we not weary in the windless days
Hereafter, for the murmur of the sea,
The cool salt air across some grassy lea!
Shall we not go bewildered through a maze
Of stately streets with glittering gems ablaze,
Forlorn amid the pearl and ivory.
Straining our eyes beyond the bourne to see
Phantoms from out life's dear forsaken ways?
Give us again the crazy, clay-built nest,
Summer, and soft unseasonable Spring.
Our flowers to pluck, our broken songs to sing,
Our fairy gold of evening in the West;
Still to the land we love our longings cling,
The sweet, vain world of turmoil and unrest.
"fairy gold of evening" and "forlorn
amid the pearl and ivory" are open to a suspicion
of lightness in weight, surely the following sextet
is only the purest gold in texture and worth:
some are bound to life with golden bands,
And life to these is passing sweet and dear;
They fain would linger in each lovely year
And shun the pilgrimage to unknown lands,
But souls that sorrow know not any fear,
When Death draws nigh with healing in his hands.
we come to consider Mrs. Tomson's ballads we find that
we are touching her most satisfactory work. "The
Ballad of the Bird-Bride," indeed, is somewhat
too alien, too fabulous, to lay hold of the heart, and
"The Fairies' Cobler" is much better. There
is a rhythm about it quite distinct and individual,
which is Graham Tomson's Hall-Mark. To read the opening
stanza once is to be haunted by it forever, so inimitably
has the poet succeeded in lending atmosphere and sound
to her twilight picture:
sat at work 'neath the lintel low,
And the white-walled street
Save for the sound of my neighbor's loom,
Plik-a-plek-plek, through the twilight gloom,
And a curlew crying shrill.
ballad of the impossible, of even greater merit, is
"The Wrecker of Priest Cove," published not
long since in the Independent:
yellow rushlight glimmered dim
Among the shadows deep,
Where the dying man lay gaunt and grim,
And his watcher droused to sleep.
it begins, and the wrecker hears the booming sound of
a great ship in the offing.
chamber was full of the sound of surf,
And the clash of a breaking
the dying man is filled with dread of who the unknown
sailors may be aboard the unseen ship.
ye come for me from the foul black sea?
Win back, ye carrion crew!
Back to the hell where I bade ye dwell,
For never I'll sail with you.
. . .
was a great ship crossed the bar,
With all sail set went she;
'Gainst tide and wind with the shore behind
That ship put out to sea.
by far the most impressive and robust of Mrs. Tomson's
poems is that suggested by Willette's picture, Le Mauvais
Larron, a lyric with the swing and force of Browning,
and yet entirely in the author's own manner. Not a line
is wasted, not a word wanting.
moorland waste lay hushed in the dusk of the second
Till a shuddering wind and shrill moaned up through
the twilight gray:
Like a wakening wraith it rose from the grave of the
And it whirled the sand by the tree; (there was never
a tree but one-)
But the tall, bare bole stood fast, unswayed with the
mad wind's stress,
And a strong man hung thereon in his pain and his nakedness.
His feet were nailed to the wood, and his arms strained
over his head;
'Twas the dusk of the second day, and yet was the man
old blast lifted his hair, but his limbs were set and
And under their heavy brows his eyes stared into the
He looked out over the waste, and his eyes were as coals
Lit up with anguish and hate, and the flame of a strong
I-I am here, Antoine-I have found thee at last,"
She rose to her feet and stood upright on the
gaunt mare's back,
And she pressed her full red lips to his that
were strained and black.
. . .
for the last time now-good-night beloved, and good-by-"
And his soul fled into the waste between a kiss and
laureate himself might gladly set his name to such a
poem, as one who would annex new territories of fame.
"A Summer Night," judged at the severest tribunal
(and bearing in mind how implacable Time is in his judgments),
the one new and permanent poem added to the language
is the "Ballad of the Willow Pool."
was never a face, to my mind, like hers,
Nor ever a voice so sweet;
I would hearken, aye, at set o' the sun,
When the last long furrow was turned and done,
For her song and her lightsome
poems show Mrs. Tomson as a lineal heir to the worthiest
traditions of English balladry; but there is another
side to her genius; she is one of the Children of To-morrow.
Her creed is the creed of the wind, plaintive in calm
and pitiless in storm. It lacks the valiant indifferentism
of Mr. Henley's:
the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried
Under the bindgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed,"
it has not the imposing serenity of that little known
contemporary poet, Mrs. Margaret L. Woods. In "The
Smile of All Wisdom" the dead are made to say:
we have lifted the veil-there was nothing to see!
Lo, we have looked on the scroll-there was nothing to
in "A Wayside Calvary" the ancient faith is
infected with the hopeless, pathetic spirit of these
carven Christ hangs gaunt and grim,
Beneath his blue Picardian skies,
And piteous, perchance, to him
Seems every man that lives and
Here, hid from hate of alien
Two hundred Prussians sleep, they say,
Beneath the cross whose shadow
Athwart the road to Catelet.
. . .
garlands laid or blossoms spread
The Prussians' sun-scorched
mound lies bare,
But thin grass creeps above the dead
And pallid poppies flutter fair,
And fling their drowsy treasures
Beneath the symbols, stark and grey,
That hath the strangers in its
Beside the road to Catelet.