The Fires By Rudyard Kipling

800px-only_fires_set_in_the_barrels_are_keeping_people_warm_as_temperatures_plummeted_down_(11099190053)

Men make them fires on the hearth
Each under his roof-tree,
And the Four Winds that rule the earth
They blow the smoke to me.

Across the high hills and the sea
And all the changeful skies,
The Four Winds blow the smoke to me
Till the tears are in my eyes.

Until the tears are in my eyes
And my heart is well nigh broke
For thinking on old memories
That gather in the smoke.

With every shift of every wind
The homesick memories come,
From every quarter of mankind
Where I have made me a home.

Four times a fire against the cold
And a roof against the rain,
Sorrow fourfold and joy fourfold
The Four Winds bring again!

How can I answer which is best
Of all the fires that burn?
I have been too often host or guest
At every fire in turn.

How can I turn from any fire,
On any man’s hearthstone?
I know the wonder and desire
That went to build my own!

How can I doubt man’s joy or woe
Where’er his house-fires shine.
Since all that man must undergo
Will visit me at mine?

Oh, you Four Winds that blow so strong
And know that his is true,
Stoop for a little and carry my song
To all the men I knew!

Where there are fires against the cold,
Or roofs against the rain,
With love fourfold and joy fourfold,
Take them my songs again!

 

 

Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936. 

 

Original photograph by Ivan Bandura. 

 

 

 

 

Thistle-Down By E. Pauline Johnson

Thistledown

Beyond a ridge of pine with russet tips
The west lifts to the sun her longing lips,

Her blushes stain with gold and garnet dye
The shore, the river and the wide far sky;

Like floods of wine the waters filter through
The reeds that brush our indolent canoe.

I beach the bow where sands in shadows lie;
You hold my hand a space, then speak good-bye.

Upwinds your pathway through the yellow plumes
Of goldenrod, profuse in August blooms,

And o’er its tossing sprays you toss a kiss;
A moment more, and I see only this –

The idle paddle you so lately held,
The empty bow your pliant wrist propelled,

Some thistles purpling into violet,
Their blossoms with a thousand thorns afret,

And like a cobweb, shadowy and grey,
Far floats their down – far drifts my dream away.

 

 

E. Pauline Johnson, 1861-1913.

 

Photograph by 3268auber.

 

The Fire By Lola Ridge

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The old men of the world have made a fire
To warm their trembling hands.
They poke the young men in.
The young men burn like withes*.

If one run a little way,
The old men are wrath.
They catch him and bind him and throw him again to the flames.
Green withes burn slow…
And the smoke of the young men’s torment
Rises round and sheer as the trunk of a pillared oak,
And the darkness thereof spreads over the sky….

Green withes burn slow…
And the old men of the world sit round the fire
And rub their hands….
But the smoke of the young men’s torment
Ascends up for ever and ever.

 

Lola Ridge, 1873-1941.

Photograph by Dennis J. Kurpius.

 

* a willow twig or osier; any tough, flexible twig or stem

In the Next Yard by Helen Hoyt

O yes, you are very cunning,
I can see that:
Out there in the snow with your red cart
And your wooly grey coat
And those ridiculous
Little grey leggings!
Like a rabbit,
A demure brownie.
O yes, you are cunning;
But do not think you will escape your father and mother
And what your brothers are!
I know the pattern.
It will surely have you—
For all these elfish times in the snow—
As commonplace as the others,
Little grey rabbit.

 

Helen Hoyt, 1887-1972.

Painting: Winter Hare by Bruno Lilijefors.

Caged Skylark By Gerard Manley Hopkins

Dorothea Lange migrant farm workers

As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage
Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells –
That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age.

Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage,
Both sing sometimes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
Yet both droop deadly sometimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.

Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest –
Why, hear him, hear him babble and drop down to his nest,
But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.

Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best,
But uncumbered: meadow-down is not distressed
For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bones risen.

 

Gerard Manly Hopkins, 1944-1889.

 

Photograph by Dorothea Lange, 1895-1965.