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Lloyd Roberts.

England over Seas online

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nor Southern seas so sweet?




There's Music in My Heart To-day

There's music in my heart to-day;
The Master-hand is on the keys,
Calling me up to the windy hills
And down to the purple seas.

Let Time draw back when I hear that tune -
Old to the soul when the stars were new -
And swing the doors to the four great winds,
That my feet may wander through.

North or South, and East or West;
Over the rim with the bellied sails,
From the mountain's feet to the empty plains,
Or down the silent trails -

It matters not which door you choose;
The same clear tune blows through them all,
Though one harp leaps to the grind of seas
And one to the rain-bird's call.

However you hide in the city's din
And drown your ears with its siren songs,
Some day steal in those thin, wild notes,
And you leave the foolish throngs.

God grant that the day will find me not
When the tune shall mellow and thrill in vain -
So long as the plains are red with sun,
And the woods are black with rain.




August on the River

The swooning heat of August
Swims along the valley's bed.
The tall reeds burn and blacken,
While the gray elm droops its head,
And the smoky sun above the hills is glaring
hot and red.

Along the shrinking river,
Where the salmon-nets hang brown,
Piles the driftwood of the freshets,
And the naked logs move down
To the clanking chains and shrieking saws
of the mills above the town.

Outside the booms of cedar,
The fish-hawks drop at noon;
When night comes trailing up the stars,
We hear the ghostly loon;
And watch the herons swing their flight
against the crimson moon.




The Wind Tongues

I wandered in the woodlands where the red glades begin,
And a wind in every tree-top was talking small and thin:
"The dead hand of Winter is knocking at the door,
And the white froth of flowers will float no more.

"The gray ranks of grasses are bared of their bees,
Their voices sound like falling spume between the leaden seas;
We hear beyond the alders where the long swamps lie
The creak of broken rushes and the last snipe's cry."

And I marked the poignant sorrow in each high tree tongue,
Conferring there above me where the blue moss hung;
Till anguish grew from far away and broke in sullen roar,
As when a smoking surf meets a rock-ribbed shore.




Musk-Rats

When the mists move down from the barren hill,
To roll where the waters are black and chill,
When the moonlight gleams on the lily-pads
And even the winds are still.

The musk-rats slip from the clammy bank,
Where the tangled reeds are long and dank,
Where the dew lies white on the iris bed,
And the rushes stand in rank.

Their black heads furrow the stagnant stream,
While the water breaks in a silver gleam,
Till it joins the reeds where the night lies hid
And the purple herons dream.

Through the mist and the moon's mysterious light
They hear the honking geese take flight,
Threshing up from the arrow-heads
As the lonely East grows white.




The Kill

Black and white the face of night,
And roar the rapids to the moon;
Dust of stars beyond the bars,
And mirthless laughter of the loon.

Swirling blades through inky shades,
And ghostly shadows slipping by;
Clogging beds of arrowheads,
And jagging spruce tops in the sky,

Rasping groans of birchen cones
Re-answering from shore to shore;
Through the hush the snapping brush -
Then silence, and the stars once more.

Mutters slow, appealing, low,
The throaty pleading of the bark;
Roar of might that rends the night -
His body bulking through the dark.

Then the white, cruel tongue of light
Leaps stinging in his startled eyes;
Red and black the night falls back,
The rocking echo drifts and dies.




On the Marshes

Out on the marsh in the misty rain,
The air is full of the harsh refrain;
The long swamps echo the beat of wings;
The birds are back in the reeds again.

Down from the north they wing their way.
Out of the east they cross the bay.
From north and east they're steering home
To the inland ponds at the close of day.

Hid in the sea of reeds we lie,
And watch the wild geese driving by;
And listen to the plover's piping, -
The gray snipe's thin and lonely cry.

All day over the tangled mass,
The marsh-birds wheel and scream and pass.
The smoke hangs white in the broken rice.
The feathers drift in the water-grass.




The Scarlet Trails

Crimson and gold in the paling sky;
The rampikes black where they tower on high, -
And we follow the trails in the early dawn
Through the glades where the white frosts lie.

Down where the flaming maples meet;
Where the leaves are blood before our feet
We follow the lure of the twisting paths
While the air tastes thin and sweet

Leggings and jackets are drenched with dew
The long twin barrels are cold and blue;
But the glow of the Autumn burns in our veins,
And our eyes and hands are true.

Where the sun drifts down from overhead
(Tangled gleams in the scarlet bed),
Rush of wings through the forest aisle -
And the leaves are a brighter red.

Loud drum the cocks in the thickets nigh;
Gray is the smoke where the ruffed grouse die.
There's blackened shell in the trampled fern
When the white moon swims the sky.




At the Year's End

The plowed field sinks in the drifting snows.
The last gray feather to southward goes.
Rattle the reeds in the frozen swamp,
When the lonely north-wind blows.

The harrow and sickle are laid away.
The barns are warm with the scent of hay;
While Death stalks free in the silent world,
Through the gloom of a winter's day.

In the creeping night the black winds cry.
The daylight comes like a stifled sigh.
The hearths gleam red, while the long smoke
Crawls up to a grayer sky.




Winter Winds

Like a hard cruel lash the long lean winds
are laid on the back of the land,
Curling over the breast of the hills and cutting
the feet of the plain,
Till the naked limbs of the forest host cringe
at the lift of the hand,
And the white-ribbed waves on the granite shore
moan and sob in their pain.

Never a sail on that sharp straight line
that marks the steel of the sky;
Never a wing flees in from death to crouch
in the rattling reeds;
In the shaggy heads of the black coast pines
the frozen spume drives high;
And even the hand of the leering sun lies cold
on the tattered weeds.

A month ago and the warm winds ran over the stalks
of gold,
With the grass-heads wet in the morning mists
and the daisies topped with bees;
And now the last of the year lies dead,
the world walks bent, and old,
And only the bitter lash of the wind sweeps
in from the iron seas.




Dead Days

The haws cling to the thorn,
Shrivelled and red;
The limbs long dead
Clutch at a leaf long torn -
It taps all day on the spikes
As the spume licks over the dikes.

The reeds creak in the dawn
By the dead pond;
Dry tongues respond
From grasses yellow and drawn;
And ever scourged by the wind,
The alders clatter and grind.

Vines furred with the frost
String from the wall:
Their bones recall
Summer leaves long lost,
Cricket and fly and bee
And their low melody.

No bird wails to the waste
Of scentless snow,
Where streaming low
The steel-blue shadows haste;
But through the hard night
The dead moon takes flight




The Winter Harvest

Between the blackened curbs lie stacked the
harvest of the skies,
Long lines of frozen, grimy cocks befouled
by city feet;
On either side the racing throngs, the crowding
cliffs, the cries,
And ceaseless winds that eddy down to whip
the iron street.

The wagons whine beneath their loads, the
raw-boned horses strain;
A hundred sullen shovels claw and heave the
sodden mass -
There lifts no dust of scented moats, no cheery
call of swain,
Nor birds that pipe from border brush across
the yellow grass.

No cow-bells honk from upland fields, no sunset
thrushes call
To swarthy, bare-limbed harvesters beyond
the stubble roads;
But flanges grind on frosted steel, the weary
snow-picks fall,
And twisted, toiling backs are bent to pile the
bitter loads.

No shouting from the intervales, no singing from
the hill,
No scent of trodden tansy weeds among the
golden grain - - ,
Only the silent, cringing forms beneath the
aching chill.
Only the hungry eyes of want in haggard
cheeks of pain.




Flowers of the Sky

The snow was four feet deep beyond my door.
(I never knew the cold so cruel before.)
The frost was white as death, and in the wood
Shattered the aching aisles of solitude.
Here lay the winter wrapped about with gloom;
But overhead God's flowers were in bloom!

At dawn, above the ink-black trunks and night,
A pale pink petal drifted with the light;
And presently the gates of sun swung wide,
And through them flowed a crimson, scented tide:
Roses that bloomed and bloomed again and died,
Staining the lonely hills on either side.

And scarce were God's fields swept of this warm glow,
When purest gold fell softly to the snow -
Petals of gold from where there rolled on high
A sea of tulips lapping all the sky.
The blossoms clung so close I could not see
One nook of empty blue where more could be.

Snow and the winds that eat into the bone,
Here where the sun lies cold and waters moan.
God's pastures still are bearing for His feet
A million purple blooms all dewy sweet:
Violets and asters, hyacinths and phlox,
And streaming shafts of starry hollyhocks.

Late in the day when I crawled up the hills,
Dogged by the cold that tortures ere it kills;
I needs must stand and stare beyond the rim,
And watch the garden once more laid for Him;
Until the moon's great dripping calyx came,
And all the myriad star-buds burst in flame.

Then bitter envy gnawed upon my heart.
Flowers in Heaven, and I stand here apart!
"O God," I cried, "take me from this place,
Where I may feel the warm grass brush my face!"
Then 'cross the snow a whisper caught my ear:
"Peace, for the Spring - the Spring once more is here."



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Online LibraryLloyd RobertsEngland over Seas → online text (page 2 of 2)