Norman Gale.

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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES




A COUNTRY MUSE



Printed November 1892
1000 Copies on laid paper
75 Copies on Demy 8vo
Dutch hand-made pa^er



(All rights reseriied}



A COUNTRY MUSE

NEW SERIES BY

NORMAN R. GALE

AUTHOR OF
'A JUNE ROMANCE'



LONDON

DAVID NUTT IN THE STRAND
1893



CONTENTS





PAGE


The Apology .


i


To a Young Lady in Excuse


3


My Country Love


ii


The Invitation


12


A Thief


5


The Country Faith


16


A Dead Friend


i?


Alice Graham .


18


The Shaded Pool


20


A Bird in the Hand .


26


A Song


8


Consolation


29


In the Glade .


31


Refusal . . /


35


A Love Song .


37


Love's Share .


. 38



6
/



CONTENTS

PAGE

June in London (with Pupils) . . . -39

To Sleep . . ... 41

To the World . . . -45

Content ...... 46

Three Maids ...... 47

On seeing a Train start for the Seaside . . .49

Strephon to Chloris . . . . .51

The Gipsy King's Song . . . .52

My Cherry-Trees . . . . -S3

Love's Awakening . . . . .56

A Fortunate Island . . . . -57

A Pastoral ...... 59

The Mistress of Bacchus . . . .61

Despair ...... 63

The Rivulet ...... 64

A Song ...... 68

Lullaby . . . . 69

Last Words ...... 70

Gone into Long Frocks . . . .76

Spring ... -77

To a Whitethroat . . . . .78



CONTENTS

PAGE

My Content . . . . . . <>i

Reflective Love . . . . .82

A Song ...... 83

Return! ...... 84

A Song of Thanks . . . . -87

A Woman ...... 89

A Picture ...... 90

The Traveller's Song . . . . .94

To a Parrot .' . . . . -95

Eve . . . . . . .100

Leafy Warwickshire . . . . . 101

A Budding Maid . . . . .103

To a Broken Pipe . . . .105

My Milkmaid . . . . .107

UEn-voi . . . . . .109



Vil



THE APOLOGY

CHIDE not if here you haply find

The rough romance of country love ;

I sing as well the brook and wind,
The green below, the blue above.

Here shall you read of spreading cress,
The velvet of the sparrow's neck ;

Sometimes shall glance the glowing tress,
And Laura's snow without a speck ;

The crab that sets the mouth awry,
The chestnut with its domes of pink ;

The splendid palace of the sky,

The pool where drowsy cattle drink ;



The stack where Colin hides to catch
The milkmaid with her beaded load ;

The singing lark, a poet's match,
That travels up the great blue road ;

The cherry whence the blackbird bold
Steals ruby mouthfuls at his ease ;

The glory of laburnum-gold,

The valiant piping of the breeze ;

All, all are here. The rustic Muse
Shall sing the pansy and the thrush ;

Ah, chide not if she sometimes choose
The country love, the country blush !



TO A YOUNG LADY, IN EXCUSE

I AM afraid to ask for friends. I am

So fierce a lance against the clan you serve ;

So rough a wolf where you are but a lamb,

So great a doubter where you never swerve :

"Tis something like the Spider and the Fly,

Save that my soul is ready for your gaze,

That in the light of free and open sky

I bring me for your blame or for your praise.

The many shall not bind me. I am free,
A child of fountains, woods and hillsides gay :
Thank God I am not chained at Custom's knee,
For I must worship in my own wild way ;
And this offends. My coat is often light,
My hat is wrongly shaped for me to find
The Man who had no resting-place at night,
And called the great blind leaders of the blind



Would Christ if He were raised to-day know Christ ?
His creed's magnificent simplicity,
Offending those for whom Iscariot priced
His life, and cast his own salvation by,
Distorted, trodden down in thorns and weeds,
Is left a wreck of all its sweet white soul,
And by the dress it takes for High Church needs
The part seems seven times greater than the whole.

I cannot bear it. Give me wisdom, Lord,

To plant my footsteps firmly in the right !

Give me conviction keen as two-edged sword

And like a sword, O Master, keep it bright !

In wheat that makes obeisance as I pass,

In sudden voices from the windy trees,

And round my feet that bend green blades of grass

There seems a whispering of words like these :

4



The pith of faith is gone. And as there lie
Along the desert shanks of lions slain,
So in this world whose weeds are grown so high,
Half-hid, half -seen, Faith moulders on the plain I
Tenderly take the priceless, wondrous bones,
And wend away from all that plucks thy dress,
And with a few chance boughs or scattered stones
Build up thine altar, Child of loneliness.

The Master is not only in the court

Where doves are sold and money-changers cry ;

Nor will He leave the country-side untaught

If ears be open as He passes by :

In secret paths that thread the forest-land

He waits to heal thee and divinely bless ;

While from the hill with voice and waving hand

The Shepherd calls thee, Child of loneliness.

5



He pours in oil and wine to soothe thy wound,
Refills thy heart with secret sympathies;
'Nowhere so barren is thy patch of ground,
'Nowhere so fruitless are thy cherry trees,
But He will leave the lustre of a shrine,
But He will hasten at thy cry of stress,
And make thy burden His, His comfort thine,
His face to smile, thou Child of loneliness.

But be thou faithful to thine altar set
Within the temple of the stilly glade,
For Christ is there, nor will His heart forget
The striving of thy soul. Be not afraid I
O priest and people mingled into one,
Within thy green cathedral-aisles no less
He stands above thee when, thy prayer begun,
Thou callest Him, O Child of loneliness.

6



' Tis sweet where every downy throat 's a well
Of song itself to worship in the grass,
Thine altar's base fast-founded on a swell
Anear a glade where elms and leeches mass :
There is a space for breath, and there, content,
If aught should be forgiven, kneel, confess ;
Over thy head the boundless firmament,
God's love, God's wisdom, Child of loneliness.

I cannot help it. I must ever feel
The iron lining to the velvet glove ;
I must go hence and very humbly kneel
Where giant branches rock the evening dove :
And so it is that many who were friends
Look o'er their shoulders, draw their skirts away,
Believing I must have some shameful ends
Because I praise so otherwise than they.



If kind loved kind in many angered eyes

My creed would pass, I should not seem so vile ;

But peace like this would need a paradise

Asleep afar in some sequestered isle.

Oh, hearts of men and hearts of women, stay !

Faith lingers here among these country trees !

She bids you come and learn again to-day

Petitions lisped upon your mothers' knees !

Ah, what an age of innocence has flown

When we no longer kneel in Mother's sight

With little feet that peep beneath the gown

That falls adown us in a line of white !

How many grey-haired men for days like these

Would give their name, their wealth, their great success

To lisp once more those early mysteries,

And God bless all in simple childishness !

8



And now, Most Patient, as I homeward range
The question narrows. Outcast of the glade,
Both rude and rough am I; too proud to change,
But yet the pith from which a friend is made !
Accept me, still ; because I long to find
The proper lead to sound your depths, and be
More than a mole, or dead man out of mind,
Or lace-like foam upon a summer sea.

For I have met you in the woodland ways,

Your eyes grown wide at music of the birds ;

And I have seen your lips translate their praise,

Your throat swell out with half unconscious words :

O Friend so sweet, come sometimes when the hush,

Descending like a dove upon my home,

Broadens the fine contralto of the thrush,

And brings the pigeons woodward. Come,Friend,come !

9



Remember I will have no bell or jess,

I am not tame, I have my wild-bird wing ;

Let me not vex you with my lawlessness,

Nor ever frown at melodies I sing :

No cage shall rust my feathers I am free !

And this is writ that you may read and run,

Lest you should seek to curb the reinless sea

Or whistle back the eagle from the sun !



10



MY COUNTRY LOVE

IF you passed her in your city

You would call her badly dressed,
But the faded homespun covers

Such a heart in such a breast !
True, her rosy face is freckled

By the sun's abundant flame,
But she 's mine with all her failings,

And I love her just the same.

If her hands are red they grapple

To my hands with splendid strength,
For she 's mine, all mine 's the beauty

Of her straight and lovely length !
True, her hose be thick and homely,

And her speech is homely, too ;
But she 's mine I her rarest charm is

She 's for me, and not for you !

II



THE INVITATION

COME, thrushes, blackcaps, redpolls, all

To eat my Laura's bounty !
There 's not a sweetheart treats you so

In all this leafy County,
Yes, sparrows too ! for God forbid

That here in bloom and grasses
My Love and I should rank you birds

In low and upper classes !

Both large and little, russet, bright,

I call at Laura's asking ;
And we shall watch you at your feast,

Upon the greensward basking :
But this must first be understood

By stronger beaks most fully
All sweet content ! and, blackbird, Sir,

Remember not to bully !

12



Look down these lovely cherry-aisles

At fruit by bills unfretted,
A million globes of red and white

The gardener closely netted ;
For, pirates of the air, your troops

To storm the orchard muster,
And woe betide the ripest fruit,

And woe the scarlet cluster !

My Sweetheart pressed me yesterday

To give you of our plenty ;
She begged one glowing tree for you

From out this line of twenty ;
O birds, her cherry mouth more fair

Than ever painter figured,
Could make me prodigal of gold

Had I been born a niggard !

13



God gave me with a willing hand

A share of sky and mountain,
And time to idle in the grass

And dream beside the fountain :
He gave me angels for my house,

A wife, a rosy darling
I pay my tithe to Him through you,

O linnet, finch and starling !

As statues in a town are draped

Before their great unveiling,
So did we net this cherry-tree

Before your bills' assailing :
And Laura's is the lovely hand

That frees her shining bounty ;
Fall to, O birds ! and praise her name

Through all this leafy County !



A THIEF

THERE goes Love across the meadow,

And I know his errand sweet ;
Hark ! the God is softly singing

To the music of his feet,
For he speeds to kiss Clarinda

As she milks the mottled kine ;
O the thief to steal before me

To the mouth that 's only mine !



THE COUNTRY FAITH

HERE in the country's heart
Where the grass is green
Life is the same sweet life
As it e'er hath been.

Trust in a God still lives,
And the bell at morn
Floats with a thought of God
O'er the rising corn.

God comes down in the rain,
And the crop grows tall
This is the country faith,
And the best of all !

16



A DEAD FRIEND

IT hardly seems that he is dead,

So strange it is that we are here
Beneath this great blue shell of sky

With apple-bloom and pear :
It scarce seems true that we can note

The bursting rosebud's edge of flame,
Or watch the blackbird's swelling throat

While he is but a name.

No more the chaffinch at his step

Pipes suddenly her shrill surprise,
For in an ecstasy of sleep

Unconsciously he lies,
Not knowing that the sweet brown lark

From off her bosom's feathery lace
Shakes down the dewdrop in her flight

To fall upon his face.

B I 7



ALICE GRAHAM

WHEN within my quiet grave
Underneath the blue I lie,

Alice Graham, I shall muse
On the wilderness of sky ;

I shall lead my memory back,
Alice Graham, to the grass ;

I shall hear the foxglove chime
Welcomes to the country lass ;

From the blackbird's lilac-haunt
Songs shall travel down to me;

Chants of finer ring and pitch,
Alice Graham, may not be.

All the viewless lyric lips

God has scattered in the glade,

Alice Graham, still shall make
Music for me in the shade.

18



Alice Graham, there shall come
More than this with evening dew ;

When the blackbird is asleep

There shall fall the thought of you :

Just the tremor of your voice,
Just the pink of sweet surprise,

And the depth in depth of love,
Alice Graham, in your eyes.



THE SHADED POOL

A LAUGHING knot of village maids
Goes gaily tripping to the brook,
For water-nymphs they mean to be,
And seek some still, secluded nook.
Here Laura goes, my own delight,
And Colin's love, the madcap Jane,
And half a score of goddesses
Trip over daisies in the plain :
Already now they loose their hair
And peep from out the tangled gold,
Or speed the flying foot to reach
The brook that 's only summer-cold ;
The lovely locks stream out behind
The shepherdesses on the wing,
And Laura's is the wealth I love,
And Laura's is the gold I sing.

20



A-row upon the bank they pant,
And all unlace the country shoe ;
Their fingers tug the garter-knots
To loose the hose of varied hue.
The flashing knee at last appears,
The lower curves of youth and grace,
Whereat the maidens' eyes do scan
The mazy thickets of the place.
But who 's to see beside the thrush
Upon the wild crab-apple tree?
Within his branchy haunt he sits
A very Peeping Tom is he !
Now music bubbles in his throat,
And now he pipes the scene in song
The virgins slipping from their robes,
The cheated stockings lean and long,



21



The swift-descending petticoat,

The breasts that heave because they ran,

The rounded arms, the brilliant limbs,

The pretty necklaces of tan.

Did ever amorous god in Greece,

In search of some young mouth to kiss,

By any river chance upon

A sylvan scene as bright as this ?

But though each maid is pure and fair,

For one alone my heart I bring,

And Laura's is the shape I love,

And Laura's is the snow I sing.



And now upon the brook's green brink
A milk-white bevy, lo, they stand,



22



Half-shy, half-frightened, reaching back
The beauty of a poising hand !
How musical their little screams
When ripples kiss their shrinking feet !
And then the brook embraces all
The undraped girls so wonder-sweet.
Within the water's soft cool arms
Delight and love and gracefulness
Sport till a horde of tiny waves
Swamps all the beds of floating cress ;
And on his shining face are seen
Great yellow lilies drifting down
Beyond the ringing apple-tree,
Beyond the empty homespun gown.
Did ever Orpheus with his lute
When making melody of old,



23



E'er find a stream in Attica
So ripely full of pink and gold ?



At last they climb the sloping bank
And shake upon the thirsty soil
A treasury of diamond-drops
Not gained by aught of grimy toil.
Again the garters clasp the hose,
Again the polished knee is hid,
Again the breathless babble tells
What Colin said, what Colin did.
In grace upon the grass they lie
And spread their tresses to the sun,
And rival, musical as they,
The blackbirds' alto shake and run.

24



Did ever Love, on hunting bent,
Come idly humming through the hay,
And, to his sudden joyfulness,
Find fairer game at close of day ?
Though every maid 's a lily-rose,
And meet to sway a sceptred king,
Yet Laura's is the face I love,
And Laura's are the lips I sing.



A BIRD IN THE HAND

LOOK at this ball of intractable fluff,

Panting and staring with piteous eyes !
What a rebellion of heart ! what a ruff

Tickles my hand as the missel-thrush tries,
Pecking my hand with her termagant bill,

How to escape (and I love her, the sweet !)
Back where the clustering oaks on the hill

Climb to the blue with their branches, and meet !

Nay, polished beak, you are pecking a friend !

Bird of the grassland, you bleed at the wing !
Stay with me, love ; in captivity mend

Wrong that was wrought by the boy and his sling.
Oh for a Priest of the Birds to arise,

Wonderful words on his lips that persuade
Reasoning creatures to leave to the skies

Song at its purest a-throb in the glade !

26



Bow, woodland heart, to the yoke for a while !

Soon shall the lyrics of wind in the trees
Stir you to pipe in the green forest-aisle,

God send me there with the grass to my knees !
See, I am stroking my cheek with your breast,

Ah, how the bountiful velvet is fair !
Stay with me here for your healing and rest,

Stay, for I love you, delight of the air !



A SONG

COWARD heart, to dream of yielding
When the fray is scarce begun !

"Tis not Spring alone that 's gladdened
By the shining of the sun ;

Late in Autumn's riper days

Love is born and more, he stays !

What 's a sea to Love if Hero
Wait upon the other side ?

Never came a rosebud's beauty
But the guarding thorn was tried 1

'Tis when hope seems spent and past

Cupid comes this way at last.

28



CONSOLATION

SHAME to soil a cheek like this

With tears, fal la !
Come, brush them by and taste the kiss

That cheers, fal la !
Though love is sour and glum to-day
And brings your bosom sorrow,
Fa, la, la, la,
Fa, la, la, la,
He will not mope to-morrow 1

The shepherd 's but a fool who spurns
Such pink, fal la !

1 know a lusty lad who burns

To drink, fal la,

29



His fill of love-light from your eyes,
And chase away your sorrow,
Fa, la, la, la,
Fa, la, la, la,
Clarinda dear, to-morrow 1



30



IN THE GLADE

FROM bush to bush I followed her,
A bird that piped and flew beyond,
I saw the little branches stir,
I saw her shadow in the pond ;

And still she lured me to the wood
With cunning notes so round and ripe ;
I followed in a dreamy mood
This feathered Orpheus and her pipe.

We passed a slope where cowslips shook
Their yellow blossoms in the breeze ;
We passed the shallows of the brook,
And reached the temple of the trees :
And still her music onward went
Through hazel-alleys, beechen groves,
Where doves with lulling voices sent
Soft salutations to their loves.



So down these verdant colonnades
I still pursued the woodland note,
O'er lawny islands of the glades
That echoed to the blackbird's throat.

And as I neared^one bright expanse,
A cool oasis clothed with green,
A perfume, sweeter than romance
Than love that only might have been,

Came, with a stripling breeze for aid,
To stay a moment, stay and pass ;
Another step. I spied a maid,
Or goddess, sleeping in the grass.

Around her in an amber stream
There flowed the marvel of her hair,
The ransom for a world, the dream
To fill the morning with despair :

32



The pink of apple-bloom possessed
The virgin cheeks unkissed by man ;
And round her throat the sun had pressed
To clasp it with his ring of tan :

Her lips, half-opened, had the light
Of cherries bathed by drops of rain ;
Reproachless was the dome of white
Unblemished brow without a stain.

Then in my heart that love did cry
Which from my life shall never pass ;
And bitterly I longed to lie
Beside her beauty in the grass.

The doves in spires of elm and oak
Cooed softly in the afternoon,
And sometimes from a bush there broke
A whitethroat's tenderness of tune.



33



The air was full of nameless joy 1
And, daring all, I threw me down
As innocently as a boy
Beside her scented film of gown.

Now if some secret charm in her
Across my aching heart did sweep,
Some magic in her bosom's stir,
I know not but I fell asleep,

And when the day, a patient bride,
Was parting from her love, the sun,
The girl, or goddess, from my side
Had gently risen, and was gone !



34



REFUSAL

CLARINDA 's shy.
She 's mute, the rogue, and says me nay

Whate'er I ask.
Yet all I need is but to touch
The velvet of her hand, to hear
The rosebud call me Shepherd dear

Clarinda 's shy.

Clarinda's shy.
The rosebud pouts and bids me hence

Whate'er I ask.
Yet all I need is but to hold,
For she has never been embraced,
The living circle of her waist

Clarinda's shy.

IS



Clarinda 's shy.
Her pinky ears, those lovely shells,

Whene'er I speak

She floods apace with rain of gold.
Yet all I ask is only this,
To melt upon her snow a kiss

Clarinda 's shy.



A LOVE SONG

TO think, O to think as I see her stand there
With the rose that I plucked in her glorious hair,

In the robe that I love,
So demure and so neat,

1 am lord of her lips and her eyes and her feet !

O to think, O to think when the last hedge is leapt,
When the blood is awakened that dreamingly slept,

I shall make her heart throb

In its cradle of lace,
As the lord of her hair and her breast and her face !

O to think, O to think when our wedding-bells ring,
When our love 's at the summer but life 's at the spring,
I shall guard her asleep
As my hound guards her glove,
Being lord of her life and her heart and her love !

37



LOVE'S SHARE

CUPID coming through the wood
Met me, and his eyes were bright,

So I knew the god had seen

Sweet Clarinda's red and white :

Love had nestled all day long

In a haunt of lace and bliss ;
Round his mouth the dimples came,

Thinking of Clarinda's kiss.

Welcome, Love ! Thine eyes may drink
What she has of shy and rare ;

Thou a captive lie content
In the tangles of her hair.

I will share her breast with thee ;

Then shall never sorrow come
When Clarinda's footstep makes

Music in my cottage home.

38



JUNE IN LONDON

(WITH PUPILS)

BOOKS and heat, the dullard mind

Reeling under Cicero ;
London landscape, roof and blind

Blacker e'en than London snow :
Pupils coming all day long,

All my pause the thought that she,
She I love, my joy and song,

Dreams by day and night of me.
Ah, might I gather a rose with its dew

For her heart on this bright June morning I

Doric of the roughest mould

Planned to make a Master sour ;

Thirty lines of Virgil's gold

Slowly melting in an hour !

39



Ovid's ingots and the gems

Horace polished for our eyes

In a maze of roots and stems,

Hurdy-gurdies, cabmen's cries !
Ah, might I gather a rose in its dew

For her heart on this bright June morning /

Envious twigs in leafy nook

Catch my love's long tresses fair,
E'en as Grecian branches shook

Down Diana's crown of hair !
While on Caesar 's bridge I stand

Fancy brings (but could they speak !)
Laura's lips, and, faintly tanned,

Peachy glimpses of her cheek !
Ah, might I gather a rose in its dew

For her heart on this bright June morning I

40



TO SLEEP

ALAS ! how far away it seems

Since in an Arcady of dreams

Beside a shaded pool I met

My early, only love again !

Her face with little drops was wet

Like pansy petals after rain ;

But when she saw me by the reeds

With love enough to feast her needs,

Her glowing mouth, that miracle

Of rose and sun, did blossom sweet,

And at her girdle-band in joy

Her traitor heart the swiftlier beat ;

It stirred that tender sea to rise,

The waves of snow to surge and start ;

They ran unchecked a moment's space,

Then broke in beauty on my heart !



It was a dream, but, Love, how sweet !

Till Wakefulness on velvet feet

Cast shadows over all our bliss

And crept between the coming kiss.

But thou, O Sleep, bend down and give

My fevered frame apparent death ;

Receive my hands, caress my brow,

And send the incense of thy breath

About my temples while I weep,

Sleep, lest thou should'st not hear me, Sleep.



On aching balls that roam the room
Thus set thy seals as one who stirs
About the bedside of the dead
And weighs down rebel lids of eyes

42



That look beyond for Paradise
With silver circles from a purse :
And when thy spell is on me cast,
And thou from out my chamber passed,
If haply Wakefulness be near
Say not that I am sleeping, dear,
For oftentimes, methinks, her mood
Is wry, and not to do me good.
O God, 'twould better be if she
To wake me should delay too long,
And find with face all still and cold
Me unresponsive to her song !



The blind grows pale with dawn, and hark !
It is the matin of the lark.



43



Though there be virtue in thy touch
I will not pray thee overmuch,
Lest I should weary thee, and be
Cast out of all thy love by thee ;
And, Sleep, I will not moan or weep
If thou wilt come to-morrow, Sleep.



44



TO THE WORLD

GIVE me my Love's enchanted eyes,
The right to lie where'er she lies,

And muse on her in wonder ;
But never speak a single word
Shall harm us more than song of bird,

Or rive our souls asunder.



45



CONTENT

THOUGH singing but the shy and sweet

Untrod by multitudes of feet,

Songs bounded by the brook and wheat,

I have not failed in this,
The only lure my woodland note,
To win all England's whitest throat !
O bards in gold and fire who wrote,

Be yours all other bliss !



THREE MAIDS

Chloris

HERE 's Cupid sleeping on a bank !

Let 's steal his bow and break his arrows,


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