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Two Nations   By: (1837-1909)

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First Page:

SONGS OF TWO NATIONS

By

ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE

CONTENTS

A SONG OF ITALY

ODE ON THE PROCLAMATION OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC

DIRAE

I saw the double featured statue stand Of Memnon or of Janus, half with night Veiled, and fast bound with iron; half with light Crowned, holding all men's future in his hand.

And all the old westward face of time grown grey Was writ with cursing and inscribed for death; But on the face that met the mornings breath Fear died of hope as darkness dies of day.

A SONG OF ITALY

Inscribed

With All Devotion and Reverence

To:

JOSEPH MAZZINI

1867

Upon a windy night of stars that fell At the wind's spoken spell, Swept with sharp strokes of agonizing light From the clear gulf of night, Between the fixed and fallen glories one Against my vision shone, More fair and fearful and divine than they That measure night and day, And worthier worship; and within mine eyes The formless folded skies Took shape and were unfolded like as flowers. And I beheld the hours As maidens, and the days as labouring men, And the soft nights again As wearied women to their own souls wed, And ages as the dead. And over these living, and them that died, From one to the other side A lordlier light than comes of earth or air Made the world's future fair. A woman like to love in face, but not A thing of transient lot And like to hope, but having hold on truth And like to joy or youth, Save that upon the rock her feet were set And like what men forget, Faith, innocence, high thought, laborious peace And yet like none of these, Being not as these are mortal, but with eyes That sounded the deep skies And clove like wings or arrows their clear way Through night and dawn and day So fair a presence over star and sun Stood, making these as one. For in the shadow of her shape were all Darkened and held in thrall, So mightier rose she past them; and I felt Whose form, whose likeness knelt With covered hair and face and clasped her knees; And knew the first of these Was Freedom, and the second Italy. And what sad words said she For mine own grief I knew not, nor had heart Therewith to bear my part And set my songs to sorrow; nor to hear How tear by sacred tear Fell from her eyes as flowers or notes that fall In some slain feaster's hall Where in mid music and melodious breath Men singing have seen death. So fair, so lost, so sweet she knelt; or so In our lost eyes below Seemed to us sorrowing; and her speech being said, Fell, as one who falls dead. And for a little she too wept, who stood Above the dust and blood And thrones and troubles of the world; then spake, As who bids dead men wake. "Because the years were heavy on thy head; Because dead things are dead; Because thy chosen on hill side, city and plain Are shed as drops of rain; Because all earth was black, all heaven was blind, And we cast out of mind; Because men wept, saying Freedom , knowing of thee, Child, that thou wast not free; Because wherever blood was not shame was Where thy pure foot did pass; Because on Promethean rocks distent Thee fouler eagles rent; Because a serpent stains with slime and foam This that is not thy Rome; Child of my womb, whose limbs were made in me, Have I forgotten thee? In all thy dreams through all these years on wing, Hast thou dreamed such a thing? The mortal mother bird outsoars her nest, The child outgrows the breast; But suns as stars shall fall from heaven and cease, Ere we twain be as these; Yea, utmost skies forget their utmost sun, Ere we twain be not one. My lesser jewels sewn on skirt and hem, I have no heed of them Obscured and flawed by sloth or craft or power; But thou, that wast my flower, The blossom bound between my brows and worn In sight of even and morn From the last ember of the flameless west To the dawn's baring breast I were not Freedom if thou wert not free, Nor thou wert Italy... Continue reading book >>




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