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Poem by Francis Thompson


Buona Notte


 Jane Williams, in her last letter to Shelley, wrote:

 "Why do you talk of never enjoying moments like the past?
 Are you going to join your friend Plato, or do you expect I
 shall do so soon? Buona Notte." That letter was dated July
 6th; Shelley was drowned on the 8th; and this is his
 imagined reply to it from another world:--

Ariel to Miranda:--hear
This good-night the sea-winds bear;
And let thine unacquainted ear
Take grief for their interpreter.

Good-night; I have risen so high
Into slumber's rarity,
Not a dream can beat its feather
Through the unsustaining ether.
Let the sea-winds make avouch
How thunder summoned me to couch,
Tempest curtained me about
And turned the sun with his own hand out:
And though I toss upon my bed
My dream is not disquieted;
Nay, deep I sleep upon the deep,
And my eyes are wet, but I do not weep;
And I fell to sleep so suddenly
That my lips are moist yet--could'st thou see--
With the good-night draught I have drunk to thee.
Thou can'st not wipe them; for it was Death
Damped my lips that has dried my breath.
A little while--it is not long--
The salt shall dry on them like the song.

Now know'st thou, that voice desolate,
Mourning ruined joy's estate,
Reached thee through a closing gate.
"Go'st thou to Plato?" Ah, girl, no!
It is to Pluto that I go.



Francis Thompson


Francis Thompson's other poems:
  1. Epilogue to the Poet's Sitter
  2. A Fallen Yew
  3. A Judgment in Heaven
  4. To My Godchild, Francis M.W.M.
  5. Any Saint


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