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by Robert Seymour Bridges |

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.


by Robert Seymour Bridges |

To Thos. Floyd

 How fares it, friend, since I by Fate annoy'd 
Left the old home in need of livelier play 
For body and mind? How fare, this many a day, 
The stubborn thews and ageless heart of Floyd? 
If not too well with country sport employ'd, 
Visit my flock, the breezy hill that they 
Choose for their fold; and see, for thence you may, 
From rising walls all roofless yet and void, 
The lovely city, thronging tower and spire, 
The mind of the wide landscape, dreaming deep, 
Grey-silvery in the vale; a shrine where keep 
Memorian hopes their pale celestial fire: 
Like man's immortal conscience of desire, 
The spirit that watcheth in me ev'n in my sleep.


by Robert Seymour Bridges |

To Joseph Joachim

 Belov'd of all to whom that Muse is dear 
Who hid her spirit of rapture from the Greek, 
Whereby our art excelleth the antique, 
Perfecting formal beauty to the ear; 
Thou that hast been in England many a year 
The interpreter who left us nought to seek, 
Making Beethoven's inmost passion speak, 
Bringing the soul of great Sebastian near. 
Their music liveth ever, and 'tis just 
That thou, good Joachim, so high thy skill, 
Rank (as thou shalt upon the heavenly hill) 
Laurel'd with them, for thy ennobling trust 
Remember'd when thy loving hand is still 
And every ear that heard thee stopt with dust.


by Robert Seymour Bridges |

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.


by Robert Seymour Bridges |

While yet we wait for spring and from the dry

 While yet we wait for spring, and from the dry 
And blackening east that so embitters March, 
Well-housed must watch grey fields and meadows parch, 
And driven dust and withering snowflake fly; 
Already in glimpses of the tarnish'd sky 
The sun is warm and beckons to the larch, 
And where the covert hazels interarch 
Their tassell'd twigs, fair beds of primrose lie. 
Beneath the crisp and wintry carpet hid 
A million buds but stay their blossoming; 
And trustful birds have built their nests amid 
The shuddering boughs, and only wait to sing 
Till one soft shower from the south shall bid, 
And hither tempt the pilgrim steps of spring.


by Robert Seymour Bridges |

When Death to Either shall come

 When Death to either shall come,— 
I pray it be first to me,— 
Be happy as ever at home, 
If so, as I wish, it be. 

Possess thy heart, my own; 
And sing to the child on thy knee, 
Or read to thyself alone 
The songs that I made for thee.


by Robert Seymour Bridges |

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.


by Robert Seymour Bridges |

Nimium Fortunatus

 I have lain in the sun
I have toil'd as I might,
I have thought as I would,
And now it is night.

My bed full of sleep,
My heart full of content
For friends that I met
The way that I went.

I welcome fatigue
While frenzy and care
Like thin summer clouds
Go melting in air.

To dream as I may
And awake when I will
With the song of the birds
And the sun on the hill.

Or death - were it death -
To what would I wake 
Who loved in my home
All life for its sake?

What good have I wrought?
I laugh to have learned
That joy cannot come
Unless it be earned;

For a happier lot 
Than God giveth me
It never hath been 
Nor ever shall be.


by Robert Seymour Bridges |

Absence

 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.


by Robert Seymour Bridges |

Absence

 HERE, ever since you went abroad, 
 If there be change no change I see: 
I only walk our wonted road, 
 The road is only walk'd by me. 

Yes; I forgot; a change there is-- 
 Was it of that you bade me tell? 
I catch at times, at times I miss 
 The sight, the tone, I know so well. 

Only two months since you stood here? 
 Two shortest months? Then tell me why 
Voices are harsher than they were, 
 And tears are longer ere they dry.