By Algernon Charles Swinburne
Taken from THE COLLECTED POETICAL WORKS
OF ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE, VOL. V
SWINBURNE'S POETICAL WORKS
I. POEMS AND BALLADS (First Series).
II. SONGS BEFORE SUNRISE, and SONGS OF TWO NATIONS.
III. POEMS AND BALLADS (Second and Third Series), and SONGS OF THE
IV. TRISTRAM OF LYONESSE, THE TALE OF BALEN, ATALANTA IN CALYDON,
V. STUDIES IN SONG, A CENTURY OF ROUNDELS, SONNETS ON ENGLISH DRAMATIC
POETS, THE HEPTALOGIA, ETC.
VI. A MIDSUMMER HOLIDAY, ASTROPHEL, A CHANNEL PASSAGE AND OTHER POEMS.
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
Algernon Charles Swinburne
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
_First printed (Chatto), 1904
Reprinted 1904, '09, '10, '12
_London: William Heinemann, 1917_
* * * * *
THE HIGHER PANTHEISM IN A NUTSHELL 373
JOHN JONES'S WIFE 375
THE POET AND THE WOODLOUSE 396
THE PERSON OF THE HOUSE 400
LAST WORDS OF A SEVENTH-RATE POET 406
SONNET FOR A PICTURE 421
* * * * *
SPECIMENS OF MODERN POETS
THE SEVEN AGAINST SENSE
A CAP WITH SEVEN BELLS
THE HIGHER PANTHEISM
IN A NUTSHELL
One, who is not, we see: but one, whom we see not, is:
Surely this is not that: but that is assuredly
What, and wherefore, and whence? for under is over and under:
could be without lightning, lightning
could be without thunder.
Doubt is faith in the main: but faith, on the whole, is doubt:
We cannot believe by proof: but could we believe without?
Why, and whither, and how? for barley
and rye are not clover:
Neither are straight lines curves: yet over is under and over.
Two and two may be four: but four and four are not eight:
Fate and God may be twain: but God is the same thing as fate.
Ask a man what he thinks, and get from a man what he feels:
God, once caught in the fact, shows you a fair pair of heels.
Body and spirit are twins: God only knows which is which:
The soul squats down in the flesh, like a tinker
drunk in a ditch.
More is the whole than a part: but half is more than the whole:
Clearly, the soul is the body: but is not the body the soul?
One and two are not one: but one and nothing is two:
Truth can hardly be false, if falsehood
cannot be true.
Once the mastodon was: pterodactyls were common as cocks:
Then the mammoth
was God: now is He a prize ox.
Parallels all things are: yet many of these are askew:
You are certainly I: but certainly I am not you.
Springs the rock from the plain, shoots the stream
from the rock:
Cocks exist for the hen: but hens exist for the cock.
God, whom we see not, is: and God, who is not, we see:
Fiddle, we know, is diddle: and diddle, we take it, is dee.
* * * * *
JOHN JONES'S WIFE
AT THE PIANO
Love me and leave me; what love bids retrieve me? can June's fist
Leave me and love me; hopes eyed once above me like spring's sprouts
Fall as the snow falls, when summer leaves grow false--cards packed
for storm's play!
Nay, say Decay's self be but last May's elf, wing shifted, eye sheathed--
Changeling in April's crib rocked, who lets 'scape rills locked fast
since frost breathed--
Skin cast (think!) adder-like, now bloom bursts bladder-like,--bloom
Ah, how can fear sit and hear as love hears it grief's heart's cracked
Chance lets the gate sway that opens on hate's way and shews on shame's
Crouched like an imp sly change watch sweet love's shrimps lie, a
toothful in each.
Time feels his tooth slip on husks wet from Truth's lip, which drops
them and grins--
Shells where no throb stirs of life left in lobsters since joy thrilled
Hues of the prawn's tail or comb that makes dawn stale, so red for our
Years blind and deaf use the soul's joys as refuse, heart's peace as
Reared whence, next June's rose shall bloom where our moons rose last
year, just as pure:
Moons' ends match roses' ends: men by beasts' noses' ends mete sin's
Leaves love last year smelt now feel dead love's tears melt--flies
caught in time's mesh!
Salt are the dews in which new time breeds new sin, brews blood and
Next year may see dead more germs than this weeded and reared them
Old times left perish, there's new time to cherish; life just shifts
As, when the day dies, earth, half afraid, eyes the growth of the moon;
Love me and save me, take me or waive me; death takes one so soon!
BY THE CLIFF
Is it daytime
You that feed my soul
With that light in those eyes
And those curls drawn like a scroll
In that round grave guise?
No or yes?
Oh, the end, I'd say!
Such a foolish thing
(Pure girls' play!)
As a mere mute heart,
Was it worth a kiss, a ring,
This? for two must part--
Look, the whole sand crawls,
Hums, a heaving hive,
Scrapes and scrawls--
Such a buzz and burst!
Here just one thing's not alive,
One that was at first--
But life palls.
Yes, my heart, I know,
Just my heart's stone dead--
Yes, just so.
Sick with heat, those worms
Drop down scorched and overfed--
No more need of germs!
Let them go.
Yes, but you now, look,
You, the rouged stage female
With a crook,
Chalked Arcadian sham,
You that made my soul's sleep's dream ail--
Your soul fit to damn?
Shut the book.
ON THE SANDS
There was nothing at all in the case (conceive)
But love; being love, it was not (understand)
Such a thing as the years let fall (believe)
Like the rope's coil dropt from a fisherman's hand
When the boat's hauled up--"by your leave!"
So--well! How that crab writhes--leg after leg
Drawn, as a worm draws ring upon ring
Gradually, not gladly! Chicken or egg,
Is it more than the ransom
(say) of a king
(Take my meaning at least) that I beg?
Not so! You were ready to learn, I think,
What the world said! "He loves you too well (suppose)
For such leanings! These poets, their love's mere ink--
Like a flower, their flame flashes--a rosebud, blows--
Then it all drops down at a wink!
"Ah, the instance! A curl of a blossomless vine
The vinedresser passing it sickens to see
And mutters 'Much hope (under God) of His wine
From the branch and the bark of a barren
Spring reared not, and winter lets pine--
"'His wine that should glorify
(saith He) the cup
That a man beholding (not tasting) might say
"Pour out life at a draught, drain it dry, drink it up,
Give this one thing, and huddle
the rest away--
Save the bitch, and be hanged to the pup!"
"'Let it rot then!' which saying, he leaves it--we'll guess,
Feels (if the sap move at all) thus much--
Yearns, and would blossom, would quicken
Bud at an eye's glance, flower at a touch--
'Die, perhaps, would you not, for her?'--'Yes!'
"Note the hitch there! That's piteous--so much being done,
(He'll think some day, your lover) so little to do!
days to wear out, once begun!
Since the hand its glove holds, and the footsole its shoe--
Overhead too there's always the sun!"
Oh, no doubt they had said so, your friends--been profuse
Of good counsel, wise hints--"where the trap lurks, walk warily--
Squeeze the fruit to the core ere you count on the juice!
For the graft may fail, shift, wax, change colour, wane, vary, lie--"
You were cautious, God knows--to what use?
This crab's wiser, it strikes me--no twist but implies life--
Not a curl but's so fit you could find none fitter--
For the brute from its brutehood looks up thus and eyes life--
Stoop your soul down and listen, you'll hear it twitter,
Laughing lightly,--my crab's life's the wise life!
Those who've read S. T. Coleridge remember how Sammy sighs
To his pensive
(I think he says) Sara--"most soothing-sweet"--
Crab's bulk's less (look!) than man's--yet (quoth Cancer) I am my size,
And my bulk's girth contents
me! Man's maw (see?) craves two things--
And flesh likewise--man's gluttonous--damn his eyes!
Crab's content with crab's provender: crab's love, if soothing,
Is no sweeter than pincers are soft--and a new sickle
Cuts no sharper than crab's claws nip, keen as boar's toothing!
Yet crab's love's no less fervent
than bard's, if less musical--
'Tis a new thing I'd lilt--but a true thing.
Old songs tell us, of all drinks for Englishmen fighting, ale's
Out and out best: salt water contents
crab, it seems to me,
Though pugnacious as sailors, and skilled
to steer right in gales
That craze pilots, if slow to sing--"Sleep'st thou? thou dream'st
In such love-strains as mine--or a nightingale's.
Ah, now, look you--tail foremost, the beast sets seaward--
The sea draws it, sand sucks it--he's wise, my crab!
From the napkin
out jumps his one talent--good steward,
Just judge! So a man shirks the smile or the stab,
And sets his sail duly to leeward!
Trust me? Hardly! I bid you not lean (remark)
On my spirit, your spirit--my flesh, your flesh--
Hold my hand, and tread safe through the horrible
Quench my soul as with sprinklings of snow, then refresh
With some blast of new bellows the spark!