Where haws along bedraggled hedgerows burn , [comma added in print]
See now the gallant robin carolling,
Breast glorious with God’s blood : at every note
Men drugged with sleeping stir ,
Start up in terror from their cloudy dream ,
Set heart and hand to hasty homaging :
Now sweep their paths of every withered day ,
Now with numb fingers strive to scrape away
That crude and spongy-green encrusted sin
Spawned by damp years upon a mouldering barn :
Tenement ruinous , poor soul at best
Too crazy shelter for the meanest guest
Prepare , prepare ;
Light candles ; call for wine, for bread ; choose gifts ; [printed ‘candles ,’ ]
For soon He shall appear ,
Not heralded by fanfare or by drum , [printed ‘and by drum But by’]
But by the silent radiance of a star ,
By many bells , by children singing clear , [printed ‘merry bells’]
By grunt and bray and lowing through the night ,
By twittering, by the whirring of small wings : [printed to full stop]
Be ready ; now look up , the sky is bright — [printed ‘Be ready :’]
Slow on that pearl-grey sea a dark ship drifts ,
When sudden through the porthole prys the sun : [printed ‘pries’]
Now row on row of naked trees upturn
Gaunt hands in prayer ; and still the robin sings , [printed ‘prayer ,’]
Tuning his music for the King of kings .
30 November 1953
This was printed in the St Matthews Parish Magazine December 1986, with some corrections , and over the signature M.G. Parry
Thus sang he , thus his plaint began :
“Why should I mourn that thou art gone
Who being here hast not my heart ?
I fear thy power to do me hurt ,
Yet come , dear love , yet come again !”
Plaintive his words , his music gay ;
Sweet-throated as the nightingale
In moonlit coppice fitly heard
Thus sang he , thus :
“Witch , that so sweetly canst beguile ,
I pace love’s maze with thee for guide ;
The hedge is sharp , the paths are hard ,
Thy absence stays my certain harm —
Yet come again , yet come to good !”
Thus sang he , thus .
26 November 1953
Now midnight is striking ,
Now mid-earth is sleeping ‘
My loving and liking
Towards you are creeping —
My thoughts to you thronging
’Twixt sleeping and waking
With liking and longing ,
Too strong for mistaking :
Their prison unlocking ,
My wishes go speeding
Where you to their knocking
Lie deaf and unheeding ,
Where you softly sleeping
While darkness is reigning
Secure in God’s keeping
Lie sealed from their plaining :
Be deaf , be unseeing !
No gift of your giving
But merely your being :
Rejoices my living :
Unworthy your friending
This heart ever aching ,
These thoughts to you tending
’Twixt sleeping and waking :
God grant me deserving
If loving and liking
Towards me are swerving
Now midnight is striking .
15 November 1953 .
Prayer by His Deathbed
Tawny , gold , ginger, faded green and rust
The trees emboss these patchwork hills of Kent ;
For one brief season is this glory lent :
No leaf of all the multitudes but must
Compound with dunghill mould and churchyard dust ;
No leaf but dies content .
For each and all the earthly task is done ,
The glory won .
Why then does man with sharper sorrow yield
Corpse to the coffin , ashes to the urn ?
Death and decay breed life , and life in turn
To death resigning richens every field :
In life is death , in death is life concealed .
Lord merciful and stern ,
Our bodies dead as living must fulfil
Thy perfect will .
What autumn glory can he offer now
Whose soul hangs lightly , eager to depart ?
The glorious Lord , who ever changeless art ,
Thy tenderness shown infinite when Thou
With rain empearlest every barren bough ,
Transfigure now his heart :
Be Thine the glory earth and heaven adore
For ever more .
15 November 1953