Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Hesione
By Frederic William Henry Myers (1843–1901)
 
IN silence slept the mossy ground,
  Forgetting bird and breeze;
In towering silence slept around
  The Spanish chestnut-trees;
Their trailing blossom, feathery-fair,        5
Made heavy sweetness in the air.
 
All night she pondered, long and long,
  Alone with lake and lawn;
She heard a soft untimely song,
  But slept before the dawn:        10
When eyes no more can wake and weep,
A pensive wisdom comes with sleep.
 
“O love,” she said, “O man of men,
  O passionate and true!
Not once in all these years again        15
  As once we did we do;
What need the dreadful end to tell?
We know it and we knew it well.
 
“O love,” she said, “O king of kings,
  My master and my joy,        20
Are we too young for bitter things
  Who still are girl and boy?
Too young we won, we cherish yet
That dolorous treasure of regret.”
 
Then while so late the heavens delayed        25
  The solemn trance to break,
Her sad desiring eyes were stayed
  Beyond the lucid lake;
She saw the grey-blue mountains stand,
Great guardians of the charmèd land.        30
 
Above her brows she wove and wound
  Her gold Hellenic hair;
She stood like one whom kings have crowned
  And God has fashioned fair;—
So sweet on wakened eyes will gleam        35
The flying phantom of a dream.
 
Or so, inarched in veiling vine,
  The Syran priestess sees
Those amethystine straits enshrine
  The sleeping Cyclades;        40
For Delos’ height is purple still,
The old unshaken holy hill.
 
“O love,” she said, “tho’ sin be sin,
  And woe be bitter woe,
Short-lived the hearts they house within,        45
  And they like those will go;—
The primal Beauty, first and fair,
Is evermore and everywhere.
 
“And when the faint and fading star
  In early skies is sweet,        50
In silence thither from afar
  Thy heart and mine shall meet;
Deep seas our winged desire shall know,
And lovely summer, lovely snow.
 
“And whensoever bards shall sing—        55
  However saints shall pray—
Whatever sweet and happy thing
  The painter brings to-day,—
Their heavenly souls in heaven shall be,
And thou with these, and I with thee.        60
 
“And God,”—she said, and hushed a while,
  “And God,”—but, half begun,
Thro’ tears serener than a smile,
  Her song beheld the sun:—
When souls no more can dream and pray,        65
Celestial hope will dawn with day.
 
 
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