From, them to the human tree
Rose a cry continually,
’Thou art still, our Father, we
Fain would have thee nod.
Make the skies as blood below thee,
Though thou slay us, we shall know thee.
Answer us, O God!
’Show thine ancient flame and thunder,
Split the stillness once asunder,
Lest we whisper, lest we wonder
Art thou there at all?’
But I saw him there alone,
Standing stiller than a stone
Lest a moth should fall.
TO THEM THAT MOURN
(W.E.G., May 1898)
Lift up your heads: in life, in death,
God knoweth his head was high.
Quit we the coward’s broken breath
Who watched a strong man die.
If we must say, ’No more his peer
Cometh; the flag is furled.’
Stand not too near him, lest he hear
That slander on the world.
The good green earth he loved and trod
Is still, with many a scar,
Writ in the chronicles of God,
A giant-bearing star.
He fell: but Britain’s banner swings
Above his sunken crown.
Black death shall have his toll of kings
Before that cross goes down.
Once more shall move with mighty things
His house of ancient tale,
Where kings whose hands were kissed of kings
Went in: and came out pale.
O young ones of a darker day,
In art’s wan colours clad,
Whose very love and hate are grey—
Whose very sin is sad.
Pass on: one agony long-drawn
Was merrier than your mirth,
When hand-in-hand came death and dawn,
And spring was on the earth.
Priest, is any song-bird stricken?
Is one leaf less on the tree?
Is this wine less red and royal
That the hangman waits for me?
He upon your cross that hangeth,
It is writ of priestly pen,
On the night they built his gibbet,
Drank red wine among his men.
Quaff, like a brave man, as he did,
Wine and death as heaven pours—
This is my fate: O ye rulers,
O ye pontiffs, what is yours?
To wait trembling, lest yon loathly
Gallows-shape whereon I die,
In strange temples yet unbuilded,
Blaze upon an altar high.
I saw an old man like a child,
His blue eyes bright, his white hair wild,
Who turned for ever, and might not stop,
Round and round like an urchin’s top.
‘Fool,’ I cried, ’while you spin
‘Others grow wise, are praised, are crowned.’
Ever the same round road he trod,
‘This is better: I seek for God.’
’We see the whole world, left and right,
Yet at the blind back hides from sight
The unseen Master that drives us forth
To East and West, to South and North.