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Rhymes a la Mode   By: (1844-1912)

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This etext was prepared from the 1885 Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. edition by David Price, email

Rhymes a la Mode


The painted Briton built his mound, And left his celts and clay, On yon fair slope of sunlit ground That fronts your garden gay; The Roman came, he bore the sway, He bullied, bought, and sold, Your fountain sweeps his works away Beside your manor old!

But still his crumbling urns are found Within the window bay, Where once he listened to the sound That lulls you day by day; The sound of summer winds at play, The noise of waters cold To Yarty wandering on their way, Beside your manor old!

The Roman fell: his firm set bound Became the Saxon's stay; The bells made music all around For monks in cloisters grey, Till fled the monks in disarray From their warm chantry's fold, Old Abbots slumber as they may, Beside your manor old!


Creeds, empires, peoples, all decay, Down into darkness, rolled; May life that's fleet be sweet, I pray, Beside your manor old.


In twilight of the longest day I lingered over Lucian, Till ere the dawn a dreamy way My spirit found, untrod of man, Between the green sky and the grey.

Amid the soft dusk suddenly More light than air I seemed to sail, Afloat upon the ocean sky, While through the faint blue, clear and pale, I saw the mountain clouds go by: My barque had thought for helm and sail, And one mist wreath for canopy.

Like torches on a marble floor Reflected, so the wild stars shone, Within the abysmal hyaline, Till the day widened more and more, And sank to sunset, and was gone, And then, as burning beacons shine On summits of a mountain isle, A light to folk on sea that fare, So the sky's beacons for a while Burned in these islands of the air.

Then from a starry island set Where one swift tide of wind there flows, Came scent of lily and violet, Narcissus, hyacinth, and rose, Laurel, and myrtle buds, and vine, So delicate is the air and fine: And forests of all fragrant trees Sloped seaward from the central hill, And ever clamorous were these

With singing of glad birds; and still Such music came as in the woods Most lonely, consecrate to Pan, The Wind makes, in his many moods, Upon the pipes some shepherd Man, Hangs up, in thanks for victory! On these shall mortals play no more, But the Wind doth touch them, over and o'er, And the Wind's breath in the reeds will sigh.

Between the daylight and the dark That island lies in silver air, And suddenly my magic barque Wheeled, and ran in, and grounded there; And by me stood the sentinel Of them who in the island dwell; All smiling did he bind my hands, With rushes green and rosy bands, They have no harsher bonds than these The people of the pleasant lands Within the wash of the airy seas!

Then was I to their city led: Now all of ivory and gold The great walls were that garlanded The temples in their shining fold, (Each fane of beryl built, and each Girt with its grove of shadowy beech,) And all about the town, and through, There flowed a River fed with dew, As sweet as roses, and as clear As mountain crystals pure and cold, And with his waves that water kissed The gleaming altars of amethyst That smoke with victims all the year, And sacred are to the Gods of old.

There sat three Judges by the Gate, And I was led before the Three, And they but looked on me, and straight The rosy bonds fell down from me Who, being innocent, was free; And I might wander at my will About that City on the hill, Among the happy people clad In purple weeds of woven air Hued like the webs that Twilight weaves At shut of languid summer eves So light their raiment seemed; and glad Was every face I looked on there!

There was no heavy heat, no cold, The dwellers there wax never old, Nor wither with the waning time, But each man keeps that age he had When first he won the fairy clime. The Night falls never from on high, Nor ever burns the heat of noon. But such soft light eternally Shines, as in silver dawns of June Before the Sun hath climbed the sky!

Within these pleasant streets and wide, The souls of Heroes go and come, Even they that fell on either side Beneath the walls of Ilium; And sunlike in that shadowy isle The face of Helen and her smile Makes glad the souls of them that knew Grief for her sake a little while! And all true Greeks and wise are there; And with his hand upon the hair Of Phaedo, saw I Socrates, About him many youths and fair, Hylas, Narcissus, and with these Him whom the quoit of Phoebus slew By fleet Eurotas, unaware!

All these their mirth and pleasure made Within the plain Elysian, The fairest meadow that may be, With all green fragrant trees for shade And every scented wind to fan, And sweetest flowers to strew the lea; The soft Winds are their servants fleet To fetch them every fruit at will And water from the river chill; And every bird that singeth sweet Throstle, and merle, and nightingale Brings blossoms from the dewy vale, Lily, and rose, and asphodel With these doth each guest twine his crown And wreathe his cup, and lay him down Beside some friend he loveth well... Continue reading book >>

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