James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

March 13

Ballade to Banville

By Edmund Gosse (1849–1928)

  • A modern French poet, celebrated for his style. He was a follower of Victor Hugo and de Musset. He died on March 13, 1891.

  • ONE ballade more before we say good-night,

    O dying Muse, one mournful ballade more!

    Then let the new men fall to their delight,

    The Impressionist, the Decadent, a score

    Of other fresh fanatics, who adore

    Quaint demons, and disdain thy golden shrine;

    Ah! faded goddess, thou wert held divine

    When we were young! But now each laurelled head

    Has fallen, and fallen the ancient glorious line;

    The last is gone, since Banville too is dead.

    Peace, peace a moment, dolorous Ibsenite!

    Pale Tolstoist, moaning from the Euxine shore!

    Psychology, to dreamland take thy flight!

    And, fell Heredity, forbear to pour

    Drop after drop thy dose of hellebore,

    For we look back to-night to ruddier wine

    And gayer singing than these moans of thine!

    Our skies were azure once, our roses red,

    Our poets once were crowned with eglantine;

    The last is gone, since Banville too is dead.

    With flutes and lyres and many a lovely rite

    Through the mad woodland of our youth they bore

    Verse, like pure ichor in a chrysolite,

    Secret yet splendid, and the world forswore,

    For one brief space, the mocking mask it wore.

    Then failed, then fell those children of the vine,—

    Sons of the sun,—and sank in slow decline;

    Pulse after pulse their radiant lives were shed;

    To silence we their vocal names consign;

    The last is gone, since Banville too is dead.

    Prince-Jeweller, whose facet-rhymes combine

    All hues that glow, all rays that shift and shine,

    Farewell! thy song is sung, thy splendor fled!

    No bards to Aganippe’s wave incline;

    The last is gone, since Banville too is dead.