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Kowhai Gold

[Seaforth Mackenzie]

page 68

A Leaf from a Fly-book
The King's road is a troublous summons calling day and day;
But my feet take the cocksfoot track, the easy, vagrant way;
Beside the restless acres and the gold of noisy gorse
The ripple lures its lover down the dazzle of its course.

Its speech is of the yellow reaches, rich with lurking joy;
The revel of the rapids, where gay life is death's decoy;
My heart is with the laughing lips; I follow up and down,
But follow not the King's white road toward the haste of town.

Afoot, the wash of waders, and aloft, the haze-veiled blue,—
The heart it needeth nothing, so the cast fall clean and true.
O carol of the running reel, O flash of mottled back!
And who would take the King's white road and who the cocksfoot track?

The hour-glass fills with weather like a wine of slow content;
I throw the world behind me as a cartridge that is spent.
Then home by summer starlight bear my grass-cool, mottled load;
I quit the pleasant cocksfoot track; I take the King's white road.

page 69

A Northern Song
Ho! launch the longship down the beach,—
The loosened bergs lift out to sea;
The tide-rip swings adown the reach;
The fettered waterways are free,
March pipes athwart the swinging firs,
And rides white horses into foam;
The rover in the red blood stirs,
The water laps our hearts from home.

The rover in the red blood stirs,
The narrow seas shout to their own,
Their call is tenfold more than hers
That bideth by the ingle-stone;
The stars bathe in the sea by night,
The long coasts fleck our sail by day,
Storehouse and barn are ours by right,—
We harry in the Viking way!

The winter, like the Polar bear,
Stalks down the whitened north again;
There's frost within the Channel air,
And hearts for pine-log fires are fain.
There is a bench beside a hearth,
There is a girl with yellow hair—
My soul is sick for roof and garth,
Up where the Northern Streamers flare!

page 70

The Quest of the Sancgreal
Who seeks the Holy Grail he rides aloof.
The lure of lips and eyes and rippled hair
And clinging arms,—all love's white, silken snare
He shall thrust from him for his soul's behoof;
And when Night cowers upon Comfort's roof,
The leaping fire and circling wine forswear,
And follow where Adventure's clarions blare
And spirit frets its fleshly warp and woof.

The salt of life shall mock with appetite
His lips denied the savour and the spice
Wherein the sons of men do take delight;
He shall enthrone his soul beyond their price
And follow the cold twilight of the trail,
And in the end he shall not win the Grail.