Tristram of Lyonesse is a long epic poem written by the British poet Algernon Charles Swinburne, that recounts in grand fashion the famous medieval story of the. Spring speaks again, and all our woods are stirred, And all our wide glad wastes aflower around, That twice have heard keen April's clarion sound. Since here. lthough Swinburne himself considered Tristram of Lyonesse his masterwork, this medievalist poetic embodiment of his mature system of beliefs has only recently.


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tristram of lyonesse And life or love, which first of these twain grows? For life is born of love to wail and cry, And love is born of life to heal his woes, And light of night, that day should live and die.

Swinburne's Tristram of Lyonesse: An Overview

My sea of soul is deep as thou art high, But all thy light is shed through all of me, As love's through love, while day shall live and die. Who shall sing Of love but as a churl before a king If by love's worth men tristram of lyonesse his worthiness?


Yet as the poor churl's worth to sing is less, Surely the more shall be the great king's grace To show for churlish love a kindlier face. I have heard men sing of love a simpler way Than these wrought riddles made of night and day, Tristram of lyonesse jewelled reins whereon the tristram of lyonesse hang.

So let all things pass from us; we are now, For all that was and will be, who knows why?

And all that tristram of lyonesse and is not, who knows how? God knows why day should live and die. For that sweet wonder of the twain made one And each one twain, incorporate sun with sun, Star with star molten, soul with soul imbued, And all the soul's works, all their multitude, Made one thought and one tristram of lyonesse and one song, Love—this thing, this, laid hand on her so strong She could not choose but yearn till she should see.

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So went she musing down her thoughts; but he, Sweet-hearted as a bird that takes the sun With clear strong eyes and feels the glad god run Bright through his blood and wide rejoicing wings, And opens all himself to heaven and sings, Made her mind light and full of noble mirth With words and songs the gladdest grown on earth, Till she was blithe and high of heart as he.

So swam the Swallow through the springing sea And while they tristram of lyonesse at speech as at a feast, Came a light wind fast hardening forth of the east And blackening till its might had marred the skies; And the sea thrilled as with heart-sundering sights One after one drawn, with each breath it drew, And the green hardened into tristram of lyonesse blue, And the soft light went out of all its face.

Tristram of Lyonesse

Then Tristram girt him for an oarsman's place And took his oar and smote, and toiled with might In the east wind's full face and the strong sea's spite Labouring; and all the rowers rowed hard, but he More mightily than any wearier three. And Iseult watched him rowing with sinless eyes That loved him but in holy girlish wise For noble joy in his fair manliness And trust and tender wonder; none the less She thought if God had given her grace to be Man, and make war on danger of earth and sea, Even such tristram of lyonesse man she would be; for his stroke Was mightiest as the mightier water broke, And in sheer measure like strong music drave Clean through the wet weight of the wallowing wave; And as a tune before a great king played For triumph was the tune their strong strokes made, And sped the ship through which smooth strife of oars Over the mid sea's grey foam-paven floors, For all the loud breach of the waves at will.

So for an hour they fought the storm out still, And the shorn foam spun from the blades, and high The keel sprang from the wave-ridge, and the sky Glared at them tristram of lyonesse a breath's space through the rain; Then the bows with a sharp shock plunged again Down, and the sea clashed on them, and so rose The bright stem like one panting from swift blows, And as a swimmer's joyous beaten head Rears itself laughing, so in that sharp stead The light ship lifted her long quivering bows As might the man his buffeted strong brows Out of the wave-breach; for with one stroke yet Went all men's oars together, strongly set As to loud music, and with hearts uplift They smote their strong way through the drench and drift: Till the keen hour had chafed itself to death Tristram of lyonesse the east wind fell fitfully, breath by breath, Tired; and across the thin and slackening rain Sprang the face southward of the sun again.


Then all they rested and were eased at heart; And Iseult rose up where she sat apart, And with her sweet soul deepening her deep eyes Cast the furs tristram of lyonesse her and subtle embroideries That wrapped her from the storming rain and spray, And shining like all April in one day, Hair, face, tristram of lyonesse throat dashed with the straying showers, She stood the first of all the whole world's flowers, And laughed on Tristram with her eyes, and said, "I too have heart then, I was not afraid.

A live man in such wise Looks in the deadly face of his fixed hour And laughs with lips wherein he hath no power To keep the life yet some five minutes' space. So Tristram looked on Iseult face to face and knew not, and she knew not.

Tristram of Lyonesse Quotes

The last time — The last that should be told in any rhyme Heard anywhere on mouths of singing men That ever should sing praise of them again; The last hour of their hurtless hearts at rest, The last that peace should touch them, breast to breast, The last that sorrow far from them should sit, This last was with them, and they knew not it.

For Tristram being athirst with toil now spake, Saying, "Iseult, for all dear love's labour's sake Give me to drink, and give me for a pledge The touch of four lips on the beaker's edge. And spying what strange bright tristram of lyonesse charge was kept Fast in the maid's white bosom while she slept, She sought and drew the gold cup forth and smiled Marvelling, with such light wonder as a child Tristram of lyonesse hears of glad sad life in magic lands; And bare it back to Tristram with pure hands Holding the love-draught that should be for flame To burn out of them fear and faith and shame, And lighten all their life up in men's sight, And make them sad for ever.

Then the knight Bowed toward her and craved whence had she this strange thing That might be spoil of some dim Asian king, But starlight stolen from some waste place of sands, And a maid bore it here in harmless hands. And Iseult, laughing — "Other lords that be Feast, and their men feast after them; but we, Our men must keep the best wine back to feast Till they be full and we of all men least Feed after them and fain to fare so well: So with mine handmaid and your squire it fell That hid this bright thing from us in a wile: And all their life tristram of lyonesse in them, for they quaffed Death; if it be death so to drink, and fare As men who change and are what these twain were.

And shuddering with eyes full of fear and fire And heart-stung with a serpentine desire He turned and saw the terror in her eyes That yearned upon him shining in such wise As a star midway in the midnight fixed.

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