Thursday, December 3, 2015

A new Poetry blog
begins on Sunday 6th December at


Thursday, July 16, 2015


A New Poetry Blog begins on Saturday 25th July 2015


Thursday, February 27, 2014



The Tragedy
She sits in the tawny vapour
That the City lanes have uprolled,
Behind whose webby fold on fold
Like a waning taper
The street-lamp glimmers cold.

A messenger's knock cracks smartly,
Flashed news is in her hand
Of meaning it dazes to understand
Though shaped so shortly:
He - has fallen - in the far South Land . . .

The Irony
'Tis the morrow; the fog hangs thicker,
The postman nears and goes:
A letter is brought whose lines disclose
By the firelight flicker
His hand, whom the worm now knows:

Fresh - firm - penned in highest feather -
Page-full of his hoped return,
And of home-planned jaunts by brake and burn
In the summer weather,
And of new love that they would learn.



In the black winter morning
No light will be struck near my eyes
While the clock in the stairway is warning
For five, when he used to rise.

Leave the door unbarred,
The clock unwound,
Make my lone bed hard -
Would 'twere underground!

When the summer dawns clearly,
And the appletree-tops seem alight,
Who will undraw the curtain and cheerly
Call out that the morning is bright?

When I tarry at market
No form will cross Durnover Lea
In the gathering darkness, to hark at
Grey's Bridge for the pit-pat o' me.

When the supper crock's steaming,
And the time is the time of his tread,
I shall sit by the fire and wait dreaming
In a silence as of the dead.

Leave the door unbarred,
The clock unwound,
Make my lone bed hard -
Would 'twere underground!



We went a day's excursion to the stream,
Basked by the bank, and bent to the ripple-gleam,
And I did not know
That life would show,
However it might flower, no finer glow.

I walked in the Sunday sunshine by the road
That wound towards the wicket of your abode,
And I did not think
That life would shrink
To nothing ere it shed a rosier pink.

Unlooked for I arrived on a rainy night,
And you hailed me at the door by the swaying light,
And I full forgot
That life might not
Again be touching that ecstatic height.

And that calm eve when you walked up the stair,
After a gaiety prolonged and rare,
No thought soever
That you might never
Walk down again, struck me as I stood there.



Sitting on the bridge
Past the barracks, town and ridge,
At once the spirit seized us
To sing a song that pleased us -
As "The Fifth" were much in rumour;
It was "Whilst I'm in the humour,
Take me, Paddy, will you now?"
And a lancer soon drew nigh,
And his Royal Irish eye
Said, "Willing, faith, am I,
O, to take you anyhow, dears,
To take you anyhow."

But, lo! - dad walking by,
Cried, "What, you lightheels! Fie!
Is this the way you roam
And mock the sunset gleam?"
And he marched us straightway home,
Though we said, "We are only, daddy,
Singing, 'Will you take me, Paddy?'"
- Well, we never saw from then
If we sang there anywhen,
The soldier dear again,
Except at night in dream-time,
Except at night in dream.

Perhaps that soldier's fighting
In a land that's far away,
Or he may be idly plighting
Some foreign hussy gay;
Or perhaps his bones are whiting
In the wind to their decay! . . .
Ah! - does he mind him how
The girls he saw that day
On the bridge, were sitting singing
At the time of curfew-ringing,
"Take me, Paddy; will you now, dear?
Paddy, will you now?"




Thursday, February 20, 2014



"I mean to build a hall anon,
And shape two turrets there,
And a broad newelled stair,
And a cool well for crystal water;
Yes; I will build a hall anon,
Plant roses love shall feed upon,
And apple trees and pear."

He set to build the manor-hall,
And shaped the turrets there,
And the broad newelled stair,
And the cool well for crystal water;
He built for me that manor-hall,
And planted many trees withal,
But no rose anywhere.

And as he planted never a rose
That bears the flower of love,
Though other flowers throve
A frost-wind moved our souls to sever
Since he had planted never a rose;
And misconceits raised horrid shows,
And agonies came thereof.

"I'll mend these miseries," then said I,
And so, at dead of night,
I went and, screened from sight,
That nought should keep our souls in severance,
I set a rose-bush."This," said I,
"May end divisions dire and wry,
And long-drawn days of blight."

But I was called from earth - yea, called
Before my rose-bush grew;
And would that now I knew
What feels he of the tree I planted,
And whether, after I was called
To be a ghost, he, as of old,
Gave me his heart anew!

Perhaps now blooms that queen of trees
I set but saw not grow,
And he, beside its glow -
Eyes couched of the mis-vision that blurred me -
Ay, there beside that queen of trees
He sees me as I was, though sees
Too late to tell me so!



What do you see in that time-touched stone,
When nothing is there
But ashen blankness, although you give it
A rigid stare?

You look not quite as if you saw,
But as if you heard,
Parting your lips, and treading softly
As mouse or bird.

It is only the base of a pillar, they'll tell you,
That came to us
From a far old hill men used to name

"I know no art, and I only view
A stone from a wall,
But I am thinking that stone has echoed
The voice of Paul,

"Paul as he stood and preached beside it
Facing the crowd,
A small gaunt figure with wasted features,
Calling out loud

"Words that in all their intimate accents
Pattered upon
That marble front, and were far reflected,
And then were gone.

"I'm a labouring man, and know but little,
Or nothing at all;
But I can't help thinking that stone once echoed
The voice of Paul."



Reticulations creep upon the slack stream's face
When the wind skims irritably past,
The current clucks smartly into each hollow place
That years of flood have scrabbled in the pier's sodden base;
The floating-lily leaves rot fast.

On a roof stand the swallows ranged in wistful waiting rows,
Till they arrow off and drop like stones
Among the *eyot-withies at whose foot the river flows;
And beneath the roof is she who in the dark world shows
As a lattice-gleam when midnight moans.

eyot = a small island, usually in a river




Thursday, February 13, 2014



I went by star and planet shine 
   Towards the dear one's home 
At Kingsbere, there to make her mine 
   When the next sun upclomb. 

I edged the ancient hill and wood 
   Beside the Ikling Way, 
Nigh where the Pagan temple stood 
   In the world's earlier day. 

And as I quick and quicker walked 
   On gravel and on green, 
I sang to sky, and tree, or talked 
   Of her I called my queen. 

- "O faultless is her dainty form, 
   And luminous her mind; 
She is the God-created norm 
   Of perfect womankind!" 

A shape whereon one star-blink gleamed 
   Slid softly by my side, 
A woman's; and her motion seemed 
   The motion of my bride. 

And yet methought she'd drawn erstwhile 
   Out from the ancient leaze, 
Where once were pile and peristyle 
   For men's idolatries. 

- "O maiden lithe and lone, what may 
   Thy name and lineage be, 
Who so resemblest by this ray 
   My darling?--Art thou she?" 

The Shape: "Thy bride remains within 
   Her father's grange and grove." 
- "Thou speakest rightly," I broke in, 
   "Thou art not she I love." 

- "Nay: though thy bride remains inside 
   Her father's walls," said she, 
"The one most dear is with thee here, 
   For thou dost love but me." 

Then I: "But she, my only choice, 
   Is now at Kingsbere Grove?" 
Again her soft mysterious voice: 
   "I am thy only Love." 

Thus still she vouched, and still I said, 
   "O sprite, that cannot be!" . . . 
It was as if my bosom bled, 
   So much she troubled me. 

The sprite resumed: "Thou hast transferred 
   To her dull form awhile 
My beauty, fame, and deed, and word, 
   My gestures and my smile. 

"O fatuous man, this truth infer, 
   Brides are not what they seem; 
Thou lovest what thou dreamest her; 
   I am thy very dream!" 

- "O then," I answered miserably, 
   Speaking as scarce I knew, 
"My loved one, I must wed with thee 
   If what thou say'st be true!" 

She, proudly, thinning in the gloom: 
   "Though, since troth-plight began, 
I've ever stood as bride to groom, 
   I wed no mortal man!"

Thereat she vanished by the lane
Adjoining Kingsbere town,
Near where, men say, once stood the Fane
To Venus, on the Down.

When I arrived and met my bride
her look was pinched and thin,
As if her soul had shrunk and died,
And left a waste within.



Somewhere afield here something lies
In Earth's oblivious eyeless trust
That moved a poet to prophecies -
A pinch of unseen, unguarded dust

The dust of the lark that Shelley heard,
And made immortal through times to be; -
Though it only lived like another bird,
And knew not its immortality.

Lived its meek life; then, one day, fell -
A little ball of feather and bone;
And how it perished, when piped farewell,
And where it wastes, are alike unknown.

Maybe it rests in the loam I view,
Maybe it throbs in a myrtle's green,
Maybe it sleeps in the coming hue
Of a grape on the slopes of yon inland scene.

Go find it, faeries, go and find
That tiny pinch of priceless dust,
And bring a casket silver-lined,
And framed of gold that gems encrust;

And we will lay it safe therein,
And consecrate it to endless time;
For it inspired a bard to win
Ecstatic heights in thought and rhyme. 

* Hardy was inspired to write that by Shelley's "To a Skylark" the poem which begins with these lines:

Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert - 
That from heaven or near it
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.



I climbed to the crest,
   And, fog-festooned,
The sun lay west
   Like a crimson wound:

Like that wound of mine
   Of which none knew,
For I'd given no sign
   That it pierced me through.


More poems next Thursday


Thursday, February 6, 2014



I am laughing by the brook with her,
Splashed in its tumbling stir;
And then it is a blankness looms
As if I walked not there,
Nor she, but found me in haggard rooms,
And treading a lonely stair.

With radiant cheeks and rapid eyes
We sit where none espies;
Till a harsh change comes edging in
As no such scene were there,
But winter, and I were bent and thin,
And cinder-grey my hair.

We dance in heys around the hall,
Weightless as thistleball;
And then a curtain drops between,
As if I danced not there,
But wandered through a mounded green
To find her, I knew where.



Why does she turn in that shy soft way
Whenever she stirs the fire,
And kiss to the chimney-corner wall,
As if entranced to admire
Its whitewashed bareness more than the sight
Of a rose in richest green?
I have known her long, but this raptured rite
I never before have seen.

Well, once when her son cast his shadow there,
A friend took a pencil and drew him
Upon that flame-lit wall. And the lines
Had a lifelike semblance to him.
And there long stayed his familiar look;
But one day, ere she knew,
The whitener came to cleanse the nook,
And covered the face from view.

"Yes," he said: "My brush goes on with a rush,
And the draught is buried under;
When you have to whiten old cots and brighten,
What else can you do, I wonder?"
But she knows he's there. And when she yearns
For him, deep in the labouring night,
She sees him as close as hand, and turns
To him under his sheet of white.



I marked her ruined hues,
Her custom-straitened views,
And asked, "Can there indwell
My Amabel?"

I looked upon her gown,
Once rose, now earthen brown;
The change was like the knell
Of Amabel.

Her step's mechanic ways
Had lost the life of May's;
Her laugh, once sweet in swell,
Spoilt Amabel.

I mused: "Who sings the strain
I sang ere warmth did wane?
Who thinks its numbers spell
His Amabel?"

Knowing that, though Love cease,
Love's race shows undecrease;
All find in dorp or dell
An Amabel.

I felt that I could creep
To some housetop and weep,
That Time the tyrant fell
Ruled Amabel!

I said (the while I sighed
That love like ours had died)
"Fond things I'll no more tell
To Amabel.

"But leave her to her fate,
And fling across the gate,
Till the Last Trump, farewell,
O Amabel!"


More poetry next Thursday

The new blog THE POETRY PATH will be updated tomorrow


Thursday, January 30, 2014



"Why do you sit, O pale thin man,
At the end of the room
By that harpsichord, built on the quaint old plan?
- It is cold as a tomb,
And there's not a spark within the grate;
And the jingling wires
Are vain desires
That have lagged too late."

"Why do I? Alas, far times ago
A woman lyred here
In the evenfall; one who fain did so
From year to year;
And, in loneliness bending wistfully,
Would wake each note
In sick sad rote,
None to listen or see.

"I would not join. I would not stay,
But drew away,
Though the winter fire beamed brightly - Aye!
I do today
What I would not then; and the chill old keys,
Like a skull's brown teeth
Loose in their sheath,
Freeze my touch; yes, freeze."



"This is a brightsome blaze you've lit, good friend, tonight!"
- "Aye, it has been the bleakest spring I have felt for years,
And nought compares with cloven logs to keep alight:
I buy them bargain-cheap of the executioners,
As I dwell near; and they wanted the crosses out of sight
By Passover, not to affront the eyes of visitors.

"Yes, they're from the crucifixions last week-ending
At Kranion. We can sometimes use the poles again,
But they get split by the nails, and 'tis quicker work than mending
To knock together new; though the uprights now and then
Serve twice when they're let stand. But if a feast's impending,
As lately, you've to tidy up for the corners' ken.

"Though only three were impaled, you may know it didn't pass off
So quietly as was wont? That Galilee carpenter's son
Who boasted he was king, incensed the rabble to scoff:
I heard the noise from my garden. This piece is the one he was on -
Yes, it blazes up well if lit with a few dry chips and shroff;
And it's worthless for much else, what with cuts and stains thereon."



I have seen her in gowns the brightest,
Of azure, green, and red,
And in the simplest, whitest,
Muslined from heel to head;
I have watched her walking, riding,
Shade-flecked by a leafy tree,
Or in fixed thought abiding
By the foam-fingered sea.

In woodlands I have known her,
When boughs were mourning loud,
In the rain-reek she has shown her
Wild-haired and water-browed.
And once or twice she has cast me
As she pomped along the street
Court-clad, ere quite she has passed me,
A glance from her chariot seat.

But in my memoried passion
For evermore stands she
In the gown of fading fashion
She wore that night when we,
Doomed long to part, assembled
In the snug, small room; yea, when
She sang with lips that trembled,
"Shall I see his face again?"



There will be no further posts to POETRY AND PROSE - MY CHOICE.
Instead a new blog THE POETRY PATH will be begin on Saturday 1st February at