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The Breaking Furrow (Text)

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Primary Fiction and Poetry Texts
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Sydney, Australia
Mary E. Fullerton
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University of Sydney Library
The Breaking Furrow
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			 The Breaking Furrow 
		  Mary E. Fullerton  
			 Sydney J. Endacott 


 My Friend 
 Mabel Singleton 
 Some of the following verses have been published in various papers and magazines in Melbourne and Sydney, but most of them are here printed for the first time. 

  The Breaking Furrow 
   Eclipse from a Range. 
  WHAT is it that covers 
 My soul from the moon? 
 The end shall be soon, 
 For the Dark Power hovers.  
  Death hangs on the air, 
 His chill's in my blood, 
 In my soul his forebode, 
 His touch on my hair.  
  In this terrible place 
 The mists are his rope; 
 The damp hands they grope 
 On the damp of my face.  
  He lets loose his condor, 
 His bats are on wing; 
 His owls mustering 
 In black gulfs yonder.  
  Heaven's dark, the rocks tremble: 
 I am standing alone; 
 Out of sky, earth and stone 
 The terrors assemble.  
  There are winged forms that ride; 
 There are voices around— 
 Now hushed is all sound; 
 'Tis like when Christ died.  
  I am swept, I am falling, 
 Doom comes on a wind; 
 They that know I have sinned 
 Are swooping and calling.  
  'Tis Vengence unfurled, 
 The end shall be soon: 
 God uncover Thy moon 
 Ere I die with Thy world.  
  Behold from the portal 
 Where God makes His grace; 
 She gives her fair face, 
 And I am immortal.  
   The Ploughman. 
  I WATCHED him plough his furrow: 
 He ploughed it deep and well; 
 He threw the sod to heaven, 
 His share dipped into hell.  
  And now the earth cried “spare me!” 
 Or now she said “strike deep!” 
 And many a flower gave laughter, 
 And many a root did weep.  
  The soil now left his ploughshare 
 With sighs or gentle song; 
 Anon it snarled resisting, 
 Or gnashed the share along.  
  He tossed it to the sunshine, 
 To all the streaming storm; 
 To cool earth's deepest fever, 
 And lay her sweet and warm.  
  From east to west he drives it; 
 Again from west to east; 
 With steps that never falter 
 Or pace that is increased.  
  And now the under's upmost— 
 The top is now beneath; 
 The two are mixed and mingled, 
 And strive with Life and Death.  
  The sour is sweet, the sweet has 
 Cast forth a bitter tang; 
 And curious balms and gentle 
 Burst where the poisons sprang.  
  If ill the emanations, 
 Or sweet the wholesome soil, 
 The ploughman seems unheeding, 
 Or heeds alone his toil.  
  Amid the exhalations 
 Himself had loosed from earth, 
 I saw his cryptic features 
 Where was nor gloom nor mirth.  
  But in the pale, pale dawnlight, 
 His eye I could not tell 
 If 'twere of earth or heaven, 
 Or untransmuted hell.  
  “Oh, Ploughman strange, untiring, 
 What is thy mighty task, 
 Its meaning and its purpose?” 
 I humbly dared to ask.  
  He paused not in his furrow 
 Of animated sod; 
 “I plough,” he answered slowly, 
 “To grow the grapes of God!”  
   Old Kate. 
  OLD KATE, she took the orphan in— 
 Cold hands and broken toes 
 She put against her withered breast, 
 Where she had held but woes.  
  She took the warm food from the pan, 
 Until the blue lips smiled, 
 And life came surging back to Kate, 
 And flowed back to the child.  
  And since that time, from day to day 
 She's set three plates of delf: 
 One for the Shade, one for the child, 
 And one plate for herself.  
  Half fooled, she plays at long ago— 
 The ancient might have been— 
 She sets a chair beside her own 
 And holds the child between.  
  And thus she sits and talks to them; 
 By Fancy's art beguiled, 
 Happy that they are hers at last— 
 The Shadow and the child.  
  A BLANK wall made beautiful 
 For those who come 
 With the exuberant blues 
 Of my delphinium.  
  A rough hut made beautiful, 
 Where quiet folks dwell, 
 By the delphinium-blue 
 Eyes of young Annabel.  
  A man's life made beautiful 
 By those same eyes, 
 That are of no land or place 
 Except of Paradise.  
   The Charwoman. 
  HAS she a silent rune, 
 Scrubbing the winding stairs? 
 Has she a whispered song 
 To still her cares?  
  Toiling alone at dark, 
 When the world's gone home, 
 On the long, steep steps 
 Where the world's feet come.  
  Lord! how my heart did beat 
 By the fire escape, 
 Seeing upon its knees 
 An uncouth shape.  
  Then, while she stands aside 
 With wet, red hands; 
 I wonder about the lot 
 Of her who stands.  
  What is the life she leads- 
 Who scrubs these floors? 
 What is it like—the home 
 Within her doors?  
  Do children in that place 
 Wait for her tread, 
 Weary with winning them 
 To-morrow's bread?  
  I saw within her eyes, 
 As there she stood, 
 The caste of suffering 
 And hardihood.  
  My soul went home with her; 
 And lo! near me, 
 Another dogged her steps: 
 Old Misery.  
  And every night he goes 
 Intent to win; 
 To slip within the door 
 Where she goes in.  
  I watched her lift the latch; 
 The faint light come; 
 A child's voice piped 
 The welcome home.  
  And not that night did Woe 
 An entrance gain; 
 So in my soul was stilled 
 The greater pain.  
  But now I know what runes— 
 What desperate prayers— 
 She breathes upon her knees 
 Up those long stairs.  
   The Butterfly. 
  WAS the spring made for you, or you for the spring? 
 You beautiful, ardent, ephemeral thing 
 With the stencil of Nature adorning your wing.  
  You came like the sunshine, you came like the dew, 
 The fingers of Light broke the wrappings of you. 
 Till like a winged jewel you soared in the blue.  
  You were made for old gardens and days of still glow; 
 For slopes where the dawning comes chastely and slow; 
 For sunsets that linger reluctant to go.  
  Oh, frail as a dewdrop, and sweet as the dawn, 
 And bright as the noon-tide of spring on the lawn, 
 And brief as the sunset that is soonest withdrawn.  
  Such wings as no cunning of Art could design! 
 Spun out of dull grossness so dainty and fine, 
 By process so simple, so strange, so divine!  
  What pains and what skill for the life of a day! 
 What Form and what Color to vanish away! 
 Compact of all Beauty and one with the clay.  
  You belong to the moment as man to the years, 
 With no time in your hour for his imminent fears, 
 Who never escapes from his cocoon of tears.  
  You have learned to be happy and learned to be free, 
 More joy in your hour than is given to me, 
 Born heir to the puzzle of what is to be.  
  Can it be that the reason man's life is amiss 
 Is because he is doomed to an ultimate bliss, 
 And must strive yet awhile in the dark chrysalis?  
  I know not; but not for this exquisite hour 
 Shall my spirit be flecked by Philosophy's power, 
 While you in your beauty flit here in my bower.  
  The spring made for you, or you for the spring, 
 Or both made for me? I have done questioning, 
 And am one with you now like the warp of your wing.  
   The Grain. 
  ALL day along the hot headlands, 
 Old Darrant's scythe-blade swung; 
 A hundred times he wiped his brow, 
 And thrice his flannel wrung.  
  His daughter bent her aching back, 
 Fast flew her thorn-pricked hands 
 Tying the old man's reaping close 
 With its own golden bands.  
  The long swarths cut, the hard task done 
 She tossed the last sheaf bound; 
 “Hurrah!”—a ripple ran of Youth— 
 The grain showered on the ground.  
  He turned and struck her on the face, 
 “You'll waste my wheat again!” 
 Palely she fronted him, and mute— 
 'Twas HE that spilt the grain.  
  SHE builded her dream 
 In the core of the fire: 
 The petulant dream 
 Of o'erweening desire.  
  She sat in her splendor, 
 As those the gods spoil; 
 A weak parasite 
 On the bosom of Toil.  
  In the core of the coal 
 A vision she saw 
 That shook her with wonder; 
 That rived her with awe.  
  She saw in the flare, 
 She saw in the glow, 
 The heart of the earth 
 Where the brave workers go.  
  She saw by the torch 
 In the compassing gloom 
 The chambers of Labor, 
 Like cisterns of doom.  
  She saw the hands knotted, 
 The lines on each face; 
 She saw the bent backs 
 Of that Stygian place.  
  She saw the sweat dripping; 
 She felt the hard breath; 
 The naked throats pulsing; 
 The vapors of death.  
  She saw in the fire 
 The coal ere it came; 
 Read the story of men 
 In illumining flame.  
  And deep in the fire, 
 In the core of the coal, 
 She saw in a vision 
 The Aggregate Soul.  
  She stretched forth her arms; 
 Lo! her being unknit, 
 Sped, touched with that other, 
 And mingled with it.  
   The Quarry. 
  MY feet know a secret quarry 
 With the litter of ages strewn; 
 And deep in it, hid in marble, 
 Lies a Venus yet unhewn.  
  Storm and flood and the tempest, 
 Sun and night and the fire, 
 Have made her and laid her secure 
 For Beauty, the Heart's Desire.  
  Nature, that made the marble, 
 Gives the hand that shall lay it bare; 
 And him who shall shape the chisel 
 To fashion the statue fair.  
  The immortal pen has written 
 The ultimate epic all; 
 Artisan, miner and sculptor 
 Each but awaits his call.  
  Each for his part made ready, 
 Unknowing what thing he 'waits; 
 Till, solemnly, Time uncovers 
 The glorious aggregates.  
  Patient, the world awaits it— 
 That hour on the golden scroll; 
 When She shall rise from the marble, 
 A beautiful Shape and Soul.  
  DO you know what I am, 
 Who was born in a lane, 
 Swaddled in want, 
 And nourished in pain? 
 My rags are my all, 
 And my ten fingers true 
 That try to perform 
 The task they may do. 
 Do you know who I am, 
 Who look like a jest?— 
 Eternity's child 
 Along with the best. 
 In the skin of a churl, 
 The guise of a waif, 
 Is the soul of a god, 
 And I carry it safe.  
   Uncle Comes Home. 
  HOME from strange lands 
 With beautiful names! 
 He must have his tea now 
 Ere children make claims.  
  What a terrible time! 
 Will he never be done? 
 His whiskers stick out 
 When he bites at the bun.  
  Two platefuls of pork, 
 Then pudding and pie; 
 From cheese back to buns! 
 And no one says “fie!”  
  So funny he looks— 
 His beard out and in— 
 But I love his grey eyes 
 And the brown of his skin.  
  When he raises his cup, 
 His hand gives a twist; 
 And the blue anchor shows 
 By the strap on his wrist.  
  That's something to see 
 Till the stories begin! 
 There! his whiskers have stopped 
 Moving out, moving in.  
  He has finished at last; 
 Now for far Labrador, 
 For Spain and the Alps, 
 Brazil and Lahore.  
  Chair scrapes to the hob, 
 Pipes lit for Lahore! 
 Legs stretched for the Alps— 
 Three whiffs . . and a snore.  
   Two Old Men. 
  THEY met at the garden gate 
 On Christmas Eve, 
 Late—when the stars shine out 
 And athiests believe.  
  And there they met going in: 
 One had a sack— 
 He of the genial eye— 
 Like a hump on his back.  
  The other, bony of face, 
 Of eyes sunk deep, 
 Held a broad shining blade, 
 Such as they bear who reap.  
  He of the blade pushed past 
 Him of the sack; 
 “Mock not,” he said, “this house, 
 Thou with thy bag go back.”  
  “Nay, but,” said the other, “thou 
 Hast all the year, 
 I but the one sweet night 
 To bear my merry cheer!”  
  Ah, tell me whose will prevailed 
 There at the gate; 
 His who served Circumstance, 
 Or his who served Fate?  
   The Miracle. 
  DARK winter again 
 With the snarl on her lip, 
 Driving hurt Nature 
 With insolent whip.  
  Over my beds 
 Where blossoms had been, 
 Cuffing she passed 
 With step-mother mien.  
  Sleet in her teeth, 
 Scold on her tongue; 
 All things made old, 
 Nothing left young.  
  Sudden a flash— 
 An arrow of Spring: 
 Breath of her lips, 
 Whirl of her wing.  
  Broken the power 
 Of Winter the shrew; 
 By that moment of gold, 
 That instant of blue.  
  Lo! at my foot 
 The wonder I saw— 
 The miracle thing 
 That filled me with awe!  
  Forth from the earth 
 Living it rose, 
 I saw it come forth— 
 The bulb's conscious nose.  
  I thought it winter 
 By nip and by sting; 
 She without science 
 Knew it was spring.  
   The Scavenger. 
  A FOUL blue frog is stiffened in the mud, 
 A sleek green slime is o'er the silted drain; 
 Something more foul is in the right-of-way— 
 A stray cur dead… shut down the window pane.  
  The days and nights have soiled the city's ways, 
 Now blows the dust before a grey north wind; 
 Along the pavements people pick their way 
 'Mid dirt and rot, and black banana rind.  
  Alack! the town is curst! the scavenger 
 Has heard the call of immemorial times— 
 Touched by the gods has left his humble task, 
 And sits at home a-making wild, wild rhymes.  
   The Clown. 
  CAP and bells and Columbine— 
 All the glitter that is mine;     
 All the plaudits of the town 
 At the antics of the clown. 
 Other men may be as men, 
 Sad and glad and sad again; 
 Sober in the soul's repose, 
 Nakedly the heir of woes 
 That my painted lips grin down 
 In the camouflage of Clown.  
  Cap and bells and tinsel-glare 
 Make a ghastly mask for Care; 
 I would give them all amain 
 Just to keep a tryst with pain; 
 Or to feel the honest grip 
 Of Life's sober fellowship. 
 I shall never be Joy's lover 
 Till the long pretence is over; 
 I shall never feel a jest 
 Till 'tis happy in my breast, 
 Urged not from a weary lip 
 Trembling underneath the quip. 
 That can never be, alas! 
 Till this saw-dust Show shall pass, 
 I from it and it from me 
 And my real motley be 
 Joy and sorrow, pain and mirth, 
 All the common lot on earth— 
 This the Heaven I pine after— 
 Freedom from the bonds of laughter!  
   The One-Armed Son of the Cobbler. 
  THE one-armed son of the cobbler— 
 I met him in the street; 
 He leered at me in passing, 
 And skipped upon his feet.  
  I saw without resentment, 
 And would again my God; 
 For Thou in premonition 
 Had touched him with Thy rod.  
  OLD Guido by the garden gate 
 Is grinding out his ancient tunes, 
 As he has stood and ground them out 
 So many Thursday afternoons.  
  Old Guido, since you last stopped there 
 For three days have these blinds been drawn, 
 And all the shafts of light flung back 
 In baffled glory on the lawn.  
  She used to sit beside the sill, 
 For whom you played those melodies, 
 And draw the curtains half aside, 
 And rest her book upon her knees.  
  I used to smile about those tunes— 
 Those airs that touched her memories so! 
 Ah! now they surely break my heart; 
 Oh Guido, take your coin and go!  
   War Time. 
  YOUNG JOHN, the postman, day by day, 
 In sunshine or in rain, 
 Comes down our road with words of doom 
 In envelopes of pain.  
  What cares he as he swings along 
 At his mechanic part, 
 How many times his hand lets fall 
 The knocker on a heart?  
  He whistles merry scraps of song, 
 What'er his bag contain— 
 Of words of death, of words of doom 
 In envelopes of pain.  
   The Woman over the Range. 
  OH, dark and wild, 
 Her eyes are strange; 
 She frights me— 
 The woman over the range!  
  Her form is straight, 
 Her form is tall; 
 She lives on the peak 
 Where the furies call.  
  Her hair hangs down, 
 She moves like Night 
 In the dark of stars, 
 In the vague moonlight.  
  Oh, rich her quiet, 
 She speaks no word, 
 But, God! what wonders 
 Her soul has heard!  
  Her aspect draws; 
 Her eyes they lure, 
 Like gleams that flash 
 From a far obscure.  
  Her soul is hid; 
 It may be hell, 
 It may be heaven— 
 I cannot tell.  
  She has the magic, 
 The awful grace 
 Of those that bide 
 In a haunted place.  
  Oh, dark and wild, 
 Oh, rich and strange; 
 She lures me— 
 The Women over the range!  
  And now she beckons! 
 Or good or harm 
 I go—I follow 
 Her desperate charm.  
  HE took his father's hand 
 And renounced his father's creed; 
 With the solemn abrogation 
 Of the soul new freed. 
 The father wept and blessed, 
 A triumph in his sorrow, 
 Forth from his Yesterday 
 Speeding his son's To-morrow.  
  ALONG the East, across the West, 
 She floats in royalty, half disdain, 
 Yet half in love with mortal men 
 She stoops to touch a heart again. 
 The wallet of the gods she bears, 
 And sudden as the dark day drifts 
 She reaches out the giver's hand 
 And drops the largesse of her gifts. 
 The blind child in the valley hut 
 Turns smiling, touching in his sleep 
 The glory that his heart shall hide 
 Until it bursts in music deep. 
 The pale wild worker feels and knows, 
 He bares his forehead to the sun, 
 In deep humility he cries, 
 “I am indeed the chosen one!” 
 The light and laughing idler stands 
 Arrested in his foolish game, 
 Like Saul of Tarsus stunned, convinced 
 At sudden calling of his name. 
 Again the voice to timid soul 
 Seems far and faint, but half sincere 
 Until the rapture of some hour 
 Brings it in benediction near. 
 They gaze in passion, cry in pain, 
 In travail strive and agonize 
 To lay the beauty shown to them 
 Before the gaze of common eyes. 
 For where she touches, fire must burn— 
 Her gift's a flame, a sword, a power! 
 It's touch is torture, rapture, balm; 
 A scourge, a pestilence, a dower. 
 Along the universal skies 
 She drops a whisper from her mouth, 
 She knows no bondages of Time, 
 No boundaries of North or South. 
 Her wallet gives its wealth to few, 
 Her voice is out of common reach, 
 But through the consecrated lips 
 Comes echo of her magic speech. 
 The sick world kindles; Passion leaps, 
 There comes her message through the man, 
 She smiles—her wallet in her breast, 
 Veiled in a high meridian.  
   The Folk Of Brenan's Lane. 
  A CHILD is sick down Brenan's Lane, 
 Where all the houses lean, 
 And many a roof lets in the rain 
 The broken slates between.  
  'Tis Salter's Tom who's fallen ill— 
 Got something in his bones; 
 The doctor named a long, long name— 
 As long as Tommy's groans.  
  All day a string of neighbors comes, 
 Sleeves up and hair run wild; 
 With just a cup of this or that 
 To tempt the poor sick child.  
  There's this one comes, and that one comes, 
 To do this job or that; 
 Or take the younger children off 
 From wrangling on the mat.  
  And not a night of all the month 
 But some intruding guest 
 Has made the tired mother go 
 And take a bit of rest.  
  Though food is scant and clothing mean, 
 And the roofs let in the rain, 
 I who have seen, declare there are 
 No poor in Brenan's Lane.  
   The Poet. 
  FROM a low hut on the low ground 
 I heard a raw, crude cry 
 From unaccustomed lungs. 
 I paused a moment, passing by.  
  It was the birth-cry of a new child 
 From the pre-natal world, 
 Afraid of august Sense, 
 And of sudden life and light unfurled  
  By my soul's eye within the hut 
 I saw a great tear shed, 
 From the worn mother's eye, 
 At one more mouth for meagre bread.  
  Near the low hut on the bleak ground 
 The peasant father stood 
 Paused, listening on his hoe 
 To the new birthling of his brood.  
  A great sigh like a sweat arose 
 And hung before his mouth; 
 Then, bended to his hoe, 
 Uncouth, he digged the earth uncouth.  
  On the low landscape moved a cart 
 On heavy wheels, went slow— 
 On to the level west, 
 Where the darkened heavens hung low.  
  Sudden for me the place was lit 
 Like Spring in golden hour; 
 Grey sky and the harsh place 
 No longer dark and sour.  
  From the high air came music down 
 That made my heart upleap; 
 My pulses melted into dew; 
 Of unseen wings I heard the sweep.  
  About me leapt the seeds to leaf, 
 To bud, to open bloom, 
 Till in ambrosia I breathed, 
 And swam dissolved in the illume.  
  Again my feet were fixed to earth, 
 To the dull dead ground; 
 Lo! the dark hut, and the dark land, 
 And all the bitter place around.  
  The bent man plodding at his task, 
 The woman spent with pain, 
 The far cart farther gone, 
 And the wail of the child again.  
  None saw the miracle but I, 
 None knew but I that morn, 
 'Mid his parent's moan and sigh 
 The World's Desire was born.  
  AT an old water-hole, 
 Bones lay in the hide 
 And teeth gibbered up 
 Of things that had died.  
  Tortured of thirst, 
 There came to the mud 
 A son of the plain, 
 Who sank where he stood.  
  Then the crows from afar, 
 Where the water was good, 
 Came nearer, for heaven 
 Had given them food.  
   The Red-Haired Chimney Sweep. 
  THE red-haired chimney sweep 
 Was alternate black and red— 
 When Nature held him fast, 
 Or his trade had touched his head.  
  Young Polly Ann made sport 
 Of eyes a pale, pale green, 
 Of freckled face, and nose 
 Turned up, those eyes between.  
  The red-haired chimney sweep 
 Put brush and brush aside, 
 And donned a khaki coat 
 Since she would but deride.  
  Three years he fought afar, 
 Then back to his own place 
 Lamed, broken by the shell 
 That had destroyed his face.  
  Young Polly Ann beheld 
 And ran, and kissed, and prest 
 The beauty of his scars 
 Unto her tender breast.  
   Forgotten Are The Dead. 
  SHE drest from crown to toe, 
 A sombre shape; 
 Was laughing, lip and eye, 
 In all her crepe: 
 Forgotten are the dead.  
  His faithful tongue had been 
 An epitaph; 
 And now spontaneous rings 
 His morning laugh: 
 Forgetful of the dead.  
  I, clinging to the past, 
 While Life sweeps by, 
 Feeling joy come again, 
 Look back and sigh: 
 “The dead are soon forgot.”  
  THE farmer on the river, by the bend, 
 Has killed the wattles that I loved last Spring! 
 The thrush, too, loved them, and the quick fantail; 
 The warbling magpie, and the shy bronzewing.  
  Their healing effluence on my heart they spilt, 
 Upon my soul, long arid in her drouth; 
 Softly the blossoms touched, like virgin kiss, 
 My weary eyelids and my parched mouth.  
  And now I see the dying stems exude 
 The trees' last sap, and I, the heart they healed, 
 Behold their doom and can do nought to save 
 The riven magic of September's yield.  
  The birds are gone, and on the landscape's face 
 The sun smites down, unmitigably stark, 
 And in his waggon on the road near by 
 The farmer bears his load of vandalled bark.  
  Contented with his pipe, he bumps along, 
 Unwitting that among those withered sheaves 
 He bears bird twitters, and the golden dreams 
 My dry heart gathered under golden eaves.  
   The Deaf Mute. 
  YOU, who have found 
 Gifts of coherency 
 Out of your opulence 
 Nought know of me.  
  Shackles of impotence 
 Press on my lips; 
 Laid on mine ears 
 The aural eclipse.  
  You that have ears, 
 You that have speech, 
 Shutter your spirits, 
 Each one from each.  
  I, from my silence, 
 Speaking no word, 
 No syllable knowing, 
 All language have heard.  
  Out of your silence, 
 Out of mine own, 
 Chambers of spirit 
 My spirit is shown.  
  YOU poor little Mick, 
 So here you arrive; 
 Born in the strike 
 You seem scarce alive! 
 Your poor little face 
 So pinched and forlorn, 
 Creased with the puzzle 
 Of why you were born. 
 Your mother has drunk 
 From a fountain of fears; 
 That's why your milk 
 Is tasting of tears. 
 Ah, no! little Mick, 
 Her courage is fine; 
 Her milk has the taste of 
 Rebellion's good wine. 
 Smooth your wee brow 
 And slake your lips' drouth, 
 Then turn in your sleep 
 With that tang in your mouth! 
 The omen is good— 
 They are born in times stern 
 Who are marked by the gods 
 To teach and to learn! 
 Your mouth is a word, 
 Your tongue is a pen; 
 Wee Mick has a message 
 To-morrow for men.  
   The Woman Down Yonder. 
  SHE lights the fire and cooks the meal, 
 And makes the cabin neat; 
 She feeds the chickens and the pig, 
 And the waiting lambs that bleat.  
  She milks the cow, unstalls the horse, 
 Then digs till dinner time; 
 She eats her simple meal alone 
 While straight the shadows climb.  
  She brings in water from the well, 
 And gives the cat the scraps— 
 The little broken dish of milk— 
 And watches while it laps.  
  Then, hoe in hand, she weeds the beet, 
 Or mounds the waving corn, 
 Until 'tis time to do again 
 What she had done that morn.  
  The sleepy hens are on the perch, 
 The calf within the shed; 
 The cat is by the glowing hob, 
 The little lambs to bed.  
  The watch-dog dozes on the rug, 
 The kindling's in the box; 
 The supper laid upon the board 
 About the bowl of stocks.  
  The pot of steaming tea is made, 
 The simple meal is spread; 
 She smooths her hair, unrolls her sleeves, 
 And cuts the home-made bread.  
  The supper done, the dishes washed, 
 She takes her book or seam; 
 But always, sitting by the fire, 
 She slips to brooding dream.  
  With half a smile, and half a sigh— 
 Fire flickering in the gloom— 
 She takes her little lamp and goes 
 Into the inner room.  
   The Problem. 
  ONCE a king's skull 
 By a pauper's was placed; 
 Then were the learned men 
 By a problem faced.  
  Which was the pauper's, 
 And which was the king's? 
 For the crown had fallen off 
 With the jewels and things.  
  And the skulls were alike— 
 Concavernous bone, 
 As though on like men 
 Each one had grown!  
  So the wise men peered; 
 They puzzled and pried 
 Over the two skulls 
 There, side by side.  
  Wise men are wise men 
 As long as plain folk 
 Don't know too much, 
 So wisely they spoke.  
  “This is the king's skull, 
 And that is the knave's”; 
 So they buried them both 
 In suitable graves.  
  Now the king's skull is lying 
 Where the grasses grow wild, 
 And the pauper's is under 
 Where marble is piled.  
   The Intruder. 
  IT entered in from the vastness 
 When John had locked the doors; 
 There was ne'er a step in the garden; 
 There was ne'er a mark on the floors.  
  No one beheld it enter, 
 For their eyes were veiled with Life; 
 John, nor his stout son, Bennie, 
 Nor Martha, his wedded wife.  
  His master, a bridegroom happy, 
 Had frowned to be called away; 
 But John was a trusted warder, 
 Who had grown in the service, grey.  
  “See that you lock the windows; 
 That all the doors be fast; 
 Let no one else be trusted, 
 And loose the red hound last.”  
  “'Tis not for my chest of treasure, 
 Or aught that is mine, beside; 
 But she that I leave behind me, 
 Heart of my heart—my bride.”  
  So John barred close the windows, 
 And bolted the doors all fast; 
 When all was locked securely, 
 He loosened the red hound last.  
  It entered there in the daylight, 
 Heeding nor bolts nor bars, 
 Asking no light to guide it, 
 And waiting no dark of stars.  
  Fearing nor hound nor warder; 
 Needing no path to guide; 
 Surely and swift it entered 
 And found the young man's bride.  
  ON just such a day as this 
 When the garden was sweet after rain; 
 We clung in our virgin kiss, 
 And stumbled apart again.  
  And that is the whole of the tale— 
 One kiss in a garden of flowers; 
 Were ever two lives so pale, 
 Or lyric so brief as ours?  
   Atlas Strives. 
  I WATCHED a beetle by the path, 
 Doughty, and strong, and grim, 
 Shoving a ball of dirt 
 Ten times the size of him.  
  He heaved, and pushed, went rushing in, 
 Sudden he went, or slow; 
 Tugged, shouldered, butted, bumped, 
 Now from it, now below.  
  Flung down upon his back, 
 He struggled up once more; 
 Moved on the ball an inch, 
 Then tumbled as before.  
  Perchance he knew not why or where; 
 Perchance his purpose dim; 
 He strove because some force 
 Strove strong and stern in him.  
  Feet out, upon his back, 
 Dogged at his task again, 
 The dull ball watching him 
 As the world watches men.  
  One thing I learn is courage here, 
 Tumble is not defeat; 
 To beetle or to man 
 Effort itself is sweet.  
  SHE seems so pensive as she walks 
 Over the far, far plains; 
 Infinitely pensive like the West 
 When newly washed with rains.  
  I cannot see her eyes, her lips, 
 Only the wind-blown hair 
 That used to curl about her neck 
 And flutter everywhere.  
  She looks so pensive as she goes— 
 A dim shape to the West; 
 A little bent to cover it 
 That shelters in her breast.  
  She goes, an exiled, broken thing 
 (Yet proud with flashing eyes!) 
 For that which snuggles in her shawl 
 And on her bosom lies.  
  Where she shall sleep to-night, God knows! 
 Somewhere along the path 
 Of the set sun where she is gone 
 Out from my bitter wrath.  
  The plains are infinite, the sky— 
 Those two within the shawl, 
 O, I will bring them back again, 
 As God is over all!  
  She shall return despite the sin, 
 Despite what was unfit; 
 Despite the child; ah, no! ah, no! 
 Because of love and it!  
  The sky is Beauty, and the eve 
 Floods me with mine own guilt; 
 I am the outcast if my love 
 Not preciously be spilt.  
   The Widow. 
  THE little grey woman sat with her seam 
 In the Autumn afternoon; 
 And a magpie came to the cottage door, 
 So she scared it away, “ochone!”  
  “One is for sorrow”—she missed a stitch, 
 Then sighed as she sewed her seam, 
 With half an eye on the flats around, 
 And half her soul in a dream.  
  The magpie came with his mate beside 
 For the worm beyond the chair; 
 “Two is for mirth,” and her quavering laugh 
 Sent them away in the air.  
  One worm is no supper for three pied birds, 
 And each with a greedy eye; 
 “Three for a wedding”—she pricked her thumb, 
 And the birds went into the sky.  
  Then four of them came, and her tears sprang out; 
 “Ochone! there was never a birth;” 
 The birds cocked eyes at her weeping there, 
 And the worm crept into the earth.  
   The Goose. 
  MY solemn feet along the grass 
 That flanks the weedy waterhole 
 Provoke the township urchin's laugh, 
 His flying stone has me for goal.  
  The master, even, has a smile 
 When I my heirloom dignity 
 Display along the water's edge; 
 They are ridiculous to me!  
  Ingrates, forsooth; who teach and learn, 
 And still forget my high renown; 
 I, bright on history's human page, 
 Whose cackle saved their ancient town!  
   The Neighbour. 
  COME out and watch the doctor's funeral. 
 His wife, they say, has neither moved nor spoke— 
 Just ten months wed, the baby's coming soon 
 She sits there dazed among her women folk.  
  He stayed a lot beside the idiot boy, 
 Who'd caught the fever playing in the drain. 
 Things happen strange: our fine young doctor's dead; 
 The idiot boy is up and well again.  
  I like to see the wreaths; the plumes look grand; 
 The folks have turned out well, at any rate … 
 Look there along the street, toward the right: 
 The idiot boy is grinning by the gate.  
   The Priest. 
  OVER the heave of the hill, 
 Where the road climbed East, 
 I saw him strain to the crest 
 Riding to bring the priest.  
  Where the gravel sunk away, 
 And the steep hill dipped, 
 He came with a reddened spur 
 And reins in his hand hard gripped.  
  Miles more than a score behind; 
 To the long high East, 
 His horse dripping sweat, he came 
 Riding to bring the priest.  
  Eyes that were eyes of glass 
 And a cheek all white, 
 For the road was yet more hard, 
 And the sky was set for night.  
  Why should he ride for the priest, 
 Or man of God at all? 
 He is redding his spur in vain 
 For blessing of Peter or Paul.  
  Halt! rider, on foolish quest; 
 Go back to the dying child; 
 I know that she needs no priest 
 By the gleam when she smiled.  
  Go back, and give her the cup, 
 And touch the forehead soft; 
 Was her life not pure enough 
 To carry her soul aloft?  
  “Ay,” said the rider, “ay, 
 Her life was sweet as myrrh; 
 I hasten to bring the priest 
 That his soul be healed by her.”  
  And he galloped on apace 
 Under the stars of heaven, 
 That the soul of a weary saint 
 By a sinner might be shriven.  
  DEARNESS, Dearness, 
 Thy voice is in mine ear, 
 Thy face always before me; 
 They talk of far and near— 
 I only know thy nearness.  
  Dearness, Dearness, 
 The warm love's on my mouth; 
 Thy hand is close in mine; 
 They talk of north and south— 
 I only know thy nearness.  
  Dearness, Dearness, 
 Thy heart is in my breast; 
 I have changed souls with thee; 
 They talk of east and west— 
 I only know thy nearness.  
  FLUNG forth to the wind, 
 See it flutter and run, 
 As though like a bird 
 It has need of the sun.  
  The indolent hand 
 Of the young lad behind 
 Has flung it a waif 
 To the will of the wind.  
  Comes a proud, tossing team 
 From the timber yards by, 
 With the driver alert, 
 All muscle and eye.  
  The colt of the team 
 Sees the paper whisp run, 
 His buckles a-flash 
 In the glare of the sun.  
  Man-muscles strain hard, 
 Foot's jammed on the brake 
 To miss the lamp post 
 At the curve for life's sake!  
  But the team is gone mad: 
 At the bend of the hill, 
 Flung forth on the curb, 
 The driver lies still.  
  The merry whisp spins 
 To the gutter and drops 
 Where the grating shows teeth. 
 The frightened team stops.  
  A pause and a crowd, 
 A hush and dismay; 
 A moment of awe; 
 Something hurried away.  
  The load's driven on— 
 New touch on the reins; 
 One splash of bright red 
 On the kerbstone remains.  
  A-WALKING through a slum, 
 Where the houses tumbled down, 
 I saw a little girl, 
 And a rag was her gown.  
  She sat upon a door-step, 
 And her feet were blue and bare; 
 Her face was grimed with dirt— 
 For dirt was everywhere.  
  But she sat a-singing there, 
 'Twixt nibblings at a crust; 
 And her eyes were blue, blue, 
 Seeing nor dirt nor dust.  
  For her wistful heart was young, 
 And her sweet soul was pure; 
 And there, in a doomed world, 
 Singing, she sat secure.  
  I wandered into a street, 
 Where the world ran gay; 
 I saw a sullen face 
 Staring out at the day.  
  Jewelled in her car, 
 Furred against the cold; 
 Oh! she was thirty-five, 
 But old, old, old.  
  Moody and discontent, 
 Pallid with unconcern; 
 Life had not made her feel 
 Nor let her learn.  
  From the pavement side 
 I watched her eyes, 
 Out of the mask of furs, 
 And jewels and lies.  
  She had no inward light, 
 No song of soul; 
 Bored, moribund and doomed, 
 I watched her roll.  
  From the petrol fumes 
 And the car's loud hum, 
 I wandered back again 
 To the fugitive slum.  
  I filled my heart once more 
 From the door-step child, 
 Of the nibbled crust, 
 Of the rude song wild.  
  Oh! her tangled hair 
 And the life she knew; 
 Oh! the wistful face 
 And the eyes blue, blue.  
  WHEN Duty with her scroll stood by, 
 And slighted Conscience ceased to speak; 
 The mandate of a quiet eye, 
 The tyranny of a wet cheek 
 Ordered his walk; he saw no rod 
 Nor, under the rose-leaves, spear of God.  
   The Right-Of-Way. 
  THE tinker's daughter and the butcher's lad 
 Are met and courting in the right-of-way, 
 Where all among the scattered cobble-stones 
 Are stalks of horehound nosing through the clay.  
  Nature is busy 'neath her pulsing blouse, 
 And in his bashful eyes; he reds and pales 
 Before the wonder of her freckled cheek— 
 The beauty of rough hands and broken nails.  
  A mangy cur sniffs by, a sparrow skips; 
 But they are not: this is the lover's hour. 
 … Drayman, turn back, here is no right-of-way, 
 Those lumb'ring wheels must not profane Love's bower.  
  I STRETCHED out my hand to an urchin 
 As I passed through a slum. 
 She shrank from my gentle intention 
 Affrighted and dumb.  
  My Persian, at half of the gesture, 
 From her rug would arise 
 To take the caress from my fingers, 
 Delight in her eyes.  
  Who's to blame for the shrink of the shoulder, 
 For the flinch of the eye? 
 The age, and the system, the people, 
 And you, sir, and I.  
   The Selector's Wife. 
  THE quick compunction cannot serve; 
 She saw the flash, 
 Ere he had bent with busy hand 
 And drooping lash.  
  She saw him mark for the first time, 
 With critic eye, 
 What five years' heavy toil had done 
 'Neath roof and sky.  
  And always now so sensitive 
 Her poor heart is, 
 That moment will push in between 
 His kindest kiss.  
  The moment when he realised 
 Her girlhood done— 
 The truth her glass had long revealed 
 Of beauty gone.  
  Until some future gracious flash 
 Shall let each know 
 That that which drew and holds him yet 
 Shall never go.  
   The Garment. 
  MY face upon the old earth's springtime lap, 
 I watched a swift-born flower its stem up-push— 
 A spory wonder singing with the sap, 
 And all around the uncomprehended Bush.  
  God's toil was great in its long exercise, 
 And great was Nature's hot-foot energy 
 To make this blossom peeping at the skies, 
 As lifts a nymph, her chin beyond the sea.  
  Out of the very heart of age this youth! 
 Heir to the light, and born for it, and doomed 
 To this same day from far-time days uncouth; 
 By long dead springs potentially perfumed.  
  Some unborn bird yet in the speckled walls 
 That nurse its wings may make a meal of this 
 When Autumn into seed the flower recalls, 
 Whose opening bloom my wonder wakes, and bliss.  
  Another Spring shall quicken once again 
 Somehow, somehow the old immortal pulse 
 That lies within earth's long-adventured grain, 
 Her call the tiny cloisters shall convulse.  
  And forth shall come to the recurrent tryst, 
 That blue simplicity the devotee, 
 Deep in my complex heart hath hailed and kissed 
 As hem of Thine own garment, Lord of me!  
  So, brooding here upon my bended arm, 
 In the lone Bush whose blood is singing sap, 
 My threefold being tastes the threefold charm, 
 In turn and turn again on earth's warm lap.  
  I am not one thing long, but each in turn, 
 Now rapt, now edified, and now inspired— 
 A soul, a brain, a heart; all filled to burn 
 And pique me of the truth so long desired!  
  One small flower blown for us self-conscious men 
 Full of our strange and hieroglyphic fate, 
 Brings us to pore upon ourselves again, 
 On whom these works of wonder stand and wait!  
  And yet I question less, and worship more, 
 With every Spring a humbler devotee, 
 Reading the revelation o'er and o'er 
 Of Thee in Thine own garment, Lord of me!  
  WHEN Dan threw down the slip-rails 
 And led the red roan over, 
 She saw within his eyes 
 That he was born a rover.  
  When he came back in Autumn 
 Her worn and dusty drover, 
 She saw within his eyes 
 That Dan was born a lover!  
  THERE leapt a red, red flame 
 With a moan in it; 
 And when the flame died down 
 The flame was lit.  
  The ashes were yesterday, 
 Inhumanity and sorrow; 
 A vital breath came by— 
 The life of tomorrow.  
  And every faggot's dust 
 Out from the strife, 
 Sweetened and shriven, 
 Sprang into life.  
  And the moan in the breeze 
 Changed into a shout; 
 I saw the new soul 
 Exultant spring out!  
  Saw the ashes take form, 
 And laugh with strange eyes, 
 Not faggots, but men, 
 Regenerate, wise.  
  With torches they ran 
 Lit out of death, 
 And kindled the world 
 With fire that was breath.  
  ROUND old Glen Iris I wandered, seeking a place— 
 The creek at the spot where the feet that are still used to cross: 
 “There was gorse to the right, there was gorse to the left: 
 And a thrumming and drumming and humming of bees in the gorse.”  
  I found it, the place, and hated the place that I found 
 Because it had held to the past unheeding who should depart; 
 I hated the ripple, the bees and the bloom— 
 Ay! the thrumming and drumming and humming of life in my heart.  
  INTO the marrow of his bones 
 The elements of earth and heaven 
 Stern Nature mixt, and in his blood 
 The awful and the sacred leaven.  
  Then Fate took hold of him to thwart; 
 She laid her hands about his throat, 
 She beat him with her scorpion thongs, 
 And all the Furies with her smote.  
  And Circumstance, her henchman, came, 
 To set for him a thousand snares; 
 Withhold his wine and meat and bread, 
 To load him with a freight of cares.  
  Men came at the behest of Power 
 And thrust him past the walls of stone; 
 Then life and men withdrew, and left 
 Him bound in darkness and alone.  
  His spirit filtered through those bars, 
 The attars of his awful soul; 
 Till in the night the nations saw 
 His message on its lucid scroll.  
  His being fired the universe, 
 Forth from the dark his light was thrown; 
 Lo! he is everywhere for aye, 
 Whom they left shackled and alone!  
   The Drone. 
  SO a world of hexagons, 
 With waxen walls and stout, 
 Came a crowd of angry workers 
 Who seized and cast me out.  
  “Go gather, or be starving…” 
 They flung me to the flowers— 
 I that had gathered nothing, 
 And loved the lazy hours!  
  In the world of hexagon 
 I will not live again, 
 I know a kinder region— 
 The human world of men.  
   The Choice. 
  SOMETHING there comes and touches me 
 When gay my draught is lifted up; 
 That eerie hand upon my arm 
 The wine spills from my happy cup.  
  Or when I take my lonesome walks 
 In love with dim and gentle Night; 
 It sends me fleeing home again 
 To household warmth and shuttered light.  
  When I have trysted with Success, 
 And held the prize and heard the praise, 
 Unseen hag lips have made sharp mirth, 
 Like brambles crackling in the blaze.  
  I've waked at night, and quaked at noon 
 I've shivered in the early sun; 
 Drawn back where nothing was, and seen 
 A gaunt grey shape where shape was none.  
  My high hours stand with livid cheek, 
 My song sinks back within my throat; 
 And then I feel that cold, cold touch 
 Close up my music note and note.  
  And all because when first I lived 
 And lay within my cradle bed, 
 I would not take the gentle hand 
 Of one who crooned to me, and said—  
  “Come with me to the Magic Land!” 
 But I was born a scholar's child, 
 With worldly wisdom clasped about, 
 And would not be, alas! beguiled.  
  And so she went, a fair green shape— 
 A green shape moving to the dawn; 
 And all my infant days were done, 
 The gleaming vision all withdrawn.  
  And then She came, impalpable, 
 Yet from whose clasp is no escape; 
 She paces by me to the west, 
 By darkening paths, a darkening Shape.  
   Granny Dreams. 
  GRANNY has had a dream 
 Of flying hoofs and mane; 
 And Ronnie underneath, 
 And never up again.  
  It would be tempting Fate, 
 To go to school to-day! 
 Young lips to withered cheek, 
 Ronnie has dreams of play.  
  Granny is past all play, 
 And past work, too, it seems; 
 But Grannies still are dear 
 Who have such useful dreams!  
   The Blacksmith. 
  THE blacksmith is dead, 
 The forge is unlit; 
 The strong body lies 
 With the white over it.  
  The township is sad, 
 Women talk by the fence; 
 Counting his virtues 
 As misers count pence.  
  Naming his valors, 
 The men drink their beer; 
 Eyes over the glasses— 
 Hostels of fear.  
  The children at play 
 Quarrel softly, and glance 
 At the house by the forge, 
 Deprecating, askance.  
  Tomorrow the brooms 
 Will be busy once more; 
 Each wife at her labors 
 Within her own door.  
  The beer pots on shelf 
 Arranged in a row; 
 Each man to his labor 
 Of plough or of hoe.  
  The children again 
 Will squabble at play; 
 Unchecked by that Shadow 
 The plumes bore away.  
  The forge will be lit, 
 The bellows will ply; 
 The hammers will ring, 
 Sparks scatter and fly.  
  The blacksmith is dead, 
 His story is writ; 
 The strong body lies 
 With the earth over it.  
   The Bottle-O. 
  PUT away the bannerettes, and take the big flag down, 
 There is someone yonder whose son comes not again, 
 And his heart lies dead as he bumps along the way— 
 The Bottle-O is coming down the lane.  
  His and mine they went away, and mine is coming home; 
 Went away together, where some of them remain, 
 So, though one of them's returning, fold up the flaunting flag— 
 The Bottle-O is coming down the lane.  
  He has hung his dead boy's medal beside the kitchen clock, 
 And he sits and stares each evening, a-stricken in his brain; 
 Put aside the happy banners while the cart goes bumping by— 
 The Bottle-O is coming down the lane.  
   In a Kentish Lane—1913. 
  I PASSED a shy child down the lane, 
 On his mouth the berry stain; 
 In his eyes a large delight, 
 Oh, it was a happy sight!  
  On I strolled, and met a man 
 A-riding on a caravan; 
 All amongst his pans he rode, 
 Sunlight flashing from his load.  
  Still I went and met a girl 
 Flirting with a rustic churl; 
 They were laughing as they went 
 From sheer love of merriment.  
  Further on, the song I heard 
 Of a yellow-throated bird; 
 Cunningly he looked at me 
 From a purpled damson tree.  
  Home I came as glad as they 
 That I'd met upon the way. 
 When I'm sad I'll go again 
 Mooning down a Kentish lane.  
   The Modern Mood. 
  UNSEEN, I went to the Unseen— 
 Not shut in a closet bare; 
 But, pacing my garden walks, 
 Washed all my soul with prayer.  
  For my God I had no name; 
 For my want, no analysis; 
 Knew not, nor named a sin, 
 Though vaguely life seemed amiss.  
  And there to the quiet withdrawn, 
 Someone, somehow, somewhere, 
 Knew what I would, and filled me 
 With the aftermath of prayer.  
  WHEELS, wheels, and wheels, 
 A whistle-scream loud; 
 The gulp of the driver, 
 The gasp of the crowd.  
  Fifty, and spruce, 
 What weight have these 
 To Fear scrambling out 
 From Death on its knees?  
  Calm and erect, 
 Schooled biped again, 
 He strolls to the pavement 
 And swings to his train.  
  Chair to the fire, 
 With plaster on knees, 
 And paper in hand, 
 What is it he sees?  
 Black runs this headline 
 For all who may scan.  
  “Elderly man?” 
 He is suddenly cold; 
 Shrunk in his chair, 
 Grey-headed and old.  
   Eel and I. 
  HIS heaven is the shadow in the reeds, 
 His ethic is securing what he needs; 
 The green slime is his Exquisite Beyond, 
 His Book of Revelation is the pond.  
  I have no heaven where the cool reeds wave, 
 My ethic is resisting much I crave; 
 And much I crave is not within this pond; 
 But in some far and murmured-of Beyond.  
  So eel, go squirm amid your perfect mud, 
 You are achieved, and I am but in bud; 
 My glory is my far-away desire, 
 Yours a contented gorging in the mire.  
   Next Door. 
  THE waves of European conflict surge 
 Against our shores, the striving millions fight; 
 But greater far calamity to him— 
 The rabbit man's grey pony died last night.  
  About the town, men read the posted names 
 Of those who strive no more for wrong or right; 
 And women weep; but what is that to him?— 
 The rabbit man's grey pony died last night.  
  The widow in his street is sore bereft, 
 Her son has fallen, gone her spirit's light; 
 The European wave has reached her heart— 
 The parson came and brought the news last night.  
  At last he finds community of grief; 
 His home-bound heart can comprehend her plight: 
 He knows the widow, and he knew her son— 
 The rabbit man whose pony died last night.  
   The Rope. 
  WAS I made for this 
 By the hands of men? 
 Ere I do the deed 
 I will ravel again. 
 In a busy place 
 Were my fibres wove 
 By a wheel that sang 
 Like the man that drove: 
 Ay! he sang this song 
 As he drave the wheel 
 That weft me tight 
 For the winding reel:  
  “For love of man, 
 For the human good, 
 I weave the fibres 
 Of Brotherhood; 
 For the common cause, 
 For the human hope, 
 We bind all men 
 With the self-same rope. 
 The cord of union 
 To make them one— 
 All who are toiling 
 Beneath the sun.”  
  And he wove me well, 
 And he drew me taut; 
 For he loved the task 
 Did the man who wrought! 
 And after a while 
 They carried me here 
 To this terrible place 
 Of gloom and fear. 
 They knotted me firm 
 To a high, strong bar 
 In this open space 
 Where the grey walls are.  
  They bound me there 
 As friend to friend, 
 And left me swinging 
 With noose at end. 
 And while I swung 
 In the ghastly place 
 I saw at a window 
 A ghastly face. 
 He looked on me 
 While I swung in air, 
 And sudden I knew 
 Why the man was there. 
 And sudden there flashed 
 The reason clear 
 Why knotted and noosed 
 I am swinging here.  
  The man who wove me 
 With song of hope, 
 He wove his spirit 
 Within his rope; 
 And ere I do 
 The thing I'm bid, 
 Because of the passion 
 Within me hid, 
 I'll loose the fibres 
 He deftly wove— 
 The man who sang 
 Of the human love! 
 For the sake of the men 
 Who sent yon face 
 To the awful doom 
 In this awful place— 
 For the sake of the face 
 At the window pale, 
 For the sake of the future 
 The Weavers hail, 
 I'll ravel the strands, 
 I'll thwart the wrong— 
 The task that Vengeance 
 Has set Love's song!  
  MY love hath not evoken 
 One word, one sign; 
 Surely my heart is broken 
 At calm of thine!  
  The quiet grave hath taken 
 Thy love's sweet cry; 
 When all the buds awaken, 
 When sere leaves fly.  
  Nor pain, nor love of living 
 Thy silence pierce; 
 Not all that spring is giving, 
 Nor winter fierce.  
  Nor hath my love evoken 
 One cry, one sign; 
 Surely my heart is broken 
 At calm of thine!  
   Robber and Drone and I. 
  WE watched a bird plant 
 In a tall, regal tree 
 A small parasite 
 As vital as he.  
  The tree cried “Save me!” 
 The bird cried “Beware!” 
 The parasite chuckled 
 “This is Nature's affair.”  
  “Ha!” cried the robber; 
 “Ha!” echoed the drone, 
 “Nature's example 
 We follow alone.”  
  I was baffled a moment, 
 But found answer then: 
 “The law of the forest 
 Is warning for men.”  
  THEY found you and brought you in 
 From the lee of a hedge; 
 Sour life did your parents bestow, 
 Your teeth set on edge.  
  For you were heir to no cot, 
 No kisses, no songs; 
 And the voice of your lullaby was 
 The sigh of your wrongs.  
  Boy, you were bound to go wrong! 
 Poor bastard of sin, 
 A waif from the loins of disease 
 To sorrow come in.  
  The nettles were mother and sire, 
 Till Charity came 
 To give you the cuff and the bread 
 That befitted your shame.  
  And now you have sinned in your turn, 
 You wretched ingrate— 
 As Law in his wig has remarked: 
 “A curse to the State.”  
  You'll die in a cell, sure enough, 
 Who was born in a hedge! 
 Sour of the grapes to the end, 
 Your teeth still on edge!  
   Bush Spirit. 
  HALF a sprite and half a woman, 
 All a spirit warm and rare; 
 I would have you as I see you 
 With the wattle on your hair.  
  Emanation of September, 
 Shall I touch you if I dare? 
 Or I watch you far adoring 
 With the blossom on your hair.  
  Are you mine, or of the bushland? 
 You are near me everywhere 
 With the ardent eyes and luring— 
 With the wattle on your hair.  
  None can claim you evanescent, 
 As you run along the air; 
 On your face the rose of morning, 
 And the wattle on your hair.  
  But a moment ere I lose you, 
 Once to touch you if I dare; 
 Then to dream of you for ever, 
 With the wattle on your hair.  
   The Cobbler. 
  OLD STUBBS has made a thousand shoes, 
 Ten thousand heeled and soled. 
 A-pegging on his wooden bench, 
 He's gone from young to old.  
  He never leaves his seat all day— 
 His high three-legged stool 
 Such as the dunce was stood upon 
 When the cobbler went to school.  
  Old Stubbs, who keeps the village shod, 
 What sort of shoes wears he? 
 Of waxy leather shining like 
 The apron on his knee?  
  Forbear to pry beneath his bench— 
 Fate loves her merry pranks— 
 There are no feet for leather shoon 
 Below those twisted shanks.  
   The Worm. 
  I TOOK a mulberry leaf 
 From which I wove for you 
 Silk for a lovely gown, 
 By all the art I knew.  
  I brought it, proud and mean; 
 I brought it, rich and glad; 
 That you, in dainty robe, 
 So fitly should be clad.  
  “This is my mulberry leaf, 
 And I have spun for you 
 A filamented gown 
 By all the art I knew.”  
  You looked not at my gift, 
 “A worm thus dares,” you cried, 
 “To lift itself to me 
 With insolence and pride.”  
  You looked not at my gift, 
 You spurned and bade me go. 
 Spring makes another leaf: 
 No other love I know.  
   Anna Dies. 
  TIRED ANNA lies still 
 From the long energy. 
 She surely has rest 
 Wherever she be!  
  In her box late last night 
 I searched for the cloth 
 To bind up her face 
 For the hour of the moth.  
  Her clothes were laid neat 
 'Gainst the failing of breath; 
 Gown and bonnet a-top, 
 The chemise underneath.  
  And her robe for the grave 
 Sewn featly and firm, 
 With its laces and frills 
 For the hour of the worm.  
  Wool socks for the feet, 
 Wool shawl for the head; 
 So she should lie warm 
 In the place of the dead!  
  All folded and smooth, 
 The things she had left 
 For those who should come— 
 Eager heirs and bereft.  
  Scarves, laces and such— 
 The treasures of her 
 Who laid them 'mid sprigs 
 Of crisp lavender.  
  I said to the helper: 
 “She knew IT was nigh;” 
 And the woman replied: 
 “She was ready to die.”  
  Then the parson came in, 
 Saw the Book by the bed; 
 “She was ready to die,” 
 In a whisper, he said.  
  I knew she was ready— 
 I knew by a sign: 
 A baby's gown yellowed— 
 A worn valentine.  
  Love and loss she had known— 
 The worst and the best; 
 What more could Life do 
 Save yield her to rest?  
   As Manna Falls. 
  DARK JANET, of the brooding brow, 
 Lived down the lane, alone; 
 And ne'er a one came near to her, 
 For her's was a heart of stone.  
  The days went by; the years went by, 
 And Janet down the lane 
 Was all alone when night-time came, 
 And the sun rose up again.  
  If e'er one passing down the lane 
 Paused by the broke briar fence, 
 Dark Janet, of the brooding eye, 
 Gave frown for recompense.  
  But, oh! a strange thing came to her, 
 Gentle as hair turns grey; 
 Her stony heart grew soft for love 
 Who had frighted love away.  
  She knew that she was in no heart, 
 For now, no one again 
 Had ever a word of hail for her 
 When passing down the lane.  
  Dark Janet sat with brooding brow, 
 Sat in her old worn chair, 
 While all about the garden place 
 Lay in the evening fair.  
  Her hands were folded in her lap, 
 She dreamed a new, wild thing: 
 That her's was not a stony heart, 
 And Autumn time was Spring.  
  And then that it was not, she wept— 
 Wept that her life was vain; 
 That she had frighted love away 
 From Janet down the lane.  
  There sudden came a little hand 
 That nestled into hers; 
 A form that moved against her knees 
 Soft as a doveling stirs.  
  A child's confiding touch and gaze, 
 A child's voice in her ears; 
 A babbled pity for the pain, 
 And tenderness for tears.  
  Dark Janet, of the stony heart, 
 Beyond the old briar fence, 
 What brought that peeping child to you 
 With healing consequence?  
  Then Janet, of the lonely heart, 
 Answered the springtime calls, 
 And stooping, gathered up the love 
 That came as manna falls.  
   The Slaughterman's Child. 
  I WATCHED the slaughterman's child 
 Running to meet him; 
 Confident, loving and glad, 
 Shouting to greet him. 
 All day long, I and the rest— 
 Barbaric enough— 
 Had strove by humanity's habit 
 To send him home rough; 
 To match his heart to his surface; 
 To stamp him; to hurt him; 
 So the gentler things of his nature 
 Should shrink and desert him. 
 So I watched the slaughterman's child 
 Run forth to meet him; 
 Confident, loving and glad, 
 Shouting to greet him. 
 I saw his eyes kindle, grow soft; 
 His hands flash forward to hold her; 
 He is free of the shambles—a father, 
 No butcher, enfolds her. 
 Thank God that we, who condemn him 
 To violence and thunder, 
 Have only disfigured the surface, 
 And not the man under.  
  CARELESS he rode by the way; 
 Careless he kissed the maid; 
 Sudden upon his soul 
 She put the accolade.  
  He carried her kiss on his mouth 
 The long road home; 
 Not for one day his bliss, 
 But for every day to come.  
  He carries her kiss on his mouth, 
 And his feet are sure, 
 Evermore by that kiss 
 The way of his life is pure.  
  For she was his Woman Soul 
 He met by the winding way, 
 When idly he rode forth 
 To waste his idle day.  
  He stooped for the careless kiss 
 By the leisured path he trod, 
 And he lifted his face a knight, 
 For the kiss she gave was God.