<center><h1>Edward Thomas  (1878-1917)</h1></center><hr>


Born in Lambeth, London to Welsh parents on 3 March 1878, Philip
Edward Thomas studied at St Paul's school and Oxford before earning a
living as a freelance journalist and author. As a result of his
friendship with Robert Frost whom he met in 1912 (after Thomas's death
Frost was to describe him as "the only brother I ever had") he turned
to poetry and his first collection was published in 1916 under the
pseudonym of Edward Eastaway. Between December 1914 and his death two
years and four months later he wrote 142 poems and is increasingly
regarded as among the finest and most influential British poets of the
time. In July 1915 he enlisted in the Artists' Rifles and then was
commissioned in the Royal Artillery in 1916. He volunteered or service
overseas and was sent to France in January 1917. He was killed in the
battle of Arras on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917 at 7.36 a.m. He is
buried in a military cemetary at Agny, south of Arras. 


See The Richmond Review for these poems and many other things of
literary interest.
http://www.demon.co.uk/review/library/thomas00.html

<hr>

<h3>In Memoriam (Easter 1915)</h3> 
              
               The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood 
               This Eastertide call into mind the men, 
               Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should 
               Have gathered them and will do never again. 



<h3> A Private </h3> 
               
                This ploughman dead in battle slept out of doors 
                Many a frozen night, and merrily 
                Answered staid drinkers, good bedmen, and all bores: 
                'At Mrs Greenland's Hawthorn Bush', said he, 
                'I slept.' None knew which bush. Above the town, 
                Beyond 'The Drover', a hundred spot the down 
                In Wiltshire. And where now at last he sleeps 
                More sound in France - that, too, he secret keeps. 


<h3> Like the Touch of Rain </h3> 
                      
                       Like the touch of rain she was 
                       On a man's flesh and hair and eyes 
                       When the joy of walking thus 
                       Has taken him by surprise: 

                       With the love of the storm he burns, 
                       He sings, he laughs, well I know how, 
                       But forgets when he returns 
                       As I shall not forget her 'Go now'. 

                       Those two words shut a door 
                       Between me and the blessed rain 
                       That was never shut before 
                       And will not open again. 


</h3> The Owl </h3>
                  
                   Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved; 
                   Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof 
                   Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest 
                   Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof. 

                   Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest, 
                   Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I. 
                   All of the night was quite barred out except 
                   An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry 

                   Shaken out long and clear upon the hill, 
                   No merry note, nor cause of merriment, 
                   But one telling me plain what I escaped 
                   And others could not, that night, as in I went. 

                   And salted was my food, and my repose, 
                   Salted and sobered, too, by the bird's voice 
                   Speaking for all who lay under the stars, 
                   Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice. 


<h3> Rain </h3>
                  
                   Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain 
                   On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me 
                   Remembering again that I shall die 
                   And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks 
                   For washing me cleaner than I have been 
                   Since I was born into this solitude. 
                   Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon: 
                   But here I pray that none whom once I loved 
                   Is dying tonight or lying still awake 
                   Solitary, listening to the rain, 
                   Either in pain or thus in sympathy 
                   Helpless among the living and the dead, 
                   Like a cold water among broken reeds, 
                   Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff, 
                   Like me who have no love which this wild rain 
                   Has not dissolved except the love of death, 
                   If love it be for what is perfect and 
                   Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint. 



<h3> This is No Case of Petty Right or Wrong </h3>
           
            This is no case of petty right or wrong 
            That politicians or philosophers 
            Can judge. I hate not Germans, nor grow hot 
            With love of Englishmen, to please newspapers. 
            Beside my hate for one fat patriot 
            My hatred of the Kaiser is love true:-- 
            A kind of god he is, banging a gong. 
            But I have not to choose between the two, 
            Or between justice and injustice. Dinned 
            With war and argument I read no more 
            Than in the storm smoking along the wind 
            Athwart the wood. Two witches' cauldrons roar. 
            From one the weather shall rise clear and gay; 
            Out of the other an England beautiful 
            And like her mother that died yesterday. 
            Little I know or care if, being dull, 
            I shall miss something that historians 
            Can rake out of the ashes when perchance 
            The phoenix broods serene above their ken. 
            But with the best and meanest Englishmen 
            I am one in crying, God save England, lest 
            We lose what never slaves and cattle blessed. 
            The ages made her that made us from dust: 
            She is all we know and live by, and we trust 
            She is good and must endure, loving her so: 
            And as we love ourselves we hate her foe. 


<h3> As the Team's Head-Brass </h3>


             As the team's head-brass flashed out on the turn 
             The lovers disappeared into the wood. 
             I sat among the boughs of the fallen elm 
             That strewed the angle of the fallow, and 
             Watched the plough narrowing a yellow square 
             Of charlock. Every time the horses turned 
             Instead of treading me down, the ploughman leaned 
             Upon the handles to say or ask a word, 
             About the weather, next about the war. 
             Scraping the share he faced towards the wood, 
             And screwed along the furrow till the brass flashed 
             Once more. 

             The blizzard felled the elm whose crest 
             I sat in, by a woodpecker's round hole, 
             The ploughman said. "When will they take it away?" 
             "When the war's over." So the talk began 
             One minute and an interval of ten, 
             A minute more and the same interval. 
             "Have you been out ?" "No." "And don't want to, perhaps?"

             "If I could only come back again, I should. 
             I could spare an arm. I shouldn't want to lose 
             A leg. If I should lose my head, why, so, 
             I should want nothing more . . . Have many gone 
             From here?" "Yes." "Many lost?" "Yes, a good few. 
             Only two teams work on the farm this year. 
             One of my mates is dead. The second day 
             In France they killed him. It was back in March, 
             The very night of the blizzard, too. Now if 
             He had stayed here we should have moved the tree." 
             "And I should not have sat here. Everything 
             Would have been different. For it would have been 
             Another world." "Ay, and a better, though 
             If we could see all all might seem good." Then 
             The lovers came out of the wood again: 
             The horses started and for the last time 
             I watched the clods crumble and topple over 
             After the ploughshare and the stumbling team. 



                    <h3> Adlestrop </h3>

Yes, I remember Adlestrop -
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June. 

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop - only the name. 

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky. 

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. 


                        <h3> After Rain </h3>

The rain of a night and a day and a night
Stops at the light
Of this pale choked day. The peering sun
Sees what has been done.
The road under the trees has a border new
of purple hue
Inside the border of bright thin grass:
For all that has
Been left by November of leaves is torn
From hazel and thorn
And the greater trees. Throughout the copse
No dead leaf drops
On grey grass, green moss, burnt-orange fern,
At the wind's return:
The leaflets out of the ash-tree shed
Are thinly spread
In the road, like little black fish, inlaid,
As if they played.
What hangs from the myriad branches down there
So hard and bare
Is twelve yellow apples lovely to see
On one crab-tree.
And on each twig of every tree in the dell
Uncountable
Crystals both dark and bright of the the rain
That begins again. 



                        <h3> After You Speak </h3>

After you speak
And what you meant
Is plain,
My eyes
Meet yours that mean,
With your cheeks and hair,
Something more wise,
More dark,
And far different.
Even so the lark
Loves dust
And nestles in it
The minute
Before he must
Soar in lone flight
So far,
Like a black star
He seems - 
A mote
Of singing dust
Afloat
Above,
The dreams
And sheds no light.
I know your lust
Is love. 



                              <h3>   Ambition </h3>

Unless it was that day I never knew
Ambition. After a night of frost, before
The March sun brightened and the South-west blew,
Jackdaws began to shout and float and soar
Already, and one was racing straight and high
Alone, shouting like a black warrior
Challenges and menaces to the wide sky.
With loud long laughter then a woodpecker
Ridiculed the sadness of the owl's last cry.
And through the valley where all the folk astir
Made only plumes of pearly smoke to tower
Over dark trees and white meadows happier
Than was Elysium in that happy hour,
A train that roared along raised after it
And carried with it a motionless white bower
Of purest cloud, from end to end close-knit,
So fair it touched the roar with silence. Time
Was powerless while that lasted. I could sit
And think I had made the loveliness of prime,
Breathed its life into it and were its lord,
And no mind lived save this 'twixt clouds and rime.
Omnipotent was I, nor even deplored
That I did nothing. But the end fell like a bell:
The bower was scattered; far off the train roared.
But if this was ambition I cannot tell.
What 'twas ambition for I know not well. 



                              <h3> And You, Helen </h3>

And you, Helen, what should I give you?
So many things I would give you
Had I an infinite great store
Offered me and I stood before
To choose. I would give you youth,
All kinds of loveliness and truth,
A clear eye as good as mine,
Lands, waters, flowers, wine,
As many children as your heart
Might wish for, a far better art
Than mine can be, all you have lost
Upon the travelling waters tossed,
Or given to me. If I could choose
Freely in that great treasure-house
Anything from any shelf,
I would give you back yourself,
And power to discriminate
What you want and want it not too late,
Many fair days free from care
And heart to enjoy both foul and fair,
And myself, too, if I could find
Where it lay hidden and it proved kind. 



                           <h3>    April </h3>

The sweetest thing, I thought
At one time, between earth and heaven
Was the first smile
When mist has been forgiven
And the sun has stolen out,
Peered, and resolved to shine at seven
On dabbled lengthening grasses,
Thick primroses and early leaves uneven,
When earth's breath, warm and humid, far surpasses
The richest oven's, and loudly rings 'cuckoo'
And sharply the nightingale's 'tsoo, tsoo, tsoo, tsoo':
To say 'God bless it' was all that I could do. 

But now I know one sweeter
By far since the day Emily
Turned weeping back
To me, still happy me,
To ask forgiveness, -
Yet smiled with half a certainty
To be forgiven, - for what
She had never done; I knew not what it might be,
Nor could she tell me, having now forgot,
By rapture carried with me past all care
As to an isle in April lovelier
Than April's self. 'God bless you' I said to her.



                              <h3> The Ash Grove </h3>

Half of the grove stood dead, and those that yet lived made
Little more than the dead ones made of shade.
If they led to a house, long before they had seen its fall:
But they welcomed me; I was glad without cause and delayed. 

Scarce a hundred paces under the trees was the interval -
Paces each sweeter than the sweetest miles - but nothing at all,
Not even the spirits of memory and fear with restless wing,
Could climb down in to molest me over the wall 

That I passed through at either end without noticing.
And now an ash grove far from those hills can bring
The same tranquillity in which I wander a ghost
With a ghostly gladness, as if I heard a girl sing 

The song of the Ash Grove soft as love uncrossed,
And then in a crowd or in distance it were lost,
But the moment unveiled something unwilling to die
And I had what I most desired, without search or desert or cost. 



                         <h3> Aspens </h3>

All day and all night, save winter, every weather,
Above the inn, the smithy, and the shop,
The aspens at the cross-roads talk together
Of rain, until their last leaves fall from the top. 

Out of the blacksmith's cavern comes the ringing
Of hammer, shoe, and anvil; out of the inn
The clink, the hum, the roar, the random singing -
The sounds that for these fifty years have been. 

The whisper of the aspens is not drowned,
And over lightless pane and footless road,
Empty as sky, with every other sound
Not ceasing, calls their ghosts from their abode, 

A silent smithy, a silent inn, nor fails
In the bare moonlight or the thick-furred gloom,
In tempest or the night of nightingales,
To turn the cross-roads to a ghostly room. 

And it would be the same were no house near.
Over all sorts of weather, men, and times,
Aspens must shake their leaves and men may hear
But need not listen, more than to my rhymes. 

Whatever wind blows while they and I have leaves
We cannot other than an aspen be
That ceaselessly, unreasonably grieves,
Or so men think who like a different tree. 



                 <h3> As the Clouds that are so Light </h3>

As the clouds that are so light,
Beautiful, swift, and bright,
Cast shadows on field and park
Of the earth that is so dark, 

And even so now, light one!
Beautiful, swift and bright one!
You let fall on a heart that was dark,
Unillumined, a deeper mark. 

But clouds would have, without earth
To shadow, far less worth:
Away from your shadow on me
Your beauty less would be, 

And if it still be treasured
An age hence, it shall be measured
By this small dark spot
Without which it were not. 



                                 The Barn

                          The Barn and the Down

                                  Beauty

                                Birds' Nests

                                The Bridge

                               Bright Clouds

                                The Brook

                           But These Things Also



                    <h3> The Barn </h3>

They should never have built a barn there, at all -
Drip, drip, drip! - under that elm tree,
Though when it was young. Now it is old
But good, not like the barn and me. 

To-morrow they cut it down. They will leave
The barn, as I shall be left, maybe.
What holds it up? 'Twould not pay to pull down.
Well, this place has no other antiquity. 

No abbey or castle looks so old
As this that Job Knight built in '54,
Built to keep corn for rats and men.
Now there's fowls in the roof, pigs on the floor. 

What thatch survives is dung for the grass,
The best grass on the farm. A pity the roof
Will not bear a mower to mow it. But
Only fowls have foothold enough. 

Starlings used to sit there with bubbling throats
Making a spiky beard as they chattered
And whistled and kissed, with heads in air,
Till they thought of something else that mattered. 

But now they cannot find a place,
Among all those holes, for a nest any more.
It's the turn of lesser things, I suppose.
Once I fancied 'twas starlings they built it for. 



                  <h3>   The Barn and the Down </h3>

It stood in the sunset sky
Like the straight-backed down,
Many a time - the barn
At the edge of town, 

So huge and dark that it seemed
It was the hill
Till the gable's precipice proved
It impossible. 

Then the great down in the west
Grew into sight,
A barn stored full to the ridge
With black of night; 

And the barn fell to a barn
Or even less
Before critical eyes and its own
Late mightiness. 

But far down and near barn and I
Since then have smiled,
Having seen my new cautiousness
By itself beguiled 

To disdain what seemed the barn
Till a few steps changed
It past all doubt to the down;
So the barn was avenged. 



                             <h3> Beauty </h3>

What does it mean? Tired, angry, and ill at ease,
No man, woman, or child alive could please
Me now. And yet I almost dare to laugh
Because I sit and frame an epitaph -
'Here lies all that no one loved of him
And that loved no one,' Then in a trice that whim
Has wearied. But, though I am like a river
At fall of evening while it seems that never
Has the sun lighted it or warmed it, while
Cross breezes cut the surface to a file,
This heart, some fraction of me, happily
Floats through the window even now to a tree
Down in the misting, dim-lit, quiet vale,
Not like a pewit that returns to wail
For something it has lost, but like a dove
That slants unswerving to its home and love.
There I find my rest, and through the dusk air
Flies what yet lives in me. Beauty is there. 



                       <h3>  Birds' Nests </h3>

The summer nests uncovered by autumn wind,
Some torn, others dislodged, all dark,
Everyone sees them: low or high in tree,
Or hedge, or single bush, they hang like a mark. 

Since there's no need of eyes to see them with
I cannot help a little shame
That I missed most, even at eye's level, till
The leaves blew off and made the seeing no game. 

'Tis a light pang. I like to see the nests
Still in their places, now first known,
At home and by far roads. Boys knew them not,
Whatever jays and squirrels may have done. 

And most I like the winter nests deep-hid
That leaves and berries fell into:
Once a dormouse dined there on hazel-nuts,
And grass and goose-grass seeds found soil and grew. 



                    <h3> The Bridge </h3>

I have come a long way to-day:
On a strange bridge alone,
Remembering friends, old friends,
I rest, without smile or moan,
As they remember me without smile or moan. 

All are behind, the kind
And the unkind too, no more
To-night than a dream. The stream
Runs softly yet drowns the Past,
The dark-lit stream has drowned the Future and the Past. 

No traveller has rest more blest
Than this moment brief between
Two lives, when the Night's first lights
And shades hide what has never been,
Things goodlier, lovelier, dearer, than will be or have been. 



                     <h3> Bright Clouds </h3>

Bright clouds of may
Shade half the pond.
Beyond,
All but one bay
Of emerald
Tall reeds
Like criss-cross bayonets
Where a bird once called,
Lies bright as the sun.
No one heeds.
The light wind frets
And drifts the scum
Of may-blossom.
Till the moorhen calls
Again
Naught's to be done
By birds or men.
Still the may falls. 



                   <h3>  The Brook </h3>

Seated once by a brook, watching a child
Chiefly that paddled, I was thus beguiled.
Mellow the blackbird sang and sharp the thrush
Not far off in oak and hazel brush,
Unseen. There was a scent like honeycomb
From mugwort dull. And down upon the dome
Of the stone the cart-horse kicks against so oft
A butterfly alighted. From aloft
He took the heat of the sun, and from below.
On the hot stone he perched contented so,
As if never a cart would pass again
That way; as if I were the last of men
And he the first of insects to have earth
And sun together and to know their worth.
I was divided between him and the gleam,
The motion, and the voices, of the stream,
The waters running frizzled over gravel,
That never vanish and for ever travel.
A grey flycatcher silent on a fence
And I sat as if we had been there since
The horseman and the horse lying beneath
The fir-tree-covered barrow on the heath,
The horseman and the horse with silver shoes,
Galloped the downs last. All that I could lose
I lost. And then the child's voice raised the dead.
'No one's been here before' was what she said
And what I felt, yet never should have found
A word for, while I gathered sight and sound. 



              <h3> But These Things Also </h3>

But these things also are Spring's -
On banks by the roadside the grass
Long-dead that is greyer now
Than all the Winter it was; 

The shell of a little snail bleached
In the grass; chip of flint, and mite
Of chalk; and the small birds' dung
In splashes of purest white: 

All the white things a man mistakes
For earliest violets
Who seeks through Winter's ruins
Something to pay Winter's debts, 

While the North blows, and starling flocks
By chattering on and on
Keep their spirits up in the mist,
And Spring's here, Winter's not gone. 




                                   A Cat

                                 Celandine

                               The Chalk-Pit

                             The Cherry Trees

                         The Child in the Orchard

                           The Child on the Cliffs

                                Cock-Crow

                                The Combe

                                The Cuckoo



                 <h3> A Cat </h3>

She had a name among the children;
But no one loved though someone owned
Her, locked out of doors at bedtime
And had her kittens duly drowned. 

In Spring, nevertheless, this cat
Ate blackbirds, thrushes, nightingales,
And birds of bright voice and plume and flight,
As well as scraps from neighbours' pails. 

I loathed and hated her for this;
One speckle on a thrush's breast
Was worth a million such; and yet
She lived long, till God gave her rest. 



                   <h3> Celandine </h3>

Thinking of her had saddened me at first,
Until I saw the sun on the celandines lie
Redoubled, and she stood up like a flame,
A living thing, not what before I nursed,
The shadow I was growing to love almost,
The phantom, not the creature with bright eye
That I had thought never to see, once lost. 

She found the celandines of February
Always before us all. Her nature and name
Were like those flowers, and now immediately
For a short swift eternity back she came,
Beautiful, happy, simply as when she wore
Her brightest bloom among the winter hues
Of all the world; and I was happy too,
Seeing the blossoms and the maiden who
Had seen them with me Februarys before,
Bending to them as in and out she trod
And laughed, with locks sweeping the mossy sod. 

But this was a dream: the flowers were not true,
Until I stooped to pluck from the grass there,
One of five petals and I smelt the juice
Which made me sigh, remembering she was no more,
Gone like a never perfectly recalled air. 



                          <h3> The Chalk-Pit </h3>

'Is this the road that climbs above and bends
Round what was once a chalk-pit: now it is
By accident an amphitheatre.
Some ash trees standing ankle-deep in briar
And bramble act the parts, and neither speak
Nor stir,' 'But see: they have fallen, every one,
And briar and bramble have grown over them.'
'That is the place. As usual no one is here.
Hardly can I imagine the drop of the axe,
And the smack that is like an echo, sounding here.'
'I do not understand.' 'Why, what I mean is
That I have seen the place two or three times
At most, and that its emptiness and silence
And stillness haunt me, as if just before
It was not empty, silent, still, but full
Of life of some kind, perhaps tragical.
Has anything unusual happened here?'
'Not that I know of. It is called the Dell.
They have not dug chalk here for a century.
That was the ash trees' age. But I will ask.'
'No. Do not. I prefer to make a tale,
Or better leave it like the end of a play,
Actors and audience and lights all gone;
For so it looks now. In my memory
Again and again I see it, strangely dark,
And vacant of a life but just withdrawn.
We have not seen the woodman with the axe.
Some ghost has left it now as we two came,'
'And yet you doubted if this were the road?'
'Well, sometimes I have thought of it and failed
To place it. No. And I am not quite sure,
Even now, this is it. For another place,
Real or painted, may have combined with it.
Or I myself a long way back in time ...'
'Why, as to that, I used to meet a man -
I had forgotten, - searching for birds' nests
Along the road and in the chalk-pit too.
The wren's hole was an eye that looked at him
For recognition. Every nest he knew.
He got a stiff neck, by looking this side or that,
Spring after spring, he told me, with his laugh -
A sort of laugh. He was a visitor,
A man of forty, - smoked and strolled about.
At orts and crosses Pleasure and Pain had played
On his brown features; - I think both had lost; -
Mild and yet wild too. You may know the kind.
And once or twice a woman shared his walks,
A girl of twenty with a brown boy's face,
And hair brown as a thrush or as a nut,
Thick eyebrows, glinting eyes -' 'You have said enough.
A pair, - free thought, free love, - I know the breed:
I shall not mix my fancies up with them.'
'You please yourself. I should prefer the truth
Or nothing. Here, in fact, is nothing at all
Except a silent place that once rang loud,
And trees and us - imperfect friends, we men
And trees since time began; and nevertheless
Between us we still breed a mystery.' 



              <h3> The Cherry Trees </h3>

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding,
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed. 



               <h3> The Child in the Orchard </h3>

'He rolls in the orchard: he is stained with moss
And with earth, the solitary old white horse.
Where is his father and where is his mother
Among all the brown horses? Has he a brother?
I know the swallow, the hawk, and the hern;
But there are two million things for me to learn. 

'Who was the lady that rode the white horse
With rings and bells to Banbury Cross?
Was there no other lady in England beside
That a nursery rhyme could take for a ride?
The swift, the swallow, the hawk, and the hern.
There are two million things for me to learn. 

'Was there a man once who straddled across
The back of the Westbury White Horse
Over there on Salisbury Plain's green wall?
Was he bound for Westbury, or had he a fall?
The swift, the swallow, the hawk, and the hern.
There are two million things for me to learn. 

'Out of all the white horses I know three,
At the age of six; and it seems to me
There is so much to learn, for men,
That I dare not go to bed again.
The swift, the swallow, the hawk, and the hern.
There are millions things for me to learn.' 



           <h3> The Child on the Cliffs </h3>

Mother, the root of this little yellow flower
Among the stones has the taste of quinine.
Things are strange to-day on the cliff. The sun shines so bright,
And the grasshopper works at his sewing machine
So hard. Here's one on my hand, mother, look;
I lie so still. There's one on your book. 

But I have something to tell more strange. So leave
Your book to the grasshopper, mother dear, -
Like a green knight in a dazzling market-place -
And listen now. Can you hear what I hear
Far out? Now and then the foam there curls
And stretches a white arm out like a girl's. 

Fishes and gulls ring no bells. There cannot be
A chapel or church between here and Devon,
With fishes or gulls ringing its bell, - hark! -
Somewhere under the sea or up in heaven.
'It's the bell, my son, out in the bay
On the buoy. It does sound sweet to-day.' 

Sweeter I never heard, mother, no, not in all Wales.
I should like to be lying under that foam,
Dead, but able to hear the sound of the bell,
And certain that you would often come
And rest, listening happily.
I should be happy if that could be. 



                  <h3> Cock-Crow </h3>

Out of the wood of thoughts that grows by night
To be cut down by the sharp axe of light, -
Out of the night, two cocks together crow,
Cleaving the darkness with a silver blow:
And bright before my eyes twin trumpeters stand,
Heralds of splendour, one at either hand,
Each facing each as in a coat of arms:
The milkers lace their boots up at the farms. 



               <h3> The Combe </h3>

The Combe was ever dark, ancient and dark.
Its mouth is stopped with brambles, thorn, and briar;
And no one scrambles over the sliding chalk
By beech and yew and perishing juniper
Down the half precipices of its sides, with roots
And rabbit holes for steps. The sun of Winter,
The moon of Summer, and all the singing birds
Except the missel-thrush that loves juniper,
Are quite shut out. But far more ancient and dark
The Combe looks since they killed the badger there,
Dug him out and gave him to the hounds,
That most ancient Briton of English beasts. 



           <h3>  The Cuckoo </h3>                         

That's the cuckoo, you say. I cannot hear it.
When last I heard it I cannot recall; but I know
Too well the year when first I failed to hear it -
It was drowned by my man groaning out to his sheep 'Ho! Ho!' 

Ten times with an angry voice he shouted
'Ho! Ho!' but not in anger, for that was his way.
He died that Summer, and that is how I remember
The cuckoo calling, the children listening, and me saying 'Nay'. 

And now, as you said, 'There it is', I was hearing
Not the cuckoo at all, but my man's 'Ho! Ho!' instead.
And I think that even if I could lose my deafness
The cuckoo's note would be drowned by the voice of my dead. 




                              The Dark Forest

                                  Digging

                                  Digging

                                 A Dream

                            Early One Morning

                               Fifty Faggots

                          First Known when Lost

                                 For These



                              <h3> The Dark Forest </h3>

Dark is the forest and deep, and overhead
Hang stars like seeds of light
In vain, though not since they were sown was bred
Anything more bright. 

And evermore mighty multitudes ride
About, nor enter in;
Of the other multitudes that dwell inside
Never yet was one seen. 

The forest foxglove is purple, the marguerite
Outside is gold and white,
Nor can those that pluck either blosom greet
The others, day or night. 


                              <h3>Digging </h3>

What matter makes my spade for tears or mirth,
Letting down two clay pipes into the earth?
The one I smoked, the other a soldier
Of Blenheim, Ramillies, and Malplaquet
Perhaps. The dead man's immortality
Lies represented lightly with my own,
A yard or two nearer the living air
Than bones of ancients who, amazed to see
Almighty God erect the mastodon,
Once laughed, or wept, in this same light of day.


                              <h3>Digging </h3>

To-day I think
Only with scents, - scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot's seed,
And the square mustard field; 

Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the root of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery; 

The smoke's smell, too,
Flowing from where a bonfire burns
The dead, the waste, the dangerous,
And all to sweetness turns. 

It is enough
To smell, to crumble the dark earth,
While the robin sings over again
Sad songs of Autumn mirth. 


                             <h3>     A Dream </h3>

Over known fields with an old friend in dream
I walked, but came sudden to a strange stream.
Its dark waters were bursting out most bright
From a great mountain's heart into the light.
They ran a short course under the sun, then back
Into a pit they plunged, once more as black
As at their birth; and I stood thinking there
How white, had the day shone on them, they were,
Heaving and coiling. So by the roar and hiss
And by the mighty motion of the abyss
I was bemused, that I forgot my friend
And neither saw nor sought him till the end,
When I awoke from waters unto men
Saying: 'I shall be here some day again.' 


                       <h3> Early One Morning </h3>

Early one morning in May I set out,
And nobody I knew was about.
I'm bound away for ever,
Away somewhere, away for ever. 

There was no wind to trouble the weathercocks.
I had burnt my letters and darned my socks. 

No one knew I was going away,
I thought myself I should come back some day. 

I heard the brook through the town gardens run.
O sweet was the mud turned to dust by the sun. 

A gate banged in a fence and banged in my head.
'A fine morning, sir', a shepherd said. 

I could not return from my liberty,
To my youth and my love and my misery. 

The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet,
The only sweet thing that is not also fleet.
I'm bound away for ever,
Away somehwere, away for ever. 


                          <h3> Fifty Faggots </h3>

There they stand, on their ends, the fifty faggots
That once were underwood of hazel and ash
In Jenny Pink's copse. Now, by the hedge
Close packed, they make a thicket fancy alone
Can creep through with the mouse and wren. Next spring
A blackbird or robin will nest there,
Accustomed to them, thinking they will remain
Whatever is for ever to a bird:
This Spring it is too late; the swift has come.
'Twas a hot day for carrying them up:
Better they will never warm me, though they must
Light several Winters' fires. Before they are done
The war will have ended, many other things
Have ended, maybe, that I can no more
Foresee or more control than robin and wren. 


                     <h3> First Known when Lost </h3>

I never had noticed it until
'Twas gone, - the narrow copse
Where now the woodman lops
The last of the willows with his bill 

It was not more than a hedge overgrown.
One meadow's breadth away
I passed it day by day.
Now the soil is bare as bone, 

And black betwixt two meadows green,
Though fresh-cut faggot ends
Of hazel made some amends
With a gleam as if flowers they had been. 

Strange it could have hidden so near!
And now I see as I look
That the small winding brook,
A tributary's tributary, rises there. 


                         <h3>    For These </h3>

An acre of land between the shore and the hills,
Upon a ledge that shows my kingdoms three,
The lovely visible earth and sky and sea
Where what the curlew needs not, the farmer tills: 

A house that shall love me as I love it,
Well-hedged, and honoured by a few ash trees
That linnets, greenfinches, and goldfinches
Shall often visit and make love in and flit: 

A garden I need never go beyond,
Broken but neat, whose sunflowers every one
Are fit to be the sign of the Rising Sun:
A spring, a brook's bend, or at least a pond: 

For these I ask not, but, neither too late
Nor yet too early, for what men call content,
And also that something may be sent
To be contented with, I ask of Fate. 





                               The Gallows

                               A Gentleman

                                 The Glory

                             Gone, Gone Again

                                Good-Night

                             The Green Roads

                                The Gypsy



                        <h3>   The Gallows </h3>

There was a weasel lived in the sun
With all his family,
Till a keeper shot him with his gun
And hung him up on a tree,
Where he swings in the wind and rain,
In the sun and in the snow,
Without pleasure, without pain,
On the dead oak tree bough. 

There was a crow who was no sleeper,
But a thief and a murderer
Till a very late hour; and this keeper
Made him one of the things that were,
To hang and flap in rain and wind,
In the sun and in the snow.
There are no more sins to be sinned
On the dead oak tree bough. 

There was a magpie, too,
Had a long tongue and a long tail;
He could talk and do -
But what did that avail?
He, too, flaps in the wind and rain
Alongside weasel and crow,
Without pleasure, without pain,
On the dead oak tree bough. 

And many other beasts
And birds, skin, bone, and feather,
Have been taken from their feasts
And hung up there together,
To swing and have endless leisure
In the sun and in the snow,
Without pain, without pleasure,
On the dead oak tree bough. 



                            <h3> A Gentleman </h3>

'He has robbed two clubs. The judge at Salisbury
Can't give him more than he undoubtedly
Deserves. The scoundrel! Look at his photograph!
A lady-killer! Hanging's too good by half
For such as he.' So said the stranger, one
With crimes yet undiscovered or undone.
But at the inn the Gipsy dame began:
'Now he was what I call a gentleman.
He went along with Carrie, and when she
Had a baby he paid up so readily
His half a crown. Just like him. A crown'd have been
More like him. For I never knew him mean.
Oh! but he was such a nice gentleman. Oh!
Last time we met he said if me and Joe
Was anywhere near we must be sure and call.
He put his arms around our Amos all
As if he were his own son. I pray God
Save him from justice! Nicer man never trod.' 



                  <h3>  The Glory </h3>

The glory of the beauty of the morning, -
The cuckoo crying over the untouched dew;
The blackbird that has found it, and the dove
That tempts me on to something sweeter than love;
White clouds ranged even and fair as new-mown hay;
The heat, the stir, the sublime vacancy
Of sky and meadow and forest and my own heart: -
The glory invites me, yet it leaves me scorning
All I can ever do, all I can be,
Beside the lovely of motion, shape, and hue,
The happiness I fancy fit to dwell
In beauty's presence. Shall I now this day
Begin to seek as far as heaven, as hell,
Wisdom or strength to match this beauty, start
And tread the pale dust pitted with small dark drops,
In hope to find whatever it is I seek,
Hearkening to short-lived happy-seeming things
That we know naught of, in the hazel copse?
Or must I be content with discontent
As larks and swallows are perhaps with wings?
And shall I ask at the day's end once more
What beauty is, and what I can have meant
By happiness? And shall I let all go,
Glad, weary, or both? Or shall I perhaps know
That I was happy oft and oft before,
Awhile forgetting how I am fast pent,
How dreary-swift, with naught to travel to,
Is Time? I cannot bite the day to the core. 



                            <h3> Gone, Gone Again </h3>

Gone, gone again,
May, June, July,
And August gone,
Again gone by, 

Not memorable
Save that I saw them go,
As past the empty quays
The rivers flow. 

And now again,
In the harvest rain,
The Blenheim oranges
Fall grubby from the trees 

As when I was young -
And when the lost one was here -
And when the war began
To turn young men to dung. 

Look at the old house,
Outmoded, dignified,
Dark and untenanted,
With grass growing instead 

Of the footsteps of life,
The friendliness, the strife;
In its beds have lain
Youth, love, age, and pain: 

I am sometimes like that;
Only I am not dead,
Still breathing and interested
In the house that is not dark: - 

I am something like that:
Not one pane to reflect the sun,
For the schoolboys to throw at -
They have broken every one. 



                    <h3> Good-Night </h3>

The skylarks are far behind that sang over the down;
I can hear no more those suburb nightingales;
Thrushes and blackbirds sing in the gardens of the town
In vain: the noise of man, beast, and machine prevails. 

But the call of children in the unfamiliar streets
That echo with a familiar twilight echoing,
Sweet as the voice of nightingale or lark, completes
A magic of strange welcome, so that I seem a king 

Among men, beast, machine, bird, child, and the ghost
That in the echo lives and with the echo dies.
The friendless town is friendly; homeless, I am not lost;
Though I know none of these doors, and meet but strangers' eyes. 

Never again, perhaps, after to-morrow, shall
I see these homely streets, these church windows alight,
Not a man or woman or child among them all:
But it is All Friends' Night, a traveller's good-night. 



           <h3>  The Green Roads </h3>

The green roads that end in the forest
Are strewn with white goose feathers this June, 

Life marks left behind by someone gone to the forest
To show his track. But he has never come back. 

Down each green road a cottage looks at the forest.
Round one the nettle towers; two are bathed in flowers. 

An old man along the green road to the forest
Strays from one, from another a child alone. 

In the thicket bordering the forest,
All day long a thrush twiddles his song. 

It is old, but the trees are young in the forest,
All but one like a castle keep, in the middle deep. 

That oak saw the ages pass in the forest:
They were a host, but their memories are lost, 

For the tree is dead: all things forget the forest
Excepting perhaps me, when now I see 

The old man, the child, the goose feathers at the edge of the forest,
And hear all day long the thrush repeat his song. 



                           <h3> The Gypsy </h3>

A fortnight before Christmas Gypsies were everywhere:
Vans were drawn up on wastes, women trailed to the fair.
'My gentleman,' said one, 'you've got a lucky face.'
'And you've a luckier,' I thought, 'if such grace
And impudence in rags are lucky.' 'Give a penny
For the poor baby's sake.' 'Indeed I have not any
Unless you can give change for a sovereign, my dear.'
'Then just half a pipeful of tobacco can you spare?'
I gave it. With that much victory she laughed content.
I should have given more, but off and away she went
With her baby and her pink sham flowers to rejoin
The rest before I could translate to its proper coin
Gratitude for her grace. And I paid nothing then,
As I pay nothing now with the dipping of my pen
For her brother's music when he drummed the tambourine
And stamped his feet, which made the workmen passing grin,
While his mouth-organ changed to a rascally Bacchanal dance
'Over the hills and far away.' This and his glance
Outlasted all the fair, farmer, and auctioneer,
Cheap-jack, balloon-man, drover with crooked stick, and steer,
Pig, turkey, goose, and duck, Christmas corpses to be.
Not even the kneeling ox had eyes like the Romany.
That night he peopled for me the hollow wooded land,
More dark and wild than the stormiest heavens, that I searched and
scanned
Like a ghost new-arrived. The gradations of the dark
Were like an underworld of death, but for the spark
In the Gypsy boy's black eyes as he played and stamped his tune,
'Over the hills and far away,' and a crescent moon. 





                                 Haymaking

                                   Health

                               Head and Bottle

                              The Hollow Wood

                                   Home

                                   'Home'

                                   Home

                               House and Man

                                How at Once

                                 The Huxter



           <h3>      Haymaking </h3>

After night's thunder far away had rolled 
The fiery day had a kernel sweet of cold,
And in the perfect blue the clouds uncurled, 
Like the first gods before they made the world 
And misery, swimming the stormless sea
In beauty and in divine gaiety.
The smooth white empty road was lightly strewn 
With leaves - the holly's Autumn falls in June -
And fir cones standing up stiff in the heat. 
The mill-foot water tumbled white and lit
With tossing crystals, happier than any crowd 
Of children pouring out of school aloud. 
And in the little thickets where a sleeper 
For ever might lie lost, the nettle creeper
And garden-warbler sang unceasingly;
While over them shrill shrieked in his fierce glee 
The swift with wings and tail as sharp and narrow 
As if the bow had flown off with the arrow. 
Only the scent of woodbine and hay new mown 
Travelled the road. In the field sloping down, 
Park-like, to where its willows showed the brook, 
Haymakers rested. The tosser lay forsook 
Out in the sun; and the long waggon stood 
Without its team:it seemed it never would 
Move from the shadow of that single yew. 
The team, as still, until their task was due, 
Beside the labourers enjoyed the shade
That three squat oaks mid-feld together made 
Upon a circle of grass and weed uncut,
And on the hollow, once a chalk pit, but
Now brimmed with nut and elder-flower so clean. 
The men leaned on their rakes, about to begin, 
But still. And all were silent. All was old,
This morning time, with a great age untold, 
Older than Clare and Cobbett, Morland and Crome,
Than, at the field's far edge, the farmer's home, 
A white house crouched at the foot of a great tree. 
Under the heavens that know not what years be 
The men, the beasts, the trees, the implements 
Uttered even what they will in times far hence - 
All of us gone out of the reach of change - 
Immortal in a picture of an old grange. 



                 <h3> Health </h3>

Four miles at a leap, over the dark hollow land, 
To the frosted steep of the down and its junipers black, 
Travels my eye with equal ease and delight: 
And scarce could my body leap four yards. 

This is the best and the worst of it -
Never to know,
Yet to imagine gloriously, pure health. 

To-day, had I suddenly health,
I could not satisfy the desire of my heart
Unless health abated it,
So beautiful is the air in its softness and clearness, while 
Spring
Promises all and fails in nothing as yet;
And what blue and what white is I never knew
Before I saw this sky blessing the land. 

For had I health I could not ride or run or fly
So far or so rapidly over the land
As I desire: I should reach Wiltshire tired;
I should have changed my mind before I could be in Wales. 
I could not love; I could not command love.
beauty would still be far off
However many hills I climbed over;
Peace would still be farther.
Maybe I should not count it anything 
To leap these four miles with the eye;
And either I should not be filled almost to bursting with desire,
Or with my power desire would still keep pace. 

Yet I am not satisfied
Even with knowing I never could be satisfied.
With health and all the power that lies
In maiden beauty, poet and warrior, 
In Caesar, Shakespeare, Alcibiades,
Mazeppa, Leonardo, Michelangelo,
In any maiden whose smile is lovelier
Than sunlight upon dew,
I could not be as the wagtail running up and down 
The warm tiles of the roof slope, twittering
Happily and sweetly as if the sun itself
Extracted the song
As the hand makes sparks from the fur of a cat: 

I could not be as the sun.
Nor should I be content to be
As little as the bird or as mighty as the sun.
For the bird knows not the sun, 
And the sun regards not the bird.
But I am almost proud to love both bird and sun, 
Though scarce this Spring could my body leap four yards. 



               <h3>   Head and Bottle </h3>

The downs will lose the sun, white alyssum 
Lose the bees' hum;
But head and bottle tilted back in the cart 
Will never part
Till I am cold as midnight and all my hours 
Are beeless flowers.
He neither sees, nor hears, nor smells, nor thinks, 
But only drinks,
Quiet in the yard where tree trunks do not lie 
More quietly. 



                 <h3> The Hollow Wood </h3>

Out in the sun the goldfinch flits
Along the thistle-tops, flits and twits 
Above the hollow wood
Where birds swim like fish -
Fish that laugh and shriek -
To and fro, far below
In the pale hollow wood. 

Lichen, ivy, and moss
Keep evergreen the trees
That stand half-flayed and dying, 
And the dead trees on their knees
In dog's-mercury and moss:
And the bright twit of the goldfinch drops 
Down there as he flits on thistle-tops. 



             <h3>   Home </h3>

Not the end: but there's nothing more. 
Sweet Summer and Winter rude 
I have loved, and friendship and love, 
The crowd and solitude: 

But I know them: I weary not; 
But all that they mean I know. 
I would go back again home 
Now. Yet how should I go? 

This is my grief. That land, 
My home, I have never seen; 
No traveller tells of it,
However far he has been. 

And could I discover it,
I fear my happiness there,
Or my pain, might be dreams of return 
Here, to these things that were. 

Remembering ills, though slight 
Yet irremediable,
Brings a worse, an impurer pang 
Than remembering what was well. 

No: I cannot go back,
And would not if I could.
Until blindness come, I must wait 
And blink at what is not good. 



              <h3> 'Home'</h3>

Fair was the morning, fair our tempers, and 
We had seen nothing fairer than that land, 
Though strange, and the untrodden snow that made 
Wild of the tame, casting out all that was
Not wild and rustic and old; and we were glad. 

Fair too was afternoon, and first to pass
Were we that league of snow, next the north wind. 

There was nothing to return for, except need, 
And yet we sang nor ever stopped for speed, 
As we did often with the start behind.
Faster still strode we when we came in sight 
Of the cold roofs where we must spend the night. 
Happy we had not been there, nor could be, 
Though we had tasted sleep and food and fellowship 
Together long. 

'How quick', to someone's lip
The words came, 'will the beaten horse run home!' 

The word 'home' raised a smile in us all three,
And one repeated it, smiling just so
That all knew what he meant and none would say. 
Between three counties far apart that lay
We were divided and looked strangely each 
At the other, and we knew we were not friends 
But fellows in a union that ends
With the necessity for it, as it ought. 

Never a word was spoken, not a thought
Was thought, of what the look meant with the word 
'Home' as we walked and watched the sunset blurred. 
And then to me the word, only the word, 
'Homesick', as it were playfully occurred:
No more. 

If I should ever more admit 
Than the mere word I could not endure it 
For a day longer: this captivity
Must somehow come to an end, else I should be 
Another man, as often now I seem, 
Or this life be only an evil dream. 



              <h3>    Home </h3>

Often I had gone this way before 
But now it seemed I never could be 
And never had been anywhere else; 
'Twas home; one nationality 
We had, I and the birds that sang, 
One memory. 

They welcomed me. I had come back 
That eve somehow from somewhere far: 
The April mist, the chill, the calm, 
Meant the same thing familiar
And pleasant to us, and strange too, 
Yet with no bar. 

The thrush on the oaktop in the lane 
Sang his last song, or last but one; 
And as he ended, on the elm 
Another had but just begun
His last; they knew no more than I 
The day was done. 

Then past his dark white cottage front 
A labourer went along, his tread
Slow, half with weariness, half with ease; 
And, through the silence, from his shed 
The sound of sawing rounded all
That silence said. 



               <h3> House and Man </h3>

One hour: as dim he and his house now look 
As a reflection in a rippling brook,
While I remember him; but first, his house.
Empty it sounded. It was dark with forest boughs 
That brushed the walls and made the mossy tiles 
Part of the squirrels' track. In all those miles 
Of forest silence and forest murmur, only
One house - 'Lonely!' he said, 'I wish it were lonely' -
Which the trees looked upon from every side, 
And that was his. 

He waved good-bye to hide 
A sigh that he converted to a laugh.
He seemed to hang rather than stand there, half 
Ghost-like, half like a beggar's rag, clean wrung 
And useless on the brier where it has hung 
Long years a-washing by sun and wind and rain. 

But why I call back man and house again 
Is there now a beech-tree's tip I see 
As then I saw - I at the gate, and he
In the house darkness, - magpie veering about, 
A magpie like a weathercock in doubt. 



               <h3> How at Once </h3>

How at once should I know, 
When stretched in the harvest blue 
I saw the swift's black bow,
That I would not have that view 
Another day
Until next May 
Again it is due? 

The same year after year - 
But with the swift alone.
With other things I but fear
That they will be over and done 
Suddenly
And I only see
Them to know them gone. 



                        <h3> The Huxter </h3>

He has a hump like an ape on his back; 
He has of money a plentiful lack;
And but for a gay coat of double his girth 
There is not a plainer thing on the earth
This fine May morning. 

But the huxter has a bottle of beer;
He drives a cart and his wife sits near 
Who does not heed his lack or his hump; 
And they laugh as down the lane they bump
This fine May morning. 




                                   Interval


                                   It Rains

                                It Was Upon

                        I Never Saw that Land Before

                        I Built Myself a House of Glass



                 <h3> Interval </h3>

Gone the wild day: 
A wilder night
Coming makes way 
For brief twilight. 

Where the firm soaked road 
Mounts and is lost
In the high beech-wood 
It shines almost. 

The beeches keep
A stormy rest, 
Breathing deep
Of wind from the west. 

The wood is black, 
With a misty steam. 
Above, the cloud pack 
Breaks for one gleam. 

But the woodman's cot 
By the ivied trees
Awakens not
To light or breeze. 

It smokes aloft
Unwavering:
It hunches soft
Under storm's wing. 

It has no care
For gleam or gloom: 
It stays there
While I shall roam, 

Die, and forget 
The hill of trees,
The gleam, the wet, 
This roaring peace. 



             <h3> It Rains </h3>

It rains, and nothing stirs within the fence 
Anywhere through the orchard's untrodden, dense 
Forest of parsley. The great diamonds
Of rain on the grassblades there is none to break, 
Or the fallen petals further down to shake. 

And I am nearly as happy as possible
To search the wilderness in vain though well, 
To think of two walking, kissing there,
Drenched, yet forgetting the kisses of the rain: 
Sad, too, to think that never, never again, 

Unless alone, so happy shall I walk
In the rain. When I turn away, on its fine stalk 
Twilight has fined to naught, the parsley flower 
Figures, suspended still and ghostly white, 
The past hovering as it revisits the light. 



          <h3>  It Was Upon </h3>

It was upon a July evening.
At a stile I stood, looking along a path 
Over the country by a second Spring
Drenched perfect green again. 'The lattermath 
Will be a fine one.' So the stranger said, 
A wandering man. Albeit I stood at rest, 
Flushed with desire I was. The earth outspread, 
Like meadows of the future, I possessed. 

And as an unaccomplished prophecy
The stranger's words, after the interval 
Of a score years, when those fields are by me 
Never to be recrossed, now I recall,
This July eve, and question, wondering, 
What of the lattermath to this hoar Spring? 



    <h3>    I Never Saw that Land Before </h3>

I never saw that land before, 
And now can never see it again; 
Yet, as if by acquaintance hoar 
Endeared, by gladness and by pain, 
Great was the affection that I bore 

To the valley and the river small, 
The cattle, the grass, the bare ash trees, 
The chickens from the farmsteads, all 
Elm-hidden, and the tributaries
Descending at equal interval; 

The blackthorns down along the brook 
With wounds yellow as crocuses 
Where yesterday the labourer's hook 
Had sliced them cleanly; and the breeze 
That hinted all and nothing spoke. 

I neither expected anything
Nor yet remembered: but some goal 
I touched then; and if I could sing 
What would not even whisper my soul 
As I went on my journeying, 

I should use, as the trees and birds did, 
A language not to be betrayed;
And what was hid should still be hid 
Excepting from those like me made 
Who answer when such whispers bid. 



      <h3> I Built Myself a House of Glass </h3>

I built myself a house of glass: 
It took my years to make it:
And I was proud. But now, alas! 
Would God someone would break it. 

But it looks too magnificent. 
No neighbour casts a stone
From where he dwells, in tenement 
Or palace of glass, alone. 




                                    July

                                   Liberty

                                 Lights Out

                           Like the Touch of Rain

                              
                                The Lofty Sky

                            The Long Small Room

                                   Lovers



               <h3>    July </h3>

Naught moves but clouds, and in the glassy lake 
Their doubles and the shadow of my boat. 
The boat itself stirs only when I break 
This drowse of heat and solitude afloat 
To prove if what I see be bird or mote, 
Or learn if yet the shore woods be awake. 

Long hours since dawn grew, - spread, - and passed on high 
And deep below, - I have watched the cool reeds hung 
Over images more cool in imaged sky:
Nothing there was worth thinking of so long; 
All that the ring-doves say, far leaves among, 
Brims my mind with content thus still to lie. 






            <h3>  Liberty </h3>

The last light has gone out of the world, except 
This moonlight lying on the grass like frost 
Beyond the brink of the tall elm's shadow. 
It is as if everything else had slept
Many an age, unforgotten and lost -
The men that were, the things done, long ago, 
All I have thought; and but the moon and I 
Live yet and here stand idle over a grave
Where all is buried. Both have liberty
To dream what we could do if we were free 
To do some thing we had desired long,
The moon and I. There's none less free than who 
Does nothing and has nothing else to do,
Being free only for what is not to his mind, 
And nothing is to his mind. If every hour
Like this one passing that I have spent among 
The wiser others when I have forgot 
To wonder whether I was free or not,
Were piled before me, and not lost behind, 
And I could take and carry them away 
I should be rich; or if 1 had the power 
To wipe out every one and not again 
Regret, I should be rich to be so poor.
And yet I still am half in love with pain,
With what is imperfect, with both tears and mirth, 
With things that have an end, with life and earth, 
And this moon that leaves me dark within the door. 



        <h3>  Lights Out </h3>

I have come to the borders of sleep, 
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight, 
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose. 

Many a road and track
That, since the dawn's first crack,
Up to the forest brink, 
Deceived the travellers,
Suddenly now blurs,
And in they sink. 

Here love ends,
Despair, ambition ends;
All pleasure and all trouble,
Although most sweet or bitter, 
Here ends in sleep that is sweeter 
Than tasks most noble. 

There is not any book 
Or face of dearest look
That I would not turn from now 
To go into the unknown
I must enter, and leave, alone, 
I know not how. 

The tall forest towers; 
Its cloudy foliage lowers 
Ahead, shelf above shelf; 
Its silence I hear and obey 
That I may lose my way 
And myself. 



        <h3> Like the Touch of Rain </h3>

Like the touch of rain she was
On a man's flesh and hair and eyes 
When the joy of walking thus
Has taken him by surprise: 

With the love of the storm he burns, 
He sings, he laughs, well I know how, 
But forgets when he returns
As I shall not forget her 'Go now'. 

Those two words shut a door
Between me and the blessed rain 
That was never shut before
And will not open again. 



           <h3> The Lofty Sky </h3>

To-day I want the sky,
The tops of the high hills,
Above the last man's house ,
His hedges, and his cows,
Where, if I will, I look
Down even on sheep and rook, 
And of all things that move 
See buzzards only above:- 
Past all trees, past furze
And thorn, where nought deters 
The desire of the eye
For sky, nothing but sky.
I sicken of the woods 
And all the multitudes
Of hedge-trees. They are no more 
Than weeds upon this floor
Of the river of air
Leagues deep, leagues wide, where 
I am like a fish that lives
In weeds and mud and gives 
What's above him no thought. 
I might be a tench for aught 
That I can do to-day
Down on the wealden clay.
Even the tench has days
When he floats up and plays 
Among the lily leaves
And sees the sky, or grieves 
Not if he nothing sees:
While I, I know that trees
Under that lofty sky
Are weeds, fields mud, and I 
Would arise and go far 
To where the lilies are. 



      <h3>   The Long Small Room </h3>

The long small room that showed willows in the west 
Narrowed up to the end the fireplace filled,
Although not wide. I liked it. No one guessed 
What need or accident made them so build. 

Only the moon, the mouse and the sparrow peeped 
In from the ivy round the casement thick.
Of all they saw and heard there they shall keep 
The tale for the old ivy and older brick. 

When I look back I am like moon, sparrow, and mouse 
That witnessed what they could never understand 
Or alter or prevent in the dark house.
One thing remains the same - this my right hand 

Crawling crab-like over the clean white page, 
Resting awhile each morning on the pillow,
Then once more starting to crawl on towards age. 
The hundred last leaves stream upon the willow. 



         <h3> Lovers </h3>

The two men in the road were taken aback.
The lovers came out shading their eyes from the sun, 
And never was white so white, or black so black, 
As her cheeks and hair. `There are more things than one 
A man might turn into a wood for, Jack,'
Said George; Jack whispered: `He has not got a gun. 
It's a bit too much of a good thing, I say.
They are going the other road, look. And see her run.'
She ran. - 'What a thing it is, this picking may!' <hr>


http://www.demon.co.uk/review/library/thomas00.html
See The Richmond Review for these poems and many other things of
literary interest.