Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Summer Night / AE


A Summer Night

Her mist of primroses within her breast
Twilight hath folded up, and o'er the west,
Seeking remoter valleys long hath gone,
Not yet hath come her sister of the dawn.
Silence and coolness now the earth enfold,
Jewels of glittering green, long mists of gold.
Hazes of nebulous silver veil the height,
And shake in tremors through the shadowy night.
Heard through the stillness, as in whispered words.
The wandering God-guided wings of birds
Ruffle the dark. The little lives that lie
Deep hid in grass join in a long-drawn sigh
More softly still; and unheard through the blue
The falling of innumerable dew,
Lifts with grey fingers all the leaves that lay
Burned in the heat of the consuming day.
The lawns and lakes lie in this night of love,
Admitted to the majesty above.
Earth with the starry company hath part;
The waters hold all heaven within their heart,
And glimmer o'er with wave-lips everywhere
Lifted to meet the angel lips of air.
The many homes of men shine near and far,
Peace-laden as the tender evening star,
The late home-coming folk anticipate
Their rest beyond the passing of the gate.
And tread with sleep-filled hearts and drowsy feet.
Oh, far away and wonderful and sweet
All this, all this. But far too many things
Obscuring, as a cloud of seraph wings
Blinding the seeker for the Lord behind,
I fall away in weariness of mind.
And think how far apart are I and you,
Beloved, from those spirit children who
Felt but one single Being long ago.
Whispering in gentleness and leaning low
Out of its majesty, as child to child.
I think upon it all with heart grown wild.
Hearing no voice, howe'er my spirit broods,
No whisper from the dense infinitudes,
This world of myriad things whose distance awes.
Ah me; how innocent our childhood was!

~~
AE (George William Russell, 1867-1935)
from The Divine Vision, and other poems, 1904

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Summer Day / Henry Charles Beeching


A Summer Day 

Green leaves panting for joy with the great wind rushing through;
  A burst of the sun from cloud and a sparkle on valley and hill,
  Gold on the corn, and red on the poppy, and on the rill
Silver, and over all white clouds afloat in the blue.

Swallows that dart, a lark unseen, innumerous song
  Chirruped and twittered, a lowing of cows in the meadow grass,
  Murmuring gnats, and bees that suck their honey and pass:
God is alive, and at work in the world:— we did it wrong.

Human eyes, and human hands, and a human face
  Darkly beheld before in a vision, not understood,
Do I at last begin to feel as I stand and gaze
  Why God waited for this, then called the world very good?

~~
Henry Charles Beeching (1859-1919)
from Love's Looking Glass, 1891

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

Henry Charles Beeching biography

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Summer Days / Wathen Call


Summer Days

In summer, when the days were long,
We walk’d, two friends, in field and wood;
Our heart was light, our step was strong,
And life lay round us, fair as good,
In summer, when the days were long.

We stray’d from morn till evening came,
We gather’d flowers, and wove us crowns;
We walk’d mid poppies red as flame,
Or sat upon the yellow downs,
And always wish’d our life the same.

In summer, when the days were long,
We leap’d the hedgerow, cross’d the brook;
And still her voice flow’d forth in song,
Or else she read some graceful book,
In summer, when the days were long.

And then we sat beneath the trees,
With shadows lessening in the noon;
And in the sunlight and the breeze
We revell’d, many a glorious June,
While larks were singing o’er the leas.

In summer, when the days were long,
We pluck’d wild strawberries, ripe and red,
Or feasted, with no grace but song,
On golden nectar, snow-white bread,
In summer, when the days were long.

We lov’d, and yet we knew it not,
For loving seem’d like breathing then;
We found a heaven in every spot;
Saw angels, too, in all good men,
And dream’d of gods in grove and grot.

In summer, when the days are long,
Alone I wander, muse alone;
I see her not, but that old song
Under the fragrant wind is blown,
In summer, when the days are long.

Alone I wander in the wood,
But one fair spirit hears my sighs;
And half I see the crimson hood,
The radiant hair, the calm glad eyes,
That charm’d me in life’s summer mood.

In summer, when the days are long,
I love her as I lov’d of old;
My heart is light, my step is strong,
For love brings back those hours of gold,
In summer, when the days are long.

 ~~
Wathen Call (1817-1890) 
from A Victorian Anthology, 1837-1895, 1895 

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Wathen Call biography

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lying in the Grass / Edmund Gosse


Lying in the Grass

Between two golden tufts of summer grass,
I see the world through hot air as through glass,
And by my face sweet lights and colors pass.

Before me, dark against the fading sky,
I watch three mowers mowing, as I lie:
With brawny arms they sweep in harmony.

Brown English faces by the sun burnt red,
Rich glowing color on bare throat and head,
My heart would leap to watch them, were I dead!

And in my strong young living as I lie,
I seem to move with them in harmony,—
A fourth is mowing, and that fourth am I.

The music of the scythes that glide and leap,
The young men whistling as their great arms sweep,
And all the perfume and sweet sense of sleep,

The weary butterflies that droop their wings,
The dreamy nightingale that hardly sings,
And all the lassitude of happy things,

Are mingling with the warm and pulsing blood
That gushes through my veins a languid flood,
And feeds my spirit as the sap a bud.

Behind the mowers, on the amber air,
A dark-green beech wood rises, still and fair,
A white path winding up it like a stair.

And see that girl, with pitcher on her head,
And clean white apron on her gown of red,—
Her even-song of love is but half-said:

She waits the youngest mower. Now he goes;
Her cheeks are redder than a wild blush-rose:
They climb up where the deepest shadows close.

But though they pass, and vanish, I am there.
I watch his rough hands meet beneath her hair,
Their broken speech sounds sweet to me like prayer.

Ah! now the rosy children come to play,
And romp and struggle with the new-mown hay;
Their clear high voices sound from far away.

They know so little why the world is sad,
They dig themselves warm graves and yet are glad;
Their muffled screams and laughter make me mad!

I long to go and play among them there;
Unseen, like wind, to take them by the hair,
And gently make their rosy cheeks more fair.

The happy children! full of frank surprise,
And sudden whims and innocent ecstasies;
What godhead sparkles from their liquid eyes!

No wonder round those urns of mingled clays
That Tuscan potters fashioned in old days,
And colored like the torrid earth ablaze,

We find the little gods and loves portrayed,
Through ancient forests wandering undismayed,
And fluting hymns of pleasure unafraid.

They knew, as I do now, what keen delight
A strong man feels to watch the tender flight
Of little children playing in his sight;

What pure sweet pleasure, and what sacred love,
Come drifting down upon us from above,
In watching how their limbs and features move.

I do not hunger for a well-stored mind;
I only wish to live my life, and find
My heart in unison with all mankind.

My life is like the single dewy star
That trembles on the horizon’s primrose-bar,—
A microcosm where all things living are.

And if, among the noiseless grasses, Death
Should come behind and take away my breath,
I should not rise as one who sorroweth;

For I should pass, but all the world would be
Full of desire and young delight and glee,
And why should men be sad through loss of me?

The light is flying; in the silver-blue
The young moon shines from her bright window through:
The mowers are all gone, and I go too.

~~
Edmund Gosse (1849-1928)
from On Viol and Flute, 1873

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

Edmund Gosse biography

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Dyke / John Frederic Herbin


The Dyke

From dyke to hill-side sways the level sweep
     Of all the ripened hay in mid-July;
     A tideless sea of rustling melody,
Beside the river-channels of the deep.
Astray and straggling, or in broken heap,
     Where birdlings flutter, dark the fences lie.
     Far off, the tortuous rush-grown creek is dry,
Where looms the leaning barn like ancient keep.

A Neptune cuts across the sea of green
     With chariot-music trembling to the hills;
          And as the horses swim the grass divides,
Showing to heaven where his way has been.
          The sounding wheel that bares what Natures hides
     Drowns the low nestling-cry, and ruthless kills.

~~
John Frederic Herbin (1860-1923)
from The Marshlands, 1893

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

Saturday, July 8, 2017

In a Garden / Radclyffe Hall


In a Garden

In the garden a thousand roses,
     A vine of jessamine flower,
Sweetpeas in coquettish poses,
     Sweetbrier with its fragrant dower.

There are hollyhocks tall and slender,
     And marigolds gay and fair,
And sunflowers in glowing splendour,
     Geraniums rich and rare;

And the wee, white, innocent daisy,
     Half hidden amid the lawn;
A bee grown drowsy and lazy
     On honey he's drunk since dawn

Is reposing with wings extended
     On some soft, passionate rose,
Aglow with a blush more splendid
     Than ever a fair cheek knows.

While a thrush, in the ivy swinging
     That clusters over the gate,
Athrob with the spring is singing,
     And ardently calls his mate.

For the spirit of all sweet odours
     The soul of a June unborn
Has hallowed my humble garden,
     And whispered to me since dawn.

And the flowers in a prayer of rapture,
     Bent low to that spell divine,
Are wafting their sweetest incense
     In clouds, at his sunlit shrine.

~~
Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943)
from 'Twixt Earth and Stars, 1906

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

Radclyffe Hall biography

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Dialogue of the Earth and Flower / Richard Oakley


Dialogue of the Earth and Flower 

The flower grew from the green
of the Earth, under the blue
of the sky, and asked something,
“I've noticed the rainbows after
clouds cried, I've seen the birds
soaring after that storm, I've seen
man break dirt by me, and set fires
so close…”

The Earth replied, “So what is your
question, my pretty one?” The
Flower went to speak,
but stopped.

As long as he's been here, he's been
alone in this field of green grass, not
even weeds encroached his small mound
that may as well have been a mountain away
from others; he saw no other flowers.
He was alone.

He raised his heavy, petal crown;
with his seeds as eyes he saw --
and not looking at the Earth, he spoke,
"I had a dream, small flowers played
in the field at dusk, where man can't see;
and though I remained on my mound and
only could watch, I would
not feel alone."

He looked down at the Earth and wept:
his seeds of eyes, fell into the dust and
the Earth was moved and
closed its hands.

"I ask that my children grow, and are never
alone like me; I give myself for them, then
leave" at this the flower dropped his petal
crown and lay on the dust, on his mound,
and the clouds cried, and the
rainbows came.

* * *

When the children play in the field at dusk
with the soaring birds, that rose and fell
amongst the laughing, cotton clouds that
now found no time to cry: the rainbows
learned not to wait for tears to come, to
come near.

When the children's play is done, the Earth
gathers them together and tells of the lonely
flower, so beautiful and sad –
and tells of his eternal smile he sees in
their playful faces.

~~
Richard Oakley, 2017

[All rights reserved - used with permission]