Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Birth of the Year / Frederick Tennyson

The Birth of the Year


Let us speak low, the Infant is asleep,
     The frosty hills grow sharp, the Day is near,
And Phosphor with his taper comes to peep
     Into the cradle of the newborn Year;
          Hush! the infant is asleep.
               Monarch of the Day and Night,
               Whisper, yet it is not light,
          The infant is asleep.


Those arms shall crush great serpents, ere to-morrow
     His closed eyes shall wake to laugh and weep;
His lips shall curl with mirth, and writhe with sorrow
     And charm up Truth and Beauty from the Deep:–
          Softly, softly let us keep
               Our vigils; visions cross his rest,
               Prophetic pulses stir his breast,
          Although he be asleep.


Now Love and Death arm'd in his presence wait;
     Genii with lamps are standing at the door;
Oh! he shall sing sweet songs, he shall relate
     Wonder, and glory, and hopes untold before:
          Murmur memories that may creep
               Into his ears of Eld sublime;
               Let the youngestborn of Time
          Hear music in his sleep.


Quickly he shall awake, the East is bright,
     And the hot glow of the unrisen Sun
Hath kiss'd his brow with promise of its light,
     His cheek is red with victory to be won;
          Quickly shall our King awake.
               Strong as giants, and arise;
               Sager than the old and wise
          The Infant shall awake.


His childhood shall be froward, wild, and thwart,
     His gladness fitful, and his angers blind,
But tender spirits shall o'ertake his heart,
     Sweet tears, and golden moments bland and kind:
          He shall give delight and take.
               Charm, enchant, dismay, and soothe,
               Raise the dead, and touch with youth;
          Oh! sing that he may wake!


Where is the sword to gird upon his thigh?
     Where is his armour and his laurel crown?
For he shall be a Conqueror ere he die,
     And win him kingdoms wider than his own;
          Like the earthquake he shall shake
               Cities down, and waste like fire,
               Then build them stronger, pile them higher,
          When he shall awake.


In the dark spheres of his unclosed eyes
     The sheathed lightnings lie, and clonded stars,
That shall glance soray, as in Summer skies.
     Or stream o'er thirsty deserts wing'd with wars;
          For in the pauses of dread hours
               He shall fling his armour off,
               And like a reveller sing and laugh,
          And dance in ladies' bowers.


Ofttimes in his midsummer he shall turn
     To look on the dead Spring with weeping eyes,
O'er ashes of frail Beauty stand and mourn,
     And kiss the bier of stricken Hope with sighs;
          Ofttimes like light of onward seas
               He shall hail great days to come,
               Or hear the first dread note of doom
          Like torrents on the breeze.


His manhood shall be blissful and sublime
    With stormy sorrows and serenest pleasures,
And his crown'd age upon the top of Time
    Shall throne him, great in glories, rich in treasures;
          The Sun is up, the Day is breaking,
               Sing ye sweetly, draw anear;
               Immortal be the newborn year,
          And blessed be its waking !

Frederick Tennyson
from Days and Hours, 1854

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

Frederick Tennyson biography

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