Robert Buchanan (1841-1901)

return to sonnet central return to the Victorian period

When We Are All Asleep

When He returns, and finds all sleeping here--
Some old, some young, some fair, and some not fair,
Will He stoop down and whisper in each ear
"Awaken!" or for pity's sake forbear,--
Saying, "How shall I meet their frozen stare
Of wonder, and their eyes so woebegone?
How shall I comfort them in their despair,
If they cry out 'too late! let us sleep on'?"
Perchance He will not wake us up, but when
He sees us look so happy in our rest,
Will murmur, "Poor dead women and dead men!
Dire was their doom, and weary was their quest.
Wherefore awake them unto life again?
Let them sleep on untroubled--it is best."

(Text from The Book of Sorrow)

Quiet Waters

O Rainbow, Rainbow! on the livid height,
Softening its ashen outline into dream,
Dewy yet brilliant, delicately bright
As pink wild-roses' leaves, why dost thou gleam
So beckoningly? whom dost thou invite
Still higher upward on the bitter quest?
What dost thou promise to the weary sight
In that strange region whence thou issuest?
Speak'st thou of pensive runlets by whose side
Our dear ones wander sweet and gentle-eyed,
In the soft dawn of a diviner Day?
Art thou a promise? Come those hues and dyes
From heavenly meads, near which thou dost arise
Iris'd from Quiet Waters, far away?

(Text from Sonnets of This Century.)