the soul.

And we speed onward flying, flying,

Over the sundering waves of hill and plain

To where they rear their heads undying
The unnamed mountains of old days again.
18



The snows upon their calm still summits,

The chasms, the files of trees that foot the snow,

Curving like inky frozen comets,
Into the forest-ocean spread below.

The glisten where the peaks are hoarest,
The soundless darkness of the sunken vales,

The folding leagues of shadowy forest,

Edge beyond edge till all distinctness fails.

So invulnerable it is, so deathless,

So floods the air the loveliness of it,
That we stay dazzled, rapt and breathless,

Our beings ebbing to the infinite.

There as we pause, there as we hover,

Still-poised in ecstasy, a sudden light
Breaks in our eyes, and we discover

We sit at windows gazing to the night.

Wistful and tired, with eyes a-tingle

Where still the sting of Beauty faintly smarts ;

But with our mute regrets there mingle
Thanks for the resurrection of our hearts.

O night so great that will not mock us !

O stars so wise that understand the weak !
O vast consoling hands that rock us !

O strong and perfect tongues that speak !

O night enrobed in azure splendour !

O whispering stars whose radiance falls like dew !
O mighty presences and tender,

You have given us back the dreams our childhood knew !
19



Lulled by your visions without number,

We seek our beds content and void of pain,

And dreaming drowse and dreaming slumber
And dreaming wake to see the day again.



20



FRIENDSHIP'S GARLAND

I

WHEN I was a boy there was a friend of mine :

We thought ourselves warriors and grown folk swine,

Stupid old animals who never understood

And never had an impulse and said " you must be good .

We slank like stoats and fled like foxes,
We put cigarettes in the pillar-boxes,
Lighted cigarettes and letters all aflame

the surprise when the postman came !

We stole eggs and apples and made fine hay
In people's houses when people were away,
We broke street lamps and away we ran,
Then I was a boy but now I am a man.

Now I am a man and don't have any fun,

1 hardly ever shout and I never, never run,

And I don't care if he's dead that friend of mine,
For then I was a boy and now I am a swine.

II

WE met again the other night
With people ; you were quite polite,
Shook my hand and spoke a while
Of common things with cautious smile ;
Paid the usual debt men owe
To fellows whom they used to know.
21



But, when our eyes met full, yours dropped,
And sudden, resolute, you stopped,
Moving with hurried syllables
To make remarks to someone else.
I caught them not, to me they said :
" Let the dead past bury its dead,
Things were very different then,
Boys are fools and men are men."
Several times the other night
You did your best to be polite ;
When in the conversation's round
You heard my tongue's familiar sound
You bent in eager pose my way
To hear what I had got to say ;
Trying, you thought with some success,
To hide the chasm's nakedness.
Bat on your eyes hard films there lay ;
No mock-interest, no pretence
Could veil your blank indifference ;
And if thoughts came recalling things
Far-off, far-off, from those old springs
When underneath the moon and sun
Our separate pulses beat as one,
Vagrant tender thoughts that asked
Admittance found the portal masked ;
You spurned them ; when I'd said my say,
With laugh and nod you turned away
To toss your friends some easy jest
That smote my brow and stabbed my breast.
Foplish though it be and vain
I am not master of my pain,
And when 1 said good-night to you
22



I hoped we should not meet again,

And wondered how the soul I knew

Could change so much ; have I changed too ?

Ill

THERE was a man whom I knew well
Whose choice it was to live in hell ;
Reason there was why that was so
But what it was I do not know.

He had a room high in a tower,
And sat there drinking hour by hour,
Drinking, drinking all alone
With candles and a wall of stone.

Now and then he sobered down,
And stayed a night with me in town.
If he found me with a crowd,
He shrank and did not speak aloud.

He sat in a corner silently,
And others of the company
Would note his curious face and eye,
His twitching face and timid eye.

When they saw the eye he had

They thought, perhaps, that he was mad :

I knew he was clear and sane

But had a horror in his brain.

He had much money and one friend
And drank quite grimly to the end.
Why he chose to die in hell
I did not ask, he did not tell.



A CHANT

GENTLY the petals fall as the tree gently sways

That has known many springs and many petals fall

Year after year to strew the green deserted ways

And the statue and the pond and the low, broken wall.

Faded is the memory of old things done,
Peace floats on the ruins of ancient festival ;

They lie and forget in the warmth of the sun,
And a sky silver-blue arches over all.

O softly, O tenderly, the heart now stirs

With desires faint and formless ; and, seeking not, I find
Quiet thoughts that flash like azure kingfishers

Across the luminous, tranquil mirror of the mind.



24-



THE THREE HILLS

THERE were three hills that stood alone

With woods about their feet.
They dreamed quiet when the sun shone

And whispered when the rain beat.

They wore all three their coronals

Till men with houses came
And scored their heads with pits and walls

And thought the hills were tame.

Red and white when day shines bright
They hide the green for miles,

Where are the old hills gone ? At night
The moon looks down and smiles.

She sees the captors small and weak,
She knows the prisoners strong,

She hears the patient hills that speak :
" Brothers, it is not long ;

" Brothers, we stood when they were not

Ten thousand summers past.
Brothers, when they are clean forgot

We shall outlive the last ;

" One shall die and one shall flee

With terror in his train,
And earth shall eat the stones, and we

Shall be alone again."
25



AT NIGHT

DARK fir-tops foot the moony sky,
Blue moonlight bars the drive ;

Here at the open window I
Sit smoking and alive.

Wind in the branches swells and breaks

Like ocean on a beach ;
Deep in the sky and my heart there wakes

A thought I cannot reach.



26



LINES

WHEN London was a little town

Lean by the river's marge,
The poet paced it with a frown,

He thought it very large.

He loved bright ship and pointing steeple
And bridge with houses loaded

And priests and many-coloured people . .
But ah, they were not woaded !

Not all the walls could shed the spell

Of meres and marshes green,
Nor any chaffering merchant tell

The beauty that had been :

The crying birds at fall of night,

The fisher in his coracle,
And, grim on Ludgate's windy height,

An oak-tree and an oracle.

Sick for the past his hair he rent

And dropt a tear in season ;
If he had cause for his lament

We have much better reason.

For now the fields and paths he knew

Are coffined all with bricks,
The lucid silver stream he knew

Runs slimy as the Styx ;

27 -



North and south and east and west,
Far as the eye can travel,

Earth with a sombre web is drest
That nothing can unravel.

And we must wear as black a frown,

Wail with as keen a woe
That London was a little town

Five hundred years ago.

Yet even this place of steamy stir,
This pit of belch and swallow,

With chrism of gold and gossamer
The elements can hallow.

I have a room in Chancery Lane,
High in a world of wires,

Whence fall the roofs a ragged plain
Wooded with many spires.

There in the dawns of summer days
I stand, and there behold

A city veiled in rainbow haze
And spangled all with gold.

The breezes waft abroad the rays

Shot by the waking sun,
A myriad chimneys softly blaze,

A myriad shadows run.

Round the wide rim in radiant mist
The gentle suburbs quiver,

And nearer lies the shining twist
Of Thames, a holy river.
28



Left and right my vision drifts,
By yonder towers I linger,

Where Westminster's cathedral lifts
Its belled Byzantine finger,

And here against my perched home
Where hold wise converse daily

The loftier and the lesser dome,
St Paul's and the Old Bailey.



29



FLORIAN'S SONG

MY soul, it shall not take us,

O we will escape
This world that strives to break us

And cast us to its shape ;
Its chisel shall not enter,

Its fire shall not touch,
Hard from rim to centre,

We will not crack or smutch.

'Gainst words sweet and flowered

We have an amulet,
We will not play the coward

For any black threat ;
If we but give endurance

To what is now within
The single assurance

That it is good to win.

Slaves think it better

To be weak than strong,
Whose hate is a fetter

And their love a thong.
But we will view those others

With eyes like stone,
And if we have no brothers

We will walk alone.



ANTINOMIES ON A RAILWAY
STATION

As I stand waiting in the rain
For the foggy hoot of the London train.
Gazing at silent wall and lamp
And post and rail and platform damp.
What is this power that comes to my sight
That I see a night without the night,
That I see them clear, yet look them through,
The silvery things and the darkly blue,
That the solid wall seems soft as death,
A wavering and unanchored wraith,
And rails that shine and stones that stream
Unsubstantial as a dream ?
What sudden door has opened so,
What hand has passed, that I should know
This moving vision not a trance
That melts the globe of circumstance,
This sight that marks not least or most
And makes a stone a passing ghost ?
Is it that a year ago
I stood upon this self-same spot ;
Is it that since a year ago
The place and I have altered not ;
Is it that I half forgot,
A year ago, and all despised
For a space the things that I had prized :
The race of life, the glittering show ?
Is it that now a year has passed
31



In vain pursuit of glittering things,

In fruitless searching, shouting, running,

And greedy lies and candour cunning,

Here as I stand the year above

Sudden the heats and the strivings fail

And fall away, a fluctuant veil,

And the fixed familiar stones restore

The old appearance-buried core,

The unmoving and essential me,

The eternal personality

Alone enduring first and last ?

No, this I have known in other ways,
In other places, other days.
Not only here, on this one peak,
Do fixity and beauty speak
Of the delusiveness of change,
Of the transparency of form,
The bootless stress of minds that range,
The awful calm behind the storm.
In many places, many days,
The invaded soul receives the rays
Of countries she was nurtured in,
Speaks in her silent language strange
To that beyond which is her kin.
Even in peopled streets at times
A metaphysic arm is thrust
Through the partitioning fabric thin,
And tears away the darkening pall
Cast by the bright phenomenal,
And clears the obscured spirit's mirror
From shadows of deceptive error,
32



And shows the bells and all their ringing,
And all the crowds and all their singing,
Carillons that are nothing's chimes
And dust that is not even dust. . . .

But rarely hold I converse thus

Where shapes are bright and clamorous,

More often comes the word divine

In places motionless and far ;

Beneath the white peculiar shine

Of sunless summer afternoons ;

At eventide on pale lagoons

Where hangs reflected one pale star ;

Or deep in the green solitudes

Of still erect entranced woods.

O, in the woods alone lying,
Scarce a bough in the wind sighing,
Gaze I long with fervid power
At leaf and branch and grass and flower,
Breathe I breaths of trembling sight
Shed from great urns of green delight,
Take I draughts and drink them up-
Poured from many a stalk and cup.
Now do I burn for nothing more
Than thus to gaze, thus to adore
This exquisiteness of nature ever
In silence. . . .

But with instant light
Rends the film ; with joy I quiver
To see with new celestial sight
Flower and leaf and grass and tree,
Doomed barks on an eternal sea,
33



Flit phantom-like as transient smoke.
Beauty herself her spell has broke,
Beauty, the herald and the lure,
Her message told, may not endure ;
Her portal opened, she has died,
Supreme immortal suicide.
Yes, sleepless nature soundless flings
Invisible grapples round the soul,
Drawing her through the web of things
To the primal end of her journeyings,
Her ultimate and constant pole.

For Beauty with her hands that beckon

Is but the Prophet of a Higher,
A flaming and ephemeral beacon,

A Phoenix perishing by fire.
Herself from us herself estranges,

Herself her mighty tale doth kill,
That all things change yet nothing changes,

That all things move yet all are still.

I cannot sink, I cannot climb,

Now that I see my ancient dwelling,
The central orb untouched of time,

And taste a peace all bliss excelling.
Now I have broken Beauty's wall,

Now that my kindred world I hold,
I care not though the cities fall

And the green earth go cold.



TREE-TOPS

THERE beyond my window ledge,
Heaped against the sky, a hedge
Of huge and waving tree-tops stands
With multitudes of fluttering hands.

Wave they, beat they, to and fro,
Never stillness may they know,
Plunged by the wind and hurled and torn
Anguished, purposeless, forlorn.

" O ferocious, O despairing,

In huddled isolation faring

Through a scattered universe,

Lost coins from the Almighty's purse ! "

" No, below you do not see

The firm foundations of the tree ;

Anchored to a rock beneath

We laugh in the hammering tempest's teeth.

" Boughs like men but burgeons are
On an adamantine star ;
Men are myriad blossoms on
A staunch and cosmic skeleton."



35



ARTEMIS ALTERA

O FULL of candour and compassion,

Whom love and worship both would praise,

Love cannot frame nor worship fashion
The image of your fearless ways !

How show your noble brow's dark pallor,
Your chivalrous casque of ebon hair,

Your eyes' bright strength, your lips' soft valour,
Your supple shoulders and hands that dare ?

Our souls when naively you examine,
Your sword of innocence, naming, huge,

Sweeps over us, and there is famine
Within the ports of subterfuge.

You hate contempt and love not laughter ;

With your sharp spear of virgin will
You harry the wicked strong ; but after,

O huntress who could never kill,

Should they be trodden down or pierced,
Swift, swift, you fly with burning cheek

To place your beauty's shield reversed
Above the vile defenceless weak !



EPILOGUE

THAN farthest stars more distant,
A mile more,
A mile more,

A voice cries on insistent :
" You may smile more if you will ;

" You may sing too and spring too ;
But numb at last
And dumb at last,
Whatever port you cling to,
You must come at last to a hill.

" And never a man you'll find there
To take your hand
And shake your hand ;

But when you go behind there
You must make your hand a sword

" To fence with a foeman swarthy,
And swink there
Nor shrink there,


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