A PRELUDE IN VERSE
ELKIN MATHEWS, CORK STREET
M CM XIV
My thanks are due to the Editor of the
Saturday Review for permission to reprint
two of these poems.
Also to the Editor of the Treasury for
permission to reprint one of them.
THE POET OF A DREAM 9
WALKING THROUGH THE WORLD . . . .11
GOOD FRIDAY SUNSHINE 13
A SUMMER AFTERNOON 14
A SONG AMONG THE HlLLS 1$
ONCOMING TIDE 16
A MOMENT IN A MIST 19
A VISION IN A STBEET 21
MY LADY'S REVERENCE 22
EARTHLY SACRAMENTS 23
To THE WRITER OF PSALM CII 26
THE FIR-TREE HYMN 28
IN THE SHADOW OF JUDGMENT 30
To DEAR JANE AUSTEN 31
BEYOND ROMANCE 32
CHRIST UPON THE MOORS 33
CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 35
IN AN ARENA CELL 36
STERN LOVE . . 37
IN A FUTILE GENERATION 38
THE HEART OF ALL. ...... 40
A MOONLIGHT HYMN 41
GOLDEN STREET 42
HAREBELL Music 44
AFTER MANY YEARS 45
THE MASTER POET 47
EARTH'S MEETING PLACE. ...'.. So
The Poet of a Dream
A WORLD of heavenly beauty says me nay,
Sweet wandering moments of it come and go,
I may not keep them, or pretend to know
The wished-for guests who will not with me stay;
The Life is there, the Truth is there, the Way,
Christ's very Beauty, yet in broken show,
For as Aurora lights that faintly glow
And fade, are my poor visions of His Day.
One night there came to me a wandering dream
A poet to my Lord, all love and fire,
With eyes to see with heart for love's own theme :
A prophecy of one with glorious voice,
Coming to make all Christendom rejoice,
Transfiguring each prelude of desire.
A STILL grey sea,
Beneath a still grey sky,
A soft wind whispering by,
A distant sea-bird's cry,
A sense that God is nigh
Ere the day begins to be.
Walking through the World
I WALK beneath mysterious autumn trees,
An autumn twilight hour,
But when I walked in summer field or bower
These too were mysteries ;
Always there is a promise and a breath,
Beyond my spirit's call,
Almost the living trees confess the Faith,
And yet I know not what Creation saith,
But He who walks here with me knows it all.
There was an hour, O friend of mine, when we
To each drew very near,
When, hand in hand, we both grew silent, dear,
Because love could not see ;
Always there is a secret yet untold,
The barriers do not fall,
Almost I touch your life whose hands I hold,
And yet I know not what my hands enfold,
But Love Himself is with us, knowing all.
THOU Lord our God, through seons past our thought,
A body hast prepared for man, for Thee,
When Thou would'st crown and save humanity,
Our Science for it in the dust hath sought ;
And, feeling something of the Love that brought
Beauty of hope to earth and sky and sea,
That gave each human form the power to be
Thy Temple, Art instinctively hath wrought.
Oh not alone through Time's poor changeful hours,
We needs must yearn towards the work divine,
Which is Love's outward sacrament and shrine ;
But, as it is Thy very Touch that dowers,
We crave that in the End that Touch of Thine
Might consecrate eternally our powers.
Good Friday Sunshine
THERE is a day of all the year, when Spring
Puts on most wealth of beauty ; and I tell
No fancy-truth, ray heart has loved so well
Year after year earth's fair apparelling
Upon that Day. Yes, and my mind can bring
From childhood, memories like the distant swell
Of half-heard music, linking with a spell
The Grief, and every innocent laughing thing
That haunts our garden. Easter seems begun,
The hour of darkness is our victory,
And as the Gloria in the Litany,
Out of the very deep, earth's hope mounts high ;
I know not how, but that Dear Grief hath won
Such look of deepening hope for earth and sky.
A Summer Afternoon
THERE is a little movement in the bushes,
A little laughing cry,
The lightest breath of wind across me brushes,
I think that Puck ran by.
The fern-fronds in the sleepy sunlight glisten
About yon twisted thorn,
They seem to dance, and surely if I listen
I hear a pixie horn.
A thousand sportive lights are gaily flinging
Life o'er the forest glade,
And merry shadowy birds their flight are winging
From shade to elfin shade.
They lure me to the threshold of receiving
Secrets beyond my sight ;
That may not be, yet ah ! no make-believing
This dear God-given Delight.
A Song among the Hills
OH ! what was that gay scrap of song
That made a music in the hills ?
More fleeting than the tender mist
That all the sunlit valley fills.
Oh ! what was that fair dancing form
That came before my spirit-eyes ?
Lighter than sun-gleams after storm
That touch the hills unearthly-wise.
The song said " I am gay in Christ,
For He shall wipe away all tears,"
And the light form that danced along
Bore all the burden of earth's years.
Oh ! who art thou so strangely gay,
So free through mist and gleam to rove ?
Thou flittest far and far away,
But now the hillside breathes of love.
A CONQUERING host whose onset must appal,
A pitiless Fate devouring great and small,
A Force untameable o'ermastering all,
Surge on the waves.
Yet daily is that army held in check,
Daily that Fate is foiled in making wreck,
Daily that Force is made to bend the neck,
By God who saves.
And harebells grow hard by the stormy shore,
And sea-birds rear their young, where ocean's roar
Doth ceaseless rise and fall for evermore,
Among the caves.
WORLD, grown old and passing dull,
Sated with evolution change,
1 know that thou art wondrous wise,
And nothing new is wonderful
Beside thy half-lost memories :
But, dost not envy us the strange
Young Hope that lightens yet our eyes,
This foolishness beyond the range
Of any power of thine to lull,
The looking for a great Surprise ?
O World, thy weary patient kings
Are wearier now that thou art old,
Their crowns are dusty grown and grey,
Thy seers with chill mechanic things
Fashion Utopias every day :
But, unto us a blackbird sings
His note on yonder hawthorn spray
'Mid possibilities untold
What if this songful moment brings
The lightning Presence, and behold
Earth fades, for Heaven-gates unfold ?
O World, thou knowest the Thing in store
Gives thy drear history, immense
Wild meanings, awful and sublime,
That all our souls are craving for,
Wherein love's least shall vanquish Time :-
The Cross looms in pre-eminence
Begirt with living love and crime,
Thou canst not cheat our penitence,
Who only hear Love's call the more
For all thy iterated chime.
A Moment in a Mist
A FIR-TREE stretched gaunt arms into the mist,
Moorland, by a faint breath of sea-wind kissed,
Lay vast, unknown :
Save that a tribal watchman's cry forlorn
Just reached the place,
While on the mist was very thinly borne
A wood fire's trace.
Man had not been ; so greyly Life sat still
Without a name,
Awaiting there the moment of her thrill
As through the mist the Roman Legion came.
19 C 2
I DREAMT that, waiting for the Dread Appeal,
I was made conscious that I stood beside
An uncouth wearer of the Spirit-seal ;
I might not understand his thought, so wide
The ages were between us, yet could feel
That in the days when tide on Northern tide
Surged over Rome, someone with rugged zeal
Sware faith to his new Lord, loved Him, and died.
A Vision in a Street
SORDID the street,
Hopeless the multitude's tread ;
But the face of one woman was meet
For the sunset that flamed overhead.
More than meet, for the truthful grey eyes
Had a tenderer light than the heaven,
A peace beyond that in the skies,
To my soul from her bearing was given.
Dreary the throng,
Mammon with Pleasure and Care,
Yet almost I break into song,
For the beauty of holiness there
Revealed, but I pass on in prayer,
And am strong.
My Lady's Reverence
HER little common acts of every day,
Half-conscious and serene,
Made up a homage to poor human clay
By all but love unseen.
She thought her gentle actions all unread,
Nothing but time and dress,
But I who knew her spirit learnt to dread
My own unholiness.
KISSES, and hand clasps, meeting eyes,
Rare smiles and holy tears,
Love's means of grace that spirit-wise
Bear love through days and years.
The tender lights of sunset-glow,
The chanting of the wind,
Channels whereby we dimly know
An Ever-living Mind.
ONE dark November morning, as I went
Churchward in our grim town,
My heart was full of sudden strange content,
Beauty had claimed her own.
A Gardener stooped beneath bare churchyard trees,
Under that murky sky,
The touch of simple old activities
Thrilled me as I passed by.
Within our modern Church's opening door,
Darkness a mystery made,
A working woman scoured the trodden floor,
Half seen, half lost in shade.
I passed to where a light far distant shone,
I passed one kneeling there,
A lowly Sister, veiled and alone,
Dignified in her prayer.
I passed into the Beauty all unseen,
Of That I may not tell,
'Twas but a glimmer of the King's pure sheen,
Yet Light unspeakable.
And in that Presence with the mighty past
Was fellowship most sweet,
Beauty to cheer us, though our lot be cast
Where all seems counterfeit.
Yea, through that Presence our inhuman days
Hold power for time to come,
When loving hands once more shall render praise
And beauty find a home.
To the Writer of Psalm CII
WHO wast thou, Sire, that from a far-off time
Dost mould for us our very thoughts in prayer
Clothing in words of faith and hope sublime
Our inarticulate cry that God would spare ?
How didst thou learn such depth of penitence
As could foreshow the Love that should redeem,
Such grief for Sion's long-lost innocence
As made earth's vanities in truth a dream?
Surely in bitterness of spirit thou,
A Prophet criedst, deeming thy voice unheard,
A mist enshrouds thy sorrowing form, but now,
Out of the mist that voice our souls hath stirred.
In days of strange and utter loneliness
Thou sat'st apart, O Exile from thy home,
And looking over ages of distress,
Hadst glimpses of the Glory that should come.
To the "Writer of Psalm CII
Here do we, parted by all ages, meet,
Thou Christ's forerunner, we that follow Him,
While in a Psalm mysteriously sweet
Thou teachest us to see through shadows dim.
Thine is a voice whereby lost Sion's call
Reaches His ear, who shall her times fulfil,
The broken shame that at Christ's Feet must fall,
Was thine of old ; is hers in mercy still.
So word by word with thee our Psalm is said,
Only, since One in flesh our earth hath trod,
With fuller faith we, closing, bow the head
With words of Threefold Glory unto God.
The Fir-Tree Hymn
GLORY to God, the God of strength and straightness,
Who reared us limb by limb,
Who fashioned us in all our stern sedateness
To lift up praise to Him.
No blasts of winter through the forest sweeping
Find leafless branches here,
For, decked with green, we Christmastide are keeping,
The crown of all our year.
Not graciousness is ours, not summer beauty,
Not autumn's radiant glow,
Emblems we stand of faithfulness to duty,
In midst of winter snow.
The mighty storms are on us, crashing, swinging,
We lift a joyful cry,
We clap our hands and break forth into singing,
" Glory to God on high."
The Fir-Tree Hymn
Glory to God, our anthem faileth never,
Come seasons as they will,
Though summer raptures die away, for ever
His praise abideth still.
In the Shadow of Judgment
IN this strange moment of this life of ours,
The note of sparrows twittering in our eaves,
The call of garden thrushes, tender showers,
The greyly quiet light the sunset leaves,
Mingle with little wonted sounds of home,
The clicking gate has suddenly grown dear,
Giving a sense that whatsoe'er may come,
Love leads us yet, that Love Himself draws near.
To Dear Jane Austen
IT would be strange beyond the thoughts of men,
If, in that Day when all our work is tried,
Some glorious intellect superbly wide
Should bow before your limitations then ;
For, if your genius longed with freer pen
To do the things that truth in you denied,
Your faithful fear o'ermastered all beside,
Nor dreamed of praise in worlds beyond our ken.
Yet is your life a beacon, calmly clear,
Of pure unselfishness and honour true,
Too true to clutch at satisfaction here ;
And gratefully I bring a tribute due
Even more for this than for your witty cheer,
And hours of happy laughter spent with you.
Is it not strange that in some very hour
When all the old world seems to be undone,
When a New Age begins its course to run,
And ancient sins fall with the Bastille Tower,
That in some quiet spot, with wonted dower
Of high symbolic splendour in the sun,
Window and carven work, howe'er alone,
Live, in a peace more beautiful than power ?
Old musty books with which men used to pray,
A figure flitting by a whist-wood tree,
These are no relics doomed to mere decay ;
Seeing that old prayers, old memory and ghost,
Wait but the Day when the redeemed host
Shall rise, to put on immortality.
Christ upon the Moors
WE walked together, you and I,
Under a cloudy moorland sky,
Where long grey lines wheeled onward yet were
Even our grassway track, my friend,
Was mystery without an end,
A secret of God's purpose and man's will,
Written upon the hill.
There came a moment when we stood,
And in an unexpected mood
You traced the lines of influence in my hand,
Until a thought, a sudden word,
Revealed an Influence of our Lord,
Did HE write what we could not understand,
Within the palms we scanned ?
Christ upon the Moors
One word and that was all,
One gentle Touch most Personal,
The long grey lines of moor and cloudy sky
Were writ by Him, but ah ! He drew
Nearer to us, I turned to you,
And love's Redeemer bade me recognise
Sweet wonder in your eyes.
HER poetry was woven into prayers,
Aching with love to Christ, aching with grief;
Hers was the valiant love that greatly dares
To pray back others from their unbelief.
A Christ-like burden to her soul was given,
Knowing her poet-world, knowing its thrall ;
Grieving for loveliness estranged from Heaven,
The sorrow and the heart-break of it all.
Part of her holy grief I may surmise
Love's undespairing woe, love to last breath ;
Till reverent wonder bids me turn my eyes,
And leave to Christ the joy beyond her death.
In an Arena Cell
" O THOU Whose Hands and Feet were bound for me,
My wondering joy, if so Thou let it be,
Will be to know throughout Eternity
That these two hands were bound with cords for
" Saviour, Whose Spirit by my sin was bowed,
The memories of years upon me crowd,
Until I wonder that I am allowed
Such blissful pain ; humbled, Thou mak'st me proud.
" Thou said'st : ' Forgive, they know not what they
Enlarge my love, Redeemer, that I too,
Loving their very hands who pierce me through,
With unknown death, be to my Pattern true."
O THOU, Creator of Thy human race,
Behold, our inmost soul and spirit yearn,
Ever unsatisfied till we discern
Our deepest instinct's final meeting-place ;
Seeking not only Love's all-beauteous face,
Not only Justice sternest of the stern,
For Thou Who madest us hast made us burn
For fulness that transcends all thought and space.
Child, thou art such a little child of Mine,
Thou can'st but kneel beneath My awful Cross,
Within the outskirts of the Mystery ;
Dimly to recognise sin's utter loss,
Dimly to feel the depths of Love Divine,
And know that This begins eternity.
In a Futile Generation
O CHRIST, Thou didst create us for Thy Praise,
Thy secret purpose we may yet fulfil,
Beauties undreamt of, wonders hidden still,
Are stored up in the counsel of Thy ways ;
We only need Thy quickening Touch to raise
Achievement from the dust of love grown chill.
Ah ! touch us soon ; this earthen weight will kill ;
Even longing in our futile wistful days.
Our powers, our hearts, our hopes before Thee lie,
We are but waiting for the breath of Spring,
We do but need Thy Touch, O Love most High ;
And rapturous wealth of colour love shall bring,
Love's new-found voice triumphantly shall sing,
Love's new Cathedral soar toward the sky.
In a Futile Generation
If Thou wilt come into our lives indeed,
Thou very God, Who yet wast crucified,
Thou very Love, though utterly denied,
Maker of souls, content with souls to plead ;
Teach us, as Peter did, to feel our need,
Even though we have to cry as Peter cried,
Though it mean wreck of all our thoughts beside,
Grant us Thy saving Look with Love's own speed.
For our hearts fail us following afar,
As in pale service of some human Lord,
Some phantom Hero 'mid stern things that are ;
Nay, where Apostles, Saints and Martyrs prove,
Their endless ecstasy of living love,
We too would worship Thee, Beloved, Adored.
The Heart of Ail
LORD, let me speak to Thee this once of love,
Ah ! not in any paltry thought of mine,
But once in that tremendous Thought of Thine
Which goes so far beyond what we can prove ;
Suffer me once o'er that great Theme to rove,
The wonder of the Touch which is Divine,
The Deeds which are of it the wondrous sign,
Telling us how the Heart of God can move.
If I may dare to speak of Passion now,
Let it be with one prayer of utter need ;
Lord, when before the Deeds of Love we bow,
Make us to know by Hands that once did bleed,
Make us to know by Thy once thorn-crowned Brow,-
Thou mad'st us for Thyself, indeed, indeed.
A Moonlight Hymn
JESUS our Peace,
Jesus our perfect Light, our perfect Rest,
Jesus all blest.
While shadows loom,
Changing the aspect of all things that are,
Lead by a star.
Lift Thou mine eyes,
And flood the darkling heavens throughout the night
With calm moonlight.
Even while I pray,
Let me behold Thy witness, and then rest,
Hope in my breast.
A STORMY sunset lights the under-sky,
The roadway glistens after rain,
A more than fairy brightness suddenly
Fills each dull window-pane.
Just for one moment does the long slate roof
Shine as a level way to Heaven,
The dingy rows of house-front are not proof
Against such glory given.
One moment does the smell of rain-washed earth
Our tired senses freshly greet,
Some noisy pavement children make their mirth
Just for a moment sweet.
The noble beauty of my friend's dear face,
The grandeur of a patriarch's head
Are always there, but now I turn to trace
Unwonted things instead.
Say you : " It is a momentary gleam,
Tragic with bitter mockery ? "
Nay, but That lies beyond earth's broken dream,
Which makes it Prophecy.
OUT of the realm of airy flitting shadows,
Faceless or formless do ye come to me,
As when the thin mist wreathes about the meadows,
You dreamy things I see.
Elusive notes ye sing of far-off sorrow,
Or is it laughter, will ye tell me true ?
And of the song, I know not if to-morrow,
Or memory holds the clue.
After Many Years
SWIFT, unforeseen, a first young friendship came,
And while our souls were with its ardour filled,
Our life was changed in ways unguessed, unwilled,
Just when it seemed for evermore the same ;
And afterwards, by Beauty the untame,
Some of us were to dreams undreamt of thrilled,
Then Love-at-first-sight met us, Love the skilled
In setting dull monotonies aflame.
Time after time God made our lives anew,
The very gardens where we wandered seem
Full of their sweet surprising moments given ;
One glad Spring-running, one tall tree that grew
With one thrush singing, like a fairy dream,
An evening symbol of the Touch of Heaven.
After Many Years
And if I am romantic in my love,
As well as very reverential,
So that a shyness on my thought must fall,
Where some dear presences my spirit move ;
Let these things be the signs which go to prove
My love to be a fragment, howe'er small,
Of that transcendent Love on which I call
Emboldened by sweet Kinship's treasure-trove.
For if to me some in a garden-scene
Wear glorious promise even in mortal dress,
I never see it as God's Love hath seen ;
And for romance, while memories round me press,
I can but feel, through happenings which have been,
Something of His dear unexpectedness.
The Master Poet
LORD, where Thou art there must be Poetry,
Do what we will to mar what Thou hast made,
Thy Love can touch our mean vulgarity
In miracles of aid.
I marvel when in some poor sordid street,
Some house where beauty is of nothing worth,
To find a rare heroic beauty, meet
For Heaven more than Earth.
I marvel, in some Church of latter days,
Reared with no craftsmanship, no love-design,
To feel an atmosphere of solemn praise,
That does bespeak Thy Shrine.
I marvel when the thoughts of my sad heart
Form for the Presence that is come within
A holy house of wonder, set apart
From ugliness and sin.
The Master Poet
It can be only that Thyself art there,
Tenderly forcing us to know Thee nigh,
Bringing Thy changeless love of beauty, where
Beauty is like to die.
A SIGH from the patient earth,
From tall black trees beneath a changing moon,
Creation waits the meaning of its birth
To be revealed, ah ! might the Day come soon.
From the heathen world a sigh,
Breathed shudderingly from age-long dumb distress,
And lamp-lit cities answer with a cry
Of mocking laughter worse than emptiness.
From watching Saints a prayer,
Made without ceasing, " Lord, how long, how long ! "
Then over all these half-sounds in the air
A quiet Voice that saith, " I come, be strong."
A HALF-FORGOTTEN HlOUnd,
Set where the nations meet,
Where East and West of old have found
Their furthest beat.
There through the Roman power,
That doom on sin was sealed,
To Easterns in prophetic hour,
By faith revealed.
There on a Day in Time,
Central since Time began,
The Slain of Jewish, Gentile, crime,
For men was Man.
There in the face of Heaven,
And of all history,
We dare to speak of sin forgiven
For all the dreaming East,
For all the toiling West,
For manhood sunk into the beast,
One Hope, one Rest.
With distant alien mind,
We dwell apart, alone,
Only beneath that Cross we find
That we are one.
One in our sorest need,
One soul of man, one sin,
And here a Love with room indeed
For all therein.
LONDON: PRINTED BV WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED
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LONDON: ELKIN MATHEWS, CORK STREET, W.
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