John Leicester Warren, Lord de Tabley (1835-1895)

Texts from The Golden Book of English Sonnets

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Echoes of Hellas

O choir of Tempe mute these many years,
O fountain lutes of lyric Hippocrene,
On whose polluted brink no Muse is seen.
No more between the gleaming vales one hears
Apollo's footfall or the sobbing tears
Of Daphne, budding finger-tips of green.
No nymphs are bathing with their huntress Queen
In the warm shallows of the mountain meres.

Great Pan is dead: he perished long ago:
His reedy pipes these uplands never heard.
What trembling sounds from yonder coppice come?
Some ravished queen, who tells the dale her woe?
Nay, since the maids Pierian here are dumb,
The nightingale is nothing but a bird.

The Saint and the Sun

I heard a Saint cry to the Sun--"Be dim.
Why shouldst thou rule on high with boastful ray,
Till fools adore thee as the God of Day,
Robbing thy master's honour due to him?"
But the sun-spirit, thro' each radiant limb
Translucent as a living ember coal,
Glowed. At the anger of the seraph soul
His golden orb trembled from boss to rim.

Then made he answer as a dove that sings
"God's glory is my glory, and my praise
Only his praising. They, who kneel to me,
See thro' the waving of my orient wings
A choir of stars with voices like the sea,
Singing hosanna in the heavenly ways."

The Two Old Kings

In ruling well what guerdon? Life runs low,
As yonder lamp upon the hour-glass lies,
Waning and wasted. We are great and wise,
But Love is gone; and Silence seems to grow
Along the misty road where we must go.
From summits near the morning star's uprise
Death comes, a shadow from the northern skies,
As, when all leaves are down, there comes the snow.
Brother and King, we hold our last carouse.
One loving-cup we drain and then farewell.
The night is spent: the crystal morning ray
Calls us, as soldiers laurell'd on our brows,
To march undaunted while the clarions swell,
Heroic hearts, upon our lonely way.