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“Rome shall perish—write that word
In the blood that she has spilt; Perish, hopeless and abhorr'd,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.
Rome, for empire far renown'd,
Tramples on a thousand states; Soon her pride shall kiss the ground
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates! “ Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier's name; Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize;
Harmony the path to fame. " Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land, Arm’d with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.
Regions Cæsar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway;
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they."
Such the bard's prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre. She, with all a monarch's pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow : Rush'd to battle, fought, and died;
Dying, hurld them at the foe. “Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
Heaven awards the vengeance due; Empire is on us bestow'd,
Shame and ruin wait for you.”
BY ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE.
THE SAILING OF THE SWALLOW.
ABOUT the middle music of the spring
Came from the castled shore of Ireland's king
A fair ship stoutly sailing, eastward bound
And south by Wales and all its wonders round
To the loud rocks and ringing reaches home
That take the wild wrath of the Cornish foam,
Past Lyonesse unswallowed of the tides
And high Carlion that now the steep sea hides
To the wind-hollowed heights and gusty bays
Of sheer Tintagel, fair with famous days.
Above the stem a gilded swallow shone,
Wrought with straight wings and eyes of glittering stone
As flying sunward oversea, to bear
Green summer with it through the singing air.
And on the deck between the rowers at dawn,
As the bright sail with brightening wind was drawn,
Sat with full face against the strengthening light
Iseult, more fair than foam or dawn was white.
Her gaze was glad past love's own singing of,
And her face lovely past desire of love.
Past thought and speech her maiden motions were,
And a more golden sunrise was her hair.
The very veil of her bright flesh was made
As of light woven and moonbeam-colored shade
More fine than moonbeam; white her eyelids shone
As snow sun-stricken that endures the sun,
And through their curled and colored clouds of deep
Luminous lashes thick as dreams in sleep
Shone as the sea's depth swallowing up the sky's
The springs of unimaginable eyes.
As the wave's subtler emerald is piercèd through
With the utmost heaven's inextricable blue,
And both are woven and molten in one sleight
Of amorous color and implicated light
Under the golden guard and gaze of noon,
So glowed their awless amorous plenilune,
Azure and gold and ardent gray, made strange
With fiery difference and deep interchange
Inexplicable of glories multiform;
Now as the sullen sapphire swells toward storm
Foamless, their bitter beauty grew acold,
And now afire with ardor of fine gold.
Her flower-soft lips were meek and passionate,
For love upon them like a shadow sate
Patient, a foreseen vision of sweet things,
A dream with eyes fast shut and plumeless wings
That knew not what man's love or life should be,
Nor had it sight nor heart to hope or see
What thing should come, but childlike satisfied
Watched out its virgin vigil in soft pride
And unkissed expectation; and the glad
Clear cheeks and throat and tender temples had
Such maiden heat as if a rose's blood
Beat in the live heart of a lily-bud.
Between the small round breasts a white
led Heavenward, and from slight foot to slender head The whole fair body flower-like swayed and shone Moving, and what her light hand leant upon Grew blossom-scented : her warm arms began To round and ripen for delight of man That they should clasp and circle: her fresh hands Like regent lilies of reflowering lands Whose vassal firstlings, crown and star and plume, Bow down to the empire of that sovereign bloom, Shone scepterless, and from her face there went A silent light as of a God content;
Save when, more swift and keen than love or shame,
Some flash of blood, light as the laugh of flame,
Broke it with sudden beam and shining speech,
As dream by dream shot through her eyes, and each
Outshone the last that lightened, and not one
Shewed her such things as should be borne and done,
Though hard against her shone the sunlike face
That in all change and wreck of time and place
Should be the star of her sweet living soul.
Nor had love made it as his written scroll
For evil will and good to read in yet;
But smooth and mighty, without scar or fret,
Fresh and high-lifted was the helmless brow
As the oak-tree flower that tops the topmost bough,
Ere it drop off before the perfect leaf;
And nothing save his name he had of grief,
The name his mother, dying as he was born,
Made out of sorrow in very
scorn, And set it on him smiling in her sight, Tristram ; who now, clothed with sweet youth and might, As a glad witness wore that bitter name, The second symbol of the world for fame. Famous and full of fortune was his youth Ere the beard's bloom had left his cheek unsmooth, And in his face a lordship of strong joy And height of heart no chance could curb or cloy Lightened, and all that warmed them at his eyes Loved them as young larks love the blue strong skies. So like the morning through the morning moved Tristram, a light to look on and be loved. Song sprang between his lips and hands, and shone Singing, and strengthened and sank down thereon As a bird settles to the second flight, Then from beneath his harping hands with might Leapt, and made way and had its fill and died, And all whose hearts were fed upon it sighed
Silent, and in them all the fire of tears
Burned as wine drunken not with lips but ears.
And gazing on his fervent hands that made
The might of music all their souls obeyed
With trembling strong subservience of delight,
Full many a maid that had him once in sight
Thought in the secret rapture of her heart
In how dark onset had these hands borne part
How oft, and were so young and sweet of skill;
And those red lips whereon the song burned still,
What words and cries of battle had they flung
Athwart the swing and shriek of swords, so young;
And eyes as glad as summer, what strange youth
Fed them so full of happy heart and truth,
That had seen sway from side to sundering side
The steel flow of that terrible spring-tide
That the moon rules not, but the fire and light
Of men's hearts mixed in the mid mirth of fight.
Therefore the joy and love of him they had
Made thought more amorous in them and more glad
For his fame's sake remembered, and his youth
Gave his fame flower-like fragrance and soft growth
As of a rose requickening, when he stood
Fair in their eye, a flower of faultless blood.
And that sad queen to whom his life was death,
A rose plucked forth of summer in mid breath,
A star fall'n out of season in mid throe
Of that life's joy that makes the star's life glow,
Made their love sadder toward him and more strong.
And in mid change of time and fight and song
Chance cast him westward on the low sweet strand
Where songs are sung of the old green Irish land,
And the sky loves it, and the sea loves best,
And as a bird is taken to man's breast
The sweet-souled land where sorrow sweetest sings
Is wrapt round with them as with hands and wings