Cicely Fox Smith
After Preston Fight - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
Twelve o' the clock! the nightmare hours
Crawl through my brain like years;
All the hot sleepless night I hear
The rain drip down like tears, -
Hoarse challenge flung from ward to ward,
Dull tramp o' the sentry's feet,
And the dim, hungry, homeless hum
Nightlong from the restless street.
Far-ah, how far from yon hive of sin
The moorland winds are strong,
And streams from lone brown-bosomed hills
Run down with a sound like song.
Far-ah, how far!- the healing air
For which my torn heart fills, -
Under the cool dark of the sky
The dusk rest of the hills.
Hills - O my hills that I love well!
For which I hunger now
As for the face of an old friend,
Or a kind touch on my brow.
I shall not walk where dreams o' my youth
Like mists at morning cling;
I shall not hear my good hounds' cry
Mate all the uplands ring;
I shall not look on the fields I know,
The farms windy and grey, -
The little things that tug at my heart
Such leagues-such lives away!
They say when a soul goes out to God
Wide should the casements be,
Along its path to the lonely stars
To set the loosed soul free:
And-so God keep me from my death
Within these walls of stone -
Not all the powers of London town
Shall hold me from mine own.
The sty which on Tower Hill looks down
Looks on my hills also:
The winds which round this prison yearn
Are those that hillmen know.
I will turn my face to mine own country,
Mine eyes to my good North;
I will forget the shadow of death
Or ever my breath goes forth.
I shall forget the block and the bonds
And the fierce crowd looking on, -
Yea, as a pigeon hastes to its cote
My soul will leap to be gone,
From the red axe and the bloody dust
And the hot heart grown so cold,
And take its grief to the kind hills
That are old as Earth is old, -
This grief that is like a brand on the brow
And a hot wind through the brain, -
That has seared away the desire of tears
And left a dry sick pain.
I am all too weary for hope, good Lord!
It is all my tired heart's cry:
'Home, home - ah God! - to the North Country
Where I were fain to die!'
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