Muriel Stuart

Poets' Corner Scripting
© 2005, 2020 S.L. Spanoudis and
All rights reserved worldwide.

Transcribed for Poets' Corner
May 2005 by S.L.Spanoudis

[This 1922 work is believed to be in the public domain in the US. Please check local restrictions in other geographies.]

Click to return to Poets' Corner
Muriel Stuart





      I am not true, but you would pardon this
      If you could see the tortured spirit take
      Its place beside you in the dark, and break
      Your daily food of love and kindliness.
      You'd guess the bitter thing that treachery is,
      Furtive and on its guard, asleep, awake,
      Fearing to sin, yet fearing to forsake,
      And daily giving Christ the Judas kiss.

      But piteous amends I make each day
      To recompense the evil with the good;
      With double pang I play the double part
      Of all you trust and all that I betray.
      What long atonement makes my penitent blood,
      To what sad tryst goes my unfaithful heart!


      The mind is Beauty's thief, the poet takes
      The golden spendthrift's trail among the blooms
      Where she stands tossing silver in the lakes,
      And twisting bright swift threads on airy looms.
      Her ring the poppy snatches, and the rose
      With laughter plunders all her gusty plumes.
      He steals behind her, gathering, as she goes
      Heedless of summer's end certain and soon,--
      Of winter rattling at the door of June.

      When Beauty lies hand-folded, pale and still,
      Forsaken of her lovers and her lords,
      And winter keeps cold watch upon the hill,
      Then he lets fall his bale of coloured words.
      At frosty midnight June shall rise in flame,
      Move at his magic with her bells and birds,
      The rose will redden as he speaks her name,
      He shall release earth's frozen bosom there,
      And with great words shall cuff the whining air!


      Dawn has flashed up the startled skies,
      Night has gone out beneath the hill
      Many sweet times; before our eyes
      Dawn makes and unmakes about us still
      The magic that we call the rose.
      The gentle history of the rain
      Has been unfolded, traced and lost
      By the sharp finger-tips of frost;
      Birds in the hawthorn build again;
      The hare makes soft her secret house;
      The wind at tourney comes and goes,
      Spurring the green, harnessed boughs;
      The moon has waxed fierce and waned dim:
      He knew the beauty of all those
      Last year, and who remembers him?

      Love sometimes walks the waters still,
      Laughter throws back her radiant head;
      Utterly beauty is not gone,
      And wonder is not wholly dead.
      The starry, mortal world rolls on;
      Between sweet sounds and silences,
      With new, strange wines her breakers brim:
      He lost his heritage with these
      Last year, and who remembers him?

      None remember him: he lies
      In earth of some strange-sounding place,
      Nameless beneath the nameless skies,
      The wind his only chant, the rain
      The only tears upon his face;
      Far and forgotten utterly
      By living man. Yet such as he
      Have made it possible and sure
      For other lives to have, to be;
      For men to sleep content, secure.
      Lip touches lip and eyes meet eyes
      Because his heart beats not again:
      His rotting, fruitless body lies
      That sons may grow from other men.

      He gave, as Christ, the life he had-
      The only life desired or known;
      The great, sad sacrifice was made
      For strangers; this forgotten dead
      Went out into the night alone.
      There was his body broken for you,
      There was his blood divinely shed
      That in the earth lie lost and dim.
      Eat, drink, and often as you do,
      For whom he died, remember him.


      Unaware of its terror,
      And but half aware
      Of the world's beauty near her-
      Of sunlight on the stones,
      And trembling birds in the square,
      Lightly went Madala-
      A rose blown suddenly
      From Spring's gay mouth; part of the Spring was she.
      Warmed to her delicate bones,
      Cool in its linen her skin,
      her hair up-combed and circled,
      Lightly she flowered on the sin
      And pain of the Spring-struck world.
      Down the street went crazy men,
      The winter misery of their blood
      Budding in new pain
      While beggars whined beside her,
      While the street's daughters eyed her,--
      Poor flowers that kept midsummer
      With desperate bloom, and thrust
      Stale rose at each newcomer,
      And crime and hunger and lust
      Raged in the noisy dust.
      Lightly went Madala,
      Unshaken still of that spell,
      Coral beads and jade to buy,
      While her thoughts roamed easily-
      Thoughts like bees in lavender,--
      Thoughts gay and fragile as a robin's shell.
      Till suddenly she had come
      To grim age-stubborned wall
      Behind whose mask of bars
      Starts up in shame the Foundling's Hospital.*
      At the gates to watch her pass
      A caged thing eyed her dumb,
      Most mercifully unaware of
      Its own hurt, but Madala
      Stopped short of Spring that day.
      The air grew pinched and wan,
      A hand came over the sun,
      Birds huddled, stones went grey,
      Her lace and linen white
      Seemed but her body's sin,
      her flesh unscarred and bright
      Burnt like a leper's skin.
      Her mouth was stale with bread
      Flung her by strangers, she was fed,
      Housed, fathered by the State, and she had grown
      A thing belonged to, and loved, by none.
      Though the shut mouth said no word,
      from the caged thing she heard,
      "Who has wronged me, that this Spring
      "Gives me nothing and you everything,
      "Who alike were made,
      "Who beckon the same dream?
      "You buy coral and jade,
      "I sew long, hungry seams
      "To pay for charity . . ."
      Then Madala's heart, afraid,
      Cried the first selfish cry;
      "Is it my fault? Can I
      "Help what the world has done?
      "Can the flower in the shade
      "Blame the flower in the sun?"
      Then quick the caged thing said,
      As if to ask pardon that its words had made
      Madala's Spring so spoiled for her that day:
      "But there's a way, a way!
      "If flowers would share their Spring
      "There's be sunshine enough for all the flowers.
      "Such sunshine you could bring,
      "Such joy that swings and flies
      "With posies your hours through,
      "So just beyond my hours.
      "If I could walk with you-
      "Not in pitiful two by two
      Flayed by free children's eyes,
      Your sister for an hour to be,
      It would double joy and woo
      Spring back to you, and more than Spring to me.'

      Then something quaked in Madala,
      Quaked with magic, quaked with awe.
      Love-quickening, She became a part
      Of this caged thing, she was aware
      Of strange lips tugging at her heart.
      So clear the way was! Tenderer
      Grew her eyes, and as they grew,
      Back to the flowers rushed the dew,
      The earth filled out with the sun,
      The cold birds in the square
      Unbunched and preened upon
      Their twigs in the softening air;
      The cold wind dwindled and dropped,
      Nearer drew Madala,
      At the dumb thing she smiled,
      And Spring that a child had stopped
      Came back from the eyes of a child.

      *Guilford Street, London, the gates of which face the street.


      I will not have roses in my room again,
      Nor listen to sonnets of Michael Angelo
      To-night nor any night, nor fret my brain
      With all the trouble of things that I should know.
      I will be as other women-come and go
      Careless and free, my own self sure and sane,
      As I was once . . .then suddenly you were there
      With your old power . . . roses were everywhere
      And I was listening to Michael Angelo.


      Did he forget? . . . I do not remember,
      All I had of him once I still have to-day;
      He was lovely to me as the word, "amber,"
      As the taste of honey and the smell of hay.

      What if he forget if I remember ?
      What more of love have you than I to say ?
      I have and hold him still in the word, "amber,"
      Taste of honey brings him, he comes back with the hay.


      To twilight heads comes Death as comes a friend.
      As with the gentle fading of the year
      Fades rose, folds leaf, falls fruit, and to their end
      Unquestioning draw near,
      Their flowering over, and their fruiting done,
      Fulfilled and finished and going down with the sun.

      But for June's heart there is no comforting
      When her full-throated rose
      Still quick with buds, still thrilling to the air,
      By some stray wind is tossed,
      her swelling grain that goes
      Heavy to harvesting
      In a black gale is lost,
      And her round grape that purpled to the wine
      Is pinched by some chance frost.
      Ah, then cry out for that last, lovely rose,
      For the stricken wheat, and for the finished vine!
      Such were you who sleep now, who have foregone
      So many of Life's rich secrets almost learned;

      Winning so much, so much yet unwon,
      Yet to be dared, to discover, to reveal.
      Quick still with ardour, hand still at the wheel
      On wide and unsailed seas, eyes turning still
      Towards the morning, while the keen brain burned
      To the imperative will.

      Upon your summer Death seems to set his heel,
      Writes on the page "No more."
      And brings the sign of sunset, shuts the door
      And the house is dark and the tired mourners sleep.
      Yet says he too, "Though quiet at last you lie,
      "And have done with laughter and strife and joy and care,
      "You have honour with your peace; and still you keep
      "Fullness of life and of felicity.
      "You have seen the grail. What need you of grey hair?
      "There are those who daily die,
      "Who have long out lived their welcome in the world,
      "Who are old and sad and tired and fain to cease
      "From the crowded earth, and the hours in tumult whirled,
      "Urgent and vain. You are not such as these
      "Who have striven for laurels, and never knew the shade
      "Upon their brows, who would persuade the rose,
      "And never have come near it; till the head
      "Bows and the heart breaks, and the spirit knows
      "Only its failure, dim and featureless,--
      "Its weariness of all things dreamed and done,
      "When love and grief alike seem emptiness
      "And fame and unrecognition one."

      The full tide took you, you went out with the sun,
      Not in the cringing ebb, not in the grey
      And tremulous twilight, when each lonely one
      To its last loneliness must creep away.
      Your genius has won its rich repose,
      Full laurelled, wearing still the unfaded rose.
      And as those who bid goodbye at snowdrop time
      Bear with them broken promises of Spring,
      So you in triumph,--in the glory men had in you,
      In Love's full worshipping,--
      High summer thoughts, untouched of Winter's rime,
      Went forth with honour, having fulfilled your Spring.

      The hands that built you felt you flower from her prayer,
      True to her vision true;
      Fearless and fine, shaped from her fashioning;
      Hands empty now, and yet not all unfilled,
      Having built and fired the generous heart and brain,
      Of the man you were; whose fervent spirit willed
      You to the service and healing and help of men.

      These things are hers, not to be lost nor changed
      With changes of death; for though the body die
      The golden deed is stamped eternally
      With the head of God. The new and alien years
      Leave it still bright, unaltered, unestranged.
      Almost too proud, and too profound for tears
      Is the high memory that the desolate heart
      Shrines and is dumb, yet may for ever keep
      Unforbidden, the imperishable part,
      And what Love held, awake, he holds asleep.


      Give me no coil of daemon flowers-
      Pale Messalines that faint and brood
      Through the spent and secret twilight hours
      On their strange feasts of blood.

      Five me wild things of moss and peat-
      The gipsy flower that bravely goes,
      The heather's little hard, brown feet,
      And the black eyes of sloes.

      But most of all the cloudberry
      That offers in her clean, white cup
      The melting snows-the cloudberry!
      Where the great winds go up

      To the hushed peak whose shadow fills
      The air with silence calm and wide-
      She lives, the Dian of the hills,
      And the streams course beside.

    On to the next poem.

Poets' Corner - Home . The Other Pages

©1994-2020 Poets' Corner Editorial Staff, All Rights Reserved Worldwide