A Mystery Play

CHARACTERS

The Father. The Child. Death. Angels. Two Travellers.

*****

The even settles still and deep,
In the cold sky the last gold burns,
Across the colour snowflakes creep.
Each one from grey to glory turns
Then flutters into nothingness;
The frost down falls with mighty stress
Through the swift cloud that parts on high;
The great stars shrivel into less
In the hard depth of the iron sky.
*****

The Child:

What is that light, dear father,
That light in the dark, dark sky?

The Father:

Those are the lights of the city
And the villages thereby.

The Child:

There must be fire in the city
To throw that yellow glare;
And fire in the little villages
On all the hearthstones there.

The Father, musing:

Yea, flames are on the hearthstones;
The ovens are full of bread,
BuThere the coals are dying
And the flames are dead.

The Child:

What is the cold, dear father?
It stings like an angry bee.
Wherever it stings my hand turns white,
See!

The Father:

The cold is a beast, my dear one,
With his paws he tears at the thatch,
His breath is a curse and a warning,
You can see it creep on the latch.


The Child:

If 'tis a wolf, dear father,
That lies with his paw on the floor,
Let us heat the spade in the embers
And drive him away from the door.

Angels:

God is the power of growth,
In the snail and the tree,
God is the power of growth
In the heart of the man.

The Child:

Did you noThear the singing,
Voices overhead?
Mother's voice and Ruth's voice,
Voices of the dead.

The Father, musing:

Our Ruth died in the springtime,
With the spade I turned the sod,
We buried her by the brier rose,
Her life is hid with God.

The Child:

All summer long in the garden
No roses came to the tree.
Father, was it for sorrow,
Sorrow for thee and me?

The Father:

Roses grew in the garden,
I saw them at morning and even,
Shadows of earthly roses
They bloomed for fingers in heaven.

*****

The air is very clear and still,
The moonlight falls from half the sphere;
The shadow from the silver hill
Fills half the vale, and half is clear
As the moon's self with cloudless snow;
By the dead stream the alders throw
Their shadows, shot with tingling spars;
On the sheer height the elm trees glow:
Their tops are tangled with the stars.

*****

The Child:

Father, the coals are dying,
See! I have heated the spade,
Let me throw the door wide open,
I will not be afraid.

The Father:

Let me kiss you once on the forehead,
And once on your darling eyes;
We may see them both at the dawning,
In the dales of Paradise.

The Child:

And if I only see them,
I will tell them how you smiled;
For the wolf, you know, is angry,
And I am a little child.

Death:

Undaunted spirits,
I give thee peace,
For a world of dread —
Calm.
For desperate toil —
Rest.
Thou who didst say,
When the waters of poverty
Waxed deep, deep,
What we bear is best;
Just ones,
I give thee sleep.

First Traveller:

Keep up your spirits, I know
There's a cabin under the hill,
The fellow will make a roaring fire;
We'll heat our hands and drink our fill
And go warm to our heart's desire!

Second Traveller:

The door is open, — Heigho!
This pair will claim neither crown nor groat,
The man has gripped his garden spade
As if he would dig his grave in the snow;
The boy has the face of a saint, I trow;
His brow says, " I was not afraid! "

First Traveller:

Ah well, these things must be, you know!
Gather your sables around your throat;
Give us that story about the monk,
His niece, and the wandering conjurer,
Just to keep our blood astir.

The Angels:

The heart of God,
The worlds and man,
Are fashioned and moulded,
In a subtle plan;
Passion outsurges,
Sweeps far but converges;
Nothing is lost,
Sod or stone,
But comes to its own;
Bear well thy joy,
'Tis mixed with alloy,
Bear well thy grief,
'Tis a rich full sheaf:
Gather the souls that have passed in the night,
Theirs is the peace and the light.

*****

The moon is gone, the dawning brings
A deeper dark with silver blent,
Above the wells where, myriad, springs
Light from the crimson orient;
The elms are born, the shadows creep,
Tremble and melt away — one sweep
The great soft color floods and flows,
Where under snow the roses sleep;
The morn has turned the snow to rose.
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