Inscriptions for the Four Sides of a Pedestal

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Marlowe, the father of the sons of song
Whose praise is England's crowning praise, above
All glories else that crown her, sweet and strong
As England, clothed with light and fire of love,
And girt with might of passion, thought, and trust,
Stands here in spirit, sleeps not here in dust.

Marlowe, a star too sovereign, too superb,
To fade when heaven took fire from Shakespeare's light,
A soul that knew but song's triumphal curb
And love's triumphant bondage, holds of right
His pride of place, who first in place and time
Made England's voice as England's heart sublime.

Marlowe bade England live in living song:
The light he lifted up lit Shakespeare's way:
He spake, and life sprang forth in music, strong
As fire or lightning, sweet as dawn of day.
Song was a dream where day took night to wife:
"Let there be life," he said: and there was life.

Marlowe of all our fathers first beheld
Beyond the tidal ebb and flow of things
The tideless depth and height of souls, impelled
By thought or passion, borne on waves or wings,
Beyond all flight or sight but song's: and he
First gave our song a sound that matched our sea.

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