Tristram of Lyonesse and Other Poems

Adieux à Marie Stuart

Algernon Charles Swinburne


QUEEN, for whose house my fathers fought,
        With hopes that rose and fell,
Red star of boyhood’s fiery thought,

They gave their lives, and I, my queen,
        Have given you of my life,
Seeing your brave star burn high between
        Men’s strife.

The strife that lightened round their spears
        Long since fell still: so long
Hardly may hope to last in years
        My song.

But still through strife of time and thought
        Your light on me too fell:
Queen, in whose name we sang or fought,


There beats no heart on either border
        Wherethrough the north blasts blow
But keeps your memory as a warder
        His beacon-fire aglow.

Long since it fired with love and wonder
        Mine, for whose April age
Blithe midsummer made banquet under
        The shade of Hermitage.

Soft sang the burn’s blithe notes, that gather
        Strength to ring true:
And air and trees and sun and heather
        Remembered you.

Old border ghosts of fight or fairy
        Or love or teen,
These they forgot, remembering Mary
        The Queen.


Queen once of Scots and ever of ours
        Whose sires brought forth for you
Their lives to strew your way like flowers,

Dead is full many a dead man’s name
        Who died for you this long
Time past: shall this too fare the same,
        My song?

But surely, though it die or live,
        Your face was worth
All that a man may think to give
        On earth.

No darkness cast of years between
        Can darken you:
Man’s love will never bid my queen


Love hangs like light about your name
        As music round the shell:
No heart can take of you a tame

Yet, when your very face was seen,
        Ill gifts were yours for giving:
Love gat strange guerdons of my queen
        When living.

O diamond heart unflawed and clear,
        The whole world’s crowning jewel!
Was ever heart so deadly dear
        So cruel?

Yet none for you of all that bled
        Grudged once one drop that fell:
Not one to life reluctant said


Strange love they have given you, love disloyal,
        Who mock with praise your name,
To leave a head so rare and royal
        Too low for praise or blame.

You could not love nor hate, they tell us,
        You had nor sense nor sting:
In God’s name, then, what plague befell us
        To fight for such a thing?

‘Some faults the gods will give’ to fetter
        Man’s highest intent:
But surely you were something better
        Than innocent !

No maid that strays with steps unwary
        Through snares unseen,
But one to live and die for; Mary,
        The Queen.


Forgive them all their praise, who blot
        Your fame with praise of you:
Then love may say, and falter not

Yet some you hardly would forgive
        Who did you much less wrong
Once: but resentment should not live
        Too long.

They never saw your lip’s bright bow,
        Your swordbright eyes,
The bluest of heavenly things below
        The skies.

Clear eyes that love’s self finds most like
        A swordblade’s blue,
A swordblade’s ever keen to strike,


Though all things breathe or sound of fight
        That yet make up your spell,
To bid you were to bid the light

Farewell the song says only, being
        A star whose race is run:
Farewell the soul says never, seeing
        The sun.

Yet, wellnigh as with flash of tears,
        The song must say but so
That took your praise up twenty years

More bright than stars or moons that vary,
        Sun kindling heaven and hell,
Here, after all these years, Queen Mary,

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