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Title: Victorian Ode - For Jubilee Day, 1897
Author: Thompson, Francis, 1859-1907
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Victorian Ode - For Jubilee Day, 1897" ***

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VICTORIAN ODE

FOR JUBILEE DAY, 1897,

BY FRANCIS THOMPSON.



Printed for private circulation at The Westminster Press, 1897.



VICTORIAN ODE.


  Night; and the street a corpse beneath the moon,
  Upon the threshold of the jubilant day
  That was to follow soon;
  Thickened with inundating dark
  'Gainst which the drowning lamps kept struggle; pole
  And plank cast rigid shadows; 'twas a stark
  Thing waiting for its soul,
  The bones of the preluded pomp. I saw
  In the cloud-sullied moon a pale array,
  A lengthened apparition, slowly draw;
  And as it came,
  Brake all the street in phantom flame
  Of flag and flower and hanging, shadowy show
  Of the to-morrow's glories, as might suit
  A pageant of the dead; and spectral bruit
  I heard, where stood the dead to watch the dead,
  The long Victorian line that passed with printless tread.
  First went the holy poets, two on two,
  And music, sown along the hardened ground,
  Budded like frequence of glad daisies, where
  Those sacred feet did fare;
  Arcadian pipe, and psaltery, around,
  And stringèd viol, sound
  To make for them melodious due.
  In the first twain of those great ranks of death
  Went one, the impress recent on his hair
  Where it was dinted by the laureate wreath:
  Who sang those goddesses with splendours bare
  On Ida hill, before the Trojan boy;
  And many a lovely lay,
  Where Beauty did her beauties unarray
  In conscious song. I saw young Love his plumes deploy,
  And shake their shivering lustres, till the night
  Was sprinkled and bedropt with starry play
  Of versicoloured light,
  To see that poet pass who sang him well;
  And I could hear his heart
  Throb like the after-vibrance of a bell.
  A Strength beside this Beauty, Browning went,
  With shrewd looks and intent,
  And meditating still some gnarlèd theme.
  Then came, somewhat apart,
  In a fastidious dream,
  Arnold, with a half-discontented calm,
  Binding up wounds, but pouring in no balm.
  The fervid breathing of Elizabeth
  Broke on Christina's gentle-taken breath.
  Rossetti, whose heart stirred within his breast
  Like lightning in a cloud, a spirit without rest,
  Came on disranked; Song's hand was in his hair,
  Lest Art should have withdrawn him from the band,
  Save for her strong command;
  And in his eyes high Sadness made its lair.
  Last came a shadow tall, with drooping lid,
  Which yet not hid
  The steel-like flashing of his armèd glance;
  Alone he did advance,
  And all the throngs gave room
  For one that looked with such a captain's mien:
  A scornful smile lay keen
  On lips that, living, prophesied of doom.
  His one hand held a lightning-bolt, the other
  A cup of milk and honey blent with fire;
  It seemed as in that quire
  He had not, nor desired not, any brother.
  A space his alien eye surveyed the pride
  Of meditated pomp, as one that much
  Disdained the sight, methought; then at a touch,
  He turned the heel, and sought with shadowy stride
  His station in the dim,
  Where the sole-thoughted Dante waited him.

  What throngs illustrious next, of Art and Prose,
  Too long to tell; but other music rose
  When came the sabre's children: they who led
  The iron-throated harmonies of war,
  The march resounding of the armèd line,
  And measured movement of battalia:
  Accompanied their tread
  No harps, no pipes of soft Arcadia,
  But--borne to me afar--
  The tramp of squadrons, and the bursting mine,
  The shock of steel, the volleying rifle-crack,
  And echoes out of ancient battles dead.
  So Cawnpore unto Alma thundered back,
  And Delhi's cannon roared to Gujerat:
  Carnage through all those iron vents gave out
  Her thousand-mouthèd shout.
  As balefire answering balefire is unfurled,
  From mountain-peaks, to tell the foe's approaches,
  So ran that battle-clangour round the world,
  From famous field to field
  So that reverberated war was tossed;
  And--in the distance lost--
  Across the plains of France and hills of Spain
  It swelled once more to birth,
  And broke on me again,
  The voice of England's glories girdling in the earth.

  It caught like fire the main,
  Where rending planks were heard, and broadsides pealed,
  That shook were all the seas,
  Which feared, and thought on Nelson. For with them
  That struck the Russ, that brake the Mutineer,
  And smote the stiff Sikh to his knee,--with these
  Came they that kept our England's sea-swept hem,
  And held afar from her the foreign fear.
  After them came
  They who pushed back the ocean of the Unknown,
  And fenced some strand of knowledge for our own
  Against the outgoing sea
  Of ebbing mystery;
  And on their banner "Science" blazoned shone.
  The rear were they that wore the statesman's fame,
  From Melbourne, to
  The arcane face of the much-wrinkled Jew.

  Lo, in this day we keep the yesterdays,
  And those great dead of the Victorian line.
  They passed, they passed, but cannot pass away,
  For England feels them in her blood like wine.
  She was their mother, and she is their daughter,
  This Lady of the water,
  And from their loins she draws the greatness which they were.
  And still their wisdom sways,
  Their power lives in her.
  Their thews it is, England, that lift thy sword,
  They are the splendour, England, in thy song,
  They sit unbidden at thy council-board,
  Their fame doth compass all thy coasts from wrong,
  And in thy sinews they are strong.
  Their absence is a presence and a guest
  In this day's feast;
  This living feast is also of the dead,
  And this, O England, is thine All Souls' Day.
  And when thy cities flake the night with flames,
  Thy proudest torches yet shall be their names.

  O royal England! happy child
  Of such a more than regal line;
  Be it said
  Fair right of jubilee is thine;
  And surely thou art unbeguiled
  If thou keep with mirth and play,
  With dance, and jollity, and praise,
  Such a To-day which sums such Yesterdays.
  Pour to the joyless ones thy joy, thy oil
  And wine to such as faint and toil.
  And let thy vales make haste to be more green
  Than any vales are seen
  In less auspicious lands,
  And let thy trees clap all their leafy hands,
  And let thy flowers be gladder far of hue
  Than flowers of other regions may;
  Let the rose, with her fragrance sweetened through,
  Flush as young maidens do,
  With their own inward blissfulness at play.
  And let the sky twinkle an eagerer blue
  Over our English isle
  Than any otherwhere;
  Till strangers shall behold, and own that she is fair.
  Play up, play up, ye birds of minstrel June,
  Play up your reel, play up your giddiest spring,
  And trouble every tree with lusty tune,
  Whereto our hearts shall dance
  For overmuch pleasance,
  And children's running make the earth to sing.
  And ye soft winds, and ye white-fingered beams,
  Aid ye her to invest,
  Our queenly England, in all circumstance
  Of fair and feat adorning to be drest;
  Kirtled in jocund green,
  Which does befit a Queen,
  And like our spirits cast forth lively gleams:
  And let her robe be goodly garlanded
  With store of florets white and florets red,
  With store of florets white and florets gold,
  A fair thing to behold;
  Intrailed with the white blossom and the blue,
  A seemly thing to view!
  And thereunto,
  Set over all a woof of lawny air,
  From her head wavering to her sea-shod feet,
  Which shall her lovely beauty well complete,
  And grace her much to wear.

  Lo, she is dressed, and lo, she cometh forth,
  Our stately Lady of the North;
  Lo, how she doth advance,
  In her most sovereign eye regard of puissance,
  And tiar'd with conquest her prevailing brow,
  While nations to her bow.
  Come hither, proud and ancient East,
  Gather ye to this Lady of the North,
  And sit down with her at her solemn feast,
  Upon this culminant day of all her days;
  For ye have heard the thunder of her goings-forth,
  And wonder of her large imperial ways.
  Let India send her turbans, and Japan
  Her pictured vests from that remotest isle
  Seated in the antechambers of the Sun:
  And let her Western sisters for a while
  Remit long envy and disunion,
  And take in peace
  Her hand behind the buckler of her seas,
  'Gainst which their wrath has splintered; come, for she
  Her hand ungauntlets in mild amity.
  Victoria! Queen, whose name is victory,
  Whose woman's nature sorteth best with peace,
  Bid thou the cloud of war to cease
  Which ever round thy wide-girt empery
  Fumes, like to smoke about a burning brand,
  Telling the energies which keep within
  The light unquenched, as England's light shall be;
  And let this day hear only peaceful din.
  For, queenly woman, thou art more than woman;
  Thy name the often-struck barbarian shuns;
  Thou art the fear of England to her foemen,
  The love of England to her sons.
  And this thy glorious day is England's; who
  Can separate the two?
  She joys thy joys and weeps thy tears,
  And she is one with all thy moods;
  Thy story is the tale of England's years,
  And big with all her ills, and all her stately goods.
  Now unto thee
  The plenitude of the glories thou didst sow
  Is garnered up in prosperous memory;
  And, for the perfect evening of thy day,
  An untumultuous bliss, serenely gay,
  Sweetened with silence of the after-glow.

  Nor does the joyous shout
  Which all our lips give out
  Jar on that quietude; more than may do
  A radiant childish crew,
  With well-accordant discord fretting the soft hour,
  Whose hair is yellowed by the sinking blaze
  Over a low-mouthed sea. Exult, yet be not twirled,
  England, by gusts of mere
  Blind and insensate lightness; neither fear
  The vastness of thy shadow on the world.
  If in the East
  Still strains against its leash the unglutted beast
  Of War; if yet the cannon's lip be warm;
  Thou, whom these portents warn but not alarm,
  Feastest, but with thy hand upon the sword,
  As fits a warrior race.
  Not like the Saxon fools of olden days,
  With the mead dripping from the hairy mouth,
  While all the South
  Filled with the shaven faces of the Norman horde.





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