Algernon Charles Swinburne

(5 April 1837 - 10 April 1909 / London)

A Dead Friend


I.

Gone, O gentle heart and true,
Friend of hopes foregone,
Hopes and hopeful days with you
Gone?

Days of old that shone
Saw what none shall see anew,
When we gazed thereon.

Soul as clear as sunlit dew,
Why so soon pass on,
Forth from all we loved and knew
Gone?

II.

Friend of many a season fled,
What may sorrow send
Toward thee now from lips that said
'Friend'?

Sighs and songs to blend
Praise with pain uncomforted
Though the praise ascend?

Darkness hides no dearer head:
Why should darkness end
Day so soon, O dear and dead
Friend?

III.

Dear in death, thou hast thy part
Yet in life, to cheer
Hearts that held thy gentle heart
Dear.

Time and chance may sear
Hope with grief, and death may part
Hand from hand's clasp here:

Memory, blind with tears that start,
Sees through every tear
All that made thee, as thou art,
Dear.

IV.

True and tender, single-souled,
What should memory do
Weeping o'er the trust we hold
True?

Known and loved of few,
But of these, though small their fold,
Loved how well were you!

Change, that makes of new things old,
Leaves one old thing new;
Love which promised truth, and told
True.

V.

Kind as heaven, while earth's control
Still had leave to bind
Thee, thy heart was toward man's whole
Kind.

Thee no shadows blind
Now: the change of hours that roll
Leaves thy sleep behind.

Love, that hears thy death-bell toll
Yet, may call to mind
Scarce a soul as thy sweet soul
Kind.

VI.

How should life, O friend, forget
Death, whose guest art thou?
Faith responds to love's regret,
How?

Still, for us that bow
Sorrowing, still, though life be set,
Shines thy bright mild brow.

Yea, though death and thou be met,
Love may find thee now
Still, albeit we know not yet
How.

VII.

Past as music fades, that shone
While its life might last;
As a song-bird's shadow flown
Past!

Death's reverberate blast
Now for music's lord has blown
Whom thy love held fast.

Dead thy king, and void his throne:
Yet for grief at last
Love makes music of his own
Past.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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Read poems about / on: friend, music, grief, death, memory, change, trust, faith, sorrow, truth, song, sleep, hope, heaven, life, pain, heart, love

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