Poems and Ballads

An Interlude

Algernon Charles Swinburne

IN the greenest growth of the Maytime,
    I rode where the woods were wet,
Between the dawn and the daytime;
    The spring was glad that we met.

There was something the season wanted,
    Though the ways and the woods smelt sweet;
The breath at your lips that panted,
    The pulse of the grass at your feet.

You came, and the sun came after,
    And the green grew golden above;
And the flag-flowers lightened with laughter,
    And the meadow-sweet shook with love.

Your feet in the full-grown grasses
    Moved soft as a weak wind blows;
You passed me as April passes,
    With face made out of a rose.

By the stream where the stems were slender,
    Your bright foot paused at the sedge;
It might be to watch the tender
    Light leaves in the springtime hedge,

On boughs that the sweet month blanches
    With flowery frost of May:
It might be a bird in the branches,
    It might be a thorn in the way.

I waited to watch you linger
    With foot drawn back from the dew,
Till a sunbeam straight like a finger
    Struck sharp through the leaves at you.

And a bird overhead sang Follow,
    And a bird to the right sang Here;
And the arch of the leaves was hollow,
    And the meaning of May was clear.

I saw where the sun’s hand pointed,
    I knew what the bird’s note said;
By the dawn and the dewfall anointed,
    You were queen by the gold on your head.

As the glimpse of a burnt-out ember
    Recalls a regret of the sun,
I remember, forget, and remember
    What Love saw done and undone.

I remember the way we parted,
    The day and the way we met;
You hoped we were both broken-hearted,
    And knew we should both forget.

And May with her world in flower
    Seemed still to murmur and smile
As you murmured and smiled for an hour;
    I saw you turn at the stile.

A hand like a white wood-blossom
    You lifted, and waved, and passed,
With head hung down to the bosom,
    And pale, as it seemed, at last.

And the best and the worst of this is
    That neither is most to blame
If you’ve forgotten my kisses
    And I’ve forgotten your name.

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