Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
Farewells from Paradise
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
HARK! the flow of the four rivers—
  Hark the flow!
How the silence round you shivers,
While our voices through it go,
  Cold and clear.        5
A softer voice
Think a little, while ye hear,
  Of the banks
Where the willows and the deer
Crowd in intermingled ranks,
As if all would drink at once        10
Where the living water runs!—
Of the fishes’ golden edges
Flashing in and out the sedges;
Of the swans on silver thrones,
Floating down the winding streams        15
With impassive eyes turned shoreward
And a chant of undertones,—
And the lotus leaning forward
To help them into dreams.
  Fare ye well, farewell!        20
The river-sounds, no longer audible,
  Expire at Eden’s door.
  Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some murmur which ye heard before.
  Farewell! the streams of Eden        25
  Ye shall hear nevermore!
I am the nearest nightingale
That singeth in Eden after you;
And I am singing loud and true,
And sweet,—I do not fail.        30
I sit upon a cypress bough,
Close to the gate, and I fling my song
Over the gate and through the mail
Of the warden angels marshall’d strong,—
  Over the gate and after you!        35
And the warden angels let it pass,
Because the poor brown bird, alas,
  Sings in the garden, sweet and true.
And I build my song of high pure notes,
  Note over note, height over height,        40
  Till I strike the arch of the Infinite,
And I bridge abysmal agonies
With strong, clear calms of harmonies,—
And something abides, and something floats,
In the song which I sing after you.        45
  Fare ye well, farewell!
The creature-sounds, no longer audible,
  Expire at Eden’s door.
  Each footstep of your treading
Treads out some cadence which ye heard before.        50
  Farewell! the birds of Eden
  Ye shall hear nevermore!

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