The collected poems, lyrical and narrative, of A. Mary F. Robinson

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The collected poems, lyrical and narrative, of A. Mary F. Robinson
by Agnes Mary Frances Duclaux

THE COLLECTED POEMS

Lryrical and Narrative

Of

A. Mary F. Robinson

(Madame 'Duclaux)

With a Preface

and Portrait

London: T. Fisher Unwin

Paternoster Square Memii

[All rights reserved.]

To
the memory
of

JAMES DARMESTETER


Amort et Dolori

Sacrum

PREFACE

I have always thought that one should write poetry only as one dies; that is to say, at the last extremity and when it is impossible to do otherwise. And yet, after some three-and-twenty years of much refraining, I find myself possessed of a considerable volume of Collected Poems, to say nothing of that larger quantity of verse disseminated in the waste-paper baskets of London, Paris, Italy, Touraine, Auvergne. By no means all my published poems are reprinted here; I have retained such as seemed to me the best. In sending them out to affront the world anew, with some fresh companions, I have carefully re-considered them all, revised the greater part, and re-written a good many. I have hesitated under what name to publish them, and, persuaded that no reader will remember two foreign names, in addition to an English one, I have reverted to that which I bore when first I wrote them. Mary James Darmesteter has no longer a right to exist. As regards the English public, Madame Duclaux has given no proof of her existence; she has, she hopes, before her a modest future of French prose, and leaves her English verses to Mary Robinson.

I send forth this little book with scant expectance of immediate success. Entirely lyrical, intellectual, or romantic, these little poems must sound as the merest

tootling of Corydon's reed-pipe in ears accustomed to the martial music of our times. Yet, like all poets, I trust these little songs may find an audience to-morrow: they have that saving virtue of sincerity which is the salt of Art. But if I see the necessary grace that they possess, how clearly, alas! do I perceive the magnificent qualities they lack! Here there is nothing of the rush, the sumptuous abundance, the vigour, the splendour of Byron or Hugo; nothing of that sensuous magic and flooding glory which make certain lines of Keats and Swinburne blaze, as it were, in colour on the page. Still I fancy that Wordsworth, Tennyson, Vigny, and even the immortal Goethe—all the meditative poets—might have cared to read some of these sober little songs.

We cannot all be great poets; but the humblest, it they be sincere, may give a genuine pleasure. I have marked in red the days on which I discovered certain poets, most certainly minor, who died centuries ago. With what delight I made acquaintance with Ausonius and Dr. Donne, still more so with Joachim de Bellay, Marie de France, or Shahid the Bactrian: dear, enchanting books, exhumed from the dustiest corner of the library, that never counted on me for an audience. I may have to wait as long till I repay my debt to some other student who perchance, beside a bookstall of Cape Town or Honolulu, may fish my poems from the fourpenny box, or light on them in some anthology. But I count on his appreciation.

Depend upon it, after the very greatest names in poetry (who are to all of us a second religion) the minor poets have the happiest lot. Each of us worships in the temples of Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, MoliJre ; but each of us also has some private niche, some inconsiderable intimate shrine, for the poet no one praises, who is all the more our own. How dreary the state and rank of your second-best great poet, enthroned in dismal glory on the less frequented slopes of Parnassus! Who lights a

taper or pulls a posy for Dryden or Schiller or Alfieri? We admire them sincerely; in theory, we love them. How often in the year do we take down their works and read them? Take the case of a writer who, in his person, unites one of the greatest of epic writers to the most exquisite of minor poets : which do we read the more often, "Lycidas" or "Paradise Regained"?… I live in a Catholic country where almost every city boasts of its historic cathedral. They are nearly always empty. But turn down the side street, enter yon barn-like chapel topped by a wooden cross : the whitewashed walls of the sanctuary of St. Anthony ot Padua are thronged with worshippers intimate and devout. St. Peter and St. Paul have their incomparable domes; save on highdays and holidays, they have them all to themselves! In the work-a-day hours of life, when you snatch at a prayer in passing, as you pluck a rose over a fence, half furtively—the swift petition, the familiar avowal, are, apparently, for the Lesser Saint. The chapel of the Minor Poet may be too small to admit the crowd; it may be thronged when three or four are gathered together. None the less, it has its use and place. It is, I believe, a mistake, to suppose, as Tolstoy contends, that no Art is legitimate save that which has for its object the happiness of the greatest number. Yet I admit that the poet who consciously addresses a few is, by definition, the Minor Poet, the man of a smaller race, the younger brother, who, whatever his merits, shall not obtain the full inheritance.

"Shall Life be an Ode? Or shall Life be a Drama?" wrote one day James Darmesteter, the friend of all my verses and the occasion of many among them. My life has been an Ode, of which those pages are the scattered fragments. If ever I have escaped from its tranquil sequences, it has been but for an instant and through some partial opening of the gates of Imagination, set in movement by some incident in real life or some episode of my reading.

I have never been able to write about what was not known to me and near. Tim Black, the Scapegoat, and most of the personages of the New Arcadia, lived on a common in Surrey near my garden gates. all of them are drawn from human models. The Romantic Ballads were inspired by my historical studies. Some persons of culture have refused me the right to express myself in those simple forms of popular song which I have loved since childhood as sincerely as any peasant. If the critics would only believe it, they have come as naturally to me, if less happily, than they came of old to a Lady Wardlaw, a Lady Linsday, or a Lady Nairn. We women have a privilege in these matters, as M. Gaston Paris has reminded us. We have always been the prime makers of ballads and love songs, of anonymous snatches and screeds of popular song. We meet together no longer on Mayday, as of old, in Provence, to set the fashion in tensos and sonnets. But some old wife or other, crooning over her fire of sticks, in Scotland or the Val d'Aosta, in Roumania or Gascony, is probably at the beginning of most romantic Ballads. Mine, of course, have the fatal defect of having crystallised too soon; they lack the patient polish of succeeding generations. But that it is, most obviously, not in my power to remedy. The only way would be for my readers to learn them by heart, half-forget them, and re-write them, omitting the non-essential. It is a necessary process; but I can only offer them in their unripeness, reminding my readers that the beautiful rispetti of the Tuscan hills, the ballads of Scotland and Piedmont, have all at one moment lacked the admirable patina which age and time alone confer.

MARY DUCLAUX.

Olmet, Cantal.

September, 1901.

CONTENTS

AN ITALIAN GARDEN AND OTHER LYRICS

*An asterisk indicates the new poems

page
Florentine May 3
Remembrance 5
Venetian Nocturne 6
Invocations 7
The Feast of St. John 8
Treasure Song 9
Temple Garlands 10
To a Rose Dead at Morning 11
Strewings 12
Pallor 13
Tuscan Cypress 14
Love without Wings 19
Semitones 22
Elysium 24
Stornelli and Strambotti 25
Celia's Home-Coming 27
Posies 29
Alternatives 30
Dryads 31
Rosa Rosarum 33
An Oasis 35
Castello 36
Torrents 37
Aubade Triste 38
Poplar Leaves 39
Spring under Cypresses 40
Music 42
Art and Life 43
Lyrics. PAGE
a pastoral of parnassus 41
a search for apollo 46
an address to the nightingale 47
wild cherry branches . 49
tuscan olive .... 51
APPREHENSION . 54
FRIENDSHIP 56
TWO LOVERS 58
A GREY DAY 60
A SONG 61
PARADISE FANCIES 62
A DIALOGUE 64
LE ROI EST MORT 66
LETHE 66
A RIFIORITA 67
A PASTORAL 68
DAWN-ANGELS 69
TO A DRAGON FLY 70
SONG OF A STORMY NIGHT 72
TWO SISTERS 73
LOVERS 76
LONDON STUDIES 77
THANKSGIVING FOR FLOWERS 79
MAIDEN LOVE 80
LOVE, DEATH, AND ART 81
SONNET 82
FONS VITÆ. 83
THE CUP OF LIFE 85
LOVE AND VISION 86
LOVE AMONG THE SAINTS. 88
THE SPRINGS OF FONTANA 91
SERENADE 91
THE FROZEN RIVER. 94
NEURASTHENIA . 95
LYRICS. PAGE
SONG 96
NIGHT 97
SONG 98
SONNET 99
THE DEPARTURE 100
GOING SOUTH 101
LOVE IN THE WORLD 102
THREE SONGS 103
THE DEAD FRIEND 104
AN ORCHARD AT AVIGNON 106
TWILIGHT 107
RETROSPECT 109
FOREIGN SPRING 111
THE SIBYL 112
EPTHATHA 113
SERENA 114
A FRENCH LILY 117
SPRING 118
MAIDENS 119
ADAM AND EVE 120
WRITING HISTORY 121
SOLDIERS PASSING 122
THE BOOKWORM 123
MELANCHOLIA I24
SONG 125
Old songs 126
to my muse 127
michaelmas 128
Songs of the Inner Life.
foreword 131
the two lions 132
religions 133
the lost sheep 134
Songs of the Inner Life. PAGE
"THE gate of tears 135
teste SIBYLLA . 136
"SEEK, AND YE SHALL FIND" 137
"BEAUTY 138
"RHYTHM 140
THE VALLEY 141
DARWINISM 144
THE STARS . 145
ETRUSCAN TOMBS 147
FIRE-FLIES . 150
THE IDEA . 153
THE WALL . 154
JUSTICE 154
GOD IN A HEART 155
UNDER THE TREES 156
THE IDEAL . 158
A CLASSIC LANDSCAPE 160
VERSAILLES 161
THE ONE CERTAINTY 162
PERSONALITY 163
TUBEROSES . 165
THE BARRIER 167
THE ROAD LEADING NOWHERE 168
SPRING AND AUTUMN 169
FAIR GHOSTS 170
SOUVENIR 171
THE VISION 172
THE PRESENT AGE 173
LIBERTY 174
VERITATEM DILEXI 175
TAKING POSSESSION 176
VISIITASPA 177
ZENO 179
SACRIFICE 180
Songs of the Inner Life. PAGE
a jonquil in the pisan campo santo l8l
unum est necessarium 182
calais beacon 185
the gospel according to st. peter i87
a controversy 188
antiphon to the holy spirit 189
Poems and Idylls.
THE widow 193
HELEN IN THE WOOD 195
loss 197
THE children's ANGEL 201
SIR ELDRIC 203
THE GARDENER OF SINOPE 205
jutzi SCHULTHEISS 212
CONSTANCE AND MARTUCCIO 218
PHILUMENE TO ARISTIDES 225
THE WIDOWER OF HAIDERABAD 228
THE DEER AND THE PROPHET 230
THE SLUMBER OF KING SOLOMON 234
The New Arcadia.
THE hand-bell RINGERS 237
THE old couple 240
the scape-goat 243
church-going tim 245
the wise woman 248
the rothers 252
men and monkeys 260
Romantic Ballads.
the tower of st. maur 265
the duke of gueldres' wedding 272
rosamunda 277
Romantic Ballads. PAGE
captain gold and french janet 279
a ballad of orleans 281
the death of the count of armanac 283
captain ortis' booty 286
sir hugh and the swans 289
the mower 292
rudel and the lady of tripoli 294
the dead mother 300
the death of prester john. 303