[from Collected Works, T.E.Brown]




A GRASSY field, the lambs, the nibbling sheep,
A blackbird and a thorn, the April smile
Of brooding peace, the gentle airs that wile
The Channel of its moodiness, a steep
That brinks the flood, a little gate to keep
The sacred ground —and then that old gray pile,
A simple church wherein there is no guile
Of ornament; and here the Hallams sleep.
Blest mourner, in whose soul the grief grew song,
Not now, methinks, awakes the slumbering pain,
While joy, with busy fingers, weaves the woof
Of Spring. But when the Winter nights are long,
Thy spirit comes with sobbing of the rain,
And spreads itself, and moans upon the roof.



She knelt upon her brother's grave,
My little girl of six years old —
He used to be so good and brave,
The sweetest lamb of all our fold;
He used to shout, he used to sing,
Of all our tribe the little king—
And so unto the turf her ear she laid,
To hark if still in that dark place he played.
No sound! no sound!
Death's silence was profound ; And horror crept
Into her aching heart, and Dora wept.
If this is as it ought to be,
My God, I leave it unto Thee.



Each night when I behold my bed
So fair outspread,
And all so soft and sweet —
O, then above the folded sheet
His little coffin grows upon mine eye,
And I would gladly die.



What comes
Of all my grief? The Arabian grove
Is cut that costly gums
May float into the nostrils of great Jove.
My heart resembles more a desert land
Who cuts it cuts but rock, or digs the sapless sand.



O, will it ever come again
That I upon the boundless main
Shall steer me by the light of stars ?
Now, locked with sandy bars,
Life's narrowing channel bids me mark
Each serviceable spark
That Holm or Lundy flings upon the dark.
Thus man is more to me—
But O, the gladness of the outer sea !
O Venus! Mars!
When shall I steer by you again, O stars ?



What moves at Cardiff, how a man
At Newport ends the day as he began,
At Weston what adventure may befall,
What Bristol dreams, or if she dream at all,
Upon the pier, with step sedate,
I meditate—
Poor souls ! whose God is Mammon —
Meanwhile, from Ocean's gate,
Keen for the foaming spate,
The true God rushes in the salmon.


NORTON WOOD (Dora's birthday)

In Norton wood the sun was bright,
In Norton wood the air was light,
And meek anemonies,
Kissed by the April breeze,
Were trembling left and right.
Ah, vigorous year!
Ah, primrose dear
With smile so arch!
Ah, budding larch
Ah, hyacinth so blue,
We also must make free with you !
Where are those cowslips hiding ?
But we should not be chiding
The ground is covered every inch —
What sayest, master finch ?
I see you on the swaying bough!
And very neat you are, I vow!
And Dora says it is " the happiest day '. "
Her birthday, hers !
And there's a jay,
And from that clump of firs
Shoots a great pigeon, purple, blue, and gray.
And, coming home,
Well-laden, as we clomb Sweet Walton hill,
A cuckoo shouted with a will—
" Cuckoo ! cuckoo! " the first we've heard!
"Cuckoo! cuckoo!" God bless the bird !
Scarce time to take his breath,
And now " Cuckoo!" he saith —
Cuckoo ! cuckoo ! three cheers !
And let the welkin ring
He has not folded wing
Since last he saw Algiers.




The sulky old gray brute !
But when the sunset strokes him,
Or twilight shadows coax him,
He gets so silver-milky,
He turns so soft and silky,
He'd make a water-spaniel for King Knut.


This sea was Lazarus, all day
At Dives' gate he lay,
And lapped the crumbs. Night comes ;
The beggar dies—
Forthwith the Channel, coast to coast,
Is Abraham's bosom; and the beggar lies
A lovely ghost.



This cluck of water in the tangles —
What said it to the Angles ?
What to the Jutes,
This wave sip-sopping round the salt sea-roots ?
With what association did it hit on
The tympanum of a Damnonian Briton
To tender Guinevere, to Britomart,
The stout of heart,
Along the guarded beach
Spoke it the same sad speech
It speaks to me—
This sopping of the sea

Surely the plash
Of water upon stones,
Encountering in their ears the tones
Of dominant passions masterful,
Made but a bourdon for the chord
Of a great key, that rested lord
Of all the music, straining not the bones
Of Merlin's scull ;
And in the ear of Vivian its frets
Were silver castanets,
That tinkled 'mong the vanities, and quickened
The free, full-blooded pulse,
Nor sickened
Her soul, nor stabbed her to the heart.
Strange ! that to me this gurgling of the dulse
Allays no smart,
Consoles no nerve,
Rounds off no curve —
Alack '.
Comes rather like a sigh,
A question that has no reply —
Opens a deep misgiving
What is this life I'm living —
Our fathers were not so —
Silence, thou moaning wrack!
And yet . . . I do not know.
And yet . . . I would go back.


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2000