On the Shore

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The day and its delights are done;
   So all delights and days expire:
Down in the dim, sad West the sun
Is dying like a dying fire.

The fiercest lances of his light
   Are spent; I watch him droop and die,
Like a great king who falls in fight;
   None dared the duel of his eye
Living, but, now his eye is dim,
The eyes of all may stare at him.

How lovely in his strength at morn
He orbed along the burning blue!
The blown gold of his flying hair
Was tangled in green-tressèd trees,
And netted in the river sand
In gleaming links of amber clear.
But all his shining locks are shorn,
His brow of its bright crown is bare,
The golden sceptre leaves his hand,
And deeper, darker, grows the hue
Of the dim purple draperies
And cloudy banners round his bier.

O beautiful, rose-hearted dawn! —
O splendid noon of gold and blue! —
Is this wan glimmer all of you?
Where are the blush and bloom ye gave
To laughing land and smiling sea? —
The swift lights that did flash and shiver
In diamond rain upon the river,
And set a star in each blue wave?
Where are the merry lights and shadows
That danced through wood and over lawn,
And flew across the dewy meadows
Like white nymphs chased by satyr lovers?
Faded and perished utterly.
All delicate and all rich colour
In flower and cloud, on lawn and lea,
On butterfly, and bird, and bee,
A little space and all are gone —
And darkness, like a raven, hovers
Above the death-bed of the day.

So, when the long, last night draws on,
And all the world grows ghastly gray,
We see our beautiful and brave
Wither, and watch with heavy sighs
The life-light dying in their eyes,
The love-light slowly fading out,
Leaving no faint hope in their place,
But only on each dear wan face
The shadow of a weary doubt,
The ashen pallor of the grave.

O gracious morn and golden noon!
With what fair dreams did ye depart —
Beloved so well and lost so soon!
I could not fold you to my breast:
I could not hide you in my heart;
I saw the watchers in the West —
Sad, shrouded shapes, with hands that wring
And phantom fingers beckoning!

This work is in the public domain in Australia because it was created in Australia and the term of copyright has expired.

See Australian Copyright Council - Duration of Copyright (August 2014).


This work is also in the public domain in the United States because it was in the public domain in Australia in 1996, and no copyright was registered in the U.S. (This is the combined effect of Australia having joining the Berne Convention in 1928, and of 17 USC 104A with its critical date of January 1, 1996.)

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.