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    Rupert Brooke

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    The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

    (Cafe des Westens, Berlin, May 1912)

      Just now the lilac is in bloom,
      All before my little room;
      And in my flower-beds, I think,
      Smile the carnation and the pink;
      And down the borders, well I know,
      The poppy and the pansy blow . . .
      Oh! there the chestnuts, summer through,
      Beside the river make for you
      A tunnel of green gloom, and sleep
      Deeply above; and green and deep
      The stream mysterious glides beneath,
      Green as a dream and deep as death.
      -- Oh, damn! I know it! and I know
      How the May fields all golden show,
      And when the day is young and sweet,
      Gild gloriously the bare feet
      That run to bathe . . .
                              Du lieber Gott!'

      Here am I, sweating, sick, and hot,
      And there the shadowed waters fresh
      Lean up to embrace the naked flesh.
      Temperamentvoll German Jews
      Drink beer around; -- - and there the dews
      Are soft beneath a morn of gold.
      Here tulips bloom as they are told;
      Unkempt about those hedges blows
      An English unofficial rose;
      And there the unregulated sun
      Slopes down to rest when day is done,
      And wakes a vague unpunctual star,
      A slippered Hesper; and there are
      Meads towards Haslingfield and Coton
      Where das Betreten's not verboten.

      Uítu gunoímen . . . would I were
      In Grantchester, in Grantchester! -- -
      Some, it may be, can get in touch
      With Nature there, or Earth, or such.
      And clever modern men have seen
      A Faun a-peeping through the green,
      And felt the Classics were not dead,
      To glimpse a Naiad's reedy head,
      Or hear the Goat-foot piping low: . . .
      But these are things I do not know.
      I only know that you may lie
      Day long and watch the Cambridge sky,
      And, flower-lulled in sleepy grass,
      Hear the cool lapse of hours pass,
      Until the centuries blend and blur
      In Grantchester, in Grantchester. . . .
      Still in the dawnlit waters cool
      His ghostly Lordship swims his pool,
      And tries the strokes, essays the tricks,
      Long learnt on Hellespont, or Styx.
      Dan Chaucer hears his river still
      Chatter beneath a phantom mill.
      Tennyson notes, with studious eye,
      How Cambridge waters hurry by . . .
      And in that garden, black and white,
      Creep whispers through the grass all night;
      And spectral dance, before the dawn,
      A hundred Vicars down the lawn;
      Curates, long dust, will come and go
      On lissom, clerical, printless toe;
      And oft between the boughs is seen
      The sly shade of a Rural Dean . . .
      Till, at a shiver in the skies,
      Vanishing with Satanic cries,
      The prim ecclesiastic rout
      Leaves but a startled sleeper-out,
      Grey heavens, the first bird's drowsy calls,
      The falling house that never falls.

      . . . . . .

      God! I will pack, and take a train,
      And get me to England once again!
      For England's the one land, I know,
      Where men with Splendid Hearts may go;
      And Cambridgeshire, of all England,
      The shire for Men who Understand;
      And of that district I prefer
      The lovely hamlet Grantchester.
      For Cambridge people rarely smile,
      Being urban, squat, and packed with guile;
      And Royston men in the far South
      Are black and fierce and strange of mouth;
      At Over they fling oaths at one,
      And worse than oaths at Trumpington,
      And Ditton girls are mean and dirty,
      And there's none in Harston under thirty,
      And folks in Shelford and those parts
      Have twisted lips and twisted hearts,
      And Barton men make Cockney rhymes,
      And Coton's full of nameless crimes,
      And things are done you'd not believe
      At Madingley on Christmas Eve.
      Strong men have run for miles and miles,
      When one from Cherry Hinton smiles;
      Strong men have blanched, and shot their wives,
      Rather than send them to St. Ives;
      Strong men have cried like babes, bydam,
      To hear what happened at Babraham.
      But Grantchester! ah, Grantchester!
      There's peace and holy quiet there,
      Great clouds along pacific skies,
      And men and women with straight eyes,
      Lithe children lovelier than a dream,
      A bosky wood, a slumbrous stream,
      And little kindly winds that creep
      Round twilight corners, half asleep.
      In Grantchester their skins are white;
      They bathe by day, they bathe by night;
      The women there do all they ought;
      The men observe the Rules of Thought.
      They love the Good; they worship Truth;
      They laugh uproariously in youth;
      (And when they get to feeling old,
      They up and shoot themselves, I'm told) . . .

      Ah God! to see the branches stir
      Across the moon at Grantchester!
      To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten
      Unforgettable, unforgotten
      River-smell, and hear the breeze
      Sobbing in the little trees.
      Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand
      Still guardians of that holy land?
      The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream,
      The yet unacademic stream?
      Is dawn a secret shy and cold
      Anadyomene, silver-gold?
      And sunset still a golden sea
      From Haslingfield to Madingley?
      And after, ere the night is born,
      Do hares come out about the corn?
      Oh, is the water sweet and cool,
      Gentle and brown, above the pool?
      And laughs the immortal river still
      Under the mill, under the mill?
      Say, is there Beauty yet to find?
      And Certainty? and Quiet kind?
      Deep meadows yet, for to forget
      The lies, and truths, and pain? . . . oh! yet
      Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
      And is there honey still for tea?


      When the white flame in us is gone,
            And we that lost the world's delight
      Stiffen in darkness, left alone
            To crumble in our separate night;

      When your swift hair is quiet in death,
            And through the lips corruption thrust
      Has stilled the labour of my breath -- -
            When we are dust, when we are dust! -- -

      Not dead, not undesirous yet,
            Still sentient, still unsatisfied,
      We'll ride the air, and shine, and flit,
            Around the places where we died,

      And dance as dust before the sun,
            And light of foot, and unconfined,
      Hurry from road to road, and run
            About the errands of the wind.

      And every mote, on earth or air,
            Will speed and gleam, down later days,
      And like a secret pilgrim fare
            By eager and invisible ways,

      Nor ever rest, nor ever lie,
            Till, beyond thinking, out of view,
      One mote of all the dust that's I
            Shall meet one atom that was you.

      Then in some garden hushed from wind,
            Warm in a sunset's afterglow,
      The lovers in the flowers will find
            A sweet and strange unquiet grow

      Upon the peace; and, past desiring,
            So high a beauty in the air,
      And such a light, and such a quiring,
            And such a radiant ecstasy there,

      They'll know not if it's fire, or dew,
            Or out of earth, or in the height,
      Singing, or flame, or scent, or hue,
            Or two that pass, in light, to light,

      Out of the garden, higher, higher. . . .
            But in that instant they shall learn
      The shattering ecstasy of our fire,
            And the weak passionless hearts will burn

      And faint in that amazing glow,
            Until the darkness close above;
      And they will know -- - poor fools, they'll know! -- -
            One moment, what it is to love.

    The Fish

      In a cool curving world he lies
      And ripples with dark ecstasies.
      The kind luxurious lapse and steal
      Shapes all his universe to feel
      And know and be; the clinging stream
      Closes his memory, glooms his dream,
      Who lips the roots o' the shore, and glides
      Superb on unreturning tides.
      Those silent waters weave for him
      A fluctuant mutable world and dim,
      Where wavering masses bulge and gape
      Mysterious, and shape to shape
      Dies momently through whorl and hollow,
      And form and line and solid follow
      Solid and line and form to dream
      Fantastic down the eternal stream;
      An obscure world, a shifting world,
      Bulbous, or pulled to thin, or curled,
      Or serpentine, or driving arrows,
      Or serene slidings, or March narrows.
      There slipping wave and shore are one,
      And weed and mud. No ray of sun,
      But glow to glow fades down the deep
      (As dream to unknown dream in sleep);
      Shaken translucency illumes
      The hyaline of drifting glooms;
      The strange soft-handed depth subdues
      Drowned colour there, but black to hues,
      As death to living, decomposes -- -
      Red darkness of the heart of roses,
      Blue brilliant from dead starless skies,
      And gold that lies behind the eyes,
      The unknown unnameable sightless white
      That is the essential flame of night,
      Lustreless purple, hooded green,
      The myriad hues that lie between
      Darkness and darkness! . . .

                                  And all's one.
      Gentle, embracing, quiet, dun,
      The world he rests in, world he knows,
      Perpetual curving. Only -- - grows
      An eddy in that ordered falling,
      A knowledge from the gloom, a calling
      Weed in the wave, gleam in the mud -- -
      The dark fire leaps along his blood;
      Dateless and deathless, blind and still,
      The intricate impulse works its will;
      His woven world drops back; and he,
      Sans providence, sans memory,
      Unconscious and directly driven,
      Fades to some dank sufficient heaven.

      O world of lips, O world of laughter,
      Where hope is fleet and thought flies after,
      Of lights in the clear night, of cries
      That drift along the wave and rise
      Thin to the glittering stars above,
      You know the hands, the eyes of love!
      The strife of limbs, the sightless clinging,
      The infinite distance, and the singing
      Blown by the wind, a flame of sound,
      The gleam, the flowers, and vast around
      The horizon, and the heights above -- -
      You know the sigh, the song of love!

      But there the night is close, and there
      Darkness is cold and strange and bare;
      And the secret deeps are whisperless;
      And rhythm is all deliciousness;
      And joy is in the throbbing tide,
      Whose intricate fingers beat and glide
      In felt bewildering harmonies
      Of trembling touch; and music is
      The exquisite knocking of the blood.
      Space is no more, under the mud;
      His bliss is older than the sun.
      Silent and straight the waters run.
      The lights, the cries, the willows dim,
      And the dark tide are one with him.

    Town and Country

      Here, where love's stuff is body, arm and side
            Are stabbing-sweet 'gainst chair and lamp and wall.
      In every touch more intimate meanings hide;
            And flaming brains are the white heart of all.

      Here, million pulses to one centre beat:
            Closed in by men's vast friendliness, alone,
      Two can be drunk with solitude, and meet
            On the sheer point where sense with knowing's one.

      Here the green-purple clanging royal night,
            And the straight lines and silent walls of town,
      And roar, and glare, and dust, and myriad white
            Undying passers, pinnacle and crown

      Intensest heavens between close-lying faces
            By the lamp's airless fierce ecstatic fire;
      And we've found love in little hidden places,
            Under great shades, between the mist and mire.

      Stay! though the woods are quiet, and you've heard
            Night creep along the hedges. Never go
      Where tangled foliage shrouds the crying bird,
            And the remote winds sigh, and waters flow!

      Lest -- - as our words fall dumb on windless noons,
            Or hearts grow hushed and solitary, beneath
      Unheeding stars and unfamiliar moons,
            Or boughs bend over, close and quiet as death, -- -

      Unconscious and unpassionate and still,
            Cloud-like we lean and stare as bright leaves stare,
      And gradually along the stranger hill
            Our unwalled loves thin out on vacuous air,

      And suddenly there's no meaning in our kiss,
            And your lit upward face grows, where we lie,
      Lonelier and dreadfuller than sunlight is,
            And dumb and mad and eyeless like the sky.

    Dining-Room Tea

      When you were there, and you, and you,
      Happiness crowned the night; I too,
      Laughing and looking, one of all,
      I watched the quivering lamplight fall
      On plate and flowers and pouring tea
      And cup and cloth; and they and we
      Flung all the dancing moments by
      With jest and glitter. Lip and eye
      Flashed on the glory, shone and cried,
      Improvident, unmemoried;
      And fitfully and like a flame
      The light of laughter went and came.
      Proud in their careless transience moved
      The changing faces that I loved.

      Till suddenly, and otherwhence,
      I looked upon your innocence.
      For lifted clear and still and strange
      From the dark woven flow of change
      Under a vast and starless sky
      I saw the immortal moment lie.
      One instant I, an instant, knew
      As God knows all. And it and you
      I, above Time, oh, blind! could see
      In witless immortality.
      I saw the marble cup; the tea,
      Hung on the air, an amber stream;
      I saw the fire's unglittering gleam,
      The painted flame, the frozen smoke.
      No more the flooding lamplight broke
      On flying eyes and lips and hair;
      But lay, but slept unbroken there,
      On stiller flesh, and body breathless,
      And lips and laughter stayed and deathless,
      And words on which no silence grew.
      Light was more alive than you.

      For suddenly, and otherwhence,
      I looked on your magnificence.
      I saw the stillness and the light,
      And you, august, immortal, white,
      Holy and strange; and every glint
      Posture and jest and thought and tint
      Freed from the mask of transiency,
      Triumphant in eternity,
      Immote, immortal.

                             Dazed at length
      Human eyes grew, mortal strength
      Wearied; and Time began to creep.
      Change closed about me like a sleep.
      Light glinted on the eyes I loved.
      The cup was filled. The bodies moved.
      The drifting petal came to ground.
      The laughter chimed its perfect round.
      The broken syllable was ended.
      And I, so certain and so friended,
      How could I cloud, or how distress,
      The heaven of your unconsciousness?
      Or shake at Time's sufficient spell,
      Stammering of lights unutterable?
      The eternal holiness of you,
      The timeless end, you never knew,
      The peace that lay, the light that shone.
      You never knew that I had gone
      A million miles away, and stayed
      A million years. The laughter played
      Unbroken round me; and the jest
      Flashed on. And we that knew the best
      Down wonderful hours grew happier yet.
      I sang at heart, and talked, and eat,
      And lived from laugh to laugh, I too,
      When you were there, and you, and you.

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