To drift with every passion till my soul
Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play
Is it for this that I have given away
Mine ancient wisdom and austere control?
Methinks my life is a twice-written scroll
Scrawled over on some boyish holiday
With idle songs for pipe and virelay
Which do but mar the secret of the whole.
Surely there was a time I might have trod
The sunlit heights and from life's dissonance
Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God:
Is that time dead? lo! with a little rod
I did but touch the honey of romance--
And must I lose a soul's inheritance?
Poem: Sonnet To Liberty
Not that I love thy children whose dull eyes
See nothing save their own unlovely woe
Whose minds know nothing nothing care to know--
But that the roar of thy Democracies
Thy reigns of Terror thy great Anarchies
Mirror my wildest passions like the sea
And give my rage a brother--! Liberty!
For this sake only do thy dissonant cries
Delight my discreet soul else might all kings
By bloody knout or treacherous cannonades
Rob nations of their rights inviolate
And I remain unmoved--and yet and yet
These Christs that die upon the barricades
God knows it I am with them in some things.
Poem: Ave Imperatrix
Set in this stormy Northern sea
Queen of these restless fields of tide
England! what shall men say of thee
Before whose feet the worlds divide?
The earth a brittle globe of glass
Lies in the hollow of thy hand
And through its heart of crystal pass
Like shadows through a twilight land
The spears of crimson-suited war
The long white-crested waves of fight
And all the deadly fires which are
The torches of the lords of Night.
The yellow leopards strained and lean
The treacherous Russian knows so well
With gaping blackened jaws are seen
Leap through the hail of screaming shell.
The strong sea-lion of England's wars
Hath left his sapphire cave of sea
To battle with the storm that mars
The stars of England's chivalry.
The brazen-throated clarion blows
Across the Pathan's reedy fen
And the high steeps of Indian snows
Shake to the tread of armed men.
And many an Afghan chief who lies
Beneath his cool pomegranate-trees
Clutches his sword in fierce surmise
When on the mountain-side he sees
The fleet-foot Marri scout who comes
To tell how he hath heard afar
The measured roll of English drums
Beat at the gates of Kandahar.
For southern wind and east wind meet
Where girt and crowned by sword and fire
England with bare and bloody feet
Climbs the steep road of wide empire.
O lonely Himalayan height
Grey pillar of the Indian sky
Where saw'st thou last in clanging flight
Our winged dogs of Victory?
The almond-groves of Samarcand
Bokhara where red lilies blow
And Oxus by whose yellow sand
The grave white-turbaned merchants go:
And on from thence to Ispahan
The gilded garden of the sun
Whence the long dusty caravan
Brings cedar wood and vermilion;
And that dread city of Cabool
Set at the mountain's scarped feet
Whose marble tanks are ever full
With water for the noonday heat:
Where through the narrow straight Bazaar
A little maid Circassian
Is led a present from the Czar
Unto some old and bearded khan--
Here have our wild war-eagles flown
And flapped wide wings in fiery fight;
But the sad dove that sits alone
In England--she hath no delight.
In vain the laughing girl will lean
To greet her love with love-lit eyes:
Down in some treacherous black ravine
Clutching his flag the dead boy lies.
And many a moon and sun will see
The lingering wistful children wait
To climb upon their father's knee;
And in each house made desolate
Pale women who have lost their lord
Will kiss the relics of the slain--
Some tarnished epaulette--some sword--
Poor toys to soothe such anguished pain.
For not in quiet English fields
Are these our brothers lain to rest
Where we might deck their broken shields
With all the flowers the dead love best.
For some are by the Delhi walls
And many in the Afghan land
And many where the Ganges falls
Through seven mouths of shifting sand.
And some in Russian waters lie
And others in the seas which are
The portals to the East or by
The wind-swept heights of Trafalgar.
O wandering graves! O restless sleep!
O silence of the sunless day!
O still ravine! O stormy deep!
Give up your prey! Give up your prey!
And thou whose wounds are never healed
Whose weary race is never won
O Cromwell's England! must thou yield
For every inch of ground a son?
Go! crown with thorns thy gold-crowned head
Change thy glad song to song of pain;
Wind and wild wave have got thy dead
And will not yield them back again.
Wave and wild wind and foreign shore
Possess the flower of English land--
Lips that thy lips shall kiss no more
Hands that shall never clasp thy hand.
What profit now that we have bound
The whole round world with nets of gold
If hidden in our heart is found
The care that groweth never old?
What profit that our galleys ride
Pine-forest-like on every main?
Ruin and wreck are at our side
Grim warders of the House of Pain.
Where are the brave the strong the fleet?
Where is our English chivalry?
Wild grasses are their burial-sheet
And sobbing waves their threnody.
O loved ones lying far away
What word of love can dead lips send!
O wasted dust! O senseless clay!
Is this the end! is this the end!
Peace peace! we wrong the noble dead
To vex their solemn slumber so;
Though childless and with thorn-crowned head
Up the steep road must England go
Yet when this fiery web is spun
Her watchmen shall descry from far
The young Republic like a sun
Rise from these crimson seas of war.
Poem: To Milton
Milton! I think thy spirit hath passed away
From these white cliffs and high-embattled towers;
This gorgeous fiery-coloured world of ours
Seems fallen into ashes dull and grey
And the age changed unto a mimic play
Wherein we waste our else too-crowded hours:
For all our pomp and pageantry and powers
We are but fit to delve the common clay
Seeing this little isle on which we stand
This England this sea-lion of the sea
By ignorant demagogues is held in fee
Who love her not: Dear God! is this the land
Which bare a triple empire in her hand
When Cromwell spake the word Democracy!
Poem: Louis Napoleon
Eagle of Austerlitz! where were thy wings
When far away upon a barbarous strand
In fight unequal by an obscure hand
Fell the last scion of thy brood of Kings!
Poor boy! thou shalt not flaunt thy cloak of red
Or ride in state through Paris in the van
Of thy returning legions but instead
Thy mother France free and republican
Shall on thy dead and crownless forehead place
The better laurels of a soldier's crown
That not dishonoured should thy soul go down
To tell the mighty Sire of thy race
That France hath kissed the mouth of Liberty
And found it sweeter than his honied bees
And that the giant wave Democracy
Breaks on the shores where Kings lay couched at ease.
Poem: On The Massacre Of The Christians In Bulgaria
Christ dost Thou live indeed? or are Thy bones
Still straitened in their rock-hewn sepulchre?
And was Thy Rising only dreamed by her
Whose love of Thee for all her sin atones?
For here the air is horrid with men's groans
The priests who call upon Thy name are slain
Dost Thou not hear the bitter wail of pain
From those whose children lie upon the stones?
Come down O Son of God! incestuous gloom
Curtains the land and through the starless night
Over Thy Cross a Crescent moon I see!
If Thou in very truth didst burst the tomb
Come down O Son of Man! and show Thy might
Lest Mahomet be crowned instead of Thee!
Poem: Quantum Mutata
There was a time in Europe long ago
When no man died for freedom anywhere
But England's lion leaping from its lair
Laid hands on the oppressor! it was so
While England could a great Republic show.
Witness the men of Piedmont chiefest care
Of Cromwell when with impotent despair
The Pontiff in his painted portico
Trembled before our stern ambassadors.
How comes it then that from such high estate
We have thus fallen save that Luxury
With barren merchandise piles up the gate
Where noble thoughts and deeds should enter by:
Else might we still be Milton's heritors.
Poem: Libertatis Sacra Fames
Albeit nurtured in democracy
And liking best that state republican
Where every man is Kinglike and no man
Is crowned above his fellows yet I see
Spite of this modern fret for Liberty
Better the rule of One whom all obey
Than to let clamorous demagogues betray
Our freedom with the kiss of anarchy.
Wherefore I love them not whose hands profane
Plant the red flag upon the piled-up street
For no right cause beneath whose ignorant reign
Arts Culture Reverence Honour all things fade
Save Treason and the dagger of her trade
Or Murder with his silent bloody feet.
This mighty empire hath but feet of clay:
Of all its ancient chivalry and might
Our little island is forsaken quite:
Some enemy hath stolen its crown of bay
And from its hills that voice hath passed away
Which spake of Freedom: O come out of it
Come out of it my Soul thou art not fit
For this vile traffic-house where day by day
Wisdom and reverence are sold at mart
And the rude people rage with ignorant cries
Against an heritage of centuries.
It mars my calm: wherefore in dreams of Art
And loftiest culture I would stand apart
Neither for God nor for his enemies.
Poem: The Garden Of Eros
It is full summer now the heart of June;
Not yet the sunburnt reapers are astir
Upon the upland meadow where too soon
Rich autumn time the season's usurer
Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees
And see his treasure scattered by the wild and spendthrift breeze.
Too soon indeed! yet here the daffodil
That love-child of the Spring has lingered on
To vex the rose with jealousy and still
The harebell spreads her azure pavilion
And like a strayed and wandering reveller
Abandoned of its brothers whom long since June's messenger
The missel-thrush has frighted from the glade
One pale narcissus loiters fearfully
Close to a shadowy nook where half afraid
Of their own loveliness some violets lie
That will not look the gold sun in the face
For fear of too much splendour--ah! methinks it is a place
Which should be trodden by Persephone
When wearied of the flowerless fields of Dis!
Or danced on by the lads of Arcady!
The hidden secret of eternal bliss
Known to the Grecian here a man might find
Ah! you and I may find it now if Love and Sleep be kind.
There are the flowers which mourning Herakles
Strewed on the tomb of Hylas columbine
Its white doves all a-flutter where the breeze
Kissed them too harshly the small celandine
That yellow-kirtled chorister of eve
And lilac lady's-smock--but let them bloom alone and leave
Yon spired hollyhock red-crocketed
To sway its silent chimes else must the bee
Its little bellringer go seek instead
Some other pleasaunce; the anemone
That weeps at daybreak like a silly girl
Before her love and hardly lets the butterflies unfurl
Their painted wings beside it--bid it pine
In pale virginity; the winter snow
Will suit it better than those lips of thine
Whose fires would but scorch it rather go
And pluck that amorous flower which blooms alone
Fed by the pander wind with dust of kisses not its own.
The trumpet-mouths of red convolvulus
So dear to maidens creamy meadow-sweet
Whiter than Juno's throat and odorous
As all Arabia hyacinths the feet
Of Huntress Dian would be loth to mar
For any dappled fawn--pluck these and those fond flowers which
Fairer than what Queen Venus trod upon
Beneath the pines of Ida eucharis
That morning star which does not dread the sun
And budding marjoram which but to kiss
Would sweeten Cytheraea's lips and make
Adonis jealous--these for thy head--and for thy girdle take
Yon curving spray of purple clematis
Whose gorgeous dye outflames the Tyrian King
And foxgloves with their nodding chalices
But that one narciss which the startled Spring
Let from her kirtle fall when first she heard
In her own woods the wild tempestuous song of summer's bird
Ah! leave it for a subtle memory
Of those sweet tremulous days of rain and sun
When April laughed between her tears to see
The early primrose with shy footsteps run
From the gnarled oak-tree roots till all the wold
Spite of its brown and trampled leaves grew bright with shimmering
Nay pluck it too it is not half so sweet
As thou thyself my soul's idolatry!
And when thou art a-wearied at thy feet
Shall oxlips weave their brightest tapestry
For thee the woodbine shall forget its pride
And veil its tangled whorls and thou shalt walk on daisies pied.
And I will cut a reed by yonder spring
And make the wood-gods jealous and old Pan
Wonder what young intruder dares to sing
In these still haunts where never foot of man
Should tread at evening lest he chance to spy
The marble limbs of Artemis and all her company.
And I will tell thee why the jacinth wears
Such dread embroidery of dolorous moan
And why the hapless nightingale forbears
To sing her song at noon but weeps alone
When the fleet swallow sleeps and rich men feast
And why the laurel trembles when she sees the lightening east.
And I will sing how sad Proserpina
Unto a grave and gloomy Lord was wed
And lure the silver-breasted Helena
Back from the lotus meadows of the dead
So shalt thou see that awful loveliness
For which two mighty Hosts met fearfully in war's abyss!