Louise Imogen Guiney

Louise Imogen Guiney
At a Symphony
Oh, I would have these tongues oracular
Dip into silence, tease no more, let be!
They madden, like some choral of the free
Gusty and sweet against a prison-bar.
To earth the boast that her gold empires are,
The menace of delicious death to me,
Great Undesign, strong as by God’s decree,
Piercing the heart with beauty from afar!
Music too winning to the sense forlorn!
Of what angelic lineage was she born,
Bred in what rapture?—These her sires and friends:
Censure, Denial, Gloom, and Hunger’s throe.
Praised be the Spirit that thro’ thee, Schubert! so
Wrests evil unto wholly heavenly ends.
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Down Stream
Scarred hemlock roots,
Oaks in mail, and willow-shoots
Spring’s first-knighted;
Clinging aspens grouped between,
Slender, misty-green,
Faintly affrighted:

Far hills behind,
Somber growth, with sunlight lined,
On their edges;
Banks hemmed in with maiden-hair,
And the straight and fair
Phalanx of sedges:

Wee wings and eyes,
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Like bodiless water passing in a sigh,
Thro’ palsied streets the fatal shadows flow,
And in their sharp disastrous undertow
Suck in the morning sun, and all the sky.
The towery vista sinks upon the eye,
As if it heard the Hebrew bugles blow,
Black and dissolved; nor could the founders know
How what was built so bright should daily die.

Thy mood with man’s is broken and blent in,
City of Stains! And ache of thought doth drown
The primitive light in which thy life began;
Great as thy dole is, smirchèd with his sin,
Greater and elder yet the love of man
Full in thy look, tho’ the dark visor’s down.
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In the Reading-Room of the British Museum
Praised be the moon of books! that doth above
A world of men, the fallen Past behold,
And fill the spaces else so void and cold
To make a very heaven again thereof;
As when the sun is set behind a grove,
And faintly unto nether ether rolled,
All night his whiter image and his mould
Grows beautiful with looking on her love.

Thou therefore, moon of so divine a ray,
Lend to our steps both fortitude and light!
Feebly along a venerable way
They climb the infinite, or perish quite;
Nothing are days and deeds to such as they,
While in this liberal house thy face is bright.
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John Brown: A Paradox
Compassionate eyes had our brave John Brown,
And a craggy stern forehead, a militant frown;
He, the storm-bow of peace. Give him volley on volley,
The fool who redeemed us once of our folly,
And the smiter that healed us, our right John Brown!

Too vehement, verily, was John Brown!
For waiting is statesmanlike; his the renown
Of the holy rash arm, the equipper and starter
Of freedmen; aye, call him fanatic and martyr:
He can carry both halos, our plain John Brown.

A scandalous stumbling-block was John Brown,
And a jeer; but ah! soon from the terrified town,
In his bleeding track made over hilltop and hollow,
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The Lights of London
The evenfall, so slow on hills, hath shot
Far down into the valley’s cold extreme,
Untimely midnight; spire and roof and stream
Like fleeing specters, shudder and are not.
The Hampstead hollies, from their sylvan plot
Yet cloudless, lean to watch as in a dream,
From chaos climb with many a sudden gleam,
London, one moment fallen and forgot.

Her booths begin to flare; and gases bright
Prick door and window; all her streets obscure
Sparkle and swarm with nothing true nor sure,
Full as a marsh of mist and winking light;
Heaven thickens over, Heaven that cannot cure
Her tear by day, her fevered smile by night.
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Open, Time
Open, Time, and let him pass
Shortly where his feet would be!
Like a leaf at Michaelmas
Swooning from the tree,

Ere its hour the manly mind
Trembles in a sure decrease,
Nor the body now can find
Any hold on peace.

Take him, weak and overworn;
Fold about his dying dream
Boyhood, and the April morn,
And the rolling stream:

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A Salutation
High-hearted Surrey! I do love your ways,
Venturous, frank, romantic, vehement,
All with inviolate honor sealed and blent,
To the axe-edge that cleft your soldier-bays:
I love your youth, your friendships, whims, and frays;
Your strict, sweet verse, with its imperious bent,
Heard as in dreams from some old harper’s tent,
And stirring in the listener’s brain for days.
Good father-poet! if to-night there be
At Framlingham none save the north-wind’s sighs,
No guard but moonlight’s crossed and trailing spears,
Smile yet upon the pilgrim named like me,
Close at your gates, whose fond and weary eyes
Sought not one other down three hundred years!
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Strikers in Hyde Park
A woof reversed the fatal shuttles weave,
How slow! but never once they slip the thread.
Hither, upon the Georgian idler’s tread,
Up spacious ways the lindens interleave,
Clouding the royal air since yester-eve,
Come men bereft of time and scant of bread,
Loud, who were dumb, immortal, who were dead,
Thro’ the cowed world their kingdom to retrieve.

What ails thee, England? Altar, mart, and grange
Dream of the knife by night; not so, not so
The clear Republic waits the general throe,
Along her noonday mountains’ open range.
God be with both! for one is young to know
The other’s rote of evil and of change.
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Sunday Chimes in the City
Across the bridge, where in the morning blow
The wrinkled tide turns homeward, and is fain
Homeward to drag the black sea-goer’s chain,
And the long yards by Dowgate dipping low;
Across dispeopled ways, patient and slow,
Saint Magnus and Saint Dunstan call in vain:
From Wren’s forgotten belfries, in the rain,
Down the blank wharves the dropping octaves go.

Forbid not these! Tho’ no man heed, they shower
A subtle beauty on the empty hour,
From all their dark throats aching and outblown;
Aye in the prayerless places welcome most,
Like the last gull that up a naked coast
Deploys her white and steady wing, alone.
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1778-1830 Between the wet trees and the sorry steeple,
Keep, Time, in dark Soho, what once was Hazlitt,
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I: THE MOTOR: 1905

From hedgerows where aromas fain would be
New volleyed odours execrably arise;
The flocks, with hell-smoke in their patient eyes,
Into the ditch from bawling ruin flee:
Spindrift of one abominated sea
Along all roads in wrecking fury flies
Till on young strangled leaf, on bloom that dies,
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Emily Brontë
What sacramental hurt that brings
The terror of the truth of things
Had changed thee? Secret be it yet.
’Twas thine, upon a headland set,
To view no isles of man’s delight,
With lyric foam in rainbow flight,
But all a-swing, a-gleam, mid slow uproar,
Black sea, and curved uncouth sea-bitten shore.
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Fifteen Epitaphs I
I laid the strewings, darling, on thine urn;
I lowered the torch, I poured the cup to Dis.
Now hushaby, my little child, and learn
Long sleep how good it is.

In vain thy mother prays, wayfaring hence,
Peace to her heart, where only heartaches dwell;
But thou more blest, O mild intelligence!
Forget her, and Farewell.
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(January 7, 1915) In the dregs of the year, all steam and rain,
In the timid time of the heart again,
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You that are dear, O you above the rest!
Forgive him his evasive moods and cold;
The absence that belied him oft of old,
The war upon sad speech, the desperate jest,
And pity’s wildest gush but half-confessed,
Forgive him! Let your gentle memories hold
Some written word once tender and once bold,
Or service done shamefacedly at best,
Whereby to judge him. All his days he spent,
Like one who with an angel wrestled well,
O’ermastering Love with show of light disdain;
And whatso’er your spirits underwent,
He, wounded for you, worked no miracle
To make his heart’s allegiance wholly plain.
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Romans in Dorset: A.D. MDCCCXCV
A stupor on the heath,
And wrath along the sky;
Space everywhere; beneath
A flat and treeless wold for us, and darkest noon on high.

Sullen quiet below,
But storm in upper air!
A wind from long ago,
In mouldy chambers of the cloud had ripped an arras there,

And singed the triple gloom,
And let through, in a flame,
Crowned faces of old Rome:
Regnant o’er Rome’s abandoned ground, processional they came.

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When on the Marge of Evening
When on the marge of evening the last blue light is broken,
And winds of dreamy odour are loosened from afar,
Or when my lattice opens, before the lark hath spoken,
On dim laburnum-blossoms, and morning’s dying star,

I think of thee (O mine the more if other eyes be sleeping!),
Whose greater noonday splendours the many share and see,
While sacred and for ever, some perfect law is keeping
The late, the early twilight, alone and sweet for me.
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