Alfred Austin

(30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913 / Headingley)

Lines Written On Visiting The Chateaux On The Loire - Poem by Alfred Austin

``River rolling past the grey
Battlements of yesterday,
Palace strongholds reared by hands
Summoned from transalpine lands,
Skilled in wedding strength with grace,
Fort with stately dwelling-place,
Vizored brow with siren tress,
Majesty with loveliness,-

River, that beheld their sway
Dawn and dwindle, then decay,
Linger, loiter, while I sit,
As the sunshine-shadows flit,
Pondering pictures of the vast
Panorama of the Past,
And, with retrospective gaze,
Tell me of the vanished days.''

Still the river rolled and rolled
'Twixt its banks of green and gold,
Winding, wandering, slowly through
Starwort white and speedwell blue,
Flowing onward, heedless where,
Irresponsive to my prayer.

But, as motionless I dreamed
Of dim yesterdays, there seemed
From the plain to reach mine ears
Murmurings of the bygone years,
Till the river's undertone
Blent its musings with my own.

``Seaward I meander on,
All unchanged to gaze upon,
As when sceptre, pomp, and power,
Threatening parapet and tower,
Warrior grim and maiden gay
Fought and laughed the hours away:
Captains, Cardinals, and Kings,
Sepulchred with meaner things,
Nothing to distinguish now
Mitred head from minion brow,
Fleshless skull from fleshless skull,
Arrogant from beautiful;
Nameless relics of a name:-
I alone abide the same.''

Lingering still, I sate and mused,
Thought and feeling interfused
With the Châteaux and the stream
In an intermittent dream,
Till the Future wore at last
Likeness to the shadowy Past,
And I wondered if to-day,
Loftily as yesterday,
Will, departing, leave behind
Monuments of heart and mind,
Love and reverence will restore,
When men dwell in them no more.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 8, 2010

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