James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

August 31

Ave Atque Vale

By Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)

  • In memory of Charles Baudelaire, a French critic and poet of the romantic school. He died on August 31, 1867.

  • SHALL I strew on thee rose or rue or laurel,

    Brother, on this that was the veil of thee?

    Or quiet sea-flower moulded by the sea,

    Or simplest growth of meadow-sweet or sorrel,

    Such as the summer-sleepy Dryads weave,

    Waked up by snow-soft sudden rains at eve?

    Or wilt thou rather, as on earth before,

    Half-faded fiery blossoms, pale with heat

    And full of bitter summer, but more sweet

    To thee than gleanings of a northern shore

    Trod by no tropic feet?

    Sleep; and if life was bitter to thee, pardon,

    If sweet, give thanks; thou hast no more to live;

    And to give thanks is good, and to forgive.

    Out of the mystic and the mournful garden

    Where all day through thine hands in barren braid

    Wove the sick flowers of secrecy and shade,

    Green buds of sorrow and sin, and remnants grey,

    Sweet-smelling, pale with poison, sanguine-hearted,

    Passions that sprang from sleep and thoughts that started,

    Shall death not bring us all as thee one day

    Among the days departed?

    For thee, O now a silent soul, my brother,

    Take at my hands this garland, and farewell.

    Thin is the leaf, and chill the wintry smell,

    And chill the solemn earth, a fatal mother,

    With sadder than the Niobean womb,

    And in the hollow of her breast a tomb.

    Content thee, howsoe’er, whose days are done;

    There lies not any troublous thing before,

    Nor sight nor sound to war against thee more,

    For whom all winds are quiet as the sun,

    All waters as the shore.