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SWINBURNE, Algernon Charles

The Garden of Proserpine :
Here, where the world is quiet;

Here, where all trouble seems

Dead winds' and spent waves' riot

In doubtful dreams of dreams;

I watch the green field growing

For reaping folk and sowing,

For harvest-time and mowing,

A sleepy world of streams.

I am tired of tears and laughter,

And men that laugh and weep;

Of what may come hereafter

For men that sow to reap:

I am weary of days and hours,

Blown buds of barren flowers,

Desires and dreams and powers

And everything but sleep.

Here life has death for neighbour,

And far from eye or ear

Wan waves and wet winds labour,

Weak ships and spirits steer;

They drive adrift, and whither

They wot not who make thither;

But no such winds blow hither,

And no such things grow here.

No growth of moor or coppice,

No heather-flower or vine,

But bloomless buds of poppies,

Green grapes of Proserpine,

Pale beds of blowing rushes

Where no leaf blooms or blushes

Save this whereout she crushes

For dead men deadly wine.

Pale, without name or number,

In fruitless fields of corn,

They bow themselves and slumber

All night till light is born;

And like a soul belated,

In hell and heaven unmated,

By cloud and mist abated

Comes out of darkness morn.

Though one were strong as seven,

He too with death shall dwell,

Nor wake with wings in heaven,

Nor weep for pains in hell;

Though one were fair as roses,

His beauty clouds and closes;

And well though love reposes,

In the end it is not well.

Pale, beyond porch and portal,

Crowned with calm leaves, she stands

Who gathers all things mortal

With cold immortal hands;

Her languid lips are sweeter

Than love's who fears to greet her

To men that mix and meet her

From many times and lands.

She waits for each and other,

She waits for all men born;

Forgets the earth her mother,

The life of fruits and corn;

And spring and seed and swallow

Take wing for her and follow

Where summer song rings hollow

And flowers are put to scorn.

There go the loves that wither,

The old loves with wearier wings;

And all dead years draw thither,

And all disastrous things;

Dead dreams of days forsaken,

Blind buds that snows have shaken,

Wild leaves that winds have taken,

Red strays of ruined springs.

We are not sure of sorrow,

And joy was never sure;

To-day will die to-morrow;

Time stoops to no man's lure;

And love, grown faint and fretful,

With lips but half regretful

Sighs, and with eyes forgetful

Weeps that no loves endure.

From too much love of living,

From hope and fear set free,

We thank with brief thanksgiving

Whatever gods may be

That no life lives for ever;

That dead men rise up never;

That even the weariest river

Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Then star nor sun shall waken,

Nor any change of light:

Nor sound of waters shaken,

Nor any sound or sight:

Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,

Nor days nor things diurnal;

Only the sleep eternal

In an eternal night.

The Sea

(from The Triumph of Time )
I will go back to the great sweet mother,

Mother and lover of men, the sea.

I will go down to her, I and none other,

Close with her, kiss her, and mix her with me;

Cling to her, strive with her, hold her fast.

O fair white mother, in days long past

Born without sister, born without brother,

Set free my soul as thy soul is free.

O fair green-girdled mother of mine,

Sea, that art clothed with the sun and the rain,

Thy sweet hard kisses are strong like wine,

Thy large embraces are keen like pain.

Save me and hide me with all thy waves,

Find me one grave of thy thousand graves,

Those pure cold populous graves of thine

Wrought without hand in a world without stain.

I shall sleep, and move with the moving ships,

Change as the winds change, veer in the tide;

My lips will feast on the foam of thy lips,

I shall rise with thy rising, with thee subside;

Sleep, and not know if she be, if she were,

Filled full with life to the eyes and hair,

As a rose is ful®lled to the roseleaf tips

With splendid summer and perfume and pride.

This woven raiment of nights and days,

Were it once cast off and unwound from me,

Naked and glad would I walk in thy ways,

Alive and aware of thy ways and thee;

Clear of the whole world, hidden at home,

Clothed with the green and crowned with the foam,

A pulse of the life of thy straits and bays,

A vein in the heart of the streams of the sea.

Madonna Mia

UNDER green apple-boughs

That never a storm will rouse,

My lady hath her house

Between two bowers;

In either of the twain

Red roses full of rain;

She hath for bondwomen

All kind of flowers.

She hath no handmaid fair

To draw her curled gold hair

Through rings of gold that bear

Her whole hair’s weight;

She hath no maids to stand

Gold-clothed on either hand;

In all the great green land

None is so great.

She hath no more to wear

But one white hood of vair

Drawn over eyes and hair,

Wrought with strange gold,

Made for some great queen’s head,

Some fair great queen since dead;

And one strait gown of red

Against the cold.

Beneath her eyelids deep

Love lying seems asleep,

Love, swift to wake, to weep,

To laugh, to gaze;

Her breasts are like white birds,

And all her gracious words

As water-grass to herds

In the June-days.

To her all dews that fall

And rains are musical;

Her flowers are fed from all,

Her joy from these;

In the deep-feathered firs

Their gift of joy is hers,

In the least breath that stirs

Across the trees.

She grows with greenest leaves,

Ripens with reddest sheaves,

Forgets, remembers, grieves,

And is not sad;

The quiet lands and skies

Leave light upon her eyes;

None knows her, weak or wise,

Or tired or glad.

None knows, none understands,

What flowers are like her hands;

Though you should search all lands

Wherein time grows,

What snows are like her feet,

Though his eyes burn with heat

Through gazing on my sweet,

Yet no man knows.

Only this thing is said;

That white and gold and red,

God’s three chief words, man’s bread

And oil and wine,

Were given her for dowers,

And kingdom of all hours,

And grace of goodly flowers

And various vine.

This is my lady’s praise:

God after many days

Wrought her in unknown ways,

In sunset lands;

This was my lady’s birth;

God gave her might and mirth

And laid his whole sweet earth

Between her hands.

Under deep apple-boughs

My lady hath her house;

She wears upon her brows

The flower thereof;

All saying but what God saith

To her is as vain breath;

She is more strong than death,

Being strong as love.