Tag Archives: Olive Custance

The Parting Hour

Not yet, dear love, not yet: the sun is high;
You said last night, ‘At sunset I will go.’
Come to the garden, where when blossoms die
No word is spoken; it is better so:
Ah! bitter word ‘Farewell.’

Hark! how the birds sing sunny songs of spring!
Soon they will build, and work will silence them;
So we grow less light-hearted as years bring
Life’s grave responsibilities – and then
The bitter word ‘Farewell.’

The violets fret to fragrance ‘neath your feet,
Heaven’s gold sunlight dreams aslant your hair:
No flower for me! your mouth is far more sweet.
O, let my lips forget, while lingering there,
Love’s bitter word ‘Farewell.’

Sunset already! have we sat so long?
The parting hour, and so much left unsaid!
The garden has grown silent – void of song,
Our sorrow shakes us with a sudden dread!
Ah! bitter word ‘Farewell.’

First published in the Pall Mall Magazine, May, 1895.

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St. Anthony : THE ENGRAVING BY DÜRER

Durer's St Anthony.

Dürer’s St Anthony.

St. Anthony

THE ENGRAVING BY DÜRER

Dürer has drawn him resting by the way . . .
Has he returned from some far pilgrimage?
Or just come out into the light of day
From a dark hermit’s cell? We cannot know . . .
With stooping shoulders, and with head bent low
Over his book–and pointed hood drawn down.
His eager eyes devour the printed page . . .
Regardless of the little lovely town
Rising behind him, with its clustered towers . . .
O Saint, look up! and see how gay and fair
The earth is in its summer-time of flowers,
Look up, and see the world, for God is there . . .
Old dreaming Saint, how many are like you,
Intent upon the dusty book of fate:
Slow to discern the false things from the true!
Yet weary of world clamour and world hate,
And hungering for eternal certainties . . .
Not knowing how close about them heaven lies!

From Inn of Dreams, 1911.

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I am weary, let me sleep

I am weary, let me sleep
In some great embroidered bed,
With soft pillows for my head.
I am weary, let me sleep . . .
Petals of sweet roses shed
All around a perfumed heap
White as pearls, and ruby red;
Curtains closely drawn to keep
Wings of darkness o’er me spread . . .
I am weary, let me sleep
In some great embroidered bed.
Let me dream that I am dead,
Nevermore to wake and weep
In the future that I dread . . .
For the ways of life are steep . . .
I am weary, let me sleep . . .

From Inn of Dreams (1911)

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Doubts

A WEB of gold is the western sky !
Golden strands of the sun’s bright hair
Caught in the grey clouds everywhere !
Or the tangled skeins of day’s broidery ?

… And now it is that the twilight sings;
Twilight … whose voice is full of tears
Trailing athwart our hopes and fears
The drooping bows of her dusky wings !

In the fading light we dream of death
And closer cling in a long embrace.
O ! pure pale girl with the passionate face
Life strips us naked … but leaves us breath.

But when our bodies lie strange and still
They will bury us swiftly out of sight,
Shut us away from the warm sunlight  . . .
How dark the darkness will be and chill !

But ah ! I forgot, we shall not feel
Folded safe in our last deep sleep
Never again to kiss and weep —
While our lips’ rose colour the roses steal.

Dear, never again to know regret.
With its iron hand laid on the leaping heart
Its fingers thrust where the wide wounds smart,
The wounds of memory bleeding yet. . . .

Ah ! but the kisses, the tears — the fleet
Delights — slow sorrows, are life — in vain
To praise white peace when the wine of pain,
Fate’s purple wine, is so fiery sweet !

Think you we should be glad to die
Now . . . when the stars are coming soon
And the daylight pales, and the primrose moon
Is a stemless flower in a silver sky. …

From Opals, 1897.

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