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Magazine

RCP Publications

The Mini-Anthology

Profiles

20C Poets

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HAROLD MONRO [1879-1932] Poet, editor, anthologist, critic, publisher, publicist, bookseller. Proprietor and financier of the famous Poetry Bookshop in Bloomsbury

CHILD OF DAWN

O gentle vision in the dawn:
My spirit over faint cool water glides,
Child of the day,
To thee;
And thou art drawn
By kindred impulse over silver tides
The dreamy way
To  me.

I need thy hands, O gentle wonder-child,
For they are moulded unto all repose;
Thy lips are frail,
And they are cooler than an April rose:
Child of the morning, hail!

Breathe thus upon mine eyelids  -  that we twain
May build the day together out of dreams.
Life, with thy breath upon my eyelids, seems
Exquisite to the utmost bounds of pain.
I cannot live, except as I may be
Compelled for love of thee.
O let us drift,
Frail as the floating silver of a star,
Or like the summer humming of a bee,
Or stream-reflected sunlight through a rift.

I will not hope, because I know, alas,
Morning will glide, and noon, and then the night
Will take thee from me. Everything must pass
Swiftly  -  but nought so swift as dawn-delight.
If I could hold thee till the day
Is broad on sea and hill,
Child of repose,
What god can say,
What god or mortal knows,
What dream thou mightest not in me fulfil?

O gentle vision in the dawn:
My spirit over faint cool water glides,
Child of the day,
To thee;
And thou art drawn
By kindred impulse over silver tides
The dreamy way
To me.
 

OVERHEARD ON A SALT MARSH

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?
Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them?
Give them me. 
                                                                    No.

Give them me! Give them me!
                                                                   No.

Then I will howl all night in the reeds,
Lie in the mud and howl for them.

Goblin, why do you love them so?

They are better than stars or water,
Better than voices of winds that sing,
Better than any man's fair daughter,
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

Hush! I stole them out of the moon.

Give me your beads. I desire them.
                                                              No.

I will howl in a deep lagoon
For your green glass beads, I love them so.
Give them me! Give them me!
                                                            No.
 
 
 

MEW, CHARLOTTE [1879-1928] Poet, essayist, short-story-writer.
Menaced lifelong by a hereditary mental illness. A severe nervous breakdown, after a bereavement, ended in suicide.
 

QUESTION

If Christ was crucified - ah, God! are we
Not scourged, tormented, mocked and called to pay
The sin of ages in our little day?
Has man no crown of thorns, no Calvary,
Though Christ has tasted of his agony?
We knew no Eden, and the poisoned fruit
We did not pluck, yet from the bitter root
We sprang, maimed branches of iniquity.
Have we who share the heritage accurst
Wrought nothing? Tainted to the end of time,
The last frail souls still suffer for the first,
Blind victims of an everlasting crime.
Ask of the crucified, who hangs enthroned,
If man - ah God! man too has not atoned.
 

DOMUS CAEDET ARBOREM

Ever since the great planes were murdered at the end of the gardens,
The city, to me, at night has the look of a spirit brooding crime:
As if the dark houses watching the trees from dark windows
Were simply biding their time.
 
 
 

MARIAN EVANS [1819-1880] Leading 19thC novelist, famous under her literary name GEORGE ELIOT
 

LONDON: DECEMBER 1865

The sky is cloudy, yellowed by the smoke.
For view there are the houses opposite
Cutting the sky with one long line of wall
Like solid fog: far as the eye can stretch
Monotony of surface and of form
Without a break to hang a guess upon.
No bird can make a shadow as it flies,
For all is shadow, as in ways o'erhung 
By thickest canvas where the golden rays
Are clothed in hemp. No figure lingering
Pauses to feed the hunger of the eye,
Or rest a little on the lap of life.
All  hurry on and look upon the ground,
Or glance unmarking at the passers-by.
The wheels are hurrying too, cabs, carriages
All closed, in multiplied identity.
The world seems on huge prison-house and court,
Where men are punished at the slightest cost,
With lowest rate of colour, warmth and joy.
 

THE LAME BOY'S SONG

The world is great: the birds all fly from me;
The stars are golden fruit upon a tree
All out of reach. My little sister went,
And I am lonely.

The world is great: I tried to mount the hill
Above the pines, where the light lies so still,
But it rose higher. Little Lisa went,
And I am lonely.

The world is great: the wind comes rushing by.
I wonder where it comes from. Sea-birds cry
And hurt my heart. My little sister went,
And I am lonely.

The world is great: the people laugh and talk,
And make loud holiday: how fast they walk!
I'm lame; they push me. Little Lisa went,
And I am lonely.
 
 

MARY AGNES ROBINSON [1857-c.1930] Little is known about this poet, beyond that she settled in Paris in 1888, after her marriage to a French academic, Professor Darmesteter.
 

AN ETRUSCAN BURIAL

Beneath the branches of the olive yard
Are roots where cyclamen and violet grow.
Beneath the roots the earth is deep and hard,
And there a king was buried long ago.

The peasants digging deeply in the mound
Cast up the autumn soil about the place,
And saw a gleam of unexpected gold,
And underneath the earth a living face.

With sleeping lids and rosy lips he lay
Among the wreaths and gems that mark the king,
One moment; then a little dust and clay
Fell shrivelled over wreath and urn and ring.

Aa carven slab recalls his name and deeds,
Writ in a language no-one living reads.
 
 
 

EMILY BRONTE [ 1818-1848] Novelist: author of the famous Wuthering Heights
 

THE MERCENARY 

Why ask to know what date, what clime?
There dwelt our own humanity,
Power-worshippers from earliest time,
Foot-kissers of triumphant crime,
Crushers of helpless misery,
Crushing down justice, honouring wrong,
If that be feeble, this be strong:

Shedders of blood, shedders of tears,
Self-cursers, avid of distress,
Yet mocking heaven with senseless prayers
For mercy on the merciless.

It was the autumn of the year
When grain grows yellow in the ear.
Day after day, from noon to noon,
The August sun blazed bright as June.

But we with unregarding eyes
Saw panting earth and glowing skies:
No hand the reaper's sickle held,
Nor bound the ripe sheaves in the field.

Our corn was garnered months before,
Threshed out and kneaded-up with gore;
Ground when the ears were milky sweet,
With furious toil of hoofs and feet.
I, doubly cursed on foreign sod,
Fought neither for my home, nor God.
 
 
 

HENRY KIRKE WHITE [1785-1806] Died of consumption at the age of twenty-one.
 

TO A TAPER

'Tis midnight. On the globe dead slumber sits,
And all is silence in the hour of sleep,
Save when the hollow gust, that swells by fits,
In the dark wood roars fearfully and deep.
I wake alone to listen and to weep;
To watch, my taper, thy pale beacon burn;
And, as still memory does her vigils keep,
To think of days that never can return.
By they pale ray I raise my languid head.
My eyes survey the solitary gloom,
And the sad meaning tear, unmixed with dread,
Tell thou doest light me to the silent tomb.
Like thee I wane; like thine my life's last ray
Will fade in loneliness, unwept, away.
 
 
 

SAMUEL JOHNSON [1709-1784] Journalist, essayist, poet, lexicographer. Lifelong sufferer from periods of endogenous depression.
 

THE WINTER WALK

Behold,  my fair, where'er we rove,
What dreary prospects round us rise:
The naked hills, the leafless grove,
The hoary ground, the frowning skies.

Not only through the wasted plain,
Stern winter, is thy force confessed.
Still wider spreads its horrid reign:
I feel its power usurp my breast.

Enlivening hope and fond desire
Resign the heart to spleen and care.
Scarce frighted love maintains his fire,
As rapture saddens to despair.

In groundless hope and causeless fear,
Unhappy man! behold thy doom:
Still changing with the changeful year,
The slave of sunshine and of gloom.

Tired with vain joys and false alarms,
With mental and corporeal strife:
O Stella, snatch me to thine arms,
And hide me from the sight of life!
 

THE SKATER
(after the French of Pierre Roy)

O'er ice the nimble skater flies,
With sport above and death below.
Where danger lurks in pleasure's guise,
Thus lightly touch and quickly go.
 

EPITAPH FOR A HOUSE-DOG
(after the Latin of Joachim Du Bellay)

To robbers furious and to lovers tame,
I pleased my master and I pleased my dame.
 
 
 
 

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Magazine

RCP Publications

The Mini-Anthology

Profiles

20C Poets

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