The Englishman and Other Poems Part 7

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The Englishman and Other Poems is a Webnovel created by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

As swarming insects of the night, Fly when the sun bursts in, Self fades, before love’s radiant light, And all the world is kin.

G.o.d, what a place this earth would be If that uplifting thought, Born of some vast world accident, Into our daily lives were blent, And in each action wrought.

But while we let the old sins flock Back to our hearts again, In flame, and flood, and earthquake shock, Thy voice must speak to men.

‘THE TAVERN OF LAST TIMES’

(AT BOX HILL, SURREY)

A modern hour from London (as we spin Into a silver thread the miles of s.p.a.ce Between us and our goal), there is a place Apart from city traffic, dust, and din, Green with great trees, where hides a quiet Inn.

Here Nelson last looked on the lovely face Which made his world; and by its magic grace Trailed rosy clouds across each early sin.

And, leaning lawnward, is the room where Keats Wrote the last one of those immortal songs (Called by the critics of his day ‘mere rhymes’).

A lark, high in the boxwood bough repeats Those lyric strains, to idle pa.s.sing throngs, There by the little Tavern-of-Last-Times.

THE TWO AGES

On a great cathedral window I have seen A Summer sunset swoon and sink away, Lost in the splendours of immortal art.

Angels and saints and all the heavenly hosts, With smiles undimmed by half a thousand years, From wall and niche have met my lifted gale.

Sculpture and carving and illumined page, And the fair, lofty dreams of architects, That speak of beauty to the centuries – All these have fed me with divine repasts.

Yet in my mouth is left a bitter taste, The taste of blood that stained that age of art.

Those glorious windows shine upon the black And hideous structure of the guillotine; Beside the haloed countenance of saints There hangs the multiple and knotted lash.

The Christ of love, benign and beautiful, Looks at the torture-rack, by hate conceived And bigotry sustained. The prison cell, With blood-stained walls, where starving men went mad, Lies under turrets matchless in their grace.

G.o.d, what an age! How was it that You let Colossal genius and colossal crime Walk for a hundred years across the earth, Like giant twins? How was it then that men, Conceiving such vast beauty for the world, And such large hopes of heaven, could entertain Such h.e.l.lish projects for their human kin?

How could the hand that, with consummate skill And loving patience, limned the luminous page, Drop pen and brush, and seize the branding-rod, To scourge a brother for his differing faith?

Not great this age in beauty or in art; Nothing is wrought to-day that shall endure For earth’s adornment, through long centuries; Not ours the fervid worship of a G.o.d That wastes its splendid opulence on gla.s.s, Leaving but hate for hungry human hearts.

Yet great this age; its mighty work is man Knowing himself the universal life.

And great our faith, which shows itself in works For human freedom and for racial good.

The true religion lies in being kind.

No age is greater than its faith is broad.

Through liberty and love men climb to G.o.d.

IF I WERE

If I were a raindrop, and you were a leaf, I would burst from the cloud above you, And lie on your breast in a rapture of rest, And love you, love you, love you.

If I were a brown bee, and you were a rose, I would fly to you, love, nor miss you; I would sip and sip from your nectared lip, And kiss you, kiss you, kiss you.

If I were a doe, dear, and you were a brook, Ah, what would I do then, think you?

I would kneel by the bank, in the gra.s.ses dank, And drink you, drink you, drink you.

WARNED

They stood at the garden gate.

By the lifting of a lid She might have read her fate In a little thing he did.

He plucked a beautiful flower; Tore it away from its place On the side of the blooming bower; And held it against his face.

Drank in its beauty and bloom, In the midst of his idle talk; Then cast it down to the gloom And dust of the garden walk.

Ay, trod it under his foot, As it lay in his pathway there; Then spurned it away with his boot, Because it bad ceased to be fair.

Ah! the maiden might have read The doom of her young life then; But she looked in his eyes instead, And thought him the king of men.

She looked in his eyes and blushed, She hid in his strong arms’ fold; And the tale of the flower, crushed And spurned, was once more told.

FORWARD

Let me look always forward. Never back.

Was I not formed for progress? Otherwise With onward pointing feet and searching eyes Would G.o.d have set me squarely on the track Up which we all must labour with life’s pack?

Yonder the goal of all this travel lies.

What matters it, if yesterday the skies With light were golden, or with clouds were black?

I would not lose to-morrow’s glow of dawn By peering backward after sun’s long set.

New hope is fairer than an old regret; Let me pursue my journey and press on – Nor tearful eyed, stand ever in one spot, A briny statue like the wife of Lot.

IN ENGLAND

In England there are wrongs, no doubt, Which should be righted; so men say, Who seek to weed earth’s garden out And give the roses right of way.

Yes, right of way to fruit and rose, Where now but poison ivy grows.

In England there is wide unrest They tell me, who should know. And yet I saw but hedges gaily dressed, And eyes, where love and kindness met.

Yes, love and kindness, met and made Soft sunshine, even in the shade.

In England there are haunting things Which follow one to other lands; Like some pervading scent that clings To laces, touched by vanished hands.

Yes, touched by vanished hands, that gave A fragrance which defies the grave.

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