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Irradiations

                   I

    'THE spattering of the rain upon pale terraces
    Of afternoon is like the passing of a dream
    Amid the roses shuddering 'gainst the wet green stalks
    Of the steaming tree -- the passing of the wind
    Upon the pale lower terraces of my dream
    Is like the crinkling of the wet grey robes
    Of the hours that come to turn over the urn
    Of the day and spill its rainy dream.
    Vague movement over the puddled terraces:
    Heavy gold pennons -- a pomp of solemn gardens
    Half hidden under the liquid veil of spring:
    Far trumpets like a vague rout of faded roses
    Burst 'gainst the wet green silence of distant forests:
    A clash of cymbals -- then the swift swaying footsteps
    Of the wind that undulates along the languid terraces.
    Pools of rain -- the vacant terraces
    Wet, chill and glistening
    Towards the sunset beyond the broken doors of to-day.

                   II

    The iridescent vibrations of midsummer light
    Dancing, dancing, suddenly flickering and quivering
    Like little feet or the movement of quick hands clapping
    Or the rustle of furbelows or the clash of polished gems.
    The palpitant mosaic of the midday light
    Colliding, sliding, leaping and lingering:
    O, I could lie on my back all day,
    And mark the mad ballet of the midsummer sky.

                   III

    Over the roof-tops race the shadows of clouds;
    Like horses the shadows of clouds charge down the street.



    Whirlpools of purple and gold,
    Wind from the mountains of cinnabar,
    Lacquered mandarin moments, palanquins swaying and balancing
    Amid the vermilion pavilions, against the jade balustrades.
    Glint of the glittering wings of dragon-flies in the light:
    Silver filaments, golden flakes settling downwards,
    Rippling, quivering flutters, repulse and surrender,
    The sun broidered upon the rain,
    The rain rustling with the sun.



    Over the roof-tops race the shadows of clouds;
    Like horses the shadows of clouds charge down the street.

                   IV

    The balancing of gaudy broad pavilions
    Of summer against the insolent breeze:
    The bellying of the sides of striped tents,
    Swelling taut, shuddering in quick collapse,
    Silent under the silence of the sky.

    Earth is streaked and spotted
    With great splashes and dapples of sunlight:
    The sun throws an immense circle of hot light upon the world,
    Rolling slowly in ponderous rhythm
    Darkly, musically forward.
    All is silent under the steep cone of afternoon:
    The sky is imperturbably profound.
    The ultimate divine union seems about to be accomplished,
    All is troubled at the attainment
    Of the inexhaustible infinite.
    The rolling and the tossing of the side of immense pavilions
    Under the whirling wind that screams up the cloudless sky.

                   V

    Flickering of incessant rain
    On flashing pavements:
    Sudden scurry of umbrellas:
    Bending, recurved blossoms of the storm.



    The winds came clanging and clattering
    From long white highroads whipping in ribbons up summits:
    They strew upon the city gusty wafts of apple-blossom,
    And the rustling of innumerable translucent leaves.
    Uneven tinkling, the lazy rain
    Dripping from the eaves.

                   VI

    The fountain blows its breathless spray
    From me to you and back to me.



    Whipped, tossed, curdled,
    Crashing, quivering:
    I hurl kisses like blows upon your lips.
    The dance of a bee drunken with sunlight:
    Irradiant ecstacies, white and gold,
    Sigh and relapse.



    The fountain tosses pallid spray
    Far in the sorrowful, silent sky.

                   VII

    The trees, like great jade elephants,
    Chained, stamp and shake 'neath the gadflies of the breeze;
    The trees lunge and plunge, unruly elephants:
    The clouds are their crimson howday-canopies,
    The sunlight glints like the golden robe of a Shah.
    Would I were tossed on the wrinkled backs of those trees.

                   VIII

    Brown bed of earth, still fresh and warm with love,
    Now hold me tight:
    Broad field of sky, where the clouds laughing move,
    Fill up my pores with light:
    You trees, now talk to me, chatter and scold or weep,
    Or drowsing stand:
    You winds, now play with me, you wild things creep,
    You boulders, bruise my hand!
    I now am yours and you are mine: it matters not
    What gods herein I see:
    You grow in me, I am rooted to this spot,
    We drink and pass the cup, immortally.

                   IX

    O seeded grass, you army of little men
    Crawling up the long slope with quivering, quick blades of steel:
    You who storm millions of graves, tiny green tentacles of earth,
    Interlace yourselves tightly over my heart,
    And do not let me go:
    For I would lie here forever and watch with one eye
    The pilgrimaging ants in your dull, savage jungles,
    The while with the other I see the stiff lines of the slope
    Break in mid-air, a wave surprisingly arrested,
    And above them, wavering, dancing, bodiless, colourless, unreal,
    The long thin lazy fingers of the heat.

                   X

    To-day you shall have but little song from me,
    For I belong to the sunlight.
    This I would not barter for any kingdom.
    I am a wheeling swallow,
    Blue all over is my delight.
    I am a drowsy grass-blade
    In the greenest shadow.

    John Gould Fletcher

Lincoln

                   I

    LIKE a gaunt, scraggly pine
    Which lifts its head above the mournful sandhills;
    And patiently, through dull years of bitter silence,
    Untended and uncared for, begins to grow.

    Ungainly, labouring, huge,
    The wind of the north has twisted and gnarled its branches;
    Yet in the heat of midsummer days, when thunder-clouds ring the horizon,
    A nation of men shall rest beneath its shade.

    And it shall protect them all,
    Hold everyone safe there, watching aloof in silence;
    Until at last one mad stray bolt from the zenith
    Shall strike it in an instant down to earth.
                   II

    There was a darkness in this man; an immense and hollow darkness,
    Of which we may not speak, nor share with him, nor enter;
    A darkness through which strong roots stretched downwards into the earth
    Towards old things;
    Towards the herdman-kings who walked the earth and spoke with God,
    Towards the wanderers who sought for they knew not what, and found their goal at last;
    Towards the men who waited, only waited patiently when all seemed lost,
    Many bitter winters of defeat;
    Down to the granite of patience
    These roots swept, knotted fibrous roots, prying, piercing, seeking,
    And drew from the living rock and the living waters about it
    The red sap to carry upwards to the sun.

    Not proud, but humble,
    Only to serve and pass on, to endure to the end through service;
    For the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and all that bring not forth good fruit
    Shall be cut down on the day to come and cast into the fire.
                   III

    There is silence abroad in the land to-day,
    And in the hearts of men, a deep and anxious silence;
    And, because we are still at last, those bronze lips slowly open,
    Those hollow and weary eyes take on a gleam of light.

    Slowly a patient, firm-syllabled voice cuts through the endless silence
    Like labouring oxen that drag a plow through the chaos of rude clay-fields:
    "I went forward as the light goes forward in early spring,
    But there were also many things which I left behind.

    "Tombs that were quiet;
    One, of a mother, whose brief light went out in the darkness,
    One, of a loved one, the snow on whose grave is long falling,
    One, only of a child, but it was mine.

    Have you forgot your graves? Go, question them in anguish,
    Listen long to their unstirred lips. From your hostages to silence,
    Learn there is no life without death, no dawn without sun-setting,
    No victory but to Him who has given all."
                   IV

    The clamour of cannon dies down, the furnace-mouth of the battle is silent.
    The midwinter sun dips and descends, the earth takes on afresh its bright colours.
    But he whom we mocked and obeyed not, he whom we scorned and mistrusted,
    He has descended, like a god, to his rest.

    Over the uproar of cities,
    Over the million intricate threads of life wavering and crossing,
    In the midst of problems we know not, tangling, perplexing, ensnaring,
    Rises one white tomb alone.

    Beam over it, stars.
    Wrap it round, stripes—stripes red for the pain that he bore for you—
    Enfold it forever, O flag, rent, soiled, but repaired through your anguish;
    Long as you keep him there safe, the nations shall bow to your law.

    Strew over him flowers;
    Blue forget-me-nots from the north, and the bright pink arbutus
    From the east, and from the west rich orange blossoms,
    But from the heart of the land take the passion-flower.


    Rayed, violet, dim,
    With the nails that pierced, the cross that he bore and the circlet,
    And beside it there, lay also one lonely snow-white magnolia,
    Bitter for remembrance of the healing which has passed.

    John Gould Fletcher

The Skaters

    BLACK swallows swooping or gliding
    In a flurry of entangled loops and curves;
    The skaters skim over the frozen river.
    And the grinding click of their skates as they impinge upon the surface,
    Is like the brushing together of thin wing-tips of silver.

    John Gould Fletcher


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