Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Kowhai Gold

[Robin Hyde]

The little pools of starlight splash
Against the poplars' slender lines;
The moon is like a golden comb
Caught in the tresses of the pines.

Go quietly, lest unaware,
You find the leafless path that leads
To where an older god than God
Makes cruel music through the reeds.

The lilies float like slender hands
Towards a satyr-trampled brink,
With crowns of oakleaves in their hair
The shouting fauns come down to drink.

page 75

Not Innocency's self shall walk
These breathless ways and shall not see
The wine-stained lips and dangerous eyes,
The swart-faced folk of Arcady.

And lovers who have wandered through
The clover-purple evening's peace,
Have glimpsed, deep-breasted, insolent,
The mocking loveliness of Greece,

Have heard the lawless bugles sing
From that defiant Paradise,
And seen, like moonlight through the trees,
The glory of unearthly eyes.

And never shall the watcher seek
His tender human loves again,
For marble-white, with singing lips,
The wood-nymphs glimmer through his brain.

Go quietly.  The tall gods here
Would wear your beauty like a flower
To crush with jests and cast aside
In one unpitying, splendid hour.

Road's End
You have made summer golden.  Now you go.
Let us have nothing but the courteous words
Chosen by men to suit the unstirred heart
When roadways that were friendly fall apart;
page 76 Let neither tell he knew that in these slow
Sweet dawns was chiming of enchanted birds.

For words are broken wings.… Let it suffice
That in some twilight all the green and gold
Of pausing summer suddenly shall hold
Colour of you.  The little horn of rain
Through dripping leaves shall sound your name again,
And all the pools where opal sunsets shine,
Having more faithful memory than mine,
Shall give me back the laughter of your eyes.

If it were nothing but some deep abyss
Opened between us—if some icy sea
Whose sword of waters clove 'twixt kiss and kiss
Hid your small garden's dreaming face from me,
I should have faith: and parting would have end—
I think our feet would cross on rainbows, friend.

For Love knows patient ways of building strong
Bridges and stairs, Love flies with secret wings,
Love's shining wind shakes cities with a song,
Swirls wet, pink blossoms round bewildered kings.
But there is more to conquer—all that long
Pageant of ghosts, in stained and tattered dress—
The swift, mistaken word; the unmeant wrong;
The pride, grown harsh at last for loneliness.

page 77

The Trees
I saw the little leaves that have
So gay a dance, their tiny veins
Skilfully painted by some grave
Fine hand that spared not love nor pains.

And here a mystery was wrought
In secret letters hard to find—
Each leaf was perfect, each a thought
Made shapely in the dreamer's mind.

In caverns deep beneath the earth
The blind roots twist.  They do not know
How their boughs rock with April's mirth,
Nor feel the ripening Autumn's glow.

And the swift tides of sap that pass
From gloom to sunshine have no words
To tell the lovely scent of grass,
The plash of rain, the call of birds.

But still the blind, brown fingers grope
And wrench asunder rocky bars,
For no reward but some dim hope
And far-off knowledge of the stars.

Oh life, in caverns dark as these
We build and break.  In depths profound
As any plumbed by ancient trees
We wander blindly underground,

page 78

And blindly from strange soil we drink
The very milk of Mother Earth,
The secret rivers by whose brink
Nor daffodil nor scent has birth.

Nor may we know how swiftly these
Dark tides shall gift our boughs with wings,
Shall blossom into melodies
And starry-plumed, immortal things.

But where the tree of Man grows tall
And soars to straightness from its clod
Widen the flowers that shall not fall,
Whereof the perfume pleases God.

Paris in Troy
Suddenly, as the Cyprian spake and smiled,
I had a vision of a golden room
Where sate no splendour, but a fated child
Whose eyes were steady from the eyes of Doom.
For all her shadows, innocency's grace,
And youth were like white flowers in her hand;
Her hair was bright like banners seeking war,
And yet it framed so delicate a face,
And through the dim blue tapestries I saw
Menelaus, like a sworded shadow, stand.

So now the many standards are unfurled,
The deaths of Kings I had not recked are told,
page 79 And lowered flags stream past that I may know
What star-topped trees that blind, sweet hour laid low.
What does it matter?  Here in Troy I hold
One flower's frailty from a hurricane world.

Yours was no store of gleaming silks,
Of yellow birds and Indian spice—
Your ships were loaded with a freight
Of purely English merchandise.

Such quiet English hopes and dreams
As slowly widen into flower
When faint and mellow sunshine strikes
Against the tall cathedral tower.

And English hopes that blossom when
Spring runs barefoot through Arden.  All
England's sweet brooks of laughter, and
Her silences where blackbirds call.

So that when tropic nights have seen
Your small and steadfast pennants pass
Their silken winds have suddenly known
The little scent of English grass.

Such cargo yours as set the world
To whispering Devon fairy tales,
And loosened in the phoenix woods
The songs of English nightingales.

page 80

We two are ghosts.  Lightly we walk together
Through wistful twilight, through young silver rain—
There was an ominous dream that swooped: again
Its black wings beat, its cold voice echoed "Never."

Its foul lips cried, "My hand has broken up
The pattern of your rainbow—all the bright
Translucent colours, all the misty light
Like bubbles prisoned in an opal cup

"Spilled on grey soil, that grows not even flowers."
Now the slim bluegums strain against the wind,
A dark hill climbs before us, and behind
Night builds her azure town, her dreaming towers.

So well we know the secret way.  And ghosts
Come home to earth are free of weariness—
Say, did the little unseen grasses press
Your feet so kindly, on those starry coasts?

But let this hour be earth's.  Ah, let the scent
Of cold young crescent leaves creep through my hair,
Lie still at last; feel faintly beating near
Heart of the friendly world.  Be well content

With this beloved touch of grass and dew.…
What unfamiliar music holds the night?
See the stars trail like shining birds their bright
Pinions of flame, on the same sky we knew.

page 81

If there be change it lies with us.  And >yet
As of old years, held close to you, the glow
Of joy like dawning takes me.  Scarce I know
Why words are broken, eyes and faces wet.

Look not too deep in purple sky or sea—
For where the waves creep outward with the tide
There waits a mist and strangeness; all the wide
Ocean of space to sever you and me.

God send to-morrow a day of mist,
Grey clouds slim and still as a crane,
Darkening shadow of amethyst,
And the little, quiet rain.

Send the smooth winds flying like doves
From hollows under the hillside-breast,
Loose on high the light that she loves,
Ragged silver along the west.

Call the blue winds home from the deep,
Home from the harbour of little ships;
They will bring dreams to the heart asleep,
And a quiver back to her lips.

Here on the hills her white youth dwells,
Here by the gorse her soul keeps tryst,
Speaks with a voice of floating bells
Faint and far through the mist.

page 82

Seal the words she shall give you, Lord,
Safe in Thy casket of spacious skies,
Staunch with dews the wound of the sword,
Heal with a star her eyes.

Let Thine earth forgive her at length
That she forgot—that she grew old—
And the tall hill offer her all its strength,
And the wet gorse all its gold.

Rain-murmurings. The wind whines and snuffles, wet
As a poor dog whose lord has ceased to care
For faithful things like dogs; and you, Pierrette,
With little firelit face and firegold hair,
Curled like a kitten in an easy-chair,
Who purrs for stroking … velvet-soft … and yet,
Who knows, behind your yellow eyes, what brain
May serve you? Hush—the little whine of rain.

Rose-red azaleas around you bend,
Soft from your lamp the rose-red shadows fall—
See, golden eyes, how rose and golden blend
As panther firelight leaps along the wall.
Outside the small wind shakes a dripping coat,
Stifling a little whimper in its throat.