Birthday Ode

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
Birthday Ode
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
This poem is from the collection Astrophel and Other Poems, Book I of The Collected Poetical Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, Vol. VI.


August 6, 1891


     I

     Love and praise, and a length of days whose shadow cast upon time
           is light,
     Days whose sound was a spell shed round from wheeling wings as of
           doves in flight,
     Meet in one, that the mounting sun to-day may triumph, and cast out
           night.

     Two years more than the full fourscore lay hallowing hands on a
           sacred head--
     Scarce one score of the perfect four uncrowned of fame as they
           smiled and fled:
     Still and soft and alive aloft their sunlight stays though the suns
           be dead.

     Ere we were or were thought on, ere the love that gave us to life
           began,
     Fame grew strong with his crescent song, to greet the goal of the
           race they ran,
     Song with fame, and the lustrous name with years whose changes
           acclaimed the man.


     II

     Soon, ere time in the rounding rhyme of choral seasons had hailed
           us men,
     We too heard and acclaimed the word whose breath was life upon
           England then--
     Life more bright than the breathless light of soundless noon in a
           songless glen.

     Ah, the joy of the heartstruck boy whose ear was opened of love to
           hear!
     Ah, the bliss of the burning kiss of song and spirit, the mounting
           cheer
     Lit with fire of divine desire and love that knew not if love were
           fear!

     Fear and love as of heaven above and earth enkindled of heaven were
           one;
     One white flame, that around his name grew keen and strong as the
           worldwide sun;
     Awe made bright with implied delight, as weft with weft of the
           rainbow spun.


     III

     He that fears not the voice he hears and loves shall never have
           heart to sing:
     All the grace of the sun-god's face that bids the soul as a
           fountain spring
     Bids the brow that receives it bow, and hail his likeness on earth
           as king.

     We that knew when the sun's shaft flew beheld and worshipped,
           adored and heard:
     Light rang round it of shining sound, whence all men's hearts were
           subdued and stirred:
     Joy, love, sorrow, the day, the morrow, took life upon them in one
           man's word.

     Not for him can the years wax dim, nor downward swerve on a
           darkening way:
     Upward wind they, and leave behind such light as lightens the front
           of May:
     Fair as youth and sublime as truth we find the fame that we hail
           to-day.