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Three Faces

Written by: Algernon Charles Swinburne | Biography
 I.
--VENTIMIGLIA The sky and sea glared hard and bright and blank: Down the one steep street, with slow steps firm and free, A tall girl paced, with eyes too proud to thank The sky and sea.
One dead flat sapphire, void of wrath or glee, Through bay on bay shone blind from bank to bank The weary Mediterranean, drear to see.
More deep, more living, shone her eyes that drank The breathless light and shed again on me, Till pale before their splendour waned and shrank The sky and sea.
II.
--GENOA Again the same strange might of eyes, that saw In heaven and earth nought fairer, overcame My sight with rapture of reiterate awe, Again the same.
The self-same pulse of wonder shook like flame The spirit of sense within me: what strange law Had bid this be, for blessing or for blame? To what veiled end that fate or chance foresaw Came forth this second sister face, that came Absolute, perfect, fair without a flaw, Again the same? III.
--VENICE Out of the dark pure twilight, where the stream Flows glimmering, streaked by many a birdlike bark That skims the gloom whence towers and bridges gleam Out of the dark, Once more a face no glance might choose but mark Shone pale and bright, with eyes whose deep slow beam Made quick the twilight, lifeless else and stark.
The same it seemed, or mystery made it seem, As those before beholden; but St.
Mark Ruled here the ways that showed it like a dream Out of the dark.



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