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61 Works of Alfred Noyes

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The Union

Story type: Poetry

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(1917) You that have gathered together the sons of all races, And welded them into one, Lifting the torch of your Freedom on hungering faces That sailed to the setting sun; You that have made of mankind in your own proud regions The music of man to be, How should the old earth sing of […]

(1912) (Written after entering New York Harbor at Daybreak) Up the vast harbor with the morning sun The ship swept in from sea; Gigantic towers arose, the night was done, And–there stood Liberty. Silent, the great torch lifted in one hand, The dawn in her proud eyes, Silent, for all the shouts that vex her […]

Victory

Story type: Poetry

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(Written after the British Service at Trinity Church, New York) I. Before those golden altar-lights we stood, Each one of us remembering his own dead. A more than earthly beauty seemed to brood On that hushed throng, and bless each bending head. Beautiful on that gold, the deep-sea blue Of those young seamen, ranked on […]

(1916) I. I found a dreadful acre of the dead, Marked with the only sign on earth that saves. The wings of death were hurrying overhead, The loose earth shook on those unquiet graves; For the deep gun-pits, with quick stabs of flame, Made their own thunders of the sunlit air; Yet, as I read […]

This is the song of the wind as it came Tossing the flags of the nations to flame: I am the breath of God. I am His laughter. I am His Liberty. That is my name. So it descended, at night, on the city. So it went lavishing beauty and pity, Lighting the lordliest street […]

I. Steadfast as any soldier of the line He served his England, with the imminent death Poised at his heart. Nor could the world divine The constant peril of each burdened breath. England, and the honour of England, he still served Walking the strict path, with the old high pride Of those invincible knights who […]

The Highwayman

Story type: Poetry

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1 The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees, The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, And the highwayman came riding– Riding–riding– The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door. 2 He’d a French cocked-hat on his […]

The Barrel Organ

Story type: Poetry

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There’s a barrel-organ caroling across a golden street, In the City as the sun sinks low; And the music’s not immortal; but the world has made it sweet And fulfilled it with the sunset glow; And it pulses through the pleasures of the City and the pain That surround the singing organ like a large […]

The Lost Battle

Story type: Poetry

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It is not over yet-the fight Where those immortal dreamers failed. They stormed the citadels of night And the night praised them–and prevailed. So long ago the cause was lost We scarce distinguish friend from foe; But–if the dead can help it most– The armies of the dead will grow. The world has all our […]

Peace

Story type: Poetry

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Give me the pulse of the tide again And the slow lapse of the leaves, The rustling gold of a field of grain And a bird in the nested eaves; And a fishing-smack in the old harbour Where all was happy and young; And an echo or two of the songs I knew When songs […]

The Bell

Story type: Poetry

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The Temple Bell was out of tune, That once out-melodied sun and moon. Instead of calling folk to prayer It spread an evil in the air. Instead of a song, from north to south, It put a lie in the wind’s mouth. The very palms beneath it died, So harsh it jarred, so loud it […]

1913 PERSONS OF THE PLAY RADA, wife of the village doctor. SUBKA, her daughter, aged twelve. ARRAM } two hostile soldiers quartered MICHAEL } in her house, in time of war. NANKO, a half-witted schoolmaster. Several soldiers. THE SCENE is in the Balkans, in a village which has just been taken by the enemy, on […]

Fashions

Story type: Poetry

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Fashion on fashion on fashion, (With only the truth growing old!) And here’s the new purple of passion, (And love waiting out in the cold) Who’ll buy? They are crying new lamps for Aladdin, New worlds for the old and the true; And no one remembers the story The magic was not in the new. […]

Why do we make our music? Oh, blind dark strings reply: Because we dwell in a strange land And remember a lost sky. We ask no leaf of the laurel, We know what fame is worth; But our songs break out of our winter As the flowers break out on the earth. And we dream […]

Cotton-Wool

Story type: Poetry

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Shun the brush and shun the pen, Shun the ways of clever men, When they prove that black is white, Whey they swear that wrong is right, When they roast the singing stars Like chestnuts, in between the bars, Children, let a wandering fool Stuff your ears with cotton-wool. When you see a clever man […]

The New Duckling

Story type: Poetry

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“I want to be new,” said the duckling. “O, ho!” said the wise old owl, While the guinea-hen cluttered off chuckling To tell all the rest of the fowl. “I should like a more elegant figure,” That child of a duck went on. “I should like to grow bigger and bigger, Until I could swallow […]

The man who discovered the use of a chair, Odds–bobs– What a wonderful man! He used to sit down on it, tearing his hair, Till he thought of a highly original plan. For years he had sat on his chair, like you, Quite–still! But his looks were grim For he wished to be famous (as […]

Last night I rode with Touchstone on a bus From Ludgate Hill to World’s End. It was he! Despite the broadcloth and the bowler hat, I knew him, Touchstone, the wild flower of folly, The whetstone of his age, the scourge of kings, The madcap morning star of elfin-land, Who used to wrap his legs […]

Michael Oaktree

Story type: Poetry

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Under an arch of glorious leaves I passed Out of the wood and saw the sickle moon Floating in daylight o’er the pale green sea. It was the quiet hour before the sun Gathers the clouds to prayer and silently Utters his benediction on the waves That whisper round the death-bed of the day. The […]

The Phantom Fleet

Story type: Poetry

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(1904) The sunset lingered in the pale green West: In rosy wastes the low soft evening star Woke; while the last white sea-mew sought for rest; And tawny sails came stealing o’er the bar. But, in the hillside cottage, through the panes The light streamed like a thin far trumpet-call, And quickened, as with quivering […]

Slave And Emperor

Story type: Poetry

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“Our cavalry have rescued Nazareth from the enemy whose supermen described Christianity as a creed for slaves.” The Emperor mocked at Nazareth In his almighty hour. The Slave that bowed himself to death And walked with slaves in Nazareth, What were his words but wasted breath Before that “will to power”? Yet, in the darkest […]

On A Mountain Top

Story type: Poetry

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On this high altar, fringed with ferns That darken against the sky, The dawn in lonely beauty burns And all our evils die. The struggling sea that roared below Is quieter than the dew, Quieter than the clouds that flow Across the stainless blue. On this bare crest, the angels kneel And breathe the sweets […]

“And that a reply be received before midnight.” British Ultimatum. Their Day was at twelve of the night, When the graves give up their dead. And still, from the City, no light Yellows the clouds overhead. Where the Admiral stands there’s a star, But his column is lost in the gloom; For the brazen doors […]

The War Widow

Story type: Poetry

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I. Black-veiled, black-gowned, she rides in bus and train, With eyes that fill too listlessly for tears. Her waxen hands clasp and unclasp again. Good News, they cry. She neither sees nor hears. Good News, perhaps, may crown some far-off king. Good News may peal the glory of the state– Good News may cause the […]

I. There is one road, one only, to the Light: A narrow way, but Freedom walks therein; A straight, firm road through Chaos and old Night, And all these wandering Jack-o-Lents of Sin. It is the road of Law, where Pilate stays To hear, at last, the answer to his cry; And mighty sages, groping […]

The Little Roads

Story type: Poetry

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The great roads are all grown over That seemed so firm and white. The deep black forests have covered them. How should I walk aright? How should I thread these tangled mazes, Or grope to that far off light? I stumble round the thickets, and they turn me Back to the thickets and the night. […]

Sunlight And Sea

Story type: Poetry

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Give me the sunlight and the sea And who shall take my heaven from me? Light of the Sun, Life of the Sun, O happy, bold companion, Whose golden laughters round me run, Making wine of the blue air With wild-rose kisses everywhere, Browning the limb, flushing the cheek, Apple-fragrant, leopard-sleek, Dancing from thy red-curtained […]

The Companions

Story type: Poetry

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How few are they that voyage through the night On that eternal quest, For that strange light beyond our light, That rest beyond our rest. And they who, seeking beauty, once descry Her face, to most unknown; Thenceforth like changelings from the sky Must walk their road alone. So once I dreamed. So idle was […]

I. If souls could sing to heaven’s high King As blackbirds pipe on earth, How those delicious courts would ring With gusts of lovely mirth! What white-robed throng could lift a song So mellow with righteous glee As this brown bird that all day long Delights my hawthorn tree. Hark! That’s the thrush With speckled […]

Five Criticisms

Story type: Poetry

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I. (On many recent novels by the conventional unconventionalists.) Old Pantaloon, lean-witted, dour and rich, After grim years of soul-destroying greed, Weds Columbine, that April-blooded witch “Too young” to know that gold was not her need. Then enters Pierrot, young, rebellious, warm, With well-lined purse, to teach the fine-souled wife That the old fool’s gold […]

Immortal Sails

Story type: Poetry

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Now, in a breath, we’ll burst those gates of gold, And ransack heaven before our moment fails. Now, in a breath, before we, too, grow old, We’ll mount and sing and spread immortal sails. It is not time that makes eternity. Love and an hour may quite out-run the years, And give us more to […]

The Open Door

Story type: Poetry

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O Mystery of life, That, after all our strife, Defeats, mistakes, Just as, at last, we see The road to victory, The tired heart breaks. Just as the long years give Knowledge of how to live, Life’s end draws near; As if, that gift being ours, God needed our new powers In worlds elsewhere. There, […]

Riddles Of Merlin

Story type: Poetry

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As I was walking Alone by the sea, “What is that whisper?” Said Merlin to me. “Only,” I answered, “The sigh of the wave”– “Oh, no,” replied Merlin, “‘Tis the grass on your grave.” As I lay dreaming In churchyard ground “Listen,” said Merlin, “What is that sound?“ “The green grass is growing,” I answered; […]

The Symphony

Story type: Poetry

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Wonder in happy eyes Fades, fades away: And the angel-coloured skies Whisper farewell. Loveliness over the strings of the heart may stray In fugitive melodies; But Oh, the hand of the Master must not stay, Even for a breath; For to prolong one joy, or even to dwell On one rich chord of pain, Beyond […]

“If I could whisper you all I know,” Said the Old Fool in the Wood, “You’d never say that green leaves grow. You’d say, ‘Ah, what a happy mood The Master must be in today, To think such thoughts,’ That’s what you’d say.” “If I could whisper you all I’ve heard,” Said the Old Fool […]

(It is supposed that Shadow-of-a-Leaf uses the word “clear” in a more ancient sense of “beautiful.”) As along a dark pine-bough, in slender white mystery The moon lay to listen, above the thick fern, In a deep dreaming wood that is older than history I heard a lad sing, and I stilled me to learn; […]

There came a crowder to the Mermaid Inn, One dark May night, Fiddling a tune that quelled our motley din, With quaint delight, It haunts me yet, as old lost airs will do, A phantom strain: Look for me once, lest I should look for you, And look in vain. In that old wood, where […]

Compensations

Story type: Poetry

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Not with a flash that rends the blue Shall fall the avenging sword. Gently as the evening dew Descends the mighty Lord. His dreadful balances are made To move with moon and tide; Yet shall not mercy be afraid Nor justice be denied. The dreams that seemed to waste away, The kindliness forgot, Were singing […]

(Written after hearing a line of Keats repeated by a passing stranger under the palms of Southern California.) Under the palms of San Diego Where gold-skinned Mexicans loll at ease, And the red half-moons of their black-pipped melons Drop from their hands in the sunset seas, And an incense, out of the old brown missions, […]

With shadowy pen I write, Till time be done, Good news of some strange light, Some far off sun.

The Humming Birds

Story type: Poetry

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Green wing and ruby throat, What shining spell, what exquisite sorcery, Lured you to float And fight with bees round this one flowering tree? Petulant imps of light, What whisper or gleam or elfin-wild perfumes Thrilled through the night And drew you to this hive of rosy bloom? One tree, and one alone, Of all […]

Nippon

Story type: Poetry

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Last night, I dreamed of Nippon…. I saw a cloud of white Drifting before the sunset On seas of opal light. Beyond the wide Pacific I saw its mounded snow Miraculously changing In that deep evening glow, To rosy rifts and hillocks, To orchards that I knew, To snows of peach and cherry, And feathers […]

I know a land, I, too, Where warm keen incense on the sea-wind blows, And all the winter long the skies are blue, And the brown deserts blossom with the rose. Deserts of all delight, Cactus and palm and earth of thirsty gold, Dark purple blooms round eaves of sun-washed white, And that Hesperian fruit […]

(An epistle from a narrow-minded old gentleman to a young artist of superior intellect and intense realism.) Your thoughts are for the poor and weak? Ah, no, the picturesque’s your passion! Your tongue is always in your cheek At poverty that’s not in fashion. You like a ploughman’s rugged face, Or painted eyes in Piccadilly; […]

The old gentleman, tapping his amber snuff-box (A heart-shaped snuff-box with a golden clasp) Stared at the dying fire. “I’d like them all To understand, when I am gone,” he muttered. “But how to do it delicately! I can’t Apologize. I’ll hint at it … in verse; And, to be sure that Rosalind reads it […]

(What the Ghosts Said) And after all the labour and the pains, After the heaping up of gold on gold, After success that locked your feet in chains, And left you with a heart so tired and old, Strange–is it not?–to find your chief desire Is what you might have had for nothing then– The […]

When hawthorn buds are creaming white, And the red foolscap all stuck with may, Then lasses walk with eyes alight, And it’s chimney-sweepers’ dancing day. For the chimney-sweeps of Cheltenham town, Sooty of face as a swallow of wing, Come whistling, singing, dancing down With white teeth flashing as they sing. And Jack-in-the green, by […]

The Vindictive

Story type: Poetry

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How should we praise those lads of the old Vindictive Who looked Death straight in the eyes, Till his gaze fell, In those red gates of hell? England, in her proud history, proudly enrolls them, And the deep night in her remembering skies With purer glory Shall blazon their grim story. There were no throngs […]

Peace In A Palace

Story type: Poetry

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“You were weeping in the night,” said the Emperor, “Weeping in your sleep, I am told.” “It was nothing but a dream,” said the Empress; But her face grew gray and old. “You thought you saw our German God defeated?” “Oh, no!” she said. “I saw no lightnings fall. I dreamed of a whirlpool of […]

An Open Boat

Story type: Poetry

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O what is that whimpering there in the darkness? “Let him lie in my arms. He is breathing, I know. Look. I’ll wrap all my hair round his neck.”–“The sea’s rising, The boat must be lightened. He’s dead. He must go.” See–quick–by that flash, where the bitter foam tosses, The cloud of white faces, in […]

Wireless

Story type: Poetry

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Now to those who search the deep, Gleam of Hope and Kindly Light, Once, before you turn to sleep, Breathe a message through the night. Never doubt that they’ll receive it. Send it, once, and you’ll believe it. Wrecks that burn against the stars, Decks where death is wallowing green, Snare the breath among their […]

Fishers Of Men

Story type: Poetry

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Long, long ago He said, He who could wake the dead, And walk upon the sea– “Come, follow Me. “Leave your brown nets and bring Only your hearts to sing, Only your souls to pray, Rise, come away. “Shake out your spirit-sails, And brave those wilder gales, And I will make you then Fishers of […]

Namesakes

Story type: Poetry

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But where’s the brown drifter that went out alone? —Roll and go, and fare you well— Was her name Peggy Nutten? That name is my own. Fare you well, my sailor. They sang in the dark, “Let her go! Let her go!” And she sailed to the West, where the broad waters flow; And the […]

The very best ship that ever I knew, —Ah-way O, to me O— Was a big black trawler with a deep-sea crew– Sing, my bullies, let the bullgine run. There was one old devil with a broken nose —Ah-way O, to me O— He was four score years, as I suppose– But, sing, my bullies, […]

Kilmeny

Story type: Poetry

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Dark, dark lay the drifters against the red West, As they shot their long meshes of steel overside; And the oily green waters were rocking to rest When Kilmeny went out, at the turn of the tide; And nobody knew where that lassie would roam, For the magic that called her was tapping unseen. It […]

They are buffeting out in the bitter grey weather, Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down! Sea-lark singing to Golden Feather, And burly blue waters all swelling aroun’. There’s Thunderstone butting ahead as they wallow, With death in the mesh of their deep-sea trawl; There’s Night-Hawk swooping by wild Sea-swallow; And old Cap’n […]

Out of her darkened fishing-ports they go, A fleet of little ships, whose every name– Daffodil, Sea-lark, Rose and Surf and Snow, Burns in this blackness like an altar-flame; Out of her past they sail, three thousand strong, The people’s fleet that never knew its worth, And every name is a broken phrase of song […]

(After a glimpse of a certain monument in New York, during the Victory Celebration) The thousand-windowed towers were all alight. Throngs of all nations filled that glittering way; And, rich with dreams of the approaching day, Flags of all nations trampled down the night. No clouds, at sunset, die in airs as bright. No clouds, […]

Princeton

Story type: Poetry

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(1917) The first four lines of this poem were written for inscription on the first joint memorial to the American and British soldiers who fell in the Revolutionary War. This memorial was recently dedicated at Princeton. I. Here Freedom stood, by slaughtered friend and foe, And ere the wrath paled or that sunset died, Looked […]

(New Jersey, 1918) Its quiet graves were made for peace till Gabriel blows his horn. Those wise old elms could hear no cry Of all that distant agony– Only the red-winged blackbird, and the rustle of thick ripe corn. The blue jay, perched upon that bronze, with bright unweeting eyes, Could never read the names […]

“There are no ghosts in America.” There are no ghosts, you say, To haunt her blaze of light; No shadows in her day, No phantoms in her night. Columbus’ tattered sail Has passed beyond our hail. What? On that magic coast, Where Raleigh fought with fate, Or where that Devon ghost Unbarred the Golden Gate, […]