Charm

Charm

Burn , burn , my candle :
New year is on the spindle :
The year lies in his cradle ,
Wrapped close with driven snow :
The year lies in his cradle —
Burn bright , my little candle ,
His frozen life to kindle ,
His heart to set aglow .
New yarn is on the spindle :
By thee I swear , bright candle ,
My hands shall not be idle ,
Run swift this year or slow ,
That now lies in his cradle :
By thee I swear , bright candle ,
With mischief not to meddle ,
With godliness to go:
New year is on the spindle ,
My hands shall not be idle ,
The year lies in his cradle :
Burn bright , my little candle .

1 January 1953

CUPID AND PSYCHE

five sides of typescript fair copy

CUPID AND PSYCHE

Now the crimson ’bus moved onward,
Swift as crippled snail it sped :
Psyche viewed the passing landscape ,
Wild , suburban , darkening landscape :
“Well, I caught it !” Psyche said .

Once again she smoothed her letter ,
Once again its typescript read :
“Come, play Psyche to my Cupid ;
Meet me at the House of Cupid ,
Late on Friday night .” it said .

“If you keep this assignation ,
Bring one torch.” the letter said ,
Follow the enclosed directions ,
Most explicit, full directions ,
Find my house , and go to bed .

Everything shall be provided ,
Music , supper , bath and bed :
Please put out your torch by midnight ;
Cupid will arrive at midnight .”
“Will he really !!” Psyche said .

Psyche counted up the bus-stops :
“At the seventh , dismount ,” she read ,
“Take the second right-hand turning ,
Then the second left-hand turning ,
Cul-de-sac : keep straight ahead .”

Psyche followed these instructions :
By the light a street-lamp shed ,
Found a tall Victorian terrace ,
Counted three along the terrace :
“Damp and dismal , ” Psyche said .

“ Cupid may be prepossessing ,
His house isn’t ” Psyche said .
“What a pity not to see him !
I should like so much to see him!
But I’ll see his house instead .”

“Try the door , it won’t be fastened .”
All was quiet as the dead :
Twelve steps up , a gloomy portal . . .
No one lurking by the portal ?
“Where’s my torch now ? ” Psyche said .

Torchlight on the bamboo hatstand ,
Soft thick carpet , dusky red ,
Gilt-edged mirrors in the hallway —
One framed sampler in the hallway —
“Shades of Vicky !” Psyche said .

“I will first inspect the kitchen —
Down below , I bet ! ” she said :
Cautiously she toured the basement ,
Roomy but Victorian basement ,
Sighed “Too primitive!!” and fled .

Heavy tomes in leather bindings ,
Often dusted , seldom read ,
Knee-hole bureaux in the study ,
Aspidistras in the study —
“Where’s my supper ? ” Psyche said.

On the giant dining-table
Heavy damask cloths were spread ,
Loaded with a cold collation ,
Cold but elegant collation ,
“Very toothsome , ” Psyche said.

Psyche much enjoyed her supper ,
Took her torch and sought her bed ,
Glanced in passing at the parlour,
Plush-and-horsehair crowded parlour :
“What a clutter !” Psyche said.

Knick-knacks clustered on the mantel :
Framed in laurel overhead
Smirked a timid, fragile parent ,
Glared a stern and bushy parent ;
“Venus : Mercury . ” she said .

Psyche, hunting round by torchlight
On her way upstairs to bed ,
Peeped into one more apartment ,
Snug , though disarranged apartment ,
“Cupid’s den, I think , ” she said .

Shelves of books in cheerful bindings ,
Seldom dusted , often read ,
Punch left open on the table ,
Pipes and corkscrews on the table ,
“Needs a wife here , ” Psyche said .

Large and chilly was her bedroom ,
Massive the fourposter bed ,
On the washstand bowl and ewer ,
Painted bowl and fluted ewer ,
“What, no bathroom ? ” Psyche said .

Psyche soon unpacked her suitcase ,
Saw a bottle in the bed ,
Sought and found a modern bathroom ,
Lavishly appointed bathroom ,
“This is better , ” Psyche said .

Psyche played herself some music ,
(Gramophone beside the bed )
Brushed her hair , arranged her pillows ,
Sat up , propped with many pillows ,
“Nearly midnight . ” Psyche said .

Torch extinguished , Psyche waited .
Tucked up cosily in bed ,
Stroked the hand-embroidered linen —
“I like hand-embroidered linen —
Midnight striking!” Psyche said .

Someone gently turned the handle ,
Entered with a stealthy tread .
“Here you are at last ” said Psyche.
:Sit down here by me ,” said Psyche ,
“Are your hands cold ? ” Psyche said.

“I can feel a tweedy coat-sleeve :
Such a way to come to bed !
Why should you wear coats and mufflers —
Tweedy coats and knitted mufflers ?
Cupid didn’t . ” Psyche said .

Pseudo-Cupid , in confusion ,
Turned unseen a dusky red :
“He’d the benefit of clergy ,
Antique but efficient clergy —
Dare I hope — ” and there stopped dead .

“Dare you hope to be encouraged ?
Yes , of course you may , ” she said ,
“Though I fear I have a husband —
A rapscallion , skulking husband —
Never mind him , come to bed .”

“Have a husband ? Dearest Psyche ,
Say at least that husband’s dead!”
“No , he prospers like the baytree
Like the green and glorious baytree — ”
“Devil take him !” Cupid said .

“I did not suspect his baseness ,
And I knew him well , ” she said ,
“I had known him for a fortnight ,
Loved him for at least a fortnight ,
When we first agreed to wed . ”

“All my family — one sister —
Begged us to delay, ” she said ,
“But he bought a special licence
Married me by special licence ;
Straight that very day he fled . ”

“Why — forgive me — ” Cupid stammered ,
Unseen blushing duskier red ,
“What induced him to desert you ,
So untimely to desert you ? ”
“Ask me something else , ” she said.

“We consumed the wedding breakfast —
He was never better fed —
Caught the 4.15 to London —
He did not arrive at London ,
Just skedaddled, as I said .

“Not a shred of explanation ? ”
“Not a tatter , ” Psyche said ,
“I did not inform my sister —
My what-did-I-tell-you? sister —
Took a job in Town instead .

He sent letters from Gibraltar ,
Very plausibly they read ,
‘Dearest Psyche , only trust me !
I must not explain , but trust me !’
“Would you trust him ?” Psyche said .
“He would make me an allowance —
I replied just once ,” she said ,
“Told him he could keep his money ,
I would be divorced or dead !

SO I tore his cheques to pieces ,
Burnt his letters all unread — ”
“Unread ?” “Well , at least I burnt them ,
Read them first , perhaps , but burnt them .
What would you do ?” Psyche said.

Cupid sighed in some confusion ,
Coughed , and shook his blushing head ,
“Why the man’s a scurvy scoundrel ,
Doubledyed , fullblooded scoundrel ,
Should be horsewhipped!” Cupid said .

“That’s what I thought , ” answered Psyche ,
“Men like him are better dead ,
And to think he’s in the Navy —
In the glorious Royal Navy —
And an officer !” she said .

“Are you sure he’s in the Navy ?”
“He wore uniform , ” she said ,
“But he might be an impostor —
Yes , he’d make a good impostor .
Anyway , his name was Ted . ”

“Edward, ” Cupid interrupted : ”
“Yes , in full dress , ” Psyche said,
“He preferred the name of Edward ,
Wanted me to call him Edward —
That was why I called him Ted .

Now you seem to be ingenious ,
Worldly wise and widely read ,
How would you explain his conduct —
His unconscionable conduct —
If you had to ?” Psyche said.

“Can it be the villain earlier
Married someone else instead ?”
“That I won’t believe! ” cried Psyche,
“Do you think he did ?” cried Psyche ,
“Where’s my handkerchief ? ” she said.

“Here, take mine , ” said blushing Cupid ,
“There , don’t cry, ” poor Cupid said ,
“It was only a suggestion —
A ridiculous suggestion —
Here’s another one instead .

Could you bring him any fortune ,
Were you very nobly bred ?”
“Not the faintest show of either ,
No remotest hope of either ,
Nothing doing . ” Psyche said .

“He has gained precisely nothing ,
Nor has tried to , ” Psyche said ,
“I resent your wild suggestions — ”
“I withdraw my wild suggestions ,
What do you propose instead ?”

“What would hurt me most , ” said Psyche ,
( Unseen and unwilling red )
“Would be if he thought me ugly —
Couldn’t face my being ugly ,
Am I ugly ? ” Psyche said .

“Cad and coward , fool and rascal ,
Though we know this worthless Ted ,
Even he must think you lovely ,
Purely and supremely lovely —
Couldn’t help it . ” Cupid said .

Psyche heard with all attention ,
Sat up straighter in her bed ,
“Did the monster really love me ,
After all presume to love me ? ”
“Couldn’t help it . ” Cupid said.

Cupid made one more suggestion ,
“Could this same perfidious Ted
Flourish in the Secret Service —
Sudden , secret , startling Service — ”
“I suppose he might , ” she said.

“For the Secret Service agent ,
Life hangs on a single thread :
Sudden and unwelcome orders —
Very sudden secret orders — ”
“If it could be that !” she said.

“Still , enough about my husband —
Talk about ourselves instead :
Why did you compose your letter ,
Your extremely suspect letter ? ”
“Well , I love you . ” Cupid said .

“That seems highly satisfactory ,
Though surprising , ” Psyche said,
“Now forget my errant husband ,
My remote and secret husband ;
Stupid Cupid , come to bed . ”

Psyche wakened in the morning ,
When the sun was rising red :
Cupid lay asleep : she shook him ,
Most persistently she shook him ,
“Wake up , Edward , ” Psyche said .

Cupid jerked to full attention ,
Turned a dull and dusky red :
“Dearest Psyche , don’t be angry —
I’m a fraud , but don’t be angry —
“Secret Service . ” Cupid said .

“Do you think I didn’t know you ?”
Psyche proudly tossed her head ;
“Why , your letter called me Psyche :
No one else would call me Psyche —
I conceal the name , ” she said.

“Fancy that!” said Cupid grinning ,
Though a pleasant shade of red ;
“But you used the name on purpose ,
Gave yourself away on purpose —
And you KNEW I knew , ” she said .

“Well , perhaps I did , ” said Cupid ,
Snuggling down again in bed ,
“Yes , it was a suspect letter ,
An extremely suspect letter —
But you did come . . . ” Cupid said .

[I have placed this in November from the writing and pen of some sheets of rough draft, which I shall keep. The typescript I’ve copied here is not all corrected , so I have for once made corrections . At least the punctuation is definite and I’m not peering at Marion’s light touches of the pen .]

Come , every wandering dream

back page of the four

Come , every wandering dream ,
My hopes of earthly fame :
Now stir trumpet and drum ,
Eager I bid you come ,
As once you came .

Empty are house and barn ,
I crave my destined urn .
Most ill-starred was I born ,
My heart and sleeve are torn ;
Dear dreams return .

Tell me I have not failed ,
Fame I shall yet behold ;
Say deep flagons are filled ,
Gods shall pledge me they killed ,
When I lie cold .

21st Oct. 1951. Written and dated on back of a fold sheet

Cuckoo , cuckoo . . .

Cuckoo , cuckoo . . .
Hail to the cuckoo ,
Singing in the greenwood ,
Hail to the cuckoo ,
Bird that brings the spring !

Early in the winter I heard my truelove say
‘The day we hear the cuckoo shall be our wedding day . ’

Slowly passed the winter , slowly came the spring :
At dawning in the greenwood I hear the cuckoo sing .

Sing then , master cuckoo , in the greenwood gay ,
Sing to wake my truelove on this her wedding day .

29th May 1951