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Poem by Edward Dowden


The Fountain


(AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SONNETS)

Hush, let the fountain murmur dim
Melodious secrets; stir no limb,
But lie along the marge and wait,
Till deep and pregnant as with fate,
Fine as a star-beam, crystal-clear,
Each ripple grows upon the ear.
This is that fountain seldom seen
By mortal wanderer,--Hippocrene,--
Where the virgins three times three,
Thy singing brood, Mnemosyne,
Loosend the girdle, and with grave
Pure joy their faultless bodies gave
To sacred pleasure of the wave.
Listen! the lapsing waters tell
The urgence uncontrollable
Which makes the trouble of their breast,
And bears them onward with no rest
To ampler skies and some grey plain
Sad with the tumbling of the main.
But see, a sidelong eddy slips
Back into the soft eclipse
Of day, while careless fate allows,
Darkling beneath still olive boughs;
Then with chuckle liquid sweet
Coils within its shy retreat;
This is mine, no wave of might,
But pure and live with glimmering light;
I dare not follow that broad flood
Of Poesy, whose lustihood
Nourishes mighty lands, and makes
Resounding music for their sakes;
I lie beside the well-head clear
With musing joy, with tender fear,
And choose for half a day to lean
Thus on my elbow where the green
Margin-grass and silver-white
Starry buds, the winds delight,
Thirsting steer, nor goat-hoof rude
Of the branch-sundering Satyr brood
Has ever pashed; now, now, I stoop,
And in hand-hollow dare to scoop
This scantling from the delicate stream;
It lies as quiet as a dream,
And lustrous in my curvèd hand.
Were it a crime if this were draind
By lips which met the noonday blue
Fiery and emptied of its dew?
Crown me with small white marish-flowers!
To the good Dæmon, and the Powers
Of this fair haunt I offer up
In unprofanèd lily-cup
Libations; still remains for me
A birds drink of clear Poesy;
Yet not as light bird comes and dips
A pert bill, but with reverent lips
I drain this slender trembling tide;
O sweet the coolness at my side,
And, lying back, to slowly pry
For spaces of the upper sky
Radiant twixt woven olive leaves;
And, last, while some fair show deceives
The closing eyes, to find a sleep
As full of healing and as deep
As on toil-worn Odysseus lay
Surge-swept to his Ionian bay.



Edward Dowden


Edward Dowden's other poems:
  1. In the Galleries
  2. In the Cathedral
  3. The Wanderer
  4. In July
  5. In September


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Joanna Baillie The Fountain ("IT was a well")
  • John Whittier The Fountain ("TRAVELLER! on thy journey toiling")
  • Clinton Scollard The Fountain ("A Triton, drowsy as the god of Sleep")
  • Sara Teasdale The Fountain ("OH in the deep blue night")

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