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BLUNT, Wilfrid Scawen

At The Gate

Naked I came into the world of pleasure,

And naked come I to this house of pain.

Here at the gate I lay down my life’s treasure,

My pride, my garments and my name with men.

The world and I henceforth shall be as twain,

No sound of me shall pierce for good or ill

These walls of grief. Nor shall I hear the vain

Laughter and tears of those who love me still.

Within, what new life waits me! Little ease,

Cold lying, hunger, nights of wakefulness,

Harsh orders given, no voice to soothe or please,

Poor thieves for friends, for books rules meaningless;

This is the grave—nay, Hell. Yet, Lord of Might,

Still in Thy light my spirit shall see light.

Red, Red Gold

Red, red gold, a kingdom's ransom, child,

To weave thy yellow hair she bade them spin.

At early dawn the gossamer spiders toiled,

And wove the sunrise in.

She took the treasures of the deep blue noon,

She took the clear eyes of the morning star,

The pale--faced lilies of a seven-days moon,

The dust of Phoebus' car.

She painted thee with dewdrops from the flowers,

Stained with their petals, hyacinth and rose,

And violets all wet with April showers

And snowdrops from the snows.

With Esther
When I hear laughter from a tavern door,
When I see crowds agape and in the rain

Watching on tiptoe and with stifled roar

To see a rocket fired or a bull slain,

When misers handle gold, when orators

Touch strong men's hearts with glory till they weep,

When cities deck their streets for barren wars

Which have laid waste their youth, and when I keep

Calmly the count of my own life and see

On what poor stuff my manhood's dreams were fed

Till I too learned what dole of vanity

Will serve a human soul for daily bread,

–Then I remember that I once was young

And lived with Esther the world's gods among.

Satan Absolved
The ignoble shouting crowds, the prophets of their Press,
Pouring their daily flood of bald self-righteousness,
Their poets who write big of the “White Burden.” Trash!
The White Man’s Burden, Lord, is the burden of his cash.
—There. Thou hast heard the truth. Thy world, Lord God of Heaven,
Lieth in the hands of thieves who pillage morn and even.


Giacinta sat upon the garden wall

Among the autumn lilies, and let fall

Their crimson petals on her lover’s head,

And laughed because her little hands were red.

She was the fairest child of Italy,

And it was well the lilies thus should die.

But Giulio shuddered when she made him kiss

The stains away in her pride’s wantonness

And held them up between him and the sun

That he might see the red blood flame and run

In the long finger—clefts from root to tip,

And still she pressed them closer to his lip,

And still she laughed. But Giulio looked at her

And it was half in love and half in fear.

And, when she saw him tremble, childishly

She laid both hands in his, and with a sigh

Told him to pity them. And he in vain

Hid them in his and would have hid his pain,

And tried to speak but could not for the weight

Upon his breast. And so the lovers sat

In a hard silence, while Giacinta’s laugh

Rang in his ears like the discordant half

Of some fair carol from a tavern flung,

She watching him above, the flowers among,

First with her smile and then with a hurt pride

Kindling to wrath. And 'Fool’ at last she cried,

‘You think because this hand of mine is white

And smooth to touch and wise in love’s delight

It had not dared to dabble in such red,

The blood—of these dead flowers—for dead is dead;

And you sit dumb and tremble and turn pale

Because I laugh to see the lilies fall.

Why not laugh with me, since you have the heart

To say you love me in my tragic part?

Think you that blood can make a hand less white,

Or all the ink of heaven blot out to—night

The innocent stars, or kisses steal away

The sweetness of red lips, or memory

Drive laughter from the world? The moon grows wan

And wastes and fades and shrivels to a span,

Yet men watch on beyond the hills at even,

And lo there is a new moon in the heaven!

Look in my eyes. Are they less pure and keen

For all the passion which their depths have seen?

Is there a stain upon my brows? My cheek

Is it less fair for what it dares not speak?

Oh, Simon’s blood was not so red a thing

But it has left my face its colouring.

Or think you drops from any vein of his

Could make my fingers blush as deep as this?’

And Giulio’s courage sickened when he heard

Giacinta suddenly speak out this word.

She was the fairest child of Italy,

But Giulio thought it had been well to die.

‘yet, had it left me pale,’ she said, ‘I know

It had been all as one to Giulio

To love a pale face. You will love me yet

Though I have told you how my hands are wet,

And when I hold them out to you to kiss

Your lips will burn to drink away the lees.

Oh, lovers, lovers! Wherefore will you preach,

When women laugh at what you dare to teach

Of truth and honour? Is there one of you,

One honourable friend, one bosom true,

That will not sell his virtue for a kiss

Though the mouth that gave it were a nest of lies,

And will not soothe his soul with the deceit

Which swears a rose is not a whit less sweet

Because an angry bee was in its cell

An hour ago?—Oh, lovers reason well!

So take the flower and deign forget the bee.

But Giulio, do not bid me stop and see

How beautiful a thing your virtue is,

And do not cry to the unheeding skies

’Did I not love her?' See, I hate your love

More than I hate yourself.' And Giulio strove

With his weak heart and could not bear the pain.

And so he took Giacinta’s hand again,

Without more word. But she in softened mood

Looked on the boy her beauty had subdued,

And said 'Poor Giulio! I have never shown

Much hate to you, and this you needs must own,

Only beware of loving me. ’Tis strange

That men are wise, yet cannot take the range

Of a silly woman’s mind, but still devise

Of their fool’s love, as if it were the prize

For which a woman might forget the cost

Of her undoing and a world well lost,

And cannot see that love is only this,

A pretty word to whisper in a kiss,

As when one says, 'God bless you’ with ‘Good—night.’

But Giulio, who would ever suffer it

A man should always have the name of God

Upon his lips?' Her lover only trod

The lilies with his heel. At last he sighed,

‘And Simon loved you, and for this he died?’

They sat till dusk upon the garden wall,

And she began to sing a madrigal

About the falling leaves and quite forgot

To answer him. But Giulio heeded not

Because he held her hand. He could not flee.

She was the fairest child of Italy.