Muriel Stuart

(1889-1967 / England)

In Memory Of Douglas Vernon Cow


THIS POEM, DEDICATED TO HIS MOTHER.

To twilight heads comes Death as comes a friend.
As with the gentle fading of the year
Fades rose, folds leaf, falls fruit, and to their end
Unquestioning draw near,
Their flowering over, and their fruiting done,
Fulfilled and finished and going down with the sun.

But for June's heart there is no comforting
When her full-throated rose
Still quick with buds, still thrilling to the air,
By some stray wind is tossed,
her swelling grain that goes
Heavy to harvesting
In a black gale is lost,
And her round grape that purpled to the wine
Is pinched by some chance frost.
Ah, then cry out for that last, lovely rose,
For the stricken wheat, and for the finished vine!
Such were you who sleep now, who have foregone
So many of Life's rich secrets almost learned;

Winning so much, so much yet unwon,
Yet to be dared, to discover, to reveal.
Quick still with ardour, hand still at the wheel
On wide and unsailed seas, eyes turning still
Towards the morning, while the keen brain burned
To the imperative will.

Upon your summer Death seems to set his heel,
Writes on the page 'No more.'
And brings the sign of sunset, shuts the door
And the house is dark and the tired mourners sleep.
Yet says he too, 'Though quiet at last you lie,
'And have done with laughter and strife and joy and care,
'You have honour with your peace; and still you keep
'Fullness of life and of felicity.
'You have seen the grail. What need you of grey hair?
'There are those who daily die,
'Who have long out lived their welcome in the world,
'Who are old and sad and tired and fain to cease
'From the crowded earth, and the hours in tumult whirled,
'Urgent and vain. You are not such as these
'Who have striven for laurels, and never knew the shade
'Upon their brows, who would persuade the rose,
'And never have come near it; till the head
'Bows and the heart breaks, and the spirit knows
'Only its failure, dim and featureless,--
'Its weariness of all things dreamed and done,
'When love and grief alike seem emptiness
'And fame and unrecognition one.'

The full tide took you, you went out with the sun,
Not in the cringing ebb, not in the grey
And tremulous twilight, when each lonely one
To its last loneliness must creep away.
Your genius has won its rich repose,
Full laurelled, wearing still the unfaded rose.
And as those who bid goodbye at snowdrop time
Bear with them broken promises of Spring,
So you in triumph,--in the glory men had in you,
In Love's full worshipping,--
High summer thoughts, untouched of Winter's rime,
Went forth with honour, having fulfilled your Spring.

The hands that built you felt you flower from her prayer,
True to her vision true;
Fearless and fine, shaped from her fashioning;
Hands empty now, and yet not all unfilled,
Having built and fired the generous heart and brain,
Of the man you were; whose fervent spirit willed
You to the service and healing and help of men.

These things are hers, not to be lost nor changed
With changes of death; for though the body die
The golden deed is stamped eternally
With the head of God. The new and alien years
Leave it still bright, unaltered, unestranged.
Almost too proud, and too profound for tears
Is the high memory that the desolate heart
Shrines and is dumb, yet may for ever keep
Unforbidden, the imperishable part,
And what Love held, awake, he holds asleep.

Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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