Iolaeus - The man that was a ghost
by James A. Mackereth
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A SON OF CAIN: POEMS. Cr. 8vo. 3/6 net.

IN THE WAKE OF THE PH[OE]NIX: POEMS. F'cap. 8vo. 3/6 net.









To A.R.

We range the ringing slopes of life; but you Scale the last summit, high in lonelier air, Whose dizzy pinnacle each soul must dare For valedictions born and ventures new. From dust to spirit climb, O brave and true! Strong in the wisdom that is more than prayer; High o'er the mists of pain and of despair, Mount to the vision, and the far adieu.

Merged in the vastness, with a calm surmise Mount, lonely climber, brightened from afar; Whose soul is secret as the evening-star; Whose steps are toward the ultimate surprise: No dubious morrow dims those daring eyes— Divinely lit whence truth's horizons are.

The sonnets in this volume have previously appeared in the columns of "The Academy," "The Eye-Witness," and "The Yorkshire Observer." My thanks are due to the Editors of these publications for their kind permission to republish.


Stocka House, Cottingley, Bingley.


Title Poem: Page

Iolaeus 13


The Return 67 The Soul and the Sea 69 Nations Estranged 71 The Passing-Bell 73 Condemned 75 To America. I. 77 " II. 79 To Italy. I. 81 " II. 83



Gold light across the golden coomb; The sun went west with horns of fire; Athwart the sweet, sea-breathing room The swallows swooped; the village spire Glowed red against a gleam of broom; While earth its scented secrets told, There, silent, sunset-aureoled, Sat Iolaeus, mild and old.

In distance large the moving ships Sailed on into the evening skies. He gazed, and saw not. In eclipse He tensely sat, like one who grips Some semblance that his dream descries, With such a look of far surprise That half-uncanny seemed the man, So warped with age, so weirdly wan: He had such ghostly eyes.

Then half to self, and half to me, Aloof in passion and lone despair, He spoke like one whose secrets flee From silence unaware: Now plaintively from a grief gone blind, Heavy with cumbering care, Now, thrilling thought like a white sea-wind, His words, the echoes of his mind, Haunted the air:

... 'Tis gone like the roses of long ago: Yet a dawn's impassioned thrill Makes blush the blossom's virgin snow Far on in a faery hill. Two faces there in the glamour glow In a place that is strangely still.

On the rim of the world is a ruined tower Sky-poised above wide sea-foam, Where a beautiful spirit waits hour by hour, Far-eyed 'gainst a dawn like a phantom flower, Till a ghostly lover comes home....

To leeward spread the freshening deep Purple beneath a rosy gleam. From a high, mist-engirdled steep Thin anthems to the orient beam Came faint as languid waves of sleep That lap the lonely strands of dream.

We sank our anchor solemnly Into that lustrous, splendid sea; For we, that chased the summer's smile Across the world a wondering while, Hailed at the heart the Happy Isle, The haunted shores of Faery!

Beyond a gently-heaving brine We broke with oars a trembling bay. The swerving water, like rare wine, Slid iridescent from our way. A lovely hand was laid on mine Pensively as to say: "Life is divine!"

The drifting, witching wonder grew. From out the burgeoning bounds of space It seemed some morn unearthly drew To that grave glamourous place, Where, fearful of some far adieu, I talked with one who never knew The peril of her face.

The joy that lives is mightier far Than foretaste of all grief unborn. The earth to youth is a silver star That glitters on the edge of morn, A star! a star! a dancing star.

The fair, the mystic, happy morn! Dawn glimmered on the gladdening sea; Each zephyr blew an elfin horn To echoes in felicity. All sounds to silver rhythm ran: Came flutings as from piping Pan In purpled hills of Arcady!

Seaward we heard the breakers roar; And the belated nightingales Sang all their moonlight raptures o'er, Enchanted still in echoing vales. We lingered by the brightening shore; We leapt upon the roseate strand: The joy that in our hearts we bore We loved, nor longed to understand. Soft siren voices evermore Chanted to chimes in Faeryland.

O, life was like a bird that sings At morning on a vernal bough! The springtide at the heart of things Sang as the spring knows how. And fair was she, and both were young; We knew not what made time so good; Nature with glamour-tutored tongue Spread glory in the blood.

We climbed the dim and dreaming streets: We reached a plateau crowned with pine: The leaning roses breathed their sweets 'Mid many a subtle-scented vine. We wreathed our brows with ivy-twine.

In mouldering majesty sublime, Misty with eld, the mute of time, A castle, dawn-enchanted, there Above th' abyss sheer, shimmering fair, Hung like a perilous dream in air. Poised on a dizzy turret high, Enfolded with the gorgeous sky, We listened, she and I, In wonder, 'mazed. Without a word A soul had spoken, soul had heard. All suddenly came, charged with tears, The sweetness of the human years.

We saw deep forests far away Kindle to meet the kiss of day; And mists with morn's delight uprise Like love thoughts in a maiden's eyes. We shared the dream that never dies.

Our hearts were hushed with vague desire; We breathed in kingdoms wildly new, Enthralled by Memnon's mystic lyre In regions whence the Ph[oe]nix flew; Dumb splendour round us blown, and higher On heaven's deep dome—the peacock's hue, Bright flakes of crimsoning fire!

Dew-fresh was all the wavering air. We heard the reef's far rollers croon About the ocean's margent, where Loitered the waning moon ... So fond the hour; the scene so fair; And fate came home so soon ... Some sorrow wept,—I knew not where. Some sudden presence made the air Chill as the breathless moon.

Silent, upon a lonelier steep, I gazed across a deeper deep, Where the pale mists pass from the isles of sleep.—

Lost voices called in other years: Old sweetness like a breaking grief Rose in the heart and stung to tears: In that clear moment brief Life's dearest, dead so long before, Returned to bless and die once more.

The faintly crooning sabbath bells At evening in the golden fells I heard; the tinkle of the rills In haunts where childish fancy fed; I saw the orchard daffodils About the calm homestead; Ah, saddest thought that ever fills An errant heart that memory thrills, The heath-smell of his homeland hills To one whose loves are dead ...

What yearnings burn the human breast; What wild desires like prisoned birds Impel the heart from east to west; What urgings baffling words Beat up from nature unexpressed Till soul distinct stands manifest, On guard for heaven, or, wanton, hurled Toward judgment through the world.

Long following beauty's floating flame Beneath the sky from sea to sea No isle of rest, no haven could claim The lonely, homeless heart in me. Sick loneliness no more should be Companion to my soul, for She To fill the questing vision came, Came down the breadths of blossoming foam To give to loveliness a name, To happiness a home!

Yet thought toward passion moved with dread, Like one who, hurrying to be wed, Steps, darkling, on the dead.

Far down we saw mute wavelets leap Feebly as though remembering sleep; The wheeling sea-birds proudly sway In glory o'er the opal bay;— But at the heart the world grew grey; Some joy had perished from the day; Some love was grieving far away.

No voice stirred through the haunted hill Touched with the morn's inviolate gleam. All fearfully wild heart and will Drank rapture in the face of ill! Our spirits thrilled to answer thrill, And trembled in their dream.

Truth comes, and tears, and glamour goes. There's speech within the blood More eloquent than language knows, And woes make signal unto woes While pity breathes and passion blows: We looked:——we understood. On summer's heart fell winter's snows ... The death that dissipates the rose Was busy in the bud ...

The spectre beckoned: none could save ... The sundering grave ... The sundering grave! ... Our lonely love in time could be But whisper of a broken wave Lost in a boundless sea ... She spoke, so fair, so pale, so brave,—— Across infinity!

Ah meekness mute with tragedy!... My body stirred as in a grave, And looked forth wonderingly ... The everlasting sea serene 'Neath everlasting sky Shone, and across the morning sheen The deathless winds went by. And a face was there that I never had seen; And a shadow stood where a glory had been; The beauty hung at my heart like pain; And love was lovely, but life was bane, For all should die,—but the wonder remain, And the earth, and the sea, and the sky ...

The hills have winds, the fields have flowers; Not all alone is the wintry tree; The stars that gleam in cloudy bowers Have stars for company; The waste hath peace of the drifting hours; And night brings joy to the hoary sea:

But the heart of man is a lonely thing; And lone the soul of the secret vows, With its wasted love and its wounded wing, In a withered world that hath no spring, No burgeoning boughs: The soul of man is the loneliest thing In life's eternal wandering That God allows ...

O, isle of dreams, and orient shore! Ah miracle in sea and sky! Ah youth that fleeting love made soar To heaven! The glory upon high To dusk hath waned, yet comes once more A wonder and a cry!...

The ship's bell tolled off that fair land; The sails bulged buoyantly: The sun rose mute, and large, and bland; The favouring wind swung free. We stood from that enchanted strand Into the morning sea.

We rode down swinging winds away, Far o'er the moving waters wan, Seen low at pale meridan, The land was grey.

The dusk came down; and like a ghost Rose the sad moon; the waves 'gan moan: There on the deep no kindly coast,— The dark alone.

And in two faces stared, and stared The being without blood or breath, The stilly spectre, horror-haired, That haunteth all he murdereth; At noon, at midnight stared, and stared When sunrise flashed, when sunset flared, The grizzly phantom horror-haired:—

Stalking frail beauty to her grave I saw him moving evermore A stealthy wanderer on the wave, A shrouded shadow on the shore, The worm his bondsman, and the brave His victims evermore ...

The Power that drives all mortal things, Upbuoys all being's wanderings, Moved in the void his urgent wings ...

On down the weltering world we sped; Across the lonely, drifting noon; Along the wreathed tides we fled Beneath the memoried moon. Sad love pursued where sorrow led; And beauty, waiting to be dead, Kissed under the dead moon.

Love, speechless, yearned in hopeless eyes; And hearts that hungered craved in vain. Dumb pity heard sad pity's sighs; And grief soothed grief again. Fond smile to smile sent faint replies, And faded back to pain.

Entangled in the toils of fate, Two stood at Eden's open gate— Banned, in a world found desolate ... And love made league with hate ... All time's long woe since man's wet eyes Peered toward a promised paradise Pressed home,—the weight of smothered cries, Dead dreams, and hopeless pain Of souls in silence slain.

We saw the loathsome waste of death; Sad soul at war with sense; And suffering doomed to lingering breath; And slandered innocence; And beauty ravished at the bloom; Saw strength flung prostrate; fall The brave, life-worsted from the womb; White truth made criminal: Impotent, passionate, counting all, We kissed——across a tomb ...

The lustrous clouds trailed proudly by: And through a rift of dazzling sky I cursed God with a dreary cry ...

The silence of the starry night; The silver of the moonlit sea; And loud in secret, stern, and trite, The pulse of destiny. Ah sadness scourged with doomed delight! Ah wondrous misery!

Pale topsails in the offing shone, And faded into foam: And down the noontide, one by one, The pale, proud ships would roam; Each sailor to his love went on; Each wanderer to his home.

And, ceasing not, death's nearing knell Tolled in a heart that dreamed no more. Our lips shook, sad as lips in hell; But, fearful of the rending shore, To fill all time with sad farewell We would have sailed for evermore!

For pleasantly a song she'd croon, And feign the world a kindly place; And tender was the haunting tune To match her haunting grace; And tenderly the witching moon Toyed with her feeling face ...

Our love was like the scent of flowers To her who watches by the bed Of one that dies in the dark hours, The one her youth had wed: At dawn she scares her tears away, And through the cloud-enamelled day Jests bravely for their bread.

She shared with all the brighter part; The witching sallies lightly flew; Her thoughts seemed, spilt by subtle art, Half tear-drops and half dew. They loved her for her gracious heart, And the glad winds blew.

The sunbeam of her fleeting life Gladdened the unsuspecting days; And all the dusky imps of strife Paled in her wisdom's lambent rays. Her laugh to one was as a knife: But she had pleasure's praise.

And I who loved that conquering smile, And felt the tears in secret shed, Who watched her life with kindly guile Veiling its darlings dead, Held in a choking hush the while A heart that feigned—and bled ...

Onward with blind rebellious breast I ranged, with love, with bale opprest, Piteous, passionate, all unblest, The dispossessed,—God-possest ...

More lonely grew the leaden wave That broke against the leaning sky; The melancholy winds 'gan rave Among the whimpering shrouds on high: Most lonely up the leaden wave Two climbed toward yet a lonelier grave— Where only one should lie.

We neared a grey and grievous land That thundered by a wintry sea; I touched the sorrow of her hand, But nothing sad said she: She turned from love at death's command To death eternally.

We passed the numbly moaning bar; We heard the harbour bell, Its dull fog-muffled clang from far Came like a lorn death-knell. The quay-lights pushed a livid flare Through shrouding mist; and all things there Moved like grim shades in hell.

The hammer's clamp on resonant steel; The siren's shriek; the scream and whirr Reverberant from forge and wheel; The fury and the clangorous stir And plunge of traffic; Vulcan's heel Crashing on iron,—and the reel Of sense at loss of her.—

None guessed when, playfully, she said, With smile that brightened toward her dead, "To-day across the world I ride To meet a bridegroom, I the bride." They thought her mischief lied.

Around us was the deafening roar, A void, a wild and drear eclipse. A sadder sweetness than before Shook her pale, smiling lips; She waved adieu through vapours hoar, And vanished in the shadows frore Among the heedless ships ... In that dread lapse of all farewell The spirit, listening, plain could tell That devils laughed in drifting hell With guile upon their lips ...

The world seemed all a hollow ghost That would dissolve away; And life itself a random boast Of elements at play; And time a swift elusive gleam, And man the mockery of a dream, A foam-bell to a moment's beam Flung from the spray.

I had worshipped her with sacred sighs, Loved with the love that wondereth; My life had found her maiden-wise, And sweeter than the rose's breath; Lit by a soul in paradise The lights within her holy eyes, The lady loved of death ...

Bereft, forlorn, by passion driven, And blanched with loss, by suffering riven, With impious heart I fled from Heaven ...

Thought like a frost gripped all the brain: With frozen tears opprest, The conscious blood with sullen pain Lunged at the callous breast, Where hope and love, a pallid twain, Sat with a ghoul for guest.

Over the watery wastes I fled Where'er dim desolation led Beneath sad sun and moon! For faith was dead, and joy was dead, And love was where the phantoms tread, And bitterness was passion's bread: "Grant, jester Death," I, laughing, said, "Thy haggard fool a boon!" ...

And unforgiving, unforgiven, A derelict, by tempest driven, I drave beneath the breadth of heaven ...

Grim sorrow fell on all things fair; To dust was turned the lover's breath. Ah longing, like a pariah bare, And passion, led by lewd despair To kiss the smelling jowl of death!

As in a sunless cavern cold, Like one who flies a crime, Fearful, and old as God is old, The spirit shrank from time; For a stifled scream was the angry gold Of the weird sunset, and the noonday bold Was the stare on the face of a crime.

I saw as brain-blurred drunkards see; I felt, yet could not feel; I seemed in moving time to be In nerveless immobility As dust upon a wheel.

Some world material moved around, Mazed breadths of spume and brine; Strange voices spake as from a bound Far off, I answered with a sound, Nor knew the answer mine; And sometimes like a weary hound I heard the darkness whine.

In throbbing night 'twixt sleep and sleep My tortured spirit heard A wail that wandered down the deep, A sorrow on the windy deep Wail like a wounded bird; And I wept as a haunted man doth weep Who dare not speak a word.

Sometimes I sensed heaven's bellied gloom, Storm like dumb and pregnant doom Scowl on the waters wild; Or tempest 'neath a plunging sky Down crashing waves with haunting cry Scream like a tortured child;

A blind thing staggering in the night Strained, groaning, 'gainst a pervious power That flashed and eddied, wild and white, That wheeled and wailed from hour to hour; And, somewhere, strangely burned to sight Dawn like a doom a-flower ...

On ever onward, darkly driven, A soul, unsheltered, and unshriven, With lodestar gone, with raiment riven, Drove in the gale of the wrath of Heaven ...

The monsoon blew; the changing stars Rode by in deeper skies. At times between the raking spars I felt the blank moon rise; Or heard the chanties of the tars With a sad, sick surprise.

And once a heaven, the sapphire's hue, Flashed o'er the freshening wave; They hurt the heart as laughers do When love stands by a grave.

And now a level ocean grey Would lie along a level day, Unwhipt of wing or wind; Or sunset make a carmine stain That sucked like sadness at the brain, And sank into the mind, And touched me with some wandering pain, Some sentience of mankind again.

... And where was she?... Could sorrow fail In aching time ... Ah voice in vain That called for ever ... fading sail On seas forlorn; sad wind and rain Whispering ... all-wandering pain ... And in the heart the wail— Never again on earth—never again.

So dimly to a beauteous ghost My being bowed a subject knee, And lived, with love's sad sunset lost, Alone 'mid all the sea. A leper to a lonely coast, I fled from all I cherished most; And wildly, with a bleeding boast, I clasped my agony ...

Sad nature strained the leash in vain, And flying, fled not; ever the chain Of the Fear that followed; ever again Relentless pity; guardian pain ...

Like torturing dreams the days went by, With all save self denied; And Godward went man's desolate cry, That Christ Himself had cried: Alone each soul upon its tree Cried to its kin,—but over me The darkness that crushed Calvary When God was crucified.

The present lost, I found, aghast, A dying heart, a deathless past; And, ever nigh, and mocking me, A madness, or a mystery ... And hour by hour, in peril, passed A soul toward judgment through the vast ...

Life, a vague tumult in the blood, Beat on 'gainst flesh and bone; And in its echoing solitude The heart tapped like a stone; Till like some child at dark I stood That stands fear-frozen in a wood,— Alone—yet not alone.—

For mine was ghostly company: Chilled, in the eerie air I felt myself bend over me, And point as with despair; And, horror-thrilled, I turned to see My body selfless there,

And separate,—a house of clay That mourned its tenant gone; Its vacant eyes would fain delay, Its piteous hands implored to stay The soul that in it shone. Where one had been, in mute dismay Two, merged in mystery, went away— I and that other One ...

With vision blurred, and bearings lost, Streamed on amid a phantom host The man that was a ghost ...

Apart from human years I stood A naked, probing mind. Aloof I heard the beating blood, The far-brought voices of the blood, Flow round me like a wind; In an abysmal solitude I staggered like one blind.—

In wastes uncharted, far from bliss, I heard a writhing chaos hiss; And thought, that moved in time no more, Wept on some wild, pre-natal shore.—

Appalled, the boundless vision burst Through yawning gulfs of gloom; To human hunger, human thirst Infinite hell did loom; Infinite bale to vision burst In tracts of nebulous bloom; And life through peril, lorn, accurst, Passed on from doom to doom.

The depths were full of throes unknown, Weird wastes of vomited fire; Wild mists of thunderous flame were blown Athwart eclipse; I heard the groan Of travailing worlds stupendous thrown Through chaos to expire: My spirit, cowed with vastness dire, Gazed, poised in space,—alone,— Alone as a haunted life that lies On the death-brink when a dread past cries, And the live dark burns with eternal eyes.

Rang, terror-wrung from shrivelled pride: "Oh loneliest of the dead, Thou with the deeply riven side, And with the branded head, Lo, I, in blasphemy that died, Do envy all the dead,

"And, fleeing self-hood, fain would die— But this can never be! This mortal nevermore can lie To immortality.— Oh! hearken to my ghostly cry, Lone ghost of Calvary!"— I was my own infinity; The cry, the echo I ...

Oh brother, with the bone-sealed breast; Brother in hope, in shame, In joy, in sorrow, east and west We know, but man, earth's awful guest, Is vastness with a name,— Is spirit, hungry in the quest Of spirit whence he came ...

On through the void I shuddering fled, Immortal, seeking to be dead, With God behind me, God ahead, Pursued, encompassed, lost,—and led ...

God's outcasts only have their ease: But I was not as these. From deep to deep my soul was blown Like sin toward judgment, ever alone With the Eye unseen, and the Hand unknown.

Sad nature strained the leash in vain, And, flying, fled not; ever the chain Of the Fear that followed; ever again Relentless pity, guardian pain ...

Slow time a sad nepenthe brought, Numb poignance with no sigh, When body, dim with sorrow, sought Day with a dead man's eye.—

As from far off I darkly saw: I lay as doomed men lie: A lamb beneath a lion's paw, Mute-meek, that lamb was I; My soul I felt the monster gnaw, I heard my body die.

And, dumbly, 'thwart a dreader deep I drifted, as on awful sleep, Where sorrows burn, and never weep ...

Delirium reigned. Fell darkness dire, Vague terror, shapeless dole. Forever climbing ghats of fire I struggled to a goal Where, lone upon the suttee pyre, I saw my life's long-lost desire— The widow of my soul!

Far and far through smoke-red light I saw her beckoning stand; Anon, like a burning bird in fright, She fled with a shriek through the lurid night, And I wailed like a lost soul banned; And an echo flew like an anguished sprite And wailed in a hollow land.

Then utter loss: and there was nought. My sentience wholly sped: No sound, no feeling, sight, or thought: Yet I knew with a vacuous dread I lay a thing by God unsought,— Dead, dead,—for ever dead ...

Slow ages seemed to have their will: And, moving toward the prime, Th' Eternal Immanency still Breathed in the senseless lime, Till a dead thing felt the procreant thrill, And shuddered back to time.

It might have been ten thousand years That over me had run; It might have been ten thousand years I had not sensed the sun.— Oh God, how much of sin that sears, How many, many bitter years Till soul from dust be won? Oh Lord of Light, make sweet their tears Who never see the sun!— ...

Mean as the dust, through the volant vast Flung like chaff, as ashes cast To the nether storms, I sank, pride past, On the waiting wings of the First and Last ...

Slowly, slowly came the grey Where all was dark before. Some monster left its mangled prey Because the night was o'er: And, sick beside an Indian shore, I knew that it was day—

And strangely cared. Some cloudy pain Seemed from my being rolled. Afar upon a misty plain The grey was turning gold. I slept, and dreamt of rustling rain On leaves in summers old.

And faintly in my dream the corn Shook under English skies; To wreathe with silvery song the morn I saw the laverock rise; And I saw the Dead by a snow-white thorn, Touched with the blush of a mounting morn, Singing in paradise; And a seraph blew on a golden horn; And I saw with a mild surmise

White shapes pass panoplied from war In fields to sense unknown; And over them a targe-like star Blazed in its heaven alone; And a chant of joy was blown afar; And a soul-name rang 'neath that blinding star, Which deep in a world crepuscular My spirit knew for its own. Then I turned, for the star-gleam dazzled my eyes, And woke with a glad surprise!—

Woke with the earth-breath on my face. The sunbeams filtered through A tamarind in a stilly place; I saw the brazen blue: And suddenly Christ's healing grace Fell round like holy dew.

And kindly faces passed and smiled; And gentle voices spoke; And, wondering like a waking child, The night within me broke, And from a heart grown reconciled Went heavenward like thin smoke.

On all the bounds of ranging sight The lifting gloom was riven. The terrors of abysmal night Fled like hushed horrors fly from light By dawn's winged horsemen driven. On the drifting hills of morn shone bright The gonfalons of heaven.

Warm winds from palm-hung pleasances Came through the lattice bars With scents and murmurous harmonies; Like splintered scimitars The moonbeams through the banyan trees Gleamed under Indian stars.

And far away, and far away My heart went out forlorn; 'Mid benizons from far away I felt my soul reborn; And man from every palm-fringed bay And mountain town where sunsets stay, From sounding cities smoking grey Called, called me down the morn ...

O magic of the morning sky! O wonder of the moonlit sea! O life—the vision and the cry Into eternity!— Eternity beneath, on high, Veiled within cloud and clod, That life in folly would vainly fly Through the nethermost deep, through the uttermost high,— Life that is God-doomed never to die To the agony of God.

Too long to self my life had given What was for soul alone; To rob the sanctuaries had striven To build a lone love's throne. In vain we prop each little heaven While men's souls turn to stone.

The good in ill let no man scorn; The ill in good let all men find. Our knowledge is the lesser morn; Large night with stars behind Shews most. Of spirit still is born All life, all wonder; it shall bind All hearts in wisdom. Unforlorn He lives in deserts, though he mourn, Who loveth all the Kind ...

With storm gone by, from jeopardy, With loss for gain, and blindness past, Home to divine reality The tides have borne me,—home at last. Time like a silver flower doth blow And blossom o'er a subtler sod, And through the meads of light I go Beneath the golden boughs of God ...

My soul hath won to the city of love With the burnished walls of the dreams' desires; And my life is glad as a glittering dove That coos in the sun upon golden spires; And I welcome the winds of the world, and move To the music of unseen choirs.

Great powers are for us; mighty wings Toward man's proud peril speed. Life nourished at eternal springs, Beats up through star and creed, Till soul, ascendant, fetter-freed, A soaring seraph sings!...

On the rim of the world is a rosy tower Sky-poised above wide sea-foam, Where a beautiful spirit waits hour by hour, Far-eyed 'gainst a dawn like a phantom flower, Till a ghostly lover comes home ...

Ah! love is as lust till it count love lost; The soul is as sin till it weep sin's cost; O, happy is he, though he suffer most, Who wins to the Holy Ghost!

So spake old Iolaeus. There That drifting, chant-like monody, Its eerie passion, weird despair, Had wrought on me like wizardry;— Withal he moved through strange eclipse With God's faint finger at his lips, And with such tense and far surprise, That half uncanny seemed the man With cloudy hair, in human guise, So warped with age, so weirdly wan, Whose dry flesh into spirit ran, And saw with ghostly eyes.


(To E.W.)

Home, O most pale adventurer, are you bound From that strange kingdom where no love may trace The life it loves to its abiding place, Or hail it from afar with cheerful sound. From deeps whose marges mortal ne'er hath found You steal, and we are awed before your face— For you are weird with wonder, with the grace Of death's most delicate lilies are you crowned.

After the ranging sunset of Farewell— When life's loved country fades, and hope is lorn, Is it not fair from that dim, tideless bourn To drift back home to man's own star and dwell Fondly with time, in tune with bud and bell, With midnight's shimmer of stars and the sheen of morn?


I hear the shouting of th' exultant sea, Its reel and crash along the shuddering strand; Through muffling mist the wide reverberant land In thunderous labour laughs exultantly; The wrestling wind's tumultuous revelry Whips into whirling clouds the blanched sea-sand; The primal powers in grim convulsion grand Strive, straining agonists, frenzied to be free.

And in the lapses of the roaring gale I hear the cries of lives that rage and weep, That sow for ever, and that never reap; Brave hearts that travail with all hopes that fail Break with the breakers; with a wandering wail Flies sorrow with white lips along the deep.



Bound to one triumph, of one travail born, Doomed to one death, in one brief life we moil; The pangs that maim us and the powers that spoil Are common sorrows heired from worlds outworn. Alike in weakness, time too long hath torn Our mother, Patience, and our father, Toil. Brothers in hatred of the fates that foil, Say not in vain we murmur and we mourn!

O, by the love that lights our mothers' eyes, By hearth and home, by common hopes and fears, By all sad sweetness of the human years, Partings, and meetings, by our infants' cries— One are we, through the heart's divine allies, In long allegiance to eternal tears!



A roaring furnace, and a passing-bell; Grim vitreous gloom, and one low, raking gleam From a spent sun that spills its passive beam Athwart a smouldering city. Comes the smell Of sweat and labour. The sad, sullen knell Booms in the brain. As in a baleful dream A panting siren, veiled with hissing steam, Shrieks like a looming horror deep in hell.

A flaccid flood of faces, blanched with doom, And raucous cries from out a blinking dark Crowd on the callous dusk. With haunting bark Death hunts his hapless victims. Heaven's sick bloom Swoons in the frost. Through droning twilight—hark! The slow, thick, ominous burden of the tomb.



Our deeds avail not; and our dreams are thrust Into the dark and wither from the sky. We live in duress, and to sweetness die; And lo! our guerdon is the world's distrust. Yet have we dreamt of judgment that is just, And seen a splendour trailing from on high; From mean abortion mounts our piteous cry: "Out of the dust, O Christ! out of the dust!"

We are as leaves within the winter gale, And are through tribulation darkly driven; And all the promise that the prime hath given Is as faint smoke before the winds that wail. Wan from the drowning pools of bitter bale Our futile faces front the hush of heaven!



Thou of the starry wing, that canst not soar, Confused power, still seeking, still unblest; For ever clutching to a braggart breast The hope portentous and the worldling's lore. Furiously futile, with a raucous roar Thy dizzy moments mock th' eternal quest; To feverish ends, by factions fierce distrest, Toiling, a sanguine Titan evermore,—

America!—Ah, burthen of the mind!— Cradled in truth, and 'mid distractions born To pure emprise on that despotic morn When freedom yearned along the westering wind, And tyranny, that hound among the blind, Bayed toward the deep where faith went forth—forlorn.


Thou who didst dare th' unknown, precarious sea, And down the unbounded winds adventurous roam, Searching the world's horizons for a home, A haven for the heart of liberty:— Boaster of freedom, found no longer free, What vaporous phantom from time's ocean-foam Blurs the translucence of th' eternal dome Where sang the burning stars that beckoned thee?

Thy heart hath caught the siren's doom-sweet cries, And sips oblivion at fond Circe's nod. Oh! for a seer whose soul is lightning-shod, To stand imperial 'gainst th' impervious skies, As Lincoln stood, with brave heaven-gazing eyes, To appeal from guile's impermanence to God!



Italia, seated by the sapphire sea, Crooning of summers rich from long ago, Dreamer mid dreams, thy peerless face aglow With rare romance and passionate poesy; Hath time's delirium taken even thee, Mother of Petrarch, Raphael, Angelo? And dost thou purblind speed to weltering woe, Dead to the wonder that was Italy?

Farewell thy peace, farewell thy pride, farewell The roseate rapture of the radiant years. Thy breast shall nourish sorrows, and thy fears Shall haunt the olives and the sunset bell; Ah, thou shalt sigh for Francis and his cell, And beat with Dante to the bourn of tears.


Italia, dowered with Asia's amorous eyes, With India's glow through snows Circassian, The Muses' love since Dorian lightning ran Kindling the west to perilous surprise,— Crowned with thy dawn-star, lo! portentous-wise, Steps the stern pupil of the Mantuan And lowers toward moon-mute deserts African Where, stained with rapine's rose, thy honour lies.

Dim grows the vision of th' enchanted shore. Queen of the lovely and the lonely vow, Farewell. False time hath charmed thee, and thy brow Is toward eclipse and storms that rend and roar. Fond valedictions fade afar, but thou Canst be our dream's Italia nevermore.




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Westminster Review.—We write under the conviction that Mr. Mackereth is destined to compel the admiration not only of a few critics but also of the general public.

Times Literary Supplement.—He has a note of his own; one can always enjoy the rich exuberance of his fancy and of his diction.

Daily Telegraph.—A true singer whom no reader with a taste for contemporary poetry should overlook.

Yorkshire Daily Observer.—... We cannot afford to neglect such poetry—it is vital... Alive with the spirit of the new century.

Aberdeen Free Press.—The "Ode on the Passing of Autumn"... a really splendid poem... Mr. Mackereth is undoubtedly a poet of considerable power and originality.

The Literary World.—There is a strength about his work which is very rare in English verse.... Mr. Mackereth's name deserves to stand very high among the poets of to-day.

The Star.—"A Son of Cain"... is a good goad for the withered imagination.... Why does Mr. Mackereth's poem "The Lion" flash the light on our sickly glazed eyeballs? Its symbolism makes the soul wince and tremble and ache.... The virtue in the poem sounds a spiritual tocsin.

Irish Times.—... A note of his own, a passionate, vibrant note, but true and strong.

Glasgow Evening Times.—... A volume of singular insight and power.

Dundee Advertiser.—... The title poem has the same haunting effect upon the reader as "The Ancient Mariner." The "Ode on the Passing of Autumn" is a fine achievement.... We congratulate Mr. Mackereth on his undoubted powers of sustainment.

The Daily Chronicle.—His work is virile. His verse goes with a ring and a tang.

The Scotsman.—The title poem is a grim and powerful ballad.... The book will be read with interest and admiration by all who value the classic traditions of English poetry.

The Yorkshire Post.—... He has the right to a place among those who are creating the distinctive poetry of our time. In the two pieces, the splendid "Ode on the Passing of Autumn," and "The Gods that Pass and Die Not," Mr. Mackereth attains a height where splendid promise enlarges into great performance.

The Bookman.—... It proves him to be the possessor of a quick eye for beauty, of imagination and sensitiveness. It repeatedly echoes great work, yet still remains undeniably his own.

The Nation.—What he has to say is vigorous and virile. He is not for dealing in the vagueness of dissatisfaction, but endeavours to make his writing an affirmation of joy.

The Glasgow Herald.—To pass to his poems is to pass into mountain air where sane thought dwells.... His heart is in poetry, and his own pleasure in it merely as a word movement is manifest in every line of such poems as "Mad Moll" and "Pan Alive."

The New York Times.—A virile and hopeful singer ... resonant as a trumpet-call to those who build the palace of life.

The Dial (Chicago).—Clearly the work of a poet.... The volume will well reward him who ventures into its pages.

Literary Digest.—... The longer poems have a deep Atlantic roll.... In all his thought one can feel the lift of a tide.






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Glasgow Herald.—"Always poetry—poetry vital with energy and clothed with beauty and at times with splendour."

Literary World.—"Deserves attention from those who can enjoy one of the finest pleasures of the mind—namely, that process by which the spirit of an age becomes articulate.... Full of power, of ecstasy, of a fury of joy."

Pall Mall Gazette.—"A signature which has come to be watched with the greatest attention, and welcome wherever it appears."

The Athenaeum.—"We quail before his thunderous broadsides of language... as we read him he suggests stupendous phenomena."

The Times.—"Vigour of thought and imagination and remarkable wealth of poetic diction."

The Scotsman.—"Will be read with especial interest and sympathy by readers who like modern poetry that keeps alive the traditions of a spiritualised nature-worship."

The Academy.—"We have nothing but admiration for the work."

Westminster Review.—"A poet of exceptionally fine calibre."

Aberdeen Free Press.—"Possesses great poetic merit.... The magnificent 'Hymn to the Midnight.'"

The Morning Post.—"Power, originality, insight.... His work is above all things virile... real passion and true imagination."

The Yorkshire Post.—"His imaginative insight into life's realities is powerfully displayed in such pieces as 'Dreams,' and 'The Splendid Mistake.' In 'The Seer in the Doomed City' he has achieved a vision starkly impressive in its symbolism, haunting in its imaginative conception, and noble in its moral."

T.P.'s Weekly.—"... breathing virility and strong kindness in every line."

The Yorkshire Observer.—"Places the writer among the true poets of his time."

The Irish Times.—"Here is verse which really sings, ideas which are fresh and strong, language which is in the highest sense poetical."

The Baltimore News.—"Two unforgettable poems, 'A Hymn to Midnight,' and 'At Moonrise.'"

Boston Transcript.—"Sincerity and vivid imagination.... Verse of uncommon distinction."

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. 39, Paternoster Row, London, E.C.


Transcriber's notes

- This book was part of Distributed Proofreaders' 2009 Halloween bash. - Pages 15, 16, and 18: left in variant spellings "faery" and "faery," because there was too little textual evidence to decide to normalize either way. - Page 86: Corrected "endevours" to "endeavours." - Page 87: Normalized "Literary World" to "Literary World." (i.e. included a full-stop). - In the TXT version, the oe-ligature has been transcribed as [OE] (capital) or [oe] (small letters) - Page numbers have been retained in the HTML version as (invisible) A elements—use View Source or the equivalent function of your web browser to view them.


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