Strawberries in June you give to me

Strawberries in June you give to me ,
With sugar powdered lavishly ,
Rounded and ripely red are they
As from some picture painted gay
Of croquet on the lawn, and tea
At four beneath the cherry tree :
Huge praise is due , let all agree ,
To those who nobly give away
Strawberries in June .

In years to come this thought shall be
A garden gate to memory :
Next year and every year I may
On many a long and sunlit day
Recall your kindness when I see
Strawberries in June .

Curries of Walnut Cottage . 22 June 1954

Shadows are dancing , alive as the flame is alive

Shadows are dancing , alive as the flame is alive :
My setting is complete .
Candle flame leaping , and you in your chair by the fire ,
I at your feet :
Now comes the longing , now the unmastered desire
To sing , to sing —
To make you music , to frame an exquisite song
Sweet as a bird’s ,
Worthy your beauty , worthy my infinite love ;
But not expressed in words .

26 April 1954

Silent the ruined home of silence stands [Netley Abbey]

Netley Abbey

Silent the ruined home of silence stands ,
All heaven for a roof , and every floor
Green paved with living grass :
The wind through arch and door
Shakes fragrance from each flower
That clings , defying hands ,
Where gold and crimson from the crannies flare :
Though the dear pomp of silk and incense pass ,
Here is sufficient grace .

Men saw God’s glory in a dream that found
Perfect expression , ecstasy in stone ,
Greatly , divinely right :
Proportion now alone
Proudly exempt from stain
Clamours without a sound
Till line and balanced curve all senses stun :
God’s glory knows no change , but we who fight
Can dream at no such rate .

The men whose strength and vision framed these walls
Sleep now within them , all their earthly store
Long prey to thieves , moth , rust :
Where candles burn no more
The twilight of one star
Through the dim chancel falls :
Come , love , though sweet is silence , we must stir —
Till all is dared , till our brief strength is dust ,
Seek , even here , no rest .

12 April 1953

Sestina on autumn

two pages

Sestina on autumn
Now the leaves fade and fall , speak not of dying :
Only in spring that thought befits the soul ,
When life flowers , and sweet birds embowered in music
Teach us to value joys that must depart :
While beauty fades , think not of death but judgment :
Harvest is done ; now comes the waiting time .

Pray then , dear love , how best to use this time ,
Too brief to waste in idle thoughts of dying ,
To store the winnowed harvest of the soul
For one year more , and sing to the wind’s music ,
Hoping to see yet one more spring depart ,
Yet one more spring , before we come to judgment .

What have we stored against the day of judgment ?
Be sure , however much we made of time ,
Hours will rebuke us when we come to dying :
Black hours that crabbed or atrophied the soul ,
Hours without rhythm , deaf to any music ,
Black hours , though pardoned , that may not depart .

With life alone these stiff rebukes depart :
Pardon , redemption , cannot temper judgment .
Yet though our sins stood judged before all time ,
Though hell were only our desert in dying ,
Rest we secure of mercy to the soul ,
That noble mercy of enduring music .

Faintly and far away we hear that music ,
By snatches and with echoes that depart
Before the ear can bring their tone to judgment :
Earth moves to music while the seas keep time ,
Stars in their courses mock your thought of dying ,
Who know the destined music of each soul .

When each of us has well attuned his soul , 

Learnt faultlessly his burden in the music ,
And stands perfected , ready to depart ,
His garners filled with harvest ripe for judgment ,
There will be time enough , there will be time
To mourn the yellow leaves and speak of dying .

Pray then that dying penitent of soul
We to that music may in peace depart
Leaving our judgment in the hands of time .

27 September 1952

Sure of thy love, my heart is free

Sure of thy love, my heart is free
To roam in ways unknown to thee
Directing all his power to guess
Another’s grief or happiness ,
Striving through other eyes to see
This dream we call reality :
Thy heart at home keeps house for me —
I could not venture , were I less
Sure of thy love .

When , wearied by variety ,
My heart fares home in peace to be ,
My sweetest task is to express
The beauty of thy mortal dress :
I brave change and eternity ,
Sure of thy love .

20th September 1952

Spring was too swift and fleeting to record

first inner page of 4

Spring was too swift and fleeting to record ,
Summer’s brave pageant all unwritten passed :
Now , when rich harvests should be timely stored ,
I strive to gather rosebuds while they last .

Rosebuds may linger till the first sharp frost ,
But droop they must , and droop with them must I :
An empty granary, a garland lost —
How shall I live while winter storms are high ?

Winter I may defy , for thou art mine ,
Spring is a portrait palely drawn from thee ,
Summer but borrows graces that are thine ,
The gifts of autumn but thy tributes be .

Fall leaves , come snow : while thou art mine I sing
Brave summer, sweet and everlasting spring .

21st Oct. 1951, dated on outer page

Stars grant me not unruffled joy

Stars grant me not unruffled joy ,
Though sweet that joy and deep ,
Lest rapture too secure should cloy
Or lull my soul to sleep .

We prize the late and perfect rose ,
Menaced by eager rain .
The pearl in its perfection grows
Round one intrusive grain .

Let love flower sweet and insecure ,
The sweeter for the dread .
These pearls I string you shall endure
When love and I are dead .

Received 29 September 1951

Spring was made for mating

Spring was made for mating ,
Joy lies stored for some :
Now, since love is waiting ,
Give me leave to come .

Summer comes sublimely ,
Joy runs hand in glove ;
Now , since love is timely ,
Give me leave to love .

Autumn leaves are flying ,
Joy deserts her mate :
Now , since love is dying ,
Give me leave to hate .

Winter comes unfriended ,
Joy lies wrapped in snow :
Now , since love is ended
Give me leave to go .

Received 25 September 1951

Sleek and inscrutable , sophisticated

Sleek and inscrutable , sophisticated ,
You sat in candlelight and murmured Greek :
Inscrutable , sophisticated , sleek ,
Your drowsy kitten purred and meditated .
Flicker , brief candle ! dark and isolated
Your way curved from the haven you still seek :
No lantern glimmered where the rain was bleak
When your idyllic world disintegrated .

You have measured out your life with coffee-spoons .
Practised the harpsichord and violin ,
Observed the madding crowd with faint dislike .
Ring out , ye crystal spheres ! Our doomed world spins —
Secure in candlelight you sit alone ,
Inscrutable , sophisticated , sleek .

Spring 1949

Silence came slowly — first the missing word,

Silence came slowly — first the missing word,
The check in thought, the fumbling pause to frame
A view still seen, echo a song still heard :
Closer with closer blindness silence came .

The song seemed fainter, died upon my ear
Like voices through a white mist on the sea :
I spoke to echo more than I could hear,
Less than I saw crept back as words to me .

Then deaf indeed , then blind , then dumb at last ,
I lived on yet remembered sound and sight ;
Silence lapped every image of the past
In one cold wilderness of swirling white .

But you my dearest sun such radiance bring
Silence dissolves : I see , I hear, I sing .

Writing unclear : 16 January 1951 [or 1958]