Christ! I had thought I should die like a man,
And that death, grim death, might himself be sweet,
When the red sod rocked to the horses’ feet,
And the knights went down as they led the van;—
But the end that waits like a trap for me,
Will come when I fight for my latest breath,
With a white face drowned between God and me
In the flood that runs by the banks of death.
When winter’s pulse seems dead beneath the snow,
And has no throb to give,
Warm your cold heart at mine, beloved, and so
Shall your heart live.
For mine is fire—a furnace strong and red;
Look up into my eyes,
There shall you see a flame to make the dead
Take life and rise.
My eyes are brown, and yours are still and grey,
Still as the frostbound lake
Whose depths are sleeping in the icy sway,
And will not wake.
Soundless they are below the leaden sky,
Bound with that silent chain;
Yet chains may fall, and those that fettered lie
May live again.
Yes, turn away, grey eyes, you dare not face
In mine the flame of life;
When frost meets fire, ’tis but a little space
That ends the strife.
Then comes the hour, when, breaking from their bands,
The swirling floods run free,
And you, beloved, shall stretch your drowning hands,
And cling to me.
Give me to-night to hide me in the shade,
That neither moon nor star
May see the secret place where I am laid,
Nor watch me from afar.
Let not the dark its prying ghosts employ
To peer on my retreat,
And see the fragments of my broken toy
Lie scattered at my feet.
I fashioned it, that idol of my own,
Of metal strange and bright;
I made my toy a god—I raised a throne
To honour my delight.
This haunted byway of the grove was lit
With lamps my hand had trimmed,
Before the altar in the midst of it
I kept their flame undimmed.
My steps turned ever to the hidden shrine;
Aware or unaware,
My soul dwelt only in that spot divine,
And now a wreck lies there.
Give me to-night to weep—when dawn is spread
Beyond the heavy trees,
And in the east the day is heralded
By cloud-wrought companies,
I shall have gathered up my heart’s desire,
Broken, destroyed, adored,
And from its splinters, in a deathless fire,
I shall have forged a sword.
“THE HAPPY WARRIOR”
I have brought no store from the field now the day
The harvest moon is up and I bear no sheaves;
When the toilers carry the fruits hanging gold and splendid,
I have but leaves.
When the saints pass by in the pride of their stainless
Their brave hearts high with the joy of the gifts they bring,
I have saved no whit from the sum of my daily payment