Working Late

A light is on in my father's study.
"Still up?" he says, and we are silent,
looking at the harbor lights,
listening to the surf
and the creak of coconut boughs.

He is working late on cases.
No impassioned speech! He argues from evidence,
actually pacing out and measuring,
while the fans revolving on the ceiling
winnow the true from the false.

Once he passed a brass curtain rod
through a head made out of plaster
and showed the jury the angle of fire--
where the murderer must have stood.


With Esther

HE who has once been happy is for aye
   Out of destruction's reach. His fortune then
Holds nothing secret; and Eternity,
   Which is a mystery to other men,
Has like a woman given him its joy.
   Time is his conquest. Life, if it should fret.
Has paid him tribute. He can bear to die,
   He who has once been happy! When I set
The world before me and survey its range,
   Its mean ambitions, its scant fantasies,
The shreds of pleasure which for lack of change
   Men wrap around them and call happiness,


Woman's Constancy

Now thou hast loved me one whole day,
Tomorrow when thou leav'st, what wilt thou say?
Wilt thou then antedate some new-made vow?
    Or say that now
We are not just those persons which we were?
Or, that oaths made in reverential fear
Of love, and his wrath, any may forswear?
Or, as true deaths, true marriages untie,
So lovers' contracts, images of those,
Bind but till sleep, death's image, them unloose?
    Or your own end to justify,
For having purposed change, and falsehood, you


Without You

Without you every morning would feel like going back to work after a holiday,
Without you I couldn't stand the smell of the East Lancs Road,
Without you ghost ferries would cross the Mersey manned by skeleton crews,
Without you I'd probably feel happy and have more money and time and nothing to do with it,
Without you I'd have to leave my stillborn poems on other people's doorsteps, wrapped in brown paper,
Without you there'd never be sauce to put on sausage butties,


With the Cattle

The drought is down on field and flock,
The river-bed is dry;
And we must shift the starving stock
Before the cattle die.
We muster up with weary hearts
At breaking of the day,
And turn our heads to foreign parts,
To take the stock away.
And it’s hunt ‘em up and dog ‘em,
And it’s get the whip and flog ‘em,
For it’s weary work, is droving, when they’re dying every day;
By stock routes bare and eaten,
On dusty roads and beaten,
With half a chance to save their lives we take the stock away.


With Deaths' Prophetic Ear

Lay my rifle here beside me, set my Bible on my breast,
For a moment let the warning bugles cease;
As the century is closing I am going to my rest,
Lord, lettest Thou Thy servant go in peace.
But loud through all the bugles rings a cadence in mine ear,
And on the winds my hopes of peace are strowed.
Those winds that waft the voices that already I can hear
Of the rooi-baatjes singing on the road.

Yes, the red-coats are returning, I can hear the steady tramp,
After twenty years of waiting, lulled to sleep,


Wind at Tindari

Tindari, I know you
mild between broad hills, overhanging the waters
of the god’s sweet islands.
Today, you confront me
and break into my heart.

I climb airy peaks, precipices,
following the wind in the pines,
and the crowd of them, lightly accompanying me,
fly off into the air,
wave of love and sound,
and you take me to you,
you from whom I wrongly drew
evil, and fear of silence, shadow,
- refuge of sweetness, once certain -
and death of spirit.

It is unknown to you, that country


When the Rose is Faded

When the rose is faded,
Memory may still dwell on
Her beauty shadowed,
And the sweet smell gone.

That vanishing loveliness,
That burdening breath,
No bond of life hath then,
Nor grief of death.

'Tis the immortal thought
Whose passion still
Makes the changing
The unchangeable.

Oh, thus thy beauty,
Loveliest on earth to me,
Dark with no sorrow, shines
And burns, with thee.


When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes Sonnet 29

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee--and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising


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