After A Reading

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

For the seven times seventh time love would renew the delight without end or alloy
That it takes in the praise as it takes in the presence of eyes that fulfil it with joy;
But how shall it praise them and rest unrebuked by the presence and pride of the boy?
Praise meet for a child is unmeet for an elder whose winters and springs are nine
What song may have strength in its wings to expand them, or light in its eyes to shine,
That shall seem not as weakness and darkness if matched with the theme I would fain make mine?
The round little flower of a face that exults in the sunshine of shadowless days
Defies the delight it enkindles to sing of it aught not unfit for the praise
Of the sweetest of all things that eyes may rejoice in and tremble with love as they gaze.
Such tricks and such meanings abound on the lips and the brows that are brighter than light,
The demure little chin, the sedate little nose, and the forehead of sun-stained white,
That love overflows into laughter and laughter subsides into love at the sight.
Each limb and each feature has action in tune with the meaning that smiles as it speaks
From the fervour of eyes and the fluttering of hands in a foretaste of fancies and freaks,
When the thought of them deepens the dimples that laugh in the corners and curves of his cheeks.
As a bird when the music within her is yet too intense to be spoken in song,
That pauses a little for pleasure to feel how the notes from withinwards throng,
So pauses the laugh at his lips for a little, and waxes within more strong.
As the music elate and triumphal that bids all things of the dawn bear part
With the tune that prevails when her passion has risen into rapture of passionate art,
So lightens the laughter made perfect that leaps from its nest in the heaven of his heart.
Deep, grave and sedate is the gaze of expectant intensity bent for awhile
And absorbed on its aim as the tale that enthralls him uncovers the weft of its wile,
Till the goal of attention is touched, and expectancy kisses delight in a smile.
And it seems to us here that in Paradise hardly the spirit of Lamb or of Blake
May hear or behold aught sweeter than lightens and rings when his bright thoughts break
In laughter that well might lure them to look, and to smile as of old for his sake.
O singers that best loved children, and best for their sakes are beloved of us here,
In the world of your life everlasting, where love has no thorn and desire has no fear,
All else may be sweeter than aught is on earth, nought dearer than these are dear.

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