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.
 
On the Death of Francis Thompson
By Alfred Noyes (1880–1958)
 
HOW grandly glow the bays
  Purpureally enwound
With those rich thorns, the brows
  How infinitely crown’d
That now thro’ Death’s dark house        5
  Have pass’d with royal gaze:
Purpureally enwound
  How grandly glow the bays!
 
Sweet, sweet and three-fold sweet,
  Pulsing with three-fold pain,        10
Where the lark fails of flight
  Soar’d the celestial strain;
Beyond the sapphire height
  Flew the gold-wingèd feet
Beautiful, pierced with pain,        15
  Sweet, sweet and three-fold sweet;
 
And where Is not and Is
  Are wed in one sweet name,
And the world’s rootless vine
  With dew of stars aflame        20
Laughs, from those deep divine
  Impossibilities,
Our reason all to shame—
  This cannot be, but is;
 
Into the Vast, the Deep        25
  Beyond all mortal sight,
The Nothingness that conceived
  The worlds of day and night,
The Nothingness that heaved
  Pure sides in virgin sleep,        30
Brought out of darkness, light;
  And man from out the Deep.
 
Into that Mystery
  Let not thine hand be thrust:
Nothingness is a world        35
  Thy science well may trust …
But lo, a leaf unfurl’d,
  Nay, a cry mocking thee
From the first grain of dust—
  I am, yet cannot be!        40
 
Adventuring unafraid
  Into that last deep shrine,
Must not the child-heart see
  Its deepest symbol shine—
The world’s Birth-mystery,        45
  Whereto the suns are shade?
Lo, the white breast divine—
  The Holy Mother-maid!
 
How miss that Sacrifice,
  That cross of Yea and Nay,        50
That paradox of heaven
  Whose palms point either way,
Thro’ each a nail being driven
  That the arms outspan the skies
And our earth-dust this day        55
  Out-sweeten Paradise!
 
We part the seamless robe,
  Our wisdom would divide
The raiment of the King,
  Our spear is in His side,        60
Even while the angels sing
  Around our perishing globe,
And Death re-knits in pride
  The seamless purple robe …
 
And grandly glow the bays        65
  Purpureally enwound
With those rich thorns, the brows
  How infinitely crown’d
That now thro’ Death’s dark house
  Have pass’d with royal gaze:        70
Purpureally crown’d
  How grandly glow the bays!
 
 
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