A Midsummer Holiday:- IV. The Mill Garden

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Stately stand the sunflowers, glowing down the garden-side,
Ranged in royal rank arow along the warm grey wall,
Whence their deep disks burn at rich midnoon afire with pride,
Even as though their beams indeed were sunbeams, and the tall
Sceptral stems bore stars whose reign endures, not flowers that fall.
Lowlier laughs and basks the kindlier flower of homelier fame,
Held by love the sweeter that it blooms in Shakespeare’s name,
Fragrant yet as though his hand had touched and made it thrill,
Like the whole world’s heart, with warm new life and gladdening flame.
Fair befall the fair green close that lies below the mill!
Softlier here the flower-soft feet of refluent seasons glide,
Lightlier breathes the long low note of change’s gentler call.
Wind and storm and landslip feed the lone sea’s gulf outside,
Half a seamew’s first flight hence; but scarce may these appal
Peace, whose perfect seal is set for signet here on all.
Steep and deep and sterile, under fields no plough can tame,
Dip the cliffs full-fledged with poppies red as love or shame,
Wide wan daisies bleak and bold, or herbage harsh and chill;
Here the full clove pinks and wallflowers crown the love they claim.
Fair befall the fair green close that lies below the mill!
All the place breathes low, but not for fear lest ill betide,
Soft as roses answering roses, or a dove’s recall.
Little heeds it how the seaward banks may stoop and slide,
How the winds and years may hold all outer things in thrall,
How their wrath may work on hoar church tower and boundary wall.
Far and wide the waste and ravin of their rule proclaim
Change alone the changeless lord of things, alone the same:
Here a flower is stronger than the winds that work their will,
Or the years that wing their way through darkness toward their aim.
Fair befall the fair green close that lies below the mill!
Friend, the home that smiled us welcome hither when we came,
When we pass again with summer, surely should reclaim
Somewhat given of heart’s thanksgiving more than words fulfil
More than song, were song more sweet than all but love, might frame.
Fair befall the fair green close that lies below the mill!

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