A Century of Roundels/Autumn and Winter

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A Century of Roundels by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Autumn and Winter

AUTUMN AND WINTER.


I.

Three months bade wane and wax the wintering moon
Between two dates of death, while men were fain
Yet of the living light that all too soon
 Three months bade wane.


Cold autumn, wan with wrath of wind and rain,
Saw pass a soul sweet as the sovereign tune
That death smote silent when he smote again.


First went my friend, in life's mid light of noon,
Who loved the lord of music: then the strain
Whence earth was kindled like as heaven in June
 Three months bade wane.


II.

A herald soul before its master's flying
Touched by some few moons first the darkling goal
Where shades rose up to greet the shade, espying
 A herald soul;


Shades of dead lords of music, who control
Men living by the might of men undying,
With strength of strains that make delight of dole.


The deep dense dust on death's dim threshold lying
Trembled with sense of kindling sound that stole
Through darkness, and the night gave ear, descrying
 A herald soul.


III.

One went before, one after, but so fast
They seem gone hence together, from the shore
Whence we now gaze: yet ere the mightier passed
 One went before;


One whose whole heart of love, being set of yore
On that high joy which music lends us, cast
Light round him forth of music's radiant store.


Then went, while earth on winter glared aghast,
The mortal god he worshipped, through the door
Wherethrough so late, his lover to the last,
 One went before.


IV.

A star had set an hour before the sun
Sank from the skies wherethrough his heart's pulse yet
Thrills audibly: but few took heed, or none,
 A star had set.


All heaven rings back, sonorous with regret,
The deep dirge of the sunset: how should one
Soft star be missed in all the concourse met?


But, O sweet single heart whose work is done,
Whose songs are silent, how should I forget
That ere the sunset's fiery goal was won
 A star had set?