High above human thought the stars are bright

High above human thought the stars are bright ,
Black trees grope skyward through a drift of snow ,
Darkened the stable , but the children know
That ox and ass are kneeling there tonight :
Keep silent vigil in the candlelight ,
As once three shepherds by a manger low :
Star guided bearing gifts , long years ago
Three kings rode westward to adore this sight .

Sweet helpless child , warm in thy manger sleep ,
While rank on rank the hosts of heaven stand guard :
In this thy mother’s hour we call to her —
Lady , pray thou for us who vigil keep :
Guide , star ; our burdened souls come riding hard ,
With gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh .

Received 31st December 1951

He can read Spanish? No. Italian? No

He can read Spanish? No. Italian? No.
Why then so many poets lodged with care ,
It seems , well worn? Look on the shelf below ,
His keys to half the continent lie there .

Those massive lexicons ? What toil and pain
Through such a wilderness of words to track
A sense obscure ! His path lies smooth and plain ,
For him no forced delays , no turning back .
Why so ? Where rhythms coil he loves at sight
Some seven words , and seeks them . . . shadowed lawn
Summer . . . the moon . . . young love . . .
Sufficient light to dream , all comprehending , till the dawn .

31st December 1951

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost :
(The well-fashioned horse-shoe fire-new from the forge
Beaten as bright as the shield of St George )
Consider the cause , consider the cost
For the want of a nail the shoe was lost
( And all for the want of a horseshoe nail )

For the want of a shoe the horse was lost :
( The spirited war-horse highstepping and bold
Proud in his trappings of scarlet and gold )
Consider the cause , consider the cost ,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost
( And all for the sake of a horseshoe nail )

For the want of a horse the soldier was lost :
( The gallant young soldier arrayed for the ride
With plumes in his helmet and sword by his side )
Consider the cause , consider the cost ,
For the want of a horse the soldier was lost .
( And all for the sake of a horseshoe nail )

For the want of a soldier the battle was lost
( The bravely fought battle , decisive and stern
Where many came riding and did not return . )
Consider the cause , consider the cost ,
For the want of a soldier the battle was lost
( And all for the want of a horseshoe nail )

For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost :
( The well endowed kingdom , with cities and men
Meadow and mountain and forest and fen . )
Consider the cause , consider the cost ,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost .
( And all for the sake of a horseshoe nail . )

3rd December 1951

The house is tall and thin and cross

The house is tall and thin and cross

The house is tall and thin and cross
With one small courtyard thick with moss:
Beware of the dog

Each window has an ugly pout,
The prim lace curtains stare us out
And Bicycles must not be left
Outside these premises

Yet furry mascots in a row
Peep through high bars to us below,
Beware the dog ?

And on a step a wooden car
Is red as ripest cherries are,
Though Bicycles must not be left
Outside these premises