On The Bicentenary of Corneille

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

CELEBRATED UNDER THE PRESIDENCY OF VICTOR HUGO.

Scarce two hundred years are gone, and the world is past away
As a noise of brawling wind, as a flash of breaking foam,
That beheld the singer born who raised up the dead of Rome;
And a mightier now than he bids him too rise up to-day,
133 All the dim great age is dust, and its king is tombless clay,
But its loftier laurel green as in living eyes it clomb,
And his memory whom it crowned hath his people’s heart for home,
And the shade across it falls of a lordlier-flowering bay.
Stately shapes about the tomb of their mighty maker pace,
Heads of high-plumed Spaniards shine, souls revive of Roman race,
Sound of arms and words of wail through the glowing darkness rise,
Speech of hearts heroic rings forth of lips that know not breath,
And the light of thoughts august fills the pride of kindling eyes
Whence of yore the spell of song drove the shadow of darkling death.

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