The Young Captive

Original Text: 

Wilfrid Thorley, Fleurs de Lys: A Book of French Poetry Freely Translated into English Verse. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1920. 127-29. Internet Archive.

1"The sickle spares the springing corn.
2The sapling vine-stems drink unshorn
3     All summer through dawn's dewy boon
4And I, as young and fair, am fain
5Though now my cup be hard to drain,
6     To hide from Death that calls too soon.
7"Let Stoics meet him unaghast;
8I weep. Before the northern blast
9     I bow my head and lift again.
10Sad days are nought beside the sweet.
11What pathway never foiled the feet?
12     What sea but hath its hurricane?
13"Within my bosom Hope doth breed,
14And prison-bars stay not the speed
15     Of his wide wings that will not fold;
16Scaped from the fowler's snare he flies
17My blithe sweet bird o'er the wide skies,
18     And sings with heart too full to hold.
19"Is death for me? With hope unquelled
20I breathe, awake or slumber-held,
21     Free from remorse for evil done.
22And with each dawn in this dark place
23All eyes speak welcome for the face
24     Makes glad the heart of every one.
25"Of milestones on my destined road
26Scarce have I counted one, or strode
27     Beyond the trees about my home.
28Scarce have I yet or broken bread
29At the rich board that life doth spread,
30     Or sipped the full cup still afoam.
31"My life's at Spring. I would behold
32The harvest yield, and, onward rolled,
33     Would like the sun bear high my crown.
34Fair on my stem the garden's queen.
35The dawn-light my young eyes have seen
36     And yearn to see the sun go down.
37"Death thou mayst wait. Go! get thee hence.
38Heal thou the wounds of shame's offence
39     In hearts whereon despair doth brood.
40For me Pan lurks, and sweet Desire
41Hath kisses and the Muses quire.
42     I will not die in Maidenhood."
43Thus, sad and captive, as she spoke
44My lyre was stirred and silence broke,
45 In pity with her moaning blent.
46And, shaking off my load of care,
47I caught the song in rhyme's soft snare,
48 From her sweet lips and innocent.
49And thus these rhymes in prison twined
50May tempt some soul of studious mind
51     To seek the lady who thus woo'd.
52So fair the face and words that pled
53That into all were death most dread
54     Within her gracious neighbourhood.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
Data entry: Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: