A Midsummer Holiday:- VIII. The Sunbows

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Spray of song that springs in April, light of love that laughs through May,
Live and die and live for ever: nought of all thing far less fair
Keeps a surer life than these that seem to pass like fire away.
In the souls they live which are but all the brighter that they were;
In the hearts that kindle, thinking what delight of old was there.
Wind that shapes and lifts and shifts them bids perpetual memory play
Over dreams and in and out of deeds and thoughts which seem to wear
Light that leaps and runs and revels through the springing flames of spray.
Dawn is wild upon the waters where we drink of dawn to-day:
Wide, from wave to wave rekindling in rebound through radiant air,
Flash the fires unwoven and woven again of wind that works in play,
Working wonders more than heart may note or sight may wellnigh dare,
Wefts of rarer light than colours rain from heaven, though this be rare.
Arch on arch unbuilt in building, reared and ruined ray by ray,
Breaks and brightens, laughs and lessens, even till eyes may hardly bear
Light that leaps and runs and revels through the springing flames of spray.
Year on year sheds light and music rolled and flashed from bay to bay
Round the summer capes of time and winter headlands keen and bare
Whence the soul keeps watch, and bids her vassal memory watch and pray,
If perchance the dawn may quicken, or perchance the midnight spare.
Silence quells not music, darkness takes not sunlight in her snare;
Shall not joys endure that perish? Yea, saith dawn, though night say nay:
Life on life goes out, but very life enkindles everywhere
Light that leaps and runs and revels through the springing flames of spray.
Friend, were life no more than this is, well would yet the living fare.
All aflower and all afire and all flung heavenward, who shall say
Such a flash of life were worthless? This is worth a world of care
Light that leaps and runs and revels through the springing flames of spray.

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