List Of Contents | Contents of Songs before Sunrise, by Swinburne
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To melt in thine their consummated light;
   Till from day's Capitolian dome
One glory of many glories lighten upon Rome.


      Hush thyself, song, and cease,
      Close, lips, and hold your peace;
What help hast thou, what part have ye herein?
      But you, with sweet shut eyes,
      Heart-hidden memories,
Dreams and dumb thoughts that keep what things have been
   Silent, and pure of all words said,
Praise without song the living, without dirge the dead.


      Thou, strengthless in these things,
      Song, fold thy feebler wings,
And as a pilgrim go forth girt and shod,
      And where the new graves are,
      And where the sunset star,
To the pure spirit of man that men call God,
   To the high soul of things, that is
Made of men's heavenlier hopes and mightier memories;


      To the elements that make
      For the soul's living sake
This raiment of dead things, of shadow and trance,
      That give us chance and time
      Wherein to aspire and climb
And set our life's work higher than time or chance
   The old sacred elements, that give
The breath of life to days that die, to deeds that live;


      To them, veiled gods and great,
      There bow thee and dedicate
The speechless spirit in these thy weak words hidden;
      And mix thy reverent breath
      With holier air of death,
At the high feast of sorrow a guest unbidden,
   Till with divine triumphal tears
Thou fill men's eyes who listen with a heart that hears.


[Greek text which cannot be reproduced] AESCH. Supp. 890.


If with voice of words or prayers thy sons may reach thee,
   We thy latter sons, the men thine after-birth,
   We the children of thy grey-grown age, O Earth,
O our mother everlasting, we beseech thee,
By the sealed and secret ages of thy life;
   By the darkness wherein grew thy sacred forces;
   By the songs of stars thy sisters in their courses;
By thine own song hoarse and hollow and shrill with strife;
By thy voice distuned and marred of modulation;
   By the discord of thy measure's march with theirs;
   By the beauties of thy bosom, and the cares;
By thy glory of growth, and splendour of thy station;
By the shame of men thy children, and the pride;
   By the pale-cheeked hope that sleeps and weeps and passes,
   As the grey dew from the morning mountain-grasses;
By the white-lipped sightless memories that abide;
By the silence and the sound of many sorrows;
   By the joys that leapt up living and fell dead;
   By the veil that hides thy hands and breasts and head,
Wrought of divers-coloured days and nights and morrows;
Isis, thou that knowest of God what worlds are worth,
   Thou the ghost of God, the mother uncreated,
   Soul for whom the floating forceless ages waited
As our forceless fancies wait on thee, O Earth;
Thou the body and soul, the father-God and mother,
   If at all it move thee, knowing of all things done
   Here where evil things and good things are not one,
But their faces are as fire against each other;
By thy morning and thine evening, night and day;
   By the first white light that stirs and strives and hovers
   As a bird above the brood her bosom covers,
By the sweet last star that takes the westward way;
By the night whose feet are shod with snow or thunder,
   Fledged with plumes of storm, or soundless as the dew;
   By the vesture bound of many-folded blue
Round her breathless breasts, and all the woven wonder;
By the golden-growing eastern stream of sea;
   By the sounds of sunrise moving in the mountains;
   By the forces of the floods and unsealed fountains;
Thou that badest man be born, bid man be free.


I am she that made thee lovely with my beauty
      From north to south:
Mine, the fairest lips, took first the fire of duty
      From thine own mouth.
Mine, the fairest eyes, sought first thy laws and knew them
      Truths undefiled;
Mine, the fairest hands, took freedom first into them,
      A weanling child.
By my light, now he lies sleeping, seen above him
      Where none sees other;
By my dead that loved and living men that love him;
   (Cho.)  Hear us, O mother.


I am she that was the light of thee enkindled
      When Greece grew dim;
She whose life grew up with man's free life, and dwindled
      With wane of him.
She that once by sword and once by word imperial
      Struck bright thy gloom;
And a third time, casting off these years funereal,
      Shall burst thy tomb.
By that bond 'twixt thee and me whereat affrighted
      Thy tyrants fear us;
By that hope and this remembrance reunited;
   (Cho.)  O mother, hear us.


I am she that set my seal upon the nameless
      West worlds of seas;
And my sons as brides took unto them the tameless
Till my sins and sons through sinless lands dispersed,
      With red flame shod,
Made accurst the name of man, and thrice accursed
      The name of God.
Lest for those past fires the fires of my repentance
      Hell's fume yet smother,
Now my blood would buy remission of my sentence;
   (Cho.)  Hear us, O mother.


I am she that was thy sign and standard-bearer,
      Thy voice and cry;
She that washed thee with her blood and left thee fairer,
      The same was I.
Were not these the hands that raised thee fallen and fed thee,
      These hands defiled?
Was not I thy tongue that spake, thine eye that led thee,
      Not I thy child?
By the darkness on our dreams, and the dead errors
      Of dead times near us;
By the hopes that hang around thee, and the terrors;
   (Cho.)  O mother, hear us.


I am she whose hands are strong and her eyes blinded
      And lips athirst
Till upon the night of nations many-minded
      One bright day burst:
Till the myriad stars be molten into one light,
      And that light thine;
Till the soul of man be parcel of the sunlight,
      And thine of mine.
By the snows that blanch not him nor cleanse from slaughter
      Who slays his brother;
By the stains and by the chains on me thy daughter;
   (Cho.)  Hear us, O mother.


I am she that shews on mighty limbs and maiden
      Nor chain nor stain;
For what blood can touch these hands with gold unladen,
      These feet what chain?
By the surf of spears one shieldless bosom breasted
      And was my shield,
Till the plume-plucked Austrian vulture-heads twin-crested
      Twice drenched the field;
By the snows and souls untrampled and untroubled
      That shine to cheer us,
Light of those to these responsive and redoubled;
   (Cho.)  O mother, hear us.


I am she beside whose forest-hidden fountains
      Slept freedom armed,
By the magic born to music in my mountains
      Heart-chained and charmed.
By those days the very dream whereof delivers
      My soul from wrong;
By the sounds that make of all my ringing rivers
      None knows what song;
By the many tribes and names of my division
      One from another;
By the single eye of sun-compelling vision;
   (Cho.)  Hear us, O mother.


I am she that was and was not of thy chosen,
      Free, and not free;
She that fed thy springs, till now her springs are frozen;
      Yet I am she.
By the sea that clothed and sun that saw me splendid
      And fame that crowned,
By the song-fires and the sword-fires mixed and blended
      That robed me round;
By the star that Milton's soul for Shelley's lighted,
      Whose rays insphere us;
By the beacon-bright Republic far-off sighted;
   (Cho.)  O mother, hear us.


Turn away from us the cross-blown blasts of error,
      That drown each other;
Turn away the fearful cry, the loud-tongued terror,
      O Earth, O mother.
Turn away their eyes who track, their hearts who follow,
      The pathless past;
Shew the soul of man, as summer shews the swallow,
      The way at last.
By the sloth of men that all too long endure men
      On man to tread;
By the cry of men, the bitter cry of poor men
   That faint for bread;
By the blood-sweat of the people in the garden
   Inwalled of kings;
By his passion interceding for their pardon
   Who do these things;
By the sightless souls and fleshless limbs that labour
   For not their fruit;
By the foodless mouth with foodless heart for neighbour,
   That, mad, is mute;
By the child that famine eats as worms the blossom
  --Ah God, the child!
By the milkless lips that strain the bloodless bosom
   Till woe runs wild;
By the pastures that give grass to feed the lamb in,
   Where men lack meat;
By the cities clad with gold and shame and famine;
   By field and street;
By the people, by the poor man, by the master
   That men call slave;
By the cross-winds of defeat and of disaster,
   By wreck, by wave;
By the helm that keeps us still to sunwards driving,
   Still eastward bound,
Till, as night-watch ends, day burn on eyes reviving,
   And land be found:
We thy children, that arraign not nor impeach thee
Though no star steer us,
By the waves that wash the morning we beseech thee,
   O mother, hear us.


      I am that which began;
         Out of me the years roll;
      Out of me God and man;
         I am equal and whole;
God changes, and man, and the form of them bodily; I am the soul.

      Before ever land was,
         Before ever the sea,
      Or soft hair of the grass,
         Or fair limbs of the tree,
Or the flesh-coloured fruit of my branches, I was, and thy soul was
in me.

      First life on my sources
         First drifted and swam;
      Out of me are the forces
         That save it or damn;
Out of me man and woman, and wild-beast and bird; before God was, I

      Beside or above me
         Nought is there to go;
      Love or unlove me,
         Unknow me or know,
I am that which unloves me and loves; I am stricken, and I am the

      I the mark that is missed
         And the arrows that miss,
      I the mouth that is kissed
         And the breath in the kiss,
The search, and the sought, and the seeker, the soul and the body
that is.

      I am that thing which blesses
         My spirit elate;
      That which caresses
         With hands uncreate
My limbs unbegotten that measure the length of the measure of fate.

      But what thing dost thou now,
         Looking Godward, to cry
      "I am I, thou art thou,
         I am low, thou art high"?
I am thou, whom thou seekest to find him; find thou but thyself, thou
art I.

      I the grain and the furrow,
         The plough-cloven clod
      And the ploughshare drawn thorough,
         The germ and the sod,
The deed and the doer, the seed and the sower, the dust which is God.

      Hast thou known how I fashioned thee,
         Child, underground?
      Fire that impassioned thee,
         Iron that bound,
Dim changes of water, what thing of all these hast thou known of or

      Canst thou say in thine heart
         Thou hast seen with thine eyes
      With what cunning of art
         Thou wast wrought in what wise,
By what force of what stuff thou wast shapen, and shown on my breast
to the skies?

      Who hath given, who hath sold it thee,
         Knowledge of me?
      Hath the wilderness told it thee?
         Hast thou learnt of the sea?
Hast thou communed in spirit with night? have the winds taken counsel
with thee?

      Have I set such a star
         To show light on thy brow
      That thou sawest from afar
         What I show to thee now?
Have ye spoken as brethren together, the sun and the mountains and

      What is here, dost thou know it?
         What was, hast thou known?
      Prophet nor poet
         Nor tripod nor throne
Nor spirit nor flesh can make answer, but only thy mother alone.

      Mother, not maker,
         Born, and not made;
      Though her children forsake her,
         Allured or afraid,
Praying prayers to the God of their fashion, she stirs not for all
that have prayed.

      A creed is a rod,
         And a crown is of night;
      But this thing is God,
         To be man with thy might,
To grow straight in the strength of thy spirit, and live out thy life
as the light.

      I am in thee to save thee,
         As my soul in thee saith;
      Give thou as I gave thee,
         Thy life-blood and breath,
Green leaves of thy labour, white flowers of thy thought, and red
fruit of thy death,

      Be the ways of thy giving
         As mine were to thee;
      The free life of thy living,
         Be the gift of it free;
Not as servant to lord, nor as master to slave, shalt thou give thee
to me.

      O children of banishment,
         Souls overcast,
      Were the lights ye see vanish meant
         Alway to last,
Ye would know not the sun overshining the shadows and stars overpast.

      I that saw where ye trod
         The dim paths of the night
      Set the shadow called God
         In your skies to give light;
But the morning of manhood is risen, and the shadowless soul is in

      The tree many-rooted
         That swells to the sky
      With frondage red-fruited,
         The life-tree am I;
In the buds of your lives is the sap of my leaves:  ye shall live and
not die.

      But the Gods of your fashion
         That take and that give,
      In their pity and passion
         That scourge and forgive,
They are worms that are bred in the bark that falls off; they shall
die and not live.

      My own blood is what stanches
         The wounds in my bark;
      Stars caught in my branches
         Make day of the dark,
And are worshipped as suns till the sunrise shall tread out their
fires as a spark.

      Where dead ages hide under
         The live roots of the tree,
      In my darkness the thunder
         Makes utterance of me;
In the clash of my boughs with each other ye hear the waves sound of
the sea.

      That noise is of Time,
         As his feathers are spread
      And his feet set to climb
         Through the boughs overhead,
And my foliage rings round him and rustles, and branches are bent
with his tread.

      The storm-winds of ages
         Blow through me and cease,
      The war-wind that rages,
         The spring-wind of peace,
Ere the breath of them roughen my tresses, ere one of my blossoms

      All sounds of all changes,
         All shadows and lights
      On the world's mountain-ranges
         And stream-riven heights,
Whose tongue is the wind's tongue and language of storm-clouds on
earth-shaking nights;

      All forms of all faces,
         All works of all hands
      In unsearchable places
         Of time-stricken lands,
All death and all life, and all reigns and all ruins, drop through me
as sands.

      Though sore be my burden
         And more than ye know,
      And my growth have no guerdon
         But only to grow,
Yet I fail not of growing for lightnings above me or deathworms

      These too have their part in me,
         As I too in these;
      Such fire is at heart in me,

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