The melancholy gift Aurora gained
From Jove, that her sad lover should not see
The face of death, no goddess asked for thee,
My Keats! But when the scarlet blood-drop stained
Thy pillow, thou didst read the fate ordained,—
Brief life, wild love, a flight of poesy!
And then,—a shadow fell on Italy:
Thy star went down before its brightness waned.
Yet thou hast won the gift Tithonus missed:
Never to feel the pain of growing old,
Nor lose the blissful sight of beauty’s truth,
But with the ardent lips Urania kissed
To breathe thy song, and, ere thy heart grew cold,
Become the Poet of Immortal Youth.
Knight-errant of the Never-ending Quest,
And Minstrel of the Unfulfilled Desire;
For ever tuning thy frail earthly lyre
To some unearthly music, and possessed
With painful passionate longing to invest
The golden dream of Love’s immortal fire
With mortal robes of beautiful attire,
And fold perfection to thy throbbing breast!
What wonder, Shelley, that the restless
Should claim thee and the leaping flame consume
Thy drifted form on Viareggio’s beach?
These were thine elements,—thy fitting grave.
But still thy soul rides on with fiery plume,
Thy wild song rings in ocean’s yearning speech!
How blind the toil that burrows like the
In winding graveyard pathways underground,
For Browning’s lineage! What if men have found
Poor footmen or rich merchants on the roll
Of his forbears? Did they beget his soul?
Nay, for he came of ancestry renowned
Through all the world,—the poets laurel-crowned
With wreaths from which the autumn takes no toll.
The blazons on his coat-of-arms are these:
The flaming sign of Shelley’s heart on fire,
The golden globe of Shakespeare’s human stage,
The staff and scrip of Chaucer’s pilgrimage,
The rose of Dante’s deep, divine desire,
The tragic mask of wise Euripides.
In Lucem Transitus, October, 1892
From the misty shores of midnight, touched
with splendours of the moon,
To the singing tides of heaven, and the light more clear than noon,
Passed a soul that grew to music till it was with God in tune.
Brother of the greatest poets, true to
nature, true to art;
Lover of Immortal Love, uplifter of the human heart;
Who shall cheer us with high music, who shall sing, if thou depart?