Joseph Skipsey: 'Songs and Lyrics'

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[Contents]


Willy to Jinny.


DUSKIER than the clouds that lie
    'Tween the coal-pit and the sky,
Lo, how Willy whistles by
    Right cheery from the colliree. 

Duskier might the laddie be,
    Save his coaxing coal-black e'e,
Nothing dark could Jinny see
    A-coming from the colliree.



_______________________

O! Sleep.


O SLEEP, my little baby; thou
    Wilt wake thy father with thy cries;
And he into the pit must go,
    Before the sun begins to rise.

He'll toil for thee the whole day long,
    And when the weary work is o'er,
He'll whistle thee a merry song,
    And drive the bogies from the door.



_______________________

The Lily of the Valley.

To E. W.


THIS Lily of the Valley smells
    Too sweet for human speech to say;
And passing beautiful those bells
    That hide their faces from the day.

It is a gem, tho' small, too rare
    For mortal hand to pluck, and twine
With any save an angel's hair;
    And that is why 'tis placed in thine.



_______________________

Annie Lee.


ANNIE LEE is fair and sweet,
    Fair and sweet to look upon;
But Annie's heart is all deceit,
    Therefore Annie Lee, begone!

Sweeter than a golden bell
    Sound her winning words, each one;
From a fount of fraud they well;
    Therefore Annie Lee, begone!

In those deep blue orbs, her eyes,
    Pity's built herself a throne;
Pity? Guile in Pity's guise:
    Therefore Annie Lee, begone!

Charming Annie Lee, begone!
    Cunning Annie Lee, begone!
I'd not have thee for a world,
    Tho' so fair to look upon.



_______________________

Hey Robin.


HEY Robin, jolly Robin,
    Tell me how thy lady doth?
Is she laughing, is she sobbing,
    Is she gay, or grave, or both?

Is she like the lark, so merry,
    Lilting in her father's hall?
Or the crow with cry a very
    Plague to each, a plague to all.

Is she like the violet breathing
    Blessings on her native place?
Or the cruel nettle scathing
    All who dare approach her grace?

Is she like the dew-drop sparkling
    When the morn peeps o'er the land?
Or the cloud above a-darkling,
    When a fearful storm's at hand?

Tut, to count the freaks of woman,
    Count the pebbles of the seas;
Rob, thy lady's not uncommon,
    Be or do she what she please!



_______________________

Mary of Crofton.


AH! a lovely jewel was Mary of Crofton,
    And now she is cold in the clay,
We think of the heart-cheering image as often
    As we pass down the old waggon way.

So endearing and winning her bearing, the cherry
    The heart of the stoic entranced;
While yet her wee feet beat a measure as merry
    As ever by damsel was danced.

Her voice had a sweetness that only the silly
    Bit linnet to vie it might seek;
And the rose in her hair was a daffodowndilly
    Compared with the rose on her check.

Sue, Bessy, and Kitty still ornament Crofton,
    And rich are the charms they display;
But we miss the sweet image of Mary as often
    As we pass down the old waggon way.



_______________________

My Merry Bird.


I HAD a merry bird
    Who sung a merry song,
And take it on my word,
    The day it was not long

In presence of my bird with its merry, merry song.


Did fortune strew my way
    With crosses, which, to bear,
Had rendered me a prey
    To sorrow or despair—

My birdie trilled its lay, and they vanished into air.


And thus went things with me,
    Till lo, with sudden sweep,
Death came across the lea
    And laid my bird asleep;

And ever from that hour I've done naught but sigh and

weep.



_______________________

"Get up!"


"GET up!" the caller calls, "Get up!"
    And in the dead of night,
To win the bairns their bite and sup,
    I rise a weary wight.

My flannel dudden donn'd, thrice o'er
    My birds are kiss'd, and then
I with a whistle shut the door,
    I may not ope again.



_______________________

The Stars are Twinkling.


THE stars are twinkling in the sky,
    As to the pit I go;
I think not of the sheen on high,
    But of the gloom below.

Not rest or peace, but toil and strife,
    Do there the soul enthral;
And turn the precious cup of life
    Into a cup of gall.



_______________________

Annie.


COAL black are the tresses of Fanny;
    But never a mortal could see
The coal-coloured tresses of Annie,
    And be as a body should be.

White, white, is her forehead, and bonnie;
    And when she goes down to the well,
The beat of the footstep of Annie,
    The wrath of a tiger would quell.

Red, red, are her round cheeks and bonnie;
    And when she is knitting, her tone—
The charm of the accents of Annie,
    Would ravish the heart of a stone.

Nay, rare are her graces and many;
    But nothing whatever can be
Compared to the sweet glance of Annie,
    The glance she has given to me.



_______________________

Away to the Well.


AWAY to the well lilted Annie;
    Away with her skiel to the well;
Away to the well whistled Johnnie,
    The pride and delight of the dell.

Sweet, sweet is the well; but ah, sweeter,
    The words of the silver-tongued elf;
And I counsel the youth who shall meet her,
    To keep a strict guard on himself.

Deep, deep is the well; but ah, deeper,
    The guile of the silver-tongued elf;
And the laugher she'll turn to a weeper,
    Unless he look well to himself.

'Twas thus proved the mortal to Johnnie;
    Lo, pale, now, he wanders the dell;
Pale, pale with the potion that Annie
    Had caused him to drink at the well.



_______________________

Kit never Went Down.


NO, Kit never went down into Halliwell town,
    But he flung at each lover a jest,
Till he Nan the brunette on a merry eve met,
    When his pride it was put to a test.

The youth gave her a wink, she returned with a
        blink
    That conquered his heart and possest;
And when next he went down into Halliwell town,
    He went with a rose in his breast!



_______________________

Tho' Master had Gold.


THO' master had gold and treasures untold,
    And health were the all of my dower,
Yet my lowly lot would I barter not,
    To vaunt of his riches and power.

His lady's too bold, a shrew and a scold,
    And as black and as grim as a crow;
While my own wee wife's the light of my life,
    And queen of the roses in blow!



_______________________

Young Fanny.


A CHANGE hath come over young Fanny,
    The yellow-hair'd lass of the Dene—
Erewhile she look'd cosy and canny,
    But now—ah! what aileth the queen?

Erewhile she'd the bearing which blesses
    The heart of the weary and worn;
Now many a one she distresses,
    And burdens the air with her scorn.

Erewhile she was sweet as the lily,
    And mild as the lamb on the lea;
Now sour as the docken, and truly
    More fierce than a tiger is she.

Erewhile she would play with the kitten,
    Averse to contention and strife;
Now Tab on the house-top is sitting,
    And dare not come down for her life.

"What aileth the jewel?" Quoth granny;
    "What aileth the winds when they blow?
When the reason's no secret to Fanny,
    The reason we mortals may know."



_______________________

Kit Clark.


MEG MILLER skipt over to Horton,
    And sang as she went like the lark;
"A pair of bright eyes hath Tim Morton;
    Yet not his the blink of Kit Clark.

"Kit Clark is both handsome and clever;
    His eyes shine like stars in the dark;
Has Cowpen his equal?—no, never!
    Not one is a match for Kit Clark.

"Bob Harkas hath hair crisp and curly;
    And when to his queer jokes, we hark,
Dour Doll even fails to look surly—
    Yet Bob cannot joke like Kit Clark.

"Bill Nichol can whistle so clearly,
    The dogs run around him and bark;
And Nan likes to hear him right dearly;
    Yet Bill cannot pipe like Kit Clark.

"Tom Smith like a frantic one danceth
    As down the row comes he from wark;
And Nell's tender heart he entranceth;
    Yet Tom lacks the spring of Kit Clark.

"Jos Rutter—who dresses like Rutter?
    The lad is a bit of a spark;
He puts Bella's heart in a flutter;
    Yet Jos—what is Jos to Kit Clark?

"Kit Clark is both handsome and clever;
    His eyes shine like stars in the dark;
Has Cowpen his equal?—no, never?
    Not one is a match for Kit Clark."



_______________________

The Fatal Errand.


MY mother bade me go.   I went:
    But beat my heart, ere I returned,
A rat-tat-tan, and what it meant
    Too soon I to my sorrow learned.

Her errand to the youth I ran;
    But had she me some other bade,
I had not felt that rat-tat-tan,
    Nor wept to think I ever had.



_______________________

Her Weary Hand.


HER weary hand the needle plied,
    Her weary foot the cradle stirred,
While in the midnight hour she cried;
    "Be-ba, my little bonny bird!

"Where never moon nor star can shine,
    By dread of danger undeterr'd,
Thy father toileth in the mine
    To win a frock for wee, wee bird.

"He while the grey-bird warbled went
    Where feather'd warbler's never heard;
But he'll be back at dawn, content
    If all be well with wee, wee bird.

"Be-ba,—you won't?—you little brat!
    Well I will tell him all's occurr'd:
No, no!—Bow, bow!—Hark, hark! what's that?
    Be-ba, my little bonny bird! "



_______________________

Mother Wept.


MOTHER wept, and father sighed;
    With delight a-glow
Cried the lad, "To-morrow," cried,
    "To the pit I go."

Up and down the place he sped,—
    Greeted old and young;
Far and wide the tidings spread;
    Clapt his hands and sung.

Came his cronies; some to gaze
    Wrapt in wonder; some
Free with counsel; some with praise;
    Some with envy dumb.

"May he," many a gossip cried,
    "Be from peril kept;"
Father hid his face and sighed,
    Mother turned and wept.



_______________________

My Little Boy.


MY little boy, thy laughter
    Goes to my bosom core,
And sends me yearning after
    The days that are no more.

Adown my cheek is stealing
    A briny tear, and I—
But let no selfish feeling
    Thy infant mirth destroy.

Fill not with looks so earnest,
    Those pretty eyes of thine;
A lot were thine the sternest,
    Couldst thou my thought divine.

There's time enough for sorrow,
    When Life's pale eve draws near;
The lark lilts thee Good Morrow:
    Ring out thy laughter clear!



_______________________

Tit-for-Tat.


"SAY, whither goes my buxom maid
    All with the coal-black e'e?"
"Before I answer that," she said,
    "Give ear, and answer me.

"Pray, hast thou e'er thy counsel kept?"
    "Ay, and still can," said he:
"And so can I," said she, and swept
    A-lilting o'er the lea.



_______________________

The Dream.


I DREAM of thee, and o'er me glows
    The yellow moon, upon the wane,
That beam'd when—death to my repose!—
    I met thee in the Haunted Lane.

Now by her light I find thee lock'd
    Within those arms to prove thee yet
The same that lured my heart and mocked,
    When in the Haunted Lane we met!



_______________________

The Star and the Meteor.


DIRECTED by a little star,
    I paced towards my own loved cot,
When rushed a meteor from afar,
    And I my little guide forgot.

Bedazzled was I, and amazed,
    When out the meteor flashed, and I
Had never more my threshold paced,
    Had not that star yet gleamed on high.



_______________________

Dora Dee.


THERE'S not a may in Ellerton
    By half so sweet to look upon;
In all the country round there's none
    So sweet as Dora Dee.

The blood-red rose to passer by,
    May show with pride its precious dye;
There's not a bloom can charm the eye
    Like little Dora Dee.

The linnet's self its head may rear,
    And pipe a note wild, sweet, and clear;
There's not a bird can charm the ear
    Like little Dora Dee.

The lady in yon castle grand,
    May knees of noble lords command;
There's not a lady in the land
    The peer of Dora Dec.



_______________________

The Cold Look.


HE look'd so cold when last we met;
    He never praised my eyes of jet,
But left me here to fret and fret—
    He look'd so cold when last we met.

He may not know the pain I dree;
    He ever was so kind to me,
I cannot think him cruel,—yet,
    He look'd so cold when last we met.

A posy, on his breast did glow;
    Who put it there? I'd like to know—
Did neighbour—she? No, no!—and yet,
    He look'd so cold when last we met.

I'll to the witch, and if to-night
    He frown within her mirror bright,
I'll die, and then, ah, he'll regret
    The look he wore when last we met!



_______________________

Delightful Babe.


DELIGHTFUL babe! to still that tune,
    Ah, hush!—This very night I'll wing
The air and catch the white, white moon,
    To serve thee for a coral ring.

The stars I'll bring to ornament
    Thy lovely neck—Be-ba, be done:
What, sun and moon, and not content?
    Wouldst thou be so hadst thou the sun?



_______________________

See, Essie Goes!


SEE, Essie goes!—and thou, proud rose,
    Ah, where is now thy vain delight,
When round thee swung yon bee and sung
    No beauty match'd thy beauty bright?

Adown the close—see, Essie goes;
    And see, enchanted at the sight,
Around her swings yon bee and sings,
    Her beauty mocks thy beauty bright!



_______________________

Ellerton Willy.


IF Ellerton Willy be slighted by Lilly!
    Yet others as bonny will hark to his lay;
Then why like a silly bit daffodowndilly,
    Should he droop his head, droop, and cry,
                well-a-way?

Then why should pine Willy? if slighted by Lilly,
    Yet others as bonny will bark to his lay,

Then why like a silly bit daffodowndilly,
    Should he droop his head, droop, and cry,

        well-a-way?


Has Effie, a violet sweet, and a sweeter
    In Wanie's fair valley ne'er lifted its head,
Not pined hour by hour since he promised to
                meet her,
    And met with this music-tongued Lilly instead?

Then why should pine Willy? if slighted by Lilly,
    Yet others as bonny will bark to his lay,

Then why like a silly bit daffodowndilly,
    Should he droop his head, droop, and cry,

        well-a-way?


Has Tibbie, the pride of the Moor, and whose glances
    Are spells that enrapture the young and the old,—
The Queen of our dancers, so finely she dances—
    Not sighed for the love at which Lilly is cold?

Then why should pine Willy? if slighted by Lilly,
    Yet others as bonny will bark to his lay,

Then why like a silly bit daffodowndilly,
    Should he droop his head, droop, and cry,

        well-a-way?


Has Meg, at whose bearing the Hirsts are enchanted,
    And whom as a charmer the charmer respects,
Not tipt him the wink, and thrice hinted if wanted,
    She'd skip at the proffer this Lilly rejects?

Then why should pine Willy? if slighted by Lilly,
    Yet others as bonny will bark to his lay,

Then why like a silly bit daffodowndilly,
    Should he droop his head, droop, and cry,

        well-a-way?


Would Clara herself, at whose dimples and madly
    Young Robin of Uffam would dance in delight,
Not slip a red-rose in her hair and hie gladly
    To wile, could she wile, him from Lilly to-night?

Then why should pine Willy? if slighted by Lilly,
Yet others as bonny will hark to his lay,
Then why like a silly bit daffodowndilly,
Should he droop his head, droop, and cry,

        well-a-way?



_______________________

Barbara Bell.

A New Song to an Old Tune.


AWAY to the pic-nic at Ryton, away
    Went off in the dawn our younkers pell-mell;
And many were bonny and many were gay,
    But sweetest of any was Barbara Bell.

As sweet as a cherry was Barbara Bell,
    Both tricksy and merry was Barbara Bell;
Tho' others that day were bonny and gay,
    The Queen of the charmers was Barbara Bell.


Nan Harley was there, her locks in the sun
    Did sparkle and burn, yet woful to tell,
No spoils by her long yellow tresses were won;
    The lads only hankered for Barbara Bell.

As sweet as a cherry was Barbara Bell,
    Both tricksy and merry was Barbara Bell;
Tho' others that day were bonny and gay,
    The Queen of the charmers was Barbara Bell.


Meg Wilson came up, her eyes black as jet;
    And tho' at a fair oft ruled by their spell,
Meg fail'd even one rosy apple to get;
    No pickings were there but for Barbara Bell.

As sweet as a cherry was Barbara Bell,
    Both tricksy and merry was Barbara Bell;
Tho' others that day were bonny and gay,
    The Queen of the charmers was Barbara Bell.


Nell Dowey appeared, in her dimples adorned,
    The rose of the roses was she on the Fell;
But somehow this rose to a daffodil turn'd
    That moment she glided near Barbara Bell.

As sweet as a cherry was Barbara Bell,
    Both tricksy and merry was Barbara Bell;
Tho' others that day were bonny and gay,
    The Queen of the charmers was Barbara Bell.


The lovely and young, they danced and they sung,
    Till down came the night and darkened the dell;
When homeward they hied—a star for their guide—
    And who was that star but Barbara Bell!

As sweet as a cherry was Barbara Bell,
    Both tricksy and merry was Barbara Bell,
Tho' others that day were bonny and gay,
    The Queen of the charmers was Barbara Bell.



_______________________

The Butterfly.


THE butterfly from flower to flower
    The urchin chased; and, when at last,
He caught it in my lady's bower,
    He cried, "Ha, ha!" and held it fast.

Awhile he laugh'd; but soon he wept,
    When, looking at the prize he'd caught,
He found he had to ruin swept
    The very glory he had sought.



_______________________

The Dewdrop.


AH, be not vain.   In yon flower-bell,
    As rare a pearl, did I appear,
As ever grew in ocean shell,
    To dangle at a Helen's ear.

So was I till a cruel blast
    Arose and swept me to the ground,
When, in the jewel of the past,
    Earth but a drop of water found.



_______________________

Polly and Harry.


MERRY, lark-like, merry,
    At the break of day,
Polly meeteth Harry
    Coming down the way;
And her lips, they quiver,
When her eyes discover
Smiles that speak—ah never
    Peace unto the May.

Merry, blythe and merry,
    'Neath the noontide ray,
Polly meeteth Harry
    Coming up the way;
And his accents put her
Fond heart in a flutter—
And no tongue can utter
    What her looks betray.

Merry, yet so merry,
    At the close of day,
Polly spyeth Harry
    Wooing Ely Gray!
And when this she spyeth,
Lo! her reason dieth,
And her heart rent, cryeth
    "Woe, and well-a-day!"



_______________________

A Lullaby.


THRO' the dark and dreary night,
    Golden slumbers kiss thine eyes;
Sleep, and in the early light
    With a golden smile arise!
        Sleep, my baby, do not cry
        —Lulla, lulla, lullaby
.

Trouble art thou? baby nay;
    Brightest star in all my sky,
Since was turned to night my day,
    And thy father—Do not cry!
        Sleep, my baby, do not cry—
        Lulla, lulla, lullaby.


The round red moon, she's sinking low,
    The wind up-tears the very roof;—
The moon may sink, the wind may blow,
    For thee, my child, I'm tempest proof.
        Sleep, my baby, do not cry
        —Lulla, lulla, lullaby,



_______________________

Alas!


ALAS! the woe the high of heart,
    Seem pre-ordained to undergo,
While proud ambition hides the smart,
    And smiles delude the world below.

Their anguish, like a Sampson blind,
    Gropes on in darkness, till at length
It grasps the pillars of the mind,
    And dies a victim to its strength.



_______________________

The Dreaded Frown.


WHAT, on yon noble brow a frown,
    Whereon my hopes from times of yore
Would gleam and glow?   Then, tackles down,
    I sail a sea without a shore.

My beacon gone, the waves may roar,
    And dash me on the rocks and drown;
I'd hide me in the deeps before
    I'd meet yon noble woman's frown.



_______________________

The Brooklet.


A LITTLE brooklet trilled a song
As merry as the day was long,
At which a music-hater stung
To frenzy said: "I'll bind thy tongue,
And quell thy merriment:"   That night,
A dam check'd babbler's song and flight;
But blind are ever hate and spite!
And so it fell, the brook did swell—
Ah, truth to say, ere dawn of day,
Had grown a sea, unquelled would be,
And soon with ruin, down the dell,
Dashed with a fierce triumphant yell;
And cried, "Ha, ha! ho, ho! oh, la!
Where now thy skill, my voice to still?—
Ah, dost thou find that he who'd bind
The tongue e'en of a rillet, may
Be doomed to hear instead, one day,
What shall with terror seize, control,
And wring with agony his soul?—
In very deed then, reck the rede!"
Thus roared the flood and onward swept;
And music-hater heard and wept:
And so weep all who'd try, or long,
To render dumb the child of song.



_______________________

The Stained Lily.


WHEN first the maiden fair I eyed,
    —This world is a world of grief alone—
A lily she held and a rose beside—
    But I was doomed her lot to moan.

The rose was gain'd and the lily was stain'd,
   
And from that hour her beauty waned,
    And I was left her lot to moan.

The lily was stain'd when the rose was gain'd,
   
And from that hour her life star waned,
    And I was left her lot to moan.

Ah, never more in my sight she'll stand
   
With a lily bright in her lily-white hand,
    And I am doomed her lot to moan.



_______________________

The Violet and the Rose.


THE Violet invited my kiss,—
    I kiss'd it and called it my bride;
"Was ever one slighted like this?"
    Sighed the Rose as it stood by my side.

My heart ever open to grief,
    To comfort the fair one I turned;
"Of fickle ones thou art the chief!"
    Frown'd the Violet, and pouted and
        mourned.

Then to end all disputes, I entwined
    The love-stricken blossoms in one;
But that instant their beauty declined,
    And I wept for the deed I had done!



_______________________

The Proud One's Doom.


"QUEEN PEARL'S own equal—nay,
    A fairer far am I," May Dewdrop said,
As Sol at break of day
    Did kiss the sparkler on her grass-blade bed.

"None may my charms resist!"
    "None," Sol still kissing answered, when alas!
The proud one turned to mist,
    And with her pride did into Lethe pass.



_______________________

The Singer.


WHAT tho', in bleak Northumbria's mines,
    His better part of life hath flown,
A planet's shone on him, and shines,
    To Fortune's darlings seldom known:

And while his outer lot is grim,
    His soul, with light and rapture fraught
Oft will a carol trill, or hymn
    In deeper tones the deeper thought.



_______________________

The Magic Magic Glass.


I.

THE INNER HARP.


THE memories of moments flown,
    Into my spirit's glass assemble;
And as they enter, one by one,
    My heart-strings into music tremble.

Even as the harp, the breezelet sways,
    So thrills my heart responsive ever
Unto the thoughts of other days
    That came and went—and went forever!


2.

THE LUCKY HOUR.


THE fickle Moon has left the skies;
    But Night's blue veil with stars is sprinkled,
And every little twinkler tries
    To twinkle as he'd never twinkled.

O, now's the hour for Love to pour,
    And Beauty hear his vows supernal;
No Moon will glint of change to hint,
    And stars but hint of things eternal.


3.

THE SECRET.


THE wind comes from the west to-night;
    So sweetly on my lips he bloweth,
My heart is thrilled, with pure delight
    From head to foot my body gloweth.

Where did the wind, the magic find
    To charm me thus? say, heart that knoweth!
"Within a rose on which he blows
    Before upon thy lips he bloweth!"


4.

THE BEE AND THE ROSE.


"YOU won't!" the Rose's accents ring;
    "I will!" the Golden Bee's are ringing;
And tho' the winds, to aid her, spring,
    Soon with the breeze-tost bloom he's swinging.

His prize secured, away he goes,
    At which anon, in rage the rarest;
"Come back, thou villain!" cries the Rose;
    "Come once more kiss me, if thou darest!"


5.

THE FAIR THIEF.


THE sweet one smiled, then swept away,
    Her raven locks behind her streaming;
My very pulse forgot to play,
    And I was left in wonder dreaming.

The Pleiads lost their lyres that night;
    And Dian lost her bow and quiver;
They'd with the damsel taken flight,
    And never have been found since-never!


6.

THE SEEN AND THE UNSEEN.


THEY cry, "How light, the heart and bright,
    From which proceed such strains of gladness;
They can't discern the pangs that burn,
    And seek to drive the bard to madness.

From pryers vain, he hides his pain,
    And while with skill his harp he's plying,
They mark the bloom upon the tomb,
    But not the ruin in it lying!


7.

THE ECHO.


"A DIEU!" she cried, and with that cry
    Adown the star-lit valley fleeted,
And Echo from her tower on high,
    With cruel tongue, the word repeated.

"What?—Never?" cried I, yet possess'd
    Of hope, that by some sweet endeavour,
Again we'd meet our hearts at rest,
    When—"What?" cried startled Echo—"Never!"


8.

THE TWO VISIONS.


A GOLDEN sun went down to-night;
    When lo! a vision from the olden
Time, flashed on my inner sight,
    With smiles more tender and as golden.

My blood ran cold; for I did know
    Another dream of equal splendour
Would follow that; and did, but O!
    Not with the golden smiles and tender.


9.

THE RETURN.


CAN this be her?   Her dark eyes show
    Two planets in' the midnight heaven;
Her cheeks the blood-red rose, her brow
    The snow upon the mountains driven;

Her tongue a silver bell to hear,
    Ah, death when certain words are spoken!
Can this be her?   And comes the dear
    To break again the heart she's broken?


10.

THE SYREN.


HER harp she takes, from string to string,
    Her little snowy fingers, glancing,
Into Night's ear a wild spell fling,
    And all the while my heart is dancing.

Why thus, fond heart, thus dancest thou?
    "A dream of old in memory lingers,
At thought of which I dance to know
    That mine are not the strings she fingers!"


11.

THE TOWER.


MY wee, wee fawn, you see me yawn?
    Well, I'm not much disposed to flattery;
And were I so, you rogue! you know
    You're proof against the fiercest battery.

You have an ear? of stone, my dear;
    A heart? yes, yes, of temper'd iron,
And love of self, the little elf,
    Doth with a Tower of Brass environ!


12.

THE ONE SOLACE.


I MIGHT have wish'd it otherwise;
    But yet, albeit, they were cruel—
Those thunder-clouds above her eyes,
    They very much become the jewel!

Hope fled, but Truth remain'd, and owns
    What yet this fond heart half-beguileth;
"One knows the worst on't when she frowns,
    But never when the syren smileth!"


13.

THE CLOUD.


A CLOUD the valley domes, and down
    Yon erewhile sun-lit mountain stealeth,
And bit by bit, with one black frown,
    The green and gold below concealeth.

Down, down it comes, and pain me numbs,
    To think how soon yon vision splendid,
Yon one last scene of gold and green,
    Must like my other dreams have ended.


14.

THE SONGSTRESS. 


BACK flies my soul to other years,
    When thou that charming lay repeatest,
When smiles were only chased by tears
    Yet sweeter far than smiles the sweetest.

Thy music ends, and where are they?
    Those golden times by memory cherish'd?
O, syren, sing no more that lay,
    Or sing till I like them have perish'd!



_______________________

To a Startled Bird.
(On Climbing Langrhigg with some Friends, 1886.)

FLY not away, wee birdie, pray!
    No weasels we, no evil-bringers,
Would make thee bear the pangs that tear
    Too oft the hearts of sweetest singers.

Long may thy nest with eggs be blest,
    And prove with these brown four, yet
            fountains
Of tender lays to charm the days
    Of future climbers of the mountains.



_______________________

The Fair Rower.
(On Derwent Water, 1886.)

SHE took the oars and rowed along
    With such a grace, the mere did waken
Into a sweet, melodious song,
    As every charming stroke was taken.

And at each sound, the hills around,
    By many a magic memory haunted,
And skies did seem with joy to gleam
    Within the mere, her strokes enchanted.



_______________________

Rosa Rea.
(Suggested by a translation from the German of Uhland.)


THE sun is in the western sky
    And thro' the barley, she—
Comes she, the apple of my eye,
    The rose-cheeked Rosa Rea.

Away I slink the maid to meet,
    As if I went away,
Alone to please a pair of feet
    Resolved to go astray.

I whistle as I go, tho' what
    I cannot tell, but know
Right well my heart goes pit-a-pat
   With every note I blow.

Anon, I, silent as the path
    Whereon I tread become,
The power to blow my whistle, hath
    Ta'en wing and left me dumb.

The lark's loud lilt so bright and clear
    Is ringing in the sky;
A dearer tune I hear—I hear
    Two little feet draw nigh.

Two feet I hear approaching near
    —Abashed I hing my head—
Two little feet a hornpipe beat,
    Or is't my heart instead?

A floweret I of scarlet dye
    Espy as on I tread;
The maid who trips this way hath lips—
    Two lips of richer red.

A floweret I, hard by espy,
    A gem of azure hue;
The maid who hies this way hath eyes
    Two eyes of sweeter blue.

Those tiny blooms my heart might steal,
    Did not a spell profound
Now make my mortal reason reel,
    Or make the world go round.

My senses swim, my sight grows dim,
    A-near, more near her tread—
Her little feet a hornpipe beat,
    Or is't my heart instead?

Ah, do I dream? or do I now
    Within the water near,
See, with a smile for me aglow,
    The image of my dear?

Yes, in the clear bright pool a-near
    I see her smile and—See!
Till night's o'erhead, locked hand in hand
    Stand I, and Rosa Rea!



_______________________

The Outcast Flower.


YOU turn in disdain from me?
        Ah, 'tis plain I'm noisome and base?
Before on my head you cruelly tread,
        Give ear to my case.

A lily-bell rare, my charms were laid bare,
        And lo! at the sight,
In a mantle of gold, a delight to behold,
        Love danced in delight.

To him I was dear--ah me! it was clear
        That nothing above,
Below, or around, on earth could be found,
        So precious to love.

That little white flower which gildeth the hour
        When March winds rave,
The snowdrop, as clear from stain might
    appear,
        But look'd too grave.

The crocus a-drest in her sun-given vest,
        On Spring's live mould,
To her heart's delight, might sparkle as bright,
        But look'd too bold.

No zephyr did woo a hyacinth blue,
        With bearing so fine;
No daffodil e'er did view in the mere
        A face so divine.

The tulip so gay a cheek might display
        In deeper hues dyed 
But where the sweet smell?--could any one tell?
        The dancer enjoyed?

The pink had a bloom as rich in perfume,
        To make the heart glad;
But where was the grace to rivet the gaze
        The lily-bell had?

Not even the rose, the richest that blows,
        Could Love then prefer;
And the pansy, so sweet, bowed down at her
    feet,
        In homage to her.

This swore Love, and, sworn, away I was torn,
        His pleasure to be;
But ere a day past away I was cast;
        He cared not for me.

Unheeded I pined, my sweets did the wind
        No longer perfume;
To vile turned the pure--the sweet turned a
    sour:
        Ah, such was my doom.

I'm held in disdain! but think of my pain,
        Though base to behold,
Just think ere you tread, ere you crush my
    poor head,
        Just think what I've told.



_______________________

Yes and No.


WHAT "Yes," then "No"?   Thou hast in haste
    The two brief fatal words reversed--
The "Yes" before the "No" misplaced,
    Or woe unto the hope I nursed!

And yet No--Yes!--Ah, now 'tis plain;
    No--Yes--Yes!--No?
It must be so: Yes, I my hope may entertain,
    Tho' Fate itself should thunder "No! "



_______________________

Not as Wont.


"WE'LL meet no more as wont!" she said;
    And moons went by of keen regret,
Before once more beneath the shade
    We met, where we so oft had met.

Till then in Life's grim strife I'd kept
    A heart unquelled, an eye unwet;
But now like any child I wept--
    We'd met, but not as wont we'd met.



_______________________

With Loaded Dice.


WELL, thou with loaded dice hast won
    The prize for which thou long hast played;
And I am left with heart undone,
    To mourn what gold galore outweighed.

Yet, on the heights thy feat go vaunt,
    While in the vale I rue the past;
The thought of one dark deed will haunt
    And hurl thee at my feet at last.



_______________________

The Goal.


MY golden goal lies at the end
    Of this weird lane, I'm told, and yet,
The farther on my way I wend,
    The farther from my goal I get.

Now here, now there, it bends--each bend
    The seeming prize I seek, till won,
When lo, I'm mock'd; and mocks attend
    My steps till I'm where I begun.


 

_______________________

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