Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A SONG IN TIME OF REVOLUTION, 1860, by ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A SONG IN TIME OF REVOLUTION, 1860, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The heart of the rulers is sick, and the
Last Line: Is felt in the bones of the dead,
Variant Title(s): A Song In Time Of Revolution: 1860
Subject(s): Revolutions; Soldiers; War

THE heart of the rulers is sick, and the
high-priest covers his head:
For this is the song of the quick that is
heard in the ears of the dead.

The poor and the halt and the blind are
keen and mighty and fleet:
Like the noise of the blowing of wind is
the sound of the noise of their feet.

The wind has the sound of a laugh in the
clamor of days and of deed:
The priests are scattered like chaff, and
the rulers broken like reeds.

The high-priest sick from qualms, with his
raiment bloodily dashed;
The thief with branded palms, and the liar
with cheeks abashed.

They are smitten, they tremble greatly, they
are pained for their pleasant things:
For the house of the priests made stately,
and the might in the mouth of the kings.

They are grieved and greatly afraid; they
are taken, they shall not flee:
For the heart of the nations is made as the
strength of the springs of the sea.

They were fair in the grace of gold, they
walked with delicate feet:
They were clothed with the cunning of old,
and the smell of their garments was sweet.

For the breaking of gold in their hair they
halt as a man made lame:
They are utterly naked and bare; their
mouths are bitter with shame.

Wilt thou judge thy people now, O king
that wast found most wise?
Wilt thou lie any more, O thou whose
mouth is emptied of lies?

Shall God make a pact with thee, till his
hook be found in thy sides?
Wilt thou put back the time of the sea, or
the place of the season of tides?

Set a word in thy lips, to stand before God
with a word in thy mouth:
That "the rain shall return in the land,
and the tender dew after drouth."

But the arm of the elders is broken, their
strength is unbound and undone:
They wait for a sign of a token; they cry,
and there cometh none.

Their moan is in every place, the cry of
them filleth the land:
There is shame in the sight of their face.
there is fear in the thews of their hand.

They are girdled about the reins with a
curse for the girdle thereon:
For the noise of the rending of chains the
face of their color is gone.

For the sound of the shouting of men they
are grievously stricken at heart:
They are smitten asunder with pain, their
bones are smitten apart.

There is none of them all that is whole;
their lips gape open for breath:
They are clothed with sickness of soul,
and the shape of the shadow of death.

The wind is thwart in their feet; it is full
of the shouting of mirth;
As one shaketh the sides of a sheet so it
shaketh the ends of the earth.

The sword, the sword is made keen; the
iron has opened its mouth;
The corn is red that was green; it is bound
for the sheaves of the south.

The sound of a word was shed, the sound
of the wind as a breath
In the ears of the souls that were dead, in
the dust of the deepness of death;

Where the face of the moon is taken, the
ways of the stars undone,
The light of the whole sky shaken, the
light of the face of the sun:

Where the waters are emptied and broken,
the waves of the waters are stayed;
Where God has bound for a token the
darkness that maketh afraid;

Where the sword was covered and hidden,
and dust had grown in its side,
A word came forth which was bidden, the
crying of one that cried:

The sides of the two-edged sword shall be
bare, and its mouth shall be red,
For the breath of the face of the Lord that
is felt in the bones of the dead,

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