Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE YOUNG CAPTIVE, by ANDRE MARIE CHENIER



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THE YOUNG CAPTIVE, by            
First Line: The sickle spares the springing corn ...'
Last Line: Within her gracious neighbourhood.
Subject(s): Death; Prisons & Prisoners; Dead, The; Convicts


"THE sickle spares the springing corn,
The sapling vine-stems drink unshorn
All summer through dawn's dewy boon
And I, as young and fair, am fain
Though now my cup be hard to drain,
To hide from Death that calls too soon.

"Let Stoics meet him unaghast;
I weep. Before the northern blast
I bow my head and lift again.
Sad days are nought beside the sweet.
What pathway never foiled the feet?
What sea but hath its hurricane?

"Within my bosom Hope doth breed,
And prison-bars stay not the speed
Of his wide wings that will not fold;
Scaped from the fowler's snare he flies
My blithe sweet bird o'er the wide skies,
And sings with heart too full to hold.

"Is death for me? With hope unquelled
I breathe, awake or slumber-held,
Free from remorse for evil done.
And with each dawn in this dark place
All eyes speak welcome for the face
Makes glad the heart of every one.

"Of milestones on my destined road
Scarce have I counted one, or strode
Beyond the trees about my home.
Scarce have I yet or broken bread
At the rich board that life doth spread,
Or sipped the full cup still afoam.

"My life's at Spring. I would behold
The harvest yield, and, onward rolled,
Would like the sun bear high my crown.
Fair on my stem the garden's queen,
The dawn-light my young eyes have seen
And yearn to see the sun go down.

"Death thou mayst wait. Go! get thee hence.
Heal thou the wounds of shame's offence
In hearts whereon despair doth brood.
For me Pan lurks, and sweet Desire
Hath kisses and the Muses quire.
I will not die in Maidenhood."

Thus, sad and captive, as she spoke
My lyre was stirred and silence broke,
In pity with her moaning blent.
And, shaking off my load of care,
I caught the song in rhyme's soft snare,
From her sweet lips and innocent.

And thus these rhymes in prison twined
May tempt some soul of studious mind
To seek the lady who thus woo'd.
So fair the face and words that pled
That unto all were death most dread
Within her gracious neighbourhood.





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