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John Le Gay Brereton

Marlowe

The spell of Shakespeare fills the heart
With earthly music loud and low;
But Marlowe drives the clouds apart,
And through their thundering rifts we go.

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Light Loss

“Our loss was light,” the paper said,
“Compared with damage to the Hun”:
She was a widow, and she read
One name upon the list of dead
Her son, her only son.

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An Epitaph

On a monument formed as a curving wave

By ceaseless waves, that break and waste,
All human record is effaced:
Only our love in brief defence
Shall hold the billow in suspense.

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The Power Of Hell

“There is no place,” he said,
“For love or pity here;
We dread and only dread
The moods that once were dear.

“We break the ancient spell,
And arm to take our part
Against the power of Hell.”
And Hell was in his heart.

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Toby

Hey, Toby, Toby, Toby!—Dead?
The silence is a flood
That closes, choking, overhead,
And chills the living blood.

The leaping friend, whose jolly bark
Was greeting every night,
No more to thrill the summer dark
With welcome of delight?

Beside his grave I bend the knee,
And O, my eyes are dim.
He hunted for the dog in me:
I found the man in him.

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Transports

Behind us lay the homely shore
With youthful memories aureoled;
A sky of dazzling blue before,
We sailed a sea of molten gold.

To our old haven we return;
By smoky hills as grey as mud
We see the sullen sunset burn
Malignant on a lake of blood.

Yes, we return: but memory roams
A foul, bleak age of pain that yields
The smoke and flame of ruined homes,
The muck of cannon-pitted fields.

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The Clay

When I cast my slough of clay
Put it quietly away.

Let no bloom untimely fade
Where my empty heart is laid.

Ask no folk to crowd around
With an air of woe profound.

Those who love me know that I
Cannot in a coffin lie.

Let them go where'er they will,
Dreaming of me living still.

Let no formal words be said
Customary for the dead.

Plant no stone above the pit:
Let the grass run over it.

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July

'Twas Jack-o'-Winter hailed it first,
But now more timid angels sing,
For what dull ear can fail to hear
Afar the fluting of the Spring?

In all free spaces of the land
A sightless flame is flickering;
Through every vein it leaps amain,
The fiery miracle of Spring.

A music ranging in the air,
A lambent light in everything;
O sweet, my sweet, the subtle heat,
The dancing light of Love and Spring!

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Maxims

The heart is hard that cannot feel
The bruising of a light appeal.

The heart is deaf that cannot hear
The splashing of a tiny tear.

The heart is dumb that cannot say
“God speed you, comrades,” night and day.

The heart is blind that cannot see
The beckoning soul of mystery.

The heart is lame that cannot rise
From clamouring earth to silent skies.

And O that heart were better dead
That truckles to the prudent head

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Trade

Where yonder ruddy-misted star
Is tumbling down the placid sky
The people’s aims were not so high
As our heroic motives are;
To love and trust they set a bar,
And “Profit” was their only cry;
They paid but little heed how nigh
Came thundering the iron car.

It rushed upon them and it passed
Leaving a ghost of pain and fear
To haunt the ruin it had made.
But surely they have learnt at last?
What far faint murmur can we hear
Of frantic howling? Listen! . . . “TRADE.”

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