[TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: Greek words in this text have been transliterated and placed between marks.]
Astrophel and other poems
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Taken from The Collected Poetical Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne—Vol. VI
THE COLLECTED POETICAL WORKS OF ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE
A MIDSUMMER HOLIDAY: ASTROPHEL: A CHANNEL PASSAGE AND OTHER TALES
SWINBURNE'S POETICAL WORKS
I. POEMS AND BALLADS (First Series).
II. SONGS BEFORE SUNRISE, AND SONGS OF TWO NATIONS.
III. POEMS AND BALLADS (Second and Third Series), and SONGS OF THE SPRINGTIDES.
IV. TRISTRAM OF LYONESSE, THE TALE OF BALEN, ATALANTA IN CALYDON, ERECHTHEUS.
V. STUDIES IN SONG, A CENTURY OF ROUNDELS, SONNETS ON ENGLISH DRAMATIC POETS, THE HEPTALOGIA, ETC.
VI. A MIDSUMMER HOLIDAY, ASTROPHEL, A CHANNEL PASSAGE AND OTHER POEMS.
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
A MIDSUMMER HOLIDAY: ASTROPHEL: A CHANNEL PASSAGE AND OTHER POEMS
Algernon Charles Swinburne
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
First printed (Chatto), 1904
Reprinted 1904, '09, '10, '12
London: William Heinemann, 1917
ASTROPHEL AND OTHER POEMS
A NYMPHOLEPT 127
ON THE SOUTH COAST 141
AN AUTUMN VISION 149
A SWIMMER'S DREAM 159
GRACE DARLING 164
LOCH TORRIDON 171
THE PALACE OF PAN 178
A YEAR'S CAROLS 181
ENGLAND: AN ODE 186
ETON: AN ODE 191
THE UNION 194
EAST TO WEST 196
INSCRIPTIONS FOR THE FOUR SIDES OF A PEDESTAL 197
ON THE DEATH OF RICHARD BURTON 199
A SEQUENCE OF SONNETS ON THE DEATH OF ROBERT BROWNING 208
SUNSET AND MOONRISE 212
BIRTHDAY ODE 214
THE BALLAD OF MELICERTES 220
AU TOMBEAU DE BANVILLE 222
LIGHT: AN EPICEDE 223
A DIRGE 227
A REMINISCENCE 229
VIA DOLOROSA 230
I. TRANSFIGURATION 231
II. DELIVERANCE 232
III. THANKSGIVING 233
IV. LIBITINA VERTICORDIA 234
V. THE ORDER OF RELEASE 235
VI. PSYCHAGOGOS 236
VII. THE LAST WORD 237
IN MEMORY OF AURELIO SAFFI 238
THE FESTIVAL OF BEATRICE 242
THE MONUMENT OF GIORDANO BRUNO 243
LIFE IN DEATH 245
MEMORIAL VERSES ON THE DEATH OF WILLIAM BELL SCOTT 249
AN OLD SAYING 253
A MOSS-ROSE 254
TO A CAT 255
HAWTHORN DYKE 258
THE BROTHERS 259
JACOBITE SONG 263
THE BALLAD OF DEAD MEN'S BAY 266
ASTROPHEL AND OTHER POEMS
TO WILLIAM MORRIS
AFTER READING SIR PHILIP SIDNEY'S ARCADIA IN THE GARDEN OF AN OLD ENGLISH MANOR HOUSE
A star in the silence that follows The song of the death of the sun Speaks music in heaven, and the hollows And heights of the world are as one; One lyre that outsings and outlightens The rapture of sunset, and thrills Mute night till the sense of it brightens The soul that it fills.
The flowers of the sun that is sunken Hang heavy of heart as of head; The bees that have eaten and drunken The soul of their sweetness are fled; But a sunflower of song, on whose honey My spirit has fed as a bee, Makes sunnier than morning was sunny The twilight for me.
The letters and lines on the pages That sundered mine eyes and the flowers Wax faint as the shadows of ages That sunder their season and ours; As the ghosts of the centuries that sever A season of colourless time From the days whose remembrance is ever, As they were, sublime.
The season that bred and that cherished The soul that I commune with yet, Had it utterly withered and perished To rise not again as it set, Shame were it that Englishmen living Should read as their forefathers read The books of the praise and thanksgiving Of Englishmen dead.
O light of the land that adored thee And kindled thy soul with her breath, Whose life, such as fate would afford thee, Was lovelier than aught but thy death, By what name, could thy lovers but know it, Might love of thee hail thee afar, Philisides, Astrophel, poet Whose love was thy star?
A star in the moondawn of Maytime, A star in the cloudland of change; Too splendid and sad for the daytime To cheer or eclipse or estrange; Too sweet for tradition or vision To see but through shadows of tears Rise deathless across the division Of measureless years.
The twilight may deepen and harden As nightward the stream of it runs Till starshine transfigure a garden Whose radiance responds to the sun's: The light of the love of thee darkens The lights that arise and that set: The love that forgets thee not hearkens If England forget.
Bright and brief in the sight of grief and love the light of thy lifetime shone, Seen and felt by the gifts it dealt, the grace it gave, and again was gone: Ay, but now it is death, not thou, whom time has conquered as years pass on.
Ay, not yet may the land forget that bore and loved thee and praised and wept, Sidney, lord of the stainless sword, the name of names that her heart's love kept Fast as thine did her own, a sign to light thy life till it sank and slept.
Bright as then for the souls of men thy brave Arcadia resounds and shines, Lit with love that beholds above all joys and sorrows the steadfast signs, Faith, a splendour that hope makes tender, and truth, whose presage the soul divines.
All the glory that girds the story of all thy life as with sunlight round, All the spell that on all souls fell who saw thy spirit, and held them bound, Lives for all that have heard the call and cadence yet of its music sound.
Music bright as the soul of light, for wings an eagle, for notes a dove, Leaps and shines from the lustrous lines wherethrough thy soul from afar above Shone and sang till the darkness rang with light whose fire is the fount of love.
Love that led thee alive, and fed thy soul with sorrows and joys and fears, Love that sped thee, alive and dead, to fame's fair goal with thy peerless peers, Feeds the flame of thy quenchless name with light that lightens the rayless years.
Dark as sorrow though night and morrow may lower with presage of clouded fame, How may she that of old bare thee, may Sidney's England, be brought to shame? How should this be, while England is? What need of answer beyond thy name?
From the love that transfigures thy glory, From the light of the dawn of thy death, The life of thy song and thy story Took subtler and fierier breath. And we, though the day and the morrow Set fear and thanksgiving at strife, Hail yet in the star of thy sorrow The sun of thy life.
Shame and fear may beset men here, and bid thanksgiving and pride be dumb: Faith, discrowned of her praise, and wound about with toils till her life wax numb, Scarce may see if the sundawn be, if darkness die not and dayrise come.
But England, enmeshed and benetted With spiritless villainies round, With counsels of cowardice fretted, With trammels of treason enwound, Is yet, though the season be other Than wept and rejoiced over thee, Thine England, thy lover, thy mother, Sublime as the sea.
Hers wast thou: if her face be now less bright, or seem for an hour less brave, Let but thine on her darkness shine, thy saviour spirit revive and save, Time shall see, as the shadows flee, her shame entombed in a shameful grave.
If death and not life were the portal That opens on life at the last, If the spirit of Sidney were mortal And the past of it utterly past, Fear stronger than honour was ever, Forgetfulness mightier than fame, Faith knows not if England should never Subside into shame.
Yea, but yet is thy sun not set, thy sunbright spirit of trust withdrawn: England's love of thee burns above all hopes that darken or fears that fawn: Hers thou art: and the faithful heart that hopes begets upon darkness dawn.
The sunset that sunrise will follow Is less than the dream of a dream: The starshine on height and on hollow Sheds promise that dawn shall redeem: The night, if the daytime would hide it, Shows lovelier, aflame and afar, Thy soul and thy Stella's beside it, A star by a star.
Summer, and noon, and a splendour of silence, felt, Seen, and heard of the spirit within the sense. Soft through the frondage the shades of the sunbeams melt, Sharp through the foliage the shafts of them, keen and dense, Cleave, as discharged from the string of the God's bow, tense As a war-steed's girth, and bright as a warrior's belt. Ah, why should an hour that is heaven for an hour pass hence?
I dare not sleep for delight of the perfect hour, Lest God be wroth that his gift should be scorned of man. The face of the warm bright world is the face of a flower, The word of the wind and the leaves that the light winds fan As the word that quickened at first into flame, and ran, Creative and subtle and fierce with invasive power, Through darkness and cloud, from the breath of the one God, Pan.
The perfume of earth possessed by the sun pervades The chaster air that he soothes but with sense of sleep. Soft, imminent, strong as desire that prevails and fades, The passing noon that beholds not a cloudlet weep Imbues and impregnates life with delight more deep Than dawn or sunset or moonrise on lawns or glades Can shed from the skies that receive it and may not keep.
The skies may hold not the splendour of sundown fast; It wanes into twilight as dawn dies down into day. And the moon, triumphant when twilight is overpast, Takes pride but awhile in the hours of her stately sway. But the might of the noon, though the light of it pass away, Leaves earth fulfilled of desires and of dreams that last; But if any there be that hath sense of them none can say.
For if any there be that hath sight of them, sense, or trust Made strong by the might of a vision, the strength of a dream, His lips shall straiten and close as a dead man's must, His heart shall be sealed as the voice of a frost-bound stream. For the deep mid mystery of light and of heat that seem To clasp and pierce dark earth, and enkindle dust, Shall a man's faith say what it is? or a man's guess deem?
Sleep lies not heavier on eyes that have watched all night Than hangs the heat of the noon on the hills and trees. Why now should the haze not open, and yield to sight A fairer secret than hope or than slumber sees? I seek not heaven with submission of lips and knees, With worship and prayer for a sign till it leap to light: I gaze on the gods about me, and call on these.
I call on the gods hard by, the divine dim powers Whose likeness is here at hand, in the breathless air, In the pulseless peace of the fervid and silent flowers, In the faint sweet speech of the waters that whisper there. Ah, what should darkness do in a world so fair? The bent-grass heaves not, the couch-grass quails not or cowers; The wind's kiss frets not the rowan's or aspen's hair.
But the silence trembles with passion of sound suppressed, And the twilight quivers and yearns to the sunward, wrung With love as with pain; and the wide wood's motionless breast Is thrilled with a dumb desire that would fain find tongue And palpitates, tongueless as she whom a man-snake stung, Whose heart now heaves in the nightingale, never at rest Nor satiated ever with song till her last be sung.
Is it rapture or terror that circles me round, and invades Each vein of my life with hope—if it be not fear? Each pulse that awakens my blood into rapture fades, Each pulse that subsides into dread of a strange thing near Requickens with sense of a terror less dread than dear. Is peace not one with light in the deep green glades Where summer at noonday slumbers? Is peace not here?
The tall thin stems of the firs, and the roof sublime That screens from the sun the floor of the steep still wood, Deep, silent, splendid, and perfect and calm as time, Stand fast as ever in sight of the night they stood, When night gave all that moonlight and dewfall could. The dense ferns deepen, the moss glows warm as the thyme: The wild heath quivers about me: the world is good.
Is it Pan's breath, fierce in the tremulous maidenhair, That bids fear creep as a snake through the woodlands, felt In the leaves that it stirs not yet, in the mute bright air, In the stress of the sun? For here has the great God dwelt: For hence were the shafts of his love or his anger dealt. For here has his wrath been fierce as his love was fair, When each was as fire to the darkness its breath bade melt.
Is it love, is it dread, that enkindles the trembling noon, That yearns, reluctant in rapture that fear has fed, As man for woman, as woman for man? Full soon, If I live, and the life that may look on him drop not dead, Shall the ear that hears not a leaf quake hear his tread, The sense that knows not the sound of the deep day's tune Receive the God, be it love that he brings or dread.
The naked noon is upon me: the fierce dumb spell, The fearful charm of the strong sun's imminent might, Unmerciful, steadfast, deeper than seas that swell, Pervades, invades, appals me with loveless light, With harsher awe than breathes in the breath of night. Have mercy, God who art all! For I know thee well, How sharp is thine eye to lighten, thine hand to smite.
The whole wood feels thee, the whole air fears thee: but fear So deep, so dim, so sacred, is wellnigh sweet. For the light that hangs and broods on the woodlands here, Intense, invasive, intolerant, imperious, and meet To lighten the works of thine hands and the ways of thy feet, Is hot with the fire of the breath of thy life, and dear As hope that shrivels or shrinks not for frost or heat.
Thee, thee the supreme dim godhead, approved afar, Perceived of the soul and conceived of the sense of man, We scarce dare love, and we dare not fear: the star We call the sun, that lit us when life began To brood on the world that is thine by his grace for a span, Conceals and reveals in the semblance of things that are Thine immanent presence, the pulse of thy heart's life, Pan.
The fierce mid noon that wakens and warms the snake Conceals thy mercy, reveals thy wrath: and again The dew-bright hour that assuages the twilight brake Conceals thy wrath and reveals thy mercy: then Thou art fearful only for evil souls of men That feel with nightfall the serpent within them wake, And hate the holy darkness on glade and glen.
Yea, then we know not and dream not if ill things be, Or if aught of the work of the wrong of the world be thine. We hear not the footfall of terror that treads the sea, We hear not the moan of winds that assail the pine: We see not if shipwreck reign in the storm's dim shrine; If death do service and doom bear witness to thee We see not,—know not if blood for thy lips be wine.
But in all things evil and fearful that fear may scan, As in all things good, as in all things fair that fall, We know thee present and latent, the lord of man; In the murmuring of doves, in the clamouring of winds that call And wolves that howl for their prey; in the midnight's pall, In the naked and nymph-like feet of the dawn, O Pan, And in each life living, O thou the God who art all.
Smiling and singing, wailing and wringing of hands, Laughing and weeping, watching and sleeping, still Proclaim but and prove but thee, as the shifted sands Speak forth and show but the strength of the sea's wild will That sifts and grinds them as grain in the storm-wind's mill. In thee is the doom that falls and the doom that stands: The tempests utter thy word, and the stars fulfil.
Where Etna shudders with passion and pain volcanic That rend her heart as with anguish that rends a man's, Where Typho labours, and finds not his thews Titanic, In breathless torment that ever the flame's breath fans, Men felt and feared thee of old, whose pastoral clans Were given to the charge of thy keeping; and soundless panic Held fast the woodland whose depths and whose heights were Pan's.
And here, though fear be less than delight, and awe Be one with desire and with worship of earth and thee, So mild seems now thy secret and speechless law, So fair and fearless and faithful and godlike she, So soft the spell of thy whisper on stream and sea, Yet man should fear lest he see what of old men saw And withered: yet shall I quail if thy breath smite me.
Lord God of life and of light and of all things fair, Lord God of ravin and ruin and all things dim, Death seals up life, and darkness the sunbright air, And the stars that watch blind earth in the deep night swim Laugh, saying, "What God is your God, that ye call on him? What is man, that the God who is guide of our way should care If day for a man be golden, or night be grim?"
But thou, dost thou hear? Stars too but abide for a span, Gods too but endure for a season; but thou, if thou be God, more than shadows conceived and adored of man, Kind Gods and fierce, that bound him or made him free, The skies that scorn us are less in thy sight than we, Whose souls have strength to conceive and perceive thee, Pan, With sense more subtle than senses that hear and see.
Yet may not it say, though it seek thee and think to find One soul of sense in the fire and the frost-bound clod, What heart is this, what spirit alive or blind, That moves thee: only we know that the ways we trod We tread, with hands unguided, with feet unshod, With eyes unlightened; and yet, if with steadfast mind, Perchance may we find thee and know thee at last for God.
Yet then should God be dark as the dawn is bright, And bright as the night is dark on the world—no more. Light slays not darkness, and darkness absorbs not light; And the labour of evil and good from the years of yore Is even as the labour of waves on a sunless shore. And he who is first and last, who is depth and height, Keeps silence now, as the sun when the woods wax hoar.
The dark dumb godhead innate in the fair world's life Imbues the rapture of dawn and of noon with dread, Infects the peace of the star-shod night with strife, Informs with terror the sorrow that guards the dead. No service of bended knee or of humbled head May soothe or subdue the God who has change to wife: And life with death is as morning with evening wed.
And yet, if the light and the life in the light that here Seem soft and splendid and fervid as sleep may seem Be more than the shine of a smile or the flash of a tear, Sleep, change, and death are less than a spell-struck dream, And fear than the fall of a leaf on a starlit stream. And yet, if the hope that hath said it absorb not fear, What helps it man that the stars and the waters gleam?
What helps it man, that the noon be indeed intense, The night be indeed worth worship? Fear and pain Were lords and masters yet of the secret sense, Which now dares deem not that light is as darkness, fain Though dark dreams be to declare it, crying in vain. For whence, thou God of the light and the darkness, whence Dawns now this vision that bids not the sunbeams wane?
What light, what shadow, diviner than dawn or night, Draws near, makes pause, and again—or I dream—draws near? More soft than shadow, more strong than the strong sun's light, More pure than moonbeams—yea, but the rays run sheer As fire from the sun through the dusk of the pinewood, clear And constant; yea, but the shadow itself is bright That the light clothes round with love that is one with fear.
Above and behind it the noon and the woodland lie, Terrible, radiant with mystery, superb and subdued, Triumphant in silence; and hardly the sacred sky Seems free from the tyrannous weight of the dumb fierce mood Which rules as with fire and invasion of beams that brood The breathless rapture of earth till its hour pass by And leave her spirit released and her peace renewed.
I sleep not: never in sleep has a man beholden This. From the shadow that trembles and yearns with light Suppressed and elate and reluctant—obscure and golden As water kindled with presage of dawn or night— A form, a face, a wonder to sense and sight, Grows great as the moon through the month; and her eyes embolden Fear, till it change to desire, and desire to delight.
I sleep not: sleep would die of a dream so strange; A dream so sweet would die as a rainbow dies, As a sunbow laughs and is lost on the waves that range And reck not of light that flickers or spray that flies. But the sun withdraws not, the woodland shrinks not or sighs, No sweet thing sickens with sense or with fear of change; Light wounds not, darkness blinds not, my steadfast eyes.
Only the soul in my sense that receives the soul Whence now my spirit is kindled with breathless bliss Knows well if the light that wounds it with love makes whole, If hopes that carol be louder than fears that hiss, If truth be spoken of flowers and of waves that kiss, Of clouds and stars that contend for a sunbright goal. And yet may I dream that I dream not indeed of this?
An earth-born dreamer, constrained by the bonds of birth, Held fast by the flesh, compelled by his veins that beat And kindle to rapture or wrath, to desire or to mirth, May hear not surely the fall of immortal feet, May feel not surely if heaven upon earth be sweet; And here is my sense fulfilled of the joys of earth, Light, silence, bloom, shade, murmur of leaves that meet.
Bloom, fervour, and perfume of grasses and flowers aglow, Breathe and brighten about me: the darkness gleams, The sweet light shivers and laughs on the slopes below, Made soft by leaves that lighten and change like dreams; The silence thrills with the whisper of secret streams That well from the heart of the woodland: these I know: Earth bore them, heaven sustained them with showers and beams.
I lean my face to the heather, and drink the sun Whose flame-lit odour satiates the flowers: mine eyes Close, and the goal of delight and of life is one: No more I crave of earth or her kindred skies. No more? But the joy that springs from them smiles and flies: The sweet work wrought of them surely, the good work done, If the mind and the face of the season be loveless, dies.
Thee, therefore, thee would I come to, cleave to, cling, If haply thy heart be kind and thy gifts be good, Unknown sweet spirit, whose vesture is soft in spring, In summer splendid, in autumn pale as the wood That shudders and wanes and shrinks as a shamed thing should, In winter bright as the mail of a war-worn king Who stands where foes fled far from the face of him stood.
My spirit or thine is it, breath of thy life or of mine, Which fills my sense with a rapture that casts out fear? Pan's dim frown wanes, and his wild eyes brighten as thine, Transformed as night or as day by the kindling year. Earth-born, or mine eye were withered that sees, mine ear That hears were stricken to death by the sense divine, Earth-born I know thee: but heaven is about me here.
The terror that whispers in darkness and flames in light, The doubt that speaks in the silence of earth and sea, The sense, more fearful at noon than in midmost night, Of wrath scarce hushed and of imminent ill to be, Where are they? Heaven is as earth, and as heaven to me Earth: for the shadows that sundered them here take flight; And nought is all, as am I, but a dream of thee.
ON THE SOUTH COAST
TO THEODORE WATTS
Hills and valleys where April rallies his radiant squadron of flowers and birds, Steep strange beaches and lustrous reaches of fluctuant sea that the land engirds, Fields and downs that the sunrise crowns with life diviner than lives in words,
Day by day of resurgent May salute the sun with sublime acclaim, Change and brighten with hours that lighten and darken, girdled with cloud or flame; Earth's fair face in alternate grace beams, blooms, and lowers, and is yet the same.
Twice each day the divine sea's play makes glad with glory that comes and goes Field and street that her waves keep sweet, when past the bounds of their old repose, Fast and fierce in renewed reverse, the foam-flecked estuary ebbs and flows.
Broad and bold through the stays of old staked fast with trunks of the wildwood tree, Up from shoreward, impelled far forward, by marsh and meadow, by lawn and lea, Inland still at her own wild will swells, rolls, and revels the surging sea.
Strong as time, and as faith sublime,—clothed round with shadows of hopes and fears, Nights and morrows, and joys and sorrows, alive with passion of prayers and tears,— Stands the shrine that has seen decline eight hundred waxing and waning years.
Tower set square to the storms of air and change of season that glooms and glows, Wall and roof of it tempest-proof, and equal ever to suns and snows, Bright with riches of radiant niches and pillars smooth as a straight stem grows.
Aisle and nave that the whelming wave of time has whelmed not or touched or neared, Arch and vault without stain or fault, by hands of craftsmen we know not reared, Time beheld them, and time was quelled; and change passed by them as one that feared.
Time that flies as a dream, and dies as dreams that die with the sleep they feed, Here alone in a garb of stone incarnate stands as a god indeed, Stern and fair, and of strength to bear all burdens mortal to man's frail seed.
Men and years are as leaves or tears that storm or sorrow is fain to shed: These go by as the winds that sigh, and none takes note of them quick or dead: Time, whose breath is their birth and death, folds here his pinions, and bows his head.
Still the sun that beheld begun the work wrought here of unwearied hands Sees, as then, though the Red King's men held ruthless rule over lawless lands, Stand their massive design, impassive, pure and proud as a virgin stands.
Statelier still as the years fulfil their count, subserving her sacred state, Grows the hoary grey church whose story silence utters and age makes great: Statelier seems it than shines in dreams the face unveiled of unvanquished fate.
Fate, more high than the star-shown sky, more deep than waters unsounded, shines Keen and far as the final star on souls that seek not for charms or signs; Yet more bright is the love-shown light of men's hands lighted in songs or shrines.
Love and trust that the grave's deep dust can soil not, neither may fear put out, Witness yet that their record set stands fast, though years be as hosts in rout, Spent and slain; but the signs remain that beat back darkness and cast forth doubt.
Men that wrought by the grace of thought and toil things goodlier than praise dare trace, Fair as all that the world may call most fair, save only the sea's own face, Shrines or songs that the world's change wrongs not, live by grace of their own gift's grace.
Dead, their names that the night reclaims—alive, their works that the day relumes— Sink and stand, as in stone and sand engraven: none may behold their tombs: Nights and days shall record their praise while here this flower of their grafting blooms.
Flower more fair than the sun-thrilled air bids laugh and lighten and wax and rise, Fruit more bright than the fervent light sustains with strength from the kindled skies, Flower and fruit that the deathless root of man's love rears though the man's name dies.
Stately stands it, the work of hands unknown of: statelier, afar and near, Rise around it the heights that bound our landward gaze from the seaboard here; Downs that swerve and aspire, in curve and change of heights that the dawn holds dear.
Dawn falls fair on the grey walls there confronting dawn, on the low green lea, Lone and sweet as for fairies' feet held sacred, silent and strange and free, Wild and wet with its rills; but yet more fair falls dawn on the fairer sea.
Eastward, round by the high green bound of hills that fold the remote fields in, Strive and shine on the low sea-line fleet waves and beams when the days begin; Westward glow, when the days burn low, the sun that yields and the stars that win.
Rose-red eve on the seas that heave sinks fair as dawn when the first ray peers; Winds are glancing from sunbright Lancing to Shoreham, crowned with the grace of years; Shoreham, clad with the sunset, glad and grave with glory that death reveres.
Death, more proud than the kings' heads bowed before him, stronger than all things, bows Here his head: as if death were dead, and kingship plucked from his crownless brows, Life hath here such a face of cheer as change appals not and time avows.
Skies fulfilled with the sundown, stilled and splendid, spread as a flower that spreads, Pave with rarer device and fairer than heaven's the luminous oyster-beds, Grass-embanked, and in square plots ranked, inlaid with gems that the sundown sheds.
Squares more bright and with lovelier light than heaven that kindled it shines with shine Warm and soft as the dome aloft, but heavenlier yet than the sun's own shrine: Heaven is high, but the water-sky lit here seems deeper and more divine.
Flowers on flowers, that the whole world's bowers may show not, here may the sunset show, Lightly graven in the waters paven with ghostly gold by the clouds aglow: Bright as love is the vault above, but lovelier lightens the wave below.
Rosy grey, or as fiery spray full-plumed, or greener than emerald, gleams Plot by plot as the skies allot for each its glory, divine as dreams Lit with fire of appeased desire which sounds the secret of all that seems;
Dreams that show what we fain would know, and know not save by the grace of sleep, Sleep whose hands have removed the bands that eyes long waking and fain to weep Feel fast bound on them—light around them strange, and darkness above them steep.
Yet no vision that heals division of love from love, and renews awhile Life and breath in the lips where death has quenched the spirit of speech and smile, Shows on earth, or in heaven's mid mirth, where no fears enter or doubts defile,
Aught more fair than the radiant air and water here by the twilight wed, Here made one by the waning sun whose last love quickens to rosebright red Half the crown of the soft high down that rears to northward its wood-girt head.
There, when day is at height of sway, men's eyes who stand, as we oft have stood, High where towers with its world of flowers the golden spinny that flanks the wood, See before and around them shore and seaboard glad as their gifts are good.
Higher and higher to the north aspire the green smooth-swelling unending downs; East and west on the brave earth's breast glow girdle-jewels of gleaming towns; Southward shining, the lands declining subside in peace that the sea's light crowns.
Westward wide in its fruitful pride the plain lies lordly with plenteous grace; Fair as dawn's when the fields and lawns desire her glitters the glad land's face: Eastward yet is the sole sign set of elder days and a lordlier race.
Down beneath us afar, where seethe in wilder weather the tides aflow, Hurled up hither and drawn down thither in quest of rest that they may not know, Still as dew on a flower the blue broad stream now sleeps in the fields below.
Mild and bland in the fair green land it smiles, and takes to its heart the sky; Scarce the meads and the fens, the reeds and grasses, still as they stand or lie, Wear the palm of a statelier calm than rests on waters that pass them by.
Yet shall these, when the winds and seas of equal days and coequal nights Rage, rejoice, and uplift a voice whose sound is even as a sword that smites, Felt and heard as a doomsman's word from seaward reaches to landward heights,
Lift their heart up, and take their part of triumph, swollen and strong with rage, Rage elate with desire and great with pride that tempest and storm assuage; So their chime in the ear of time has rung from age to rekindled age.
Fair and dear is the land's face here, and fair man's work as a man's may be: Dear and fair as the sunbright air is here the record that speaks him free; Free by birth of a sacred earth, and regent ever of all the sea.
AN AUTUMN VISION
OCTOBER 31, 1889
Zephyrou gigantos aura
Is it Midsummer here in the heavens that illumine October on earth? Can the year, when his heart is fulfilled with desire of the days of his mirth, Redeem them, recall, or remember? For a memory recalling the rapture of earth, and redeeming the sky, Shines down from the heights to the depths: will the watchword of dawn be July When to-morrow acclaims November? The stern salutation of sorrow to death or repentance to shame Was all that the season was wont to accord her of grace or acclaim; No lightnings of love and of laughter. But here, in the laugh of the loud west wind from around and above, In the flash of the waters beneath him, what sound or what light but of love Rings round him or leaps forth after?
Wind beloved of earth and sky and sea beyond all winds that blow, Wind whose might in fight was England's on her mightiest warrior day, South-west wind, whose breath for her was life, and fire to scourge her foe, Steel to smite and death to drive him down an unreturning way, Well-beloved and welcome, sounding all the clarions of the sky, Rolling all the marshalled waters toward the charge that storms the shore, We receive, acclaim, salute thee, we who live and dream and die, As the mightiest mouth of song that ever spake acclaimed of yore. We that live as they that perish praise thee, lord of cloud and wave, Wind of winds, clothed on with darkness whence as lightning light comes forth, We that know thee strong to guard and smite, to scatter and to save, We to whom the south-west wind is dear as Athens held the north. He for her waged war as thou for us against all powers defiant, Fleets full-fraught with storm from Persia, laden deep with death from Spain: Thee the giant god of song and battle hailed as god and giant, Yet not his but ours the land is whence thy praise should ring and rain; Rain as rapture shed from song, and ring as trumpets blown for battle, Sound and sing before thee, loud and glad as leaps and sinks the sea: Yea, the sea's white steeds are curbed and spurred of thee, and pent as cattle, Yet they laugh with love and pride to live, subdued not save of thee. Ears that hear thee hear in heaven the sound of widening wings gigantic, Eyes that see the cloud-lift westward see thy darkening brows divine; Wings whose measure is the limit of the limitless Atlantic, Brows that bend, and bid the sovereign sea submit her soul to thine.
Twelve days since is it—twelve days gone, Lord of storm, that a storm-bow shone Higher than sweeps thy sublime dark wing, Fair as dawn is and sweet like spring?
Never dawn in the deep wide east Spread so splendid and strange a feast, Whence the soul as it drank and fed Felt such rapture of wonder shed.
Never spring in the wild wood's heart Felt such flowers at her footfall start, Born of earth, as arose on sight Born of heaven and of storm and light.
Stern and sullen, the grey grim sea Swelled and strove as in toils, though free, Free as heaven, and as heaven sublime, Clear as heaven of the toils of time.
Suddenly, sheer from the heights to the depths of the sky and the sea, Sprang from the darkness alive as a vision of life to be Glory triune and transcendent of colour afar and afire, Arching and darkening the darkness with light as of dream or desire. Heaven, in the depth of its height, shone wistful and wan from above: Earth from beneath, and the sea, shone stricken and breathless with love. As a shadow may shine, so shone they; as ghosts of the viewless blest, That sleep hath sight of alive in a rapture of sunbright rest, The green earth glowed and the grey sky gleamed for a wondrous while; And the storm's full frown was crossed by the light of its own deep smile. As the darkness of thought and of passion is touched by the light that gives Life deathless as love from the depth of a spirit that sees and lives, From the soul of a seer and a singer, wherein as a scroll unfurled Lies open the scripture of light and of darkness, the word of the world, So, shapeless and measureless, lurid as anguish and haggard as crime, Pale as the front of oblivion and dark as the heart of time, The wild wan heaven at its height was assailed and subdued and made More fair than the skies that know not of storm and endure not shade. The grim sea-swell, grey, sleepless, and sad as a soul estranged, Shone, smiled, took heart, and was glad of its wrath: and the world's face changed.
Up from moorlands northward gleaming Even to heaven's transcendent height, Clothed with massive cloud, and seeming All one fortress reared of night, Down to where the deep sea, dreaming Angry dreams, lay dark and white, White as death and dark as fate, Heaving with the strong wind's weight, Sad with stormy pride of state, One full rainbow shone elate.
Up from inmost memory's dwelling Where the light of life abides, Where the past finds tongue, foretelling Time that comes and grace that guides, Power that saves and sways, compelling Souls that ebb and flow like tides, Shone or seemed to shine and swim Through the cloud-surf great and grim, Thought's live surge, the soul of him By whose light the sun looks dim.
In what synod were they sitting, All the gods and lords of time, Whence they watched as fen-fires flitting Years and names of men sublime, When their counsels found it fitting One should stand where none might climb— None of man begotten, none Born of men beneath the sun Till the race of time be run, Save this heaven-enfranchised one?
With what rapture of creation Was the soul supernal thrilled, With what pride of adoration Was the world's heart fired and filled, Heaved in heavenward exaltation Higher than hopes or dreams might build, Grave with awe not known while he Was not, mad with glorious glee As the sun-saluted sea, When his hour bade Shakespeare be?
There, clear as night beholds her crowning seven, The sea beheld his likeness set in heaven. The shadow of his spirit full in sight Shone: for the shadow of that soul is light. Nor heaven alone bore witness: earth avowed Him present, and acclaimed of storm aloud. From the arching sky to the ageless hills and sea The whole world, visible, audible, was he: Each part of all that wove that wondrous whole The raiment of the presence of his soul. The sun that smote and kissed the dark to death Spake, smiled, and strove, like song's triumphant breath; The soundless cloud whose thunderous heart was dumb Swelled, lowered, and shrank to feel its conqueror come. Yet high from heaven its empire vast and vain Frowned, and renounced not night's reluctant reign. The serpentine swift sounds and shapes wherein The stainless sea mocks earth and death and sin, Crawls dark as craft, or flashes keen as hate, Subdued and insubmissive, strong like fate And weak like man, bore wrathful witness yet That storms and sins are more than suns that set; That evil everlasting, girt for strife Eternal, wars with hope as death with life. The dark sharp shifting wind that bade the waves Falter, lose heart, bow down like foes made slaves, And waxed within more bitter as they bowed, Baffling the sea, swallowing the sun with cloud, Devouring fast as fire on earth devours And hungering hard as frost that feeds on flowers, Clothed round with fog that reeked as fume from hell, And darkening with its miscreative spell Light, glad and keen and splendid as the sword Whose heft had known Othello's hand its lord, Spake all the soul that hell drew back to greet And felt its fire shrink shuddering from his feet. Far off the darkness darkened, and recoiled, And neared again, and triumphed: and the coiled Colourless cloud and sea discoloured grew Conscious of horror huge as heaven, and knew Where Goneril's soul made chill and foul the mist, And all the leprous life in Regan hissed. Fierce homeless ghosts, rejected of the pit, From hell to hell of storm fear watched them flit. About them and before, the dull grey gloom Shuddered, and heaven seemed hateful as the tomb That shrinks from resurrection; and from out That sullen hell which girt their shades about The nether soul that lurks and lowers within Man, made of dust and fire and shame and sin, Breathed: all the cloud that felt it breathe and blight Was blue as plague or black as thunderous night. Elect of hell, the children of his hate Thronged, as to storm sweet heaven's triumphal gate. The terror of his giving rose and shone Imminent: life had put its likeness on. But higher than all its horrent height of shade Shone sovereign, seen by light itself had made, Above the woes of all the world, above Life, sin, and death, his myriad-minded love. From landward heights whereon the radiance leant Full-fraught from heaven, intense and imminent, To depths wherein the seething strengths of cloud Scarce matched the wrath of waves whereon they bowed, From homeborn pride and kindling love of home To the outer skies and seas of fire and foam, From splendour soft as dew that sundawn thrills To gloom that shudders round the world it fills, From midnights murmuring round Titania's ear To midnights maddening round the rage of Lear, The wonder woven of storm and sun became One with the light that lightens from his name. The music moving on the sea that felt The storm-wind even as snows of springtide melt Was blithe as Ariel's hand or voice might make And bid all grief die gladly for its sake. And there the soul alive in ear and eye That watched the wonders of an hour pass by Saw brighter than all stars that heaven inspheres The silent splendour of Cordelia's tears, Felt in the whispers of the quickening wind The radiance of the laugh of Rosalind, And heard, in sounds that melt the souls of men With love of love, the tune of Imogen.
For the strong north-east is not strong to subdue and to slay the divine south-west, And the darkness is less than the light that it darkens, and dies in reluctant rest. It hovers and hangs on the labouring and trembling ascent of the dawn from the deep, Till the sun's eye quicken the world and the waters, and smite it again into sleep. Night, holy and starry, the fostress of souls, with the fragrance of heaven in her breath, Subdues with the sense of her godhead the forces and mysteries of sorrow and death. Eternal as dawn's is the comfort she gives: but the mist that beleaguers and slays Comes, passes, and is not: the strength of it withers, appalled or assuaged by the day's. Faith, haggard as Fear that had borne her, and dark as the sire that begat her, Despair, Held rule on the soul of the world and the song of it saddening through ages that were; Dim centuries that darkened and brightened and darkened again, and the soul of their song Was great as their grief, and sublime as their suffering, and strong as their sorrows were strong. It knew not, it saw not, but shadows triune, and evoked by the strength of their spell Dark hell, and the mountain of anguish, and heaven that was hollower and harder than hell. These are not: the womb of the darkness that bare them rejects them, and knows them no more: Thought, fettered in misery and iron, revives in the light that it lived in of yore. For the soul that is wisdom and freedom, the spirit of England redeemed from her past, Speaks life through the lips of the master and lord of her children, the first and the last. Thought, touched by his hand and redeemed by his breath, sees, hears, and accepts from above The limitless lightnings of vision and passion, the measureless music of love.
A SWIMMER'S DREAM
NOVEMBER 4, 1889
Somno mollior unda
Dawn is dim on the dark soft water, Soft and passionate, dark and sweet. Love's own self was the deep sea's daughter, Fair and flawless from face to feet, Hailed of all when the world was golden, Loved of lovers whose names beholden Thrill men's eyes as with light of olden Days more glad than their flight was fleet.
So they sang: but for men that love her, Souls that hear not her word in vain, Earth beside her and heaven above her Seem but shadows that wax and wane. Softer than sleep's are the sea's caresses, Kinder than love's that betrays and blesses, Blither than spring's when her flowerful tresses Shake forth sunlight and shine with rain.
All the strength of the waves that perish Swells beneath me and laughs and sighs, Sighs for love of the life they cherish, Laughs to know that it lives and dies, Dies for joy of its life, and lives Thrilled with joy that its brief death gives— Death whose laugh or whose breath forgives Change that bids it subside and rise.
Hard and heavy, remote but nearing, Sunless hangs the severe sky's weight, Cloud on cloud, though the wind be veering Heaped on high to the sundawn's gate. Dawn and even and noon are one, Veiled with vapour and void of sun; Nought in sight or in fancied hearing Now less mighty than time or fate.
The grey sky gleams and the grey seas glimmer, Pale and sweet as a dream's delight, As a dream's where darkness and light seem dimmer, Touched by dawn or subdued by night. The dark wind, stern and sublime and sad, Swings the rollers to westward, clad With lustrous shadow that lures the swimmer, Lures and lulls him with dreams of light.
Light, and sleep, and delight, and wonder, Change, and rest, and a charm of cloud, Fill the world of the skies whereunder Heaves and quivers and pants aloud All the world of the waters, hoary Now, but clothed with its own live glory, That mates the lightning and mocks the thunder With light more living and word more proud.
Far off westward, whither sets the sounding strife, Strife more sweet than peace, of shoreless waves whose glee Scorns the shore and loves the wind that leaves them free, Strange as sleep and pale as death and fair as life, Shifts the moonlight-coloured sunshine on the sea.
Toward the sunset's goal the sunless waters crowd, Fast as autumn days toward winter: yet it seems Here that autumn wanes not, here that woods and streams Lose not heart and change not likeness, chilled and bowed, Warped and wrinkled: here the days are fair as dreams.
O russet-robed November, What ails thee so to smile? Chill August, pale September, Endured a woful while, And fell as falls an ember From forth a flameless pile: But golden-girt November Bids all she looks on smile.
The lustrous foliage, waning As wanes the morning moon, Here falling, here refraining, Outbraves the pride of June With statelier semblance, feigning No fear lest death be soon: As though the woods thus waning Should wax to meet the moon.
As though, when fields lie stricken By grey December's breath, These lordlier growths that sicken And die for fear of death Should feel the sense requicken That hears what springtide saith And thrills for love, spring-stricken And pierced with April's breath.
The keen white-winged north-easter That stings and spurs thy sea Doth yet but feed and feast her With glowing sense of glee: Calm chained her, storm released her, And storm's glad voice was he: South-wester or north-easter, Thy winds rejoice the sea.
A dream, a dream is it all—the season, The sky, the water, the wind, the shore? A day-born dream of divine unreason, A marvel moulded of sleep—no more? For the cloudlike wave that my limbs while cleaving Feel as in slumber beneath them heaving Soothes the sense as to slumber, leaving Sense of nought that was known of yore.
A purer passion, a lordlier leisure, A peace more happy than lives on land, Fulfils with pulse of diviner pleasure The dreaming head and the steering hand. I lean my cheek to the cold grey pillow, The deep soft swell of the full broad billow, And close mine eyes for delight past measure, And wish the wheel of the world would stand.
The wild-winged hour that we fain would capture Falls as from heaven that its light feet clomb, So brief, so soft, and so full the rapture Was felt that soothed me with sense of home. To sleep, to swim, and to dream, for ever— Such joy the vision of man saw never; For here too soon will a dark day sever The sea-bird's wing from the sea-wave's foam.
A dream, and more than a dream, and dimmer At once and brighter than dreams that flee, The moment's joy of the seaward swimmer Abides, remembered as truth may be. Not all the joy and not all the glory Must fade as leaves when the woods wax hoary; For there the downs and the sea-banks glimmer, And here to south of them swells the sea.
Take, O star of all our seas, from not an alien hand, Homage paid of song bowed down before thy glory's face, Thou the living light of all our lovely stormy strand, Thou the brave north-country's very glory of glories, Grace.
Loud and dark about the lighthouse rings and glares the night; Glares with foam-lit gloom and darkling fire of storm and spray, Rings with roar of winds in chase and rage of waves in flight, Howls and hisses as with mouths of snakes and wolves at bay. Scarce the cliffs of the islets, scarce the walls of Joyous Gard, Flash to sight between the deadlier lightnings of the sea: Storm is lord and master of a midnight evil-starred, Nor may sight or fear discern what evil stars may be. Dark as death and white as snow the sea-swell scowls and shines, Heaves and yearns and pants for prey, from ravening lip to lip, Strong in rage of rapturous anguish, lines on hurtling lines, Ranks on charging ranks, that break and rend the battling ship. All the night is mad and murderous: who shall front the night? Not the prow that labours, helpless as a storm-blown leaf, Where the rocks and waters, darkling depth and beetling height, Rage with wave on shattering wave and thundering reef on reef. Death is fallen upon the prisoners there of darkness, bound Like as thralls with links of iron fast in bonds of doom; How shall any way to break the bands of death be found, Any hand avail to pluck them from that raging tomb? All the night is great with child of death: no stars above Show them hope in heaven, no lights from shores ward help on earth. Is there help or hope to seaward, is there help in love, Hope in pity, where the ravening hounds of storm make mirth? Where the light but shows the naked eyeless face of Death Nearer, laughing dumb and grim across the loud live storm? Not in human heart or hand or speech of human breath, Surely, nor in saviours found of mortal face or form. Yet below the light, between the reefs, a skiff shot out Seems a sea-bird fain to breast and brave the strait fierce pass Whence the channelled roar of waters driven in raging rout, Pent and pressed and maddened, speaks their monstrous might and mass. Thunder heaves and howls about them, lightning leaps and flashes, Hard at hand, not high in heaven, but close between the walls Heaped and hollowed of the storms of old, whence reels and crashes All the rage of all the unbaffled wave that breaks and falls. Who shall thwart the madness and the gladness of it, laden Full with heavy fate, and joyous as the birds that whirl? Nought in heaven or earth, if not one mortal-moulded maiden, Nought if not the soul that glorifies a northland girl. Not the rocks that break may baffle, not the reefs that thwart Stay the ravenous rapture of the waves that crowd and leap; Scarce their flashing laughter shows the hunger of their heart, Scarce their lion-throated roar the wrath at heart they keep. Child and man and woman in the grasp of death clenched fast Tremble, clothed with darkness round about, and scarce draw breath, Scarce lift eyes up toward the light that saves not, scarce may cast Thought or prayer up, caught and trammelled in the snare of death. Not as sea-mews cling and laugh or sun their plumes and sleep Cling and cower the wild night's waifs of shipwreck, blind with fear, Where the fierce reef scarce yields foothold that a bird might keep, And the clamorous darkness deadens eye and deafens ear. Yet beyond their helpless hearing, out of hopeless sight, Saviours, armed and girt upon with strength of heart, fare forth, Sire and daughter, hand on oar and face against the night, Maid and man whose names are beacons ever to the North. Nearer now; but all the madness of the storming surf Hounds and roars them back; but roars and hounds them back in vain: As a pleasure-skiff may graze the lake-embanking turf, So the boat that bears them grates the rock where-toward they strain. Dawn as fierce and haggard as the face of night scarce guides Toward the cries that rent and clove the darkness, crying for aid, Hours on hours, across the engorged reluctance of the tides, Sire and daughter, high-souled man and mightier-hearted maid. Not the bravest land that ever breasted war's grim sea, Hurled her foes back harried on the lowlands whence they came, Held her own and smote her smiters down, while such durst be, Shining northward, shining southward, as the aurorean flame, Not our mother, not Northumberland, brought ever forth, Though no southern shore may match the sons that kiss her mouth, Children worthier all the birthright given of the ardent north Where the fire of hearts outburns the suns that fire the south. Even such fire was this that lit them, not from lowering skies Where the darkling dawn flagged, stricken in the sun's own shrine, Down the gulf of storm subsiding, till their earnest eyes Find the relics of the ravening night that spared but nine. Life by life the man redeems them, head by storm-worn head, While the girl's hand stays the boat whereof the waves are fain: Ah, but woe for one, the mother clasping fast her dead! Happier, had the surges slain her with her children slain. Back they bear, and bring between them safe the woful nine, Where above the ravenous Hawkers fixed at watch for prey Storm and calm behold the Longstone's towering signal shine Now as when that labouring night brought forth a shuddering day. Now as then, though like the hounds of storm against her snarling All the clamorous years between us storm down many a fame, As our sires beheld before us we behold Grace Darling Crowned and throned our queen, and as they hailed we hail her name. Nay, not ours alone, her kinsfolk born, though chiefliest ours, East and west and south acclaim her queen of England's maids, Star more sweet than all their stars and flower than all their flowers, Higher in heaven and earth than star that sets or flower that fades. How should land or sea that nurtured her forget, or love Hold not fast her fame for us while aught is borne in mind? Land and sea beneath us, sun and moon and stars above, Bear the bright soul witness, seen of all but souls born blind. Stars and moon and sun may wax and wane, subside and rise, Age on age as flake on flake of showering snows be shed: Not till earth be sunless, not till death strike blind the skies, May the deathless love that waits on deathless deeds be dead.
Years on years have withered since beside the hearth once thine I, too young to have seen thee, touched thy father's hallowed hand: Thee and him shall all men see for ever, stars that shine While the sea that spared thee girds and glorifies the land.
TO E. H.
The dawn of night more fair than morning rose, Stars hurrying forth on stars, as snows on snows Haste when the wind and winter bid them speed. Vague miles of moorland road behind us lay Scarce traversed ere the day Sank, and the sun forsook us at our need, Belated. Where we thought to have rested, rest Was none; for soft Maree's dim quivering breast, Bound round with gracious inland girth of green And fearless of the wild wave-wandering West, Shone shelterless for strangers; and unseen The goal before us lay Of all our blithe and strange and strenuous day.
For when the northering road faced westward—when The dark sharp sudden gorge dropped seaward—then, Beneath the stars, between the steeps, the track We followed, lighted not of moon or sun, And plunging whither none Might guess, while heaven and earth were hoar and black, Seemed even the dim still pass whence none turns back: And through the twilight leftward of the way, And down the dark, with many a laugh and leap, The light blithe hill-streams shone from scaur to steep In glittering pride of play; And ever while the night grew great and deep We felt but saw not what the hills would keep Sacred awhile from sense of moon or star; And full and far Beneath us, sweet and strange as heaven may be, The sea.
The very sea: no mountain-moulded lake Whose fluctuant shapeliness is fain to take Shape from the steadfast shore that rules it round, And only from the storms a casual sound: The sea, that harbours in her heart sublime The supreme heart of music deep as time, And in her spirit strong The spirit of all imaginable song.
Not a whisper or lisp from the waters: the skies were not silenter. Peace Was between them; a passionless rapture of respite as soft as release. Not a sound, but a sense that possessed and pervaded with patient delight The soul and the body, clothed round with the comfort of limitless night. Night infinite, living, adorable, loved of the land and the sea: Night, mother of mercies, who saith to the spirits in prison, Be free. And softer than dewfall, and kindlier than starlight, and keener than wine, Came round us the fragrance of waters, the life of the breath of the brine. We saw not, we heard not, the face or the voice of the waters: we knew By the darkling delight of the wind as the sense of the sea in it grew, By the pulse of the darkness about us enkindled and quickened, that here, Unseen and unheard of us, surely the goal we had faith in was near. A silence diviner than music, a darkness diviner than light, Fulfilled as from heaven with a measureless comfort the measure of night.
But never a roof for shelter And never a sign for guide Rose doubtful or visible: only And hardly and gladly we heard The soft waves whisper and welter, Subdued, and allured to subside, By the mild night's magic: the lonely Sweet silence was soothed, not stirred, By the noiseless noise of the gleaming Glad ripples, that played and sighed, Kissed, laughed, recoiled, and relented, Whispered, flickered, and fled. No season was this for dreaming How oft, with a stormier tide, Had the wrath of the winds been vented On sons of the tribes long dead: The tribes whom time, and the changes Of things, and the stress of doom, Have erased and effaced; forgotten As wrecks or weeds of the shore In sight of the stern hill-ranges That hardly may change their gloom When the fruits of the years wax rotten And the seed of them springs no more. For the dim strait footway dividing The waters that breathed below Led safe to the kindliest of shelters That ever awoke into light: And still in remembrance abiding Broods over the stars that glow And the water that eddies and welters The passionate peace of the night.
All night long, in the world of sleep, Skies and waters were soft and deep: Shadow clothed them, and silence made Soundless music of dream and shade: All above us, the livelong night, Shadow, kindled with sense of light; All around us, the brief night long, Silence, laden with sense of song. Stars and mountains without, we knew, Watched and waited, the soft night through: All unseen, but divined and dear, Thrilled the touch of the sea's breath near: All unheard, but alive like sound, Throbbed the sense of the sea's life round: Round us, near us, in depth and height, Soft as darkness and keen as light.
And the dawn leapt in at my casement: and there, as I rose, at my feet No waves of the landlocked waters, no lake submissive and sweet, Soft slave of the lordly seasons, whose breath may loose it or freeze; But to left and to right and ahead was the ripple whose pulse is the sea's. From the gorge we had travelled by starlight the sunrise, winged and aflame, Shone large on the live wide wavelets that shuddered with joy as it came; As it came and caressed and possessed them, till panting and laughing with light From mountain to mountain the water was kindled and stung to delight. And the grey gaunt heights that embraced and constrained and compelled it were glad, And the rampart of rock, stark naked, that thwarted and barred it, was clad With a stern grey splendour of sunrise: and scarce had I sprung to the sea When the dawn and the water were wedded, the hills and the sky set free. The chain of the night was broken: the waves that embraced me and smiled And flickered and fawned in the sunlight, alive, unafraid, undefiled, Were sweeter to swim in than air, though fulfilled with the mounting morn, Could be for the birds whose triumph rejoiced that a day was born.
And a day was arisen indeed for us. Years and the changes of years Clothed round with their joys and their sorrows, and dead as their hopes and their fears, Lie noteless and nameless, unlit by remembrance or record of days Worth wonder or memory, or cursing or blessing, or passion or praise, Between us who live and forget not, but yearn with delight in it yet, And the day we forget not, and never may live and may think to forget. And the years that were kindlier and fairer, and kindled with pleasures as keen, Have eclipsed not with lights or with shadows the light on the face of it seen. For softly and surely, as nearer the boat that we gazed from drew, The face of the precipice opened and bade us as birds pass through, And the bark shot sheer to the sea through the strait of the sharp steep cleft, The portal that opens with imminent rampires to right and to left, Sublime as the sky they darken and strange as a spell-struck dream, On the world unconfined of the mountains, the reign of the sea supreme, The kingdom of westward waters, wherein when we swam we knew The waves that we clove were boundless, the wind on our brows that blew Had swept no land and no lake, and had warred not on tower or on tree, But came on us hard out of heaven, and alive with the soul of the sea.
THE PALACE OF PAN
INSCRIBED TO MY MOTHER
September, all glorious with gold, as a king In the radiance of triumph attired, Outlightening the summer, outsweetening the spring, Broods wide on the woodlands with limitless wing, A presence of all men desired.
Far eastward and westward the sun-coloured lands Smile warm as the light on them smiles; And statelier than temples upbuilded with hands, Tall column by column, the sanctuary stands Of the pine-forest's infinite aisles.
Mute worship, too fervent for praise or for prayer, Possesses the spirit with peace, Fulfilled with the breath of the luminous air, The fragrance, the silence, the shadows as fair As the rays that recede or increase.
Ridged pillars that redden aloft and aloof, With never a branch for a nest, Sustain the sublime indivisible roof, To the storm and the sun in his majesty proof, And awful as waters at rest.
Man's hand hath not measured the height of them; thought May measure not, awe may not know; In its shadow the woofs of the woodland are wrought; As a bird is the sun in the toils of them caught, And the flakes of it scattered as snow.
As the shreds of a plumage of gold on the ground The sun-flakes by multitudes lie, Shed loose as the petals of roses discrowned On the floors of the forest engilt and embrowned And reddened afar and anigh.
Dim centuries with darkling inscrutable hands Have reared and secluded the shrine For gods that we know not, and kindled as brands On the altar the years that are dust, and their sands Time's glass has forgotten for sign.
A temple whose transepts are measured by miles, Whose chancel has morning for priest, Whose floor-work the foot of no spoiler defiles, Whose musical silence no music beguiles, No festivals limit its feast.
The noon's ministration, the night's and the dawn's, Conceals not, reveals not for man, On the slopes of the herbless and blossomless lawns, Some track of a nymph's or some trail of a faun's To the place of the slumber of Pan.
Thought, kindled and quickened by worship and wonder To rapture too sacred for fear On the ways that unite or divide them in sunder, Alone may discern if about them or under Be token or trace of him here.
With passionate awe that is deeper than panic The spirit subdued and unshaken Takes heed of the godhead terrene and Titanic Whose footfall is felt on the breach of volcanic Sharp steeps that their fire has forsaken.
By a spell more serene than the dim necromantic Dead charms of the past and the night, Or the terror that lurked in the noon to make frantic Where Etna takes shape from the limbs of gigantic Dead gods disanointed of might,
The spirit made one with the spirit whose breath Makes noon in the woodland sublime Abides as entranced in a presence that saith Things loftier than life and serener than death, Triumphant and silent as time.
PINE RIDGE: September 1893
A YEAR'S CAROLS
Hail, January, that bearest here On snowbright breasts the babe-faced year That weeps and trembles to be born. Hail, maid and mother, strong and bright, Hooded and cloaked and shod with white, Whose eyes are stars that match the morn. Thy forehead braves the storm's bent bow, Thy feet enkindle stars of snow.
Wan February with weeping cheer, Whose cold hand guides the youngling year Down misty roads of mire and rime, Before thy pale and fitful face The shrill wind shifts the clouds apace Through skies the morning scarce may climb. Thine eyes are thick with heavy tears, But lit with hopes that light the year's.
Hail, happy March, whose foot on earth Rings as the blast of martial mirth When trumpets fire men's hearts for fray. No race of wild things winged or finned May match the might that wings thy wind Through air and sea, through scud and spray. Strong joy and thou were powers twin-born Of tempest and the towering morn.
Crowned April, king whose kiss bade earth Bring forth to time her lordliest birth When Shakespeare from thy lips drew breath And laughed to hold in one soft hand A spell that bade the world's wheel stand, And power on life, and power on death, With quiring suns and sunbright showers Praise him, the flower of all thy flowers.
Hail, May, whose bark puts forth full-sailed For summer; May, whom Chaucer hailed With all his happy might of heart, And gave thy rosebright daisy-tips Strange fragrance from his amorous lips That still thine own breath seems to part And sweeten till each word they say Is even a flower of flowering May.
Strong June, superb, serene, elate With conscience of thy sovereign state Untouched of thunder, though the storm Scathe here and there thy shuddering skies And bid its lightning cross thine eyes With fire, thy golden hours inform Earth and the souls of men with life That brings forth peace from shining strife.
Hail, proud July, whose fervent mouth Bids even be morn and north be south By grace and gospel of thy word, Whence all the splendour of the sea Lies breathless with delight in thee And marvel at the music heard From the ardent silent lips of noon And midnight's rapturous plenilune.
Great August, lord of golden lands, Whose lordly joy through seas and strands And all the red-ripe heart of earth Strikes passion deep as life, and stills The folded vales and folding hills With gladness too divine for mirth, The gracious glories of thine eyes Make night a noon where darkness dies.
Hail, kind September, friend whose grace Renews the bland year's bounteous face With largess given of corn and wine Through many a land that laughs with love Of thee and all the heaven above, More fruitful found than all save thine Whose skies fulfil with strenuous cheer The fervent fields that knew thee near.
October of the tawny crown, Whose heavy-laden hands drop down Blessing, the bounties of thy breath And mildness of thy mellowing might Fill earth and heaven with love and light Too sweet for fear to dream of death Or memory, while thy joy lives yet, To know what joy would fain forget.
Hail, soft November, though thy pale Sad smile rebuke the words that hail Thy sorrow with no sorrowing words Or gratulate thy grief with song Less bitter than the winds that wrong Thy withering woodlands, where the birds Keep hardly heart to sing or see How fair thy faint wan face may be.
December, thou whose hallowing hands On shuddering seas and hardening lands Set as a sacramental sign The seal of Christmas felt on earth As witness toward a new year's birth Whose promise makes thy death divine, The crowning joy that comes of thee Makes glad all grief on land or sea.
ENGLAND: AN ODE
Sea and strand, and a lordlier land than sea-tides rolling and rising sun Clasp and lighten in climes that brighten with day when day that was here is done, Call aloud on their children, proud with trust that future and past are one.
Far and near from the swan's nest here the storm-birds bred of her fair white breast, Sons whose home was the sea-wave's foam, have borne the fame of her east and west; North and south has the storm-wind's mouth rung praise of England and England's quest.
Fame, wherever her flag flew, never forbore to fly with an equal wing: France and Spain with their warrior train bowed down before her as thrall to king; India knelt at her feet, and felt her sway more fruitful of life than spring.
Darkness round them as iron bound fell off from races of elder name, Slain at sight of her eyes, whose light bids freedom lighten and burn as flame; Night endures not the touch that cures of kingship tyrants, and slaves of shame.
All the terror of time, where error and fear were lords of a world of slaves, Age on age in resurgent rage and anguish darkening as waves on waves, Fell or fled from a face that shed such grace as quickens the dust of graves.
Things of night at her glance took flight: the strengths of darkness recoiled and sank: Sank the fires of the murderous pyres whereon wild agony writhed and shrank: Rose the light of the reign of right from gulfs of years that the darkness drank.
Yet the might of her wings in flight, whence glory lightens and music rings, Loud and bright as the dawn's, shall smite and still the discord of evil things, Yet not slain by her radiant reign, but darkened now by her sail-stretched wings.
Music made of change and conquest, glory born of evil slain, Stilled the discord, slew the darkness, bade the lights of tempest wane, Where the deathless dawn of England rose in sign that right should reign.
Mercy, where the tiger wallowed mad and blind with blood and lust, Justice, where the jackal yelped and fed, and slaves allowed it just, Rose as England's light on Asia rose, and smote them down to dust.
Justice bright as mercy, mercy girt by justice with her sword, Smote and saved and raised and ruined, till the tyrant-ridden horde Saw the lightning fade from heaven and knew the sun for God and lord.
Where the footfall sounds of England, where the smile of England shines, Rings the tread and laughs the face of freedom, fair as hope divines Days to be, more brave than ours and lit by lordlier stars for signs.
All our past acclaims our future: Shakespeare's voice and Nelson's hand, Milton's faith and Wordsworth's trust in this our chosen and chainless land, Bear us witness: come the world against her, England yet shall stand.
Earth and sea bear England witness if he lied who said it; he Whom the winds that ward her, waves that clasp, and herb and flower and tree Fed with English dews and sunbeams, hail as more than man may be.
No man ever spake as he that bade our England be but true, Keep but faith with England fast and firm, and none should bid her rue; None may speak as he: but all may know the sign that Shakespeare knew.
From the springs of the dawn, from the depths of the noon, from the heights of the night that shine, Hope, faith, and remembrance of glory that found but in England her throne and her shrine, Speak louder than song may proclaim them, that here is the seal of them set for a sign.
And loud as the sea's voice thunders applause of the land that is one with the sea Speaks Time in the ear of the people that never at heart was not inly free The word of command that assures us of life, if we will but that life shall be;
If the race that is first of the races of men who behold unashamed the sun Stand fast and forget not the sign that is given of the years and the wars that are done, The token that all who are born of its blood should in heart as in blood be one.
The word of remembrance that lightens as fire from the steeps of the storm-lit past Bids only the faith of our fathers endure in us, firm as they held it fast: That the glory which was from the first upon England alone may endure to the last.
That the love and the hate may change not, the faith may not fade, nor the wrath nor scorn, That shines for her sons and that burns for her foemen as fire of the night or the morn: That the births of her womb may forget not the sign of the glory wherein they were born.
A light that is more than the sunlight, an air that is brighter than morning's breath, Clothes England about as the strong sea clasps her, and answers the word that it saith; The word that assures her of life if she change not, and choose not the ways of death.
Change darkens and lightens around her, alternate in hope and in fear to be: Hope knows not if fear speak truth, nor fear whether hope be not blind as she: But the sun is in heaven that beholds her immortal, and girdled with life by the sea.
ETON: AN ODE
FOR THE FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF THE COLLEGE
Four hundred summers and fifty have shone on the meadows of Thames and died Since Eton arose in an age that was darkness, and shone by his radiant side As a star that the spell of a wise man's word bade live and ascend and abide.
And ever as time's flow brightened, a river more dark than the storm-clothed sea, And age upon age rose fairer and larger in promise of hope set free, With England Eton her child kept pace as a fostress of men to be.
And ever as earth waxed wiser, and softer the beating of time's wide wings, Since fate fell dark on her father, most hapless and gentlest of star-crossed kings, Her praise has increased as the chant of the dawn that the choir of the noon outsings.
Storm and cloud in the skies were loud, and lightning mocked at the blind sun's light; War and woe on the land below shed heavier shadow than falls from night; Dark was earth at her dawn of birth as here her record of praise is bright.
Clear and fair through her morning air the light first laugh of the sunlit stage Rose and rang as a fount that sprang from depths yet dark with a spent storm's rage, Loud and glad as a boy's, and bade the sunrise open on Shakespeare's age.
Lords of state and of war, whom fate found strong in battle, in counsel strong, Here, ere fate had approved them great, abode their season, and thought not long: Here too first was the lark's note nursed that filled and flooded the skies with song.
Shelley, lyric lord of England's lordliest singers, here first heard Ring from lips of poets crowned and dead the Promethean word Whence his soul took fire, and power to outsoar the sunward-soaring bird.
Still the reaches of the river, still the light on field and hill, Still the memories held aloft as lamps for hope's young fire to fill, Shine, and while the light of England lives shall shine for England still.
When four hundred more and fifty years have risen and shone and set, Bright with names that men remember, loud with names that men forget, Haply here shall Eton's record be what England finds it yet.
Three in one, but one in three, God, who girt her with the sea, Bade our Commonweal to be: Nought, if now not one. Though fraud and fear would sever The bond assured for ever, Their shameful strength shall never Undo what heaven has done.
South and North and West and East Watch the ravens flock to feast, Dense as round some death-struck beast, Black as night is black. Stand fast as faith together In stress of treacherous weather When hounds and wolves break tether And Treason guides the pack.
Lovelier than thy seas are strong, Glorious Ireland, sword and song Gird and crown thee: none may wrong, Save thy sons alone. The sea that laughs around us Hath sundered not but bound us: The sun's first rising found us Throned on its equal throne.
North and South and East and West, All true hearts that wish thee best Beat one tune and own one quest, Staunch and sure as steel. God guard from dark disunion Our threefold State's communion, God save the loyal Union, The royal Commonweal!
EAST TO WEST
Sunset smiles on sunrise: east and west are one, Face to face in heaven before the sovereign sun. From the springs of the dawn everlasting a glory renews and transfigures the west, From the depths of the sunset a light as of morning enkindles the broad sea's breast, And the lands and the skies and the waters are glad of the day's and the night's work done.
Child of dawn, and regent on the world-wide sea, England smiles on Europe, fair as dawn and free. Not the waters that gird her are purer, nor mightier the winds that her waters know. But America, daughter and sister of England, is praised of them, far as they flow: Atlantic responds to Pacific the praise of her days that have been and shall be.
So from England westward let the watchword fly, So for England eastward let the seas reply; Praise, honour, and love everlasting be sent on the wind's wings, westward and east, That the pride of the past and the pride of the future may mingle as friends at feast, And the sons of the lords of the world-wide seas be one till the world's life die.
FOR THE FOUR SIDES OF A PEDESTAL
Marlowe, the father of the sons of song Whose praise is England's crowning praise, above All glories else that crown her, sweet and strong As England, clothed with light and fire of love, And girt with might of passion, thought, and trust, Stands here in spirit, sleeps not here in dust.
Marlowe, a star too sovereign, too superb, To fade when heaven took fire from Shakespeare's light, A soul that knew but song's triumphal curb And love's triumphant bondage, holds of right His pride of place, who first in place and time Made England's voice as England's heart sublime.
Marlowe bade England live in living song: The light he lifted up lit Shakespeare's way: He spake, and life sprang forth in music, strong As fire or lightning, sweet as dawn of day. Song was a dream where day took night to wife: "Let there be life," he said: and there was life.
Marlowe of all our fathers first beheld Beyond the tidal ebb and flow of things The tideless depth and height of souls, impelled By thought or passion, borne on waves or wings, Beyond all flight or sight but song's: and he First gave our song a sound that matched our sea.
ON THE DEATH OF RICHARD BURTON
Night or light is it now, wherein Sleeps, shut out from the wild world's din, Wakes, alive with a life more clear, One who found not on earth his kin?
Sleep were sweet for awhile, were dear Surely to souls that were heartless here, Souls that faltered and flagged and fell, Soft of spirit and faint of cheer.
A living soul that had strength to quell Hope the spectre and fear the spell, Clear-eyed, content with a scorn sublime And a faith superb, can it fare not well?
Life, the shadow of wide-winged time, Cast from the wings that change as they climb, Life may vanish in death, and seem Less than the promise of last year's prime.
But not for us is the past a dream Wherefrom, as light from a clouded stream, Faith fades and shivers and ebbs away, Faint as the moon if the sundawn gleam.
Faith, whose eyes in the low last ray Watch the fire that renews the day, Faith which lives in the living past, Rock-rooted, swerves not as weeds that sway.
As trees that stand in the storm-wind fast She stands, unsmitten of death's keen blast, With strong remembrance of sunbright spring Alive at heart to the lifeless last.
Night, she knows, may in no wise cling To a soul that sinks not and droops not wing, A sun that sets not in death's false night Whose kingdom finds him not thrall but king.
Souls there are that for soul's affright Bow down and cower in the sun's glad sight, Clothed round with faith that is one with fear, And dark with doubt of the live world's light.
But him we hailed from afar or near As boldest born of the bravest here And loved as brightest of souls that eyed Life, time, and death with unchangeful cheer,
A wider soul than the world was wide, Whose praise made love of him one with pride, What part has death or has time in him, Who rode life's lists as a god might ride?
While England sees not her old praise dim, While still her stars through the world's night swim, A fame outshining her Raleigh's fame, A light that lightens her loud sea's rim,
Shall shine and sound as her sons proclaim The pride that kindles at Burton's name. And joy shall exalt their pride to be The same in birth if in soul the same.
But we that yearn for a friend's face—we Who lack the light that on earth was he— Mourn, though the light be a quenchless flame That shines as dawn on a tideless sea.
Auvergne, Auvergne, O wild and woful land, O glorious land and gracious, white as gleam The stairs of heaven, black as a flameless brand, Strange even as life, and stranger than a dream,
Could earth remember man, whose eyes made bright The splendour of her beauty, lit by day Or soothed and softened and redeemed by night, Wouldst thou not know what light has passed away?
Wouldst thou not know whom England, whom the world, Mourns? For the world whose wildest ways he trod, And smiled their dangers down that coiled and curled Against him, knows him now less man than god.
Our demigod of daring, keenest-eyed To read and deepest read in earth's dim things, A spirit now whose body of death has died And left it mightier yet in eyes and wings, The sovereign seeker of the world, who now Hath sought what world the light of death may show, Hailed once with me the crowns that load thy brow, Crags dark as midnight, columns bright as snow.
Thy steep small Siena, splendid and content As shines the mightier city's Tuscan pride Which here its face reflects in radiance, pent By narrower bounds from towering side to side,
Set fast between the ridged and foamless waves Of earth more fierce and fluctuant than the sea, The fearless town of towers that hails and braves The heights that gird, the sun that brands Le Puy;
The huddled churches clinging on the cliffs As birds alighting might for storm's sake cling, Moored to the rocks as tempest-harried skiffs To perilous refuge from the loud wind's wing;
The stairs on stairs that wind and change and climb Even up to the utmost crag's edge curved and curled, More bright than vision, more than faith sublime, Strange as the light and darkness of the world;
Strange as are night and morning, stars and sun, And washed from west and east by day's deep tide. Shine yet less fair, when all their heights are won, Than sundawn shows thy pillared mountain-side.