The Earthly Paradise: Apology

Original Text: 
William Morris, The Earthly Paradise; a poem, 6 vols. (London: F. S. Ellis, 1868-70). end M677 E38 1868a Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto) v. 1-6.
2I cannot ease the burden of your fears,
3Or make quick-coming death a little thing,
4Or bring again the pleasure of past years,
5Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears,
6Or hope again for aught that I can say,
7The idle singer of an empty day.
8But rather, when aweary of your mirth,
9From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh,
10And, feeling kindly unto all the earth,
11Grudge every minute as it passes by,
12Made the more mindful that the sweet days die--
13--Remember me a little then I pray,
14The idle singer of an empty day.
15The heavy trouble, the bewildering care
16That weighs us down who live and earn our bread,
17These idle verses have no power to bear;
18So let em sing of names remember{`e}d,
19Because they, living not, can ne'er be dead,
20Or long time take their memory quite away
21From us poor singers of an empty day.
22Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,
23Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?
24Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme
25Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
26Telling a tale not too importunate
27To those who in the sleepy region stay,
28Lulled by the singer of an empty day.
29Folk say, a wizard to a northern king
30At Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show,
31That through one window men beheld the spring,
32And through another saw the summer glow,
33And through a third the fruited vines a-row,
34While still, unheard, but in its wonted way,
35Piped the drear wind of that December day.
36So with this Earthly Paradise it is,
37If ye will read aright, and pardon me,
38Who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss
39Midmost the beating of the steely sea,
40Where tossed about all hearts of men must be;
41Whose ravening monsters mighty men shall slay,
42Not the poor singer of an empty day.


1] The entire poem consists of twenty-four long narrative poems held together by a framework, after the fashion of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. They are supposed to be told on a remote island where some Norwegian wanderers of the fourteenth century find the descendants of a band of Greeks who had settled there long before. Islanders and strangers meet monthly for a whole year, and tell alternate stories from ancient sources--Greek and Norse. "The Lady of the Land" is one of the June tales from The Earthly Paradise. It is a retelling of the shorter story in the fourth chapter of The Voyage of Sir John Maundeville, a fourteenth-century book of travel and romance. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
P. F. Morgan
RPO Edition: 
3RP 3.340.