Of all that were thy prisons—ah, untamed,
Ah, light and sacred soul!—none holds thee now;
No wall, no bar, no body of flesh, but thou
Art free and happy in the lands unnamed,
Within whose gates, on weary wings and maimed,
Thou still would’st bear that mystic golden bough
The Sibyl doth to singing men allow,
Yet thy report folk heeded not, but blamed.
And they would smile and wonder, seeing where
Thou stood’st, to watch light leaves, or clouds, or wind,
Dreamily murmuring a ballad air,
Caught from the Valois peasants; dost thou find
A new life gladder than the old times were,
A love more fair than Sylvie, and as kind?
Master, I see thee with the locks of grey,
Crowned by the Muses with the laurel-wreath;
I see the roses hiding underneath,
Cassandra’s gift; she was less dear than they.
Thou, Master, first hast roused the lyric lay,
The sleeping song that the dead years bequeath,
Hast sung thine answer to the lays that breathe
Through ages, and through ages far away.
And thou hast heard the pulse of Pindar beat,
Known Horace by the fount Bandusian!
Their deathless line thy living strains repeat,
But ah, thy voice is sad, thy roses wan,
But ah, thy honey is not honey-sweet,
Thy bees have fed on yews Sardinian!
With other helpless folk about the gate,
The gate called Beautiful, with weary eyes
That take no pleasure in the summer skies,
Nor all things that are fairest, does she wait;
So bleak a time, so sad a changeless fate
Makes her with dull experience early wise,
And in the dawning and the sunset, sighs
That all hath been, and shall be, desolate.
Ah, if Love come not soon, and bid her live,
And know herself the fairest of fair things,
Ah, if he have no healing gift to give,
Warm from his breast, and holy from his wings,
Or if at least Love’s shadow in passing by
Touch not and heal her, surely she must die.
He spake not truth, however wise, who said
That happy, and that hapless men in sleep
Have equal fortune, fallen from care as deep
As countless, careless, races of the dead.
Not so, for alien paths of dreams we tread,
And one beholds the faces that he sighs
In vain to bring before his daylit eyes,
And waking, he remembers on his bed;
And one with fainting heart and feeble hand
Fights a dim battle in a doubtful land
Where strength and courage were of no avail;
And one is borne on fairy breezes far
To the bright harbours of a golden star
Down fragrant fleeting waters rosy pale.
TWO SONNETS OF THE SIRENS.
’Les Sirenes estoient tant intimes amies et fidelles compagnes de Proserpine, qu’elles estoient toujours ensemble. Esmues du juste deul de la perte de leur chere compagne, et enuyees jusques au desepoir, elles s’arresterent a la mer Sicilienne, ou par leurs chants elles attiroient les navigans, mais l’unique fin de la volupte de leur musique est la Mort.’