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Songs, Sonnets & Miscellaneous Poems   By: (1841-1909)

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Thomas Runciman was born in Northumberland in 1841, and died in London in 1909. He was the second son of Walter Runciman of Dunbar and Jean Finlay, his wife. In his youth he left the beautiful coast where his father was stationed to go to school and work in Newcastle. Artists of his name had been men of mark in Scotland, and as he had their strong feeling for colour he was allowed for a time to become a pupil of William Bell Scott, who was on the fringe of the Pre Raphaelite Movement. Throughout his life he painted portraits and landscapes, but the latter were what he loved. His work was not widely known, for he had a nervous contempt for Exhibitions, and the first collection of his landscapes in water colour and oil was opened to the public at a posthumous exhibition in Newcastle in 1911. He travelled from time to time, and enjoyed living on the banks of the Seine, and in other beautiful regions abroad.

His poems were never offered for publication, although critical essays of his appeared from time to time, as for instance in the "London" of Henley and Stevenson. The Songs and Sonnets were written for his own satisfaction, and were sent to a few faithful friends and to members of his own family, who have allowed me to collect and print them. The miscellaneous verses were in many instances found in letters, and others written in high spirits were rescued after his death from sketch books and scraps of paper by his daughter, Kate Runciman Sellers, and by his friend, Edward Nisbet.




Though here fair blooms the rose and the woodbine waves on high, And oak and elm and bracken frond enrich the rolling lea, And winds as if from Arcady breathe joy as they go by, Yet I yearn and I pine for my North Countrie.

I leave the drowsing south and in dreams I northward fly, And walk the stretching moors that fringe the ever calling sea; And am gladdened as the gales that are so bitter sweet go by, While grey clouds sweetly darken o'er my North Countrie.

For there's music in the storms, and there's colour in the shades, And there's joy e'en in the sorrow widely brooding o'er the sea; And larger thoughts have birth among the moors and lowly glades And reedy mounds and sands of my North Countrie.


You who know what easeful arms Silence winds about the dead, Or what far swept music charms Hearts that were earth wearied;

You who know if aught be known In that everlasting Hush Where the life born years are strewn, Where the eyeless ages rush,

Tell me, is it conscious rest Heals the whilom hurt of life? Or is Nirvana undistressed E'en by memory of strife?



When Grief comes this way by With her wan lip and drooping eye, Bid her welcome, woo her boldly; Soon she'll look on thee less coldly.

Her tears soon cease to flow. 'Tis now not Grief but Joy we know; From her smiling face the roses Tell the glad metempsychosis.


Life with the sun in it Shaded by gloom! Life with the fun in it Shadowed by Doom!

Life with its Love ever haunted by Hate! Life's laughing morrows frowned over by Fate! Young Life's wild gladness still waylaid by Age! All its sweet badness still mocking the sage! What can e'er measure the joy of its strife?

What boundless leisure Count the heaped treasure Of woe, that's the pleasure And beauty of Life?


Once as the aureole Day left the earth, Faded, a twilight soul, Memory, had birth: Young were her sister souls, Sorrow and Mirth... Continue reading book >>

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