Monday, December 30, 2013

Some new goodness

Through the twining leafless boughs
a light came soft into my eyes,
my sleeping spirit to arouse
beneath the grey and shapeless skies.

At the reading of the words:
Mary's union with her Son,
a silence rapt the very birds
for some new goodness had begun.

The calm light and the quietude
lingered in the winter air
and did into my heart intrude,
bestowing grace and longing fair.

And when the brilliancy had waned
beneath the grey and shapeless skies, 
I kept the light that I had gained
within my gently closing eyes.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The End of Autumn

Leaves, like shriveled butterflies,
ride on the last of the autumn sighs,
beyond the reach of birches grasping
with white fingers, while crows rasping
winter incantations, invoke the wind
of the northern wastes now to send
their coldness upon these muted lands;
spruce-maidens wring their tender hands
and shudder together in their green dresses,
as the wind blows wild the golden tresses
of broomsedge copses, beneath the moon
that trespassed the bounds of day too soon,
and now sails high in the gloaming skies
as the last fire of autumn serenely dies.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December Courting

From: The Recollections of Judge William Granger (1843 -1935).

Our breathing spawned ghosts into the air
which haunted our winter wanderings there;
the crooked old fingers of frowning trees
shook at us laughing in the frigid breeze;
the noon sun at least seemed glad to shine
upon our path resplendent and fine.
We made our way down to Thornton Force,
which last time frightened your little horse,
so that day we left him behind in his stall;
(we preferred to stroll arm-in-arm withal).
The noise of the waters overwhelmed our ears;
the torrent rushed past like the passing of years;
the passing of years, 'tis now fifty years hence,
and the memory has been dear to me ever since.

Truant from the world he went

From 'Tales and Verses' by C. James Gwyllyn (1871-1914)
 
Truant from the world he went
into a churchyard outside Kent.
Business had taken him by that way
on a cold but serene December day.
 
An overnight snow had fallen there
and made of the place a garden fair,
white and hushed beneath the sky,
where the wind was but a gentle sigh.
 
Among the stones he quietly strolled
as the nearby church-bell deeply tolled.
He stopped to recline beneath an oak,
and to himself these words he spoke:
 
It must be peaceful underground
undisturbed by sight or sound,
a place to remember and forget,
beneath a snowy coverlet.
 
The fallen leaves are in repose,
a winter wind now softly blows,
but hidden under the frigid earth,
is a peace of more exquisite worth.
 
The weary there find lasting slumber
in bed-chambers of sturdy lumber
and in the darkness forever dream
beyond the pale world's fading gleam.
 
For long moments he sat there very still
then, seemingly by great force of will,
he stood and departed through the gate,
and hurried along, for he was late.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Elle and the Moon

Elle sat with little folded hands
and looked out on the empty lands.
She watched the Sun turn every shade
and then burn low and gently fade.
The Moon rose bright, but upside-down,
and looked upon her with a frown.
"You are too little a girl," said he,
"to be out at night on the grassy sea,
like a primrose lost among the weeds,
but oh! what are those shining beads
threaded upon your soft eyelashes
and falling onto your pretty sashes?"
"Tears," she said, "but leave me be,
I do not wish for company."
"Oh," he remarked, with old eyes blinking
surrounded by hundreds of stars winking,
"you cannot be quite on your own,
my course won't change for you alone."
She made no answer to him, but she
continued sobbing there quietly.
"My dear," he said, "weep if you must
over bitter loss or deeds unjust,
but I must on my night-course pass
over you sitting there in the grass."
She kept in sorrow with head hung low
and he turned his frowning face to go.
Then drawing down to the little miss,
he there bestowed a gentle kiss
upon her cheek which still was wet
from tears that she was shedding yet.
She then looked up into the lamp
that was his face, her eyes still damp,
and saw, where once a frown had been,
the crease of a kindly smile begin.
She stood then drying her bleary eyes
as he made his way across the skies.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Wintering Birds

From "The Last Journal of Gwyllyn"
 
Fly from here, you little birds
chattering bright with happy words;
your fellow kin have fled away -
but you have wings, why do you stay?
 
Flitting about in airy ruts
seeking to fill your little guts
with rotting berries here all day -
but you have wings, why do you stay?
 
Your kindred sought a warmer clime
and you stayed here for wintertime
where trees are brown and skies are grey -
but you have wings, why do you stay?
 
In your winter nests, O sprites,
you must shiver on frigid nights,
and shiver still at light of day -
but you have wings, why do you stay?
 
You have wings, and strength of life,
so why endure through winter strife?
Your wings could take you far away,
but you have deigned with me to stay.
 
You have deigned with me to stay
and with me watch the dying day
fade from hues of sombre grey
and into shadows fade away.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Last Date

Journal entry of Richard Edwards: November 15th, 1963.
 
Her smile was like a weak cup of coffee.
I looked out the window.
Leaves were fulfilling their autumn vows
and fleeing away,
far from scolding fingertips.
The sun was falling asleep,
to dream of moon and stars
and blinking neon.
The town was settled among the hills
and railroad tracks of yesterday.
Colors were fading from the photograph,
having been left in the sun too long.
She was saying something I cannot recall.
I smiled.
She looked out the window.
Night had crept from the shadows
and embraced the world.
But blue neon bathed the parking lot.
She asked if I was finished.
I drank the last of my coffee
and, hand in hand, we departed.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lines composed in Moorsgate Cemetery

From "The Last Journal of Gwyllyn"

The grand trees are voiceless in November,
but the songs of leaves they still remember;
they beg for alms with every member
from the sun which now is a dying ember.

But the beauty of each object is distilled
into a light, with which this place is filled
to brimming over - and my soul is thrilled
though my frame by autumn winds is chilled.

Many of the markers have crumbled apart
from the slow eroding of the years. A cart
of labourers clatters past; they depart
leaving me alone, but for sparrows that dart

and dance above my weary head,
while for an hour or so I make my bed.
Damp leaves are laid out yellow and red,
bright carpets covering the quiet dead.

But neither sombre nor lonely is this place;
it imparts a rather exquisite grace
as the mutual fate of our fretful race
is vividly presented before my face.

I behold their beginnings and their ends
and the years between, which gently lends
a strange light to my own life, and sends
me, as I stride homeward in autumn winds,

indeed rapt in a pensive quietude,
but not to morbidly grieve and brood
but to instead, with joy, in a hopeful mood,
more lovingly live my life renewed.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Shadow of Longing

A very noon of orange and gold
flickers like fire despite the cold
beneath the twining maple boughs,
a living canopy in which to house,
as though in a tabernacle, the sheen
of blazing glory where once was green,
which whispers now with a gentle voice
to all who pass to make a choice:
To seek this world and hold it fast
though it fades away and will not last,
or to find, through all these dying things,
albeit in faintest glimmerings,
glimpses of the Light that ever shines
beyond this world of fragile signs
which live for a time then swiftly die
like golden leaves that soon will lie
upon the ground, withered and grey,
then turn to dust and fade away.
O! Nothing of beauty in this world lasts,
but while they endure, each one casts
a shadow of longing across the eyes
and points to the Life that never dies.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

In St. Mary's Kirkyard

From "The Last Journal of Gwyllyn"

The wind has found me hidden here,
beneath a grey-stone sky:
the soft grey-stone that presses near
and into which I would fly.

But wisdom is found in the fallen leaves
heaped here and there in piles,
and in the grass that shivers as it grieves
along these quiet aisles.

The aged rowan has shed its tears
of crimson on the earth
where grass has failed these many years,
through many springs of mirth.

But larks still flit about and sing
among the dwindling green,
with all the joy they had in spring
despite winds cold and keen.

And the low stone-sky is calling out
for me to take my leave
from shivering grass and rowans stout,
from larks who will not grieve.

For on the moor-paths beneath the sky,
through heather-banks in the sun,
I came at last to the kirkyard nigh,
where these weary days are done.

But grieve not grass, nor fallen leaves:
but sing with the joyful kin
who fly in the grey heaven that heaves
over new paths that here begin.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tomorrow

Tomorrow greets with weary calm
and brings a tender healing balm;
the moors are filled with golden rum,
the light of bright Elysium.

Nay! not rum, but amber wine
distilled from winter eglantine,
nepenthe-nectar to forget
all the griefs that we have met.

And at eventide we sleep
to dream of joy and never weep;
no tears again will fall for sorrow,
but may for gladness on the morrow.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Peacemaker

From "The Last Journal of Gwyllyn" - by C. James Gwyllyn (1871-1914), published posthumously in 1921.

Make your peace a whisper said
at the threshold of weary sleep,
as if quite soon I would be dead -
and yet this moved me not to weep
nor did it fill my heart with dread:
instead a gladness quivered there,
a pang of joy at tidings fair.

But make your peace - what means this?
How best should I achieve such ends?
To grant each ally a farewell kiss
and to each enemy a full amends?
To make right all that has gone amiss?
Gracious would such gestures be,
but not in the time now left to me.

Inclined myself then to my inmost heart,
which ever to me seemed quite serene -
yet behold! what rage there pulls me apart,
what seething old furies, bitter and mean,
over every ill word, every slightest dart:
a war boiling over, which I scarcely contain,
but fought with no foe except my own pain.

Such dark brooding armies gathering there!
Such bonfires blazing and surging high,
such smokes obscuring the heavens fair -
oh! does all this go with me when I die?
And to think I was someone given to prayer!
I need to quell the warfare in my own heart,
and bring peace to that realm before I depart.

Such a chance to prepare seems a tender grace,
a merciful concern for your health, O my soul -
to prevent you from beholding His loving Face
while still clutching bitterness within your control.
Having fought the good fight, now finish the race!
Bring your lifetime of hurts, injustice, and loss
and unite them with His pain upon His own Cross!

Then your arms will be His outstretched to the world,
not with fists clenched in bitterness, cursing your fate,
not with hatred and fuming, but with Mercy unfurled,
bringing Light to all darkness, and Love to all hate,
no matter what abuses your enemies have hurled.
Then Peace beyond telling will be yours from the Lord,
and you will go in peace likewise to your eternal reward.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Such are our lives

Like glinting light upon the waves
that break beneath the summer skies;
like shadows quivering upon the grass
caressed by gentle autumn sighs.

Like snowflakes lingering upon the leaf
in woodland eaves on a winter day;
like dewdrops gleaming bright at dawn
till warmth of spring burns them away.

Such are our lives upon these lands,
upon these shores of shifting sands.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Shadow of Light

What heavy waves fall on my brain,
like swells of dark and swirling seas
at high tide laboring; a looming pain
that waxes like some fell disease.

But hark! descending from vacant night,
from the starless moonless firmament,
comes a ray of dark - what words I write! -
and the fearsome ocean-waves are rent.

Broken asunder, and birthing hope,
while the burdens of darkness still remain -
yet now a night of encircling scope,
a shadow of light, of eternal gain.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Grandmother recalls our dear cousin Kate

How often, in the cool of the morning,
when serene gold was upon the world,
I saw you out on the wild heathlands
which seemed for you alone unfurled.

With bright and youthful eyes you gazed
across that endless range of fells -
endless, at least, they had seemed to you -
and bethought to yourself so many tales.

But no words you wrote while on the moors,
too rapt, no doubt, to wield the pen -
but returning into the house at noon,
your furious writing would then begin.

All through dinnertime, hardly partaking
of the fine victuals cook had prepared,
you filled the pages over with words,
but with none of us would these be shared.

And closing the papers, you then would smile
and full brighten up as if all the skies
inside your mind were swept of clouds
by warm and fragrant springtime sighs.

Oh! what delightful talks we had
once your tongue was then set free;
your brown eyes sparkled with lovely fire,
your laughter brought such joy to me.

But alas! your liveliness would not live long;
it was a decade ago this past September
when consumption robbed poor Rushton Manse,
and took away its fairest member.

You were nearly fifteen, my dear sweet Kate -
you'd have been twenty-five this coming year -
and yet, on some mornings, through yonder window,
upon the moors I see your form appear.

I know ‘tis but a trick of shadow and sun,
and the habits of these weary eyes,
still used to seeing you wandering there,
under the bright and boundless skies.

But we have the memories, and portraits made,
and especially the stories you wrote down then,
so filled with joy, which we often read
and, in reading, see your smiling face again.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rats and Hogs

From "Songs for Children"
 
It's raining rats and hogs out there,
rodents and swine, falling everywhere.
See them scurrying on hundreds of feet,
scurrying scurrying down the street,
squeaking and squealing, an awful noise!
chasing around little girls and boys
who wanted to play outside in the storm,
instead of inside where it's dry and warm.
But running from rodents is such fearful play,
and sprinting from swine makes a rotten day.
They'd trample and bite you, and make you wet;
not one of them would make you a friendly pet.
See all their teeth, and their flashing eyes;
you'll stay here inside, if you are wise.
For it's raining rats and hogs out there,
you wouldn't go out, you wouldn't dare!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Upon the Howgill Fells

A poised and gentle brooding light,
in deep and golden honeyed waves,
enfolds all earnest thinking here,
the labours of constant recollection,
the shifting-shadows which lay behind
half-closed eyes - such cogs and wheels!
such soft machinery of feverish thought!
And yet such gravity upon these lands,
these barren hills, as a snowy moon
ascends unrushed into clean-swept skies,
greeting from afar the wilting sun
slipping down into comfortable shade,
in serene late-summer, at the ragged end
of this ruinous and desperate day.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Soup Kitchen

Who are these hungry wayworn creatures
with sweaty, smudged and crooked features,
with filthy clothes and weary eyes?
They are Jesus in disguise.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wojsko Polskie Homecoming

From "The Warsaw Songbook"

Saturday. It's Parade Day.
The children are running along,
chasing down Marshall Street
soldiers marching back home.
And the popping of their balloons
sounds like the popping of enemy guns.

There's music, there's dancing,
and bright colors falling around.
The children are all laughing
as black boots are pounding the ground.
And the popping of their balloons
sounds like the popping of enemy guns.

The sun is shining, flags are flying,
the crowd is a jubilant sea.
Along the street, the children scream
in excitement at all they see.
And the popping of their balloons
sounds likes the popping of enemy guns.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Thwaites Scars

Here, a fitting place to roam;
here to wander, far from home.
- Gwyllyn

Roofless wildlands, hillocks bare,
touched by frost on mornings fair,
when sun in mighty splendour shines,
when mingled draughts of golden wines
are poured out on the earthen-seas,
on cresting waves of stony lees
which never break upon the shore,
upon the bleak and blessëd moor.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Miss Emily Thurloe

She ventured into the Yorkshire hills
with storm clouds gathering nigh,
decked with white and wilted frills,
to send up pleadings to the sky.

Heeding no darkness nor autumn storm,
she ascended the weathered ridge alone.
She had no blanket to keep her warm,
but she lay down on the bare limestone.

The stars were hidden, the moon shone faint
from behind the churning canopy.
She tried to utter a cold complaint
to the One her faith alone could see.

Yet words came not, nor slightest sound;
as mute as churchyard stones was she.
The winds were strong and whipped around,
through withered grass and leafless tree.

And at last, as bitter torrents fell
upon the uplands bleak and rough,
she lay there weeping, cold and pale,
and it was prayer, and was enough.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cast upon the crags, a pearl

Cast upon the crags, a pearl
shimmered beside the deep abyss;
a lovely but very lonesome girl,
who saw the cold world as it is.

"No blissful realm to stay for long,"
she heard in the water's ocean-song.

But small she was, and wide the world;
she feared what living in it brings.
In her mind, many sorrows unfurled;
the dark waves told her of these things.

The ocean-voice she could not quell,
nor go back to her quiet shell.

"Listen deep, O pearl, then deeper still,"
the water-words intoned to her.
"A King rules here with a higher Will,
with purposes both good and sure."

"After your griefs, He will reach down
to set you ever in His golden crown."

Friday, September 20, 2013

At middle-night, on upland heights

At middle-night, on upland heights
along a shelf of time-scarred rock,
he would wander beneath the lights
of the glittering celestial clock.

But untold the hours he tarried there,
while wind seethed past him in the grass;
the moon sailed on the night-sea fair
and none came nigh him to harass.

Ever and anon on such mild nights
he made his bed in heather deep
until dawn touched the upland heights
to gently wake him from his sleep.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A fading light upon the moor

Someday I shall surely be
a fading light upon the moor,
a golden wave falling quietly
with joy upon another shore.

At gloaming time, each lark and merlin
settles into a welcome nest
hidden in the blooming heather-glen
with all their kin to take their rest.

And as shadows deepen across the lands,
the winds bestir the leaves to wave;
the stars blaze bright like silver-brands
on the moor as quiet as the grave.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The rude and wild winter weather

The rude and wild winter weather
contrives to keep us not together;
it troubles all these Yorkshire hills,
it breaks and batters, freezes, kills.

Cloud-shadows pass across the heath,
the wind bites hard with bitter teeth.
The gorse-grass shivers in the cold,
the crowberry cowers upon the mould.

At noontide, a tattered raven croaks
from bare and frosty windswept oaks.
He knows not why the maiden weeps,
but with the trees a vigil he keeps.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pale is the sunlight

Pale is the sunlight upon her brow,
and fragile her smile, like a withered leaf
that rattles upon the winter bough
in icy breezes, with a crumpled grief,
while upland stones and coarse grasses,
lie dormant under the dusking skies,
on the lonely heath, as the fair sun passes
and pale stars appear in her eyes.

Monday, September 16, 2013

In bending heather upon the moor

In bending heather upon the moor,
in damp and ghastly winds, the poor
and crippled dove, spent from flight,
shudders and moans in grey moonlight.

Her fair wings are torn, her spirit bruised,
wearied by daylight, and by night confused.
Her wounds will not be swiftly mended,
in such desolate lands, so undefended.

Shadows are but small refuge from danger,
to such a frail damsel, to such a stranger
upon the moor, in the bending heather,
in the coming fierce and frigid weather.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Before the harvest time

From "Songs and Poems" by C. James Gwyllyn (1871-1914).
 
You must come before the harvest time,
when all the fields are gold, when apples
swell and shine upon the bending boughs,
before the leaves die upon the ground.

Me, with all my faults, under autumn skies
and you, with your innocence, by my side
I'm certain everything will be fine
as long as we make the most of this time.

So come, let's sit in the warmth while it lasts,
eat apples now ripe, amidst the falling leaves.
I know you're too young to really understand;
you have my very soul in your hands.

The light in my skies is fading to grey,
finally fading, at the end of the day.
I'm calling, calling, calling to you
from a million miles away.