By Herbert Read
(1893 - 1968) ~ Anarchist Poet and Art Historian : He was the chief interpreter of modern art movements in Great Britain for much of the 20th century and his influence reached into many fields. He is best described as a philosophic anarchist. (From : William Leedem Bio.)
• "...the law imposed by the State is not necessarily the natural or just law; that there exist principles of justice which are superior to these man-made laws-principles of equality and fairness inherent in the natural order of the universe." (From : "The Philosophy of Anarchism," by Herbert Read, Fi....)
• "Once you make subsistence and not profit the motive for association and mutual aid, there is everything to he said for local control, individual initiative and absolute equality." (From : "The Philosophy of Anarchism," by Herbert Read, Fi....)
• "...anarchism... for what is 'without ruler,' the literal meaning of the word, is not necessarily 'without order,' the meaning often loosely ascribed to it." (From : "The Philosophy of Anarchism," by Herbert Read, Fi....)
This is the ninth book issued by the Beaumont Press and the fifth printed by hand 30 copies have been printed on Japanese vellum signed by the author and artist and numbered i to 30 50 copies on cartridge paper numbered 31 to 80 and 120 copies on hand-made paper numbered 81 to 200
THE MEDITATION OF A LOVER
I can just see the distant trees ... 9
Pine needles cover the silent ground: . 10
We scurry over the pastures . . . 11
Shrill green weeds . . . . . 12
Grotesque patterns of blue-gray mold . 1 3
To the fresh wet fields . . , . 14
His russet coat and gleaming ax . . 15
The wagons loom like blue caravans . 16
THE AUTUMN OF THE WORLD
As a host of bloodflecked clouds . . 17
Like a faun my head uplifted . . . 18
The years come with their still perspective, 19
ON THE HEATH
White humors veining Earth, . . 23
I have assumed a conscious sociability, . 24
Above the vibrant town, . . , 25
That white hand poised . . . . 26
CHAMP DE MANCEUVRES
This hill indents my soul . . 27
I will make this girl a bed of ferns . . . 29
Life so brief . . . 30
We walked mutely . . . . 31
THE SORROW OF UNICUME
Fresh in the flush light gleam . . . 33
The dark steep roofs chisel . . . 35
COLOPHON .... 37
I CAN JUST SEE the distant trees
And I wonder whether they will
Or will not
Bow their tall plumes at your passing
In the carriage of the morning wind:
Or whether they will merely
Tremble against the cold dawnlight,
Shaking a yellow leaf
to the dew-wet earth.
PINE NEEDLES cover the silent ground:
pine trees chancel the woodland ways.
We penetrate into the dark depths
Where only garlic and hemlock grow
Till we meet the blue stream
Cleaving the green
Twilight like a rhythmic sword.
WE SCURRY over the pastures
chasing the windstrewn oak-leaves.
the fresh petals of cowslips and primroses.
We discover frog-spawn in the wet ditch.
SHRILL GREEN WEEDS
float on the black pond.
A rising fish
ripples the still water
And disturbs my soul.
GROTESQUE patterns of blue-gray mold
Cling to my barren apple-trees:
But in spring
Pale blossoms burst like little flowers
Along black wavering twigs:
Rains wash the cold frail petals
Downfallinor like tremulous flakes
Even within my heart.
TO THE FRESH WET FIELDS
and the white
froth of flowers
Came the wild errant
swallows with a scream.
HIS RUSSET COAT and gleaming ax
In the blue glades.
The wild birds sing;
But the woodman he broods
In the blue glades.
The wagons loom like blue caravans in the dusk:
They lumber mysteriously down the moonlit lanes.
We ride on the stacks of rust gold corn,
Filling the sky with our song.
The horses toss their heads and the harness-bells
Jingle all the way.
AS A HOST of blood-flecked clouds
skim the golden sky
and melt in the vermilioned vastness
There comes borne on a wind
from the infinite womb of chaos
the dank wafture of decay.
Over the eternal waters of the sea
that weep and find no solace of their cares
Lethargic vultures flock and swirl
and fill the echoes with their gloomy cries.
Cold winds from arctic zones
the transient things of earth:
The last yellow leaves
fall on the iridescent sward:
The wind dies
and the summer voices are forever quiet.
LIKE A FAUN my head uplifted
In delicate mists:
And breaking on my soul
Tremulous waves that beat and cling
To yellow leaves and dark green hills
Bells in the autumn evening.
THE YEARS COME with their still perspective, enveloping the past in the light of romance.
The old elm trees flock round the tiled farmstead and their silver-bellied leaves dance in the wind. Beneath their shade, and in the corner of the green, is a pond. In winter it is full of water, green with various weeds: and in Spring a lily will open in its center.
The ducks waddle in the mud and sail in circles round the pond, or preen their feathers on the bank.
But in Summer the pond is dry, and its bed is glossy and baked by the sun, of a beautiful soft color like the skins of the moles they catch and crucify on the stable doors.
On the green the fowls pick grains, or chatter and fight. Their yellows, whites and browns, the metallic luster of their darker feathers, and the crimson splash of their combs make an everchanging pattern on the grass.
They drink with spasmodic upreaching necks by the side of the well.
Under the stones by the well live green lizards curious to our eves.
And the path from the well leads to a garden door set in the high wall whereon grow plums and apricots. The door is deep and narrow and opens on to paths bordered with box-hedges; one path leads through the aromatic currant bushes, beneath the plum-trees, to the lawn where grows the wonder of our day-dreams, the monkey's-puzzle tree. On the other side of the
lawn three fir-trees rise sharply to the sky, their dark shades homing a few birds.
And beyond is the orchard, and down its avenues of mold-smitten trees the path leads to the paddocks, with their mushrooms and fairy-rings, and to the flat- lands stretching till the girding hills complete our vision.
But on a hill-top, cut clean against a sunrise, is the figure of a child, full of an impatient gesture.
THE FARM is distant from the high-road
half a mile;
The child of the farm
does not realize it for several years;
He wanders through the orchard,
finds mushrooms in the paddock,
or beetles in the pond.
But one day he goes to the high-road,
sees carts and carriages pass,
and men go marketing.
A traction-engine crashes into his vision
with flame and smoke,
and makes his eager soul retreat.
He turns away:
The huntsmen are galloping over the fields,
Their red coats and the swift whimpering hcunds,
WHITE HUMOURS veining Earth,
The lymphic winds of Spring
Veil an early morning
When on the hill
Men in cool sleeves dig the soil,
Turning the loam or acrid manure
With gripes that clink on stones.
Silently horses speed on the sandy track.
Lithe in white sweaters
Two runners lean against a fountain.
I HAVE ASSUMED a conscious sociability,
Pressed unresponding hfands,
And chattered aimlessly
When my eyes lit at the sight
Of a scarlet spider
Running over the bright
Green mold of an apple-tree.
ABOVE the vibrant town,
Above its dull clamor,
Roofs like ragged blades
Break into the moist golden glow
With mosaic of lustreful tiles
And slates that gleam
The first pale stars will soon illume
The dying scene till sole
Ethereal silhouettes pierce the gloom
THAT WHITE HAND poised
Above the ivory keys
Will soon descend to
The equable surface of my reverie.
To what abortion
Will the silence give birth ?
Noon of moist heat and the moan
Of raping bees,
And light like a sluice of molten gold
On the satiate, petitioning leaves.
In yellow fields,
Mute agony of reapers.
Does the metallic horizon
against the wider void the immaculate
angels of lust
on the swanbreasts of heaven.
THIS HILL INDENTS my soul
So that I saor
Like a silver mist about its flanks.
In the golden setting of the sun,
While on the plain
The illumined mists invade
Leaf-burdened trees. . .
Champ de Manœuvres
The silent tides of melting light
Assail the hill, imbue
My errant soul.
Mine empty body broods
One with the inanimate rocks . . .
The last red rays are fierce and irritant.
Then wakes my body on the lonely hill,
Gathering to its shell my startled soul.
I WILL MAKE this girl a bed of ferns
Beneath the trees,
And she shall come to me naked and shy in the
And when I kneel to kiss her body
Faunish I will be aware of its human scent
Mingled with the resin odors of the shrouded wood
As salt in tears.
We will be silent in the world;
And if she think good
We will go down to the green pool
To lie with our bellies on the cool grass
And drink together.
The flying beetles and the bats
And the birds drowsy in the branches
Shall be our companions.
The sheep in the open fields
Shall see our white bodies
glimmering in the woodland dusk.
LIFE SO BRIEF . . .
Yet I am old
with an era of grief.
The earth unveils
a sad nakedness
And her hills
droop round my sorrow.
Into the stillness
living things scream,
And only the nerveless dead
From the funereal mold
Late asters blaspheme.
WE WALKED MUTELY
over black moors
where gray walls crawl
Sinuously into still horizons.
I was mute
only to unfurl
In the germination of your mood.
But you called gray rain
to slake my heart:
You called gray mist
over the black moors.
We passed black altars of rock,
Two mute, processional, docile Christs
Amid the unheeding
FRESH in the flush light gleam
the slape new furrows:
ride the clean horizon rib
lithe Unicume and his roan team.
Man molded with Earth —
like clay uprisen:
his whistling mingles
with the throstle's this even.
Inward from furtive woods
the stretched light stains:
end-toil star now broods
deeming resthaven due.
Unyoked the roan team
garthward he leads:
hooves beat to harness clink;
the swollen sun bleeds.
When alone, Unicume
seeks his darkening dale.
You my white garden-rail—
Heart's tomb within!
The Sorrow of Unicume
He lifts latch to the quiet room
where yet it seems she breathes:
he kneels to take her stark hands
in caress mute with the gloom.
"Draw the casement; let me see
last light without"
Ah, fierce the white, white stars to hurt,
their beauty a wild shout.
Retch of flower scent, lush decay
among time-burdened shrubs.
And near and shallowly buried lay
love once enfleshed, now fled.
Harsh my heart is,
scalded with grief:
my life a limp
White flower unfeeling
you star the mold:
my livid heart enfold.
THE dark steep roofs chisel
The infinity of the sky:
But the white moonlit gables
Still hands at prayer.
HERE ENDS ECLOGUES A BOOK OF POEMS
by Herbert Read The Cover and the Decorations
designed by Ethelbert White The Typography
and Binding arranged by Cyril W. Beaumont
Printed by hand on his Press at 75 Charing
Cross Road in the City of Westminster
Completed December the Twentieth
|Compositor||C. W. Beaumont|
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