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Short poem

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

Étude Réaliste


          1.1A baby's feet, like sea-shells pink,
          1.2    Might tempt, should heaven see meet,
          1.3An angel's lips to kiss, we think,
          1.4    A baby's feet.

          1.5Like rose-hued sea-flowers toward the heat
          1.6    They stretch and spread and wink
          1.7Their ten soft buds that part and meet.

          1.8No flower-bells that expand and shrink
          1.9    Gleam half so heavenly sweet
        1.10As shine on life's untrodden brink
        1.11    A Baby's feet.

          2.1A baby's hands, like rosebuds furled
          2.2    Whence yet no leaf expands,
          2.3Ope if you touch, though close upcurled,
          2.4    A baby's hands.

          2.5Then, fast as warriors grip their brands
          2.6    When battle's bolt is hurled,
          2.7They close, clenched hard like tightening bands.

          2.8No rosebuds yet by dawn impearled
          2.9    Match, even in loveliest lands,
        2.10The sweetest flowers in all the world--
        2.11    A baby's hands.

          3.1A baby's eyes, ere speech begin,
          3.2    Ere lips learn words or sighs,
          3.3Bless all things bright enough to win
          3.4    A baby's eyes.

          3.5Love, while the sweet thing laughs and lies,
          3.6    And sleep flows out and in,
          3.7Sees perfect in them Paradise.

          3.8Their glance might cast out pain and sin,
          3.9    Their speech make dumb the wise,
        3.10By mute glad godhead felt within
        3.11    A baby's eyes.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Swinburne's Collected Poetical Works, 2 vols. (London: William Heinemann, 1924): II, 565-66.
First publication date: 1883
Publication date note: Algernon Charles Swinburne, A Century of Roundels (London: Chatto and Windus, 1883): 48-50. end S956 C45 1883 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto)
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP 2.637.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/2

Rhyme: abab

Other poems by Algernon Charles Swinburne