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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sir Edmund William Gosse 1849–1928



THE POPLARS and the ancient elms

Make murmurous noises high in air;

The noon-day sunlight overwhelms

The brown cicalas basking there;

But here the shade is deep, and sweet

With new-mown grass and lentisk-shoots,

And far away the shepherds meet

With noisy fifes and flutes.

Their clamor dies upon the ear;

So now bring forth the rolls of song,

Mouth the rich cadences, nor fear

Your voice may do the poet wrong;

Lift up the chalice to our lips,—

Yet see, before we venture thus,

A stream of red libation drips

To great Theocritus.

We are in Sicily to-day;

And, as the honeyed metre flows,

Battos and Corydon, at play,

Will lose the syrinx, gain the rose;

Soft Amaryllis, too, will bind

Dark violets round her shining hair,

And in the fountain laugh to find

Her sun-browned face so fair.

We are in Sicily to-day;

Ah! foolish world, too sadly wise,

Why didst thou e’er let fade away

Those ancient, innocent ecstasies?

Along the glens, in checkered flight,

Hither to-day the nymphs shall flee,

And Pan forsake for our delight

The tomb of Helice.