As from lips long stilled, from yours let healing
Through the fights of old, your battle-cry was healing,
And the Saviour that ye called on was the Sun :
Dawn by dawn behold in heaven your God, revealing
Light from darkness as when Marathon was won.
Gods were yours yet strange to Turk or Galilean,
Light and Wisdom only then as gods adored :
Pallas was your shield, your comforter was Paean,
From your bright world's navel spake the Sun your
Though the names be lost, and changed the signs
of Light and Wisdom be, \Ep. i.
By these only shall men conquer, by these only be set
When the whole world's eye was Athens, these were
yours, and theirs were ye.
Light was given you of your wisdom, light ye gave the
world again :
As the sun whose godhead lightened on her soul was
Hellas then :
Yea, the least of all her children as the chosen of
Change your hearts not with your garments, nor your
faith with creeds that change :
Truth was yours, the truth which time and chance
transform not nor estrange:
Purer truth nor higher abides not in the reach of
time's whole range.
Gods are they in all men's memories and for all time's
They that hurled the host back seaward which had
scourged the sea with rods :
Gods for us are all your fathers, even the least of
these as gods.
In the dark of days the thought of them is with us,
strong to save,
They that had no lord, and made the Great King
lesser than a slave ;
They that rolled all Asia back on Asia, broken like a
No man's men were they, no master's and no God's
but these their own :
Gods not loved in vain nor served amiss, nor all yet
Love of country, Freedom, Wisdom, Light, and none
save these alone.
176 ATHENS. \
King by king came up against them, sire and son r
and turned to flee :
Host on host roared westward, mightier each than
each, if more might be :
Field to field made answer, clamorous like as wave to
wave at sea.
Strife to strife responded, loud as rocks to clangorous-
Where the deep rings wreck to seamen held in tem-
pest's thrall and bond,
Till when war's bright work was perfect peace as
radiant rose beyond :
Peace made bright with fruit of battle, stronger made
for storm gone down,
With the flower of song held heavenward for the
violet of her crown
Woven about the fragrant forehead of the fostress
Gods arose alive on earth from under stroke of human
As the hands that wrought them, these are dead, and
mixed with time's dead sands :
But the godhead of supernal song, though these now
stand not, stands.
Pallas is not, Phoebus breathes no more in breathing
brass or gold :
Clytsemnestra towers, Cassandra wails, for ever :
Time is bold,
But nor heart nor hand hath he to unwrite the scrip-
tures writ of old.
Dead the great chryselephantine God, as dew last
evening shed :
Dust of earth or foam of ocean is the symbol of his
Earth and ocean shall be shadows when Prometheus
shall be dead.
Fame around her warriors living rang through Greece
and lightened, \Str. 2.
Moving equal with their stature, stately with their
Thebes and Lacedsemon at their breathing presence
Sense or sound of them filled all the live land's
breadth and length.
All the lesser tribes put on the pure Athenian fashion,
One Hellenic heart was from the mountains to the
Sparta's bitter self grew sweet with high half-human
And her dry thorns flushed aflower in strait Ther-
Fruitless yet the flowers had fallen, and all the deeds
Save that tongues of after men, the children of her
Took the tale up of her glories, transient else and
And in ears and hearts of all men left the praise of
Fair the war-time was when still, as beacon answering
Sea to land flashed fight, and thundered note of
wrath or cheer ;
But the strength of noonday night hath power to
waste and weaken,
Nor may light be passed from hand to hand of
year to year
If the dying deed be saved not, ere it die for ever,
By the hands and lips of men more wise than years
are strong ;
If the soul of man take heed not that the deed die
Clothed about with purple and gold of story,
crowned with song.
Still the burning heart of boy and man alike rejoices,
Hearing words which made it seem of old for all
That their heaven of heavens waxed happier when
from free men's voices
Well-beloved Harmodius a?id Aristogeiton rang.
Never fell such fragrance from the flower-month's
As from chaplets on the bright friends' brows who
slew their lord :
Greener grew the leaf and balmier blew the flower of
When its blossom sheathed the sheer tyrannicidal
None so glorious garland crowned the feast Panathe-
As this wreath too frail to fetter fast the Cyprian
None so fiery song sprang sunwards annual as the
Praising perfect love of friends and perfect country's
Higher than highest of all those heavens wherefrom
the starry [Ant, 2.
Song of Homer shone above the rolling fight,
Gleams like spring's green bloom on boughs all gaunt
Soft live splendour as of flowers of foam in flight,
Glows a glory of mild-winged maidens upward mount-
Sheer through air made shrill with strokes of smooth
Round the rocks beyond foot's reach, past eyesight's
Up the cleft where iron wind of winter rings
Round a God fast clenched in iron jaws of fetters,
Him who culled for man the fruitful flower of fire,
Bared the darkling scriptures writ in dazzling letters,
Taught the truth of dreams deceiving men's desire,
Gave their water-wandering chariot-seats of ocean
Wings, and bade the rage of war-steeds champ the
Showed the symbols of the wild birds' wheeling
Waged for man's sake war with God and all his
Earth, whose name was also Righteousness, a mother
Many-named and single-natured, gave him breath
Whence God's wrath could wring but this word and
He may smite me, yet he shall not do to death.
Him the tongue that sang triumphant while tormented
Sang as loud the sevenfold storm that roared ere-
Round the towers of Thebes till wrath might rest
Sang the flight from smooth soft-sanded banks of
When like mateless doves that fly from snare or
Came the suppliants landwards trembling as they
And the prayer took wing from all their tongues
King of kings, most holy of holies, blessed God.
But what mouth may chant again, what heart may
All the rapture that all hearts of men put on
When of Salamis the time-transcending poet
Sang, whose hand had chased the Mede at Marathon ?
Darker dawned the song with stormier wings above
the watch-fire spread \Ep. 2.
Whence from Ida toward the hill of Hermes leapt the
light that said
Troy was fallen, a torch funereal for the king's tri-
Dire indeed the birth of Leda's womb that had God's
self to sire
Bloomed, a flower of love that stung the soul with
fangs that gnaw like fire :
But the twin-born human-fathered sister-flower bore
fruit more dire.
Scarce the cry that called on airy heaven and all swift
winds on wing,
Wells of river-heads, and countless laugh of waves
Earth which brought forth all, and the orbed sun that
looks on everything,
Scarce that cry fills yet men's hearts more full of
â€¢heart devouring dread
Than the murderous word said mocking, how the
child whose blood he shed
Might clasp fast and kiss her father where the dead
salute the dead.
But the latter note of anguish from the lips that
mocked her lord,
When her son's hand bared against the breast that
suckled him his sword,
How might man endure, O ^Eschylus, to hear it and
1 82 ATHENS.
How might man endure, being mortal yet, O thou
most highest, to hear ?
How record, being born of woman ? Surely not thy
Surely this beheld, this only, blasted hearts to death
Not the hissing hair, nor flakes of blood that oozed
from eyes of fire,
Nor the snort of savage sleep that snuffed the hunger-
ing heart's desire
Where the hunted prey found hardly space and har-
bour to respire ;
She whose likeness called them â€” ' Sleep ye, ho ?
what need of you that sleep ? '
(Ah, what need indeed, where she was, of all shapes
that night may keep
Hidden dark as death and deeper than men's dreams
of hell are deep ?)
She the murderess of her husband, she the huntress
of her son,
More than ye was she, the shadow that no God with-
stands but one,
Wisdom equal-eyed and stronger and more splendid
than the sun.
Yea, no God may stand betwixt us and the shadows
of our deeds,
Nor the light of dreams that lighten darkness, nor the
prayer that pleads,
But the wisdom equal-souled with heaven, the light
alone that leads.
Light whose law bids home those childless children
of eternal night,
Soothed and reconciled and mastered and transmuted
in men's sight
Who behold their own souls, clothed with darkness
once, now clothed with light.
King of kings and father crowned of all our fathers
crowned of yore,
Lord of all the lords of song, whose head all heads
bow down before,
Glory be to thee from all thy sons in all tongues ever-
Rose and vine and olive and deep ivy-bloom en-
twining [Sir. 3.
Close the goodliest grave that e'er they closeliest
Keep the wind from wasting and the sun from too
Where the sound and light of sweetest songs still
float and shine.
Here the music seems to illume the shade, the light
Song, the flowers to put not odours only forth, but
Sweeter far than fragrance : here the wandering
wreaths twine crisper
Far, and louder far exults the note of all wild
1 84 ATHENS.
Thoughts that change us, joys that crown and sorrows
that enthrone us,
Passions that enrobe us with a clearer air than ours,
Move and breathe as living things beheld round white
Audibler than melodies and visibler than flowers.
Love, in fight unconquered, Love, with spoils of great
Never sang so sweet from throat of woman or of
Love, whose bed by night is in the soft cheeks of a
And his march is over seas, and low roofs lack not
Nor may one of all that live, ephemeral or eternal,
Fly nor hide from Love ; but whoso clasps him
fast goes mad.
Never since the first-born year with flowers first-born
Such a song made listening hearts of lovers glad or
Never sounded note so radiant at the rayless portal
Opening wide on the all-concealing lowland of the
As the music mingling, when her doomsday marked
From her own and old men's voices round the
bride's way shed,
Round the grave her bride-house, hewn for endless
Where, shut out from sunshine, with no bridegroom
by, she slept ;
But beloved of all her dark and fateful generation,
But with all time's tears and praise besprinkled and
Well-beloved of outcast father and self-slaughtered
Born, yet unpolluted, of their blind incestuous
Best-beloved of him for whose dead sake she died,
Hallowing by her own life's gift her own born
brother's head :
Not with wine or oil nor any less libation [Ant. 3.
Hallowed, nor made sweet with humbler perfume's
Not with only these redeemed from desecration,
But with blood and spirit of life poured forth to
Blood unspotted, spirit unsullied, life devoted,
Sister too supreme to make the bride's hope good,
Daughter too divine as woman to be noted,
Spouse of only death in mateless maidenhood.
Yea, in her was all the prayer fulfilled, the saying
All accomplished â€” Would that fate would let me
Hallowed i7moeence of words and all deeds, weighing
Well the laws thereof, begot on holier air,
1 86 ATHENS.
Far o?i high sublimely slablished, whereof only
Heaven is father ; nor did birth of mortal mould
Bring them forth, nor shall oblivion lull to lonely
Slumber. Great in these is God, and grows not old.
Therefore even that inner darkness where she
Surely seems as holy and lovely, seen aright,
As desirable and as dearly to be cherished,
As the haunt closed in with laurels from the light,
Deep inwound with olive and wild vine inwoven,
Where a godhead known and unknown makes men
But the darkness of the twilight noon is cloven
Still with shrill sweet moan of many a nightingale.
Closer clustering there they make sweet noise to-
Where the fearful gods look gentler than our fear,
And the grove thronged through with birds of holiest
Grows nor pale nor dumb with sense of dark things
There her father, called upon with signs of wonder,
Passed with tenderest words away by ways un-
Not by sea-storm stricken down, nor touched of
To the dark benign deep underworld, alone.
Third of three that ruled in Athens, kings with
sceptral song for staff, \Ep. 3.
Gladdest heart that God gave ever milk and wine of
thought to quaff,
Clearest eye that lightened ever to the broad lip's
Praise be thine as theirs whose tragic brows the loftier
For the live and lyric lightning of thy honey-hearted
Soft like sunny dewy wings of clouds and bright as
crying of birds ;
Full of all sweet rays and notes that make of earth
and air and sea
One great light and sound of laughter from one great
God's heart, to be
Sign and semblance of the gladness of man's life
where men breathe free.
With no Loxian sound obscure God uttered once, and
all time heard,
All the soul of Athens, all the soul of England, in
that word :
Rome arose the second child of freedom : northward
rose the third.
Ere her Boreal dawn came kindling seas afoam and
fields of snow,
Yet again, while Europe groaned and grovelled, shone
like suns aglow
Doria splendid over Genoa, Venice bright with Dan-
1 88 ATHENS.
Dead was Hellas, but Ausonia by the light of dead
Rose and walked awhile alive, though mocked as
whom the fen-fire leads
By the creed- wrought faith of faithless souls that
mock their doubts with creeds.
Dead are these, and man is risen again : and haply
now the Three
Yet coequal and triune may stand in story, marked as
By the token of the washing of the waters of the sea.
Athens first of all earth's kindred many-tongued and
Had the sea to friend and comfort, and for kinsman
had the wind :
She that bare Columbus next : then she that made
her spoil of Ind.
She that hears not what man's rage but only what the
sea-wind saith :
She that turned Spain's ships to cloud-wrack at the
blasting of her breath,
By her strengths of strong-souled children and of
strong winds done to death.
North and south the Great King's galleons went in
Persian wise : and here
She, with ^Eschylean music on her lips that laughed
In the face of Time's grey godhead shook the splen-
dour of her spear.
Fair as Athens then with foot upon her foeman's
front, and strong
Even as Athens for redemption of the world from
Like as Athens crowned she stood before the sun
with crowning song.
All the world is theirs with whom is freedom : first of
all the free,
Blest are they whom song has crowned and clothed
with blessing : these as we,
These alone have part in spirit with the sun that
crowns the sea.
April, 1 88 1.
THE STATUE QF VICTOR HUGO,
Since in Athens God stood plain for adoration,
Since the sun beheld his likeness reared in stone,.
Since the bronze or gold of human consecration
Gave to Greece her guardian's form and feature
Never hand of sculptor, never heart of nation,
Found so glorious aim in all these ages flown
As is theirs who rear for all time's acclamation
Here the likeness of our mightiest and their own.
Theirs and ours and all men's living who behold him
Crowned with garlands multiform and manifold;
Praise and thanksgiving of all mankind enfold him
Who for all men casts abroad his gifts of gold.
With the gods of song have all men's tongues enrolled
With the helpful gods have all men's hearts en-
i 9 2 THE STATUE OF VICTOR HUGO.
Ours he is who love him, ours whose hearts' hearts
Fast as his the trust that hearts like his may hold.
: He, the heart most high, the spirit on earth most
Takes in charge all spirits, holds all hearts in trust :
As the sea-wind's on the sea his ways are tameless,
As the laws that steer the world his works are just.
All most noble feel him nobler, all most shameless
Feel his wrath and scorn make pale their pride and
All most poor and lowliest, all whose wrongs were
Feel his word of comfort raise them from the dust.
Pride of place and lust of empire bloody-fruited
Knew the blasting of his breath on leaf and fruit :
Now the hand that smote the death-tree now dis-
Plants the refuge-tree that has man's hope for root.
Ah, but we by whom his darkness was saluted,
How shall now all we that see his day salute ?
How should love not seem by love's own speech con-
Song before the sovereign singer not be mute ?
THE STATUE OF VICTOR HUGO. 193
With what worship, by what blessing, in what measure,
May we sing of him, salute him, or adore,
With what hymn for praise, what thanksgiving for
Who had given us more than heaven, and gives us
Heaven's whole treasury, filled up full with night's
Holds not so divine or deep a starry store
As the soul supreme that deals forth worlds at leisure
Clothed with light and darkness, dense with flower
Song had touched the bourn : fresh verses overflow it,
Loud and radiant, waves on waves on waves that
Still the tide grows, and the sea-mark still below it
Sinks and shifts and rises, changed and swept along.
Rose it like a rock ? the waters overthrow it,
And another stands beyond them sheer and strong :
Goal by goal pays down its prize, and yields its poet
Tribute claimed of triumph, palm achieved of song.
Since his hand that holds the keys of fear and wonder
Opened on the high priest's dreaming eyes a door
i 9 4 THE STATUE OF VICTOR HUGO.
Whence the lights of heaven and hell above and
Shone, and smote the face that men bow down
Thrice again one singer's note had cloven in sunder
Night, who blows again not one blast now but four,
And the fourfold heaven is kindled with his thunder,
And the stars about his forehead are fourscore.
From the deep soul's depths where alway love
First had risen a song with healing on its wings
Whence the dews of mercy raining balms unbounded
Shed their last compassion even on sceptred things. 1
Even on heads that like a curse the crown surrounded
Fell his crowning pity, soft as cleansing springs ;
And the sweet last note his wrath relenting sounded
Bade men's hearts be melted not for slaves but
Next, that faith might strengthen fear and love
On the creeds of priests a scourge of sunbeams
And its flash made bare the deeps of heaven, beholden
Not of men that cry, Lord, Lord, from church or
1 La Pitie Supreme. 1879.
2 Religions et Religion. 1880.
THE STATUE OF VICTOR HUGO. 195
Hope as young as dawn from night obscure and olden
Rose again, such power abides in truth's one spell :
Night, if dawn it be that touches her, grows golden ;
Tears, if such as angels weep, extinguish hell.
Through the blind loud mills of barren blear-eyed
Where in dust and darkness children's foreheads
While men's labour, vain as wind or water turning
Wheels and sails of dreams, makes life a leafless
Fell the light of scorn and pity touched with yearning,
Next, from words that shone as heaven's own kind-
ling brow. 1
Stars were these as watch-fires on the world's waste
Stars that fade not in the fourfold sunrise now. 2
Now the voice that faints not till all wrongs be wroken
Sounds as might the sun's song from the morning's
All the seals of silence sealed of night are broken,
All the winds that bear the fourfold word are blest.
1 VAne. 1880.
2 Les Qualre Vents de V Esprit. I. Le Livre satiriqtce.
II. Le Livre dramatique. HI. Le Livre lyrique. IV. Le
Livre epique. 1 881.
i 9 6 THE STATUE OF VICTOR HUGO.
All the keen fierce east flames forth one fiery token ;
All the north is loud with life that knows not rest,
All the south with song as though the stars had
All the judgment-fire of sunset scathes the west.
Sound of paean, roll of chanted panegyric,
Though by Pindar's mouth song's trumpet spake
March of warrior songs in Pythian mood or Pyrrhic,.
Though the blast were blown by lips of ancient
Ring not clearer than the clarion of satiric
Song whose breath sweeps bare the plague- infected
Till the world be pure as heaven is for the lyric
Sun to rise up clothed with radiant sounds as rays.
Clear across the cloud-rack fluctuant and erratic
As the strong star smiles that lets no mourner
Hymned alike from lips of Lesbian choirs or Attic
Once at evensong and morning newly born,
Clear and sure above the changes of dramatic
Tide and current, soft with love and keen with
Smiles the strong sweet soul of maidenhood, ecstatic
And inviolate as the red glad mouth of morn.
THE STATUE OF VICTOR HUGO. 197
Pure and passionate as dawn, whose apparition
Thrills with fire from heaven the wheels of hours
Rose and passed her radiance in serene transition
From his eyes who sought a grain and found a
But the food by cunning hope for vain fruition
Lightly stolen away from keeping of a churl
Left the bitterness of death and hope's perdition
On the lip that scorn was wont for shame to curl. 1
Over waves that darken round the wave-worn rover
Rang his clarion higher than winds cried round
Rose a pageant of set suns and storms blown over,
Hands that held life's guerdons fast or let them
But no tongue may tell, no thanksgiving discover,
Half the heaven of blessing, soft with clouds that
Keen with beams that kindle, dear as love to lover,
Opening by the spell's strength on his lyric lip.
1 Les Deux Trouvailles de Gallus. I. Margarita, comedie.
11. Esc a. drame.
198 THE STATUE OF VICTOR HUGO,
By that spell the soul transfigured and dilated
Puts forth wings that widen, breathes a brightening
Feeds on light and drinks of music, whence elated
All her sense grows godlike, seeing all depths
All the mists wherein before she sat belated
Shrink, till now the sunlight knows not if they
All this earth transformed is Eden recreated,
With the breath of heaven remurmuring in her
Sweeter far than aught of sweet that April nurses
Deep in dew-dropt woodland folded fast and furled
Breathes the fragrant song whose burning dawn
Darkness, like the surge of armies backward hurled,
Even as though the touch of spring's own hand, that
Earth with life's delight, had hidden in the
Golden bells and buds and petals of his verses
All the breath of all the flowers in all the world.
THE STATUE OF VICTOR HUGO. 199
But the soul therein, the light that our souls follow,
Fires and fills the song with more of prophet's
More of life than all the gulfs of death may swallow,
More of flame than all the might of night may hide.
Though the whole dark age were loud and void and
Strength of trust were here, and help for all souls
And a token from the flight of that strange swallow ]
Whose migration still is toward the wintry side.
Never came such token for divine solution
From the oraculous live darkness whence of yore
Ancient faith sought word of help and retribution,
Truth to lighten doubt, a sign to go before.
Never so baptismal waters of ablution
Bathed the brows of exile on so stern a shore,
Where the lightnings of the sea of revolution
Flashed across them ere its thunders yet might
1 Je suis une hirondelle etrange, car j 'emigre