Poet Andrew Lang & His Poems

Poet Andrew Lang was Poet, critic and writer Andrew Lang was born in Selkirk in 1844 and had many interests that ranged from folklore and psychic phenomena to the Greek classics and journalism. Although not coming from an exceedingly well to do family for the time, and being the oldest child of eight, Lang did benefit from a good education and went onto become one of the most prolific writers Scotland has ever produced.

Andrew Lang Poems

He attended grammar school in his home town of Selkirk before going to the Edinburgh Academy and earning a place at the prestigious University of St Andrews. From there he went on to Oxford where he further studied the classics such as Homer as well as the poetry of France. By this time he was also writing his own compositions and his first published effort in 1872 went under the title of Ballads and Lyrics of Old France. Lang finally died at the age of 68 in 1912 whilst living in Banchory, Aberdeenshire.

 

Andrew Lang Poems

A highly valuable chain of thoughts

A Scot to Jeanne D’Arc

Aesop

 

Ballades II – Of the Book-Hunter

IN torrid heats of late July,
In March, beneath the bitter bise,
He book-hunts while the loungers fly,
He book-hunts, though December freeze;
In breeches baggy at the knees,
And heedless of the public jeers,
For these, for these, he hoards his fees,—
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs.No dismal stall escapes his eye,
He turns o’er tomes of low degrees,
There soiled romanticists may lie,
Or Restoration comedies;
Each tract that flutters in the breeze
For him is charged with hopes and fears,
In mouldy novels fancy sees
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs.With restless eyes that peer and spy,
Sad eyes that heed not skies nor trees,
In dismal nooks he loves to pry,
Whose motto evermore is Spes!
But ah! the fabled treasure flees;
Grown rarer with the fleeting years,
In rich men’s shelves they take their ease,—
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs!ENVOYPrince, all the things that tease and please,—
Fame, hope, wealth, kisses, cheers, and tears,
What are they but such toys as these,—
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs?

Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

Ballades III – Of Blue China

THERE’S a joy without canker or cark,
There ’s a pleasure eternally new,
’T is to gloat on the glaze and the mark
Of china that ’s ancient and blue;
Unchipp’d, all the centuries through
It has pass’d, since the chime of it rang,
And they fashion’d it, figure and hue,
In the reign of the Emperor Hwang.
These dragons (their tails, you remark,
Into bunches of gillyflowers grew),—
When Noah came out of the ark,
Did these lie in wait for his crew?
They snorted, they snapp’d, and they slew,
They were mighty of fin and of fang,
And their portraits Celestials drew
In the reign of the Emperor Hwang.Here ’s a pot with a cot in a park,
In a park where the peach-blossoms blew,
Where the lovers eloped in the dark,
Lived, died, and were changed into two
Bright birds that eternally flew
Through the boughs of the may, as they sang;
’T is a tale was undoubtedly true
In the reign of the Emperor Hwang.ENVOYCome, snarl at my ecstasies, do,
Kind critic; your “tongue has a tang,”
But—a sage never heeded a shrew
In the reign of the Emperor Hwang.
Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

Ballades IV – Of Life

SAY, fair maids, maying
In gardens green,
In deep dells straying,
What end hath been
Two Mays between
Of the flowers that shone
And your own sweet queen?—
“They are dead and gone!”Say, grave priests, praying
In dule and teen,
From cells decaying
What have ye seen
Of the proud and mean,
Of Judas and John,
Of the foul and clean?—
“They are dead and gone!”Say, kings, arraying
Loud wars to win,
Of your manslaying
What gain ye glean?
“They are fierce and keen,
But they fall anon,
On the sword that lean,—
They are dead and gone!”ENVOYThrough the mad world’s scene
We are drifting on,
To this tune, I ween,
“They are dead and gone!”

Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

Ballades V – Of His Choice of a Sepulchre

HERE I ’d come when weariest!
Here the breast
Of the Windberg’s tufted over
Deep with bracken; here his crest
Takes the west,
Where the wide-winged hawk doth hover.

Silent here are lark and plover;
In the cover
Deep below, the cushat best
Loves his mate, and croons above
O’er their nest,
Where the wide-winged hawk doth hover.

Bring me here, Life’s tired-out guest,
To the blest
Bed that waits the weary rover,—
Here should failure be confest;
Ends my quest,
Where the wide-winged hawk doth hover!

ENVOY

Friend, or stranger kind, or lover,
Ah, fulfil a last behest,
Let me rest
Where the wide-winged hawk doth hover!

Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

Les Roses de Sâdi

This morning I vowed I would bring thee my roses,
They were thrust in the band that my bodice encloses;
But the breast-knots were broken, the roses went free.
The breast-knots were broken; the roses together
Floated forth on the wings of the wind and the weather,
And they drifted afar down the streams of the sea.
And the sea was as red as when sunset uncloses;
But my raiment is sweet from the scent of the roses,
Thou shalt know, love, how fragrant a memory can be.
Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

Melville and Coghill – The Place Of The Little Hand

DEAD, with their eyes to the foe,
Dead, with the foe at their feet;
Under the sky laid low
Truly their slumber is sweet,
Though the wind from the Camp of the
Slain Men blow,
And the rain on the wilderness beat.Dead, for they chose to die
When that wild race was run;
Dead, for they would not fly,
Deeming their work undone,
Nor cared to look on the face of the sky,
Nor loved the light of the sun.Honor we give them and tears,
And the flag they died to save,
Rent from the raid of the spears,
Wet from the war and the wave,
Shall waft men’s thoughts through the dust of the years,
Back to their lonely grave!
Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

On Calais Sands

ON Calais Sands the gray began,
Then rosy red above they gray;
The morn with many a scarlet van
Leaped, and the world was glad with May!
The little waves along the bay
Broke white upon the shelving strands;
The sea-mews flitted white as they
On Calais Sands!

On Calais Sands must man with man
Wash honor clean in blood to-day;
On spaces wet from waters wan
How white the flashing rapiers play,—
Parry, riposte! and lunge! The fray
Shifts for a while, then mournful stands
The Victor: life ebbs fast away
On Calais Sands!

On Calais Sands a little space
Of silence, then the plash and spray,
The sound of eager waves that ran
To kiss the perfumed locks astray,
To touch these lips that ne’er said “Nay,”
To dally with the helpless hands,
Till the deep sea in silence lay
On Calais Sands!

Between the lilac and the may
She waits her love from alien lands;
Her love is colder than the clay
On Calais Sands!

Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

Romance

MY Love dwelt in a Northern land.
A gray tower in a forest green
Was hers, and far on either hand
The long wash of the waves was seen,
And leagues on leagues of yellow sand,
The woven forest boughs between!

And through the silver Northern night
The sunset slowly died away,
And herds of strange deer, lily-white,
Stole forth among the branches gray;
About the coming of the light,
They fled like ghosts before the day!

I know not if the forest green
Still girdles round that castle gray;
I know not if the boughs between
The white deer vanish ere the day;
Above my Love the grass is green,
My heart is colder than the clay!

Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

San Terenzo

MID April seemed like some November day,
When through the glassy waters, dull as lead,
Our boat, like shadowy barques that bear the dead,
Slipped down the long shores of the Spezian bay,
Rounded a point,—and San Terenzo lay
Before us, that gay village, yellow and red,
The roof that covered Shelley’s homeless head,—
His house, a place deserted, bleak and gray.
The waves broke on the doorstep; fishermen
Cast their long nets, and drew, and cast again.
Deep in the ilex woods we wandered free,
When suddenly the forest glades were stirred
With waving pinions, and a great sea bird
Flew forth, like Shelley’s spirit, to the sea!

Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

Scythe Song

MOWERS, weary and brown, and blithe,
What is the word methinks ye know,
Endless over-word that the Scythe
Sings to the blades of the grass below?
Scythes that swing in the grass and clover,
Something, still, they say as they pass;
What is the word that, over and over,
Sings the Scythe to the flowers and grass?

Hush, ah hush, the Scythes are saying,
Hush, and heed not, and fall asleep;
Hush, they say to the grasses swaying;
Hush, they sing to the clover deep!
Hush—’t is the lullaby Time is singing—
Hush, and heed not, for all things pass;
Hush, ah hush! and the Scythes are swinging
Over the clover, over the grass!

Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

The Odyssey

AS one that for a weary space has lain
Lull’d by the song of Circe and her wine
In gardens near the pale of Proserpine,
Where that Aeaean isle forgets the main,
And only the low lutes of love complain,
And only shadows of wan lovers pine–
As such an one were glad to know the brine
Salt on his lips, and the large air again–
So gladly from the songs of modern speech
Men turn, and see the stars, and feel the free
Shrill wind beyond the close of heavy flowers,
And through the music of the languid hours
They hear like Ocean on a western beach
The surge and thunder of the Odyssey.
Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

Three Portraits of Prince Charles

1731

BEAUTIFUL face of a child,
Lighted with laughter and glee,
Mirthful, and tender, and wild,
My heart is heavy for thee!

1744

Beautiful face of a youth,
As an eagle poised to fly forth
To the old land loyal of truth,
To the hills and the sounds of the North:
Fair face, daring and proud,
Lo! the shadow of doom, even now,
The fate of thy line, like a cloud,
Rests on the grace of thy brow!

1773

Cruel and angry face,
Hateful and heavy with wine,
Where are the gladness, the grace,
The beauty, the mirth that were thine?

Ah, my Prince, it were well,—
Hadst thou to the gods been dear,—
To have fallen where Keppoch fell,
With the war-pipe loud in thine ear!
To have died with never a stain
On the fair White Rose of Renown,
To have fallen, fighting in vain,
For thy father, thy faith, and thy crown!
More than thy marble pile,
With its women weeping for thee,
Were to dream in thine ancient isle,
To the endless dirge of the sea!
But the Fates deemed otherwise;
Far thou sleepest from home,
From the tears of the Northern skies,
In the secular dust of Rome.
A city of death and the dead,
But thither a pilgrim came,
Wearing on weary head
The crowns of years and fame:
Little the Lucrine lake
Or Tivoli said to him,
Scarce did the memories wake
Of the far-off years and dim,
For he stood by Avernus’ shore.
But he dreamed of a Northern glen,
And he murmured, over and o’er,
“For Charlie and his men:”
And his feet, to death that went,
Crept forth to St. Peter’s shrine,
And the latest Minstrel bent
O’er the last of the Stuart line.

Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

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