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Love in the Valley

Under yonder beech-tree single on the green-sward,

Couched with her arms behind her golden head,

Knees and tresses folded to slip and ripple idly,

Lies my young love sleeping in the shade.

Had I the heart to slide an arm beneath her,

Press her parting lips as her waist I gather slow,

Waking in amazement she could not but embrace me:

Then would she hold me and never let me go?

Heartless she is as the shadow in the meadows

Flying to the hills on a blue and breezy noon.

No, she is athirst and drinking up her wonder:

Earth to her is young as the slip of the new moon.

Deals she an unkindness, 'tis but her rapid measure,

Even as in a dance; and her smile can heal no less:

Like the swinging May-cloud that pelts the flowers with hailstones

Off a sunny border, she was made to bruise and bless.

When at dawn she sighs, and like an infant to the window

Turns grave eyes craving light, released from dreams,

Beautiful she looks, like a white water-lily

Bursting out of bud in havens of the streams.

When from bed she rises clothed from neck to ankle

In her long nightgown sweet as boughs of May,

Beautiful she looks, like a tall garden lily

Pure from the night, and splendid for the day.

Mother of the dews, dark eye-lashed twilight,

Low-lidded twilight, o'er the valley's brim,

Rounding on thy breast sings the dew-delighted skylark,

Clear as though the dewdrops had their voice in him.

Hidden where the rose-flush drinks the rayless planet,

Fountain-full he pours the spraying fountain-showers.

Let me hear her laughter, I would have her ever

Cool as dew in twilight, the lark above the flowers.

Yellow with birdfoot-trefoil are the grass-glades;

Yellow with cinquefoil of the dew-grey leaf;

Yellow with stonecrop; the moss-mounds are yellow;

Blue-necked the wheat sways, yellowing to the sheaf:

Green-yellow bursts from the copse the laughing yaffle;

Sharp as a sickle is the edge of shade and shine:

Earth in her heart laughs looking at the heavens,

Thinking of the harvest: I look and think of mine.

Large and smoky red the sun's cold disk drops,

Clipped by naked hills, on violet shaded snow:

Eastward large and still lights up a bower of moonrise,

Whence at her leisure steps the moon aglow.

Nightlong on black print-branches our beech-tree

Gazes in this whiteness: nightlong could I.

Here may life on death or death on life be painted.

Let me clasp her soul to know she cannot die!

Soon will she lie like a white-frost sunrise.

Yellow oats and brown wheat, barley pale as rye,

Long since your sheaves have yielded to the thresher,

Felt the girdle loosened, seen the tresses fly.

Soon will she lie like a blood-red sunset.

Swift with the to-morrow, green-winged Spring!

Sing from the South-West, bring her back the truants,

Nightingale and swallow, song and dipping wing.

Could I find a place to be alone with heaven,

I would speak my heart out: heaven is my need.

Every woodland tree is flushing like the dog-wood,

Flashing like the whitebeam, swaying like the reed.

Flushing like the dog-wood crimson in October;

Streaming like the flag-reed South-West blown;

Flashing as in gusts the sudden-lighted white beam:

All seem to know what is for heaven alone.

Love’s Grave

MARK where the pressing wind shoots javelin-like,

Its skeleton shadow on the broad-back'd wave!

Here is a fitting spot to dig Love's grave;

Here where the ponderous breakers plunge and strike,

And dart their hissing tongues high up the sand:

In hearing of the ocean, and in sight

Of those ribb'd wind-streaks running into white.

If I the death of Love had deeply plann'd,

I never could have made it half so sure,

As by the unblest kisses which upbraid

The full-waked sense; or failing that, degrade!

'Tis morning: but no morning can restore

What we have forfeited. I see no sin:

The wrong is mix'd. In tragic life, God wot,

No villain need be! Passions spin the plot:

Lucifer in Starlight

On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.

Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend

Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened,

Where sinners hugged their spectre of repose.

Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.

And now upon his western wing he leaned,

Now his huge bulk o'er Afric's sands careened,

Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.

Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars

With memory of the old revolt from Awe,

He reached a middle height, and at the stars,

Which are the brain of heaven, he looked, and sank.

Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,

The army of unalterable law.

The Thrush


Is more, no mask; a flame, a stream.

Flame, stream, are we, in mid career

From torrent source, delirious dream,

To heaven-reflecting currents clear.

And why the sons of Strength have been

Her cherished offspring ever; how

The Spirit served by her is seen

Through Law; perusing love will show.

Love born of knowledge, love that gains

Vitality as Earth it mates,

The meaning of the Pleasures, Pains,

The Life, the Death, illuminates.

For love we Earth, then serve we all;

Her mystic secret then is ours:

We fall, or view our treasures fall,

Unclouded, as beholds her flowers

Earth, from a night of frosty wreck,

Enrobed in morning's mounted fire,

When lowly, with a broken neck,

The crocus lays her cheek to mire.

Modern Love I

By this he knew she wept with waking eyes:

That, at his hand's light quiver by her head,

The strange low sobs that shook their common bed

Were called into her with a sharp surprise,

And strangled mute, like little gaping snakes,

Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay

Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away

With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes

Her giant heart of Memory and Tears

Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat

Sleep's heavy measure, they from head to feet

Were moveless, looking through their dead black years,

By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.

Like sculptured effigies they might be seen

Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;

Each wishing for the sword that severs all.

Modern Love L

Thus piteously Love closed what he begat:

The union of this ever-diverse pair!

These two were rapid falcons in a snare,

Condemned to do the flitting of the bat.

Lovers beneath the singing sky of May,

They wandered once; clear as the dew on flowers:

But they fed not on the advancing hours:

Their hearts held cravings for the buried day.

Then each applied to each that fatal knife,

Deep questioning, which probes to endless dole.

Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul

When hot for certainties in this our life!—

In tragic hints here see what evermore

Moves dark as yonder midnight ocean's force,

Thundering like ramping hosts of warrior horse,

To throw that faint thin line upon the shore!

Modern Love XLV

It is the season of the sweet wild rose,

My Lady's emblem in the heart of me!

So golden-crownèd shines she gloriously,

And with that softest dream of blood she glows:

Mild as an evening heaven round Hesper bright!

I pluck the flower, and smell it, and revive

The time when in her eyes I stood alive.

I seem to look upon it out of Night.

Here's Madam, stepping hastily. Her whims

Bid her demand the flower, which I let drop.

As I proceed, I feel her sharply stop,

And crush it under heel with trembling limbs.

She joins me in a cat-like way, and talks

Of company, and even condescends

To utter laughing scandal of old friends.

These are the summer days, and these our walks.

Dirge in Woods

And blow

Not a breath of wild air;

Still as the mosses that glow

One the flooring and over the lines

of the roots here and there.

The pine-tree drops its dead;

They are quiet, as under the sea.

Overhead, overhead

Rushes life in a race,

As the clouds the clouds chase;

And we go,

And we drop like the fruits of the tree,

Even we,

Even so.

They have no song, the sedges dry

They have no song, the sedges dry,
    And still they sing.
It is within my breast they sing,
    As I pass by.
Within my breast they touch a string,
    They wake a sigh.
There is but sound of sedges dry;
    In me they sing.

Droog riet zingt niet

Droog riet zingt niet,

en toch hoor ik gezang.

In mijn borst hoor ik zijn klank,

als ik voorbijga, of toch niet?

In mijn borst weerklinkt gezang,

het ontlokt mij een droef lied.

Er is alleen geluid van droog riet;

in mij hoor ik zijn zang.

Vertaling: Z. DE MEESTER

The Woods of Westermain

Enter these enchanted woods,

You who dare.

Nothing harms beneath the leaves

More than waves a swimmer cleaves.

Toss your heart up with the lark,

Foot at peace with mouse and worm,

Fair you fare.

Only at a dread of dark

Quaver, and they quit their form:

Thousand eyeballs under hoods

Have you by the hair.

Enter these enchanted woods,

You who dare.


Here the snake across your path

Stretches in his golden bath:

Mossy-footed squirrels leap

Soft as winnowing plumes of Sleep:

Yaffles on a chuckle skim

Low to laugh from branches dim:

Up the pine, where sits the star,

Rattles deep the moth-winged jar.

Each has business of his own;

But should you distrust a tone,

Then beware.

Shudder all the haunted roods,

All the eyeballs under hoods

Shroud you in their glare.

Enter these enchanted woods,

You who dare.


In the Woods


Hill-sides are dark,

And hill-tops reach the star,

And down is the lark,

And I from my mark

Am far.

Unlighted I foot the ways.

I know that a dawn is before me,

And behind me many days;

Not what is o'er me.


Over valley and hill

I hear the woodland wave,

Like the voice of Time, as slow,

The voice of Life, as grave,

The voice of Death, as still.


Take up thy song from woods and fields

Whilst thou hast heart, and living yields

Delight: let that expire —

Let thy delight in living die,

Take thou thy song from star and sky,

And join the silent quire.


I know that since the hour of birth,

Rooted in earth,

I have looked above,

In joy and in grief,

With eyes of belief,

For love.

A mother trains us so.

But the love I saw was a fitful thing;

I looked on the sun

That clouds or is blinding aglow:

And the love around had more of wing

Than substance, and of spirit none.

Then looked I on the green earth we are rooted in,

Whereof we grow,

And nothing of love it said,

But gave me warnings of sin,

And lessons of patience let fall,

And told how pain was bred,

And wherefore I was weak,

And of good and evil at strife,

And the struggle upward of all,

And my choice of the glory of life:

Was love farther to seek?


The Lark Ascending

HE rises and begins to round,

He drops the silver chain of sound

Of many links without a break,

In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,

All intervolv’d and spreading wide,

Like water-dimples down a tide

Where ripple ripple overcurls

And eddy into eddy whirls;

A press of hurried notes that run

So fleet they scarce are more than one,

Yet changingly the trills repeat

And linger ringing while they fleet,

Sweet to the quick o’ the ear, and dear

To her beyond the handmaid ear,

Who sits beside our inner springs,

Too often dry for this he brings,

Which seems the very jet of earth

At sight of sun, her musci’s mirth,

As up he wings the spiral stair,

A song of light, and pierces air

With fountain ardor, fountain play,

To reach the shining tops of day,

And drink in everything discern’d

An ecstasy to music turn’d,

Impell’d by what his happy bill

Disperses; drinking, showering still,

Unthinking save that he may give

His voice the outlet, there to live

Renew’d in endless notes of glee,

So thirsty of his voice is he,

For all to hear and all to know

That he is joy, awake, aglow,

The tumult of the heart to hear

Through pureness filter’d crystal-clear,

And know the pleasure sprinkled bright

By simple singing of delight,

Shrill, irreflective, unrestrain’d,

Rapt, ringing, on the jet sustain’d

Without a break, without a fall,

Sweet-silvery, sheer lyrical,

Perennial, quavering up the chord

Like myriad dews of sunny sward

That trembling into fulness shine,

And sparkle dropping argentine;

Such wooing as the ear receives

From zephyr caught in choric leaves

Of aspens when their chattering net

Is flush’d to white with shivers wet;

And such the water-spirit’s chime

On mountain heights in morning’s prime,

Too freshly sweet to seem excess,

Too animate to need a stress;

But wider over many heads

The starry voice ascending spreads,

Awakening, as it waxes thin,

The best in us to him akin;

And every face to watch him rais’d,

Puts on the light of children prais’d,

So rich our human pleasure ripes

When sweetness on sincereness pipes,

Though nought be promis’d from the seas,

But only a soft-ruffling breeze

Sweep glittering on a still content,

Serenity in ravishment.

For singing till his heaven fills,

’T is love of earth that he instils,

And ever winging up and up,

Our valley is his golden cup,

And he the wine which overflows

To lift us with him as he goes:

The woods and brooks, the sheep and kine

He is, the hills, the human line,

The meadows green, the fallows brown,

The dreams of labor in the town;

He sings the sap, the quicken’d veins;

The wedding song of sun and rains

He is, the dance of children, thanks

Of sowers, shout of primrose-banks,

And eye of violets while they breathe;

All these the circling song will wreathe,

And you shall hear the herb and tree,

The better heart of men shall see,

Shall feel celestially, as long

As you crave nothing save the song.

Was never voice of ours could say

Our inmost in the sweetest way,

Like yonder voice aloft, and link

All hearers in the song they drink:

Our wisdom speaks from failing blood,

Our passion is too full in flood,

We want the key of his wild note

Of truthful in a tuneful throat,

The song seraphically free

Of taint of personality,

So pure that it salutes the suns

The voice of one for millions,

In whom the millions rejoice

For giving their one spirit voice.

Yet men have we, whom we revere,

Now names, and men still housing here,

Whose lives, by many a battle-dint

Defaced, and grinding wheels on flint,

Yield substance, though they sing not, sweet

For song our highest heaven to greet:

Whom heavenly singing gives us new,

Enspheres them brilliant in our blue,

From firmest base to farthest leap,

Because their love of Earth is deep,

And they are warriors in accord

With life to serve and pass reward,

So touching purest and so heard

In the brain’s reflex of yon bird;

Wherefore their soul in me, or mine,

Through self-forgetfulness divine,

In them, that song aloft maintains,

To fill the sky and thrill the plains

With showerings drawn from human stores,

As he to silence nearer soars,

Extends the world at wings and dome,

More spacious making more our home,

Till lost on his aërial rings

In light, and then the fancy sings.