Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets
1900-1930


 

 

THE NAIAD
AND FIVE OTHER POEMS


BY MARJORIE PICKTHALL




FROM A HITHERTO UNDISCOVERED MANUSCRIPT BOOK NOW IN THE POSSESSION OF HER FATHER, ARTHUR C. PICKTHALL OF TORONTO, ARE CHOSEN BY LORNE PIERCE AND PRINTED FOR A FEW FRIENDS. FOURTEEN COPIES OF THIS CHAP BOOK, DESIGNED BY WILLIAM L. COPE, HAVE BEEN PRINTED BY THE RYERSON PRESS IN KENNERLEY TYPE WITH CASLON SWASH INITIALS ON ENGLISH HAND-MADE PAPER.


 


Copyright, Canada, 1931, by
THE RYERSON PRESS
TORONTO

 


 

The Naiad

* *


DAWN have I known, and noon,
And the dear night with all her foam of stars,
Here in my hands I hold the hunter’s moon
Nightlong beneath the moving water-grasses,
With wavering globes of pearl and amber bars.

5

And spring is mine, when wake the daffodils,
To the wind’s bugle wound upon the hills,
And low across my roof the swallow passes.

Sad smoke of sacred fires along the lands,
The burdened vine, full gourd and goldening ears,

10

The labourer’s song among his olive trees,—
What care have I for these?
Hath Cypris lovelier than these silver hands,
These meek immortal eyes untouched of tears? [page 3]

Night hath no room for laughter, and by day

15

The faint flower dies unripened from the tree.
Heavy the lives of men, and heavily
The imperial gods go wearying, crowned in care,
And I am sick as they
Of a dim grief, an undesigned despair.

20


O, here the oleander leans, and deep
Lies the gray shell asleep,
The round bee drowses in the river-bud.
Here the wild cherry droops her chained fruits,
Here wind the ivory grasses, and the roots

25

Of roses, red as blood.
And sorrow, sorrow, sings the enchanted flood. [page 4]

Break, ye sweet banks, and set my fountains free,
And I will lead my flocks
Of fleece-white waters singing down the rocks,

30

To lose immortal sadness in the sea,
Die in dim rains along the welcoming shore,
And know, ah, know no more.
Eve’s loneliest star above the water-meadows,
Soft birth of wings among the woven shadows,

35

Where almond and the wild azalea throw,
Across my silver roof their crowns of wreathed snow. [page 5]

 


 

Winter

* *


MY heart’s grown empty that was filled
With such wild grace as summers yield,
With gold the early gorse had spilled
And lovely tares from every field.

Bare is my heart. O star, O light,

5

From your strange state of lonely air,
Lest my poor heart hold but the night,
Let one lost gleam inhabit there. [page 6]

 


 

Warfare

* *

“My Spirit shall not always strive with man.”


STRIVE on, O Lord, and let us feel Thy flame,
Burned with all beauty as a rose of fire;
So only man shall meet Thy dread desire,
Forgetful of the pit from whence he came.
Crown him with thorn and sceptre him with shame,

5

Gird him with sorrow, fold him round with fears,
But give him, in his heritage of tears,
Hold on Thy hand and memory of Thy name.
So from his prison-house the martyred soul
May lend Thee strength for strength and power for power,

10

Calling the very angels to his place.
And when at length the lifted gates unroll,
Flash forth to meet his one immortal hour,
Slain at the half-seen vision of Thy face. [page 7]

 


 

Loyal

* *


WE MUST love on, though all believing
Come too hard for these elder days;
Still we must follow, though unreceiving
The old clear wonder, the old sure ways.

Never a height but He gained another;

5

Never a climb but He touched its peak;
Never a pang but He felt its brother
Cling like Judas and kiss His cheek.

Quis est iste? The years are hollow,
Ages blown in the dust He trod,

10

But ever the striving soul must follow
This son of Jewry or Son of God. [page 8]

Ad te, Domine. Still we love Thee,
Lover, labourer, scourged, adored;
Though the hearts of the Marys be dust above the

15

Dust-won body of Him their lord.

Christ or carpenter? Dumbly o’er us
The stars recede and the dawns divide.
Be it enough that He went before us.
Be it enough that He loved, and died. [page 9]

20

 


 

An Old Prayer

* *


LEARN me, O Lord, the high content
That turns the May leaves to the sun,
Careless of all fond summers spent,
So they have one.

Lead me by some untrespass’d wood

5

Above a moon-gold barley-field,
That I may guess from this world’s good
The heavenly yield.

Shew me the green worm, meek and blind,
Bred on small grass and lowly things,

10

That seals herself in death, to find
Heroic wings.

Mind me of some low mound of dust
Where grief and I go half-divine,
Remembering love. Then bid me trust

15

On Thine. [page 10]

 


 

Will You Fare on, My Songs?

* *


WILLyou fare on, my songs, when I write Finish,
Climb the last slope and sight the utmost foam,
Into the world where all dear dreams diminish,
Like ghosts without a home?

Heat of my heat, clay that my clay inherit,

5

Winged with my morning, clogged and mired with me,
Never a bird falls but some singing spirit
Is silent at God’s knee.

Will you pass on, my songs, and lightly clinging
To some chance heart, some half remembering tongue,

10

Share the one dust with all that men died singing,
With all that died unsung?

Perhaps some unborn reader lingering under
Boughs yet ungrown, may question with what tears,
What stumbling singer made you, for whom wonder

15

In what forgotten years. [page 11]