Poems and Ballads
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Taken from The Collected Poetical Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne—Vol. III
THE COLLECTED POETICAL WORKS OF ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE
POEMS & BALLADS
(SECOND AND THIRD SERIES)
SONGS OF THE SPRINGTIDES
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
POEMS & BALLADS
(SECOND AND THIRD SERIES)
SONGS OF THE SPRINGTIDES
Algernon Charles Swinburne
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
First printed (Chatto), 1904
Reprinted 1904, '09, '10, '12
London: William Heinemann, 1917
POEMS AND BALLADS
PAGE MARCH: AN ODE 169
THE COMMONWEAL 174
THE ARMADA 187
TO A SEAMEW 211
PAN AND THALASSIUS 215
A BALLAD OF BATH 222
IN A GARDEN 224
A RHYME 226
A WORD WITH THE WIND 234
BY THE WAYSIDE 241
IN TIME OF MOURNING 244
THE INTERPRETERS 245
THE RECALL 248
BY TWILIGHT 249
A BABY'S EPITAPH 250
ON THE DEATH OF SIR HENRY TAYLOR 251
IN MEMORY OF JOHN WILLIAM INCHBOLD 252
NEW YEAR'S DAY 257
TO SIR RICHARD F. BURTON 258
NELL GWYN 259
CALIBAN ON ARIEL 260
THE WEARY WEDDING 261
THE WINDS 270
A LYKE-WAKE SONG 271
A REIVER'S NECK-VERSE 272
THE WITCH-MOTHER 273
THE BRIDE'S TRAGEDY 276
A JACOBITE'S FAREWELL 281
A JACOBITE'S EXILE 282
THE TYNESIDE WIDOW 286
POEMS AND BALLADS
WILLIAM BELL SCOTT
POET AND PAINTER
I DEDICATE THESE POEMS
IN MEMORY OF MANY YEARS
MARCH: AN ODE
Ere frost-flower and snow-blossom faded and fell, and the splendour of winter had passed out of sight, The ways of the woodlands were fairer and stranger than dreams that fulfil us in sleep with delight; The breath of the mouths of the winds had hardened on tree-tops and branches that glittered and swayed Such wonders and glories of blossomlike snow or of frost that outlightens all flowers till it fade That the sea was not lovelier than here was the land, nor the night than the day, nor the day than the night, Nor the winter sublimer with storm than the spring: such mirth had the madness and might in thee made, March, master of winds, bright minstrel and marshal of storms that enkindle the season they smite.
And now that the rage of thy rapture is satiate with revel and ravin and spoil of the snow, And the branches it brightened are broken, and shattered the tree-tops that only thy wrath could lay low, How should not thy lovers rejoice in thee, leader and lord of the year that exults to be born So strong in thy strength and so glad of thy gladness whose laughter puts winter and sorrow to scorn? Thou hast shaken the snows from thy wings, and the frost on thy forehead is molten: thy lips are aglow As a lover's that kindle with kissing, and earth, with her raiment and tresses yet wasted and torn, Takes breath as she smiles in the grasp of thy passion to feel through her spirit the sense of thee flow.
Fain, fain would we see but again for an hour what the wind and the sun have dispelled and consumed, Those full deep swan-soft feathers of snow with whose luminous burden the branches implumed Hung heavily, curved as a half-bent bow, and fledged not as birds are, but petalled as flowers, Each tree-top and branchlet a pinnacle jewelled and carved, or a fountain that shines as it showers, But fixed as a fountain is fixed not, and wrought not to last till by time or by tempest entombed, As a pinnacle carven and gilded of men: for the date of its doom is no more than an hour's, One hour of the sun's when the warm wind wakes him to wither the snow-flowers that froze as they bloomed.
As the sunshine quenches the snowshine; as April subdues thee, and yields up his kingdom to May; So time overcomes the regret that is born of delight as it passes in passion away, And leaves but a dream for desire to rejoice in or mourn for with tears or thanksgivings; but thou, Bright god that art gone from us, maddest and gladdest of months, to what goal hast thou gone from us now? For somewhere surely the storm of thy laughter that lightens, the beat of thy wings that play, Must flame as a fire through the world, and the heavens that we know not rejoice in thee: surely thy brow Hath lost not its radiance of empire, thy spirit the joy that impelled it on quest as for prey.
Are thy feet on the ways of the limitless waters, thy wings on the winds of the waste north sea? Are the fires of the false north dawn over heavens where summer is stormful and strong like thee Now bright in the sight of thine eyes? are the bastions of icebergs assailed by the blast of thy breath? Is it March with the wild north world when April is waning? the word that the changed year saith, Is it echoed to northward with rapture of passion reiterate from spirits triumphant as we Whose hearts were uplift at the blast of thy clarions as men's rearisen from a sleep that was death And kindled to life that was one with the world's and with thine? hast thou set not the whole world free?
For the breath of thy lips is freedom, and freedom's the sense of thy spirit, the sound of thy song, Glad god of the north-east wind, whose heart is as high as the hands of thy kingdom are strong, Thy kingdom whose empire is terror and joy, twin-featured and fruitful of births divine, Days lit with the flame of the lamps of the flowers, and nights that are drunken with dew for wine, And sleep not for joy of the stars that deepen and quicken, a denser and fierier throng, And the world that thy breath bade whiten and tremble rejoices at heart as they strengthen and shine, And earth gives thanks for the glory bequeathed her, and knows of thy reign that it wrought not wrong.
Thy spirit is quenched not, albeit we behold not thy face in the crown of the steep sky's arch, And the bold first buds of the whin wax golden, and witness arise of the thorn and the larch: Wild April, enkindled to laughter and storm by the kiss of the wildest of winds that blow, Calls loud on his brother for witness; his hands that were laden with blossom are sprinkled with snow, And his lips breathe winter, and laugh, and relent; and the live woods feel not the frost's flame parch; For the flame of the spring that consumes not but quickens is felt at the heart of the forest aglow, And the sparks that enkindled and fed it were strewn from the hands of the gods of the winds of March.
Eight hundred years and twenty-one Have shone and sunken since the land Whose name is freedom bore such brand As marks a captive, and the sun Beheld her fettered hand.
But ere dark time had shed as rain Or sown on sterile earth as seed That bears no fruit save tare and weed An age and half an age again, She rose on Runnymede.
Out of the shadow, starlike still, She rose up radiant in her right, And spake, and put to fear and flight The lawless rule of awless will That pleads no right save might.
Nor since hath England ever borne The burden laid on subject lands, The rule that curbs and binds all hands Save one, and marks for servile scorn The heads it bows and brands.
A commonweal arrayed and crowned With gold and purple, girt with steel At need, that foes must fear or feel, We find her, as our fathers found, Earth's lordliest commonweal.
And now that fifty years are flown Since in a maiden's hand the sign Of empire that no seas confine First as a star to seaward shone, We see their record shine.
A troubled record, foul and fair, A simple record and serene, Inscribes for praise a blameless queen, For praise and blame an age of care And change and ends unseen.
Hope, wide of eye and wild of wing, Rose with the sundawn of a reign Whose grace should make the rough ways plain, And fill the worn old world with spring, And heal its heart of pain.
Peace was to be on earth; men's hope Was holier than their fathers had, Their wisdom not more wise than glad: They saw the gates of promise ope, And heard what love's lips bade.
Love armed with knowledge, winged and wise, Should hush the wind of war, and see, They said, the sun of days to be Bring round beneath serener skies A stormless jubilee.
Time, in the darkness unbeholden That hides him from the sight of fear And lets but dreaming hope draw near, Smiled and was sad to hear such golden Strains hail the all-golden year.
Strange clouds have risen between, and wild Red stars of storm that lit the abyss Wherein fierce fraud and violence kiss And mock such promise as beguiled The fiftieth year from this.
War upon war, change after change, Hath shaken thrones and towers to dust, And hopes austere and faiths august Have watched in patience stern and strange Men's works unjust and just.
As from some Alpine watch-tower's portal Night, living yet, looks forth for dawn, So from time's mistier mountain lawn The spirit of man, in trust immortal, Yearns toward a hope withdrawn.
The morning comes not, yet the night Wanes, and men's eyes win strength to see Where twilight is, where light shall be When conquered wrong and conquering right Acclaim a world set free.
Calm as our mother-land, the mother Of faith and freedom, pure and wise, Keeps watch beneath unchangeful skies, When hath she watched the woes of other Strange lands with alien eyes?
Calm as she stands alone, what nation Hath lacked an alms from English hands? What exiles from what stricken lands Have lacked the shelter of the station Where higher than all she stands?
Though time discrown and change dismantle The pride of thrones and towers that frown, How should they bring her glories down— The sea cast round her like a mantle, The sea-cloud like a crown?
The sea, divine as heaven and deathless, Is hers, and none but only she Hath learnt the sea's word, none but we Her children hear in heart the breathless Bright watchword of the sea.
Heard not of others, or misheard Of many a land for many a year, The watchword Freedom fails not here Of hearts that witness if the word Find faith in England's ear.
She, first to love the light, and daughter Incarnate of the northern dawn, She, round whose feet the wild waves fawn When all their wrath of warring water Sounds like a babe's breath drawn,
How should not she best know, love best, And best of all souls understand The very soul of freedom, scanned Far off, sought out in darkling quest By men at heart unmanned?
They climb and fall, ensnared, enshrouded, By mists of words and toils they set To take themselves, till fierce regret Grows mad with shame, and all their clouded Red skies hang sunless yet.
But us the sun, not wholly risen Nor equal now for all, illumes With more of light than cloud that looms; Of light that leads forth souls from prison And breaks the seals of tombs.
Did not her breasts who reared us rear Him who took heaven in hand, and weighed Bright world with world in balance laid? What Newton's might could make not clear Hath Darwin's might not made?
The forces of the dark dissolve, The doorways of the dark are broken: The word that casts out night is spoken, And whence the springs of things evolve Light born of night bears token.
She, loving light for light's sake only, And truth for only truth's, and song For song's sake and the sea's, how long Hath she not borne the world her lonely Witness of right and wrong?
From light to light her eyes imperial Turn, and require the further light, More perfect than the sun's in sight, Till star and sun seem all funereal Lamps of the vaulted night.
She gazes till the strenuous soul Within the rapture of her eyes Creates or bids awake, arise, The light she looks for, pure and whole And worshipped of the wise.
Such sons are hers, such radiant hands Have borne abroad her lamp of old, Such mouths of honey-dropping gold Have sent across all seas and lands Her fame as music rolled.
As music made of rolling thunder That hurls through heaven its heart sublime, Its heart of joy, in charging chime, So ring the songs that round and under Her temple surge and climb.
A temple not by men's hands builded, But moulded of the spirit, and wrought Of passion and imperious thought; With light beyond all sunlight gilded, Whereby the sun seems nought.
Thy shrine, our mother, seen for fairer Than even thy natural face, made fair With kisses of thine April air Even now, when spring thy banner-bearer Took up thy sign to bear;
Thine annual sign from heaven's own arch Given of the sun's hand into thine, To rear and cheer each wildwood shrine But now laid waste by wild-winged March, March, mad with wind like wine.
From all thy brightening downs whereon The windy seaward whin-flower shows Blossom whose pride strikes pale the rose Forth is the golden watchword gone Whereat the world's face glows.
Thy quickening woods rejoice and ring Till earth seems glorious as the sea: With yearning love too glad for glee The world's heart quivers toward the spring As all our hearts toward thee.
Thee, mother, thee, our queen, who givest Assurance to the heavens most high And earth whereon her bondsmen sigh That by the sea's grace while thou livest Hope shall not wholly die.
That while thy free folk hold the van Of all men, and the sea-spray shed As dew more heavenly on thy head Keeps bright thy face in sight of man, Man's pride shall drop not dead.
A pride more pure than humblest prayer, More wise than wisdom born of doubt, Girds for thy sake men's hearts about With trust and triumph that despair And fear may cast not out.
Despair may wring men's hearts, and fear Bow down their heads to kiss the dust, Where patriot memories rot and rust, And change makes faint a nation's cheer, And faith yields up her trust.
Not here this year have true men known, Not here this year may true men know, That brand of shame-compelling woe Which bids but brave men shrink or groan And lays but honour low.
The strong spring wind blows notes of praise, And hallowing pride of heart, and cheer Unchanging, toward all true men here Who hold the trust of ancient days High as of old this year.
The days that made thee great are dead; The days that now must keep thee great Lie not in keeping of thy fate; In thine they lie, whose heart and head Sustain thy charge of state.
No state so proud, no pride so just, The sun, through clouds at sunrise curled Or clouds across the sunset whirled, Hath sight of, nor has man such trust As thine in all the world.
Each hour that sees the sunset's crest Make bright thy shores ere day decline Sees dawn the sun on shores of thine, Sees west as east and east as west On thee their sovereign shine.
The sea's own heart must needs wax proud To have borne the world a child like thee. What birth of earth might ever be Thy sister? Time, a wandering cloud, Is sunshine on thy sea.
Change mars not her; and thee, our mother, What change that irks or moves thee mars? What shock that shakes? what chance that jars? Time gave thee, as he gave none other, A station like a star's.
The storm that shrieks, the wind that wages War with the wings of hopes that climb Too high toward heaven in doubt sublime, Assail not thee, approved of ages The towering crown of time.
Toward thee this year thy children turning With souls uplift of changeless cheer Salute with love that casts out fear, With hearts for beacons round thee burning, The token of this year.
With just and sacred jubilation Let earth sound answer to the sea For witness, blown on winds as free, How England, how her crowning nation, Acclaims this jubilee.
England, mother born of seamen, daughter fostered of the sea, Mother more beloved than all who bear not all their children free, Reared and nursed and crowned and cherished by the sea-wind and the sun, Sweetest land and strongest, face most fair and mightiest heart in one, Stands not higher than when the centuries known of earth were less by three, When the strength that struck the whole world pale fell back from hers undone.
At her feet were the heads of her foes bowed down, and the strengths of the storm of them stayed, And the hearts that were touched not with mercy with terror were touched and amazed and affrayed: Yea, hearts that had never been molten with pity were molten with fear as with flame, And the priests of the Godhead whose temple is hell, and his heart is of iron and fire, And the swordsmen that served and the seamen that sped them, whom peril could tame not or tire, Were as foam on the winds of the waters of England which tempest can tire not or tame.
They were girded about with thunder, and lightning came forth of the rage of their strength, And the measure that measures the wings of the storm was the breadth of their force and the length: And the name of their might was Invincible, covered and clothed with the terror of God; With his wrath were they winged, with his love were they fired, with the speed of his winds were they shod; With his soul were they filled, in his trust were they comforted: grace was upon them as night, And faith as the blackness of darkness: the fume of their balefires was fair in his sight, The reek of them sweet as a savour of myrrh in his nostrils: the world that he made, Theirs was it by gift of his servants: the wind, if they spake in his name, was afraid, And the sun was a shadow before it, the stars were astonished with fear of it: fire Went up to them, fed with men living, and lit of men's hands for a shrine or a pyre; And the east and the west wind scattered their ashes abroad, that his name should be blest Of the tribes of the chosen whose blessings are curses from uttermost east unto west.
Hell for Spain, and heaven for England,—God to God, and man to man,— Met confronted, light with darkness, life with death: since time began, Never earth nor sea beheld so great a stake before them set, Save when Athens hurled back Asia from the lists wherein they met; Never since the sands of ages through the glass of history ran Saw the sun in heaven a lordlier day than this that lights us yet.
For the light that abides upon England, the glory that rests on her godlike name, The pride that is love and the love that is faith, a perfume dissolved in flame, Took fire from the dawn of the fierce July when fleets were scattered as foam And squadrons as flakes of spray; when galleon and galliass that shadowed the sea Were swept from her waves like shadows that pass with the clouds they fell from, and she Laughed loud to the wind as it gave to her keeping the glories of Spain and Rome.
Three hundred summers have fallen as leaves by the storms in their season thinned, Since northward the war-ships of Spain came sheer up the way of the south-west wind: Where the citadel cliffs of England are flanked with bastions of serpentine, Far off to the windward loomed their hulls, an hundred and twenty-nine, All filled full of the war, full-fraught with battle and charged with bale; Then store-ships weighted with cannon; and all were an hundred and fifty sail. The measureless menace of darkness anhungered with hope to prevail upon light, The shadow of death made substance, the present and visible spirit of night, Came, shaped as a waxing or waning moon that rose with the fall of day, To the channel where couches the Lion in guard of the gate of the lustrous bay. Fair England, sweet as the sea that shields her, and pure as the sea from stain, Smiled, hearing hardly for scorn that stirred her the menace of saintly Spain.
"They that ride over ocean wide with hempen bridle and horse of tree," How shall they in the darkening day of wrath and anguish and fear go free? How shall these that have curbed the seas not feel his bridle who made the sea?
God shall bow them and break them now: for what is man in the Lord God's sight? Fear shall shake them, and shame shall break, and all the noon of their pride be night: These that sinned shall the ravening wind of doom bring under, and judgment smite.
England broke from her neck the yoke, and rent the fetter, and mocked the rod: Shrines of old that she decked with gold she turned to dust, to the dust she trod: What is she, that the wind and sea should fight beside her, and war with God?
Lo, the cloud of his ships that crowd her channel's inlet with storm sublime, Darker far than the tempests are that sweep the skies of her northmost clime; Huge and dense as the walls that fence the secret darkness of unknown time.
Mast on mast as a tower goes past, and sail by sail as a cloud's wing spread; Fleet by fleet, as the throngs whose feet keep time with death in his dance of dread; Galleons dark as the helmsman's bark of old that ferried to hell the dead.
Squadrons proud as their lords, and loud with tramp of soldiers and chant of priests; Slaves there told by the thousandfold, made fast in bondage as herded beasts; Lords and slaves that the sweet free waves shall feed on, satiate with funeral feasts.
Nay, not so shall it be, they know; their priests have said it; can priesthood lie? God shall keep them, their God shall sleep not: peril and evil shall pass them by: Nay, for these are his children; seas and winds shall bid not his children die.
So they boast them, the monstrous host whose menace mocks at the dawn: and here They that wait at the wild sea's gate, and watch the darkness of doom draw near, How shall they in their evil day sustain the strength of their hearts for fear?
Full July in the fervent sky sets forth her twentieth of changing morns: Winds fall mild that of late waxed wild: no presage whispers or wails or warns: Far to west on the bland sea's breast a sailing crescent uprears her horns.
Seven wide miles the serene sea smiles between them stretching from rim to rim: Soft they shine, but a darker sign should bid not hope or belief wax dim: God's are these men, and not the sea's: their trust is set not on her but him.
God's? but who is the God whereto the prayers and incense of these men rise? What is he, that the wind and sea should fear him, quelled by his sunbright eyes? What, that men should return again, and hail him Lord of the servile skies?
Hell's own flame at his heavenly name leaps higher and laughs, and its gulfs rejoice: Plague and death from his baneful breath take life and lighten, and praise his choice: Chosen are they to devour for prey the tribes that hear not and fear his voice.
Ay, but we that the wind and sea gird round with shelter of storms and waves Know not him that ye worship, grim as dreams that quicken from dead men's graves: God is one with the sea, the sun, the land that nursed us, the love that saves.
Love whose heart is in ours, and part of all things noble and all things fair; Sweet and free as the circling sea, sublime and kind as the fostering air; Pure of shame as is England's name, whose crowns to come are as crowns that were.
But the Lord of darkness, the God whose love is a flaming fire, The master whose mercy fulfils wide hell till its torturers tire, He shall surely have heed of his servants who serve him for love, not hire.
They shall fetter the wing of the wind whose pinions are plumed with foam: For now shall thy horn be exalted, and now shall thy bolt strike home; Yea, now shall thy kingdom come, Lord God of the priests of Rome.
They shall cast thy curb on the waters, and bridle the waves of the sea: They shall say to her, Peace, be still: and stillness and peace shall be: And the winds and the storms shall hear them, and tremble, and worship thee.
Thy breath shall darken the morning, and wither the mounting sun; And the daysprings, frozen and fettered, shall know thee, and cease to run; The heart of the world shall feel thee, and die, and thy will be done.
The spirit of man that would sound thee, and search out causes of things, Shall shrink and subside and praise thee: and wisdom, with plume-plucked wings, Shall cower at thy feet and confess thee, that none may fathom thy springs.
The fountains of song that await but the wind of an April to be To burst the bonds of the winter, and speak with the sound of a sea, The blast of thy mouth shall quench them: and song shall be only of thee.
The days that are dead shall quicken, the seasons that were shall return; And the streets and the pastures of England, the woods that burgeon and yearn, Shall be whitened with ashes of women and children and men that burn.
For the mother shall burn with the babe sprung forth of her womb in fire, And bride with bridegroom, and brother with sister, and son with sire; And the noise of the flames shall be sweet in thine ears as the sound of a lyre.
Yea, so shall thy kingdom be stablished, and so shall the signs of it be: And the world shall know, and the wind shall speak, and the sun shall see, That these are the works of thy servants, whose works bear witness to thee.
But the dusk of the day falls fruitless, whose light should have lit them on: Sails flash through the gloom to shoreward, eclipsed as the sun that shone: And the west wind wakes with dawn, and the hope that was here is gone.
Around they wheel and around, two knots to the Spaniard's one, The wind-swift warriors of England, who shoot as with shafts of the sun, With fourfold shots for the Spaniard's, that spare not till day be done.
And the wind with the sundown sharpens, and hurtles the ships to the lee, And Spaniard on Spaniard smites, and shatters, and yields; and we, Ere battle begin, stand lords of the battle, acclaimed of the sea.
And the day sweeps round to the nightward; and heavy and hard the waves Roll in on the herd of the hurtling galleons; and masters and slaves Reel blind in the grasp of the dark strong wind that shall dig their graves.
For the sepulchres hollowed and shaped of the wind in the swerve of the seas, The graves that gape for their pasture, and laugh, thrilled through by the breeze, The sweet soft merciless waters, await and are fain of these.
As the hiss of a Python heaving in menace of doom to be They hear through the clear night round them, whose hours are as clouds that flee, The whisper of tempest sleeping, the heave and the hiss of the sea.
But faith is theirs, and with faith are they girded and helmed and shod: Invincible are they, almighty, elect for a sword and a rod; Invincible even as their God is omnipotent, infinite, God.
In him is their strength, who have sworn that his glory shall wax not dim: In his name are their war-ships hallowed as mightiest of all that swim: The men that shall cope with these, and conquer, shall cast out him.
In him is the trust of their hearts; the desire of their eyes is he; The light of their ways, made lightning for men that would fain be free: Earth's hosts are with them, and with them is heaven: but with us is the sea.
And a day and a night pass over; And the heart of their chief swells high; For England, the warrior, the rover, Whose banners on all winds fly, Soul-stricken, he saith, by the shadow of death, holds off him, and draws not nigh.
And the wind and the dawn together Make in from the gleaming east: And fain of the wild glad weather As famine is fain of feast, And fain of the fight, forth sweeps in its might the host of the Lord's high priest.
And lightly before the breeze The ships of his foes take wing: Are they scattered, the lords of the seas? Are they broken, the foes of the king? And ever now higher as a mounting fire the hopes of the Spaniard spring.
And a windless night comes down: And a breezeless morning, bright With promise of praise to crown The close of the crowning fight, Leaps up as the foe's heart leaps, and glows with lustrous rapture of light.
And stinted of gear for battle The ships of the sea's folk lie, Unwarlike, herded as cattle, Six miles from the foeman's eye That fastens as flame on the sight of them tame and offenceless, and ranged as to die.
Surely the souls in them quail, They are stricken and withered at heart, When in on them, sail by sail, Fierce marvels of monstrous art, Tower darkening on tower till the sea-winds cower crowds down as to hurl them apart.
And the windless weather is kindly, And comforts the host in these; And their hearts are uplift in them blindly, And blindly they boast at ease That the next day's fight shall exalt them, and smite with destruction the lords of the seas.
And lightly the proud hearts prattle, And lightly the dawn draws nigh, The dawn of the doom of the battle When these shall falter and fly; No day more great in the roll of fate filled ever with fire the sky.
To fightward they go as to feastward, And the tempest of ships that drive Sets eastward ever and eastward, Till closer they strain and strive; And the shots that rain on the hulls of Spain are as thunders afire and alive.
And about them the blithe sea smiles And flashes to windward and lee Round capes and headlands and isles That heed not if war there be; Round Sark, round Wight, green jewels of light in the ring of the golden sea.
But the men that within them abide Are stout of spirit and stark As rocks that repel the tide, As day that repels the dark; And the light bequeathed from their swords unsheathed shines lineal on Wight and on Sark.
And eastward the storm sets ever, The storm of the sails that strain And follow and close and sever And lose and return and gain; And English thunder divides in sunder the holds of the ships of Spain.
Southward to Calais, appalled And astonished, the vast fleet veers; And the skies are shrouded and palled, But the moonless midnight hears And sees how swift on them drive and drift strange flames that the darkness fears.
They fly through the night from shoreward, Heart-stricken till morning break, And ever to scourge them forward Drives down on them England's Drake, And hurls them in as they hurtle and spin and stagger, with storm to wake.
And now is their time come on them. For eastward they drift and reel, With the shallows of Flanders ahead, with destruction and havoc at heel, With God for their comfort only, the God whom they serve; and here Their Lord, of his great loving-kindness, may revel and make good cheer; Though ever his lips wax thirstier with drinking, and hotter the lusts in him swell; For he feeds the thirst that consumes him with blood, and his winepress fumes with the reek of hell.
Fierce noon beats hard on the battle; the galleons that loom to the lee Bow down, heel over, uplifting their shelterless hulls from the sea: From scuppers aspirt with blood, from guns dismounted and dumb, The signs of the doom they looked for, the loud mute witnesses come. They press with sunset to seaward for comfort: and shall not they find it there? O servants of God most high, shall his winds not pass you by, and his waves not spare?
The wings of the south-west wind are widened; the breath of his fervent lips, More keen than a sword's edge, fiercer than fire, falls full on the plunging ships. The pilot is he of their northward flight, their stay and their steersman he; A helmsman clothed with the tempest, and girdled with strength to constrain the sea. And the host of them trembles and quails, caught fast in his hand as a bird in the toils; For the wrath and the joy that fulfil him are mightier than man's, whom he slays and spoils. And vainly, with heart divided in sunder, and labour of wavering will, The lord of their host takes counsel with hope if haply their star shine still, If haply some light be left them of chance to renew and redeem the fray; But the will of the black south-wester is lord of the councils of war to-day. One only spirit it quells not, a splendour undarkened of chance or time; Be the praise of his foes with Oquendo for ever, a name as a star sublime. But here what aid in a hero's heart, what help in his hand may be? For ever the dark wind whitens and blackens the hollows and heights of the sea, And galley by galley, divided and desolate, founders; and none takes heed, Nor foe nor friend, if they perish; forlorn, cast off in their uttermost need, They sink in the whelm of the waters, as pebbles by children from shoreward hurled, In the North Sea's waters that end not, nor know they a bourn but the bourn of the world. Past many a secure unavailable harbour, and many a loud stream's mouth, Past Humber and Tees and Tyne and Tweed, they fly, scourged on from the south, And torn by the scourge of the storm-wind that smites as a harper smites on a lyre, And consumed of the storm as the sacrifice loved of their God is consumed with fire, And devoured of the darkness as men that are slain in the fires of his love are devoured, And deflowered of their lives by the storms, as by priests is the spirit of life deflowered. For the wind, of its godlike mercy, relents not, and hounds them ahead to the north, With English hunters at heel, till now is the herd of them past the Forth, All huddled and hurtled seaward; and now need none wage war upon these, Nor huntsmen follow the quarry whose fall is the pastime sought of the seas. Day upon day upon day confounds them, with measureless mists that swell, With drift of rains everlasting and dense as the fumes of ascending hell. The visions of priest and of prophet beholding his enemies bruised of his rod Beheld but the likeness of this that is fallen on the faithful, the friends of God. Northward, and northward, and northward they stagger and shudder and swerve and flit, Dismantled of masts and of yards, with sails by the fangs of the storm-wind split. But north of the headland whose name is Wrath, by the wrath or the ruth of the sea, They are swept or sustained to the westward, and drive through the rollers aloof to the lee. Some strive yet northward for Iceland, and perish: but some through the storm-hewn straits That sunder the Shetlands and Orkneys are borne of the breath which is God's or fate's: And some, by the dawn of September, at last give thanks as for stars that smile, For the winds have swept them to shelter and sight of the cliffs of a Catholic isle. Though many the fierce rocks feed on, and many the merciless heretic slays, Yet some that have laboured to land with their treasure are trustful, and give God praise. And the kernes of murderous Ireland, athirst with a greed everlasting of blood, Unslakable ever with slaughter and spoil, rage down as a ravening flood, To slay and to flay of their shining apparel their brethren whom shipwreck spares; Such faith and such mercy, such love and such manhood, such hands and such hearts are theirs. Short shrift to her foes gives England, but shorter doth Ireland to friends; and worse Fare they that came with a blessing on treason than they that come with a curse. Hacked, harried, and mangled of axes and skenes, three thousand naked and dead Bear witness of Catholic Ireland, what sons of what sires at her breasts are bred. Winds are pitiful, waves are merciful, tempest and storm are kind: The waters that smite may spare, and the thunder is deaf, and the lightning is blind: Of these perchance at his need may a man, though they know it not, yet find grace; But grace, if another be hardened against him, he gets not at this man's face. For his ear that hears and his eye that sees the wreck and the wail of men, And his heart that relents not within him, but hungers, are like as the wolf's in his den. Worthy are these to worship their master, the murderous Lord of lies, Who hath given to the pontiff his servant the keys of the pit and the keys of the skies. Wild famine and red-shod rapine are cruel, and bitter with blood are their feasts; But fiercer than famine and redder than rapine the hands and the hearts of priests. God, God bade these to the battle; and here, on a land by his servants trod, They perish, a lordly blood-offering, subdued by the hands of the servants of God. These also were fed of his priests with faith, with the milk of his word and the wine; These too are fulfilled with the spirit of darkness that guided their quest divine. And here, cast up from the ravening sea on the mild land's merciful breast, This comfort they find of their fellows in worship; this guerdon is theirs of their quest. Death was captain, and doom was pilot, and darkness the chart of their way; Night and hell had in charge and in keeping the host of the foes of day. Invincible, vanquished, impregnable, shattered, a sign to her foes of fear, A sign to the world and the stars of laughter, the fleet of the Lord lies here. Nay, for none may declare the place of the ruin wherein she lies; Nay, for none hath beholden the grave whence never a ghost shall rise. The fleet of the foemen of England hath found not one but a thousand graves; And he that shall number and name them shall number by name and by tale the waves.
Sixtus, Pope of the Church whose hope takes flight for heaven to dethrone the sun, Philip, king that wouldst turn our spring to winter, blasted, appalled, undone, Prince and priest, let a mourner's feast give thanks to God for your conquest won.
England's heel is upon you: kneel, O priest, O prince, in the dust, and cry, "Lord, why thus? art thou wroth with us whose faith was great in thee, God most high? Whence is this, that the serpent's hiss derides us? Lord, can thy pledged word lie?
"God of hell, are its flames that swell quenched now for ever, extinct and dead? Who shall fear thee? or who shall hear the word thy servants who feared thee said? Lord, art thou as the dead gods now, whose arm is shortened, whose rede is read?
"Yet we thought it was not for nought thy word was given us, to guard and guide: Yet we deemed that they had not dreamed who put their trust in thee. Hast thou lied? God our Lord, was the sacred sword we drew not drawn on thy Church's side?
"England hates thee as hell's own gates; and England triumphs, and Rome bows down: England mocks at thee; England's rocks cast off thy servants to drive and drown: England loathes thee; and fame betroths and plights with England her faith for crown.
"Spain clings fast to thee; Spain, aghast with anguish, cries to thee; where art thou? Spain puts trust in thee; lo, the dust that soils and darkens her prostrate brow! Spain is true to thy service; who shall raise up Spain for thy service now?
"Who shall praise thee, if none may raise thy servants up, nor affright thy foes? Winter wanes, and the woods and plains forget the likeness of storms and snows: So shall fear of thee fade even here: and what shall follow thee no man knows."
Lords of night, who would breathe your blight on April's morning and August's noon, God your Lord, the condemned, the abhorred, sinks hellward, smitten with deathlike swoon: Death's own dart in his hateful heart now thrills, and night shall receive him soon.
God the Devil, thy reign of revel is here for ever eclipsed and fled: God the Liar, everlasting fire lays hold at last on thee, hand and head: God the Accurst, the consuming thirst that burns thee never shall here be fed.
England, queen of the waves whose green inviolate girdle enrings thee round, Mother fair as the morning, where is now the place of thy foemen found? Still the sea that salutes us free proclaims them stricken, acclaims thee crowned.
Times may change, and the skies grow strange with signs of treason and fraud and fear: Foes in union of strange communion may rise against thee from far and near: Sloth and greed on thy strength may feed as cankers waxing from year to year.
Yet, though treason and fierce unreason should league and lie and defame and smite, We that know thee, how far below thee the hatred burns of the sons of night, We that love thee, behold above thee the witness written of life in light.
Life that shines from thee shows forth signs that none may read not but eyeless foes: Hate, born blind, in his abject mind grows hopeful now but as madness grows: Love, born wise, with exultant eyes adores thy glory, beholds and glows.
Truth is in thee, and none may win thee to lie, forsaking the face of truth: Freedom lives by the grace she gives thee, born again from thy deathless youth: Faith should fail, and the world turn pale, wert thou the prey of the serpent's tooth.
Greed and fraud, unabashed, unawed, may strive to sting thee at heel in vain: Craft and fear and mistrust may leer and mourn and murmur and plead and plain: Thou art thou: and thy sunbright brow is hers that blasted the strength of Spain.
Mother, mother beloved, none other could claim in place of thee England's place: Earth bears none that beholds the sun so pure of record, so clothed with grace: Dear our mother, nor son nor brother is thine, as strong or as fair of face.
How shalt thou be abased? or how shall fear take hold of thy heart? of thine, England, maiden immortal, laden with charge of life and with hopes divine? Earth shall wither, when eyes turned hither behold not light in her darkness shine.
England, none that is born thy son, and lives, by grace of thy glory, free, Lives and yearns not at heart and burns with hope to serve as he worships thee; None may sing thee: the sea-wind's wing beats down our songs as it hails the sea.
TO A SEAMEW
When I had wings, my brother, Such wings were mine as thine: Such life my heart remembers In all as wild Septembers As this when life seems other, Though sweet, than once was mine; When I had wings, my brother, Such wings were mine as thine.
Such life as thrills and quickens The silence of thy flight, Or fills thy note's elation With lordlier exultation Than man's, whose faint heart sickens With hopes and fears that blight Such life as thrills and quickens The silence of thy flight.
Thy cry from windward clanging Makes all the cliffs rejoice; Though storm clothe seas with sorrow, Thy call salutes the morrow; While shades of pain seem hanging Round earth's most rapturous voice, Thy cry from windward clanging Makes all the cliffs rejoice.
We, sons and sires of seamen, Whose home is all the sea, What place man may, we claim it; But thine—whose thought may name it? Free birds live higher than freemen, And gladlier ye than we— We, sons and sires of seamen, Whose home is all the sea.
For you the storm sounds only More notes of more delight Than earth's in sunniest weather: When heaven and sea together Join strengths against the lonely Lost bark borne down by night, For you the storm sounds only More notes of more delight.
With wider wing, and louder Long clarion-call of joy, Thy tribe salutes the terror Of darkness, wild as error, But sure as truth, and prouder Than waves with man for toy; With wider wing, and louder Long clarion-call of joy.
The wave's wing spreads and flutters, The wave's heart swells and breaks; One moment's passion thrills it, One pulse of power fulfils it And ends the pride it utters When, loud with life that quakes, The wave's wing spreads and flutters, The wave's heart swells and breaks.
But thine and thou, my brother, Keep heart and wing more high Than aught may scare or sunder; The waves whose throats are thunder Fall hurtling each on other, And triumph as they die; But thine and thou, my brother, Keep heart and wing more high.
More high than wrath or anguish, More strong than pride or fear, The sense or soul half hidden In thee, for us forbidden, Bids thee nor change nor languish, But live thy life as here, More high than wrath or anguish, More strong than pride or fear.
We are fallen, even we, whose passion On earth is nearest thine; Who sing, and cease from flying; Who live, and dream of dying: Grey time, in time's grey fashion, Bids wingless creatures pine: We are fallen, even we, whose passion On earth is nearest thine.
The lark knows no such rapture, Such joy no nightingale, As sways the songless measure Wherein thy wings take pleasure: Thy love may no man capture, Thy pride may no man quail; The lark knows no such rapture, Such joy no nightingale.
And we, whom dreams embolden, We can but creep and sing And watch through heaven's waste hollow The flight no sight may follow To the utter bourne beholden Of none that lack thy wing: And we, whom dreams embolden, We can but creep and sing.
Our dreams have wings that falter, Our hearts bear hopes that die; For thee no dream could better A life no fears may fetter, A pride no care can alter, That wots not whence or why Our dreams have wings that falter, Our hearts bear hopes that die.
With joy more fierce and sweeter Than joys we deem divine Their lives, by time untarnished, Are girt about and garnished, Who match the wave's full metre And drink the wind's wild wine With joy more fierce and sweeter Than joys we deem divine.
Ah, well were I for ever, Wouldst thou change lives with me, And take my song's wild honey, And give me back thy sunny Wide eyes that weary never, And wings that search the sea; Ah, well were I for ever, Wouldst thou change lives with me.
Beachy Head: September 1886.
PAN AND THALASSIUS
A LYRICAL IDYL
O sea-stray, seed of Apollo, What word wouldst thou have with me? My ways thou wast fain to follow Or ever the years hailed thee Man.
Now If August brood on the valleys, If satyrs laugh on the lawns, What part in the wildwood alleys Hast thou with the fleet-foot fauns— Thou?
See! Thy feet are a man's—not cloven Like these, not light as a boy's: The tresses and tendrils inwoven That lure us, the lure of them cloys Thee.
Us The joy of the wild woods never Leaves free of the thirst it slakes: The wild love throbs in us ever That burns in the dense hot brakes Thus.
Life, Eternal, passionate, awless, Insatiable, mutable, dear, Makes all men's law for us lawless: We strive not: how should we fear Strife?
We, The birds and the bright winds know not Such joys as are ours in the mild Warm woodland; joys such as grow not In waste green fields of the wild Sea.
No; Long since, in the world's wind veering, Thy heart was estranged from me: Sweet Echo shall yield thee not hearing: What have we to do with thee? Go.
Ay! Such wrath on thy nostril quivers As once in Sicilian heat Bade herdsmen quail, and the rivers Shrank, leaving a path for thy feet Dry?
Nay, Low down in the hot soft hollow Too snakelike hisses thy spleen: "O sea-stray, seed of Apollo!" What ill hast thou heard or seen? Say.
Man Knows well, if he hears beside him The snarl of thy wrath at noon, What evil may soon betide him, Or late, if thou smite not soon, Pan.
Me The sound of thy flute, that flatters The woods as they smile and sigh, Charmed fast as it charms thy satyrs, Can charm no faster than I Thee.
Fast Thy music may charm the splendid Wide woodland silence to sleep With sounds and dreams of thee blended And whispers of waters that creep Past.
Here The spell of thee breathes and passes And bids the heart in me pause, Hushed soft as the leaves and the grasses Are hushed if the storm's foot draws Near.
Yet The panic that strikes down strangers Transgressing thy ways unaware Affrights not me nor endangers Through dread of thy secret snare Set.
Whence May man find heart to deride me? Who made his face as a star To shine as a God's beside me? Nay, get thee away from us, far Hence.
Then Shall no man's heart, as he raises A hymn to thy secret head, Wax great with the godhead he praises: Thou, God, shalt be like unto dead Men.
Grace I take not of men's thanksgiving, I crave not of lips that live; They die, and behold, I am living, While they and their dead Gods give Place.
Yea: Too lightly the words were spoken That mourned or mocked at thee dead: But whose was the word, the token, The song that answered and said Nay?
Whose But mine, in the midnight hidden, Clothed round with the strength of night And mysteries of things forbidden For all but the one most bright Muse?
Hers Or thine, O Pan, was the token That gave back empire to thee When power in thy hands lay broken As reeds that quake if a bee Stirs?
Whom Have I in my wide woods need of? Urania's limitless eyes Behold not mine end, though they read of A word that shall speak to the skies Doom.
She Gave back to thee kingdom and glory, And grace that was thine of yore, And life to thy leaves, late hoary As weeds cast up from the hoar Sea.
Song Can bid faith shine as the morning Though light in the world be none: Death shrinks if her tongue sound warning, Night quails, and beholds the sun Strong.
Night Bare rule over men for ages Whose worship wist not of me And gat but sorrows for wages, And hardly for tears could see Light.
Call No more on the starry presence Whose light through the long dark swam: Hold fast to the green world's pleasance: For I that am lord of it am All.
God, God Pan, from the glad wood's portal The breaths of thy song blow sweet: But woods may be walked in of mortal Man's thought, where never thy feet Trod.
Thine All secrets of growth and of birth are, All glories of flower and of tree, Wheresoever the wonders of earth are; The words of the spell of the sea Mine.
A BALLAD OF BATH
Like a queen enchanted who may not laugh or weep, Glad at heart and guarded from change and care like ours, Girt about with beauty by days and nights that creep Soft as breathless ripples that softly shoreward sweep, Lies the lovely city whose grace no grief deflowers. Age and grey forgetfulness, time that shifts and veers, Touch not thee, our fairest, whose charm no rival nears, Hailed as England's Florence of one whose praise gives grace, Landor, once thy lover, a name that love reveres: Dawn and noon and sunset are one before thy face.
Dawn whereof we know not, and noon whose fruit we reap, Garnered up in record of years that fell like flowers, Sunset liker sunrise along the shining steep Whence thy fair face lightens, and where thy soft springs leap, Crown at once and gird thee with grace of guardian powers Loved of men beloved of us, souls that fame inspheres, All thine air hath music for him who dreams and hears; Voices mixed of multitudes, feet of friends that pace, Witness why for ever, if heaven's face clouds or clears, Dawn and noon and sunset are one before thy face.
Peace hath here found harbourage mild as very sleep: Not the hills and waters, the fields and wildwood bowers, Smile or speak more tenderly, clothed with peace more deep, Here than memory whispers of days our memories keep Fast with love and laughter and dreams of withered hours. Bright were these as blossom of old, and thought endears Still the fair soft phantoms that pass with smiles or tears, Sweet as roseleaves hoarded and dried wherein we trace Still the soul and spirit of sense that lives and cheers: Dawn and noon and sunset are one before thy face.
City lulled asleep by the chime of passing years, Sweeter smiles thy rest than the radiance round thy peers; Only love and lovely remembrance here have place. Time on thee lies lighter than music on men's ears; Dawn and noon and sunset are one before thy face.
IN A GARDEN
Baby, see the flowers! —Baby sees Fairer things than these, Fairer though they be than dreams of ours.
Baby, hear the birds! —Baby knows Better songs than those, Sweeter though they sound than sweetest words.
Baby, see the moon! —Baby's eyes Laugh to watch it rise, Answering light with love and night with noon.
Baby, hear the sea! —Baby's face Takes a graver grace, Touched with wonder what the sound may be.
Baby, see the star! —Baby's hand Opens, warm and bland, Calm in claim of all things fair that are.
Baby, hear the bells! —Baby's head Bows, as ripe for bed, Now the flowers curl round and close their cells.
Baby, flower of light, Sleep, and see Brighter dreams than we, Till good day shall smile away good night.
Babe, if rhyme be none For that sweet small word Babe, the sweetest one Ever heard,
Right it is and meet Rhyme should keep not true Time with such a sweet Thing as you.
Meet it is that rhyme Should not gain such grace: What is April's prime To your face?
What to yours is May's Rosiest smile? what sound Like your laughter sways All hearts round?
None can tell in metre Fit for ears on earth What sweet star grew sweeter At your birth.
Wisdom doubts what may be: Hope, with smile sublime, Trusts: but neither, baby, Knows the rhyme.
Wisdom lies down lonely; Hope keeps watch from far; None but one seer only Sees the star.
Love alone, with yearning Heart for astrolabe, Takes the star's height, burning O'er the babe.
Baby-bird, baby-bird, Ne'er a song on earth May be heard, may be heard, Rich as yours in mirth.
All your flickering fingers, All your twinkling toes, Play like light that lingers Till the clear song close.
Baby-bird, baby-bird, Your grave majestic eyes Like a bird's warbled words Speak, and sorrow dies.
Sorrow dies for love's sake, Love grows one with mirth, Even for one white dove's sake, Born a babe on earth.
Baby-bird, baby-bird, Chirping loud and long, Other birds hush their words, Hearkening toward your song.
Sweet as spring though it ring, Full of love's own lures, Weak and wrong sounds their song, Singing after yours.
Baby-bird, baby-bird, The happy heart that hears Seems to win back within Heaven, and cast out fears.
Earth and sun seem as one Sweet light and one sweet word Known of none here but one, Known of one sweet bird.
Who may praise her? Eyes where midnight shames the sun, Hair of night and sunshine spun, Woven of dawn's or twilight's loom, Radiant darkness, lustrous gloom, Godlike childhood's flowerlike bloom, None may praise aright, nor sing Half the grace wherewith like spring Love arrays her.
Love untold Sings in silence, speaks in light Shed from each fair feature, bright Still from heaven, whence toward us, now Nine years since, she deigned to bow Down the brightness of her brow, Deigned to pass through mortal birth: Reverence calls her, here on earth, Nine years old.
Love's deep duty, Even when love transfigured grows Worship, all too surely knows How, though love may cast out fear, Yet the debt divine and dear Due to childhood's godhead here May by love of man be paid Never; never song be made Worth its beauty.
Nought is all Sung or said or dreamed or thought Ever, set beside it; nought All the love that man may give— Love whose prayer should be, "Forgive!" Heaven, we see, on earth may live; Earth can thank not heaven, we know, Save with songs that ebb and flow, Rise and fall.
No man living, No man dead, save haply one Now gone homeward past the sun, Ever found such grace as might Tune his tongue to praise aright Children, flowers of love and light, Whom our praise dispraises: we Sing, in sooth, but not as he Sang thanksgiving.
Hope that smiled, Seeing her new-born beauty, made Out of heaven's own light and shade, Smiled not half so sweetly: love, Seeing the sun, afar above, Warm the nest that rears the dove, Sees, more bright than moon or sun, All the heaven of heavens in one Little child.
Who may sing her? Wings of angels when they stir Make no music worthy her: Sweeter sound her shy soft words Here than songs of God's own birds Whom the fire of rapture girds Round with light from love's face lit; Hands of angels find no fit Gifts to bring her.
Babes at birth Wear as raiment round them cast, Keep as witness toward their past, Tokens left of heaven; and each, Ere its lips learn mortal speech, Ere sweet heaven pass on pass reach, Bears in undiverted eyes Proof of unforgotten skies Here on earth.
Quenched as embers Quenched with flakes of rain or snow Till the last faint flame burns low, All those lustrous memories lie Dead with babyhood gone by: Yet in her they dare not die: Others, fair as heaven is, yet, Now they share not heaven, forget: She remembers.
A WORD WITH THE WIND
Lord of days and nights that hear thy word of wintry warning, Wind, whose feet are set on ways that none may tread, Change the nest wherein thy wings are fledged for flight by morning, Change the harbour whence at dawn thy sails are spread. Not the dawn, ere yet the imprisoning night has half released her, More desires the sun's full face of cheer, than we, Well as yet we love the strength of the iron-tongued north-easter, Yearn for wind to meet us as we front the sea. All thy ways are good, O wind, and all the world should fester, Were thy fourfold godhead quenched, or stilled thy strife: Yet the waves and we desire too long the deep south-wester, Whence the waters quicken shoreward, clothed with life. Yet the field not made for ploughing save of keels nor harrowing Save of storm-winds lies unbrightened by thy breath: Banded broad with ruddy samphire glow the sea-banks narrowing Westward, while the sea gleams chill and still as death. Sharp and strange from inland sounds thy bitter note of battle, Blown between grim skies and waters sullen-souled, Till the baffled seas bear back, rocks roar and shingles rattle, Vexed and angered and anhungered and acold. Change thy note, and give the waves their will, and all the measure, Full and perfect, of the music of their might, Let it fill the bays with thunderous notes and throbs of pleasure, Shake the shores with passion, sound at once and smite. Sweet are even the mild low notes of wind and sea, but sweeter Sounds the song whose choral wrath of raging rhyme Bids the shelving shoals keep tune with storm's imperious metre, Bids the rocks and reefs respond in rapturous chime. Sweet the lisp and lulling whisper and luxurious laughter, Soft as love or sleep, of waves whereon the sun Dreams, and dreams not of the darkling hours before nor after, Winged with cloud whose wrath shall bid love's day be done. Yet shall darkness bring the awakening sea a lordlier lover, Clothed with strength more amorous and more strenuous will, Whence her heart of hearts shall kindle and her soul recover Sense of love too keen to lie for love's sake still. Let thy strong south-western music sound, and bid the billows Brighten, proud and glad to feel thy scourge and kiss Sting and soothe and sway them, bowed as aspens bend or willows, Yet resurgent still in breathless rage of bliss. All to-day the slow sleek ripples hardly bear up shoreward, Charged with sighs more light than laughter, faint and fair, Like a woodland lake's weak wavelets lightly lingering forward, Soft and listless as the slumber-stricken air. Be the sunshine bared or veiled, the sky superb or shrouded, Still the waters, lax and languid, chafed and foiled, Keen and thwarted, pale and patient, clothed with fire or clouded, Vex their heart in vain, or sleep like serpents coiled. Thee they look for, blind and baffled, wan with wrath and weary, Blown for ever back by winds that rock the bird: Winds that seamews breast subdue the sea, and bid the dreary Waves be weak as hearts made sick with hope deferred. Let thy clarion sound from westward, let the south bear token How the glories of thy godhead sound and shine: Bid the land rejoice to see the land-wind's broad wings broken, Bid the sea take comfort, bid the world be thine. Half the world abhors thee beating back the sea, and blackening Heaven with fierce and woful change of fluctuant form: All the world acclaims thee shifting sail again, and slackening Cloud by cloud the close-reefed cordage of the storm. Sweeter fields and brighter woods and lordlier hills than waken Here at sunrise never hailed the sun and thee: Turn thee then, and give them comfort, shed like rain and shaken Far as foam that laughs and leaps along the sea.
Far off is the sea, and the land is afar: The low banks reach at the sky, Seen hence, and are heavenward high; Though light for the leap of a boy they are, And the far sea late was nigh.
The fair wild fields and the circling downs, The bright sweet marshes and meads All glorious with flowerlike weeds, The great grey churches, the sea-washed towns, Recede as a dream recedes.
The world draws back, and the world's light wanes, As a dream dies down and is dead; And the clouds and the gleams overhead Change, and change; and the sea remains, A shadow of dreamlike dread.
Wild, and woful, and pale, and grey, A shadow of sleepless fear, A corpse with the night for bier, The fairest thing that beholds the day Lies haggard and hopeless here.
And the wind's wings, broken and spent, subside; And the dumb waste world is hoar, And strange as the sea the shore; And shadows of shapeless dreams abide Where life may abide no more.
A sail to seaward, a sound from shoreward, And the spell were broken that seems To reign in a world of dreams Where vainly the dreamer's feet make forward And vainly the low sky gleams.
The sea-forsaken forlorn deep-wrinkled Salt slanting stretches of sand That slope to the seaward hand, Were they fain of the ripples that flashed and twinkled And laughed as they struck the strand?
As bells on the reins of the fairies ring The ripples that kissed them rang, The light from the sundawn sprang, And the sweetest of songs that the world may sing Was theirs when the full sea sang.
Now no light is in heaven; and now Not a note of the sea-wind's tune Rings hither: the bleak sky's boon Grants hardly sight of a grey sun's brow— A sun more sad than the moon.
More sad than a moon that clouds beleaguer And storm is a scourge to smite, The sick sun's shadowlike light Grows faint as the clouds and the waves wax eager, And withers away from sight.
The day's heart cowers, and the night's heart quickens: Full fain would the day be dead And the stark night reign in his stead: The sea falls dumb as the sea-fog thickens And the sunset dies for dread.
Outside of the range of time, whose breath Is keen as the manslayer's knife And his peace but a truce for strife, Who knows if haply the shadow of death May be not the light of life?
For the storm and the rain and the darkness borrow But an hour from the suns to be, But a strange swift passage, that we May rejoice, who have mourned not to-day, to-morrow, In the sun and the wind and the sea.
BY THE WAYSIDE
Summer's face was rosiest, skies and woods were mellow, Earth had heaven to friend, and heaven had earth to fellow, When we met where wooded hills and meadows meet. Autumn's face is pale, and all her late leaves yellow, Now that here again we greet.
Wan with years whereof this eightieth nears December, Fair and bright with love, the kind old face I know Shines above the sweet small twain whose eyes remember Heaven, and fill with April's light this pale November, Though the dark year's glass run low.
Like a rose whose joy of life her silence utters When the birds are loud, and low the lulled wind mutters, Grave and silent shines the boy nigh three years old. Wise and sweet his smile, that falters not nor flutters, Glows, and turns the gloom to gold.
Like the new-born sun's that strikes the dark and slays it, So that even for love of light it smiles and dies, Laughs the boy's blithe face whose fair fourth year arrays it All with light of life and mirth that stirs and sways it And fulfils the deep wide eyes.
Wide and warm with glowing laughter's exultation, Full of welcome, full of sunbright jubilation, Flash my taller friend's quick eyebeams, charged with glee; But with softer still and sweeter salutation Shine my smaller friend's on me.
Little arms flung round my bending neck, that yoke it Fast in tender bondage, draw my face down too Toward the flower-soft face whose dumb deep smiles invoke it; Dumb, but love can read the radiant eyes that woke it, Blue as June's mid heaven is blue.
How may men find refuge, how should hearts be shielded, From the weapons thus by little children wielded, When they lift such eyes as light this lustrous face— Eyes that woke love sleeping unawares, and yielded Love for love, a gift of grace,
Grace beyond man's merit, love that laughs, forgiving Even the sin of being no more a child, nor worth Trust and love that lavish gifts above man's giving, Touch or glance of eyes and lips the sweetest living, Fair as heaven and kind as earth?
FROM THE ITALIAN OF GIOVANNI STROZZI
Night, whom in shape so sweet thou here may'st see Sleeping, was by an Angel sculptured thus In marble, and since she sleeps hath life like us: Thou doubt'st? Awake her: she will speak to thee.
FROM THE ITALIAN OF MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI
Sleep likes me well, and better yet to know I am but stone. While shame and grief must be, Good hap is mine, to feel not, nor to see: Take heed, then, lest thou wake me: ah, speak low.
IN TIME OF MOURNING
"Return," we dare not as we fain Would cry from hearts that yearn: Love dares not bid our dead again Return.
O hearts that strain and burn As fires fast fettered burn and strain! Bow down, lie still, and learn.
The heart that healed all hearts of pain No funeral rites inurn: Its echoes, while the stars remain, Return.
Days dawn on us that make amends for many Sometimes, When heaven and earth seem sweeter even than any Man's rhymes.
Light had not all been quenched in France, or quelled In Greece, Had Homer sung not, or had Hugo held His peace.
Had Sappho's self not left her word thus long For token, The sea round Lesbos yet in waves of song Had spoken.
And yet these days of subtler air and finer Delight, When lovelier looks the darkness, and diviner The light—
The gift they give of all these golden hours, Whose urn Pours forth reverberate rays or shadowing showers In turn—
Clouds, beams, and winds that make the live day's track Seem living— What were they did no spirit give them back Thanksgiving?
Dead air, dead fire, dead shapes and shadows, telling Time nought; Man gives them sense and soul by song, and dwelling In thought.
In human thought their being endures, their power Abides: Else were their life a thing that each light hour Derides.
The years live, work, sigh, smile, and die, with all They cherish; The soul endures, though dreams that fed it fall And perish.
In human thought have all things habitation; Our days Laugh, lower, and lighten past, and find no station That stays.
But thought and faith are mightier things than time Can wrong, Made splendid once with speech, or made sublime By song.
Remembrance, though the tide of change that rolls Wax hoary, Gives earth and heaven, for song's sake and the soul's, Their glory.
July 16, 1885.
Return, they cry, ere yet your day Set, and the sky grow stern: Return, strayed souls, while yet ye may Return.
But heavens beyond us yearn; Yea, heights of heaven above the sway Of stars that eyes discern.
The soul whose wings from shoreward stray Makes toward her viewless bourne Though trustless faith and unfaith say, Return.
If we dream that desire of the distance above us Should be fettered by fear of the shadows that seem, If we wake, to be nought, but to hate or to love us If we dream,
Night sinks on the soul, and the stars as they gleam Speak menace or mourning, with tongues to reprove us That we deemed of them better than terror may deem.
But if hope may not lure us, if fear may not move us, Thought lightens the darkness wherein the supreme Pure presence of death shall assure us, and prove us If we dream.
A BABY'S EPITAPH
April made me: winter laid me here away asleep. Bright as Maytime was my daytime; night is soft and deep: Though the morrow bring forth sorrow, well are ye that weep.
Ye that held me dear beheld me not a twelvemonth long: All the while ye saw me smile, ye knew not whence the song Came that made me smile, and laid me here, and wrought you wrong.
Angels, calling from your brawling world one undefiled, Homeward bade me, and forbade me here to rest beguiled: Here I sleep not: pass, and weep not here upon your child.
ON THE DEATH OF SIR HENRY TAYLOR
Fourscore and five times has the gradual year Risen and fulfilled its days of youth and eld Since first the child's eyes opening first beheld Light, who now leaves behind to help us here Light shed from song as starlight from a sphere Serene as summer; song whose charm compelled The sovereign soul made flesh in Artevelde To stand august before us and austere, Half sad with mortal knowledge, all sublime With trust that takes no taint from change or time, Trust in man's might of manhood. Strong and sage, Clothed round with reverence of remembering hearts, He, twin-born with our nigh departing age, Into the light of peace and fame departs.
IN MEMORY OF JOHN WILLIAM INCHBOLD
Farewell: how should not such as thou fare well, Though we fare ill that love thee, and that live, And know, whate'er the days wherein we dwell May give us, thee again they will not give?
Peace, rest, and sleep are all we know of death, And all we dream of comfort: yet for thee, Whose breath of life was bright and strenuous breath, We think the change is other than we see.
The seal of sleep set on thine eyes to-day Surely can seal not up the keen swift light That lit them once for ever. Night can slay None save the children of the womb of night.
The fire that burns up dawn to bring forth noon Was father of thy spirit: how shouldst thou Die as they die for whom the sun and moon Are silent? Thee the darkness holds not now:
Them, while they looked upon the light, and deemed That life was theirs for living in the sun, The darkness held in bondage: and they dreamed, Who knew not that such life as theirs was none.
To thee the sun spake, and the morning sang Notes deep and clear as life or heaven: the sea That sounds for them but wild waste music rang Notes that were lost not when they rang for thee.
The mountains clothed with light and night and change, The lakes alive with wind and cloud and sun, Made answer, by constraint sublime and strange, To the ardent hand that bade thy will be done.
We may not bid the mountains mourn, the sea That lived and lightened from thine hand again Moan, as of old would men that mourned as we A man beloved, a man elect of men,
A man that loved them. Vain, divine and vain, The dream that touched with thoughts or tears of ours The spirit of sense that lives in sun and rain, Sings out in birds, and breathes and fades in flowers.
Not for our joy they live, and for our grief They die not. Though thine eye be closed, thine hand Powerless as mine to paint them, not a leaf In English woods or glades of Switzerland
Falls earlier now, fades faster. All our love Moves not our mother's changeless heart, who gives A little light to eyes and stars above, A little life to each man's heart that lives.
A little life to heaven and earth and sea, To stars and souls revealed of night and day, And change, the one thing changeless: yet shall she Cease too, perchance, and perish. Who shall say?
Our mother Nature, dark and sweet as sleep, And strange as life and strong as death, holds fast, Even as she holds our hearts alive, the deep Dumb secret of her first-born births and last.
But this, we know, shall cease not till the strife Of nights and days and fears and hopes find end; This, through the brief eternities of life, Endures, and calls from death a living friend;
The love made strong with knowledge, whence confirmed The whole soul takes assurance, and the past (So by time's measure, not by memory's, termed) Lives present life, and mingles first with last.
I, now long since thy guest of many days, Who found thy hearth a brother's, and with thee Tracked in and out the lines of rolling bays And banks and gulfs and reaches of the sea—
Deep dens wherein the wrestling water sobs And pants with restless pain of refluent breath Till all the sunless hollow sounds and throbs With ebb and flow of eddies dark as death—
I know not what more glorious world, what waves More bright with life,—if brighter aught may live Than those that filled and fled their tidal caves— May now give back the love thou hast to give.
Tintagel, and the long Trebarwith sand, Lone Camelford, and Boscastle divine With dower of southern blossom, bright and bland Above the roar of granite-baffled brine,
Shall hear no more by joyous night or day From downs or causeways good to rove and ride Or feet of ours or horse-hoofs urge their way That sped us here and there by tower and tide.
The headlands and the hollows and the waves, For all our love, forget us: where I am Thou art not: deeper sleeps the shadow on graves Than in the sunless gulf that once we swam.
Thou hast swum too soon the sea of death: for us Too soon, but if truth bless love's blind belief Faith, born of hope and memory, says not thus: And joy for thee for me should mean not grief.
And joy for thee, if ever soul of man Found joy in change and life of ampler birth Than here pens in the spirit for a span, Must be the life that doubt calls death on earth.
For if, beyond the shadow and the sleep, A place there be for souls without a stain, Where peace is perfect, and delight more deep Than seas or skies that change and shine again,
There none of all unsullied souls that live May hold a surer station: none may lend More light to hope's or memory's lamp, nor give More joy than thine to those that called thee friend.
Yea, joy from sorrow's barren womb is born When faith begets on grief the godlike child: As midnight yearns with starry sense of morn In Arctic summers, though the sea wax wild,
So love, whose name is memory, thrills at heart, Remembering and rejoicing in thee, now Alive where love may dream not what thou art But knows that higher than hope or love art thou.
"Whatever heaven, if heaven at all may be, Await the sacred souls of good men dead, There, now we mourn who loved him here, is he," So, sweet and stern of speech, the Roman said,
Erect in grief, in trust erect, and gave His deathless dead a deathless life even here Where day bears down on day as wave on wave And not man's smile fades faster than his tear.
Albeit this gift be given not me to give, Nor power be mine to break time's silent spell, Not less shall love that dies not while I live Bid thee, beloved in life and death, farewell.
NEW YEAR'S DAY
New Year, be good to England. Bid her name Shine sunlike as of old on all the sea: Make strong her soul: set all her spirit free: Bind fast her homeborn foes with links of shame More strong than iron and more keen than flame: Seal up their lips for shame's sake: so shall she Who was the light that lightened freedom be, For all false tongues, in all men's eyes the same.
O last-born child of Time, earth's eldest lord, God undiscrowned of godhead, who for man Begets all good and evil things that live, Do thou, his new-begotten son, implored Of hearts that hope and fear not, make thy span Bright with such light as history bids thee give.
Jan. 1, 1889.
TO SIR RICHARD F. BURTON
(ON HIS TRANSLATION OF "THE ARABIAN NIGHTS")
Westward the sun sinks, grave and glad; but far Eastward, with laughter and tempestuous tears, Cloud, rain, and splendour as of orient spears, Keen as the sea's thrill toward a kindling star, The sundawn breaks the barren twilight's bar And fires the mist and slays it. Years on years Vanish, but he that hearkens eastward hears Bright music from the world where shadows are.
Where shadows are not shadows. Hand in hand A man's word bids them rise and smile and stand And triumph. All that glorious orient glows Defiant of the dusk. Our twilight land Trembles; but all the heaven is all one rose, Whence laughing love dissolves her frosts and snows.
Sweet heart, that no taint of the throne or the stage Could touch with unclean transformation, or alter To the likeness of courtiers whose consciences falter At the smile or the frown, at the mirth or the rage, Of a master whom chance could inflame or assuage, Our Lady of Laughter, invoked in no psalter, Adored of no faithful that cringe and that palter, Praise be with thee yet from a hag-ridden age.
Our Lady of Pity thou wast: and to thee All England, whose sons are the sons of the sea, Gives thanks, and will hear not if history snarls When the name of the friend of her sailors is spoken; And thy lover she cannot but love—by the token That thy name was the last on the lips of King Charles.
CALIBAN ON ARIEL
"His backward voice is to utter foul speeches and to detract"
The tongue is loosed of that most lying slave, Whom stripes may move, not kindness. Listen: "Lo, The real god of song, Lord Stephano, That's a brave god, if ever god were brave, And bears celestial liquor: but," the knave (A most ridiculous monster) howls, "we know From Ariel's lips what springs of poison flow, The chicken-heart blasphemer! Hear him rave!"
Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself Upon thy wicked dam, the witch whose name Is darkness, and the sun her eyes' offence, Though hell's hot sewerage breed no loathlier elf, Men cry not shame upon thee, seeing thy shame So perfect: they but bid thee—"Hag-seed, hence!"
THE WEARY WEDDING
O daughter, why do ye laugh and weep, One with another? For woe to wake and for will to sleep, Mother, my mother.
But weep ye winna the day ye wed, One with another. For tears are dry when the springs are dead, Mother, my mother.
Too long have your tears run down like rain, One with another. For a long love lost and a sweet love slain, Mother, my mother.
Too long have your tears dripped down like dew, One with another. For a knight that my sire and my brethren slew, Mother, my mother.
Let past things perish and dead griefs lie, One with another. O fain would I weep not, and fain would I die, Mother, my mother.
Fair gifts we give ye, to laugh and live, One with another. But sair and strange are the gifts I give, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give for your father's love? One with another. Fruits full few and thorns enough, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give for your mother's sake? One with another. Tears to brew and tares to bake, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give your sister Jean? One with another. A bier to build and a babe to wean, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give your sister Nell? One with another. The end of life and beginning of hell, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give your sister Kate? One with another. Earth's door and hell's gate, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give your brother Will? One with another. Life's grief and world's ill, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give your brother Hugh? One with another. A bed of turf to turn into, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give your brother John? One with another. The dust of death to feed upon, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give your bauld bridegroom? One with another. A barren bed and an empty room, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give your bridegroom's friend? One with another. A weary foot to the weary end, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye give your blithe bridesmaid? One with another. Grief to sew and sorrow to braid, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye drink the day ye're wed? One with another. But ae drink of the wan well-head, Mother, my mother.
And whatten a water is that to draw? One with another. We maun draw thereof a', we maun drink thereof a', Mother, my mother.
And what shall ye pu' where the well rins deep? One with another. Green herb of death, fine flower of sleep, Mother, my mother.
Are there ony fishes that swim therein? One with another. The white fish grace, and the red fish sin, Mother, my mother.
Are there ony birds that sing thereby? One with another. O when they come thither they sing till they die, Mother, my mother.
Is there ony draw-bucket to that well-head? One with another. There's a wee well-bucket hangs low by a thread, Mother, my mother.
And whatten a thread is that to spin? One with another. It's green for grace, and it's black for sin, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye strew on your bride-chamber floor? One with another. But one strewing and no more, Mother, my mother.
And whatten a strewing shall that one be? One with another. The dust of earth and sand of the sea, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye take to build your bed? One with another. Sighing and shame and the bones of the dead, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye wear for your wedding gown? One with another. Grass for the green and dust for the brown, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye wear for your wedding lace? One with another. A heavy heart and a hidden face, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye wear for a wreath to your head? One with another. Ash for the white and blood for the red, Mother, my mother.
And what will ye wear for your wedding ring? One with another. A weary thought for a weary thing, Mother, my mother.
And what shall the chimes and the bell-ropes play? One with another. A weary tune on a weary day, Mother, my mother.
And what shall be sung for your wedding song? One with another. A weary word of a weary wrong, Mother, my mother.
The world's way with me runs back, One with another, Wedded in white and buried in black, Mother, my mother.
The world's day and the world's night, One with another, Wedded in black and buried in white, Mother, my mother.
The world's bliss and the world's teen, One with another, It's red for white and it's black for green, Mother, my mother.
The world's will and the world's way, One with another, It's sighing for night and crying for day, Mother, my mother.
The world's good and the world's worth, One with another, It's earth to flesh and it's flesh to earth, Mother, my mother.
* * * * *
When she came out at the kirkyard gate, (One with another) The bridegroom's mother was there in wait. (Mother, my mother.)
O mother, where is my great green bed, (One with another) Silk at the foot and gold at the head, Mother, my mother?
Yea, it is ready, the silk and the gold, One with another. But line it well that I lie not cold, Mother, my mother.
She laid her cheek to the velvet and vair, One with another; She laid her arms up under her hair. (Mother, my mother.)
Her gold hair fell through her arms fu' low, One with another: Lord God, bring me out of woe! (Mother, my mother.)
Her gold hair fell in the gay reeds green, One with another: Lord God, bring me out of teen! (Mother, my mother.)
* * * * *
O mother, where is my lady gone? (One with another.) In the bride-chamber she makes sore moan: (Mother, my mother.)
Her hair falls over the velvet and vair, (One with another) Her great soft tears fall over her hair. (Mother, my mother.)
When he came into the bride's chamber, (One with another) Her hands were like pale yellow amber. (Mother, my mother.)
Her tears made specks in the velvet and vair, (One with another) The seeds of the reeds made specks in her hair. (Mother, my mother.)
He kissed her under the gold on her head; (One with another) The lids of her eyes were like cold lead. (Mother, my mother.)
He kissed her under the fall of her chin; (One with another) There was right little blood therein. (Mother, my mother.)
He kissed her under her shoulder sweet; (One with another) Her throat was weak, with little heat. (Mother, my mother.)
He kissed her down by her breast-flowers red, One with another; They were like river-flowers dead. (Mother, my mother.)
What ails you now o' your weeping, wife? (One with another.) It ails me sair o' my very life. (Mother, my mother.)
What ails you now o' your weary ways? (One with another.) It ails me sair o' my long life-days. (Mother, my mother.)
Nay, ye are young, ye are over fair. (One with another.) Though I be young, what needs ye care? (Mother, my mother.)
Nay, ye are fair, ye are over sweet. (One with another.) Though I be fair, what needs ye greet? (Mother, my mother.)
Nay, ye are mine while I hold my life. (One with another.) O fool, will ye marry the worm for a wife? (Mother, my mother.)
Nay, ye are mine while I have my breath. (One with another.) O fool, will ye marry the dust of death? (Mother, my mother.)
Yea, ye are mine, we are handfast wed, One with another. Nay, I am no man's; nay, I am dead, Mother, my mother.
O weary fa' the east wind, And weary fa' the west: And gin I were under the wan waves wide I wot weel wad I rest.
O weary fa' the north wind, And weary fa' the south: The sea went ower my good lord's head Or ever he kissed my mouth.
Weary fa' the windward rocks, And weary fa' the lee: They might hae sunken sevenscore ships, And let my love's gang free.
And weary fa' ye, mariners a', And weary fa' the sea: It might hae taken an hundred men, And let my ae love be.
A LYKE-WAKE SONG
Fair of face, full of pride, Sit ye down by a dead man's side.
Ye sang songs a' the day: Sit down at night in the red worm's way.
Proud ye were a' day long: Ye'll be but lean at evensong.
Ye had gowd kells on your hair: Nae man kens what ye were.
Ye set scorn by the silken stuff: Now the grave is clean enough.
Ye set scorn by the rubis ring: Now the worm is a saft sweet thing.
Fine gold and blithe fair face, Ye are come to a grimly place.
Gold hair and glad grey een, Nae man kens if ye have been.
A REIVER'S NECK-VERSE
Some die singing, and some die swinging, And weel mot a' they be: Some die playing, and some die praying, And I wot sae winna we, my dear, And I wot sae winna we.
Some die sailing, and some die wailing, And some die fair and free: Some die flyting, and some die fighting, But I for a fause love's fee, my dear, But I for a fause love's fee.
Some die laughing, and some die quaffing, And some die high on tree: Some die spinning, and some die sinning, But faggot and fire for ye, my dear, Faggot and fire for ye.
Some die weeping, and some die sleeping, And some die under sea: Some die ganging, and some die hanging, And a twine of a tow for me, my dear, A twine of a tow for me.
"O where will ye gang to and where will ye sleep, Against the night begins?" "My bed is made wi' cauld sorrows, My sheets are lined wi' sins.
"And a sair grief sitting at my foot, And a sair grief at my head; And dule to lay me my laigh pillows, And teen till I be dead.
"And the rain is sair upon my face, And sair upon my hair; And the wind upon my weary mouth, That never may man kiss mair.
"And the snow upon my heavy lips, That never shall drink nor eat; And shame to cledding, and woe to wedding, And pain to drink and meat.
"But woe be to my bairns' father, And ever ill fare he: He has tane a braw bride hame to him, Cast out my bairns and me."
"And what shall they have to their marriage meat This day they twain are wed?" "Meat of strong crying, salt of sad sighing, And God restore the dead."
"And what shall they have to their wedding wine This day they twain are wed?" "Wine of weeping, and draughts of sleeping, And God raise up the dead."
She's tane her to the wild woodside, Between the flood and fell: She's sought a rede against her need Of the fiend that bides in hell.
She's tane her to the wan burnside, She's wrought wi' sang and spell: She's plighted her soul for doom and dole To the fiend that bides in hell.
She's set her young son to her breast, Her auld son to her knee: Says, "Weel for you the night, bairnies, And weel the morn for me."
She looked fu' lang in their een, sighing, And sair and sair grat she: She has slain her young son at her breast, Her auld son at her knee.
She's sodden their flesh wi' saft water, She's mixed their blood with wine: She's tane her to the braw bride-house, Where a' were boun' to dine.
She poured the red wine in his cup, And his een grew fain to greet: She set the baked meats at his hand, And bade him drink and eat.
Says, "Eat your fill of your flesh, my lord, And drink your fill of your wine; For a' thing's yours and only yours That has been yours and mine."
Says, "Drink your fill of your wine, my lord, And eat your fill of your bread: I would they were quick in my body again, Or I that bare them dead."
He struck her head frae her fair body, And dead for grief he fell: And there were twae mair sangs in heaven, And twae mair sauls in hell.
THE BRIDE'S TRAGEDY
"The wind wears roun', the day wears doun, The moon is grisly grey; There's nae man rides by the mirk muirsides, Nor down the dark Tyne's way." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
"And winna ye watch the night wi' me, And winna ye wake the morn? Foul shame it were that your ae mither Should brook her ae son's scorn." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
"O mither, I may not sleep nor stay, My weird is ill to dree; For a fause faint lord of the south seaboard Wad win my bride of me." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
"The winds are strang, and the nights are lang, And the ways are sair to ride: And I maun gang to wreak my wrang, And ye maun bide and bide." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
"Gin I maun bide and bide, Willie, I wot my weird is sair: Weel may ye get ye a light love yet, But never a mither mair." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
"O gin the morrow be great wi' sorrow, The wyte be yours of a': But though ye slay me that haud and stay me, The weird ye will maun fa'." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
When cocks were crawing and day was dawing, He's boun' him forth to ride: And the ae first may he's met that day Was fause Earl Robert's bride. In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
O blithe and braw were the bride-folk a', But sad and saft rade she; And sad as doom was her fause bridegroom, But fair and fain was he. In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
"And winna ye bide, sae saft ye ride, And winna ye speak wi' me? For mony's the word and the kindly word I have spoken aft wi' thee." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
"My lamp was lit yestreen, Willie, My window-gate was wide: But ye camena nigh me till day came by me And made me not your bride." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
He's set his hand to her bridle-rein, He's turned her horse away: And the cry was sair, and the wrath was mair, And fast and fain rode they. In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
But when they came by Chollerford, I wot the ways were fell; For broad and brown the spate swang down, And the lift was mirk as hell. In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
"And will ye ride yon fell water, Or will ye bide for fear? Nae scathe ye'll win o' your father's kin, Though they should slay me here." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
"I had liefer ride yon fell water, Though strange it be to ride, Than I wad stand on the fair green strand And thou be slain beside." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.
"I had liefer swim yon wild water, Though sair it be to bide, Than I wad stand at a strange man's hand, To be a strange man's bride." In, in, out and in, Blaws the wind and whirls the whin.