Algernon Charles Swinburne

(5 April 1837 - 10 April 1909 / London)

Quia Nominor Leo: Sonnets - Poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

I.
WHAT part is left thee, lion? Ravenous beast,
Which hadst the world for pasture, and for scope
And compass of thine homicidal hope
The kingdom of the spirit of man, the feast
Of souls subdued from west to sunless east,
From blackening north to bloodred south aslope,
All servile; earth for footcloth of the pope,
And heaven for chancel-ceiling of the priest;
Thou that hadst earth by right of rack and rod,
Thou that hadst Rome because thy name was God,
And by thy creed’s gift heaven wherein to dwell;
Heaven laughs with all his light and might above
That earth has cast thee out of faith and love;
Thy part is but the hollow dream of hell.



II.

The light of life has faded from thy cause,
High priest of heaven and hell and purgatory:
Thy lips are loud with strains of oldworld story,
But the red prey was rent out of thy paws
Long since and they that dying brake down thy laws
Have with the fires of death-enkindled glory
Put out the flame that faltered on thy hoary
High altars, waning with the world’s applause.
This Italy was Dante’s Bruno died
Here Campanella, too sublime for pride,
Endured thy God’s worst here, and hence went home.
And what art thou, that time’s full tide should shrink
For thy sake downward? What art thou, to think
Thy God shall give thee back for birthright Rome?


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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