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Short poem

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)


              1In the month of the long decline of roses
              2I, beholding the summer dead before me,
              3Set my face to the sea and journeyed silent,
              4Gazing eagerly where above the sea-mark
              5Flame as fierce as the fervid eyes of lions
              6Half divided the eyelids of the sunset;
              7Till I heard as it were a noise of waters
              8Moving tremulous under feet of angels
              9Multitudinous, out of all the heavens;
            10Knew the fluttering wind, the fluttered foliage,
            11Shaken fitfully, full of sound and shadow;
            12And saw, trodden upon by noiseless angels,
            13Long mysterious reaches fed with moonlight,
            14Sweet sad straits in a soft subsiding channel,
            15Blown about by the lips of winds I knew not,
            16Winds not born in the north nor any quarter,
            17Winds not warm with the south nor any sunshine;
            18Heard between them a voice of exultation,
            19"Lo, the summer is dead, the sun is faded,
            20Even like as a leaf the year is withered,
            21All the fruits of the day from all her branches
            22Gathered, neither is any left to gather.
            23All the flowers are dead, the tender blossoms,
            24All are taken away; the season wasted,
            25Like an ember among the fallen ashes.
            26Now with light of the winter days, with moonlight,
            27Light of snow, and the bitter light of hoarfrost,
            28We bring flowers that fade not after autumn,
            29Pale white chaplets and crowns of latter seasons,
            30Fair false leaves (but the summer leaves were falser),
            31Woven under the eyes of stars and planets
            32When low light was upon the windy reaches
            33Where the flower of foam was blown, a lily
            34Dropt among the sonorous fruitless furrows
            35And green fields of the sea that make no pasture:
            36Since the winter begins, the weeping winter,
            37All whose flowers are tears, and round his temples
            38Iron blossom of frost is bound for ever."

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): I, 202-03.
First publication date: 1866
Publication date note: Poems and Ballads (London: J. C. Hotten, 1866): 233-34. end S956 P644 1866b Fisher Rare Book Library
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO (1999).
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/2

Form: 11-syllable or hendecasyllabic lines
Rhyme: unrhyming

Other poems by Algernon Charles Swinburne