Get Your Premium Membership

The Eve Of Revolution

 The trumpets of the four winds of the world
From the ends of the earth blow battle; the night heaves,
With breasts palpitating and wings refurled,
With passion of couched limbs, as one who grieves
Sleeping, and in her sleep she sees uncurled
Dreams serpent-shapen, such as sickness weaves,
Down the wild wind of vision caught and whirled,
Dead leaves of sleep, thicker than autumn leaves,
Shadows of storm-shaped things,
Flights of dim tribes of kings,
The reaping men that reap men for their sheaves,
And, without grain to yield,
Their scythe-swept harvest-field
Thronged thick with men pursuing and fugitives,
Dead foliage of the tree of sleep,
Leaves blood-coloured and golden, blown from deep to deep.
I hear the midnight on the mountains cry With many tongues of thunders, and I hear Sound and resound the hollow shield of sky With trumpet-throated winds that charge and cheer, And through the roar of the hours that fighting fly, Through flight and fight and all the fluctuant fear, A sound sublimer than the heavens are high, A voice more instant than the winds are clear, Say to my spirit, "Take Thy trumpet too, and make A rallying music in the void night's ear, Till the storm lose its track, And all the night go back; Till, as through sleep false life knows true life near, Thou know the morning through the night, And through the thunder silence, and through darkness light.
" I set the trumpet to my lips and blow.
The height of night is shaken, the skies break, The winds and stars and waters come and go By fits of breath and light and sound, that wake As out of sleep, and perish as the show Built up of sleep, when all her strengths forsake The sense-compelling spirit; the depths glow, The heights flash, and the roots and summits shake Of earth in all her mountains, And the inner foamless fountains And wellsprings of her fast-bound forces quake; Yea, the whole air of life Is set on fire of strife, Till change unmake things made and love remake; Reason and love, whose names are one, Seeing reason is the sunlight shed from love the sun.
The night is broken eastward; is it day, Or but the watchfires trembling here and there, Like hopes on memory's devastated way, In moonless wastes of planet-stricken air? O many-childed mother great and grey, O multitudinous bosom, and breasts that bare Our fathers' generations, whereat lay The weanling peoples and the tribes that were, Whose new-born mouths long dead Those ninefold nipples fed, Dim face with deathless eyes and withered hair, Fostress of obscure lands, Whose multiplying hands Wove the world's web with divers races fair And cast it waif-wise on the stream, The waters of the centuries, where thou sat'st to dream; O many-minded mother and visionary, Asia, that sawest their westering waters sweep With all the ships and spoils of time to carry And all the fears and hopes of life to keep, Thy vesture wrought of ages legendary Hides usward thine impenetrable sleep, And thy veiled head, night's oldest tributary, We know not if it speak or smile or weep.
But where for us began The first live light of man And first-born fire of deeds to burn and leap, The first war fair as peace To shine and lighten Greece, And the first freedom moved upon the deep, God's breath upon the face of time Moving, a present spirit, seen of men sublime; There where our east looks always to thy west, Our mornings to thine evenings, Greece to thee, These lights that catch the mountains crest by crest, Are they of stars or beacons that we see? Taygetus takes here the winds abreast, And there the sun resumes Thermopylae; The light is Athens where those remnants rest, And Salamis the sea-wall of that sea.
The grass men tread upon Is very Marathon, The leaves are of that time-unstricken tree That storm nor sun can fret Nor wind, since she that set Made it her sign to men whose shield was she; Here, as dead time his deathless things, Eurotas and Cephisus keep their sleepless springs.
O hills of Crete, are these things dead? O waves, O many-mouthed streams, are these springs dry? Earth, dost thou feed and hide now none but slaves? Heaven, hast thou heard of men that would not die? Is the land thick with only such men's graves As were ashamed to look upon the sky? Ye dead, whose name outfaces and outbraves Death, is the seed of such as you gone by? Sea, have thy ports not heard Some Marathonian word Rise up to landward and to Godward fly? No thunder, that the skies Sent not upon us, rise With fire and earthquake and a cleaving cry? Nay, light is here, and shall be light, Though all the face of the hour be overborne with night.
I set the trumpet to my lips and blow.
The night is broken northward; the pale plains And footless fields of sun-forgotten snow Feel through their creviced lips and iron veins Such quick breath labour and such clean blood flow As summer-stricken spring feels in her pains When dying May bears June, too young to know The fruit that waxes from the flower that wanes; Strange tyrannies and vast, Tribes frost-bound to their past, Lands that are loud all through their length with chains, Wastes where the wind's wings break, Displumed by daylong ache And anguish of blind snows and rack-blown rains, And ice that seals the White Sea's lips, Whose monstrous weights crush flat the sides of shrieking ships; Horrible sights and sounds of the unreached pole, And shrill fierce climes of inconsolable air, Shining below the beamless aureole That hangs about the north-wind's hurtling hair, A comet-lighted lamp, sublime and sole Dawn of the dayless heaven where suns despair; Earth, skies, and waters, smitten into soul, Feel the hard veil that iron centuries wear Rent as with hands in sunder, Such hands as make the thunder And clothe with form all substance and strip bare; Shapes, shadows, sounds and lights Of their dead days and nights Take soul of life too keen for death to bear; Life, conscience, forethought, will, desire, Flood men's inanimate eyes and dry-drawn hearts with fire.
Light, light, and light! to break and melt in sunder All clouds and chains that in one bondage bind Eyes, hands, and spirits, forged by fear and wonder And sleek fierce fraud with hidden knife behind; There goes no fire from heaven before their thunder, Nor are the links not malleable that wind Round the snared limbs and souls that ache thereunder; The hands are mighty, were the head not blind.
Priest is the staff of king, And chains and clouds one thing, And fettered flesh with devastated mind.
Open thy soul to see, Slave, and thy feet are free; Thy bonds and thy beliefs are one in kind, And of thy fears thine irons wrought Hang weights upon thee fashioned out of thine own thought.
O soul, O God, O glory of liberty, To night and day their lightning and their light! With heat of heart thou kindlest the quick sea, And the dead earth takes spirit from thy sight; The natural body of things is warm with thee, And the world's weakness parcel of thy might; Thou seest us feeble and forceless, fit to be Slaves of the years that drive us left and right, Drowned under hours like waves Wherethrough we row like slaves; But if thy finger touch us, these take flight.
If but one sovereign word Of thy live lips be heard, What man shall stop us, and what God shall smite? Do thou but look in our dead eyes, They are stars that light each other till thy sundawn rise.
Thou art the eye of this blind body of man, The tongue of this dumb people; shalt thou not See, shalt thou speak not for them? Time is wan And hope is weak with waiting, and swift thought Hath lost the wings at heel wherewith he ran, And on the red pit's edge sits down distraught To talk with death of days republican And dreams and fights long since dreamt out and fought; Of the last hope that drew To that red edge anew The firewhite faith of Poland without spot; Of the blind Russian might, And fire that is not light; Of the green Rhineland where thy spirit wrought; But though time, hope, and memory tire, Canst thou wax dark as they do, thou whose light is fire? I set the trumpet to my lips and blow.
The night is broken westward; the wide sea That makes immortal motion to and fro From world's end unto world's end, and shall be When nought now grafted of men's hands shall grow And as the weed in last year's waves are we Or spray the sea-wind shook a year ago From its sharp tresses down the storm to lee, The moving god that hides Time in its timeless tides Wherein time dead seems live eternity, That breaks and makes again Much mightier things than men, Doth it not hear change coming, or not see? Are the deeps deaf and dead and blind, To catch no light or sound from landward of mankind? O thou, clothed round with raiment of white waves, Thy brave brows lightening through the grey wet air, Thou, lulled with sea-sounds of a thousand caves, And lit with sea-shine to thine inland lair, Whose freedom clothed the naked souls of slaves And stripped the muffled souls of tyrants bare, O, by the centuries of thy glorious graves, By the live light of the earth that was thy care, Live, thou must not be dead, Live; let thine armed head Lift itself up to sunward and the fair Daylight of time and man, Thine head republican, With the same splendour on thine helmless hair That in his eyes kept up a light Who on thy glory gazed away their sacred sight; Who loved and looked their sense to death on thee; Who taught thy lips imperishable things, And in thine ears outsang thy singing sea; Who made thy foot firm on the necks of kings And thy soul somewhile steadfast--woe are we It was but for a while, and all the strings Were broken of thy spirit; yet had he Set to such tunes and clothed it with such wings It seemed for his sole sake Impossible to break, And woundless of the worm that waits and stings, The golden-headed worm Made headless for a term, The king-snake whose life kindles with the spring's, To breathe his soul upon her bloom, And while she marks not turn her temple to her tomb.
By those eyes blinded and that heavenly head And the secluded soul adorable, O Milton's land, what ails thee to be dead? Thine ears are yet sonorous with his shell That all the songs of all thy sea-line fed With motive sound of spring-tides at mid swell, And through thine heart his thought as blood is shed, Requickening thee with wisdom to do well; Such sons were of thy womb, England, for love of whom Thy name is not yet writ with theirs that fell, But, till thou quite forget What were thy children, yet On the pale lips of hope is as a spell; And Shelley's heart and Landor's mind Lit thee with latter watch-fires; why wilt thou be blind? Though all were else indifferent, all that live Spiritless shapes of nations; though time wait In vain on hope till these have help to give, And faith and love crawl famished from the gate; Canst thou sit shamed and self-contemplative With soulless eyes on thy secluded fate? Though time forgive them, thee shall he forgive, Whose choice was in thine hand to be so great? Who cast out of thy mind The passion of man's kind, And made thee and thine old name separate? Now when time looks to see New names and old and thee Build up our one Republic state by state, England with France, and France with Spain, And Spain with sovereign Italy strike hands and reign.
O known and unknown fountain-heads that fill Our dear life-springs of England! O bright race Of streams and waters that bear witness still To the earth her sons were made of! O fair face Of England, watched of eyes death cannot kill, How should the soul that lit you for a space Fall through sick weakness of a broken will To the dead cold damnation of disgrace? Such wind of memory stirs On all green hills of hers, Such breath of record from so high a place, From years whose tongues of flame Prophesied in her name Her feet should keep truth's bright and burning trace, We needs must have her heart with us, Whose hearts are one with man's; she must be dead or thus.
Who is against us? who is on our side? Whose heart of all men's hearts is one with man's? Where art thou that wast prophetess and bride, When truth and thou trod under time and chance? What latter light of what new hope shall guide Out of the snares of hell thy feet, O France? What heel shall bruise these heads that hiss and glide, What wind blow out these fen-born fires that dance Before thee to thy death? No light, no life, no breath, From thy dead eyes and lips shall take the trance, Till on that deadliest crime Reddening the feet of time Who treads through blood and passes, time shall glance Pardon, and Italy forgive, And Rome arise up whom thou slewest, and bid thee live.
I set the trumpet to my lips and blow.
The night is broken southward; the springs run, The daysprings and the watersprings that flow Forth with one will from where their source was one, Out of the might of morning: high and low, The hungering hills feed full upon the sun, The thirsting valleys drink of him and glow As a heart burns with some divine thing done, Or as blood burns again In the bruised heart of Spain, A rose renewed with red new life begun, Dragged down with thorns and briers, That puts forth buds like fires Till the whole tree take flower in unison, And prince that clogs and priest that clings Be cast as weeds upon the dunghill of dead things.
Ah heaven, bow down, be nearer! This is she, Italia, the world's wonder, the world's care, Free in her heart ere quite her hands be free, And lovelier than her loveliest robe of air.
The earth hath voice, and speech is in the sea, Sounds of great joy, too beautiful to bear; All things are glad because of her, but we Most glad, who loved her when the worst days were.
O sweetest, fairest, first, O flower, when times were worst, Thou hadst no stripe wherein we had no share.
Have not our hearts held close, Kept fast the whole world's rose? Have we not worn thee at heart whom none would wear? First love and last love, light of lands, Shall we not touch thee full-blown with our lips and hands? O too much loved, what shall we say of thee? What shall we make of our heart's burning fire, The passion in our lives that fain would be Made each a brand to pile into the pyre That shall burn up thy foemen, and set free The flame whence thy sun-shadowing wings aspire? Love of our life, what more than men are we, That this our breath for thy sake should expire, For whom to joyous death Glad gods might yield their breath, Great gods drop down from heaven to serve for hire? We are but men, are we, And thou art Italy; What shall we do for thee with our desire? What gift shall we deserve to give? How shall we die to do thee service, or how live? The very thought in us how much we love thee Makes the throat sob with love and blinds the eyes.
How should love bear thee, to behold above thee His own light burning from reverberate skies? They give thee light, but the light given them of thee Makes faint the wheeling fires that fall and rise.
What love, what life, what death of man's should move thee, What face that lingers or what foot that flies? It is not heaven that lights Thee with such days and nights, But thou that heaven is lit from in such wise.
O thou her dearest birth, Turn thee to lighten earth, Earth too that bore thee and yearns to thee and cries; Stand up, shine, lighten, become flame, Till as the sun's name through all nations be thy name.
I take the trumpet from my lips and sing.
O life immeasurable and imminent love, And fear like winter leading hope like spring, Whose flower-bright brows the day-star sits above, Whose hand unweariable and untiring wing Strike music from a world that wailed and strove, Each bright soul born and every glorious thing, From very freedom to man's joy thereof, O time, O change and death, Whose now not hateful breath But gives the music swifter feet to move Through sharp remeasuring tones Of refluent antiphones More tender-tuned than heart or throat of dove, Soul into soul, song into song, Life changing into life, by laws that work not wrong; O natural force in spirit and sense, that art One thing in all things, fruit of thine own fruit, O thought illimitable and infinite heart Whose blood is life in limbs indissolute That still keeps hurtless thine invisible part And inextirpable thy viewless root Whence all sweet shafts of green and each thy dart Of sharpening leaf and bud resundering shoot; Hills that the day-star hails, Heights that the first beam scales, And heights that souls outshining suns salute, Valleys for each mouth born Free now of plenteous corn, Waters and woodlands' musical or mute; Free winds that brighten brows as free, And thunder and laughter and lightning of the sovereign sea; Rivers and springs, and storms that seek your prey; With strong wings ravening through the skies by night; Spirits and stars that hold one choral way; O light of heaven, and thou the heavenlier light Aflame above the souls of men that sway All generations of all years with might; O sunrise of the repossessing day, And sunrise of all-renovating right; And thou, whose trackless foot Mocks hope's or fear's pursuit, Swift Revolution, changing depth with height; And thou, whose mouth makes one All songs that seek the sun, Serene Republic of a world made white; Thou, Freedom, whence the soul's springs ran; Praise earth for man's sake living, and for earth's sake man.
Make yourselves wings, O tarrying feet of fate, And hidden hour that hast our hope to bear, A child-god, through the morning-coloured gate That lets love in upon the golden air, Dead on whose threshold lies heart-broken hate, Dead discord, dead injustice, dead despair; O love long looked for, wherefore wilt thou wait, And shew not yet the dawn on thy bright hair.
Not yet thine hand released Refreshing the faint east, Thine hand reconquering heaven, to seat man there? Come forth, be born and live, Thou that hast help to give And light to make man's day of manhood fair: With flight outflying the sphered sun, Hasten thine hour and halt not, till thy work be done.

Poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Biography | Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes | Email Poem - The Eve Of RevolutionEmail Poem | Create an image from this poem

Poems are below...



More Poems by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Comments, Analysis, and Meaning on The Eve Of Revolution

Provide your analysis, explanation, meaning, interpretation, and comments on the poem The Eve Of Revolution here.