A Ballad Of Appeal

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

TO CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI.


Song wakes with every wakening year
From hearts of birds that only feel
Brief spring’s deciduous flower-time near:
And song more strong to help or heal
Shall silence worse than winter seal?
From love-lit thought’s remurmuring cave
The notes that rippled, wave on wave,
Were clear as love, as faith were strong;
And all souls blessed the soul that gave
Sweet water from the well of song.
All hearts bore fruit of joy to hear,
All eyes felt mist upon them steal
For joy’s sake, trembling toward a tear,
When, loud as marriage-bells that peal,
Or flutelike soft, or keen like steel,
Sprang the sheer music; sharp or grave,
We heard the drift of winds that drave,
And saw, swept round by ghosts in throng,
Dark rocks, that yielded, where they clave,
Sweet water from the well of song.
Blithe verse made all the dim sense clear
That smiles of babbling babes conceal:
Prayer’s perfect heart spake here: and here
Rose notes of blameless woe and weal,
More soft than this poor song’s appeal.
Where orchards bask, where cornfields wave,
They dropped like rains that cleanse and lave,
And scattered all the year along,
Like dewfall on an April grave,
Sweet water from the well of song.
Ballad, go bear our prayer, and crave
Pardon, because thy lowlier stave
Can do this plea no right, but wrong.
Ask nought beside thy pardon, save
Sweet water from the well of song.

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