Bells in the Rain

- 1885-1928

Sleep falls, with limpid drops of rain,
Upon the steep cliffs of the town.
Sleep falls; men are at peace again
While the small drops fall softly down.

The bright drops ring like bells of glass
Thinned by the wind; and lightly blown;
Sleep cannot fall on peaceful grass
So softly as it falls on stone.

Peace falls unheeded on the dead
Asleep; they have had deep peace to drink;
Upon a live man’s bloody head
It falls most tenderly, I think.

Escape

When foxes eat the last gold grape,
And the last white antelope is killed,
I shall stop fighting and escape
Into a little house I'll build.

But first I'll shrink to fairy size,
With a whisper no one understands,
Making blind moons of all your eyes,
And muddy roads of all your hands.

And you may grope for me in vain
In hollows under the mangrove root,
Or where, in apple-scented rain,
The silver wasp-nests hang like fruit.

Beauty

Say not of Beauty she is good,
Or aught but beautiful,
Or sleek to doves’ wings of the wood
Her wild wings of a gull.

Call her not wicked; that word’s touch
Consumes her like a curse;
But love her not too much, too much,
For that is even worse.

O, she is neither good nor bad,
But innocent and wild!
Enshrine her and she dies, who had
The hard heart of a child.

Fire and Sleet and Candlelight

For this you’ve striven
    Daring, to fail:
Your sky is riven
    Like a tearing veil.

For this, you’ve wasted
    Wings of your youth;
Divined, and tasted
    Bitter springs of truth.

From sand unslakèd
    Twisted strong cords,
And wandered naked
    Among trysted swords.

There’s a word unspoken,
    A knot untied.
Whatever is broken
    The earth may hide.

The road was jagged
    Over sharp stones:
Your body’s too ragged
    To cover your bones.

The wind scatters
    Tears upon dust;
Your soul’s in tatters
    Where the spears thrust.

Your race is ended—
    See, it is run:
Nothing is mended
    Under the sun.

Straight as an arrow
    You fall to a sleep
Not too narrow
    And not too deep.

Related Poems

March Evening

Blue through the window burns the twilight;
  Heavy, through trees, blows the warm south wind.
Glistening, against the chill, gray sky light,
  Wet, black branches are barred and entwined.

Sodden and spongy, the scarce-green grass plot
  Dents into pools where a foot has been.
Puddles lie spilt in the road a mass, not
  Of water, but steel, with its cold, hard sheen.

Faint fades the fire on the hearth, its embers
  Scattering wide at a stronger gust.
Above, the old weathercock groans, but remembers
  Creaking, to turn, in its centuried rust.

Dying, forlorn, in dreary sorrow,
  Wrapping the mists round her withering form,
Day sinks down; and in darkness to-morrow
  Travails to birth in the womb of the storm.