Embers - Volume 3

Embers - Volume 3

EMBERS - VOLUME 3. GILBERT PARKER Volume 3. CONTENTS IN CAMDEN TOWN JEAN A MEMORY IN CAMP AT JUNIPER COVE JUNIPER COVE TWENTY YEARS AFTER LISTENING NEVERTHELESS ISHMAEL OVER THE HILLS THE DELIVERER THE DESERT ROAD A SON OF THE NILE A FAREWELL FROM THE HAREM AN ARAB LOVE SONG THE CAMEL-DRIVER TO HIS CAMEL THE TALL DABOON THERE IS SORROW ON THE SEA THE AUSTRALIAN STOCBRIDER THE BRIDGE OF THE HUNDRED SPANS NELL LATORE IN CAMDEN TOWN How many years of sun and snow Have come to Camden Town Since through its streets and in its shade I wandered up and down. Not many more than to you here These verses hapless flung Yet of the Long Ago they seem To me who am yet young. We strive to measure life by Time And con the seasons o'er To find alas! that days are years And years for evermore. The joys that thrill the ill that thralls Pressed down on heart and brain- These are the only horologues The Age's loss or gain. And I am old in all of these And wonder if I know The man begotten of the boy Who loved that long ago. A lilac bush close to the gate A locust at the door A low wide window flower-filled With ivy covered o'er. A face--O love of childhood dreams Lily in form and name-- It comes back now in these day-dreams The same yet not the same. My childhood's friend! Well gathered are The sheaves of many days But this one sheaf is garnered in Bound by my love always. Where have you wandered child since when Together merrily We gathered cups of columbine By lazy Rapanee? The green spears of the flagflower Down by the old mill-race Are weapons now for other hands Who mimic warfare chase. You were so tender yet so strong So gentle yet so free Your every word whenever heard Seemed wondrous wise to me. You marvelled if the dead could hear Our steps that passed at will Their low green houses in the elm- Crowned churchyard on the hill. And I whom your sweet childhood's trust Esteemed as most profound Thought that they heard as in a dream The shadow of a sound. We drew the long rank grass away From tombstones mossy grown To read the verses crude and quaint And make the words our own. One tottering marble willow-spread I well remember yet With only this engraved thereon "By Joseph to Jeanette." It held us wondering oft as we Peeped through the pickets old: There was some mystery we knew Some history untold. Well better far those simple words Where weeping phrase is not Than burdened tablet and the rest Forgetting and forgot. And Lily Minden do you lie In some forgotten grave Where only strangers' feet pass o'er Your temple's architrave? Or by some hearthstone have you learned The worst and best of life And found sweet greetings in the name Of mother and of wife? I cannot tell: I know you but As bee the clover bloom That sips content and straightway builds Its mansion and its tomb. So took I in child-innocence So build the House of Life And in low tone to thee alone As dead or maid or wife I sing this song borne all along A space of wasted breath; And build me on from room to room Unto the House of Death Where portals swing forever in To weary pilgrim guest And hearts that here were inly dear Shall find a Room of Rest. JEAN Three times round has the sun gone Jean Since on your lips I pressed Mute farewells; if that pain was keen Fair were you in your nest. Smiling sweetheart I left you there; You had no word to say; One last touch to your brow and hair Then I went on my way. Time it was when the leaves were grown Your rose-colour my queen; Ere the birds to the south had flown While yet the grass was green. Eyes demure do you ever yearn Bird-wise to summer lands? Is it to meet your look I turn Saying "She understands" Saying "She waits in her quiet place Patient till I shall come The old sweet grace in her dreaming face That made a Heav'n her home"? No! She is there 'neath Northern skies And no word does she send; But near to my heart her image lies And shall lie there to the end. Come what will I am not bereft Of the memory of that time When in her hands my heart I left There in a colder clime. And to my eyes no face is fair For one face comes between; And if a song has a low sweet air Through it there whispers "Jean." Better for me the world would say If I had broke the charm Set in the circle she one day Made by her round white arm. Never a king in days of eld Gathered about his throat Such a circlet; no queen e'er held Necklace so clear of mote. It sufficeth the charm was set; And if it chance that one Still remembers though one forget Then is the worst thing done-- Done and I still can say "Let be; I have no word of blame; Though her heart is no more for me Mine shall be still the same." I have my life to live and she-- Well if it be so--so; She may welcome or banish me And if I go I go. Friend I pray you repress those tears Comfort from this derive: I am a score--and more-of years And Jean is only five. A MEMORY From buckwheat fields the summer sun Drew honeyed breezes over The lanes where happy children run With bare feet in the clover. The schoolhouse stood with pines about Upon the hill and ever A creek where hid the speckled trout Ran past it to the river. And rosy faces gathered there With rustic good around them; With breath of balm blown everywhere Pure ere the world had found them. Behind sweet purple ambuscades Of lilacs laws were broken; And here a desk with knives was frayed There passed forbidden token. One slipped a butternut between His pearly teeth; a maiden Dove-eyed caressed her cheek; 'twas e'en With maple sugar laden-- A flock that caught at wiles because The shepherd's hand that drove them Reached little toward wise human laws And less to God above them. With eyebrows bent and surly look He only saw before him The rule the lesson and the book Not nature brooding o'er him. One day through drone of locusts fell The wood-bird's fitful tapping And in his chair at "dinner-spell" The teacher grim sat napping. An urchin creeping in beholds The tyrant slumber-smitten And in his pocket's ample folds He thrusts the school-yard kitten. At length the master waked and clanged His bell with anger fitting; His sleep had made it double-fanged And crossed like needles knitting. Slow to their seats the children file And wait "Prepare for classes" A score of lads across the aisle From twice a score of lasses. But two within the throng betray A mirth suppressed; the sinner And Rafe Ridall the chief at play At books the easy winner: The wildest boy in all the school In mischief first and ever His daily seat the penance-stool Disgraced for weeks together. Just sound of bone and strong of heart Staunch friend and noble foeman; In life to play the kingly part True both to man and woman. Joe's secret now he holds; a deed With just enough of danger To win his--ah what's that? 'Tis freed The pocket-prisoned stranger! A moment's riot laughter-filled Then fear white-visaged follows; And through the silence there is trilled The shrill note of the swallows. And now a fierce form fronts them all Two fierce eyes search their faces Then flash their fire on Rafe Ridall Whose mirth no peril chases. "You did it sir!" "Not I!" "You did!" "No!" "You've one chance for showing Who in my coat the kitten hid Or be well thrashed for knowing." The master paused the birch he grasped Against his trousers flicking; Rafe said with hands behind him clasped "I'd rather take the licking." Full many a year has passed since then The lilacs still are blooming Awaiting childish hands again But they are long in coming. Now wandering swallows build their nests Where doors and roofs decaying No more shut in the master's zest Nor out the children's playing. All all are gone who gathered there; Some toil among the masses Some overworn with pain and care Wait Death's "Prepare for classes." And some--the sighing pines sway on Above them dreamless lying; And 'mong them sleeps the master gone His anger and their crying. And Rafe Ridall brave then brave now Amid the jarring courses Of man's misrule still takes the blow For those of weaker forces. IN CAMP AT JUNIPER COVE A little brown sparrow came tripping Across the green grass at my feet; A kingfisher poised and was peering Where current and calm water meet; The clouds hung in passionless clusters Above the green hills of the south; A bobolink fluttered to leeward With a twinkle of bells in its mouth. Ah the morning was silver with glory As I lay by my tent on the shore; And the soft air was drunken with odours And my soul lifted up to adore. Is there wonder I took me to dreaming Of the gardens of Greece and old Rome Of the fair watered meadows of Ida And the hills where the gods made their home? Of the Argonauts sung to by Sirens Of Andromache Helen of Troy Of Proserpine Iphigenia And the Fates that build up and destroy? Of the phantom isle green Theresea And the Naiads and Dryads that give To the soul of the poet the dreamer The visions of fancy that live In the lives and the language of mortals Unconscious but sure as the sea And that make for great losses repayment To wandering singers like me? But a little brown sparrow came tripping Across the green grass at my feet; And a kingfisher poised and was peering Where current and calm water meet; And Alice sweet Alice my neighbour Stands musing beneath the pine tree; And her look says--"I have a lover Who sails on the turbulent sea: Does he dream as I dream night and daytime Of a face that is tender and true; Will he come to me e'en as he left me?" Yes Alice sweet Alice for you Is the sunlight and not the drear shadow The gentle and fortunate peace: But he who thus revels in rhyming Has shadows that never shall cease. JUNIPER COVE TWENTY YEARS AFTER The bay gleams softly in the sun The morning widens o'er the world: The bluebird's song is just begun And down the skies white clouds are furled. The boat lies idly by the shore The shed I built with happy care Is fallen; and I see no more The white tents in the eager air. The goldenrod holds up its plumes In the long stretch of meadow grass The briarrose shakes its sweet perfumes In coverts where the sparrows pass. Far off above the sapphire gleams Far off below the sapphire flows And this my place of morning dreams The bank where my vain visions rose! Sweet Alice he came back again Across the waste of summer sea ...