Alfred Austin

(30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913 / Headingley)

Invocation - Poem by Alfred Austin

Where Apennine slopes unto Tuscan plain,
And breaks into dimples, and laughs to flowers,
To see where the terrors of Winter wane,
And out of a valley of grape and grain
There blossoms a City of domes and towers,

Teuton, Lombard, and grasping Gaul,
Prince and Pontiff, have forced their way,
Have forded the river, and scaled the wall,
And made in its palaces stye and stall,
Where spears might glisten and war-steeds neigh.

But ever since Florence was fair and young,
And the sun upon turret and belfry shone,
Were her windows bannered and joy-bells rung,
When back to his saddle the Stranger sprung,
And lances were lifted and pikemen gone.

Yes, ever and ever till you, my Queen,
Came over the sea that is all your own,
When the tear on the tip of the vine is seen,
And the fig-tree cressets have flamed to green,
And windflower wakened, and tulip blown.

Then roses were showered before your feet,
And her lily-crowned gonfalons waved above,
And children chanted in square and street,
`All hail to the Monarch may free men greet,
Whose sceptre is Peace, and whose Throne is Love.'

And now that each snow-torrent foams and falls,
And the oreoles sing and the skylarks soar,
And the lithe swallow circles her rose-white walls,
Through the clefts of the Apennine Florence calls,
`More welcome than Spring, come back once more!

`Come back, for the cuckoo is on its way,
And the mountains, smiling, await your smile;
And still in my olive-groves bask and stray,
Till the warm-winged waters and winds of May
Shall waft you back to your own loved Isle.'

`The sickle hath performed its work
`The sickle hath performed its work,
The storm-gusts sweep the aspens bare,
Careering clouds and shadows mirk
Cow the disheartened air.

`No swallow circles round the roof,
No chirp redeems the dripping shed;
The very gables frown reproof,
``Why not already fled?'''


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 8, 2010



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