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Unbeholden, unsailed-on, unsown,
From the breast to the grave?

Or ever the stars were made, or skies,
Grief was born, and the kinless night,

Mother of gods without form or name.
And light is born out of heaven and dies,
And one day knows not another's light,

But night is one, and her shape the same.

But dumb the goddesses underground

Wait, and we hear not on earth if their feet

Rise, and the night wax loud with their wings; Dumb, without word or shadow of sound;

And sift in scales and winnow as wheat
Men's souls, and sorrow of manifold things.


Nor less of grief than ours
The gods wrought long ago

To bruise men one by one;
But with the incessant hours

Fresh grief and greener woe

Spring, as the sudden sun
Year after year makes flowers;
And these die down and grow,
And the next year lacks none.

As these men sleep, have slept
The old heroes in time fled,

No dream-divided sleep;
And holier eyes have wept

Than ours, when on her dead
Gods have seen Thetis weep,

With heavenly hair far-swept
Back, heavenly hands outspread
Round what she could not keep,

Could not one day withhold,
One night; and like as these
White ashes of no weight,
Held not his urn the cold

Ashes of Heracles?

For all things born one gate
Opens, no gate of gold;

Opens; and no man sees
Beyond the gods and fate.

[Chor (Str. I und Antistr. 1) aus Erechtheus, 1876.]

MANY loves of many a mood and many a kind
Fill the life of man, and mould the secret mind;
Many days bring many dooms, to loose and bind;

Sweet is each in season, good the gift it brings,

Sweet as change of night and day with altering wings, Night that lulls world-weary day, day that comforts night, Night that fills our eyes with sleep, day that fills with light.

None of all is lovelier, loftier love is none,
Less is bride's for bridegroom, mother's less for son,
Child, than this that crowns and binds up all in one:
Love of thy sweet light, thy fostering breast and hand,
Mother Earth, and city chosen, and natural land;

Hills that bring the strong streams forth, heights of heavenlier air,

Fields aflower with winds and suns, woods with shadowing hair.


[Studies in Song, 1880.]


A LAND that is lonelier than ruin;

A sea that is stranger than death;
Far fields that a rose never blew in,

Wan waste where the winds lack breath;
Waste endless and boundless and flowerless
But of marsh-blossoms fruitless as free;
Where earth lies exhausted, as powerless
To strive with the sea.

Far flickers the flight of the swallows,
Far flutters the weft of the grass
Spun dense over desolate hollows

More pale than the clouds as they pass: Thick woven as the web of a witch is

Round the heart of a thrall that hath sinned, Whose youth and the wrecks of its riches Are waifs on the wind.

The pastures are herdless and sheepless,
No pasture or shelter for herds:
The wind is relentless and sleepless,

And restless and songless the birds;
Their cries from afar fall breathless,

Their wings are as lightnings that flee; For the land has two lords that are deathless: Death's self, and the sea.

These twain, as a king with his fellow,
Hold converse of desolate speech:
And her waters are haggard and yellow
And crass with the scurf of the beach:

And his garments are grey as the hoary
Wan sky where the day lies dim;
And his power is to her, and his glory,
As hers unto him.

In the pride of his power she rejoices,
In her glory he glows and is glad:
In her darkness the sound of his voice is,

With his breath she dilates and is mad: "If thou slay me, O death, and outlive me, Yet thy love hath fulfilled me of thee." "Shall I give thee not back if thou give me, O sister, O sea?"

And year upon year dawns living,
And age upon age drops dead:
And his hand is not weary of giving,

And the thirst of her heart is not fed: And the hunger that moans in her passion, And the rage in her hunger that roars, As a wolf's that the winter lays lash on, Still calls and implores.

Her walls have no granite for girder,
No fortalice fronting her stands:
But reefs the bloodguiltiest of murder

Are less than the banks of her sands: These number their slain by the thousand; For the ship hath no surety to be, When the bank is abreast of her bows and Aflush with the sea.

No surety to stand, and no shelter

To dawn out of darkness but one, Out of waters that hurtle and welter No succour to dawn with the sun,

But a rest from the wind as it passes,
Where, hardly redeemed from the waves,
Lie thick as the blades of the grasses
The dead in their graves.

A multitude noteless of numbers,
As wild weeds cast on an heap:
And sounder than sleep are their slumbers,
And softer than song is their sleep;
And sweeter than all things and stranger
The sense, if perchance it may be,
That the wind is divested of danger
And scatheless the sea.

That the roar of the banks they breasted
Is hurtless as bellowing of herds,

And the strength of his wings that invested
The wind, as the strength of a bird's;
As the sea-mew's might or the swallow's
That cry to him back if he cries,
As over the graves and their hollows
Days darken and rise.

As the souls of the dead men disburdened
And clean of the sins that they sinned,
With a lovelier than man's life guerdoned

And delight as a wave's in the wind,
And delight as the wind's in the billow,

Birds pass, and deride with their glee
The flesh that has dust for its pillow
As wrecks have the sea.

When the ways of the sun wax dimmer,
Wings flash through the dusk like beams;
As the clouds in the lit sky glimmer,
The bird in the graveyard gleams;

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