Col. Richard Lovelace. 1649
[In memoriam H. B.]
Westward I watch the low green hills of Wales,
The low sky silver grey,
The turbid Channel with the wandering sails
Moans through the winter day.
There is no colour but one ashen light
On tower and lonely tree,
The little church upon the windy height
Is grey as sky or sea.
But there hath he that woke the sleepless Love
Slept through these fifty years,
There is the grave that has been wept above
With more than mortal tears.
And far below I hear the Channel sweep
And all his waves complain,
As Hallam’s dirge through all the years must keep
Its monotone of pain.
* * * * *
Grey sky, brown waters, as a bird that flies,
My heart flits forth from these
Back to the winter rose of northern skies,
Back to the northern seas.
And lo, the long waves of the ocean beat
Below the minster grey,
Caverns and chapels worn of saintly feet,
And knees of them that pray.
And I remember me how twain were one
Beside that ocean dim,
I count the years passed over since the sun
That lights me looked on him,
And dreaming of the voice that, save in sleep,
Shall greet me not again,
Far, far below I hear the Channel sweep
And all his waves complain.
Three crests against the saffron sky,
Beyond the purple plain,
The kind remembered melody
Of Tweed once more again.
Wan water from the border hills,
Dear voice from the old years,
Thy distant music lulls and stills,
And moves to quiet tears.
Like a loved ghost thy fabled flood
Fleets through the dusky land;
Where Scott, come home to die, has stood,
My feet returning stand.
A mist of memory broods and floats,
The Border waters flow;
The air is full of ballad notes,
Borne out of long ago.
Old songs that sung themselves to me,
Sweet through a boy’s day dream,
While trout below the blossom’d tree
Plashed in the golden steam.
* * * * *
Twilight, and Tweed, and Eildon Hill,
Fair and too fair you be;
You tell me that the voice is still
That should have welcomed me.
I shall not see thee, nay, but I shall know
Perchance, the grey eyes in another’s eyes,
Shall guess thy curls in gracious locks that flow
On purest brows, yea, and the swift surmise
Shall follow and track, and find thee in disguise
Of all sad things, and fair, where sunsets glow,
When through the scent of heather, faint and low,
The weak wind whispers to the day that dies.
From all sweet art, and out of all old rhyme,
Thine eyes and lips are light and song to me;
The shadows of the beauty of all time,
In song or story are but shapes of thee;
Alas, the shadowy shapes! ah, sweet my dear,
Shall life or death bring all thy being near?