Collected Poems 1897 - 1907 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 50 pages of information about Collected Poems 1897.

There lay the Sound and the Island with green leaves down beside the water,
  The town, the Hoe, the masts with sunset fired——­
Dreams! ay, dreams of the dead! for the great heart faltered on the threshold,
  And darkness took the land his soul desired.

Vae Victis

Beside the placid sea that mirrored her
  With the old glory of dawn that cannot die,
The sleeping city began to moan and stir,
  As one that fain from an ill dream would fly;
  Yet more she feared the daylight bringing nigh
Such dreams as know not sunrise, soon or late,—–­
  Visions of honour lost and power gone by,
  Of loyal valour betrayed by factious hate,
And craven sloth that shrank from the labour of forging fate.

They knew and knew not, this bewildered crowd,
  That up her streets in silence hurrying passed,
What manner of death should make their anguish loud,
  What corpse across the funeral pyre be cast,
  For none had spoken it; only, gathering fast
As darkness gathers at noon in the sun’s eclipse,
  A shadow of doom enfolded them, vague and vast,
  And a cry was heard, unfathered of earthly lips,
“What of the ships, O Carthage?  Carthage, what of the ships?”

They reached the wall, and nowise strange it seemed
  To find the gates unguarded and open wide;
They climbed the shoulder, and meet enough they deemed
  The black that shrouded the seaward rampart’s side
  And veiled in drooping gloom the turrets’ pride;
But this was nought, for suddenly down the slope
  They saw the harbour, and sense within them died;
  Keel nor mast was there, rudder nor rope;
It lay like a sea-hawk’s eyry spoiled of life and hope.

Beyond, where dawn was a glittering carpet, rolled
  From sky to shore on level and endless seas,
Hardly their eyes discerned in a dazzle of gold
  That here in fifties, yonder in twos and threes,
  The ships they sought, like a swarm of drowning bees
By a wanton gust on the pool of a mill-dam hurled,
  Floated forsaken of life-giving tide and breeze,
  Their oars broken, their sails for ever furled,
For ever deserted the bulwarks that guarded the wealth of the world.

A moment yet, with breathing quickly drawn
  And hands agrip, the Carthaginian folk
Stared in the bright untroubled face of dawn,
  And strove with vehement heaped denial to choke
  Their sure surmise of fate’s impending stroke;
Vainly—­for even now beneath their gaze
  A thousand delicate spires of distant smoke
  Reddened the disc of the sun with a stealthy haze,
And the smouldering grief of a nation burst with the kindling blaze.

“O dying Carthage!” so their passion raved,
  “Would nought but these the conqueror’s hate assuage? 
If these be taken, how may the land be saved
  Whose meat and drink was empire, age by age?”
  And bitter memory cursed with idle rage
The greed that coveted gold beyond renown,
  The feeble hearts that feared their heritage,
  The hands that cast the sea-kings’ sceptre down
And left to alien brows their famed ancestral crown.

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Project Gutenberg
Collected Poems 1897 - 1907 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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