POESY

po·e·sy n. pl. po·e·sies 1. Poetical works; poetry. 2. The art or practice of composing poems. 3. The inspiration involved in composing poetry. [Middle English poesie, from Old French, from Latin posis, from Greek poisis, from poiein, to create; see kwei-2 in Indo-European roots.]

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Alfred Noyes -- September 16





 
Alfred Noyes September 16, 1880 –  June 25, 1958
 
 
 
Peace by Alfred Noyes
 
Give me the pulse of the tide again
And the slow lapse of the leaves,
The rustling gold of a field of grain
And a bird in the nested eaves;
 
And a fishing-smack in the old harbour
Where all was happy and young;
And an echo or two of the songs I knew
When songs could still be sung.
 
For I would empty my heart of all
This world's implacable roar,
And I would turn to my home, and fall
Asleep in my home once more;
 
And I would forget what the cities say,
And the folly of all the wise,
And turn to my own true folk this day,
And the love in their constant eyes.
 
There is peace, peace, where the sea-birds wheel,
And peace in the breaking wave;
And I have a broken heart to heal,
And a broken soul to save.

                             
 

The Humming Birds by Alfred Noyes
                          

Green wing and ruby throat,
What shining spell, what exquisite sorcery,
Lured you to float
And fight with bees round this one flowering tree?
 
Petulant imps of light,
What whisper or gleam or elfin-wild perfumes
Thrilled through the night
And drew you to this hive of rosy bloom?
 
One tree, and one alone,
Of all that load this magic air with spice,
Claims for its own
Your brave migration out of Paradise;
 
Claims you, and guides you, too,
Three thousand miles across the summer's waste
Of blooms ye knew
Less finely fit for your ethereal taste.
 
To poets' youthful hearts,
Even so the quivering April thoughts will fly,--
Those irised darts,
Those winged and tiny denizens of the sky.
 
Through beaks as needle-fine,
They suck a redder honey than bees know.
Unearthly wine
Sleeps in this bloom; and, when it falls, they go.
 
 
 
The Loom of Years by Alfred Noyes
                              
In the light of the silent stars that shine on the struggling sea,
In the weary cry of the wind and the whisper of flower and tree,
Under the breath of laughter, deep in the tide of tears,
I hear the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.
 
The leaves of the winter wither and sink in the forest mould
To colour the flowers of April with purple and white and gold:
Light and scent and music die and are born again
In the heart of a grey-haired woman who wakes in a world of pain.
 
The hound, the fawn, and the hawk, and the doves that croon and coo,
We are all one woof of the weaving and the one warp threads us through,
One flying cloud on the shuttle that carries our hopes and fears
As it goes thro’ the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.
 
The green uncrumpling fern and the rustling dewdrenched rose
Pass with our hearts to the Silence where the wings of music close,
Pass and pass to the Timeless that never a moment mars,
Pass and pass to the Darkness that made the suns and stars.
 
Has the soul gone out in the Darkness? Is the dust sealed from sight?
Ah hush, for the woof of the ages returns thro’ the warp of the night!
Never that shuttle loses one thread of our hopes and fears,
As it comes thro’ the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.
 
O, woven in one wide Loom thro’ the throbbing weft of the whole,
One in spirit and flesh, one in body and soul,
Tho’ the leaf were alone in its falling, the bird in its hour to die,
The heart in its muffled anguish, the sea in its mournful cry,
 
One with the flower of a day, one with the withered moon
One with the granite mountains that melt into the noon
One with the dream that triumphs beyond the light of the spheres,
We come from the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

        
        
 

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes
 
                               PART ONE
     
                             I
 
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
          Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
 
                              II
 
He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
          His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.
           
                               III
 
Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred; 
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
          Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.
 
                              IV
 
And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
          The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—
 
                              V
 
"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
          Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."
 
                              VI
 
He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
          (Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.
 
 
                              PART TWO
 
                              I
 
He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
          Marching—marching—
King George's men came matching, up to the old inn-door.
 
                              II
 
They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
          And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.
 
                              III
 
They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now, keep good watch!" and they kissed her. She heard the dead man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
          Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!
 
                              IV
 
She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till now, on the stroke of midnight,
          Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!
 
                              V
 
The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
          Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain.
 
                              VI
 
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
          Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!
 
                              VII
 
Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
          Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.
 
                              VIII
 
He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know she stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
          The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.
 
                              IX
 
Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
          Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.
 
 
*          *           *
 
                              X
 
And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
          Riding—riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.
 
                              XI
 
Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
          Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

    
 
 
 
The beautiful words of The Highwayman have been set to music and recorded by Loreena McKennitt:
 
 

 
 
 
 
–Cat