Sunday, 19 September 2010

Mary Webb (25/3/1881 -8/10/27)- THE WOOD WITCH and six more of her poems.

Dark on their slumbering steeps
The great woods rise;
Over their silent deeps loom the hot skies.
There, where the wood-dove sleeps,
Young Magic Lies.

Mist her raiment is -
Dim, twining witcheries thread her dark hair.
Who tastes her wild, sweet kiss?
Ah, few men dare.

Through her long, secret smile
All the strange earth
Creeps; in her elfin wiles mad hell has birth;
Heaven's self she bequiles
Into her mirth.

The bright day darkens she,
Spreading her hair;
And at night, sheenily, makes her limbs bare.
Who would her lover be,
Let him beware.


Above his low green lawn, in tented splendour,
A great tree spread its branches, manifold
With lucent leaves that qickened into gold
And quivered into whispers low and tender,
While silver-throated birds came all day long
And haunted it with ecstacies of song.

There dawned a day - the migrants birds were
When, gazing with a gladness ever new
To where it stood so stately on the blue,
Across the sky he saw it slowly falling.
He had forgotten, so it roofed him round,
That it was rooted in his neighbour's ground.

Forlorn the grass without its chequered shade;
Aloof and cold the spaces of the sky
Without its comfort; now all silently
The wind went flowing by - of old it stayed
And talked among the leaves; the birds took
They could not sit upon the ground and sing.

Along the dumb air wandered presently
A white-winged seed. With love and hope and
He planted it in his own garden soil.
And though he will not see it bless the sky
With spreading arms, it is enough today
That two pale, tender leaves uncurl with May.

And even because it is so humbly low,
With fluttering flight the youngest thrush of spring
Can gain its top and sing there, triumphing,
Its earlestmusic - tentative and slow,
But so divine in pathos, so fresh-hearted
That he is glad the other birds departed.


In the pear-tree I have seen
Strength stand up beside the stem.
Where young blossoms lit the green,
Beauty hovere over them.
I heard, when fragrant breeze played,
Life sing louder than the bee;
And felt within the stealthy shade
Terror crouch beneath the tree.


Out on the wild and chill
Juniper-tangled hill,
By misty day and star-concealing night,
I hear your voice along the lonely height,
Making a haven for my heart that grieves,
Creating joy like birds among the leaves.

Far, far way the silver whimbrel spoke
In plaintive, startled cadence from the cloud,
As though she spied Love in his purle cloak,
As though she knew his lips so ripe-
Scarlet as cranberrie-
And dared not to call too loud
Lest she should hush the melody of his,
Lest he should fling away his oaten pipe.

There, where the sleek foals rest;
There, where the bracken burns towards the west;
Where springs are white and clear,
You brought me on a summer day, my dear,
Far, far way it seems and long ago;
Since then the winds have risen, since then has come the snow.

All colours mingled in transparent light,
Pierced by the hovering whimbrel's silver cry;
All things that once were dim
Thought upon Love's clear radiance and grew bright;
All flowers I once deemed scentless,dry,
Were filled with fragrance to the brim;
And from the blue, profound

Distance of summer, heaven gathered round,
Distilling as a dew, pressing so close,
We seemed all golden-dusted, like a bee
Drenched with the pollen of the wild white rose.
Then, in the hush of heaven, you spoke to me.

With heavy weights of snow the juniper
Breaks, and the wind howls in the frozen bough.
But I abide in a calm whereno winds stir;
Where no flower falls and never song is broken,
Hearing the golden words that once were spoken
And so are spoken now.


The apple-blow that was so sweet,
So pink and clear,
Has flung its petals at my feet,
My dear - my dear!

The petalled joys that made mycrown
When you were here,
Like heavy tears are fallen down,
My dear- my dear!


No beauty is mine, and yet I saw to-day
A lovely face within my mirrored glassed;
For you had looked upon me as you passed,
And still there lingered, as you went away,
Reflections of your grace in mouth and eye -
Like those rare dawns that paint the eastern sky
And mirror forth
Their beauty even in the hueless north.


Out of ther shallow pools
The grouse whirr, jeering at us fools
That have not known how all things grow estranged
Except old Magic, who with gipsy fingers
Forever sews, unwearied and unchanged,
The splendid purple garments of the hills.
They sleep within the silence that she fills
With lullabies, singing beneath her breath
Of things so long before and so long after death
That he who listens fear her, yet he lingers.

Woods, West Wales.

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