Algernon Charles Swinburne.
WHEN the hounds of spring are on winters traces,
The mother of months in meadow or plain
the shadows and windy places
With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain;
And the brown bright nightingale
Is half assuaged for Itylus,
For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces.
The tongueless vigil,
and all the pain.
Come with bows bent and with emptying of quivers,
Maiden most perfect, lady of light,
a noise of winds and many rivers,
With a clamour of waters, and with might;
Bind on thy sandals, O thou
Over the splendour and speed of thy feet;
For the faint east quickens, the wan west shivers,
the feet of the day and the feet of the night.
Where shall we find her, how shall we sing to her,
Fold our hands round her knees, and cling?
that mans heart were as fire and could spring to her,
Fire, or the strength of the streams that spring!
the stars and the winds are unto her
As raiment, as songs of the harp-player;
For the risen stars and the
fallen cling to her,
And the southwest-wind and the west-wind sing.
For winters rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing
lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time rememberd is grief forgotten,
are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the Spring begins.
The full streams feed on flower of rushes,
Ripe grasses trammel a travelling foot,
fresh flame of the young year flushes
From leaf to flower and flower to fruit;
And fruit and leaf are as gold
And the oat is heard above the lyre,
And the hoofed heel of a satyr crushes
The chestnut-husk at
And Pan by noon and Bacchus by night,
Fleeter of foot than the fleet-foot kid,
Follows with a
dancing and fills with delight
The Mænad and the Bassarid;
And soft as lips that laugh and hide
leaves of the trees divide,
And screen from seeing and leave in sight
The god pursuing, the maiden hid.
The ivy falls with the Bacchanals hair
Over her eyebrows hiding her eyes;
The wild vine slipping
down leaves bare
Her bright breast shortening into sighs;
The wild vine slips with the weight of its leaves,
the berried ivy catches and cleaves
To the limbs that glitter, the feet that scare
The wolf that follows, the
fawn that flies.
BEFORE the beginning of years
There came to the making of man
Time, with a gift of tears;
with a glass that ran;
Pleasure, with pain for leaven;
Summer, with flowers that fell;
And madness risen from hell;
Strength without hands to smite;
Love that endures for a breath;
the shadow of light,
And life, the shadow of death.
And the high gods took in hand
Fire, and the falling of
And a measure of sliding sand
From under the feet of the years;
And froth and drift of the sea;
dust of the labouring earth;
And bodies of things to be
In the houses of death and of birth;
And wrought with weeping and laughter,
And fashiond with loathing and love,
With life before
And death beneath and above,
For a day and a night and a morrow,
That his strength might
endure for a span
With travail and heavy sorrow,
The holy spirit of man.
From the winds of the north and the south
They gatherd as unto strife;
They breathed upon
They filled his body with life;
Eyesight and speech they wrought
For the veils of the soul therein,
time for labour and thought,
A time to serve and to sin;
They gave him light in his ways,
And love, and
a space for delight,
And beauty and length of days,
And night, and sleep in the night.
His speech is a
With his lips he travaileth;
In his heart is a blind desire,
In his eyes foreknowledge of death;
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd,
and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission.
See our FAQ for more details.