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Title: New Poems
Author: Roberts, Charles George Douglas (1860-1943)
Date of first publication: 1919
Edition used as base for this ebook: London: Constable, 1919 [first edition]
Date first posted: 3 January 2011
Date last updated: 3 January 2011
Project Gutenberg Canada ebook #690

This ebook was produced by Al Haines




NEW POEMS


BY

CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS




LONDON
CONSTABLE AND COMPANY LIMITED
1919




PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN.
CHISWICK PRESS : CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO.
TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON.



CONTENTS


TO SHAKESPEARE, IN 1916
"THE UNKNOWN CITY"
O EARTH, SUFFICING ALL OUR NEEDS
MONITION
ON THE ROAD
HILL TOP SONGS:
I. HERE ON THE HILL
II. WHEN THE LIGHTS COME OUT
IN THE VALLEY OF LUCHON
THE GOOD EARTH
WAYFARER OF EARTH
UNDER THE PILLARS OF THE SKY
ALL NIGHT THE LONE CICADA
EASTWARD BOUND
WHEN IN THE ROWAN TREE
WITH APRIL HERE
FROM THE HIGH WINDOW OF YOUR ROOM
THE HOUR OF MOST DESIRE
THE FLOWER
WHEN THE CLOUD COMES DOWN THE MOUNTAIN
THE STREAM
THE SUMMONS
THE PLACE OF HIS REST
GOING OVER
CAMBRAI AND MARNE




NEW POEMS


TO SHAKESPEARE, IN 1916

With what white wrath must turn thy bones,
What stern amazement flame thy dust,
To feel so near this England's heart
The outrage of the assassin's thrust!

How must thou burn to have endured
The acclaim of these whose fame unclean
Reeks from the "Lusitania's" slain,
Stinks from the orgies of Malines!

But surely, too, thou art consoled
(Who knew'st thy stalwart breed so well)
To see us rise from sloth, and go,
Plain and unbragging, through this hell.

And surely, too, thou art assured.
Hark how that grim and gathering beat
Draws upwards from the ends of earth,—
The tramp, tramp, of thy kinsmen's feet.




"THE UNKNOWN CITY"

There lies a city inaccessible,
Where the dead dreamers dwell.

Abrupt and blue, with many a high ravine
And soaring bridge half seen.
With many an iris cloud that comes and goes
Over the ancient snows,
The imminent hills environ it, and hold
Its portals from of old,
That grief invade not, weariness, nor war,
Nor anguish evermore.

White-walled and jettied on the peacock tide,
With domes and towers enskied,
Its battlements and balconies one sheen
Of ever-living green,
It hears the happy dreamers turning home
Slow-oared across the foam.

Cool are its streets with waters musical
And fountains' shadowy fall.
With orange and anemone and rose,
And every flower that blows
Of magic scent or unimagined dye,
Its gardens shine and sigh.
Its chambers, memoried with old romance
And faŽry circumstance,—
From any window love may lean some time
For love that dares to climb.

This is that city babe and seer divined
With pure, believing mind.
This is the home of unachieved emprize.
Here, here the visioned eyes
Of them that dream past any power to do,
Wake to the dream come true.
Here the high failure, not the level fame,
Attests the spirit's aim.
Here is fulfilled each hope that soared and sought
Beyond the bournes of thought.

The obdurate marble yields; the canvas glows;
Perfect the column grows;
The chorded cadence art could ne'er attain
Crowns the imperfect strain;
And the great song that seemed to die unsung
Triumphs upon the tongue.




O EARTH, SUFFICING ALL OUR NEEDS

O earth, sufficing all our needs, O you
With room for body and for spirit too,
How patient while your children vex their souls
Devising alien heavens beyond your blue!

Dear dwelling of the immortal and unseen,
How obstinate in my blindness have I been,
Not comprehending what your tender calls,
Veiled promises and re-assurance, mean.

Not far and cold the way that they have gone
Who through your sundering darkness have withdrawn;
Almost within our hand-reach they remain
Who pass beyond the sequence of the dawn.

Not far and strange the Heaven, but very near,
Your children's hearts unknowingly hold dear.
At times we almost catch the door swung wide.
And unforgotten voice almost we hear,

I am the heir of Heaven—and you are just.
You, you alone I know—and you I trust.
I have sought God beyond his farthest star—
But here I find Him, in your quickening dust.




MONITION

A faint wind, blowing from World's End,
Made strange the city street.
A strange sound mingled in the fall
Of the familiar feet.

Something unseen whirled with the leaves
To tap on door and sill.
Something unknown went whispering by
Even when the wind was still.

And men looked up with startled eyes
And hurried on their way,
As if they had been called, and told
How brief their day.




ON THE ROAD

Ever just over the top of the next brown rise
I expect some wonderful thing to flatter my eyes.
"What's yonder?" I ask of the first wayfarer I meet.
"Nothing!" he answers, and looks at my travel-worn feet.

"Only more hills and more hills, like the many you've passed,
With rough country between, and a poor enough inn at the last."
But already I am a-move, for I see he is blind,
And I hate that old grumble I've listened to time out of mind.

I've tramped it too long not to know there is truth in it still,
That lure of the turn of the road, of the crest of the hill.
So I breast me the rise with full hope, well assured I shall see
Some new prospect of joy, some brave venture a tip-toe for me.

For I have come far, and confronted the calm and the strife.
I have fared wide, and bit deep in the apple of life.
It is sweet at the rind, but oh, sweeter still at the core;
And whatever be gained, yet the reach of the morrow is more.

At the crest of the hill I shall hail the new summits to climb.
The demand of my vision shall beggar the largess of time.
For I know that the higher I press, the wider I view,
The more's to be ventured and visioned, in worlds that are new.

So when my feet, failing, shall stumble in ultimate dark,
And faint eyes no more the high lift of the pathway shall mark,
There under the dew I'll lie down with my dreams, for I know
What bright hill-tops the morning will show me, all red in the glow.




HILL TOP SONGS

I

Here on the hill
At last the soul sees clear.
Desire being still
The High Unseen appear.
The thin grass bends
One way, and hushed attends
Unknown and gracious ends.
Where the sheep's pasturing feet
Have cleft the sods
The mystic light lies sweet;
The very clods,
In purpling hues elate,
Thrill to their fate;
The high rock-hollows wait,
Expecting gods.


II

When the lights come out in the cottages
Along the shores at eve,
And across the darkening water
The last pale shadows leave;

And up from the rock-ridged pasture slopes
The sheep-bell tinklings steal,
And the folds are shut, and the shepherds
Turn to their quiet meal;

And even here, on the unfenced height,
No journeying wind goes by,
But the earth-sweet smells, and the home-sweet sounds,
Mount, like prayer, to the sky;

Then from the door of my opened heart
Old blindness and pride are driven,
Till I know how high is the humble,
The dear earth how close to heaven.




IN THE VALLEY OF LUCHON

Day long, and night long,
From the soaring peaks and the snow,
Down through the valley villages
The cold white waters flow.

Quiet are the villages;
And very quiet the cloud
At rest on the breast of the mountain;
But the falling waves are loud

Through the little, clustering cottages,
Through the little, climbing fields,
Where every sunburnt vineyard
Its patch of purple yields.

High hung, a steel-bright scimitar,
The crooked glacier gleams.
The white church dreams in the valley
Where the red oleander dreams.

And every wonder of beauty
Comes, as a dream comes, true,
Where the sun drips rose from the ledges
And the moon by the peak swims blue.




THE GOOD EARTH

The smell of burning weeds
Upon the twilight air;
The piping of the frogs
From meadows wet and bare;

A presence in the wood,
And in my blood a stir;
In all the ardent earth
No failure or demur.

O spring wind, sweet with love
And tender with desire,
Pour into veins of mine
Your pure, impassioned fire.

O waters running free
With full, exultant song,
Give me, for outworn dream,
Life that is clean and strong.

O good Earth, warm with youth,
My childhood heart renew.
Make me elate, sincere,
Simple and glad, as you.

O springing things of green,
O waiting things of bloom,
O winging things of air,
Your lordship now resume.




WAYFARER OF EARTH

Up, Heart of mine,
Thou wayfarer of earth!
Of seed divine,
Be mindful of thy birth.
Though the flesh faint
Through long-endured constraint
Of nights and days,
Lift up thy praise
To life, that set thee in such strenuous ways,
And left thee not
To drowse and rot
In some thick-perfumed and luxurious plot.

Strong, strong is earth
With vigour for thy feet,
To make thy wayfaring
Tireless and fleet.
And good is earth,—
But earth not all thy good,
O thou with seed of suns
And star-fire in thy blood!

And though thou feel
The slow clog of the hours
Leaden upon thy heel,
Put forth thy powers.
Thine the deep sky,
The unpreŽmpted blue,
The haste of storm,
The hush of dew.
Thine, thine the free
Exalt of star and tree,
The reinless run
Of wind and sun,
The vagrance of the sea.




UNDER THE PILLARS OF THE SKY

Under the pillars of the sky
I played at life, I knew not why.

The grave recurrence of the day
Was matter of my trivial play.

The solemn stars, the sacred night,
I took for toys of my delight,

Till now, with startled eyes, I see
The portents of Eternity.




ALL NIGHT THE LONE CICADA

All night the lone cicada
Kept shrilling through the rain,
A voice of joy undaunted
By unforgotten pain.

Down from the tossing branches
Rang out the high refrain,
By tumult undisheartened,
By storm assailed in vain.

To looming vasts of mountain,
To shadowy deeps of plain
The ephemeral, brave defiance
Adventured not in vain,—

Till to my faltering spirit,
And to my weary brain,
From loss and fear and failure
My joy returned again.




EASTWARD BOUND

We mount the arc of ocean's round
To meet the splendours of the sun;
Then downward rush into the dark
When the blue, spacious day is done.

The slow, eternal drift of stars
Draws over us until the dawn.
Then the grey steep we mount once more,
And night is down the void withdrawn.

Space, and interminable hours,
And moons that rise, and sweep, and fall,—
On-swinging earth, and orbťd sea,—
And voyaging souls more vast than all!




WHEN IN THE ROWAN TREE

When in the rowan tree
The coloured light fades slowly,
And the quiet dusk,
All lilied, breathes of you,
Then, Heart's Content,
I feel your hair enfolding me,
And tender comes the dark,
Bringing me—you.

And when across the sea
The rose-dawn opens slowly,
And the gold breaks, and the blue,
All glad of you,
Then, Heart's Reward,
Red, red is your mouth for me,
And life to me means love,
And love means—you.




WITH APRIL HERE

With April here,
And first thin green on the awakening bough,
What wonderful things and dear,
My tired heart to cheer,
At last appear!
Colours of dream afloat on cloud and tree,
So far, so clear,
A spell, a mystery;
And joys that thrill and sing,
New come on mating wing,
The wistfulness and ardour of the Spring,—
And Thou!




FROM THE HIGH WINDOW OF YOUR ROOM

From the high window of your room,
Above the roofs, and streets, and cries,
Lying awake and still, I watch
The wonder of the dawn arise.

Slow tips the world's deliberate rim,
Descending to the baths of day:
Up floats the pure, ethereal tide
And floods the outworn dark away.

The city's sprawled, uneasy bulk
Illumines slowly in my sight.
The crowded roofs, the common walls,
The grey streets, melt in mystic light.

It passes. Then, with longing sore
For that veiled light of paradise,
I turn my face,—and find it in
The wonder of your waking eyes.




THE HOUR OF MOST DESIRE

It is not in the day
That I desire you most,
Turning to seek your smile
For solace or for joy.

Nor is it in the dark,
When I toss restlessly,
Groping to find your face,
Half waking, half in dream.

It is not while I work,—
When, to endear success,
Or rob defeat of pain,
I weary for your hands.

Nor while from work I rest,
And rest is all unrest
For lack of your dear voice,
Your laughter, and your lips.

But every hour it is
That I desire you most,—
Need you in all my life
And every breath I breathe.




THE FLOWER

I am the man who found a flower,
A blossom blown upon the wind,
More radiant than the sunrise rose,
More sweet than lotus-airs of Ind.

I clutched the flower, and on my heart
I crushed its petals, red and burning.
O ecstasy of life new-born!
O youth returned, the unreturning!

I am the man who dared the Gods
And under their thunderbolts lay blest,
Because I found the flower, and wore it
One wild hour upon my breast.




WHEN THE CLOUD COMES DOWN THE MOUNTAIN

When the cloud comes down the mountain,
And the rain is loud on the leaves,
And the slim flies gather for shelter
Under my cabin eaves,—

Then my heart goes out to earth,
With the swollen brook runs free,
Drinks life with the drenched brown roots,
And climbs with the sap in the tree.




THE STREAM

I know a stream
Than which no lovelier flows.
Its banks a-gleam
With yarrow and wild rose,
Singing it goes
And shining through my dream.

Its waters glide
Beneath the basking noon,
A magic tide
That keeps perpetual June.

There the light sleeps
Unstirred by any storm;
The wild mouse creeps
Through tall weeds hushed and warm;
And the shy snipe,
Alighting unafraid;
With sudden pipe
Awakes the dreaming shade.

So long ago!
Still, still my memory hears
Its silver flow
Across the sundering years,—
Its roses glow,
Ah, through what longing tears!




THE SUMMONS

Deeps of the wind-torn west,
Flaming and desolate,
Upsprings my soul from his rest
With your banners at the gate.

'Neath this o'ermastering sky
How could the heart lie still,
Or the sluggish will
Content in the old chains lie,
When over the lonely hill
Your torn wild scarlets cry?

Up, Soul, and out
Into the deeps alone,
To the long peal and the shout
Of those trumpets blown and blown.




THE PLACE OF HIS REST

The green marsh-mallows
Are over him.
Along the shallows
The pale lights swim.

Wide air, washed grasses,
And waveless stream;
And over him passes
The drift of dream;—

The pearl-hue down
Of the poplar seed;
The elm-flower brown;
And the sway of the reed;

The blue moth, winged
With a flake of sky;
The bee, gold ringed;
And the dragon fly.

Lightly the rushes,
Lean to his breast;
A bird's wing brushes
The place of his rest.

The far-flown swallow,
The gold-finch flame,—
They come, they follow
The paths he came.

'Tis the land of No Care
Where now he lies,
Fulfilled the prayer
Of his weary eyes:

And while around him
The kind grass creeps,
Where peace hath found him
How sound he sleeps.

Well to his slumber
Attends the year:
Soft rains without number
Soft noons, blue clear,

With nights of balm,
And the dark, sweet hours
Brooding with calm,
Pregnant with flowers.

See how she speeds them,
Each childlike bloom,
And softly leads them
To tend his tomb!—

The white thorn nears
As the cowslip goes;
Then the iris appears;
And then, the rose.




GOING OVER

A girl's voice in the night troubled my heart.
Across the roar of the guns, the crash of the shells,
Low and soft as a sigh, clearly I heard it.

Where was the broken parapet, crumbling about me?
Where my shadowy comrades, crouching expectant?
A girl's voice in the dark troubled my heart.

A dream was the ooze of the trench, the wet clay slipping,
A dream the sudden out-flare of the wide-flung Verys.
I saw but a garden of lilacs, a-flower in the dusk.

What was the sergeant saying?—I passed it along.—
Did I pass it along? I was breathing the breath of the lilacs.
For a girl's voice in the night troubled my heart.

Over! How the mud sucks! Vomits red the barrage.
But I am far off in the hush of a garden of lilacs.
For a girl's voice in the night troubled my heart.
Tender and soft as a sigh, clearly I heard it.




CAMBRAI AND MARNE

Before our trenches at Cambrai
We saw their columns cringe away.
We saw their masses melt and reel
Before our line of leaping steel.

A handful to their storming hordes
We scourged them with the scourge of swords,
And still, the more we slew, the more
Came up for every slain a score.

Between the hedges and the town
Their cursing squadrons we rode down.
To stay them we outpoured our blood
Between the beetfields and the wood.

In that red hell of shrieking shell
Unfaltering our gunners fell.
They fell, or ere that day was done,
Beside the last unshattered gun.

But still we held them, like a wall
On which the breakers vainly fall—
Till came the word, and we obeyed,
Reluctant, bleeding, undismayed.

Our feet, astonished, learned retreat,
Our souls rejected still defeat.
Unbroken still, a lion at bay,
We drew back grimly from Cambrai.

In blood and sweat, with slaughter spent,
They thought us beaten as we went;
Till suddenly we turned and smote
The shout of triumph in their throat.

At last, at last we turned and stood—
And Marne's fair water ran with blood.
We stood by trench and steel and gun,
For now the indignant flight was done.

We ploughed their shaken ranks with fire.
We trod their masses into mire.
Our sabres drove through their retreat,
As drives the whirlwind through young wheat.

At last, at last we flung them back
Along their drenched and smoking track.
We hurled them back, in blood and flame,
The reeking ways by which they came.

By cumbered road and desperate ford,
How fled their shamed and harassed horde!
Shout, Sons of Freemen, for the day
When Marne so well avenged Cambrai!




CHISWICK PRESS: CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO.

TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON.




[End of New Poems, by Charles G. D. Roberts]