Studies in Song

Six Years Old

To H. W. M.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

BETWEEN the springs of six and seven,
    Two fresh years’ fountains, clear
Of all but golden sand for leaven,
    Child, midway passing here,
As earth for love’s sake dares bless heaven,
    So dare I bless you, dear.

Between two bright well-heads, that brighten
    With every breath that blows
Too loud to lull, too low to frighten,
    But fain to rock, the rose,
Your feet stand fast, your lit smiles lighten,
    That might rear flowers from snows.

You came when winds unleashed were snarling
    Behind the frost-bound hours,
A snow-bird sturdier than the starling,
    A storm-bird fledged for showers,
That spring might smile to find you, darling,
    First born of all the flowers.

Could love make worthy things of worthless,
    My song were worth an ear:
Its note should make the days most mirthless
    The merriest of the year,
And wake to birth all buds yet birthless
    To keep your birthday, dear.

But where your birthday brightens heaven
    No need has earth, God knows,
Of light or warmth to melt or leaven
    The frost or fog that glows
With sevenfold heavenly lights of seven
    Sweet springs that cleave the snows.

Could love make worthy music of you,
    And match my Master’s powers,
Had even my love less heart to love you,
    A better song were ours;
With all the rhymes like stars above you,
    And all the words like flowers.

            September 30, 1880.

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