Autumn leaves are falling
About her new-made grave
Where the tall grass bends to listen
To the murmur of the wave.
Laden autumn, here I stand
With my sheaves in either hand;
Speak the word that sets me free,
Naught but rest seems good to me.
He and She and Angels Three
Ruthless hands have torn her
From one that loved her well;
Angels have upborn her,
Christ her grief to tell.
She shall stand to listen,
She shall stand and sing,
Till three winged angels
Her lover’s soul shall bring.
He and she and the angels three
Before God’s face shall stand;
There they shall pray among themselves
And sing at His right hand.
O mother, open the window wide
And let the daylight in;
The hills grow darker to my sight
And thoughts begin to swim.
And mother dear, take my young son,
(Since I was born of thee)
And care for all his little ways
And nurse him on thy knee.
And mother, wash my pale pale hands
And then bind up my feet;
My body may no longer rest
Out of its winding sheet.
And mother dear, take a sapling twig
And green grass newly mown,
And lay them on my empty bed
That my sorrow be not known.
And mother, find three berries red
And pluck them from the stalk,
And burn them at the first cockcrow
That my spirit may not walk.
And mother dear, break a willow wand,
And if the sap be even,
Then save it for sweet Robert’s sake
And he’ll know my soul’s in heaven.
And mother, when the big tears fall,
(And fall, God knows, they may)
Tell him I died of my great love
And my dying heart was gay.
And mother dear, when the sun has set
And the pale kirk grass waves,
Then carry me through the dim twilight
And hide me among the graves.
A Silent Wood
O silent wood, I enter thee
With a heart so full of misery
For all the voices from the trees
And the ferns that cling about my knees.
In thy darkest shadow let me sit
When the grey owls about thee flit;
There will I ask of thee a boon,
That I may not faint or die or swoon.
Gazing through the gloom like one
Whose life and hopes are also done,
Frozen like a thing of stone
I sit in thy shadow – but not alone.
Can God bring back the day when we two stood
Beneath the clinging trees in that dark wood?
To touch the glove upon her tender hand,
To watch the jewel sparkle in her ring,
Lifted my heart into a sudden song
As when the wild birds sing.
To touch her shadow on the sunny grass,
To break her pathway through the darkened wood,
Filled all my life with trembling and tears
And silence where I stood.
I watch the shadows gather round my heart,
I live to know that she is gone –
Gone gone for ever, like the tender dove
That left the Ark alone.
Thy strong arms are around me, love
My head is on thy breast;
Low words of comfort come from thee
Yet my soul has no rest.
For I am but a startled thing
Nor can I ever be
Aught save a bird whose broken wing
Must fly away from thee.
I cannot give to thee the love
I gave so long ago,
The love that turned and struck me down
Amid the blinding snow.
I can but give a failing heart
And weary eyes of pain,
A faded mouth that cannot smile
And may not laugh again.
Yet keep thine arms around me, love,
Until I fall to sleep;
Then leave me, saying no goodbye
Lest I make wake, and weep.
The Lust of the Eyes
I care not for my Lady’s soul
Though I worship before her smile;
I care not where be my Lady’s goal
When her beauty shall lose its wile.
Low sit I down at my Lady’s feet
Gazing through her wild eyes
Smiling to think how my love will fleet
When their starlike beauty dies.
I care not if my Lady pray
To our Father which is in Heaven
But for joy my heart’s quick pulses play
For to me her love is given.
Then who shall close my Lady’s eyes
And who shall fold her hands?
Will any hearken if she cries
Up to the unknown lands?
Love and Hate
Ope not thy lips, thou foolish one,
Nor turn to me thy face;
The blasts of heaven shall strike thee down
Ere I will give thee grace.
Take thou thy shadow from my path,
Nor turn to me and pray;
The wild wild winds thy dirge may sing
Ere I will bid thee stay.
Turn thou away thy false dark eyes,
Nor gaze upon my face;
Great love I bore thee: now great hate
Sits grimly in its place.
All changes pass me like a dream,
I neither sing nor pray;
And thou art like the poisonous tree
That stole my life away.