List Of Contents | Contents of Songs before Sunrise, by Swinburne
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      And work and wait and watch out all his years.

- Hath she on earth no place of habitation?
- Age to age calling, nation answering nation,
   Cries out, Where is she? and there is none to say;
      For if she be not in the spirit of men,
For if in the inward soul she hath no place,
In vain they cry unto her, seeking her face,
   In vain their mouths make much of her; for they
      Cry with vain tongues, till the heart lives again.

- O ye that follow, and have ye no repentance?
For on your brows is written a mortal sentence,
   An hieroglyph of sorrow, a fiery sign,
      That in your lives ye shall not pause or rest,
Nor have the sure sweet common love, nor keep
Friends and safe days, nor joy of life nor sleep.
  --These have we not, who have one thing, the divine
      Face and clear eyes of faith and fruitful breast.

- And ye shall die before your thrones be won.
- Yea, and the changed world and the liberal sun
   Shall move and shine without us, and we lie
      Dead; but if she too move on earth and live,
But if the old world with all the old irons rent
Laugh and give thanks, shall we be not content?
   Nay, we shall rather live, we shall not die,
      Life being so little and death so good to give.

- And these men shall forget you.--Yea, but we
Shall be a part of the earth and the ancient sea,
   And heaven-high air august, and awful fire,
      And all things good; and no man's heart shall beat
But somewhat in it of our blood once shed
Shall quiver and quicken, as now in us the dead
   Blood of men slain and the old same life's desire
      Plants in their fiery footprints our fresh feet.

- But ye that might be clothed with all things pleasant,
Ye are foolish that put off the fair soft present,
   That clothe yourselves with the cold future air;
      When mother and father and tender sister and brother
And the old live love that was shall be as ye,
Dust, and no fruit of loving life shall be.
  --She shall be yet who is more than all these were,
      Than sister or wife or father unto us or mother.

- Is this worth life, is this, to win for wages?
Lo, the dead mouths of the awful grey-grown ages,
   The venerable, in the past that is their prison,
      In the outer darkness, in the unopening grave,
Laugh, knowing how many as ye now say have said,
How many, and all are fallen, are fallen and dead:
   Shall ye dead rise, and these dead have not risen?
     --Not we but she, who is tender and swift to save

- Are ye not weary and faint not by the way,
Seeing night by night devoured of day by day,
   Seeing hour by hour consumed in sleepless fire?
      Sleepless:  and ye too, when shall ye too sleep?
- We are weary in heart and head, in hands and feet,
And surely more than all things sleep were sweet,
   Than all things save the inexorable desire
      Which whoso knoweth shall neither faint nor weep.

- Is this so sweet that one were fain to follow?
Is this so sure where all men's hopes are hollow,
   Even this your dream, that by much tribulation
      Ye shall make whole flawed hearts, and bowed necks straight?
- Nay, though our life were blind, our death were fruitless,
Not therefore were the whole world's high hope rootless;
   But man to man, nation would turn to nation,
      And the old life live, and the old great word be great.

- Pass on then and pass by us and let us be,
For what light think ye after life to see?
   And if the world fare better will ye know?
      And if man triumph who shall seek you and say?
- Enough of light is this for one life's span,
That all men born are mortal, but not man:
   And we men bring death lives by night to sow,
      That man may reap and eat and live by day.



Fire out of heaven, a flower of perfect fire,
   That where the roots of life are had its root
   And where the fruits of time are brought forth fruit;
A faith made flesh, a visible desire,
That heard the yet unbreathing years respire
   And speech break forth of centuries that sit mute
   Beyond all feebler footprint of pursuit;
That touched the highest of hope, and went up higher;
A heart love-wounded whereto love was law,
A soul reproachless without fear or flaw,
   A shining spirit without shadow of shame,
A memory made of all men's love and awe;
   Being disembodied, so thou be the same,
   What need, O soul, to sign thee with thy name?


All woes of all men sat upon thy soul
   And all their wrongs were heavy on thy head;
   With all their wounds thy heart was pierced and bled,
And in thy spirit as in a mourning scroll
The world's huge sorrows were inscribed by roll,
   All theirs on earth who serve and faint for bread,
   All banished men's, all theirs in prison dead,
Thy love had heart and sword-hand for the whole.
"This was my day of glory," didst thou say,
When, by the scaffold thou hadst hope to climb
For thy faith's sake, they brought thee respite; "Nay,
I shall not die then, I have missed my day."
   O hero, O our help, O head sublime,
   Thy day shall be commensurate with time.


Am I not he that hath made thee and begotten thee,
      I, God, the spirit of man?
Wherefore now these eighteen years hast thou forgotten me,
      From whom thy life began?
Thy life-blood and thy life-breath and thy beauty,
      Thy might of hands and feet,
Thy soul made strong for divinity of duty
      And service which was sweet.
Through the red sea brimmed with blood didst thou not follow me,
      As one that walks in trance?
Was the storm strong to break or the sea to swallow thee,
      When thou wast free and France?
I am Freedom, God and man, O France, that plead with thee;
      How long now shall I plead?
Was I not with thee in travail, and in need with thee,
      Thy sore travail and need?
Thou wast fairest and first of my virgin-vested daughters,
      Fairest and foremost thou;
And thy breast was white, though thy hands were red with slaughters,
      Thy breast, a harlot's now.
O foolish virgin and fair among the fallen,
      A ruin where satyrs dance,
A garden wasted for beasts to crawl and brawl in,
      What hast thou done with France?
Where is she who bared her bosom but to thunder,
      Her brow to storm and flame,
And before her face was the red sea cloven in sunder
      And all its waves made tame?
And the surf wherein the broad-based rocks were shaking
      She saw far off divide,
At the blast of the breath of the battle blown and breaking,
      And weight of wind and tide;
And the ravin and the ruin of throned nations
      And every royal race,
And the kingdoms and kings from the state of their high stations
      That fell before her face.
Yea, great was the fall of them, all that rose against her,
      From the earth's old-historied heights;
For my hands were fire, and my wings as walls that fenced her,
      Mine eyes as pilot-lights.
Not as guerdons given of kings the gifts I brought her,
      Not strengths that pass away;
But my heart, my breath of life, O France, O daughter,
      I gave thee in that day.
Yea, the heart's blood of a very God I gave thee,
      Breathed in thy mouth his breath;
Was my word as a man's, having no more strength to save thee
      From this worse thing than death?
Didst thou dream of it only, the day that I stood nigh thee,
      Was all its light a dream?
When that iron surf roared backwards and went by thee
      Unscathed of storm or stream:
When thy sons rose up and thy young men stood together,
      One equal face of fight,
And my flag swam high as the swimming sea-foam's feather,
      Laughing, a lamp of light?
Ah the lordly laughter and light of it, that lightened
      Heaven-high, the heaven's whole length!
Ah the hearts of heroes pierced, the bright lips whitened
      Of strong men in their strength!
Ah the banner-poles, the stretch of straightening streamers
      Straining their full reach out!
Ah the men's hands making true the dreams of dreamers,
      The hopes brought forth in doubt!
Ah the noise of horse, the charge and thunder of drumming,
      And swaying and sweep of swords!
Ah the light that led them through of the world's life coming,
      Clear of its lies and lords!
By the lightning of the lips of guns whose flashes
      Made plain the strayed world's way;
By the flame that left her dead old sins in ashes,
      Swept out of sight of day;
By thy children whose bare feet were shod with thunder,
      Their bare hands mailed with fire;
By the faith that went with them, waking fear and wonder,
      Heart's love and high desire;
By the tumult of the waves of nations waking
      Blind in the loud wide night;
By the wind that went on the world's waste waters, making
      Their marble darkness white,
As the flash of the flakes of the foam flared lamplike, leaping
      From wave to gladdening wave,
Making wide the fast-shut eyes of thraldom sleeping
      The sleep of the unclean grave;
By the fire of equality, terrible, devouring,
      Divine, that brought forth good;
By the lands it purged and wasted and left flowering
      With bloom of brotherhood;
By the lips of fraternity that for love's sake uttered
      Fierce words and fires of death,
But the eyes were deep as love's, and the fierce lips fluttered
      With love's own living breath;
By thy weaponed hands, brows helmed, and bare feet spurning
      The bared head of a king;
By the storm of sunrise round thee risen and burning,
      Why hast thou done this thing?
Thou hast mixed thy limbs with the son of a harlot, a stranger,
      Mouth to mouth, limb to limb,
Thou, bride of a God, because of the bridesman Danger,
      To bring forth seed to him.
For thou thoughtest inly, the terrible bridegroom wakes me,
      When I would sleep, to go;
The fire of his mouth consumes, and the red kiss shakes me,
      More bitter than a blow.
Rise up, my beloved, go forth to meet the stranger,
      Put forth thine arm, he saith;
Fear thou not at all though the bridesman should be Danger,
      The bridesmaid should be Death.
I the bridegroom, am I not with thee, O bridal nation,
      O wedded France, to strive?
To destroy the sins of the earth with divine devastation,
      Till none be left alive?
Lo her growths of sons, foliage of men and frondage,
      Broad boughs of the old-world tree,
With iron of shame and with pruning-hooks of bondage
      They are shorn from sea to sea.
Lo, I set wings to thy feet that have been wingless,
      Till the utter race be run;
Till the priestless temples cry to the thrones made kingless,
      Are we not also undone?
Till the immeasurable Republic arise and lighten
      Above these quick and dead,
And her awful robes be changed, and her red robes whiten,
      Her warring-robes of red.
But thou wouldst not, saying, I am weary and faint to follow,
      Let me lie down and rest;
And hast sought out shame to sleep with, mire to wallow,
      Yea, a much fouler breast:
And thine own hast made prostitute, sold and shamed and bared it,
      Thy bosom which was mine,
And the bread of the word I gave thee hast soiled, and shared it
      Among these snakes and swine.
As a harlot thou wast handled and polluted,
      Thy faith held light as foam,
That thou sentest men thy sons, thy sons imbruted,
      To slay thine elder Rome.
Therefore O harlot, I gave thee to the accurst one,
      By night to be defiled,
To thy second shame, and a fouler than the first one,
      That got thee first with child.
Yet I know thee turning back now to behold me,
      To bow thee and make thee bare,
Not for sin's sake but penitence, by my feet to hold me,
      And wipe them with thine hair.
And sweet ointment of thy grief thou hast brought thy master,
   And set before thy lord,
From a box of flawed and broken alabaster,
   Thy broken spirit, poured.
And love-offerings, tears and perfumes, hast thou given me,
   To reach my feet and touch;
Therefore thy sins, which are many, are forgiven thee,
   Because thou hast loved much.

18 brumaire, an 78.


In the outer world that was before this earth,
   That was before all shape or space was born,
Before the blind first hour of time had birth,
   Before night knew the moonlight or the morn;

Yea, before any world had any light,
   Or anything called God or man drew breath,
Slowly the strong sides of the heaving night
   Moved, and brought forth the strength of life and death.

And the sad shapeless horror increate
   That was all things and one thing, without fruit,
Limit, or law; where love was none, nor hate,
   Where no leaf came to blossom from no root;

The very darkness that time knew not of,
   Nor God laid hand on, nor was man found there,
Ceased, and was cloven in several shapes; above
   Light, and night under, and fire, earth, water, and air.

Sunbeams and starbeams, and all coloured things,
   All forms and all similitudes began;
And death, the shadow cast by life's wide wings,
   And God, the shade cast by the soul of man.

Then between shadow and substance, night and light,
   Then between birth and death, and deeds and days,
The illimitable embrace and the amorous fight
   That of itself begets, bears, rears, and slays,

The immortal war of mortal things that is
   Labour and life and growth and good and ill,
The mild antiphonies that melt and kiss,
   The violent symphonies that meet and kill,

All nature of all things began to be.
   But chiefliest in the spirit (beast or man,
Planet of heaven or blossom of earth or sea)
   The divine contraries of life began.

For the great labour of growth, being many, is one;
   One thing the white death and the ruddy birth;
The invisible air and the all-beholden sun,
   And barren water and many-childed earth.

And these things are made manifest in men
   From the beginning forth unto this day:
Time writes and life records them, and again
   Death seals them lest the record pass away.

For if death were not, then should growth not be,
   Change, nor the life of good nor evil things;
Nor were there night at all nor light to see,
   Nor water of sweet nor water of bitter springs.

For in each man and each year that is born
   Are sown the twin seeds of the strong twin powers;
The white seed of the fruitful helpful morn,
   The black seed of the barren hurtful hours.

And he that of the black seed eateth fruit,
   To him the savour as honey shall be sweet;
And he in whom the white seed hath struck root,
   He shall have sorrow and trouble and tears for meat.

And him whose lips the sweet fruit hath made red
   In the end men loathe and make his name a rod;
And him whose mouth on the unsweet fruit hath fed
   In the end men follow and know for very God.

And of these twain, the black seed and the white,
   All things come forth, endured of men and done;
And still the day is great with child of night,
   And still the black night labours with the sun.

And each man and each year that lives on earth
   Turns hither or thither, and hence or thence is fed;
And as a man before was from his birth,

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