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Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

The Frosted Pane

One night came Winter noiselessly, and leaned
Against my window-pane.
In the deep stillness of his heart convened
The ghosts of all his slain.
Leaves, and ephemera, and stars of earth,
And fugitives of grass, --
White spirits loosed from bonds of mortal birth,
He drew them on the glass.

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Philander's Song

(from "The Sprightly Pilgrim")
I sat and read Anacreon.
Moved by the gay, delicious measure
I mused that lips were made for love,
And love to charm a poet's leisure.
And as I mused a maid came by
With something in her look that caught me.
Forgotten was Anacreon's line,
But not the lesson he had taught me.

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At the Gates of Spring

With April here,
And first thin green on the awakening bough,
What wonderful things and dear,
My tired heart to cheer,
At last appear!
Colours of dream afloat on cloud and tree,
So far, so clear,
A spell, a mystery;
And joys that thrill and sing,
New come on mating wing,
The wistfulness and ardour of the spring–
And Thou!

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Monition

A faint wind, blowing from World's End,
Made strange the city street.
A strange sound mingled in the fall
Of the familiar feet.
Something unseen whirled with the leaves
To tap on door and sill.
Something unknown went whispering by
Even when the wind was still.
And men looked up with startled eyes
And hurried on their way,
As if they had been called, and told
How brief their day.

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All Night the Lone Cicada

All night the lone cicada
Kept shrilling through the rain–
A voice of joy undaunted
By unforgotten pain.

Down from the wind-blown branches
Rang out the high refrain,
By tumult undisheartened,
By storm assailed in vain.

To looming vasts of mountain
And shadowy deeps of plain,
The ephemeral, brave defiance
Adventured not in vain.

Till to the faltering spirit
And to the weary brain,
From loss and fear and failure,
My joy returned again.

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The Hawkbit

How sweetly on the autumn scene,
When haws are red amid the green,
The hawkbit shines with face of cheer,
The favorite of the faltering year!

When days grow short and nights grow cold,
How fairly gleams its eye of gold
On pastured field and grassy hill,
Along the roadside and the rill!

It seems the spirit of a flower,
This offspring of the autumn hour,
Wandering back to earth to bring
Some kindly afterthought of spring.

A dandelion's ghost might so
Amid Elysian meadows blow,
Become more fragile and more fine
Breathing the atmosphere divine.

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The Aim

O thou who lovest not alone
The swift success, the instant goal,
But hast a lenient eye to mark
The failures of th' inconstant soul,

Consider not my little worth,--
The mean achievement, scamped in act,
The high resolve and low result,
The dream that durst not face the fact.

But count the reach of my desire.
Let this be something in Thy sight:--
I have not, in the slothful dark,
Forgot the Vision and the Height.

Neither my body nor my soul
To earth's low ease will yield consent.
I praise Thee for my will to strive.
I bless Thy goad of discontent.

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Hilltop Song

When the lights come out in the cottages
Along the shores at eve,
And across the darkening water
The last pale colours leave;

And up from the rock-ridged pasture slopes
The sheep-bell tinklings steal,
And the folds are shut, and the shepherds
Turn to their quiet meal;

And even here, on the unfenced height,
No journeying wind goes by,
But the earth-sweet smells and the home-sweet sounds
Mount, like prayer, to the sky;

Then from the door of my opened heart
Old blindness and pride are driven,
Till I know how high is the humble,
The dear earth how close to heaven.

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Grey Rocks, and Greyer Sea

Grey rocks, and greyer sea,
   And surf along the shore --
And in my heart a name
   My lips shall speak no more.

The high and lonely hills
   Endure the darkening year --
And in my heart endure
   A memory and a tear.

Across the tide a sail
   That tosses, and is gone --
And in my heart the kiss
   That longing dreams upon.

Grey rocks, and greyer sea,
   And surf along the shore --
And in my heart the face
   That I shall see no more.

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Twilight on Sixth Avenue at Ninth Street

Over the tops of the houses
Twilight and sunset meet.
The green, diaphanous dusk
Sinks to the eager street.

Astray in the tangle of roofs
Wanders a wind of June.
The dial shines in the clock-tower
Like the face of a strange-scrawled moon.

The narrowing lines of the houses
Palely begin to gleam,
And the hurrying crowds fade softly
Like an army in a dream.

Above the vanishing faces
A phantom train flares on
With a voice that shakes the shadows, --
Diminishes, and is gone.

[...] Read more

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