Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON A PORTRAIT OF SIFR JOHN SUCKLING, by JOHN BYRNE LEICESTER WARREN



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ON A PORTRAIT OF SIFR JOHN SUCKLING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Two hundred years, my hero, thou hast lain
Last Line: To the great gone-away?
Alternate Author Name(s): Lancaster, William P.; Preston, George F.; De Tabley, 3d Baron; De Tabley, Lord
Subject(s): Suckling, John (1609-1642)


Two hundred years, my hero, thou hast lain
Rusting in earth. The world has gone its way
Careless that Death has mown thy golden youth.
Soldiers have fought and died and known not thee.
Maidens have loved, who never heard thy name.
And thou, whom Muses crowned with every gift,
While yet a boy -- tho' in achievement man
And monarch -- young in years yet ripe in fame,
Art snatched away; while this grim raven, Death,
Feeds on the light and glory of the world.
Heroic heart, long silent in the dust;
Where is the warrior's tomb, what grey church tower
Is honoured by thy rest? Art thou inurned
In some dim Norfolk village, whence thy race
Came of a kindly stock who fed their beeves
And grew their grain? Hast thou an effigy
Armoured in stone, with angels at the base
In alabaster sorrow; as the mode
Ran of sepulchral grief? And overhead
Thy gauntlet and thy banner and thy helm
Nailed to the chancel wall, and covered quite
With cobwebs. While thy wasted banner droops
As if the spiders wove its ragged sides.
And this thy hatchment, azure once and gules,
And three stags golden, emblems of thy race,
Effaced and tarnished, half the tinctures gone.
Oblivion and a hecatomb of dust
Invade the silent precincts of thy rest,
And thro' the lancet window I can hear
The voices of the village, forge and mart,
Harrow and spade, the mill-wheel and the plough.
While in the coppice sole, one nightingale
Sings me reminders of a note as sweet
And tender as her own; and while she sings
Thou art not quite forgot, my soldier bard,
Here in the pastoral village of thy youth.

Tender and great, true poet, dauntless heart,
We cannot see with eyes as clear as thine.
A sordid time dwarfs down the race of men.
They may not touch the lute or draw the sword
As thou didst, half immortal. So we hang
A wreath of homage on our captain's urn.

Farewell, to other scenes we must begone.
The elms are shining in the sun: the roofs
Melt with the mighty rain. The uprolled cloud
Soars in its majesty away through heaven.
The morning breaks in red and lustre. Earth
Is glad because of her. But we bewail
The young glad light of our Apollo gone,
Thy laurel, and thy lyre with broken chords,
And snapt below the hilt, thy gallant sword.

Where is the winsome lady whom he met
In that old spring among the old-world flowers?
Where are her fairy footsteps, where are gone
Aglaura's graceful curls? The tender rose
That lay against her cavalier's soft kiss:
The lordly, the invincible, the king
Of every Muse. Surely, that giant wreath,
Stamped on the opening page of thy renown,
Made out of all the woods, that leaf shedding
Of rathe Castalia's orchards, that green round
Shall wrap thee in with honour, dear and dead,
True gentleman, great type of ages gone,
To shallow natures in the days of smoke:
Radiant Apollo, warrior, Englishman,
To whom the cannon calling or the lute
Came with an equal voice: colleague of gods,
Such as the puny mothers of the world
No longer nourish on degenerate breasts,
The giants of the dawn, that never more
Shall come again. Old England, hear me say,
This man has lain in dust two hundred years,
Hast thou another such, my country, peer
To the great gone-away?





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