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Till life's right hand be loosened from thine hand And thy life-days from thee.

For the gods very subtly fashion
Madness with sadness upon earth:
Not knowing in any wise compassion,
Nor holding pity of any worth;
And many things they have given and taken,
And wrought and ruined many things;
The firm land have they loosed and shaken,
And sealed the sea with all her springs;
They have wearied time with heavy burdens
And vexed the lips of life with breath:
Set men to labour and given them guerdons,
Death, and great darkness after death:
Put moans into the bridal measure

And on the bridal wools a stain;
And circled pain about with pleasure,

And girdled pleasure about with pain; And strewed one marriage-bed with tears and fire For extreme loathing and supreme desire.

What shall be done with all these tears of ours?

Shall they make water-springs in the fair heaven To bathe the brows of morning? or like flowers Be shed and shine before the starriest hours,

Or made the raiment of the weeping Seven?
Or rather, O our masters, shall they be
Food for the famine of the grievous sea,

A great well-head of lamentation
Satiating the sad gods? or fall and flow
Among the years and seasons to and fro,
And wash their feet with tribulation
And fill them full with grieving ere they go?
Alas, our lords, and yet alas again,

Seeing all your iron heaven is gilt as gold
But all we smite thereat in vain;

Smite the gates barred with groanings manifold,
But all the floors are paven with our pain.
Yea, and with weariness of lips and eyes,
With breaking of the bosom, and with sighs,

We labour, and are clad and fed with grief And filled with days we would not fain behold And nights we would not hear of; we wax old, All we wax old and wither like a leaf.

We are outcast, strayed between bright sun and moon;
Our light and darkness are as leaves of flowers,
Black flowers and white, that perish; and the noon
As midnight, and the night as daylight hours.
A little fruit a little while is ours,

And the worm finds it soon.

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For death is deep as the sea,
And fate as the waves thereof.
Shall the waves take pity on thee

Or the south-wind offer thee love?
Wilt thou take the night for thy day
Or the darkness for light on thy way,

Till thou say in thine heart Enough?
Behold, thou art over fair, thou art over wise;
The sweetness of spring in thine hair, and the light in
thine eyes.

The light of the spring in thine eyes, and the sound in thine ears;

Yet thine heart shall wax heavy with sighs and thine eyelids with tears.

Wilt thou cover thine hair with gold, and with silver thy feet?

Hast thou taken the purple to fold thee, and made thy mouth sweet?

Behold, when thy face is made bare, he that loved thee shall hate;

Thy face shall be no more fair at the fall of thy fate. For thy life shall fall as a leaf and be shed as the rain; And the veil of thine head shall be grief; and the crown shall be pain.


[Poems and Ballads, First Series 1866.]


WHO hath known the ways of time
Or trodden behind his feet?

There is no such man among men.
For chance overcomes him, or crime
Changes; for all things sweet

In time wax bitter again.
Who shall give sorrow enough,

Or who the abundance of tears?
Mine eyes are heavy with love

And a sword gone thorough mine ears,
A sound like a sword and fire,
For pity, for great desire;
Who shall ensure me thereof,

Lest I die, being full of my fears?

Who hath known the ways and the wrath,
The sleepless spirit, the root
And blossom of evil will,

The divine device of a god?

Who shall behold it or hath?
The twice-tongued prophets are mute,
The many speakers are still;
No foot has travelled or trod,
No hand has meted, his path.
Man's fate is a blood-red fruit,
And the mighty gods have their fill
And relax not the rein, or the rod.

Ye were mighty in heart from of old,
Ye slew with the spear, and are slain.
Keen after heat is the cold,

Sore after summer is

And melteth man to the bone.
As water he weareth away,

As a flower, as an hour in a day,
Fallen from laughter to moan.
But my spirit is shaken with fear
Lest an evil thing begin,
New-born, a spear for a spear,
And one for another sin.

Or ever our tears began,

It was known from of old and said; One law for a living man,

And another law for the dead. For these are fearful and sad,

Vain, and things without breath; While he lives let a man be glad, For none hath joy of his death.


Who hath known the pain, the old pain of earth, Or all the travail of the sea,

The many ways and waves, the birth

Jiriczek, Englische Dichter.


Fruitless, the labour nothing worth?

Who hath known, who knoweth, O gods? not we. There is none shall say he hath seen,

There is none he hath known.
Though he saith, Lo, a lord have I been,
I have reaped and sown;

I have seen the desire of mine eyes,
The beginning of love,

The season of kisses and sighs
And the end thereof.

I have known the ways of the sea,
All the perilous ways,

Strange winds have spoken with me,
And the tongues of strange days.
I have hewn the pine for ships;
Where steeds run arow,

I have seen from their bridled lips
Foam blown as the snow.

With snapping of chariot-poles
And with straining of oars

I have grazed in the race the goals,
In the storm the shores;

As a greave is cleft with an arrow
At the joint of the knee,

I have cleft through the sea-straits narrow
To the heart of the sea.

When air was smitten in sunder

I have watched on high

The ways of the stars and the thunder

In the night of the sky;

Where the dark brings forth light as a flower,
As from lips that dissever;

One abideth the space of an hour,
One endureth for ever.

Lo, what hath he seen or known
Of the way and the wave

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