Cicely Fox Smith

(1 February 1882 – 8 April 1954 / Lymm, Cheshire)

Old Graybeard - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

About the shaking window,
Across the bleak brown hill,
Old Graybeard wanders lonely
Beneath the starshine chill.
And ever, as he walks there,
In a thin old voice he croons
Snatches of songs forgotten
And staves of ancient tunes.

He cannot mind them rightly:
He cannot sing one through:
All his old memory clings to
Are gusty notes and few, -
A scrap of a roystering chorus,
A catch from a lost refrain,
Like ghosts of dear dead faces
Half seen in dreams again.

And best he loves to sing you
When the fire burns red and low,
Such airs as lads and lasses
Might tread to, long ago, -
And now he stirs old sorrow
And now he wakens tears,
With a lilt that the dead dance back to
Across the waste of years.

About the drowsy farmstead,
Adown the empty moor,
Old Graybeard wanders piping
And lingers by the door.
Across the fields where sadly
All night a moor-bird cries,
Old Graybeard's fitful music
In snatches wakes and dies.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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