Tristram of Lyonesse and Other Poems


In Memory of Mrs. Thellusson.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

                FORTH of our ways and woes,
                Forth of the winds and snows,
                A white soul soaring goes,
                    Winged like a dove:
                So sweet, so pure, so clear,
                So heavenly tempered here,
Love need not hope or fear her changed above:

                Ere dawned her day to die,
                So heavenly, that on high
                Change could not glorify
                    Nor death refine her:
                Pure gold of perfect love,
                On earth like heaven’s own dove,
She cannot wear, above, a smile diviner.

                Her voice in heaven’s own quire
                Can sound no heavenlier lyre
                Than here no purer fire
                    Her soul can soar:
                No sweeter stars her eyes
                In unimagined skies
Beyond our sight can rise than here before,

                Hardly long years had shed
                Their shadows on her head:
                Hardly we think her dead,
                    Who hardly thought her
                Old: hardly can believe
                The grief our hearts receive
And wonder while they grieve, as wrong were wrought her.

                But though strong grief be strong
                No word or thought of wrong
                May stain the trembling song,
                    Wring the bruised heart,
                That sounds or sighs its faint
                Low note of love, nor taint
Grief for so sweet a saint, when such depart.

                A saint whose perfect soul,
                With perfect love for goal,
                Faith hardly might control,
                    Creeds might not harden:
                A flower more splendid far
                Than the most radiant star
Seen here of all that are in God’s own garden.

                Surely the stars we see
                Rise and relapse as we,
                And change and set, may be
                    But shadows too:
                But spirits that man’s lot
                Could neither mar nor spot
Like these false lights are not, being heavenly true.

                Not like these dying lights
                Of worlds whose glory smites
                The passage of the nights
                    Through heaven’s blind prison:
                Not like their souls who see,
                If thought fly far and free,
No heavenlier heaven to be for souls rerisen.

                A soul wherein love shone
                Even like the sun, alone,
                With fervour of its own
                    And splendour fed,
                Made by no creeds less kind
                Toward souls by none confined,
Could Death’s self quench or blind, Love’s self were dead.

        February 4, 1881.

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