S: Selections Richard Malling James Adkins Shackford
FC: Selections | Poetry JamessAdkins Shackford Photos Richard H Malling
1: Dedicated to James and Ada Shackford And my mother Martha Malling Poems from Selections-The Unpublished Poems of James Adkins Shackford If these, my memoirs, should be read 'Twere better not till I am dead: For if you praised 'Twould turn me head- 'Twould disappoint, if left unsaid: To harshly damn, with faintest praise Would lay the dead you could not raise: Or yet to praise by picking flaws Of import and smallest cause- To subtly praise with damn so faint Would make me call you what you saint: So-you would make my humor ill By speaking, or by keeping still. And I say-or have I said?- "Oh, read not here till I am dead."
2: Moods I'll lay me down by a rusing stream, I'll sing me a song to God; I'll sing me a song of the strength of the hills Of the regions of men untred. I'll lay me down by a quite stream, I'll sleep, to the world unknown. I'll dream of the Maker of beautiful things, Wild things that I call my own. I'll take me a walk by a shadowy stream, I'll think on the day's hard fight; I'll think of the peace and glory when All's over and the day wanes into night. I'll take me back to the struggle and grind, Touch to the soul, the core; I'll take me back to worldly things, But not as I was before.
5: HERE, OUT YONDER, AND SOMEWHERE Here, dawn approaches with the pale pearly lights, Long splashes of lavender lave the horizon, Grotesquely blending and floating away. The mockingbird lighted on high-floating branches Drinks in the morning, gives it forth liquidly. Blossoms are bursting, the air in its sweetness Pulsates the humming of bees at the flower. The petals of night-refreshed lilies are gilist'ning, And Peace lingers yet, for the world is asleep. | Out yonder, 'tis raining, and distant heard rumblings Approach in a startling display of white flashes. Dark is the sky overhead, dull is the earth Till heightened by spasmodic glaring to grey. Huddled in some obscure wind-break, the sparrow Twitters and droops at the coming of the dawn; Angry waters are swirling, gaping muck reaches out for it, Thickens and deepens in mud and in slush. And still Peace will loiter. The world slumbers on. | And somewhere, 'tis snowing, the flakes dropping gently, Marking the patter of myriad small feet. The tree limbs out-reaching, swaying in nakedness, Gently respond to the breath of the wind. The slumbering flowers, tucked in for the night, Dark stains are hidden, the raggedness evening. A few padded murmurs, the icy brook trickling, The squeak of a mouse caught out in the could. The world is unwaking, Peace jealously guards.
6: A dab of happiness, A scoop of pain, Baked with sunshine, Wet with rain, A day of working, Our sand-hills done, A night of storming, And all is gone A day of working, Of learning how, We seek the future, Forsake the now; Our sand dunes vanish, But where are they gone? Is today the death Or birth of dawn?
8: Truth And Hope Think not the thought of one enlightened sage, Nor wisdom yet compounded of them all, Can give thee the truth--nor age on age on age can more than trace the shadows where they fall. Oh, be not lost within the fleeting shade The sun casts down through a single passing cloud; Nor in its implications be dismayed, For little truth resides within a shroud. | Look to the sun! Nor take thy shade for light, And though the light perhaps you may not see, Reject thy wearying prophets of the night, And know the night at least for what it be. Though thus thy light be told in negatives, It leaves thee hope--the only truth that lives.
9: THE PURPLE DUSK OF TWILIGHT. The purple dusk of twilight softly falls, Enfolding all the shadows of the fields, The warming breath of day now slowly cools, Condensing all the sweetness Nature yields. Melancholy seeps through all the land To bring my weary soul the palm of peace; The death of day a moment captures life, The birth of night as quickly brings release. The chirp of sleeping birds, the cricket's chirp Trickling water, falling, far away The hour of Nature's rest from flinging stars, The perfect, perfect peace of all the day.
10: IN TERMS OF I A friend today has asked me why I write so much in terms of "I". It may be sad, but it is so, I am the only one I know. And what is sadder, truer still, The fates decree I never will. But what is saddest of the three Is that I don't know, really, me.
11: I WONDER IF THE MASTER HEARD O Mockingbird that sings at night 'Midst eerie powers of gloom and fright, Teach me thy certainty of flight And in the darkness let me dare Pour forth upon this midnight air A melody half so sure, so fair! Desciples slept. Alone and lost, Christ faced, and feared, death's mortal cost-- When, lo: Death passed, and was a ghost! I wonder if the master heard The midnight song of the Mockingbird
14: A Prayer If I should ever grow too old to dream, With patient hope, of fuller life for man-- Should cease to marvel, bathing in the Stream, On whence it came, and whence it onward ran-- If I should falter in the lovely way The spirit leads, and growing old, retreat, Adopt the easy fashion of the day, And crush the spirit's meaning to defeat; If lulled into docility by life, My truth reclines in soft conformity-- Apply ere that, O God, the pruning knife; The day before that day I wish to die. When youth grows weary, yet may I recall This simple prayer, and wonder at it all.
15: A COBWEB A tiny, fragile cobweb in the dark, Lost in some lone crevice of the night; With gossamers so frail it shrank in fear To touch the rainbow-colors of the light. I understood the hiding there alone. So tremulous, so light, so frail thou wert; For somewhere, I have known a soul like that-- That shrank in darkness from the fear of hurt.
18: OUT OF THE SHADOW Speak to me softly out of the shadow, Speak, and forever, dear, sever the veil. Mists are fast falling, and shadows appalling Are hiding the moon and thee,here in the dale. Call! I have lost thee here in the forests; Whisper the song that so long could not be. Speak to me quickly, for mists gather thickly-- Oh, speak the one word that will give you to me. Gone!, you have gone again, fled from the forest. In darkness you've left me, bereft me so soon-- But hark! Winds are brining a mystical singing. She smile! I can see her 'twixt me and the moon!
19: A BOUNDLESS NEED Let me go back to the mountain's stream In the heart of the hills again! To wet rocks, and smell of moss, And the sting of winter rain. Let me list to the torrents roar In the tempest where I have lain! And seek in the quiet of a boundless storm To assuage a boundless pain. And may I meet at the streams swift edge Some soul a-thirst as mine, And drink from the same deep well of life And drink from the same sweet vine. Then let us search for the same far light As long as our need shall blend, And follow that need to its source remote, Alone where the thirst may end. Or if some voice should beckon it. Let there be no mournful dirge: May I send that soul on some swift wind To the call of a deeper urge. For the urge of life is the source of need, And the thirst shall go unquenched If the love which sprung from Needs deep source From life's deep urge is wrenched. Ah, to go drink from a mountain's stream, Again at her breast to feed, And to seek in the quiet of a boundless storm, And to quench a boundless need!
20: WHEN THE DUSK AND THE SHADOWS HAVE VANISHED The twilight dusk comes stealing, Bringing its loneliness, Into the Valley of Shadow From out of the Wilderness. And the gloom that was only twilight Becomes as black despair; The Life of the Old breathes deeply, And death is in the air. And the bush of the mighty Blackness Throbs with a prophecy. As the eye of a stricken mute May shriek its agony. The twilight dusk moves swiftly From out of its somber den And casts a pall in the valley Where Mankind slaughters men. And the Twilight and Shadow shall mingle To shut from from the tender eye The ghastly struggle ensuing: And the Life of the Old shall die. And the tumult shall slowly slacken, And at length the fogs shall rise-- But the havoc may own no witness For the want of a pair of eyes. But if, in the fire-cleansed dawning, A glimmer of life remains, When the dusk and shadow have vanished, And the Valley is leveled in Plains, Then pride and Greed shall be broken, And love shall replace the pain When Man, in the Newer Borning, Shall be brother to Man again.