Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
The Phoenix
By George Darley (1795–1846)
From ‘Nepenthe’, Canto I

O BLEST unfabled Incense Tree,
That burns in glorious Araby,
With red scent chalicing the air,
Till earth-life grow Elysian there!
Half buried to her flaming breast        5
In this bright tree, she makes her nest,
Hundred-sunn’d Phoenix! when she must
Crumble at length to hoary dust!
Her gorgeous death-bed! her rich pyre
Burnt up with aromatic fire!        10
Her urn, sight high from spoiler men!
Her birthplace when self-born again!
The mountainless green wilds among,
Here ends she her unechoing song!
With amber tears and odorous sighs        15
Mourn’d by the desert where she dies!
Laid like the young fawn mossily
In sun-green vales of Araby,
I woke hard by the Phoenix tree
That with shadeless boughs flamed over me,        20
And upward call’d for a dumb cry
With moonbroad orbs of wonder I
Beheld the immortal Bird on high
Glassing the great sun in her eye.
Stedfast she gazed upon his fire,        25
—Still her destroyer and her sire!—
As if to his her soul of flame
Had flown already whence it came;
Like those that sit and glare so still,
Intense with their death struggle, till        30
We touch, and curdle at their chill!—
But breathing yet while she doth burn,
  The deathless Daughter of the sun!
Slowly to crimson embers turn
  The beauties of the brightsome one.        35
O’er the broad nest her silver wings
Shook down their wasteful glitterings;
Her brinded neck high-arch’d in air
Like a small rainbow faded there;
But brighter glow’d her plumy crown        40
Mouldering to golden ashes down;
With fume of sweet woods, to the skies,
Pure as a Saint’s adoring sighs,
Warm as a prayer in Paradise,
Her life-breath rose in sacrifice!        45
The while with shrill triumphant tone
Sounding aloud, aloft, alone,
Ceaseless her joyful deathwail she
Sang to departing Araby!
O, fast her amber blood doth flow        50
  From the heart-wounded Incense Tree,
Fast as earth’s deep-embosom’d woe
  In silent rivulets to the sea!
Beauty may weep her fair first-born,
  Perchance in as resplendent tears,        55
Such golden dewdrops bow the corn
  When the stern sickleman appears:
But O! such perfume to a bower
  Never allured sweet-seeking bee,
As to sip fast that nectarous shower        60
  A thirstier minstrel drew in me!

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