The Early Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson

Part 8 out of 10

About his path, and hover near
With words of promise in his walk,
And whisper'd voices at his ear. [2]


More close and close his footsteps wind;
The Magic Music [3] in his heart
Beats quick and quicker, till he find
The quiet chamber far apart.
His spirit flutters like a lark,
He stoops--to kiss her--on his knee.
"Love, if thy tresses be so dark,
How dark those hidden eyes must be!

[Footnote 1: 1842 to 1851. In.]

[Footnote 2: All editions up to and including 1850. In his ear.]

[Footnote 3: All editions up to and including 1851. Not capitals in
magic music.]


No alteration after 1853.


A touch, a kiss! the charm was snapt.
There rose a noise of striking clocks,
And feet that ran, and doors that clapt,
And barking dogs, and crowing cocks;
A fuller light illumined all,
A breeze thro' all the garden swept,
A sudden hubbub shook the hall,
And sixty feet the fountain leapt.


The hedge broke in, the banner blew,
The butler drank, the steward scrawl'd,
The fire shot up, the martin flew,
The parrot scream'd, the peacock squall'd,
The maid and page renew'd their strife,
The palace bang'd, and buzz'd and clackt,
And all the long-pent stream of life
Dash'd downward in a cataract.


And last with these [1] the king awoke,
And in his chair himself uprear'd,
And yawn'd, and rubb'd his face, and spoke,
"By holy rood, a royal beard!
How say you? we have slept, my lords,
My beard has grown into my lap."
The barons swore, with many words,
'Twas but an after-dinner's nap.


"Pardy," return'd the king, "but still
My joints are something [2] stiff or so.
My lord, and shall we pass the bill
I mention'd half an hour ago?"
The chancellor, sedate and vain,
In courteous words return'd reply:
But dallied with his golden chain,
And, smiling, put the question by.

[Footnote 1: 1842 to 1851. And last of all.]

[Footnote 2: 1863. Somewhat.]


(No alteration since 1842.)


And on her lover's arm she leant,
And round her waist she felt it fold,
And far across the hills they went
In that new world which is the old:
Across the hills and far away
Beyond their utmost purple rim,
And deep into the dying day
The happy princess follow'd him.


"I'd sleep another hundred years,
O love, for such another kiss;"
"O wake for ever, love," she hears,
"O love, 'twas such as this and this."
And o'er them many a sliding star,
And many a merry wind was borne,
And, stream'd thro' many a golden bar,
The twilight melted into morn.


"O eyes long laid in happy sleep!"
"O happy sleep, that lightly fled!"
"O happy kiss, that woke thy sleep!"
"O love, thy kiss would wake the dead!"
And o'er them many a flowing range
Of vapour buoy'd the crescent-bark,
And, rapt thro' many a rosy change,
The twilight died into the dark.


"A hundred summers! can it be?
And whither goest thou, tell me where?"
"O seek my father's court with me!
For there are greater wonders there."
And o'er the hills, and far away
Beyond their utmost purple rim,
Beyond the night across the day,
Thro' all the world she follow'd him.


(No alteration since 1842.)


So, Lady Flora, take my lay,
And if you find no moral there,
Go, look in any glass and say,
What moral is in being fair.
Oh, to what uses shall we put
The wildweed-flower that simply blows?
And is there any moral shut
Within the bosom of the rose?


But any man that walks the mead,
In bud or blade, or bloom, may find,
According as his humours lead,
A meaning suited to his mind.
And liberal applications lie
In Art like Nature, dearest friend; [1]
So 'twere to cramp its use, if I
Should hook it to some useful end.

[Foonote 1: So Wordsworth:--

O Reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader! you would find
A tale in everything.

--'Simon Lee'.]


(No alteration since 1843 except in numbering the stanzas.)


You shake your head. A random string
Your finer female sense offends.
Well--were it not a pleasant thing
To fall asleep with all one's friends;
To pass with all our social ties
To silence from the paths of men;
And every hundred years to rise
And learn the world, and sleep again;
To sleep thro' terms of mighty wars,
And wake on science grown to more,
On secrets of the brain, the stars,
As wild as aught of fairy lore;
And all that else the years will show,
The Poet-forms of stronger hours,
The vast Republics that may grow,
The Federations and the Powers;
Titanic forces taking birth
In divers seasons, divers climes;
For we are Ancients of the earth,
And in the morning of the times.


So sleeping, so aroused from sleep
Thro' sunny decads new and strange,
Or gay quinquenniads would we reap
The flower and quintessence of change.


Ah, yet would I--and would I might!
So much your eyes my fancy take--
Be still the first to leap to light
That I might kiss those eyes awake!
For, am I right or am I wrong,
To choose your own you did not care;
You'd have 'my' moral from the song,
And I will take my pleasure there:
And, am I right or am I wrong,
My fancy, ranging thro' and thro',
To search a meaning for the song,
Perforce will still revert to you;
Nor finds a closer truth than this
All-graceful head, so richly curl'd,
And evermore a costly kiss
The prelude to some brighter world.


For since the time when Adam first
Embraced his Eve in happy hour,
And every bird of Eden burst
In carol, every bud to flower,
What eyes, like thine, have waken'd hopes?
What lips, like thine, so sweetly join'd?
Where on the double rosebud droops
The fullness of the pensive mind;
Which all too dearly self-involved, [1]
Yet sleeps a dreamless sleep to me;
A sleep by kisses undissolved,
That lets thee [2] neither hear nor see:
But break it. In the name of wife,
And in the rights that name may give,
Are clasp'd the moral of thy life,
And that for which I care to live.

[Foonote 1: 1842. The pensive mind that, self-involved.]

[Foonote 2: 1842. Which lets thee.]


(No alteration since 1842.)

So, Lady Flora, take my lay,
And, if you find a meaning there,
O whisper to your glass, and say,
"What wonder, if he thinks me fair?"
What wonder I was all unwise,
To shape the song for your delight
Like long-tail'd birds of Paradise,
That float thro' Heaven, and cannot light?
Or old-world trains, upheld at court
By Cupid-boys of blooming hue--
But take it--earnest wed with sport,
And either sacred unto you.


First published in 1842. No alteration since 1850.

In this humorous allegory the poet bewails his unhappy lot on having
fallen on an age so unpropitious to poetry, contrasting it with the
happy times so responsive to his predecessors who piped to a world
prepared to dance to their music. However, he must toil and be satisfied
if he can make a little garden blossom.

My father left a park to me,
But it is wild and barren,
A garden too with scarce a tree
And waster than a warren:
Yet say the neighbours when they call,
It is not bad but good land,
And in it is the germ of all
That grows within the woodland.

O had I lived when song was great
In days of old Amphion, [1]
And ta'en my fiddle to the gate,
Nor cared for seed or scion!
And had I lived when song was great,
And legs of trees were limber,
And ta'en my fiddle to the gate,
And fiddled in the timber!

'Tis said he had a tuneful tongue,
Such happy intonation,
Wherever he sat down and sung
He left a small plantation;
Wherever in a lonely grove
He set up his forlorn pipes,
The gouty oak began to move,
And flounder into hornpipes.

The mountain stirr'd its bushy crown,
And, as tradition teaches,
Young ashes pirouetted down
Coquetting with young beeches;
And briony-vine and ivy-wreath
Ran forward to his rhyming,
And from the valleys underneath
Came little copses climbing.

The linden broke her ranks and rent
The woodbine wreathes that bind her,
And down the middle, buzz! she went,
With all her bees behind her. [2]
The poplars, in long order due,
With cypress promenaded,
The shock-head willows two and two
By rivers gallopaded.

The birch-tree swang her fragrant hair,
The bramble cast her berry,
The gin within the juniper
Began to make him merry.

Came wet-shot alder from the wave,
Came yews, a dismal coterie;
Each pluck'd his one foot from the grave,
Poussetting with a sloe-tree:
Old elms came breaking from the vine,
The vine stream'd out to follow,
And, sweating rosin, plump'd the pine
From many a cloudy hollow.

And wasn't it a sight to see
When, ere his song was ended,
Like some great landslip, tree by tree,
The country-side descended;
And shepherds from the mountain-caves
Look'd down, half-pleased, half-frighten'd,
As dash'd about the drunken leaves
The random sunshine lighten'd!

Oh, nature first was fresh to men,
And wanton without measure;
So youthful and so flexile then,
You moved her at your pleasure.
Twang out, my fiddle! shake the twigs!
And make her dance attendance;
Blow, flute, and stir the stiff-set sprigs,
And scirrhous roots and tendons.

'Tis vain! in such a brassy age
I could not move a thistle;
The very sparrows in the hedge
Scarce answer to my whistle;
Or at the most, when three-parts-sick
With strumming and with scraping,
A jackass heehaws from the rick,
The passive oxen gaping.

But what is that I hear? a sound
Like sleepy counsel pleading:
O Lord!--'tis in my neighbour's ground,
The modern Muses reading.
They read Botanic Treatises.
And works on Gardening thro' there,
And Methods of transplanting trees
To look as if they grew there.

The wither'd Misses! how they prose
O'er books of travell'd seamen,
And show you slips of all that grows
From England to Van Diemen.
They read in arbours clipt and cut,
And alleys, faded places,
By squares of tropic summer shut
And warm'd in crystal cases.

But these, tho' fed with careful dirt,
Are neither green nor sappy;
Half-conscious of the garden-squirt,
The spindlings look unhappy, [3]
Better to me the meanest weed
That blows upon its mountain,
The vilest herb that runs to seed
Beside its native fountain.

And I must work thro' months of toil,
And years of cultivation,
Upon my proper patch of soil
To grow my own plantation.
I'll take the showers as they fall,
I will not vex my bosom:
Enough if at the end of all
A little garden blossom.

[Foonote 1: Amphion was no doubt capable of performing all the feats
here attributed to him, but there is no record of them; he appears to
have confined himself to charming the stones into their places when
Thebes was being built. Tennyson seems to have confounded him with

[Footnote 2: Till 1857 these four lines ran thus:--

The birch-tree swang her fragrant hair,
The bramble cast her berry.
The gin within the juniper
Began to make him merry.]

[Footnote 3: All editions up to and including 1850. The poor things look


This exquisite little poem was first published in 1837 in the
'Keepsake', an annual edited by Lady Emmeline Stuart Wortley, and was
included in the edition of 1842. No alteration has been made in it since

In 1857 the title was altered from "St. Agnes" to "St. Agnes' Eve," thus
bringing it near to Keats' poem, which certainly influenced Tennyson in
writing it, as a comparison of the opening of the two poems will show.
The saint from whom the poem takes its name was a young girl of thirteen
who suffered martyrdom in the reign of Diocletian: she is a companion to
Sir Galahad.

Deep on the convent-roof the snows
Are sparkling to the moon:
My breath to heaven like vapour goes:
May my soul follow soon!
The shadows of the convent-towers
Slant down the snowy sward,
Still creeping with the creeping hours
That lead me to my Lord:
Make Thou [1] my spirit pure and clear
As are the frosty skies,
Or this first snowdrop of the year
That in [2] my bosom lies.

As these white robes are soiled and dark,
To yonder shining ground;
As this pale taper's earthly spark,
To yonder argent round;
So shows my soul before the Lamb,
My spirit before Thee;
So in mine earthly house I am,
To that I hope to be.
Break up the heavens, O Lord! and far,
Thro' all yon starlight keen,
Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star,
In raiment white and clean.

He lifts me to the golden doors;
The flashes come and go;
All heaven bursts her starry floors,
And strows [3] her lights below,
And deepens on and up! the gates
Roll back, and far within
For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits, [4]
To make me pure of sin. [5]
The sabbaths of Eternity,
One sabbath deep and wide--
A light upon the shining sea--
The Bridegroom [6] with his bride!

[Footnote 1: In 'Keepsake': not capital in Thou.]

[Footnote 2: In 'Keepsake': On.]

[Footnote 3: In 'Keepsake': Strews.]

[Footnote 4: In 'Keepsake': not capitals in Heavenly and Bridegroom.]

[Footnote 5: In 'Keepsake': To wash me pure from sin.]

[Footnote 6: In 'Keepsake': capital in Bridegroom.]


Published in 1842. No alteration has been made in it since. This poem
may be regarded as a prelude to 'The Holy Grail'. The character of
Galahad is deduced principally from the seventeenth book of the 'Morte
d'Arthur'. In the twenty-second chapter of that book St. Joseph of
Arimathea says to him: "Thou hast resembled me in two things in that
thou hast seen the marvels of the sangreal, and in that thou has been a
clean maiden".

My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.

The shattering trumpet shrilleth high,
The hard brands shiver on the steel,
The splinter'd spear-shafts crack and fly,
The horse and rider reel:

They reel, they roll in clanging lists,
And when the tide of combat stands,
Perfume and flowers fall in showers,
That lightly rain from ladies' hands.

How sweet are looks that ladies bend
On whom their favours fall!
For them I battle till the end,
To save from shame and thrall:
But all my heart is drawn above,
My knees are bow'd in crypt and shrine:
I never felt the kiss of love,
Nor maiden's hand in mine.
More bounteous aspects on me beam,
Me mightier transports move and thrill;
So keep I fair thro' faith and prayer
A virgin heart in work and will.

When down the stormy crescent goes,
A light before me swims,
Between dark stems the forest glows,
I hear a noise of hymns:
Then by some secret shrine I ride;
I hear a voice, but none are there;
The stalls are void, the doors are wide,
The tapers burning fair.
Fair gleams the snowy altar-cloth,
The silver vessels sparkle clean,
The shrill bell rings, the censer swings,
And solemn chaunts resound between.

Sometimes on lonely mountain-meres
I find a magic bark;
I leap on board: no helmsman steers:
I float till all is dark.
A gentle sound, an awful light!
Three angels bear the holy Grail:
With folded feet, in stoles of white,
On sleeping wings they sail.
Ah, blessed vision! blood of God!
My spirit beats her mortal bars,
As down dark tides the glory slides,
And star-like mingles with the stars.

When on my goodly charger borne
Thro' dreaming towns I go,
The cock crows ere the Christmas morn,
The streets are dumb with snow.
The tempest crackles on the leads,
And, ringing, spins from brand and mail;
But o'er the dark a glory spreads,
And gilds the driving hail.
I leave the plain, I climb the height;
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
But blessed forms in whistling storms
Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields.

A maiden knight--to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear;
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven
That often meet me here.
I muse on joy that will not cease,
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Pure lilies of eternal peace,
Whose odours haunt my dreams;
And, stricken by an angel's hand,
This mortal armour that I wear,
This weight and size, this heart and eyes,
Are touch'd, are turn'd to finest air.

The clouds are broken in the sky,
And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
"O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near".
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail.


First published in 1842 but written in or before 1840. See 'Life', i.,
209. Not altered since.

Sweet Emma Moreland of yonder town
Met me walking on yonder way,
"And have you lost your heart?" she said;
"And are you married yet, Edward Gray?"

Sweet Emma Moreland spoke to me:
Bitterly weeping I turn'd away:
"Sweet Emma Moreland, love no more
Can touch the heart of Edward Gray.

"Ellen Adair she loved me well,
Against her father's and mother's will:
To-day I sat for an hour and wept,
By Ellen's grave, on the windy hill.

"Shy she was, and I thought her cold;
Thought her proud, and fled over the sea;
Fill'd I was with folly and spite,
When Ellen Adair was dying for me.

"Cruel, cruel the words I said!
Cruelly came they back to-day:
'You're too slight and fickle,' I said,
'To trouble the heart of Edward Gray'.

"There I put my face in the grass--
Whisper'd, 'Listen to my despair:
I repent me of all I did:
Speak a little, Ellen Adair!'

"Then I took a pencil, and wrote
On the mossy stone, as I lay,
'Here lies the body of Ellen Adair;
And here the heart of Edward Gray!'

"Love may come, and love may go,
And fly, like a bird, from tree to tree:
But I will love no more, no more,
Till Ellen Adair come back to me.

"Bitterly wept I over the stone:
Bitterly weeping I turn'd away;
There lies the body of Ellen Adair!
And there the heart of Edward Gray!"



First published 1842. The final text was that of 1853, which has not
been altered since, except that in stanza 29 the two "we's" in the first
line and the "thy" in the third line are not in later editions
italicised. The Cock Tavern, No. 201 Fleet Street, on the north side of
Fleet Street, stood opposite the Temple and was of great antiquity,
going back nearly 300 years. Strype, bk. iv., h. 117, describes it as "a
noted public-house," and Pepys' 'Diary', 23rd April, 1668, speaks of
himself as having been "mighty merry there". The old carved
chimney-piece was of the age of James I., and the gilt bird over the
portal was the work of Grinling Gibbons. When Tennyson wrote this poem
it was the favourite resort of templars, journalists and literary people
generally, as it had long been. But the old place is now a thing of the
past. On the evening of 10th April, 1886, it closed its doors for ever
after an existence of nearly 300 years. There is an admirable
description of it, signed A. J. M., in 'Notes and Queries', seventh
series, vol. i., 442-6. I give a short extract:

"At the end of a long room beyond the skylight which, except a feeble
side window, was its only light in the daytime, was a door that led
past a small lavatory and up half a dozen narrow steps to the kitchen,
one of the strangest and grimmest old kitchens you ever saw. Across a
mighty hatch, thronged with dishes, you looked into it and beheld
there the white-jacketed man-cook, served by his two robust and
red-armed kitchen maids. For you they were preparing chops, pork chops
in winter, lamb chops in spring, mutton chops always, and steaks and
sausages, and kidneys and potatoes, and poached eggs and Welsh
rabbits, and stewed cheese, the special glory of the house. That was
the 'menu' and men were the only guests. But of late years, as
innovations often precede a catastrophe, two new things were
introduced, vegetables and women. Both were respectable and both were
good, but it was felt, especially by the virtuous Smurthwaite, that
they were 'de trop' in a place so masculine and so carnivorous."

O plump head-waiter at The Cock,
To which I most resort,
How goes the time? 'Tis five o'clock.
Go fetch a pint of port:
But let it not be such as that
You set before chance-comers,
But such whose father-grape grew fat
On Lusitanian summers.

No vain libation to the Muse,
But may she still be kind,
And whisper lovely words, and use
Her influence on the mind,
To make me write my random rhymes,
Ere they be half-forgotten;
Nor add and alter, many times,
Till all be ripe and rotten.

I pledge her, and she comes and dips
Her laurel in the wine,
And lays it thrice upon my lips,
These favour'd lips of mine;
Until the charm have power to make
New life-blood warm the bosom,
And barren commonplaces break
In full and kindly [1] blossom.

I pledge her silent at the board;
Her gradual fingers steal
And touch upon the master-chord
Of all I felt and feel.
Old wishes, ghosts of broken plans,
And phantom hopes assemble;
And that child's heart within the man's
Begins to move and tremble.

Thro' many an hour of summer suns
By many pleasant ways,
Against its fountain upward runs
The current of my days: [2]
I kiss the lips I once have kiss'd;
The gas-light wavers dimmer;
And softly, thro' a vinous mist,
My college friendships glimmer.

I grow in worth, and wit, and sense,
Unboding critic-pen,
Or that eternal want of pence,
Which vexes public men,
Who hold their hands to all, and cry
For that which all deny them--
Who sweep the crossings, wet or dry,
And all the world go by them.

Ah yet, tho' [3] all the world forsake,
Tho' [3] fortune clip my wings,
I will not cramp my heart, nor take
Half-views of men and things.
Let Whig and Tory stir their blood;
There must be stormy weather;
But for some true result of good
All parties work together.

Let there be thistles, there are grapes;
If old things, there are new;
Ten thousand broken lights and shapes,
Yet glimpses of the true.
Let raffs be rife in prose and rhyme,
We lack not rhymes and reasons,
As on this whirligig of Time [4]
We circle with the seasons.

This earth is rich in man and maid;
With fair horizons bound:
This whole wide earth of light and shade
Comes out, a perfect round.
High over roaring Temple-bar,
And, set in Heaven's third story,
I look at all things as they are,
But thro' a kind of glory.

Head-waiter, honour'd by the guest
Half-mused, or reeling-ripe,
The pint, you brought me, was the best
That ever came from pipe.
But tho' [3] the port surpasses praise,
My nerves have dealt with stiffer.
Is there some magic in the place?
Or do my peptics differ?

For since I came to live and learn,
No pint of white or red
Had ever half the power to turn
This wheel within my head,

Which bears a season'd brain about,
Unsubject to confusion,
Tho' [3] soak'd and saturate, out and out,
Thro' every convolution.

For I am of a numerous house,
With many kinsmen gay,
Where long and largely we carouse
As who shall say me nay:
Each month, a birthday coming on,
We drink defying trouble,
Or sometimes two would meet in one,
And then we drank it double;

Whether the vintage, yet unkept,
Had relish, fiery-new,
Or, elbow-deep in sawdust, slept,
As old as Waterloo;
Or stow'd (when classic Canning died)
In musty bins and chambers,
Had cast upon its crusty side
The gloom of ten Decembers.

The Muse, the jolly Muse, it is!
She answer'd to my call,
She changes with that mood or this,
Is all-in-all to all:
She lit the spark within my throat,
To make my blood run quicker,
Used all her fiery will, and smote
Her life into the liquor.

And hence this halo lives about
The waiter's hands, that reach
To each his perfect pint of stout,
His proper chop to each.
He looks not like the common breed
That with the napkin dally;
I think he came like Ganymede,
From some delightful valley.

The Cock was of a larger egg
Than modern poultry drop,
Stept forward on a firmer leg,
And cramm'd a plumper crop;
Upon an ampler dunghill trod,
Crow'd lustier late and early,
Sipt wine from silver, praising God,
And raked in golden barley.

A private life was all his joy,
Till in a court he saw
A something-pottle-bodied boy,
That knuckled at the taw:
He stoop'd and clutch'd him, fair and good,
Flew over roof and casement:
His brothers of the weather stood
Stock-still for sheer amazement.

But he, by farmstead, thorpe and spire,
And follow'd with acclaims,
A sign to many a staring shire,
Came crowing over Thames.
Right down by smoky Paul's they bore,
Till, where the street grows straiter, [5]
One fix'd for ever at the door,
And one became head-waiter.

But whither would my fancy go?
How out of place she makes
The violet of a legend blow
Among the chops and steaks!
'Tis but a steward of the can,
One shade more plump than common;
As just and mere a serving-man
As any born of woman.

I ranged too high: what draws me down
Into the common day?
Is it the weight of that half-crown,
Which I shall have to pay?

For, something duller than at first,
Nor wholly comfortable,
I sit (my empty glass reversed),
And thrumming on the table:

Half-fearful that, with self at strife
I take myself to task;
Lest of the fullness of my life
I leave an empty flask:
For I had hope, by something rare,
To prove myself a poet;
But, while I plan and plan, my hair
Is gray before I know it.

So fares it since the years began,
Till they be gather'd up;
The truth, that flies the flowing can,
Will haunt the vacant cup:
And others' follies teach us not,
Nor much their wisdom teaches;
And most, of sterling worth, is what
Our own experience preaches.

Ah, let the rusty theme alone!
We know not what we know.
But for my pleasant hour, 'tis gone,
'Tis gone, and let it go.
'Tis gone: a thousand such have slipt
Away from my embraces,
And fall'n into the dusty crypt
Of darken'd forms and faces.

Go, therefore, thou! thy betters went
Long since, and came no more;
With peals of genial clamour sent
From many a tavern-door,
With twisted quirks and happy hits,
From misty men of letters;
The tavern-hours of mighty wits--
Thine elders and thy betters.

Hours, when the Poet's words and looks
Had yet their native glow:
Not yet the fear of little books
Had made him talk for show:
But, all his vast heart sherris-warm'd,
He flash'd his random speeches;
Ere days, that deal in ana, swarm'd
His literary leeches.

So mix for ever with the past,
Like all good things on earth!
For should I prize thee, couldst thou last,
At half thy real worth?
I hold it good, good things should pass:
With time I will not quarrel:
It is but yonder empty glass
That makes me maudlin-moral.

Head-waiter of the chop-house here,
To which I most resort,
I too must part: I hold thee dear
For this good pint of port.
For this, thou shalt from all things suck
Marrow of mirth and laughter;
And, wheresoe'er thou move, good luck
Shall fling her old shoe after.

But thou wilt never move from hence,
The sphere thy fate allots:
Thy latter days increased with pence
Go down among the pots:
Thou battenest by the greasy gleam
In haunts of hungry sinners,
Old boxes, larded with the steam
Of thirty thousand dinners.

_We_ fret, _we_ fume, would shift our skins,
Would quarrel with our lot;
_Thy_ care is, under polish'd tins,
To serve the hot-and-hot;
To come and go, and come again,
Returning like the pewit,
And watch'd by silent gentlemen,
That trifle with the cruet.

Live long, ere from thy topmost head
The thick-set hazel dies;
Long, ere the hateful crow shall tread
The corners of thine eyes:
Live long, nor feel in head or chest
Our changeful equinoxes,
Till mellow Death, like some late guest,
Shall call thee from the boxes.

But when he calls, and thou shalt cease
To pace the gritted floor,
And, laying down an unctuous lease
Of life, shalt earn no more;
No carved cross-bones, the types of Death,
Shall show thee past to Heaven:
But carved cross-pipes, and, underneath,
A pint-pot neatly graven.

[Footnote 1: 1842 and all previous to 1853. To full and kindly.]

[Footnote 2: All previous to 1853:--

Like Hezekiah's, backward runs
The shadow of my days.]

[Footnote 3: All previous to 1853. Though.]

[Footnote 4: The expression is Shakespeare's, 'Twelfth Night', v., i.,

"and thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges".]

[Footnote 5: 1842 to 1843. With motion less or greater.]



Originally published in the 'Examiner' for 24th March, 1849; then in the
sixth edition of the poems, 1850, with the second part of the title and
the alterations noted. When reprinted in 1851 one more slight alteration
was made. It has not been altered since. The work referred to was
Moncton Milne's (afterwards Lord Houghton) 'Letters and Literary Remains
of Keats' published in 1848, and the person to whom the poem may have
been addressed was Tennyson's brother Charles, afterwards Charles
Tennyson Turner, to the facts of whose life and to whose character it
would exactly apply. See Napier,'Homes and Haunts of Tennyson', 48-50.
But Sir Franklin Lushington tells me that it was most probably addressed
to some imaginary person, as neither he nor such of Tennyson's surviving
friends as he kindly consulted for me are able to identify the person.

You might have won the Poet's name
If such be worth the winning now,
And gain'd a laurel for your brow
Of sounder leaf than I can claim;
But you have made the wiser choice,
A life that moves to gracious ends
Thro' troops of unrecording friends,
A deedful life, a silent voice:

And you have miss'd the irreverent doom
Of those that wear the Poet's crown:
Hereafter, neither knave nor clown
Shall hold their orgies at your tomb.

For now the Poet cannot die
Nor leave his music as of old,
But round him ere he scarce be cold
Begins the scandal and the cry:

"Proclaim the faults he would not show:
Break lock and seal: betray the trust:
Keep nothing sacred: 'tis but just
The many-headed beast should know".

Ah, shameless! for he did but sing.
A song that pleased us from its worth;
No public life was his on earth,
No blazon'd statesman he, nor king.

He gave the people of his best:
His worst he kept, his best he gave.
My Shakespeare's curse on [1] clown and knave
Who will not let his ashes rest!

Who make it seem more sweet [2] to be
The little life of bank and brier,
The bird that pipes his lone desire
And dies unheard within his tree,

Than he that warbles long and loud
And drops at Glory's temple-gates,
For whom the carrion vulture waits
To tear his heart before the crowd!

[Footnote 1: In Examiner and in 1850. My curse upon the.]

[Footnote 2: In Examiner. Sweeter seem. For the sentiment 'cf'. Goethe:--

Ich singe, wie der Vogel singt
Der in den Zweigen wohnet;
Das Lied das aus dem Seele dringt
Ist Lohn, der reichlich lohnet.

--'Der Saenger'.]

TO E. L.,


This was first printed in 1853. It has not been altered since. The poem
was addressed to Edward Lear, the landscape painter, and refers to his

Illyrian woodlands, echoing falls
Of water, sheets of summer glass,
The long divine Peneian pass, [1]
The vast Akrokeraunian walls, [2]

Tomohrit, [3] Athos, all things fair,
With such a pencil, such a pen,
You shadow forth to distant men,
I read and felt that I was there:

And trust me, while I turn'd the page,
And track'd you still on classic ground,
I grew in gladness till I found
My spirits in the golden age.

For me the torrent ever pour'd
And glisten'd--here and there alone
The broad-limb'd Gods at random thrown
By fountain-urns;-and Naiads oar'd

A glimmering shoulder under gloom
Of cavern pillars; on the swell
The silver lily heaved and fell;
And many a slope was rich in bloom

From him that on the mountain lea
By dancing rivulets fed his flocks,
To him who sat upon the rocks,
And fluted to the morning sea.

[Footnote 1: 'Cf'. Lear's description of Tempe:

"It is not a vale, it is a narrow pass, and although extremely
beautiful on account of the precipitous rocks on each side, the Peneus
flowing deep in the midst between the richest overhanging plane woods,
still its character is distinctly that of a ravine."

--'Journal', 409.]

[Footnote 2: The Akrokeraunian walls: the promontory now called Glossa.]

[Footnote 3: Tomohr, Tomorit, or Tomohritt is a lofty mountain in
Albania not far from Elbassan. Lear's account of it is very graphic:

"That calm blue plain with Tomohr in the midst like an azure island in
a boundless sea haunts my mind's eye and varies the present with the


First published 1842. After 1851 no alterations were made.

This poem was suggested by Miss Ferrier's powerful novel 'The
Inheritance'. A comparison with the plot of Miss Ferrier's novel will
show with what tact and skill Tennyson has adapted the tale to his
ballad. Thomas St. Clair, youngest son of the Earl of Rossville, marries
a Miss Sarah Black, a girl of humble and obscure birth. He dies, leaving
a widow and as is supposed a daughter, Gertrude, who claim the
protection of Lord Rossville, as the child is heiress presumptive to the
earldom. On Lord Rossville's death she accordingly becomes Countess of
Rossville. She has two lovers, both distant connections, Colonel Delmour
and Edward Lyndsay. At last it is discovered that she was not the
daughter of Thomas St. Clair and her supposed mother, but of one Marion
La Motte and Jacob Leviston, and that Mrs. St. Clair had adopted her
when a baby and passed her off as her own child, that she might succeed
to the title. Meanwhile Delmour by the death of his elder brother
succeeds to the title and estates forfeited by the detected foundling,
but instead of acting as Tennyson's Lord Ronald does, he repudiates her
and marries a duchess. But her other lover Lyndsay is true to her and
marries her. Delmour not long afterwards dies without issue, and Lyndsay
succeeds to the title, Gertrude then becoming after all Countess of
Rossville. In details Tennyson follows the novel sometimes very closely.
Thus the "single rose," the poor dress, the bitter exclamation about her
being a beggar born, are from the novel.

The 1842 and all editions up to and including 1850 begin with the
following stanza and omit stanza 2:--

Lord Ronald courted Lady Clare,
I trow they did not part in scorn;
Lord Ronald, her cousin, courted her
And they will wed the morrow morn.

It was the time when lilies blow,
And clouds are highest up in air,
Lord Ronald brought a lily-white doe
To give his cousin Lady Clare.

I trow they did not part in scorn:
Lovers long-betroth'd were they:
They two will wed the morrow morn!
God's blessing on the day!

"He does not love me for my birth,
Nor for my lands so broad and fair;
He loves me for my own true worth,
And that is well," said Lady Clare.

In there came old Alice the nurse,
Said, "Who was this that went from thee?"
"It was my cousin," said Lady Clare,
"To-morrow he weds with me."

"O God be thank'd!" said Alice the nurse,
"That all comes round so just and fair:
Lord Ronald is heir of all your lands,
And you are not the Lady Clare."

"Are ye out of your mind, my nurse, my nurse?"
Said Lady Clare, "that ye speak so wild";
"As God's above," said Alice the nurse,
"I speak the truth: you are my child.

"The old Earl's daughter died at my breast;
I speak the truth, as I live by bread!
I buried her like my own sweet child,
And put my child in her stead."

"Falsely, falsely have ye done,
O mother," she said, "if this be true,
To keep the best man under the sun
So many years from his due."

"Nay now, my child," said Alice the nurse,
"But keep the secret for your life,
And all you have will be Lord Ronald's,
When you are man and wife."

"If I'm a beggar born," she said,
"I will speak out, for I dare not lie.
Pull off, pull off, the broach [1] of gold,
And fling the diamond necklace by."

"Nay now, my child," said Alice the nurse,
"But keep the secret all ye can."
She said, "Not so: but I will know
If there be any faith in man".

"Nay now, what faith?" said Alice the nurse,
"The man will cleave unto his right."
"And he shall have it," the lady replied,
"Tho' [2] I should die to-night."

"Yet give one kiss to your mother dear!
Alas, my child, I sinn'd for thee."
"O mother, mother, mother," she said,
"So strange it seems to me.

"Yet here's a kiss for my mother dear,
My mother dear, if this be so,
And lay your hand upon my head,
And bless me, mother, ere I go."

She clad herself in a russet gown,
She was no longer Lady Clare:
She went by dale, and she went by down,
With a single rose in her hair.

The lily-white doe Lord Ronald had brought
Leapt up from where she lay,
Dropt her head in the maiden's hand,
And follow'd her all the way. [3]

Down stept Lord Ronald from his tower:
"O Lady Clare, you shame your worth!
Why come you drest like a village maid,
That are the flower of the earth?"

"If I come drest like a village maid,
I am but as my fortunes are:
I am a beggar born," she said, [4]
"And not the Lady Clare."

"Play me no tricks," said Lord Ronald,
"For I am yours in word and in deed.
Play me no tricks," said Lord Ronald,
"Your riddle is hard to read."

O and proudly stood she up!
Her heart within her did not fail:
She look'd into Lord Ronald's eyes,
And told him all her nurse's tale.

He laugh'd a laugh of merry scorn:
He turn'd, and kiss'd her where she stood:
"If you are not the heiress born,
And I," said he, "the next in blood--

"If you are not the heiress born,
And I," said he, "the lawful heir,
We two will wed to-morrow morn,
And you shall still be Lady Clare."

[Footnote 1: All up to and including 1850. Brooch.]

[Footnote 2: All up to and including 1850. Though.]

[Footnote 3: The stanza beginning "The lily-white doe" is omitted in
1842 and 1843, and in the subsequent editions up to and including 1850
begins "A lily-white doe".]

[Footnote 4: In a letter addressed to Tennyson the late Mr. Peter Bayne
ventured to object to the dramatic propriety of Lady Clare speaking of
herself as "a beggar born". Tennyson defended it by saying: "You make no
allowance for the shock of the fall from being Lady Clare to finding
herself the child of a nurse". But the expression is Miss Ferrier's: "Oh
that she had suffered me to remain the beggar I was born"; and again to
her lover: "You have loved an impostor and a beggar".]


Written, as we learn from 'Life', i., 182, by 1835. First published in
1842. No alteration since with the exception of "tho'" for "though".

This poem tells the well-known story of Sarah Hoggins who married under
the circumstances related in the poem. She died in January, 1797,
sinking, so it was said, but without any authority for such a statement,
under the burden of an honour "unto which she was not born". The story
is that Henry Cecil, heir presumptive to his uncle, the ninth Earl of
Exeter, was staying at Bolas, a rural village in Shropshire, where he
met Sarah Hoggins and married her. They lived together at Bolas, where
the two eldest of his children were born, for two years before he came
into the title. She bore him two other children after she was Countess
of Exeter, dying at Burleigh House near Stamford at the early age of
twenty-four. The obituary notice runs thus: "January, 1797. At Burleigh
House near Stamford, aged twenty-four, to the inexpressible surprise and
concern of all acquainted with her, the Right Honbl. Countess of
Exeter." For full information about this romantic incident see Walford's
'Tales of Great Families', first series, vol. i., 65-82, and two
interesting papers signed W. O. Woodall in 'Notes and Queries', seventh
series, vol. xii., 221-23; 'ibid.', 281-84, and Napier's 'Homes and
Haunts of Tennyson', 104-111.

In her ear he whispers gaily,
"If my heart by signs can tell,
Maiden, I have watch'd thee daily,
And I think thou lov'st me well".
She replies, in accents fainter,
"There is none I love like thee".
He is but a landscape-painter,
And a village maiden she.
He to lips, that fondly falter,
Presses his without reproof:
Leads her to the village altar,
And they leave her father's roof.
"I can make no marriage present;
Little can I give my wife.
Love will make our cottage pleasant,
And I love thee more than life."
They by parks and lodges going
See the lordly castles stand:
Summer woods, about them blowing,
Made a murmur in the land.
From deep thought himself he rouses,
Says to her that loves him well,
"Let us see these handsome houses
Where the wealthy nobles dwell".
So she goes by him attended,
Hears him lovingly converse,
Sees whatever fair and splendid
Lay betwixt his home and hers;
Parks with oak and chestnut shady,
Parks and order'd gardens great,
Ancient homes of lord and lady,
Built for pleasure and for state.
All he shows her makes him dearer:
Evermore she seems to gaze
On that cottage growing nearer,
Where they twain will spend their days.
O but she will love him truly!
He shall have a cheerful home;
She will order all things duly,
When beneath his roof they come.
Thus her heart rejoices greatly,
Till a gateway she discerns
With armorial bearings stately,
And beneath the gate she turns;
Sees a mansion more majestic
Than all those she saw before:
Many a gallant gay domestic
Bows before him at the door.
And they speak in gentle murmur,
When they answer to his call,
While he treads with footstep firmer,
Leading on from hall to hall.
And, while now she wonders blindly,
Nor the meaning can divine,
Proudly turns he round and kindly,
"All of this is mine and thine".
Here he lives in state and bounty,
Lord of Burleigh, fair and free,
Not a lord in all the county
Is so great a lord as he.
All at once the colour flushes
Her sweet face from brow to chin:
As it were with shame she blushes,
And her spirit changed within.
Then her countenance all over
Pale again as death did prove:
But he clasp'd her like a lover,
And he cheer'd her soul with love.
So she strove against her weakness,
Tho' at times her spirits sank:
Shaped her heart with woman's meekness
To all duties of her rank:
And a gentle consort made he,
And her gentle mind was such
That she grew a noble lady,
And the people loved her much.
But a trouble weigh'd upon her,
And perplex'd her, night and morn,
With the burthen of an honour
Unto which she was not born.
Faint she grew, and ever fainter,
As she murmur'd "Oh, that he
Were once more that landscape-painter
Which did win my heart from me!"
So she droop'd and droop'd before him,
Fading slowly from his side:
Three fair children first she bore him,
Then before her time she died.
Weeping, weeping late and early,
Walking up and pacing down,
Deeply mourn'd the Lord of Burleigh,
Burleigh-house by Stamford-town.
And he came to look upon her,
And he look'd at her and said,
"Bring the dress and put it on her,
That she wore when she was wed".
Then her people, softly treading,
Bore to earth her body, drest
In the dress that she was wed in,
That her spirit might have rest.



First published in 1842. Not altered since 1853.

See for what may have given the hint for this fragment _Morte D'Arthur_,
bk. xix., ch. i., and bk. xx., ch. i., and _cf. Coming of Arthur:_--

And Launcelot pass'd away among the flowers,
For then was latter April, and return'd
Among the flowers in May with Guinevere.

Like souls that balance joy and pain,
With tears and smiles from heaven again
The maiden Spring upon the plain
Came in a sun-lit fall of rain.
In crystal vapour everywhere
Blue isles of heaven laugh'd between,
And, far in forest-deeps unseen,
The topmost elm-tree [1] gather'd green
From draughts of balmy air.

Sometimes the linnet piped his song:
Sometimes the throstle whistled strong:
Sometimes the sparhawk, wheel'd along,
Hush'd all the groves from fear of wrong:
By grassy capes with fuller sound
In curves the yellowing river ran,
And drooping chestnut-buds began
To spread into the perfect fan,
Above the teeming ground.

Then, in the boyhood of the year,
Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere
Rode thro' the coverts of the deer,
With blissful treble ringing clear.
She seem'd a part of joyous Spring:
A gown of grass-green silk she wore,
Buckled with golden clasps before;
A light-green tuft of plumes she bore
Closed in a golden ring.

Now on some twisted ivy-net,
Now by some tinkling rivulet,
In mosses mixt [2] with violet
Her cream-white mule his pastern set:
And fleeter now [3] she skimm'd the plains
Than she whose elfin prancer springs
By night to eery warblings,
When all the glimmering moorland rings
With jingling bridle-reins.

As she fled fast thro' sun and shade,
The happy winds upon her play'd,
Blowing the ringlet from the braid:
She look'd so lovely, as she sway'd
The rein with dainty finger-tips,
A man had given all other bliss,
And all his worldly worth for this,
To waste his whole heart in one kiss
Upon her perfect lips.

[Footnote 1: Up to 1848. Linden.]

[Footnote 2: All editions up to and including 1850. On mosses thick.]

[Footnote 3: 1842 to 1851. And now more fleet,]


First published in 1842. Not altered since 1843.

This poem was dedicated to the brook at Somersby described in the 'Ode
to Memory' and referred to so often in 'In Memoriam'. Possibly it may
have been written in 1837 when the Tennysons left Somersby. 'Cf. In
Memoriam', sect. ci.

Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,
Thy tribute wave deliver:
No more by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,
A rivulet then a river:
No where by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

But here will sigh thine alder tree,
And here thine aspen shiver;
And here by thee will hum the bee,
For ever and for ever.

A thousand suns [1] will stream on thee,
A thousand moons will quiver;
But not by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.

[Footnote 1: 1842. A hundred suns.]


First published in 1842, not altered since.

Suggested probably by the fine ballad in Percy's _Reliques_, first
series, book ii., ballad vi.

Her arms across her breast she laid;
She was more fair than words can say:
Bare-footed came the beggar maid
Before the king Cophetua.
In robe and crown the king stept down,
To meet and greet her on her way;
"It is no wonder," said the lords,
"She is more beautiful than day".

As shines the moon in clouded skies,
She in her poor attire was seen:
One praised her ancles, one her eyes,
One her dark hair and lovesome mien:
So sweet a face, such angel grace,
In all that land had never been:
Cophetua sware a royal oath:
"This beggar maid shall be my queen!"


First published in 1842. No alteration made in it after 1851, except in
the insertion of a couplet afterwards omitted.

This remarkable poem may be regarded as a sort of companion poem to 'The
Palace of Art'; the one traces the effect of callous indulgence in mere
intellectual and aesthetic pleasures, the other of profligate indulgence
in the grosser forms of sensual enjoyment. At first all is ecstasy and
intoxication, then comes satiety, and all that satiety brings in its
train, cynicism, pessimism, the drying up of the very springs of life.
"The body chilled, jaded and ruined, the cup of pleasure drained to the
dregs, the senses exhausted of their power to enjoy, the spirit of its
wish to aspire, nothing left but loathing, craving and rottenness." See
Spedding in 'Edinburgh Review' for April, 1843. The poem concludes by
leaving as an answer to the awful question, "can there be final
salvation for the poor wretch?" a reply undecipherable by man, and dawn
breaking in angry splendour. The best commentary on the poem would be
Byron's lyric: "There's not a joy the world can give like that it takes
away," and 'Don Juan'; biography and daily life are indeed full of
comments on the truth of this fine allegory.


I had a vision when the night was late:
A youth came riding toward a palace-gate.
He rode a horse with wings, that would have flown, [1]
But that his heavy rider kept him down.
And from the palace came a child of sin,
And took him by the curls, and led him in,
Where sat a company with heated eyes,
Expecting when a fountain should arise:
A sleepy light upon their brows and lips--
As when the sun, a crescent of eclipse,
Dreams over lake and lawn, and isles and capes--
Suffused them, sitting, lying, languid shapes,
By heaps of gourds, and skins of wine, and piles of grapes.


Then methought I heard a mellow sound,
Gathering up from all the lower ground; [2]
Narrowing in to where they sat assembled
Low voluptuous music winding trembled,
Wov'n in circles: they that heard it sigh'd,
Panted hand in hand with faces pale,
Swung themselves, and in low tones replied;
Till the fountain spouted, showering wide
Sleet of diamond-drift and pearly hail;
Then the music touch'd the gates and died;
Rose again from where it seem'd to fail,
Storm'd in orbs of song, a growing gale;
Till thronging in and in, to where they waited,
As 'twere a hundred-throated nightingale,
The strong tempestuous treble throbb'd and palpitated;
Ran into its giddiest whirl of sound,
Caught the sparkles, and in circles,
Purple gauzes, golden hazes, liquid mazes,
Flung the torrent rainbow round:
Then they started from their places,
Moved with violence, changed in hue,
Caught each other with wild grimaces,
Half-invisible to the view,
Wheeling with precipitate paces
To the melody, till they flew,
Hair, and eyes, and limbs, and faces,
Twisted hard in fierce embraces,
Like to Furies, like to Graces,
Dash'd together in blinding dew:
Till, kill'd with some luxurious agony,
The nerve-dissolving melody
Flutter'd headlong from the sky.


And then I look'd up toward a mountain-tract,
That girt the region with high cliff and lawn:
I saw that every morning, far withdrawn
Beyond the darkness and the cataract,
God made himself an awful rose of dawn, [3]
Unheeded: and detaching, fold by fold,
From those still heights, and, slowly drawing near,
A vapour heavy, hueless, formless, cold,
Came floating on for many a month and year,
Unheeded: and I thought I would have spoken,
And warn'd that madman ere it grew too late:
But, as in dreams, I could not. Mine was broken,
When that cold vapour touch'd the palace-gate,
And link'd again. I saw within my head
A gray and gap-tooth'd man as lean as death,
Who slowly rode across a wither'd heath,
And lighted at a ruin'd inn, and said:


"Wrinkled ostler, grim and thin!
Here is custom come your way;
Take my brute, and lead him in,
Stuff his ribs with mouldy hay.

"Bitter barmaid, waning fast!
See that sheets are on my bed;
What! the flower of life is past:
It is long before you wed.

"Slip-shod waiter, lank and sour,
At the Dragon on the heath!
Let us have a quiet hour,
Let us hob-and-nob with Death.

"I am old, but let me drink;
Bring me spices, bring me wine;
I remember, when I think,
That my youth was half divine.

"Wine is good for shrivell'd lips,
When a blanket wraps the day,
When the rotten woodland drips,
And the leaf is stamp'd in clay.

"Sit thee down, and have no shame,
Cheek by jowl, and knee by knee:
What care I for any name?
What for order or degree?

"Let me screw thee up a peg:
Let me loose thy tongue with wine:
Callest thou that thing a leg?
Which is thinnest? thine or mine?

"Thou shalt not be saved by works:
Thou hast been a sinner too:
Ruin'd trunks on wither'd forks,
Empty scarecrows, I and you!

"Fill the cup, and fill the can:
Have a rouse before the morn:
Every moment dies a man,
Every moment one is born. [4]

"We are men of ruin'd blood;
Therefore comes it we are wise.
Fish are we that love the mud.
Rising to no fancy-flies.

"Name and fame! to fly sublime
Thro' the courts, the camps, the schools,
Is to be the ball of Time,
Bandied by the hands of fools.

"Friendship!--to be two in one--
Let the canting liar pack!
Well I know, when I am gone,
How she mouths behind my back.

"Virtue!--to be good and just--
Every heart, when sifted well,
Is a clot of warmer dust,
Mix'd with cunning sparks of hell.

"O! we two as well can look
Whited thought and cleanly life
As the priest, above his book
Leering at his neighbour's wife.

"Fill the cup, and fill the can:
Have a rouse before the morn:
Every moment dies a man,
Every moment one is born. [4]

"Drink, and let the parties rave:
They are fill'd with idle spleen;
Rising, falling, like a wave,
For they know not what they mean.

"He that roars for liberty
Faster binds a tyrant's [5] power;
And the tyrant's cruel glee
Forces on the freer hour.

"Fill the can, and fill the cup:
All the windy ways of men
Are but dust that rises up,
And is lightly laid again.

"Greet her with applausive breath,
Freedom, gaily doth she tread;
In her right a civic wreath,
In her left a human head.

"No, I love not what is new;
She is of an ancient house:
And I think we know the hue
Of that cap upon her brows.

"Let her go! her thirst she slakes
Where the bloody conduit runs:
Then her sweetest meal she makes
On the first-born of her sons.

"Drink to lofty hopes that cool--
Visions of a perfect State:
Drink we, last, the public fool,
Frantic love and frantic hate.

"Chant me now some wicked stave,
Till thy drooping courage rise,
And the glow-worm of the grave
Glimmer in thy rheumy eyes.

"Fear not thou to loose thy tongue;
Set thy hoary fancies free;
What is loathsome to the young
Savours well to thee and me.

"Change, reverting to the years,
When thy nerves could understand
What there is in loving tears,
And the warmth of hand in hand.

"Tell me tales of thy first love--
April hopes, the fools of chance;
Till the graves begin to move,
And the dead begin to dance.

"Fill the can, and fill the cup:
All the windy ways of men
Are but dust that rises up,
And is lightly laid again.

"Trooping from their mouldy dens
The chap-fallen circle spreads:
Welcome, fellow-citizens,
Hollow hearts and empty heads!

"You are bones, and what of that?
Every face, however full,
Padded round with flesh and fat,
Is but modell'd on a skull.

"Death is king, and Vivat Rex!
Tread a measure on the stones,
Madam--if I know your sex,
From the fashion of your bones.

"No, I cannot praise the fire
In your eye--nor yet your lip:
All the more do I admire
Joints of cunning workmanship.

"Lo! God's likeness--the ground-plan--
Neither modell'd, glazed, or framed:
Buss me thou rough sketch of man,
Far too naked to be shamed!

"Drink to Fortune, drink to Chance,
While we keep a little breath!
Drink to heavy Ignorance!
Hob-and-nob with brother Death!

"Thou art mazed, the night is long,
And the longer night is near:
What! I am not all as wrong
As a bitter jest is dear.

"Youthful hopes, by scores, to all,
When the locks are crisp and curl'd;
Unto me my maudlin gall
And my mockeries of the world.

"Fill the cup, and fill the can!
Mingle madness, mingle scorn!
Dregs of life, and lees of man:
Yet we will not die forlorn."


The voice grew faint: there came a further change:
Once more uprose the mystic mountain-range:
Below were men and horses pierced with worms,
And slowly quickening into lower forms;
By shards and scurf of salt, and scum of dross,
Old plash of rains, and refuse patch'd with moss,
Then some one spake [6]: "Behold! it was a crime
Of sense avenged by sense that wore with time".
[7] Another said: "The crime of sense became
The crime of malice, and is equal blame".
And one: "He had not wholly quench'd his power;
A little grain of conscience made him sour".
At last I heard a voice upon the slope
Cry to the summit, "Is there any hope?"
To which an answer peal'd from that high land.
But in a tongue no man could understand;
And on the glimmering limit far withdrawn
God made Himself an awful rose of dawn. [8]

[Footnote 1: A reference to the famous passage in the 'Phoedrus' where
Plato compares the soul to a chariot drawn by the two-winged steeds.]

Footnote 2: Imitated apparently from the dance in Shelley's 'Triumph of

The wild dance maddens in the van; and those
Mix with each other in tempestuous measure
To savage music, wilder as it grows.

They, tortur'd by their agonising pleasure,
Convuls'd, and on the rapid whirlwinds spun
Maidens and youths fling their wild arms in air.
As their feet twinkle, etc.]

[Footnote 3: See footnote to last line.]

[Footnote 4: All up to and including 1850 read:--

Every _minute_ dies a man,
Every _minute_ one is born.

Mr. Babbage, the famous mathematician, is said to have addressed the
following letter to Tennyson in reference to this couplet:--

"I need hardly point out to you that this calculation would tend to
keep the sum total of the world's population in a state of perpetual
equipoise, whereas it is a]**[Footnote: well-known fact that the said
sum total is constantly on the increase. I would therefore take the
liberty of suggesting that, in the next edition of your excellent
poem, the erroneous calculation to which I refer should be corrected
as follows:--

Every moment dies a man,
And one and a sixteenth is born.

I may add that the exact figures are 1.167, but something must, of
course, be conceded to the laws of metre."]

[Footnote 5: 1842 and 1843. The tyrant's.]

[Footnote 6: 1842. Said.]

[Footnote 7: In the Selection published in 1865 Tennyson here inserted a
couplet which he afterwards omitted:--


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