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Short poem

Robert Bridges (1844-1930)


              1Why hast thou nothing in thy face?
              2Thou idol of the human race,
              3Thou tyrant of the human heart,
              4The flower of lovely youth that art;
              5Yea, and that standest in thy youth
              6An image of eternal Truth,
              7With thy exuberant flesh so fair,
              8That only Pheidias might compare,
              9Ere from his chaste marmoreal form
            10Time had decayed the colours warm;
            11Like to his gods in thy proud dress,
            12Thy starry sheen of nakedness.

            13Surely thy body is thy mind,
            14For in thy face is nought to find,
            15Only thy soft unchristen'd smile,
            16That shadows neither love nor guile,
            17But shameless will and power immense,
            18In secret sensuous innocence.

            19O king of joy, what is thy thought?
            20I dream thou knowest it is nought,
            21And wouldst in darkness come, but thou
            22Makest the light where'er thou go.
            23Ah yet no victim of thy grace,
            24None who e'er long'd for thy embrace,
            25Hath cared to look upon thy face.


1] The title is in Greek.

8] Pheidias: Greek sculptor, 5th cent. B.C.

9] marmoreal: marble, marbled.

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: Poetical Works of Robert Bridges with The Testament of Beauty but excluding the eight drama, 2nd edn. (London: Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press, 1953): 348.
First publication date: 1899
Publication date note: New Poems
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/8/11

Form: octosyllabic couplets

Other poems by Robert Bridges