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A Year's Carols Analysis

Author: Poetry of Algernon Charles Swinburne Type: Poetry Views: 192

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HAIL, January, that bearest here

On snowbright breasts the babe-faced year

That weeps and trembles to be born.

Hail, maid and mother, strong and bright,

Hooded and cloaked and shod with white,

Whose eyes are stars that match the morn.

Thy forehead braves the storm's bent bow,

Thy feet enkindle stars of snow.


Wan February with weeping cheer,

Whose cold hand guides the youngling year

Down misty roads of mire and rime,

Before thy pale and fitful face

The shrill wind shifts the clouds apace

Through skies the morning scarce may climb.

Thine eyes are thick with heavy tears,

But lit with hopes that light the year's.


Hail, happy March, whose foot on earth

Rings as the blast of martial mirth

When trumpets fire men's hearts for fray.

No race of wild things winged or finned

May match the might that wings thy wind

Through air and sea, through scud and spray.

Strong joy and thou were powers twin-born

Of tempest and the towering morn.


Crowned April, king whose kiss bade earth

Bring forth to time her lordliest birth

When Shakespeare from thy lips drew breath

And laughed to hold in one soft hand

A spell that bade the world's wheel stand,

And power on life, and power on death,

With quiring suns and sunbright showers

Praise him, the flower of all thy flowers.


Hail, May, whose bark puts forth full-sailed

For summer; May, whom Chaucer hailed

With all his happy might of heart,

And gave thy rosebright daisy-tips

Strange frarance from his amorous lips

That still thine own breath seems to part

And sweeten till each word they say

Is even a flower of flowering May.


Strong June, superb, serene, elate

With conscience of thy sovereign state

Untouched of thunder, though the storm

Scathe here and there thy shuddering skies

And bid its lightning cross thine eyes

With fire, thy golden hours inform

Earth and the souls of men with life

That brings forth peace from shining strife.


Hail, proud July, whose fervent mouth

Bids even be morn and north be south

By grace and gospel of thy word,

Whence all the splendour of the sea

Lies breathless with delight in thee

And marvel at the music heard

From the ardent silent lips of noon

And midnight's rapturous plenilune.


Great August, lord of golden lands,

Whose lordly joy through seas and strands

And all the red-ripe heart of earth

Strikes passion deep as life, and stills

The folded vales and folding hills

With gladness too divine for mirth,

The gracious glories of thine eyes

Make night a noon where darkness dies.


Hail, kind September, friend whose grace

Renews the bland year's bounteous face

With largess given of corn and wine

Through many a land that laughs with love

Of thee and all the heaven above,

More fruitful found than all save thine

Whose skies fulfil with strenuous cheer

The fervent fields that knew thee near.


October of the tawny crown,

Whose heavy-laden hands drop down

Blessing, the bounties of thy breath

And mildness of thy mellowing might

Fill earth and heaven with love and light

Too sweet for fear to dream of death

Or memory, while thy joy lives yet,

To know what joy would fain forget.


Hail, soft November, though thy pale

Sad smile rebuke the words that hail

Thy sorrow with no sorrowing words

Or gratulate thy grief with song

Less bitter than the winds that wrong

Thy withering woodlands, where the birds

Keep hardly heart to sing or see

How fair thy faint wan face may be.


December, thou whose hallowing hands

On shuddering seas and hardening lands

Set as a sacramental sign

The seal of Christmas felt on earth

As witness toward a new year's birth

Whose promise makes thy death divine,

The crowning joy that comes of thee

Makes glad all grief on land or sea.


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