Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE RIVER AND THE SEA, by GEORGE BARLOW (1847-1913)

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE RIVER AND THE SEA, by            
First Line: Yes; sweet it was. Most sweet to watch your spanish glances
Last Line: And the eternal memory of thy face.
Subject(s): Love; Memory; Passion


Yes; sweet it was. Most sweet to watch your Spanish glances
Rove o'er the Stage, and through the gauzy mazy dances:
And yet how little part
Can I have ever in thee! Thou art the Morning's daughter!
Thy laugh is as the sound of silver running water!
How little art thou akin to my worn heart!


I love thee. Yes. But as the night might love the morrow;
Or as the spirit of joy might be beloved of sorrow,
So art thou loved of me!
Or as an inland stream that glances 'neath the bushes,
All fenced about with flowers and grass and scented rushes,
Might win the homage of the weary sea.


We have met and we shall part. Deep through my soul I know it.—
And half I would retard, and half would not forego it,
The moment sure to come
When thou wilt pass away, and leave the sun's rays duller
And the blue sea less blue,—the sunset dimmed of colour,—
And every flower (for me) less full of bloom.


We have met and we shall part. And thou wilt sorrow a little:
But ah! how the thin stalk of love is frail and brittle
In a young girl's white hands!
A poet's doom it is that even his lightest giving
Hath something in it of soul that ends not with his living
But follows him beyond the sunlit lands.


I go towards that strange night that knows not dawn nor waking:
But as for thee thine eyes are on the morning breaking
O'er vale and wood and hill.
Mine eyes are on the dark; my feet are beckoned seaward:
Thine eyes and merry feet float summerward and gleeward,
And of God's future thou wilt drink thy fill.


And yet from all my heart I thank God that I met thee!
My very soul must change before I can forget thee,
Or thy deep Spanish eyes.
Oh, never doth the sea forget the rills which slaking
Its infinite wide thirst allay its endless aching
And bring it news of far-off flowers and skies.


If I can help thee, well. I would not pain nor hurt thee:
Win thy soft river-love, to wound thee and desert thee.
Nay, never let it be
That one soft silver stream, one white-foot mountain's daughter,
Trusted with simple trust the limitless grey water,
Yet found no answering stern faith in the sea!


I am the sea,—to thee. Thou art the bright-foot river
Darting amid the reeds with tender pulse and shiver
Of guardian aspen-stems.
Thou hast had one glimpse,—just one,—of life beyond thy dreaming:
Of the far treeless waste illimitably gleaming,
Crowned with the cold stars' scentless diadems.


Thou hast given me life quite new. I, in the world no stranger,
Long versed in love and song, and passion's charm and danger,
To thee am unknown quite:
Therein for me doth lurk the subtle joy and wonder;
I part the clouds that hem the poets' hills in sunder,
And simply bask in thine eyes' sunny light.


I might have been re-born the other night when sitting
Close by thy side I watched the fairy figures flitting
Across the magic stage.
I was no more myself, but twenty summers younger.
And all that night the stars seemed lightened of their hunger,
And my heart lightened of the hunger of age.


Ah! when I seek alone the dim sea's sombre margin
On my last night of all, and all life's deeds loom large in
The strange unearthly light
That then gleams over and round about me, may I, meeting
The sea's full glance of strong inquiring love and greeting,
Feel that I left thee, as I found thee, white.


I perhaps have made an hour or two for thee pass quicker,
And made thy lamp of life more brightly flame and flicker
Just for a little space:
I have not given thee pain. And thou hast given a poet
Joy for a month or two, and pain that will outgrow it,
And the eternal memory of thy face.

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