Richard Le Gallienne.

The Le Gallienne book of English verse online

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Through silence and through sound of stress and strife,

And ebb and flow of dying death and life;

Love, that sounds loud or light in all men's ears,

Whence all men's eyes take fire from sparks of tears,

That binds on all men's feet or chains or wings ;

Love, that is root and fruit of terrene things;

Love, that the whole world's waters shall not drown.

The whole world's fiery forces not burn down ;

Love, that what time his own hands guard his head

The whole world's wrath and strength shall not strike dead;

Love, that if once his own hands make his grave

The whole world's pity and sorrow shall not save ;

Love that for very life shall not be sold.

Nor bought nor bound with iron nor with gold ;

So strong that heaven, could love bid heaven farewell,

Would turn to fruitless and unflowering hell ;

So sweet that hell, to hell could love be given,

Would turn to splendid and sonorous heaven ;

Love that is fire within thee and light above,

And lives by grace of nothing but of love ;

Through many and lovely thoughts and much desire

Led these twain to the life of tears and fire;

Through many and lovely days and much delight

Led these twain to the lifeless life of night.

Yea, but what then? albeit all this were thus,
And soul smote soul and left it ruinous,
And love led love as eyeless men lead men,
Through chance by chance to deathward —

Ah, what then?
Hath love not likewise led them further yet,
Out through the years where memories rise and set,
Some large as suns, some moon-like warm and pale.
Some starry-sighted, some through clouds that sail
Seen as red flame through special float of fume.
Each with the blush of its own spectral bloom
On the fair face of its own coloured light.
Distinguishable in all the host of night.
Divisible from all the radiant rest
And separable in splendour? Hath the best
Light of love's all, of all that burn and move,


A better heaven than heaven is? Hath not love

Made for all these their sweet particular air

To shine in, their own beams and names to bear,

Their ways to wander and their wards to keep,

Till story and song and glory and all things sleep?

Hath he not plucked from death of lovers dead

Their musical soft memories, and kept red

The rose of their remembrance in men's eyes,

The sunsets of their stories in his skies.

The blush of their dead blood in lips that speak

Of their dead lives, and in the listener's cheek

That trembles with the kindling pity lit

In gracious hearts for some sweet fever-fit,

A fiery pity enkindled of pure thought

By tales that make their honey out of nought,

The faithless faith that lives without belief

Its light life through, the griefless ghost of grief?

Yea, as warm night refashions the sere blood

In storm-struck petal or in sun-struck bud,

With tender hours and tempering dew to cure

The hunger and thirst of day's distemperature

And ravin of the dry discolouring hours.

Hath he not bid relume their- flameless flowers

With summer fire and heat of lamping song.

And bid the short-lived things, long dead, live long,

And thought remake their wan funereal fames.

And the sweet shining signs of women's names

That mark the months out and the weeks anew

He moves in changeless change of seasons through

To fill the days up of his dateless year

Flame from Queen Helen to Queen Guenevere?

For first of all the sphery signs whereby

Love severs light from darkness, and most high,

In the white front of January there glows

The rose-red sign of Helen like a rose :

And gold-eyed as the shore flower shelterless

Whereon the sharp-breathed sea blows bitterness,

A storm-star that the seafarers of love

Strain their wind-wearied eyes for glimpses of.

Shoots keen through February's grey frost and damp

The lamplike star of Hero for a lamp;

The star that Marlowe sang into our skies

With mouth of gold, and morning in his eyes ;

And in clear March across the rough blue sea

The signal sapphire of Alcyone

Makes bright the blown brows of the windfoot year;

And shining like a sunbeam-smitten tear

Full ere it fall, the fair next sign in sight

Burns opal-wise with April-coloured light


When air is quick with song and rain and flame,

My birth-month star that in love's heaven hath name

IseuU, a Hght of blossom and beam and shower,

My singing sign that makes the song-tree flower ;

Next like a pale and burning pearl beyond

The rose-white sphere of flower-named Rosamond

Signs the sweet head of Maytime ; and for June

Flares like an angered and storm-reddening moon

Her signal sphere, whose Carthaginian pyre

Shadowed her traitor's flying sail with fire ;

Next, glittering as the wine-bright jacinth-stone,

A star south-risen that first to music shone,

The keen girl-star of golden Juliet bears

Light northward to the month whose forehead wears

Her name for flower upon it, and his trees

Mix their deep English song with Veronese;

And like an awful sovereign chrysolite

Burning, the supreme fire that blinds the night,

The hot gold head of Venus kissed by Mars,

A sun-flower among small sphered flowers of stars,

The light of Cleopatra fills and burns

The hollow of heaven whence ardent August yearns ;

And fixed and shining as the sister-shed

Sweet tears for Phaethon disorbed and dead.

The pale bright autumn's amber-coloured sphere,

That through September sees the saddening year

As love sees change through sorrow, hath to name

Francesca's ; and the star that watches flame

The embers of the harvest overgone

Is Thisbe's, slain of love in Babylon,

Set in the golden girdle of sweet signs

A blood-bright ruby ; last save one light shines

An Eastern wonder of sphery chrysopras.

The star that made men mad, Angelica's ;

And latest named and lordliest, with a sound

Of swords and harps in heaven that ring it round,

Last love-light and last love-song of the year's,

Gleams like a glorious emerald Guenevere's.

A Match

¥F love were what the rose is,

And I were like the leaf.
Our lives would grow together
In sad or singing weather,
Blown fields or flowerful closes.

Green pleasure or gray grief ;
If love were what the rose is,

And I were like the leaf.


If I were what the words are,

And love were h'ke the tune,
With double sound and single
Delight our lips would mingle,
With kisses glad as birds are

That get sweet rain at noon ;
If I were what the words are.

And love were like the tune.

If you were life, my darling,

And I your love were death.
We'd shine and snow together
Ere March made sweet the weather
With daffodil and starling

And hours of fruitful breath ;
If you were life, my darling,
And I your love were death.

If you were thrall to sorrow.

And I were page to joy.
We'd play for lives and seasons
With loving looks and treasons
And tears of night and morrow
And laughs of maid and boy;
If you were thrall to sorrow.
And I were page to joy.

If you were April's lady

And I were lord in May,
We'd throw with leaves for hours
And draw for day with flowers,
Till day like night were shady

And night were bright like day;
If you were April's lady,
And I were lord in May.

If you were queen of pleasure,

And I were king of pain,
We'd hunt down love together,
Pluck out his flying-feather,
And teach his feet a measure,

And find his mouth a rein ;

If you were queen of pleasure,

And I were king of pain.

The Oblation

A SK nothing more of me, sweet ;
All 1 can give j-oii, I give.
Heart of my heart, were it more,
More would be laid at your feet :
Love that should help you to live,
Song that should spur you to soar.

All things were nothing to give
Once to have sense of you more,
Touch you and taste of you, sweet,
Think you and breathe you and live,
Swept of j'our wings as they soar
Trodden by chance of your feet.

I that have love and no more
Give you but love of you, sweet:
He that hath more, let him give ;
He that hath wings let him soar ;
Mine is the heart at your feet
Here, that must love you to live.

In the Moonlight

A lonely workman, standing there
■^^ In a dream, why do yon stare and stare
At her grave, as no other grave there were?

"If your great gaunt eyes so importune

Her soul by the shine of this corpse-cold moon.

Maybe you'll raise her phantom soon !"

"Why, fool, it is what I would rather see

Than all the living folk there be ;

But alas, there is no such joy for me!"

"Ah — she was one you loved, no doubt.

Through good and evil, through rain and drought,

And when she passed, all your sun went out?"

"Nay: she was the woman I did not love,
Whom all the others were ranked above.
Whom during her life I thought nothing of."


The Man He Killed

«]LTAD he and I but met _

By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin I

"But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,

And killed him in his place.

"I shot him dead because —
Because he was my foe.
Just so : my foe of course he was ;
That's clear enough ; although

"He thought he'd 'list, perhaps.
Off-hand like — just as I —
Was out of work — had sold his traps —
No other reason why.

"Yes ; quaint and curious war is !
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown."


To One Who JVould Make a Confession

/^H! leave the past to bury its own dead.

The past is naught to us, the present all.
What need of last year's leaves to strew Love's bed?
What need of ghost to grace a festival?
I would not, if I could, those days recall.
Those days not ours. For us the feast is spread,
The lamps are lit, and music plays withal.
Then let us love and leave the rest unsaid.
This island is our home. Around it roar
Great gulfs and oceans, channels, straits and seas.
What matter in what wreck we reached the shore,
So we both reached it? We can mock at these.

Oh! leave the past, if past indeed there be;

I would not know it ; I would know but thee.


To Manon, on His Fortune in Loving Her

J did not choose thee, dearest. It was Love

That made the choice, not I. Mine eyes were blind
As a rude shepherd's who to some lone grove
His offering brings and cares not at whose shrine
He bends his knee. The gifts alone were mine;
The rest was Love's. He took me by the hand,
And fired the sacrifice, and poured the wine,
And spoke the words I might not understand.

I was unwise in all but the dear chance
Which was my fortune, and the blind desire
Which led my foolish steps to Love's abode,
And youth's sublime unreason'd prescience
Which raised an altar and inscribed in fire
Its dedication: To the Unknou:tv God.

From "Esther'^

A little honey! Ay, a little sweet,

A little pleasure when the years were young,
A joj'ous measure trod by dancing feet,
A tale of folly told by a loved tongue, —
These are the things by which our hearts are wrung
More than by tears. Oh, I would rather laugh.
So I had not to choose those tales among
Which was most laughable. Man's nobler self
Resents mere sorrow. I would rather sit
With just the common crowd that watch the play
And mock at harlequin and the clown's wit,
And call it tragedy and go my way.
I should not err, because the tragic part
Lay not in these, but sealed in my own heart.


A Garden Song

TLTERE, in this sequestered close
Bloom the hyacinth and rose;
Here beside the modest stock
Flaunts the flaring hollyhock;
Here, without a pang, one sees
Ranks, conditions, and degrees.


All the seasons run their race
In this quiet resting-place ;
Peach, and apricot, and fig
Here will ripen, and grow big;
Here is store and overplus, —
More had not Alcinoiis !

Here, in alleys cool and green,
Far ahead the thrush is seen ;
Here along the southern wall
Keeps the bee his festival ;
All is quiet else — afar
Sounds of toil and turmoil are.

Here be shadows large and long;
Here be spaces meet for song;
Grant, O garden-god, that I,
Now that none profane is nigh, —
Now that mood and moment please.
Find the fair Pierides !

The Ladies of St. James's


Phyllida amo ante alias. — Virgil
'HE ladies of St. JameL;'s


Go swinging to the play;
Their footmen run before them.

With a "Stand by! Clear the wayl'
But Phyllida, my Phyllida !

She takes her buckled shoon,
When we go out a-courting

Beneath the harvest moon.

The ladies of St. James's

Wear satin on their backs ;
They sit all night at Ombre,

With candles all of wax:
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!

She dons her russet gown.
And runs to gather May dew

Before the world is down.

The ladies of St. James's !

They are so fine and fair,
You'd think a box of essences

Was broken in the air:


But Phyllida, my Phyllidal
The breath of heath and furze

When breezes blow at morning,
Is not so fresh as hers.

The ladies of St. James's 1

They're painted to the eyes ;
Their white it stays for ever

Their red it never dies :
But Phyllida, my Phyllidal

Her color comes and goes;
It trembles to a lily, —

It wavers to a rose.

The ladies of St. James's I

You scarce can understand
The half of all their speeches,

Their phrases are so grand:
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!

Her shy and simple words
Are clear as after rain-drops

The music of the birds.

The ladies of St. James's !

They have their fits and freaks ;
They smile on you — for seconds,

They frown on you — for weeks :
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!

Come either storm or shine,
From Shrove-tide unto Shrove-tide,

Is always true — and mine.

My Phyllida! my Phyllida!

I care not though they heap
The hearts of all St. James's,

And give me all to keep ;
I care not whose the beauties

Of all the world may be.
For Phvllida— for Phyllida

Is all the world to me 1

The Ballade of Prose and Rhyme

"^X^IIEN the ways are heavy with mire and rut,
'^ In November fogs, in December snows,

When the North Wind howls, and the doors are shut,-

There is place and enough for the pains of prose ;

But whenever a scent from the whitethorn blows,


And the jasmine-stars at the casement climb,

And a Rosalind-face at the lattice shows,
Then hey! — for the ripple of laughing rhyme I

When the brain gets dry as an empty nut,

When the reason stands on its squarest toes.
When the mind (like a beard) has a "formal cut," —

There is place and enough for the pains of prose;

But whenever the May-blood stirs and glows,
And the young year draws to the "golden prime,"

And Sir Romeo sticks in his ear a rose, —
Then hey — for the ripple of laughing rhyme I

In a theme where the thoughts have a pedant-strut,

In a changing quarrel of "Ayes" and "Noes,"
In a starched procession of "If" and "But," —

There is place and enough for the pains of prose;

But whenever a soft glance softer grows.
And the light hours dance to the trysting-time,

And the secret is told "that no one knows,"—
Then hey! — for the ripple of laughing rhyme 1

In the work-a-day world, — for its needs and woes,
There is place and enough for the pains of prose;
But whenever the May-bells clash and chime,
Then hey! — for the ripple of laughing rhyme!

In After Days


T N after days when grasses high
O'er top the stone where I shall lie,
Though ill or well the world adjust
My slender claim to honoured dust,

I shall not question nor reply.

I shall not see the morning sky;
I shall not hear the night-wind sigh;
I shall be mute, as all men must
In after days !

But yet, now living, fain were I
That some one then should testify,
Saying — "He held his pen in trust
To Art, not serving shame or lust."
Will none? — Then let my memory die
In after days!



T intended an Ode.

And it turned to a Sonnet.
It began a la mode,
I intended an Ode ;
But Rose crossed the road

In her latest new bonnet ;
I intended an Ode ;

And it turned to a Sonnet.


Judas Iscariot

''T'WAS the soul of Judas Iscariot,

Strange, and sad, and tall,
Stood all alone at dead of night
Before a lighted hall.

And the world was white with snow,
And his foot-marks black and damp,

And the ghost of the silver moon arose.
Holding her yellow lamp.

And the icicles were on the eaves.
And the walls were deep with white,_

And the shadows of the guests within
Pass'd on the window light.

The shadows of the wedding-guests

Did strongly come and go,
And the body of Judas Iscariot

Lay stretch'd along the snow.

The body of Judas Iscariot

Laj' stretched along the snow;
'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot

Ran swiftly to and fro.

To and fro, and np and down.

He ran so swiftly there.
As round and round the frozen Pole

Glideth the lean white bear.

. . . 'Twas the Bridegroom sat at the table-head,
And the lights burnt bright and clear —

"Oh, who is that," the Bridegroom said,
"Whose weary feet I hear?"


'Twas one looked from the lighted hall.

And answer'd soft and slow,
"It is a wolf runs up and down

With a black track in the snow."

The Bridegroom in his robe of white

Sat at the table-head —
"Oh, who is that who moans without?"

The blessed Bridegroom said.

'Twas one look'd from the lighted hall.

And answer'd fierce and low,
" 'Tis the soul of Judas Iscariot

Gliding to and fro."

'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot

Did hush itself and stand.
And saw the Bridegroom at the door

With a light in his hand.

The Bridegroom stood in the open door,

And he was clad in white,
And far within the Lord's Supper

Was spread so broad and bright.

The Bridegroom shaded his eyes and look'd.

And his face was bright to see —
"What dost thou here at the Lord's Supper

With thy body's sins?" said he.

'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot

Stood black, and sad, and bare —
"I have wander'd many nights and days ;

There is no light elsewhere."

'Twas the wedding guests cried out within,
And their eyes were fierce and bright —

"Scourgethe soul of Judas Iscariot
Away into the night I"

The Bridegroom stood in the open door,

And he waved his hands and slow.
And the third time that he waved his hands

The air v/as thick with snow.

And of every flake of falling snow.

Before it touch'd the ground.
There came a dove, and a thousand doves

Made sweet sound.


'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot

Floated away full fleet,
And the wings of the doves that bare it oflF

Were like its winding-sheet.

'Twas the bridegroom stood at the open door,

And beckon'd, smiling sweet ;
'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot

Stole in, and fell at his feet.

"The Holy Supper is spread within,

And the many candles shine,
And I have waited long for thee

Before I pour'd the wine."

The supper wine is pour'd at last,

The lights burn bright and fair,
Iscariot washes the Bridegroom's feet,

And dries them with his hair.

F. W. H. MYERS (1843-1901)

The Inner Light

T 0, if some pen should write upon your rafter
Mene and Mene in the folds of flame,
Think you could any memories thereafter
Wholly retrace the couplet as it came?

Lo. if some strange, intelligible thunder
Sang to the earth the secret of a star.

Scarce could ye catch, for terror and for wonder,
Shreds of the story that was pealed so far.

Scarcely I catch the words of His revealing.
Hardly I hear Him, dimly understand,

Only the Power that is within me pealing
Lives on my lips and beckons to my hand.

Whoso has felt the Spirit of the Highest
Cannot confound nor doubt Him nor deny:

Yea, with one voice, O world, though thou deniest.
Stand thou on that side, for on this am I.

Rather the earth shall doubt when her retrieving
Pours in the rain and rushes from the sod.

Rather than he for whom the great conceiving
Stirs in his soul to quicken into God.


Ay, though thou then shouldst strike from him his glory,
Blind and tormented, maddened and alone.

Even on the cross would he maintain his story,
Yes, and in hell would whisper, I have known.


"liyE are the music makers,
'^' And we are the dreamers of dreams.
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,

And sitting by desolate streams ; —
World-losers and world-forsakers.

On whom the pale moon gleams :
Yet we are the movers and shakers

Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties _
We build up the world's great cities.

And out of a fabulous story

We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,

Shall go forth and conquer a crown ;
And three with a new song's measure

Can trample a kingdom down.

We, in the ages lying

In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing.

And Babel itself in our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying

To the old of the new world's worth ;
For each age is a dream that is dying,

Or one that is coming to birth. . . .




[AS summer come without the rose,

^ Or left the bird behind?
Is the blue changed above thee,

O world ! or am I blind ?
Will you change every flower that grows,

Or only change this spot.
Where she who said, I love thee,

Now says, I love thee not?


The skies seemed true above thee,

The rose true on the tree ;
The bird seemed true the summer through,

But all proved false to me.
World ! is there one good thing in you,

Life, love, or death — or what?
Since lips that sang, I love thee,

Have said, I love thee not?

I think the sun's kiss will scarce fall

Into one flower's gold cup ;
I think the bird will miss me,

And give the summer up.
O sweet place ! desolate in tall

Wild grass, have you forgot
How her lips toyed to kiss me,

Now that they kiss me not?

Be false or fair above me.

Come back with any face,
Summer! — do I care what you do?

You cannot change one place —
The grass, the leaves, the earth, the dew,

The grave I make the spot —
Here, where she used to love me,

Here, where she loves nie not.


Tmade another garden, yea,

For my new love ;
I left the dead rose where it lay,

And set the new above.
Why did the summer not bf gin ?

Why did my heart not haste?
My old love came and walked therein.

And laid the garden waste.

She entered with her weary smile.

Just as of old ;
She looked around a little while.

And shivered at the cold.
Her passing touch was death to all,

Her passing look a blight :
She made the white rose-petals fall,

And turned the red rose white.


Her pale robe, clinging to the grass,

Seemed like a snake
That bit the grass and ground, alas !

And a sad trail did make.
She went up slowly to the gate ;

And there, just as of yore,
She turned back at the last to wait,

And say farewell once more.

Song from "Chartivel"

TJATH any loved you well, down there,

■*■ Summer or winter through?
Down there, have you found any fair

Laid in the grave with you?
Is death's long kiss a richer kiss

Than mine was wont to be —
Or have you gone to some far bliss

And quite forgotten me?

What soft enamouring of sleep

Hath you in some soft way?
What charmed death holdeth you with deep

Strange lure by night and day?
A little space below the grass,

Out of the sun and shade ;
But worlds away from me, alas,

Down there where you are laid?

My bright hair's waved and wasted gold,

What is it now to thee —
Whether the rose-red life I hold

Or white death holdeth me?
Down there you love the grave's own green,

And evermore you rave
Of some sweet seraph you have seen

Or dreamt of in the grave. . . .



¥ love all beauteous things,

1 seek and adore them;
God hath no better praise,
And man in his hasty days
Is honoured for them.


I, too, will somethingr make

And joy in the making;
Altho' to-morrow it seem
Like the empty words of a dream

Remembered on waking.

I have loved flowers that fade ;
Within whose magic tents
Rich hues have marriage made
With sweet vmmemoried scents :
A honej'moon delight, —
A joy of love at sight,
That ages in an hour : —
My song be like a flower I

I have loved airs that die

Online LibraryRichard Le GallienneThe Le Gallienne book of English verse → online text (page 28 of 37)