Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Early Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson by Tennyson

Part 10 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

But none are bold enough for Kate,
She cannot find a fitting mate.

SONNET

Written, on hearing of the outbreak of the Polish Insurrection.

Blow ye the trumpet, gather from afar
The hosts to battle: be not bought and sold.
Arise, brave Poles, the boldest of the bold;
Break through your iron shackles--fling them far.
O for those days of Piast, ere the Czar
Grew to this strength among his deserts cold;
When even to Moscow's cupolas were rolled
The growing murmurs of the Polish war!
Now must your noble anger blaze out more
Than when from Sobieski, clan by clan,
The Moslem myriads fell, and fled before--
Than when Zamoysky smote the Tartar Khan,
Than earlier, when on the Baltic shore
Boleslas drove the Pomeranian.

POLAND

Reprinted without alteration in 1872, except the removal of italics in
"now" among the 'Early Sonnets'.

How long, O God, shall men be ridden down,
And trampled under by the last and least
Of men? The heart of Poland hath not ceased
To quiver, tho' her sacred blood doth drown
The fields; and out of every smouldering town
Cries to Thee, lest brute Power be increased,
Till that o'ergrown Barbarian in the East
Transgress his ample bound to some new crown:--
Cries to thee, "Lord, how long shall these things be?
How long this icyhearted Muscovite
Oppress the region?" Us, O Just and Good,
Forgive, who smiled when she was torn in three;
Us, who stand now, when we should aid the right--
A matter to be wept with tears of blood!

TO--

Reprinted without alteration as first of the 'Early Sonnets' in
1872; subsequently in the twelfth line "That tho'" was substituted for
"Altho'," and the last line was altered to--

"And either lived in either's heart and speech,"

and "hath" was not italicised.

As when with downcast eyes we muse and brood,
And ebb into a former life, or seem
To lapse far back in some confused dream
To states of mystical similitude;
If one but speaks or hems or stirs his chair,
Ever the wonder waxeth more and more,
So that we say, "All this hath been before,
All this _hath_ been, I know not when or where".
So, friend, when first I look'd upon your face,
Our thought gave answer each to each, so true--
Opposed mirrors each reflecting each--
Altho' I knew not in what time or place,
Methought that I had often met with you,
And each had lived in the other's mind and speech.

O DARLING ROOM

I

O darling room, my heart's delight,
Dear room, the apple of my sight,
With thy two couches soft and white,
There is no room so exquisite,
No little room so warm and bright,
Wherein to read, wherein to write.

II

For I the Nonnenwerth have seen,
And Oberwinter's vineyards green,
Musical Lurlei; and between
The hills to Bingen have I been,
Bingen in Darmstadt, where the Rhene
Curves towards Mentz, a woody scene.

III

Yet never did there meet my sight,
In any town, to left or right,
A little room so exquisite,
With two such couches soft and white;
Not any room so warm and bright,
Wherein to read, wherein to write.

TO CHRISTOPHER NORTH

You did late review my lays,
Crusty Christopher;
You did mingle blame and praise,
Rusty Christopher.
When I learnt from whom it came,
I forgave you all the blame,
Musty Christopher;
I could _not_ forgive the praise,
Fusty Christopher.

THE SKIPPING ROPE

This silly poem was first published in the edition of 1842, and was
retained unaltered till 1851, when it was finally suppressed.

Sure never yet was Antelope
Could skip so lightly by,
Stand off, or else my skipping-rope
Will hit you in the eye.
How lightly whirls the skipping-rope!
How fairy-like you fly!
Go, get you gone, you muse and mope--
I hate that silly sigh.
Nay, dearest, teach me how to hope,
Or tell me how to die.
There, take it, take my skipping-rope,
And hang yourself thereby.

TIMBUCTOO

A POEM WHICH OBTAINED THE CHANCELLOR'S MEDAL AT THE 'Cambridge
Commencement' M.DCCCXXIX BY A. TENNYSON Of Trinity College.

Printed in the Cambridge 'Chronicle and Journal' for Friday, 10th July,
1839, and at the University Press by James Smith, among the 'Profusiones
Academicae Praemiis annuis dignatae, et in Curia Cantabrigiensi
Recitatae Comitiis Maximis' A.D. M.DCCCXXIX. Reprinted in an edition of
the 'Cambridge Prize Poems' from 1813 to 1858 inclusive, by Messrs.
Macmillan in 1859, but without any alteration, except in punctuation and
the substitution of small letters for capitals where the change was
appropriate; and again in 1893 in the appendix to the reprint of the
'Poems by Two Brothers'.

Deep in that lion-haunted island lies
A mystic city, goal of enterprise.

(Chapman.)

I stood upon the Mountain which o'erlooks
The narrow seas, whose rapid interval
Parts Afric from green Europe, when the Sun
Had fall'n below th' Atlantick, and above
The silent Heavens were blench'd with faery light,
Uncertain whether faery light or cloud,
Flowing Southward, and the chasms of deep, deep blue
Slumber'd unfathomable, and the stars
Were flooded over with clear glory and pale.
I gaz'd upon the sheeny coast beyond,
There where the Giant of old Time infixed
The limits of his prowess, pillars high
Long time eras'd from Earth: even as the sea
When weary of wild inroad buildeth up
Huge mounds whereby to stay his yeasty waves.
And much I mus'd on legends quaint and old
Which whilome won the hearts of all on Earth
Toward their brightness, ev'n as flame draws air;
But had their being in the heart of Man
As air is th' life of flame: and thou wert then
A center'd glory--circled Memory,
Divinest Atalantis, whom the waves
Have buried deep, and thou of later name
Imperial Eldorado roof'd with gold:
Shadows to which, despite all shocks of Change,
All on-set of capricious Accident,
Men clung with yearning Hope which would not die.
As when in some great City where the walls
Shake, and the streets with ghastly faces throng'd
Do utter forth a subterranean voice,
Among the inner columns far retir'd
At midnight, in the lone Acropolis.
Before the awful Genius of the place
Kneels the pale Priestess in deep faith, the while
Above her head the weak lamp dips and winks
Unto the fearful summoning without:
Nathless she ever clasps the marble knees,
Bathes the cold hand with tears, and gazeth on
Those eyes which wear no light but that wherewith
Her phantasy informs them. Where are ye
Thrones of the Western wave, fair Islands green?
Where are your moonlight halls, your cedarn glooms,
The blossoming abysses of your hills?
Your flowering Capes and your gold-sanded bays
Blown round with happy airs of odorous winds?
Where are the infinite ways which, Seraph-trod,
Wound thro' your great Elysian solitudes,
Whose lowest depths were, as with visible love,
Fill'd with Divine effulgence, circumfus'd,
Flowing between the clear and polish'd stems,
And ever circling round their emerald cones
In coronals and glories, such as gird
The unfading foreheads of the Saints in Heaven?
For nothing visible, they say, had birth
In that blest ground but it was play'd about
With its peculiar glory. Then I rais'd
My voice and cried "Wide Afric, doth thy Sun
Lighten, thy hills enfold a City as fair
As those which starr'd the night o' the Elder World?
Or is the rumour of thy Timbuctoo
A dream as frail as those of ancient Time?"
A curve of whitening, flashing, ebbing light!
A rustling of white wings! The bright descent
Of a young Seraph! and he stood beside me
There on the ridge, and look'd into my face
With his unutterable, shining orbs,
So that with hasty motion I did veil
My vision with both hands, and saw before me
Such colour'd spots as dance athwart the eyes
Of those that gaze upon the noonday Sun.
Girt with a Zone of flashing gold beneath
His breast, and compass'd round about his brow
With triple arch of everchanging bows,
And circled with the glory of living light
And alternation of all hues, he stood.

"O child of man, why muse you here alone
Upon the Mountain, on the dreams of old
Which fill'd the Earth with passing loveliness,
Which flung strange music on the howling winds,
And odours rapt from remote Paradise?
Thy sense is clogg'd with dull mortality,
Thy spirit fetter'd with the bond of clay:
Open thine eye and see." I look'd, but not
Upon his face, for it was wonderful
With its exceeding brightness, and the light
Of the great angel mind which look'd from out
The starry glowing of his restless eyes.
I felt my soul grow mighty, and my spirit
With supernatural excitation bound
Within me, and my mental eye grew large
With such a vast circumference of thought,
That in my vanity I seem'd to stand
Upon the outward verge and bound alone
Of full beautitude. Each failing sense
As with a momentary flash of light
Grew thrillingly distinct and keen. I saw
The smallest grain that dappled the dark Earth,
The indistinctest atom in deep air,
The Moon's white cities, and the opal width
Of her small glowing lakes, her silver heights
Unvisited with dew of vagrant cloud,
And the unsounded, undescended depth
Of her black hollows. The clear Galaxy
Shorn of its hoary lustre, wonderful,
Distinct and vivid with sharp points of light
Blaze within blaze, an unimagin'd depth
And harmony of planet-girded Suns
And moon-encircled planets, wheel in wheel,
Arch'd the wan Sapphire. Nay, the hum of men,
Or other things talking in unknown tongues,
And notes of busy life in distant worlds
Beat like a far wave on my anxious ear.
A maze of piercing, trackless, thrilling thoughts
Involving and embracing each with each
Rapid as fire, inextricably link'd,
Expanding momently with every sight
And sound which struck the palpitating sense,
The issue of strong impulse, hurried through
The riv'n rapt brain: as when in some large lake
From pressure of descendant crags, which lapse
Disjointed, crumbling from their parent slope
At slender interval, the level calm
Is ridg'd with restless and increasing spheres
Which break upon each other, each th' effect
Of separate impulse, but more fleet and strong
Than its precursor, till the eye in vain
Amid the wild unrest of swimming shade
Dappled with hollow and alternate rise
Of interpenetrated arc, would scan
Definite round.

I know not if I shape
These things with accurate similitude
From visible objects, for but dimly now,
Less vivid than a half-forgotten dream,
The memory of that mental excellence
Comes o'er me, and it may be I entwine
The indecision of my present mind
With its past clearness, yet it seems to me
As even then the torrent of quick thought
Absorbed me from the nature of itself
With its own fleetness. Where is he that borne
Adown the sloping of an arrowy stream,
Could link his shallop to the fleeting edge,
And muse midway with philosophic calm
Upon the wondrous laws which regulate
The fierceness of the bounding element?
My thoughts which long had grovell'd in the slime
Of this dull world, like dusky worms which house
Beneath unshaken waters, but at once
Upon some earth-awakening day of spring
Do pass from gloom to glory, and aloft
Winnow the purple, bearing on both sides
Double display of starlit wings which burn
Fanlike and fibred, with intensest bloom:
E'en so my thoughts, ere while so low, now felt
Unutterable buoyancy and strength
To bear them upward through the trackless fields
Of undefin'd existence far and free.

Then first within the South methought I saw
A wilderness of spires, and chrystal pile
Of rampart upon rampart, dome on dome,
Illimitable range of battlement
On battlement, and the Imperial height
Of Canopy o'ercanopied.

Behind,
In diamond light, upsprung the dazzling Cones
Of Pyramids, as far surpassing Earth's
As Heaven than Earth is fairer. Each aloft
Upon his narrow'd Eminence bore globes
Of wheeling suns, or stars, or semblances
Of either, showering circular abyss
Of radiance. But the glory of the place
Stood out a pillar'd front of burnish'd gold
Interminably high, if gold it were
Or metal more ethereal, and beneath
Two doors of blinding brilliance, where no gaze
Might rest, stood open, and the eye could scan
Through length of porch and lake and boundless hall,
Part of a throne of fiery flame, where from
The snowy skirting of a garment hung,
And glimpse of multitudes of multitudes
That minister'd around it--if I saw
These things distinctly, for my human brain
Stagger'd beneath the vision, and thick night
Came down upon my eyelids, and I fell.

With ministering hand he rais'd me up;
Then with a mournful and ineffable smile,
Which but to look on for a moment fill'd
My eyes with irresistible sweet tears,
In accents of majestic melody,
Like a swol'n river's gushings in still night
Mingled with floating music, thus he spake:

"There is no mightier Spirit than I to sway
The heart of man: and teach him to attain
By shadowing forth the Unattainable;
And step by step to scale that mighty stair
Whose landing-place is wrapt about with clouds
Of glory of Heaven. [1] With earliest Light of Spring,
And in the glow of sallow Summertide,
And in red Autumn when the winds are wild
With gambols, and when full-voiced Winter roofs
The headland with inviolate white snow,
I play about his heart a thousand ways,
Visit his eyes with visions, and his ears
With harmonies of wind and wave and wood--
Of winds which tell of waters, and of waters
Betraying the close kisses of the wind--
And win him unto me: and few there be
So gross of heart who have not felt and known
A higher than they see: They with dim eyes
Behold me darkling. Lo! I have given thee
To understand my presence, and to feel
My fullness; I have fill'd thy lips with power.
I have rais'd thee nigher to the Spheres of Heaven,
Man's first, last home: and thou with ravish'd sense
Listenest the lordly music flowing from
Th'illimitable years. I am the Spirit,
The permeating life which courseth through
All th' intricate and labyrinthine veins
Of the great vine of Fable, which, outspread
With growth of shadowing leaf and clusters rare,
Reacheth to every corner under Heaven,
Deep-rooted in the living soil of truth:
So that men's hopes and fears take refuge in
The fragrance of its complicated glooms
And cool impleached twilights. Child of Man,
See'st thou yon river, whose translucent wave,
Forth issuing from darkness, windeth through
The argent streets o' the City, imaging
The soft inversion of her tremulous Domes.
Her gardens frequent with the stately Palm,
Her Pagods hung with music of sweet bells.
Her obelisks of ranged Chrysolite,
Minarets and towers? Lo! how he passeth by,
And gulphs himself in sands, as not enduring
To carry through the world those waves, which bore
The reflex of my City in their depths.
Oh City! Oh latest Throne! where I was rais'd
To be a mystery of loveliness
Unto all eyes, the time is well nigh come
When I must render up this glorious home
To keen 'Discovery': soon yon brilliant towers
Shall darken with the waving of her wand;
Darken, and shrink and shiver into huts,
Black specks amid a waste of dreary sand,
Low-built, mud-wall'd, Barbarian settlement,
How chang'd from this fair City!"

Thus far the Spirit:
Then parted Heavenward on the wing: and I
Was left alone on Calpe, and the Moon
Had fallen from the night, and all was dark!

[Footnote 1: Be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.]

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE POEMS OF 1842.

1830. Poems, chiefly Lyrical, by Alfred Tennyson. London: Effingham
Wilson, 1830.

1832. Poems by Alfred Tennyson. London: Edward Moxon, 1833 (published at
the end of 1832).

1837. In the 'Keepsake', an Annual, appears the poem "St. Agnes' Eve,"
afterwards republished in the Poems of 1842, as "St. Agnes".

1842. 'Morte d'Arthur, Dora, and other Idyls'. (Privately printed for
the Author.)

1842. Poems. In 2 vols. By Alfred Tennyson. London: Edward Moxon, Dover
Street, 1842.

1843. 'Id'. 2 vols. Second Edition, 1843.

1845. 'Id'. Third Edition, 1845.

1846. 'Id'. Fourth Edition, 1846.

1848. 'Id.' Fifth Edition, 1848.

1849. In the 'Examiner' for 24th March, 1849, appeared the poem "To----,
after reading a Life and Letters," republished in the Sixth Edition of
the Poems.

1850. Poems. 2 vols. Sixth Edition, 1850.

1851. In the 'Keepsake' appeared the verses: "Come not when I am Dead,"
reprinted in the Seventh Edition of the Poems.

1851. Poems. Seventh Edition. London: Edward Moxon, 1851. i vol.

1853. 'Id'. Eighth Edition, 1853. i vol.

1857. Poems by Alfred Tennyson, Poet Laureate. With engraving of bust by
Woolner, and illustrations by Thomas Creswick, John Everett
Millais, William Holman Hunt, William Macready, John Calcott
Horsley, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Clarkson Stanfield, and Daniel
Maclise. Pp. xiii., 375. London: Edward Moxon, 1857. 8vo.

1862. Poems MDCCCXXX, MDCCCXXXIII. Privately printed. This was
suppressed by an injunction in Chancery. It was compiled and
edited by Mr. Dykes Campbell for Camden Hotten.

1863. Poems by Alfred Tennyson, D.C.L. I vol. Edward Moxon, 1863.
(Recorded as being the Fifteenth Edition, but I have not seen any
Edition between 1857 and this one.)

1865. A selection from the works of Alfred Tennyson. Poet Laureate.
(Moxon's Miniature Poets.) Edward Moxon & Co., 1865. Containing
several minor alterations, and an additional couplet in the
"Vision of Sin".

1869. Pocket Edition of Complete Poems. Strahan, 1869. (I have not seen
this, but it is entered in the London Catalogue.)

1870. 'Id'. Post-Octavo, 1870 (entered in the London Catalogue).

1871. Miniature or Cabinet Edition of the Complete Works of Alfred
Tennyson, printed by Whittaker, Strahan & Co., 1871.

1871. Complete Works. Edited by A. C. Loffalt. Rotterdam: 12mo, 1871.

1872. Imperial Library Edition of the Works of Alfred Tennyson. In 6
vols. Strahan & Co., 1872.

1874-7. The Works of Alfred Tennyson. Cabinet edition in 10 vols.
H.S.King. London: 1874-1877.

1875. The Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson. 6 vols. H. S. King.
1875-77.

1875. The Author's Edition in 4 vols. Henry S. King & Co. 1875.

1877. The Works of Alfred Tennyson. H. S. King. 7 vols. 1877, and in the
same year by the same publisher the completion of the Miniature
Edition.

1881. The Works of Alfred Tennyson. With portrait and illustrations,
1881. C. Kegan Paul & Co.

1884. The Works of Alfred Tennyson. Macmillan & Co., 1884. In the same
year a school edition in four parts by the same publishers.

1885. The Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson. Complete Edition. New York:
T. Y. Cowell & Co., 1885.

1886. The Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson. In 10 vols. Macmillan &
Co., 1886.

1886-91. The Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson. 12 vols. (The dramatic
works in 4 vols.) 16 vols. 1886-91.

1889. The Works of Alfred Tennyson. London: Macmillan & Co., 1889.

1890. The Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson. Pocket Edition, without the
plays. London: Macmillan & Co., 1890.

1890. Selections. Edited by Rowe and Webb (frequently reprinted).

1891. Complete Works, i vol. Reprinted ten times between this date and
November, 1899.

1891. Poetical Works. Miniature Edition. 12 vols.

1891. Tennyson for the Young, i vol. With introduction and notes by
Alfred Ainger, reprinted six times between this date and 1899.

1893. Poems. Illustrated. I vol. (This contains the poems and
illustrations of the Illustrated Edition published in 1857.)

1894. The Works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate, with last
alterations, etc. London: Macmillan & Co., 1894.

1895. The Poetical Works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (without the plays).
(The People's Edition.) London: Macmillan & Co., 1895.

1896. 'Id.' Pocket Edition.

1898. The Life and Works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. (Edition de Luxe.) 12
vols. Macmillan & Co., 1898.

1899. The Works of Alfred Tennyson. 8 vols.

1899. Poetical Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Globe Edition. Macmillan.
This Edition was supplied to Messrs. Warne and published by them
as the Albion Edition.

1899. Poems including 'In Memoriam'. Popular Edition, 1 vol.

Book of the day: