I mounted a steed in the dawning
With acheful remembrance,
And made for the ancient West Highway
To far Exonb'ry.
Passing heaths, and the House of Long Sieging,
I neared the thin steeple
That tops the fair fane of Poore's olden
And, changing anew my onbearer,
I traversed the downland
Whereon the bleak hill-graves of Chieftains
Bulge barren of tree;
And still sadly onward I followed
That Highway the Icen,
Which trails its pale riband down Wessex
O'er lynchet and lea.
Along through the Stour-bordered Forum,
Where Legions had wayfared,
And where the slow river upglasses
Its green canopy,
And by Weatherbury Castle, and thencefrom
Through Casterbridge held I
Still on, to entomb her my vision
Saw stretched pallidly.
Posted by Arborfield at 7:40 am
"Alive?"--And I leapt in my wonder,
Was faint of my joyance,
And grasses and grove shone in garments
Of glory to me.
"She lives, in a plenteous well-being,
To-day as aforehand;
The dead bore the name--though a rare one -
The name that bore she."
She lived . . . I, afar in the city
Of frenzy-led factions,
Had squandered green years and maturer
In bowing the knee
To Baals illusive and specious,
Till chance had there voiced me
That one I loved vainly in nonage
Had ceased her to be.
The passion the planets had scowled on,
And change had let dwindle,
Her death-rumour smartly relifted
To full apogee.
Posted by Arborfield at 12:01 am
Once more the cauldron of the sun
Smears the bookcase with winy red,
And here my page is, and there my bed,
And the apple-tree shadows travel along.
Soon their intangible track will be run,
And dusk grow strong
And they be fled.
Yes: now the boiling ball is gone,
And I have wasted another day . . .
But wasted - WASTED, do I say?
Is it a waste to have imaged one
Beyond the hills there, who, anon,
My great deeds done
Will be mine alway?
Posted by Arborfield at 12:02 am
I - The Tragedy
She sits in the tawny vapour
That the City lanes have uprolled,
Behind whose webby fold on fold
Like a waning taper
The street-lamp glimmers cold.
A messenger's knock cracks smartly,
Flashed news is in her hand
Of meaning it dazes to understand
Though shaped so shortly:
He--has fallen--in the far South Land . . .
II - The Irony
'Tis the morrow; the fog hangs thicker,
The postman nears and goes:
A letter is brought whose lines disclose
By the firelight flicker
His hand, whom the worm now knows:
Fresh--firm--penned in highest feather -
Page-full of his hoped return,
And of home-planned jaunts by brake and burn
In the summer weather,
And of new love that they would learn.
Posted by Arborfield at 6:34 pm
Rain on the windows, creaking doors,
With blasts that besom the green,
And I am here, and you are there,
And a hundred miles between!
O were it but the weather, Dear,
O were it but the miles
That summed up all our severance,
There might be room for smiles.
But that thwart thing betwixt us twain,
Which nothing cleaves or clears,
Is more than distance, Dear, or rain,
And longer than the years!
Posted by Arborfield at 9:36 pm
A very West-of-Wessex girl,
As blithe as blithe could be,
Was once well-known to me,
And she would laud her native town,
And hope and hope that we
Might sometime study up and down
Its charms in company.
But never I squired my Wessex girl
In jaunts to Hoe or street
When hearts were high in beat,
Nor saw her in the marbled ways
Where market-people meet
That in her bounding early days
Were friendly with her feet.
Yet now my West-of-Wessex girl,
When midnight hammers slow
From Andrew's, blow by blow,
As phantom draws me by the hand
To the place--Plymouth Hoe--
Where side by side in life, as planned,
We never were to go!
Begun in Plymouth, March 1913.
Posted by Arborfield at 8:42 am
It must not be so:
They are the ways we do not go.
The kine, and moo
In the meadows we used to wander through;
The rivulets and curl
Towards the weirs with a musical swirl;
As in former years
Rake rolls into heaps that the pitchfork rears;
On the turfy track
The waggon pursues with its toppling pack.
"Why then shun -
Since summer's not done -
All this because of the lack of one?"
Had you been
Sharer of that scene
You would not ask while it bites in keen
Why it is so
We can no more go
By the summer paths we used to know!
Posted by Arborfield at 3:10 pm
When friendly summer calls again,
Her little fifers to these hills,
We'll go--we two--to that arched fane
Of leafage where they prime their bills
Before they start to flood the plain
With quavers, minims, shakes, and trills.
"--We'll go," I sing; but who shall say
What may not chance before that day!
And we shall see the waters spring,
From chinks the scrubby copses crown;
And we shall trace their oncreeping
To where the cascade tumbles down
And sends the bobbing growths aswing,
And ferns not quite but almost drown.
"--We shall," I say; but who may sing
Of what another moon will bring!
Posted by Arborfield at 6:15 am