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The English Singers

ISSUE:  Autumn 1928

They sang: and the wide hall was charged with slow
Immoderate gold, as though their voices were fingers
On the sluice that is west of Eden.
Halt that flow,
Yet riding the air like a feather, the radiance lingers.
They sang again: a white-flanked island rose
Out of the music, upborne on the tides of their singing;
Girdled with masts, its greens and towers and mows,
Gay with the sound of sailors homeward flinging.
Their melodies were mournful, being wise
As a woman is, whose lover death hath taken,
As a man who looks on his work with aged eyes,
Oh, and sweet as the throat of a child by laughter shaken.
“God give you good-morning, my masters, past three o-clocke
And a fair morning,” they sang, whereupon morning
Put off her grey wimple, put on a rosy smock,
And made brisk answer to night’s sour warning.
“Lanthorns and candle light, hang out mayes for all night,”
They sang, and their voices were as lanthorns lifted
Against the coming of the unending night,
And when they ceased its shadow never shifted.


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