The Collected poems of Rupert Brooke/Experiments
Ah! not now, when desire burns, and the wind calls, and the suns of spring
Light-foot dance in the woods, whisper of life, woo me to wayfaring;
Ah! not now should you come, now when the road beckons, and good friends call,
Where are songs to be sung, fights to be fought, yea! and the best of all,
Love, on myriad lips fairer than yours, kisses you could not give! . . .
Dearest, why should I mourn, whimper, and whine, I that have yet to live?
Sorrow will I forget, tears for the best, love on the lips of you,
Now, when dawn in the blood wakes, and the sun laughs up the eastern blue;
I'll forget and be glad!
Only at length, dear, when the great day ends,
When love dies with the last light, and the last song has been sung, and friends
All are perished, and gloom strides on the heaven: then, as alone I lie,
'Mid Death's gathering winds, frightened and dumb, sick for the past, may I
Feel you suddenly there, cool at my brow; then may I hear the peace
Of your voice at the last, whispering love, calling, ere all can cease
In the silence of death; then may I see dimly, and know, a space,
Bending over me, last light in the dark, once, as of old, your face.
Here the flame that was ash, shrine that was void, lost in the haunted wood,
I have tended and loved, year upon year, I in the solitude
Waiting, quiet and glad-eyed in the dark, knowing that once a gleam
Glowed and went through the wood. Still I abode strong in a golden dream,
For I, I that had faith, knew that a face would glance
One day, white in the dim woods, and a voice call, and a radiance
Fill the grove, and the fire suddenly leap . . . and, in the heart of it,
End of labouring, you! Therefore I kept ready the altar, lit
The flame, burning apart.
Face of my dreams vainly in vision white
Gleaming down to me, lo! hopeless I rise now. For about midnight
Whispers grew through the wood suddenly, strange cries in the boughs above
Grated, cries like a laugh. Silent and black then through the sacred grove
Great birds flew, as a dream, troubling the leaves, passing at length.
Long expected and long loved, that afar, God of the dim wood, you
Somewhere lay, as a child sleeping, a child suddenly reft from mirth,
White and wonderful yet, white in your youth, stretched upon foreign earth,
God, immortal and dead!
Therefore I go; never to rest, or win
Peace, and worship of you more, and the dumb wood and the shrine therein.
So light we were, so right we were, so fair faith shone,
And the way was laid so certainly, that, when I'd gone,
What dumb thing looked up at you? Was it something heard,
Or a sudden cry, that meekly and without a word
You broke the faith, and strangely, weakly, slipped apart.
You gave in—you, the proud of heart, unbowed of heart!
Was this, friend, the end of all that we could do?
And have you found the best for you, the rest for you?
Did you learn so suddenly (and I not by!)
Some whispered story, that stole the glory from the sky,
And ended all the splendid dream, and made you go
So dully from the fight we know, the light we know?
O faithless! the faith remains, and I must pass
Gay down the way, and on alone. Under the grass
You wait; the breeze moves in the trees, and stirs, and calls,
And covers you with white petals, with light petals.
There it shall crumble, frail and fair, under the sun,
O little heart, your brittle heart; till day be done,
And the shadows gather, falling light, and, white with dew,
Whisper, and weep; and creep to you. Good sleep to you!