A Celebration of Women Writers


BETSINDA DANCES
AND OTHER POEMS

by "Jan Struther"
(Joyce Maxtone Graham, 1901-1953)
author of Mrs. Miniver

Copyright, the Estate of Jan Struther, 1931.
This authorised internet edition was published with the permission of the Maxtone Graham family, and the assistance of Joyce Maxtone Graham's son, Robert Maxtone Graham, in 2001.
It is illegal to reproduce this work without permission.


PRELIMINARY NOTES
to the Internet Edition
by the author's son, Robert Maxtone Graham, 2001.

Nearly all these poems first appeared in The Observer, The Spectator, Country Life, Punch, The New Statesman, and other papers.

First published in book form by Oxford University Press, London, 1931.


BETSINDA DANCES

AND OTHER POEMS


To A. M. G.

[Jan's first husband, Tony, 1900-1971–R.M.G.]

Whose thoughtfulness provides the soil
Wherein a poet's restless toil
May raise, through drought and frost and showers,
His kittle and refractory flowers:
For only in two kinds of earth
Can poets bring their songs to birth–
In sorrow's rich and heavy clay,
Or else (and here's the rarer way)
Out of the loamy light caress
Of an abundant happiness.
(Between lie barren lands and bare,
Sterile contentment, stony care.)
Therefore, best critic and best friend,
To you these doggerel thanks I send
For each delightful day, each charming year
Your presence has ensured for me, my dear.


CONTENTS

BETSINDA DANCES
THE BLUNDER
LONDON LOVERS
COBWEBS
THE CHOICE
TIME-PIECE
ACONITE
FOOL'S SONG
AGE
THE GOLDEN TOUCH
DANDELION
TREASURE
SAINT VALENTINE
EPITAPH
TO AN ORCHARD NEAR LONDON
TO PHILIPPA
THE RIVAL
EPITAPH ON A LADY OF FASHION
A PARADOX
THE KING'S ROAD
GLAMOUR
SONG
ON A CHILD WHO DIED IN AUTUMN
LOVE-CHILDREN
TO HIS SWEETHEART, TO SAVE HER SOUL
THOUGHTS AFTER LIGHTING A FIRE
ADVICE TO MY FUTURE GRAND-DAUGHTER
BALLADE OF VANISHING WILD FLOWERS
GOLD AND SILVER
EVENING
THREE WOMEN
WEDDING EVE
JEALOUSY
'BODY, BEWARE ...'
LONDON, MAY 1930
DIRGE FOR BRIEF LOVE
FREEDOM
THE HIGGLERS
'A MAN FROM THE NORTH'
THE LITTLE WORLD
BIOGRAPHY


BETSINDA DANCES

On a carpet red and blue
Sits Betsinda, not quite two,
Tracing with baby-starfish hand
The patterns that a Persian planned.
Suddenly she sees me go
Towards the box whence dances flow,
Where embalmed together lie
Symphony and lullaby.
Out of her round and silken head
Fly patterns blue and patterns red;
She hoists her tiny self upright
And, shining-eyed, awaits delight.
   Now at full speed the record spins;
The wizard needle-point begins
(Perceptive as a blind man's finger)
To thread the secret paths where linger
The ghosts of poignant violins.
Out of a limbo black as jet
It conjures horn and clarinet;
And spectral harp and phantom flute
And shades of oboes long since mute
It rouses, like the trump of doom,
To glory from their waxen tomb.
   Then, as the tide of sound advances,
With grave delight Betsinda dances:
One arm flies up, the other down
To lift her Lilliputian gown,
And round she turns on clumsy, sweet,
Unrhythmical, enraptured feet;
And round and round again she goes
On hopeful, small, precarious toes.
   Dance, Betsinda, dance, while I
Weave from this a memory;
Thinking, If I chance to hear
That record in some future year,
The needle-point shall conjure yet
Horn and harp and clarinet:
But O! it shall not conjure you–
Betsinda, dancing, not quite two.


THE BLUNDER

Some god, quite irresponsible and young,
   Has jumbled time and place and dealt amiss:
A day of Grecian spring-time he has flung
   Into this winter-bound Metropolis.
O blessèd blunderer! To-day the air
   Is blue as the Aegean, soft as wine,
And there are Tritons in Trafalgar Square
   And white-limbed Naiads in the Serpentine.
To-day great Centaurs gallop down the Row;
   Hyde Park's a silver mist of olive-trees;
And all the costers' barrows overflow
   With golden apples from the Hesperides.
      Hide, careless god! There'll be, without a doubt,
      Hades to pay in heaven when Zeus finds out!


LONDON LOVERS

Country lovers play at love
In a scene all laid for loving.
Marriage-making stars above
Gossip and wink and look approving,
While the moon with maudlin beam
Gilds the sentimental air,
And lends the glamour of a dream
To eye and hand, to lip and hair;
Long dewy lanes invite the feet
And all the silver dusk is sweet
With unimaginable roses;
And round the heart enchantment closes,
And the whole world's a lovers' tale
Spun by the moon and the nightingale.

O love's a simple word to say
With nature aiding and abetting;
And love's an easy part to play
On such a stage, in such a setting.

London lovers lack the aid
Of such poetic properties:
In uninspiring streets are played
Their love-scenes and their ecstasies.
They are not coached by moon or star
Or prompted by the nightingale;
On Shepherd's Bush no roses are;
There lies no dew in Maida Vale.
London lovers see instead
Electric sky-signs overhead,
Jarring upon romantic mood
With eulogies of patent food.
For them no peace when twilight falls,
Only the noise of busy places,
The drabness of a thousand walls,
The staring of a thousand faces.
Yet London man to London maid
Makes his undaunted serenade:
Enraptured and oblivious
He woos her–on a motor-bus.

O proudly down each thoroughfare
Go London lovers two by two:
For London love is staunch and rare
And brave and difficult and true;
And seven times sweet is each caress
Snatched from a world of ugliness.


COBWEBS

There are no chains to bind me to your side,
   No links of love, no fetters of desire,
No firm-wrought bonds of iron friendship tried,
   Nor sympathy that's forged in sorrow's fire.
I am a captive in a cobweb's mesh;
   Frail is its tracery, yet I cannot stir;
Fast as I tear the strands, they grow afresh
   And hold me here with you, a prisoner:
Habit, long musty, set in instinct's place,
   Pale duty, and a maze of trivial ties,
And craven kindness–since I am loathe to face
   Your wounded and uncomprehending eyes.
      Steel chains might yet be snapped, and I be free:
      But O! these clinging cobwebs strangle me.


THE CHOICE

Dear, if some god (lonely in Paradise
   And jealous of my two-fold ecstasy)
Were to demand one half as sacrifice–
   My love for you, or else your love for me:
O then I'd choose that you should need me less,
   So my own body still for you might crave;
And all your passion, all your tenderness
   I'd lose, my own heart's tenderness to save.
I'd sooner hear the ardour in your voice
   Grow false and dull, than feel my own lips falter
On old endearments. This should be my choice,
   If choice must be, to deck the high god's altar.
      For to love, loveless, is a bitter pill:
      But to be loved, unloving, bitterer still.


TIME-PIECE

Caught, caught is the wild cuckoo
   That sang among the flowers;
They have prisoned him in a dark prison
   To count them the hours.

Between the dawn and the dim evening
   Twelve songs must he sing,
That men may reckon the day's passing
   And the passing of Spring.

O they have shattered the soul of April
   And slain the heart of May,
Because they have stolen the wild cuckoo
   To tell the time of day.

And wearily sings the wild cuckoo,
   Wearily sings he now,
Because his heart would cease from singing
   And his throat knows not how.


ACONITE

Earth has borne a little son;
He is a very little one.
He has a head of golden hair
And a grave, unwinking stare.
He wears a bib all frilled and green
Round his neck to keep him clean.
Though before another spring
A thousand children Earth may bring
Forth to bud and blossoming–
Lily daughters cool and slender,
Roses passionate and tender,
Tulip sons as brave as swords,
Hollyhocks like laughing lords–
Yet she'll never love them quite
As much as she loves Aconite:
Aconite, the first of all,
Who is so very, very small;
Who is so golden-haired and good,
And wears a bib, as babies should.


FOOL'S SONG

You shall have roast peacock
   For your mid-day meat;
But the bitter Fool's Parsley
   Is all that I shall eat.

You shall have rare sauces
   Your hunger to whet;
But the wild Clown's Mustard
   Is all that I shall get.

You shall have church bells
   When you wed your dear;
But the bells on my own cap
   Are all that I shall hear.

You shall live with wise men,
   Wantonly or well,
And go to Wise Man's Heaven
   Or to Wise Man's Hell;
But in Fool's Paradise
   You shall never dwell.


AGE

Pity me, O my people! I am old.
It is a long time since I made the world.
Out of the mist I made it, the mist that swirled
Shapelessly in the void. I was so bold
And full of splendid dreams when I was young . . .
O then I ruled my world as a God should–
Cast down the evildoers, blessèd the good,
Let no man call on me with heart or tongue
Uncomforted. I could banish all despair,
Set lovely vision in a blind man's head,
Make sickness whole, raise the beloved dead:
There was no task too hard for me, no prayer
Too wild.
   But now I can do these things no more.
Strength has gone from me; sight and hearing fail;
My great hand trembles, impotent and frail,
And I am a mockery, who was God before.
Pity me, O my people! I am old,
Weary and sorrowful and very cold,
Shaking and mumbling on my throne of gold.


THE GOLDEN TOUCH

King Midas saw a buttercup
   In a meadow blowing;
King Midas saw a marigold
   In a garden growing;
King Midas saw a yellowhammer
   On a bough swinging;
King Midas heard the golden voice
   Of my true love singing.

'Though I have the golden touch,'
   (Thus Midas spake),
'Yet gold such as this gold
   Can I never make.'
And down upon his empty arms
   He laid his grey head:
'The gods have made a mock of me,'
   King Midas said.


DANDELION

Sir Daniel was a fearless knight;
In doublet green he went to fight.
The yellow plumes upon his head
Like the sun their brightness shed.
He rode no charger in the field,
Waved no banner, bore no shield,
But stood with broad and jagged blade
Challenging rogue and renegade.

Sir Daniel now is getting old;
He's laid aside his plumes of gold;
His hair is soft and silver-white;
He has forgotten how to fight.
Yet still he stands, a little bent,
Dreaming of joust and tournament,
Guarding the children at their play
And telling them the time of day.

(Since, before his youth departed,
He earned the name of 'Lion-hearted',
The children whom he keeps an eye on,
Laughing, call him 'Dan de Lion'.)


TREASURE

She said, 'I have no need for treasure,
   For brooches and for jewelled rings.'
Proudly she said, 'I take my pleasure
   In truer, kindlier things.'

She said, 'I have a dear lover,
   And at my breast I have his child.
I have a rose-red roof to cover
   My head when the wind's wild.

'I have a garden full of flowers,
   A kitchen gay with blue and white,
A little clock to chime the hours,
   A tranquil bed at night.'

I showed her pearls as pale as mist,
   I showed her rubies red as fire,
And emerald and amethyst
   To slake a queen's desire.

She said, 'I have no need for treasure;
   In humbler things my comfort lies.'
And there was none save me to measure
   The longing in her eyes.


SAINT VALENTINE

Saint Valentine looked down from heaven
   Upon his own especial day,
And scanned the broad face of the earth
   Below him as it lay.

Then Satan whispered in his ear
   With smile triumphant and malign,
'Upon your shame and your defeat
   Look long, Saint Valentine!

'For valentines are out of date
   And all romance is at an end;
There are no bleeding hearts to staunch,
   No broken ones to mend.

'Your children have forgot your feast
   And scorned your symbol and your sign.
Upon a world which needs you not
   Look down, Saint Valentine!'

Said Valentine to Lucifer,
   'Yea, on the earth mine eyes are bent;
And with the sights that greet them there
   Lo, I am well content.

'For I can see in every town,
   At every corner of the street,
A lover with an eager face
   A-waiting for his sweet.

'And I can see in every lane,
   Ere yet the primrose buds appear,
A lover wrapped in ecstasy
   A-walking with his dear.

'They do not call upon my name;
   They set no flowers in my shrine;
Yet I have seen what I have seen–
   I am content!' said Valentine.


EPITAPH

She was too lovely for remembrance–
   Let us forget her like a dream,
Lest all our days and all our nights hereafter
   Empty should seem.

Let not the blind remember beauty,
   Nor deaf men think upon a tune:
There are things that are too lovely for remembrance–
   Let us forget her soon.

Let us forget her–we who loved her–
   For pity's sake, for comfort's sake:
Lest, plucked too oft by the long hands of sorrow,
   Our heart-strings break.


TO AN ORCHARD NEAR LONDON
('This Land to be Sold in Building Plots.')

Bloom passionately, O apple-trees, this spring;
   Drink deep of the April sun, the April rain,
That this may be your loveliest blossoming,
   O apple-trees that shall not flower again.
And let your apples rounder and sweeter grow
   This year than they have ever grown before;
Under their burden let your boughs bend low–
   When these are gathered you shall bear no more.

Bloom passionately, then, this last long spring,
That to the very air your ghost may cling
In after years, when roofs and walls shine red
Where once your rosy apples shone instead;
And where your topmost boughs once caught the breeze
Some child may sleep–and dream of apple-trees.


TO PHILIPPA

Your eyes are two grey Puritans,
   Your mouth's a laughing Cavalier;
And all day long a civil war
   Between them doth appear.

For though your mouth's enchanting curves
   To hopes of love most swiftly move me,
Yet, when my ardour bids me speak,
   Your steadfast eyes reprove me.

While if I strive, with calmer thoughts,
   To meet your eyes on friendship's level,
Your mouth, my dear inconsequent,
   Becomes the very devil.

I pray you, let this warfare cease!
   They cannot fight who captives be.
Come then, my sweetheart–shut your eyes,
   And give your lips to me. . . .


THE RIVAL

Dear, if my rival only were
A woman whom you found more fair,
A lust for wealth, a thirst for fame.
A creed, a dwelling-place, a game,
A long-lost dream, a long-tried friend–
O then I think that in the end,
Loving so much, I'd find some way to win you.

But not for these things burns the flame that's in you.
And there's no power in word or kiss
Against a rival such as this:
No charm, no weapon can I find–
God, how you love your peace of mind!


EPITAPH ON A LADY OF FASHION

She, who would never close an eye
Until the dawn had paled the sky,
Now perforce must longer lie.

She, who wakeful strove to keep
Her laughter, that her thoughts might sleep,
Now must think both long and deep.

She, who could scarce endure to spend
One day alone, must in the end
Have none but solitude for friend.

And she, who winced with wounded pride
When on her tablets she descried
A single hour unoccupied–
To-day (poor soul!) 'tis well she cannot look
And see how blank is her engagement-book. . . .


A PARADOX

Like beggars, lame and dull of heart,
   Past me the long days creep
From unsought wakening
   To unsought sleep.

And yet the years like hot-foot thieves
   Run softly, nimbly by,
As though from fierce pursuit
   They needs must fly.

Sage, you are old and well content:
   Can all your wisdom show
What I, being young and sad,
   Still seek to know?
Then say–how come the years to seem so swift,
   The days, the days so slow?


THE KING'S ROAD

The bus is swaying. We have left Sloane Square.
Noisily the conductor climbs the stair.
'Fares, please!' says he. 'Two penny ones,' say I.
'Two to World's End?' says he. I want to cry,
'Two to World's End–yes, yes, to the very end,
For me and my sweet friend . . . !'
But he turns away; he does not understand;
And we are alone, and dumb, and hand in hand.

O love, we are poor, but the gold of the sunset fills our eyes,
And with our pence we have bought us a way to Paradise:
For royally, proudly now, in the pale cool dusk of spring,
We ride to the End of the World along the Road of the King.


GLAMOUR

The linnet is here, and the lark, and the yellowhammer,
   And the thrush that sings so clear at the break of day.
The small brown birds are here: but the bright bird Glamour
   Has opened his shining wings and flown away.
He lit on my hand for a while–I heard his singing,
   That was like an ache and a flame, a dream and a star;
But now the sound grows faint; I can see him winging
   Through the dark woods of the world, travelling far.

It is he that young man dare for and old men sigh for,
   It is he that calls the sailors down to the sea,
It is he that women bear for and soldiers die for,
   And where he has been comfort no more shall be.
      Through the dark woods of the world I stumble on:
      'Glamour, O bright bird Glamour, where have you gone?'


SONG

Sometimes when Winter broods,
   Dumb, black, malevolent,
I think on April's moods
   And wait, content.

But O! a lovelier thing,
   More difficult, more rare,
Is to remember Spring
   When Summer's there.


ON A CHILD WHO DIED IN AUTUMN

   His life was such a tiny thing:
   The first pale crocus of the spring
   Began it, and the last late rose
   Fell, in the autumn, on its close.
      Say, then, all else being said,
      'Another flower is dead,
   Who was as sweet and small and dear
   As any blossom of the year.'
And say, 'He knew the sun, but shall not know
Grey skies, long rains, cold winds or bitter snow.'


LOVE-CHILDREN

Since, by the world's decree,
   No child must ever
Be born of you and me,
   My dearest lover;
We must from heart and mind
   Banish this hunger,
And let these visions blind
   Our eyes no longer.

But none from me can take
   The right of giving
Birth to the songs I make
   Out of our loving.
So, though they be not great,
   Cherish them dearly:
We can nought else create,
   Who love so rarely.


TO HIS SWEETHEART, TO SAVE HER SOUL

You say you love me, but you still deny
   Yourself to me, who would your beauty share.
   The world commends your virtue: yet I swear
You are a greater libertine than I.

For never did a man in woman's thrall
   So burn to take his love, and suage his fever,
   As you (who love me) long to stay for ever
Hungry and chaste, tortured and virginal.

Then, sweet, if all desire is of the devil
   And they who yield to it are heaven-cursed,
   Indulge no more your most compelling thirst–
Come, lie with me, and choose the lesser evil:
      For you (who love me) must thrice wanton be
      To lust so fiercely after chastity.


THOUGHTS AFTER LIGHTING A FIRE

When to this fire I held a taper,
First flared the impressionable paper;
I watched the paper, as I stood,
Kindle the more enduring wood;
And from the wood a vanguard stole
To set alight the steadfast coal.

So, when I love, the first afire
Is body with its quick desire;
Then in a little while I find
The flame has crept into my mind–
Till steadily, sweetly burns the whole
Bright conflagration of my soul.


ADVICE TO MY FUTURE
GRAND-DAUGHTER

While I am young, and have not yet forsworn
   Valour for comfort, truth for compromise,
I write these words to you, the unknown, unborn
   Child of the child that in this cradle lies:
'Live, then, as now I live; love as I love
   With body and heart and mind, the tangled three;
Sell peace for beauty's sake, and set above
   All other things ecstasy, ecstasy.'

And if, grey-headed by the fireside,
   Filled with the withered wisdom of October,
I frown upon your April; if I chide
   And murmur, 'Child, be good,' or, 'Child, be sober,'
      Then, then (I charge you now) no longer stay:
      But laugh, and toss your head, and go your way.


BALLADE OF VANISHING WILD FLOWERS

Gone is the Gentian from the hill;
   Gone is the Wind-flower from the glade;
Fritillary and Daffodil
   Have perished by the ruthless spade.
   But now these infidels shall raid
The meadows and the woods no more:
   The flowers shall send their own crusade–
Come, let us wage a holy war!

You Flags, unfurl! You Bugles, shrill!
   Leap, Shieldfern, from your tranquil shade!
You, Military Orchis, drill
   The Water-soldiers' stout brigade!
   Midsummer-Men with gold cockade,
March on, while high the Rockets soar!
   Wake Robin, wake, and lend your aid–
Come, let us wage a holy war!

With verdant weapons we shall kill:
   With Spearwort and with Two-Way-Blade.
Bold Arrowhead shall try his skill;
   Clubmoss and Cleavers, unafraid,
   Shall smite the vandals who invade
The haunts of Dwale and Hellebore.
   Loose Strife! Lest England's beauty fade,
Come, let us wage a holy war!

            Envoy

Lady, whose Fingers oft have made
   Magic to succour and restore,
Upon us be your Mantle laid–
   Come, let us wage a holy war!


GOLD AND SILVER

Like children on Tom Tiddler's Ground
   We venture into love's domain;
We gather treasures all around
   And turn to bear them home again.

Then old Tom Tiddler wheels about
   With menacing, malicious grin;
And some fly empty-handed out
   And some he takes and prisons in.

But we who 'scape, nor loose our hold,
   Humbly we few shall sing love's praises.
Who says our silver and our gold
   Are nought but buttercups and daisies?


EVENING

I have looked too long upon the sunset.
   Its spell has stripped me bare
Of all the comfortable thoughts
   That commonly I wear.

Evening's the chink in the soul's armour,
   And through it I can feel
The soft cold fingers of desolation
   Silently, deftly steal.

Nought 's left of joy now but its transience;
   Of pride, but its loneliness.
Love's a dim ache, a dying music,
   Beautiful, comfortless.

Colour to greyness turns, and slowly
   Light fades from the sky:
I sit bowed down by the weight of evening,
   Too sorrowful to cry.


THREE WOMEN

The young moon comes early
   And slips away soon.
Like a white dairy-maid
   Runs the young moon.

The full moon rides slowly
   From night until morn,
Like a proud mother
   With her child unborn.

The old moon walks idly,
   Lingering, wan–
As a lone woman
   Whose lover is gone,
Unseeing, uncaring,
   Lives on, lives on.


WEDDING EVE

And am I soon to own
   Your lovely rareness,
Who have so long alone
   Craved for your nearness?
Is all my torment past?
   Is heart-break over?
Am I to find at last
   Peace after fever?

So long, so long have I
   Pictured you whitely
Lying, as soon you'll lie,
   In my arms sweetly,
That all my senses swim
   With joy foretasted,
As faintness falls on him
   Who long has fasted.

Yet stirs within my heart
   Sudden misgiving:
How can I bear to part
   From this dear craving?
What shall I think upon
   When, robbed of longing,
I watch the poignant moon,
   Or hear sad singing?


JEALOUSY

Love her better, if you must.
   I, who did with open eyes
My precious only heart entrust
   To the uncounted jeopardies
      Of another's keeping,
Sought no hostage in return.
   Therefore, though my senses ache
Dully, and my temples burn,
   Have no fear–I will not make
      Any noise of weeping.

Say her eyes, her lips are fairer
   Far than mine; I'll bear the thrust.
Find her sweeter, hold her rarer,
   Love her better, if you must:
      But O! to comfort me in hell,
      Do not like her quite so well.


'BODY, BEWARE. . .'

Sometimes the bliss within me burning
   Leaps to a flame so fiercely bright
That I can feel my body turning
   To golden ashes with delight.

Body, beware, whose every sense
   Fans in my soul this fire of joy;
Lest, with a heat grown too intense,
   One day it shall yourself destroy.


LONDON, MAY 1930

The crimson may-tree now
   In scented splendour stands,
   And long, green-fingered hands
Hang from the chestnut bough.
      Summer invades the town:
      The daffodils are brown.

They lean with tired heads drooping,
   Shrunk leaf and shrivelled stem;
   Time has defeated them
Who came so gaily trooping.
      Faded each golden gown:
      The daffodils are brown.

Roses shall come, I know,
   Lilac and mignonette;
   Beauty on beauty yet
The year has still to show.
      Tears, tears, why fall you down?
      The daffodils are brown.


DIRGE FOR BRIEF LOVE

We have killed our little Love
   That was but three days old;
He lies between us now like a small bird silenced,
   Pitiful, still, and cold.

In honour's name we slew him,
   Who had no place on earth,
Who out of jesting words and sunlit flowers
   Sprang suddenly to birth.

Absolvèd now we stand;
   Virtue is satisfied:
But who shall quit us of this darker sinning,
   This base infanticide?

Here lies lost loveliness,
   Treasure we dared not keep.
Let us, who gave him life, let us, who slew him,
   Bury him deep, deep.

Yet stay–O, touch him not!
   Watch by his side awhile,
Lest he, not dead, but in a deep trance lying,
   Should wake again, and smile.


FREEDOM

Now heaven be thanked, I am out of love again!
   I have been long a slave, and now am free;
I have been tortured, and am eased of pain;
   I have been blind, and now my eyes can see;
I have been lost, and now the way lies plain;
   I have been caged, and now I hold the key;
I have been mad, and now at last am sane;
   I am wholly I, that was but a half of me.
      So, a free man, my dull proud path I plod,
      Who, tortured, blind, mad, caged, was once a God.


THE HIGGLERS

   As I lay a-thinking
      Beneath a rowan-tree,
   There came three higglers down the road
      To buy my thoughts from me.

   'A brown penny,' said the first;
      'A penny for your thoughts,' said he.
'They're too mad and too many,' said I,
'To sell for a penny,' said I,
   'Though you hunger and thirst
      To know what my thoughts may be.'

   'A white shilling,' said the second;
      'A shilling for your thoughts,' said he.
'They're too rare and too thrilling,' said I,
'To sell for a shilling,' said I,
   'Though doubtless you reckoned
      'Twould do for the likes of me.'

   'A golden pound,' said the third,
      'A pound for your thoughts,' said he.
'They're too sweet and too sound,' said I,
'To sell for a pound,' said I,
   'So never a word
      Shall your gold piece gather from me.'

   As I lay a-thinking
      (The higglers gone)
   I heard a step
      And along came John.
   He took my hand:
      'What be your thoughts?' said he.
   '"I love you' and 'I love you,"' said I;
      'You can have them free.'


'A MAN FROM THE NORTH'
Enoch Arnold Bennett, 1867-1931

Here lies a man, from common clay descended,
   Who took the common people of the clay
And from their lives, of grime and greatness blended,
   Created Life that shall not pass away.

Here lies a child who penned with childish pleasure
   The pageantry before his eyes unfurled,
The pomps and shows, the luxury and leisure,
   The gauds and glitter of the rich man's world;

Yet still could sing, with sympathy unblunted,
   With understanding welded doubly sure,
The saga of the straitened and the stunted,
   The patience and the pathos of the poor.

Here lies a sage who saw in things material
   The outward workings of some cosmic plan–
Each day a chapter in some breathless serial
   Written by Fate for the delight of Man.

Here lies a jester with a sense of duty,
   A master-craftsman in his craft engrossed,
A steadfast friend, a worshipper of beauty,
   A kindly critic and a perfect host.

Here lies, in fine, a connoisseur of living
   For whom adventure lurked in every breath;
Shall not his soul go forth without misgiving
   To greet the Great Adventure which is Death?


THE LITTLE WORLD

   Though God in seven days
   The world and all its ways
Once for his own delight did fashion truly,
   Yet every man alive
   Must through his senses five
      Create it newly.

   No beauty dwells on earth
   Till eyes do give it birth;
No rock, no stone, till a hand's touch bring concreteness;
   Fragrance, till breath be near;
   Music, till listening ear
      Draw forth its sweetness.

   And you, my little god,
   Whose rosy feet have trod
But seven days' distance from your own day's breaking,
   You, in my arms close curled,
   Tell me, what kind of world
      Have you been making?

   These things your treasures be–
   Low voices' harmony;
The comfortable rhythm of the hours;
   Kind warmth, surprising light,
   Food, and the nodding, bright,
      Blurred shapes of flowers.

   Here dwells no hurt nor harm,
   Nor any worse alarm
Than the small stupendous sound of your own sneezing:
   Wise though he be, and great,
   Could God himself create
      A world more pleasing?


BIOGRAPHY

One day my life will end; and lest
   Some whim should prompt you to review it,
Let her who knows the subject best
   Tell you the shortest way to do it:
Then say, 'Here lies one doubly blest.'
   Say, 'She was happy.' Say, 'She knew it.'


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom