My father’s friend came once to tea.
He laughed and talked. He spoke to me.
But in another week they said
That friendly pink-faced man was dead.
“How sad . .” they said, “the best of men . .”— Frances Cornford
So I said too, “How sad”; but then
Deep in my heart I thought with pride,
“I know a person who has died.”
So begins the day,
Solid, chill, and gray,
But my heart will wake
Happy for your sake;
No more tossed and wild,
Singing like a child,
Quiet as a flower
In this first gray hour.
So my heart will wake— Frances Darwin Cornford
Happy, for your sake.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,— William Ernest Henley
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
I wakened on my hot, hard bed;— Frances Darwin Cornford
Upon the pillow lay my head;
Beneath the pillow I could hear
My little watch was ticking clear.
I thought the throbbing of it went
Like my continual discontent;
I thought it said in every tick:
I am so sick, so sick, so sick;
O death, come quick, come quick, come quick,
Come quick, come quick, come quick, come quick.
From muddy road to muddy lane
I plodded through the falling rain;
For miles and miles was nothing there
But mist, and mud, and hedges bare.
At length approaching I espied
Two gipsy women side by side;
They turned their faces broad and bold
And brown and freshened by the cold,
And stared at me in gipsy wise
With shrewd, unfriendly, savage eyes.
No word they said, no more dared I;— Frances Darwin Cornford
And so we passed each other by—
The only living things that met
In all those miles of mist and wet.
I spoiled the day;
Hotly, in haste,
All the calm hours
I gashed and defaced.
Let me forget,
Let me embark
—Sleep for my boat—
And sail through the dark.
Till a new day— Frances Darwin Cornford
Heaven shall send,
Whole as an apple,
Kind as a friend.
I wear not the purple of earth-born kings,— Eliza Cook
Nor the stately ermine of lordly things;
But monarch and courtier though great they be,
Must fall from their glory, and bend to me.
My sceptre is gemless; yet who can say
They will not come under its mighty sway?
Ye may learn who I am,—there’s the passing chime
And the dial to herald me—Old King Time!