Poems by Algernon Charles Swinburne

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April made me: winter laid me here away asleep.
Sea to sea that clasps and fosters England, uttering ever-more
Like a queen enchanted who may not laugh or weep,
The burden of fair women. Vain delight,
Kneel down, fair Love, and fill thyself with tears,
I hid my heart in a nest of roses,
I found in dreams a place of wind and flowers,
High beyond the granite portal arched across
There was a graven image of Desire
Forth from Calais, at dawn of night, when sunset summer on autumn shone,
Forth from Calais, at dawn of night, when sunset summer on autumn shone,
Praise of the knights of old
What will it please you, my darling, hereafter to be?
All the bells of heaven may ring,
No sweeter thing than children’s ways and wiles,
How low soe’er men rank us,
Faith is the spirit that makes man's body and blood
Three damsels in the queen’s chamber,
O strong Republic of the nobler years
‘La maison sans enfants!’ - VICTOR HUGO.
Ferdinand II entered Malebolge May 22nd, 1859.
The strong spring sun rejoicingly may rise,
A bell tolls on in my heart
All Afric, winged with death and fire,
Heart's ease or pansy, pleasure or thought,
In a coign of the cliff between lowland and highland,
Low lies the mere beneath the moorside, still
Sick of self-love, Malvolio, like an owl
Let us go hence, my songs; she will not hear.
Fair of face, full of pride,
We mix from many lands,
If love were what the rose is,
The sea is at ebb, and the sound of her utmost word
East and north a waste of waters, south and west
Along these low pleached lanes, on such a day,
Stately stand the sunflowers, glowing down the garden-side,
Here begins the sea that ends not till the world’s end. Where we stand,
Rains have left the sea-banks ill to climb:
Seaward goes the sun, and homeward by the down
The sea is awake, and the sound of the song of the joy of her waking is rolled
Spray of song that springs in April, light of love that laughs through May,
If the rose of all flowers be the rarest
An age too great for thought of ours to scan,
Christina Rossetti died December 29, 1894
To Joseph Mazzini
To Victor Hugo
Wind and sea and cloud and cloud-forsaking
Summer, and noon, and a splendour of silence, felt,
To a friend leaving England for a year's residence in Australia.
Some die singing, and some die swinging,
The rose to the wind has yielded: all its leaves
Babe, if rhyme be none
Death, I would plead against thy wrong,
Theleme is afar on the waters, adrift and afar,
Far-fetched and dear-bought, as the proverb rehearses,
Sea beyond sea, sand after sweep of sand,
Push hard across the sand,
The heart of the rulers is sick, and the high-priest covers his head:
Inscribed With All Devotion and Reverence To: JOSEPH MAZZINI
If that be yet a living soul which here
Somno mollior unda
Men, born of the land that for ages
Ps. xciv. 8.
Lord of days and nights that hear thy word of wintry warning,
If blood throbs yet in this that was thy face,
Fire and wild light of hope and doubt and fear,
For the seven times seventh time love would renew the delight without end or alloy
The four boards of the coffin lid
To Joseph Mazzini.
‘Si quis piorum Manibus locus.’
France, cloven in twain by fire of hell and hate,
In the beginning God made thee
Written on the news of the death of Lord Leighton
In the greenest growth of the Maytime,
Many waters cannot quench love,
My life is bitter with thy love; thine eyes
Till death have broken
Strong as death, and cruel as the grave,
If wrath embitter the sweet mouth of song,
Et Judas m'a dit: Traître!
From the french of the Vidame de Chartres.
After reading Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia in the garden of an old English manor house
England, elect of time,
Men of Eleusis, ye that with long staves
'Farewell and adieu' was the burden prevailing
Str. I.
La plus douce des voix qui vibraient sous le ciel
There were four apples on the bough,
The year lies fallen and faded
Baby-bird, baby-bird,
Still the sovereign trees
Here, down between the dusty trees,
Sweet life, if life were stronger,
A month or twain to live on honeycomb
Love's twilight wanes in heaven above,
Blest in death and life beyond man's guessing
Birth and death, twin-sister and twin-brother,
Strophe 1.
Not all disgraced, in that Italian town,
To the Signora Cairoli
A fire of fierce and laughing light
To Walter Theodore Watts.
Summer's face was rosiest, skies and woods were mellow,
If we dream that desire of the distance above us
"His backward voice is to utter foul speeches and to detract"
Death, winged with fire of hate from deathless hell
The blind king hides his weeping eyeless head,
But now life's face beholden
Love, what ailed thee to leave life that was made lovely, we thought, with love?
Clear the way, my lords and lackeys! you have had your day.
"Her beauty might outface the jealous hours,
Child, when they say that others
Reconciled by death's mild hand, that giving
O heart of hearts, the chalice of love’s fire,
(To a tune of Blake’s)
What needs our Cromwell stone or bronze to say
Dead love, by treason slain, lies stark,
Death and birth should dwell not near together:
The sea that is life everlasting
The sea of the years that endure not
The years are many, the changes more,
A sea-mew on a sea-king's wrist alighting,
Take, since you bade it should bear,
Take, since you bade it should bear,
(B.C. 280)
Chief in thy generation born of men
Unreconciled by life's fleet years, that fled
Ad generem Cereris sine cæde et vulnere pauci
Sunset smiles on sunrise: east and west are one,
Fly, white butterflies, out to sea,
As a vesture shalt thou change them, said the prophet,
Between the wave-ridge and the strand
Sweet for a little even to fear, and sweet,
For the four hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Foundation of the College
A year ago red wrath and keen despair
To Victor Hugo
In Memory of Mrs. Thellusson.
Over two shadowless waters, adrift as a pinnace in peril,
Ave Faustina Imperatrix, morituri te salutant.
Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?
Upon the borderlands of being,
A little way, more soft and sweet
Love lies bleeding in the bed whereover
Light love in a mist, by the midsummer moon misguided,
Steadfast as sorrow, fiery sad, and sweet
Storm and shame and fraud and darkness fill the nations full with night:
I. Winter in Northumberland
O love! what shall be said of thee?
In the outer world that was before this earth,
Take, O star of all our seas, from not an alien hand,
Attempted in English verse after the original metre.
Had I wist, when life was like a warm wind playing
All the golden air is full of balm and bloom
To Isabel Swinburne.
In the month of the long decline of roses
When grace is given us ever to behold
I am that which began;
Out of the golden remote wild west where the sea without shore is,
Beneath the shadow of dawn’s aerial cope,
(During the Session in Rome of the Ecumenical Council)
There is an end of joy and sorrow;
Baby, see the flowers!
Through the low grey archway children's feet that pass
Beloved above all nations, land adored,
The wider world of men that is not ours
Yet again another, ere his crowning year,
Farewell: how should not such as thou fare well,
Back to the flower-town, side by side,
Is thine hour come to wake, O slumbering Night?
Abreast and ahead of the sea is a crag's front cloven asunder
‘Vidistis ipso rapere de rogo cœnam.’
"Return," we dare not as we fain
Sark, fairer than aught in the world that the lit skies cover,
Ave Caesar Imperator, moriturum te saluto.
Swallow, my sister, O sister swallow,
Now who will speak, and lie not,
The sun was heavy; no more shade at all
Bill, I feel far from quite right if not further: already the pill
Malâ soluta navis exit alite.
Lors dit en plourant; Hélas trop malheureux homme et mauldict pescheur, oncques ne verrai-je clémence et miséricorde de Dieu. Ores m’en irai-je d’icy et me cacherai dedans le mont Horsel, en requérant de faveur et d’amoureuse merci ma doulce dame Vén
From the depths of the waters that lighten and darken
Whatever a man of the sons of men
He should have followed who goes forth before us,
To Philip Bourke Marston
Last high star of the years whose thunder
Italia, mother of the souls of men,
To E. H.
Come close and see her and hearken. This is she.
Lying asleep between the strokes of night
Imitated from Théophile Gautier
Light love in a mist, by the midsummer moon misguided,
Love lies bleeding in the bed whereover
Écrasez l'infâme.
Under green apple-boughs
Mad March, with the wind in his wings wide-spread,
Citoyen, lui dit Enjoiras, ma mère, c’est la République.
Mother of man’s time-travelling generations,
A new year gleams on us, tearful
A life more bright than the sun's face, bowed
At the time when the stars are grey,
Est-ce qu'il n'est pas temps que la foudre se prouve,
Put in the sickles and reap;
Because there is but one truth;
Alas my brother! the cry of the mourners of old
Far off is the sea, and the land is afar:
Sweet heart, that no taint of the throne or the stage
From the depth of the dreamy decline of the dawn through a notable nimbus of nebulous noonshine,
New Year, be good to England. Bid her name
It does not hurt. She looked along the knife
Between our eastward and our westward sea
STR. 1
When the might of the summer
Between the moondawn and the sundown here
Northumberland, so proud and sad to-day,
Kind, wise, and true as truth's own heart,
Night or light is it now, wherein
A light of blameless laughter, fancy-bred,
Fourscore and five times has the gradual year
Two souls diverse out of our human sight
A faint sea without wind or sun;
O son of man, by lying tongues adored,
To Theodore Watts
A Lyrical Idyl
"Popule mi, quid tibi feci?"
In a vision Liberty stood
Iscariot, thou grey-grown beast of blood,
Hippolytus; Phædra; Chorus of Trœzenian Women
Far beyond the sunrise and the sunset rises
The sea gives her shells to the shingle,
Between the green bud and the red
Swift music made of passion's changeful power,
Love dark as death and fierce as fire on wing
Light, as when dawn takes wing and smites the sea,
The golden bells of fairyland, that ring
The mightiest choir of song that memory hears
When Shakespeare soared from life to death, above
Fire, and behind the breathless flight of fire
The wind that brings us from the springtide south
Sweet as the dewfall, splendid as the south,
Am i not he that hath made thee and begotten thee,
The wave that breaks against a forward stroke
Take hands and part with laughter;
Kissing her hair I sat against her feet,
These many years since we began to be,
All the night sleep came not upon my eyelids,
If you loved me ever so little,
I saw my soul at rest upon a day
Inside this northern summer’s fold
To H.W.M.
Sleep, when a soul that her own clouds cover
Sweet mother, in a minute’s span
Song for the Centenary of Walter Savage Landor
That nose is out of drawing. With a gasp,
Ye too, dim watchfires of some darkling hour,
More yet and more, and yet we mark not all:
Mother whose womb brought forth our man of men,
An hour ere sudden sunset fired the west,
Broad-based, broad-fronted, bounteous, multiform,
Crowned, girdled, garbed and shod with light and fire,
Our mother, which wast twice, as history saith,
High priest of Homer, not elect in vain,
The dusk of day’s decline was hard on dark
Day was a full-blown flower in heaven, alive
Hew hard the marble from the mountain’s heart
The bitterness of death and bitterer scorn
Thunder: the flesh quails, and the soul bows down.
Clouds here and there arisen an hour past noon
Sons born of many a loyal Muse to Ben,
Out of the depths of darkling life where sin
Tom, if they loved thee best who called thee Tom.
A wild moon riding high from cloud to cloud,
Not if men's tongues and angels' all in one
Sorrow, on wing through the world for ever,
Rose-red lilies that bloom on the banner;
It hath been seen and yet it shall be seen
When the game began between them for a jest,
Be glad in heaven above all souls insphered,
The sundawn fills the land
If the wind and the sunlight of April and August had mingled the past and hereafter
All the west, whereon the sunset sealed the dead year's glorious grave
By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept,
At the chill high tide of the night,
Upon the flowery forefront of the year,
Let there be light, said Time: and England heard:
Lay the corpse out on the altar; bid the elect
The sea swings owre the slants of sand,
In Memory of Theodore de Banville
"The wind wears roun', the day wears doun,
There were twa brethren fell on strife;
O daughter of pride, wasted with misery,
Sound of trumpets blowing down the merriest winds of morn,
'Horatio Nelson - Honor est a Nilo'
Not for less love, all glorious France, to thee,
Men, whose fathers braved the world in arms against our isles in union,
There is no woman living who draws breath
On the Busts of Nero in the Uffizj.
Dante, sole standing on the heavenward height,
Peace and war are one in proof of England's deathless praise.
On the refusal by the French Senate of the plenary amnesty demanded by Victor Hugo, in his speech of July 3rd, for the surviving exiles of the Commune.)
Sea, and bright wind, and heaven of ardent air,
Here, where the world is quiet;
Is it so, that the sword is broken,
Fourscore years and seven
One, who is not, we see: but one, whom we see not, is:
We were ten maidens in the green corn,
The sun is lord and god, sublime, serene,
eipate toi basilei, xamai pese daidalos aula.
Nothing is better, I well think,
Deep desire, that pierces heart and spirit to the root,
Greene, garlanded with February's few flowers
Virtutem videant intabescantque relicta.
Ask nothing more of me, sweet;
Inscribed to my Mother
The coming of the hawthorn brings on earth
Who is your lady of love, O ye that pass
Said a poet to a woodlouse, "Thou art certainly my brother;
Spring sleeps and stirs and trembles with desire
Shall England consummate the crime
Return, they cry, ere yet your day
Gratefully inscribed to Dr. A.B. Grosart.
A roundel is wrought as a ring or a starbright sphere,
If childhood were not in the world,
This fell when Christmas lights were done,
Maiden most beautiful, mother most bountiful, lady of lands,
A little marsh-plant, yellow green,
Patience, long sick to death, is dead. Too long
Before our lives divide for ever,
Storm, strong with all the bitter heart of hate,
I will that if I say a heavy thing
There's mony a man loves land and life,
The wind's way in the deep sky's hollow
O daughter, why do ye laugh and weep,
O weary fa' the east wind,
"O where will ye gang to and where will ye sleep,
There were four loves that one by one,
From the depths of the green garden-closes
The sky and sea glared hard and bright and blank:
Again the same strange might of eyes, that saw
Out of the dark pure twilight, where the stream
Three weeks since there was no such rose in being;
Watching here alone by the fire whereat last year
Love, whose light thrills heaven and earth,
When I had wings, my brother,
My brother, my Valerius, dearest head
Child of two strong nations, heir
Beyond the north wind lay the land of old
On the Eightieth Anniversary of his Birth,
In the fair days when God
Send but a song oversea for us,
The larks are loud above our leagues of whin
Sea, that art ours as we are thine, whose name
Love, that is first and last of all things made,
About the middle music of the spring
Out of the night arose the second day,
“‘As the dawn loves the sunlight I love thee;’
Spring watched her last moon burn and fade with May
Fate, that was born ere spirit and flesh were made,
But that same night in Cornwall oversea
A little time, O Love, a little light,
But all that year in Brittany forlorn,
Enough of ease, O Love, enough of light,
Affectionately Inscribed to W.M.R. and L.R.
The days of a man are threescore years and ten.
Sea and land are fairer now, nor aught is all the same,
‘As a matter of fact, no man living, or who ever lived, not Cæsar or Pericles, not Shakespeare or Michael Angelo, could confer honour more than he took on entering the House of Lords.’
What shall be done for sorrow
Looking on a page where stood
Not if men’s tongues and angels’ all in one
Outside the garden