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To John Nichol: Sonnets

Algernon Charles Swinburne 1837 (London) – 1909 (London)

FRIEND of the dead, and friend of all my days
Even since they cast off boyhood, I salute
The song saluting friends whose songs are mute
With full burnt-offerings of clear-spirited praise.
That since our old young years our several ways
Have led through fields diverse of flower and fruit
Yet no cross wind has once relaxed the root
We set long since beneath the sundawn’s rays,
The root of trust whence towered the trusty tree,
Friendship this only and duly might impel
My song to salutation of your own;
More even than praise of one unseen of me
And loved the starry spirit of Dobell,
To mine by light and music only known.

II.

But more than this what moves me most of all
To leave not all unworded and unsped
The whole heart’s greeting of my thanks unsaid
Scarce needs this sign, that from my tongue should fall
His name whom sorrow and reverent love recall,
The sign to friends on earth of that dear head
Alive, which now long since untimely dead
The wan grey waters covered for a pall.
Their trustless reaches dense with tangling stems
Took never life more taintless of rebuke,
More pure and perfect, more serene and kind,
Than when those clear eyes closed beneath the Thames,
And made the now more hallowed name of Luke
Memorial to us of morning left behind.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Algernon Charles Swinburne

Algernon Charles Swinburne was an English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. He wrote several novels and collections of poetry such as Poems and Ballads, and contributed to the famous Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Swinburne wrote about many taboo topics, such as lesbianism, cannibalism, sado-masochism, and anti-theism. His poems have many common motifs, such as the ocean, time, and death. Several historical people are featured in his poems, such as Sappho ("Sapphics"), Anactoria ("Anactoria"), Jesus ("Hymn to Proserpine": Galilaee, La. "Galilean") and Catullus ("To Catullus"). more…

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