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Best Famous Ephemeral Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Ephemeral poems. This is a select list of the best famous Ephemeral poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Ephemeral poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of ephemeral poems.

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Written by Edgar Allan Poe | Create an image from this poem

An Enigma

 "Seldom we find," says Solomon Don Dunce, 
"Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet.
Through all the flimsy things we see at once As easily as through a Naples bonnet- Trash of all trash!- how can a lady don it? Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff- Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it.
" And, veritably, Sol is right enough.
The general tuckermanities are arrant Bubbles- ephemeral and so transparent- But this is, now- you may depend upon it- Stable, opaque, immortal- all by dint Of the dear names that he concealed within 't.

Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

Supernatural Songs

Ribh at the Tomb of Baile and Aillinn Because you have found me in the pitch-dark night With open book you ask me what I do.
Mark and digest my tale, carry it afar To those that never saw this tonsured head Nor heard this voice that ninety years have cracked.
Of Baile and Aillinn you need not speak, All know their tale, all know what leaf and twig, What juncture of the apple and the yew, Surmount their bones; but speak what none have heard.
The miracle that gave them such a death Transfigured to pure substance what had once Been bone and sinew; when such bodies join There is no touching here, nor touching there, Nor straining joy, but whole is joined to whole; For the intercourse of angels is a light Where for its moment both seem lost, consumed.
Here in the pitch-dark atmosphere above The trembling of the apple and the yew, Here on the anniversary of their death, The anniversary of their first embrace, Those lovers, purified by tragedy, Hurry into each other's arms; these eyes, By water, herb and solitary prayer Made aquiline, are open to that light.
Though somewhat broken by the leaves, that light Lies in a circle on the grass; therein I turn the pages of my holy book.
Ribh denounces Patrick An abstract Greek absurdity has crazed the man - Recall that masculine Trinity.
Man, woman, child (daughter or son), That's how all natural or supernatural stories run.
Natural and supernatural with the self-same ring are wed.
As man, as beast, as an ephemeral fly begets, Godhead begets Godhead, For things below are copies, the Great Smaragdine Tablet said.
Yet all must copy copies, all increase their kind; When the conflagration of their passion sinks, damped by the body or the mind, That juggling nature mounts, her coil in their embraces twined.
The mirror-scaled serpent is multiplicity, But all that run in couples, on earth, in flood or air, share God that is but three, And could beget or bear themselves could they but love as He.
Ribh in Ecstasy What matter that you understood no word! Doubtless I spoke or sang what I had heard In broken sentences.
My soul had found All happiness in its own cause or ground.
Godhead on Godhead in sexual spasm begot Godhead.
Some shadow fell.
My soul forgot Those amorous cries that out of quiet come And must the common round of day resume.
There There all the barrel-hoops are knit, There all the serpent-tails are bit, There all the gyres converge in one, There all the planets drop in the Sun.
Ribh considers Christian Love insufficient Why should I seek for love or study it? It is of God and passes human wit.
I study hatred with great diligence, For that's a passion in my own control, A sort of besom that can clear the soul Of everything that is not mind or sense.
Why do I hate man, woman or event? That is a light my jealous soul has sent.
From terror and deception freed it can Discover impurities, can show at last How soul may walk when all such things are past, How soul could walk before such things began.
Then my delivered soul herself shall learn A darker knowledge and in hatred turn From every thought of God mankind has had.
Thought is a garment and the soul's a bride That cannot in that trash and tinsel hide: Hatred of God may bring the soul to God.
At stroke of midnight soul cannot endure A bodily or mental furniture.
What can she take until her Master give! Where can she look until He make the show! What can she know until He bid her know! How can she live till in her blood He live! VI.
He and She As the moon sidles up Must she sidle up, As trips the scared moon Away must she trip: 'His light had struck me blind Dared I stop".
She sings as the moon sings: 'I am I, am I; The greater grows my light The further that I fly.
' All creation shivers With that sweet cry.
What Magic Drum? He holds him from desire, all but stops his breathing lest primordial Motherhood forsake his limbs, the child no longer rest, Drinking joy as it were milk upon his breast.
Through light-obliterating garden foliage what magic drum? Down limb and breast or down that glimmering belly move his mouth and sinewy tongue.
What from the forest came? What beast has licked its young? VIII.
Whence had they come? Eternity is passion, girl or boy Cry at the onset of their sexual joy 'For ever and for ever'; then awake Ignorant what Dramatis personae spake; A passion-driven exultant man sings out Sentences that he has never thought; The Flagellant lashes those submissive loins Ignorant what that dramatist enjoins, What master made the lash.
Whence had they come, The hand and lash that beat down frigid Rome? What sacred drama through her body heaved When world-transforming Charlemagne was conceived? IX.
The Four Ages of Man He with body waged a fight, But body won; it walks upright.
Then he struggled with the heart; Innocence and peace depart.
Then he struggled with the mind; His proud heart he left behind.
Now his wars on God begin; At stroke of midnight God shall win.
Conjunctions If Jupiter and Saturn meet, What a cop of mummy wheat! The sword's a cross; thereon He died: On breast of Mars the goddess sighed.
A Needle's Eye All the stream that's roaring by Came out of a needle's eye; Things unborn, things that are gone, From needle's eye still goad it on.
Meru Civilisation is hooped together, brought Under a mle, under the semblance of peace By manifold illusion; but man's life is thought, And he, despite his terror, cannot cease Ravening through century after century, Ravening, raging, and uprooting that he may come Into the desolation of reality: Egypt and Greece, good-bye, and good-bye, Rome! Hermits upon Mount Meru or Everest, Caverned in night under the drifted snow, Or where that snow and winter's dreadful blast Beat down upon their naked bodies, know That day brings round the night, that before dawn His glory and his monuments are gone.
Written by Hilaire Belloc | Create an image from this poem

Heroic Poem in Praise of Wine

 To exalt, enthrone, establish and defend,
To welcome home mankind's mysterious friend
Wine, true begetter of all arts that be;
Wine, privilege of the completely free;
Wine the recorder; wine the sagely strong;
Wine, bright avenger of sly-dealing wrong,
Awake, Ausonian Muse, and sing the vineyard song!

Sing how the Charioteer from Asia came,
And on his front the little dancing flame
Which marked the God-head.
Sing the Panther-team, The gilded Thrysus twirling, and the gleam Of cymbals through the darkness.
Sing the drums.
He comes; the young renewer of Hellas comes! The Seas await him.
Those Aegean Seas Roll from the dawning, ponderous, ill at ease, In lifts of lead, whose cresting hardly breaks To ghostly foam, when suddenly there awakes A mountain glory inland.
All the skies Are luminous; and amid the sea bird cries The mariner hears a morning breeze arise.
Then goes the Pageant forward.
The sea-way Silvers the feet of that august array Trailing above the waters, through the airs; And as they pass a wind before them bears The quickening word, the influence magical.
The Islands have received it, marble-tall; The long shores of the mainland.
Something fills The warm Euboean combes, the sacred hills Of Aulis and of Argos.
Still they move Touching the City walls, the Temple grove, Till, far upon the horizon-glint, a gleam Of light, of trembling light, revealed they seem Turned to a cloud, but to a cloud that shines, And everywhere as they pass, the Vines! The Vines! The Vines, the conquering Vines! And the Vine breaths Her savour through the upland, empty heaths Of treeless wastes; the Vines have come to where The dark Pelasgian steep defends the lair Of the wolf's hiding; to the empty fields By Aufidus, the dry campaign that yields No harvest for the husbandman, but now Shall bear a nobler foison than the plough; To where, festooned along the tall elm trees, Tendrils are mirrored in Tyrrhenian seas; To where the South awaits them; even to where Stark, African informed of burning air, Upturned to Heaven the broad Hipponian plain Extends luxurious and invites the main.
Guelma's a mother: barren Thaspsa breeds; And northward in the valleys, next the meads That sleep by misty river banks, the Vines Have struck to spread below the solemn pines.
The Vines are on the roof-trees.
All the Shrines And Homes of men are consecrate with Vines.
And now the task of that triumphant day Has reached to victory.
In the reddening ray With all his train, from hard Iberian lands Fulfilled, apparent, that Creator stands Halted on Atlas.
Far Beneath him, far, The strength of Ocean darkening and the star Beyond all shores.
There is a silence made.
It glorifies: and the gigantic shade Of Hercules adores him from the West.
Dead Lucre: burnt Ambition: Wine is best.
But what are these that from the outer murk Of dense mephitic vapours creeping lurk To breathe foul airs from that corrupted well Which oozes slime along the floor of Hell? These are the stricken palsied brood of sin In whose vile veins, poor, poisonous and thin, Decoctions of embittered hatreds crawl: These are the Water-Drinkers, cursed all! On what gin-sodden Hags, what flaccid sires Bred these White Slugs from what exhaust desires? In what close prison's horror were their wiles Watched by what tyrant power with evil smiles; Or in what caverns, blocked from grace and air Received they, then, the mandates of despair? What! Must our race, our tragic race, that roam All exiled from our first, and final, home: That in one moment of temptation lost Our heritage, and now wander, hunger-tost Beyond the Gates (still speaking with our eyes For ever of remembered Paradise), Must we with every gift accepted, still, With every joy, receive attendant ill? Must some lewd evil follow all our good And muttering dog our brief beatitude? A primal doom, inexorable, wise, Permitted, ordered, even these to rise.
Even in the shadow of so bright a Lord Must swarm and propagate the filthy horde Debased, accursed I say, abhorrent and abhorred.
Accursed and curse-bestowing.
For whosoe'er Shall suffer their contagion, everywhere Falls from the estate of man and finds his end To the mere beverage of the beast condemned.
For such as these in vain the Rhine has rolled Imperial centuries by hills of gold; For such as these the flashing Rhone shall rage In vain its lightning through the Hermitage Or level-browed divine Touraine receive The tribute of her vintages at eve.
For such as these Burgundian heats in vain Swell the rich slope or load the empurpled plain.
Bootless for such as these the mighty task Of bottling God the Father in a flask And leading all Creation down distilled To one small ardent sphere immensely filled.
With memories empty, with experience null, With vapid eye-balls meaningless and dull They pass unblest through the unfruitful light; And when we open the bronze doors of Night, When we in high carousal, we reclined, Spur up to Heaven the still ascending mind, Pass with the all inspiring, to and fro, The torch of genius and the Muse's glow, They, lifeless, stare at vacancy alone Or plan mean traffic, or repeat their moan.
We, when repose demands us, welcomed are In young white arms, like our great Exemplar Who, wearied with creation, takes his rest And sinks to sleep on Ariadne's breast.
They through the darkness into darkness press Despised, abandoned and companionless.
And when the course of either's sleep has run We leap to life like heralds of the sun; We from the couch in roseate mornings gay Salute as equals the exultant day While they, the unworthy, unrewarded, they The dank despisers of the Vine, arise To watch grey dawns and mourn indifferent skies.
Forget them! Form the Dionysian ring And pulse the ground, and Io, Io, sing.
Father Lenaean, to whom our strength belongs, Our loves, our wars, our laughter and our songs, Remember our inheritance, who praise Your glory in these last unhappy days When beauty sickens and a muddied robe Of baseness fouls the universal globe.
Though all the Gods indignant and their train Abandon ruined man, do thou remain! By thee the vesture of our life was made, The Embattled Gate, the lordly Colonnade, The woven fabric's gracious hues, the sound Of trumpets, and the quivering fountain-round, And, indestructible, the Arch, and, high, The Shaft of Stone that stands against the sky, And, last, the guardian-genius of them, Rhyme, Come from beyond the world to conquer time: All these are thine, Lenaean.
By thee do seers the inward light discern; By thee the statue lives, the Gods return; By thee the thunder and the falling foam Of loud Acquoria's torrent call to Rome; Alba rejoices in a thousand springs, Gensano laughs, and Orvieto sings.
But, Ah! With Orvieto, with that name Of dark, Eturian, subterranean flame The years dissolve.
I am standing in that hour Of majesty Septembral, and the power Which swells the clusters when the nights are still With autumn stars on Orvieto hill.
Had these been mine, Ausonian Muse, to know The large contented oxen heaving slow; To count my sheaves at harvest; so to spend Perfected days in peace until the end; With every evening's dust of gold to hear The bells upon the pasture height, the clear Full horn of herdsmen gathering in the kine To ancient byres in hamlets Appenine, And crown abundant age with generous ease: Had these, Ausonian Muse, had these, had these.
But since I would not, since I could not stay, Let me remember even in this my day How, when the ephemeral vision's lure is past All, all, must face their Passion at the last Was there not one that did to Heaven complain How, driving through the midnight and the rain, He struck, the Atlantic seethe and surge before, Wrecked in the North along a lonely shore To make the lights of home and hear his name no more.
Was there not one that from a desperate field Rode with no guerdon but a rifted shield; A name disherited; a broken sword; Wounds unrenowned; battle beneath no Lord; Strong blows, but on the void, and toil without reward.
When from the waste of such long labour done I too must leave the grape-ennobling sun And like the vineyard worker take my way Down the long shadows of declining day, Bend on the sombre plain my clouded sight And leave the mountain to the advancing night, Come to the term of all that was mine own With nothingness before me, and alone; Then to what hope of answer shall I turn? Comrade-Commander whom I dared not earn, What said You then to trembling friends and few? "A moment, and I drink it with you new: But in my Father's Kingdom.
" So, my Friend, Let not Your cup desert me in the end.
But when the hour of mine adventure's near Just and benignant, let my youth appear Bearing a Chalice, open, golden, wide, With benediction graven on its side.
So touch my dying lip: so bridge that deep: So pledge my waking from the gift of sleep, And, sacramental, raise me the Divine: Strong brother in God and last companion, Wine.
Written by Thomas Hardy | Create an image from this poem

(Greek Title)

 Long have I framed weak phantasies of Thee, 
 O Willer masked and dumb! 
 Who makest Life become, - 
As though by labouring all-unknowingly, 
 Like one whom reveries numb.
How much of consciousness informs Thy will Thy biddings, as if blind, Of death-inducing kind, Nought shows to us ephemeral ones who fill But moments in Thy mind.
Perhaps Thy ancient rote-restricted ways Thy ripening rule transcends; That listless effort tends To grow percipient with advance of days, And with percipience mends.
For, in unwonted purlieus, far and nigh, At whiles or short or long, May be discerned a wrong Dying as of self-slaughter; whereat I Would raise my voice in song.
Written by Czeslaw Milosz | Create an image from this poem


 Maidenly lake, fathomless lake,
Stay as you were once, overgrown with rushes,
Idling with a reflected cloud, for my sake
Whom your shore no longer touches.
Your girl was always real to me.
Her bones lie in a city by the sea.
Everything occurs too normally.
A unique love simply wears away.
Girl, hey, girl, we repose in an abyss.
The base of a skull, a rib, a pelvis, Is it you? me? We are more than this.
No clock counts hours and years for us.
How could a creature, ephemeral, eternal, Measure for me necessity and fate? You are locked with me in a letter-crystal.
No matter that you're not a living maid.

Written by Algernon Charles Swinburne | Create an image from this poem

Ode On The Insurrection In Candia

1 I laid my laurel-leaf At the white feet of grief, Seeing how with covered face and plumeless wings, With unreverted head Veiled, as who mourns his dead, Lay Freedom couched between the thrones of kings, A wearied lion without lair, And bleeding from base wounds, and vexed with alien air.
2 Who was it, who, put poison to thy mouth, Who lulled with craft or chant thy vigilant eyes, O light of all men, lamp to north and south, Eastward and westward, under all men's skies? For if thou sleep, we perish, and thy name Dies with the dying of our ephemeral breath; And if the dust of death o'ergrows thy flame, Heaven also is darkened with the dust of death.
If thou be mortal, if thou change or cease, If thine hand fail, or thine eyes turn from Greece, Thy firstborn, and the firstfruits of thy fame, God is no God, and man is moulded out of shame.
3 Is there change in the secret skies, In the sacred places that see The divine beginning of things, The weft of the web of the world? Is Freedom a worm that dies, And God no God of the free? Is heaven like as earth with her kings And time as a serpent curled Round life as a tree? From the steel-bound snows of the north, From the mystic mother, the east, From the sands of the fiery south, From the low-lit clouds of the west, A sound of a cry is gone forth; Arise, stand up from the feast, Let wine be far from the mouth, Let no man sleep or take rest, Till the plague hath ceased.
Let none rejoice or make mirth Till the evil thing be stayed, Nor grief be lulled in the lute, Nor hope be loud on the lyre; Let none be glad upon earth.
O music of young man and maid, O songs of the bride, be mute.
For the light of her eyes, her desire, Is the soul dismayed.
It is not a land new-born That is scourged of a stranger's hand, That is rent and consumed with flame.
We have known it of old, this face, With the cheeks and the tresses torn, With shame on the brow as a brand.
We have named it of old by name, The land of the royallest race, The most holy land.
4 Had I words of fire, Whose words are weak as snow; Were my heart a lyre Whence all its love might flow In the mighty modulations of desire, In the notes wherewith man's passion worships woe; Could my song release The thought weak words confine, And my grief, O Greece, Prove how it worships thine; It would move with pulse of war the limbs of peace, Till she flushed and trembled and became divine.
(Once she held for true This truth of sacred strain; Though blood drip like dew And life run down like rain, It is better that war spare but one or two Than that many live, and liberty be slain.
) Then with fierce increase And bitter mother's mirth, From the womb of peace, A womb that yearns for birth, As a man-child should deliverance come to Greece, As a saviour should the child be born on earth.
5 O that these my days had been Ere white peace and shame were wed Without torch or dancers' din Round the unsacred marriage-bed! For of old the sweet-tongued law, Freedom, clothed with all men's love, Girt about with all men's awe, With the wild war-eagle mated The white breast of peace the dove, And his ravenous heart abated And his windy wings were furled In an eyrie consecrated Where the snakes of strife uncurled, And her soul was soothed and sated With the welfare of the world.
1 But now, close-clad with peace, While war lays hand on Greece, The kingdoms and their kings stand by to see; "Aha, we are strong," they say, "We are sure, we are well," even they; "And if we serve, what ails ye to be free? We are warm, clothed round with peace and shame; But ye lie dead and naked, dying for a name.
" ANT.
2 O kings and queens and nations miserable, O fools and blind, and full of sins and fears, With these it is, with you it is not well; Ye have one hour, but these the immortal years.
These for a pang, a breath, a pulse of pain, Have honour, while that honour on earth shall be: Ye for a little sleep and sloth shall gain Scorn, while one man of all men born is free.
Even as the depth more deep than night or day, The sovereign heaven that keeps its eldest way, So without chance or change, so without stain, The heaven of their high memories shall nor wax nor wane.
3 As the soul on the lips of the dead Stands poising her wings for flight, A bird scarce quit of her prison, But fair without form or flesh, So stands over each man's head A splendour of imminent light, A glory of fame rearisen, Of day rearisen afresh From the hells of night.
In the hundred cities of Crete Such glory was not of old, Though her name was great upon earth And her face was fair on the sea.
The words of her lips were sweet, Her days were woven with gold, Her fruits came timely to birth; So fair she was, being free, Who is bought and sold.
So fair, who is fairer now With her children dead at her side, Unsceptred, unconsecrated, Unapparelled, unhelped, unpitied, With blood for gold on her brow, Where the towery tresses divide; The goodly, the golden-gated, Many-crowned, many-named, many-citied, Made like as a bride.
And these are the bridegroom's gifts; Anguish that straitens the breath, Shame, and the weeping of mothers, And the suckling dead at the breast, White breast that a long sob lifts; And the dumb dead mouth, which saith, How long, and how long, my brothers?" And wrath which endures not rest, And the pains of death.
4 Ah, but would that men, With eyelids purged by tears, Saw, and heard again With consecrated ears, All the clamour, all the splendour, all the slain, All the lights and sounds of war, the fates and fears; Saw far off aspire, With crash of mine and gate, From a single pyre The myriad flames of fate, Soul by soul transfigured in funereal fire, Hate made weak by love, and love made strong by hate.
Children without speech, And many a nursing breast; Old men in the breach, Where death sat down a guest; With triumphant lamentation made for each, Let the world salute their ruin and their rest.
In one iron hour The crescent flared and waned, As from tower to tower, Fire-scathed and sanguine-stained, Death, with flame in hand, an open bloodred flower, Passed, and where it bloomed no bloom of life remained.
5 Hear, thou earth, the heavy-hearted Weary nurse of waning races; From the dust of years departed, From obscure funereal places, Raise again thy sacred head, Lift the light up of thine eyes Where are they of all thy dead That did more than these men dying In their godlike Grecian wise? Not with garments rent and sighing, Neither gifts of myrrh and gold, Shall their sons lament them lying, Lest the fame of them wax cold; But with lives to lives replying, And a worship from of old.
EPODE O sombre heart of earth and swoln with grief, That in thy time wast as a bird for mirth, Dim womb of life and many a seed and sheaf, And full of changes, ancient heart of earth, From grain and flower, from grass and every leaf, Thy mysteries and thy multitudes of birth, From hollow and hill, from vales and all thy springs, From all shapes born and breath of all lips made, From thunders, and the sound of winds and wings, From light, and from the solemn sleep of shade, From the full fountains of all living things, Speak, that this plague be stayed.
Bear witness all the ways of death and life If thou be with us in the world's old strife, If thou be mother indeed, And from these wounds that bleed Gather in thy great breast the dews that fall, And on thy sacred knees Lull with mute melodies, Mother, thy sleeping sons in death's dim hall.
For these thy sons, behold, Sons of thy sons of old, Bear witness if these be not as they were; If that high name of Greece Depart, dissolve, decease From mouths of men and memories like as air.
By the last milk that drips Dead on the child's dead lips, By old men's white unviolated hair, By sweet unburied faces That fill those red high places Where death and freedom found one lion's lair, By all the bloodred tears That fill the chaliced years, The vessels of the sacrament of time, Wherewith, O thou most holy, O Freedom, sure and slowly Thy ministrant white hands cleanse earth of crime; Though we stand off afar Where slaves and slaveries are, Among the chains and crowns of poisonous peace; Though not the beams that shone From rent Arcadion Can melt her mists and bid her snows decrease; Do thou with sudden wings Darken the face of kings, But turn again the beauty of thy brows on Greece; Thy white and woundless brows, Whereto her great heart bows; Give her the glories of thine eyes to see; Turn thee, O holiest head, Toward all thy quick and dead, For love's sake of the souls that cry for thee; O love, O light, O flame, By thine own Grecian name, We call thee and we charge thee that all these be free.
Written by Omer Tarin | Create an image from this poem

One to Four


One quarter of a century has elapsed
the diurnal movement of a life-cycle
rotating on its own axis
turned inwards and away from
hung by a nail upon the casement 


Two of the nine lives have drifted 
sinking somewhere near the embankment
while out prowling the empty streets at night
digging in this corner and that
poking here and there
in the trashcans lining the alley


Three horsemen have appeared
riding on fiery horses, spewing 
their sulphurous flame into the darkness
scorching one and all with their terrible message
blazed ominously across the bedstead


Four has come arrayed
the number of an ephemeral end
a hermetic transmutation ordained
by the fluctuations of fatality, 
falling like some ill-omened comet
helter-skelter with the dice.
(from ''A Sad Piper'', 1994)
Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem


[Pg 274]


I dì miei più leggier che nessun cervo.


My days more swiftly than the forest hind
Have fled like shadows, and no pleasure seen
Save for a moment, and few hours serene,
Whose bitter-sweet I treasure in true mind.
O wretched world, unstable, wayward! Blind
Whose hopes in thee alone have centred been;
In thee my heart was captived by her mien
Who bore it with her when she earth rejoin'd:
Her better spirit, now a deathless flower,
And in the highest heaven that still shall be,
Each day inflames me with its beauties more.
Alone, though frailer, fonder every hour,
I muse on her—Now what, and where is she,
And what the lovely veil which here she wore?
Oh! swifter than the hart my life hath fled,
A shadow'd dream; one winged glance hath seen
Its only good; its hours (how few serene!)
The sweet and bitter tide of thought have fed:
Ephemeral world! in pride and sorrow bred,
Who hope in thee, are blind as I have been;
I hoped in thee, and thus my heart's loved queen
Hath borne it mid her nerveless, kindred dead.
Her form decay'd—its beauty still survives,
For in high heaven that soul will ever bloom,
With which each day I more enamour'd grow:
Thus though my locks are blanch'd, my hope revives
In thinking on her home—her soul's high doom:
Alas! how changed the shrine she left below!