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A Forsaken Garden (ll. 57-80)(1876)

Algernon Charles Swinburne

All are at one now, roses and lovers,
MeterAll are at one now, roses and lovers,
Not known of the cliffs and the fields and the sea.
MeterNot known of the cliffs and the fields and the sea.

Note on line 2: In the first foot of this line 4B4V permits an iamb but prefers a spondee. This is partly because negation as such is the life of this poem’s inexorable subtractive entropy, but even more because of the nearly quantitative equivalence it observes between anapest and the spondee, as if the former were two quarter-notes plus a half-note in musical notation, the latter two half-notes. A metronome is not usually of much use in scansion, but it would work pretty well as a guide to recitation of this one. Try it for practice with the 4th line of this stanza and the 7th line of the next.

Not a breath of the time that has been hovers
MeterNot a breath of the time that has been hovers
In the air now soft with a summer to be.
MeterIn the air now soft with a summer to be.
Not a breath shall there sweeten the seasons hereafter
MeterNot a breath shall there sweeten the seasons hereafter
Of the flowers or the lovers that laugh now or weep,
MeterOf the flowers or the lovers that laugh now or weep,
When as they that are free now of weeping and laughter
MeterWhen as they that are free now of weeping and laughter
We shall sleep.
MeterWe shall sleep.

Note on line 8:Swinburne ends each stanza with a curtailed hemistich. We denominate it anapestic dimeter even though no anapest ever occurs in an 8th line, because, like the steadily rising tide rendered in the imagery of these stanzas, the metrical surge remains irresistible even where syllables are few. Consult that metronome again in recitation, and let the 8th-line hemistich fill up the pool of time that two anapests would have taken.


Here death may deal not again for ever;
MeterHere death may deal not again for ever;
Here change may come not till all change end.
MeterHere change may come not till all change end.
From the graves they have made they shall rise up never,
MeterFrom the graves they have made they shall rise up never,
Who have left nought living to ravage and rend.
MeterWho have left nought living to ravage and rend.
Earth, stones, and thorns of the wild ground growing,
MeterEarth, stones, and thorns of the wild ground growing,
While the sun and the rain live, these shall be;
MeterWhile the sun and the rain live, these shall be;
Till a last wind’s breath upon all these blowing
MeterTill a last wind’s breath upon all these blowing
Roll the sea.
MeterRoll the sea.

Till the slow sea rise and the sheer cliff crumble,
MeterTill the slow sea rise and the sheer cliff crumble,
Till terrace and meadow the deep gulfs drink,
MeterTill terrace and meadow the deep gulfs drink,
Till the strength of the waves of the high tides humble
MeterTill the strength of the waves of the high tides humble
The fields that lessen, the rocks that shrink,
MeterThe fields that lessen, the rocks that shrink,
Here now in his triumph where all things falter,
MeterHere now in his triumph where all things falter,
Stretched out on the spoils that his own hand spread,
MeterStretched out on the spoils that his own hand spread,
As a god self-slain on his own strange altar,
MeterAs a god self-slain on his own strange altar,
Death lies dead.
MeterDeath lies dead.

Rhyme
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