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Cockpit of Idols

by
Muriel Stuart

[1918]

To You, And All
That We Remember


METHUEN & CO. LTD., 36 ESSEX STREET W.C., LONDON

FOREWORD

I WISH to thank Mr. Austin Harrison for his courtesy
in allowing me to reprint the following poems that have
appeared in The English Review: "It's Rose-Time Here . . .",
"Bluebell Night," "The Centaur's First Love," "Indictment,"
and also for his kindness in publishing in 1915 a long
poem by an unknown author.

. It's Rose-time Here

    1918

    IT'S rose-time here . . .
    How could the Spring
    Be the same merry thing ?
    How could she sparkle April's posy-ring
    Upon the finger of this widowed year ?
    How could she bring
    Her gauds so pitilessly near ?
    How could she bear
    To lead the pomp of May,
    The primings and the promises of June
    So near, so soon,
    In the old happy way ?
    How could she dare
    To prick the eyes of Grief
    With mockeries of returning bud and leaf ?
    How could she wear
    Such coloured broideries
    Beside the tattered garments of despair ?
    Tenting the hills with April's canopies,
    Setting the tulips' spears . . .
    How could she keep her tourneys through such tears ?

    She did not care . . .
    The roses are as beautiful this year.
    The lily never doffed
    One golden plume, nor did the May renounce
    One thrilling splendour, nor wear one pearl less.
    She has not grieved even a little space
    For those who loved her once
    For those whom surely she must once have loved.

    It's rose-time here . . .
    While over there
    Where all the roses of the world have blown
    The blood is not yet dried upon their hair,
    Their eyes have scarcely filmed against the moon,
    The sun has not yet utterly gone out;
    Almost the stained grass still
    Is conscious of their breath
    Those heavenly roses, torn and tossed about
    On the vast plains of Death.

    It's rose-time here . . .
    (How I shall always hate the Spring
    For being such a calm, untroubled thing.)
    While over there
    Where there're no children left to pull
    The few scared, ragged flowers,
    All that was ours, and, God, how beautiful!
    All, all, that once was ours
    Lies faceless, mouthless, mire in mire,
    So lost to all sweet semblance of desire
    That we in those fields seeking desperately
    One face long-lost to Love, one face that lies
    Only upon the breast of Memory
    Would never know it even though we stood
    Upon its breast, or crushed its dreadful eyes,
    Would never find it even the very blood
    Is stamped into the horror of the mud:
    Something that mad men trample under foot
    In the narrow trench for these things are not men
    Things shapeless, sodden, mute
    Beneath the monstrous limber of the guns;
    Those things that loved us once . . .
    Those that were ours, but never ours again.

    It's rose-time here . . .

    Muriel Stuart

. The Centaur's First Love

    I HUNTED her down the morning,
    Fleet hoof and bosom bare,
    She fled me in swift scorning,
    With her great, golden mane of hair
    Firing the hot, dry, quivering air.
    Down broad, bleached plain, up sunburnt hill
    She led me, and I followed still.
    She leapt the rock, I caught the gleam
    Of glistening haunches in the stream;
    Her little murderous hoofs she drove
    Through reed and flower, her hair alone
    With long gold fingers urged me on
    Till I was mad and blind with Love,
    With sun and sleep and sharp desire
    That make the first hours keen as fire,
    And crashing through the blinding light,
    Fiercer than flame, swifter than flight,
    I hunted her down the morning.

    I loved the beast in her, the hide
    Sweating and sleek, the heaving side,
    I burned to stifle savagely
    The human mouth that taunted me
    From the wild-woman face above;
    As on the Isle of Awful Love
    Pasiphae and the Bull of Crete
    Tasted strange lips and found them sweet;
    I heard, as they heard, for Love's song,
    The sound of hoofs the whole night long.

    I hunted her down the morning!
    She leapt with neighing shrill;
    No stream too deep, too high no hill
    To master such bright scorning:
    Till where the reeds grew thick and tall
    I saw her stumble, sway and fall.
    But, from her eyes as I drew near
    Leapt fear, and something more than fear:
    She did not stir, she did not move,
    She knew the ancient Sport of Love,
    She knew me at the side of her.
    From great gold mane to trembling hoof,
    The sleek, the tawny hide of her,--
    All the predestined sweets thereof--
    Are mine to crush or choke or kill . . .

    Kisses grew quicker, closer still,
    Lip to lip, hoof to hoof we lay . . .
    The broad bright morning burnt away,
    The stream went mocking in our ear,
    We did not see, we did not hear,
    We did not care, we did not move;
    What power could stay the Centaur's Love?

    The glorious chase was all for this,
    More fleet the flight, more fierce the kiss;
    She knew how doubly sweet would be
    Her last surrender, and to me
    How swift the vengeance on her scorning . . .

    And now I lie and laugh with her,
    She will not fly, I shall not stir
    To hunt her down the morning!

    Muriel Stuart

. Interior

    WHEN I sit down to read at night
    I hear a thousand voices call--
    The painted cups, the mirror bright,
    The crazy pattern on the wall;

    Terrible sounds of woe and strife
    Make thunder through this quiet room,--
    Women who gave the mill their life,
    And men who shuddered at the loom,--

    The noise the snarling hammer made
    In maddened ears, the foundry's roar,--
    The woe that stitched this rich brocade,
    That beat this brass, that hewed this door.

    How can I read while round me swarm
    Creatures that wept and strove and died
    To make this room, rich, safe and warm,
    To keep the weather-beasts outside?

    How can I rest while in the gloom
    From mine and garret, den and pit,
    They pass, who built in blood this room,
    And with their tears so furnished it!

    Muriel Stuart

. To Each Man His Fear

    THROUGH reeling night and crumbling day
    You pace the Haunted House of Pain,
    The Thing that marked you for its prey
    Follows you, hides and springs again.

    To blinding window, sinking floor,
    Drunken with ether, torn with knife,
    Crazy and blind you lurch once more
    Into the hideousness of Life.

    And nothing beautiful nor strong,
    Nor kind, nor fierce, nor vain, nor pure,
    Concerns you,--only this,--how long,
    How much, how well, you may endure.

    The fiery brain that dreamed and planned,
    The kissing lips', the restless feet,
    Lie knotted like a dead man's hand,
    And writhe beneath the twisted sheet.

    Till to a life that but revolved
    Round a dim night-light's settling blue
    Comes Death, and lays aside, unsolved,
    The foolish riddle that was You!

    Muriel Stuart

. The Bastard

    HERE thou art safe as roses in the bud,--
    Safe from the wind that will not spare the rose;
    Here thou art: daily and divinely fed
    On holy wine and bread
    That none deny--my body and my blood--
    I housle thee, myself the sacrament.
    And I am great with thee, as souls with God.

    Lie close, in Love's first, safest house lie close,
    Blind, breathless, undesirous, and content,
    Hearing my blood sing o'er thee, like a lute,
    Feeling my flesh as daisies feel the earth
    Over them, round them, warm and very still . . .
    Oh thou art so impatient of thy birth!
    As in her blind hood gropes the daffodil.
    As in the pale flower leaps the rebellious fruit.
    Lie still beneath this most unquietest heart,
    For thou a calmer pillow shalt not know
    Upon this side of sunset, nor shalt go
    So careless of the steely hearts of men.
    Thou hast the peace that men desire in vain--
    The quiet men lose and cannot find again;
    After, thou shalt not find such sweet repose.
    Starlight and moonshine will not say thee ' Nay,'
    Nor the sun question thy divinest right--
    The Password of the Portals of the Day,
    The Freedom of the City of the Night;
    The orphaned lily, the unfathered rose
    Shall not disdain thy gold, unharming hair,
    But men shall claim thee their eternal prey,
    Hunt thee to Death, and hound thee to Despair,
    Mark thee, and set thee loose, to take again
    As they hunt each forlorn, defenceless thing,--
    As I am hounded by the hate of men.

    For us there is no pardon, pity none
    Of all cold hearts beneath the pitying sun,--
    Of all cold lips above the pardoning seas.
    Behold us, foes of all Love's enemies,
    With every hand against the hand of Love,
    And we, the slaves of Love's swift tourneying,
    Paying the slow and bitter price thereof.

    Lie still awhile; thy beauty builds my shame!--
    The shame thou dost so innocently bring:
    At thy beseeching blood my blood grows tame,
    Thy body makes my own most wearisome,
    And with thy kindling lips my lips become
    Colder; within me something daily dies.
    Yet, oh most sweet, I do not quarrel thee,
    For more desired thou art than chastity;
    Closer thou art than eyelids over eyes,
    Than kissing lips or clasping hands can be;
    As flame with flame, as tide with tide thou art;
    Nearer, much nearer, than myself to me:
    I carry Heaven beneath my labouring heart.

    But thou wilt lie no longer than Love lay,
    Thou wilt weary of my body even as he;
    And I again with body and blood shall pay
    To the last farthing's ruthless penalty
    The nights with Love, the days, the hours with thee.
    And when at last thy fashioning is o'er,
    When flesh from flesh, when soul from soul, goes free,
    When Love's poor house can give thee nothing more,
    And thou break through the wearying bonds thereof,

    I will seek pardon of thee on my knees,
    And thou ask pity of God, or stones, or trees,
    But not of men--we will ask naught of these--
    I, the loving, and thou the seal of Love.

    Muriel Stuart

. The Cockpit of Idols

    I, GOD'S young priest, went to His House to pray.
    In the dim church the warm deep-bosomed air
    Swelled on remembered music, whose last note
    Yearned in the organ's throat;
    Great columns carved in fountain-fall of stone
    Upheld the dizzy roof on might of spray.
    Beneath the pavement bare
    Slumbered the dead, serenely separate,
    Too still for praise or prayer,
    Too wise for love or hate;
    With no more haste to finish or begin,
    With no more need to tarry or pursue
    Where nothing more is finished or begun.
    The nave stood plunged in purple to the chin,
    And all the windows stared a solemn blue
    Pricked with the golden needles of the sun.

    But I thought not on Beauty, but on Sin--
    On all the nameless evils dared and done,
    For me the dark worm tunnelled in the bud
    The moth despoiled the tapestries of rich years,
    For me each Dawn was but a vision of tears,
    And every night a winking bowl of blood.

    A gentle Christ above the altar stared
    At His mean feast prepared,
    And near the carven Rood
    The Maid the Mother stood.
    I kneeled before her, I who had wept and prayed
    Each day and night of my remembering years,
    Whose youth profane and passionate was laid
    Beneath the cloisters' celibate still shade,
    And dedicated at the Font of Tears.
    But as I kneeled the grim walls seemed to fade
    Into wet woodlands, and wide, happy leas
    Where lovers with kissed lips and mazy hair
    Went dancing to the stately sound of trees.

    Love blew his rapturous bubbles in the air,
    And suddenly for the first wild time I knew
    The strange sweet pang that the hid violet knows
    When first she dreams of blooming, and how the rose
    Shivers beneath the sharp, baptismal dew.
    I heard the song the thrush one morn would sing,
    And knew then what the dumb reed wept to say
    Ere Pan had kissed her mouth, I felt that day
    The shameless, sweet, unshatterable Spring!
    And suddenly the whole world shook with song--
    Music of brooks and birds, of bees and showers;
    To the grey fields carolled the rosy flowers;
    The grass's husky, hesitating tongue
    Murmured and ceased; from the remotest sea
    Rose, as a tune that hidden minstrels play,
    The water's lyric, the wind's lutany.

    Oh! voices, voices, bringing to mine ears
    Your tender torture! Oh! sweet hurt of Spring
    Shed all along my veins. Oh! flying fire
    Of passion, of woe, of wildness, of desire;
    The Hound of Love was on the Heel of Youth,
    Beauty came wiling, wooing, whispering,
    And wounded me upon the breast and mouth
    With secret wounds--with kisses sharp as spears,
    Sudden as flame, and bright and thick as tears,
    Yet breathing peace withal, as when one bowers
    His head upon some dew-begotten dell,
    And feels his eyelids cold against cold flowers.

    How could I pray? Could such lips shape a sigh?
    What chalice had this hour to lend to tears?
    Only the cuckoo's song was in my cars,
    My dumb voice quickened only to one cry:
    "Barest thou listen, Mother-Maid, to me,
    Thou who hast listened all these empty years
    To the slow fall of tears,--
    To coward penitence that scarce hath lain
    Upon thy breast but hears Sin's whistle shrill,
    And cries for her old bedfellow again?
    Hath any paused to offer on his knee
    A word of love since one for Love's own sake
    Gave thee swift, crowded hours of ecstasy,
    Whose voice above all prayers thou nearest still?
    Thou wert a woman to him, thou didst make
    Each summer mystery plain;
    Were not thy clinging hands the wind's un-rest?
    Was not thy spread hair thunder on his breast?

    Was not thy face the rose, thy tears the rain?
    Here kneeleth one who loves thee even as he!"
    The day reeled past me, haggarding the night,
    Then stayed her breath,
    Waiting for an immediate doom to fall
    On one whom none may succour or requite,--
    Doom neither prayer nor pity hindereth.
    The loosened ivy cringed against the wall,
    The dusk about me drew
    A closer noose of gloom; the silence wept;
    The lights upon the altar lapsed and leapt
    In gusts of gold and blue.
    From the night's caravan a beggar-wind
    Crept up and listened at the door
    Like some poor outcast creature that hath sinned
    And dareth home no more,
    But listens to old songs round the old hearth,
    Wondering if his forbidden name one saith,
    If one be sad, remembering. Then I heard--
    Lower than pipe of an entranced bird
    That shakes a dewy wing
    On glittering boughs at sunrise, venturing
    Against hushed lips of dawn his perilous flute--
    The stumble soft of unaccustomed speech
    That patience or despair hath long made mute,
    Sad as sea-sounds in most forlornest shells
    Scattered upon a tide-forsaken beach,
    Wherein the murmur of the far sea dwells.

    "I hear thy plea, my wild one! Have thy prayers
    Led thee to me for this?
    And have I so mis-read thy daily vows?
    My silence, hath it seemed a sinful 'Yea'?
    Hast thou but beaten dedicated brows
    Against the feet of Lust, and in my house
    Profaned me, deeming me to be enticed
    By snare of service, and by bait of prayer
    Into Sin's meshes? Wouldst thou father Christ?"

    "Lady, thy children were not all of God;
    Thy gentle feet have trod
    The path of Love, thy bosom well hath known
    Its blossoms and its bowers,
    Thy mouth hath crushed its fruit; oh! thou hast grown
    Into my soul as sun grows into flowers,
    As the sea rolls into the sunset's shell.
    Thou dwellest in me as the Host doth dwell
    Within the Cup, but also dwelleth there
    That other ancient Spirit of the Vine
    Torched on the hills, laughing and quick with wine,
    Pursuing Ariadne as she flies
    Through the dim woods, the fountain of her hair
    Blown backwards in warm gold against the air,
    Its bubbles sparkling at his lips and eyes.
    Thou art the beaker that Bacchantes bring--
    And thine the cup whence Maenades caroused,--
    The vine upon a thousand hill-sides sunned,
    The warm bright grape their amorous bodies bruised!"

    I heard my words rush past me thundering,
    As one who on the lonely mountain hears
    The deep abysses groan their agonies,
    The ridge make sharp her merciless strong spears,
    And hears the awful hammer of the ice
    Break the great crags in shards about his ears!
    But as I kneeled and shuddered, sound of feet
    Sighed in the aisle, and lingered and grew close.
    One kneeled by me an outcast of the street--
    A creature wan as June's last lovely rose
    That, following forsaken summer fades
    Slowly through nights of rain, and days of drouth--
    A graveless ghost, whom sleep in vain persuades,
    Whom mercy may not save, nor pity stir,
    Wearing the harlot's rose on cheek and mouth,
    With all her pitiful hair spilled over her.

    She leaned towards me, a few words stammering--
    Learned lesson of the streets so glibly spoken!--
    The priest in me leaped out and smote her there,
    "Darest thou plead, poor, painted Folly, broken
    Across the knees' of those thou once didst snare?
    Shall Love be borne upon a vulture's wing?
    Shall paper roses bear
    The burden of the Spring?
    Canst thou set all the sunrise in a ring?
    What whip shall scourge the trafficker that sells
    Such shameful wares within the House of God
    Where Holiness hath its august abode,
    Denied the gold by which thou art grown rich?
    Behold above us where God's Mother dwells. . . ."
    Darkness alone stood in the empty niche.

    "Son, for whom died my Son, I have come down!
    I am the terrible answer to thy kiss.
    Behold the graven image overthrown;
    Passion at last brings all its gods to this.
    What ware is sold more shameful than thine own,
    What harlot's house is more profaned than mine,
    Whose priests forswear the solemn vows they made,
    In whose hands broken is indeed the bread,
    And for whose sins shall blush the holy wine?"

    As in some vast and desperate agony,
    On torn lips furrowed by the Plough of Pain,
    A meaningless word within all words be knit,
    Repeated till all sense be gone from it,
    And it mean naught, and beat upon a brain
    Long crazed and without fear, I spake again:
    "Wert thou more faithful to thy God than
    Mary, for Him wert thou inviolate?

    Didst thou for Him all other loves deny,
    Forsworn thy lips, thy body celibate
    To Him who made thy breast His Sanctuary?
    For I have never turned aside to slake
    My thirst on Folly's fruit or Pleasure's wine;
    I think no other woman had been mine
    After thy hair had swept me! For thy sake
    I had been only, and for ever thine.
    Yea, I had swiftly died upon thy kiss--
    Death flying in straight splendour to such mark--
    Not as a beggar to the house of alms,
    Not in a narrow bed with hasty rite,
    And sudden hush of psalms,
    But as a great white Day goes out at night
    Upon the splendid venture of the Dark!"

    So spake I, and fell weeping, closelier drew
    Until my brow against her feet was laid,
    Fell on my ears, as on shut flowers the dew.
    The swift sad words she said.

    "I, too, was but a weapon in God's hand--
    Human like thee--a weapon and a sign
    Misread of men; in every human breast
    God lays Him down to rest
    Until the earthly cast forth the divine.
    None sainted me: did I at my Son's feet
    With other Marys sit?

    Was my forgotten hair beloved or blessed
    As Magdalen's? Did I not ever stand
    Aside, apart, forgotten and alone?
    What word had Mark or Luke the Evangelist
    For her whom God made Mother of His Son?
    Why shouldst thou worship where they bowed no knee?

    "O Son, O Wild One, thou hast brought even me
    Into thy soul's arena. All men turn
    Their unseen gods to graven images,
    Each man the idol of his choosing leads
    That in the Cockpit of men's brutal creeds
    Each god may bleed and burn,
    Till frailer ones be fallen on their knees,--
    Sweet gods soon broken upon the spears of Youth,
    Soon silenced at the knee of Sophistry,
    Till Earth's eyes with the lust of battle dim,
    Till gaping Hell be bubbled to the brim,
    And Heaven grow grey against a dead god's mouth.
    Yea, Zeus and Christ in the great lists are flung,
    Dagon and Vishnu face to face are thrust,
    Pallas Athene tourneys with the dust;
    God of the North above whose throne were set
    The golden shields, Isis of Egypt sung,
    Meet only where all dying gods have met!

    There shudders the moon-goddess Ashtorcth;
    The Syrian, and the Cyprian, fall on death;
    Olympus, Asgard and Gethsemane,
    Vigil of Paphos and of Olivet!
    And while these gods in the great shambles die,
    Thrust on each other's spears,
    He, nameless and unchallenged, wanders by
    In every tree that peers
    Into the wizard darkness of the hill,
    And in each tarn most deeply contemplates
    The image of His beauty, lingers still
    To twist again the purfled clover's ears,
    World-weary feet He cools
    Where windless noons lie bathing in the pools,
    Or takes His solitude
    Where, in the purple cloak of twilight, waits
    The moon to pierce the solitary wood.

    The God who made the world and found it good
    When the great pageant of six days rolled by,
    Who fired the laughing splendour of the blood,
    Painted the dawn, and laid the starry floors,
    And led the amazed moon across her sky,--
    Who wrestled with the thunder and the night,--
    Who heard the first seas singing up the shores,
    And saw the first fields blush in the first light.

    Deny no more the spirit of delight,
    No more thy brother's image crucify.
    In every home thou hast bid men watch him die,
    And carved the moment of his agony.
    Thou hast given us the Eternal load to bear,
    The burden of the outcast and forlorn,
    Give us the gift of laughter, not of prayer,--
    The joy His Mother had when He was born,
    And bid the wounded brow of Jesus wear
    The rose and not the thorn."
    She ceased. Upon my brow's cold earthliness
    Faltered the stainless petals of her kiss,
    While all the fluttering pinions of the air
    Made ready as if to bear
    An infinite impalpable foot thereon.
    No trump declared her, but the air was sweet
    With crooked croon of doves,--with brooks that run
    Laughter and tears together,--with buds that greet
    With freckled faces the kisses of the sun.
    All saddest things went gathered to her breast,--
    The foundling sorrow, and the grief that goes
    To the lean bosom any hireling bares
    When the heart's house is swept for Pleasure's heirs,

    And Life's broad bed another lover knows.
    My old despairs, old sorrows and old fears
    She took, as from the wide fields' palimpsest
    Sunlight blots out the legend of the snows
    For Spring's green name, while April dries her tears
    To prick the warm bright eyelids of the rose.

    Dawn made a sudden crescent curve of flame
    Above the world, as o'er Endymion
    Arched in a trembling splendour, Dian came,
    The moon behind her, and before the sun,
    The Orient with her thundery hair distraught,
    The dying West still troubled at her feet,
    And the dark world beneath her chained and caught
    In the gold net where Night and Morning meet.

    Never was Spring so longed for as this Spring--
    My Spring so long delayed and come at last--
    A child despaired of, overmuch desired.
    Born in the winter of Love when grown too old
    Has seemed the body and the lips too cold,
    The hands, the. heart too tired
    For further fashioning.
    Oh! never had the heart's first celandine
    Unhooded her so slowly from the green,
    Never before had stately shaft and plinth
    Been built so slowly by the hyacinth;
    Never had any captive fled so fast
    From the grim haunted tower of solitude,
    Never had leapt to such shrill trumpet blast
    The prisoned pulse or marched the daunted blood
    I loosed the bonds, I watched the idols fall,
    From the dark shrine I went out, sane and free,
    Creedless and unforbidden to serve and see
    The unknown, only God within us all.
    Men seemed no more the legionaries of lust,
    Women no more their pleasure or their prey,--
    Lost creatures blown from frail, alluring dust,
    And doomed to slow corruption and decay.
    Something so lovely, pitiful and wise,
    Something so infinite crowned the finite whole!
    I saw the unshatterable temple of each soul,
    I heard their laughter as the wind that blows
    Wider the thrilling rose,
    And felt their tears like rain, their sweat like dew.
    I saw God die a thousand deaths and rise
    In triumph from each yawning sepulchre,
    And Summer's hair was gold beneath His feet.

    Then lo ! She passed before me, and I knew
    I might have found, loved, healed and hallowed her
    In every violet-seller by the wall,
    In pavement-saints, Madonnas of the Shawl,
    In Magdalen's hair, in Martha's ministry,
    Wherever women's heads were blessed or bowed;
    I walked with God in every noisy street,
    And saw in every creature that passed by
    Christ go forth too and mingle with the crowd.

    Muriel Stuart

. The Second-Hand Bookstall

    ON a stall they shiver now,
    Huddled in the dust and rain,--
    A forlorn and tattered row,
    Like the castaways of men.

    A profound green library
    Held them once, serene and close,
    Where a sonnet's lips were dry
    With the blood of some dead rose.

    Dirty hands and furtive eyes
    Touch, profane them where they lie,
    And a ticket shows the price
    Of such immortality!

    Dust is deep on Marlowe's lip,
    Hell holds Dante in these streets,
    Milton takes the gutter's drip,
    Mud is on the breast of Keats.

    All the lovely thoughts men think,
    All their rapture, love and pain,--
    God come down in blood and ink,--
    Sold for sixpence in the rain!

    Muriel Stuart

. To ---

    WHEN I grow old and my quick blood is chilled,
    And all my thoughts are grey as my grey hair,
    When I am slow and dull, and do not care,
    And all the strife and storm of Life are stilled;
    Then if one carelessly should speak your name
    It will go through my body like swift spears
    To set my fireless bosom in a flame,
    My faded eyelids will be bright with tears;
    And I shall find how far my heart has gone
    From wanting you, how lost and long ago
    That love of ours was: I shall suddenly know
    How old and grey I am . . . and how alone.

    Muriel Stuart

. The Slave

    THE Sins, the Joys, the Sorrows of the Soul
    Sat down to feast, and He was bidden wait
    Upon them, He who wore an aureole
    About His brows, while they washed hands and ate,
    Plucked fruit and spices from the costly plate,
    And drained the black wine from the lordly bowl.

    Twelve guests of God they sat at meat; each guest
    Closest to him he loved; lean Treachery
    Spilled salt and moved Pride's eyelid with a jest,
    Repentance, scarcely daring to reply,
    Sat with wan cheek half-turned from Chastity,
    But Love--Love wept against the Servant's breast.

    Young Hope and Fear clung, dove-like breasts together
    Near Joy and Grief with wild and gentle eyes;
    Courage, a bird that flies in every weather,
    Refused to count his scars for Pity's sighs;
    Lust crouched and tossed red meats and savouries
    To his gaunt hounds that whinnied at their tether.

    With pity infinite the Slave leaned down
    Serving them Folly's wine, and Pleasure's meat,
    And when cups yawned, and broken fruits lay brown
    He, rising, look rough linen and water sweet
    And kneeled and washed those erring Masters' feet,
    And drew their gold and broidered sandals on.

    Joy fled; Love cried: "Lord, serv'st thou such as they?"
    Hope, Fear and Sorrow chorused Pity's sigh;
    But Pride thrust forth his feet, and Lust said: "Yea,"
    Courage was shamed; aghast stood Chastity;
    Repentance with wild hair wept: "Thus did I!"
    And Treachery kissed the Slave and went away.

    By some forgotten, and by some denied,
    By all forsaken, from that banquet-hall
    The Slave went forth, Love weeping at his side,
    And for the Body's sins, for those who fall
    Because of it for Love's sake most of all--
    After their feast the Slave was crucified.

    Muriel Stuart

. "Étaples

    TAPLES," what does it mean?
    Is it the name of a town?
    Fields where the wild flowers blow,
    A hill where the brooks run down?

    Is it a town to us?
    A field where the jonquils grow?
    Is it a hill where the streams
    Run laughing? We do not know.

    " Étaples" a strange, vague word
    Spelled on the lips of the guns
    Where all that' our wild hearts loved
    Went through with the regiment once!

    Muriel Stuart

. Common Fires

    THE fern and flame had fought and died together,
        From fading frond the failing smoke crept grey,
    The heath drew close her old brown shawl of heather,
            And turned her face away.

    To-day the bee no bell of honey misses,
        The birds are nesting where the bracken lies
    Green, tranquil, deep, quiet as dreams or kisses
            On weary lips and eyes.

    The heath has drawn the blackened threads together,
        My heart has closed her lips upon old pain,
    But somewhere, in my heart and in the heather,
            No bud shall grow again.

    Muriel Stuart

. To ---

    COME back no more: nothing is left us now:
    Let us forget; let us go back, go soon
    To the old loves we left, and crave the boon
    Of their old kindness, nor remember how
    Your hands burnt in my hands,--how wild, how dear
    Those hours were once, that now forgotten are,
    Let this thing be as far as love is far,
    Yea, let this be as things that never were.

    Though it have altered all that used to be,
    Have changed our earth, and brought strange wave and weed
    Into our fields, and smart and smell of sand
    From waters that have never known the land;
    Though on our tides have burned rich scent and seed
    From gardens that were strangers to the sea.

    Come back no more: what is there but to find
    This rose's flaw in every other rose?
    To taste in all fruit this fruit's bitter rind,
    To breathe these ashes on each wind that blows?
    Was it for this we pledged a thousand vows,
    And by eternal kisses swore our faith
    This deadest of dead things that lies beneath
    The stretched sheet in Life's latched and shuttered house?

    What word is there to bring it? No word more;
    It would not hear though we had words to say,
    Though we had tears to shed, or prayers to pray.
    Leave to this dead its dark, and close this door . . .
    It was not Love that we brought here to die,
    Let us go back, go by.

    Muriel Stuart

. Indictment

    IN women is it Chastity you prize?--
    The unapproachable white purities,--
    The vestal moon forsworn of celibate skies,
    The ice that spurns remote and barren seas?
    Can Chastity cool your kisses, slake your sighs?
    And when, at last, o'ertaken and embraced,
    We give you burning lips, wild words and eyes,
    In your arms lying, would you have us chaste?

    If it were Chastity filled your treasuries,
    Possession would be Prize instead of Prey.
    You would be wise and clean, and we should go
    Free of your lusts and importunities,
    Nor trace the dubious paths we take to-day
    From your first, careless footsteps in the snow.

    Muriel Stuart

. Bluebell Night

    WHEN Earth stands trembling on the brink of June
    Spring reads the writing on the sunset's wall,
    And 'Farewell' on the bright page of the moon,
    While the winds lute a faint memorial.
    She hears Night toll the hour of her farewell,
    And seeks once more a breast whereon to die,--
    In the last wood to yield to Summer's spell,
    That still dreams on with wide and tranquil eye
    When June the mighty huntress rakes the sky
    And sows the world with heat,--still sees its cool
    Green image peering o'er the enchanted pool.

    Past the low track where many a groaning cart
    Has lurched above the beating of Spring's heart
    She fleets, June's arrows falling swift and bright:
    The creening curlew-wind wails, following,
    The old wheel-wounds are filled with flowers to-night.
    Her reels of gold, blue skein and yellow bead,
    Fall from her hand as wild and white she goes,
    The poppy lacking still a golden thread,
    Her needle pricking still the unfinished rose.

    To-night the bluebells die, already wan
    With prescience of her whose death is theirs:
    A sheathing wing the solemn thicket bears,
        Though heedless birds sing on,
    Though through the listening moonlight wanders still
    The wide-lipped water talking in her sleep,
        And far beyond the hill,
    Across the heaven's golden, vast divide,
    The twilight rose nods to the lily moon;
        Too old, too wise to weep,
    They watch where Spring has fallen, and see her swoon
    With the long spear of Summer in her side.

    The lean swift bramble hastens o'er the stones,--
    A gipsy Autumn makes an emperor
    Splendoured in purple, glorious in gold;
    The young wild trees whom she may tend no more
    Forget their cradle-songs in April's house,
    And on Earth's shoulders take a mighty hold,
    Against the sun spread vast pavilions,
    And stun the great storms with huge, thunderous brows.
    While from Spring's dying hand the jewels fall;
    The hawthorn folds her frail embroidery,
    The drowsy hyacinth puts out her light,
    Gold-throated flowers that lured the pirate bee
    Fade like old dreams across the face of night,
    Of whom stern Day forbids memorial.

    Something of Spring must die in us to-night--
    Something the full-lipped Summer may not know,--
    The sharp, sad rapture, the impetuous flight
    That finds all heavens too near, all heights too low;
    When Dawn seems but a glittering rose to throw
    To a mad world, and from Youth's beakers flow
    The keen, the sparkling Daysprings of Delight!

    But not for ever! All that died to-night
    Has heard one same sweet word, and knows that Change
        Though seeming wild and strange,--
    Seeming to stamp its heel on all delight,
    And giving Beauty only grace to die,
    Shall bring a rich to-morrow; though Spring lie
    Dead as the first faith in Youth's sepulchre,
        She shall return, and glide,--
    A white swan moving on the green Springtide:
    A snowdrop soon shall quicken in her side,
    And round her lips a little sigh shall stir . . .
    While loud December stamps the frozen ways
    Leave her to dreamless nights and deedless days,
    And strew the paling bluebells over her!

    Muriel Stuart

. Heliodore

    WHO will remember Heliodore?
    The nightingales, the nightingales
    That sing to-night in vain for thee
    Whose nights no singing shall restore?
    The myrtle that in vain hath shed
    Bloom for thy bridal feet to tread
    That wander dim and sunless vales,
    Far off, too far for Love and me?
    What music hath Persephone,
    What woodland glade, what balmy grove
    To bower sweet birds in lutany?
    What lip or lyre speaks low in Love
    Where grey ghosts after and before
    Weave thee a mournful canopy
    Of hemlock grim and hellebore?
    This is thy maiden company,
    These are thy roses, Heliodore.

    Who will remember Heliodore?
    No rain of Autumn's weaving
    On Twilight's loom with shuttle slow;
    No plaint of sad birds' grieving
    Makes of thy name a deeper woe.
    The earth that holds thee tranced and deep
    In Death's long tyranny of sleep
    Will not remember Heliodore.
    For thou wilt be no more to her
    Than dust of ferns, or shades that stir
    The sands on Lethe's long cold shore,
    Than crumbling bones of beast or bird,
    Than perfume vague of musk or myrrh
    Clinging round lip of shell or sherd;
    Those eyes, that strange gold flame of hair,
    Shall be to her as Helen's were--
    Dust in the dust--she will not care
    If these sweet limbs and lips be those
    Of fawn or flowers or dryad, nor
    Discern thy beauty from the rose,
    Nor thee from lilies, Heliodore.

    Who will remember Heliodore?
    Not this sea, not this shore;
    Not this forgetting wind and tree:
    The dreaming land will wait once more
    The sighing, swift, desirous sea;
    To-morrow's sun will take the moon,
    To-morrow's bloom will burn the bee;
    The days will give the sweet days' boon
    To Midnight's savage empery.
    The silver sails will fret the morn
    For the pale Pleiades' return;
    Atys will woo Aurora's kiss
    In the tall woods: the Dryades
    Will woo their fauns, and Hippocrene
    Will wait the noon to dance between
    The white feet of Melpomene,--
    But not for thine, but not for thee!

    Who will remember Heliodore?
    What if my heart remember thee
    In Thessaly ? What lyre have I
    To tranee Alecto's furious hair?
    What ghost shall see thee gliding by
    To laughter and to love once more--
    To the old mortal days that were? . . .
    I cannot wake thee, Heliodore.
    A day, a year, and I shall be
    As unremembering as they
    Who share thy sweet oblivion.
    Silence and song shall be as one,
    Moonset as sunrise, night as day,
    Rivers as rocks, and stars as stones:
    And the last flower may cease to grow,
    The last bird sing, the last wind blow,--
    I shall not heed, I shall not know
    That thou wert, or that I was, once.

    In vain, in vain shalt thou implore
    Thine old song's rapture, Heliodore.
    Oh ! Love, Love, loved immeasurably!--
    Sweet, only Splendour lived and shed
    Through all my singing, thou shalt see
    How far, how utterly at last
    Art thou from all Remembrance cast
    When Love himself forgetteth thee,
    And these, thy lips, can sing no more,--
    When I am dead as thou art dead,
    Dumb as thy dumb mouth, Heliodore.

    Muriel Stuart



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