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Three Poems

ISSUE:  Spring 1939

The Chimney Piece

A painting by AE, a goblet of shells sent from the Great Barrier Ree Nettie Palmer, and a Christmas drawing by M. Rothenstein.

I look up, and there are three Children wading in from sea,
And the foreign shells that were sent to me And the little drawing of Charity.

Three painted children in the heat,
With sun-blessed heads and wave-blessed feet;
The cold shells, grey and violet,
And the drooped head in the snowy street.

Waters of birth blooming with light,
The water-forms, fulfilled with right,
Fair-tinted, or complete in white,
And pity’s gift in the wan night.

Here may the Scorpion quench his sting
In his own watery brain, and sing
Like swan or siren voyaging
Through a dim thing to a far thing.

I that am born must grow to be
Right as are the shells from sea:
And the bitter snow is calling me
To come through sorrow to charity.


She hangs the garland in her hair,
Smiling above unending pain: She knows the worst, and does not care: Her beauty says, to foul and fair,
Tears are a wrong, and all repining vain.

What fearful thing is she, that sees
Joy failing, and the gaping grave,
That knows our bitter mysteries,
Our death, our life of little ease,
The coward’s hell, the anguish of the brave:

That sees, and smiles like the blind stone,
The white stone from the age of gold Shaped like a goddess, whereupon The eternal miracle is done,
And the unutterable word is told?

She, love’s apotheosis, seems Less kind than leopards, not so dear As the brief mayfly of the streams;
The enemy of the bright dreams,
The fair inscription on the sepulcher.

We are not worthy of the soul!
Through light and dark, through love and pain
We see our sphere of being roll,
And will not face the living whole
That sent us forth, and calls us home again.

She is our part in God, to shine
Where all abiding glories are:
Even through my tears,
I see her twine
Among her deathless locks divine
The star of evening, and the morning star.


O come out of the lily to me,
Come out of the morning-glory’s bell,
Out of the rose and the peony,
You that made them, made so well Leaf and flower and the spiral shell,
And the weed that waves in coves of the sea.

O look out of the ermine’s eye,
And look down with the eye of the bird,
And ride the air with the butterfly
Whose wings are written with many a word,
Read and beloved but never heard,
The secret message, the silent cry.

O leap out of another’s mind,
Come from the toils of the terrible brain: Sleep no longer, nor lurk behind Hate and anger and woeful pain: As once in the garden, walk again,
Center and spirit of human kind.


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