A Song in Season

by Algernon Charles Swinburne


                  Thou whose beauty
                  Knows no duty
Due to love that moves thee never;
                  Thou whose mercies
                  Are men's curses,
And thy smile a scourge for ever;


                  Thou that givest
                  Death and livest
On the death of thy sweet giving;
                  Thou that sparest
                  Not nor carest
Though thy scorn leave no love living;


                  Thou whose rootless
                  Flower is fruitless
As the pride its heart encloses,
                  But thine eyes are
                  As May skies are,
And thy words like spoken roses;


                  Thou whose grace is
                  In men's faces
Fierce and wayward as thy will is;
                  Thou whose peerless
                  Eyes are tearless,
And thy thoughts as cold sweet lilies;


                  Thou that takest
                  Hearts and makest
Wrecks of loves to strew behind thee,
                  Whom the swallow
                  Sure should follow,
Finding summer where we find thee;


                  Thou that wakest
                  Hearts and breakest,
And thy broken hearts forgive thee,
                  That wilt make no
                  Pause and take no
Gift that love for love might give thee;


                  Thou that bindest
                  Eyes and blindest,
Serving worst who served thee longest;
                  Thou that speakest,
                  And the weakest
Heart is his that was the strongest;


                  Take in season
                  Thought with reason;
Think what gifts are ours for giving;
                  Hear what beauty
                  Owes of duty
To the love that keeps it living.


                  Dust that covers
                  Long dead lovers
Song blows off with breath that brightens;
                  At its flashes
                  Their white ashes
Burst in bloom that lives and lightens.


                  Had they bent not
                  Head or lent not
Ear to love and amorous duties,
                  Song had never
                  Saved for ever,
Love, the least of all their beauties.


                  All the golden
                  Names of olden
Women yet by men's love cherished,
                  All our dearest
                  Thoughts hold nearest,
Had they loved not, all had perished.


                  If no fruit is
                  Of thy beauties,
Tell me yet, since none may win them,
                  What and wherefore
                  Love should care for
Of all good things hidden in them?


                  Pain for profit
                  Comes but of it,
If the lips that lure their lover's
                  Hold no treasure
                  Past the measure
Of the lightest hour that hovers.


                  If they give not
                  Or forgive not
Gifts or thefts for grace or guerdon,
                  Love that misses
                  Fruit of kisses
Long will bear no thankless burden.


                  If they care not
                  Though love were not,
If no breath of his burn through them,
                  Joy must borrow
                  Song from sorrow,
Fear teach hope the way to woo them.


                  Grief has measures
                  Soft as pleasure's,
Fear has moods that hope lies deep in,
                  Songs to sing him,
                  Dreams to bring him,
And a red-rose bed to sleep in.


                  Hope with fearless
                  Looks and tearless
Lies and laughs too near the thunder;
                  Fear hath sweeter
                  Speech and meeter
For heart's love to hide him under.


                  Joy by daytime
                  Fills his playtime
Full of songs loud mirth takes pride in;
                  Night and morrow
                  Weave round sorrow
Thoughts as soft as sleep to hide in.


                  Graceless faces,
                  Loveless graces,
Are but motes in light that quicken,
                  Sands that run down
                  Ere the sundown,
Roseleaves dead ere autumn sicken.


                  Fair and fruitless
                  Charms are bootless
Spells to ward off age's peril;
                  Lips that give not
                  Love shall live not,
Eyes that meet not eyes are sterile.


                  But the beauty
                  Bound in duty
Fast to love that falls off never
                  Love shall cherish
                  Lest it perish,
And its root bears fruit for ever.

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