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[Index to poems in the collection by Violet Jacob]

. Unity

    I DREAMED that life and time and space were one,
          And the pure trance of dawn;
           The increase drawn
    From all the journeys of the travelling sun,
    And the long mysteries of sound and sight,
           The whispering rains,
    And far, calm waters set in lonely plains,
          And cry of birds at night.

    I dreamed that these and love and death were one,
           And all eternity,
           The life to be
    Therewith entwined, throughout the ages spun;
    And so with Grief, my playmate; him I knew
           One with the rest,--
    One with the mounting day, the east and west--
           Lord, is it true?
    Lord, do I dream? Methinks a key unlocks
    Some dungeon door, in thrall of blackened towers,
    On ecstasies, half hid, like chill white flowers
          Blown in the secret places of the rocks.

    Violet Jacob

. The Wild Geese

    "O tell me what was on yer road, ye roarin' norlan' Wind,
       As ye cam' blawin' frae the land that's niver frae my mind?
    My feet they traivel England, but I'm dee'in for the north."
       "My man, I heard the siller tides rin up the Firth o' Forth."

    "Aye, Wind, I ken them weel eneuch, and fine they fa' an' rise,
       And fain I'd feel the creepin' mist on yonder shore that lies,
    But tell me, ere ye passed them by, what saw ye on the way?"
       "My man, I rocked the rovin' gulls that sail abune the Tay."

    "But saw ye naething, leein' Wind, afore ye cam' to Fife?
       There's muckle lyin' 'yont the Tay that's mair to me nor life."
    "My man, I swept the Angus braes ye hae'na trod for years."
       "O Wind, forgi'e a hameless loon that canna see for tears!"

    "And far abune the Angus straths I saw the wild geese flee,
       A lang, lang skein o' beatin' wings, wi' their heids towards the sea,
    And aye their cryin' voices trailed ahint them on the air--"
       "O Wind, hae maircy, haud yer whisht, for I daurna listen mair!"

    Violet Jacob

. "The Happy Warrior"

    I HAVE brought no store from the field now the day is ended,
        The harvest moon is up and I bear no sheaves;
    When the toilers carry the fruits hanging gold and splendid,
    I have but leaves.

    When the saints pass by in the pride of their stainless raiment,
        Their brave hearts high with the joy of the gifts they bring,
    I have saved no whit from the sum of my daily payment
    For offering.

    Not there is my place where the workman his toil delivers,
        I scarce can see the ground where the hero stands,
    I must wait as the one poor fool in that host of givers,
    With empty hands.

    There was no time lent to me that my skill might fashion
        Some work of praise, some glory, some thing of light,
    For the swarms of hell came on in their power and passion,
    I could but fight.

    I am maimed and spent, I am broken and trodden under,
        With wheel and horseman the battle has swept me o'er,
    And the long, vain warfare has riven my heart asunder,
    I can no more.

    But my soul is still; though the sundering door has hidden
        The mirth and glitter, the sound of the lighted feast,
    Though the guests go in and I stand in the night, unbidden,
    The worst, the least.

    My soul is still. I have gotten nor fame nor treasure,
        Let all men spurn me, let devils and angels frown,
    But the scars I bear are a guerdon of royal measure,
    My stars--my crown.

    Violet Jacob

. Armed

    GIVE me to-night to hide me in the shade,
        That neither moon nor star
    May see the secret place where I am laid,
        Nor watch me from afar.

    Let not the dark its prying ghosts employ
        To peer on my retreat,
    And see the fragments of my broken toy
        Lie scattered at my feet.

    I fashioned it, that idol of my own,
        Of metal strange and bright;
    I made my toy a god--I raised a throne
        To honour my delight.

    This haunted byway of the grove was lit
        With lamps my hand had trimmed,
    Before the altar in the midst of it
        I kept their flame undimmed.

    My steps turned ever to the hidden shrine;
        Aware or unaware,
    My soul dwelt only in that spot divine,
        And now a wreck lies there.

    Give me to-night to weep--when dawn is spread
        Beyond the heavy trees,
    And in the east the day is heralded
        By cloud-wrought companies,

    I shall have gathered up my heart's desire,
        Broken, destroyed, adored,
    And from its splinters, in a deathless fire,
        I shall have forged a sword.

    Violet Jacob

. Frostbound

    WHEN winter's pulse seems dead beneath the snow,
    And has no throb to give,
    Warm your cold heart at mine, beloved, and so
    Shall your heart live.
    For mine is fire--a furnace strong and red;
    Look up into my eyes,
    There shall you see a flame to make the dead
    Take life and rise.

    My eyes are brown, and yours are still and grey,
    Still as the frostbound lake
    Whose depths are sleeping in the icy sway,
    And will not wake.

    Soundless they are below the leaden sky,
    Bound with that silent chain;
    Yet chains may fall, and those that fettered lie
    May live again.

    Yes, turn away, grey eyes, you dare not face
    In mine the flame of life;
    When frost meets fire, 'tis but a little space
    That ends the strife.

    Then comes the hour, when, breaking from their bands,
    The swirling floods run free,
    And you, beloved, shall stretch your drowning hands,
    And cling to me.

    Violet Jacob

. Presage

    THE year declines, and yet there is
        A clearness, as of hinted spring;
    And chilly, like a virgin's kiss,
        The cold light touches everything.

    The world seems dazed with purity,
        There hangs, this spell-bound afternoon,
    Beyond the naked cherry tree
        The new-wrought sickle of the moon.

    What is this thraldom, pale and still,
        That holds so passionless a sway?
    Lies death in this ethereal chill,
        New life, or prelude of decay?

    In the frail rapture of the sky
        There bodes, transfigured, far aloof,
    The veil that hides eternity,
        With life for warp and death for woof.

    We see the presage--not with eyes,
        But dimly, with the shrinking soul--
    Scarce guessing, in this fateful guise,
        The glory that enwraps the whole,

    The light no flesh may apprehend,
        Lent but to spirit-eyes, to give
    Sign of that splendour of the end
        That none may look upon and live.

    Violet Jacob

. Bonnie Joann

    WE'VE stookit the hairst an' we're needin'
       To gaither it in,
    Syne, gin the morn's dry, we'll be leadin'
       An' wark'll begin;
    But noo I'll awa doon the braeside
       My lane, while I can
    Wha kens wha he'll meet by the wayside,
       My bonnie Joann?

    East yonder, the hairst-fields are hidin'
       The sea frae my een,
    Gin ye keek whaur the stooks are dividin'
       Ye'11 see it atween.
    Sae douce an' sae still it has sleepit
       Since hairst-time began
    Like my he'rt gin ye'd tak' it an' keep it
       My bonnie Joann.

    Owre a' thing the shadows gang trailin',
       Owre stubble an' strae';
    Frae the hedge to the fit o' the pailin'
       They rax owre the way;
    But the sun may gang through wi' his beamin'
       An' traivel his span,
    For aye, by the licht o' my dreamin',
       I see ye, Joann.

    Awa frae ye, naebody's braver,
       Mair wise-like an' bauld,
    Aside ye, I hech an' I haver,
       I'm het an' I'm cauld;
    But oh ! could I tell wi'out speakin'
       The he'rt o' a man,
    Ye micht find I'm the lad that ye' re seekin',
       My bonnie Joann !

    Violet Jacob

. Hallowe'en

    THE tattie-liftin's nearly through,
    They're ploughin' whaur the barley grew,
    And aifter dark, roond ilka stack,
    Ye'11 see the horsemen stand an' crack
    Lachlan, but I mind o' you !

    1 mind foo often we hae seen
    Ten thoosand stars keek doon atween
    The nakit branches, an' below
    Baith fairm an' bothie hae their show,
    Alowe wi' lichts o' Hallowe'en.

    There's bairns wi' guizards* at their tail          [Mummers who go door-to-door]
    Clourin' the doors wi' runts o' kail*,          [celery stalks]
    And fine ye' 11 hear the skreichs an' skirls
    O' lassies wi' their droukit curls
    Bobbin' for aipples i' the pail.

    The bothie fire is loupin' het,
    A new heid horseman's kist is set
    Richts o' the lum; whaur by the blaze
    The auld ane stude that kept yer claes--
    I canna thole to see it yet!

    But gin the auld fowks' tales are richt
    An ghaists come hame on Hallow nicht,
    O freend o' freends! what wad I gie
    To feel ye rax yer hand to me
    Atween the dark an' caun'le licht?

    Awa in France, across the wave,
    The wee lichts burn on ilka grave,
    An' you an' me their lowe hae seen--
    Ye'11 mebbe hae yer Hallowe'en
    Yont, whaur ye're lyin' wi' the lave.

    There's drink an' damn', sang an' dance
    And ploys and kisses get their chance,
    But Lachlan, man, the place I see
    Is whaur the auld kist used to be
    And the lichts o' Hallowe'en in France!

    Violet Jacob

. Inverquharity

    ASIDE the Quharity burn
    I ken na what I'm seein'
    Wi' the licht near deein'
    An' the lang year at the turn;
    But the dog that gangs wi' me
    Creeps whingein' at my knee,
    And we baith haud thegither
    Like a lad an' his brither
    At the water o' Quharity.

    Alang the Quharity glen
    I mind on warlock's faces,
    I' the still, dark places
    Whaur the trees hae airms like men;
    And I ken the beast can see
    Yon een that's watchin' me,
    Whaur the arn-boughs darken
    An' I'm owre fear'd to harken
    I' the glen o' Quharity.

    By Quharity Castle wa's
    The toor is like a prison,
    Or a deid man risen
    Amang the birken shaws ;
    And the sweit upon my bree
    Is drappin' cauld frae me
    Till the ill spell's broken
    By the Haly Word spoken
    At the wa's o' Quharity.

    Alang the Valley o' Deith
    There'll be mony a warlock wait'n
    Wi' the thrangin' hosts o' Sat'n
    Till I tak' my hin'maist breith;
    An' I'm fear'd there winna be
    The dog to gang wi' me
    An' I doot the way is wearier
    An' the movin' shadows eerier
    Than the jaws o' Quharity.

    But I'll whisper the Haly Name
    For thae list'nin' lugs to hear me,
    An' the herds o' Hell'll fear me
    An' tak' the road they came;
    For the wild dark wings'11 flee
    Frae their bield in branch an' tree--
    Nae mair the black airms thrawin'!
    Nae mair the ill sough blawin'!
    For my day o' days is dawin'
    Owre the Castle o' Quharity !

    Violet Jacob

. The Shadows

    BOUGHS of the pine and stars between,
    In woods where shadows fill the air,
    Oh, who may rest that once has been
            A shadow there?

    Sounds of the night and tears between,
    The grey owl hooting, dimly heard;
    Can footsteps reach those lands unseen,
            Or wings of bird?

    Days of the years and worlds between,
    Still through the boughs the stars may burn,
    The heart may break for lands unseen,
    For woods wherein its life has been,
            But not return.

    Violet Jacob

. Half-Way

    THE world is not the dream of living gold
    We dreamed when we were young;
    Then, all the glory that the west could hold
    Burned, fold on fold,
    A molten veil across its portals flung
    Behind whose shade the years lay sleeping still,
    Like tales untold;
    But now, beyond the beeches bare and chill,
    Beyond the woods set far upon the hill,
    The clouds are cold.

    And life is not the journey we had planned
    As we set out with morn;
    We said, 'We shall rest here and view the land,
    Or take our stand
    Upon these hills to see the ripening corn,
    Or step aside along the mere to mark
    The wild-fowl band;'
    But now, we know we must tread swift and stark,
    If we would cross the desert ere the dark
    Creeps on the sand.

    And death is not the dim and distant shade
    So far against the sky;
    The half-seen trap for others waiting laid,
    While we, arrayed
    In pride and plume of youth, go sweeping by.
    We thought to meet him with a spirit braced
    By conquests made;
    But now, we know, when half the road is traced,
    Our hope is but to reach him undisgraced
    And unafraid.

    Violet Jacob

. At a Brookside

    A RUNNING melody is in the noon
    Of grass-bound rivulet and tangled showers,
    Of sunlight, glancing through the cuckoo flowers
    To mingle golden ripples with the tune;
    In the wide light my senses seem to swoon,
    Drugged by the monotone of rhythmic hours
    And voice of spring-fed rivulet that dowers
    The winding meadow-land with music's boon.

    Caught in a shimmering net of sight and sound,
    And drawn, I know not wither, yet aware
    Am I of some soft touch, and, blown around
    My face, the plentitude of waving hair--
    Nay, let me lie and dream this wondrous thing;
    My hand, one moment, held the hand of spring!

    Violet Jacob

. To Aurelia, with a Pearl Necklace

    AURELIA, think not to refuse
    Or scorn my gift, although
    These jewels must their lustre lose
    Upon thy neck of snow.

    But, if thine eyes should glance aside
    And deign to mark their shine,
    Deem them as emblems of the pride
    That fills this heart of mine.

    And if, for mine unworthy sake,
    The pearls neglected be,
    Still keep them; and the bauble make
    Into a rosary.

    And when, perchance, desiring grace
    In prayer thy spirit pleads,
    String thou thy kisses in their place
    And I will tell the beads.

    Violet Jacob

. The Lowland Ploughman

    THE team is stabled up, my lass,
       The dew lies thick and grey;
    Beyond the world, the long green light
       Clings to the edge of day.

    By farm and fold the work is still,
       Their breath the beanflowers yield,
    And, in the dusk, the gowand stand
       Like moons along the field.

    A little ghost alone, my dear,
       The night moth flitters by;
    Beside the hedge I'm lonely too,
       Although no ghost am I.

    Leave the gudeman to mind the hearth,
       The wife to mend the fire,
    Nor heed the lads whose voices come
       In mirth from yard and byre.

    The evening star is up, my dear,
       And oh! the night is sweet,
    Come through the heavy drops that bend
       The grasses at your feet.

    For I am young and I am strong
       And well can work for two,
    And 'tis a year, come Martinmas,
       I've loved no lass but you.

    And, in a year, come Martinmas,
       Before the fields are sown,
    I will not need to walk nor stray
       Between the lights alone.

    For then the cot beyond the farm
       A happy man will hold,
    A wife who wears a golden ring
       To match her hair of gold.

    Violet Jacob

. Craigo Woods

    CRAIGO Woods, wi' the splash o' the cauld rain beatin'
        I' the back end o' the year,
    When the clouds hang laigh wi' the weicht o' their load o' greetin'
        And the autumn wind's asteer;
    Ye may stand like gaists, ye may fa' i' the blast that's cleft ye
        To rot i' the chilly dew,
    But when will I mind on aucht since the day I left ye
        Like I mind on you--on you?

    Craigo Woods, i' the licht o' September sleepin'
        And the saft mist o' the morn,
    When the hairst climbs to yer feet, an' the sound o' reapin'
        Comes up frae the stookit corn,
    And the braw reid puddock-stules are like jewels blinkin'
        And the bramble happs ye baith,
    O what do I see, i' the lang nicht, lyin' an' thinkin'
        As I see yer wraith--yer wraith?

    There's a road to a far-aff land, an' the land is yonder
        Whaur a' men's hopes are set;
    We dinna ken foo lang we maun hae to wander,
        But we'll a' win to it yet;
    An' gin there's woods o' fir an' the licht atween them,
        I winna speir its name,
    But I'll lay me doon by the puddock-stules when I've seen them,
        An' I'll cry "I'm hame--I'm hame!"

    Violet Jacob

. The Jacobite Lass

    MY LOVE stood at the loanin' side
        An' held me by the hand,
    The bonniest lad that e'er did bide
        In a' this waefu' land--
    There's but ae bonnier to be seen
        Frae Pentland to the sea,
    And for his sake but yestre'en
        I sent my love frae me.

    I gi'ed my love the white white rose
        That's at my feyther's wa',
    It is the bonniest flower that grows
        Whaur ilka flower is braw;
    There's but ae bonnier that I ken
        Frae Perth unto the main,
    An' that's the flower o' Scotland's men
        That's fechtin' for his ain.

    Gin I had kept whate'er was mine
        As I hae gie'd my best,
    My he'rt were licht by day, and syne
        The nicht wad bring me rest;
    There is nae heavier he'rt to find
        Frae Forfar toon to Ayr,
    As aye I sit me doon to mind
        On him I see nae mair.

    Lad, gin ye fa' by Chairlie's side
        To rid this land o' shame,
    There winna be a prooder bride
        Than her ye left at hame,
    But I will seek ye whaur ye sleep
        Frae lawlands to the peat,
    An ilka nicht at mirk I'll creep
        To lay me at yer feet.

    Violet Jacob

. Fringford Brook

    THE willows stand by Fringford brook,
       From Fringford up to Hethe,
    Sun on their cloudy silver heads,
       And shadow underneath.

    They ripple to the silent airs
       That stir the lazy day,
    Now whitened by their passing hands,
       Now turned again to grey.

    The slim marsh-thistle's purple plume
       Droops tasselled on the stem,
    The golden hawkweeds pierce like flame
       The grass that harbours them;

    Long drowning tresses of the weeds
       Trail where the stream is slow,
    The vapoured mauves of water-mint
       Melt in the pools below;

    Serenely soft September sheds
       On earth her slumberous look,
    The heartbreak of an anguished world
       Throbs not by Fringford brook.

    All peace is here. Beyond our range,
       Yet 'neath the selfsame sky,
    The boys that knew these fields of home
       By Flemish willows lie.

    They waded in the sun-shot flow,
       They loitered in the shade,
    Who trod the heavy road of death,
       Jesting and unafraid.

    Peace! What of peace? This glimpse of peace
       Lies at the heart of pain,
    For respite, ere the spirit's load
       We stoop to lift again.

    O load of grief, of faith, of wrath,
       Of patient, quenchless will,
    Till God shall ease us of your weight
       We'll bear you higher still!

    O ghosts that walk by Fringford brook,
       'Tis more than peace you give,
    For you, who knew so well to die,
       Shall teach us how to live.

    Violet Jacob

. Back to the Land

    OUT in the upland places,
        see both dale and down,
    And the ploughed earth with open scores
       Turning the green to brown.

    The bare bones of the country
       Lie gaunt in winter days,
    Grim fastnesses of rock and scaur,
       Sure, while the year decays.

    And, as the autumn withers,
       And the winds strip the tree,
    The companies of buried folk
       Rise up and speak with me;--

    From homesteads long forgotten,
       From graves by church and yew,
    They come to walk with noiseless tread
       Upon the land they knew;--

    Men who have tilled the pasture
       The writhen thorn beside,
    Women within grey vanished walls
       Who bore and loved and died.

    And when the great town closes
       Upon me like a sea,
    Daylong, above its weary din,
       I hear them call to me.

    Dead folk, the roofs are round me,
       To bar out field and hill,
    And yet I hear you on the wind
       Calling and calling still;

    And while, by street and pavement,
       The day runs slowly through,
    My soul, across these haunted downs,
       Goes forth and walks with you.

    Violet Jacob

. The Kirk Beside the Sands

    IT WAS faur-ye-weel, my dear, that the gulls were cryin'
       At the kirk beside the sands,
    Whaur the saumon-nets lay oot on the bents for dryin',
       Wi' the tar upon their strands;

    A roofless kirk i' the bield o' the cliff-fit bidin',
       And the deid laid near the wa';
    A wheen auld coupit stanes i' the sea-grass hidin',
       Wi' the sea-sound ower them a'.

    But it's mair nor daith that's here on the hauchs o' Flanders,
       And the deid lie closer in;
    It's no the gull, but the hoodit craw that wanders
       When the lang, lang nichts begin.

    It's ill to dee, but there's waur things yet nor deein';
       And the warst o' a's disgrace;
    For there's nae grave deep eneuch 'mang the graves in bein'
       To cover a coward's face.

    Syne, a' is weel, though my banes lie here for iver,
       An' hame is no for me,
    Till the reid tide brak's like the spate in a roarin' river
       O'er the micht o' Gairmanie.

    Sae gang you back, my dear, whaur the gulls are cryin',
       Gie thanks by kirk an' grave,
    That yer man keeps faith wi' the land whaur his he'rt is lyin',
       An' the Lord will keep the lave.

    Violet Jacob

[Index to poems in the collection by Violet Jacob]


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