John Byrne Leicester Warren De Tabley.

The collected poems of Lord De Tabley online

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The Isolation of Selfish Prosperity

. . . I

An Invocation








A Wisp of Epic

: . . 8



. 14


. . ' . 15




. 16


. , .16


. , . 17

VII. .....

... 17


. . 18




. 19






XIV. . . .





The Old Warrior ....

. - . . 22

Too Fair to Last . . . _ . . f


A Ballad .' . . , ' .

... 26

The Answer




The Wounded King 28

The Prodigal . ( . . . . . ... 30

Philoctetes 30

Allowance ......... 33

A Song . .,,.,. ( , , . . . . . 33

The Royal Aspects of the Earth . * ' . . . . 34

Iphigeneia 39

Eucrates ......... 41

The Nymph and the Hunter . . .''.'. 45

Autumn Love 48

Separated Fortunes 49

The Red-Breast 50

The Cardinal's Lament 51

Medea ' . .58

One View of Worship 66

The Two Old Kings 68

Ode to the Sun 75

The Garden of Delight . . . . . . 79

At the Council 80

Arrow of Love 82

An Autumn Serenade 85

Nature's Renewing . 85

A Meeting and Advice 87

" Love Shadows " 89

The King's Monologue 91

Anchises 94

Ariadne .96

The New Ahasuerus 98

Rosamond ......... 100

Daedalus . . . 104

Niobe . . 106

The Sale at the Farm * ' . .108

The Lament of Phaethon's Sisters . . . .112

Joan of Arc . . . . . . . . .114

Machiavel in Minimis . , , . . . .120



Mutation 126

A Heathen to his Idol (In Time of Peace) . . . 127

A Heathen to his Idol (In Time of War) . . ' : . 130

The Strange Parable j : . 133

The Siren to Ulysses '.- ''-. 138

The Count of Senlis at his Toilet . . . .140

In Arcadia '. 1 ' '- ''" 143

Ode to Pan <<p'< ' * 146

An Expostulation 150

Philoctetes , ' . 154

Orestes '^ ;'. 200

A Hymn to Astarte ". 260

A Woodland Grave 269

A Simple Maid . . . . . . ."'. 271

Fortune's Wheel ' . 272

Phaethon 272

On a Portrait of Sir John Suckling . . . 277

Circe 279

A Song of Faith Forsworn . . . . < - . 281
The Study of a Spider . . . . . .282

Jael ' ; '' * ' : - t'"- : . 283

Nuptial Song Ij. */ . 290

Retrospect ' ^ ' . 291

Zeus , ' - 293

A Leave-Taking . 296

He May Who Can 297

Misrepresentation 297

Ophelia '^ . 298

Nimrod " ':. 299

The Knight in the Wood . . . .'.'. 302

The Churchyard on the Sands 303

A Lament for Adonis 306

The Ocean Wood . . . . ' '/* / * ' . 308

An Ode 308

The Pilgrim Cranes 310



Pandora . . . . . . . . .311

Love Grown Old . . ;...'. . 322

Be Wise in Time


A Madrigal 324

A Frosty Day 326

Dithyramb 326

The Bird of my Love 327

Carpe Diem 330

Daphne 331

Rural Evening 333

The Power of Interval 333

A Renunciation 334

Aurora 334

Sleep and Sunset 335

A Pastoral ,' ,. . . 336

R eg r et 337

The Nymph's Protest . . , . . . . 339

The Defeat of Glory 340

The Island of Circe 346

Echo, Cloud, and Breeze 348

The Children of the Gods 348

Fugaces Anni 351

The Prodigal 352

Auguries of May 352

Echoes of Hellas . . 354

The Saint and the Sun 355

An Idyll . 355

An Invocation 357

The Spirit of Even 358

Ode to Fortune ...->. 359

Orpheus in Hades 362

The March of Glory 371

A Hymn to Aphrodite 373

Amaranth 374

Circe V , * . 378



Hellas and Rome 383

A Winter Sketch 389

A Song of Dust 39x5

The Death of Phaethon 393

Anthea's Garland 399

The First Madrigal 401

An Ode to a Star . ! ' . 402

Vengeance 403

A Serenade 404

The Second Madrigal 405

Infatuation -" -^. 4S

The Tomb : An Allegory . . . .<_ - ;. . 406

Anticipation ~ . 406

A Churchyard Yew . . 407

The Haughty Lady Condemns Love and Despises

Passion 409

The Tragedy of Childhood 412

The Windmill ' . . 413

Roland at Roncesvalles . . . . >.... .. 415

The Absent Mariner 415

A Lament ' ; . ' r. . . 416

Hodge Prologizes at his Public . . . ... ''< ., 416

The Wine of Life .* . 418

Orpheus in Thrace 420

Napoleon the Great

France < ' . 425

Waterloo ........ 427

St. Helena 429

The Invalides 430

A Parting . 430

The Stoic's Creed t > - . 431

The Lament of Echo 433

The Spear of Achilles 435

On a Queen's Palace in Ruins 436

What the Bird Sings 438



The End of a Delusion . . . .'.''. 440

A Cradle Song : . . 442

The Sick Flower . 444

An Eleusinian Chant 445

Carpe Diem . . . . . . . 449

The Waking Skylark . 450

An Old Man's Consolation 450

Sorrow Invincible 452

The Hedge 454

At Heaven's Gate 456

A Song of Despair 458

Lines to a Lady- Bird . . . . .'.'. 461

The Ballad of Life 463

The Invitation 466

The Dirge of Day .- .. ; ?* . . . .468

Apologia 470

In Sicily 471

The Sailing Ship . 474

" What Should a Man Desire ?" ..*.. ... :.'( . 475

A Future . . \ . 477

The Posy of a Wedding Ring 477

Love's Birth 478

The Old Earl . 47

A Dirge . 479

A Mother's Dirge 480

A Sketch at Athens 480

The Oread 482

Cowslip 483

A Song of the Rolling Wind . . ; ti :+, ( 483

L'Envoi 484

Conclusion 485



To strive is something, yet to win is more.

The crowned angels from their state declined ;

And traitor pride shall make the nations blind
In days to come as in the days of yore.

To win is something, but content is more.

The brooks, the fountains, and the crystal meres
Are things forbidden in the restless ears

Of Care ; he tastes no beauty in the shore

Hung with the morning, for his dreams are sere :
And, though he seat him on a throne of gold,
He cannot hear the birds sing as of old ;

And all his earlier self is grown a fear.

His eyes are on the forward region spent :
The past let fools repair, and girls regret,
And first-love dreams leave dotards' eyelids wet ;

Such things are gone. He cares not how they went.

Canker'd with self and his false Mammon-King,
He boasts at large, " I am not as my race,
With me men's petty loves, dreams, ends give place

To high indifference ; hours can never ring

Love changes, matter for a neighbour's sneer,

On my mail'd breast : let boys and girls go whine
The shed rose leaves of passion deem'd divine.

I am not of their weakness, shall I fear ? "




COMFORT my heart, thou sweetness, and unveil
Those orient eyes that wore such tender pale
Of dawn, that old loves shut their stars and fail :

Dear, if thou boldest all my will in power,

Mould out the echo of this tremulous hour,

And make me strong, as thou art sweet in flower,

To crush the wrestling years beneath my knee,

And fight the crafty future craftily,

And rest at hours again a child with thee.

Take thy sweet time, invest my blood with warm,
I sleep on thy word-music, move this charm,
Nor leave this careful world one sting to harm.


MY sense is dull. The tremulous evening glows :

The weeds of night coast round her lucid edge,

Yoked under bulks of tributary cloud.

The leaves are shaken on the forest flowers,

And silent as the silence of a shrine

Lies a great power of sunset on the groves.

Grayly the fingered shadows dwell between

The reaching chestnut branches. Gray the mask

Of twilight, and the bleak unmellow speed

Of blindness on the visage of fresh hills.

My soul is melted in pale aching dreams,

I feign some nearing issue in new time,

On which I wait, for which I think and move :

A haunting drift that guides me by a glimpse

To lovely things and meteor affluence.

I wander in my silence, incomplete.

My lonely feet are dew'd in chilly flowers,

And I am full of fever and alone

The cup without its acorn, the brook bed


Dry of its stream, the chalice ebb'd of wine,
The deep night listening for its rising morn,
The droughty plain that sees the rain-cloud pause,
And hears the falling drift sing towards its breast.

The voice of dreams is sweet upon my brain,

Has fed me on thin comfort many a day,

Since all my mind was tender, and a child

Rich in the girlish impulse of ripe dreams

I threw my song upon the wind, or pored

On all this glorious nature and its blaze

Ineffable, enormous. I could guess

The thriving summer toward, as the globe

That metes the still year's process, and the edge

Of March-days sweetened in warm April's tread

Levied the wavering clouds to do him praise,

And all their folds were bright against his head.

I pondered out the wonder-veiling years,

And still I dwelt on light in all my dreams,

Some strange great yearning : dim on forest-waves

The large eye-blinding radiance sheeted out,

And withered up the film of hooded peaks

To set their dinted vales with faltering fires :

As cloudy hollows claspt in buoyant green

Took savour of wood-incense from the drench

Of lime-boughs limp with perfume-searching rains,

Methought at times the wildered spirit paused

In blindness on an edge of glory, faint

And trembling. Milky shiverings of cloud

Crept in meridian smoothly towards a sea

Where evening held in bright her western bars,

And all the full blue level glow'd again

Under a glowing sky.

I speak my soul

With words and signs and symbols of weak sound.
I cannot clasp the meaning as it lies,
I cannot blend with shallow speech my dream.
I, reeling from the level of my brain,
Would mix with flowery essence, or exchange
Life with an amaranth, so look heaven in face
A summer thro', and draw the zenith dews
Drizzled between the twilights, ere the streak
Of morning touch celestial thro' the halls
Of Nature, with the echo of a bird,
A startled leaflet, and an opening flower.


And thus I read the sacred loveliness

Of Heaven's clear face, unseen as stars by day,

But there no less tho' weak eyes reach them not

Till on the vagueness of thin thought there came

Substantial impress : on the dreamy mist

A presence and a deity behind

Concentred yet pervasive. Silent eyes

Gave greeting, and, in wordless promise, sign

Of imminent revealment, and great lights,

Deep harmony and thunders, as the voice

Of breakers breaking on low-margin'd seas.

Thou all-enfolding ether, thou clear God,
Shall I profane thy fair immensity,
Or bound thy boundless essence in a name
Spoken as men can speak it between lips
That tell but half their thought, whose thought is weak ?

Thou whom I only guess thro' my desire,

A far attainment, inmost prophecy,

An instinct and a voiceless oracle,

To enter where we would be, and be one ;

There, face to face, to touch and be complete,

And shed our craving from us like old leaves

That grate beside the crowded knots of spring.

Come, thou great bliss, I have been patient long.
My lonely arms entreat thee from thy state.
Come, thro' the vaulted blue a burning sun.
Come, as the night comes, fielded round with stars !
My soul is throbbing, as a moonless sea,
Flood out thy rich beams full upon her breast !


MY son, my son, there is no stir of hope.
These days are rough, and ere my latest fight
The graying twilight blinds the morning's eyes.

Deep have I tasted those accursed wells
Of disobedience : deeply wasted rule,
And made my throne a haven for the deed.
Come, come, the proudest soul that ever trod


Is pillage merely for some crushing hour,

And that is stored for all. I cannot mend,

And will not shrink. Fear mends not chance or change.

Perchance my doom is ripe and I must fall.

1 murmur not, for I have much endur'd,

Nor prosper'd in my sin or in my pride,

But fever'd out my heart from shame to shame :

Shame is as praise where all is set to fall.

I that have dared to tamper with the dead,
To break the ancient prophet from his sleep,
Deliberate in election to foreknow
The drift of evil, and made firm my face
Beyond the scale of horror, to untear
Death and their secrets from the denizens
Of his oblivious city, shall I shrink
Or bate one inch off purpose till the end ?

I stand between the oracles of doom.

The wild wind passes on the cloudy banks

And raises out an interval of light.

This is the day, my soul. This is the day.

Shall I sit down and weep ? What help to weep,

What harm to die ? Small profit this my rule :

A thing of custom merely that outgrows

The will to move it from us, which removed

There lives beyond no comfort in the light ;

But craving, that in realmless abstinence

Rivets the ache of loss, where loss is gain

To limit old confusions, which of old

Raught from my helm the garland of its praise

And set my face to this perpetual rest.

Could I unlive my trespass, and the doom

Of this day's fight, to tread again the ways

Of earthly custom, taste smooth hope once more,

Be man with men, talk trifles, wake and sleep :

Should I be changed ? Small change till I be dead.

What years have grained and ringed into the tree

Falls not for one night's shaking. I am proud,

I cannot take meek eyes and smile upon

My shepherd rival. He or I must cease.

My realm is narrow for a second King.

He prospers as I perish, for his hands

Are strengthened and some demon works me down,

Else had I crushed this stripling at his sheep.


I never sought this ruling curse of rule.
Who shall convince me that I sought to rule ?
I sinn'd not as I was and sought no higher.
How then is this my guilt to fail beneath
Unwilling burden ? I have done some wrong,
But royal trespass this, and such as Kings
Could only sin. The wrong is theirs that chose.

They huddled on my rule and I was King.
They cannot twit me with an ounce of fear
Whenas I led their armies. That at least
Is something in this waning of my name.
What else is left? To arm and surely die.
It shall be done. 'Tis easier passage straight
Where there is turning none and no retreat.

Perchance the spirit mock'd me to my doom.

It is a lying spirit from its lord

Of lies and fire, who steals a holy shape :

My sick brain cannot sunder false and true

Nay, for I heard his voice and heard my doom,

And he that sleeps at Ramah will not lie.

Give me thy sword. Philistia, lo I come !

Glut all your spears upon me. 'Tis more brave

To wrestle with a certainty of doom

Than to be still in apathy and die.

I know the issue. I am set to fall.

What need to redden eyes with slavish tears ?

I feel the end. I front it and it comes.


I HAVE framed my life to ruling, ruling men,
This is the next prerogative to Zeus,
Who wears the cope of Kingship over Gods,
Who metes me out a little lording nook
Beside his spacious glory for a time,
Until the tale of years disorb my hand,
And set a graveward darkness on my brain
Decreed to earth, and make my voice a dream.
So thou rule on, no wrinkle in thy crown,
Zeus, and thy full lips fade not thro' the years.


What is more noble in our cloudy day
Of shift and error than to nourish peace,
And hold the sacred justice of a king
With marble purpose firm from day to year,
Wedding the strength of order to our realm :
Not less the King shall watch and wait he may
Unroot confusion, the blind mole that mines
The seat of princes from their solid stay.

This is my mark of purpose slowly won,

Most slowly : year on year the long years went

And won me something nearer. In firm eyes

I held the wavering beacon. And men came,

My councillors, and laughed against my dreams

Of truth and right. They said the world was young,

Too young to cramp her legs by shackled rule,

And crush out man's fierce nature by the square.

To portion with one justice friend and slave,

Amercing equal penalties between

The hands that tugged our battles and the hind

Of capture, strangled empire in its germ ;

This led a flush'd sedition at its heels,

This rent the key-stone arch of policy,

This palsied friendly nerve, this moved the feet

Of rival armies, numb ingratitude,

This made shrewd fighters deal with lazy strokes.

But I nor fail'd nor wander'd from my drift,

And king it still, unseated by the storm,

Calm in the wreck on neighbour thrones, secure

Where others crack'd to core whose root was Wrong.

Obedience, Reason, Discipline, Reserve,
On these I founded empire as strong hills,
That warp not nor are shaken thro' the years.
I slept and waken'd till their seed was grown.
I watch'd them as the Sun doth watch the Sea,
Stretching an arm of glory from the verge
To shield her all the morning of his beams.

Much have I done : that much is but a brand
From that remainder forest which shall fall
Before their sturdy pioneers lead on
Freedom and Justice and the Golden Age.
The white sea glimmers thro' the palace shafts.


My galleys beat to mainland rich in store,

Rich in the wealth that smooths the lives of men

And gives them higher natures. Out at sea

A scarf of air-mist wavers on the moon.

The torrents hold their music, and I scent

A riping vintage from the Cretan hills,

And harvest on illimitable plains.

My people turn to rest secure of wrong,

And not one lip but loves me for its sleep.

I have lived to great result, have seen my wish
Ripen to deed, sole attribute of Gods :
Gods only choose the means and grasp the end.
For, as in dreams that on some purpose verge
We waken ere that purpose, so our ears
Shall seldom hear the wind among the boughs
Whose seed was ours.

I am a man with men.
This is unstable glory. I am old,
And I, that love my work, must leave my work,
The eldest moving life between the suns.
I, that have wrestled doom aside to glance
An hour upon completion, glance and die.
The grave has had full patience. Yet I weep
To leave my solid toil and this fair land
To weaker keeping. Shall this icy thought
Comfort my bones, that all my work is wind,
This Isle a cry of pirates?

O my heart !

I hunger not this life as fools desire
A selfish dream of food and sleep and lust.
I am content. The corner of a mound
Is room enough, if I could find a hand
Wherein to trust my sceptre, so to sleep.


AND the gray King strode fiercely from the board,
And wrench'd away and trampled on his crown :
But she, the princess, arm'd his neck and clung
With quivering lips and dreamy staring eyes.
And down the board the level feasters, each


And all, one impulse, rose like that long wave
When tide-flood takes a river. Vassal peers
Enring'd their muttering knots ; but, midmost, knelt
A knight who bled between his shattered mails.

He, reeling from his saddle, sick and blind,

Scared thro' the courts with missive, blank as death

Had burst their feast like Pestilence, and cried

Their frontier army broken, back and edge,

In ambush : all its bravest mown away :

And, woe the while, their prince the rumour gave

Lost in the trammell'd tangle of the slain,

Or wounded yet unfound but likelier slain.

So all that night the gray King and his child
Clomb a high chamber o'er the woods, and watch'd
That way their army went by mountains based
In shelves of ilex went, but when should come ?
And, ere heaven's stubborn bar and sable screen
Crumbled in purple chains of sailing shower
And bared the captive morning in her cell,
Their lean hope wasted on the watchers' eyes
And fleeted from the impenetrable mask
Dead, as the new light lingered.

That wan king

Leant to each palm a hoary cheek, and sate,
His owl-white hairs shed out, his reedy beard
Held what he wept and thro' its woof each moan
Trembled in vapour, and his lids were set.
But she, an eloquent presence of despair,
Drew, regal, all her height : her lordly eyes,
Robed in the morning that she sought in vain
Beyond the casement, rested on the void
Gazing thro' distance : horn and hoof were dumb
Between the sightless woods, but darkness held
Blind as her soul was darkened.

Last, she turned

And found the old King moaning in a trance,
Not wholly wakeful, drowsy in his pain,
Mowing and whispering ; and she said,

" My Liege,

I cannot taste thin morning from the downs.
A grieving wind is on the troubled cloud,
But here it comes not thro' the woolly mist.
A false red dawn hath yonder ridge bestrid
To cheat the midnight of her dotard hours :


Watch'd morning loiters from the watchers' eyes.

No throbbing clarion melts against the wall

Of this cool dark : the gray night round is dumb,

And ear and eyeball tingle with the strain

Of void and silence : from the inmost heart

Of woodland fails all motion : calm the hills

As flaky tossings frozen in nebulous seas.

I will not cheat thy comfort that they come."

She shook her accents from her as she stood
With raised and lucent elbows ; here declined
Her rich and languid head against her palms ;
Tight fingers counter-knit behind the black
And banded hair, convulsive in their close,
So strained it in her passion and her pain.
Not less the wild expectance in her eyes
Refrained their tears, as mute the smooth pure lips
Tighten'd in restless workings on the pearl,
Barrier of their lost music.

So they twain

Spake nothing, yet in gloom the old King's eyes
Glitter'd with beaded anguish, for his age
Was as an infant's with an honest face
Denying not its weakness : and the nails
Of his lean fingers grated on his robe
Crackling the furry velvets, fold on fold,
And his vein'd wrists were palsied as they strove
Among the foldings, till his voice came low
As a weak wind is scared and faint among
The heavy clusters of primeval woods,
And crisps but never lifts them till the rain
Utterly stamp it dead,

" Dissolve and die,

My withered brain : the tide is set ; the dust
Is on my temples. Empire of dumb Sleep,
Thine I am owed and thine I come. The change
Is terrorless, my rule a crumbled dream.
Look in my face, O daughter, search it well,
I live to speak a blind and horrible word,
Ay so, as you to hear it : lo ! 'tis said
He will return no more and yet no more !
Why so it is, the silent hand takes all.
There is no mercy that the flower is fair
But speedier scythes of ambush. What revenge
Is there against the inevitable? Lift
Thy prophet eyes, usurp the right to see


Harvest of curses on the harmless dead,

The vermin dregs of war's encrimson'd cup

Spilling confusions on our wholesome land

All in this bitter word ' my son is dead ! ' "

She moved not as he ended in her calm,

She would not weep, she could not comfort him,

But at her eyes the chamber spun, and fierce,

Fierce as a scathe, the wrestle at her heart

Tightens and throbs, or subtler shudders rive

The disunited, desolated hands

Listless of use and nervelessly disspread ;

At length she labour'd tremulous reply,

Passionate answer, and her lips were pale.

" Die not, great heart, unfinish'd ere thy noon,

Fail not, firm star of glory, from thy seat

Aerial, rapt above our shallow dreams.

So many barren things grow fat and thrive

And taste no evil all their barren days,

That this, our love, can never quench so soon,

Whose course was on the shoreless seas of fame,

His wake one tremulous glory, and full stars

Leapt in the rolling amber at his prow.

Die and we die : our breath is nothing worth ;

We are but shadows moving in Thy will,

Thine intercepted radiance makes us be.

The empire of thy worship is not dead,

But prospers growing rich in fruit and sign."

And now the broad and sunless vapour-downs
Shook their sloped limbs from coiling haze : behind
From cloud to cloud the purple caught, one star
Crept to the void before it : ragged lights
Struck in the crowded peaks and cloudy zones,
And then the full round splendour of the day.

Till there was warning mutter 3 d thro' the stems
Of storied pines, and trailing drips of yews,
Drench'd moistures of all fragrance, where the sound
Clung deadened as it leapt from armed feet.
They heard it and they started with fierce eyes
Father and maiden as irresolute,
Wearily, scared to face the thing they knew.
Wail was there none, and barely any moan ;
They on each other gazed, touch'd hands, and went
With pause from stair to stair on shivering limbs,


And, issuing thro' the column'd archway, stood,

Pale in great light and paler from its power.

Then from the leaves there wended shield and helm :

It seemed the flower of knights with some great wrong

Concluded, for no power was in their tread ;

But they crept on like walkers from their sleep,

Staring and thronging, knot by knot, they came :

And in the midmost core of that dumb band

A something propt in slumber on a bier,

Online LibraryJohn Byrne Leicester Warren De TableyThe collected poems of Lord De Tabley → online text (page 1 of 32)