“Please let my hair grow, Mother, don’t cut it.
A trimmed tree
Is no place for song birds.”
                                     -Anonymous: Landeys
                                     Afghanistan (Pashto)
My Mama never cut my hair
But for once, when I was a girl
And it had become a knotted rope.
A nest had formed, beyond untangling,
And it had to be cut out,
Although the song birds had already
Found its shelter.
One by one I had to let them go,
Say goodbye to song.

Giant Despair


His death.

Sad is the plight of Giant Despair,
In Doubting Castle sick lies he!
The castle is built on a headland bare,
And looks on the wash of a whirling Sea.

With the noise in his ears and the gleam in his eyes
Of the breaking waves that beneath him beat,
Propt on pillows the Giant lies,
Pillowed, too, are his gouty feet.

In and out the Leeches of Souls
Run and chatter and prate and pray —
But the great wind wails and the thunder rolls:
None may banish his gloom away.

Barbara Gray

A mourning woman, robed in black,
Stands in the twilight, looking back;
Her hand is one her heart, her head
Bends musingly above the Dead,
Her face is plain, and pinch'd, and thin,
But splendour strikes it from within.


" B ARBARA Gray !
Pause, and remember what the world will say,"
I cried, and turning on the threshold fled,
When he was breathing on his dying bed;
But when, with heart grown bold,
I cross'd the threshold cold,
Here lay John Hamerton, and he was dead.


The Widow: A War Song

" Stand, Watchman, on the Castle height,
And southward gaze for me,
Beyond the day, across the night,
And say — What dost thou see?"
" I see the clouds of battle lower,
Our hosts flock forth to slay! ...
The Widow, in her Palace bower,
Stood listening, old and gray.


Uunder green branches I lie,
Pensive, I know not why;
All is dead calm down here;
But yonder, tho' heaven smiles clear,
Bright winds blow, and silent and slow
The vaporous Clouds sail by.

For the branches, that here and there
Grow yellow in autumn air,
Are parted; and through the rent
Of a flower-enwoven tent,
The round blue eye of the peaceful sky
Shows tearless, quiet, and fair.

The Last Bivouac

At hush of night, when all things seem
To sleep, I waken and look forth,
And lo! I hear, or else I dream,
The tramp of Legions o'er the earth!
And in the dark
Hush'd heavens I mark
Sentinel lights that flash o'erhead
From lonely bivouacs of the Dead!

Then, while the spectral Hosts sweep by,
Unseen yet heard in the under gloom,
I see against the dim blue sky
A Skeleton in cloak and plume;
Beneath him crowd,
Like cloud on cloud,
Sleeping on that great plain of dread,
Dark countless legions of the Dead.


Now each creature joys the other,
Passing happy days and hours;
One bird reports unto another
In the fall of silver showers;
Whilst the earth, our common mother,
Hath her bosom decked with flowers.

Whilst the greatest torch of heaven
With bright rays warms Flora's lap,
Making nights and days both even,
Cheering plants with fresher sap;
My field, of flowers quite bereaven,
Wants refresh of better hap.


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