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ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE
THE rose to the wind has yielded: all its leaves
Lie strewn on the graveyard grass, and all their light
And colour and fragrance leave our sense and sight
Bereft as a man whom bitter time bereaves
Of blossom at once and hope of garnered sheaves,
Of April at once and August. Day to night
Calls wailing, and life to death, and depth to height,
And soul upon soul of man that hears and grieves.
Who knows, though he see the snow-cold blossom shed,
If haply the heart that burned within the rose,
The spirit in sense, the life of life be dead?
If haply the wind that slays with storming snows
Be one with the wind that quickens? Bow thine head,
O Sorrow, and commune with thine heart: who knows?
DELIVERANCE (VIA DOLOROSA II)
O DEATH, fair Death, sole comforter and sweet,
Nor Love nor Hope can give such gifts as thine.
Sleep hardly shows us round thy shadowy shrine
What roses hang, what music floats, what feet
Pass and what wings of angels. We repeat
Wild words or mild, disastrous or divine,
Blind prayer, blind imprecation, seeing no sign
Nor hearing aught of thee not faint and fleet
As words of men or snowflakes on the wind.
But if we chide thee, saying " Thouhast sinned, thou hast sinned,
Dark Death, to take so sweet a light away
As shone but late, though shadowed, in our skies,"
We hear thine answer—" Night has given what day
Denied him: darkness hath unsealed his eyes."
ON THE THOUGHT OF DEATH (XIX)
ONE saith, "The world's a stage: I took my seat;
I saw the show; and now 'tis time to rise."
Another saith, "I came with eager eyes
Into life's banquet-hall to drink and eat:
The hour hath struck, when I must shoe my feet,
And gird me for the way that deathward lies."
Another saith, " Life is a bird that flies
From dark through light to darkness, arrowy fleet."
One show; one feast; one flight;—must that be all?
Could we unlearn this longing, could we cry,
"Thanks for our part in life's fair festival!
We know not whence we came, we know not why
We go, nor where; but God is over all!"
It would not then be terrible to die.
REBUKE me not! I have nor wish nor skill
To alter one hair's breadth in all this house
Of Love, rising with domes so luminous
And air-built galleries on life's topmost hill!
Only I know that fate, chance, years that kill,
Change that transmutes, have aimed their darts at us;
Envying each lovely shrine and amorous
Reared on earth's soil by man's too passionate will.
Dread thou the moment when these glittering towers,
These adamantine walls and gates of gems,
Shall fade like forms of sun-forsaken cloud;
When dulled by imperceptible chill hours,
The golden spires of our Jerusalems
Shall melt to mist and vanish in night's shroud!
STELLA MARIS (XLIIl)
AH, might it be that thou, who like the Dawn,
Or Nereid rising from thine own blue sea,
In supple strength and fearless nudity,
With calm wide eyes of azure unwithdrawn,
Bared thy white limbs, and let thy beauty dawn
In moonbeams whiter than the moon for me;
Thou wild as Adria's waves that cradled thee,
Swift as a sleuth-hound, slender as a fawn;—
Ah, might it be that thou, even thou, couldst give
What the soul yearns for; not this passionate feast
Which makes the satiate man go forth a beast!
I crave no life-gift; let the guerdon be
Than thought more frail, than time more fugitive,
So but we blend one moment, thou with me!