Christ at Carnival
and Other Poems (1916)

Muriel Stuart

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Muriel Stuart

And Other Poems
by Muriel Stuart



Thou who hast loved and striven
So much, so many times,
Given me and forgiven,
Take this poor wreath of rhymes.

Wild Geese Across the Moon

    REEDS, snake-like, coiled in the mist
    Where the low fog drives:
    The muddy cough of the stream that strives
    To free its throat from the clot of reed,
    As they fight it out the water and the weed--
    While the fog, above, takes turn and twist:
    Men, these are your lives!

    Wild Geese across the moon:
    As some hand that unrolls
    And scratches black names upon blood-red scrolls;
    So seem these shadows, dipping, dying,
    Black shapes on the red moon, screaming, flying,
    Till the fog blots out, or late or soon:
    Men, these are your souls!


    ASK not my pardon! For if one hath need
    Once to forgive the god that he hath raised,
    No further creed
    Can that god give; but 'neath the soul who praised
    Lies bruisèd like a reed.

    Let your dark plume, in passing leave a stain
    On my plume's whiteness: call you bitter, sweet:
    Give plague, or pain:
    But cringe not, fallen and fawning at my feet,
    By that to rise again.

    No! go your wild and mad way, and seem at least
    The god you were . . . assume your aureole:
    Make me no priest
    To wash hands in the waters of your soul,
    Before I go to feast!

The Bellman


    BRING out your dead before you reap
    From lips beloved infection dread;
    Above such brows ye dare not weep!
    Bring out your dead

    Into the street from breast or bed,
    Lest ye too sicken into sleep
    That recks not of the Bellman's tread.

    Thrice foolish heart! Why do you heap
    Corpse upon corpse--conspire to spread
    Corruption on all else you keep?
    Bring out your dead!


    TAKE as you will, slake, solace, and possess
    While Youth, with laughter, scatters tears that fall
    Sudden and shaken sometimes at your call;
    Pledge me in passion and in gentleness,--
    In praise and prayer, I would not give you less,
    Be less unconquerably true in all,
    Take my young kisses,--my young spirit's thrall,
    Forbid not Now's imperishable "Yes"!
    When I am old, and cold, and wise, and grown
    As far beyond as you outstrip me now,--
    Nor plead, nor pant, nor challenge nor protest;
    Oh, come not then, all these years less your own;
    Too old to love, too wise to heed your vow,
    Too cold to feel your cold hand upon my breast.


    CHANGE shall accustom me in after years
    To kingdom's builded on life's overthrow;
    Onward with other poets I shall go,
    Unpraised of thee. though praised of all my peers,
    Until the vine that thou hast quckened, bears
    Its fruit in others' hands; until I grow
    So different from myself I shall not know
    This poor young desperate heart, nor these wild tears.
    But though I change, thou shalt not change with me,
    Thy shrine shall stand unaltered and unmoved,
    And if we meet again I shall but see
    The features of a stranger, thou wilt be
    Wholly what once thou wert to me, Beloved
    And not what time and men have made of thee.


    MOST blessèd one, how can I let thee go?
    Canst thou forswear the nightingale its tune--
    Stay the young sea from following his moon--
    Bid hyacinth put out her blue light? Oh,
    Thou art not mine but Me! and being so
    How canst thou bid my year stop short of June,
    Or hold my feet from following thine so soon,
    Or bid me build on Heaven's overthrow?
    Nay, how can I put off thy presence? Where
    Should my soul serve without thy sanctities?
    I kneel beside thee, I who am a child
    In thy man's hand, cling to thee spent and wild
    Until my face is hidden in my hair,
    And I fall weeping, weeping, at they knees!


    WHEN, on an empty night in later years
    Thou ponderest over sorrowful sweet things,
    While troubling with cold hands the muted strings
    Of Memory's lute now silent in thine ears,
    These words shall sweep with soft descent of tears--
    Shall wound the air with sudden thrust of wings
    Bringing the Past to thee as Winter brings
    To naked boughs the colour April wears.
    Thou shalt read over, in less fortunate days,
    Forgotten pages till thy heart be moved
    To sudden pity and to passionate praise
    Of what thou didst not heed nor understand;
    Letting the book drop from thy trembling hand,
    "Once," thou shalt say and pause . . . "How I was loved!"

The Balcony

    A STREET at night, a silent square
    That mirth forbids;
    Whose windows, with drawn lips and narrowed lids,
    Resent the intruder's stare.

    Where winds are cautious in their play,
    Where only steals
    Some meager brougham on its muffled wheels
    Before the portals grey.

    But suddenly a window swings,
    A hand is laid
    For one white moment on the balustrade,
    And benediction brings.

    I linger . . . but, O influence malign
    I watch a snail
    Crawl casually along the painted rail,
    Where I had built a shrine!


    DEAD man! will you ride with me,
    As you rode that night of yore,
    Will you ride with me, once more
    To Tintagel by the sea?

    When those savage words were said--
    Words that challenged destiny--
    To Tintagel by the sea,
    Through the sweating night we fled!

    Hearts, that raged with storm and sea,
    Thundered through the scream of rain;
    Laugh and ride with me again,
    Take my kisses thirstily!

    Clutch the cloak that flies apart,
    Grip the stallion with your knee:
    Let my wild, black tresses be
    Once more pinioned on your heart.

    Dream is dead, and dead are we:
    But the dead rise up again!
    Once more through the night and rain,
    Dead man! will you ride with me?

The Fools

    BELOW, the street was hoarse with cries,
    With groan of carts and scuffling feet,
    With laughter worse than blasphemies,
    Was choked with dust and blind with heat,
    This room was still--too still for peace.

    It heard the livid words we said
    Of hate and passion, watched us where
    I sat, as one beside the dead--
    You lay with all your glorious hair
    Flung on the crazy bed.

    The moment's passion ended brought--
    Ah, child, to you what did it bring?
    What could it, but one hideous thought
    To us so tired of everything,
    And hating what we sought?

    --So tired of all this grey room meant,
    Of life together, shackled cold,
    Or bound in flame so different
    From the swift, white desire of old,
    The old, divine consent.

    Poor room, so meanly intimate!
    Our dirty clothes sprawled on a chair,
    Combs, candle-ends, and grimy plate
    Littered the table, paper and hair
    Forlornely choked the grate.

    And I so passionate, you such
    A wild sweet plunderer of bliss
    Soon fallen in our own folly's clutch,
    Finding how wrong, how mad it is
    To know, to love, too much.

    You rose, but with no woman's care
    For all the beauty that is hers,
    Pent up your out-burst storm of hair
    And fetched your cloak and found your purse,
    And matched my sullen stare.

    Wild words so often said before
    Escape us in the old fierce way.
    You cried, "I shall return no more!"
    I said, "I shall no longer stay!"
    You closed the grumbling door.

    The mirror grinned, "They are still one."
    The cupboard gasped, "Their clothes are here."
    The ghastly bed said with a leer,
    "I shall not sleep alone!"

    They knew what took us years to learn,
    That Habit terrible and slow
    Doth Love and Hate alike inurn.
    They knew too well I should not go,
    They knew you would return.

À Chicot

    IN days of ancient history
    Who were you? Tell me if you know.
    Between your kisses answer me
    To-night, Chicot.

    Were you a faun by Castaly
    Tracking Urania or Clió?
    Or a white boy in Arcady
    Astray, Chicot?

    Were you a satin-supple page
    Swinging a curtain to and fro,
    Chanting some impudent addage
    Of love, Chicot?

    Were you the subtlest cardinal
    That ever blessing did bestow?
    At Fontarabia did you fall,
    Fighting, Chicot?

    Or at some monarch' table set,
    Did the bells twink at wrist and toe?
    Were you Brusquet or Dagonet,
    Or else, Chicot?

    Something you were of all of these,
    Wise, gay, serene--that hid below,
    More sad for all your subtleties,
    Something, Chicot.

    You brace your armor well tonight,--
    Too well for any blood to flow;
    You'd not betray in any fight
    A wound, Chicot!

    I think you would not flinch beneath
    Life's whips, but after every blow
    Stand up again, and set your teeth
    And smile, Chicot.

    Weariness waits on wariness,
    There's leaping flame beneath the snow--
    All sorts of things that none would guess
    Of you, Chicot!

    Are you a lover? No and yes!
    Are you a comrade? Yes and no!
    What are you? Neither more nor less
    Than just Chicot!

    Take what a passing poet sings
    Before to-morrow bids us go,
    In memory of--many things,
    And you, Chicot!

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