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Four Songs Of Four Seasons Analysis

Author: Poetry of Algernon Charles Swinburne Type: Poetry Views: 405

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OUTSIDE the garden

The wet skies harden;

The gates are barred on

The summer side:

"Shut out the flower-time,

Sunbeam and shower-time;

Make way for our time,"

Wild winds have cried.

Green once and cheery,

The woods, worn weary,

Sigh as the dreary

Weak sun goes home:

A great wind grapples

The wave, and dapples

The dead green floor of the sea with foam.

Through fell and moorland,

And salt-sea foreland,

Our noisy norland

Resounds and rings;

Waste waves thereunder

Are blown in sunder,

And winds make thunder

With cloudwide wings;

Sea-drift makes dimmer

The beacon's glimmer;

Nor sail nor swimmer

Can try the tides;

And snowdrifts thicken

Where, when leaves quicken,

Under the heather the sundew hides.

Green land and red land,

Moorside and headland,

Are white as dead land,

Are all as one;

Nor honied heather,

Nor bells to gather,

Fair with fair weather

And faithful sun:

Fierce frost has eaten

All flowers that sweeten

The fells rain-beaten;

And winds their foes

Have made the snow's bed

Down in the rose-bed;

Deep in the snow's bed bury the rose.

Bury her deeper

Than any sleeper;

Sweet dreams will keep her

All day, all night;

Though sleep benumb her

And time o'ercome her,

She dreams of summer,

And takes delight,

Dreaming and sleeping

In love's good keeping,

While rain is weeping

And no leaves cling;

Winds will come bringing her

Comfort, and singing her

Stories and songs and good news of the spring.

Draw the white curtain

Close, and be certain

She takes no hurt in

Her soft low bed;

She feels no colder,

And grows not older,

Though snows enfold her

From foot to head;

She turns not chilly

Like weed and lily

In marsh or hilly

High watershed,

Or green soft island

In lakes of highland;

She sleeps awhile, and she is not dead.

For all the hours,

Come sun, come showers,

Are friends of flowers,

And fairies all;

When frost entrapped her,

They came and lapped her

In leaves, and wrapped her

With shroud and pall;

In red leaves wound her,

With dead leaves bound her

Dead brows, and round her

A death-knell rang;

Rang the death-bell for her,

Sang, "is it well for her,

Well, is it well with you, rose?" they sang.

O what and where is

The rose now, fairies,

So shrill the air is,

So wild the sky?

Poor last of roses,

Her worst of woes is

The noise she knows is

The winter's cry;

His hunting hollo

Has scared the swallow;

Fain would she follow

And fain would fly:

But wind unsettles

Her poor last petals;

Had she but wings, and she would not die.

Come, as you love her,

Come close and cover

Her white face over,

And forth again

Ere sunset glances

On foam that dances,

Through lowering lances

Of bright white rain;

And make your playtime

Of winter's daytime,

As if the Maytime

Were here to sing;

As if the snowballs

Were soft like blowballs,

Blown in a mist from the stalk in the spring.

Each reed that grows in

Our stream is frozen,

The fields it flows in

Are hard and black;

The water-fairy

Waits wise and wary

Till time shall vary

And thaws come back.

"O sister, water,"

The wind besought her,

"O twin-born daughter

Of spring with me,

Stay with me, play with me,

Take the warm way with me,

Straight for the summer and oversea."

But winds will vary,

And wise and wary

The patient fairy

Of water waits;

All shrunk and wizen,

In iron prison,

Till spring re-risen

Unbar the gates;

Till, as with clamor

Of axe and hammer,

Chained streams that stammer

And struggle in straits

Burst bonds that shiver,

And thaws deliver

The roaring river in stormy spates.

In fierce March weather

White waves break tether,

And whirled together

At either hand,

Like weeds uplifted,

The tree-trunks rifted

In spars are drifted,

Like foam or sand,

Past swamp and sallow

And reed-beds callow,

Through pool and shallow,

To wind and lee,

Till, no more tongue-tied,

Full flood and young tide

Roar down the rapids and storm the sea.

As men's cheeks faded

On shores invaded,

When shorewards waded

The lords of fight;

When churl and craven

Saw hard on haven

The wide-winged raven

At mainmast height;

When monks affrighted

To windward sighted

The birds full-flighted

Of swift sea-kings;

So earth turns paler

When Storm the sailor

Steers in with a roar in the race of his wings.

O strong sea-sailor,

Whose cheek turns paler

For wind or hail or

For fear of thee?

O far sea-farer,

O thunder-bearer,

Thy songs are rarer

Than soft songs be.

O fleet-foot stranger,

O north-sea ranger

Through days of danger

And ways of fear,

Blow thy horn here for us,

Blow the sky clear for us,

Send us the song of the sea to hear.

Roll the strong stream of it

Up, till the scream of it

Wake from a dream of it

Children that sleep,

Seamen that fare for them

Forth, with a prayer for them:

Shall not God care for them

Angels not keep?

Spare not the surges

Thy stormy scourges;

Spare us the dirges

Of wives that weep.

Turn back the waves for us:

Dig no fresh graves for us,

Wind, in the manifold gulfs of the deep.

O stout north-easter,

Sea-king, land-waster,

For all thine haste, or

Thy stormy skill,

Yet hadst thou never,

For all endeavour,

Strength to dissever

Or strength to spill,

Save of his giving

Who gave our living,

Whose hands are weaving

What ours fulfil;

Whose feet tread under

The storms and thunder;

Who made our wonder to work his will.

His years and hours,

His world's blind powers,

His stars and flowers,

His nights and days,

Sea-tide and river,

And waves that shiver,

Praise God, the giver

Of tongues to praise.

Winds in their blowing,

And fruits in growing;

Time in its going,

While time shall be;

In death and living,

With one thanksgiving,

Praise him whose hand is the strength of the sea.


ROSE-RED lilies that bloom on the banner;

Rose-cheeked gardens that revel in spring;

Rose-mouthed acacias that laugh as they climb,

Like plumes for a queen's hand fashioned to fan her

With wind more soft than a wild dove's wing,

What do they sing in the spring of their time

If this be the rose that the world hears singing,

Soft in the soft night, loud in the day,

Songs for the fireflies to dance as they hear;

If that be the song of the nightingale, springing

Forth in the form of a rose in May,

What do they say of the way of the year?

What of the way of the world gone Maying,

What of the work of the buds in the bowers,

What of the will of the wind on the wall,

Fluttering the wall-flowers, sighing and playing,

Shrinking again as a bird that cowers,

Thinking of hours when the flowers have to fall?

Out of the throats of the loud birds showering,

Out of the folds where the flag-lilies leap,

Out of the mouths of the roses stirred,

Out of the herbs on the walls reflowering,

Out of the heights where the sheer snows sleep,

Out of the deep and the steep, one word.

One from the lips of the lily-flames leaping,

The glad red lilies that burn in our sight,

The great live lilies for standard and crown;

One from the steeps where the pines stand sleeping,

One from the deep land, one from the height,

One from the light and the might of the town.

The lowlands laugh with delight of the highlands,

Whence May winds feed them with balm and breath

From hills that beheld in the years behind

A shape as of one from the blest souls' islands,

Made fair by a soul too fair for death,

With eyes on the light that should smite them blind.

Vallombrosa remotely remembers,

Perchance, what still to us seems so near

That time not darkens it, change not mars,

The foot that she knew when her leaves were September's,

The face lift up to the star-blind seer,

That saw from his prison arisen his stars.

And Pisa broods on her dead, not mourning,

For love of her loveliness given them in fee;

And Prato gleams with the glad monk's gift

Whose hand was there as the hand of morning;

And Siena, set in the sand's red sea,

Lifts loftier her head than the red sand's drift.

And far to the fair south-westward lightens,

Girdled and sandalled and plumed with flowers,

At sunset over the love-lit lands,

The hill-side's crown where the wild hill brightens,

Saint Fina's town of the Beautiful Towers,

Hailing the sun with a hundred hands.

Land of us all that have loved thee dearliest,

Mother of men that were lords of man,

Whose name in the world's heart work a spell

My last song's light, and the star of mine earliest,

As we turn from thee, sweet, who wast ours for a span,

Fare well we may not who say farewell.


THE sundawn fills the land

Full as a feaster's hand

Fills full with bloom of bland

Bright wine his cup;

Flows full to flood that fills

From the arch of air it thrills

Those rust-red iron hills

With morning up.

Dawn, as a panther springs,

With fierce and fire-fledged wings

Leaps on the land that rings

From her bright feet

Through all its lava-black

Cones that cast answer back

And cliffs of footless track

Where thunders meet.

The light speaks wide and loud

From deeps blown clean of cloud

As though day's heart were proud

And heaven's were glad;

The towers brown-striped and grey

Take fire from heaven of day

As though the prayers they pray

Their answers had.

Higher in these high first hours

Wax all the keen church towers,

And higher all hearts of ours

Than the old hills' crown,

Higher than the pillared height

Of that strange cliff-side bright

With basalt towers whose might

Strong time bows down.

And the old fierce ruin there

Of the old wild princes' lair

Whose blood in mine hath share

Gapes gaunt and great

Toward heaven that long ago

Watched all the wan land's woe

Whereon the wind would blow

Of their bleak hate.

Dead are those deeds; but yet

Their memory seems to fret

Lands that might else forget

That old world's brand;

Dead all their sins and days;

Yet in this red clime's rays

Some fiery memory stays

That sears their land.


THE year lies fallen and faded

On cliffs by clouds invaded,

With tongues of storms upbraided,

With wrath of waves bedinned;

And inland, wild with warning,

As in deaf ears or scorning,

The clarion even and morning

Rings of the south-west wind.

The wild bents wane and wither

In blasts whose breath bows hither

Their grey-grown heads and thither,

Unblest of rain or sun;

The pale fierce heavens are crowded

With shapes like dreams beclouded,

As though the old year enshrouded

Lay, long ere life were done.

Full-charged with oldworld wonders,

From dusk Tintagel thunders

A note that smites and sunders

The hard frore fields of air;

A trumpet stormier-sounded

Than once from lists rebounded

When strong men sense-confounded

Fell thick in tourney there.

From scarce a duskier dwelling

Such notes of wail rose welling

Through the outer darkness, telling

In the awful singer's ears

What souls the darkness covers,

What love-lost souls of lovers,

Whose cry still hangs and hovers

In each man's born that hears.

For there by Hector's brother

And yet some thousand other

He that had grief to mother

Passed pale from Dante's sight;

With one fast linked as fearless,

Perchance, there only tearless;

Iseult and Tristram, peerless

And perfect queen and knight.

A shrill-winged sound comes flying

North, as of wild souls crying

The cry of things undying,

That know what life must be;

Or as the old year's heart, stricken

Too sore for hope to quicken

By thoughts like thorns that thicken,

Broke, breaking with the sea.


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