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SIDDAL, Elizabeth

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.

At last

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.

Worn Out

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.