Friday, January 16, 2015

The Garden of Proserpine

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 neighbour,
         And far from eye or ear
Wan waves and wet winds labour,
         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.

~ Algernon C. Swinburne (1837-1909)


  1. Near here, we have a subdivision that backs up to a large, well-kept cemetery. Peaceful there -- both places, I mean.

  2. I died for beauty, but was scarce
    Adjusted in the tomb,
    When one who died for truth was lain
    In an adjoining room.

    He questioned softly why I failed?
    "For beauty," I replied.
    "And I for truth –– the two are one;
    We brethren are," he said.

    And so, as kinsmen met a-night,
    We talked between the rooms,
    Until the moss had reached our lips,
    And covered up our names.

    ~ Emily Dickinson (18301886)

  3. Malcolm MacBadger said

    You realize, don't you, that Swinburne was an atheist and that this is a celebration of his belief that death is nothing more than oblivion, that here is no hope of life after death and that Swinburne thinks this is a good thing?

    1. "The thinker – that is now the being in whom the drive to truth and those life-preserving errors are fighting their first battle, after the drive to truth has proven itself to be a life-preserving power, too. In relation to the significance of this battle, everything else is a matter of indifference: the ultimate question about the condition of life is posed here, and the first attempt is made here to answer the question through experiment. To what extent can truth stand to be incorporated? – that is the question; that is the experiment." - Nietzsche (GS 110)

  4. Hi FT, once again there is a demeaning post about you on Lisa’s blog, bad-mouthing you.
    Just wanted to let you know.

    1. Thank you, but I can't afford to let things like that bother me, Gandolf. One of my little rhymes, written just a day or two ago, covers the situation pretty well as pertains to this blog:

      I truly love my enemies;

      They make me look so good,

      But they squirt venom with such ease
They can't stay in my 'hood.
I love my friends too much

      To let each virulent ejection
Maim or blind or kill and such

      Those from the RIGHT direction!


      I can't be responsible for what's said anywhere else. Lisa and I are friends, but she permits everyone who visits Who's Your Daddy? to expose himself fully for what he or she is. I think she believes such openness to be helpful in the battle against malignant nonsense. I disagree with here there, and so have ceased swimming in what--regard-as "polluted waters" for the sake of my health and well being.

      Alexander Pope probbly said it best:

      Vice is a creature of such fearful mien
      As to be hated needs to be seen,
      Yet seen too oft -- familiar with her face --
      Forst we endure, then pity, then embrace.

      Learnt that in a high school English class, c. 1957-58, and have never forgotten.

    2. FT, Oso be not me.

    3. A "Senior Moment" in my part, Gandolf. Sorry. Both you and Oso seem to be similarly friendly types, so perhaps the mistake was natural.

      Of course, I am one who doesn't worry much about who's who, or who's pretending to be whom, or who has assumed a false ID or any of that. All that interests me is the quality of the content in a given remark.

      As I'm sure you've noticed, serious, substantive commentary fully engaged with the subject at hand are exceedingly rare in the world of blogging.

  5. We certainly don't want to insult any Blacks with the "N" word, or Asians with the "J" word. Cuz racism is the ULTIMATE crime.

    They shoot black people, don't they?

    Liberalism today "LITERALLY" MEANS the right to never be offended. He who "offends" is a racist. And only white Christian males and NAZI's, are "offendable" targets, cuz they DESERVE it, for not being TOLERANT and LIBERAL like "us" throughout the Ages!

    Liberals LOVE immigrants, as long as they work as their gardeners and housekeepers and keep their mouths SHUT about being here and my not paying their Social Security taxes

    1. Can you find a way to connect that to Swinburne? If not, I should be true to my own "rewlzanregs," and jettison your post. Please try.

    2. 'Tsall right. It happens.

      But what do you think of tis Swinburne selection. I thought you might like it. It's an uncommonly elegant expression of a decidedly nihilistic vision.

  6. Replies
    1. Interesting thought, It's always difficult for me to reconcile T.S. Eliot's having been born in MISSOURI. The nature of his work seems to bely that.

      Perhaps someone should accuse me of being a LOCATIONIST? Now THERE'S something new to point fingers at and try to drum out of the corps, eh? ;-)

  7. Well, perhaps a man from Missouri could still appreciate/regret the loss of the notion of family and independence in ways a modern from the city with a new American dream could/can not.

    How's THAT for "locationism"?



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