Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


April

From the French of the Vidame de Chartres

When the fields catch flower
   And the underwood is green,
And from bower unto bower
   The songs of the birds begin,
   I sing with sighing between.
When I laugh and sing,
   I am heavy at heart for my sin;
I am sad in the spring
   For my love that I shall not win,
For a foolish thing.

This profit I have of my woe,
   That I know, as I sing,
I know he will needs have it so
   Who is master and king,
   Who is lord of the spirit of spring.
I will serve her and will not spare
   Till her pity awake
Who is good, who is pure, who is fair,
   Even her for whose sake
Love hath ta'en me and slain unaware.

O my lord, O Love,
   I have laid my life at thy feet;
Have thy will thereof,
   Do as it please thee with it,
   For what shall please thee is sweet.
I am come unto thee
   To do thee service, O Love;
Yet cannot I see
   Thou wilt take any pity thereof,
Any mercy on me.

But the grace I have long time sought
   Comes never in sight,
If in her it abideth not,
   Through thy mercy and might,
   Whose heart is the world's delight.
Thou hast sworn without fail I shall die,
   For my heart is set
On what hurts me, I wot not why,
   But cannot forget
What I love, what I sing for and sigh.

She is worthy of praise,
   For this grief of her giving is worth
All the joy of my days
   That lie between death's day and birth,
   All the lordship of things upon earth.
Nay, what have I said?
   I would not be glad if I could;
My dream and my dread
   Are of her, and for her sake I would
That my life were fled.

Lo, sweet, if I durst not pray to you,
   Then were I dead;
If I sang not a little to say to you,
   (Could it be said)
   O my love, how my heart would be fed;
Ah sweet who hast hold of my heart,
   For thy love's sake I live,
Do but tell me, ere either depart,
   What a lover may give
For a woman so fair as thou art.

The lovers that disbelieve,
   False rumours shall grieve
And evil-speaking shall part.

Credit


This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 6, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Author


Algernon Charles Swinburne

Algernon Charles Swinburne, English poet and critic, was born on April 5, 1837, in London.

Date Published: 2013-04-06

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/april-2