This poem was first published in Songs in Wiltshire (1909).
blank
I love, for pity's sake, when day
   Draws certain shadows down,
And the flickering lamps begin to play
   Like stars above the town,
To wander keen and argus-eyed,
   With a heart intent to beat,
And let my careless fancy glide
   Down the many-featured street;

So like and so various,
   So sure and precarious,
So crowded with bitter and sweet.

Here life's an open-handed book
   With a broad and ample page,
Where the prophet and the seer may look,
   The poet and the sage;
A many-woven chequered woof
   Of fancies and extremes,
With reason's want and reason's proof,
   Realities and dreams;

So like and so various,
   So sure and precarious,
A mixture of shadows and gleams.

Sweet youth, and sweeter far than all,
   The lovely laughing girls,
More beauteous than the blooms that fall
   With their roses and their curls;
Let age creep on with withered pace,
   And manhood falter by,
Mine is the glorious girlish grace
   And the maiden-sparkling eye;

So like and so various,
   So hearty, hilarious,
So openly secret and shy.

The silky rose is richly neat
   Ere the buds begin to blow,
And the meadow-lily's sweetly sweet,
   And the hawthorn on the bough;
But lovelier all than shells or whorls,
   And budded sweets that be,
Is the golden harvest of the girls
   In beauty's bloom to me;

So like and so various,
   So hearty, hilarious,
So laughingly, lovingly free.

Give wisdom to the worldly wise,
   And wealth to all that seek,
But give to me two girlish eyes
   With a rosy-blushing cheek;
Hair like a cloud of incense, blown
   O'er a beauty-breathing sky,
Or red-gold cataract streaming down
   With a dream-spun mystery;

So golden and glorious,
   So various, victorious,
A pleasure no treasure can buy.

I measure all the chequered town
   And hold it in a span,
Count wisdom's generations down,
   And reason man to man;
I care not whether young or old,
   However brave thou be,
The lovely girls are the only gold
   That glitters unto me;

So crimson, delicious,
   Aspiring ambitious,
So laughingly, lovingly free.


Poems index

Alphabetical list of poems online