Astrophel and Other Poems Taken from The Collected Poetical Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, Vol. VI

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Excerpt ASTROPHEL AFTER READING SIR PHILIP SIDNEY'S ARCADIA IN THE GARDEN OF AN OLD ENGLISH MANOR HOUSE I A star in the silence that followsThe song of the death of the sunSpeaks music in heaven, and the hollowsAnd heights of the world are as one;One lyre that outsings and outlightensThe rapture of sunset, and thrillsMute night till the sense of it brightensThe soul that it fills. The flowers of the sun that is sunkenHang heavy of heart as of head;The bees that have eaten and drunkenThe soul of their sweetness are fled;But a sunflower of song, on whose honeyMy spirit has fed as a bee,Makes sunnier than morning was sunnyThe twilight for me. The letters and lines on the pagesThat sundered mine eyes and the flowersWax faint as the shadows of agesThat sunder their season and ours;As the ghosts of the centuries that severA season of colourless timeFrom the days whose remembrance is ever,As they were, sublime. The season that bred and that cherishedThe soul that I commune with yet,Had it utterly withered and perishedTo rise not again as it set,Shame were it that Englishmen livingShould read as their forefathers readThe books of the praise and thanksgivingOf Englishmen dead. O light of the land that adored theeAnd kindled thy soul with her breath,Whose life, such as fate would afford thee,Was lovelier than aught but thy death,By what name, could thy lovers but know it,Might love of thee hail thee afar,Philisides, Astrophel, poetWhose love was thy star? A star in the moondawn of Maytime,A star in the cloudland of change;Too splendid and sad for the daytimeTo cheer or eclipse or estrange;Too sweet for tradition or visionTo see but through shadows of tearsRise deathless across the divisionOf measureless years. The twilight may deepen and hardenAs nightward the stream of it runsTill starshine transfigure a gardenWhose radiance responds to the sun's:The light of the love of thee darkensThe lights that arise and that set:The love that forgets thee not hearkensIf England forget. II Bright and brief in the sight of grief and love the light of thy lifetime shone,Seen and felt by the gifts it dealt, the grace it gave, and again was gone:Ay, but now it is death, not thou, whom time has conquered as years pass on. Ay, not yet may the land forget that bore and loved thee and praised and wept,Sidney, lord of the stainless sword, the name of names that her heart's love keptFast as thine did her own, a sign to light thy life till it sank and slept. Bright as then for the souls of men thy brave Arcadia resounds and shines,Lit with love that beholds above all joys and sorrows the steadfast signs,Faith, a splendour that hope makes tender, and truth, whose presage the soul divines. All the glory that girds the story of all thy life as with sunlight round,All the spell that on all souls fell who saw thy spirit, and held them bound,Lives for all that have heard the call and cadence yet of its music sound....
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