COLLECTED POEMS

 


 

 

 

COLLECTED POEMS

 

BY

­

 

FRANCES ANN ROPER

 


SPRING FRAGMENT

                                                                        Written when aged 13.

 

On an early day in April when the forest dons her robe

Of gold and white, of emerald and blue,

I was sitting in the shade

Of a beech tree in a glade

Where the dancing glancing sunlight flickered tremulously through.

All the forest was a-singing,

And the fairy bells were ringing,

For the joy of winter passed again, and life begun anew.

 

A stream ran babbling by me, with its banks all overhung

With grasses, and forget-me-nots, and fern.

And it sang its song of praise

To the sun, whose glinting rays

Every tiny, gleaming dewdrop to a diamond seemed to turn.

And it tumbled down the hill

Laughing, leaping, never still,

Till - - - - - - - - - - [unfinished]


TO MY FATHER, ARTHUR JOHN HUBBARD M.D.

                                                                        Written when about 15.

 

A doctor, gentle in his ways, was he.

“A thorough gentleman", the poor folk said.

As welcome was his face by the sick bed

As to a tired child its mother's knee.

His smile the brightest you could wish to see,

Before its magic every trouble fled.

The patients listened for his quiet tread

And trustingly obeyed all his decree.

Though wise and skilful when the need arose

Yet he could throw all care aside at will,

And be a merry schoolboy when he chose.

'Tie said it was a pleasure to be ill

To see him come.  Ah, no one ever knows

Who has not felt the wonder of his skill.

 


PUTNEY CHURCH BELLS FROM

ALL SAINTS CHURCHYARD, FULHAM

 

Over the river the bells are ringing - ringing

High overhead all aeroplane winging – winging.

'Tis Peace and War in a breath combined,

The bells sweet peace bring back to our mind ­–

Of war does the aeroplane us remind ­–

Where the arrows of Death are stinging - stinging.

 

Over the bridge the trams are plying - plying

Around my feet the dead are lying - lying.

What wreck they of trouble and care?

They breathe a purer, happier air ­–

Lord, save my soul to be with Thee there

Safe, on Thy Love relying - relying.

 

Low o'er the roofs the sun is sinking - sinking,

High in the dusk the stars are winking - winking,

I have seen shrapnel bursting over the town

Like a shower of red stars coming siltering down,

They are stars from the Ruler of Terrors' own crown

To those who his death-cup are drinking - drinking.

 

Lord, send Thine Angels down to us gliding - gliding,

Let then watch o'er us in danger abiding - biding.

Over the water the bells have ceased ringing,

In the pure evening air no aeroplanes winging,

Only the sound of the choir sweetly singing,

Lord, keep Thine Hand on us guiding - guiding

                                                Written while at school.       3rd February, 1918.


FOR MY MOTHER’S BIRTHDAY, OCTOBER 28th

FESTIVAL OF ST. SIMON AND ST. JUDE

                                                                        Written when aged 20.

 

Some may revel in the beauty of the hillside in the spring,

Where the cowslips and the bluebells and the graceful foxgloves swing,

And the wind sings up the valley for the world's awakening        

But give me the bracken,

The glorious, sunburnt bracken,

The bracken on the hillside

In October.

 

Some may glory in the riches of the summer in its prime,

As we wander o'er the hillside 'mid the clumps of scented thyme,

While the forest glades are dreaming in the drowsy summer time

But give me the colours,

The burnished autumn colours,

And the sunset o'er the forest

In October.

 

The morning mists are scattering ere the day is well begun,

The dewdrop-spangled gossamers are sparkling in the sun,

Brown leaves are rustling underfoot, the leaves whose work is done:

Oh! Give me the country,

The glorious open country,

With its sunshine and its colours

In October.

 

St. Luke recalls the sunshine when the summer's past and gone

To cheer us when the long, cold, wintry nights are drawing on,

And his brother Saints come after him, his cheer to carry on:

So by the Holy Rood

We'll praise St. Simon and St. Jude,

The sturdy patron Saints

Of October.

 


THE SONG COMPLETED

                                                            Written when aged about 21.

 

The circling stars above us are singing in their courses

                   The great, soft harmonies of space,

And they echo and re-echo up the misty vaults of Heaven

Till they sound at last within the Holiest Place.

And down on earth we hear them as the deep, pulsating silences

By which earth's petty discards all are drowned,

For throughout unnumbered centuries, and out towards Eternity

The voices of the stars for ever sound

Singing, "Glory, Praise, and Honour to Jehovah High, Who made us,

Who shall hold us in our courses till the End of All Things come".

 

The Cherubim and Seraphim are singing as they hover     

In myriads round the Rainbow-circled Throne.

And the air of Heaven is quivering with the beating of their pinions       

As they chant the praises of the Lord alone.

While the great unceasing murmur of the Octaves of the Universe

Comes booming up the vast arcades of light.

Sounding deep below the shrilling, thrilling voices of the Angels,

As they answer each to other up the Height

Singing, “Glory, Praise, and Honour to Jehovah High, Who made us,

Unto Whom we render service till the End of All Things come.”

Thus the stars supply the basses, and the Angels the sopranos,

But the Last great Song will never be complete,

Till the Armies of the Ransomed come again with songs to Zion

And gather round the Great Redeemer's Feet.

For the minor tone is lacking - stars nor Angels cannot give it

For they have never known what Grief may be.

But when tears are gone for ever the remembrance will continue

And fulfil the grand completed Harmony.

Singing, “Glory to the Saviour Who redeemed us by His sufferings,

Unto Him be Praise and Worship till the End of All Things come”.

 


WORKING IN LONDON

                                                                        Written when aged 23

 

Though I work in smutty London, though I hurry to and fro

Past the Elephant, Victoria, and St. Paul’s,

There's one voice above all other

London's roar can never smother

‘Tis the voice of Father Ocean ever calls.

As I lean upon the bridges, as I watch the muddy tide

Flowing oily, dark and turbid towards the sea,

I can hear the voice raised loud

O'er the tramping of the crowd –

­'Tie the voice of Father Ocean calling me.

“Come – Come – Come!  Oh, you little London sparrow,

Can't you shake the dust from off your wings and follow down to me?

Smell the seaweed by the strand,

Hear the waves along the sand!

Leave this dirty, noisy London - Come and follow down to me!

 

Come - Come - Come - Trust yourself upon my bosom,

I'll show you lands of far-away you'd sell your soul to see:

I will show you things you've read of

Things you've thought of, things you've dreamed of,

Things you've longed through all your life to know, but dared not hope to see".


ARCHAEOLOGICAL CAMP ON CHANCTONBURY

            Summer, 1927­

 

“To camp! To camp! My relatives all!

Now gather ye quickly, great, and small!”

The doctor's brother has sent out the call.

And now they come, each hastening guest,

From north and south, from east and west.

There's Nunkie from Beckenham, merry and glad,

And Bill from Altrincham, silent and sad,

There's Bas from Bournemouth out for a spree,

And Nan and Murgatroyd, gay as can be.

The doctor's brother the leader is he,

In sooth a goodly companie.

Never, I ween was a merrier scene,

Nor less fit for the doctor from grave Little Dean!

 

For Nunkie thinks - he'll supply the drinks,

And he is a connoisseur all the world knows.

Cherry brandy and Swedish punch,

And ale to drink at dinner and lunch.

Such taste he has - such judgement he shows,

And ever the cup convivial flows.

 

“Now pledge thee, pledge thee, doctor dear!

twere shame to be teetotaller here!”

They urge him on with many a jest

Till his good resolutions join the rest

Of the paving stones on the way to hell!

They fill up his glass, and they fill it well.

 

'twas cherry brandy was his undoing,

For he did as he saw his daughter doing.

She pledged him once, she pledged him twice,

She drank as a lady ought not to drink.

They agreed cherry brandy was awfully nice

­Of consequences they ne’er stopped to think.

 


THE BALLAD OF THE SOAP STEW

                                                            Archaeological Camp. Chanctonbury, 1927.

 

Nan, the chauffeur, returned with the car,

She had been driving near and far.

Her face was dirty, her hands ‘were the same

And into the caravan she came.

A morsel of soap was all her plea

For in sooth a cleanly soul was she.

 

Murgatroyd stood by the caravan stove

Cooking the savoury stew we love.

“A boon, my lady, a boon I crave

For I am as dirty as I can be

A morsel of soap myself to lava

Ere I sit down to dine with thee!”

 

Murgatroyd was rather annoyed,

“Go seek it yourself”, she said, said she.

Nan turned to look in the usual nook

But no morsel of soap her eyes could see.

“No soap is here”, she said with a tear,

“So dirty I stay, on misery me!”

 

Then - there's a cry and a shout, and a deuce of a rout

And nobody seems to know what they're about.

Murgatroyd's kneeling and hunting and feeling

The holes and the corners, the walls and the ceiling.

Nan has the caravan turned inside out,

She picks up the kettle and peeps up the spout.

But no - there's no hope, they can't find the soap

And Murgatroyd vows that when Nan hadn't twigged it

Some one of the men-folk had popped in and prigged it.

 

Now here's a to-do, it's twenty to two,

And dinner is timed for half-past one.

Nan's head is not clear, but she gets an idea

(A thing she seldom is known to have done)

“It can't be true, but look in the stew,

It may be there that the soap has gone”.

Murgatroyd rose with a dignified look

And off the saucepan lid she took.

With holy anger and pious frown

She prods the cooking fork up and down.

Till at last, just when they'd given up hope

The fork produced the redoubtable soap!

 

They served that stew with never a word,

The sounds of eating alone were heard.

The men declared how well they had fared

‘Twas food for the gods they all averred,

Some more the next day was their only hope.

‘Twas not till after, with shouting and laughter

They learned that the flavouring was good Windsor soap.


THE DAUGHTER WHO NEVER CAME

 

Jennifer June

Watching the moon,

What are you thinking of

Jennifer June?

 

Jennifer June

Hearing you croon

Brings my dreams back to me

Jennifer June.

 

Jennifer June

Time will pass soon,

Knowledge and tears will come

Jennifer June.

 

Jennifer June,

Grant me this boon

Keep my heart young with yours,

Jennifer June.

 


GRANNIE

 

Eyes like pools of amaranth blue

Hair a glory of silver curls,

Dresden china lady are you,

With dainty colouring fresh as a girl's.

 

Hearts a many and hopes no less

Full oft have lain ‘neath your gentle thrall,

You set them aside, with a light caress

Till one you selected among them all.

 

Yours is the charm of days long past

Wafting down like a soft perfume,

Passing unspoiled through life's rough blast,

Ever sweet as lavender bloom.

 

Whom the gads love die young 'tis said,

Young in heart though the years glide by.

Such is yours through the time that's sped

­Youth unending awaits on high.

 


FRAGMENTS FROM A VOYAGE ROUND SOUTH

AMERICA BY CARGO STEAMER

 

The dust was in our nostrils and the chaff was in our eyes,

As we stared and stared again.

For the thunder of machinery was throbbing in the heat

‘Mid the whirring of the carrier belts, and ceaseless streams of wheat,

On their way to far-off continents for unknown men to eat;

In the Palace of the Great God Grain.

… … … … … … …

Grain Elevators at Bahia Blanca, Argentine.

 

So we came to a land like our own again

But where Southern breakers curled,

And we felt we had wandered home again

On that far-off edge of the world.

Then on we sped where Magellan led

And ever the wind blew harder; -

­Past that desolate coast no chart can boast –

Tierra Inesplorada.

… … … … … … …

The Falkland Islands and Straits of Magellan.

 

A gravid sea - a turbid sea -­

Unlike the crisp Atlantic,

Where waters teem with myriad life,

Where bird and beast and fish are rife,

Engaged in fierce and hungry strife

Amid its swells gigantic.

Volcanic dust hangs in the air,

In brilliant hues the sunsets flare ­

Abeam the Andes tower;

Aye and anon athwart the shroud

Of billowing mist and swirling shroud

Is glimpsed the outline vast and proud

Of mighty Aconcagua.

… … … … … … …

The Pacific on the West Coast.

 

Cities of desolation - dead in their sun-scorched pride,

Where the bones of their erstwhile owners lie bleaching far and wide,

Where the dust arises and stifles at every labouring breath,

And the air is heavy and sickly with the lingering scent of death.

… … … … … … …

The Ruined Cities of the Incas, Peru.

 

Thy solid earth is fair, Oh Lord, for man to end his days,

But on Thy sea, I pray Thee Lord, ordain my youthful ways.

Thou hast placed the salt within my veins, my life-blood's rank with brine,

And leaps in rapturous response to those wide seas of Thine.

Come weather fair or weather foul, I love it all the same ­

I feel Thee nearer than on land, and praise Thy sacred Name.

And when the voyage ends and I step safe again on shore,

My only prayer is this “Oh Lord, send me to sea once more J.”

… … … … … … …

The return.

 


SUSSEX BORN

Just a little English garden in a leafy Sussex lane –

I have known it since my childhood in the sunshine and the rain.

Up the path there stands the cottage, with its thatch so old and worn,

I can see the little window of the room where I was born.

 

Dad and Granddad both were born there, and their fathers too, I'm told,

Though they're lying now so peaceful ‘neath the ancient churchyard mould.

And now I've wandered home again, the last of all my line,

For since my old Dad died last fall, this little plot is mine.

 

I've made a pile of money, bought the mansion up the hill

Where old Sir Jocelyn used to live, who used poor Dad so ill.

Strange how Fortune's wheel in turning brings such change to one and all,

Now his son is driving lorries, while I'm Master of the Hall.

 

I can see my old Mam sitting by that humble cottage door  -

At the Hall my wife is busy planning parties by the score.

Mam wrote me that the Hall was bought by some “toff” oversea,

And I’m on my way to tell her now that that same “toff” is me.

 

My children will be “gentlefolk”, or so my wife has planned,

But I was barn a commoner, my roots are in the land.

I'm humble born and humble bred, whate'er my kids may be,

And this tiny Sussex homestead's worth the world and all to me.

 


PITY THE POOR RECORDER

 

Oh, who would be a Recorder

In an Archaeological Camp?

It looks an easy job, I admit

As to and fro o'er the cuttings I flit

Steel tape and note-book all complete,

Getting the writer's cramp.

They call me here, they call me there

My name resounds o'er the Downland air,

I seem to be wanted everywhere,

I skip around like a startled hare -

Recording Mullusca and checking up bone –

Scraps I’d much rather they'd left alone –

Measuring length and width and length

Using up the last of my strength.

While I am busy in section ‘B’

They yell for me over in ‘GGG’

Shouting “Recorder” - again “Recorder”

Till I feel I'm approaching insanity's border.

I wade in specimens up to the knees,

And go down gasping “Peg it please”.

 

The post-holes soon appear apace,

And I'm never given a moment's grace

To get the darn things recorded.

I ramble off into λ and β

Trying to keep my catalogue neater,

But when they continue to ή and θ

I feel that anything else is sweeter

Than the lot of the poor Recorder.

They remove my baulk lines, break my pegs –

Then grouse if I keep them waiting

While I measure and measure again and again

With diligence unabating.

In my keenness to get my measurements right

I fall in a post hole out of sight.

I am hauled out bruised on elbows and knees

And pass out murmuring “Peg it please”.

 

And what's the reward of all my toil

And the myriad notes I jot?

My reward is a morsel of base or rim

Of guaranteed Iron Age Pot.

My failing energies swift rebound

As soon as a morsel of Pot is found.

We all down tools and cluster round

The discoverer of the Pot.

“Is it A, or B, or C”, we cry

While the Experts study with knowing eye

That tiny fragment of Pot.

And now in my glory I bustle round

Feeling my efforts at last are crowned.

The length and width and depth are found

The exact position and type of ground

Whence came that morsel of Pot.

And my cry rings out o'er the Downland breeze

O’er the placid turf and the distant trees,

My signature tune of “Peg it please”.

 

Archaeological Camp on the Caburn, 1937


POLAND - SEPTEMBER 1939

                                                             

The Northern hills of Poland

Are littered with her slain.

The smoke of shattered cities

Rolls o'er her southern plain.

Her country is a shambles

Wracked with her people's cries –

­But the valiant soul of Poland

Shall yet unconquered rise.

 

The Wolf of Central Europe –

­The grisly Russian Beast,

Consort in league unholy

To share the longed-for feast.

From eastward and from westward

They rush upon the prize

But the Eagle Crest of Poland

Shall yet again arise.

The Heroes of her history

Swantopolk the Great –

The mighty Sobieski ­–

They know her bitter fate.

And as of old they raised her

And built her proud and strong,

So now their souls are pleading

“How long, Oh Lord, how long?”

 

Awhile her pride and freedom

Are trampled in the mire,

But still her age-old spirit

Doth heaven-ward aspire.

Once more the dawn shall greet her

And blazon to the skies –

The unconquered soul of Poland

Shall yet triumphant rise.

 


SALUTE TO POLAND

By Frances Roper

 

Five years ago in Poland

The land was strewn with slain.

The smoke of shattered cities

Rolled o'er her central plain.

Her country was a shambles

Racked with her people's cries :­-

But the valiant soul of Poland

Shall yet unconquered rise.

 

The Wolf of Central Europe

The grisly German Beast

Advanced in hordes unholy

To seize the longed-for feast.

In pestilential legions

They rushed upon the prize:-

­But the Eagle Crest of Poland

Shall yet again arise.

 

The heroes of her history,

Swantopolk the Great -­

The mighty Sobieski -­

They see her bitter fate.

And as of old they raised her

And built her proud and strong,

So now their souls are pleading -

"How long, oh Lord, how long?

 

Awhile her pride and freedom

Are trampled in the mire,

But still her age-old spirit

Doth heavenward aspire.

Once more the dawn shall greet her,

And, blazoned to the skies,

The unconquered soul of Poland

Shall yet triumphant rise.

8 Stoke Abbott Court

                                                                                                   Worthing

 


THE WARDEN

Twenty five years ago

 

When the shells began to fall

He marched with pride at his comrades' side,

As he answered his Country's call.

His blood was young and eager,

His heart was light and gay ­

But none foresaw what lay before

Ere he passed again that way.

 

He passed through the blare of battle  

He passed through the Flanders mud -­

Through shock and shell, till the gates of Hell

Were stained with his own bright blood.

Yet he lived - while his friends around him

Passed on to the Great Unknown.

But the strain he bore and the sights he saw

Were graved on his heart like stone.

 

And now he reports for duty

Once more at his Country's call,

Though his hair is grey, and his youthful day

Is vanished beyond recall.

With his new steal helmet and gas mask

He braves the dark and the rain

With a heart as high as in days gone by –

For he's serving his Country again.

 

Mrs. F. A.

                                                                                    October 1939

THE LAST MOORING.

                                                By. F. A. Roper.

 

No honest tempest nor gallant gale

Sent them to their last, dark mooring.

Too long did they brave the wind and the wave

To fear the hurricane's lowering.

From under the surge came the unseen death ­

The enemy’s craven stroke,

That bowed them at length in their pride and their strength ­

Courageous and Royal Oak.

 

They have sunk through the murk of the steely gloom

Where the dead ships lie beside them,

And in their womb till the Day of Doom

Their dead sons rest inside them.

 

But their names will rise in the dawning skies

For their spirit is still unbroken - ­

 

The Navy's soul is Courageous

As their heart is of Royal Oak.

                                                                                                Autumn 1939

 


THE CHRIST OF THE POLISH ROAD

A DREAM

 

By the Polish roadside I saw Him stand

Alone in that wide and derelict land.

His breast and shoulders were naked, and torn

With arrow and sword, and the Crown of Thorn

Once more, as of old, on His brow was pressed,

By pagan hands in a brutish jest.

His hands and His feet were bound amain

With shackle and bar and fetter and chain.

And ever His slaughtered Church made moan

For the Christ of the Wayside, bound and alone.

 

Then down the road with hurrying stride

Came Peter the Saint, "Ah, Lord!" he cried,

"Thou art wounded and bound, yet wait awhile,

"I am come to Thine aid.  Here are hammer and file,

"Chisel and mallet which many a mile

"I have carried. from far o'er this desolate land,

"Come, Lord. ft As he spoke, with eager hand

He guided the Christ to a humble throne

Of fallen rocks and piled-up stone

Which some giant hand in the dust had thrown.

 

As he plied the tools with impetuous zeal

I crept from the spot where I hid, to kneel

At his side by those feet whence, wounded and bound,

The Blood dripped red on the hallowed ground.

Together we toiled till the fetters broke,

And the joy of the Lord filled my heart as I woke,

For I knew when this storm of terror is o'er

That in Poland the Christ will be free once more.

 

                                                            February 1940

Published in the Catholic Gazette July 1940

 


THE SPIRIT OF THIS GENERATION

 

Alone in the ultimate gloaming

Towards the far arcades of Light,

The Spirit of This Generation

Passed on alone up the height.

From afar Saint Peter espied him

And the amethyst Gates flung wide,

To welcome the battle-worn traveller

In his blood, and his sweat, and his pride.

 

And the Spirits of Past Generations

Came hurrying down to the Gate,

While the Heavenly Janitor asked the words

Each new-arrived soul must state.

"What do ye know of Sorrow or Love -­

Achievement, or High Desire?

Let the Witnesses judge if thou be fit

For Heaven, or Hell-mouth Fire."

 

 

Then the Spirit of This Generation

Gazed round at the Heavenly Host;

And the compassing Cloud of Witnesses

Shrank back from that pale proud ghost.

"What fear could I have of Hell-mouth Fire,

Who have passed through Hell twice o'er?

I, who not once, but twice, have lived

Through the gory Hell of War!.

 

I squandered my youth in battle ­

 ‘A war to end war' they said.

And there, 'neath the Flanders poppies

I buried my myriad dead.

They promised me Peace and Plenty - ­

 'A land fit for heroes' they said.

Starvation and unemployment

Was all my reward instead

 

Once again Hell broke loose upon me -­

This time from the shuddering skies,

Shattering cities and homesteads -­

Smothering dying cries.

I stood on the Dunkirk beaches ­-

I choked in the Libyan dust ­-

Back to the wall 1 faced them all

For the Freedom I held in trust.

 

Your trials on earth were as nothing

Compared with the griefs I knew.

Hell Fire was your greatest terror;

But after what I've been through

No Fiend of the Pit can fright me,

I have met man's worst device.

By the sweat of my soul 1 attained my goal

Though my soul was the Sacrifice."

 

And the serried cohorts of Heaven

Stood back to left and right,

As the Spirit of This Generation

Strode on to the Realms of Light.

His by the Right of Suffering,

Of sweat and blood and tears,

He passed to the Halls of his Fathers

Chiefest among his Peers.

 

 


TO  MARGERY

 

Would you play like a child in a garden

Without knowledge of love or pain?

Pass your days like a bird in the tree-tops

Spending your life in vain?

Or would you not rather God's hammer

Applied with His love and His strength

Should fashion of you some fair jewel

That will last through Eternity's length?

 

'Tis only the finest materials

The Craftsman will choose for His use –

­Sandstone will crack and crumble,

Base metals bend and fuse.

So when you have passed through the furnace

Tempered by God's own Hand,

You will join the ranks of His Great Ones

Who have suffered - and understand.

                                                                                   

May 18th 1941

 


FATE KNOCKING AT THE DOOR

 

Tap-tap-tap-Tap – Hitler listen!  Hear the quick staccato beat

That is echoing through each vassal realm and state.

Are you blinded to the V that's scratched in every conquered street?

And deafened to the knocking of inexorable Fate?

Though 'tis now a broken mutter

Captive lips dare scarcely utter,

Ere long 'twill be the stutter of machine-guns at your gate.

 

Tap-tap-tap-Tap - Hitler listen!  Don't you hear it through your dreams?

Cutting clear through all the blare and crash of War.

It is knocking there unceasing, undermining all your schemes,

The grandest, most implacable of all Beethoven's themes,

Thus the drums will beat for Victory when at last, that morning gleams -­

Rat-tat-tat-Tat - Fate knocking at the door.

 

                                                                                    7th July 1941

 

 

 


CAT AND DOG LIFE

 

Great Big Dog loved Little Bush Cat

Long ago, when the world was young;

But she fled up a tree, and she scratched and spat

As up in the boughs she clung.

And she clapper-clawed Big Dog's nice brown eyes ­

But Great Big Dog was gentle and wise,

And he did nothing - to her surprise -­

But hung out a big red tongue.

 

So Little Bush Cat grew all agog

To know why he waited there,

So she peeped through the leaves at Great Dig Dog

Then at length - though she hardly dare ­

She slipped down close to the Big Dog's side

And snuggled herself in his shaggy hide,

For she was small and the world was wide,

And she knew she could trust his care.

 

Now Great Big Dog to the war has gone,

He is chasing the Nazi rats,

And Little Bush Cat is left alone

Which is bad for Little Bush Cats.

But she'll follow her Dog to the wide world's end

For he is her dearest and best First Friend,

And she'll take whatever the Fates may send ­-

For she's off to join the A.T.S.

 

1st Aug. 1941

 


AVE ATQUE VALE

 

A Comet whirled in from Outer Space

On a track that none may know.

And his path impinged on a Planet's path

Where she circled to and fro.

Their hearts were trapped in his glittering train

And their love flared up and burnt amain

In an ecstasy that was seared with pain'

For they knew the Comet must go.

 

The Comet sped off on his lonely race

And the Planet resumed her way,

But they knew in their hearts that, by God's good grace,

They should meet again some day.

They should meet on the steps of the Golden Stair

And find their Glory together there,

'A Glory that only the Blest may share

On the Great Awakening Day.

 

Autumn 1942.

 


SALUTE TO HOLLAND

 

Oh Holland of the waterways, of high and open sky,

Of windmills, barges, bicycles, I bid you now goodbye.

Around my heart you've thrown a chain, and bound me neath your spell,

Oh, Holland of courageous soul, I bid you now farewell.

 

Your history shines with golden deeds, with grim and gallant fight

Against the sea - your ancient foe - against invader's might.

Resistance, stubborn and uncrushed, beats in your people's blood,

Resistance to the onslaught dark of enemy and flood.

 

Courteous, determined, purposeful, of gay and kindly heart,

Oh, Holland I salute you now the time has come to part.

Another feeter has been forged in friendship's golden chain,

Holland, farewell, God bless you all until we meet again.

 

 

Composed and written on board the "Oranje Nassau" during a stormy crossing on the night of 6th June 1947.

 


SONG OF THE HELSTON FURRY DANCE

 

Three thousand years ago

The Bronze Age folk danced the Dance we know,

They hung their huts with branch and bough

And they danced the Dance as we dance it now.

They invoked the gods of Sun and Rain

And prayed for increase of flocks and grain.

Their ghosts come back to dance again

When they hear the sound of the old refrain.

 

Two thousand years ago

The Britons trod the measure slow,

And British hearts remained the same

E'en when the God of the Christians came.

The Christians said that the gods were dead,

But the gods knew better and now instead

Their ghosts come back to dance again

When they hear the sound of the old refrain.

 

Years may come and years may go

Empires perish, but the Earth gods know

Life's dance done, man returns again

To the bosom of his mother 'neath the sun and rain.

But the soul lives on, though the flesh has gone

Back to the earth where it first came from.

And the spirits come to dance again

When they hear the sound of the old refrain.

 

30th Oct. 1949

 


THE AMETHYST

 

The Navy's deeds like jewels fair

Around the seas are spread,

They shine like gems in the storm-torn hair

Of England's regal head.

They glow afar round the distant main

From East to the farthest West

And the latest link in the gleaming chain

Is the brilliant Amethyst.

 

The Foundations staunch of the City of Gold

Are stones of the purest light,

Emerald, Beryl - of worth untold ­

Sapphire and Chrysolite.

And Angels tread them with songs of praise

As they haste to their Lord's behest.

Jacinth, Sardonyx, Chrysoprase ­

And the twelfth is Amethyst.

 

The souls of those who ruled the waves

Shall walk in the shining streets,

Where never a hurricane howls and raves

And never a tempest beats.

They shall look on their Admiral face to face

And share the joy of the Blest,

When they take their place at the Throne of Grace

The men of the Amethyst.

6th Nov 1949

 


El: Banwell 134                                                                                                   ‘The Hollie’s

                                                                                                                                                Sandford,

Rev. G. E. Hubbard                                                                                                                             Nr. Bristol

 

TO MY NIECE – JUDITH FRANCES HUBBARD

 

JUDITH – two hundred years and more

Of family pride and fame

Have passed, since your ancestress of yore

Was the last to bear this name.

 

de Brissac – Dickinson – Evans proud,

With Hubbards have come and gone.

‘Tis ever the woman of our blood

That carry tradition on.

 

FRANCES = for five generations past

Our women have borne this name.

Nigh thirty years, alone and the last

I held it – until you came

And now, the sixth in descending line

I pass the name to you.

Carry it proudly, niece of mine,

And treasure it fair and true.

 

Sandford,  Somerset             11th Nov. ‘49.

 

 


HYMN FOR THE Y.W.C.A.

                                    By F. A. Roper.

 

The girls of the Empire and nations far distant,

We know that in Christ we are all kith and kin.

We'll stand by each other through cloud and through sunshine.

Whatever our language or colour of skin.

From North and from South, from the Eastward and Westward

Together we join from all Parts of the world.

we lift up our voice, united as sisters

And follow the Banner of Jesus unfurled.

 

We Women hold, powers beyond men’s comprehension,

We rule o'er the home and the hearth and the heart.

We influence sweethearts and husbands and children,

We help them, or hinder, in playing their part.

So see to it, sisters, wield  our powers wisely,

The world needs our aid  in its sorrow and woe,

E'er long would mankind forget fighting and warfare

If each spread God's sunshine wherever we go.

True Service sets standards both high and exacting,

Lays claim to the best that in each of us lies,

Demands our unselfishness, love and forbearance,

While watching for Jesus our Lord in the skies.

He is coming! Look upward! Soon. soon. breaks the morning

When sorrow and weeping shall vanish away,

His Kingdom established to earth's farthest border

In Peace and Prosperity under His sway

 

Jan. 1950

 


­CHALK HILL BLUES

28th Feb. 1950

 

At the far-off Time of Beginning

When was neither Earth nor Heaven

God called up the great Archangels

And to each his task was given.

Some set the stars in their courses,

Another set fire to the Sun,

And another burnished the moonbeams

To glow when the day was done.

 

Then came the Angelic Artist

And his brush was of comet's hair,

He swept the heavens with azure

And painted the rainbow there.

Aurora Borealis

He flung from his glittering brush,

When he heard a stifled sobbing

Arise from the new earth's hush.

 

A little blue-eyed angel

Had watched the great at their task,

And he wept for his youth and weakness

And for work that he dared not ask.

And the Artist stooped from the heavens

When he saw the tear-drops fall,

"Weep not, my little brother,

"There is work enough for all”.

 

"See, when I fill my paint-brush

And splash the heavens with blue,

I will shake some drops on the Downland

And scatter them there for you.

Gather them, little brother,

And fashion them as you will ­-

These flecks of cerulean beauty

To make earth lovelier still."

 

So the happy little angel

Collected those flecks from the skies,

And with eager care and patience

He formed of them butterflies.

And ever since then he has laboured

With his scraps, of Heaven's own, hue

Fashioning there on the Downland

The exquisite Chalk Hill Blue.

 


ROUE REFORMED

1st March 1950

 

The world was all my oyster

When I was seventeen.

I loved a pretty barmaid,

The buxom, blonde Doreen.

But she grew coarse and ugly,

The beer was on her breath.

I loved her to distraction,

But she drank herself to death.

 

To save me from the barmaid

They sent me to Peru.

I wooed the dark-eyed Bella ­-

What else was there to do?

Her lover caught me at it

And chased me with a knife.

I loved her to distraction,

But I fled to save my life.

 

I fled across the ocean,

Fled westwards to Japan,

‘Neath cherry trees I loved her,

My almond-eyed Fu-San.

Her cheek was ivory satin,

Her teeth were like the pearl.

I loved her to distraction,

But - she was a Geisha Girl.

 


I've loved 'em wide world over,

From Scotland to Saigon,

America to Bali,

From China to Ceylon.

I've loved ‘em all and sundry,

They all were fair and kind,

I've loved 'em to distraction

But - I've left 'em all behind.

 

But then

I met my Nancy

And married her at last,

Confessed the peccadilloes

Of all my lurid past.

She only laughed and kissed me,

A happy man am I,

I love her to distraction

And shall do till I die.

 


THE TRIBUTE OF THE INSTRUMENTS

By Frances Ann Roper.

                        12th Dec. 1950.

Child in the Manger, what music would please Thee?

Instruments soft, sweetly tuneful and gay,

Crooning  of oboes and laughter of piccolos,

Flute-notes that sound like a fountain at play.

 

Boy in the Temple, foreknowledge of sorrow

Already casts shadows around Thy fair Head.

Violins and violas in sympathy tremble,

Clarinets and bassoons sob and whisper in dread.

 

Christ in His Ministry, teaching and healing,

Gentle and terrible, loving and stern.

Only the organ that sounds the full gamut

Alone of all instruments this can discern.

 

Christ as a Prisoner, 'cellos and basses

Mutter and shudder; while shrill in the air

Bugles and brasses, as strident as cock-crow,

Proclaim the foes' triumph in merciless blare.

Christ on the Cross - all the world is in darkness,

Music is silenced, the instruments dumb.

Sounds then the rumble, muffled and menacing,

Brutal as scourges - the funeral drum.

 

Christ is .Arisen! The trumpets announce Him,

Cymbals and harps shout His triumph abroad.

Then the full orchestra, joining fortissimo,

Sounds to the glory and praise of the Lord.


CHRIST IN THE OFFICE

13th Dec. 1950.

I love the windy hill-tops, the sunsets and the skies,

I love the far horizons where a man can stretch his eyes.

But the office walls are round me, no sunlight enters here,

Ah! Christ, was e’er Thy workroom as sordid or as drear?

 

The typewriters are clattering, the 'phone bell rips the air,

My colleagues never speak Thy Name except to curse and swear.

How can I feel Thy Presence 'mid the ever-mounting piles

Of Governmental schedule forms, and bleak official files?

 

Then I hear a Voice beside me which whispered in my heart,

This is the place I chose for you, none else can fill the part.

“I need a stalwart witness who fears not jibe nor slight,

“I need a Standard-bearer who will hold aloft the Light.

 

"Yours are the only lips I have to check each evil word,

"Yours is the only human frame through which I can be heard.

"This is your special sector of all My far-flung line,

"So hold it staunchly, firmly, for you know the Cause is Mine.

 

"My light is glimmering, feebly in many souls around.

"They will rally to My Standard when they see you hold your ground.

"You have the courage and the strength, 'tis yours to help the weak.

"Be ready when I give the words, nor hesitate to speak.

 

"And when your work is finished you will join Me in the Land

"Of everlasting distances, and Joyous you will stand

“And stretch your eyes o'er seas and hills, in Heaven's own sparkling air,

"So carry on, My soldier; and remember - I am there."


THE PHILATELIST' S  CHARIOT

By F .A. Roper.

Sent to stamp collecting 15th Feb. 1951

Published 17th March 1957

10/6

 

My eyes have never seen them, all those islands of enchantment,

strung like garlands through the waters of the West.

Or the far-off Eastern countries with the names that ring like silver,

               But my Chariot waits to serve each least behest.

My Chariot is tri-partite - Album, Catalogue and Atlas,

               With stamps like myriad windows 'opened wide.                                                                    

Leave behind the cold and darkness of the cheerless English climate

               Every stamp-fiend has a chariot - come with me and take a ride.

 

Turn your faces to the Westward, see Bermuda and Barbados,

Turn the stamps - peer through each window as we go.

See the Caymans, the Bahamas, see Kitts-Nevis and St. Vincent,

See the Virgins and the Windwards all a-glow.

Where the Saints are all remembered in resounding island place-names,

See the flying fish, the sugar-canes, the palms.

See the salt-pans of the Calcos, and bananas in Jamaica

Where kaleidoscopic colour thrills and charms.

 

Then off we se to Mexico and through the States to Canada,

And southwards through Colombia and Peru.

See the sheep of Argentina, and the penguins of the Falklands,

And far South Georgia's icebergs gleaming blue.

Then on to fair New Zealand with its Tuatara Lizard, .

Where the Maori girl dips water from the well,

Australia’s  Kookaburra, Koala bear and Duck-billed Platypus,

And the islands 'mid the wide Pacific's swell.

 

Perak and Negri-Sembilan,  Malacca and Penang,

Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis, Singapore,

The names roll out like Jewels from the lapidary's coffers,

Malaya, Trengganu and Selangore.

Turn the pages - here is Burma with its golden-crowned Pagodas,

Here the Andamans. and India and Ceylon.

All the continent of Africa, Seychelles and Madagascar,

Wait to greet us as we turn the pages on.

 

So back again to Europe, with its many-coloured pictures.

And back at last to England's fog and rain.

I have never left my fireside, yet I've travelled wide-world over,

And any time I wish, I go again.

For my Chariot is waiting - Album, catalogue and Atlas,

My stamps are pass-ports into worlds unknown.

Though my body is imprisoned, yet my soul  roams free and boundless

In the Chariot each Philatelist may own.

 


FLYING ENTERPRISE

 

By F. A .Roper.

 

Wide sails swelling to the North Sea gales

The Danes swept out on the seas of long ago,

Compassless and chartless, but with courage fierce and high

Prow-heads snarling defiance of the foe.

Their enterprise meant plunder, and flying swift they came

While Britons quailed and shuddered at the mention of their name,

Paid Danegeld to be quit of them, but evermore they came

On their flying enterprises long ago.

 

Old feuds today are buried with the spear and scramasax,

Today their prowess echoes round the skies,

Dane and Briton strove as comrades to achieve their common goal

The salvation of the Flying Enterprise.

Though bitter seas engulfed her in their final savage claim

All the souls of long-dead seamen Join tumultuous acclaim

With us, in, heaping honour to the never-dying fame

Of the heroes of the Flying Enterprise.

 

8 Stoke Abbott Court,

Worthing.

12th January 1952

 


IN MEMORIAM _E. S. HILLMAN. M.P.S.

OB: 26th Feb. 1952

By F. A. Roper. M.P.S.

 

Farewell old friend. Nigh thirty years ago

You taught my 'prentice hands the subtle art

Of pestle. mortar, measure, pill-machine,

And all the various panoply of Pharmacy.

Wisdom and kindliness too, you dispensed,

But not by drachms or mimims - winchesters

And carboys overflowing wee your mark.

"The customer is always right you taught me. and to give

Even the humblest service with a smile.

Even before my birth you and my father worked,

He as the doctor, you the pharmacist,

In closest friendship, following in the steps

Of Aesculapius and Hippocrates.

In the Elysian Fields the old friends meet

No longer armed with scalpel or with drug,

There to consort with all the noble souls

Who, like you, lived to cure and heal mankind.

Earth’s service o'er,  .but we shall not forget.

Farewell, God speed, and rest you well, old friend.

­

 


GIFTS OF THE GODS

By F. A. Roper.

       Oct. 1964.

 

A modern maid to the Old Gods prayed

In her archaeological heart,

She longed and pined for some wondrous Find

That should set her name apart,

Her prayer rose high through the Sussex sky

To the land where the Old Gods rest

Where they dream of the Britain of long ago

In the far-off Isles of the Blest.

 

Then the Oldest God of the Olden Days;

He roused himself on his bed,

And he shook off the sleep of the centuries deep

And  called to his Court. and said;

“What shall we grant to this fair young maid

Whose heart belongs to us,

Stand by to grant such gifts as ye have".

And they answered thus and thus.

 

So some  gave pottery, some gave pits,

Mosaic and  burial mound.

Corn-drying plants and weaving sheds

And kilns where the shards abound.

Then up spake the God of the Rrun stream,

"My gifts are the best,"  said he,

"I will give her my fleet of canoes that lie

In the depth of the river,” said he.

 

“Full centuries score, or maybe more,

Deep hidden from human ken

Where my waters soak the iron hard oak

Far down from the eyes of men .

They have lain In the mud, where my tumbling flood

Preserved .them from rot and :rain,

And now, fin the Time of the Latter Days

I bring them forth again.

 

"The men who fashioned these early boats

Ne'er dreamed of the nuclear race,

How could they know that the moons soft glow

Would but serve as a target base?                                                                  .

They worked with their brains and their own two hands

To fashion their needs, I deem."

Then the Curtains of Time swung to again,.

And the Gods retuned to their dream.

 


AGE OLD SUSSEX

By Frances Ann Roper

                Nov. 1973.

                                        44 South Farm Road, Worthing

 

Sussex is a palimpsest

Close-writ from age to age,

A Digest of England's History

Inscribed on each hidden page.

 

Paleolithic - Stone Age,

Bronze Age and Iron and all ,

From Beaker People to Roman

Sussex absorbed them all.

 

The marshes of Anderida

Saw Saxon Harolds fall - ­

The coming of the Normans -

­And Sussex absorbed them all.

 

Our age-old Sussex Churches

Have many a painted wall

Where Mediaeval artists

Made pictures of Man's Fall.

 

So, when the great bull-dozers

Tear into her ancient soil,

Watch their tracks, and you'll find the traces

Of our forefathers toil.

 


Then when invasion threatened

in 1939

Concrete dragons’ teeth sprouted

Along our Sussex line.

 

They have sunk into the shingle,

They have gone beyond recall,

They have joined the historic centuries

For Sussex absorbed them all.