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Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

A Leave-taking


              1Let us go hence, my songs; she will not hear.
              2Let us go hence together without fear;
              3Keep silence now, for singing-time is over,
              4And over all old things and all things dear.
              5She loves not you nor me as all we love her.
              6Yea, though we sang as angels in her ear,
              7      She would not hear.

              8Let us rise up and part; she will not know.
              9Let us go seaward as the great winds go,
            10Full of blown sand and foam; what help is here?
            11There is no help, for all these things are so,
            12And all the world is bitter as a tear.
            13And how these things are, though ye strove to show,
            14      She would not know.

            15Let us go home and hence; she will not weep.
            16We gave love many dreams and days to keep,
            17Flowers without scent, and fruits that would not grow,
            18Saying 'If thou wilt, thrust in thy sickle and reap.'
            19All is reaped now; no grass is left to mow;
            20And we that sowed, though all we fell on sleep,
            21      She would not weep.

            22Let us go hence and rest; she will not love.
            23She shall not hear us if we sing hereof,
            24Nor see love's ways, how sore they are and steep.
            25Come hence, let be, lie still; it is enough.
            26Love is a barren sea, bitter and deep;
            27And though she saw all heaven in flower above,
            28      She would not love.

            29Let us give up, go down; she will not care.
            30Though all the stars made gold of all the air,
            31And the sea moving saw before it move
            32One moon-flower making all the foam-flowers fair;
            33Though all those waves went over us, and drove
            34Deep down the stifling lips and drowning hair,
            35      She would not care.

            36Let us go hence, go hence; she will not see.
            37Sing all once more together; surely she,
            38She too, remembering days and words that were,
            39Will turn a little toward us, sighing; but we,
            40We are hence, we are gone, as though we had not been there.
            41Nay, and though all men seeing had pity on me,
            42      She would not see.

Notes

1] A poem perhaps echoed by T. S. Eliot in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."


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, 52-53.
First publication date: 1866
Publication date note: Algernon Charles Swinburne, Poems and Ballads (London: J. C. Hotten, 1866): 60-61. end S956 P644 1866b Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto)
RPO poem editor: P. F. Morgan
RP edition: 3RP 3.373.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/2

Rhyme: aababaa


Other poems by Algernon Charles Swinburne