It is stormy, and raindrops cling like silver bees to the panes,
The thin sycamores in the playground is swinging with flattened leaves;
The heads of the boys move dimly through a yellow gloom that stains
The class; over them all the dark net of my discipline weaves.
It is no good, dear, gentleness and forbearance; I endured too long.
I have pushed my hands in the dark soil, under the flower of my soul
And the gentle leaves, and have felt where the roots are strong
Fixed in the darkness, grappling for the deep soil’s crowded control.
And there in the dark, my darling, where the roots are entangled and fight
Each one for its hold on the concrete darkness, I know that there
In the night where we first have being, before we rise on the light,
We are not lovers, my darling, we fight and we do not spare.
And in the original dark the roots cannot keep, cannot know
Any communion whatever, but they bind themselves on to the dark,
And drawing the darkness together, crush from it a twilight, a slow
Dim self that rises slowly to leaves and the flower’s gay spark.
I came to the boys with love, dear, and only they turned on me;
With gentleness came I, with my heart ’twixt my hands like a bowl,
Like a loving-cup, like a grail, but they spilt it triumphantly
And tried to break the vessel, and violate my soul.
And perhaps they were right, for the young are busy deep down at the roots,
And love would only weaken their under-earth grip, make shallow
Their hold on reality, enfeeble their rising shoots
With too much tincture of me, instead of the dark’s deep fallow.
I thought that love would do all things, but now I know I am wrong.
There are depths below depths, my darling, where love does not belong.
Where the fight that is fight for being is fought throughout the long
Young years, and the old must not win, not even if they love and are strong.
I must not win their souls, no never, I only must win
The brief material control of the hour, leave them free of me.
Learn they must obey, for all harmony is discipline,
And only in harmony with others the single soul can be free.
Let them live, the boys, and learn not to trespass; I had to learn
Not to trespass on them with love, they must learn not to trespass in the young
Cruel self; the fight is not for existence, the fight is to burn
At last into blossom of being, each one his own flower outflung.
They are here to learn but one lesson, that they shall not thwart each other
Nor be thwarted, in life’s slow struggle to unfold the flower of the self.
They draw their sap from the Godhead, not from me, but they must not smother
The sun from their neighbour either, nor be smothered in turn by pelf.
I will teach them the beginning of the lesson at the roots, and then no more.
I throw from out of the darkness myself like a flower into sight
Of the day, but it’s nothing to do with the boys, so let them ignore
What’s beyond them, and fight with me in discipline’s little fight.
But whoever would pluck apart my flowering will burn their hands,
For flowers are tender folk, and roots can only hide.
But sometimes the opening petals are fire, and the scarlet brands
Of the blossom are roses to look at, but flames when they’re tried.
But now I am trodden to earth, and my fires are low;
Now I am broken down like a plant in winter, and all
Myself but a knowledge of roots, of roots in the dark, that throw
A net on the undersoil, that lies passive, and quickened with gall.
Yet wait awhile, for henceforth I will love when a blossom calls
To my blossom in perfume and seed-dust, and only then; I will give
My love where it is wanted. Yet wait awhile! My fall
Is complete for the moment, yet wait, and you’ll see that my flower will live.