bridges

In Autumn Moonlight, When The White Air Wan

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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.

 

– Thomas Seymour Bridges

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Nightingales

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Beautiful must be the mountains whence ye come,
And bright in the fruitful valleys the streams, wherefrom
Ye learn your song:
Where are those starry woods? O might I wander there,
Among the flowers, which in that heavenly air
Bloom the year long!

Nay, barren are those mountains and spent the streams:
Our song is the voice of desire, that haunts our dreams,
A throe of the heart,
Whose pining visions dim, forbidden hopes profound,
No dying cadence nor long sigh can sound,
For all our art.

Alone, aloud in the raptured ear of men
We pour our dark nocturnal secret; and then,
As night is withdrawn
From these sweet-springing meads and bursting boughs of May,
Dream, while the innumerable choir of day
Welcome the dawn.

 

– Robert Seymour Bridges

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I Have Loved Flowers That Fade

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I have loved flowers that fade,
Within whose magic tents
Rich hues have marriage made
With sweet unmemoried scents:
A honeymoon delight-
A joy of love at sight,
That ages in an hour-
My song be like a flower!

I have loved airs that die
Before their charm is writ
Along a liquid sky
Trembling to welcome it.
Notes, that with pulse of fire
Proclaim the spirit’s desire,
Then die, and are nowhere-
My song be like an air!

Die, song, die like a breath,
And wither as a bloom;
Fear not a flowery death,
Dread not an airy tomb!
Fly with delight, fly hence!
‘Twas thine love’s tender sense
To feast; now on thy bier
Beauty shall shed a tear.

 

– Robert Seymour Bridges

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To The President of Magdalene College, Oxford

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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.

 

– Robert Seymour Bridges

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North Wind In October

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In the golden glade the chestnuts are fallen all;
From the sered boughs of the oak the acorns fall:
The beech scatters her ruddy fire;
The lime hath stripped to the cold,
And standeth naked above her yellow attire:
The larch thinneth her spire
To lay the ways of the wood with cloth of gold.

Out of the golden-green and white Of the brake the fir-trees stand upright
In the forest of flame, and wave aloft
To the blue of heaven their blue-green tuftings soft.

But swiftly in shuddering gloom the splendours fail,
As the harrying North-wind beareth
A cloud of skirmishing hail
The grieved woodland to smite:
In a hurricane through the trees he teareth,
Raking the boughs and the leaves rending,
And whistleth to the descending
Blows of his icy flail.
Gold and snow he mixeth in spite,
And whirleth afar; as away on his winnowing flight
He passeth, and all again for ahile is bright.

 

– Robert Seymour Bridges

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The Evening Darkens Over

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The evening darkens over
After a day so bright,
The windcapt waves discover
That wild will be the night.
There’s sound of distant thunder.

The latest sea-birds hover
Along the cliff’s sheer height;
As in the memory wander
Last flutterings of delight,
White wings lost on the white.

There’s not a ship in sight;
And as the sun goes under,
Thick clouds conspire to cover
The moon that should rise yonder.
Thou art alone, fond lover.

 

– Robert Seymour Bridges

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There Is A Hill

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There is a hill beside the silver Thames,
Shady with birch and beech and odorous pine
And brilliant underfoot with thousand gems
Steeply the thickets to his floods decline.
Straight trees in every place
Their thick tops interlace,
And pendent branches trail their foliage fine
Upon his watery face.

Swift from the sweltering pasturage he flows:
His stream, alert to seek the pleasant shade,
Pictures his gentle purpose, as he goes
Straight to the caverned pool his toil has made.
His winter floods lay bare
The stout roots in the air:
His summer streams are cool, when they have played
Among their fibrous hair.

A rushy island guards the sacred bower,
And hides it from the meadow, where in peace
The lazy cows wrench many a scented flower,
Robbing the golden market of the bees:
And laden barges float
By banks of myosote;
And scented flag and golden flower-de-lys
Delay the loitering boat.

And on this side the island, where the pool
Eddies away, are tangled mass on mass
The water-weeds, that net the fishes cool,
And scarce allow a narrow stream to pass;
Where spreading crowfoot mars
The drowning nenuphars,
Waving the tassels of her silken grass
Below her silver stars.

But in the purple pool there nothing grows,
Not the white water-lily spoked with gold;

Though best she loves the hollows, and well knows
On quiet streams her broad shields to unfold:
Yet should her roots but try
Within these deeps to lie,
Not her long-reaching stalk could ever hold
Her waxen head so high.

Sometimes an angler comes, and drops his hook
Within its hidden depths, and ‘gainst a tree
Leaning his rod, reads in some pleasant book,
Forgetting soon his pride of fishery;
And dreams, or falls asleep,
While curious fishes peep
About his nibbled bait, or scornfully
Dart off and rise and leap.

And sometimes a slow figure ‘neath the trees,
In ancient-fashioned smock, with tottering care
Upon a staff propping his weary knees.
May by the pathway of the forest fare:
As from a buried day
Across the mind will stray
Some perishing mute shadow,–and unaware
He passeth on his way.

Else, he that wishes solitude is safe,
Whether he bathe at morning in the stream:
Or lead his love there when the hot hours chafe
The meadows, busy with a blurring steam;
Or watch, as fades the light,
The gibbous moon grow bright,
Until her magic rays dance in a dream,
And glorify the night.

Where is this bower beside the silver Thames?
O pool and flowery thickets, hear my vow!
O trees of freshest foliage and straight stems,
No sharer of my secret I allow:
Lest ere I come the while
Strange feet your shades defile;
Or lest the burly oarsman turn his prow
Within your guardian isle.

 

– Robert Seymour Bridges

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