Strange Meetings: Poems By Harold Monro (Wiltshire: Laurel Books, 2003): 60-64.
1The train! The twelve o’clock for paradise.
2 Hurry, or it will try to creep away.
3Out in the country everyone is wise:
4 We can be only wise on Saturday.
5There you are waiting, little friendly house:
6 Those are your chimney-stacks with you between,
7Surrounded by old trees and strolling cows,
8 Staring through all your windows at the green.
9Your homely floor is creaking for our tread;
10 The smiling teapot with contented spout
11Thinks of the boiling water, and the bread
12 Longs for the butter. All their hands are out
13 To greet us, and the gentle blankets seem
14 Purring and crooning: “Lie in us, and dream.”
15The key will stammer, and the door reply,
16 The hall wake, yawn, and smile; the torpid stair
17Will grumble at our feet, the table cry:
18 “Fetch my belongings for me; I am bare.”
19A clatter! Something in the attic falls.
20 A ghost has lifted up his robes and fled.
21The loitering shadows move along the walls;
22 Then silence very slowly lifts his head.
23The starling with impatient screech has flown
24 The chimney, and is watching from the tree.
25They thought us gone for ever: mouse alone
26 Stops in the middle of the floor to see.
27 Now all you idle things, resume your toil.
28 Hearth, put your flames on. Sulky kettle, boil.
29Contented evening; comfortable joys;
30 The snoozing fire, and all the fields are still:
31Tranquil delight, no purpose, and no noise–
32 Unless the slow wind flowing round the hill.
33“Murry” (the kettle) dozes; little mouse
34 Is rambling prudently about the floor.
35There’s lovely conversation in this house:
36 Words become princes that were slaves before.
37What a sweet atmosphere for you and me
38 The people that have been here left behind …
39Oh, but I fear it may turn out to be
40 Built of a dream, erected in the mind:
41 So if we speak too loud, we may awaken
42 To find it vanished, and ourselves mistaken.
43Lift up the curtain carefully. All the trees
44 Stand in the dark like drowsy sentinels.
45The oak is talkative to-night; he tells
46 The little bushes crowding at his knees
47That formidable, hard, voluminous
48 History of growth from acorn into age.
49They titter like school-children; they arouse
50 Their comrades, who exclaim: “He is very sage.”
51Look how the moon is staring through that cloud,
52 Laying and lifting idle streaks of light.
53O hark! was that the monstrous wind, so loud
54 And sudden, prowling always through the night?
55 Let down the shaking curtain. They are queer,
56 Those foreigners. They and we live so near.
57Come, come to bed. The shadows move about,
58 And someone seems to overhear our talk.
59The fire is low; the candles flicker out;
60 The ghosts of former tenants want to walk.
61Already they are shuffling through the gloom.
62 I felt an old man touch my shoulder-blade;
63Once he was married here: they love this room,
64 He and his woman and the child they made.
65Dead, dead, they are, yet some familiar sound,
66 Creeping along the brink of happy life,
67Revives their memory from under ground–
68 The farmer and his troublesome old wife.
69 Let us be going: as we climb the stairs,
70 They’ll sit down in our warm half-empty chairs.
71Morning! Wake up! Awaken! All the boughs
72 Are rippling on the air across the green.
73The youngest birds are singing to the house.
74 Blood of the world!–and is the country clean?
75Disturb the precinct. Cool it with a shout.
76 Sing as you trundle down to light the fire.
77Turn the encumbering shadows tumbling out,
78 And fill the chambers with a new desire.
79Life is no good, unless the morning brings
80 White happiness and quick delight of day.
81These half-inanimate domestic things
82 Must all be useful, or must go away.
83 Coffee, be fragrant. Porridge in my plate,
84 Increase the vigour to fulfill my fate.
85The fresh air moves like water round a boat.
86 The white clouds wander. Let us wander too.
87The whining wavering plover flap and float.
88 That crow is flying after that cuckoo.
89Look! Look! … They’re gone. What are the great trees calling?
90 Just come a little farther, by that edge
91Of green, to where the stormy ploughland, falling
92 Wave upon wave, is lapping to the hedge.
93Oh, what a lovely bank! Give me your hand.
94 Lie down and press your heart against the ground.
95Let us both listen till we understand,
96 Each through the other, every natural sound …
97 I can’t hear anything to-day, can you,
98 But, far and near: “Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!”?
99The everlasting grass–how bright, how cool!
100 The day has gone too suddenly, too soon.
101There’s something white and shiny in that pool–
102 Throw in a stone, and you will hit the moon,
103Listen, the church-bell ringing! Do not say
104 We must go back to-morrow to our work.
105We’ll tell them we are dead: we died to-day.
106 We’re lazy. We’re too happy. We will shirk.
107We’re cows. We’re kettles. We’ll be anything
108 Except the manikins of time and fear.
109We’ll start away to-morrow wandering.
110 And nobody will notice in a year …
111 Now the great sun is slipping under ground.
112 Grip firmly!–How the earth is whirling round.
113Be staid; be careful; and be not too free.
114 Temptation to enjoy your liberty
115May rise against you, break into a crime,
116 And smash the habit of employing Time.
117It serves no purpose that the careful clock
118 Mark the appointment, the officious train
119Hurry to keep it, if the minutes mock
120 Loud in your ear: “Late. Late. Late. Late again.”
121Week-end is very well on Saturday:
122 On Monday it’s a different affair–
123A little episode, a trivial stay
124 In some oblivious spot somehow, somewhere.
125 On Sunday night we hardly laugh or speak:
126 Week-end begins to merge itself in Week.
127Pack up the house, and close the creaking door.
128 The fields are dull this morning in the rain.
129It’s difficult to leave that homely floor.
130 Wave a light hand; we will return again.
131(What was that bird?) Good-bye, ecstatic tree,
132 Floating, bursting, and breathing on the air.
133The lonely farm is wondering that we
134 Can leave. How every window seems to stare!
135That bag is heavy. Share it for a bit.
136 You like that gentle swashing of the ground
137As we tread? …
138 It is over. Now we sit
139 Reading the morning paper in the sound
140 Of the debilitating heavy train.
141 London again, again. London again.
Publication Start Year
Georgian Poetry 3 (1917); Collected Poems, ed. Alida Monro, with prefaces by F. S. Flint and T. S. Eliot (London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1933): 125-29
RPO poem Editors