Copyright
William Barnes.

Poems of rural life in common English online

. (page 3 of 8)
Online LibraryWilliam BarnesPoems of rural life in common English → online text (page 3 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


THE PRIZE WINNERS



Speakers.— The Teller (7^.) of the Cleveburn winners in
games at another village. The Teller's Chorus {T. C.) of
two or three young men come home with him. The full
Chorus (/' C.) of village hearers.



2] Old Cleveburn for ever ! Go, ringers, and turn
The brown tower door on its greystonen durn,
And take every man in his uphanging hanils
The ropes' twisted strands

E, C. What now, then ? what now ?

7'. And ring u\) a peal ; for you ought to be proud
Of }0ur brothers, and sons. Come and cheer them
aloud ;



THE PRIZE WINNERS 103

For the men of old Cleveburn will bring from the

feast
Three prizes at least.

T. C. Now guess for the three.

T. 'Tis spryfooted Jim, and 'tis broadshoulder'd Joe,

And young Willy that jumps like a winglifted

crow,
By the tall ashen tree.

F. C. Here's a clap for each chap, then ; hurrah!

T. Tliere Jim, with five others, went off with a bound
From the line, on the grass ; like a hare-hunting

hound,
With outreaching breast ; and with looks that no

face
Could turn from the race.

F. C. Well done, Jim! well done!



I04 THE PRIZE WINNERS

T. And they shot through the tree-shades, hke birds

on the wing,
And could hear but one gush of the rock-leaping

spring ;
And a rook they outstripp'd, with their flight on

the ground,
Turned hopeless around.

T. C. And spryfooted Jim

Came in quickly-panting, with red-blooming face,
The first by a nose — ay a head— ay a pace,
The sleekest of limb.

F. C. Here's a cheer, he should hear, then ; hurrah !

T. Then on came the light-footed jumpers, to bound.
For height in the air, and for length on the ground ;
And they sprang with their legs to their thighs

gather'd back.
Till they pitch'd, falling slack.

F. C. Well done, then ! well done !



THE PRIZE WINNERS 105

T. And they mark'd a long air-track, and settled as

tight
As a rook in a field, from a few yards of flight \
Though one would pitch backward, and one pitch

ahead.
And one with firm head.

T. C. But, in jumping, young Bill

Outstripped all the crew ; and his heel smothered

low
The head of a flow'r that had no other blow.
From a foot by the hill.

F. C. Good strokes, merry folks, then ; hurrah !

T. Then on came the boats, up the river's broad face.
Each ploughing a furrow of foam, in its race,
While the oarsmen fell back, and their two oars

would turn
To sweep back astern.



io6 THE PRIZE WINNERS

F. C. Well done, then ! well done !

T. Or else as the down-leaning rowers would bow,
Their oars flew ahead for new water to plough ;
As they floated by willow, or ivy-hung rock,
Or by herd, or by flock.

T. C. But broadshoulder'd Joe,

With the heat on his brow, and an oar in each fist,
Rush'd in with the first of the crews on the list
That did row.

F- C. Well done, every son ! then, hurrah !

T. So let Will leap the brook, where no bridge may
be placed.
And not stay to climb over bars in his haste.
But over them bound, ay, and over them fly.
In his shoes ankle high.

F. C. Well done, ^\'ill ! well done !



THE PRIZE WINNERS 107

T. And Jim run tlie fields of old Cleveburn, a match ;
For a hound in full run, or the hare he would

catch,
And Joe row his boat up the stream, with a

weight
Of the girls for a freight.

T. C. Ay ; jump, run, and row :

For who among us is ashamed to belong

To Cleveburn, with men that are spry and are

strong
As Bill, Jim, and Joe]

R C. It is done ; they have won ; then, hurrah \



loS



WORK AFIELD



HUSBAND AND WIFE



H. All day below, tall trees in row,

In trimming boughs, that kept me warm ;
The white chips played, about my blade.

In wood that baffled wind and storm ;
No voice did rise, but sounds of cows,
And birds' thin cries, by tangled boughs.
Where leaves down-shed from beeches red,

Had fallen o'er the grassy bank.
Or else lay down, all withered brown,

By elm-trees uj) in stately rank.



WORK AFIELD 109

\V. I'm sure you must be glad enough

To be in warmth, witli wind so rough ;
And glad to leave the chirping birds,
To hear a tongue that talks with words.

W. When you shall sway at mowing hay,
And elm-tree groves shall all be dried,
And Stour below shall wander slow
With glittering waves at eventide ;
Or corn in load, on red-wheel rims,
Shall grind the road, or brush tree-limbs,
The while the bell in tower may tell,
'Tis time to shut your day's work out,
And you may flag, and hardly drag
Your labour-wearied limbs about.
Why then, before the fall is come,
Your little girl will hail you home.

//. A}-, I shall leave the sounds of birds.

To hear Poll's prattling tongue, with words.



no



WHEN WE THAT HAVE CHILDREN,
WERE CHILDREN.

Ah ! where the hedge across the hill
With high-grown boughs did grow,
And ashes' limbs were widely spread,
With up-grown tips, above our head,
And out and in, with broken brink,
The brook ran on below.

As wind-blown leaves were driven dry

In drifts, we hastened through

The grove, where frost yet lingered white.

In shadows cast by winter light,

To reach our homely house ere night

Should hide our ])ath from view.



WHEN WE THAT HAVE CHILDREN. iii

As you might touch, with nimble tips
Of toes, the ground, so fleet
In whirhng wind, would gather strong
Behind the frock you swept along
The ruddy leaves, and lift them up
In leaps, behind your feet.

But now, again, in treading trim

Our track, tlie same old way,

We both walk on with slower gait,

On feet that bear our full-grown weight.

And leave our little children's toes

To leap, and run in pla)-.



112



PENTRIDGE

(i) How happy the evenings, when I, in my pride,

Here walked on with you and some more at my side,
Your cousin, and Harry, and Mary that died.

(2) In summer with dew.

(i) As Uvely as larks, down the slope of the hill.

We tripp'd on to Pentridge, where down at the mill.
The Stour-driven wheel is again standing still.

(2) In summer with dew, where cows were at rest.
And over the water, and over the grass.
And over the road, that again we shall pass.
Blew softly a wind from the west.

(i) The house that, at Pentridge, then yielded its smoke,
Was mossy 's an elm, but as firm as an oak,
To shelter the glossy-haired heads of its folk,



PENTRIDGE



II ;



(2) In summer with dew.

(i) But now, where tlie wall-blossom hung, is no wall.
And now, where the cattle were fed, is no stall.
And now, on the ground of the house-floor, may fall

In summer the dew, (2) where blossom is white,
And over the rushes, and over the sedge,
And over the path from the river's green edge,
Blows softly the wind of the night.

(i) And now, if we go to the mill down below

The hill, where the slow-gliding waters yet flow.
Or the fields where in boyhood I went to and fro,
In summer with dew :

Whereto % Of the house we shall find not a trace.
To whom % Of my kindred we find not a face.
For what ? For my business is far from the place.
In summer with dew, (2) and swallows on wing.
While on by the stile, and along by the bank.
And on by the lane, with the elm-trees in rank,
Blows softl}' the wind of the spring.
I



114



SHELTER

As lately I wound up the slope, along under
The trees, where the cows lay asleep all asunder,
The moon seem'd, above me, to float in cloud-streamings,
As over its face they would flit in its beamings.
And I went between

The two woods in the gloom,
When may-leaves were green,
And the thorn was in bloom.

The wind, as along in the lea I did wander.
Blew loud over head, to sound lower out yonder,
And swee]:) by the roof that might hide the dull sleeper,
Or shut u]) the much-tossing head of the weeper.



SHELTER 115

Till once more his sight

Might behold, in the grounds,

Dewy morning's red light.
And should hear tlie day's sounds.

And there, as the wind-blasts might sweep on, and ramble
By hedges, and swing in a swoop on the bramble,
And down in the mead round the ricks they were raving,
While blossomy boughs, on the rocks were all waving,
I joyed in the blast

With its high-swelling roar.
While the trees that I pass'd
Were all guides to my door.



1 2



Ii6



B Y NEIGHB O URS ' D ORS

As up on trees' high limbs,

The western sunshine glowed,

And down by river brims

The wind-blown ripples flowed,

There we did seek the tun

Where evening smoke rose grey,

While dells begun to miss the light of day.

The mother-holden child,

Before the gate, would spring.

And crow, and struggle wild

At sight of birds on wing ;

And home-bound men would shout

And make their game, before

The girls come out in clusters at the door.



BY NEIGHBOURS' DOORS 117

Then woVl a door where all

Might gather to their rest,

When pale-beam'd stars might fall

Above the red-sky'd west,

But now, from that old door

We all have taken flight.

And some no more can tell the day from night.



iiS



BETWEEN
HAYMAKING AND HARVEST

(JOHN AND HIS FRIEND)

J. The sunsped hours, with wheehng shades,

Have warm'd, for montli on month, the glades,
Till now the summer wanes ;
Though shadows quiver down below
The boughs, that lofty elm-trees throw
Across the dusty lanes ;

F. and docks,

With ruddy stems, have risen tall
Beside the cow-forsaken stall.
All free of hoofy hocks.



BETWEEN HAYMAKING AND HARVEST 119

J. Along the swath with even side,

The meadow flow'rs have fall'n and died,

And withcr'd, rusthng dry ;
And in between the hay-wale's backs,
The waggon wheels have cut their tracks,
With loads of hay built high,

P, and bound,

And cv'ry rick with peakt;d crown,
Is now down-toned to yellow brown,
And sunburnt, two-thirds round.

J. The clouds now ride at upper height,
Above the barley yellow white ;

By lane and hedge ; along
The fields of wheat, that ripen red.
And slowly reel, with giddy head,

In winil that streams full strong,
F, by copse.

And grass-field, where the cows lie down
Among the bent-grass, ruddy brown.

And thistles' purple tops.



I20 BETWEEN HAYMAKING AND HARVEST

J. So come while sheep, now shorn, may run
Clean white, below the yellow sun,

In daisy beds ; before
The swinging hook may come to shear
The yellow wheat with nodding ear,

Come, welcome, to my door.
F. I'll rest

Beside the clover-whiten'd knap,
With weary hand upon my lap,

One day your happy guest.



121



HOME'S A NEST

A Father (/''.) and a Neighbour or Chonis of Neighbours (C.)

F. Here under the porch's grey bow,
All my children have shot to and fro,
With a sleek little head.

C. Home's a nest.

F. Here are windows where hills, in the blue
Of the sky, so long shone to their view,
And the sun's evening red— darted in,
And the nooks where their toetips all sprang,
And the walls and the places that rang
With their high- screaming din.

C. Home's a nest ;

O home is a nest of the spring,
Where children may grow to take wing.



'22 HOMES A NEST

F. As small-footed maidens here walk'd

By their mother, their little tongues talk'd
To her downlooking face.

^- Home's a nest.

F. And the boys trotted on at my side,

With the two-steps they put to one stride
Of my big-footed pace :— and now each
Is withdrawn from our side and our hand,
And the oldest as far as the land
Of old England may reach.

^- Home's a nest;

A nest where the young folk are bred
Up, to take on the work of the dead.

F. And here, when the boys had begun
At their sisters with bantering fun,
How brisk was each tongue

^- Home's a nest.



HOME'S A NEST I2j

F. Of the girls, who could very soon find
How to pay off their brothers in kind,
Whether older or young, — and now each
Has his own day of life, and his door,
While his words and his doings no more
To the others may reach.

C. Home's a nest,

Wliere babes may grow women and men.
For the rearing of children again.

F. There straight-gaited John, that can show
How to handle a sword with a foe,
Is a comely young man ;

C. Home's a nest.

F. And he swings a good blade by a hand
That has hit a few blows for his land.
And the merr)'-sourd Ann ; — oh ! a dear.
She is wedded, and taken to turn
Her own cheeses, and roll her own chum,
But a good way from here.



124 HOME'S A NEST

C. Home's a nest,

Where our children grow up to take on
Our own places, when we are all gone.

F. There is dapper young Joe, that has made
A good jobbing ni cattle, his trade.
Is so skilful of mind,

C. Home's a nest,

F. That the while any bullock might blare,
He would know her all round, ev'ry hair;
And my Fanny, so kind — and so mild,
That I often would hope she might stay
At my hearth, she is taken away.
Ay, my Fanny, dear child '

C. Home's a nest,

All forsaken, when children have flown,
Like a nest in bush-top alone.

F. There is Jim, that the neighbours all round
Made their pet, is now gone, and is bound
To a very good trade.



HOME'S A NEST 12:

C. Home's a nest.

F. Though his head is as thoughtless, a lout,
As the ball he would hit so about,
In the games that they play'd, — and he's near;
But my Willie is gone from my door,
And too far to come back any more.
Any more to come here.

C. Home's a nest,

Where our children are bred to fulfil
Not our own, but our Father's good will.



1 30



ON THE ROAD

Still green on the limbs of the oak were the leaves,
Where the sloe daily grew, with its skin-bloom of grey,
rhough in fields, summer-burnt, stood the bent-grass,

well brown'd.
And the stubble of wheatfields was withering white,
While sooner the sunlight now sank from the sight,
And longer now linger'd the dim-roaded night.

But bright was the daylight that dried uj) the dew.
As the foam-water fiU'd the wide pool in its fall.
And as I came to climb, by the chalk of the cliff.
The white road full steep to tlie wa}-faring step,
Where along by the hill, with a high-beating breast.
Went the girl or the man to the feast in their best.



ON THE ROAD 127

There the horse would prance by, with his neck a

high bow,
And would toss up his nose over outspringing knees ;
And the ox, with sleek hide, and wuth low-swimming

head ;
And the sheep, little kneed, with a quickdipping nod;
And a girl, with her head carried on in a proud
Gait of walking, as smooth as an air-swimming cloud.



I2S



. MOTHER OF MOTHERS

By summer and fall, and by tide upon tide,

The apple-tree stems may lean lower aside,

And the loosening bricks, out in orchard, may fall

Cn the tree-begloom'd grass, from the long-sided wall.

And the bank-sweeping water, with shock upon shock,

May wash down the tongue of dry ground at the rock;

And old folks, once gay
And sprightly of limb.
With eyes wearing dim,

May now stoop on their way.

There's an old leaning stone in the churclyard,

bes])read
With the scales of grey lichen above a green bed.



MOTHER OF MOTHERS 129

With tlic name of a motlier that few or that none
Now alive e'er beheld by the light of the sun —
Aye, a mother of mothers, from older to young,
To the mother that worded my OAvn little tongue,
And found the wall sound,
And apple-trees trim.
And play'd on tlic brim
That is wash'd from the ground.

Oh ! now could she come, as we all have been told
She walk'd in her time, of the comeliest mould,
And show us, as what we may see in a dream,
Her looks and her smiles by the twilighted stream,
Where star-beams may twinkle through leaves of

the oak.
And tell us her tales of her old fellow folk
That here have liv'd on.
In joy or in woe,
From sprightly to slow.
And from blooming to wan.

K



I30 MOTHER OF MOTHERS

What maid was belov'd or what woman was bride,
Who droop'd in their grief or upstraighten'd with pride,
Who knelt in the church, putting head beside head,
Who stood to the children or mourn'd for the dead,
Who milk'd at the dairy in long-shaded light,
Who knelt up to thatch the round rick's i)eaked height,

What mower was strong,
Or what haymaker quick,
Who play'd the best trick,

Or who sang the best song.



FALLING TILINGS

IN THEIR SEASONS.

In sunny time, when people piass
By leafy trees and flow'ry grass,
And swallows' wings, with sweeping tips,
O'ershoot the streams in swinging dips,
And pale-green scales of elm-trees strew
The road below the dusty shoe,
When bloom of May,
In scales of white,
j\Iay wliirl their flight
By lambs at play.
Then we awhile,
By path and stile,
May stroll a mile
Where Stour may stray.

K 2



£32 FALLING THINGS

In fall, when ash-tree keys fly free,
To whirl below their mother tree,
Or winged pods, from time to time,
Fly spinning off the spreading lime ;
Or thistledown is rolling light.
To pitch and rise in fitful flight ;
When leaves offshed
From yellow boughs,
Pitch down by cows
Of yellow red.

Where Stour may wind ;
We still shall find
A joy of mind
Above its bed.

And there's a tide, when rain will fall
From dripping eaves of rick or stall.
Or snow-flakes, whirling down, may roll
From windy bank to windless hole.



FALLING THINGS 133

And tip the post with ice, and fill,
With icy dust the road up hill ;
When storms fly dark,
Or patt'ring hail
May beat the rail,
Or trees' wet bark ;
And then, through all
That there may fall,
I'll come and call
By Woodcombe Park.



134



THE MORNING MOON

'TvvAS when the op'ning dawn was still,
I took my lonely road, up hill,
Toward the eastern sky, in gloom,
Or touch'd with palest primrose bloom ;
And there the moon, at morning break,
Though yet unset, was gleaming weak,
And fresh'ning air began to pass.
All voiceless, over darksome grass,

Before the sun

Had yet begun
To dazzle down the morning moon.



THE MORNING MOON 135

By Maycreech hillock lay the cows,
Below the ash-trees' nodding boughs,
And water fell, from block to block
Of mossy stone, down Buncleeve rock.
By poplar-trees that stood, as slim
'S a feather, by the stream's green brim ;
And down about the mill, that stood
Half darken'd off below the wood,

The rambling brook.

From nook to nook,
Flow'd on below the morning moon.

At mother's house I made a stand,
Where no one stirrVl with foot or hand ;
No smoke above the chimney reek'd.
No winch above the well-mouth creak'd;
No casement open'd out, to catch
The air below the eaves of thatch ;



136 THE MORNING MOON

Nor down before her cleanly floor
Had open'd back her heavy door ;

And there the hatch,

With fasten'd latch,
Stood close, below the morning moon :

And she, dear soul, so good and kind,
Had holden long, in my young mind
Of holy thoughts, the highest place
Of honour, for her love and grace.
But now my wife, to heart and sight,
May seem to shine a fuller light ;
And as the sun may rise to view,
To dim the moon, from pale to blue,

My comely bride

May seem to hide
. My mother, now my morning moon.

But still 'tis wrong that men should slight,
By day, the midnight's weaker light,



THE MORNING MOON 137

That show'd them, though its gleams were dim,
Where roads had risk of Hfe or limb ;
And though the day my wife has made
May shine in joy without a shade.
So long 's my life shall hold in flight,
By sunsped day and moonskied night.

Still never let

My heart forget
My mother, now my morning moon.



138



JO V PASSING B Y

When ice all melted to the sun,
And left the wavy streams to run,
We long'd, as summer came, to roll
In river foam, o'er depth and shoal;
And if we lost our loose-bow'd swing.
We had a kite to pull our string ;

Or, if no ball

Would rise or fall
With us, another joy was nigh
Before our joy all pass'd us by.

If leaves of trees, that wind stripp'd bare
At morning, fly on evening air,
We still look on for summer boughs
To shade again our sunburnt brows,



JOY PASSING BY 139

Where orchard blooms' white scales may fall,
May hang the apple's blushing ball.

New hopes come on

For old ones gone,
As day on day may shine on high,
Until our joys all pass us by.

My childhood yearn'd to reach the sj^an
Of boyhood's life, and be a man ;
And then I look'd, in manhood's pride.
For manhood's sweetest choice, a bride ;
And then to lovely children, come
To make my home a dearer home.

But now my mintl

Can look behind
For joy, and wonder, with a sigh.
When all my joys have pass'd me by.

Was it when once I miss'd a call

To rise, and thenceforth seem'd to fall,



I40 JOY PASSING BY

Or when my wife to my hands left
Her few bright keys, a doleful heft,
Or when before the door I stood
To watch a child away for good,
Or where some crowd
In mirth was loud,
Or where I saw a mourner sigh,
Where did my joy all pass me by.



141



RIGHTING UP THE CHURCH

Bright was the morning and bright was the moon,
Bright was the forenoon and bright was the noon,
Bright was the road down the sunshiny ridge,
Bright was the water and bright was the bridge;
Bright in the hght were t\vo eyes in my sight.
On the road that I took up to Brenbury Tow'r :
The eyes at my side were my Fanny's, my bride,
The day of my wedding, my wedding's gay hour ;
So, if you have work in the church to make good.
Here's my bit of silver to buy stone or wood.



142 RIGHTING UP THE CHURCH

Here we took up our child, to be bound by a vow
To his Saviour, and mark'd with the cross on his brow:
While his soft little face, and two hands, were in sight,
But the rest of his shape under long folds of white,
And with little blue eyes, to the blue of the skies ;
There blinking, look'd upward our dear little boy
That his mother would call, while he'd no name at all.
Her * Dear ' and her ' Pretty,' her ' Love ' and her ' Joy ':
So, if you would put the old building to rights,
I will pay for a stroke — you shall have my two mites.



143



JOHN TALKING ANGRIL Y
OF A NEIGHBOUR BEFORE AN ECHO

Who is he % I should Hke to be told ;
What is he ? I should wish him to show ;
Why the Brines' name will stand good lor gold,
While the Browns are a set that none know.

Echo. No, no.

No, I'm not asham'd of my place;
No, I'm not asham'd of my name ;
No, I can well hold up my face.
While he must hang his down for shame.

Echo. For shame !



144 JOHN TALKING ANGRILY

Since now he bestrides an old mare,
His lips, O with pride how they pout !
Though his feet once trudged about bare.
When I had a horse to ride out.

Echo. I doubt.



No, he's not too safe from a fall :

If a half I am told is but true,

I could very soon make him look small,

With a turn I could very well do.

Echo. Well do.



His pride would have come to an end
Long ago, as it must bye-and-bye,
If I had not stood for his friend
As I did, and the greater oaf I.

Echo. O fie !



JOHN TALKING ANGRILY 145

I may be a little foreriglit,
But I never would do on the sly
Little doings, not fit for the light ;
You will never find me in a lie.

Echo. A lie.



L .



146



THE SHOP OF MEAT-WARE

OR

WARES TO EAT

(The complaint of a housemother who keeps
a huxter's shop)

By selling meat-ware I shall get no meat ;
I must not keep a shop of wares to eat.
I have some goods, but I can hardly thhik
That they are sold as quickly as they shrink ;
I have some goods, but yet my little stocks
Will waste away, like camphor in a box.
Some hand, at whiles, steals in, and slily slips
Some little thing away for some two lips.
You people here don't wait for gain of trade,
But take the store before the gain is made.



THE SHOP OF MEAT- WARE 147

I had some eggs, and I can miss some eggs,
And I don't diink they went without some legs.
I had some eggs, and some have left my store.
And I don't think they travell'd out of door ;
I had some eggs, and eggs have gone from hence,
And I don't think they brought me any pence ;
I had some eggs, as yet I know full well ;
I bought some eggs, but now have none to sell.



L 2,



148



WALKING HOME AT NIGHI

HUSBAND TO WIFE

You then for me made up your mind
To leave your rights of home behind.
Your width of table-rim, and space
Of fireside floor, your sitting-place,
And all your claim to share the best,
Of all the house, with all the rest.
To guide for me, my house, and all
My home, though small my home may be.

Come, hood your head ; the wind is keen.
Come this side — here : I'll be your screen.

The clothes your mother put you on
Are quite outworn and wholly gone,



WALKING HOME AT NIGHT

And now you wear, from crown to shoe,
What my true love has bought you new,
That now, in comely shape, is shown,
My own will's gift, to deck my own ;
And oil ! of all I have to share.
For your true share a half is small.

Come, hood your head ; wrap up, now do.
Walk close to me : I'll shelter you.

And now, when we go out to spend
A frosty night with some old friend,
And ringing clocks may tell, at last.
The evening hours have fled too fast,


1 3 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryWilliam BarnesPoems of rural life in common English → online text (page 3 of 8)