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Poem by Edmund William Gosse


Philomel in London


Not within a granite pass,
Dim with flowers and soft with grass--
Nay, but doubly, trebly sweet
In a poplared London street,
While below my windows go
Noiseless barges, to and fro,
Through the night's calm deep,
Ah! what breaks the bonds of sleep?

No steps on the pavement fall,
Soundless swings the dark canal;
From a church-tower out of sight
Clangs the central hour of night.
Hark! the Dorian nightingale!
Pan's voice melted to a wail!
Such another bird
Attic Tereus never heard.

Hung above the gloom and stain--
London's squalid cope of pain--
Pure as starlight, bold as love,
Honouring our scant poplar-grove,
That most heavenly voice of earth
Thrills in passion, grief or mirth,
Laves our poison'd air
Life's best song-bath crystal-fair.

While the starry minstrel sings
Little matters what he brings,
Be it sorrow, be it pain,
Let him sing and sing again,
Till, with dawn, poor souls rejoice,
Wakening, once to hear his voice,
Ere afar he flies,
Bound for purer woods and skies. 



Edmund William Gosse


Edmund William Gosse's other poems:
  1. At the Play
  2. The Mænad's Grave
  3. Alere Flammam
  4. Greece and England
  5. The Bath


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