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Mary Hannay Foott

Happy Days

A fringe of rushes, one green line
Upon a faded plain;
A silver streak of water-shine,
Above, tree-watchers twain.
It was our resting-place awhile,
And still, with backward gaze,
We say: “'Tis many a weary mile,
But there were happy days.”

And shall no ripple break the sand
Upon our farther way?
Or reedy ranks all knee-deep stand?
Or leafy tree-tops sway?
The gold of dawn is surely met
In sunset's lavish blaze;
And, in horizons hidden yet,
There shall be happy days.

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Sonnets - I - Christmas Day

O happy day, with seven-fold blessings set
Amid thy hallowed hours, the memories dear
Of childhood's holidays, and household cheer,
When friends and kin in loving circle met,
And youth's glad gatherings, where the sands were wet
By waves that hurt not, whilst the great cliffs near,
With storms erewhile acquaint, gave echo clear
Of voices gay and laughter gayer yet.
And graver thoughts and holier arise
Of how, 'twixt that first eve and dawn of thine,
The Star ascended which hath lit our skies
More than the sun himself; and 'mid the kine
The Child was born whom shepherds, and the wise;
Who came from far, and angels, called Divine.

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Sonnets - II - The New Year

With supple boughs and new-born leaflets crowned,
Rejoicing in fresh verdure stands the tree,
Though weather-scarred and scooped by fire may be
Its ancient trunk. So may our lives be found
(God leaving still our roots within His ground.)
Where gaps of loss and waste show brokenly
May each new year that comes to greet us see
Branches, and foliage, and flowers abound.
Where Fortune, spoiling wayfarer, hath left
Unsightly rents, may garlands spring apace.
And if, perchance, some pitiless wind hath reft
Away what newer green shall ne'er replace,
May heaven-light come the closer for the cleft
O'er which no tender fronds shall interlace.

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Happy Days

A fringe of rushes -- one green line
   Upon a faded plain;
A silver streak of water-shine --
   Above, tree-watchers twain.
It was our resting-place awhile,
   And still, with backward gaze,
We say: "'Tis many a weary mile --
   But there were happy days."

And shall no ripple break the sand
   Upon our farther way?
Or reedy ranks all knee-deep stand?
   Or leafy tree-tops sway?
The gold of dawn is surely met
   In sunset's lavish blaze;
And -- in horizons hidden yet --
   There shall be happy days.

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In the Land of Dreams

A bridle-path in the tangled mallee,
With blossoms unnamed and unknown bespread,
And two who ride through its leafy alley,
But never the sound of a horse's tread.

And one by one whilst the foremost rider
Puts back the boughs which have grown apace,
And side by side where the track is wider,
Together they come to the olden place.

To the leaf-dyed pool whence the mallards flattered,
Or ever the horses had paused to drink;
Where the word was said and the vow was uttered
That brighten for ever its weedy brink.

And Memory closes her sad recital,
In Fate's cold eyes there are kindly gleams,
While for one brief moment of blest requital,
The parted have met, in the Land of Dreams.

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Up North

Into Thy hands let me fall, O Lord,
Not into the hands of men,
And she thinned the ranks of the savage horde
Till they shrank to the mangrove fen.

In a rudderless boat, with a scanty store
Of food for the fated three,
With her babe and her stricken servitor
She fled to the open sea.

Oh, days of dolor and nights of drouth,
While she watched for a sail in vain,
Or the tawny tinge of a river mouth,
Or the rush of the tropic rain.

The valiant woman! Her feeble oar
Sufficed, and her fervent prayer
Was heard, though she reached but a barren shore,
And died with her darling there.

[...] Read more

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To the White Julienne

Again above thy fragile flowers
I bend, to bring their perfume nigh;
For only in the evening hours
Thy odors pass thy blossoms by;
But when the ministering day
Deserts thee with the warmth and light
That lulled thee, waking thou wilt pay
For these, in sweetness, to the night.

O flower of Marie Antoinette!
Ungrateful to the lavish day,
Refusing it thy fragrance, yet
Relenting in such generous way,
Perchance, like thee, while life was bright
Her soul no holy savour shed,
Yet scattered incense when grief's night
Wept dews of blood upon her head!

I bend, to bring thy perfume near,
Again, I cannot leave the spot;

[...] Read more

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In Time of Drought

The rushes are black by the river bed,
And the sheep and the cattle stand
Wistful-eyed, where the waters were,
In a waste of gravel and sand;
Or pass o'er their dying and dead to slake
Their thirst at the slimy pool.
Shall they pine and perish in pangs of drought
While Thy river, O God, is full.

The fields are furrowed, the seed is sown,
But no dews from the heavens are shed;
And where shall the grain for the harvest be?
And how shall the poor be fed?
In waterless gullies they winnow the earth,
New-turned by the miner's tool;
And the way-farer faints 'neath his lightened load,1
Yet the river of God is full.

For us, O Father, from tropic seas,
Let the clouds be filled that shed

[...] Read more

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In Memoriam C. G. Gordon

Devotion! When thy name is named,
What matchless visions rise!
The Hebrew, leaving Pharoah's house,
To Israel's rescue flies;
The Moabitess, gleans, content,
Beneath the burning skies.

The flower of Christendom is given
To gain the Holy Grave;
O'er Acre and o'er Askelon
The blessed banners wave;
By Edward's bed I see thee kneel,
O Queen beloved and brave!

Who art thou, girl, in warrior garb,
St. Catherine's sword in hand?
'Tis La Pucelle, and France is free;
O shame that thou must stand
Bound, helpless, at the cruel stake,
To wait the headman's brand!

[...] Read more

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The Belated Swallow

And the birds of the air have nests.”

Belated swallow, whither flying?
The day is dead, the light is dying,
The night draws near:
Where is thy nest, slow put together,
Soft-lined with moss and downy feather,
For shelter-place in stress of weather
And darkness drear?

Past, past, above the lighted city,
Unknowing of my wondering pity,
Seaward she flies.
Alas, poor bird! what rude awaking
Has driven thee forth, when storms are breaking,
And frightened gulls the waves forsaking
With warning cries?

Alas, my soul! while leaves are greenest
Thy heedless head thou fondly screenest

[...] Read more

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