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1921
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MID LIGHT AND
SHADE



JOHN LANGDON JONES




Class P 0-^.</






COPVRIGIIT DEPOSIT.



MID LIGHT AND SHADE



Mid Light and Shade



BY



JOHN LANGDON JONES




NEW YORK

DUFFIELD AND COMPANY

1921






Copyright, 1921, by
DUFFIELD AND COMPANY



^



'P\



SEP 24 '21



Printed in the United States of America



0)CI.A622963



To Her Who Taught Me My First Word,

First Poem, and Earliest Love

— My Mother



CONTENTS

Rough Diamonds 3

Expectancy , . . 4

Thoughts of an April Day 5

The Sand-Man 6

Moments Musicaux 7

When I Consider 14

Charity 16

The Penitentiary 18

Pearl Street Between Seventeenth and Eight-
eenth 20

Vocations . 22

Deserted 24

The Inscrutable 25

"Skookum Illahee" 28

Superman 30

Hedonist 32

The Passing of Summer ....... 34

"Woodclyffe" 36

Olympiad 39

AusABLE Chasm ...'....... 41

Culled 42

I Wonder 44

Mont Blanc . 47

The Gray Sea-Bird Has Left the Waves . . 48

Lines Written to My Mother on Her Birthday 51

It Almost Seemed as if You Called .... 52



CONTENTS

PAGE

The Conqueror 54

Egypt Unvisited 60

Bonfires 62

Thp Passing of Santa Claus 63

My Mistress 65

Kings . 66

In Judgment 69

Pauline, the "Kultured" Child 70

The March of Mars 'J2

The Philosopher 73

Breakfast at 4 Bis Rue Jules Chaplain ... 76

Lists ^jy

The Good-Night Kiss 78

Cranes 80

Dialogue . 83

Sequence 86

Suppliants 87

My Home in France 88

Lucky Dog 90

Invaders 91

Decadence 93

Reveille 95

At Rheims 96

Alan Seeger 97

On the Lake Country of England .... 98
After a Visit to the Parish Church, Clevedon,

England 99

On Seeing America Again ....... loi

Shadows 102

Evening on the St. Lawrence 103

On the Sinking of the "Arabia," November 6,

1916 105



MID LIGHT AND SHADE



ROUGH DIAMONDS

Enclosed within the blackest vaults of earth —
Deeper and darker than Cimmerian caves-—

With winding galleries,
Are veins of wealth unknown, nor born until
Repeated blows discover them for birth :

Dear diamonds that will soon grow up to be
Zealous to decorate marmoreal throats

Immaculately white.
Many are born for royal elegance ;
More go to make the commoners' jewelry. . . .

Each life that crosses ours may bear a vein,
Rich only when we know what lies within.

My creed forever this:
A soul, however dark, unloved, has yet
No need but some heart's sweet, all-filling pain.



[3]



EXPECTANCY

Here I stand beneath the sky,
Waiting like a beggar-child,

For the love you promised me.
With assurance sweetly smiled.

'Tis a bowl of Barmecide's

Covering an empty space ;
Nothing underneath it lies.

Yet It has such lovely grace !

I feel older than the trees

With their broken boughs above :

Consenescence Is my dream —
Waiting, hoping for your love.

If, arrayed in splrit-guise,

You return the thousandth year,
I may be a name, a stone,

Crumbled earth, decayed — but here,

ui



THOUGHTS OF AN APRIL DAY

I watched the playful, short-lived foam,
I felt the sea-breeze stir;
I thought of the days that are yet to come
And remembered the days that were.



(5)



THE SAND-MAN

I wrote a name upon the sand,

Out yonder, where the tide was low,
And where the undulating sea

On the impressionable strand,
Row after row.

Had left its wave-prints legibly.

I walked again upon the beach

To that place where in mindful mood
I cut those letters sharp and gray . .

But none were on the sandy reach;
The heedless flood

Had swept and wasted them away.

I printed there again that name ;

Once more the sea effaced my art.
As would it though a hundred hands

Should write. But could I grave the same
Upon your heart,

I should not scratch upon the sands .

[61



MOMENTS MUSICAUX



IMPROMPTU

The evening is falling

Upon you and me ;
The wood-birds are calling

Their sweetest melody.
And clouds in their glory,

With fringe dipped in gold,
Illumine the story

In colors bright and bold.

The sharp hills — the soft hills run blue to the sea,
The noon light — the twilight ambers the last tree ;
The lamp that blinds
Extinguished by Favonian winds :
Breathing night.



These words may be sung to a part of one of Schubert's Im-
promptus — Op. 142, No. 2.



[7]



xMOxMENTS MUSICAUX

The morning Is breaking

In far-distant lands;
The stars, sky forsaking,

Are glistening on sands.
The splendors born yonder,

The days tinged anew,
Are voices of wonder

That whisper of you.

II
PRELUDE

I heard a voice so crystal-clear,
Deep-buried in umbrageous trees.
An angel's song across the breeze.

In liquid tones, full-throated, near.

And so divine it led my feet

Along the pillow'd path of pines,

Where rays are checked in patchwork lines,

And flowers yield their fragrance sweet;
Softly I trod.

I did not dare to desecrate

The Sabbath-silent mystery.

And that fair fount of ecstasy
That poured its song to consecrate

[8]



MOMENTS MUSICAUX

Cathedral woods, whose hallowed hush
Admits no note of threnody,
But only such rapt melody

As came when I beheld that thrush,
Alone with God.



Ill

NOCTURNE

The night-winds sweep across your ardent cheeks,
And fan the flush of fever from your face.

And something speaks
To tell me that I can again embrace
Your pain-tired form, and give you of my strength
With kisses tender, tranquil, till at length

I have you well.

And we shall steal Into the dreamy eve
Where drowsy Morpheus on his misty bed

Begins to weave
His web of gossamers and gauze, and spread
A filmy veil across the naked moon
To catch the moisture of her silent swoon

From poppy drops.

[9]



MOMENTS MUSICAUX

That drug with dripping dew the languid air
And every blade, and leave their anodyne

Upon your hair.
But that is idle, dear, while you are mine,
And subtle vapors, volatile, in vain
Curl round your head again and e'er again

Only to melt

Into the absorbing atmosphere with each
Warm breath of yours. And all the gloom I saw

Did somehow teach
Me to possess more faith in that great law
Of love, which laughs at death and dangers, too.
The night is spent : I did but dream that you

Were ill at all.



IV

FANTASY

Give me your music, O ye winds that breathe
Upon the trembling birches and the firs.
Which send back from their fine, vibrating wires
Hymn-harmonies that haunt the homes of song.

[10]



MOMENTS MUSICAUX

Give me your power to rise, O soaring bird,
Above the things that all but chain us down.
How fresh your notes when all the rain is gone.
How glorious your voice among the clouds!

Give me your power of constancy, O waves,
That move from out that vast, tremendous world
In hues of silver-gray and rosy-pink,
Caressing broken outlines of the shore.

Give me your all, O nature, from your store.
Teach me to taste your crystal founts of love ;
Show me your wealth from moss to star-sown skies.
And in the world of sin to see — ^beyond.

Then shall my life grow purer through the years,
And learn the truths I thought were dead and cold;
And deeds shall bathe in a full flood of light.
Like sunset trees against a screen of gold.

V

SLUMBER SONG

Sweet my child, O listen to a tale
Of fairy forms and elves diminutive,
That work their tiny fingers all the night,

[II]



MOMENTS MUSICAUX

Weaving the sun from slender threads of gold
They draw from out the curls of your soft hair.

And dream, O breath of my own life,
Of misty shapes that guide your boat
In yonder sea of myriad stars,
Wee lantern'd islands all afloat.

The moon will be your beacon, blanch'd and pale,
And its adumbrant, scattered radiance give,
Diffusing round your sleep its borrowed light
That lies about your cheek and pillow cold —
My lily bloom, so exquisitely fair.

O heaven, from each winged sprite
Raise up an angel snowy white.

To hover near that head adored.
From worlds of weirdest witchery
Create new realms of mystery,

Unpictured, voiceless, unexplored.

And so a kiss I leave upon your brow,

Just as a benediction on your way;

Sail on, blest babe, the zephyrs point the prow;

But, darling, come and wake me when 'tis day.

[12]



MOMENTS MUSICAUX
VI

SCHERZO

Come, great big world, and play with me,

For I am sad and lone;

I want to have thee for my own,

I have no one but thee.

I want to know why yonder cloud
Looms up with threat so bold;
And see if there is any gold
Beneath the rainbow proud,

That makes a prism arc across
The hanging veil of showers;
Or what becomes of all the flowers
That die in living moss. . . .

No longer sad, but gay, O earth.
Thy splendor moves my soul :
The grief that first upon me stole
Has given way to mirth.



[13]



WHEN I CONSIDER

TO G. H. F.

At even, when I lay me down somewhere
Between the leaden east and golden west,
And watch the cautious, fiery moon peer from
The flatness of the sea, and rise like some
Embossed silver sphere, and steal across
The highway of the heavens, as if to spring
Upon the sun, and shine ten times more brilliant;
And when I hear the language of the forest :
The whippoorwill that whispers in the woods,
The tall and stately trees that sigh and breathe.
And seem to hum a lullaby nocturnal
To all their baby leaves, half slumbering
Within their wind-rocked cradle-limbs — ^deep peace 1
And when from out the hush of fading night
I see the aged, faithful watchman climb.
To turn the countless, flickering lanterns low,
And see the emblazoned herald of the morn
In burnished mail and flowing gorgeous garb
Stretch out his shining spear, a magic wand,

[14]



WHEN I CONSIDER

And change the dull-gray cauldron of the east
Into a burning, brilliant yellow sun —
Transformed by some mysterious alchemy —
And when I see a lonely, cotton cloud
Sail o'er the vast, unruffled, sapphire sea,
To join the snow-white squadron of the sky,
I fain would catch that slender, breeze-blown bark.
To bear me closer, nearer Thee, O God,
Through the unending, all-but-crushing world
Of space.

When I behold these wonders Thou hast wrought,

And kneeling hills and virgin peaks sublime.

Ineffable, pointing their birth from heaven,

I seem to be the grass whereon I lie.

So like an obscure, trodden blade I feel:

My life were lost In Thy infinity

But for the trust, Thou art mindful of me.



[15]



CHARITY

The Beggar :
"Would you give me a little something
That I may buy my supper?
I have not had anything to eat since this morning;

I walked all the way from "

The Lady:

"Here's a dime, but don't buy drink with it.''
The Beggar :
"I couldn't buy it if I wanted to;
But I don't drink Thanks, lady — - — "

"Lady, would you give me carfare?
I have a job fifteen miles from here:
I'm going to it to-morrow."
The Lady:

"Here's a quarter."
The Beggar :
"Thanks, lady "

"Mister, would you give me money
For a night's lodging?
I just came to this place.

Somebody stole my money, and I had to walk

[i6]



CHARITY

The Gentleman:

''Here's a dime."
The Beggar:

"Thanks, mister "

"Lady, would you give a poor man his supper?*
The Lady:
"What Is your name? And where do you live?
I should like to come to your home to see
If I could help you."
The Beggar:

"Never mind

(The world Is full of mean people )"

"Lady, would you give me
Some money for supper?"
The Lady :

"Here's a dime, my good man."
The Beggar :

"Thanks, lady

(That makes only $2.95 I have made to-day

"I'm starved, lady, can you give me
Some money so that I can buy something to eat?"
The Lady:

"Here's a nickel."
The Beggar:

"Thanks, lady, God bless you "

[17]



THE PENITENTIARY

A brown-stone castle in the city streets,
All sullen in the atmosphere of night,

Frowns on the care-free life that round it beats.
And blinks through peek-holes just to scorn the
light.

Within are many slaves hidd'n from the view
Of those who wonder what goes on inside;

But do not know that months bring changes few,
And that the halls are long and far from wide.

Blue-gray in uniformed monotony

Are all these men, monastics in their prime;
Working for years, a challenged colony,

Prison'd until each expiates his crime.

And wrongs as many as the numbered there

Have played upon the minds of men, and caught

Their heated passion in a sudden snare.

And left the imprint on their films of thought.

[i8]



THE PENITENTIARY

Whether they rob, sell opiates, or kill,
There is a life from birth-hour to the grave,

Spanned by the gift divine we call the will
That has the power to destroy or save.

And while we hear the purling of the brooks,

The wind-borne secrets whispered to the leaves,

And echoed by the thrush from hermit nooks.

Or play with sunlight streaking through the trees,

A company of men from everywhere

Mechanically pace the noisy pavement floor,

(Our dregs thrown in a pit a few blocks square)
And go their rounds until a certain door

Shall open out, and to them guards shall give
Back freedom, broken by those bolts and bars;

Loos'd criminals who feel the chance to live
Will find their hopes beyond the realm of stars.



[19]



PEARL STREET between SEVENTEENTH
and EIGHTEENTH

The name deceives — it is no street of pearl —

But little more than just an alley-way,

With houses on one side, facing a fence

Of plain back-gates, — where no one ever comes

To dwell, perhaps, because nobody moves

Away: such shacks that walls make into homes.

A line of dirty, plain, three-storied fronts,

That throw their filthy water from the doors

Upon the bricks below, that catch the bilge

From dwellings in the rear: there both streams meet,

And flow into the gutter from the curb.

Where children sit and bathe their grimy feet.

Three box-like rooms each one above the other,

Where sleep a family of six or more ;

Two rooms, because the one that is downstairs

Is kitchen, dining room, and anything

They choose to make of it — a royal court

For that great retinue of dull disease.

[20]



PEARL STREEl

In such a place the tender child first hears
The name of his Creator — misapplied,
Beholds, but does not understand, the things
That ever tempt toward deeper poverty:
The rich red robe and crown of fillet-foam
The mother buys and gives her family.

But blacker than the dirt that fills the place

Is that dark ignorance which is not bliss.

In that abysmal realm, where wrong consorts

With sickness, her late spouse, and opes the door

To send their helpless litter out upon

This playground of some feeble-minded poor.



[21]



VOCATIONS

The office door closed wearily

And locked itself to sleep. It seemed

It never lived so drearily —

That day, when scores of people streamed

Into and from the busy rooms
To see a man whose sudden word

Protected him from threatening glooms,
Whose pen brought more gold to his hoard.

And after five he motored home

Luxuriously, and did not stand
In sickening, crowded cars, where come

Sweat-breaths from aliens hard and tanned.

Within his gay and splendid house
He found his wife in restful ease,

Snug in a chair like a nest in the boughs,
Free as a finch that gilds the breeze;

[22]



VOCATIONS

With satin shoes that still betrayed
The cushion of silk beneath her feet,

Waiting for some laconic maid
To come and tell her she may eat;

But where her husband late has stepped
A widow'd mother scrubs the floor.



[23l



DESERTED

Frail, slender thing with concave chest.

And tired eyes so lusterless;
Rough, clumsy hands, all furrow-traced.

Yet capable of tenderness

Toward the children tumbling there,
Unclean and undernourished;

And toward the baby on the couch,
Fretful from flies that cross Its head.

The last child, like the other ones.
Came when the father was away;

And while the family cried for food,
He answered by his absence, "Nay."

Frail, slender form, with broken health,
Old with the work that bends her life-

So conscious of her motherhood,
So little of the sense of wife.



[24]



THE INSCRUTABLE

With glorious swelling anthems sang the sea
In perfect waves of some melodic curve;
One choir-hymn that told Its power to serve,

One voice In all Its vast Immensity.

Almost like glass, but undulating more

In Iridescent patches, blue and green:
A spreading scarf of softest satin sheen,

That leaves its fringes white on either shore.

This rolling world moves onward, baffling all;

Abounds with life: with forms unknown and
strange ;

Leviathans that slumber out of range,
A^nd creeping things innumerable and small ;

Stagnates with death in its wide corridor:

Unmeasured wealth and proudest ships of time.
Now rotting on the ooze and squalid slime,

Unburled bodies strewn upon the floor —

[25]



THE LNSCRUTABLE

Mere torments to its insatiety;

It tempts at first with laughter on its face,
Then gulps with gluttonous greed the gliding
race,

And lying flat derides eternity.

But yet a wild concept to bring the blame

Of treachery, hypocrisy, because

It is obedient unto natural laws,
And from its water-parent has been the same.

There are so many questions I could ask:
What means the silence of the eternal deep,
The roaring waters groaning in their sleep,
Of ships that float has each a special task?

Whose sails seem silver in the slanting sun;

Afar pale heavens caress the seas, which try
To steal the drooping color from the sky;

Or skies that match the sea : two blues made one

By blendings delicate. The line I saw

Was not the end, but just the threshold wide
Of chambered labyrinths and halls that hide

The gaping water-swollen forms that draw

[26]



THE INSCRUTABLE

No more the breath of life. And while I stand

And watch the white-crown'd waves curl on the

scene
With shaggy shapes plunging in waters green,

And spread a frothy film upon the sand;

I know each day, when gazing on that reach,

That while the waves were sleeping in the light
Of moon and stars, that guard the noiseless night,

The billows, breaking, bounded to the beach.



[27]



''SKOOKUM ILLAHEE"

Yon gray-ribbed cabin on the wooded hill,
The lonely sentinel of the slumbering vale,

With faithful eyes and bold;
That watchest not for hosts of men and things
That are the toys of fiends incarnate, wild,

Shrieking their vengeance old;

But fairer purpose thine, O simple house.
To hear the thankful sparrow's evensong

Voiced in a vesper prayer;
Or see the filmy mists that weep in dew
Their aching color on the burning brows

Like bride-veils wondrous fair.

And I have walked about thy humble rooms
That open into space, and tasted oft

Thy hospitality;
And heard the fire hissing in thy grate,
Sending its blue-spun flame between the logs

To die in ecstasy.

[28]



^'SKOOKUM ILLAHEE"

And out into the noiseless night have crept
To catch a confidence or two from woods

Laved in a lunar light;
And hushed because the wind had left the trees
To float about my mask of dream-drown'd sleep,

Till gentle morns, new-bright

With chattering crows that cry and call aroused
Me to the day, and filled my hungry soul

With opportunity;
For on this hill I caught the truths of God
From one whose life had touched the glowing stars

And our humanity.



[29]



SUPERMAN

I know someone who when a growing lad

Chopped wood
And smoothed It off In many creamy curls,
To make him things of use, and thereby had
An embryonic trade of building forms
Remarkable from objects commonplace;
And while a boy his wisdom-seeking mind
Led him to talk with aged men to find
What In a vicious, sinking world and base

Was good.

And when a man he fashioned as he went,
But not with tools he used when just a child ;
Instead he took his hands, and healed the eyes
Of folk who groped about for light long spent ;
Or touched the sick one with the palsied leg,
Transmitting to him strength, bidding him take
His rooted couch, obliged no more to beg;
And go, forgiven of Ills that once did shake

[30]



SUPERMAN

His wretched soul. And somehow I can see
Him run those tender fingers through the hair
Of children (not his own) about his knee
The while he wished that all were just as fair;
Or sit and drink with courtesans, and talk
Of truths divine they never heard before
And lift their blistered, sin-filled frames and walk
With them, bidding them go and sin no more.

O priceless paragon of purity
That learned to reconstruct with common tools,
With healing power more potent than all pools
To cleanse our guilt for all futurity !

And when they were about to take his life

(The story ran).
After they bruised and scourged him sore
And to their taunts kept adding more,
To slander his own Father in heaven.
He asked that they might be forgiven ;
I, too, can find no fault in such a man.



[31]



HEDONIST

The irksome day was o'er at last,
And darkness fell about the room;

Upon the chairs sat sulking lords
Of discontent, engrossed in gloom.

It drove me out Into the street,

Where scores of folk moved to and fro ;
And traffic thunder, mixed with lights,

Wrought havoc, and I did not know

Where I should turn. I thought of this
And that cafe where I might find

Some comfort for my weary soul,
Diversions for my maudlin mind.

I entered one of great renown.

Where all was cheerful, gay and bright;
Where hurried music beat the air,

Ah, there was no such thing as night !
[32]



HEDONIST

But soon I wearied of the mirth,

And so went out whence I had dined

To seek my house and faithful bed,
And oped the door only to find

The irksome hours more painful still,
The darkness yet about the room,

And on those chairs the sulking lords
Of discontent, and I their groom.



[33]



THE PASSING OF SUMMER

O summer, how I love thy full-blown trees,
Thy clouds spread idly on their couch of blue;

The buzz of locusts and the nectar'd bees,
Thy thousand charms so constant and so new;

Thy gentle rains that make the sun retire,

Thy genial warmth that dries the dew of showers;

Thy songs from birds that mount from high to
higher.
Thy stenciled butterflies upon the flowers!

summer, beautiful art thou to me,

Too beautiful. I wish that I might hold
Thee close ; but In thine eyes I think I see
The touch of autumn, colorful, yet cold.

1 wonder wert thou made for just a time.

To leave a benediction on the earth.
And then pass on when thou art In thy prime,
Quitting a land that Is dust-dry with dearth.

[34]



THE PASSING OF SUMMER

Thou makest way for winter, which I hate —
Its frozen, snowy dreariness I dread;

The boughs let fall their leafy tears of late,
And thou art gone : I cannot think thee dead.

The world is lovelier because thy door
Is opened on the highways everywhere :

I love thee, dearest summer, more and more,
Thou ever art so wonderful and fair.



[35]



"WOODCLYFFE"

I saw you once, and loved you at first sight,
And saw you oft again;
And each time loved you more :
Your fair and graceful form
That stands before the winter's storm,
Which beats upon your back;
Your eyes unpained by constancy,
That always look the Vv^ay that I shall come ;
Your hair untrimmed, a wild and saucy brown.
That falls about your sleek and verdant gown-
All breathe a kindly atmosphere of home.

How often have I sailed the bay
That brings its bits of borrowed blue,

Or spreads its robe of ruffled gray —
I know not — just because of you !

How often have I heard the notes
Of gay and hidden singing birds,

That render from their tireless throats
Exquisite hymns that have no words !
[36]



"WOODCLYFFE''

How often has the thunder crashed,

And tried to shake you from your place;

How often has the lightning flashed
Its poisoned fangs about your face !

How frequent are the happy times

When strolling through your peaceful wood
I heard the prayerful village chimes

Peal on the air that God Is good !

How often have I watched the Muse
By yonder cabin, birch-barked, wee.

Take from that brook her joyous views
And turn her song to poesy !

And all because of you I

I leave you every time with keener pain —
Did I not leave, how could I come again?
Expectant joy!

I always find you in the summer time.
But I should love you when 'tis cold.
And snow-winds wail and whine.

I left you not so long ago.

When mists about you bent.
And soon gave up their choking tears

To join with my lament.

[37]



^'WOODCLYFFE''

I left you when the moon was dim,
And all the night was still ;
I thought I missed you most
Of all — it was a whim ;

But more than you, my mother on your shrouded
hill.



[38]



OLYMPIAD

I wanted power, and so to Father Zeus

Poured out my prayer.
I craved his strength, that I might conquer crowds


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