Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Ode: ‘Sire of the rising day’
By Lord de Tabley (John Byrne Leicester Warren) (1835–1895)
 
SIRE of the rising day,
Lord of the faded ray,
King of sweet ways of morn or daylight done.
Ruler of cloud and sleep,
Whose tread is on the deep,        5
Whose feet are red in glory like the sun.
Whose hand binds up the winds as in a sheaf,
Whose shadow makes them tremble like a leaf.
 
Lordship and Fear are thine,
Upon whose brow divine        10
The diadem of pale eternal fire
Burns over eyes that fear
No stain of earthly tear,
Nor soften for a yearning world’s desire.
The treasure of strong thunder at thy hand        15
Waits like an eagle watching thy command.
 
Thee rosy beams enshroud;
Rich airs and amber cloud
Reach the calm golden spaces of thy hall.
The floods awake with noise        20
Churning the deep, whose voice
Thou heedest not, altho’ the storm-wind call
And break beneath the swollen vapour-bands,
In wild rains wearing at the sodden lands.
 
Can then our weak-wing’d prayer        25
Ascend and touch thee there,
Sailing between the gleaming gates of heaven?
Can our wail climb and smite
Thy council-seat of light?
Where for a garment is the moon-ray given        30
To clothe thy shoulders, and blue star-dust strown
Bickers about the borders of thy throne.
 
Ah, Lord, who may withstand
One reaching of thy hand,
Who from thy fury fence his house secure?        35
What citadel is there,
In lifted hand or prayer,
If all the radiant heaven may not endure
The scathing of thine anger, keen to blight
The strong stars rolling in their fields of light?        40
 
Arise and take thine ease,
For thou art Lord; and these
Are but as sprinkled dust before thy power.
Art thou the less divine,
If they lift hands and whine,        45
Or less eternal since they crawl an hour?
After a little pain to fold their hands,
And perish like the beasts that till’d their lands.
 
They dug their field and died,
Believed thee or denied;        50
Cursed at thy name, or fed thy shrine with fume.
Loved somewhat, hated more,
Hoarded, grew stiff and sore,
Gat sturdy sons to labour in their room;
Became as alien faces in their land;        55
Died, worn and done with as a waste of sand.
 
Strong are alone the dead.
They need not bow the head,
Or reach one hand in ineffectual prayer.
Safe in their iron sleep        60
What wrong shall make them weep,
What sting of human anguish reach them there?
They are gone safe beyond the strong one’s reign,
Who shall decree against them any pain?
 
Will they entreat in tears        65
The inexorable years
To sprinkle trouble gently on their head?
Safe in their house of grass,
Eternity may pass,
And be to these an instant in its tread,        70
Calm as an autumn night, brief as the song
Of the wood dove. The dead alone are strong.
 
Love is not there, nor Hate,
Weak slaves of feebler Fate,
Their lord is nothing here, his reign is done.        75
Here side by side can lie
Glory and Infamy,
Hero and herdsman in red earth are one.
Their day is over: sad they silence keep,
Abash’d before the perfect crowning sleep.        80
 
 
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