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Victorian Ode For Jubilee Day, 1897   By: (1859-1907)

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Printed for private circulation at The Westminster Press, 1897.


Night; and the street a corpse beneath the moon, Upon the threshold of the jubilant day That was to follow soon; Thickened with inundating dark 'Gainst which the drowning lamps kept struggle; pole And plank cast rigid shadows; 'twas a stark Thing waiting for its soul, The bones of the preluded pomp. I saw In the cloud sullied moon a pale array, A lengthened apparition, slowly draw; And as it came, Brake all the street in phantom flame Of flag and flower and hanging, shadowy show Of the to morrow's glories, as might suit A pageant of the dead; and spectral bruit I heard, where stood the dead to watch the dead, The long Victorian line that passed with printless tread. First went the holy poets, two on two, And music, sown along the hardened ground, Budded like frequence of glad daisies, where Those sacred feet did fare; Arcadian pipe, and psaltery, around, And stringèd viol, sound To make for them melodious due. In the first twain of those great ranks of death Went one, the impress recent on his hair Where it was dinted by the laureate wreath: Who sang those goddesses with splendours bare On Ida hill, before the Trojan boy; And many a lovely lay, Where Beauty did her beauties unarray In conscious song. I saw young Love his plumes deploy, And shake their shivering lustres, till the night Was sprinkled and bedropt with starry play Of versicoloured light, To see that poet pass who sang him well; And I could hear his heart Throb like the after vibrance of a bell. A Strength beside this Beauty, Browning went, With shrewd looks and intent, And meditating still some gnarlèd theme. Then came, somewhat apart, In a fastidious dream, Arnold, with a half discontented calm, Binding up wounds, but pouring in no balm. The fervid breathing of Elizabeth Broke on Christina's gentle taken breath. Rossetti, whose heart stirred within his breast Like lightning in a cloud, a spirit without rest, Came on disranked; Song's hand was in his hair, Lest Art should have withdrawn him from the band, Save for her strong command; And in his eyes high Sadness made its lair. Last came a shadow tall, with drooping lid, Which yet not hid The steel like flashing of his armèd glance; Alone he did advance, And all the throngs gave room For one that looked with such a captain's mien: A scornful smile lay keen On lips that, living, prophesied of doom. His one hand held a lightning bolt, the other A cup of milk and honey blent with fire; It seemed as in that quire He had not, nor desired not, any brother. A space his alien eye surveyed the pride Of meditated pomp, as one that much Disdained the sight, methought; then at a touch, He turned the heel, and sought with shadowy stride His station in the dim, Where the sole thoughted Dante waited him.

What throngs illustrious next, of Art and Prose, Too long to tell; but other music rose When came the sabre's children: they who led The iron throated harmonies of war, The march resounding of the armèd line, And measured movement of battalia: Accompanied their tread No harps, no pipes of soft Arcadia, But borne to me afar The tramp of squadrons, and the bursting mine, The shock of steel, the volleying rifle crack, And echoes out of ancient battles dead. So Cawnpore unto Alma thundered back, And Delhi's cannon roared to Gujerat: Carnage through all those iron vents gave out Her thousand mouthèd shout. As balefire answering balefire is unfurled, From mountain peaks, to tell the foe's approaches, So ran that battle clangour round the world, From famous field to field So that reverberated war was tossed; And in the distance lost Across the plains of France and hills of Spain It swelled once more to birth, And broke on me again, The voice of England's glories girdling in the earth... Continue reading book >>

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