The Garden of Proserpine

The Garden of Proserpine

The Garden of Proserpine is a poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne, written in 1866.

"Proserpine" is the Latin spelling of Persephone, married to Hades, god of the underworld. Note that when her name is actually mentioned, it is pronounced incorrectly - it is meant to rhyme with "vine" and "wine", but the actual pronunciation is "pros-er-PEEN-a".

HERE, where the world is quiet,:Here, where all trouble seemsDead winds' and spent waves' riot:In doubtful dreams of dreams;I watch the green field growingFor reaping folk and sowing,For harvest time and mowing,:A sleepy world of streams.

I am tired of tears and laughter,:And men that laugh and weepOf what may come hereafter:For men that sow to re

Here life has death for neighbor,:And far from eye or earWan waves and wet winds labor,:Weak ships and spirits steer;They drive adrift, and whitherThey wot not who make thither;But no such winds blow hither,:And no such things grow here.

No growth of moor or coppice,:No heather-flower or vine,But bloomless buds of poppies,:Green grapes of Proserpine,Pale beds of blowing rushesWhere no leaf blooms or blushes, Save this whereout she crushes:For dead men deadly wine.

Pale, without name or number,:In fruitless fields of corn,They bow themselves and slumber:All night till light is born;And like a soul belated,In hell and heaven unmated,By cloud and mist abated:Comes out of darkness morn.

Though one were strong as seven,:He too with death shall dwell,Nor wake with wings in heaven,:Nor weep for pains in hell;Though one were fair as roses,His beauty clouds and closes;And well though love reposes,:In the end it is not well.

Pale, beyond porch and portal,:Crowned with calm leaves, she standsWho gathers all things mortal:With cold immortal hands;Her languid lips are sweeterThan love's who fears to greet herTo men that mix and meet her :From many times and lands.

She waits for each and other,:She waits for all men born;Forgets the earth her mother,:The life of fruits and corn;And spring and seed and swallowTake wing for her and followWhere summer song rings hollow:And flowers are put to scorn.

There go the loves that wither,:The old loves with wearier wings;And all dead years draw thither,:And all disastrous things;Dead dreams of days forsakenBlind buds that snows have shaken,Wild leaves that winds have taken,:Red strays of ruined springs.

We are not sure of sorrow, :And joy was never sure; To-day will die to-morrow :Time stoops to no man's lure; And love, grown faint and fretful With lips but half regretful Sighs, and with eyes forgetful Weeps that no loves endure.

From too much love of living, :From hope and fear set free, We thank with brief thanksgiving :Whatever gods may be That no life lives for ever; That dead men rise up never; That even the weariest river :Winds somewhere safe to sea. Then star nor sun shall waken, :Nor any change of light: Nor sound of waters shaken, :Nor any sound or sight: Nor wintry leaves nor vernal, Nor days nor things diurnal; Only the sleep eternal :In an eternal night.


* [ Garden of Proserpine at WikiSource]

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