Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MOTLEY, by WALTER JOHN DE LA MARE



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MOTLEY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Come, death, I'd have a word with thee
Last Line: Tis time thy prayers were said!
Alternate Author Name(s): Ramal, Walter; De La Mare, Walter
Variant Title(s): The Fool Rings His Bells
Subject(s): World War I; First World War


Come, Death, I'd have a word with thee;
And thou, poor Innocency;
And Love -- a Lad with broken wing;
And Pity, too:
The Fool shall sing to you,
As Fools will sing.

Ay, music hath small sense,
And a tune's soon told,
And Earth is old,
And my poor wits are dense;
Yet have I secrets, -- dark, my dear,
To breathe you all. Come near.
And lest some hideous listener tells,
I'll ring my bells.

They are all at war! --
Yes, yes, their bodies go
'Neath burning sun and icy star
To chaunted songs of woe,
Dragging cold cannon through a mire
Of rain and blood and spouting fire,
The new moon glinting hard on eyes
Wide with insanities!

Ssh!. . . I use words
I hardly know the meaning of;
And the mute birds
Are glancing at Love
From out their shade of leaf and flower,
Trembling at treacheries
Which even in noonday cower.
Heed, heed not what I said
Of frenzied hosts of men,
More fools than I,
On envy, hatred fed,
Who kill, and die --
Spake I not plainly, then?
Yet Pity whispered, 'Why?'

And Death -- no ears hath. He hath supped where creep
Eyeless worms in hush of sleep;
Yet, when he smiles, the hand he draws
Athwart his grinning jaws --
Faintly the thin bones rattle, and -- there, there!
Hearken how my bells in the air
Drive away care!. . .

Nay, but a dream I had
Of a world all mad.
Not simple happy mad like me,
Who am mad like an empty scene
Of water and willow tree,
Where the wind hath been;
But that foul Satan-mad,
Who rots in his own head,
And counts the dead,
Not honest one -- and two --
But for the ghosts they were,
Brave, faithful, true,
When, head in air,
In Earth's clear green and blue
Heaven they did share
With beauty who bade them there. . . .

There, now! Death goes --
Mayhap I've wearied him.
Ay, and the light doth dim;
And asleep's the rose;
And tired Innocence
In dreams is hence. . . .
Come, Love, my lad,
Nodding that drowsy head,
'Tis time thy prayers were said!





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