List Of Contents | Contents of Songs before Sunrise, by Swinburne
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   So shall a man be after among the dead.


Send but a song oversea for us,
   Heart of their hearts who are free,
Heart of their singer, to be for us
   More than our singing can be;
Ours, in the tempest at error,
With no light but the twilight of terror;
   Send us a song oversea!

Sweet-smelling of pine-leaves and grasses,
   And blown as a tree through and through
With the winds of the keen mountain-passes,
   And tender as sun-smitten dew;
Sharp-tongued as the winter that shakes
The wastes of your limitless lakes,
   Wide-eyed as the sea-line's blue.

O strong-winged soul with prophetic
   Lips hot with the bloodheats of song,
With tremor of heartstrings magnetic,
   With thoughts as thunders in throng,
With consonant ardours of chords
That pierce men's souls as with swords
   And hale them hearing along,

Make us too music, to be with us
   As a word from a world's heart warm,
To sail the dark as a sea with us,
   Full-sailed, outsinging the storm,
A song to put fire in our ears
Whose burning shall burn up tears,
   Whose sign bid battle reform;

A note in the ranks of a clarion,
   A word in the wind of cheer,
To consume as with lightning the carrion
   That makes time foul for us here;
In the air that our dead things infest
A blast of the breath of the west,
   Till east way as west way is clear.

Out of the sun beyond sunset,
   From the evening whence morning shall be,
With the rollers in measureless onset,
   With the van of the storming sea,
With the world-wide wind, with the breath
That breaks ships driven upon death,
   With the passion of all things free,

With the sea-steeds footless and frantic,
   White myriads for death to bestride
In the charge of the ruining Atlantic
   Where deaths by regiments ride,
With clouds and clamours of waters,
With a long note shriller than slaughter's
   On the furrowless fields world-wide,

With terror, with ardour and wonder,
   With the soul of the season that wakes
When the weight of a whole year's thunder
   In the tidestream of autumn breaks,
Let the flight of the wide-winged word
Come over, come in and be heard,
   Take form and fire for our sakes.

For a continent bloodless with travail
   Here toils and brawls as it can,
And the web of it who shall unravel
   Of all that peer on the plan;
Would fain grow men, but they grow not,
And fain be free, but they know not
   One name for freedom and man?

One name, not twain for division;
   One thing, not twain, from the birth;
Spirit and substance and vision,
   Worth more than worship is worth;
Unbeheld, unadored, undivined,
The cause, the centre, the mind,
   The secret and sense of the earth.

Here as a weakling in irons,
   Here as a weanling in bands,
As a prey that the stake-net environs,
   Our life that we looked for stands;
And the man-child naked and dear,
Democracy, turns on us here
   Eyes trembling with tremulous hands

It sees not what season shall bring to it
   Sweet fruit of its bitter desire;
Few voices it hears yet sing to it,
   Few pulses of hearts reaspire;
Foresees not time, nor forehears
The noises of imminent years,
   Earthquake, and thunder, and fire:

When crowned and weaponed and curbless
   It shall walk without helm or shield
The bare burnt furrows and herbless
   Of war's last flame-stricken field,
Till godlike, equal with time,
It stand in the sun sublime,
   In the godhead of man revealed.

Round your people and over them
   Light like raiment is drawn,
Close as a garment to cover them
   Wrought not of mail nor of lawn;
Here, with hope hardly to wear,
Naked nations and bare
   Swim, sink, strike out for the dawn.

Chains are here, and a prison,
   Kings, and subjects, and shame;
If the God upon you be arisen,
   How should our songs be the same?
How, in confusion of change,
How shall we sing, in a strange
   Land, songs praising his name?

God is buried and dead to us,
   Even the spirit of earth,
Freedom; so have they said to us,
   Some with mocking and mirth,
Some with heartbreak and tears;
And a God without eyes, without ears,
   Who shall sing of him, dead in the birth?

The earth-god Freedom, the lonely
   Face lightening, the footprint unshod,
Not as one man crucified only
   Nor scourged with but one life's rod;
The soul that is substance of nations,
Reincarnate with fresh generations;
   The great god Man, which is God.

But in weariest of years and obscurest
   Doth it live not at heart of all things,
The one God and one spirit, a purest
   Life, fed from unstanchable springs?
Within love, within hatred it is,
And its seed in the stripe as the kiss,
   And in slaves is the germ, and in kings.

Freedom we call it, for holier
   Name of the soul's there is none;
Surelier it labours if slowlier,
   Than the metres of star or of sun;
Slowlier than life into breath,
Surelier than time into death,
   It moves till its labour be done.

Till the motion be done and the measure
   Circling through season and clime,
Slumber and sorrow and pleasure,
   Vision of virtue and crime;
Till consummate with conquering eyes,
A soul disembodied, it rise
   From the body transfigured of time.

Till it rise and remain and take station
   With the stars of the worlds that rejoice;
Till the voice of its heart's exultation
   Be as theirs an invariable voice;
By no discord of evil estranged,
By no pause, by no breach in it changed,
   By no clash in the chord of its choice.

It is one with the world's generations,
   With the spirit, the star, and the sod;
With the kingless and king-stricken nations,
   With the cross, and the chain, and the rod;
The most high, the most secret, most lonely,
The earth-soul Freedom, that only
   Lives, and that only is God.



Thou whose birth on earth
   Angels sang to men,
While thy stars made mirth,
Saviour, at thy birth,
   This day born again;

As this night was bright
   With thy cradle-ray,
Very light of light,
Turn the wild world's night
   To thy perfect day.

God whose feet made sweet
   Those wild ways they trod,
From thy fragrant feet
Staining field and street
   With the blood of God;

God whose breast is rest
   In the time of strife,
In thy secret breast
Sheltering souls opprest
   From the heat of life;

God whose eyes are skies
   Love-lit as with spheres
By the lights that rise
To thy watching eyes,
   Orbed lights of tears;

God whose heart hath part
   In all grief that is,
Was not man's the dart
That went through thine heart,
   And the wound not his?

Where the pale souls wail,
   Held in bonds of death,
Where all spirits quail,
Came thy Godhead pale
   Still from human breath -

Pale from life and strife,
   Wan with manhood, came
Forth of mortal life,
Pierced as with a knife,
   Scarred as with a flame.

Thou the Word and Lord
   In all time and space
Heard, beheld, adored,
With all ages poured
   Forth before thy face,

Lord, what worth in earth
   Drew thee down to die?
What therein was worth,
Lord, thy death and birth?
   What beneath thy sky?

Light above all love
   By thy love was lit,
And brought down the Dove
Feathered from above
   With the wings of it.

From the height of night,
   Was not thine the star
That led forth with might
By no worldly light
   Wise men from afar?

Yet the wise men's eyes
   Saw thee not more clear
Than they saw thee rise
Who in shepherd's guise
   Drew as poor men near.

Yet thy poor endure,
   And are with us yet;
Be thy name a sure
Refuge for thy poor
   Whom men's eyes forget.

Thou whose ways we praised,
   Clear alike and dark,
Keep our works and ways
This and all thy days
   Safe inside thine ark.

Who shall keep thy sheep,
   Lord, and lose not one?
Who save one shall keep,
Lest the shepherds sleep?
   Who beside the Son?

From the grave-deep wave,
   From the sword and flame,
Thou, even thou, shalt save
Souls of king and slave
   Only by thy Name.

Light not born with morn
   Or her fires above,
Jesus virgin-born,
Held of men in scorn,
   Turn their scorn to love.

Thou whose face gives grace
   As the sun's doth heat,
Let thy sunbright face
Lighten time and space
   Here beneath thy feet.

Bid our peace increase,
   Thou that madest morn;
Bid oppressions cease;
Bid the night be peace;
   Bid the day be born.


We whose days and ways
   All the night makes dark,
What day shall we praise
Of these weary days
   That our life-drops mark?

We whose mind is blind,
   Fed with hope of nought;
Wastes of worn mankind,
Without heart or mind,
   Without meat or thought;

We with strife of life
   Worn till all life cease,
Want, a whetted knife,
Sharpening strife on strife,
   How should we love peace?

Ye whose meat is sweet
   And your wine-cup red,
Us beneath your feet
Hunger grinds as wheat,
   Grinds to make you bread.

Ye whose night is bright
   With soft rest and heat,
Clothed like day with light,
Us the naked night
   Slays from street to street.

Hath your God no rod,
   That ye tread so light?
Man on us as God,
God as man hath trod,
   Trod us down with might.

We that one by one
   Bleed from either's rod.
What for us hath done
Man beneath the sun,
   What for us hath God?

We whose blood is food
   Given your wealth to feed,
From the Christless rood
Red with no God's blood,
   But with man's indeed;

How shall we that see
   Nightlong overhead
Life, the flowerless tree,
Nailed whereon as we
   Were our fathers dead -

We whose ear can hear,
   Not whose tongue can name,
Famine, ignorance, fear,
Bleeding tear by tear
   Year by year of shame,

Till the dry life die
   Out of bloodless breast,
Out of beamless eye,
Out of mouths that cry
   Till death feed with rest -

How shall we as ye,
   Though ye bid us, pray?
Though ye call, can we
Hear you call, or see,
   Though ye show us day?

We whose name is shame,
   We whose souls walk bare,
Shall we call the same
God as ye by name,
   Teach our lips your prayer?

God, forgive and give,
   For His sake who died?
Nay, for ours who live,
How shall we forgive
   Thee, then, on our side?

We whose right to light
   Heaven's high noon denies,
Whom the blind beams smite
That for you shine bright,
   And but burn our eyes,

With what dreams of beams
   Shall we build up day,
At what sourceless streams
Seek to drink in dreams
   Ere they pass away?

In what street shall meet,
   At what market-place,
Your feet and our feet,
With one goal to greet,
   Having run one race?

What one hope shall ope
   For us all as one
One same horoscope,
Where the soul sees hope
   That outburns the sun?

At what shrine what wine,
   At what board what bread,
Salt as blood or brine,
Shall we share in sign
   How we poor were fed?

In what hour what power
   Shall we pray for morn,
If your perfect hour,
When all day bears flower,
   Not for us is born?


Ye that weep in sleep,
   Souls and bodies bound,
Ye that all night keep
Watch for change, and weep
   That no change is found;

Ye that cry and die,
   And the world goes on
Without ear or eye,
And the days go by
   Till all days are gone;

Man shall do for you,
   Men the sons of man,
What no God would do
That they sought unto
   While the blind years ran.

Brotherhood of good,
   Equal laws and rights,
Freedom, whose sweet food
Feeds the multitude
   All their days and nights

With the bread full-fed
   Of her body blest
And the soul's wine shed
From her table spread
   Where the world is guest,

Mingling me and thee,
   When like light of eyes
Flashed through thee and me
Truth shall make us free,
   Liberty make wise;

These are they whom day
   Follows and gives light
Whence they see to slay
Night, and burn away
   All the seed of night.

What of thine and mine,
   What of want and wealth,
When one faith is wine
For my heart and thine
   And one draught is health?

For no sect elect
   Is the soul's wine poured
And her table decked;
Whom should man reject
   From man's common board?

Gods refuse and choose,
   Grudge and sell and spare;
None shall man refuse,
None of all men lose,
   None leave out of care.

No man's might of sight
   Knows that hour before;
No man's hand hath might
To put back that light
   For one hour the more.

Not though all men call,
   Kneeling with void hands,
Shall they see light fall
Till it come for all
   Tribes of men and lands.

No desire brings fire
   Down from heaven by prayer,
Though man's vain desire
Hang faith's wind-struck lyre
   Out in tuneless air.

One hath breath and saith
   What the tune shall be -
Time, who puts his breath
Into life and death,
   Into earth and sea.

To and fro years flow,
   Fill their tides and ebb,
As his fingers go
Weaving to and fro
   One unfinished web.

All the range of change
   Hath its bounds therein,
All the lives that range
All the byways strange
   Named of death or sin.

Star from far to star
   Speaks, and white moons wake,
Watchful from afar
What the night's ways are
   For the morning's sake.

Many names and flames
   Pass and flash and fall,
Night-begotten names,
And the night reclaims,
   As she bare them, all.

But the sun is one,
   And the sun's name Right;
And when light is none
Saving of the sun,
   All men shall have light.

All shall see and be
   Parcel of the morn;
Ay, though blind were we,
None shall choose but see
   When that day is born.


Send the stars light, but send not love to me.


Out of the dawning heavens that hear
Young wings and feet of the new year
Move through their twilight, and shed round
Soft showers of sound,
Soothing the season with sweet rain,
If greeting come to make me fain,
What is it I can send again?


I know not if the year shall send
Tidings to usward as a friend,
And salutation, and such things
Bear on his wings
As the soul turns and thirsts unto
With hungering eyes and lips that sue
For that sweet food which makes all new.


I know not if his light shall be
Darkness, or else light verily:
I know but that it will not part
Heart's faith from heart,
Truth from the trust in truth, nor hope
From sight of days unscaled that ope
Beyond one poor year's horoscope.


That faith in love which love's self gives,
O master of my spirit, lives,
Having in presence unremoved
Thine head beloved,
The shadow of thee, the semitone
Of thy voice heard at heart and known,
The light of thee not set nor flown.


Seas, lands, and hours, can these divide
Love from love's service, side from side,
Though no sound pass nor breath be heard
Of one good word?
To send back words of trust to thee
Were to send wings to love, when he
With his own strong wings covers me.


Who shall teach singing to the spheres,
Or motion to the flight of years?
Let soul with soul keep hand in hand
And understand,
As in one same abiding-place

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