Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
As one that for a weary space has lain
Lulled by the song of Circe and her wine
In gardens near the pale of Proserpine,
Where that AEaean isle forgets the main,
And only the low lutes of love complain,
And only shadows of wan lovers pine;
As such an one were glad to know the brine
Salt on his lips, and the large air again--
So gladly, from the songs of modern speech
Men turn, and see the stars, and feel the free
Shrill wind beyond the close of heavy flowers;
And, through the music of the languid hours,
They hear like ocean on a western beach
The surge and thunder of the Odyssey.
To Izaak Walton
Old Izaak, in this angry age of ours,
This hungry, angry age, how oft of thee
We dream, and thy divine tranquillity,
And all thy pleasure in the dewy flowers,
The meads enamelled, and the singing showers,
And shelter of the silvery willow-tree,
By quiet waters of the river Lea!
Ah, happy hours! we cry--ah, halcyon hours!
Yet thou, like we, hadst trouble for this realm
Of England: for thy dear Church mocked and rent,
Thy friends in beggary, thy monarch slain,
But naught could thy mild spirit overwhelm.
Ah, Father Izaak, teach us thy content
When Time brings many a sorrow back again!
The sacred keep of Ilion is rent
With shaft and pit; vague waters wander slow
Through plains where Simois and Scamander went
To war with gods and heroes long ago:
Not yet to dark Cassandra, lying low
In rich Mycenæ, do the Fates relent;
The bones of Agamemnon are a show,
And ruined is his royal monument.
The awful dust and treasures of the Dead
Has Learning scattered wide; but vainly thee,
Homer, she measures with her Lesbian lead,
And strives to rend thy songs: too blind is she
To know the crown on thine immortal head
Of indivisible supremacy.
Thou that on every field of earth and sky
Didst hunt for Death--that seemed to flee and fear--
How great and greatly fallen dost thou lie
Slain in the Desert by some wandering spear!
"Not here," alas! may England say--"not here
Nor in this quarrel was it meet to die,
But in that dreadful battle drawing nigh,
To shake the Afghan passes strait and sheer."
Like Aias by the Ships shouldst thou have stood,
And in some glen have stayed the stream of flight,
The pillar of thy people and their shield,
Till Helmund or till Indus ran with blood,
And back, towards the Northlands and the Night,
The stricken Eagles scattered from the field.