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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