Algernon Charles Swinburne
SHRIEKS out of smoke, a flame of dung-straw fire
That is not quenched but hath for only fruit
What writhes and dies not in its rotten root:
Two things made flesh, the visible desire
To match in filth the skunk, the ape in ire,
Mouthing before the mirrors with wild foot
Beyond all feebler footprint of pursuit,
The perfect twanger of the Chinese lyre!
A heart with generous virtues run to seed
In vices making all a jumbled creed:
A soul that knows not love nor trust nor shame,
But cuts itself with knives to bawl and bleed —
If thou we've known of late, art still the same,
What need, O soul, to sign thee with thy name?
Once on thy lips the golden-honeyed bees
Settling made sweet the heart that was not strong,
And sky and earth and sea swooned into song:
Once on thine eyes the light of agonies
Flashed through the soul and robbed the days of ease.
But tunes turn stale when love turns babe, and long
The exiled gentlemen grow fat with wrong,
And peasants, workmen, beggars, what are these?
O you who sang the Italian smoke above —
Mud-lark of Freedom, pipe of that vile band
Whose envy slays the tyrant, not the love
Of these poor souls none have the keeping of —
It is your hand — it is your pander hand
Smites the bruised mouth of pilloried Ireland!
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