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Songs of the Springtides and Birthday Ode Taken from The Collected Poetical Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne-Vol. III

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THALASSIUS Upon the flowery forefront of the year,One wandering by the grey-green April seaFound on a reach of shingle and shallower sandInlaid with starrier glimmering jewelleryLeft for the sun's love and the light wind's cheerAlong the foam-flowered strandBreeze-brightened, something nearer sea than landThough the last shoreward blossom-fringe was near,A babe asleep with flower-soft face that gleamedTo sun and seaward as it laughed and dreamed,Too sure of either love for either's fear,Albeit so birdlike slight and light, it seemedNor man nor mortal child of man, but fairAs even its twin-born tenderer spray-flowers were,That the wind scatters like an Oread's hair. For when July strewed fire on earth and seaThe last time ere that year,Out of the flame of morn CymothoeBeheld one brighter than the sunbright sphereMove toward her from its fieriest heart, whence trodThe live sun's very God,Across the foam-bright water-ways that areAs heavenlier heavens with star for answering star,And on her eyes and hair and maiden mouthFelt a kiss falling fierier than the South And heard above afarA noise of songs and wind-enamoured wingsAnd lutes and lyres of milder and mightier strings,And round the resonant radiance of his carWhere depth is one with height,Light heard as music, music seen as light.And with that second moondawn of the spring'sThat fosters the first rose,A sun-child whiter than the sunlit snowsWas born out of the world of sunless thingsThat round the round earth flows and ebbs and flows. But he that found the sea-flower by the seaAnd took to foster like a graft of earthWas born of man's most highest and heavenliest birth,Free-born as winds and stars and waves are free;A warrior grey with glories more than years,Though more of years than change the quick to deadHad rained their light and darkness on his head;A singer that in time's and memory's earsShould leave such words to sing as all his peersMight praise with hallowing heat of rapturous tearsTill all the days of human flight were fled.And at his knees his fosterling was fedNot with man's wine and breadNor mortal mother-milk of hopes and fears,But food of deep memorial days long sped;For bread with wisdom and with song for wineClear as the full calm's emerald hyaline.And from his grave glad lips the boy would gatherFine honey of song-notes goldener than gold,More sweet than bees make of the breathing heather,That he, as glad and bold,Might drink as they, and keep his spirit from cold.And the boy loved his laurel-laden hair As his own father's risen on the eastern air,And that less white brow-binding bayleaf bloomMore than all flowers his father's eyes relume;And those high songs he heard,More than all notes of any landward bird,More than all sounds less freeThan the wind's quiring to the choral sea. High things the high song taught him; how the breathToo frail for life may be more strong than death;And this poor flash of sense in life, that gleamsAs a ghost's glory in dreams,More stabile than the world's own heart's root seems,By that strong faith of lordliest love which givesTo death's own sightless-seeming eyes a lightClearer, to death's bare bones a verier might,Than shines or strikes from any man that lives.How he that loves life overmuch shall dieThe dog's death, utterly:And he that much less loves it than he hatesAll wrongdoing that is doneAnywhere always underneath the sunShall live a mightier life than time's or fate's.One fairer thing he shewed him, and in mightMore strong than day and nightWhose strengths build up time's towering period:Yea, one thing stronger and more high than God,Which if man had not, then should God not be:And that was Liberty.And gladly should man die to gain, he said,Freedom; and gladlier, having lost, lie dead.For man's earth was not, nor the sweet sea-wavesHis, nor his own land, nor its very graves,Except they bred not, bore not, hid not slaves: But all of all that is,Were one man free in body and soul, were his....