Swinburne an Hugo

Above the windy walls that rule the Rhine
A noise of eagles’ wings
And wintry war-time rings,
With roar of ravage trampling corn and vine
And storm of wrathful wassail dashed with song,
And under these the watch of wreakless wrong,
With fire of eyes anhungered; and above
These, the light of the stricken eyes of love,
The faint sweet eyes that follow
The wind-outwinging swallow,
And face athirst with young wan yearning mouth
Turned after toward the unseen all-golden south,
Hopeless to see the birds back ere life wane,
Or the leaves born again;
And still the might and music mastering fate
Of life more strong than death and love than hate.


But sadder always under shadowier skies,
More pale and sad and clear
Waxed always, drawn more near,
The face of Duty lit with Love’s own eyes;
Till the awful hands that culled in rosier hours
From fairy-footed fields of wild old flowers
And sorcerous woods of Rhineland, green and hoary,
Young children’s chaplets of enchanted story,
The great kind hands that showed
Exile its homeward road,
And, as man’s helper made his foeman God,
Of pity and mercy wrought themselves a rod,
And opened for Napoleon’s wandering kin
France, and bade enter in,
And threw for all the doors of refuge wide,
Took to them lightning in the thunder-tide.

(aus Algernon Swinburne: Birthday Ode for the anniversary festival of Victor Hugo, february 26, 1880)


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