Ballades I – To Theocritus, in Winter – Andrew Lang

Ballades I – To Theocritus, in Winter by Andrew Lang. Andrew Lang was the son of the Sheriff-Clerk of Selkirkshire, and was born in Selkirk, Scotland, on 31 March 1844. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and the Universities of St. Andrews and Glasgow, and won a Snell Exhibition to Balliol College, Oxford. He graduated with a first in Greats in 1868 and became a Fellow of Merton College, researching in anthropology there until 1874. At Oxford he was associated with the Rondelier group of poets.

Ballades I - To Theocritus, in Winter - Andrew Lang

He went to London in 1875 and lived there for most of his life, spending his winters in St. Andrews in later years. He married Leonore Blanche Alleyne on 17 April 1875.

He became one of the best-known journalists of his day, writing leaders for The Daily News and a column called “At the Sign of the Ship” for Longman’s Magazine. His friends included Robert Louis Stevenson (whom he first met while they were both invalids on the Riviera) and W. E. Henley, who called him “the divine amateur”. As a critic he was hostile to the novels of Henry James (1843-1916) and Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), but was one of the first to recognise the talent of George Douglas Brown. He died on 20 July 1912.

Andrew Lang Poems
Andrew Lang Poems

Ballades I – To Theocritus, in Winter

AH! leave the smoke, the wealth, the roar
Of London, leave the bustling street,
For still, by the Sicilian shore,
The murmur of the Muse is sweet.
Still, still, the suns of summer greet
The mountain-grave of Helike,
And shepherds still their songs repeat
Where breaks the blue Sicilian sea.What though they worship Pan no more
That guarded once the shepherd’s seat,
They chatter of their rustic lore,
They watch the wind among the wheat:
Cicalas chirp, the young lambs bleat,
Where whispers pine to cypress tree;
They count the waves that idly beat,
Where breaks the blue Sicilian sea.Theocritus! thou canst restore
The pleasant years, and over-fleet;
With thee we live as men of yore,
We rest where running waters meet:
And then we turn unwilling feet
And seek the world—so must it be—
We may not linger in the heat
Where breaks the blue Sicilian sea!ENVOYMaster,—when rain, and snow, and sleet
And northern winds are wild, to thee
We come, we rest in thy retreat,
Where breaks the blue Sicilian sea!

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