Pine, Rose and Fleur de Lis

by Susie Frances Harrison


 

TO MAURICE THOMPSON


 

                                                        I.

I wage a war with you who sang
Your song of England. That it rang

Through England, doubt not, for the song
So tender was, so sadly strong,

I surely think that long ere this,

5
The looked-for, long expected bliss

Is yours, and that they must have come
To tell you England called you home.

                                                        II.

For you on England have a claim,
’Tis meet that she should know your name,

10

The last of all her archer-race—
For you must be a trysting-place.

Surely for you a welcome waits,
Surely for you are opened gates,

And Christmas cheer, and hearth-side kiss,

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And what you value more than this,

The merry horns that roam the wood,
And rouse the merry hunting mood.

O even as I write, perchance,
Maid Marian leads you forth to dance;

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A modern Marian, well I know,
But sweet as she who bent the bow

In Sherwood once with Robin Hood.
Perchance already you have stood

Knee-deep in English grass and fern,

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And felt your arrow in its turn

Leap like a prisoner to the air,
Who had forgotten earth was fair.

Was this your dream? And have they come
To tell you England calls you home?

30

                                                        III.

And this is why I wage my war,
And this is why I sing afar

From land of pines and snowy land,
—All, all is snow on every hand,

And gray and white are all I see,

35
Or white or gray alike to me—

To one who in a warmer clime
Blows the bright bubble of his rhyme,

And plies his task with half a heart,
Standing from other men apart

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That he may sooner catch the words,
More welcome far than mating birds

In this drear north—the words that burn
With exile past and sweet return

Of English joys and games and glades,

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And merry men and modest maids—

Because his wish was also mine,
And is and always will be mine,

The wish, the hope—to end my days
In England, and with English ways

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Once more to feel a calm content,
Once more to thrill with sentiment,

Born of her myths and mystery,
Born of her wondrous history,

And of her beauty—ah! I swear

55
I know not anything more fair

In this new land of clearer skies,
Than English mists that shyly rise

From off shy streams or ivied walls.
Or cling about fair ruined halls,

60

Too fondly true to keep away,
Too truly fond too long to stay,

And O—for glimpse of English green,
I well could give my soul, I ween.

I never pulled a primrose, I,

65
But could I know that there may lie

E’en now some small and hidden seed
Below, within, some English mead,

Waiting for sun and rain to make
A flower of it for my poor sake,

70

I then could wait till winds should tell
For me there swayed or swung a bell,

Or reared a banner, peered a star,
Or curved a cup in woods afar.

A grave in England! Surely there

75
In churchyard ancient, quiet, fair,

My rest may some sweet day be found,
And I shall sleep in tranquil ground,

While English violets bloom anear,
—But who am I? And who may hear

80

My prayer, and where the friends to come
And tell me England calls me home?

                                                        IV.

I am no merry archer bold—
In sooth, I know not how to hold

A bow and arrow! This your claim,

85
O friend in Florida, to fame,

I ne’er will question. Singer too
Of noble songs! I have, ’tis true,

A little written, some things done,
But dare not hope that any one

90

Of my poor ventures e’er shall gain
The listening ear of England, fain

To know the deeds her children do
And merge her old life in our new.

                                                        V.

And shall I quarrel with you, then,

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Because I envy you the pen,

The bow and arrow? Nay, not so,
For that would ill accord with flow

Of yearning tears and brow tight clasped,
And words in swift confusion gasped,

100

Because I read your verses, friend.
Nay, why a quarrel? I but send

These lines to you that you may know
Your lines to one soul straight did go,

And dare to hope that when the boon

105
You long for comes, (and that full soon

I know must be, and they will come
To tell you England calls you home)

You will remember when you see
A pale new primrose deck the lea,

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How one who lives in northern lands,
Would pluck the same with trembling hands,

And meanwhile wonder how she dare,
If she were there—if she were there!

                                                        VI.

And now I charge you, when the call

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Rings in your ears and down you fall

Only to rise with hastening feet
And press towards the ocean sweet,

No more a barrier but a bridge,
And later, when you see the ridge

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Of English land low-lying white,
Or Welsh hills topped with quivering light—

See that you faint not, let your heart
Full thankful be that yet a part

In England’s history you can play,

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That England needs her son to-day.

                                                        VII.

My words are vain. I know ere this
The looked-for, long expected bliss

Is yours and that they must have come
To tell you England calls you home.

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