Alfred Austin

(30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913 / Headingley)

Dedication To Lady Windsor - Poem by Alfred Austin

Where violets blue to olives gray
From furrows brown lift laughing eyes,
And silvery Mensola sings its way
Through terraced slopes, nor seeks to stay,
But onward and downward leaps and flies;

Where vines, just newly burgeoned, link
Their hands to join the dance of Spring,
Green lizards glisten from clest and chink,
And almond blossoms rosy pink
Cluster and perch, ere taking wing;

Where over strips of emerald wheat
Glimmer red peach and snowy pear,
And nightingales all day long repeat
Their love-song, not less glad than sweet,
They chant in sorrow and gloom elsewhere;

Where, as the mid-day belfries peal,
The peasant halts beside his steer,
And, while he muncheth his homely meal,
The swelling tulips blush to feel
The amorous currents of the year;

Where purple iris-banners scale
Defending wall and crumbling ledge,
And virgin windflowers, lithe and frail,
Now mantling red, now trembling pale,
Peep out from furrow and hide in hedge;

Where with loud song the labourer tells
His love to maiden loitering nigh,
And in the fig-tree's wakening cells
The honeyed sweetness swarms and swells,
And mountains prop the spacious sky;

Where April-daring roses blow
From sunny wall and sheltered bower,
And Arno flushes with melted snow,
And Florence glittering down below
Peoples the air with dome and tower;-

How sweet, when vernal thoughts once more
Uncoil them in one's veins, and urge
My feet to fly, my wings to soar,
And, hastening downward to the shore,
I spurn the sand and skim the surge,

And, never lingering by the way,
But hastening on past candid lakes,
Mysterious mountains grim and gray,
Past pine woods dark, and bounding spray
White as its far-off parent flakes;

And thence from Alp's unfurrowed snow,
By Apennine's relenting slope,
Zigzagging downward smooth and slow
To where, all flushed with the morning glow,
Valdarno keeps its pledge with hope;

And then,-the end, the longed-for end!
Climbing the hill I oft have clomb,
Down which Mugello's waters wend,
Again, dear hospitable friend,
To find You in your Tuscan home.

You, with your kind lord, standing there,
Crowning the morn with youth and grace,
And radiant smiles that reach me ere
Our hands can touch, and Florence fair
Seems fairer in your comely face.

Behind you, Phyllis, mother's pet,
Your gift unto the Future, stands,
Dimpling your skirt, uncertain yet
If she recalls or I forget,
With violets fresh in both her hands.

And next, his eyes and cheeks aflame,
See Other with his sword arrive;
Other, who thus recalls the name,
May he some day renew the fame
And feats, who boasts the blood, of Clive.

How sweet! how fair! From vale to crest,
Come wafts of song and waves of scent,
Whose sensuous beauty in the breast
Might haply breed a vague unrest,
Did not your presence bring content.

For you, not tender more than true,
Blend Northern worth with Southern grace;
And sure Boccaccio never drew
A being so designed as you
To be the Genius of the place.

But whether among Tuscan flowers
You dwell, fair English flower, or where
Saint Fagan lifts its feudal towers,
Or Hewell from ancestral bowers
Riseth afresh, and yet more fair;

Still may your portals, eve or morn,
Fly open when they hear his name,
Who, though indeed he would not scorn
Welcome from distant days unborn,
Prizes your friendship more than fame.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 8, 2010



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