The Garden of Proserpine
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Here, where the world is quiet; Here, where all trouble seems Dead winds' and spent waves' riot In doubtful dreams of dreams; I watch the green field growing For reaping folk and sowing For harvest-time and mowing, A sleepy world of streams. I am tired of tears and laughter, And men that laugh and weep; Of what may come hereafter For men that sow to reap: I am weary of days and hours, Blown buds of barren flowers, Desires and dreams and powers And everything but sleep. Here life has death for neighbor, And far from eye or ear Wan waves and wet winds labor, Weak ships and spirits steer; They drive adrift, and whither They wot not who make thither; But no such winds blow hither, And no such things grow here. No growth of moor or coppice, No heather-flower or vine, But bloomless buds of poppies, Green grapes of Proserpine, Pale beds of blowing rushes, Where no leaf blooms or blushes Save this whereout she crushes For dead men deadly wine. Pale, without name or number, In fruitless fields of corn, They bow themselves and slumber All night till light is born; And like a soul belated, In hell and heaven unmated, By cloud and mist abated Comes out of darkness morn. Though one were strong as seven, He too with death shall dwell, Nor wake with wings in heaven, Nor weep for pains in hell; Though one were fair as roses, His beauty clouds and closes; And well though love reposes, In the end it is not well. Pale, beyond porch and portal, Crowned with calm leaves she stands Who gathers all things mortal With cold immortal hands; Her languid lips are sweeter Than love's who fears to greet her, To men that mix and meet her From many times and lands. She waits for each and other, She waits for all men born; Forgets the earth her mother, The life of fruits and corn; And spring and seed and swallow Take wing for her and follow Where summer song rings hollow And flowers are put to scorn. There go the loves that wither, The old loves with wearier wings; And all dead years draw thither, And all disastrous things; Dead dreams of days forsaken, Blind buds that snows have shaken, Wild leaves that winds have taken, Red strays of ruined springs. We are not sure of sorrow; And joy was never sure; To-day will die to-morrow; Time stoops to no man's lure; And love, grown faint and fretful, With lips but half regretful Sighs, and with eyes forgetful Weeps that no loves endure. From too much love of living, From hope and fear set free, We thank with brief thanksgiving Whatever gods may be That no life lives for ever; That dead men rise up never; That even the weariest river Winds somewhere safe to sea. Then star nor sun shall waken, Nor any change of light: Nor sound of waters shaken, Nor any sound or sight: Nor wintry leaves nor vernal, Nor days nor things diurnal; Only the sleep eternal In an eternal night.