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And brightened into death and died
Like winter, as the bloom waxed wide.
From woodside on to riverside

And southward goal to goal.

Along the wandering ways of Tyne,
By beech and birch and thorn that shine
And laugh when life's requickening wine
Makes night and noon and dawn divine

And stirs in all the veins of spring,
And past the brightening banks of Tees,
He rode as one that breathes and sees
A sun more blithe, a merrier breeze,
A life that hails him king.

And down the softening south that knows
No more how glad the heather glows,
Nor how, when winter's clarion blows
Across the bright Northumbrian snows,

Sea-mists from east and westward meet,
Past Avon senseless yet of song
And Thames that bore but swans in throng
He rode elate in heart and strong

In trust of days as sweet.

So came he through to Camelot,
Glad, though for shame his heart waxed hot,
For hope within it withered not
To see the shaft it dreamed of shot

Fair toward the glimmering goal of fame. And all King Arthur's knightliest there Approved him knightly, swift to dare And keen to bid their records bear Sir Balen's northern name.

Sir Balen of Northumberland
Gat grace before the king to stand
High as his heart was, and his hand
Wrought honour toward the strange north strand
That sent him south so goodly a knight.
And envy, sick with sense of sin,
Began as poisonous herbs begin
To work in base men's blood, akin
To men's of nobler might.

And even so fell it that his doom,
For all his bright life's kindling bloom
And light that took no thought for gloom,
Fell as a breath from the opening tomb
Full on him ere he wist or thought.
For once a churl of royal seed,
King Arthur's kinsman, faint in deed
And loud in word that knew not heed,
Spake shame where shame was nought.

"What doth one here in Camelot
Whose birth was northward? Wot we not
As all his brethren borderers wot
How blind of heart, how keen and hot,

The wild north lives and hates the south?
Men of the narrowing march that knows
Nought save the strength of storms and snows,
What would these carles where knighthood blows
A trump of kinglike mouth?"

Swift from his place leapt Balen, smote
The liar across his face, and wrote
His wrath in blood upon the bloat
Brute cheek that challenged shame for note
How vile a king-born knave might be.

Forth sprang their swords, and Balen slew
The knave ere well one witness knew
Of all that round them stood or drew
What sight was there to see.

Then spake the great king's wrathful will
A doom for six dark months to fill
Wherein close prison held him, still
And steadfast-souled for good or ill.

But when those weary days lay dead
His lordliest knights and barons spake
Before the king for Balen's sake
Good speech and wise, of force to break
The bonds that bowed his head.


[Poems and Ballads, Second Series, 1878. Vorher in «Belgravia», 1876.]

I HID my heart in a nest of roses,

Out of the sun's way, hidden apart;

In a softer bed than the soft white snow's is,
Under the roses I hid my heart.

Why would it sleep not? why should it start,
When never a leaf of the rose-tree stirred?

What made sleep flutter his wings and part? Only the song of a secret bird.

Lie still, I said, for the wind's wing closes,

And mild leaves muffle the keen sun's dart; Lie still, for the wind on the warm sea dozes,

And the wind is unquieter yet than thou art. Does a thought in thee still as a thorn's wound smart? Does the fang still fret thee of hope deferred? What bids the lids of thy sleep dispart? Only the song of a secret bird.

The green land's name that a charm encloses,
It never was writ in the traveller's chart,
And sweet on its trees as the fruit that grows is,
It never was sold in the merchant's mart.

The swallows of dreams through its dim fields dart, And sleep's are the tunes in its tree-tops heard; No hound's note wakens the wildwood hart, Only the song of a secret bird.


In the world of dreams I have chosen my part,
To sleep for a season and hear no word
Of true love's truth or of light love's art,
Only the song of a secret bird.


[Tristram of Lyonesse and other Poems, 1882.]

LOOKING on a page where stood
Graven of old on old-world wood
Death, and by the grave's edge grim,
Pale, the young man facing him,
Asked my well-beloved of me
Once what strange thing this might be,
Gaunt and great of limb.

Death, I told him: and, surprise
Deepening more his wildwood eyes
(Like some sweet fleet thing's whose breath
Speaks all spring though nought it saith),
Up he turned his rosebright face
Glorious with its seven year's grace,
Asking-What is death?



[Poems and Ballads, Third Series, 1889.]

THERE'S nae mair lands to tyne, my dear,
And nae mair lives to gie:

Though a man think sair to live nae mair,
There's but one day to die.

For a' things come and a' days gane
What needs ye rend your hair?
But kiss me till the morn's morrow,
Then I'll kiss ye nae mair.

O lands are lost and life's losing,
And what were they to gie?
Fu' mony man gives all he can,

But nae man else gives ye.

Our king wons ower the sea's water,
And I in prison sair:

But I'll win out the morn's morrow,
And ye'll see me nae mair.


[A Century of Roundels, 1883; vorher in The Musical Review, Febr. 24, 1883.]


MOURNING on earth, as when dark hours descend, Wide-winged with plagues, from heaven; when hope and mirth

Wane, and no lips rebuke or reprehend
Mourning on earth.

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