Ballad of Reading Gaol eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 114 pages of information about Ballad of Reading Gaol.

This is the land where liberty
Lit grave-browed Milton on his way,
This modern world hath need of thee!

A land of ancient chivalry
Where gentle Sidney saw the day,
Ah, leave the hills of Arcady!

This fierce sea-lion of the sea,
This England lacks some stronger lay,
This modern world hath need of thee!

Then blow some trumpet loud and free,
And give thine oaten pipe away,
Ah, leave the hills of Arcady! 
This modern world hath need of thee!

Poem:  The Sphinx

(To Marcel Schwob in friendship and in admiration)

In a dim corner of my room for longer than my fancy thinks A beautiful and silent Sphinx has watched me through the shifting gloom.

Inviolate and immobile she does not rise she does not stir For silver moons are naught to her and naught to her the suns that reel.

Red follows grey across the air, the waves of moonlight ebb and flow But with the Dawn she does not go and in the night-time she is there.

Dawn follows Dawn and Nights grow old and all the while this curious cat Lies couching on the Chinese mat with eyes of satin rimmed with gold.

Upon the mat she lies and leers and on the tawny throat of her Flutters the soft and silky fur or ripples to her pointed ears.

Come forth, my lovely seneschal! so somnolent, so statuesque!  Come forth you exquisite grotesque! half woman and half animal!

Come forth my lovely languorous Sphinx! and put your head upon my knee!  And let me stroke your throat and see your body spotted like the Lynx!

And let me touch those curving claws of yellow ivory and grasp The tail that like a monstrous Asp coils round your heavy velvet paws!

A thousand weary centuries are thine while I have hardly seen Some twenty summers cast their green for Autumn’s gaudy liveries.

But you can read the Hieroglyphs on the great sandstone obelisks, And you have talked with Basilisks, and you have looked on Hippogriffs.

O tell me, were you standing by when Isis to
Osiris knelt? 
And did you watch the Egyptian melt her union
for Antony

And drink the jewel-drunken wine and bend her head in mimic awe To see the huge proconsul draw the salted tunny from the brine?

And did you mark the Cyprian kiss white Adon on his catafalque?  And did you follow Amenalk, the God of Heliopolis?

And did you talk with Thoth, and did you hear the moon-horned Io weep?  And know the painted kings who sleep beneath the wedge-shaped Pyramid?

Lift up your large black satin eyes which are like cushions where one sinks!  Fawn at my feet, fantastic Sphinx! and sing me all your memories!

Sing to me of the Jewish maid who wandered with the Holy Child, And how you led them through the wild, and how they slept beneath your shade.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Ballad of Reading Gaol from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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