Poems by Muriel Stuart Part 1

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Poems.

by Muriel Stuart.

THE SEED SHOP.

Here in a quiet and dusty room they lie, Faded as crumbled stone or shifting sand, Forlorn as ashes, shrivelled, scentless, dry– Meadows and gardens running through my hand.

Dead that shall quicken at the call of Spring, Sleepers to stir beneath June’s magic kiss, Though birds pa.s.s over, unremembering, And no bee seek here roses that were his.

In this brown husk a dale of hawthorn dreams A cedar in this narrow cell is thrust That will drink deeply of a century’s streams, These lilies shall make summer on my dust.

Here in their safe and simple house of death, Sealed in their sh.e.l.ls a million roses leap; Here I can blow a garden with my breath, And in my hand a forest lies asleep.

MAN AND HIS MAKERS.

1.

I am one of the wind’s stories, I am a fancy of the rain,– A memory of the high noon’s glories, The hint the sunset had of pain.

2.

They dreamed me as they dreamed all other; Hawthorn and I, I and the gra.s.s, With sister shade and phantom brother Across their slumber glide and pa.s.s.

3.

Twilight is in my blood, my being Mingles with trees and ferns and stones; Thunder and stars my lips are freeing, And there is sea-rack in my bones.

4.

Those that have dreamed me shall out-wake me, But I go hence with flowers and weeds; I am no more to those who make me Than other drifting fruit and seeds.

5.

And though I love them–mourn to leave them– Sea, earth and sunset, stars and streams, My tears, my pa.s.sing do not grieve them…

Other dreams have they, other dreams.

THE NEW ASPASIA.

If I have given myself to you and you, And if these pale hands are not virginal, Nor these bright lips beneath your own lips true, What matters it? I do not stand nor fall By your old foolish judgments of desire: If this were Helen’s way it is not mine; I bring you beauty, but no Troys to fire: The cup I hold brims not with Borgia’s wine.

You, so soon snared of sudden brows and b.r.e.a.s.t.s, Lightly you think upon these lips, this hair.

My thoughts are kinder: you are pity’s guests: Compa.s.sion’s bed you share.

It was not l.u.s.t delivered me to you; I gave my wondering mouth for pity’s sake, For your strange, sighing lips I did but break Many times this bread, and poured this wine anew.

My body’s woven sweetness and kindling hair Were given for heal of hurts unknown of me, For something I could slake but could not share.

Sudden and rough and cruel I let you be, I gave my body for what the world calls sin, Even as for your souls the Nazarene Gave once. Long years in pity I and He Have served you–Jesus and the Magdalen.

As on the river in the fading light A rust-red sail across the evening creeps, Torching the gloom, and slowly sinks from sight, The blood may rise to some old face at night, Remembering old sins before it sleeps.

So might you hence recall me, were I true To your sad violence. Were I not free So me you might remember now; but you Were no more loved by me Than clouds at sunset, or the wild bird going About his pleasure on the apple tree, Or wide-blown roses swelling to the bee; No sweeter than flowers suddenly found growing In frost-bound dells, or, on the bare, high hills, The gold, unlaced, dew-drunken daffodils Shouting the dawn, or the brown river flowing Down quietly to the sea; Or day in twilight’s hair bound safe and dim, Stirless in lavender, or the wind blowing, Tumbling the poppy’s turban after him.

I knew you as I knew these happy things, Pa.s.sing, unwept, on wide and tranquil wings To their own place in nature; below, above Transient pa.s.sion with its stains and stings.

For this strange pity that you knew not of Was neither l.u.s.t nor love.

Do not repent, nor pity, nor regret.

I do not seek your pardon, nor give you mine.

Pa.s.s by, be silent, drop no tears, forget.

Return not, make no sign When I am dead, nor turn your lips away From Phryne’s silver limbs and Faustine’s kiss.

I need no pity. No word of pity say.

I have given a new sweet name and crown to this That served men’s l.u.s.t and was Aspasia.

A SONG FOR OLD LOVE.

There shall be a song for both of us that day Though fools say you have long outlived your songs, And when, perhaps, because your hair is grey, You go unsung, to whom all praise belongs, And no men kiss your hands–your fragile hands Folded like empty sh.e.l.ls on sea-spurned sands.

And you that were dawn whereat men shouted once Are sunset now, with but one worshipper, Then to your twilight heart this song shall be Sweeter than those that did your youth announce For your brave beautiful spirit is lovelier Than once your lovely body was to me.

Your folded hands and your shut eyelids stir A pa.s.sion that Time has crowned with sanct.i.ty.

Young fools shall wonder why, your youth being over, You are so sung still, but your heart will know That he who loved your soul was your true lover And the last song alone was worthy you.

SIC TRANSIT–

“What did she leave?” …

Only these hungry miser-words, poor heart!

Not “Did she love?” “Did she suffer?” “Was she sad From this green, bright and tossing world to part?”

No word of “Do they miss her? do they grieve?”

Only this wolf-thought for the gold she had…

“What did she leave?”

MRS. EFFINGHAM’S SWAN SONG.

I am growing old: I have kept youth too long, But I dare not let them know it now.

I have done the heart of youth a grievous wrong, Danced it to dust and drugged it with the rose, Forced its reluctant lips to one more vow.

I have denied the lawful grey, So kind, so wise, to settle in my hair; I belong no more to April, but September has not taught me her repose.

I wish I had let myself grow old in the quiet way That is so gracious…. I wish I did not care.

My faded mouth will never flower again, Under the paint the wrinkles fret my eyes, My hair is dull beneath its henna stain, I have come to the last ramparts of disguise.

Poems by Muriel Stuart Part 5

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Where the great winds go up

To the hushed peak whose shadow fills The air with silence calm and wide– She lives, the Dian of the hills, And the streams course beside.

TO —-

Between two common days this day was hung When Love went to the ending that was his; His seamless robe was rent, his brow was wrung, He took at last the sponge’s bitter kiss.

A simple day the dawn had watched unfold Before the night had borne the death of love; You took the bread I blessed, and love was sold Upon your lips, and paid the price thereof.

I changed then, as when soul from body slips, And casts its pa.s.sion and its pain aside; I pledged you with most spiritual lips, And gave you hands that you had crucified.

You who betrayed, kissed, crucified, forgot, You walked with Christ, poor fool, and knew it not!

FOR FASTING DAYS.

Are you my songs, importunate of praise?

Be still, remember for your comforting That sweeter birds have had less leave to sing Before men piped them from their lonely ways.

Greener leaves than yours are lost in every spring Rubies far redder thrust their eager rays Into the blindfold dark for many days Before men chose them for a finger-ring.

Sing as you dare, not as men choose, receive not The pa.s.sing fashion’s prize, for dole or due– Men’s summer-sweet unrecognition–grieve not: Oh, stoop not to them! Better far that you Should go unsung than sing as you believe not, Should go uncrowned than to yourselves untrue.

THE FATHER.

The evening found us whom the day had fled, Once more in bitter anger, you and I, Over some small, some foolish, trivial thing Our anger would not decently let die.

But dragged between us, shamed and shivering, Until each other’s taunts we scarcely heard, Until we lost the sense of all we said, And knew not who first spoke the fatal word.

It seemed that even every kiss we wrung We killed at birth with shuddering and hate, As if we feared a thing too pa.s.sionate.

However close we clung One hour, the next hour found us separate, Estranged, and Love most bitter on our tongue.

To-night we quarrelled over one small head, Our fruit of last year’s maying, the white bud Blown from our stormy kisses and the dead First rapture of our wild, estranging blood.

You clutched him: there was panther in your eyes, We breathed like beasts in thickets; on the wall Our shadows swelled as in huge tyrannies, The room grew dark with anger, yet through all The shame and hurt and pity of it you were Still strangely and imperishably dear, As one who loves the wild day none the less That turns to naught the lilac’s miracle, Breaking the unrecapturable spell Of the first may-tree, magic and mystery Utterly scattering of earth and sky.

Making even the rose’s loveliness A thing for pain to be remembered by.

I said: “My son shall wear his father’s sword.”

You said: “Shall hands once blossoms at my breast Be stained with blood?” I answered with a word More bitter, and your own, the bitterest, Stung me to sullen anger, and I said: “My son shall be no coward of his line Because his mother choose”; you turned your head, And your eyes grew implacable on mine.

And like a trodden snake you turned to meet The foe with sudden hissing … then you smiled And broke our life in pieces at my feet, “Your child?” you said. “_Your_ child?” …

ANDROMEDA UNFETTERED.

ANDROMEDA (the spirit of woman).

PERSEUS (the new spirit of man).

CHORUS (1) Women who desire the old thrall.

(2) Women who crave the new freedom.

The following poem is not a study of the economic struggle of women, but of the deep-rooted antagonism of spirit which const.i.tutes the eternal s.e.x-problem.

ANDROMEDA.

Chained to the years by the measureless wrong of man, Here I hang, here I suffer, here I cry, Since the light sprang forth from the dark, and the day began; Since the sky was sundered and saved from the sea, And the mouth of the beast was warm on the breast of the sod, And the birds’ feet glittered like rings on the blossoming tree, And the rivers ran silver with scales, and the earth was thronged With creatures lovely and wild and sane and free; Till the Image of G.o.d arose from the dust and trod Woman and beast and bird into slavery.

Who has wronged me? Man who all earth has wronged: Who has mocked me? Man, who made mock of G.o.d.

CHORUS OF FIRST WOMEN.

Nay, what do you seek?

If of men we be chained, Our chains be of gold, If the fetters we break What conquest is gained?

Shall the hill-top outspread a pavilion more safe than our palaces hold?

Without toil we are fed, We have gold to our hire, We have kings at our thrall, And made smooth is our bed For the fools of desire.

We falter the world with our eyelids, at our laughter men scatter and fall.

What is freedom but danger, And death and disaster?

We are safe: Fool, to crave The unknown, the stranger!

More fettered the back than the burden; man bows; he is slave to a slave!

ANDROMEDA.

Yes, in most bitter waters have they drowned My spirit, and my soul grows grey on sleep!

What if with wreaths my empty hands are bound?

I am slave for all their roses, and I keep A tryst with cunning, and a troth with tears.

Time has kissed out my lips, and I am dumb.

I am so long called fool, I am become That fool–of street or shrine. My body bears Burden of men and children. I have been All that man has desired or dreamed of me.

I have trodden a double-weary way–with Sin, Or with Sin’s pale, cold sister Chast.i.ty.

I am a thing of twilight. I am afraid.

Dull now and tame now; of myself so shamed.

Fortressed against redemption; visited Of the old dream so seldom, as things tamed Forget the life that their wild brother leads.

I am a hurt beast flinching at the light.

I have been palaced from the sun, and night Runs in my blood, and all night’s blushless deeds!

CHORUS OF SECOND WOMEN.

Oh world so blind, so dumb to our desiring,– To the vague cry and clamour of our being!

Oh world so dark to our supreme aspiring,– To the pitiful strange travail of our freeing!

We weary not for love and lips to love us; These have been ours too often and too long; We have been hived too close; too sweet above us Tastes the bee’s mouth to our honey-wearied tongue.

Not love, not love! Love was our first undoing, We have lived too long on heart-beats. None can tame The mind’s new hunger, famished and pursuing, Unleashed, and crying its oppressor’s name.

Poems by Muriel Stuart Part 7

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PERSEUS.

Long was she chained?

ANDROMEDA.

Since the world began.

PERSEUS.

Who are her masters?

ANDROMEDA.

The lords of pride and of l.u.s.t.

PERSEUS.

Whence comes she?

ANDROMEDA,

From dust.

PERSEUS.

Where goes she?

ANDROMEDA.

To dust!

CHORUS OF FIRST WOMEN.

Is he fooled by her hair, Is he tranced by her eyes, That he draweth him near, That he speaketh him wise? …

He has spoken again, He has taken her hands, He has loosened her chain, Unfettered she stands!

PERSEUS.

Stand there! Behold the new, uncharted day– Not as a fool made sweet for fools to kiss; Not as a saint to whom sick masters pray; No more the sad sh.e.l.l singing of men’s l.u.s.t; No more the sum of priests’ pale sophistries; But as men stand, unchallenged, equal, free, Each path to take and every race to run.

Stand forth, O shining equal in the sun!

Unfold, upspring, outblossom from the dust, O divinest playfellow even as we!

ANDROMEDA.

Where is he who chained me? I am weak.

I crouch still, whom the years forbade to stand.

The chain is still remembered on my neck, There are the marks of slaves still in this hand.

PERSEUS.

No more shall he who chained you forge that chain; He has looked upon Medusa, and has seen What he has made of woman. To him turned Is the last face (who shall never see again) With its hissing, furious hair, the eyelids burned With the eyes’ hate, slime where the lips have been, That tumbled death upon him like a stone; And in your name Medusa smiled and spurned A dying face more dreadful than her own.

ANDROMEDA.

The shackled feet of centuries cannot keep Pace yet with feet that have outstripped the world.

For the maimed even the riven way is steep.

I am so strange to greatness, I am hurled Unsceptred to my glory! I am now Almost what you have called me, as things take The colour of names men give them; as things grow Fierce if dubbed fierce, and weak if branded weak, And fools if given no name but foolishness.

I have been branded fool in life and art,– Always a little lower, always the less, Until the intolerable prompting has grown part Of all I do; my labouring brain and heart By that self-doubt are shadowed and undone.

Let me walk long beside you in the sun, Race, wrestle with you, grow wise and swift and strong.

For I shall speak but foolish words at first Who was hindered of wisdom since the world began.

I shall blunder and be so wayward who was nursed On fear and folly by the laws of man.

PERSEUS.

You shall not be less sweet that you are wise, And not less beautiful that you are strong.

ANDROMEDA.

I shall not see the scorn leap in your eyes?

Your wisdom will not do my weakness wrong?

PERSEUS.

To the freed soul of woman I make my vow!

Hand in hand we will walk in the sunrise now, No more implacable foes, but face to face, As masters of the world, and it shall be Under an equal law, with equal grace– A world where life is proud and sane and free.

ANDROMEDA.

Life must be borne. Together let us bear it!

There is no other answer to the vexed, Sad problem of the world.

PERSEUS.

Together, free of spirit, Of body free, one minded, equal s.e.xed.

ANDROMEDA.

I claim of man a thousand centuries!

Shall one poor decade serve to make me wise When men have knelt so long at wisdom’s knees?

PERSEUS.

Till the last day grows dim to the last eyes!

ANDROMEDA.

Let us go forth. Comrade and friend at last.

Poems by Muriel Stuart Part 6

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All that the world could give man’s mind inherits: Two paths were set us. Baffled, weeping, yearning, Tossed between G.o.d and Man, rebellious spirits, We wandered, now escaped and unreturning.

We are arming, waking, terribly unfolding, The spent world shudders in a new creation, A dread and pitiless flowering beholding, Burst from the dark root of our long frustration!

ANDROMEDA.

Did G.o.d but build this temple for desire That man defraud my birthright with a kiss?

Did he not give me a spirit to aspire Beyond man’s fortunes and necessities?

Man chains the thing he fears, who fears the free; No wildest beast was tamed as I was tamed, No prey has been so tracked, no flesh so shamed; Man hunts no quarry as he hunted me.

Of all the things created one alone Rose from the earth his equal; only the might Of his brute strength could bid my soul renounce Its claim–forswear its just, predestined right.

To what poor shape of folly am I grown, In whom G.o.d breathed an equal spirit once!

CHORUS OF FIRST WOMEN.

Oh sheltering arms that have bound you, Oh hearts you have shaped to your will!

The lordliest lovers have crowned you, They have knelt as they kneel to you still.

Why speak you so ill of such lovers, Why question the will of such lords?

For your lips, for your laughter, Love offers The world on a litter of swords,

They have borne for you death and disasters, They have held you with kingdoms at stake.

The kings of the earth and the masters Were poets and fools for your sake!

ANDROMEDA.

Was I made free for all their swords and songs?

Do fairest songs sung to caged birds sound sweet?

Did their spears hold the door whence came my wrongs?

Did they sing my spirit and the hurt of it?

There was no battle for my freedom’s sake; They never sang for pity of me. Not those Who laud it cage the eagle: not those who break The delicate stem most deeply love the rose.

If we have taken the path towards the hills They have noosed our feet, they have kennelled us again.

If we have dared for separate minds and wills, We have marched to men’s laughter, and the mock of men.

Oh, lords, if you be strong why fear to raise Our groping, pitiful bodies from the dust?

If you were pre-ordained to shape our ways, Why has your power shaped that way so ill?

Only the hireling master wreaks his will On slaves, lest rulers they become at last, And his poor hour of pride is waned and pa.s.sed: The rightful lord fears never to be just.

CHORUS OF SECOND WOMEN.

Stars, you run your course unchidden; Sun, the sky puts forth no hand To constrain you; unforbidden Clouds in aery harness stand; And unchallenged comes the moon up, bright and slow upon the land.

Dew, no shadow moves beside you To avert your glittering; Wind, your race is undenied you; Lightning, you have room to spring!

For the great, free hand of Nature gives sweet leave to everything.

One great law controls their being,– To their utmost bids them rise; From the snowdrop, her bell freeing, To the bow that leaps the skies; For the universal order of the world in freedom lies.

But one lies here lost and driven From the free primeval way, From the rights that she was given, That she asks of man to-day; For her soul has faced her masters, and her spirit stands at bay.

ANDROMEDA.

I am the Last Begotten. I am the Rose Flung for the bed of kings. I am the Cause Of this world’s ills, its follies and its woes; I am the unclean, the carnal, I make men pause From G.o.d. I am s.e.x, and all vain bodily l.u.s.t That men desire and spit on, and would not lose For the bribe of Heaven. I am the little Dust Blown from their bitter mouths. I am the Way Of death. I am the soiled and spotted One Bidden in silence to the Church’s feast; Yea, of all bitterest foes the crafty priest Is mine; no hand has flung a crueller stone; Of all oppressors him I most accuse.

I am the Fool that led the world astray, My motherhood the fruits of my first sin.

I am the Slave to whom sick masters pray.

I am the Mother. I am Magdalen.

I am the Daemon, I drink at dead men’s lips.

My Grail is blood at midnight. I am burned In witchcraft. I am the Weal of the world’s whips.

No age has risen that has not seen me scorned.

I am the Harlot, the Accursed Thing, the Prey; Bartered for bread; like cattle willed away; Sold at the shambles. I am the Chast.i.ty Men breed for spoiling. I am the Soul at bay.

I am what men have made and marred of me.

CHORUS OF SECOND WOMEN.

Oh, behold, oh, beware, Andromeda! …

A wing on the air, A step on the sands!

Oh be silent lest he Who is master prepare, As of old at your plea, A new chain for your hands.

Oh, behold, oh, beware, Andromeda!

She hears not, her cries Still tremble the air.

O sands, set a snare For him. Merciful skies, Uncradle your mist!

O crag, break your breast In murdering stone!

O lightning, untwist Your fang from the cloud!

O winds, shriek aloud Till the sea heave and groan, And unlock its white thunder Till its legions be hurled, And the beach quake thereunder…

Oh, Fool of the World!

(PERSEUS _appears on the sands near_ ANDROMEDA.)

PERSEUS.

Who crieth with a cry long heard of me?

ANDROMEDA.

The rebel spirit of woman that would be free.

PERSEUS.

How is she named whose wild lips so crave?

ANDROMEDA.

This is the World’s Fool. This is the Slave.

PERSEUS.

Who has wronged her?

ANDROMEDA.

The ancient spirit of man.

Poems by Muriel Stuart Part 2

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WHITE MAGIC.

Is it not a wonderful thing to be able to force an astonished plant to bear rare flowers which are foreign to it … and to obtain a marvellous result from sap which, left to itself, would have produced corollas without beauty?–VIRGIL.

I stood forlorn and pale, Pressed by the cold sand, pinched by the thin gra.s.s, Last of my race and frail Who reigned in beauty once when beauty was, Before the rich earth beckoned to the sea, Took his salt lips to taste, And spread this gradual waste– This ruin of flower, this doom of gra.s.s and tree.

Each Spring could scarcely lift My brows from the sand drift To fill my lips with April as she went, Or force my weariness To its sad, summer dress: On the harsh beach I heard the grey sea rise, The ragged gra.s.s made ceaseless, dim lament, And day and night scarce changed the mournful skies.

Foot on the sand, a shadow on the sea!

A face leaned over me.

Across each wasted limb Pa.s.sed healingly a warm, great, G.o.d-like hand.

I was drawn up to him, From my frail feet fell the last grains of sand.

Then haste and darkness stooped and made me theirs; Deep handed me to deep;…

I faded then as names fade from men’s prayers,– As a sigh from lips at last made friends with sleep.

But the same hand that bore me from the sea, Waking me tenderly, Bound me to a rough stranger of my race,– Me weary and pale to him and him to me.

I turned my piteous face Aside ashamed; I struggled to be free.

I slept, I dreamed, I woke to that embrace! …

Sweet tides stole through my veins, Strange fires and thrills and pains; To my cold lips the bloom crept back once more I glowed as a bride glows; I watched the days with delicate hands restore My kinship with the rose.

About my throat my hair went like a flame,

My brows were wreathed, in purple I was dressed, I bore a new bride’s name, A great star burned my breast.

No longer bound, I leaned the same sweet way As even a great Queen may Towards her lover. Now astonished I Who was a beggar stand obediently Beside Cophetua.

IN THE ORCHARD.

“I thought you loved me.” “No, it was only fun.”

“When we stood there, closer than all?” “Well, the harvest moon “Was shining and queer in your hair, and it turned my head.”

“That made you?” “Yes.” “Just the moon and the light it made “Under the tree?” “Well, your mouth, too.” “Yes, my mouth?”

“And the quiet there that sang like the drum in the booth.

“You shouldn’t have danced like that.” “Like what?” “So close, “With your head turned up, and the flower in your hair, a rose “That smelt all warm.” “I loved you. I thought you knew “I wouldn’t have danced like that with any but you.”

“I didn’t know. I thought you knew it was fun.”

“I thought it was love you meant.” “Well, it’s done.” “Yes, it’s done.

“I’ve seen boys stone a blackbird, and watched them drown “A kitten … it clawed at the reeds, and they pushed it down “Into the pool while it screamed. Is that fun, too?”

“Well, boys are like that … Your brothers…” “Yes, I know.

“But you, so lovely and strong! Not you! Not you!”

“They don’t understand it’s cruel. It’s only a game.”

“And are girls fun, too?” “No, still in a way it’s the same.

“It’s queer and lovely to have a girl…” “Go on.”

“It makes you mad for a bit to feel she’s your own, “And you laugh and kiss her, and maybe you give her a ring, “But it’s only in fun.” “But I gave you everything.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have done it. You know what a fellow thinks “When a girl does that.” “Yes, he talks of her over his drinks “And calls her a–” “Stop that now. I thought you knew.”

“But it wasn’t with anyone else. It was only you.”

“How did I know? I thought you wanted it too.

“I thought you were like the rest. Well, what’s to be done?”

“To be done?” “Is it all right?” “Yes.” “Sure?” “Yes, but why?”

“I don’t know. I thought you were going to cry.

“You said you had something to tell me.” “Yes, I know.

“It wasn’t anything really … I think I’ll go.”

“Yes, it’s late. There’s thunder about, a drop of rain “Fell on my hand in the dark. I’ll see you again “At the dance next week. You’re sure that everything’s right?”

“Yes.” “Well, I’ll be going.” “Kiss me…” “Good night.” …

“Good night.”

THE WOOD AND THE Sh.o.r.e.

The low bay melts into a ring of silver, And slips it on the sh.o.r.e’s reluctant finger, Though in an hour the tide will turn, will tremble, Forsaking her because the moon persuades him.

But the black wood that leans and sighs above her No hour can change, no moon can slave nor summon.

Then comes the dark; on sleepy, sh.e.l.l-strewn beaches, O’er long, pale leagues of sand, and cold, clear water She hears the tide go out towards the moonlight.

The wood still leans … weeping she turns to seek him, And his black hair all night is on her bosom.

THE TRYST.

I raised the veil, I loosed the bands, I took the dead thing from its place.

Like a warm stream in frozen lands My lips went wandering on her face, My hands burnt in her hands.

She could not stay me, being dead; Her body here was mine to hold.

What if her lips had lost their red?

To me they always tasted cold With the cold words she said.

Did my breath run along her hair, And free the pulse, and fire the brain, My wild blood wake her wild blood there?

Her eyelids lifted wide again In a blue, sudden stare.

Beneath my fierce, profane caress The whole white length of body moved; The drowsy bosom seemed to press As if against a breast beloved, Then fail for weariness.

No, not that anguish! Christ forbid That I should raise such dead! I rose, Stifled the mouth with lilies, hid Those eyes, and drew the long hair close, And shut the coffin lid.

My cold brow on the cold wood laid, Quiet and close to-night we lie.

No cruel words her lips have said.

I shall not take nor she deny.

The dead is with the dead.

LEDA.

_Do you remember, Leda?_

Poems by Muriel Stuart Part 4

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None remember him: he lies In earth of some strange-sounding place, Nameless beneath the nameless skies, The wind his only chant, the rain The only tears upon his face; Far and forgotten utterly By living man. Yet such as he Have made it possible and sure For other lives to have, to be; For men to sleep content, secure.

Lip touches lip and eyes meet eyes Because his heart beats not again: His rotting, fruitless body lies That sons may grow from other men.

He gave, as Christ, the life he had– The only life desired or known; The great, sad sacrifice was made For strangers; this forgotten dead Went out into the night alone.

There was his body broken for you, There was his blood divinely shed That in the earth lie lost and dim.

Eat, drink, and often as you do, For whom he died, remember him.

MADALA GOES BY THE ORPHANAGE.

Unaware of its terror, And but half aware Of the world’s beauty near her– Of sunlight on the stones, And trembling birds in the square, Lightly went Madala– A rose blown suddenly From Spring’s gay mouth; part of the Spring was she.

Warmed to her delicate bones, Cool in its linen her skin, Her hair up-combed and curled, Lightly she flowered on the sin And pain of the Spring-struck world.

Down the street went crazy men, The winter misery of their blood Budding in new pain While beggars whined beside her, While the streets’ daughters eyed her,– Poor flowers that kept midsummer With desperate bloom, and thrust Stale rose at each newcomer, And crime and hunger and l.u.s.t Raged in the noisy dust.

Lightly went Madala, Unshaken still of that spell, Coral beads and jade to buy, While her thoughts roamed easily– Thoughts like bees in lavender,– Thoughts gay and fragile as a robin’s sh.e.l.l.

Till suddenly she had come To grim age-stubborned wall Behind whose mask of bars Starts up in shame the Foundlings’ Hospital.*

At the gates to watch her pa.s.s A caged thing eyed her dumb, Most mercifully unaware Of its own hurt, but Madala Stopped short of Spring that day.

The air grew pinched and wan, A hand came over the sun, Birds huddled, stones went grey.

Her lace and linen white Seemed but her body’s sin, Her flesh unscarred and bright Burnt like a leper’s skin.

Her mouth was stale with bread Flung her by strangers, she was fed, Housed, fathered by the State, and she had grown A thing belonging to, and loved by, none.

Though the shut mouth said no word, From the caged thing she heard, “Who has wronged me, that this Spring “Gives me nothing and you everything, “Who alike were made, “Who beckon the same dreams?

“You buy coral and jade, “I sew long hungry seams “To pay for charity…”

Then Madala’s heart, afraid, Cried the first selfish cry: “Is it my fault? Can I “Help what the world has done?

“Can the flower in the shade “Blame the flower in the sun?”

Then quick the caged thing said, As if to ask pardon that its words had made Madala’s spring so spoiled for her that day: “But there’s a way, a way!

“If flowers would share their Spring “There’d be sunshine enough for all the flowers.

“Such sunshine you could bring, “Such joy that swings and flies “With posies your hours through, “So just beyond my hours.

“If I could walk with you– “Not in pitiful two by two “Flayed by free children’s eyes, “Your sister for an hour to be, “It would double joy and woo “Spring back to you, and more than Spring to me.”

Then something quaked in Madala, Quaked with magic, quaked with awe.

Love-quickening, she became a part Of this caged thing, she was aware Of strange lips tugging at her heart.

So clear the way was! Tenderer Grew her eyes, and as they grew, Back to the flowers rushed the dew, The earth filled out with the sun, The cold birds in the square Unbundled and preened upon Their twigs in the softening air; The cold wind dwindled and dropped, And love and the world were one.

Nearer drew Madala, At the dumb thing she smiled, And Spring that a child had stopped Came back from the eyes of a child.

* Guilford Street, London, the gates of which face the street.

OBSESSION.

I will not have roses in my room again, Nor listen to sonnets of Michael Angelo To-night nor any night, nor fret my brain With all the trouble of things that I should know.

I will be as other women–come and go Careless and free, my own self sure and sane, As I was once … then suddenly you were there With your old power … roses were everywhere And I was listening to Michael Angelo.

ENOUGH.

_Did he forget?_ … I do not remember, All I had of him once I still have to-day; He was lovely to me as the word “amber,”

As the taste of honey and as the smell of hay.

What if he forget if I remember?

What more of love have you than I to say?

I have and hold him still in the word “amber,”

Taste of honey brings him, he comes back with the hay.

IN MEMORY OF DOUGLAS VERNON COW

This Poem, Dedicated to His Mother.

To twilight heads comes Death as comes a friend, As with the gentle fading of the year Fades rose, folds leaf, falls fruit, and to their end Unquestioning draw near, Their flowering over, and their fruiting done, Fulfilled and finished and going down with the sun.

But for June’s heart there is no comforting When her full-throated rose Still quick with buds, still thrilling to the air, By some stray wind is tossed, Her swelling grain that goes Heavy to harvesting In a black gale is lost, And her round grape that purpled to the wine Is pinched by some chance frost.

Ah, then cry out for that lost, lovely rose, For the stricken wheat, and for the finished vine!

Such were you who sleep now, who have foregone So many of Life’s rich secrets almost learned; Winning so much, so much as yet unwon, Yet to be dared, to discover, to reveal.

Quick still with ardour, hand still at the wheel On wide and unsailed seas, eyes turning still Towards the morning, while the keen brain burned To the imperative will.

Upon your summer Death seems to set his heel, Writes on the page “No more,”

And brings the sign of sunset, shuts the door And the house is dark and the tired mourners sleep.

Yet says he too, “Though quiet at last you lie, “And have done with laughter and strife and joy and care, “You have honour with your peace; and still you keep “Fullness of life and of felicity.

“You have seen the Grail. What need you of grey hair?

“There are those who daily die, “Who have long out lived their welcome in the world, “Who are old and sad and tired and fain to cease “From the crowded earth, and the hours in tumult whirled, “Urgent and vain. You are not such as these “Who have striven for laurels, and never knew the shade “Upon their brows, who would persuade the rose, “And never have come near it; till the head “Bows and the heart breaks, and the spirit knows “Only its failure, dim and featureless,– “Its weariness of all things dreamed and done, “When love and grief alike seem emptiness “And fame and man’s unrecognition one.”

The full tide took you. You went out with the sun, Not in the cringing ebb, not in the grey And tremulous twilight, when each lonely one To its last loneliness must creep away.

Your genius has won its rich repose, Full laurelled, wearing still the unfaded rose.

And as those who bid good-bye at snowdrop time Bear with them broken promises of Spring, So you in triumph,–in the glory men had in you, In Love’s full worshipping,– High summer thoughts, untouched of Winter’s rime, Went forth with honour, having fulfilled your Spring.

The hands that built you felt you flower from her prayer, True to her vision true; Fearless and fine, shaped from her fashioning; Hands empty now, and yet not all unfilled, Having built and fired the generous heart and brain, Of the man you were; whose fervent spirit willed You to the service and healing and help of men.

These things are hers, not to be lost nor changed With changes of death; for though the body die The golden deed is stamped eternally With the head of G.o.d. The new and alien years Leave it still bright, unaltered, unestranged.

Almost too proud, and too profound for tears Is the high memory that the desolate heart Shrines and is dumb, yet may for ever keep Unforbidden, the imperishable part, And what Love held, awake, he holds, asleep.

THE CLOUDBERRY.

Give me no coil of daemon flowers– Pale Messalines that faint and brood Through the spent secret twilight hours On their strange feasts of blood.

Give me wild things of moss and peat– The gipsy flower that bravely goes, The heather’s little hard, brown feet, And the black eyes of sloes.

But most of all the cloudberry That offers in her clean, white cup The melting snows–the cloudberry!

Poems by Muriel Stuart Part 3

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Poems by Muriel Stuart is a Webnovel created by Muriel Stuart.
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There are those who love, to whom Love brings Great gladness: such thing have not I.

Love looks and has no mercy, brings Long doom to others. Such was I.

Heart breaking hand upon the lute, Touching one note only … such were you.

Who shall play now upon that lute Long last made musical by you?

Sharp bird-beak in the swelling fruit, Blind frost upon the eyes of flowers.

Who shall now praise the shrivelled fruit, Or raise the eyelids of those flowers?

I dare not watch that hidden pool, Nor see the wild bird’s sudden wing Lifting the wide, brown, shaken pool, But round me falls that secret wing, And in that sharp, perverse, sweet pain That is half-terror and half-bliss My withered hands are curled on pain That were so wide once after bliss.

And gold is springing in my hair As my thoughts spring and flower with it, Though I sit hid in my grey hair, Without love or the pain of it.

Yet, oh my Swan, if love have wings, As the G.o.ds tell us, you were love Who took and broke me with those wings.

I, weak, and being far gone in love Let blushless things be breathed and done– Things flowered out now in bitter fruit That once done are no more undone Than last year’s frost and last year’s fruit.

For what has come of love and me Who knew the first joy that loving is?

Where has love led and beckoned me But to the end where nothing is?

I have seen my blood beat out again Red in the hands of all my line, My sin has swelled and flowered again Corrupt and fierce through Sparta’s line.

Bred through me–bred through delicate hands And wandering eyes and wanton lips, Sighing after strange flesh as sighed these lips, Straying after new sin as strayed these hands.

Mother of Helen! She whose b.r.e.a.s.t.s To new desires unshaped the world; Above Troy’s summit towered these b.r.e.a.s.t.s, Helen who wantoned with the world!

Helen is dead (she had love enough To laugh at doom and mock at shrine) And Clytemnestra, quiet enough To-night beneath Apollo’s shrine.

And I am left, the source, the spring Of all their madness. They are dead While I still sit here, the old spring That fouled them flows above the dead.

But I have paid. I have borne enough.

I am very old in love and woe.

For all souls these things are enough– Who have known love are the friends of woe.

There those who love, and who escape, There are those who love and do not die.

I loved, and there was no escape, Long since I died and daily die.

And death alone makes hate and love Friends with each other and with sleep…

All’s quiet here that once was love, This that is left belongs to sleep.

THE HAREBELL.

You give no portent of impermanence Though before sun goes you are long gone hence, Your bright, inherited crown Withered and fallen down.

It seems that your blue immobility Has been for ever, and must for ever be.

Man seems the unstable thing, Fevered and hurrying.

So free of joy, so prodigal of tears, Yet he can hold his fevers seventy years, Out-wear sun, rain and frost, By which you are soon lost.

WORDS.

Is it not brave to be a king, Tech.e.l.les!– Usumcasane and Theridamas, Is it not pa.s.sing brave to be a king, And ride in triumph through Persepolis?–MARLOWE.

Bring the great words that scourge the thundering line With l.u.s.t and slaughter–words that reek of doom And the lost battle and the ruined shrine;– Words dire and black as midnight on a tomb; Hushed speech of waters on the lip of gloom; Huge sounds of death and plunder in the night;– Words whose vast plumes above the ages meet, Girdling the lost, dark centuries in their flight, The slave of their unfetterable feet.

Bring words as pure as rills of earliest Spring In some far cranny of the hillside born To st.i.tch again the earth’s green habiting;– Words lonely as the long, blue fields of morn;– Words on the wistful lyre of winds forlorn To the sad ear of grief from distance blown; Thin bleat of fawn and airy babble of birds; Sounds of bright water slipping on the stone Where the thrilled fountain pipes to woodland words.

Bring pa.s.sionate words from noontide’s slumber roused, To slake the amorous lips of love with fruit, Dripping with honey, and with syrups drowsed To draw bee-murmurs from the dreaming lute– Words gold and mad and headlong in pursuit Of laughter; words that are too sweet to say And fade, unsaid, upon some rose’s mouth;– Words soft as winds that ever blow one way, The summer way, the long way from the south.

For such words have high lineage, and were known Of Milton once, whose heart on theirs still beats; Marlowe hurled forth huge stars to make them crown; They are stained still with the dying lips of Keats; As queens they trod the cloak in Shakespeare’s streets; Pale hands of Sh.e.l.ley gently guard their flame; Chatterton’s heart was burst upon their spears: Their dynasty unbroken, and their name Music in all men’s mouths for all men’s ears.

But now they are lost, their lordliest ‘scutcheon stained; Upon their ruined walls no trumpet rings; Their shrines defiled, their sacraments profaned: Men crown the crow, they have given the jackal wings.

Slaves wear the peplum, beggars ride as kings.

They couple foolish words and look for birth Of mighty emperor, Christ or Avatar, They mate with slaves from whom no king comes forth; No child is theirs who follow not the Star.

_Lyric Apollo! Thou art worshipped still!

We quest for beauty on Thy hills like hounds, Let these poor rhymers babble as they will, Filling their pipes with shrill and crazy sounds.

Poets still praise Thee, music still abounds, And Beauty knows the hour of Thy return, For the G.o.ds live albeit temples burn, Suffer the fools their folly, let them be, Wreathing each other with their wreaths of straw, Trailing their pageants of the mud; but we Await Thy laurel on our brows with awe.

And if Thou wreathe not, let us still be found Thy slaves: Thou dost not bind unworthy things.

Them hast Thou chained not. Better heads uncrowned Than mock regalia of the rabble’s kings!_

SHRIFT.

I am not true, but you would pardon this If you could see the tortured spirit take Its place beside you in the dark, and break Your daily food of love and kindliness.

You’d guess the bitter thing that treachery is, Furtive and on its guard, asleep, awake, Fearing to sin, yet fearing to forsake, And daily giving Christ the Judas kiss.

But piteous amends I make each day To recompense the evil with the good; With double pang I play the double part Of all you trust and all that I betray.

What long atonement makes my penitent blood, To what sad tryst goes my unfaithful heart!

THE THIEF OF BEAUTY.

The mind is Beauty’s thief, the poet takes The golden spendthrift’s trail among the blooms Where she stands tossing silver in the lakes, And twisting bright swift threads on airy looms.

Her ring the poppy s.n.a.t.c.hes, and the rose With laughter plunders all her gusty plumes.

He steals behind her, gathering, as she goes Heedless of summer’s end certain and soon,– Of winter rattling at the door of June.

When Beauty lies hand-folded, pale and still, Forsaken of her lovers and her lords, And winter keeps cold watch upon the hill Then he lets fall his bale of coloured words.

At frosty midnight June shall rise in flame, Move at his magic with her bells and birds; The rose will redden as he speaks her name, He shall release earth’s frozen bosom there, And with great words shall cuff the whining air!

FORGOTTEN DEAD, I SALUTE YOU.

Dawn has flashed up the startled skies, Night has gone out beneath the hill Many sweet times; before our eyes Dawn makes and unmakes about us still The magic that we call the rose.

The gentle history of the rain Has been unfolded, traced and lost By the sharp finger-tips of frost; Birds in the hawthorn build again; The hare makes soft her secret house; The wind at tourney comes and goes, Spurring the green, unharnessed boughs; The moon has waxed fierce and waned dim: He knew the beauty of all those Last year, and who remembers him?

Love sometimes walks the waters still, Laughter throws back her radiant head; Utterly beauty is not gone, And wonder is not wholly dead.

The starry, mortal world rolls on; Between sweet sounds and silences, With new, strange wines her beakers brim He lost his heritage with these Last year, and who remembers him?

Poems by Muriel Stuart Part 8

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Poems by Muriel Stuart is a Webnovel created by Muriel Stuart.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

PERSEUS.

Comrade and friend! For me a new days lies, Splendid and strange. For you the night is pa.s.sed.

CHORUS OF SECOND WOMEN.

They rise, they go forth, foot by foot, hand in hand.

He goes not before, nor she after; together they stand.

He is no less though she be the more. Thus they meet, Long sundered whom life made for union, now at rest, now complete.

They are separate and free, they are woven and one, And the world has grown quiet between them the battle is done.

For this is the dream, the ideal, the designate plan, So slow of fulfilment, so sure,–G.o.d’s prevision of man.

Shared burden, shared wonder, shared wisdom and strife: In their fellowship only is found the perfection, of life.

FINAL CHORUS.

From what clear wells of wonder Upspringing and upspringing, From what rock cleft asunder Leaps this stream cool and bright?

What secret joy thereunder Melodiously upflinging Its heart in ceaseless music upon the lyre of light?

To what high aery choiring This hour her way is winging, Her dewy troth to plight?

This golden hour aspiring Above the glad bells ringing, More sweet than sweet birds’ music, more fleet than fleet birds’ flight?

What joy and hope here clinging, With gentle fingers twining In wrapt and mystic rite?

What love unblind is bringing Two mortals swift and shining, With faces to the morning, with footsteps from the night?