Poetry: Norman Rowland Gale

by Milos Itic on June 6, 2012

Norman Rowland Gale was an English poet, great story-teller, reviewer and schoolmaster. He lived very private life from 1862 until 1942, because there are few biographical details available for us to know, about this interesting author. Until his death, he published so many books, with his most famous work being the poem The Country Faith, which made publication in the immediate classic Oxford Book of English Verse 1250–1918 (1939 edition). This photography is purportedly of Norman Rowland Gale, the poet.

Poet Norman Gale

Five Years After

Many a mate of splice and leather,
Out in the stiff autumnal weather,
There we stood by his grave together,
After his innings;
All on a day of misty yellow
Watching in grief a grim old fellow,
Death, who diddles both young and mellow,
Pocket his winnings.

Flew from his hand the matchless skimmer!
Breaking a yard, the destined trimmer,
Beating the bat and the eyes grown dimmer,
Shattered the wicket!
Slow to the dark Pavilion wending,
His head on his breast, with Mercy friending,
The batsman walked to his silent ending,
Finished with cricket.

Whether or not that gaunt Professor
Noting his man; that stark Assessor
Of faulty play in the bat’s possessor
Clapped for his foeman,
We who had seen that figure splendid
Guarding the stumps so well defended
Wept and cheered when by craft was ended
Innings and yeoman!

Not long before the ball that beat him,
All ends up, went down to meet him,
Tie him up in a knot, defeat him
Once and for ever,
He told his mates that he wished, when hoary
Time put an end to his famous story,
To trudge with his old brown bag to Glory,
Separate never!

There on the clods the bag was lying!
There was the rope for the handle’s tying!
How can you wonder we all were crying,
Utterly broken?
Scarred and shabby it went. We espied it
Deep where the grave so soon would hide it,
Safe on his heart, with his togs inside it–
Tenderest token!

There we stood by his grave together,
Out in the stiff autumnal weather,
Many a mate of splice and leather,
After his innings;
All on a day of misty yellow
Watching in pain a grabbing fellow,
Death, who diddles both young and mellow,
Pocket his winnings.

Old Letters

Last night some yellow letters fell
From out a scrip I found by chance;
Among them was the silent ghost,
The spirit of my first romance:
And in a faint blue envelope
A withered rose long lost to dew
Bore witness to the dashing days
When love was large and wits were few.

Yet standing there all worn and grey
The teardrops quivered in my eyes
To think of Youth’s unshaken front,
The forehead lifted to the skies;
How rough a hill my eager feet
Flung backward when upon its crest
I saw the flutter of the lace
The wind awoke on Helen’s breast!

How thornless were the roses then
When fresh young eyes and lips were kind
When Cupid in our porches proved
How true the tale that Love is blind!
But Red-and-White and Poverty
Would only mate while shone the May;
Then came a Bag of Golden Crowns
And jingled Red-and-White away.

Grown old and niggard of romance
I wince not much at aught askew,
And often ask my favorite cat
What else had Red-and-White to do?
And here’s the bud that rose and sank,
A crimson island on her breast–
Why should I burn it? Once again
Hide, rose, and dream. God send me rest.

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