SONGS FROM BOOKS
MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON
All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian
First Edition October 1913
Reprinted October (twice), November 1913, 1914
I have collected in this volume practically all the verses and chapter-headings scattered through my books. In several cases where only a few lines of verse were originally used, I have given in full the song, etc., from which they were taken.
'CITIES AND THRONES AND POWERS'
_Cities and Thrones and Powers, Stand in Time's eye, Almost as long as flowers, Which daily die. But, as new buds put forth To glad new men, Out of the spent and unconsidered Earth, The Cities rise again.
This season's Daffodil, She never hears, What change, what chance, what chill, Cut down last year's: But with bold countenance, And knowledge small, Esteems her seven days' continuance To be perpetual.
So Time that is o'er-kind, To all that be, Ordains us e'en as blind, As bold as she: That in our very death, And burial sure, Shadow to shadow, well persuaded, saith, 'See how our works endure!'_
SONG BOOK PAGE Angutivaun Taina Second Jungle Book 292 Astrologer's Song, An Rewards and Fairies 164 Ballad of Minepit Shaw, The Rewards and Fairies 266 Bee Boy's Song, The Puck of Pook's Hill 172 Bees and the Flies, The Actions and Reactions 89 Blue Roses Light that Failed 225 British-Roman Song, A Puck 96 Brookland Road Rewards and Fairies 10 Butterflies Traffics and Discoveries 228 'By the Hoof of the Wild Goat' Plain Tales 217 Captive, The Traffics and Discoveries 71 Carol, A Rewards and Fairies 41 Chapter Headings Beast and Man, etc. 132 " " Jungle Books 245 " " Just-So Stories 182 " " Naulahka, Light that Failed 78 " " Plain Tales 30 Charm, A Rewards and Fairies 26 Children's Song, The Puck 143 Chil's Song Second Jungle Book 69 'Cities and Thrones and Powers' Puck vii City of Sleep, The The Day's Work 198 Cold Iron Rewards and Fairies 36 Cuckoo Song Heathfield Parish Memoirs 24 Darzee's Chaunt Jungle Book 299 Dedication, A Soldiers Three 235 Eddi's Service Rewards and Fairies 45 Egg-shell, The Traffics and Discoveries 254 Fairies' Siege, The Kim 50 Four Angels, The Actions and Reactions 301 Frankie's Trade Rewards and Fairies 285 Gallio's Song Actions and Reactions 86 Gow's Watch Kim 206 Hadramauti Plain Tales 75 Harp Song of the Dane Women Puck 60 Heriot's Ford Light that Failed 283 Heritage, The The Empire and the Century 130 Hunting Song of the Seeonee Pack Jungle Book 294 If— Rewards and Fairies 149 Jester, The Collected 156 Jubal and Tubal Cain Letters to the Family 112 Juggler's Song, The Naulahka 288 Kingdom, The Naulahka 15 King Henry VII. and the Shipwrights Rewards and Fairies 272 King's Task, The Traffics and Discoveries 256 Law of the Jungle, The Second Jungle Book 120 Looking-Glass, The Rewards and Fairies 193 Love Song of Har Dyal, The Plain Tales 234 'Lukannon' Jungle Book 161 Merrow Down Just-So Stories 176 Morning Song in the Jungle Second Jungle Book 223 Mother o' Mine Light that Failed 237 Mowgli's Song against People Second Jungle Book 241 My Lady's Law Naulahka 230 'My New-Cut Ashlar' Life's Handicap 43 Necessitarian, The Traffics and Discoveries 154 New Knighthood, The Actions and Reactions 54 Nursing Sister, The Naulahka 232 Old Mother Laidinwool Puck 179 Only Son, The Many Inventions 238 'Our Fathers also' Traffics and Discoveries 94 'Our Fathers of Old' Rewards and Fairies 127 Outsong in the Jungle Second Jungle Book 56 Parade Song of the Camp Animals Jungle Book 145 Pict Song, A Puck 98 'Poor Honest Men' Rewards and Fairies 105 Poseidon's Law Traffics and Discoveries 263 'Power of the Dog, The' Actions and Reactions 168 Prairie, The Letters to the Family 28 Prayer, The Kim 303 Prayer of Miriam Cohen, The Many Inventions 202 Prodigal Son, The Kim 151 Prophets at Home Puck 111 Pock's Song Puck 3 Puzzler, The Actions and Reactions 73 Queen's Men, The Rewards and Fairies 196 Rabbi's Song, The Actions and Reactions 170 Recall, The Actions and Reactions 1 Return of the Children, The Traffics and Discoveries 174 'Rimini' Puck 102 Ripple Song, A Second Jungle Book 226 Road Song of the Bandar-Log Jungle Book 92 Romulus and Remus Letters to the Family 243 Run of the Downs, The Rewards and Fairies 9 Sack of the Gods, The Naulahka 12 School Song, A Stalky & Co. 116 'Servant When He Reigneth, A' Letters to the Family 124 Shiv and the Grasshopper Jungle Book 48 Sir Richard's Song Puck 19 Smuggler's Song, A Puck 269 Song of Kabir, A Second Jungle Book 39 Song of the Fifth River Puck 140 Song of the Little Hunter Second Jungle Book 204 Song of the Men's Side Rewards and Fairies 296 Song of the Red War-Boat Rewards and Fairies 219 Song of Travel, A Letters to the Family 157 Song to Mithras, A Puck 52 St. Helena Lullaby, A Rewards and Fairies 66 Stranger, The Letters to the Family 100 Tarrant Moss Plain Tales 17 Thorkild's Song Puck 290 Thousandth Man, The Rewards and Fairies 62 Three-Part Song, A Puck 8 Tree Song, A Puck 21 Truthful Song, A Rewards and Fairies 266 Two-Sided Man, The Kim 159 Voortrekker, The Collected 114 Way through the Woods, The Rewards and Fairies 6 Wet Litany, The Traffics and Discoveries 277 'When the Great Ark' Letters to the Family 109 Widower, The Various 200 Winners, The Story of the Gadsbys 64 Wishing Caps, The Kim 215
INDEX TO FIRST LINES
PAGE About the time that taverns shut, 279 A farmer of the Augustan Age, 89 After the sack of the City, when Rome was sunk to a name, 256 All day long to the judgment-seat, 86 All the world over, nursing their scars, 138 Alone upon the housetops to the North, 234 And if ye doubt the tale I tell, 136 'And some are sulky, while some will plunge', 32 And they were stronger hands than mine, 235 As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree, 301 As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled, 294 A stone's throw out on either hand, 34 At the hole where he went in, 249
Beat off in our last fight were we?, 79 Because I sought it far from men, 80 Bees! Bees! Hark to your bees!, 172 Before my spring I garnered autumn's gain, 135 Between the waving tufts of jungle-grass, 133 By the Hoof of the Wild Goat uptossed, 217
China-going P. and O.'s, 189 Cities and Thrones and Powers, vii Cry 'Murder' in the market-place, and each, 31
Dark children of the mere and marsh, 133
Eddi, priest of St. Wilfrid, 45 Ere Mor the Peacock flutters, ere the Monkey People cry, 204 Excellent herbs had our fathers of old, 127 Eyes aloft, over dangerous places, 228
For a season there must be pain, 200 For our white and our excellent nights—for the nights of swift running, 248 For the sake of him who showed, 56 From the wheel and the drift of Things, 202
'Gold is for the mistress—silver for the maid', 36 Go, stalk the red deer o'er the heather, 31
Harry, our King in England, from London town is gone, 272 He drank strong waters and his speech was coarse, 35 Here come I to my own again, 151 Here we go in a flung festoon, 92 His spots are the joy of the Leopard: his horns are the Buffalo's pride, 245 'How far is St. Helena from a little child at play?', 66
I am the land of their fathers, 1 I am the Most Wise Baviaan, saying in most wise tones, 184 I closed and drew for my love's sake, 17 'If I have taken the common clay', 84 If I were hanged on the highest hill, 237 I followed my Duke ere I was a lover, 19 If Thought can reach to Heaven, 170 If you can keep your head when all about you, 149 If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet, 269 I have been given my charge to keep, 50 I keep six honest serving-men, 185 I know not in Whose hands are laid, 154 I met my mates in the morning (and oh, but I am old!), 161 I'm just in love with all these three, 8 In the daytime, when she moved about me, 34 'I see the grass shake in the sun for leagues on either hand', 28 I tell this tale, which is strictly true, 266 It was not in the open fight, 33 I've never sailed the Amazon, 188 I was very well pleased with what I knowed, 10 I will let loose against you the fleet-footed vines, 241 I will remember what I was, I am sick of rope and chain, 251
Jubal sang of the Wrath of God, 112
Land of our Birth, we pledge to thee, 143 'Less you want your toes trod off you'd better get back at once', 138 'Let us now praise famous men', 116 Life's all getting and giving, 215 Look, you have cast out Love! What Gods are these, 30
Man goes to Man! Cry the challenge through the Jungle!, 249 Mithras, God of the Morning, our trumpets waken the Wall!, 52 Much I owe to the Land that grew, 159 My Brother kneels, so saith Kabir, 303 My father's father saw it not, 96 My new-cut ashlar takes the light, 43
Neither the harps nor the crowns amused, nor the cherubs' dove-winged races, 174 Not though you die to-night, O Sweet, and wail, 32 Not with an outcry to Allah nor any complaining, 71 Now Chil the Kite brings home the night, 245 Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan brown, 79 Now this is the Law of the Jungle—as old and as true as the sky, 120 Now we are come to our Kingdom, 15
Of all the trees that grow so fair, 21 Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us, 250 Oh, light was the world that he weighed in his hands!, 39 Oh, little did the Wolf-Child care, 243 Old Horn to All Atlantic said, 285
'Old Mother Laidinwool had nigh twelve months been dead', 179 Once a ripple came to land, 226 Once we feared The Beast—when he followed us we ran, 296 One man in a thousand, Solomon says, 62 One moment past our bodies cast, 223 Our Fathers in a wondrous age, 130 Our gloves are stiff with the frozen blood, 292 Our Lord Who did the Ox command, 41 Our sister sayeth such and such, 232 Over the edge of the purple down, 198
Pit where the buffalo cooled his hide, 35 Prophets have honour all over the Earth, 111 Pussy can sit by the fire and sing, 190
Queen Bess was Harry's daughter. Stand forward partners all!, 193
Ride with an idle whip, ride with an unused heel, 33 Rome never looks where she treads, 98 Roses red and roses white, 225
See you the ferny ride that steals, 3 She dropped the bar, she shot the bolt, she fed the fire anew, 238 Shiv, who poured the harvest and made the winds to blow, 48 Shove off from the wharf-edge! Steady!, 219 Singer and tailor am I, 299 So we settled it all when the storm was done, 83 'Stopped in the straight when the race was his own!', 31 Strangers drawn from the ends of the earth, jewelled and plumed were we, 12
Take of English earth as much, 26 Tell it to the locked-up trees, 24 The beasts are very wise, 143 The Camel's hump is an ugly lump, 182 The Celt in all his variants from Builth to Ballyhoo, 73 The doors were wide, the story saith, 135 The gull shall whistle in his wake, the blind wave break in fire, 114 The lark will make her hymn to God, 84 The Law whereby my lady moves, 230 The night we felt the earth would move, 253 The People of the Eastern Ice, they are melting like the snow, 252 There are three degrees of bliss, 156 There is pleasure in the wet, wet clay, 81 There is sorrow enough in the natural way, 168 There runs a road by Merrow Down, 176 There's a convict more in the Central Jail, 137 There's no wind along these seas, 290 There was a strife 'twixt man and maid, 81 There was never a Queen like Balkis, 191 There were three friends that buried the fourth, 85 These are the Four that are never content, that have never been filled since the Dews began, 248 These were my companions going forth by night, 69 The Stranger within my gate, 100 The stream is shrunk—the pool is dry, 246 The torn boughs trailing o'er the tusks aslant, 133 The Weald is good, the Downs are best, 9 The wind took off with the sunset, 254 The wolf-cub at even lay hid in the corn, 84 The World hath set its heavy yoke, 32 They burnt a corpse upon the sand, 33 They killed a child to please the Gods, 132 They shut the road through the woods, 6 This I saw when the rites were done, 79 This is the mouth-filling song of the race that was run by a Boomer, 186 Three things make earth unquiet, 124 Thrones, Powers, Dominions, Peoples, Kings, 94 To-night, God knows what thing shall tide, 34 To the Heavens above us, 164
Unto whose use the pregnant suns are poised, 136
Valour and Innocence, 196 Veil them, cover them, wall them round, 247
We be the Gods of the East, 82 We lent to Alexander the strength of Hercules, 145 We meet in an evil land, 78 What is a woman that you forsake her, 60 What is the moral? Who rides may read, 64 What of the hunting, hunter bold?, 247 'What's that that hirples at my side?', 283 When a lover hies abroad, 81 When first by Eden Tree, 140 When I left home for Lalage's sake, 102 When the cabin port-holes are dark and green, 182 When the drums begin to beat, 288 When the Earth was sick and the Skies were grey, 30 When the Great Ark, in Vigo Bay, 109 When the robust and Brass-bound Man commissioned first for sea, 263 When the water's countenance, 277 When ye say to Tabaqui, 'My Brother!' when ye call the Hyena to meat, 252 Where's the lamp that Hero lit 157 Who gives him the Bath? 54 Who knows the heart of the Christian? How does he reason? 75
Yet at the last, ere our spearmen had found him 85 You mustn't swim till you're six weeks old 250 Your jar of Virginny 105 Your tiercel's too long at hack, Sir. He's no eyass 206
I am the land of their fathers. In me the virtue stays. I will bring back my children, After certain days.
Under their feet in the grasses My clinging magic runs. They shall return as strangers, They shall remain as sons.
Over their heads in the branches Of their new-bought, ancient trees, I weave an incantation And draw them to my knees.
Scent of smoke in the evening. Smell of rain in the night, The hours, the days and the seasons, Order their souls aright;
Till I make plain the meaning Of all my thousand years— Till I fill their hearts with knowledge. While I fill their eyes with tears.
See you the ferny ride that steals Into the oak-woods far? O that was whence they hewed the keels That rolled to Trafalgar.
And mark you where the ivy clings To Bayham's mouldering walls? O there we cast the stout railings That stand around St. Paul's.
See you the dimpled track that runs All hollow through the wheat? O that was where they hauled the guns That smote King Philip's fleet.
Out of the Weald, the secret Weald, Men sent in ancient years, The horse-shoes red at Flodden Field, The arrows at Poitiers.
See you our little mill that clacks, So busy by the brook? She has ground her corn and paid her tax Ever since Domesday Book.
See you our stilly woods of oak? And the dread ditch beside? O that was where the Saxons broke On the day that Harold died.
See you the windy levels spread About the gates of Rye? O that was where the Northmen fled, When Alfred's ships came by.
See you our pastures wide and lone, Where the red oxen browse? O there was a City thronged and known. Ere London boasted a house.
And see you, after rain, the trace Of mound and ditch and wall? O that was a Legion's camping-place, When Caesar sailed from Gaul.
And see you marks that show and fade, Like shadows on the Downs? O they are the lines the Flint Men made, To guard their wondrous towns.
Trackway and Camp and City lost, Salt Marsh where now is corn; Old Wars, old Peace, old Arts that cease, And so was England born!
She is not any common Earth, Water or wood or air, But Merlin's Isle of Gramarye, Where you and I will fare.
THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS
They shut the road through the woods Seventy years ago. Weather and rain have undone it again, And now you would never know There was once a road through the woods Before they planted the trees. It is underneath the coppice and heath, And the thin anemones. Only the keeper sees That, where the ring-dove broods. And the badgers roll at ease, There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods Of a summer evening late, When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools Where the otter whistles his mate. (They fear not men in the woods. Because they see so few) You will hear the beat of a horse's feet, And the swish of a skirt in the dew, Steadily cantering through The misty solitudes, As though they perfectly knew The old lost road through the woods ... But there is no road through the woods!
A THREE-PART SONG
I'm just in love with all these three, The Weald and the Marsh and the Down countrie; Nor I don't know which I love the most, The Weald or the Marsh or the white chalk coast!
I've buried my heart in a ferny hill, Twix' a liddle low shaw an' a great high gill. Oh hop-bine yaller an' wood-smoke blue, I reckon you'll keep her middling true!
I've loosed my mind for to out and run On a Marsh that was old when Kings begun. Oh Romney Level and Brenzett reeds, I reckon you know what my mind needs!
I've given my soul to the Southdown grass, And sheep-bells tinkled where you pass. Oh Firle an' Ditchling an' sails at sea, I reckon you keep my soul for me!
THE RUN OF THE DOWNS
The Weald is good, the Downs are best— I'll give you the run of 'em, East to West. Beachy Head and Winddoor Hill, They were once and they are still, Firle, Mount Caburn and Mount Harry Go back as far as sums'll carry. Ditchling Beacon and Chanctonbury Ring, They have looked on many a thing, And what those two have missed between 'em I reckon Truleigh Hill has seen 'em. Highden, Bignor and Duncton Down Knew Old England before the Crown. Linch Down, Treyford and Sunwood Knew Old England before the Flood. And when you end on the Hampshire side— Butser's old as Time and Tide. The Downs are sheep, the Weald is corn, You be glad you are Sussex born!
I was very well pleased with what I knowed, I reckoned myself no fool— Till I met with a maid on the Brookland Road, That turned me back to school.
Low down—low down! Where the liddle green lanterns shine— O maids, I've done with 'ee all but one, And she can never be mine!
'Twas right in the middest of a hot June night, With thunder duntin' round, And I see'd her face by the fairy light That beats from off the ground.
She only smiled and she never spoke, She smiled and went away; But when she'd gone my heart was broke, And my wits was clean astray.
O stop your ringing and let me be— Let be, O Brookland bells! You'll ring Old Goodman[A] out of the sea, Before I wed one else!
Old Goodman's Farm is rank sea-sand, And was this thousand year: But it shall turn to rich plough land Before I change my dear.
O, Fairfield Church is water-bound From autumn to the spring; But it shall turn to high hill ground Before my bells do ring.
O, leave me walk on the Brookland Road, In the thunder and warm rain— O, leave me look where my love goed, And p'raps I'll see her again!
Low down—low down! Where the liddle green lanterns shine— O maids, I've done with 'ee all but one, And she can never be mine!
[Footnote A: Earl Godwin of the Goodwin Sands?]
THE SACK OF THE GODS
Strangers drawn from the ends of the earth, jewelled and plumed were we. I was Lord of the Inca race, and she was Queen of the Sea. Under the stars beyond our stars where the new-forged meteors glow Hotly we stormed Valhalla, a million years ago.
Ever 'neath high Valhalla Hall the well-tuned horns begin When the swords are out in the underworld, and the weary Gods come in. Ever through high Valhalla Gate the Patient Angel goes; He opens the eyes that are blind with hate—he joins the hands of foes.
Dust of the stars was under our feet, glitter of stars above— Wrecks of our wrath dropped reeling down as we fought and we spurned and we strove. Worlds upon worlds we tossed aside, and scattered them to and fro, The night that we stormed Valhalla, a million years ago!
They are forgiven as they forgive all those dark wounds and deep, Their beds are made on the lap of Time and they lie down and sleep. They are forgiven as they forgive all those old wounds that bleed, They shut their eyes from their worshippers. They sleep till the world has need.
She with the star I had marked for my own—I with my set desire— Lost in the loom of the Night of Nights—lighted by worlds afire— Met in a war against the Gods where the headlong meteors glow, Hewing our way to Valhalla, a million years ago!
They will come back—come back again, as long as the red Earth rolls. He never wasted a leaf or a tree. Do you think He would squander souls?
Now we are come to our Kingdom, And the State is thus and thus; Our legions wait at the Palace gate—- Little it profits us, Now we are come to our Kingdom!
Now we are come to our Kingdom, And the Crown is ours to take— With a naked sword at the Council board, And under the throne the Snake, Now we are come to our Kingdom!
Now we are come to our Kingdom, And the Realm is ours by right, With shame and fear for our daily cheer, And heaviness at night, Now we are come to our Kingdom!
Now we are come to our Kingdom, But my love's eyelids fall. All that I wrought for, all that I fought for, Delight her nothing at all. My crown is of withered leaves, For she sits in the dust and grieves. Now we are come to our Kingdom!
I closed and drew for my love's sake That now is false to me, And I slew the Reiver of Tarrant Moss And set Dumeny free.
They have gone down, they have gone down, They are standing all arow— Twenty knights in the peat-water, That never struck a blow!
Their armour shall not dull nor rust, Their flesh shall not decay, For Tarrant Moss holds them in trust, Until the Judgment Day.
Their soul went from them in their youth, Ah God, that mine had gone, Whenas I leaned on my love's truth And not on my sword alone!
Whenas I leaned on lad's belief And not on my naked blade— And I slew a thief, and an honest thief, For the sake of a worthless maid.
They have laid the Reiver low in his place, They have set me up on high, But the twenty knights in the peat-water Are luckier than I.
And ever they give me gold and praise And ever I mourn my loss— For I struck the blow for my false love's sake And not for the Men of the Moss!
SIR RICHARD'S SONG
I followed my Duke ere I was a lover, To take from England fief and fee; But now this game is the other way over— But now England hath taken me!
I had my horse, my shield and banner, And a boy's heart, so whole and free; But now I sing in another manner— But now England hath taken me!
As for my Father in his tower, Asking news of my ship at sea; He will remember his own hour— Tell him England hath taken me!
As for my Mother in her bower, That rules my Father so cunningly, She will remember a maiden's power— Tell her England hath taken me!
As for my Brother in Rouen City, A nimble and naughty page is he, But he will come to suffer and pity— Tell him England hath taken me!
As for my little Sister waiting In the pleasant orchards of Normandie, Tell her youth is the time for mating— Tell her England hath taken me!
As for my Comrades in camp and highway, That lift their eyebrows scornfully, Tell them their way is not my way— Tell them England hath taken me!
Kings and Princes and Barons famed, Knights and Captains in your degree; Hear me a little before I am blamed— Seeing England hath taken me!
Howso great man's strength be reckoned, There are two things he cannot flee; Love is the first, and Death is the second— And Love in England hath taken me!
A TREE SONG
Of all the trees that grow so fair, Old England to adorn, Greater are none beneath the Sun, Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn. Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs (All of a Midsummer morn)! Surely we sing no little thing, In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!
Oak of the Clay lived many a day Or ever AEneas began; Ash of the Loam was a lady at home When Brut was an outlaw man. Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town (From which was London born); Witness hereby the ancientry Of Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!
Yew that is old in churchyard mould, He breedeth a mighty bow; Alder for shoes do wise men choose, And beech for cups also. But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled, And your shoes are clean outworn, Back ye must speed for all that ye need, To Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!
Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth Till every gust be laid, To drop a limb on the head of him That anyway trusts her shade: But whether a lad be sober or sad, Or mellow with ale from the horn, He will take no wrong when he lieth along 'Neath Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!
Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight, Or he would call it a sin; But—we have been out in the woods all night, A-conjuring Summer in!
And we bring you news by word of mouth— Good news for cattle and corn— Now is the Sun come up from the South, With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!
Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs (All of a Midsummer morn)! England shall bide till Judgment Tide, By Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!
Spring begins in Southern England on the 14th April, on which date the Old Woman lets the Cuckoo out of her basket at Heathfield Fair—locally known as Heffle Cuckoo Fair.
Tell it to the locked-up trees, Cuckoo, bring your song here! Warrant, Act and Summons, please. For Spring to pass along here! Tell old Winter, if he doubt, Tell him squat and square—a! Old Woman! Old Woman! Old Woman's let the Cuckoo out At Heffle Cuckoo Fair—a!
March has searched and April tried— 'Tisn't long to May now, Not so far to Whitsuntide, And Cuckoo's come to stay now! Hear the valiant fellow shout Down the orchard bare—a! Old Woman! Old Woman! Old Woman's let the Cuckoo out At Heffle Cuckoo Fair—a!
When your heart is young and gay And the season rules it— Work your works and play your play 'Fore the Autumn cools it! Kiss you turn and turn about, But my lad, beware—a! Old Woman! Old Woman! Old Woman's let the Cuckoo out At Heffle Cuckoo Fair—a!
Take of English earth as much As either hand may rightly clutch. In the taking of it breathe Prayer for all who lie beneath. Not the great nor well-bespoke, But the mere uncounted folk Of whose life and death is none Report or lamentation. Lay that earth upon thy heart, And thy sickness shall depart!
It shall sweeten and make whole Fevered breath and festered soul. It shall mightily restrain Over-busy hand and brain. It shall ease thy mortal strife 'Gainst the immortal woe of life, Till thyself restored shall prove By what grace the Heavens do move.
Take of English flowers these— Spring's full-faced primroses, Summer's wild wide-hearted rose, Autumn's wall-flower of the close, And, thy darkness to illume, Winter's bee-thronged ivy-bloom. Seek and serve them where they bide From Candlemas to Christmas-tide, For these simples, used aright, Can restore a failing sight.
These shall cleanse and purify Webbed and inward-turning eye; These shall show thee treasure hid, Thy familiar fields amid; And reveal (which is thy need) Every man a King indeed!
'I see the grass shake in the sun for leagues on either hand, I see a river loop and run about a treeless land— An empty plain, a steely pond, a distance diamond-clear, And low blue naked hills beyond. And what is that to fear?'
'Go softly by that river-side or, when you would depart, You'll find its every winding tied and knotted round your heart. Be wary as the seasons pass, or you may ne'er outrun The wind that sets that yellowed grass a-shiver 'neath the Sun.'
'I hear the summer storm outblown—the drip of the grateful wheat. I hear the hard trail telephone a far-off horse's feet. I hear the horns of Autumn blow to the wild-fowl overhead; And I hear the hush before the snow. And what is that to dread?'
'Take heed what spell the lightning weaves—what charm the echoes shape— Or, bound among a million sheaves, your soul may not escape. Bar home the door of summer nights lest those high planets drown The memory of near delights in all the longed-for town.'
'What need have I to long or fear? Now, friendly, I behold My faithful seasons robe the year in silver and in gold. Now I possess and am possessed of the land where I would be, And the curve of half Earth's generous breast shall soothe and ravish me!'
PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS
Look, you have cast out Love! What Gods are these You bid me please? The Three in One, the One in Three? Not so! To my own Gods I go. It may be they shall give me greater ease Than your cold Christ and tangled Trinities.
When the Earth was sick and the Skies were grey, And the woods were rotted with rain, The Dead Man rode through the autumn day To visit his love again.
His love she neither saw nor heard, So heavy was her shame; And tho' the babe within her stirred She knew not that he came.
The Other Man.
Cry 'Murder' in the market-place, and each Will turn upon his neighbour anxious eyes Asking;—'Art thou the man?' We hunted Cain Some centuries ago across the world. This bred the fear our own misdeeds maintain To-day.
His Wedded Wife.
Go, stalk the red deer o'er the heather, Ride, follow the fox if you can! But, for pleasure and profit together, Allow me the hunting of Man— The chase of the Human, the search for the Soul To its ruin—the hunting of Man.
'Stopped in the straight when the race was his own! Look at him cutting it—cur to the bone!' Ask ere the youngster be rated and chidden What did he carry and how was he ridden? Maybe they used him too much at the start; Maybe Fate's weight-cloths are breaking his heart.
In the Pride of his Youth.
'And some are sulky, while some will plunge. (So ho! Steady! Stand still, you!) Some you must gentle, and some you must lunge. (There! There! Who wants to kill you?) Some—there are losses in every trade— Will break their hearts ere bitted and made, Will fight like fiends as the rope cuts hard, And die dumb-mad in the breaking-yard.'
The World hath set its heavy yoke Upon the old white-bearded folk Who strive to please the King. God's mercy is upon the young, God's wisdom in the baby tongue That fears not anything.
Not though you die to-night, O Sweet, and wail, A spectre at my door, Shall mortal Fear make Love immortal fail— I shall but love you more, Who, from Death's House returning, give me still One moment's comfort in my matchless ill.
By Word of Mouth.
They burnt a corpse upon the sand— The light shone out afar; It guided home the plunging boats That beat from Zanzibar. Spirit of Fire, where'er Thy altars rise, Thou art the Light of Guidance to our eyes!
Ride with an idle whip, ride with an unused heel. But, once in a way, there will come a day When the colt must be taught to feel The lash that falls, and the curb that galls, and the sting of the rowelled steel.
The Conversion of Aurelian McGoggin.
It was not in the open fight We threw away the sword, But in the lonely watching In the darkness by the ford. The waters lapped, the night-wind blew, Full-armed the Fear was born and grew, From panic in the night.
The Rout of the White Hussars.
In the daytime, when she moved about me, In the night, when she was sleeping at my side,— I was wearied, I was wearied of her presence. Day by day and night by night I grew to hate her— Would God that she or I had died!
The Bronckhorst Divorce Case.
A stone's throw out on either hand From that well-ordered road we tread, And all the world is wild and strange; Churel and ghoul and Djinn and sprite Shall bear us company to-night, For we have reached the Oldest Land Wherein the powers of Darkness range.
In the House of Suddhoo.
To-night, God knows what thing shall tide, The Earth is racked and fain— Expectant, sleepless, open-eyed; And we, who from the Earth were made, Thrill with our Mother's pain.
Pit where the buffalo cooled his hide, By the hot sun emptied, and blistered and dried; Log in the reh-grass, hidden and lone; Bund where the earth-rat's mounds are strown; Cave in the bank where the sly stream steals; Aloe that stabs at the belly and heels, Jump if you dare on a steed untried— Safer it is to go wide—go wide! Hark, from in front where the best men ride;— 'Pull to the off, boys! Wide! Go wide!'
He drank strong waters and his speech was coarse; He purchased raiment and forbore to pay; He stuck a trusting junior with a horse, And won gymkhanas in a doubtful way. Then, 'twixt a vice and folly, turned aside To do good deeds and straight to cloak them, lied.
A Bank Fraud.
'Gold is for the mistress—silver for the maid— Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.' 'Good!' said the Baron, sitting in his hall, 'But Iron—Cold Iron—is master of them all.'
So he made rebellion 'gainst the King his liege, Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege. 'Nay!' said the cannoneer on the castle wall, 'But Iron—Cold Iron—shall be master of you all!'
Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong, When the cruel cannon-balls laid 'em all along! He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall, And Iron—Cold Iron—was master of it all.
Yet his King spake kindly (Ah, how kind a Lord!) 'What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?' 'Nay!' said the Baron, 'mock not at my fall, For Iron—Cold Iron—is master of men all.'
'Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown— Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.' 'As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small, For Iron—Cold Iron—must be master of men all!'
Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!) 'Here is Bread and here is Wine—sit and sup with me. Eat and drink in Mary's Name, the whiles I do recall How Iron—Cold Iron—can be master of men all!'
He took the Wine and blessed It. He blessed and brake the Bread. With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said: 'See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall, Show Iron—Cold Iron—to be master of men all!
'Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong, Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong. I forgive thy treason—I redeem thy fall— For Iron—Cold Iron—must be master of men all!'
'Crowns are for the valiant—sceptres for the bold! Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold.' 'Nay!' said the Baron, kneeling in his hall, 'But Iron—Cold Iron—is master of man all! Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!'
A SONG OF KABIR
Oh, light was the world that he weighed in his hands! Oh, heavy the tale of his fiefs and his lands! He has gone from the guddee and put on the shroud, And departed in guise of bairagi avowed!
Now the white road to Delhi is mat for his feet. The sal and the kikar must guard him from heat. His home is the camp, and the waste, and the crowd— He is seeking the Way as bairagi avowed!
He has looked upon Man, and his eyeballs are clear— (There was One; there is One, and but One, saith Kabir); The Red Mist of Doing has thinned to a cloud— He has taken the Path for bairagi avowed!
To learn and discern of his brother the clod, Of his brother the brute, and his brother the God, He has gone from the council and put on the shroud ('Can ye hear?' saith Kabir), a bairagi avowed!
Our Lord Who did the Ox command To kneel to Judah's King, He binds His frost upon the land To ripen it for Spring— To ripen it for Spring, good sirs, According to His Word; Which well must be as ye can see— And who shall judge the Lord?
When we poor fenmen skate the ice Or shiver on the wold, We hear the cry of a single tree That breaks her heart in the cold— That breaks her heart in the cold, good sirs, And rendeth by the board; Which well must be as ye can see— And who shall judge the Lord?
Her wood is crazed and little worth Excepting as to burn, That we may warm and make our mirth Until the Spring return— Until the Spring return, good sirs. When people walk abroad; Which well must be as ye can see— And who shall judge the Lord?
God bless the master of this house. And all who sleep therein! And guard the fens from pirate folk. And keep us all from sin, To walk in honesty, good sirs, Of thought and deed and word! Which shall befriend our latter end— And who shall judge the Lord?
'MY NEW-CUT ASHLAR'
My new-cut ashlar takes the light Where crimson-blank the windows flare. By my own work before the night, Great Overseer, I make my prayer.
If there be good in that I wrought, Thy Hand compelled it, Master, Thine— Where I have failed to meet Thy Thought I know, through Thee, the blame was mine.
One instant's toil to Thee denied Stands all Eternity's offence. Of that I did with Thee to guide To Thee, through Thee, be excellence.
The depth and dream of my desire, The bitter paths wherein I stray— Thou knowest Who hath made the Fire, Thou knowest Who hast made the Clay.
Who, lest all thought of Eden fade, Bring'st Eden to the craftsman's brain— Godlike to muse o'er his own Trade And manlike stand with God again!
One stone the more swings into place In that dread Temple of Thy worth. It is enough that, through Thy Grace, I saw nought common on Thy Earth.
Take not that vision from my ken— Oh whatsoe'er may spoil or speed. Help me to need no aid from men That I may help such men as need!
Eddi, priest of St. Wilfrid In the chapel at Manhood End, Ordered a midnight service For such as cared to attend.
But the Saxons were keeping Christmas, And the night was stormy as well. Nobody came to service Though Eddi rang the bell.
'Wicked weather for walking,' Said Eddi of Manhood End. 'But I must go on with the service For such as care to attend.'
The altar-candles were lighted,— An old marsh donkey came, Bold as a guest invited, And stared at the guttering flame.
The storm beat on at the windows, The water splashed on the floor, And a wet, yoke-weary bullock Pushed in through the open door.
'How do I know what is greatest, How do I know what is least? That is My Father's business,' Said Eddi, Wilfrid's priest.
'But—three are gathered together— Listen to me and attend. I bring good news, my brethren!' Said Eddi of Manhood End.
And he told the Ox of a Manger And a Stall in Bethlehem, And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider, That rode to Jerusalem.
They steamed and dripped in the chancel, They listened and never stirred, While, just as though they were Bishops, Eddi preached them The Word.
Till the gale blew off on the marshes And the windows showed the day, And the Ox and the Ass together Wheeled and clattered away.
And when the Saxons mocked him, Said Eddi of Manhood End, 'I dare not shut His chapel On such as care to attend.'
SHIV AND THE GRASSHOPPER
Shiv, who poured the harvest and made the winds to blow, Sitting at the doorways of a day of long ago, Gave to each his portion, food and toil and fate, From the King upon the guddee to the Beggar at the gate. All things made he—Shiva the Preserver. Mahadeo! Mahadeo! He made all,— Thorn for the camel, fodder for the kine, And mother's heart for sleepy head, O little son of mine!
Wheat he gave to rich folk, millet to the poor, Broken scraps for holy men that beg from door to door; Cattle to the tiger, carrion to the kite, And rags and bones to wicked wolves without the wall at night. Naught he found too lofty, none he saw too low— Parbati beside him watched them come and go; Thought to cheat her husband, turning Shiv to jest— Stole the little grasshopper and hid it in her breast. So she tricked him, Shiva the Preserver. Mahadeo! Mahadeo! turn and see! Tall are the camels, heavy are the kine, But this was Least of Little Things, O little son of mine!
When the dole was ended, laughingly she said, 'Master, of a million mouths is not one unfed?' Laughing, Shiv made answer, 'All have had their part, Even he, the little one, hidden 'neath thy heart.' From her breast she plucked it, Parbati the thief, Saw the Least of Little Things gnawed a new-grown leaf! Saw and feared and wondered, making prayer to Shiv, Who hath surely given meat to all that live. All things made he—Shiva the Preserver. Mahadeo! Mahadeo! He made all,— Thorn for the camel, fodder for the kine, And mother's heart for sleepy head, O little son of mine!
THE FAIRIES' SIEGE
I have been given my charge to keep— Well have I kept the same! Playing with strife for the most of my life, But this is a different game. I'll not fight against swords unseen, Or spears that I cannot view— Hand him the keys of the place on your knees— 'Tis the Dreamer whose dreams come true!
Ask for his terms and accept them at once. Quick, ere we anger him; go! Never before have I flinched from the guns, But this is a different show. I'll not fight with the Herald of God (I know what his Master can do!) Open the gate, he must enter in state, 'Tis the Dreamer whose dreams come true!
I'd not give way for an Emperor, I'd hold my road for a King— To the Triple Crown I would not bow down— But this is a different thing. I'll not fight with the Powers of Air, Sentry, pass him through! Drawbridge let fall, it's the Lord of us all, The Dreamer whose dreams come true!
A SONG TO MITHRAS
(Hymn of the 30th Legion: circa A.D. 350.)
Mithras, God of the Morning, our trumpets waken the Wall! 'Rome is above the Nations, but Thou art over all!' Now as the names are answered and the guards are marched away, Mithras, also a soldier, give us strength for the day!
Mithras, God of the Noontide, the heather swims in the heat. Our helmets scorch our foreheads, our sandals burn our feet. Now in the ungirt hour—now ere we blink and drowse, Mithras, also a soldier, keep us true to our vows!
Mithras, God of the Sunset, low on the Western main— Thou descending immortal, immortal to rise again! Now when the watch is ended, now when the wine is drawn, Mithras, also a soldier, keep us pure till the dawn!
Mithras, God of the Midnight, here where the great bull dies, Look on thy children in darkness. Oh take our sacrifice! Many roads thou hast fashioned—all of them lead to the Light: Mithras, also a soldier, teach us to die aright!
THE NEW KNIGHTHOOD
Who gives him the Bath? 'I,' said the wet, Rank Jungle-sweat, 'I'll give him the Bath!'
Who'll sing the psalms? 'We,' said the Palms. 'Ere the hot wind becalms, We'll sing the psalms.'
Who lays on the sword? 'I,' said the Sun, 'Before he has done, I'll lay on the sword.'
Who fastens his belt? 'I,' said Short-Rations, 'I know all the fashions Of tightening a belt!'
Who gives him his spur? 'I,' said his Chief, Exacting and brief, 'I'll give him the spur.'
Who'll shake his hand? 'I,' said the Fever, 'And I'm no deceiver, I'll shake his hand.'
Who brings him the wine? 'I,' said Quinine, 'It's a habit of mine. 'I'll come with the wine.'
Who'll put him to proof? 'I,' said All Earth, 'Whatever he's worth, I'll put to the proof.'
Who'll choose him for Knight? 'I,' said his Mother, 'Before any other, My very own Knight.'
And after this fashion, adventure to seek, Was Sir Galahad made—as it might be last week!
OUTSONG IN THE JUNGLE
FOR the sake of him who showed One wise Frog the Jungle-Road, Keep the Law the Man-Pack make For thy blind old Baloo's sake! Clean or tainted, hot or stale, Hold it as it were the Trail, Through the day and through the night, Questing neither left nor right. For the sake of him who loves Thee beyond all else that moves, When thy Pack would make thee pain, Say: 'Tabaqui sings again.' When thy Pack would work thee ill, Say: 'Shere Khan is yet to kill.' When the knife is drawn to slay, Keep the Law and go thy way. (Root and honey, palm and spathe, Guard a cub from harm and scathe!) Wood and Water, Wind and Tree, Jungle-Favour go with thee!
Anger is the egg of Fear— Only lidless eyes are clear. Cobra-poison none may leech, Even so with Cobra-speech. Open talk shall call to thee Strength, whose mate is Courtesy. Send no lunge beyond thy length; Lend no rotten bough thy strength. Gauge thy gape with buck or goat, Lest thine eye should choke thy throat After gorging, wouldst thou sleep? Look thy den be hid and deep, Lest a wrong, by thee forgot, Draw thy killer to the spot. East and West and North and South, Wash thy hide and close thy mouth. (Pit and rift and blue pool-brim, Middle-Jungle follow him!) Wood and Water, Wind and Tree, Jungle-Favour go with thee!
In the cage my life began; Well I know the worth of Man. By the Broken Lock that freed— Man-cub, 'ware the Man-cub's breed! Scenting-dew or starlight pale, Choose no tangled tree-cat trail. Pack or council, hunt or den, Cry no truce with Jackal-Men. Feed them silence when they say: 'Come with us an easy way.' Feed them silence when they seek Help of thine to hurt the weak. Make no bandar's boast of skill; Hold thy peace above the kill. Let nor call nor song nor sign Turn thee from thy hunting-line. (Morning mist or twilight clear, Serve him, Wardens of the Deer!) Wood and Water, Wind and Tree, Jungle-Favour go with thee!
On the trail that thou must tread To the thresholds of our dread, Where the Flower blossoms red; Through the nights when thou shalt lie Prisoned from our Mother-sky, Hearing us, thy loves, go by; In the dawns when thou shalt wake To the toil thou canst not break, Heartsick for the Jungle's sake: Wood and Water, Wind and Tree, Wisdom, Strength, and Courtesy, Jungle-Favour go with thee!
HARP SONG OF THE DANE WOMEN
What is a woman that you forsake her, And the hearth-fire and the home-acre, To go with the old grey Widow-maker?
She has no house to lay a guest in— But one chill bed for all to rest in, That the pale suns and the stray bergs nest in.
She has no strong white arms to fold you, But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you— Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.
Yet, when the signs of summer thicken, And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds quicken, Yearly you turn from our side, and sicken—
Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters. You steal away to the lapping waters, And look at your ship in her winter quarters.
You forget our mirth, and talk at the tables, The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables— To pitch her sides and go over her cables.
Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow, And the sound of your oar-blades, falling hollow. Is all we have left through the months to follow.
Ah, what is Woman that you forsake her, And the hearth-fire and the home-acre, To go with the old grey Widow-maker?
THE THOUSANDTH MAN
One man in a thousand, Solomon says, Will stick more close than a brother. And it's worth while seeking him half your days If you find him before the other. Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend On what the world sees in you, But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend With the whole round world agin you.
'Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show Will settle the finding for 'ee. Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em go By your looks or your acts or your glory. But if he finds you and you find him, The rest of the world don't matter; For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim With you in any water.
You can use his purse with no more talk Than he uses yours for his spendings, And laugh and meet in your daily walk As though there had been no lendings. Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em call For silver and gold in their dealings; But the Thousandth Man he's worth 'em all. Because you can show him your feelings.
His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right, In season or out of season. Stand up and back it in all men's sight— With that for your only reason! Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide The shame or mocking or laughter, But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side To the gallows-foot—and after!
What is the moral? Who rides may read. When the night is thick and the tracks are blind A friend at a pinch is a friend indeed, But a fool to wait for the laggard behind. Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne, He travels the fastest who travels alone.
White hands cling to the tightened rein, Slipping the spur from the booted heel, Tenderest voices cry 'Turn again,' Red lips tarnish the scabbarded steel, High hopes faint on a warm hearth stone— He travels the fastest who travels alone.
One may fall but he falls by himself— Falls by himself with himself to blame, One may attain and to him is pelf, Loot of the city in Gold or Fame. Plunder of earth shall be all his own Who travels the fastest and travels alone.
Wherefore the more ye be holpen and stayed, Stayed by a friend in the hour of toil, Sing the heretical song I have made— His be the labour and yours be the spoil, Win by his aid and the aid disown— He travels the fastest who travels alone!
A ST. HELENA LULLABY
'How far is St. Helena from a little child at play?' What makes you want to wander there with all the world between? Oh, Mother, call your son again or else he'll run away. (No one thinks of winter when the grass is green!)
'How far is St. Helena from a fight in Paris street?' I haven't time to answer now—the men are falling fast. The guns begin to thunder, and the drums begin to beat. (If you take the first step you will take the last!)
'How far is St. Helena from the field of Austerlitz?' You couldn't hear me if I told—so loud the cannons roar. But not so far for people who are living by their wits. ('Gay go up' means 'Gay go down' the wide world o'er!)
'How far is St. Helena from an Emperor of France?' I cannot see—I cannot tell—the crowns they dazzle so. The Kings sit down to dinner, and the Queens stand up to dance. (After open weather you may look for snow!)
'How far is St. Helena from the Capes of Trafalgar?' A longish way—a longish way—with ten year more to run. It's South across the water underneath a setting star. (What you cannot finish you must leave undone!)
'How far is St. Helena from the Beresina ice?' An ill way—a chill way—the ice begins to crack. But not so far for gentlemen who never took advice. (When you can't go forward you must e'en come back!)
'How far is St. Helena from the field of Waterloo?' A near way—a clear way—the ship will take you soon. A pleasant place for gentlemen with little left to do, (Morning never tries you till the afternoon!)
'How far from St. Helena to the Gate of Heaven's Grace?' That no one knows—that no one knows—and no one ever will. But fold your hands across your heart and cover up your face, And after all your trapesings, child, lie still!
These were my companions going forth by night— (For Chil! Look you, for Chil!) Now come I to whistle them the ending of the fight. (Chil! Vanguards of Chil!) Word they gave me overhead of quarry newly slain, Word I gave them underfoot of buck upon the plain. Here's an end of every trail—they shall not speak again!
They that called the hunting-cry—they that followed fast— (For Chil! Look you, for Chil!) They that bade the sambhur wheel, or pinned him as he passed— (Chil! Vanguards of Chil!) They that lagged behind the scent—they that ran before, They that shunned the level horn—they that overbore, Here's an end of every trail—they shall not follow more.
These were my companions. Pity 'twas they died! (For Chil! Look you, for Chil!') Now come I to comfort them that knew them in their pride. (Chil! Vanguards of Chil!) Tattered flank and sunken eye, open mouth and red, Locked and lank and lone they lie, the dead upon their dead. Here's an end of every trail—and here my hosts are fed!
Not with an outcry to Allah nor any complaining He answered his name at the muster and stood to the chaining. When the twin anklets were nipped on the leg-bars that held them, He brotherly greeted the armourers stooping to weld them. Ere the sad dust of the marshalled feet of the chain-gang swallowed him, Observing him nobly at ease, I alighted and followed him. Thus we had speech by the way, but not touching his sorrow— Rather his red Yesterday and his regal To-morrow, Wherein he statelily moved to the clink of his chains unregarded, Nowise abashed but contented to drink of the potion awarded. Saluting aloofly his Fate, he made swift with his story, And the words of his mouth were as slaves spreading carpets of glory Embroidered with names of the Djinns—a miraculous weaving— But the cool and perspicuous eye overbore unbelieving. So I submitted myself to the limits of rapture— Bound by this man we had bound, amid captives his capture— Till he returned me to earth and the visions departed. But on him be the Peace and the Blessing; for he was great-hearted!
The Celt in all his variants from Builth to Ballyhoo, His mental processes are plain—one knows what he will do, And can logically predicate his finish by his start; But the English—ah, the English—they are quite a race apart.
Their psychology is bovine, their outlook crude and raw. They abandon vital matters to be tickled with a straw, But the straw that they were tickled with—the chaff that they were fed with— They convert into a weaver's beam to break their foeman's head with.
For undemocratic reasons and for motives not of State, They arrive at their conclusions—largely inarticulate. Being void of self-expression they confide their views to none; But sometimes in a smoking-room, one learns why things were done.
Yes, sometimes in a smoking-room, through clouds of 'Ers' and 'Ums,' Obliquely and by inference illumination comes, On some step that they have taken, or some action they approve— Embellished with the argot of the Upper Fourth Remove.
In telegraphic sentences, half nodded to their friends, They hint a matter's inwardness—and there the matter ends. And while the Celt is talking from Valencia to Kirkwall, The English—ah, the English!—don't say anything at all!
Who knows the heart of the Christian? How does he reason? What are his measures and balances? Which is his season For laughter, forbearance or bloodshed, and what devils move him When he arises to smite us? I do not love him.
He invites the derision of strangers—he enters all places. Booted, bareheaded he enters. With shouts and embraces He asks of us news of the household whom we reckon nameless. Certainly Allah created him forty-fold shameless.
So it is not in the Desert. One came to me weeping— The Avenger of Blood on his track—I took him in keeping. Demanding not whom he had slain, I refreshed him, I fed him As he were even a brother. But Eblis had bred him.
He was the son of an ape, ill at ease in his clothing, He talked with his head, hands and feet. I endured him with loathing. Whatever his spirit conceived his countenance showed it As a frog shows in a mud-puddle. Yet I abode it!
I fingered my beard and was dumb, in silence confronting him. His soul was too shallow for silence, e'en with Death hunting him. I said: 'Tis his weariness speaks,' but, when he had rested, He chirped in my face like some sparrow, and, presently, jested!
Wherefore slew I that stranger? He brought me dishonour. I saddled my mare, Bijli, I set him upon her. I gave him rice and goat's flesh. He bared me to laughter. When he was gone from my tent, swift I followed after, Taking my sword in my hand. The hot wine had filled him. Under the stars he mocked me—therefore I killed him!
We meet in an evil land That is near to the gates of hell. I wait for thy command To serve, to speed or withstand. And thou sayest, I do not well?
Oh Love, the flowers so red Are only tongues of flame, The earth is full of the dead, The new-killed, restless dead. There is danger beneath and o'erhead, And I guard thy gates in fear Of peril and jeopardy, Of words thou canst not hear, Of signs thou canst not see— And thou sayest 'tis ill that I came?
This I saw when the rites were done, And the lamps were dead and the Gods alone, And the grey snake coiled on the altar stone— Ere I fled from a Fear that I could not see, And the Gods of the East made mouths at me.
* * * * *
Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan brown, For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the Christian down; And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased, And the epitaph drear: 'A fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.'
* * * * *
Beat off in our last fight were we? The greater need to seek the sea. For Fortune changeth as the moon To caravel and picaroon. Then Eastward Ho! or Westward Ho! Whichever wind may meetest blow. Our quarry sails on either sea, Fat prey for such bold lads as we. And every sun-dried buccaneer Must hand and reef and watch and steer. And bear great wrath of sea and sky Before the plate-ships wallow by. Now, as our tall bows take the foam, Let no man turn his heart to home, Save to desire treasure more, And larger warehouse for his store, When treasure won from Santos Bay Shall make our sea-washed village gay.
* * * * *
Because I sought it far from men, In deserts and alone, I found it burning overhead, The jewel of a Throne.
Because I sought—I sought it so And spent my days to find— It blazed one moment ere it left The blacker night behind.
* * * * *
When a lover hies abroad. Looking for his love, Azrael smiling sheathes his sword, Heaven smiles above. Earth and sea His servants be, And to lesser compass round, That his love be sooner found.
* * * * *
There was a strife 'twixt man and maid— Oh that was at the birth of time! But what befell 'twixt man and maid, Oh that's beyond the grip of rhyme. 'Twas, 'Sweet, I must not bide with you,' And 'Love, I cannot bide alone'; For both were young and both were true, And both were hard as the nether stone.
* * * * *
There is pleasure in the wet, wet clay, When the artist's hand is potting it; There is pleasure in the wet, wet lay, When the poet's pad is blotting it; There is pleasure in the shine of your picture on the line At the Royal Acade-my; But the pleasure felt in these is as chalk to Cheddar cheese When it comes to a well-made Lie: To a quite unwreckable Lie, To a most impeccable Lie! To a water-tight, fire-proof, angle-iron, sunk-hinge, time-lock, steel-face Lie! Not a private hansom Lie, But a pair-and-brougham Lie, Not a little-place-at-Tooting, but a country-house-with-shooting And a ring-fence-deer-park Lie.
* * * * *
We be the Gods of the East— Older than all— Masters of Mourning and Feast How shall we fall?
Will they gape for the husks that ye proffer Or yearn to your song? And we—have we nothing to offer Who ruled them so long— In the fume of the incense, the clash of the cymbal, the blare of the conch and the gong?
Over the strife of the schools Low the day burns— Back with the kine from the pools Each one returns To the life that he knows where the altar-flame glows and the tulsi is trimmed in the urns.
* * * * *
THE LIGHT THAT FAILED
So we settled it all when the storm was done As comfy as comfy could be; And I was to wait in the barn, my dears, Because I was only three, And Teddy would run to the rainbow's foot Because he was five and a man; And that's how it all began, my dears, And that's how it all began.
* * * * *
'If I have taken the common clay And wrought it cunningly In the shape of a God that was digged a clod, The greater honour to me.' 'If thou hast taken the common clay, And thy hands be not free From the taint of the soil, thou hast made thy spoil The greater shame to thee.'
* * * * *
The wolf-cub at even lay hid in the corn, Where the smoke of the cooking hung grey: He knew where the doe made a couch for her fawn, And he looked to his strength for his prey. But the moon swept the smoke-wreaths away, And he turned from his meal in the villager's close, And he bayed to the moon as she rose.
* * * * *
The lark will make her hymn to God, The partridge call her brood, While I forget the heath I trod, The fields wherein I stood.
Tis dule to know not night from morn, But greater dule to know I can but hear the hunter's horn That once I used to blow.
* * * * *
There were three friends that buried the fourth, The mould in his mouth and the dust in his eyes, And they went south and east and north— The strong man fights but the sick man dies.
There were three friends that spoke of the dead— The strong man fights but the sick man dies— 'And would he were here with us now,' they said, 'The sun in our face and the wind in our eyes.'
* * * * *
Yet at the last, ere our spearmen had found him, Yet at the last, ere a sword-thrust could save, Yet at the last, with his masters around him, He spoke of the Faith as a master to slave. Yet at the last, though the Kafirs had maimed him, Broken by bondage and wrecked by the reiver, Yet at the last, tho' the darkness had claimed him, He called upon Allah, and died a Believer!
(And Gallio cared for none of these things.—ACTS xviii. 17)
All day long to the judgment-seat The crazed Provincials drew— All day long at their ruler's feet Howled for the blood of the Jew. Insurrection with one accord Banded itself and woke, And Paul was about to open his mouth When Achaia's Deputy spoke—
'Whether the God descend from above Or the Man ascend upon high, Whether this maker of tents be Jove Or a younger deity— I will be no judge between your gods And your godless bickerings. Lictor, drive them hence with rods— I care for none of these things!
'Were it a question of lawful due Or Caesar's rule denied, Reason would I should bear with you And order it well to be tried; But this is a question of words and names. I know the strife it brings. I will not pass upon any your claims. I care for none of these things.
'One thing only I see most clear, As I pray you also see. Claudius Caesar hath set me here Rome's Deputy to be. It is Her peace that ye go to break— Not mine, nor any king's. But, touching your clamour of "Conscience sake," I care for none of these things.
'Whether ye rise for the sake of a creed, Or riot in hope of spoil, Equally will I punish the deed, Equally check the broil; Nowise permitting injustice at all From whatever doctrine it springs— But—whether ye follow Priapus or Paul, I care for none of these things.'
THE BEES AND THE FLIES
A farmer of the Augustan Age Perused in Virgil's golden page, The story of the secret won From Proteus by Cyrene's son— How the dank sea-god showed the swain Means to restore his hives again. More briefly, how a slaughtered bull Breeds honey by the bellyful.
The egregious rustic put to death A bull by stopping of its breath, Disposed the carcass in a shed With fragrant herbs and branches spread, And, having thus performed the charm, Sat down to wait the promised swarm.
Nor waited long. The God of Day Impartial, quickening with his ray Evil and good alike, beheld The carcass—and the carcass swelled. Big with new birth the belly heaves Beneath its screen of scented leaves. Past any doubt, the bull conceives!
The farmer bids men bring more hives To house the profit that arrives; Prepares on pan, and key and kettle, Sweet music that shall make 'em settle; But when to crown the work he goes, Gods! what a stink salutes his nose!
Where are the honest toilers? Where The gravid mistress of their care? A busy scene, indeed, he sees, But not a sign or sound of bees. Worms of the riper grave unhid By any kindly coffin lid, Obscene and shameless to the light, Seethe in insatiate appetite, Through putrid offal, while above The hissing blow-fly seeks his love, Whose offspring, supping where they supt, Consume corruption twice corrupt.
ROAD-SONG OF THE BANDAR-LOG
Here we go in a flung festoon, Half-way up to the jealous moon! Don't you envy our pranceful bands? Don't you wish you had extra hands? Wouldn't you like if your tails were—so— Curved in the shape of a Cupid's bow? Now you're angry, but—never mind, Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!
Here we sit in a branchy row, Thinking of beautiful things we know; Dreaming of deeds that we mean to do, All complete, in a minute or two— Something noble and grand and good, Won by merely wishing we could. Now we're going to—never mind, Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!
All the talk we ever have heard Uttered by bat or beast or bird— Hide or fin or scale or feather— Jabber it quickly and all together! Excellent! Wonderful! Once again! Now we are talking just like men. Let's pretend we are ... never mind, Brother, thy tail hangs down behind! This is the way of the Monkey-kind!
Then join our leaping lines that scumfish through the pines, That rocket by where, light and high, the wild-grape swings. By the rubbish in our wake, and the noble noise we make, Be sure, be sure, we're going to do some splendid things.
'OUR FATHERS ALSO'
Thrones, Powers, Dominions, Peoples, Kings, Are changing 'neath our hand; Our fathers also see these things But they do not understand.
By—they are by with mirth and tears, Wit or the works of Desire— Cushioned about on the kindly years Between the wall and the fire.
The grapes are pressed, the corn is shocked— Standeth no more to glean; For the Gates of Love and Learning locked When they went out between.
All lore our Lady Venus bares, Signalled it was or told By the dear lips long given to theirs And longer to the mould.
All Profit, all Device, all Truth Written it was or said By the mighty men of their mighty youth, Which is mighty being dead.
The film that floats before their eyes The Temple's Veil they call; And the dust that on the Shewbread lies Is holy over all.
Warn them of seas that slip our yoke Of slow-conspiring stars— The ancient Front of Things unbroke But heavy with new wars?
By—they are by with mirth and tears, Wit or the waste of Desire— Cushioned about on the kindly years Between the wall and the fire.
A BRITISH-ROMAN SONG
My father's father saw it not, And I, belike, shall never come, To look on that so-holy spot— The very Rome—
Crowned by all Time, all Art, all Might, The equal work of Gods and Man, City beneath whose oldest height— The Race began!
Soon to send forth again a brood, Unshakeable, we pray, that clings, To Rome's thrice-hammered hardihood— In arduous things.
Strong heart with triple armour bound, Beat strongly, for thy life-blood runs, Age after Age, the Empire round— In us thy Sons.
Who, distant from the Seven Hills, Loving and serving much, require Thee—thee to guard 'gainst home-born ills, The Imperial Fire!
A PICT SONG
Rome never looks where she treads. Always her heavy hooves fall, On our stomachs, our hearts or our heads; And Rome never heeds when we bawl. Her sentries pass on—that is all, And we gather behind them in hordes, And plot to reconquer the Wall, With only our tongues for our swords.
We are the Little Folk—we! Too little to love or to hate. Leave us alone and you'll see How we can drag down the State! We are the worm in the wood! We are the rot at the root! We are the germ in the blood! We are the thorn in the foot!
Mistletoe killing an oak— Rats gnawing cables in two— Moths making holes in a cloak— How they must love what they do! Yes—and we Little Folk too, We are busy as they— Working our works out of view— Watch, and you'll see it some day!
No indeed! We are not strong, But we know Peoples that are. Yes, and we'll guide them along, To smash and destroy you in War! We shall be slaves just the same? Yes, we have always been slaves, But you—you will die of the shame, And then we shall dance on your graves!
We are the Little Folk, we, etc.
The Stranger within my gate, He may be true or kind. But he does not talk my talk— I cannot feel his mind. I see the face and the eyes and the mouth, But not the soul behind.
The men of my own stock They may do ill or well, But they tell the lies I am wonted to, They are used to the lies I tell. We do not need interpreters When we go to buy and sell.
The Stranger within my gates, He may be evil or good, But I cannot tell what powers control— What reasons sway his mood; Nor when the Gods of his far-off land May repossess his blood.
The men of my own stock, Bitter bad they may be, But, at least, they hear the things I hear, And see the things I see; And whatever I think of them and their likes They think of the likes of me.
This was my father's belief And this is also mine: Let the corn be all one sheaf— And the grapes be all one vine, Ere our children's teeth are set on edge By bitter bread and wine.
(Marching Song of a Roman Legion of the Later Empire)
When I left home for Lalage's sake By the Legions' road to Rimini, She vowed her heart was mine to take With me and my shield to Rimini— (Till the Eagles flew from Rimini!) And I've tramped Britain, and I've tramped Gaul, And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall As white as the neck of Lalage— (As cold as the heart of Lalage!) And I've lost Britain, and I've lost Gaul, And I've lost Rome, and worst of all, I've lost Lalage!
When you go by the Via Aurelia, As thousands have travelled before, Remember the Luck of the Soldier Who never saw Rome any more! Oh dear was the sweetheart that kissed him And dear was the mother that bore, But his shield was picked up in the heather, And he never saw Rome any more!
And he left Rome, etc.
When you go by the Via Aurelia That runs from the City to Gaul, Remember the Luck of the Soldier Who rose to be master of all! He carried the sword and the buckler, He mounted his guard on the Wall, Till the Legions elected him Caesar, And he rose to be master of all!
And he left Rome, etc.
It's twenty-five marches to Narbo, It's forty-five more up the Rhone, And the end may be death in the heather Or life on an Emperor's throne.
But whether the Eagles obey us, Or we go to the Ravens—alone, I'd sooner be Lalage's lover Than sit on an Emperor's throne!
We've all left Rome for Lalage's sake, etc.
'POOR HONEST MEN'
Your jar of Virginny Will cost you a guinea Which you reckon too much by five shillings or ten; But light your churchwarden And judge it according, When I've told you the troubles of poor honest men!
From the Capes of the Delaware, As you are well aware, We sail with tobacco for England—but then, Our own British cruisers, They watch us come through, sirs, And they press half a score of us poor honest men!
Or if by quick sailing (Thick weather prevailing) We leave them behind (as we do now and then) We are sure of a gun from Each frigate we run from, Which is often destruction to poor honest men!
Broadsides the Atlantic We tumble short-handed, With shot-holes to plug and new canvas to bend, And off the Azores, Dutch, Dons and Monsieurs Are waiting to terrify poor honest men.
Napoleon's embargo Is laid on all cargo Which comfort or aid to King George may intend; And since roll, twist and leaf, Of all comforts is chief, They try for to steal it from poor honest men!
With no heart for fight, We take refuge in flight But fire as we run, our retreat to defend, Until our stern-chasers Cut up her fore-braces, And she flies up the wind from us poor honest men!
Twix' the Forties and Fifties, South-eastward the drift is, And so, when we think we are making Land's End, Alas! it is Ushant With half the King's Navy, Blockading French ports against poor honest men!
But they may not quit station (Which is our salvation), So swiftly we stand to the Nor'ard again; And finding the tail of A homeward-bound convoy, We slip past the Scillies like poor honest men.
Twix' the Lizard and Dover, We hand our stuff over, Though I may not inform how we do it, nor when. But a light on each quarter Low down on the water Is well understanded by poor honest men!
Even then we have dangers, From meddlesome strangers, Who spy on our business and are not content To take a smooth answer, Except with a handspike ... And they say they are murdered by poor honest men!
To be drowned or be shot Is our natural lot, Why should we, moreover, be hanged in the end— After all our great pains For to dangle in chains As though we were smugglers, not poor honest men?
'WHEN THE GREAT ARK'
When the Great Ark, in Vigo Bay, Rode stately through the half-manned fleet, From every ship about her way She heard the mariners entreat— 'Before we take the seas again, Let down your boats and send us men!
'We have no lack of victual here With work—God knows!—enough for all, To hand and reef and watch and steer, Because our present strength is small. While your three decks are crowded so Your crews can scarcely stand or go.
'In war, your numbers do but raise Confusion and divided will; In storm, the mindless deep obeys Not multitudes but single skill; In calm, your numbers, closely pressed. Do breed a mutiny or pest.
'We, even on unchallenged seas, Dare not adventure where we would, But forfeit brave advantages For lack of men to make 'em good; Whereby, to England's double cost. Honour and profit both are lost!'
PROPHETS AT HOME
Prophets have honour all over the Earth, Except in the village where they were born. Where such as knew them boys from birth, Nature-ally hold 'em in scorn.
When Prophets are naughty and young and vain, They make a won'erful grievance of it; (You can see by their writings how they complain), But O, 'tis won'erful good for the Prophet!
There's nothing Nineveh Town can give (Nor being swallowed by whales between), Makes up for the place where a man's folk live, Which don't care nothing what he has been. He might ha' been that, or he might ha' been this, But they love and they hate him for what he is.
JUBAL AND TUBAL CAIN
Jubal sang of the Wrath of God And the curse of thistle and thorn— But Tubal got him a pointed rod, And scrabbled the earth for corn. Old—old as that early mould, Young as the sprouting grain— Yearly green is the strife between Jubal and Tubal Cain!
Jubal sang of the new-found sea, And the love that its waves divide— But Tubal hollowed a fallen tree And passed to the further side. Black—black as the hurricane-wrack, Salt as the under-main— Bitter and cold is the hate they hold— Jubal and Tubal Cain!
Jubal sang of the golden years When wars and wounds shall cease— But Tubal fashioned the hand-flung spears And showed his neighbours peace. New—new as the Nine point Two, Older than Lamech's slain— Roaring and loud is the feud avowed Twix' Jubal and Tubal Cain!
Jubal sang of the cliffs that bar And the peaks that none may crown— But Tubal clambered by jut and scar And there he builded a town. High—high as the snowsheds lie, Low as the culverts drain— Wherever they be they can never agree— Jubal and Tubal Cain!
The gull shall whistle in his wake, the blind wave break in fire. He shall fulfil God's utmost will, unknowing his desire. And he shall see old planets change and alien stars arise, And give the gale his seaworn sail in shadow of new skies. Strong lust of gear shall drive him forth and hunger arm his hand, To win his food from the desert rude, his pittance from the sand. His neighbours' smoke shall vex his eyes, their voices break his rest, He shall go forth till south is north sullen and dispossessed. He shall desire loneliness and his desire shall bring, Hard on his heels, a thousand wheels, a People and a King. He shall come back on his own track, and by his scarce-cooled camp There shall he meet the roaring street, the derrick and the stamp: There he shall blaze a nation's ways with hatchet and with brand, Till on his last-won wilderness an Empire's outposts stand.
A SCHOOL SONG
'Let us now praise famous men'— Men of little showing— For their work continueth, And their work continueth, Broad and deep continueth, Greater than their knowing!
Western wind and open surge Took us from our mothers. Flung us on a naked shore (Twelve bleak houses by the shore! Seven summers by the shore!) 'Mid two hundred brothers.
There we met with famous men Set in office o'er us; And they beat on us with rods— Faithfully with many rods— Daily beat on us with rods, For the love they bore us!
Out of Egypt unto Troy— Over Himalaya— Far and sure our bands have gone— Hy-Brasil or Babylon, Islands of the Southern Run, And Cities of Cathaia!
And we all praise famous men— Ancients of the College; For they taught us common sense— Tried to teach us common sense— Truth and God's Own Common Sense, Which is more than knowledge!
Each degree of Latitude Strung about Creation Seeth one or more of us (Of one muster each of us), Diligent in that he does, Keen in his vocation.
This we learned from famous men, Knowing not its uses, When they showed, in daily work, Man must finish off his work— Right or wrong, his daily work— And without excuses.
Servants of the Staff and chain, Mine and fuse and grapnel— Some before the face of Kings, Stand before the face of Kings; Bearing gifts to divers Kings— Gifts of case and shrapnel.
This we learned from famous men Teaching in our borders, Who declared it was best, Safest, easiest, and best— Expeditious, wise, and best— To obey your orders.
Some beneath the further stars Bear the greater burden: Set to serve the lands they rule, (Save he serve no man may rule), Serve and love the lands they rule; Seeking praise nor guerdon.
This we learned from famous men, Knowing not we learned it. Only, as the years went by— Lonely, as the years went by— Far from help as years went by, Plainer we discerned it.
Wherefore praise we famous men From whose bays we borrow— They that put aside To-day— All the joys of their To-day— And with toil of their To-day Bought for us To-morrow!
Bless and praise we famous men— Men of little showing— For their work continueth, And their work continueth, Broad and deep continueth, Great beyond their knowing!
THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE
_Now this is the Law of the Jungle—as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back— For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack._
Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip; drink deeply, but never too deep; And remember the night is for hunting, and forget not the day is for sleep.
The Jackal may follow the Tiger, but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown, Remember the Wolf is a hunter—go forth and get food of thine own.
Keep peace with the Lords of the Jungle—the Tiger, the Panther, the Bear; And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the Boar in his lair.
When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail, Lie down till the leaders have spoken—it may be fair words shall prevail.
When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack, ye must fight him alone and afar, Lest others take part in the quarrel, and the Pack be diminished by war.
The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, and where he has made him his home, Not even the Head Wolf may enter, not even the Council may come.
The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, but where he has digged it too plain, The Council shall send him a message, and so he shall change it again.
If ye kill before midnight, be silent, and wake not the woods with your bay, Lest ye frighten the deer from the crops, and the brothers go empty away.
Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can; But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man!
If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride; Pack-Right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide.
The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack. Ye must eat where it lies; And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair, or he dies.
The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf. He may do what he will, But, till he has given permission, the Pack may not eat of that Kill.
Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling. From all of his Pack he may claim Full-gorge when the killer has eaten; and none may refuse him the same.
Lair-Right is the right of the Mother. From all of her year she may claim One haunch of each kill for her litter; and none may deny her the same.
Cave-Right is the right of the Father—to hunt by himself for his own: He is freed of all calls to the Pack; he is judged by the Council alone.
Because of his age and his cunning, because of his gripe and his paw, In all that the Law leaveth open, the word of the Head Wolf is Law.
Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they; But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is—Obey!
'A SERVANT WHEN HE REIGNETH'
(For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear: for a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat; for an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.—PROV. XXX. 21, 22, 23.)
Three things make earth unquiet, And four she cannot brook; The godly Agur counted them And put them in a book— Those Four Tremendous Curses With which mankind is cursed: But a Servant when He Reigneth Old Agur counted first.
An Handmaid that is Mistress We need not call upon, A Fool when he is full of Meat Will fall asleep anon. An Odious Woman Married May bear a babe and mend. But a Servant when He Reigneth Is Confusion to the end.
His feet are swift to tumult, His hands are slow to toil, His ears are deaf to reason, His lips are loud in broil. He knows no use for power Except to show his might, He gives no heed to judgment Unless it prove him right.
Because he served a master Before his Kingship came, And hid in all disaster Behind his master's name, So, when his Folly opens The unnecessary hells, A Servant when He Reigneth Throws the blame on some one else.
His vows are lightly spoken, His faith is hard to bind. His trust is easy broken, He fears his fellow-kind. The nearest mob will move him To break the pledge he gave— Oh a Servant when He Reigneth Is more than ever slave!
'OUR FATHERS OF OLD'
Excellent herbs had our fathers of old— Excellent herbs to ease their pain— Alexanders and Marigold, Eyebright, Orris, and Elecampane. Basil, Rocket, Valerian, Rue, (Almost singing themselves they run) Vervain, Dittany, Call-me-to-you— Cowslip, Melilot, Rose of the Sun. Anything green that grew out of the mould Was an excellent herb to our fathers of old.
Wonderful tales had our fathers of old— Wonderful tales of the herbs and the stars— The Sun was Lord of the Marigold, Basil and Rocket belonged to Mars. Pat as a sum in division it goes— (Every plant had a star bespoke)— Who but Venus should govern the Rose? Who but Jupiter own the Oak? Simply and gravely the facts are told In the wonderful books of our fathers of old.
Wonderful little, when all is said, Wonderful little our fathers knew. Half their remedies cured you dead— Most of their teaching was quite untrue— 'Look at the stars when a patient is ill, (Dirt has nothing to do with disease,) Bleed and blister as much as you will, Blister and bleed him as oft as you please.' Whence enormous and manifold Errors were made by our fathers of old.
Yet when the sickness was sore in the land, And neither planets nor herbs assuaged, They took their lives in their lancet-hand And, oh, what a wonderful war they waged! Yes, when the crosses were chalked on the door— (Yes, when the terrible dead-cart rolled,) Excellent courage our fathers bore— Excellent heart had our fathers of old. None too learned, but nobly bold Into the fight went our fathers of old.
If it be certain, as Galen says, And sage Hippocrates holds as much— 'That those afflicted by doubts and dismays Are mightily helped by a dead man's touch', Then, be good to us, stars above! Then, be good to us, herbs below! We are afflicted by what we can prove, We are distracted by what we know— So—ah, so! Down from your heaven or up from your mould, Send us the hearts of our fathers of old!
Our Fathers in a wondrous age, Ere yet the earth was small, Ensured to us an heritage, And doubted not at all That we, the children of their heart, Which then did beat so high, In later time should play like part For our posterity.
A thousand years they steadfast built, To 'vantage us and ours, The Walls that were a world's despair, The sea-constraining Towers: Yet in their midmost pride they knew, And unto Kings made known, Not all from these their strength they drew, Their faith from brass or stone.
Youth's passion, manhood's fierce intent. With age's judgment wise, They spent, and counted not they spent. At daily sacrifice. Not lambs alone nor purchased doves Or tithe of trader's gold— Their lives most dear, their dearer loves, They offered up of old.
Refraining e'en from lawful things. They bowed the neck to bear The unadorned yoke that brings Stark toil and sternest care. Wherefore through them is Freedom sure; Wherefore through them we stand From all but sloth and pride secure, In a delightsome land.
Then, fretful, murmur not they gave So great a charge to keep. Nor dream that awestruck Time shall save Their labour while we sleep. Dear-bought and clear, a thousand year, Our fathers' title runs. Make we likewise their sacrifice, Defrauding not our sons.
'BEAST AND MAN IN INDIA'
They killed a child to please the Gods In earth's young penitence, And I have bled in that Babe's stead Because of innocence.
I bear the sins of sinful men That have no sin of my own, They drive me forth to Heaven's wrath Unpastured and alone.
I am the meat of sacrifice, The ransom of man's guilt, For they give my life to the altar-knife Wherever shrine is built.
Between the waving tufts of jungle-grass, Up from the river as the twilight falls, Across the dust-beclouded plain they pass On to the village walls.
Great is the sword and mighty is the pen, But greater far the labouring ploughman's blade, For on its oxen and its husbandmen An Empire's strength is laid.
The torn boughs trailing o'er the tusks aslant, The saplings reeling in the path he trod, Declare his might—our lord the Elephant, Chief of the ways of God.
The black bulk heaving where the oxen pant, The bowed head toiling where the guns careen, Declare our might—our slave the Elephant And servant of the Queen.
Dark children of the mere and marsh, Wallow and waste and lea, Outcaste they wait at the village gate With folk of low degree.
Their pasture is in no man's land. Their food the cattle's scorn, Their rest is mire and their desire The thicket and the thorn.
But woe to those who break their sleep, And woe to those who dare To rouse the herd-bull from his keep, The wild boar from his lair!
Pigs and Buffaloes.
The beasts are very wise, Their mouths are clean of lies, They talk one to the other, Bullock to bullock's brother Resting after their labours, Each in stall with his neighbours. But man with goad and whip, Breaks up their fellowship, Shouts in their silky ears Filling their souls with fears. When he has ploughed the land, He says: 'They understand.' But the beasts in stall together, Freed from the yoke and tether, Say as the torn flanks smoke: 'Nay, 'twas the whip that spoke.'
The doors were wide, the story saith, Out of the night came the patient wraith. He might not speak, and he could not stir A hair of the Baron's minniver. Speechless and strengthless, a shadow thin, He roved the castle to find his kin. And oh! 'twas a piteous sight to see The dumb ghost follow his enemy!
The Return of Imray.
Before my spring I garnered autumn's gain, Out of her time my field was white with grain, The year gave up her secrets, to my woe. Forced and deflowered each sick season lay In mystery of increase and decay; I saw the sunset ere men see the day, Who am too wise in all I should not know.
Without Benefit of Clergy.
Unto whose use the pregnant suns are poised, With idiot moons and stars retracting stars? Creep thou between—thy coming's all unnoised. Heaven hath her high, as Earth her baser, wars. Heir to these tumults, this affright, that fray (By Adam's, fathers', own, sin bound alway); Peer up, draw out thy horoscope and say Which planet mends thy threadbare fate, or mars.
And if ye doubt the tale I tell, Steer through the South Pacific swell; Go where the branching coral hives Unending strife of endless lives, Where, leagued about the 'wildered boat, The rainbow jellies fill and float; And, lilting where the laver lingers, The starfish trips on all her fingers; Where, 'neath his myriad spines ashock, The sea-egg ripples down the rock; An orange wonder daily guessed, From darkness where the cuttles rest, Moored o'er the darker deeps that hide The blind white sea-snake and his bride Who, drowsing, nose the long-lost ships Let down through darkness to their lips.
A Matter of Fact.
There's a convict more in the Central Jail, Behind the old mud wall; There's a lifter less on the Border trail, And the Queen's peace over all, Dear boys, The Queen's peace over all!
For we must bear our leader's blame, On us the shame will fall, If we lift our hand from a fettered land And the Queen's peace over all, Dear boys, The Queen's peace over all!
The Lost Legion.
'Less you want your toes trod off you'd better get back at once, For the bullocks are walking two by two, The byles are walking two by two, And the elephants bring the guns. Ho! Yuss! Great—big—long—black—forty-pounder guns: Jiggery-jolty to and fro, Each as big as a launch in tow— Blind—dumb—broad-breeched—beggars o' battering-guns.
My Lord the Elephant.
All the world over, nursing their scars, Sit the old fighting-men broke in the wars— Sit the old fighting men, surly and grim Mocking the lilt of the conquerors' hymn.
Dust of the battle o'erwhelmed them and hid. Fame never found them for aught that they did. Wounded and spent to the lazar they drew, Lining the road where the Legions roll through.
Sons of the Laurel who press to your meed, (Worthy God's pity most—ye who succeed!) Ere you go triumphing, crowned, to the stars, Pity poor fighting men, broke in the wars!
SONG OF THE FIFTH RIVER
When first by Eden Tree, The Four Great Rivers ran, To each was appointed a Man Her Prince and Ruler to be.
But after this was ordained, (The ancient legends tell), There came dark Israel, For whom no River remained.
Then He Whom the Rivers obey Said to him: 'Fling on the ground A handful of yellow clay, And a Fifth Great River shall run, Mightier than these Four, In secret the Earth around; And Her secret evermore, Shall be shown to thee and thy Race.' So it was said and done. And deep in the veins of Earth, And, fed by a thousand springs That comfort the market-place, Or sap the power of Kings, The Fifth Great River had birth, Even as it was foretold— The Secret River of Gold!