The Shadow On The Blind
Last night I walked among the lamps that gleamed,
And saw a shadow on a window blind,
A moving shadow; and the picture seemed
To call some scene to mind.
I looked again; a dark form to and fro
Swayed softly as to music full of rest,
Bent low, bent lower: - Still I did not know.
And then, at last, I guessed.
And through the night came all old memories flocking,
White memories like the snowflakes round me whirled.
'All's well!' I said; 'The mothers still sit rocking
The cradles of the world!'
The dusk is down on the river meadows,
The moon is climbing above the fir,
The lane is crowded with creeping shadows,
The gorse is only a distant blur;
The last of the light is almost gone,
But hark! They're running!
They're running on !
The count of the years is steadily growing;
The Old give way to the eager Young;
Far on the hill is the horn still blowing,
Far on the steep are the hounds still strung.
Good men follow the good men gone;
And hark! They're running!
They're running on!
Wind O' The Autumn
I love you, wind o' the Autumn, that came from I know not where,
To lead me out of the toiling world to a ballroom fresh and fair,
Where the poplars tall and golden and the beeches rosy and red
Are setting to woodland partners and dancing the stars to bed!
Oh! say, wild wind o' the Autumn, may I dance this dance with you
Decked out in your gown of moonmist and jewelled with drops of dew?
For I know no waiting lover with arms that so softly twine,
And I know no dancing partner whose step is so made for mine!
There's colour in the woodlands as far as eye can reach,
Pale gold upon the elm-tree and bronze upon the beech;
To witch the world with beauty a hundred hues ally -
But bonniest is the scarlet when a Whip rides by.
On towers of brown and crimson, on roofs of royal gold
The banners of the autumn their splendid tints unfold,
And no one will their wonder, their magic lure deny -
Yet dearer is the scarlet when a Whip rides by.
Ah! Bright September woodlands, your magic only means
That summer’s life is ebbing on the bed your beauty screens;
Not all your painted pennons on all your towers so high
Can match one patch of scarlet when a whip rides by!
The Men of the Open Spaces
These are the men with the sun-tanned faces
and the keen far-sighted eyes-
the men of the open spaces,
and the land where the mirage lies.
The men who have learnt to master
the forces of fire and drought
and the demon Flood's disaster
in the fields of furthest out.
The men who have stood together
and shared in the fight with fate
and known the strength of the tether
that holds a mate to his mate.
Who ride with a gallant bearing
where every saddle's a throne,
and each is an emperor sharing
an empire enough for his own.
[...] Read more
Thrusters are steadying; hounds at a loss,
Checked at the stile leading into the lane,
Feel for it forward and feather across,
Keen to recover their quarry again.
Horsemen sit silently watching the pack;
Nothing is heard but the clinking of steel,
Then a low whimper-one hound running back-
‘ 'War' heel, there! 'War' heel!'
Life's but a heart-stirring hunt at the best.
Checked by old memories, bid them begone!
Fling to the front with a laugh and a jest,
All that you seek for is for'ard and on !
Never look backward and never repine,
Keep with the pack as they scatter and wheel,
Turn from the years that have trampled the line!
'War' heel, there! 'War' heel!'
A Little Bit of Garden
We need no crown or sceptre,
for now that it is spring,
just a little bit of garden-
and every man's a king!
A little breadth of border,
a little patch of grass,
above it all the April sky
where soft the south winds pass.
A spade and rake for comrades,
the smell of rain-wet mould,-
and every time we turn a clod
we turn a mint of gold.
A little bit of garden,
with daffodils a-swing,
and tulip-flowers whose crimson flags
are only flown for spring.
[...] Read more
If I Were Old
If I were old, a broken man and blind,
and one should lead me to Mid-Eildon's crest,
and leave me there a little time to rest
sharing the hilltop with the Border wind,
the whispering heather, and the curlew's cry,
I know the blind dark could not be so deep,
so cruel and clinging, but that I
should see the sunlit curve of Cheviot's steep
rise blue and friendly on the distant sky!
There is no darkness - God! there cannot be -
so heavy as to curtain from my sight
the beauty of those Border slopes that lie
far south before me, and a love-found light
would shine upon the slow Tweed loitering by
with gift of song and silver to the sea!-
No dark can ever hide this dear loved land from me
Death had beckoned with grisly hand
To the finest Whip in hunting-land.
‘ My time is short,’ Tom Moody said,
‘ Master, when I am done and dead,
Lay me at Barrow beneath the yew
In the dear old shire we have hunted through.
Let six earth-stoppers carry me there
With slow step and heads bare.
Bring the old horse that I used to ride,
With my whip and boots to his saddle tied.
Fasten the brush in his forehead-band
Of the last dog-fox we brought to hand.
And let a couple of old hounds come,
Fitting mourners to follow me home.
Then, when you've laid me safe down there,
Give three view-holloas will shake the air,
And you'll know, if I do not lift my head,
There is no mistake-Tom Moody's dead!'
Ho! You there, selling daffodils along the windy street,
Poor drooping, dusty daffodils - but oh! so Summer sweet!
Green stems that stab with loveliness, rich petal-cups to hold
The wine of Spring to lips that cling like bees about their gold!
What price to you for daffodils? I'll give what price you please,
For light and love and memory lie leaf by leaf with these!
And if I bought all Sydney Town I could not hope to buy
The wealth you bring of everything that goes with open sky!
My money for your daffodils: why do you thank me so?
If I have paid a reckless price, take up my gift and go,
And from the golden garden beds where gold the sunbeams shine
Bring in more flowers to light the hours for lover-hearts like mine!