Threnody (1)

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Threnody
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.


October 6, 1892


     I

     Life, sublime and serene when time had power upon it and ruled its
           breath,
     Changed it, bade it be glad or sad, and hear what change in the
           world's ear saith,
     Shines more fair in the starrier air whose glory lightens the dusk
           of death.

     Suns that sink on the wan sea's brink, and moons that kindle and
           flame and fade,
     Leave more clear for the darkness here the stars that set not and
           see not shade
     Rise and rise on the lowlier skies by rule of sunlight and
           moonlight swayed.

     So, when night for his eyes grew bright, his proud head pillowed on
           Shakespeare's breast,
     Hand in hand with him, soon to stand where shine the glories that
           death loves best,
     Passed the light of his face from sight, and sank sublimely to
           radiant rest.


     II

     Far above us and all our love, beyond all reach of its voiceless
           praise,
     Shines for ever the name that never shall feel the shade of the
           changeful days
     Fall and chill the delight that still sees winter's light on it
           shine like May's.

     Strong as death is the dark day's breath whose blast has withered
           the life we see
     Here where light is the child of night, and less than visions or
           dreams are we:
     Strong as death; but a word, a breath, a dream is stronger than
           death can be.

     Strong as truth and superb in youth eternal, fair as the sundawn's
           flame
     Seen when May on her first-born day bids earth exult in her radiant
           name,
     Lives, clothed round with its praise and crowned with love that
           dies not, his love-lit fame.


     III

     Fairer far than the morning star, and sweet for us as the songs
           that rang
     Loud through heaven from the choral Seven when all the stars of the
           morning sang,
     Shines the song that we loved so long--since first such love in us
           flamed and sprang.

     England glows as a sunlit rose from mead to mountain, from sea to
           sea,
     Bright with love and with pride above all taint of sorrow that
           needs must be,
     Needs must live for an hour, and give its rainbow's glory to lawn
           and lea.

     Not through tears shall the new-born years behold him, crowned with
           applause of men,
     Pass at last from a lustrous past to life that lightens beyond
           their ken,
     Glad and dead, and from earthward led to sunward, guided of Imogen.