A Ballad of Appeal

by Algernon Charles Swinburne

To Christina G. Rossetti

Song wakes with every wakening year
  From hearts of birds that only feel
Brief spring's deciduous flower-time near:
  And song more strong to help or heal
  Shall silence worse than winter seal?
From love-lit thought's remurmuring cave
The notes that rippled, wave on wave,
  Were clear as love, as faith were strong;
And all souls blessed the soul that gave
  Sweet water from the well of song.

All hearts bore fruit of joy to hear,
  All eyes felt mist upon them steal
For joy's sake, trembling toward a tear,
  When, loud as marriage-bells that peal,
  Or flutelike soft, or keen like steel,
Sprang the sheer music; sharp or grave,
We heard the drift of winds that drave,
  And saw, swept round by ghosts in throng,
Dark rocks, that yielded, where they clave,
  Sweet water from the well of song.

Blithe verse made all the dim sense clear
  That smiles of babbling babes conceal:
Prayer's perfect heart spake here: and here
  Rose notes of blameless woe and weal,
  More soft than this poor song's appeal.
Where orchards bask, where cornfields wave,
They dropped like rains that cleanse and lave,
  And scattered all the year along,
Like dewfall on an April grave,
  Sweet water from the well of song.

Ballad, go bear our prayer, and crave
Pardon, because thy lowlier stave
  Can do this plea no right, but wrong.
Ask nought beside thy pardon, save
  Sweet water from the well of song.

Monadnock Valley Press > Swinburne