Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Adieux à Marie Stuart
By Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)
QUEEN, for whose house my fathers fought,
      With hopes that rose and fell,
Red star of boyhood’s fiery thought,
They gave their lives, and I, my queen,        5
      Have given you of my life,
Seeing your brave star burn high between
            Men’s strife.
The strife that lightened round their spears
      Long since fell still: so long        10
Hardly may hope to last in years
            My song.
But still through strife of time and thought
      Your light on me too fell;
Queen, in whose name we sang or fought,        15
There beats no heart on either border
      Wherethrough the north blasts blow
But keeps your memory as a warder
            His beacon-fire aglow.        20
Long since it fired with love and wonder
      Mine, for whose April age
Blithe midsummer made banquet under
            The shade of Hermitage.
Soft sang the burn’s blithe notes, that gather        25
      Strength to ring true;
And air and trees and sun and heather
            Remembered you.
Old border ghosts of fight or fairy
      Or love or teen,        30
These they forgot, remembering Mary
            The Queen.
Queen once of Scots, and ever of yours
      Whose sires brought forth for you
Their lives to strew your way like flowers,        35
Dead is full many a dead man’s name,
      Who died for you this long
Time past: shall this too fare the same,
            My song?        40
But surely, though it die or live,
      Your face was worth
All that a man may think to give
            On earth.
No darkness cast of years between        45
      Can darken you;
Man’s love will never bid my queen
Love hangs like light about your name
      As music round the shell;        50
No heart can take of you a tame
Yet, when your very face was seen,
      Ill gifts were yours for giving;
Love gat strange guerdons of my queen        55
            When living.
Oh, diamond heart unflawed and clear,
      The whole world’s crowning jewel!
Was ever heart so deadly dear
            So cruel?        60
Yet none for you of all that bled
      Grudged once one drop that fell:
Not one to life reluctant said
Strange love they have given you, love disloyal,
      Who mock with praise your name,
To leave a head so rare and royal
      Too low for praise or blame.
You could not love nor hate, they tell us;
      You had nor sense nor sting:        70
In God’s name, then, what plague befell us
      To fight for such a thing?
“Some faults the gods will give,” to fetter
      Man’s highest intent;
But surely you were something better        75
            Than innocent!
No maid that strays with steps unwary
      Through snares unseen,
But one to live and die for: Mary,
            The Queen.        80
Forgive them all their praise, who blot
      Your fame with praise of you;
Then love may say, and falter not,
Yet some you hardly would forgive        85
      Who did you much less wrong
Once; but resentment should not live
            Too long.
They never saw your lip’s bright bow,
      Your sword-bright eyes,—        90
The bluest of heavenly things below
            The skies.
Clear eyes that love’s self finds most like
      A sword-blade’s blue,
A sword-blade’s ever keen to strike—        95
Though all things breathe or sound of fight
      That yet make up your spell,
To bid you were to bid the light
            Farewell.        100
Farewell the song says only, being
      A star whose race is run;
Farewell the soul says never, seeing
            The sun.
Yet, well-nigh as with flash of tears,        105
      The song must say but so
That took your praise up twenty years
More bright than stars or moons that vary,
      Sun kindling heaven and hell,        110
Here, after all these years, Queen Mary,

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