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English Poetry. Francis Thompson. To a Child Heard Repeating Her Mother’s Verses. Фрэнсис Томпсон.






Francis Thompson (Фрэнсис Томпсон)

To a Child Heard Repeating Her Mother’s Verses

    As a nymph's carven head sweet water drips,
    For others oozing so the cool delight
        Which cannot steep her stiffened mouth of stone--
    Thy nescient lips repeat maternal strains.
                  Memnonian lips!
    Smitten with singing from thy mother's east,
        And murmurous with music not their own:
        Nay, the lips flexile, while the mind alone
                A passionless statue stands.
                Oh, pardon, innocent one!
              Pardon at thine unconscious hands!
    "Murmurous with music not their own," I say?
    And in that saying how do I missay,
            When from the common sands
    Of poorest common speech of common day
    Thine accents sift the golden musics out!
          And ah, we poets, I misdoubt,
            Are little more than thou!
    We speak a lesson taught we know not how,
          And what it is that from us flows
    The hearer better than the utterer knows.

       *       *       *       *       *

    And thou, bright girl, not long shalt thou repeat
    Idly the music from thy mother caught;
            Not vainly has she wrought,
    Not vainly from the cloudward-jetting turret
    Of her aerial mind, for thy weak feet,
    Let down the silken ladder of her thought.
        She bare thee with a double pain,
          Of the body and the spirit;
        Thou thy fleshly weeds hast ta'en,
          Thy diviner weeds inherit!
    The precious streams which through thy young lips roll
    Shall leave their lovely delta in thy soul:
        Where sprites of so essential kind
            Set their paces,
        Surely they shall leave behind
            The green traces
        Of their sportance in the mind;
        And thou shalt, ere we well may know it,
          Turn that daintiness, a poet,--
            Elfin-ring
          Where sweet fancies foot and sing.
            So it may be, so it _shall_ be,--
            O, take the prophecy from me!
    What if the old fastidious sculptor, Time,
            This crescent marvel of his hands
            Carveth all too painfully,
    And I who prophesy shall never see?
    What if the niche of its predestined rhyme,
         Its aching niche, too long expectant stands?
             Yet shall he after sore delays
             On some exultant day of days
             The white enshrouding childhood raise
    From thy fair spirit, finished for our gaze;
             While we (but 'mongst that happy "we"
               The prophet cannot be!)
    While we behold with no astonishments,
    With that serene fulfilment of delight
               Wherewith we view the sight
             When the stars pitch the golden tents
    Of their high encampment on the plains of night.
    Why should amazement be our satellite?
               What wonder in such things?
    If angels have hereditary wings,
        If not by Salic law is handed down
               The poet's crown,
        To thee, born in the purple of the throne,
            The laurel must belong:
            Thou, in thy mother's right
    Descendant of Castilian-chrismèd kings--
          O Princess of the Blood of Song!

Francis Thompson’s other poems:

  1. Epilogue to the Poet’s Sitter
  2. The Child-Woman
  3. Poet and Anchorite
  4. The Mirage
  5. The Omen




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