Poem of the day

Chorus from Atalanta in Calydon
by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

When the hounds of spring are on winter’s traces,
⁠      The mother of months in meadow or plain
Fills the shadows and windy places
⁠      With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain;
And the brown bright nightingale amorous
Is half assuaged for Itylus,
For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces,
⁠      The tongueless vigil, and all the pain.

Come with bows bent and with emptying of quivers,
⁠      Maiden most perfect, lady of light,
With a noise of winds and many rivers,
⁠      With a clamour of waters, and with might;
Bind on thy sandals, O thou most fleet,
Over the splendour and speed of thy feet;
For the faint east quickens, the wan west shivers,
⁠      Round the feet of the day and the feet of the night.

Where shall we find her, how shall we sing to her,
⁠      Fold our hands round her knees, and cling?
O that man’s heart were as fire and could spring to her,
⁠      Fire, or the strength of the streams that spring!
For the stars and the winds are unto her
As raiment, as songs of the harp-player;
For the risen stars and the fallen cling to her,
⁠      And the southwest-wind and the west-wind sing.

For winter’s rains and ruins are over,
⁠      And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
⁠      The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
⁠      Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

The full streams feed on flower of rushes,
⁠      Ripe grasses trammel a travelling foot,
The faint fresh flame of the young year flushes
⁠      From leaf to flower and flower to fruit;
And fruit and leaf are as gold and fire,
And the oat is heard above the lyre,
And the hoofèd heel of a satyr crushes
⁠      The chestnut-husk at the chestnut-root.

And Pan by noon and Bacchus by night,
⁠      Fleeter of foot than the fleet-foot kid,
Follows with dancing and fills with delight
⁠      The Mænad and the Bassarid;
And soft as lips that laugh and hide
The laughing leaves of the trees divide,
And screen from seeing and leave in sight
⁠      The god pursuing, the maiden hid.

The ivy falls with the Bacchanal’s hair
⁠      Over her eyebrows hiding her eyes;
The wild vine slipping down leaves bare
⁠      Her bright breast shortening into sighs;
The wild vine slips with the weight of its leaves,
But the berried ivy catches and cleaves
To the limbs that glitter, the feet that scare
⁠      The wolf that follows, the fawn that flies.

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