“The Crocodile Discourses” by Geoffrey Cookson

The Crocodile Discourses

I do not find it written in my slime
That God is Love; yet He is very good;
For first, He filed my teeth exceeding sharp,
And shut them in a trap of triple steel,
Gave me my saurian ancestry, whereby
I walk abroad unquestioned armiger,
And wear unrusted my tough coat of mail.
Also, to deck a brother deity
(For I am more than priest if less than God),
He offers lotus buds, and lends me stars
To float upon my pool; and when I swim
On moonless nights they tremble in the wash
And furrow of my wave. Familiar,
As to a schoolboy ciphers on a slate,
I meditate my deep astrology,
Reading the cycles and conjunctive hours
That ripen for my maw the virgin's breasts,
The young wife's womb. They have no time to scream,
I trip so smoothly down the darkling stair
And paddle in the deeps. My pool is called
Silence, the deadener of unseemly noise,
That rends so woundily the clamorous air.

[ . . . ]

Geoffrey Cookson's poem "The Crocodile Discourses" was published in the 1920 Wheels anthology. To read the poem in full in a digitized version of this publication, follow the links below:


The Modernist Journals Project

“The Sisters” by Mary Aldis

The Sisters

We four
Live here together
My three older sisters and I
In a white little cottage
With flowers on each side of the path up to the door.
It is here we eat together
At eight one and seven
All the year round,
It is here we sew together
On garments for the Church sewing society
Here,—behind our fresh white dimity curtains
That I'll soon have to do up and darn again.
It is this cottage we mean
When we use the word Home
Is it not here we lie down and sleep
Each night all near together?


We never meet
My three old sisters and I.
We never look into each others' eyes
We never look into each others' souls
Or if we do for a moment
We quickly begin to talk about the jam
How much sugar to put in and when.
We run away and hide like mice before the light
We are afraid to look into each others' souls
So we keep on sewing, sewing.


My three old sisters are old.
Very old.
It is not such a great while since they were born
Yet they are old.
I think it is because they will not look and see.
I am not old
But pretty soon I will be.
I was thinking of that when I went to him
Where he was waiting.


My sisters had been talking together all the long
While I sat sewing and silent,
Clacking, clacking away while the lilac scent came in
                                                            at the window
And the branches beckoned and sighed.
This is what they said—
"How did that paper come into our house?"
"Fit to be burnt, don't you think?"
Then the third, "It's a shameless sheet
To print such a sensual thing."
The paper lay on the table there, between my three
With my poem in it,—
My small happy poem without any name.
I had been with him when I wrote it and I wanted him
The words arose in my heart clamouring for birth—
And there they were, between my three sisters.
Each read it in turn
Holding the paper far off with the tips of her fingers.
Then they hustled it into the fire
Giving it an extra poke with the tongs, a vicious
Then each sister settled back to her sewing
With a satisfied air.
I looked at them and I wondered.
I looked at each one,
And I went to him that night—
Where he was waiting.

[ . . . ]


Mary Aldis' poem "The Sisters" was published in the 1916 Others anthology. To read the poem in full, follow the link below:


“In the Poppy Field” by James Stephens

In the Poppy Field

Mad Patsy said, he said to me,
That every morning he could see
An angel walking on the sky;
Across the sunny skies of morn
He threw great handfuls far and nigh
Of poppy seed among the corn;
And then, he said, the angels run
To see the poppies in the sun.

A poppy is a devil weed,
I said to him—he disagreed;
He said the devil had no hand
In spreading flowers tall and fair
Through corn and rye and meadow land,
By garth and barrow everywhere:
The devil has not any flower,
But only money in his power.


[ . . . ]

James Stephens' poem "In the Poppy Field" was published in the 1912 Georgian Poetry anthology. To read this poem in full in a digitized version of this publication, follow the link below:


“Choricos” by Richard Aldington


The ancient songs
Pass deathward mournfully.

Cold lips that sing no more, and withered wreaths,
Regretful eyes, and drooping breasts and wings—
Symbols of ancient songs
Mournfully passing
Down to the great white surges,
Watched of none
Save the frail sea-birds
And the lithe pale girls,
Daughters of Okeanus.

And the songs pass
From the green land
Which lies upon the waves as a leaf
On the flowers of hyacinth;
And they pass from the waters,
The manifold winds and the dim moon,
And they come,
Silently winging through soft Kimmerian dusk,
To the quiet level lands
That she keeps for us all,
That she wrought for us all for sleep
In the silver days of the earth's dawning—
Proserpina, daughter of Zeus.

And we turn from the Kuprian's breasts,
And we turn from thee,
Phoibos Apollon,
And we turn from the music of old
And the hills that we loved and the meads,
And we turn from the fiery day,
And the lips that were over sweet;
For silently
Brushing the fields with red-shod feet,
With purple robe
Searing the flowers as with a sudden flame,
Thou hast come upon us.

And of all the ancient songs
Passing to the swallow-blue halls
By the dark streams of Persephone,
This only remains:
That we turn to thee,
That we turn to thee, singing
One last song.

[ . . . ]

Richard Aldington's poem "Choricos" was published in the 1914 imagist anthology, Des Imagistes. To read this poem in full in digitized versions of this publication, follow the links below:

Archive.org (Des Imagistes, published by Albert and Charles Boni, New York, 1914) 

Blue Mountain Project (The Glebe)

Modernist Journals Project (The Glebe)

Modernist Journals Project (Des Imagistes, published by Albert and Charles Boni, New York, 1914)

Modernist Journals Project (Des Imagistes, published by The Poetry Bookshop, London, 1914)