Page images
PDF
EPUB

(1833)

POEMS

(FIRST PUBLISHED 1833)

LXII

SONNET

MINE be the strength of spirit fierce and free,
Like some broad river rushing down alone,
With the selfsame impulse wherewith he was thrown
From his loud fount upon the echoing lea :-
Which with increasing might doth forward flee
By town, and tower, and hill, and cape, and isle,
And in the middle of the green salt sea
Keeps his blue waters fresh for many a mile.
Mine be the Power which ever to it's sway
Will win the wise at once, and by degrees
May into uncongenial spirits flow;
Even as the great gulfstream of Florida
Floats far away into the Northern seas
The lavish growths of southern Mexico.

ΤΟ

LXIII

I

ALL good things have not kept aloof,
Nor wandered into other ways:
I have not lacked thy mild reproof,
Nor golden largess of thy praise,
But life is full of weary days.

II

Shake hands, my friend, across the brink
Of that deep grave to which I go.
Shake hands once more: I cannot sink
So far-far down, but I shall know
Thy voice, and answer from below.

68

III

When, in the darkness over me,
The four-handed mole shall scrape,
Plant thou no dusky cypress-tree,

Nor wreathe thy cap with doleful crape,
But pledge me in the flowing grape.

IV

And when the sappy field and wood

Grow green beneath the showery gray,
And rugged barks begin to bud,

And through damp holts, newflushed with May,
Ring sudden laughters of the Jay;

V

Then let wise Nature work her will
And on my clay her darnels grow.
Come only, when the days are still,
And at my headstone whisper low,
And tell me if the woodbines blow,

VI

If thou art blest, my mother's smile
Undimmed, if bees are on the wing:
Then cease, my friend, a little while,
That I may hear the throstle sing
His bridal song, the boast of spring.

VII

Sweet as the noise in parched plains

Of bubbling wells that fret the stones, (If any sense in me remains)

Thy words will be; thy cheerful tones As welcome to my crumbling bones. (1833)

LXIV

BUONAPARTE

He thought to quell the stubborn hearts of oak,
Madman !-to chain with chains, and bind with bands
That island queen that sways the floods and lands
From Ind to Ind, but in fair daylight woke,
When from her wooden walls, lit by sure hands,
With thunders, and with lightnings, and with smoke,

Peal after peal, the British battle broke,
Lulling the brine against the Coptic sands.
We taught him lowlier moods, when Elsinore
Heard the war moan along the distant sea,
Rocking with shattered spars, with sudden fires
Flamed over: at Trafalgar yet once more

We taught him: late he learned humility

Perforce, like those whom Gideon schooled with briars. (1833)

LXV

SONNETS

I

O Beauty, passing beauty! sweetest Sweet!

How can'st thou let me waste my youth in sighs?
I only ask to sit beside thy feet.

Thou knowest I dare not look into thine eyes
Might I but kiss thy hand! I dare not fold
My arms about thee-scarcely dare to speak.
And nothing seems to me so wild and bold,
As with one kiss to touch thy blessèd cheek.
Methinks if I should kiss thee, no control
Within the thrilling brain could keep afloat

The subtle spirit. Even while I spoke,
The bare word KISS hath made my inner soul
To tremble like a lutestring, ere the note
Hath melted in the silence that it broke.

(1833)

LXVI

II

BUT were I loved, as I desire to be,

What is there in the great sphere of the earth,
And range of evil between death and birth,
That I should fear,-if I were loved by thee?
All the inner, all the outer world of pain

Clear Love would pierce and cleave, if thou wert mine,
As I have heard that, somewhere in the main,
Fresh-water-springs come up through bitter brine.
'Twere joy, not fear, clasped hand-in-hand with thee,
To wait for death-mute-careless of all ills,

A

Apart upon a mountain, though the surge
Of some new deluge from a thousand hills
Flung leagues of roaring foam into the gorge
Below us, as far on as eye could see.

(1833)

LXVII

THE LADY OF SHALOTT

PART I

ON either side the river lie

Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;

And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,

The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver, Sh

Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river

isolation

Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,

And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow-veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd

Skimming down to Camelot :

But who hath seen her wave her hand?

Or at the casement seen her stand?

Or is she known in all the land,

The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,

Down to tower'd Camelot :

And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers "Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."

HE POLART II

THERE she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay

To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,

And little other care hath she,

The Lady of Shalott.

And moving thro' a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot :

There the river eddy whirls,

And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,

Goes by to tower'd Camelot ;
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two :
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights,

And music, went to Camelot :
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
I am half-sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.

« PreviousContinue »