THE LAMP POST
Laugh your best, O blazoned forests,
Me ye shall not shift or shame
With your beauty: here among you
Man hath set his spear of flame.
Lamp to lamp we send the signal,
For our lord goes forth to war;
Since a voice, ere stars were builded,
Bade him colonise a star.
Laugh ye, cruel as the morning,
Deck your heads with fruit and flower,
Though our souls be sick with pity,
Yet our hands are hard with power.
We have read your evil stories,
We have heard the tiny yell
Through the voiceless conflagration
Of your green and shining hell.
And when men, with fires and shouting,
Break your old tyrannic pales;
And where ruled a single spider
Laugh and weep a million tales.
This shall be your best of boasting:
That some poet, poor of spine.
Full and sated with our wisdom,
Full and fiery with our wine,
Shall steal out and make a treaty
With the grasses and the showers,
Rail against the grey town-mother,
Fawn upon the scornful flowers;
Rest his head among the roses,
Where a quiet song-bird sounds,
And no sword made sharp for traitors,
Hack him into meat for hounds.
You that have snarled through the ages, take your
answer and go—
I know your hoary question, the riddle that all men know.
You have weighed the stars in a balance, and grasped the skies in a span:
Take, if you must have answer, the word of a common man.
Deep in my life lies buried one love unhealed, unshriven,
One hunger still shall haunt me—yea, in the streets of heaven;
This is the burden, babbler, this is the curse shall cling,
This is the thing I bring you; this is the pleasant thing.
’Gainst you and all your sages, no joy of mine
This one dead self shall shatter the men you call alive.
My grief I send to smite you, no pleasure, no belief,
Lord of the battered grievance, what do you know of grief?
I only know the praises to heaven that one man gave,
That he came on earth for an instant, to stand beside a grave,
The peace of a field of battle, where flowers are born of blood.
I only know one evil that makes the whole world good.
Beneath this single sorrow the globe of moon and sphere
Turns to a single jewel, so bright and brittle and dear
That I dread lest God should drop it, to be dashed into stars below.
You that have snarled through the ages, take your answer and go.
A FAIRY TALE
All things grew upwards, foul and fair:
The great trees fought and beat the air
With monstrous wings that would have flown;
But the old earth clung to her own,
Holding them back from heavenly wars,
Though every flower sprang at the stars.