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- Poems of Cheer - 3/17 -


And in his heart the whole day long, As in a temple veiled and dim, He kept and bore about with him The beauty of that singer's song.

And then? But why relate what then? His smouldering heart flamed into fire - He had his one supreme desire, And plunged into the world of men.

For years queen Folly held her sway. With pleasures of the grosser kind She fed his flesh and drugged his mind, Till, shamed, he sated, turned away.

He sought his boyhood's home. That hour Triumphant should have been, in sooth, Since he went forth, an unknown youth, And came back crowned with wealth and power.

The clouds made day a gorgeous bed; He saw the splendour of the sky With unmoved heart and stolid eye; He only knew the West was red.

Then suddenly a fresh young voice Rose, bird-like, from some hidden place, He did not even turn his face - It struck him simply as a noise.

He trod the old paths up and down. Their rich-hued leaves by Fall winds whirled - How dull they were--how dull the world - Dull even in the pulsing town.

O! worst of punishments, that brings A blunting of all finer sense, A loss of feelings keen, intense, And dulls us to the higher things.

O! penalty most dire, most sure, Swift following after gross delights, That we no more see beauteous sights, Or hear as hear the good and pure.

O! shape more hideous and more dread Than Vengeance takes in creed-taught minds, This certain doom that blunts and blinds, And strikes the holiest feelings dead.

UNREST

In the youth of the year, when the birds were building, When the green was showing on tree and hedge, And the tenderest light of all lights was gilding The world from zenith to outermost edge, My soul grew sad and longingly lonely! I sighed for the season of sun and rose, And I said, "In the Summer and that time only Lies sweet contentment and blest repose."

With bee and bird for her maids of honour Came Princess Summer in robes of green. And the King of day smiled down upon her And wooed her, and won her, and made her queen. Fruit of their union and true love's pledges, Beautiful roses bloomed day by day, And rambled in gardens and hid in hedges Like royal children in sportive play.

My restless soul for a little season Revelled in rapture of glow and bloom, And then, like a subject who harbours treason, Grew full of rebellion and grey with gloom. And I said, "I am sick of the summer's blisses, Of warmth and beauty, and nothing more. The full fruition my sad soul misses That beauteous Fall-time holds in store!"

But now when the colours are almost blinding, Burning and blending on bush and tree, And the rarest fruits are mine for the finding, And the year is ripe as a year can be, My soul complains in the same old fashion; Crying aloud in my troubled breast Is the same old longing, the same old passion. O where is the treasure which men call rest?

"ARTIST'S LIFE"

Of all the waltzes the great Strauss wrote, Mad with melody, rhythm--rife From the very first to the final note. Give me his "Artist's Life!"

It stirs my blood to my finger-ends, Thrills me and fills me with vague unrest, And all that is sweetest and saddest blends Together within my breast.

It brings back that night in the dim arcade, In love's sweet morning and life's best prime, When the great brass orchestra played and played, And set our thoughts to rhyme.

It brings back that Winter of mad delights, Of leaping pulses and tripping feet, And those languid moon-washed Summer nights When we heard the band in the street.

It brings back rapture and glee and glow, It brings back passion and pain and strife, And so of all the waltzes I know, Give me the "Artist's Life."

For it is so full of the dear old time - So full of the dear old friends I knew. And under its rhythm, and lilt, and rhyme, I am always finding--YOU.

NOTHING BUT STONES

I think I never passed so sad an hour, Dear friend, as that one at the church to-night. The edifice from basement to the tower Was one resplendent blaze of coloured light. Up through broad aisles the stylish crowd was thronging, Each richly robed like some king's bidden guest. "Here will I bring my sorrow and my longing," I said, "and here find rest."

I heard the heavenly organ's voice of thunder, It seemed to give me infinite relief. I wept. Strange eyes looked on in well-bred wonder. I dried my tears: their gaze profaned my grief. Wrapt in the costly furs, and silks, and laces, Beat alien hearts, that had no part with me. I could not read, in all those proud cold faces, One thought of sympathy.

I watched them bowing and devoutly kneeling, Heard their responses like sweet waters roll But only the glorious organ's sacred pealing Seemed gushing from a full and fervent soul. I listened to the man of holy calling, He spoke of creeds, and hailed his own as best; Of man's corruption and of Adam's-falling, But naught that gave me rest:

Nothing that helped me bear the daily grinding Of soul with body, heart with heated brain; Nothing to show the purpose of this blinding And sometimes overwhelming sense of pain. And then, dear friend, I thought of thee, so lowly, So unassuming, and so gently kind, And lo! a peace, a calm serene and holy, Settled upon my mind.

Ah, friend, my friend! one true heart, fond and tender, That understands our troubles and our needs, Brings us more near to God than all the splendour And pomp of seeming worship and vain creeds. One glance of thy dear eyes so full of feeling, Doth bring me closer to the Infinite Than all that throng of worldly people kneeling In blaze of gorgeous light.

INEVITABLE

To-day I was so weary and I lay In that delicious state of semi-waking, When baby, sitting with his nurse at play, Cried loud for "mamma," all his toys forsaking.

I was so weary and I needed rest, And signed to nurse to bear him from the room. Then, sudden, rose and caught him to my breast, And kissed the grieving mouth and cheeks of bloom.

For swift as lightning came the thought to me, With pulsing heart-throes and a mist of tears, Of days inevitable, that are to be, If my fair darling grows to manhood's years;


Poems of Cheer - 3/17

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