Week-End By Harold Monro

Week-End

I
The train! The twleve o’clock for paradise.
Hurry, or it will try to creep away.
Out in the country every one is wise:
We can be only wise on Saturday.
There you are waiting, little friendly house:
Those are your chimney-stacks with you between
Surrounded by old trees and strolling cows,
Staring through all your windows at the green.
Your homely floor is creaking for our tread;
The smiling tea-pot with contented spout
Thinks of the boiling water, and the bread
Longs for the butter. All their hands are out
To greet us, and the gentle blankets seem
Purring and crooning: ‘Lie in us, and dream.’

II
The key will stammer, and the door reply,
The hall wake, yawn, and smile; the torpid stair
Will grumble at our feet, the table cry:
‘Fetch my bolongings for me; I am bare.’
A clatter! something in the attic falls,
A ghost has lifted up his robes and fled.
Then silence very slowly lifts his head.
The starling with impatient screech has flown
The chimney, and is watching from the tree.
They thought us gone for ever: mouse alone
Stops in the middle of the floor to see.
Now all you idle things, resume your toil.
Hearth, put your flames on. Sulky kettle, boil.

III
Contented evening; comfortable joys;
The snoozing fire, and all the fields are still:
Tranquil delight, no purpose, and no noise —
Unless the slow wind flowing round the hill.
‘Murry’ (the kettle) dozes; little mouse
Is rambling prudently about the floor.
There’s lovely conversation in this house:
Words become princes that were slaves before.
What a sweet atmosphere for you and me
The people that have been here left behind. . . .
Oh, but I fear it may turn out to be
Built of a dream, erected in the mind:
So if we speak too loud, we may awaken
To find it vanished, and ourselves mistaken.

IV
Lift up the curtain carefully. All the trees
Stand in the dark like drowsy sentinels.
The oak is talkative to-night; he tells
The little bushes crowding at his knees
That formidable, hard, voluminous
History of growth from acord into age.
They titter like school-children; they arouse
Their comrades, who exclaim: ‘ He is very sage. ‘
Look how the moon is staring through that cloud,
Laying and lifting idle streaks of light.
O hark! was that the monstrous wind, so loud
And sudden, prowling always through the night?
Let down the shaking curtain. They are queer,
Those foreigners. They and we live so near.

V
Come, come to bed. The shadows move about,
And some one seems to overhear our talk.
The fire is low; the candles flicker out;
The ghosts of former tenants want to walk.
Already they are shuffling through the gloom.
I felt on old man touch my shoulder-blade;
Once he was married here; they love this room,
He and his woman and the child they made.
Dead, dead, they are, yet some familiar sound,
Creeping along the brink of happy life,
Revives their memory from under ground —
The farmer and his troublesome old wife.
Let us be going: as we climb the stairs,
They’ll sit down in our warm half-empty chairs.

VI
Morning! Wake up! Awaken! All the boughs
Are rippling on the air across the green.
The youngest birds are singing to the house.
Blood of the world! — and is the country clean?
Disturb the precinct. Cool it with a shout.
Sing as you trundle down to light the fire.
Turn the encumbering shadows tumbling out,
And fill the chambers with a new desire.
Life is no good, unless the morning brings
White happiness and quick delight of day.
These half-inanamate domestic things
Must all be useful, or must go away.
Coffee, be fragrant. Porridge in my plate,
Increase the vigour to fulfil my fate.

VII
The fresh air moves like water round a boat.
The white clouds wander. Let us wander too.
The whining, wavering plover flap and float.
That crow is flying after that cuckoo.
Look! Look! . . . They’re gone. What are the great trees calling?
Just come a little farther, by that edge
Of green, to where the stormy ploughland, falling
Wave upon wave, is lapping to the hedge.
Oh, what a lovely bank! Give me your hand.
Lie down and press your heart against the ground.
Let us both listen till we understand,
Each through the other, every natural sound. . . .
I can’t hear anything to-day, can you,
But, far and near: ‘ Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo! ‘ ?

VIII
The everlasting grass — how bright, how cool!
The day has gone too suddenly, too soon.
There’s something white and shiny in that pool —
Throw in a stone, and you will hit the moon.
Listen, the church-bell ringing! Do not say
We must go back to-morrow to our work.
We’ll tell them we are dead: we died to-day.
We’re lazy. We’re too happy, We will shirk,
We’re cows. We’re kettles. We’ll be anything
Except the manikins of time and fear.
We’ll start away to-morrow wandering,
And nobody will notice in a year. . . .
Now the great sun is slipping under ground.
Grip firmly! — How the earth is whirling round!

IX
Be staid; be careful; and be not too free.
Temptation to enjoy your liberty
May rise against you, break into a crime,
And smash the habit of employing Time.
It serves no purpose that the careful clock
Mark the appointment, the officious train
Hurry to keep it, if the minutes mock
Loud in you ear: ‘Late. Late. Late. Late again.’
Week-end is very well on Saturday:
On Monday it’s a different affair —
A little episode, a trivial stay
In some oblivious spot somehow, somewhere.
On Sunday night we hardly laugh or speak:
Week-end begins to merges itself in Week.

X
Pack up the house, and close the creaking door.
The fields are dull this morning in the rain.
It’s difficult to leave that homely floor.
Wave a light hand; we will return again.
(What was that bird?) Good-bye, ecstatic tree,
Floating, bursting, and breathing on the air.
The lonely farm is wondering that we
Can leave. How every window seems to stare!
That bag is heavy. Share it for a bit.
You like that gentle swashing of the ground
As we tread ? . . .
It is over. Now we sit
Reading the morning paper in the sound
Of the debilitating heavy train.
London again, again. London again.

Share:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.