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Astrophel
by [?]


AFTER READING SIR PHILIP SIDNEY’S ARCADIA IN THE GARDEN OF AN OLD ENGLISH MANOR HOUSE

I

A star in the silence that follows
The song of the death of the sun
Speaks music in heaven, and the hollows
And heights of the world are as one;
One lyre that outsings and outlightens
The rapture of sunset, and thrills
Mute night till the sense of it brightens
The soul that it fills.

The flowers of the sun that is sunken
Hang heavy of heart as of head;
The bees that have eaten and drunken
The soul of their sweetness are fled;
But a sunflower of song, on whose honey
My spirit has fed as a bee,
Makes sunnier than morning was sunny
The twilight for me.

The letters and lines on the pages
That sundered mine eyes and the flowers
Wax faint as the shadows of ages
That sunder their season and ours;
As the ghosts of the centuries that sever
A season of colourless time
From the days whose remembrance is ever,
As they were, sublime.

The season that bred and that cherished
The soul that I commune with yet,
Had it utterly withered and perished
To rise not again as it set,
Shame were it that Englishmen living
Should read as their forefathers read
The books of the praise and thanksgiving
Of Englishmen dead.

O light of the land that adored thee
And kindled thy soul with her breath,
Whose life, such as fate would afford thee,
Was lovelier than aught but thy death,
By what name, could thy lovers but know it,
Might love of thee hail thee afar,
Philisides, Astrophel, poet
Whose love was thy star?

A star in the moondawn of Maytime,
A star in the cloudland of change;
Too splendid and sad for the daytime
To cheer or eclipse or estrange;
Too sweet for tradition or vision
To see but through shadows of tears
Rise deathless across the division
Of measureless years.

The twilight may deepen and harden
As nightward the stream of it runs
Till starshine transfigure a garden
Whose radiance responds to the sun’s:
The light of the love of thee darkens
The lights that arise and that set:
The love that forgets thee not hearkens
If England forget.

II

Bright and brief in the sight of grief and love the light of thy lifetime shone,
Seen and felt by the gifts it dealt, the grace it gave, and again was gone:
Ay, but now it is death, not thou, whom time has conquered as years pass on.

Ay, not yet may the land forget that bore and loved thee and praised and wept,
Sidney, lord of the stainless sword, the name of names that her heart’s love kept
Fast as thine did her own, a sign to light thy life till it sank and slept.

Bright as then for the souls of men thy brave Arcadia resounds and shines,
Lit with love that beholds above all joys and sorrows the steadfast signs,
Faith, a splendour that hope makes tender, and truth, whose presage the soul divines.

All the glory that girds the story of all thy life as with sunlight round,
All the spell that on all souls fell who saw thy spirit, and held them bound,
Lives for all that have heard the call and cadence yet of its music sound.

Music bright as the soul of light, for wings an eagle, for notes a dove,
Leaps and shines from the lustrous lines wherethrough thy soul from afar above
Shone and sang till the darkness rang with light whose fire is the fount of love.