List Of Contents | Contents of Songs before Sunrise, by Swinburne
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      Tempestuous resurrection
         Of thy most sacred head!
Break thou the covering cerecloths; rise up from the dead.

      And thou, whom sea-walls sever
         From lands unwalled with seas,
      Wilt thou endure for ever,
         O Milton's England, these?
Thou that wast his Republic, wilt thou clasp their knees?

      These royalties rust-eaten,
         These worm-corroded lies,
      That keep thine head storm-beaten
         And sunlike strength of eyes
From the open heaven and air of intercepted skies;

      These princelings with gauze winglets
         That buzz in the air unfurled,
      These summer-swarming kinglets,
         These thin worms crowned and curled,
That bask and blink and warm themselves about the world;

      These fanged meridian vermin,
         Shrill gnats that crowd the dusk,
      Night-moths whose nestling ermine
         Smells foul of mould and musk,
Blind flesh-flies hatched by dark and hampered in their husk;

      These honours without honour,
         These ghost-like gods of gold,
      This earth that wears upon her
         To keep her heart from cold
No memory more of men that brought it fire of old;

      These limbs, supine, unbuckled,
         In rottenness of rest,
      These sleepy lips blood-suckled
         And satiate of thy breast,
These dull wide mouths that drain thee dry and call thee blest;

      These masters of thee mindless
         That wear thee out of mind,
      These children of thee kindless
         That use thee out of kind,
Whose hands strew gold before thee and contempt behind;

      Who have turned thy name to laughter,
         Thy sea-like sounded name
      That now none hearkens after
         For faith in its free fame,
Who have robbed thee of thy trust and given thee of their shame;

      These hours that mock each other,
         These years that kill and die,
      Are these thy gains, our mother,
         For all thy gains thrown by?
Is this that end whose promise made thine heart so high?

      With empire and with treason
         The first right hand made fast,
      But in man's nobler season
         To put forth help the last,
Love turns from thee, and memory disavows thy past.

      Lest thine own sea disclaim thee,
         Lest thine own sons despise,
      Lest lips shoot out that name thee
         And seeing thee men shut eyes,
Take thought with all thy people, turn thine head and rise.

      Turn thee, lift up thy face;
         What ails thee to be dead?
      Ask of thyself for grace,
         Seek of thyself for bread,
And who shall starve or shame thee, blind or bruise thine head?

      The same sun in thy sight,
         The same sea in thine ears,
      That saw thine hour at height,
         That sang thy song of years,
Behold and hearken for thee, knowing thy hopes and fears.

      O people, O perfect nation,
         O England that shall be,
      How long till thou take station?
         How long till thralls live free?
How long till all thy soul be one with all thy sea?

      Ye that from south to north,
         Ye that from east to west,
      Stretch hands of longing forth
         And keep your eyes from rest,
Lo, when ye will, we bring you gifts of what is best.

      From the awful northland pines
         That skirt their wan dim seas
      To the ardent Apennines
         And sun-struck Pyrenees,
One frost on all their frondage bites the blossoming trees.

      The leaves look up for light,
         For heat of helpful air;
      The trees of oldest height
         And thin storm-shaken hair
Seek with gaunt hands up heavenward if the sun be there.

      The woods where souls walk lonely,
         The forests girt with night,
      Desire the day-star only
         And firstlings of the light
Not seen of slaves nor shining in their masters' sight.

      We have the morning star,
         O foolish people, O kings!
      With us the day-springs are,
         Even all the fresh day-springs;
For us, and with us, all the multitudes of things.

      O sorrowing hearts of slaves,
         We heard you beat from far!
      We bring the light that saves,
         We bring the morning star;
Freedom's good things we bring you, whence all good things are.

      With us the winds and fountains
         And lightnings live in tune;
      The morning-coloured mountains
         That burn into the noon,
The mist's mild veil on valleys muffled from the moon:

      The thunder-darkened highlands
         And lowlands hot with fruit,
      Sea-bays and shoals and islands,
         And cliffs that foil man's foot,
And all the flower of large-limbed life and all the root:

      The clangour of sea-eagles
         That teach the morning mirth
      With baying of heaven's beagles
         That seek their prey on earth,
By sounding strait and channel, gulf and reach and firth.

      With us the fields and rivers,
         The grass that summer thrills,
      The haze where morning quivers,
         The peace at heart of hills,
The sense that kindles nature, and the soul that fills.

      With us all natural sights,
         All notes of natural scale;
      With us the starry lights;
         With us the nightingale;
With us the heart and secret of the worldly tale.

      The strife of things and beauty,
         The fire and light adored,
      Truth, and life-lightening duty,
         Love without crown or sword,
That by his might and godhead makes man god and lord.

      These have we, these are ours,
         That no priests give nor kings;
      The honey of all these flowers,
         The heart of all these springs;
Ours, for where freedom lives not, there live no good things.

      Rise, ere the dawn be risen;
         Come, and be all souls fed;
      From field and street and prison
         Come, for the feast is spread;
Live, for the truth is living; wake, for night is dead.


Inside this northern summer's fold
The fields are full of naked gold,
Broadcast from heaven on lands it loves;
The green veiled air is full of doves;
Soft leaves that sift the sunbeams let
Light on the small warm grasses wet
Fall in short broken kisses sweet,
And break again like waves that beat
Round the sun's feet.

But I, for all this English mirth
Of golden-shod and dancing days,
And the old green-girt sweet-hearted earth,
Desire what here no spells can raise.
Far hence, with holier heavens above,
The lovely city of my love
Bathes deep in the sun-satiate air
That flows round no fair thing more fair
Her beauty bare.

There the utter sky is holier, there
More pure the intense white height of air,
More clear men's eyes that mine would meet,
And the sweet springs of things more sweet.
There for this one warm note of doves
A clamour of a thousand loves
Storms the night's ear, the day's assails,
From the tempestuous nightingales,
And fills, and fails.

O gracious city well-beloved,
   Italian, and a maiden crowned,
Siena, my feet are no more moved
   Toward thy strange-shapen mountain-bound:
But my heart in me turns and moves,
O lady loveliest of my loves,
Toward thee, to lie before thy feet
And gaze from thy fair fountain-seat
Up the sheer street;

And the house midway hanging see
That saw Saint Catherine bodily,
Felt on its floors her sweet feet move,
And the live light of fiery love
Burn from her beautiful strange face,
As in the sanguine sacred place
Where in pure hands she took the head
Severed, and with pure lips still red
Kissed the lips dead.

For years through, sweetest of the saints,
   In quiet without cease she wrought,
Till cries of men and fierce complaints
   From outward moved her maiden thought;
And prayers she heard and sighs toward France,
"God, send us back deliverance,
Send back thy servant, lest we die!"
With an exceeding bitter cry
They smote the sky.

Then in her sacred saving hands
She took the sorrows of the lands,
With maiden palms she lifted up
The sick time's blood-embittered cup,
And in her virgin garment furled
The faint limbs of a wounded world.
Clothed with calm love and clear desire,
She went forth in her soul's attire,
A missive fire.

Across the might of men that strove
   It shone, and over heads of kings;
And molten in red flames of love
   Were swords and many monstrous things;
And shields were lowered, and snapt were spears,
And sweeter-tuned the clamorous years;
And faith came back, and peace, that were
Fled; for she bade, saying, "Thou, God's heir,
Hast thou no care?

"Lo, men lay waste thine heritage
Still, and much heathen people rage
Against thee, and devise vain things.
What comfort in the face of kings,
What counsel is there?  Turn thine eyes
And thine heart from them in like wise;
Turn thee unto thine holy place
To help us that of God for grace
Require thy face.

"For who shall hear us if not thou
   In a strange land? what doest thou there?
Thy sheep are spoiled, and the ploughers plough
   Upon us; why hast thou no care
For all this, and beyond strange hills
Liest unregardful what snow chills
Thy foldless flock, or what rains beat?
Lo, in thine ears, before thy feet,
Thy lost sheep bleat.

"And strange men feed on faultless lives,
And there is blood, and men put knives,
Shepherd, unto the young lamb's throat;
And one hath eaten, and one smote,
And one had hunger and is fed
Full of the flesh of these, and red
With blood of these as who drinks wine
And God knoweth, who hath sent thee a sign,
If these were thine."

But the Pope's heart within him burned,
   So that he rose up, seeing the sign,
And came among them; but she turned
   Back to her daily way divine,
And fed her faith with silent things,
And lived her life with curbed white wings,
And mixed herself with heaven and died:
And now on the sheer city-side
Smiles like a bride.

You see her in the fresh clear gloom,
Where walls shut out the flame and bloom
Of full-breathed summer, and the roof
Keeps the keen ardent air aloof
And sweet weight of the violent sky:
There bodily beheld on high,
She seems as one hearing in tune
Heaven within heaven, at heaven's full noon,
In sacred swoon:

A solemn swoon of sense that aches
   With imminent blind heat of heaven,
While all the wide-eyed spirit wakes,
   Vigilant of the supreme Seven,
Whose choral flames in God's sight move,
Made unendurable with love,
That without wind or blast of breath
Compels all things through life and death
Whither God saith.

There on the dim side-chapel wall
Thy mighty touch memorial,
Razzi, raised up, for ages dead,
And fixed for us her heavenly head:
And, rent with plaited thorn and rod,
Bared the live likeness of her God
To men's eyes turning from strange lands,
Where, pale from thine immortal hands,
Christ wounded stands;

And the blood blots his holy hair
   And white brows over hungering eyes
That plead against us, and the fair
   Mute lips forlorn of words or sighs
In the great torment that bends down
His bruised head with the bloomless crown,
White as the unfruitful thorn-flower,
A God beheld in dreams that were
Beheld of her.

In vain on all these sins and years
Falls the sad blood, fall the slow tears;
In vain poured forth as watersprings,
Priests, on your altars, and ye, kings,
About your seats of sanguine gold;
Still your God, spat upon and sold,
Bleeds at your hands; but now is gone
All his flock from him saving one;
Judas alone.

Surely your race it was that he,
   O men signed backward with his name,
Beholding in Gethsemane
   Bled the red bitter sweat of shame,
Knowing how the word of Christian should
Mean to men evil and not good,
Seem to men shameful for your sake,
Whose lips, for all the prayers they make,
Man's blood must slake.

But blood nor tears ye love not, you
That my love leads my longing to,
Fair as the world's old faith of flowers,
O golden goddesses of ours!
From what Idalian rose-pleasance
Hath Aphrodite bidden glance
The lovelier lightnings of your feet?
From what sweet Paphian sward or seat
Led you more sweet?

O white three sisters, three as one,
   With flowerlike arms for flowery bands
Your linked limbs glitter like the sun,
   And time lies beaten at your hands.
Time and wild years and wars and men
Pass, and ye care not whence or when;
With calm lips over sweet for scorn,
Ye watch night pass, O children born
Of the old-world morn.

Ah, in this strange and shrineless place,
What doth a goddess, what a Grace,
Where no Greek worships her shrined limbs
With wreaths and Cytherean hymns?
Where no lute makes luxurious
The adoring airs in Amathus,
Till the maid, knowing her mother near,
Sobs with love, aching with sweet fear?
What do ye here?

For the outer land is sad, and wears
   A raiment of a flaming fire;
And the fierce fruitless mountain stairs
   Climb, yet seem wroth and loth to aspire,
Climb, and break, and are broken down,
And through their clefts and crests the town
Looks west and sees the dead sun lie,
In sanguine death that stains the sky
With angry dye.

And from the war-worn wastes without
In twilight, in the time of doubt,
One sound comes of one whisper, where
Moved with low motions of slow air
The great trees nigh the castle swing
In the sad coloured evening;
"Ricorditi di me, che son
La Pia"--that small sweet word alone
Is not yet gone.

"Ricorditi di me"--the sound
   Sole out of deep dumb days remote
Across the fiery and fatal ground
   Comes tender as a hurt bird's note
To where, a ghost with empty hands,
A woe-worn ghost, her palace stands
In the mid city, where the strong
Bells turn the sunset air to song,
And the towers throng.

With other face, with speech the same,
A mightier maiden's likeness came
Late among mourning men that slept,
A sacred ghost that went and wept,
White as the passion-wounded Lamb,
Saying, "Ah, remember me, that am
Italia."  (From deep sea to sea
Earth heard, earth knew her, that this was she.)

"Love made me of all things fairest thing,
   And Hate unmade me; this knows he
Who with God's sacerdotal ring
   Enringed mine hand, espousing me."
Yea, in thy myriad-mooded woe,
Yea, Mother, hast thou not said so?
Have not our hearts within us stirred,
O thou most holiest, at thy word?
Have we not heard?

As this dead tragic land that she
Found deadly, such was time to thee;
Years passed thee withering in the red
Maremma, years that deemed thee dead,
Ages that sorrowed or that scorned;
And all this while though all they mourned
Thou sawest the end of things unclean,
And the unborn that should see thee a queen.
Have we not seen?

The weary poet, thy sad son,
   Upon thy soil, under thy skies,
Saw all Italian things save one -
   Italia; this thing missed his eyes;
The old mother-might, the breast, the face,
That reared, that lit the Roman race;
This not Leopardi saw; but we,
What is it, Mother, that we see,
What if not thee?

Look thou from Siena southward home,
Where the priest's pall hangs rent on Rome,
And through the red rent swaddling-bands
Towards thine she strains her labouring hands.

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