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A Dark Month From Swinburne's Collected Poetical Works Vol. V

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I A month without sight of the sunRising or reigning or settingThrough days without use of the day,Who calls it the month of May?The sense of the name is undoneAnd the sound of it fit for forgetting. We shall not feel if the sun rise,We shall not care when it sets:If a nightingale make night's airAs noontide, why should we care?Till a light of delight that is done rise,Extinguishing grey regrets; Till a child's face lighten againOn the twilight of older faces;Till a child's voice fall as the dewOn furrows with heat parched throughAnd all but hopeless of grain,Refreshing the desolate places— Fall clear on the ears of us hearkeningAnd hungering for food of the soundAnd thirsting for joy of his voice:Till the hearts in us hear and rejoice,And the thoughts of them doubting and darkeningRejoice with a glad thing found. When the heart of our gladness is gone,What comfort is left with us after?When the light of our eyes is away,What glory remains upon May,What blessing of song is thereonIf we drink not the light of his laughter? No small sweet face with the daytimeTo welcome, warmer than noon!No sweet small voice as a bird'sTo bring us the day's first words!Mid May for us here is not Maytime:No summer begins with June. A whole dead month in the dark,A dawn in the mists that o'ercome herStifled and smothered and sad—Swift speed to it, barren and bad!And return to us, voice of the lark,And remain with us, sunlight of summer. II Alas, what right has the dawn to glimmer,What right has the wind to do aught but moan?All the day should be dimmerBecause we are left alone. Yestermorn like a sunbeam presentHither and thither a light step smiled,And made each place for us pleasantWith the sense or the sight of a child. But the leaves persist as before, and afterOur parting the dull day still bears flowers;And songs less bright than his laughterDeride us from birds in the bowers. Birds, and blossoms, and sunlight only,As though such folly sufficed for spring!As though the house were not lonelyFor want of the child its king! III Asleep and afar to-night my darlingLies, and heeds not the night,If winds be stirring or storms be snarling;For his sleep is its own sweet light. I sit where he sat beside me quaffingThe wine of story and songPoured forth of immortal cups, and laughingWhen mirth in the draught grew strong. I broke the gold of the words, to melt itFor hands but seven years old,And they caught the tale as a bird, and felt itMore bright than visible gold. And he drank down deep, with his eyes broad beaming,Here in this room where I am,The golden vintage of Shakespeare, gleamingIn the silver vessels of Lamb. Here by my hearth where he was I listenFor the shade of the sound of a word,Athirst for the birdlike eyes to glisten,For the tongue to chirp like a bird. At the blast of battle, how broad they brightened,Like fire in the spheres of stars,And clung to the pictured page, and lightenedAs keen as the heart of Mars! At the touch of laughter, how swift it twitteredThe shrillest music on earth;How the lithe limbs laughed and the whole child glitteredWith radiant riot of mirth! Our Shakespeare now, as a man dumb-stricken,Stands silent there on the shelf:And my thoughts, that had song in the heart of them, sicken,And relish not Shakespeare's self. And my mood grows moodier than Hamlet's even,And man delights not me,But only the face that morn and evenMy heart leapt only to see. That my heart made merry within me seeing,And sang as his laugh kept time:But song finds now no pleasure in being,And love no reason in rhyme. IV Mild May-blossom and proud sweet bay-flower,What, for shame, would you have with us here?It is not the month of the May-flowerThis, but the fall of the year....