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Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

From The Testament of Beauty

 'Twas at that hour of beauty when the setting sun
squandereth his cloudy bed with rosy hues, to flood
his lov'd works as in turn he biddeth them Good-night;
and all the towers and temples and mansions of men
face him in bright farewell, ere they creep from their pomp
naked beneath the darkness;- while to mortal eyes
'tis given, ifso they close not of fatigue, nor strain
at lamplit tasks-'tis given, as for a royal boon
to beggarly outcasts in homeless vigil, to watch
where uncurtain's behind the great windows of space
Heav'n's jewel'd company circleth unapproachably-
'Twas at sunset that I, fleeing to hide my soul
in refuge of beauty from a mortal distress,
walk'd alone with the Muse in her garden of thought,
discoursing at liberty with the mazy dreams
that came wavering pertinaciously about me; as when
the small bats, issued from their hangings, flitter o'erhead
thru' the summer twilight, with thin cries to and fro
hunting in muffled flight atween the stars and flowers.
Then fell I in strange delusion, illusion strange to tell; for as a man who lyeth fast asleep in his bed may dream he waketh, and that he walketh upright pursuing some endeavour in full conscience-so 'twas with me; but contrawise; for being in truth awake methought I slept and dreamt; and in thatt dream methought I was telling a dream; nor telling was I as one who, truly awaked from a true sleep, thinketh to tell his dream to a friend, but for his scant remembrances findeth no token of speech-it was not so with me; for my tale was my dream and my dream the telling, and I remember wondring the while I told it how I told it so tellingly.
And yet now 'twould seem that Reason inveighed me with her old orderings; as once when she took thought to adjust theology, peopling the inane that vex'd her between God and man with a hierarchy of angels; like those asteroids wherewith she later fill'd the gap 'twixt Jove and Mars.
Verily by Beauty it is that we come as WISDOM, yet not by Reason at Beauty; and now with many words pleasing myself betimes I am fearing lest in the end I play the tedious orator who maundereth on for lack of heart to make an end of his nothings.
Wherefor as when a runner who hath run his round handeth his staff away, and is glad of his rest, here break I off, knowing the goal was not for me the while I ran on telling of what cannot be told.
For not the Muse herself can tell of Goddes love; which cometh to the child from the Mother's embrace, an Idea spacious as the starry firmament's inescapable infinity of radiant gaze, that fadeth only as it outpasseth mortal sight: and this direct contact is 't with eternities, this springtide miracle of the soul's nativity that oft hath set philosophers adrift in dream; which thing Christ taught, when he set up a little child to teach his first Apostles and to accuse their pride, saying, 'Unless ye shall receive it as a child, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.
' So thru'out all his young mental apprenticehood the child of very simplicity, and in the grace and beauteous attitude of infantine wonder, is apt to absorb Ideas in primal purity, and by the assimilation of thatt immortal food may build immortal life; but ever with the growth of understanding, as the sensible images are more and more corrupt, troubled by questioning thought, or with vainglory alloy'd, 'tis like enought the boy in prospect of his manhood wil hav cast to th' winds his Baptism with his Babyhood; nor might he escape the fall of Ev'ryman, did not a second call of nature's Love await him to confirm his Faith or to revoke him if he is whollylapsed therefrom.
And so mighty is this second vision, which cometh in puberty of body and adolescence of mind that, forgetting his Mother, he calleth it 'first Love'; for it mocketh at suasion or stubbornness of heart, as the oceantide of the omnipotent Pleasur of God, flushing all avenues of life, and unawares by thousandfold approach forestalling its full flood with divination of the secret contacts of Love,-- of faintest ecstasies aslumber in Nature's calm, like thought in a closed book, where some poet long since sang his throbbing passion to immortal sleep-with coy tenderness delicat as the shifting hues that sanctify the silent dawn with wonder-gleams, whose evanescence is the seal of their glory, consumed in self-becoming of eternity; til every moment as it flyeth, cryeth 'Seize! Seize me ere I die! I am the Life of Life.
' 'Tis thus by near approach to an eternal presence man's heart with divine furor kindled and possess'd falleth in blind surrender; and finding therewithal in fullest devotion the full reconcilement betwixt his animal and spiritual desires, such welcome hour of bliss standeth for certain pledge of happiness perdurable: and coud he sustain this great enthusiasm, then the unbounded promise would keep fulfilment; since the marriage of true minds is thatt once fabled garden, amidst of which was set the single Tree that bore such med'cinable fruit that if man ate thereof he should liv for ever.
Friendship is in loving rather than in being lov'd, which is its mutual benediction and recompense; and tho' this be, and tho' love is from lovers learn'd, it springeth none the less from the old essence of self.
No friendless man ('twas well said) can be truly himself; what a man looketh for in his friend and findeth, and loving self best, loveth better than himself, is his own better self, his live lovable idea, flowering by expansion in the loves of his life.
And in the nobility of our earthly friendships we hav al grades of attainment, and the best may claim perfection of kind; and so, since ther be many bonds other than breed (friendships of lesser motiv, found even in the brutes) and since our politick is based on actual association of living men, 'twil come that the spiritual idea of Friendship, the huge vastidity of its essence, is fritter'd away in observation of the usual habits of men; as happ'd with the great moralist, where his book saith that ther can be no friendship betwixt God and man because of their unlimited disparity.
From this dilemma of pagan thought, this poison of faith, Man-soul made glad escape in the worship of Christ; for his humanity is God's Personality, and communion with him is the life of the soul.
Of which living ideas (when in the struggle of thought harden'd by language they became symbols of faith) Reason builded her maze, wherefrom none should escape, wandering intent to map and learn her tortuous clews, chanting their clerkly creed to the high-echoing stones of their hand-fashion'd temple: but the Wind of heav'n bloweth where it listeth, and Christ yet walketh the earth, and talketh still as with those two disciples once on the road to Emmaus-where they walk and are sad; whose vision of him then was his victory over death, thatt resurrection which all his lovers should share, who in loving him had learn'd the Ethick of happiness; whereby they too should come where he was ascended to reign over men's hearts in the Kingdom of God.
Our happiest earthly comradeships hold a foretaste of the feast of salvation and by thatt virtue in them provoke desire beyond them to out-reach and surmount their humanity in some superhumanity and ultimat perfection: which, howe'ever 'tis found or strangeley imagin'd, answereth to the need of each and pulleth him instinctivly as to a final cause.
Thus unto all who hav found their high ideal in Christ, Christ is to them the essence discern'd or undeiscern'd of all their human friendships; and each lover of him and of his beauty must be as a bud on the Vine and hav participation in him; for Goddes love is unescapable as nature's environment, which if a man ignore or think to thrust it off he is the ill-natured fool that runneth blindly on death.
This Individualism is man's true Socialism.
This is the rife Idea whose spiritual beauty multiplieth in communion to transcendant might.
This is thatt excelent way whereon if we wil walk all things shall be added unto us-thatt Love which inspired the wayward Visionary in his doctrinal ode to the three christian Graces, the Church's first hymn and only deathless athanasian creed,--the which 'except a man believe he cannot be saved.
' This is the endearing bond whereby Christ's company yet holdeth together on the truth of his promise that he spake of his grat pity and trust in man's love, 'Lo, I am with you always ev'n to the end of the world.
' Truly the Soul returneth the body's loving where it hath won it.
and God so loveth the world.
and in the fellowship of the friendship of Christ God is seen as the very self-essence of love, Creator and mover of all as activ Lover of all, self-express'd in not-self, mind and body, mother and child, 'twixt lover and loved, God and man: but ONE ETERNAL in the love of Beauty and in the selfhood of Love.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem


 I visited the place where we last met.
Nothing was changed, the gardens were well-tended, The fountains sprayed their usual steady jet; There was no sign that anything had ended And nothing to instruct me to forget.
The thoughtless birds that shook out of the trees, Singing an ecstasy I could not share, Played cunning in my thoughts.
Surely in these Pleasures there could not be a pain to bear Or any discord shake the level breeze.
It was because the place was just the same That made your absence seem a savage force, For under all the gentleness there came An earthquake tremor: Fountain, birds and grass Were shaken by my thinking of your name.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem


 the history of melancholia
includes all of us.
me, I writhe in dirty sheets while staring at blue walls and nothing.
I have gotten so used to melancholia that I greet it like an old friend.
I will now do 15 minutes of grieving for the lost redhead, I tell the gods.
I do it and feel quite bad quite sad, then I rise CLEANSED even though nothing is solved.
that's what I get for kicking religion in the ass.
I should have kicked the redhead in the ass where her brains and her bread and butter are at .
but, no, I've felt sad about everything: the lost redhead was just another smash in a lifelong loss .
I listen to drums on the radio now and grin.
there is something wrong with me besides melancholia.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem


 WHEN from the craggy mountain's pathless steep,
Whose flinty brow hangs o'er the raging sea, 
My wand'ring eye beholds the foamy deep,
I mark the restless surge­and think of THEE.
The curling waves, the passing breezes move, Changing and treach'rous as the breath of LOVE; The "sad similitude" awakes my smart, And thy dear image twines about my heart.
When at the sober hour of sinking day, Exhausted Nature steals to soft repose, When the hush'd linnet slumbers on the spray, And scarce a ZEPHYR fans the drooping ROSE; I glance o'er scenes of bliss to friendship dear, And at the fond remembrance drop a tear; Nor can the balmy incense soothe my smart, Still cureless sorrow preys upon my heart.
When the loud gambols of the village throng, Drown the lorn murmurs of the ring-dove's throat; I think I hear thy fascinating song, Join the melodious minstrel's tuneful note­ My list'ning ear soon tells me ­'tis not THEE, Nor THY lov'd song­nor THY soft minstrelsy; In vain I turn away to hide my smart, Thy dulcet numbers vibrate in my heart.
When with the Sylvan train I seek the grove, Where MAY'S soft breath diffuses incense round, Where VENUS smiles serene, and sportive LOVE With thornless ROSES spreads the fairy ground; The voice of pleasure dies upon mine ear, My conscious bosom sighs­THOU ART NOT HERE ! Soft tears of fond regret reveal its smart, And sorrow, restless sorrow, chills my heart.
When at my matin pray'rs I prostrate kneel, And Court RELIGION's aid to soothe my woe, The meek-ey'd saint who pities what I feel, Forbids the sigh to heave, the tear to flow; For ah ! no vulgar passion fills my mind, Calm REASON's hand illumes the flame refin'd, ALL the pure feelings FRIENDSHIP can impart, Live in the centre of my aching heart.
When at the still and solemn hour of night, I press my lonely couch to find repose; Joyless I watch the pale moon's chilling light, Where thro' the mould'ring tow'r the north-wind blows; My fev'rish lids no balmy slumbers own, Still my sad bosom beats for thee alone: Nor shall its aching fibres cease to smart, 'Till DEATH's cold SPELL is twin'd about my HEART.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

To the President of Magdalen College Oxford

 Since now from woodland mist and flooded clay 
I am fled beside the steep Devonian shore, 
Nor stand for welcome at your gothic door, 
'Neath the fair tower of Magdalen and May, 
Such tribute, Warren, as fond poets pay 
For generous esteem, I write, not more 
Enhearten'd than my need is, reckoning o'er 
My life-long wanderings on the heavenly way: 
But well-befriended we become good friends, 
Well-honour'd honourable; and all attain 
Somewhat by fathering what fortune sends.
I bid your presidency a long reign, True friend; and may your praise to greater ends Aid better men than I, nor me in vain.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

To the United States of America

 Brothers in blood! They who this wrong began 
To wreck our commonwealth, will rue the day 
When first they challenged freeman to the fray, 
And with the Briton dared the American.
Now are we pledged to win the Rights of man: Labour and Justice now shall have their way, And in a League of Peace -- God grant we may -- Transform the earth, not patch up the old plan.
Sure is our hope since he who led your nation Spake for mankind, and ye arose in awe Of that high call to work the world's salvation; Clearing your minds of all estrangling blindness In the vision of Beauty and the Spirit's law, Freedom and Honour and sweet Lovingkindness.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

Low Barometer

 The south-wind strengthens to a gale,
Across the moon the clouds fly fast,
The house is smitten as with a flail,
The chimney shudders to the blast.
On such a night, when Air has loosed Its guardian grasp on blood and brain, Old terrors then of god or ghost Creep from their caves to life again; And Reason kens he herits in A haunted house.
Tenants unknown Assert their squalid lease of sin With earlier title than his own.
Unbodied presences, the packed Pollution and remorse of Time, Slipped from oblivion re-enact The horrors of unhousehold crime.
Some men would quell the thing with prayer Whose sightless footsteps pad the floor, Whose fearful trespass mounts the stair Or burst the locked forbidden door.
Some have seen corpses long interred Escape from hallowing control, Pale charnel forms - nay even have heard The shrilling of a troubled soul, That wanders till the dawn has crossed The dolorous dark, or Earth has wound Closer her storm-spread cloak, and thrust The baleful phantoms underground.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

A Passer-by

 Whither, O splendid ship, thy white sails crowding, 
Leaning across the bosom of the urgent West, 
That fearest nor sea rising, nor sky clouding, 
Whither away, fair rover, and what thy quest? 
Ah! soon, when Winter has all our vales opprest, 
When skies are cold and misty, and hail is hurling, 
Wilt thoù glìde on the blue Pacific, or rest 
In a summer haven asleep, thy white sails furling.
I there before thee, in the country that well thou knowest, Already arrived am inhaling the odorous air: I watch thee enter unerringly where thou goest, And anchor queen of the strange shipping there, Thy sails for awnings spread, thy masts bare: Nor is aught from the foaming reef to the snow-capp'd grandest Peak, that is over the feathery palms, more fair Than thou, so upright, so stately and still thou standest.
And yet, O splendid ship, unhail'd and nameless, I know not if, aiming a fancy, I rightly divine That thou hast a purpose joyful, a courage blameless, Thy port assured in a happier land than mine.
But for all I have given thee, beauty enough is thine, As thou, aslant with trim tackle and shrouding, From the proud nostril curve of a prow's line In the offing scatterest foam, thy white sails crowding.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

Awake My Heart

 Awake, my heart, to be loved, awake, awake!

The darkness silvers away, the morn doth break,
It leaps in the sky: unrisen lustres slake
The o'ertaken moon.
Awake, O heart, awake! She too that loveth awaketh and hopes for thee: Her eyes already have sped the shades that flee, Already they watch the path thy feet shall take: Awake, O heart, to be loved, awake, awake! And if thou tarry from her, - if this could be, - She cometh herself, O heart, to be loved, to thee; For thee would unashamed herself forsake: Awake, to be loved, my heart, awake, awake! Awake! The land is scattered with light, and see, Uncanopied sleep is flying from field and tree; And blossoming boughs of April in laughter shake: Awake, O heart, to be loved, awake, awake! Lo, all things wake and tarry and look for thee: She looketh and saith, "O sun, now bring him to me.
Come, more adored, O adored, for his coming's sake, And awake, my heart, to be loved, awake, awake!"
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Lord Kitchner

 Unflinching hero, watchful to foresee 
And face thy country's peril wheresoe'er, 
Directing war and peace with equal care, 
Till by long toil ennobled thou wert he 
Whom England call'd and bade "Set my arm free 
To obey my will and save my honour fair," -- 
What day the foe presumed on her despair 
And she herself had trust in none but thee: 

Among Herculean deeds the miracle 
That mass'd the labour of ten years in one 
Shall be thy monument.
Thy work was done Ere we could thank thee; and the high sea swell Surgeth unheeding where thy proud ship fell By the lone Orkneys, at the set of sun.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

Pater Filio

 Sense with keenest edge unusèd, 
Yet unsteel'd by scathing fire; 
Lovely feet as yet unbruisèd 
On the ways of dark desire; 
Sweetest hope that lookest smiling
O'er the wilderness defiling! 

Why such beauty, to be blighted 
By the swarm of foul destruction? 
Why such innocence delighted, 
When sin stalks to thy seduction? 
All the litanies e'er chaunted 
Shall not keep thy faith undaunted.
I have pray'd the sainted Morning To unclasp her hands to hold thee; From resignful Eve's adorning Stol'n a robe of peace to enfold thee; With all charms of man's contriving Arm'd thee for thy lonely striving.
Me too once unthinking Nature, —Whence Love's timeless mockery took me,— Fashion'd so divine a creature, Yea, and like a beast forsook me.
I forgave, but tell the measure Of her crime in thee, my treasure.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

Winter Nightfall

 The day begins to droop,-- 
Its course is done: 
But nothing tells the place 
Of the setting sun.
The hazy darkness deepens, And up the lane You may hear, but cannot see, The homing wain.
An engine pants and hums In the farm hard by: Its lowering smoke is lost In the lowering sky.
The soaking branches drip, And all night through The dropping will not cease In the avenue.
A tall man there in the house Must keep his chair: He knows he will never again Breathe the spring air: His heart is worn with work; He is giddy and sick If he rise to go as far As the nearest rick: He thinks of his morn of life, His hale, strong years; And braves as he may the night Of darkness and tears.
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In autumn moonlight when the white air wan

 In autumn moonlight, when the white air wan 
Is fragrant in the wake of summer hence, 
'Tis sweet to sit entranced, and muse thereon 
In melancholy and godlike indolence: 
When the proud spirit, lull'd by mortal prime 
To fond pretence of immortality, 
Vieweth all moments from the birth of time, 
All things whate'er have been or yet shall be.
And like the garden, where the year is spent, The ruin of old life is full of yearning, Mingling poetic rapture of lament With flowers and sunshine of spring's sure returning; Only in visions of the white air wan By godlike fancy seized and dwelt upon.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem


 When my love was away, 
Full three days were not sped, 
I caught my fancy astray 
Thinking if she were dead, 

And I alone, alone: 
It seem'd in my misery 
In all the world was none 
Ever so lone as I.
I wept; but it did not shame Nor comfort my heart: away I rode as I might, and came To my love at close of day.
The sight of her still'd my fears, My fairest-hearted love: And yet in her eyes were tears: Which when I question'd of, 'O now thou art come,' she cried, ''Tis fled: but I thought to-day I never could here abide, If thou wert longer away.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

My Delight and Thy Delight

 My delight and thy delight 
Walking, like two angels white, 
In the gardens of the night: 

My desire and thy desire 
Twining to a tongue of fire, 
Leaping live, and laughing higher: 

Thro' the everlasting strife 
In the mystery of life.
Love, from whom the world begun, Hath the secret of the sun.
Love can tell, and love alone, Whence the million stars were strewn, Why each atom knows its own, How, in spite of woe and death, Gay is life, and sweet is breath: This he taught us, this we knew, Happy in his science true, Hand in hand as we stood 'Neath the shadows of the wood, Heart to heart as we lay In the dawning of the day.