Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

(1834-1894 / England)

Was It Well? - Poem by Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

Was it well? was it well?
When at evening shadow fell
In the great cathedral square,
With a gable-roofing fair,
And the only glimmer there
Was a flutter of a dress,
Ever waning less and less,
As my gaze enamoured clung,
Till the moving masses wrung
It earthward and it fell;
Was it well? was it well?

Was it well? was it well?
Where fragrant azure fume
Pervades a Gothic gloom,
And jewelled gleams illume,
With a melody of lights,
Marble slumber of the knights,
Till their stony bosoms bloom
Warm to flowers on the tomb:
There the morrow at a shrine
On thy kneeling form Divine
Mine eyes to worship fell:
Was it well? was it well?

Was it well? was it well?
Where a bubbling water fell
From the snakes in carven stone,
Grasses fine about them blown;
In the greenwood lying prone
At thy feet, a boy in love
Murmured idle rhymes he wove;
While he mingled flame of eyes,
In leaf-lattices the skies
With soft suffusion fell:
Was it well? was it well?

Was it well? was it well?
Now the holy glamour fell
Upon every living thing
From the spirit of the spring:
Birds in yielding sweetly sing:
Flowers have innocent confest
Soft allurements of the West;
Leaves and herbs benumbed in death
Feel and bless the living breath,
Gladden hill and dale and dell:
Was it well? was it well?

Was it well? was it well?
Only we defied the spell:
We were timid, we were wise,
Maimed the wings of Love that flies,
Putting out his dove-like eyes,
Tamed with prudence hearts that yearned,
Cooled with caution breasts that burned;
Bosoms dreams of love made tingle,
Limbs afever till they mingle,
Only they defied the spell:
Was it well? was it well?

Was it well? was it well?
Ask no more! I cannot tell.
Spring confused her lovers all,
Each obeyed the sacred call;
Only we refused to fall,
Sanely, calmly self-incurled
'Mid such sweet madness of the world!
O'er twain that trembled into one
Love's own sweet mouth hath vainly blown,
Futile his golden tide hath flown,
Henceforth for ever passing on,
And we are still apart, alone!
Might our clashing kindle Hell?
Ask no more, I cannot tell;
Was it well? was it well?


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010



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