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MDCCCXCIII: A Prelude

Christopher John Brennan 1870 (Haymarket, New South Wales) – 1932 (Lewisham, New South Wales)



Sweet days of breaking light,
or yet the shadowy might
and blaze of starry strife
possess’d my life;

sweet dawn of Beauty’s day,
first hint and smiling play
of the compulsive force
that since my course

across the years obeys;
not tho’ all earlier days
in me were buried, not
were ye forgot. –-

The northern kingdom’s dream,
prison’d in crystal gleam,
heard the pale flutes of spring,
her thin bells ring;

the tranced maiden’s eyes
open’d a far surmise,
and heavens and meadows grew
a tender blue

of petal-hearts that keep
thro’ their dark winter-sleep
true memory of delight,
a hidden light.

Then by her well Romance
waiting the fabled chance
dream’d all the forest-scene
in shifting green;

and Melusina’s gaze
lurk’d in the shadow’d glaze
of waters gliding still,
a witching ill;

or lost Undine wept
where the hid streamlet crept,
to the dusk murmuring low
her silvery woe.

Dim breaths in the dim shade
of the romantic glade
told of the timid pain
that hearken’d, fain,

how Beauty came to save
the prison’d life and wave
above the famish’d lands
her healing hands

(Beauty, in hidden ways
walking, a leafy maze
with magic odour dim,
far on life’s rim;

Beauty, sweet pain to kiss,
Beauty, sharp pain to miss,
in sorrow or in joy
a dear annoy;

Beauty, with waiting years
that bind the fount of tears
well-won if once her light
shine, before night).

Then the shy heart of youth
dared know its weening sooth,
then first thy godhead, Sun,
it’s life’s light one,

what time the hour outroll’d
its banner blazon’d gold
and all the honey’d time
rang rich with rhyme—-

rhyme, and the liquid laugh
of girlish spring, to quaff
granted each heart, and shed
about each head

a sound of harping blown
and airs of elfin tone
and gipsy waifs of song,
a dancing throng.

The yellow meads of May
acclaim’d the louder lay,
more rapturously athirst
for that fierce burst

of Summer’s clarioning,
what time his fulgent wing
should cleave the crystal spell
his hot eyes tell

each charm beneath the veil
his eager hands assail
and his red lips be prest
against her breast,

filling her every vein
with the diviner pain
of life beyond all dream
burning, supreme—-

(O natural ecstasy!
O highest grace, to be,
in every pulse to know
the Sungod’s glow!)

Thence the exulting strain
sped onward as a rain
of gold-linked notes
from unseen throats,

till the mad heart, adust,
of August’s aching lust
to do her beauty wrong
broke, and the song;

and in her poppied fate
ken life, grown all too great,
illumed with grateful breath
the lips of death. –-

But those deep fibres hold
the season’s mortal gold,
by silent alchemy
of soul set free,

and woven in vision’d shower
as each most secret hour
sheds the continuing bliss
in song or kiss. –-

O poets I have loved
when in my soul first moved
desire to breathe in one
love, song and sun,

your pages that I turn,
your jewelled phrases burn
richly behind a haze
of golden days. –-

And, O ye golden days,
tho’ since on stranger ways
to some undying war
the fatal star

of unseen Beauty draw
this soul, to occult law
obedient ever, not
are ye forgot.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:46 min read
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Christopher John Brennan

Christopher John Brennan was an Australian poet, scholar and literary critic. more…

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