Algernon Charles Swinburne

(5 April 1837 - 10 April 1909 / London)

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A Ballad of Dreamland


I hid my heart in a nest of roses,
Out of the sun's way, hidden apart;
In a softer bed than the soft white snow's is,
Under the roses I hid my heart.
Why would it sleep not? why should it start,
When never a leaf of the rose-tree stirred?
What made sleep flutter his wings and part?
Only the song of a secret bird.

Lie still, I said, for the wind's wing closes,
And mild leaves muffle the keen sun's dart;
Lie still, for the wind on the warm seas dozes,
And the wind is unquieter yet than thou art.
Does a thought in thee still as a thorn's wound smart?
Does the fang still fret thee of hope deferred?
What bids the lips of thy sleep dispart?
Only the song of a secret bird.

The green land's name that a charm encloses,
It never was writ in the traveller's chart,
And sweet on its trees as the fruit that grows is,
It never was sold in the merchant's mart.
The swallows of dreams through its dim fields dart,
And sleep's are the tunes in its tree-tops heard;
No hound's note wakens the wildwood hart,
Only the song of a secret bird.


ENVOI

In the world of dreams I have chosen my part,
To sleep for a season and hear no word
Of true love's truth or of light love's art,
Only the song of a secret bird.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Monday, July 18, 2011

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Read poems about / on: sleep, song, smart, wind, tree, snow, sun, rose, truth, green, hope, ballad, heart, light, world, dream

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  • Ada Vesneri (10/5/2012 6:57:00 AM)

    I think the secret bird is the magic and mistery of dreams, something we can't totally understand, because they're indeed ''dreams'' all stories, songs that are in our brain during sleep, a magical, secret world (Report) Reply

  • Ada Vesneri (10/5/2012 6:50:00 AM)

    I think the secret bird is the magic and mistery of dreams, something we can't totally understand, because they're indeed ''dreams'' all stories, songs that are in our brain during sleep, a magical, secret world (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (7/14/2011 9:36:00 PM)

    Only the song of a secret bird...

    Fantastic metaphor relates the death within. Secret bird means a signal beyond life and mathematically the poet does not want to hear any word of true love and it brings us also a life beyond life which nearing to death perhaps. Secret bird...the metaphorical imagery haunts us to march towards.... (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (7/14/2009 5:53:00 AM)

    Wonderfully made poem. It insists on your reading it. Small query - 'the wind on the warm seas dozes...' Would not 'sea' be better? There seems to me just one too many sibilants here. (Report) Reply

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