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60 Works of Charles Hamilton Musgrove

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Night In May

Story type: Poetry

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The snowy clouds, soft sleeping lambkins, lieAlong the dark blue meadows of the sky,And the bright stars, like golden daffodils,Are blooming thickly by. And Luna, gentle shepherdess, the whileKeeps near her flock and guards it with her smile;I almost fancy I can hear her songDown to this shadowed stile. Lo! Zephyrus, fond lover, comes to […]

(Battleships of the Coronation Naval Review, Spithead, England, June 24, 1911.) Hail, sceptered Mars, great god of wars!Hail, Carnage, queen of blood!And hail those muffled armaments–Thy fettered vulture brood!Their sable wings are laureled andTheir necks are ribboned gay,And silken folds their talons hideThis kingly holiday. Grotesque and grim, in chains of gold,They go with solemn […]

Immutability

Story type: Poetry

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The sun must rise, the sun must set,Nor ever change in plan may be,Though dawn to stricken wretch may bringThe hempen rope and gallows tree,And eventide to happy brideLove’s crown of love in Arcady.

Men shed their blood for honor or renown,For freedom’s sake to nameless graves go down,But there’s one cause alone ‘neath heaven aboveFor which they shed their tears, and that is–Love.

Life [quatrain]

Story type: Poetry

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Life is just a web of doubtWhere, with iridescent gleams,Flickers in or struggles outLove, the golden moth of dreams.

I called your name, Man-in-the-Grave,And straight her lips grew cold on mine,And then I knew although I haveHer hand, her heart and soul are thine.

Life is like an old mother whom trouble and toilHave sufficed the best part of her nature to spoil,Whom her children, the Passions, so worry and vexThat the good are forgot while the evil perplex.

When the north wind, riding o’er the uplands,Shouted to the red leaves: “I am Death!”Was it fear that sent them all a-flying,Sighing, flying o’er the withered heath?

O! twain in spirit, we shall knowThy like no more, so fierce, so mild,One breast shorn clean to rest the bow,One milk-full for thy warrior child.

Like black fangs in a cruel ogre’s jawThe grim piles lift against the sunset sky;Down drops the night, and shuts the horrid maw–I listen, breathless, but there comes no cry.

Defeat [quatrain]

Story type: Poetry

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He sits and looks into the westWhere twilight gathers, wan and gray,A knight who quit the Golden Quest,And flung Excalibur away.

Instruments

Story type: Poetry

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Today we are the fruits of yesterdayAnd what tomorrow shall of us demand,–The helpless tools within the Master’s handTo do His will and never say Him nay.He blends our souls with iron, fire or clay,He shapes our doom according as He plannedThe scheme of life, and who shall understandThe why He gives, or why He […]

The Monastery

Story type: Poetry

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Beyond the wall the passion flower is blooming,Strange hints of life along the winds are blown;Within, the cowled and silent men are kneelingBefore an image on a cross of stone,And on their lifted faces, wan as death,I read this simple message of their faith:“The trail of flame is ashen,And pleasure’s lees are gray,And gray the […]

The Passion Play

Story type: Poetry

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I. Where falls the shadow of the Kofel crossAthwart the Alpine snows, the rose of faithIs blooming still in consecrated hearts,And holy men another cross have hewnWhereon the symboled Christ again shall dieTo cleanse the world of sin. Within the valeWhere flows the Ammer like a trail of tearsUpon the Holy Mother’s face, I seeThe […]

The Woman Answers

Story type: Poetry

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What will I say when face to face with GodMy naked soul shall come, seared with the stainThat men call sin? Why, God will understand;He knew my pitiful story long beforeMy frail dust quickened with the breath of life;He knew the mystery of that day of daysWhen, thrilled with virgin wonder, I should comeBearing the […]

The Gold Fields

Story type: Poetry

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Here is a tale the North Wind sang to me:Hell hath set Mammon o’er a frozen land,Crowned him with gold, put gold into his hand,And men forsake their God to bow the kneeAgain unto this world-old deityWhose rule is wheresoe’er man’s feet go forth,Whether they track the grim and icy North,Or Afric’s scorching sweeps of […]

Love And Art

Story type: Poetry

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I. Eagle-heart, child-heart, bonnie lad o’ dreams,Far away thy soul hears passion-throated ArtSinging where the future liesWrapped in hues of Paradise,Pleading with her poignant noteThat forever seems to floatFarther down the vista that is calling to thy heart.Hearken! From the heightsWhere thy soul alightsBend thine ear to listen for the lute of Love is sighing:“Eagle-heart, […]

I have been kissed by the Priestess of the Thin and Deadly Blood–With the kiss that men call Lightning, and yet I did not die,For the kiss was a message from God; I felt it and understood,And I knew how He looked on the cosmic light and called it “Good”;I thrilled with a vibrant joy; […]

The Vow Forsworn

Story type: Poetry

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Unweariedly he watches for the sign,The sign I promised from the farthest goal,My lover of a world no longer mine,My human lover with his human soul. Unweariedly he waits from day to day,Nor knows, as I know now, that when we meet,‘Twill be as dewdrop on the hawthorn spray,–The ultimate of God at last complete. […]

The Human World

Story type: Poetry

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Here is one picture of the human world:An unreaped field and Death, the harvester,Taking his rest beside a gathered sheafOf poppy and white lilies. At his sidePassion, with pilfered hour-glass in her handJarring the sluggish sands to haste their flow.

It wouldn’t be fair to BelshazzarWhen speaking of madness and mirth,To draw from his revel a moralFor conscienceless sin in the earth,For ’tis certain the King of ChaldeaTook note of the hand on the wall,But here at the Feast of the PassionsWe never take heed at all. The same gods grin at the banquet–The idols […]

Our Daily Bread

Story type: Poetry

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“Give us this day our daily bread!” O prayerBy Jesus taught, thou hast become a cryFor starveling mouths in Famine’s ghastly lair–A beggar’s plaint when Dives passes by. We have forsook the Temple of the SoulTo carp with sordid tradesmen face to face;No more we hear the Sinaian thunders roll,Or Jesus preaching in the market-place. […]

You are blue, you are blue like the sky,Cruel and cold and blue,And I turn from you, voiceless sea,To a sky that is voiceless, too. Upward the vast blue arch,Downward the blue abyss,With a line of foam where your lipsMeet in a passionless kiss. But the silence is breaking my heart,And tears cannot comfort meWith […]

The Poet Shepherd

Story type: Poetry

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Down in the vale the lazy sheepAre roaming at their will,But I would be away to weepUpon the windy hill, For Summer’s song is in my heart,Her kiss is on my brow,As here I kneel alone, apart,To consecrate our vow. Ah, doubly poor the gift shall beThat links my soul with hers,For she has given […]

(Written on the exhumation and reburial in Spain of the bones of Christopher Columbus.) Once more upon the ocean’s heaving breastHe lays his head, not like the lover boldWho in the brave, chivalric days of oldWooed from her lips the secret of the West,But like a tired man going to his rest,No hopes to thrill, […]

Atonement

Story type: Poetry

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You were a red rose then, I know,Red as her wine–yea, redder still,–Say rather her blood; and ages ago(You know how destiny hath its will)I placed you deep in her gorgeous hair,And left you to wither there. Wine and blood and a red, red rose,–Feast and song and a long, long sleep;–And which of us […]

To C. 33

Story type: Poetry

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(Oscar Wilde.) I gazed upon thee desolate and heardThine anguished cry when fell the iron ginThat all but broke thy soul, yet gave thy wordThe strength to ask forgiveness of thy sin. I saw thee fleeing from the cruel lightOf thine own fame; I saw thee hide thy faceIn alien dust to cover up the […]

The First Born

Story type: Poetry

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I. “He has eyes like the Christ,”The mother said, and smiled;“He will be wise and good,My wondering little child.God grant him strength to doWhate’er his tasks may be,But spare him, if Thou wilt,O, spare him Calvary!” II. Grim where the black bars castTheir shadows o’er his bed,He waits to pay the costOf blood his hands […]

You have builded your ships in the sun-lands,And launched them with song and wine;They are boweled with your stanchest engines,And masted with bravest pine;You have met in your closet councils,With your plans and your prayers to GodFor a fortunate wind to waft youWhere never a foot has trod. And now you follow the polar starTo […]

The Newly Dead

Story type: Poetry

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I. With the light just quenched in their eyesThey lie in their graves ‘neath the skies,And the fresh clod restsHeavy upon their breasts.The white rose diesUpon the new-made mound, and underneathThe lily shrivels in the shriveling hand.Pale guests of sovereign Death,They sought their silent beds at his command,And it seemsStrange that their life-long dreamsShall find […]

Once in a dream of BabylonI sat with Lilith and CainAt the world-old drama, “From God to God,”In the House of Things Profane;Trumpets and lights, and the playersSwung to the stage, and thenI saw as I looked in their facesA woman, and some men. Men with the eyes of the psalmist,Men with the hearts of […]

Forgiven

Story type: Poetry

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I might have met his anger with a smileFor so it was that I had set my heartTo mask deception with a wanton’s guile,And save the tears that now begin to start. I might have worn my guilty crown of thorn,–Yea, even worn it gladly like a prize;But, oh! more bitter than his rage or […]

The Mothers

Story type: Poetry

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Beyond the tumult and the proud acclaim,Beyond the circle where the glory beatsWith withering light upon the mighty seats,They hear the far-resounding trump of fame;On other lips they hear the one-loved nameIn vaunting or derision, and they weepTo know that they shall never lull to sleepThose tired heads, crowned with desolating flame.Beyond the hot arena’s […]

An Earthworm once loved a Star. In the hush of the summer night,He lay quite close to the ground and gazed on its golden light;He looked from his house of clay, and dreamed of wonderful things,Till, lo! (as he thought) his longing brought forth miraculous wings. The Butterfly soared in the air, straight toward the […]

From age to age the haggard human trainCreeps wearily across Time’s burning sandsTo look into her face, and lift weak handsIn supplication to the calm disdainThat crowns her stony brow…. But all in vainThe riddle of mortality they try:Doom speaks still from her unrelenting eye–Doom deep as passion, infinite as pain.From age to age the […]

She comes not with the conscious graceOf gentle, winsome womanhood,Nor yet, withal, the flaunting faceOf men and women understood,But rather as a thing apart,A wind-blown petal of a rose,A specter with a specter’s heartThat cometh once–and goes. Her eyes some trace of cold, white lightWithin their haunted depths still hold,Though hunger’s fever made them bright,And […]

Midsummer Noon

Story type: Poetry

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Through shimmering skies the big clouds slowly sail;A faint breeze lingers in the rustling beech;Atop the withered oak with vagrant speechThe brawling crows call down the sleepy vale;Unseen the glad cicadas trill their taleOf deep content in changeless vibrant screech,And where the old fence rambles out of reach,The drowsy lizard hugs the shaded rail.Warm odors […]

The Passing Race

Story type: Poetry

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I. Silent as ever, stoic as of old,The scattered nomads of that dusky raceWhose story shall forever be untold,Sit mid the ruins of their dwelling placeAnd watch the white man’s empire grow apace.Passive as one who knows his earthly doom,And only waits with calm but hopeless faceThe while the seasons go with blight and bloom,So […]

Kenotaphion

Story type: Poetry

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O wanderer! whoever thou mayest be,I beg of thee to pass in silence hereAnd leave me with my empty sepulchreBeside the ceaseless turmoil of the sea;Pass me as one whom life’s old tragedyHath made distraught–who now in dreams doth keepHis cherished dead, unmindful of her sleepIn ocean’s bosom locked eternally!Scorn not the foolish grave that […]

(Written on the ter-centenary of John Milton, December 9, 1908.) Immortal singer, in whose glorious brainUnearthly melodies were born to makeA nocturn for the blessed Master’s sake,I see thee pass through heaven’s gates again;I hear thee singing that majestic strain,Which soothed the heart affliction could not break,And proved the faith no worldly ills could shake;And […]

Cupid To A Skull

Story type: Poetry

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I came your way in the years gone by,In the summers that now are old,And then there was light in your beaming eye,And love was living and hopes were highAt the Sign of the Heart of Gold. I come today and the lights are fled,And the trail of the mold and rustHas saddened the hall […]

O king! what is the quest that evermoreForedooms thy feet to roam, yet blinds thine eyes?Why seek ye still for life’s imperfect prize,Or turn thy weary sail from shore to shore,When here thou layest aside the ills of yoreTo calm thy soul with dreams? Let it suffice–This heart-sick burden of the worldly-wise–That ye have borne […]

The North Wind

Story type: Poetry

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I. Wind of the North, I know your songOut on the frozen plain,But here in the city’s streets you seemOnly a cry of pain. II. I know the note of your lusty throatWhere the black boughs toss and roar,But here it is part of the old, old cryOf the hungry, homeless poor. III. I know […]

Where Is God?

Story type: Poetry

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(Written during the hostilities in the Far East in 1900.) Hard by the gates of Eden,Where God first walked with man,In the light of the new creation,Ere the race of Cain began,The world-wide hosts have gathered,And their swords are drawn to slay:God was with man in Eden,But where is God today? From the ice-bound steppes […]

This is the story of Moses,The earliest scribe that we keep:Void was the earth and formless,And dark was the face of the deep,Till God’s word flashed in lightning,Beautiful, bountiful, bright,And night was the name of the darkness,And day was the name of the light. This is the story of Moses–(Doubt it, if ever you can)–The […]

(Written on the occasion of the bringing of the body of Admiral John Paul Jones to the United States for reburial.) Brave ships are these that bear thee home againFrom under far-off skies–brave flags that flyAbove the deck whereon thine ashes lie,Waiting their urn beyond the alien main;The nations pause to view thy funeral trainAs […]

He crouches, voiceless, in his tomb-like cell,Forgot of all things save his jailer’s hateThat turns the daylight from his iron grateTo make his prison more and more a hell;For him no coming day or hour shall spellDeliverance, or bid his soul awaitThe hand of Mercy at his dungeon gate:He would not know even though a […]

At The Play

Story type: Poetry

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The poet painted a woman’s soul,Human, trusting and kind,And then he drew the soul of a man,Brutal and base and blind; And the woman loved in the old, old way,And the man in the way of men,And the poet christened their lives “A Play,”And he sat down to watch it, and then … A woman […]

Zoroaster

Story type: Poetry

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I. The light of a new day was on his brow,The faith of a great dawn was on his tongue;Out of the dark he raised his voice and sungThe high Messiah who should overthrowThe gods that Superstition crowned with mightAnd set above the world,–the coming ChristWhose unshed blood should be the holy tryst‘Twixt man and […]

Down at the end of the iron laneI see the sunset’s glare,And the red bars lie across the skyLike steps of a wondrous stair. Below, the throng, with unlifted eye,Sweeps on in its heedless flightWhere the street’s black funnel pours its tideOut into the deepening night. And no one has stopped to read God’s wordOn […]

A Legend Of Gold

Story type: Poetry

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Lucifer craved one boon of GodAfter his fall, as his own to hold;So He gave him a mite in heaven’s sight,But lo! the gift that He gave was–Gold. And Lucifer wrought with the rugged oreTill he fashioned it wondrous fair, and thenHe set a price on the precious store,And the price was the blood and […]

The eyrie clung to the shattered cliffThat the glacier’s torrent thundered under;And the unfledged eaglet’s lifted eyeLooked out on the world of peak and skyIn silent wonder. The mountain daisy, dainty white,That grew by the side of the lofty eyrie,Saw the young wings beat on the eagle’s breast,And the restless eyes in the fagot-nestGrow grim […]

The dial has pointed the hour and the hour has rounded the day,The day has finished the year that dies with a century’s birth;Eastward the morning stars sing as they go their way:“Lo! the Great Mother travaileth, a king is born to the earth!King of a hundred years, and king of a million tombs,Sovereign of […]

Behold! I cover up this trail of tearsA moment’s weakness left upon my cheek,And hush my heart a little ere I speakLest the false note ring true on other ears;The music rises and the empty cheersProclaim the harlequin, and lo! I standThe painted fool again and kiss my handWith jocund air to Folly’s worshippers.So day […]

Here is the freedom men die for,–die for but never know;Here is the peace they pray for shrined in eternal snow;Down on the plain the city moans with a human cry,But here there is naught but silence,–peace, and the wide, wide sky. Here are the dawn’s first footfalls, and the twilight’s last farewell,The benediction of […]

Romany

Story type: Poetry

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The city frets in the distance, lass,The city so grim and gray,A glare in the sky by night, my lass,And a blot on the sky by day;But we are out on the long white road,And under the wide free sky,And the song that was born in my heart todayWill sing there till I die. The […]

The Tornado

Story type: Poetry

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God let me fall from His handOne day at His forge when the elemental worldWas shaping. I am but a breath from His great bellows,But here among the workshops of mankindI am a fateful scourge. I tear red strips from the proud cities of men;I name my passage the Highway of Instant Death;I splinter world-old […]

Voices

Story type: Poetry

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Earthquake. I am a memory of cosmogony,That first great hour of travail when the voiceOf God called suns and systems from the void;I am the dream He dreams of that last dayWhen mountains by the roots shall be plucked upAnd headlong flung into the raging sea! Hurricane. I am the breath that fills the organ […]

They were three old men with hoary hairAnd beards of wintry gray,And they digged a grave in the yellow soil,And they crooned this song as they plied their toil,In the fading light of day: Hither ye bring your workmen,Like tools that are broken and bent,To pay your due to their cunningAfter their skill is spent;Hither […]

A Fugue Of Hell

Story type: Poetry

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I. I dreamed a mighty dream. It seemed mine eyesSealed for the moment were to things terrene,And then there came a strange, great wind that blewFrom undiscovered lands, and took my soulAnd set it on an uttermost peak of HellAmid the gloom and fearful silences.Slowly the darkness paled, and a weird dawnBroke on my wondering […]