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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



cy^



RURAL POEMS



P O E M S



OF



RURAL LIFE



IN COMMON ENGLISH



BY WILLIAM BARNES

AUTHOR OF ' POEMS OF RURAL LIFE IN THE DORSET DIALECT '



LONDON

M A C ]VI I L L A N AND CO.

1868



LONDON : PRINTED BY

SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW -STREET SQUARE

AND PARLIAMENT STREET



/5f




/"ry



PREFACE

As I think that some people, beyond the
bounds of Wessex, would allow me the pleasure
of believing that they have deemed the matter
of my homely poems in our Dorset mother-
speech to be worthy of their reading, I have
written a few of a like kind, in common Eng-
lish; not, however, without a misgiving that
what I have done for a wider range of readers,
may win the good opinion of fewer.

W. BARNES.



8G0338



CONTENTS



AUTUMN



HOME FROM A JOURNEY



THE WOODSIDE ROAD



THE MOTHER'S DREAM



THE CHILD LOST



WHITE IN THE NIGHT



WHITE AND BLUE



WINTER COMING



WINTER WEATHER



THE BARS ON THE LANDRIDGE



THE STREAM SIDE



PAGE
I

3
5
8

lO
12

14
i6
i8

21
23



viii CONTENTS

PAGE

MELHILL FEAST 25

THE DUET 28



I AND THE DOG 30



THE SURPRISE 33



ROUND THINGS 34

A BRISK WIND 36

SHELLBROOK ....... 37

THE WIND AT THE DOOR • • • • 39

BY THE MILL IN SPRING . . . . 41

HAPPY TIMES 43

GREEN . » . . . . . .45

LOWSHOT LIGHT 46

THE BROKEN JUG 47

WELL TO DO . . . . . . .49

THE GROVE 52

WHEN WE WERE YOUNG TOGETHER . . 54

THE FIELD PATH . . . . . .58



CONTENTS ix

PAGE

THE PARROCK 6o

SING AGAIN TOGETHER 62

SEASON TOKENS 64

NOT FAR TO GO (i^

CHANGES ........ 68

DEADNESS OF THE COUNTRY . . . 70

THE BENCH BY THE GARDEN WALL . • 71

THE STONEN STEPS ']■},

ON THE HILL 76

THE OLD CLOCK 80

THE WIND UP THE STREAM .... 82

WORK AND WAIT S3

NO TWO DAYS ALIKE 85

SEE-SAW 87

THE SISTER AND BROTHERS .... 89

THE REEDS ABOUT THE POOL . . • QI

SUMMER WIND GUSTS 93



X CONTENTS

PAGE

A MATCH OF QUESTIONS . ... '95

THE STRING TOKEN 97

SHEEP IN THE SHADE 98

CLOUDS 100

THE PRIZE WINNERS I02

WORK AFIELD I08

WHEN WE THAT HAVE CHILDREN, WERE

CHILDREN IIO

PENTRIDGE 112

SHELTER 114

BY NEIGHBOURS' DOORS I16

BETWEEN HAYMAKING AND HARVEST . . I18

HOME'S A NEST 121

ON THE ROAD I26

MOTHER OF MOTHERS 1 28

FALLING THINGS 131

THE MORNING MOON I34



CONTENTS xi

PAGE

JOY PASSING BY 1 38

RIGHTING UP THE CHURCH . . . . I41

JOHN TALKING ANGRILY OF A NEIGHBOUR

BEFORE AN ECHO 143

THE SHOP OF MEAT-WARE, OR WARES TO EAT 1 46

WALKING HOME AT NIGHT . . . . I48

THE KNOLL 150

A WISH FULFILLED I53

AT THE DOOR 156

HILL AND DELL 159

DANIEL AND JANE l6l

HOME 166

FELLOWSHIP 169

AIR AND LIGHT I72

MELDON HILL 1 74

SOFT SOUND 176

THE VOICE AT HOME 1 78



xii CONTENTS

PAGE

THE FIRESIDE CHAIRS l8o

COME AND MEET ME 1 83

MY FORE-ELDERS 186

THE LOST LITTLE SISTER .... 188

BLACK AND WHITE I90

BED-RIDDEN I92

THE WINDOW 194

PLORATA VERIS LACHRYMIS . . . . I96

DO GOOD 199



A UTUMN

The long-lighted days begin to shrink,
And flowers are thin in mead among
The late-shooting grass, that shines along
Brook upon brook, and brink by brink.

The wheat, that was lately rusding thick.
Is now up in mows that still are new ;
All yellow before the sky of blue,
Tip after tip, and rick by rick.

No starlings arise in liock on wing ;
The cuckoo has still'd his woodland sound ;
The swallow no longer wheels around.
Dip after dip, and swing by swing.



AUTUMN

"WHiile shooters are roving round the knoll,
By wind-driven leaves on quiv'ring grass,
Or down where the sky-blue waters pass,
Fall after fall, and shoal by shoal ;

Their brown-dappled pointers nimbly trot
By russet-bough'd trees, while gun-smoke grey
Dissolves in the air of sunny day,
Reef upon reef, at shot by shot.

While now I can Avalk a dusty mile,
I'll take me a day while days are clear,
To find a few friends that still are dear.
Face upon face, and smile by smile.



HOME FROM A JOURNEY

Back home on my mare I took my way,
Through hour upon hour of waning day,
Where thistles on windy ledges shook,
And aspen leaves quiver'd o'er tlie hrook,
By slope and by le\el ambling on.
Till day with the sunken sun was gone,
And out in the west a sheet of light
Was lingering pale — pale in the night.

At last, as my mare came snorting near
My dwelling, where all tilings near were dear.
The apj)les were swung in darksome balls.
And roses hung dark beside the walls,

li 2



HOME FROM A JOURNEY

No COWS were about the fields to low,
The fowls were at roost in sleeping row,
And only the nightingale sang high
In moongleamings pale — pale in the sky.

Within my old door my lamp was clear,
To show me the faces many and dear,
My mother's, now dimm'd by life-long care.
My wife's, as a wife's, of ten years' wear.
My children's, well shapen line by line.
One seven, one five, one three years, mine,
And one that has come before our sight.
His one moon pale — pale in the night.



THE WOOD SIDE ROAD

As along by the wood of rustling beech,
And whispering pine without a breach,
I went where the gravel road did reach.
For men on their way to roam, O,
On homeward, or out from home, O.

A squire that rode a mare milkwhite.
Came on with a lady fair to sight,
All gleaming with gold, in blue bedight,
On a mettlesome bay to roam, O,
On homeward, or out from home, O.



THE J FOODS IDE ROAD

For aught that I knew the woody ground
That then with their horses' hoofs did sound,
Was all their own land to ramble round
A half of the day, and roam, O,
On homeward, or out from home, O.

But then on a pony's tripping pace,
There came on a girl with sweetest face.
In brown, Avith a hood of grey, to trace
Her roadway so gay, and roam, O,
But where, aye where was her home, O %

Below at the mill, the brook's low shore ?

Or else at the wheelwright's paint-streak'd door ?

Or else at the dairy's well-clean'd floor %

To start in the day to roam, O,

And come before night back home, O.



THE IVOODSIDE ROAD

I never would care for gold or land,
But only would ask her heart and hand,
And one little stable, where might stand
Her pony with hay, to roam, O,
With mine for her happy home, O.



THE MOTHERS DREAM

I'd a dream to-night
As I fell asleep,

Oh ! the touching sight

Makes me still to weep :

Of my little lad,

Gone to leave me sad,

Aye, the child I had,

But was not to keep.

As in heaven high,
I my child did seek,
There, in train, came by
Children fair and meek,



THE MOTHER'S DREAM

Each in lily white,
With a lamp alight;
Each was clear to sight,
But they did not speak.

Then, a little sad,
Came my child in turn.
But the lamp he had,
Oh ! it did not burn ;
He, to clear my doubt,
Said, half turned about,
' Your tears put it out ;
Mother, never mourn.'



10



THE CHILD LOST

When evening is closing in all round,
And winds in the dark-bough'd timber sound,
The flame of my candle, dazzling bright,
May shine full clear — full clear may shine.
But never can show my child to sight.

And warm is the bank, where boughs are still.
On timber below the windward hill,
But now, in the stead of summer hay,
Dead leaves are cast — are cast dead leaves.
Where lately I saw my child at play.



THE CHILD LOST ii

And Oh ! could I see, as may be known

To angels, my little maid full grown,

As time would have made her, woman tall.

If she had lived — if lived had she

And not have died now, so young and small.

Do children that go to heaven play?
Are young that were gay, in heaven gay 1
Are old peojjle bow'd by weak'ning time.
In heaven bow'd, — all bow'd in heaven?
Or else are they all in blissful prime ?

Yes, blest with all blessings are the blest,
Their lowest of good 's above our best.
So show me the highest soul you can
In shape and mind — in mind and shape
Yet far above him is heaven's man.



12



WHITE IN THE NIGHT

And John, that by day is down at mill,
As soon as the night is come,
Goes out from his millgear standing still,
For home, all white in the night.

And Jenny may wear her white, as out
To town she may take her road
By day ; but at dusk no more's about
Abroad, in white in the night.

For though at the brook the bridge is strong,
And white as it white can be.
That folk in the dark may not go wrong,
But sec its white in the night.



WHITE IN THE MGIIT

And though the full moon may freely shed
Its beams upon gate and wall,
And down on the road that people tread
They fall, so white in the night.

Yet Jenny at dusk is fearful now,
Since once, in the mead alone,
She took for a ghost a sheeted cow,
Outshown in white in the night.

Jenny, the while the moon may gleam,

1 wish you would come and roam
With me, to behold the falling stream
In foam so white in the night.

For foirer than all the hues of day.
Or grass, or the sky of blue,
Or blossoms of spring that shine so gay,
Are you in white in the night.



H



WHITE AND BLUE

INIy love is of comely height and straight,
And comely in all her ways and gait,
She shows in her face the rose's hue,
And her lids on her eyes, are white on blue.

When Elemley club-men walk'd in I\Iay,
And folk came in clusters every way.
As soon as the sun dried up tlie dew,
And clouds in the sky were white on blue.

She came by the down with tripping walk,
By daisies and shining banks of chalk,
And brooks with the crowfoot flow'rs to strew
The sky-tinted water, white on blue ;



WHITE AND BLUE 15

She nodded her head as play'd the band,
She lapp'd with her foot as she did stand,
She danc'd in a reel, and wore all new
A skirt with a jacket, white and blue.

I singled her out from thin and stout,
From slender and stout I chose her out,
And wliat in the evening could I do
But give her my breast-knot white and blue?



i6



WINTER COMING

I'm glad we have wood in store awhile,
For soon we must shut the door awhile,
As winterly winds may roar awhile,
And scatter the whirling snow.

The swallows have now all hied away,
And most of the flowers have died away,
And boughs, with their leaves all dried away.
Are windbeaten to and Iro.

Your walks in the ashtree droves are cold,
Your banks in the timber'd groves are cold,
Your seats on the garden coves are cold,
Where sunheat did lately glow.



WINTER COMING 17

No rosebud is blooming red to-day,
No pink for your breast or head to-day,
O'erhanging the garden bed to-day,
Is nodding its sweet head low.

No more is the swinging lark above,
And air overclouded dark above,
So baffles the sun's last spark above,
That shadows no longer show.

So now let your warm cheek bloom to-night,
"Wliile fireflames heat the room to-night.
Dispelling the flickering gloom to-night,
AVhile winds of the winter blow.



i8



WINTER WEATHER

When stems of elms may rise in row,
Dark brown, from hillocks under snow.
And woods may reach as black as night.
By sloping fields of cleanest white.
If shooters by the snowy rick,
Where trees are high, and wood is thick,
Can mark the tracks the game may prick,
Tliey like the winter weather.

Or where may spread the grey-blue sheet
Of ice, for skaters' gliding feet,
That they uplift, from side to side,
I^ong yards, and hit tliem down to slide



WINTER WEATHER

Or sliders, one that totters slack
Of limb ; and one that's on his back ;
And one upright tliat keeps his track,
Have fun in winter weather.

AVhen we at night, in snow and gloom,
May seek some neighbour's lighted room,
Though snow may show no path before
The house, we still can find the door,
And there, as round the brands may spread
The creeping fire, of cherry red,
Our feet from snow, from wind our head,
Are wanii in winter weather.

Wherever day may give our road,
By hills or hollows oversnow'd.
By windy gaps, or shelter'd nooks,
Or bridged ice of frozen brooks,

C 2



»9



20 WINTER WEATHER

Still may we all, as night may come,
Know where to find a peacefijl home,
And glowing fire for fingers numb
With cold, in winter weather.



21



THE BARS ON THE LAND RIDGE

The bars on the timber'd ridge outspan
The gap where the shining skies may show
Tlie people that clamber to and fro,
Woman by woman, man by man.

To strangers that once may reach the gap,
How fair is the dell beyond the ridge.
With houses and trees, and church and bridge,
Wood upon wood, and knap by knap.

Down here may be pleasant ways to rove,
But oh I 'tis another place behind
The bars, that would take the most my mind,
Orchard by orchard, grove by grove.



22 THE BARS ON THE LANDRIDGE

When under the moon, the bars' smooth ledge,
Rubb'd up to a gloss, is bright as glass,
And shadows outmark, on dewy grass,
Rail upon rail, and edge by edge.

Then there is my way, where nightwinds sound
So softly on boughs, where lights and shades
Are playing on slopes, by hills and glades,
Tree upon tree, and mound by mound.



THE STREAM SIDE

I SAT a little while beside
A greystoned rock, the rugged brow
Of our clear pool, where waters glide
By leaning tree and hanging bough ;
In fall, when open air was cool,
And skimming swallows left tlie pool,
And glades in long-cast shades did lie
Below the yet clear sky.

The leaves that through the spring were gay,
Were now by hasty winds that shook
Them wither'd off their quiv'ring spray,
AH borne away along the brook,



24 THE STREAM SIDE

Without a day of rest around
Their mother tree, on quiet gi^ound.
But cast away on blast and wave,
To lie in some chance grave.

When sickness smote poor Mary low,
And sent her ofif her life's old ground,
To poor-house, day by day might show
Her bread, but not her friends around ;
She never fell to lie at rest,
At this old place, she liked the best.
But went as leaves off-sent by waves.
To lie in distant graves.



-D



MELHILL FEAS2

Ave up at the feast, by Melhill's brow,

So softly below the clouds in flight,

There swept on the wood, the shade and light,

Tree after tree, and bough by bough.

And there, as among the crowd, I took
My wandering way, both to and fro,
Full comely were shapes that day could show,
Face upon face, and look by look;

And there, among girls on left and right,
On one with a winsome smile, I set
My looks ; and the more, the more we met
Glance upon glance, and sight by sight.



26 MELHILL FEAST

The road she had come by then was soon
The one of my paths that best I kne^^^
By gUttering gossamer and dew,
Evening by evening, moon by moon.

First by the door of maidens fair,
As fair as the best till she is nigh,
Though now I can heedless pass them by,
One after one, or pair by pair.

Then by the orchards dim and cool.
And then along Woodcombe's timber'd side.
And then by the meads, where waters glide
Shallow by shallow, pool by pool.

And then to the house that stands alone
With roses around the porch and wall,
Where, up by tlic bridge, the waters fall
Rock under rock, and stone by stone.



MELHILL FEAST 27

Sweet were the hopes I found to cheer
My heart as I thought on time to come,
With one that would bless my happy home,
Moon upon moon, and year by year.



2S



THE DUET

As late at a house I made my call,
A mother and daughter's voices rang,
In twotreble songs, they sweetly sang.
Strain upon strain, and fall by fall.

The mother was comely, still, but staid,
The daughter was young, but womantall.
As people come on to great from small,
Maid upon child, and wife from maid.

And oh ! where the mother, in the train
Of years, may have left her child alone,
AVith no fellow voice to match her own,
Song upon song, and strain by strain.



THE DUET 29

May Providence show the way to bring
Her voice to be mine, with me to stay,
While softly my life may wear away,
Summer by summer, spring by spring.



/ AND THE DOG

As I was wont to straggle out
To your house, oh ! how glad the dog,
With low-put nose, would nimbly jog,
Along my path and hunt about ;
And his great pleasure was to run
By timber'd hedge and banky ledge,
And ended where my own begun,
At your old door and stonen floor.

And there, as time was gliding by.
With me so (juick, with him so slow.
How he would look at me, and blow,
From time to time, a whining sigh.



/ AND THE DOG 3'

That meant, 'Now come along the land,
With timber'd knolls, and rabbit holes,
I can't tliink what )-ou have on hand.
With this young face, in this old place.'



THE SURPRISE

As there I left the road in May,

And took my way along a ground,

I found a glade with girls at play,

By leafy boughs close-hemm'd around,

And there, with stores of harmless joys,

They plied their tongues, in merry noise.

Though little did they seem to fear

So queer a stranger might be near,

Teeh-hee ! Look here ! Hah ! ha ! Look there !

And oh ! so playsome, oh ! so fair.

And one would dance as one would spring,
Or bob or bow with leering smiles.
And one would swing, or sit and sing.
Or sew a stitch or two at whiles,



TITE SURPRISE y^



And one skipp'd on with downcast face,
All heedless, to my very place,
And there, in fright, with one foot out,
Made one dead step and turn'd about.
Heeh, hee, oh ! oh ! ooh ! oo ! Look there '
And oh ! so playsome, oh ' so fair.

Away they scamper'd all, full speed,

By boughs that swung along their track.

As rabbits out of wood at feed.

At sight of men all scamper back.

And one pull'd on behind her heel,

A thread of cotton, off her reel,

And oh : to follow that white clue,

I felt I fain could scamper too.

Teeh, hee, nan here. Eeh ! ee ! look there !

And oh ! so playsome, oh ! so fair.



D



54



ROUND THINGS

A FAIRY ring as round's the sun,
Beside the lea would bend its rim,
And near at hand the waves would nm
Across the pond with rounded brim.
And there, by round-built ricks of hay.
By sun-heat burnt, by sunshine brown'd.
We met in merry ring, to play,
All springing on, and wheeling round.

And there, as stones we chanc'd to fling,
Swept out in flight a lofty bow,
And fell on water ; ring by ring
Of waves bespread the pool below,



ROUND THINGS 35

Beside the bridge's arch tliat springs
Between the banks, witliin the brims,
Where swung the lowly-bending swings,
On elm-tree boughs, on mossy limbs.



D 2



36



A BRISK WIND

The burdock leaves beside the ledge,
The leaves upon the poplar's height,
Were blown by windblasts up on edge.
And show'd their undersides of white ;
And willow trees beside the rocks,
All bent grey leaves, and swung grey boughs,
As there, on wagging heads, dark locks,
Bespread red cheeks, behung white brows.



37



SHELLBROOK

When out by Shellbrook, round by stile and tree,
With longer days and sunny hours come on,
With spring and all its sunny showers come on,
With May and all its shining flowers come on,
How merry, young with young would meet in glee.

And there, how we in merry talk went by
The foam below the river bay, all white.
And blossom on the green-leav'd may, all white,
And chalk beside the dusty way, all white,
Where glitt'ring water match'd with blue the sky.



58 SHELLBROOK

Or else in winding paths and lanes, along
The timb'ry hillocks, sloping steep, we roam'd;
Or down the dells and dingles deep we roam'd ;
Or by the bending brook's wide sweep we roam'd
On holidays, \vith merry laugh or song.

But now, the frozen churchyard wallings keep
The patch of tower-shaded ground, all white.
Where friends can find the frosted mound, all white
With turfy sides ui^swelling round, all white
With young offsunder'd from the young in sleep.



39



THE WIND AT THE DOOR

As dayliglit darken'd on the dewless grass,
There still, with no one come by me,
To stay awhile at home by me,
Within the house, now dumb by me,
I sat me still as eveningtidc did pass.

And there a windblast shook the rattling door,

And seem'd, as wind did moan without.

As if my love alone without,

And standing on the stone without,

Had there come back with happiness once more.



40 THE WIND AT THE DOOR

I went to door, and out from trees, above

My head, upon the blast by me,

Sweet blossoms there were cast by me.

As if my love had pass'd by me,

And flung them down, a token of her love.

Sweet blossoms of the tree where now I mourn,

I thought, if you did blow for her,

For apples that should grow for her.

And fall red-ripe below for her,

Oh ! then how happy I should see you kern.

But no. Too soon my fond illusion broke,
No comely soul in white like her.
No fair one, tripping light, like her,
No wife of comely height like her,
Went by, but all my grief again awoke.



41



BY THE MILL IN SPRING

With wind to blow, and streams to flow,
To flow along the gravel stone,
The waves were bright, the cliff's were white.
Were white before the evening sun.
Where shaken sedge would softly sigh,
As we, with windblown locks, went by.

As lambs would swing their tails, and spring;
And spring about the ground chalk white ;
The smoke was blue, above the yew ;
The yew beside your house in sight ;
And wind would sing with sullen sound.
Against the tree beside the mound ;



42 BY THE MILL IN SPRING

Where down at mill, the wheel was still,
Was still, and dripp'd with glitt'ring tears,
With dusty poll, up lane would stroll.
The miller's man with mill-stunn'd ears ;
While weakly-wailing wind would swim,
By ground with ivied elm-trees dim.

My work and way may fail or fay.
Or fay as days may freeze or glow,
I'll try to bear my toil or care.
Or care, with either friend or foe.
If, after all, the evening tide
May bring me peace, where I abide.



43



HAPPY TIMES

How smoothly then did run my happy days,
When things to charm my mind and sight were nigh ;

The gHtt'ring brook, that wander'd round my home,
With rock -shot foam, downfalhng white, was nigh ;

And glossy-winged rooks, above the grove,
Off-sweeping round their tree, in flight, were nigh.

And daws about the castle's rugged walls,
And ivy-hooded tower's height, were nigh.

A bower outhollow'd in a hedge of yew.

Would yield me shelter'd rest, when night was nigh,



44 HAPPY TIMES

And in the dusk of moonshades, near the door,
My playsome children, skipping Hght, were nigh.

And there I never met a grief half way,
In thinking ev'ry day a blight was nigh.

But found it best, with thankfulness and care.
To feel that He that is our might, was nigh.



45



GREEN

Our summer way to churcli did wind about
The cliff, where ivy on the ledge was green.

Our summer way to town did skirt the wood,
Where shining leaves, in tree and hedge, were green.

Our summer way to milking in the mead.

Was on by brooks, where flutt'ring sedge was green.

Our homeward ways all gathered into one,
Where moss upon the roofstone's edge was green.



46



LOW SHOT LIGHT

As I went eastward ere the sun had set,

His yellow light on bough by bough was bright.

And there, by buttercups beside the hill.
Below the elmtrees, cow by cow, was bright.

While, after heavy-headed horses' heels,

With slowly-rolling wheels, the plough was bright.

And up among the people, on the sides,
One lovely face, with sunny brow, was bright.

And aye, for that one face, the bough, and cow,
And plough, in my sweet fancy, now are bright.



47



THE BROKEN JUG



JENNY AND TOM

(Tom idly swings about Jenny's jug, and breaks
it against a stone)



J. As if you could not leave the jug alone !
Now you have smack'd my jug ;
Now you have whack'd my jug ;
Now you have crack'd my jug,

Against the stone.

T. The jug was crack'd before, unknown to you:
So don't belie the stone ;
It scarce went nigh the stone,
It just went by the stone,

And broke in two.



48 THE BROKEN JUG

J. Oh ! crack'd before ! no ! that was sound enough,
From back to lip was sound,
To stand or tip was sound.
To hold or dip, was sound.

Don't talk such stuff.

T. How high then must I take its price to reach?
I'd buy some more as good ;
I'd buy a score as good ;
I'd buy a store as good j

For twopence each.

J. Indeed ! when stonen jugs are sold so dear !

No, there's a tap for lies ;

And there's a slap for lies ;

And there's a rap for lies,

About your ear.
7. Oh ! there are pretty hands ! a little dear!



49



WELL TO DO

As wind might blow along the snow,
By shelter'd nooks, and hollow caves.
By icy eaves, and frosty leaves.
And streams too hard to run in waves,
No inn-board then, in swinging slack.
And creaking shrill, would keep me back.
Would call me back, by creaking shrill,
From home and you, beyond the hill,
Though we were well to do.

When down before our porchlbd door.
The moonshade of the house might lie.
Our room would show a ruddy glow


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Online LibraryWilliam BarnesPoems of rural life in common English → online text (page 1 of 8)