Elizabeth Barrett Browning.


685   Farewells from Paradise


HARK! the flow of the four rivers—
   Hark the flow!
How the silence round you shivers,
While our voices through it go,
 Cold and clear.

A softer voice

Think a little, while ye hear,
   Of the banks
Where the willows and the deer
Crowd in intermingled ranks,
As if all would drink at once
Where the living water runs!—
Of the fishes’ golden edges
Flashing in and out the sedges;
Of the swans on silver thrones,
Floating down the winding streams
With impassive eyes turned shoreward
And a chant of undertones,—
And the lotus leaning forward
To help them into dreams.
   Fare ye well, farewell!
The river-sounds, no longer audible,
   Expire at Eden’s door.
   Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some murmur which ye heard before.
 Farewell! the streams of Eden
 Ye shall hear nevermore!


I am the nearest nightingale
That singeth in Eden after you;
And I am singing loud and true,
And sweet,—I do not fail.
I sit upon a cypress bough,
Close to the gate, and I fling my song
Over the gate and through the mail
Of the warden angels marshall’d strong,—
 Over the gate and after you!
And the warden angels let it pass,
Because the poor brown bird, alas,
 Sings in the garden, sweet and true.
And I build my song of high pure notes,
 Note over note, height over height,
 Till I strike the arch of the Infinite,
And I bridge abysmal agonies
With strong, clear calms of harmonies,—
And something abides, and something floats,
In the song which I sing after you.
 Fare ye well, farewell!
The creature-sounds, no longer audible,
 Expire at Eden’s door.
 Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some cadence which ye heard before
 Farewell! the birds of Eden
 Ye shall hear nevermore!

686   Grief

I TELL you, hopeless grief is passionless;
   That only men incredulous of despair,
   Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air
Beat upward to God’s throne in loud access
Of shrieking and reproach. Full desertness
   In souls as countries lieth silent-bare
   Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare
Of the absolute Heavens. Deep-hearted man, express
Grief for thy Dead in silence like to Death—
   Most like a monumental statue set
In everlasting watch and moveless woe
Till itself crumble to the dust beneath.
   Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet:
If it could weep, it could arise and go.

687   A Musical Instrument

WHAT was he doing, the great god Pan,
   Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
   With the dragon-fly on the river.

He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
   From the deep cool bed of the river;
The limpid water turbidly ran,
And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
   Ere he brought it out of the river.

High on the shore sat the great god Pan,
   While turbidly flow’d the river;
And hack’d and hew’d as a great god can
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
Till there was not a sign of the leaf indeed
   To prove it fresh from the river.

He cut it short, did the great god Pan
   (How tall it stood in the river!),
Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,
Steadily from the outside ring,
And notch’d the poor dry empty thing
   In holes, as he sat by the river.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.