Tenebrae

In a dream without lightening of eyes
I saw them, children of earth,
Nations and races arise,
Each one after his wise,
Signed with the sign of his birth.

A slow song beaten and broken,
As it were from the dust and the dead,
As of spirits athirst unsloken,
As of things unspeakable spoken,
As of tears unendurable shed.

In the manifold sound remote,
In the molten murmur of song,
There was but a sharp sole note
Alive on the night and afloat,
The cry of the world’s heart’s wrong.

As the sea in the strait sea-caves,
The sound came straitened and strange;
A noise of the rending of graves,
A tidal thunder of waves,
The music of death and of change.

“We have waited so long,” they say,
“For a sound of the God, for a breath,
For a ripple of the refluence of day,
For the fresh bright wind of the fray,
For the light of the sunrise of death.

…but we, in the grey
Twilight, for one thing we pray,
In that day though our memories be cold:

“To feel on our brows as we wait
An air of the morning, a breath
From the springs of the east, from the gate
Whence freedom issues, and fate,
Sorrow, and triumph, and death

“From a land whereon time hath not trod,
Where the spirit is bondless and bare,
And the world’s rein breaks, and the rod,
And the soul of a man, which is God,
He adores without altar or prayer:

“And the blossom of man from his tomb
Yearns open, the flower that survives;
And the shadows of changes consume
In the colourless passionate bloom
Of the live light made of our lives:

“O spirit of man, most holy,
The measure of things and the root,
In our summers and winters a lowly
Seed, putting forth of them slowly
Thy supreme blossom and fruit;

“There is the fire that was man,
The light that was love, and the breath
That was hope ere deliverance began,
And the wind that was life for a span,
And the birth of new things, which is death,

“There all chains are undone;
Day there seems but as night;
Spirit and sense are as one
In the light not of star nor of sun;
Liberty there is the light.

She, sole mother and maker,
Stronger than sorrow, than strife;
Deathless, though death overtake her;
Faithful, though faith should forsake her;
Spirit, and saviour, and life.”

excerpt from Algernon Charles Swinburne

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This entry was posted in faith, language and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Tenebrae

  1. insider53 says:

    I had never read this until now. It’s quiet beautiful.

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