Hilltop: A Literary Paper. Volume 1 Number 1
'Isabel and the Sea'
I always wished to go sailing with Isabel?—
Isabel and the sea.
And now a sudden but false thought of summer?—
Twelve weeks to May?—
Caused my project to blossom, then die utterly.
It would have been some youthful English idyll
When England was all youth longed for:
Bridesmere, and the meadows and hedgerows,
The country pubs, and the green, green,
Green?-far from these barren hills,
Their brown hardworking contours?—
The downs rolling on above the sea
And the strange boats sailing on the Broads?—
That now has been put right away in a phrase:
'Isabel, and the sea.'
Wrapped in Times' Veil
My true love lies where wind and water
May not reach her, fish and bird
Sound their scaring cry far from her,
Feather and scale now mark no country
She must grow up to; we, beyond,
Watch her idly through the veil
Cast by the years;
In fond shelter, veiled by time,
There my true love lies.
Lies she out of ocean's reach?
Or lies she in eternity?
Mermaids know, and the gods
That use the upper air.
my true love is a child again;
Time's veil is the never-ending
Reaches of the sky, the green
Mists that swathe the rocks and weeds
Of depthless ocean.
From an old Portrait
So, I have seen her at last, at length,
The lone girl on the sea-strand,
Brown-legged, like a stork, wading the distant
Tide, her dress tucked up, puffed out
To her thighs, in the chill, grey,
And I, in the reeds and bulrushes, standing.
The swans this year came to our harbor,
Like all the sea-swimming birds
Ever delighted evening-lovers.
Some man with a gun went after them!
No matter! Though they never come again,
Paddling again our own channel,
All unaware, all unaware.
A Second Tableau
Still I see him, the attentive, the calm
Impassioned listener, feeling the hidden
Scarcely-perceptible, world-enveining pulse
Of the world's myriad, plural, melody.
And I see him, so marvelously attentive, that
That melody becomes its own audience, he
The empowered vehicle of its enchantment,
No, not I, but some immortal being;
Not any mortal, but some half-god
Whose whole being is recurrently contained
In the sight I have of him, who listens
To mild rhythm, the travelling harmony,
Him that I see still, the attentive, the calm-impassioned.
That efficient man Swedenborg
Was everlastingly preoccupied
With saying there was only one
God, not three. The thought
Of more than one filled him with rage.
I remember a day in Wales
When the whole atmosphere was filled
With god-like forces, stirring the flat
Of the stagnant lake, stirring the dust,
The ancient willow-bole, and a leaf
From its ancient, waving branches.
And when I left the high-placed ruins,
The high-placed home of gods, a wind
Arose in the black sky and followed
Me down; and blew for a moment high
And uncertain over the house, before
It died and vanished utterly, ?—the wind
That follows you home, the ghost wind.
To Whom it may Please You
She was not one of beauty's daughters
Yet she held the mind
Like waters still and grey and sounding,
Deep mists to blind.
She was not one of wisdom's children,
Yet held the wayward heart
As all the smiles of wise ones
Ever love has feared.
Well, and what was she? A spirit? soul?
Something of spirit, then.
She was the world's special care
Like only to herself. When
You hear the beast beyond the door,
The night-engine beating on,
Remember each care's there for her,?—
She and tomorrow, one.
Time for Bed
As the fire glows,
In thick embers on the beach
Piled but falling soft, and fierce;
As the bay dwindles,
Marked but an hour past by two
Embaying points, now lost
In the night, so that there only
Are our faces and the stars,
A warm wind moving down
The valley, the land-breeze;
We shall begin to stir,
Leave the tiny strip of beach
That is all the tide has left.
When we have gone
Those quiet, opaque waters
Will mount on though the nigh
Washing away the charred coals,
The ash, washing away
The marks of day-time ownership,
Little homes that we had built
While sun shone and laughter came
From round the bays;
Past the beached boats, mounting
The highest point, the tide-mark,
And rolling on in
Over the grass to the tents,
To the house, the caravan,
The night-engine; and the rain
Will finger the wide roof while we
Sleep safe only
To the unformed, unloved
Waters of the sea;
In memories so sweet,
So architecture as to purge
Our sad, lost souls
In the resistless catharsis
Worked, by the waters
Of the mind, while each friend sleeps.