Friday, June 13, 2014


Save His Own Soul He Hath No Star

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), "Prelude," lines 31-50, from Songs Before Sunrise:
For what has he whose will sees clear
To do with doubt and faith and fear,
    Swift hopes and slow despondencies?
    His heart is equal with the sea's
And with the sea-wind's, and his ear
    Is level to the speech of these,
And his soul communes and takes cheer
    With the actual earth's equalities,
Air, light, and night, hills, winds, and streams,
And seeks not strength from strengthless dreams.

His soul is even with the sun
Whose spirit and whose eye are one,
    Who seeks not stars by day, nor light
    And heavy heat of day by night.
Him can no God cast down, whom none
    Can lift in hope beyond the height
Of fate and nature and things done
    By the calm rule of might and right
That bids men be and bear and do,
And die beneath blind skies or blue.
Id., lines 151-160:
Save his own soul's light overhead,
None leads him, and none ever led,
    Across birth's hidden harbour-bar,
    Past youth where shoreward shallows are,
Through age that drives on toward the red
    Vast void of sunset hailed from far,
To the equal waters of the dead;
    Save his own soul he hath no star,
And sinks, except his own soul guide,
Helmless in middle turn of tide.

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