The Poplar

Richard Aldington - 1892-1962

Why do you always stand there shivering
Between the white stream and the road?

The people pass through the dust
On bicycles, in carts, in motor-cars;
The waggoners go by at dawn;
The lovers walk on the grass path at night.

Stir from your roots, walk, poplar!
You are more beautiful than they are.

I know that the white wind loves you,
Is always kissing you and turning up
The white lining of your green petticoat.
The sky darts through you like blue rain,
And the grey rain drips on your flanks
And loves you.
And I have seen the moon
Slip his silver penny into your pocket
As you straightened your hair;
And the white mist curling and hesitating
Like a bashful lover about your knees.

I know you, poplar;
I have watched you since I was ten.
But if you had a little real love,
A little strength,
You would leave your nonchalant idle lovers
And go walking down the white road
Behind the waggoners.

There are beautiful beeches
Down beyond the hill.
Will you always stand there shivering?

More by Richard Aldington

Images

I

Like a gondola of green scented fruits	 
Drifting along the dank canals of Venice,	 
You, O exquisite one,	 
Have entered into my desolate city.	 
  
II

The blue smoke leaps	         
Like swirling clouds of birds vanishing.	 
So my love leaps forth toward you,	 
Vanishes and is renewed.	 
  
III

A rose-yellow moon in a pale sky	 
When the sunset is faint vermilion	  
In the mist among the tree-boughs	 
Art thou to me, my beloved.	 
  
IV

A young beech tree on the edge of the forest	 
Stands still in the evening,	 
Yet shudders through all its leaves in the light air	  
And seems to fear the stars—	 
So are you still and so tremble.	 
  
V

The red deer are high on the mountain,	 
They are beyond the last pine trees.	 
And my desires have run with them.	  
  
VI

The flower which the wind has shaken	 
Is soon filled again with rain;	 
So does my heart fill slowly with tears,	 
O Foam-Driver, Wind-of-the-Vineyards,	 
Until you return.

A Moment's Interlude

One night I wandered alone from my comrades’ huts;
The grasshoppers chirped softly
In the warm misty evening;
Bracken fronds beckoned from the darkness
With exquisite frail green fingers;
The tree gods muttered affectionately about me,
And from the distance came the grumble of a kindly train.

I was so happy to be alone,
So full of love for the great speechless earth,
That I could have laid my cheek in the wet grasses
And caressed with my lips the hard sinewy body
Of Earth, the cherishing mistress of bitter lovers. 

Captive

They have torn the gold tettinx
From my hair;
And wrenched the bronze sandals
From my ankles.

They have taken from me my friend
Who knew the holy wisdom of poets,
Who had drunk at the feast
Where Simonides sang.

No more do I walk the calm gardens
In the white mist of olives;
No more do I take the rose-crown
From the white hands of a maiden.

I, who was free, am a slave;
The Muses have forgotten me,
The gods do not hear me.

Here there are no flowers to love;
But afar off I dream that I see
Bent poppies and the deathless asphodel.