new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

Memorial Hymn
Was it indeed for this, O my brothers, ye fought?
Did the boyish mouths and the young, impetuous limbs
Go down into darkness, but that memorial hymns
Should wing their way to the city no man has sought
Till the heart in his breast grew weary of mortal lands,
And the sword of his valour weary of mortal quest ?
Nay, we crown you with laurels now. But I think it were best
Did we bring you the simpler crown of beloved hands.

I had rather we gave you the pearl-grey whisper of rain,
Echoing song of a shadowy wind at eve
And the voice of the dragonfly waters that heed not pain
Than the pomp of these lone, high choirs: for I do not believe
That ye cared, O lost ones, for solemn and stately things,
That ye fell, (as men say,) for the worth of a lofty name.
I believe that your hearts were as nests for the lowlier wings,
That the eyes which illumined your dreams were unknown to fame.

I believe not ye fell for a King, for a land held high.
It is well; even these may perish. Yet much shall remain ó
A girlís sweet laughter, a cherry-bough bright with rain,
These were your broken light, when the dark rolled nigh,
And these upheld you, where glory could not uphold.
O dead and laughing, we meet in a silent place.
But the grailís pure light dwells yet in a childís young face,
And the starry tapers ye looked on have waxed not old.


Last updated 21 September, 2003