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Lawrence Lee


Group Portrait, The Family of Man

Spring 1960 | Poetry

1. The Hearth Flagging, the fire survives—Wind in the chimney and gustsThat sough against the walls—To warm whatever livesAnd movesInto its radiant fluxThat flares and fallsWhere the hearthIs another star in the dark of the earth. 2. Woman Wa [...]

The Passionate Young Pride

We, who have loved a long clean rapier, Shall bend above an old man's walking stick— Shall prop the straight, proud swiftness which we were With shaking hands that once were sure and quick. And, who will cry the foulness of this shame: Tha [...]


O happy little bird, crying above A sudden wind of murmuring violins, Brief is the flight into the blue we love— One sky-mad note before descent begins. Down, down, into a stirring marsh of sound: Froglike bassoon and reedy clarinet, The [...]

A Tree in the City

Courageous runner from some distant wood, Bearing the news of spring's bright victory! So must the proud Pheidippides have stood, Quivering to tell that Athens was still free. Praise to the god that let you reach our walls And cry us to the [...]

Cedar Tree

There was an age, before the earth seemed old, When we went through the fields where April walked, And saw the world on fire with blue and gold, And shared strange secrets though we never talked. Love was as light as shadows on the grass, And clean a [...]

In the South Countree

A lady came from Northern Lands To the blue-hill counties of the South; Magnolia-white were her flitting hands, Geranium-red her sweet, small mouth.She lingered but a bud-brief while In the quiet of the South Countree; A kiss, a look, a starry smil [...]

Where the Red Earth Spills

Leave me unknown where hundreds hurry by, Unhoused and lost where many people dwell; But let me hear, far off, a cattle bell Go tinkling underneath a star-mad sky.Cast me out tired on a long, hard road, To know the ache of limbs, the beaten pride; B [...]

Farewell to Cytherea

Cytherea, too long have you betrayed, By subtle magic, merely mortal eyes, And touched the passing of a simple maid With sweet but most bewildering surprise.Out of the beauty of trim ships at sea You fashion girls that through green meadows run; And [...]

Lovelier Than a Tall Green Tree

You seem a little sister of the trees That nod their heads before the still, blue noon; But you will grow into a litheness soon That mocks a slim bough shaken in the breeze. About you beauty's brilliant birds will flit, And of your quiet prese [...]


Chisels of time and circumstance Roughed out their forms; then want and pain Cut Gothic details in their glance, That they might mock the wind and rain.All day they crouch against cold walls; Or, chafing bony hands, they creep To where some crowli [...]

Tony’s Manicurist

She must amuse whoever comes her way In the tiled palace where she plays the Fool To all coarse lords who bring their bit of pay. She sits and bravely smirks upon her stool, While old men lean their legs against her knee And fat ones give her hand [...]


Seeing men walk along the avenue, One would not think of soldiers under fire; Grey spats, a cane, a tidy scarf of blue Would hardly seem a fighting man's attire. No hidden gunner tries to snipe them down, No batteries compel a crazed retreat, And sa [...]


You know how brave a little candle glows When a tired heart is waiting in the dark, And what a light of friendliness it throws Upon the face of walls and chairs and stark Old table edges peering through the gloom. Emptiness, and a candle peoples it [...]

The Extension of Poetry in Time

Last Poms and Plays. By W. B. Yeats. New York: The Macmillan Company. $1.75. The Collected Poems of A. H. Housman. New York: Henry Holt and Company. $3.00. The Spirit Watches. By Ruth Pittcr. New York: The Macmillan Company. $1.50. William butler [...]

I Have Tasted This Land

The Plentiful Hills Red flowers of the creeper hold New honey cupped in pips. The hummingbird, in a blur of gold, Poises and sips. A great tree up the woods is full Of the walnut's fruity green And a squirrel in the hot noon lull Chaffers unsee [...]

In the Presence of Our Enemies

SUMMER in its green fatness burns and blows. Peace diapers the nodding wood. The heart is as full as the udders of the cows And aches to feel all well, but knows Our time is enemy of good. News is as black and angry as the crows Quarreling around the [...]

Twenty-Four Hours

I The light again, at the same early hour, Wakes birds that can still chirp in windy cold. This is like mornings that have been before; But village streets and country orchards hold Since yesterday their featherweight of snow, And, though some color [...]

Words From the Dead

BEYOND, in a great circle, swings the sky And the blown clouds of a November day. Like the last leaves the years are driven by Over the excellent dead within this clay. Action came after dream, deed followed thought. So early were they up, so full of [...]

In This Hour

I Carry me not, like dead Endymion, A frozen image cold within your mind. This is the changing flesh, to look upon, To time and all its forfeitures consigned. How shall your heart have known, when we are broken, The hot and troubled pulse which [...]

Noon in Barbour County

Spring 1930 | Poetry

NOON IN BARBOUR COUNTY Heat has baked the sky pure blue, And the earth a copper hue; Silent piles of white clouds blow To the Gulf of Mexico; And black buzzards slowly fly Down the vast deserted sky. With the fiery thirst of June Burns the furnace of [...]

Bequest to My Daughters

Though it grieve you, This is all that I shall leave you: White and slender Bouyant bodies, Which will gender Love and wonder; Beauty newer Than leaves under April's flashing Silver rainfalls And their splashing. To the youngest I leave dreaming; To [...]

Helen’s Three Daughters

Slim are the bodies Of Helen’s three daughters, Slim and as snowy As swans on blue waters. Like water lilies Asleep on the river Drift Helen’s daughters Where leaves lean and quiver. Three silver minnows That leap in the shallows [...]

To a Native State

It is a land of gullies and red dust, Of drouth, and sudden rainfall, and thick mud. Ignorance walks its backroads, letting blood; And, still, I love it well, because I must. Land of no sudden winters, where the fall Is but a dark cessation of t [...]

Troops Ascending the Beach Called Omaha

Something more clinging than the mud Slows the ascent. Files reach To the farthest turning of the road And more wait on the beach. With steps which sometimes slip, men climb Past the first monuments— An enemy helmet in the slime, The foxhole [...]

The Letters

I Autumn has changed to spring since I last wrote. There should be stars out where you walk tonight. Tomorrow your blue eyes will fill with light From open fields, sprung greenly to the note Cried by new birds that hop about the loam, And from [...]


Ghosts are the only lovely things: Ghost of a bell that wakes and rings When silence all the belfry keeps And the old bellman deeply sleeps; Ghost of a ship, green fathoms drowned, Where wraith-like fishes peer around; Ghosts of flowers that long s [...]

Portrait of a Gentleman at Home

Jefferson and Monticello. By Paul Wilstach. New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. $5.00.The archives are giving up their dead. Mr. Gamal ­iel Bradford, in America, and Mr. Lytton Strachey, in England, have for some years been exceedingly busy wit [...]

The Fox Hunt

God was a ghostly fox that fled; But a hound can scent where fox has ranged: “Before the green of the leaves has changed I will cry God out of his mountain bed. “Yea, he is cunning to hide his flight In the shifting mists of nights and [...]