Tristram of Lyonesse and Other Poems


Affectionately Inscribed to W.M.R. and L.R.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

APRIL, on whose wings
Ride all gracious things,
Like the star that brings
    All things good to man,
Ere his light, that yet
Makes the month shine, set,
And fair May forget
    Whence her birth began,

Brings, as heart would choose,
Sound of golden news,
Bright as kindling dews
    When the dawn begins;
Tidings clear as mirth,
Sweet as air and earth
Now that hail the birth,
    Twice thus blest, of twins.

In the lovely land
Where with hand in hand
Lovers wedded stand
    Other joys before
Made your mixed life sweet:
Now, as Time sees meet,
Three glad blossoms greet
    Two glad blossoms more.

Fed with sun and dew,
While your joys were new,
First arose and grew
    One bright olive-shoot:
Then a fair and fine
Slip of warm-haired pine
Felt the sweet sun shine
    On its leaf and fruit,

And it wore for mark
Graven on the dark
Beauty of its bark
    That the noblest name
Worn in song of old
By the king whose bold
Hand had fast in hold
    All the flower of fame.

Then, with southern skies
Flattered in her eyes,
Which, in lovelier wise
    Yet, reflect their blue
Brightened more, being bright
Here with life’s delight,
And with love’s live light
    Glorified anew,

Came, as fair as came
One who bore her name
(She that broke as flame
    From the swan-shell white),
Crowned with tender hair
Only, but more fair
Than all queens that were
    Themes of oldworld fight,

Of your flowers the third
Bud, or new-fledged bird
In your hearts’ nest heard
    Murmuring like a dove
Bright as those that drew
Over waves where blew
No loud wind the blue
    Heaven-hued car of love.

Not the glorious grace
Even of that one face
Potent to displace
    All the towers of Troy
Surely shone more clear
Once with childlike cheer
Than this child’s face here
    Now with living joy.

After these again
Here in April’s train
Breaks the bloom of twain
    Blossoms in one birth
For a crown of May
On the front of day
When he takes his way
    Over heaven and earth.

Half a heavenly thing
Given from heaven to Spring
By the sun her king,
    Half a tender toy,
Seems a child of curl
Yet too soft to twirl;
Seems the flower-sweet girl
    By the flower-bright boy.

All the kind gods’ grace,
All their love, embrace
Ever either face,
    Ever brood above them:
All soft wings of hours
Screen them as with flowers
From all beams and showers:
    All life’s seasons love them.

When the dews of sleep
Falling lightliest keep
Eyes too close to peep
    Forth and laugh off rest,
Joy from face to feet
Fill them, as is meet:
Life to them be sweet
    As their mother’s breast

When those dews are dry,
And in day’s bright eye
Looking full they lie
    Bright as rose and pearl,
All returns of joy
Pure of time’s alloy
Bless the rose-red boy,
    Guard the rose-white girl.



Friends, if I could take
Half a note from Blake
Or but one verse make
    Of the Conqueror’s mine,
Better than my best
Song above your nest
I would sing: the quest
    Now seems too divine.

April 28, 1881.

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