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

The Early Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson by Tennyson

Part 4 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.

Hear me, O earth. I will not die alone,
Lest their shrill happy laughter come to me
Walking the cold and starless road of
Death Uncomforted, leaving my ancient love
With the Greek woman. [19] I will rise and go
Down into Troy, and ere the stars come forth
Talk with the wild Cassandra, [20] for she says
A fire dances before her, and a sound
Rings ever in her ears of armed men.
What this may be I know not, but I know
That, wheresoe'er I am by night and day,
All earth and air seem only burning fire."

[1833.]

There is a dale in Ida, lovelier
Than any in old Ionia, beautiful
With emerald slopes of sunny sward, that lean
Above the loud glenriver, which hath worn
A path thro' steepdown granite walls below
Mantled with flowering tendriltwine. In front
The cedarshadowy valleys open wide.
Far-seen, high over all the God-built wall
And many a snowycolumned range divine,
Mounted with awful sculptures--men and Gods,
The work of Gods--bright on the dark-blue sky
The windy citadel of Ilion
Shone, like the crown of Troas. Hither came
Mournful 'none wandering forlorn
Of Paris, once her playmate. Round her neck,
Her neck all marblewhite and marblecold,
Floated her hair or seemed to float in rest.
She, leaning on a vine-entwined stone,
Sang to the stillness, till the mountain-shadow
Sloped downward to her seat from the upper cliff.

"O mother Ida, manyfountained Ida,
Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
The grasshopper is silent in the grass,
The lizard with his shadow on the stone
Sleeps like a shadow, and the scarletwinged [21]
Cicala in the noonday leapeth not
Along the water-rounded granite-rock.
The purple flower droops: the golden bee
Is lilycradled: I alone awake.
My eyes are full of tears, my heart of love,
My heart is breaking and my eyes are dim,
And I am all aweary of my life.

"O mother Ida, manyfountained Ida,
Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
Hear me O Earth, hear me O Hills, O Caves
That house the cold crowned snake! O mountain brooks,
I am the daughter of a River-God,
Hear me, for I will speak, and build up all
My sorrow with my song, as yonder walls
Rose slowly to a music slowly breathed,
A cloud that gathered shape: for it may be
That, while I speak of it, a little while
My heart may wander from its deeper woe.

"O mother Ida, manyfountained Ida,
Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
Aloft the mountain lawn was dewydark,
And dewydark aloft the mountain pine;
Beautiful Paris, evil-hearted Paris,
Leading a jetblack goat whitehorned, whitehooved,
Came up from reedy Simois all alone.

"O mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
I sate alone: the goldensandalled morn
Rosehued the scornful hills: I sate alone
With downdropt eyes: white-breasted like a star
Fronting the dawn he came: a leopard skin
From his white shoulder drooped: his sunny hair
Clustered about his temples like a God's:
And his cheek brightened, as the foambow brightens
When the wind blows the foam; and I called out,
'Welcome Apollo, welcome home Apollo,
Apollo, my Apollo, loved Apollo'.

"Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
He, mildly smiling, in his milk-white palm
Close-held a golden apple, lightningbright
With changeful flashes, dropt with dew of Heaven
Ambrosially smelling. From his lip,
Curved crimson, the full-flowing river of speech
Came down upon my heart.

"' My own 'none,
Beautifulbrowed 'none, mine own soul,
Behold this fruit, whose gleaming rind ingrav'n
"For the most fair," in aftertime may breed
Deep evilwilledness of heaven and sore
Heartburning toward hallowed Ilion;
And all the colour of my afterlife
Will be the shadow of to-day. To-day
Hera and Pallas and the floating grace
Of laughter-loving Aphrodite meet
In manyfolded Ida to receive
This meed of beauty, she to whom my hand
Award the palm. Within the green hillside,
Under yon whispering tuft of oldest pine,
Is an ingoing grotto, strown with spar
And ivymatted at the mouth, wherein
Thou unbeholden may'st behold, unheard
Hear all, and see thy Paris judge of Gods.'

"Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
It was the deep midnoon: one silvery cloud
Had lost his way between the piney hills.
They came--all three--the Olympian goddesses.
Naked they came to the smoothswarded bower,
Lustrous with lilyflower, violeteyed
Both white and blue, with lotetree-fruit thickset,
Shadowed with singing-pine; and all the while,
Above, the overwandering ivy and vine
This way and that in many a wild festoon
Ran riot, garlanding the gnarled boughs
With bunch and berry and flower thro' and thro'.
On the treetops a golden glorious cloud
Leaned, slowly dropping down ambrosial dew.
How beautiful they were, too beautiful
To look upon! but Paris was to me
More lovelier than all the world beside.

"O mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
First spake the imperial Olympian
With arched eyebrow smiling sovranly,
Fulleyed here. She to Paris made
Proffer of royal power, ample rule
Unquestioned, overflowing revenue
Wherewith to embellish state, 'from many a vale
And river-sundered champaign clothed with corn,
Or upland glebe wealthy in oil and wine--
Honour and homage, tribute, tax and toll,
From many an inland town and haven large,
Mast-thronged below her shadowing citadel
In glassy bays among her tallest towers.'

"O mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
Still she spake on and still she spake of power
'Which in all action is the end of all.
Power fitted to the season, measured by
The height of the general feeling, wisdomborn
And throned of wisdom--from all neighbour crowns
Alliance and allegiance evermore. Such boon from me
Heaven's Queen to thee kingborn,
A shepherd all thy life and yet kingborn,
Should come most welcome, seeing men, in this
Only are likest gods, who have attained
Rest in a happy place and quiet seats
Above the thunder, with undying bliss
In knowledge of their own supremacy;
The changeless calm of undisputed right,
The highest height and topmost strength of power.'

"Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
She ceased, and Paris held the costly fruit
Out at arm's length, so much the thought of power
Flattered his heart: but Pallas where she stood
Somewhat apart, her clear and bared limbs
O'erthwarted with the brazen-headed spear
Upon her pearly shoulder leaning cold;
The while, above, her full and earnest eye
Over her snowcold breast and angry cheek
Kept watch, waiting decision, made reply.

"'Selfreverence, selfknowledge, selfcontrol
Are the three hinges of the gates of Life,
That open into power, everyway
Without horizon, bound or shadow or cloud.
Yet not for power (power of herself
Will come uncalled-for) but to live by law
Acting the law we live by without fear,
And, because right is right, to follow right
Were wisdom, in the scorn of consequence.

(Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.)
Not as men value gold because it tricks
And blazons outward Life with ornament,
But rather as the miser, for itself.
Good for selfgood doth half destroy selfgood.
The means and end, like two coiled snakes, infect
Each other, bound in one with hateful love.
So both into the fountain and the stream
A drop of poison falls. Come hearken to me,
And look upon me and consider me,
So shall thou find me fairest, so endurance,
Like to an athlete's arm, shall still become
Sinewed with motion, till thine active will
(As the dark body of the Sun robed round
With his own ever-emanating lights)
Be flooded o'er with her own effluences,
And thereby grow to freedom.' "Here she ceased
And Paris pondered. I cried out, 'Oh, Paris,
Give it to Pallas!' but he heard me not,
Or hearing would not hear me, woe is me!

"O mother Ida, manyfountained Ida,
Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
Idalian Aphrodite oceanborn,
Fresh as the foam, newbathed in Paphian wells,
With rosy slender fingers upward drew
From her warm brow and bosom her dark hair
Fragrant and thick, and on her head upbound
In a purple band: below her lucid neck
Shone ivorylike, and from the ground her foot
Gleamed rosywhite, and o'er her rounded form
Between the shadows of the vine-bunches
Floated the glowing sunlights, as she moved.

"Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
She with a subtle smile in her mild eyes,
The herald of her triumph, drawing nigh
Half-whispered in his ear, 'I promise thee
The fairest and most loving wife in Greece'.
I only saw my Paris raise his arm:
I only saw great Here's angry eyes,
As she withdrew into the golden cloud,
And I was left alone within the bower;
And from that time to this I am alone.
And I shall be alone until I die.

"Yet, mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
Fairest--why fairest wife? am I not fair?
My love hath told me so a thousand times.
Methinks I must be fair, for yesterday,
When I passed by, a wild and wanton pard,
Eyed like the evening star, with playful tail
Crouched fawning in the weed. Most loving is she?
Ah me, my mountain shepherd, that my arms
Were wound about thee, and my hot lips prest
Close-close to thine in that quickfalling dew
Of fruitful kisses, thick as Autumn rains
Flash in the pools of whirling Simois.

"Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
They came, they cut away my tallest pines--
My dark tall pines, that plumed the craggy ledge
High over the blue gorge, or lower down
Filling greengulphed Ida, all between
The snowy peak and snowwhite cataract
Fostered the callow eaglet--from beneath
Whose thick mysterious boughs in the dark
The panther's roar came muffled, while I sat
Low in the valley. Never, nevermore
Shall lone 'none see the morning mist
Sweep thro' them--never see them overlaid
With narrow moon-lit slips of silver cloud,
Between the loud stream and the trembling stars.

"Oh! mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
Hath he not sworn his love a thousand times,
In this green valley, under this green hill,
Ev'n on this hand, and sitting on this stone?
Sealed it with kisses? watered it with tears?
Oh happy tears, and how unlike to these!
Oh happy Heaven, how can'st thou see my face?
Oh happy earth, how can'st thou bear my weight?
O death, death, death, thou ever-floating cloud,
There are enough unhappy on this earth,
Pass by the happy souls, that love to live:
I pray thee, pass before my light of life.
And shadow all my soul, that I may die.
Thou weighest heavy on the heart within,
Weigh heavy on my eyelids--let me die.

"Yet, mother Ida, hear me ere I die.
I will not die alone, for fiery thoughts
Do shape themselves within me, more and more,
Whereof I catch the issue, as I hear
Dead sounds at night come from the inmost hills,
Like footsteps upon wool. I dimly see
My far-off doubtful purpose, as a mother
Conjectures of the features of her child
Ere it is born. I will not die alone.

"Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
Hear me, O earth. I will not die alone,
Lest their shrill, happy laughter, etc.

(Same as last stanza of subsequent editions.)

[Footnote 1: Tennyson, as we learn from his 'Life' (vol. i., p. 83),
began ''none' while he and Arthur Hallam were in Spain, whither they
went with money for the insurgent allies of Torrigos in the summer of
1830. He wrote part of it in the valley of Cauteretz in the Pyrenees,
the picturesque beauty of which fascinated him and not only suggested
the scenery of this Idyll, but inspired many years afterwards the poem
'All along the valley'. The exquisite scene with which the Idyll opens
bears no resemblance at all to Mount Ida and the Troad.]

[Footnote 2: Gargarus or Gargaron is the highest peak of the Ida range,
rising about 4650 feet above the level of the sea.]

[Footnote 3: The epithet many-fountain'd [Greek:'polpidax'] is Homer's
stock epithet for Ida. 'Cf. Iliad', viii., 47; xiv., 283, etc., etc.]

[Footnote 4: A literal translation from a line in Callimachus, 'Lavacrum
Palladis', 72:

[Greek: 'mesambrinae d'eich horos haesuchia']
(noonday quiet held the hill).]

[Footnote 5: So Theocritus, 'Idyll', vii., 22:--

[Greek: 'Anika dae kai sauros eph aimasiaisi katheudei.']
(When indeed the very lizard is sleeping on the loose stones of the
wall.)]

[Footnote 6: This extraordinary mistake in natural history (the cicala
being of course loudest in mid noonday when the heat is greatest)
Tennyson allowed to stand, till securing accuracy at the heavy price of
a pointless pleonasm, he substituted in 1884 "and the winds are dead".]

[Footnote 7: An echo from 'Henry VI.', part ii., act ii., se.
iii.:--

Mine eyes arc full of tears, my heart of grief.]

[Footnote 8: 'none was the daughter of the River-God Kebren.]

[Footnote 9: For the myth here referred to see Ovid, 'Heroides',
xvi., 179-80:--

Ilion aspicies, firmataque turribus altis Moenia,
Phoeboeae; structa canore lyrae.

It was probably an application of the Theban legend of Amphion, and
arose from the association of Apollo with Poseidon in founding Troy.

A fabric huge 'Rose like an exhalation,'

--Milton's 'Paradise Lost', i., 710-11.

'Cf. Gareth and Lynette', 254-7.]

[Footnote 10: The river Simois, so often referred to in the 'Iliad',
had its origin in Mount Cotylus, and passing by Ilion joined the
Scamander below the city.]

[Footnote 11: 'Cf'. the [Greek: synophrys kora](the maid of the meeting
brows) of Theocritus, 'Id'., viii., 72. This was considered a great
beauty among the Greeks, Romans and Orientals. Ovid, 'Ars. Amat'., iii.,
201, speaks of women effecting this by art: "Arte, supercilii confinia
nuda repletis".]

[Footnote 12: The whole of this gorgeous passage is taken, with one or
two additions and alterations in the names of the flowers, from
'Iliad', xiv., 347-52, with a reminiscence no doubt of Milton,
'Paradise Lost', iv., 695-702.]

[Footnote 13: The "'angry' cheek" is a fine touch.]

[Footnote 14: This fine sentiment is, of course, a commonplace among
ancient philosophers, but it may be interesting to put beside it a
passage from Cicero, 'De Finibus', ii., 14, 45:

"Honestum id intelligimus quod tale est ut, detracta omni utilitate,
sine ullis praemiis fructibusve per se ipsum possit jure laudari".

We are to understand by the truly honourable that which, setting aside
all consideration of utility, may be rightly praised in itself,
exclusive of any prospect of reward or compensation.]

[Footnote 15: This passage is very obscurely expressed, but the general
meaning is clear: "Until endurance grow sinewed with action, and the
full-grown will, circled through all experiences grow or become law, be
identified with law, and commeasure perfect freedom". The true moral
ideal is to bring the will into absolute harmony with law, so that
virtuous action becomes an instinct, the will no longer rebelling
against the law, "service" being in very truth "perfect freedom".]

[Footnote 16: The Paphos referred to is the old Paphos which was sacred
to Aphrodite; it was on the south-west extremity of Cyprus.]

[Footnote 17: Adopted from a line excised in 'Mariana in the South'.
See 'supra'.]

[Footnote 18: This was Eris.]

[Footnote 19: Helen.]

[Footnote 20: With these verses should be compared Schiller's fine lyric
'Kassandra', and with the line, "All earth and air seem only
burning fire,' from Webster's 'Duchess of Malfi':--

The heaven o'er my head seems made of molten brass,
The earth of flaming sulphur.]

[Footnote 21: In the Pyrenees, where part of this poem was written, I saw
a very beautiful species of Cicala, which had scarlet wings spotted with
black. Probably nothing of the kind exists in Mount Ida.]

THE SISTERS

First published in 1833.

The only alterations which have been made in it since have simply
consisted in the alteration of "'an'" for "and" in the third line of
each stanza, and "through and through" for "thro' and thro'" in line 29,
and "wrapt" for "wrapped" in line 34. It is curious that in 1842 the
original "bad" was altered to "bade," but all subsequent editions keep
to the original. It has been said that this poem was founded on the old
Scotch ballad "The Twa Sisters" (see for that ballad Sharpe's 'Ballad
Book', No. x., p. 30), but there is no resemblance at all between the
ballad and this poem beyond the fact that in each there are two sisters
who are both loved by a certain squire, the elder in jealousy pushing
the younger into a river and drowning her.

We were two daughters of one race:
She was the fairest in the face:
The wind is blowing in turret and tree.
They were together and she fell;
Therefore revenge became me well.
O the Earl was fair to see!

She died: she went to burning flame:
She mix'd her ancient blood with shame.
The wind is howling in turret and tree.
Whole weeks and months, and early and late,
To win his love I lay in wait:
O the Earl was fair to see!

I made a feast; I bad him come;
I won his love, I brought him home.
The wind is roaring in turret and tree.
And after supper, on a bed,
Upon my lap he laid his head:
O the Earl was fair to see!

I kiss'd his eyelids into rest:
His ruddy cheek upon my breast.
The wind is raging in turret and tree.
I hated him with the hate of hell,
But I loved his beauty passing well.
O the Earl was fair to see!

I rose up in the silent night:
I made my dagger sharp and bright.
The wind is raving in turret and tree.
As half-asleep his breath he drew,
Three times I stabb'd him thro' and thro'.
O the Earl was fair to see!

I curl'd and comb'd his comely head,
He look'd so grand when he was dead.
The wind is blowing in turret and tree.
I wrapt his body in the sheet,
And laid him at his mother's feet.
O the Earl was fair to see!

TO-----

WITH THE FOLLOWING POEM

I have not been able to ascertain to whom this dedication was addressed.
Sir Franklin Lushington tells me that he thinks it was an imaginary
person. The dedication explains the allegory intended. The poem appears
to have been suggested, as we learn from 'Tennyson's Life' (vol. i., p.
150), by a remark of Trench to Tennyson when they were undergraduates at
Trinity: "We cannot live in art". It was the embodiment Tennyson added
of his belief "that the God-like life is with man and for man". 'Cf.'
his own lines in 'Love and Duty':--$

For a man is not as God,
But then most God-like being most a man.

It is a companion poem to the 'Vision of Sin'; in that poem is traced
the effect of indulgence in the grosser pleasures of sense, in this the
effect of the indulgence in the more refined pleasures of sense.

I send you here a sort of allegory,
(For you will understand it) of a soul, [1]
A sinful soul possess'd of many gifts,
A spacious garden full of flowering weeds,
A glorious Devil, large in heart and brain,
That did love Beauty only, (Beauty seen
In all varieties of mould and mind)
And Knowledge for its beauty; or if Good,
Good only for its beauty, seeing not
That beauty, Good, and Knowledge, are three sisters
That doat upon each other, friends to man,
Living together under the same roof,
And never can be sunder'd without tears.
And he that shuts Love out, in turn shall be
Shut out from Love, and on her threshold lie
Howling in outer darkness. Not for this
Was common clay ta'en from the common earth,
Moulded by God, and temper'd with the tears
Of angels to the perfect shape of man.

[Footnote 1: 1833.

I send you, Friend, a sort of allegory,
(You are an artist and will understand
Its many lesser meanings) of a soul.]

THE PALACE OF ART

First published in 1833, but altered so extensively on its republication
in 1842 as to be practically rewritten. The alterations in it after 1842
were not numerous, consisting chiefly in the deletion of two stanzas
after line 192 and the insertion of the three stanzas which follow in
the present text, together with other minor verbal corrections, all of
which have been noted. No alterations were made in the text after 1853.
The allegory Tennyson explains in the dedicatory verses, but the
framework of the poem was evidently suggested by 'Ecclesiastes' ii.
1-17. The position of the hero is precisely that of Solomon. Both began
by assuming that man is self-sufficing and the world sufficient; the
verdict of the one in consequence being "vanity of vanities, all is
vanity," of the other what the poet here records. An admirable
commentary on the poem is afforded by Matthew Arnold's picture of the
Romans before Christ taught the secret of the only real happiness
possible to man. See 'Obermann Once More'. The teaching of the poem
has been admirably explained by Spedding. It "represents allegorically
the condition of a mind which, in the love of beauty and the triumphant
consciousness of knowledge and intellectual supremacy, in the intense
enjoyment of its own power and glory, has lost sight of its relation to
man and God". See 'Tennyson's Life', vol. i., p. 226.

I built my soul a lordly pleasure-house
Wherein at ease for aye to dwell.
I said, "O Soul, make merry and carouse,
Dear soul, for all is well".

A huge crag-platform, smooth as burnish'd brass,
I chose. The ranged ramparts bright
From level meadow-bases of deep grass [1]
Suddenly scaled the light.

Thereon I built it firm. Of ledge or shelf
The rock rose clear, or winding stair.
My soul would live alone unto herself
In her high palace there.

And "while the world [2] runs round and round,"
I said, "Reign thou apart, a quiet king,
Still as, while Saturn [3] whirls, his stedfast [4] shade
Sleeps on his luminous [5] ring."

To which my soul made answer readily:
"Trust me, in bliss I shall abide
In this great mansion, that is built for me,
So royal-rich and wide"

* * * * *

Four courts I made, East, West and South and North,
In each a squared lawn, wherefrom
The golden gorge of dragons spouted forth
A flood of fountain-foam. [6]

And round the cool green courts there ran a row
Of cloisters, branch'd like mighty woods,
Echoing all night to that sonorous flow
Of spouted fountain-floods. [6]

And round the roofs a gilded gallery
That lent broad verge to distant lands,
Far as the wild swan wings, to where the sky
Dipt down to sea and sands. [6]

From those four jets four currents in one swell
Across the mountain stream'd below
In misty folds, that floating as they fell
Lit up a torrent-bow. [6]

And high on every peak a statue seem'd
To hang on tiptoe, tossing up
A cloud of incense of all odour steam'd
From out a golden cup. [6]

So that she thought, "And who shall gaze upon
My palace with unblinded eyes,
While this great bow will waver in the sun,
And that sweet incense rise?" [6]

For that sweet incense rose and never fail'd,
And, while day sank or mounted higher,
The light aerial gallery, golden-rail'd,
Burnt like a fringe of fire. [6]

Likewise the deep-set windows, stain'd and traced,
Would seem slow-flaming crimson fires
From shadow'd grots of arches interlaced,
And tipt with frost-like spires. [6]

* * * * *

Full of long-sounding corridors it was,
That over-vaulted grateful gloom, [7]
Thro' which the livelong day my soul did pass,
Well-pleased, from room to room.

Full of great rooms and small the palace stood,
All various, each a perfect whole
From living Nature, fit for every mood [8]
And change of my still soul.

For some were hung with arras green and blue,
Showing a gaudy summer-morn,
Where with puff'd cheek the belted hunter blew
His wreathed bugle-horn. [9]

One seem'd all dark and red--a tract of sand,
And some one pacing there alone,
Who paced for ever in a glimmering land,
Lit with a low large moon. [10]

One show'd an iron coast and angry waves.
You seem'd to hear them climb and fall
And roar rock-thwarted under bellowing caves,
Beneath the windy wall. [11]

And one, a full-fed river winding slow
By herds upon an endless plain,
The ragged rims of thunder brooding low,
With shadow-streaks of rain. [11]

And one, the reapers at their sultry toil.
In front they bound the sheaves.
Behind Were realms of upland, prodigal in oil,
And hoary to the wind. [11]

And one, a foreground black with stones and slags,
Beyond, a line of heights, and higher
All barr'd with long white cloud the scornful crags,
And highest, snow and fire. [12]

And one, an English home--gray twilight pour'd
On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
Softer than sleep--all things in order stored,
A haunt of ancient Peace. [13]

Nor these alone, but every landscape fair,
As fit for every mood of mind,
Or gay, or grave, or sweet, or stern, was there,
Not less than truth design'd. [14]

* * * *

Or the maid-mother by a crucifix,
In tracts of pasture sunny-warm,
Beneath branch-work of costly sardonyx
Sat smiling, babe in arm. [15]

Or in a clear-wall'd city on the sea,
Near gilded organ-pipes, her hair
Wound with white roses, slept St. Cecily;
An angel look'd at her.

Or thronging all one porch of Paradise,
A group of Houris bow'd to see
The dying Islamite, with hands and eyes
That said, We wait for thee. [16]

Or mythic Uther's deeply-wounded son
In some fair space of sloping greens
Lay, dozing in the vale of Avalon,
And watch'd by weeping queens. [17]

Or hollowing one hand against his ear,
To list a foot-fall, ere he saw
The wood-nymph, stay'd the Ausonian king to hear
Of wisdom and of law. [18]

Or over hills with peaky tops engrail'd,
And many a tract of palm and rice,
The throne of Indian Cama [19] slowly sail'd
A summer fann'd with spice.

Or sweet Europa's [20] mantle blew unclasp'd,
From off her shoulder backward borne:
From one hand droop'd a crocus: one hand grasp'd
The mild bull's golden horn. [21]

Or else flush'd Ganymede, his rosy thigh
Half-buried in the Eagle's down,
Sole as a flying star shot thro' the sky
Above [22] the pillar'd town.

Nor [23] these alone: but every [24] legend fair
Which the supreme Caucasian mind [25]
Carved out of Nature for itself, was there,
Not less than life, design'd. [26]

* * * *

Then in the towers I placed great bells that swung,
Moved of themselves, with silver sound;
And with choice paintings of wise men I hung
The royal dais round.

For there was Milton like a seraph strong,
Beside him Shakespeare bland and mild;
And there the world-worn Dante grasp'd his song,
And somewhat grimly smiled. [27]

And there the Ionian father of the rest; [28]
A million wrinkles carved his skin;
A hundred winters snow'd upon his breast,
From cheek and throat and chin. [29]

Above, the fair hall-ceiling stately set
Many an arch high up did lift,
And angels rising and descending met
With interchange of gift. [29]

Below was all mosaic choicely plann'd
With cycles of the human tale
Of this wide world, the times of every land
So wrought, they will not fail. [29]

The people here, a beast of burden slow,
Toil'd onward, prick'd with goads and stings;
Here play'd, a tiger, rolling to and fro
The heads and crowns of kings; [29]

Here rose, an athlete, strong to break or bind
All force in bonds that might endure,
And here once more like some sick man declined,
And trusted any cure. [29]

But over these she trod: and those great bells
Began to chime. She took her throne:
She sat betwixt the shining Oriels,
To sing her songs alone. [29]

And thro' the topmost Oriels' colour'd flame
Two godlike faces gazed below;
Plato the wise, and large-brow'd Verulam,
The first of those who know. [29]

And all those names, that in their motion were
Full-welling fountain-heads of change,
Betwixt the slender shafts were blazon'd fair
In diverse raiment strange: [30]

Thro' which the lights, rose, amber, emerald, blue,
Flush'd in her temples and her eyes,
And from her lips, as morn from Memnon, [31] drew
Rivers of melodies.

No nightingale delighteth to prolong
Her low preamble all alone,
More than my soul to hear her echo'd song
Throb thro' the ribbed stone;

Singing and murmuring in her feastful mirth,
Joying to feel herself alive,
Lord over Nature, Lord of [32] the visible earth,
Lord of the senses five;

Communing with herself: "All these are mine,
And let the world have peace or wars,
Tis one to me". She--when young night divine
Crown'd dying day with stars,

Making sweet close of his delicious toils--
Lit light in wreaths and anadems,
And pure quintessences of precious oils
In hollow'd moons of gems,

To mimic heaven; and clapt her hands and cried,
"I marvel if my still delight
In this great house so royal-rich, and wide,
Be flatter'd to the height. [33]

"O all things fair to sate my various eyes!
O shapes and hues that please me well!
O silent faces of the Great and Wise,
My Gods, with whom I dwell! [34]

"O God-like isolation which art mine,
I can but count thee perfect gain,
What time I watch the darkening droves of swine
That range on yonder plain. [34]

"In filthy sloughs they roll a prurient skin,
They graze and wallow, breed and sleep;
And oft some brainless devil enters in,
And drives them to the deep." [34]

Then of the moral instinct would she prate,
And of the rising from the dead,
As hers by right of full-accomplish'd Fate;
And at the last she said:

"I take possession of man's mind and deed.
I care not what the sects may brawl,
I sit as God holding no form of creed,
But contemplating all." [35]

* * *

Full oft [36] the riddle of the painful earth
Flash'd thro' her as she sat alone,
Yet not the less held she her solemn mirth,
And intellectual throne.

And so she throve and prosper'd: so three years
She prosper'd: on the fourth she fell, [37]
Like Herod, [38] when the shout was in his ears,
Struck thro' with pangs of hell.

Lest she should fail and perish utterly,
God, before whom ever lie bare
The abysmal deeps of Personality, [39]
Plagued her with sore despair.

When she would think, where'er she turn'd her sight,
The airy hand confusion wrought,
Wrote "Mene, mene," and divided quite
The kingdom of her thought. [40]

Deep dread and loathing of her solitude
Fell on her, from which mood was born
Scorn of herself; again, from out that mood
Laughter at her self-scorn. [41]

"What! is not this my place of strength," she said,
"My spacious mansion built for me,
Whereof the strong foundation-stones were laid
Since my first memory?"

But in dark corners of her palace stood
Uncertain shapes; and unawares
On white-eyed phantasms weeping tears of blood,
And horrible nightmares,

And hollow shades enclosing hearts of flame,
And, with dim fretted foreheads all,
On corpses three-months-old at noon she came,
That stood against the wall.

A spot of dull stagnation, without light
Or power of movement, seem'd my soul,
'Mid onward-sloping [42] motions infinite
Making for one sure goal.

A still salt pool, lock'd in with bars of sand;
Left on the shore; that hears all night
The plunging seas draw backward from the land
Their moon-led waters white.

A star that with the choral starry dance
Join'd not, but stood, and standing saw
The hollow orb of moving Circumstance
Roll'd round by one fix'd law.

Back on herself her serpent pride had curl'd.
"No voice," she shriek'd in that lone hall,
"No voice breaks thro' the stillness of this world:
One deep, deep silence all!"

She, mouldering with the dull earth's mouldering sod,
Inwrapt tenfold in slothful shame,
Lay there exiled from eternal God,
Lost to her place and name;

And death and life she hated equally,
And nothing saw, for her despair,
But dreadful time, dreadful eternity,
No comfort anywhere;

Remaining utterly confused with fears,
And ever worse with growing time,
And ever unrelieved by dismal tears,
And all alone in crime:

Shut up as in a crumbling tomb, girt round
With blackness as a solid wall,
Far off she seem'd to hear the dully sound
Of human footsteps fall.

As in strange lands a traveller walking slow,
In doubt and great perplexity,
A little before moon-rise hears the low
Moan of an unknown sea;

And knows not if it be thunder or a sound
Of rocks [43] thrown down, or one deep cry
Of great wild beasts; then thinketh, "I have found
A new land, but I die".

She howl'd aloud, "I am on fire within.
There comes no murmur of reply.
What is it that will take away my sin,
And save me lest I die?"

So when four years were wholly finished,
She threw her royal robes away.
"Make me a cottage in the vale," she said,
"Where I may mourn and pray. [44]

"Yet pull not down my palace towers, that are
So lightly, beautifully built:
Perchance I may return with others there
When I have purged my guilt." [45]

[Footnote 1: 1833.

I chose, whose ranged ramparts bright
From great broad meadow bases of deep grass.]

[Footnote 2: 1833. "While the great world."]

[Footnote 3: "The shadow of Saturn thrown upon the bright ring that
surrounds the planet appears motionless, though the body of the planet
revolves. Saturn rotates on its axis in the short period of ten and a
half hours, but the shadow of this swiftly whirling mass shows no more
motion than is seen in the shadow of a top spinning so rapidly that it
seems to be standing still." Rowe and Webb's note, which I gladly
borrow.]

[Footnote 4: 1833 and 1842. Steadfast.]

[Footnote 5: After this stanza in 1833 this, deleted in 1842:--

"And richly feast within thy palace hall,
Like to the dainty bird that sups,
Lodged in the lustrous crown-imperial,
Draining the honey cups."]

[Footnote 6: In 1833 these eight stanzas were inserted after the stanza
beginning, "I take possession of men's minds and deeds"; in 1842 they
were transferred, greatly altered, to their present position. For the
alterations on them see 'infra.']

[Footnote 7: 1833.

Gloom,
Roofed with thick plates of green and orange glass
Ending in stately rooms.]

[Footnote 8: 1833.

All various, all beautiful,
Looking all ways, fitted to every mood.]

[Footnote 9: Here in 1833 was inserted the stanza, "One showed an
English home," afterwards transferred to its present position 85-88.]

[Footnote 10: 1833.

Some were all dark and red, a glimmering land
Lit with a low round moon,
Among brown rocks a man upon the sand
Went weeping all alone.]

[Footnote 11: These three stanzas were added in 1842.]

[Footnote 12: Thus in 1833:--

One seemed a foreground black with stones and slags,
Below sun-smitten icy spires
Rose striped with long white cloud the scornful crags,
Deep trenched with thunder fires.]

[Footnote 13: Not inserted here in 1833, but the following in its
place:--

Some showed far-off thick woods mounted with towers,
Nearer, a flood of mild sunshine
Poured on long walks and lawns and beds and bowers
Trellised with bunchy vine.]

[Footnote 14: Inserted in 1842.]

[Footnote 15: Thus in 1833, followed by the note:--

Or the maid-mother by a crucifix,
In yellow pastures sunny-warm,
Beneath branch-work of costly sardonyx,
Sat smiling, babe in arm.

When I first conceived the plan of the Palace of Art, I intended to
have introduced both sculptures and paintings into it; but it is the
most difficult of all things to 'devise' a statue in verse. Judge
whether I have succeeded in the statues of Elijah and Olympias.

One was the Tishbite whom the raven fed,
As when he stood on Carmel steeps,
With one arm stretched out bare, and mocked and said,
"Come cry aloud-he sleeps".

Tall, eager, lean and strong, his cloak wind-borne
Behind, his forehead heavenly bright
From the clear marble pouring glorious scorn,
Lit as with inner light.

One, was Olympias: the floating snake
Rolled round her ancles, round her waist
Knotted, and folded once about her neck,
Her perfect lips to taste.

Round by the shoulder moved: she seeming blythe
Declined her head: on every side
The dragon's curves melted and mingled with
The woman's youthful pride
Of rounded limbs.

Or Venus in a snowy shell alone,
Deep-shadowed in the glassy brine,
Moonlike glowed double on the blue, and shone
A naked shape divine.]

[Footnote 16: Inserted in 1842.]

[Footnote 17: Thus in 1833:--

Or that deep-wounded child of Pendragon
Mid misty woods on sloping greens
Dozed in the valley of Avilion,
Tended by crowned queens.

The present reading is that of 1842. The reference is, of course, to
King Arthur, the supposed son of Uther Pendragon.

In 1833 the following stanza, excised in 1842, followed:--

Or blue-eyed Kriemhilt from a craggy hold,
Athwart the light-green rows of vine,
Poured blazing hoards of Nibelungen gold,
Down to the gulfy Rhine.]

[Footnote 18: Inserted in 1842 thus:--

Or hollowing one hand against his ear,
To listen for a footfall, ere he saw
The wood-nymph, stay'd the Tuscan king to hear
Of wisdom and of law.

List a footfall, 1843. Ausonian for Tuscan, 1850. The reference is to
Egeria and Numa Pompilius. 'Cf.' Juvenal, iii., 11-18:--

Hic ubi nocturnae
Numa constituebat amicae
...
In vallem AEgeriae descendimus et speluneas
Dissimiles veris.

and the beautiful passage in Byron's 'Childe Harold', iv., st.
cxv.-cxix.]

[Footnote 19: This is Camadev or Camadeo, the Cupid or God of Love of the
Hindu mythology.]

[Footnote 20: This picture of Europa seems to have been suggested by
Moschus, 'Idyll', ii., 121-5:--

[Greek: Hae d' ar ephezomenae Zaenos Boeois epi n_otois tae men echen
taurou dolichon keras, en cheri d' allae eirue porphyreas kolpou
ptuchas.]

"Then, seated on the back of the divine bull, with one hand did she
grasp the bull's long horn and with the other she was catching up the
purple folds of her garment, and the robe on her shoulders was swelled
out."

See, too, the beautiful picture of the same scene in Achilles
Tatius, 'Clitophon and Leucippe', lib. i., 'ad init.;' and in Politian's
finely picturesque poem.]

[Footnote 21: In 1833 thus:--

Europa's scarf blew in an arch, unclasped,
From her bare shoulder backward borne.

Off inserted in 1842. Here in 1833 follows a stanza, excised in 1842:--

He thro' the streaming crystal swam, and rolled
Ambrosial breaths that seemed to float
In light-wreathed curls. She from the ripple cold
Updrew her sandalled foot.]

[Footnote 22: 1833. Over.]

[Footnote 23: 1833. Not.]

[Footnote 24: 1833. Many a.]

[Footnote 25: The Caucasian range forms the north-west margin of the
great tableland of Western Asia, and as it was the home of those races
who afterwards peopled Europe and Western Asia and so became the fathers
of civilisation and culture, the "Supreme Caucasian mind" is a
historically correct but certainly recondite expression for the
intellectual flower of the human race, for the perfection of human
ability.]

[Footnote 26: 1833. Broidered in screen and blind.

In the edition of 1833 appear the following stanzas, excised in 1842:--

So that my soul beholding in her pride
All these, from room to room did pass;
And all things that she saw, she multiplied,
A many-faced glass.

And, being both the sower and the seed,
Remaining in herself became
All that she saw, Madonna, Ganymede,
Or the Asiatic dame--

Still changing, as a lighthouse in the night
Changeth athwart the gleaming main,
From red to yellow, yellow to pale white,
Then back to red again.

"From change to change four times within the womb
The brain is moulded," she began,
"So thro' all phases of all thought I come
Into the perfect man.

"All nature widens upward: evermore
The simpler essence lower lies,
More complex is more perfect, owning more
Discourse, more widely wise.

"I take possession of men's minds and deeds.
I live in all things great and small.
I dwell apart, holding no forms of creeds,
But contemplating all."

Four ample courts there were, East, West, South, North,
In each a squared lawn where from
A golden-gorged dragon spouted forth
The fountain's diamond foam.

All round the cool green courts there ran a row
Of cloisters, branched like mighty woods,
Echoing all night to that sonorous flow
Of spouted fountain floods.

From those four jets four currents in one swell
Over the black rock streamed below
In steamy folds, that, floating as they fell,
Lit up a torrent bow.

And round the roofs ran gilded galleries
That gave large view to distant lands,
Tall towns and mounds, and close beneath the skies
Long lines of amber sands.

Huge incense-urns along the balustrade,
Hollowed of solid amethyst,
Each with a different odour fuming, made
The air a silver mist.

Far-off 'twas wonderful to look upon
Those sumptuous towers between the gleam
Of that great foam-bow trembling in the sun,
And the argent incense-steam;

And round the terraces and round the walls,
While day sank lower or rose higher,
To see those rails with all their knobs and balls,
Burn like a fringe of fire.

Likewise the deepset windows, stained and traced.
Burned, like slow-flaming crimson fires,
From shadowed grots of arches interlaced,
And topped with frostlike spires.]

[Footnote 27: 1833.

There deep-haired Milton like an angel tall
Stood limned, Shakspeare bland and mild,
Grim Dante pressed his lips, and from the wall
The bald blind Homer smiled.

Recast in its present form in
1842. After this stanza in 1833 appear the following stanzas, excised in
1842:--

And underneath fresh carved in cedar wood,
Somewhat alike in form and face,
The Genii of every climate stood,
All brothers of one race:

Angels who sway the seasons by their art,
And mould all shapes in earth and sea;
And with great effort build the human heart
From earliest infancy.

And in the sun-pierced Oriels' coloured flame
Immortal Michael Angelo
Looked down, bold Luther, large-browed Verulam,
The King of those who know. [A]

Cervantes, the bright face of Calderon,
Robed David touching holy strings,
The Halicarnassean, and alone,
Alfred the flower of kings.

Isaiah with fierce Ezekiel,
Swarth Moses by the Coptic sea,
Plato, Petrarca, Livy, and Raphael,
And eastern Confutzer.

[Sub-Footnote A: Il maestro di color chi sanno.--Dante, 'Inf.',
iii.]]

[Footnote 28: Homer. 'Cf.' Pope's 'Temple of Fame', 183-7:--

Father of verse in holy fillets dress'd,
His silver beard wav'd gently o'er his breast,
Though blind a boldness in his looks appears,
In years he seem'd but not impaired by years.]

[Footnote 29: All these stanzas were added in 1842. In 1833 appear the
following stanzas, excised in 1842:--

As some rich tropic mountain, that infolds
All change, from flats of scattered palms
Sloping thro' five great zones of climate, holds
His head in snows and calms--

Full of her own delight and nothing else,
My vain-glorious, gorgeous soul
Sat throned between the shining oriels,
In pomp beyond control;

With piles of flavorous fruits in basket-twine
Of gold, upheaped, crushing down
Musk-scented blooms--all taste--grape, gourd or pine--
In bunch, or single grown--

Our growths, and such as brooding Indian heats
Make out of crimson blossoms deep,
Ambrosial pulps and juices, sweets from sweets
Sun-changed, when sea-winds sleep.

With graceful chalices of curious wine,
Wonders of art--and costly jars,
And bossed salvers. Ere young night divine
Crowned dying day with stars,

Making sweet close of his delicious toils,
She lit white streams of dazzling gas,
And soft and fragrant flames of precious oils
In moons of purple glass

Ranged on the fretted woodwork to the ground.
Thus her intense untold delight,
In deep or vivid colour, smell and sound,
Was nattered day and night. [A]

[Sub-Footnote A: If the poem were not already too long, I should
have inserted in the text the following stanzas, expressive of the
joy wherewith the soul contemplated the results of astronomical
experiment. In the centre of the four quadrangles rose an immense
tower.

Hither, when all the deep unsounded skies
Shuddered with silent stars she clomb,
And as with optic glasses her keen eyes
Pierced thro' the mystic dome,

Regions of lucid matter taking forms,
Brushes of fire, hazy gleams,
Clusters and beds of worlds, and bee-like swarms
Of suns, and starry streams.

She saw the snowy poles of moonless Mars,
That marvellous round of milky light
Below Orion, and those double stars
Whereof the one more bright

Is circled by the other, etc.]

[Footnote 30: Thus in 1833:--

And many more, that in their lifetime were
Full-welling fountain heads of change,
Between the stone shafts glimmered, blazoned fair
In divers raiment strange.]

[Footnote 31: The statue of Memnon near Thebes in Egypt when first
struck by the rays of the rising sun is said to have become vocal, to
have emitted responsive sounds. See for an account of this 'Pausanias',
i., 42; Tacitus, 'Annals', ii., 61; and Juvenal, 'Sat.', xv., 5:

"Dimidio magicae resonant ubi Memnone Chordae,"

and compare Akenside's verses,
'Plea. of Imag.', i., 109-113:--

Old Memnon's image, long renown'd
By fabling Nilus: to the quivering touch
Of Titan's ray, with each repulsive string
Consenting, sounded thro' the warbling air
Unbidden strains.]

[Footnote 32: 1833. O'.]

[Footnote 33: Here added in 1842 and remaining till 1851 when they were
excised are two stanzas:--

"From shape to shape at first within the womb
The brain is modell'd," she began,
"And thro' all phases of all thought I come
Into the perfect man.

"All nature widens upward. Evermore
The simpler essence lower lies:
More complex is more perfect, owning more
Discourse, more widely wise."]

[Footnote 34: These stanzas were added in 1851.]

[Footnote 35: Added in
1842, with the following variants which remained till 1851, when the
present text was substituted:--

"I take possession of men's minds and deeds.
I live in all things great and small.
I sit apart holding no forms of creeds,
But contemplating all."]

[Footnote 36: 1833. Sometimes.]

[Footnote 37:

And intellectual throne
Of full-sphered contemplation. So three years
She throve, but on the fourth she fell.

And so the text remained till 1850, when the present
reading was substituted.]

[Footnote 38: For the reference to Herod see
'Acts' xii. 21-23.]

[Footnote 39: Cf. Hallam's 'Remains', p.
132: "That, i.e. Redemption," is in the power of God's election with
whom alone rest 'the abysmal secrets of personality'.]

[Footnote 40:
See 'Daniel' v. 24-27.]

[Footnote 41: In 1833 the following stanza,
excised in 1842:--

"Who hath drawn dry the fountains of delight,
That from my deep heart everywhere
Moved in my blood and dwelt, as power and might
Abode in Sampson's hair?"]

[Footnote 42: 1833. Downward-sloping.]

[Footnote 43: 1833.

Or the sound
Of stones.

So till 1851, when "a sound of rocks" was substituted.]

[Footnote 44: 1833. "Dying the death I die?" Present reading substituted
in 1842.]

[Footnote 45: Because intellectual and aesthetic pleasures are
'abused' and their purpose and scope mistaken, there is no reason
why they should not be enjoyed. See the allegory in 'In Memoriam',
ciii., stanzas 12-13.]

LADY CLARA VERE DE VERE

Though this is placed among the poems published in 1833 it first
appeared in print in 1842. The subsequent alterations were very slight,
and after 1848 none at all were made.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
Of me you shall not win renown:
You thought to break a country heart
For pastime, ere you went to town.
At me you smiled, but unbeguiled
I saw the snare, and I retired:
The daughter of a hundred Earls,
You are not one to be desired.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
I know you proud to bear your name,
Your pride is yet no mate for mine,
Too proud to care from whence I came.
Nor would I break for your sweet sake
A heart that doats on truer charms.
A simple maiden in her flower
Is worth a hundred coats-of-arms.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
Some meeker pupil you must find,
For were you queen of all that is,
I could not stoop to such a mind.
You sought to prove how I could love,
And my disdain is my reply.
The lion on your old stone gates
Is not more cold to you than I.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
You put strange memories in my head.
Not thrice your branching limes have blown
Since I beheld young Laurence dead.
Oh your sweet eyes, your low replies:
A great enchantress you may be;
But there was that across his throat
Which you hardly cared to see.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
When thus he met his mother's view,
She had the passions of her kind,
She spake some certain truths of you.

Indeed I heard one bitter word
That scarce is fit for you to hear;
Her manners had not that repose
Which stamps the caste of Vere de Vere.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
There stands a spectre in your hall:
The guilt of blood is at your door:
You changed a wholesome heart to gall.
You held your course without remorse,
To make him trust his modest worth,
And, last, you fix'd a vacant stare,
And slew him with your noble birth.

Trust me, Clara Vere de Vere,
From yon blue heavens above us bent
The grand old gardener and his wife [1]
Smile at the claims of long descent.
Howe'er it be, it seems to me,
'Tis only noble to be good.
Kind hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.

I know you, Clara Vere de Vere:
You pine among your halls and towers:
The languid light of your proud eyes
Is wearied of the rolling hours.
In glowing health, with boundless wealth,
But sickening of a vague disease,
You know so ill to deal with time,
You needs must play such pranks as these.

Clara, Clara Vere de Vere,
If Time be heavy on your hands,
Are there no beggars at your gate,
Nor any poor about your lands?
Oh! teach the orphan-boy to read,
Or teach the orphan-girl to sew,
Pray Heaven for a human heart,
And let the foolish yoeman go.

[Footnote 1: 1842 and 1843. "The gardener Adam and his wife." In 1845 it
was altered to the present text.]

THE MAY QUEEN

The first two parts were first published in 1833.

The scenery is typical of Lincolnshire; in Fitzgerald's phrase, it is
all Lincolnshire inland, as 'Locksley Hall' is seaboard.

You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;
To-morrow 'ill be the happiest time of all the glad [1] New-year;
Of all the glad New-year, mother, the maddest merriest day;
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

There's many a black, black eye, they say, but none so bright as mine;
There's Margaret and Mary, there's Kate and Caroline:
But none so fair as little Alice in all the land they say,
So I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall never wake,
If you [2] do not call me loud when the day begins to break:
But I must gather knots of flowers, and buds and garlands gay,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

As I came up the valley whom think ye should I see,
But Robin [3] leaning on the bridge beneath the hazel-tree?
He thought of that sharp look, mother, I gave him yesterday,--
But I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

He thought I was a ghost, mother, for I was all in white,
And I ran by him without speaking, like a flash of light.
They call me cruel-hearted, but I care not what they say,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

They say he's dying all for love, but that can never be:
They say his heart is breaking, mother--what is that to me?
There's many a bolder lad 'ill woo me any summer day,
And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

Little Effie shall go with me to-morrow to the green,
And you'll be there, too, mother, to see me made the Queen;
For the shepherd lads on every side 'ill come from far away,
And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

The honeysuckle round the porch has wov'n its wavy bowers,
And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint sweet cuckoo-flowers;
And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray,
And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

The night-winds come and go, mother, upon the meadow-grass,
And the happy stars above them seem to brighten as they pass;
There will not be a drop of rain the whole of the live-long day,
And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

All the valley, mother, 'ill be fresh and green and still,
And the cowslip and the crowfoot are over all the hill,
And the rivulet in the flowery dale 'ill merrily glance and play,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

So you must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear,
To-morrow 'ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year:
To-morrow 'ill be of all the year the maddest merriest day,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

[Footnote 1: 1833. "Blythe" for "glad".]

[Footnote 2: 1883. Ye.]

[Footnote 3: 1842. Robert. This is a curious illustration of Tennyson's
scrupulousness about trifles: in 1833 it was "Robin," in 1842 "Robert,"
then in 1843 and afterwards he returned to "Robin".]

NEW-YEAR'S EVE

If you're waking call me early, call me early, mother dear,
For I would see the sun rise upon the glad New-year.
It is the last New-year that I shall ever see,
Then you may lay me low i' the mould and think no more of me.

To-night I saw the sun set: he set and left behind
The good old year, the dear old time, and all my peace of mind;
And the New-year's coming up, mother, but I shall never see
The blossom on [1] the blackthorn, the leaf upon the tree.

Last May we made a crown of flowers: we had a merry day;
Beneath the hawthorn on the green they made me Queen of May;
And we danced about the may-pole and in the hazel copse,
Till Charles's Wain came out above the tall white chimney-tops.

There's not a flower on all the hills: the frost is on the pane:
I only wish to live till the snowdrops come again:
I wish the snow would melt and the sun come out on high:
I long to see a flower so before the day I die.

The building rook'll caw from the windy tall elm-tree,
And the tufted plover pipe along the fallow lea,
And the swallow'll come back again with summer o'er the wave.
But I shall lie alone, mother, within the mouldering grave.

Upon the chancel-casement, and upon that grave of mine,
In the early, early morning the summer sun'll shine,
Before the red cock crows from the farm upon the hill,
When you are warm-asleep, mother, and all the world is still.

When the flowers come again, mother, beneath the waning light
You'll never see me more in the long gray fields at night;
When from the dry dark wold the summer airs blow cool
On the oat-grass and the sword-grass, and the bulrush in the pool.

You'll bury me, [2] my mother, just beneath the hawthorn shade,
And you'll come [3] sometimes and see me where I am lowly laid.
I shall not forget you, mother, I shall hear you when you pass,[4]
With your feet above my head in the long and pleasant grass.

I have been wild and wayward, but you'll forgive [5] me now;
You'll kiss me, my own mother, and forgive me ere I go; [6]
Nay, nay, you must not weep, [7] nor let your grief be wild,
You should not fret for me, mother, you [8] have another child.

If I can I'll come again, mother, from out my resting-place;
Tho' you'll [9] not see me, mother, I shall look upon your face;
Tho' I cannot speak a word, 1 shall harken what you [10] say,
And be often, often with you when you think [11] I'm far away.

Good-night, good-night, when I have said good-night for evermore,
And you [12] see me carried out from the threshold of the door;
Don't let Effie come to see me till my grave be growing green:
She'll be a better child to you than ever I have been.

She'll find my garden-tools upon the granary floor:
Let her take 'em: they are hers: I shall never garden more:
But tell her, when I'm gone, to train the rose-bush that I set
About the parlour-window and the box of mignonette.

Good-night, sweet mother: call me before the day is born. [13]
All night I lie awake, but I fall asleep at morn;
But I would see the sun rise upon the glad New-year,
So, if your waking, call me, call me early, mother dear.

[Footnote 1: 1833. The may upon.]

[Footnote 2: 1833. Ye'll bury me.]

[Footnote 3: 1833. And ye'll come.]

[Footnote 4: 1833. I shall not forget ye, mother, I shall hear ye when
ye pass.]

[Footnote 5: 1833. But ye'll forgive.]

[Footnote 6: 1833. Ye'll kiss me, my own mother, upon my cheek and brow.
1850. And foregive me ere I go.]

[Footnote 7: 1833. Ye must not weep.]

[Footnote 8: 1833. Ye ... ye.]

[Footnote 9: 1833. Ye'll.]

[Footnote 10: 1833. Ye.]

[Footnote 11: 1833. Ye when ye think.]

[Footnote 12: 1833. Ye.]

[Footnote 13: 1833. Call me when it begins to dawn. 1842. Before the day
is born.]

CONCLUSION

Added in 1842.

I thought to pass away before, and yet alive I am;
And in the fields all round I hear the bleating of the lamb.
How sadly, I remember, rose the morning of the year!
To die before the snowdrop came, and now the violet's here.

O sweet is the new violet, that comes beneath the skies,
And sweeter is the young lamb's voice to me that cannot rise,
And sweet is all the land about, and all the flowers that blow,
And sweeter far is death than life to me that long to go.

It seem'd so hard at first, mother, to leave the blessed sun,
And now it seems as hard to stay, and yet His will be done!
But still I think it can't be long before I find release;
And that good man, the clergyman, has told me words of peace. [1]

O blessings on his kindly voice and on his silver hair!
And blessings on his whole life long, until he meet me there!
O blessings on his kindly heart and on his silver head!
A thousand times I blest him, as he knelt beside my bed.

He taught me all the mercy, for he show'd [2] me all the sin.
Now, tho' my lamp was lighted late, there's One will let me in:
Nor would I now be well, mother, again, if that could be,
For my desire is but to pass to Him that died for me.

I did not hear the dog howl, mother, or the death-watch beat,
There came a sweeter token when the night and morning meet:
But sit beside my bed, mother, and put your hand in mine,
And Effie on the other side, and I will tell the sign.

All in the wild March-morning I heard the angels call;
It was when the moon was setting, and the dark was over all;
The trees began to whisper, and the wind began to roll,
And in the wild March-morning I heard them call my soul.

For lying broad awake I thought of you and Effie dear;
I saw you sitting in the house, and I no longer here;
With all my strength I pray'd for both, and so I felt resign'd,
And up the valley came a swell of music on the wind.

I thought that it was fancy, and I listen'd in my bed,
And then did something speak to me--I know not what was said;
For great delight and shuddering took hold of all my mind,
And up the valley came again the music on the wind.

But you were sleeping; and I said, "It's not for them: it's mine".
And if it comes [3] three times, I thought, I take it for a sign.
And once again it came, and close beside the window-bars,
Then seem'd to go right up to Heaven and die among the stars.

So now I think my time is near. I trust it is. I know
The blessed music went that way my soul will have to go.
And for myself, indeed, I care not if I go to-day.
But, Effie, you must comfort _her_ when I am past away.

And say to Robin [4] a kind word, and tell him not to fret;
There's many worthier than I, would make him happy yet.
If I had lived--I cannot tell--I might have been his wife;
But all these things have ceased to be, with my desire of life.

O look! the sun begins to rise, the heavens are in a glow;
He shines upon a hundred fields, and all of them I know.
And there I move no longer now, and there his light may shine--
Wild flowers in the valley for other hands than mine.

O sweet and strange it seems to me, that ere this day is done
The voice, that now is speaking, may be beyond the sun--
For ever and for ever with those just souls and true--
And what is life, that we should moan? why make we such ado?

For ever and for ever, all in a blessed home--
And there to wait a little while till you and Effie come--
To lie within the light of God, as I lie upon your breast--
And the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.

[Footnote 1: 1842.

But still it can't be long, mother, before I find release;
And that good man, the clergyman, he preaches words of peace.

Present reading 1843.]

[Footnote 2: 1842-1848.

He show'd me all the mercy, for he taught me all the sin.
Now, though, etc.

1850. For show'd he me all the sin.]

[Footnote 3: 1889. Come.]

[Footnote 4: 1842. Robert. 1843. Robin restored.]

THE LOTOS-EATERS

First published in 1833, but when republished in 1842 the alterations in
the way of excision, alteration, and addition were very extensive. The
text of 1842 is practically the final text. This charming poem is
founded on 'Odyssey', ix., 82 'seq.'

"On the tenth day we set foot on the land of the lotos-eaters who eat
a flowery food. So we stepped ashore and drew water... When we had
tasted meat and drink I sent forth certain of my company to go and
make search what manner of men they were who here live upon the earth
by bread... Then straightway they went and mixed with the men of the
lotos-eaters, and so it was that the lotos-eaters devised not death
for our fellows but gave them of the lotos to taste. Now whosoever of
them did eat the honey-sweet fruit of the lotos had no more wish to
bring tidings nor to come back, but there he chose to abide with the
lotos-eating men ever feeding on the lotos and forgetful of his
homeward way. Therefore I led them back to the ships weeping and sore
against their will ... lest haply any should eat of the lotos and be
forgetful of returning."

(Lang and Butcher's translation.)

But in the details of his poem Tennyson has laid many other poets under
contribution, notably Moschus, 'Idyll', v.; Bion, 'Idyll', v.; Spenser,
'Faerie Queen', II. vi. (description of the 'Idle Lake'), and Thomson's
'Castle of Indolence'.

"Courage!" he said, and pointed toward the land,
"This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon."
In the afternoon they came unto a land,
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.
Full-faced above the valley stood the moon; [1]
And like a downward smoke, the slender stream
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem.

A land of streams! some, like a downward smoke,
Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go;
And some thro' wavering lights and shadows broke,
Rolling a slumbrous sheet of foam below.
They saw the gleaming river seaward flow [2]
From the inner land: far off, three mountain-tops,
Three silent pinnacles of aged snow, [3]
Stood sunset-flush'd: and, dew'd with showery drops,
Up-clomb the shadowy pine above the woven copse.

The charmed sunset linger'd low adown
In the red West: thro' mountain clefts the dale
Was seen far inland, and the yellow down
Border'd with palm, and many a winding vale
And meadow, set with slender galingale;
A land where all things always seem'd the same!
And round about the keel with faces pale,
Dark faces pale against that rosy flame,
The mild-eyed melancholy Lotos-eaters came.

Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave
To each, but whoso did receive of them,
And taste, to him the gushing of the wave
Far far away did seem to mourn and rave
On alien shores; and if his fellow spake,
His voice was thin, as voices from the grave;
And deep-asleep he seem'd, yet all awake,
And music in his ears his beating heart did make.

They sat them down upon the yellow sand,
Between the sun and moon upon the shore;
And sweet it was to dream of Father-land,
Of child, and wife, and slave; but evermore
Most weary seem'd the sea, weary the oar,
Weary the wandering fields of barren foam.
Then some one said, "We will return no more";
And all at once they sang, "Our island home
Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam".

[Footnote 1: 1883. Above the valley burned the golden moon.]

[Footnote 2: 1883. River's seaward flow.]

[Footnote 3: 1833. Three thunder-cloven thrones of oldest snow.]

CHORIC SONG

1

There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tir'd eyelids upon tir'd eyes;
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Here are cool mosses deep,
And thro' the moss the ivies creep,
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep,
And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.

2

Why are we weigh'd upon with heaviness,
And utterly consumed with sharp distress,
While all things else have rest from weariness?
All things have rest: why should we toil alone,
We only toil, who are the first of things,
And make perpetual moan,
Still from one sorrow to another thrown:
Nor ever fold our wings,
And cease from wanderings,
Nor steep our brows in slumber's holy balm;
Nor harken what the inner spirit sings,
"There is no joy but calm!"
Why should we only toil, the roof and crown of things?

3

Lo! in the middle of the wood,
The folded leaf is woo'd from out the bud
With winds upon the branch, and there
Grows green and broad, and takes no care,
Sun-steep'd at noon, and in the moon
Nightly dew-fed; and turning yellow
Falls, and floats adown the air.
Lo! sweeten'd with the summer light,
The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow,
Drops in a silent autumn night.
All its allotted length of days,
The flower ripens in its place,
Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no toil,
Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil.

4

Hateful is the dark-blue sky,
Vaulted o'er the dark-blue sea. [1]
Death is the end of life; ah, why
Should life all labour be?
Let us alone.
Time driveth onward fast,
And in a little while our lips are dumb.
Let us alone.
What is it that will last?
All things are taken from us, and become
Portions and parcels of the dreadful Past.
Let us alone.
What pleasure can we have
To war with evil? Is there any peace
In ever climbing up the climbing wave? [2]
All things have rest, and ripen toward the grave [3]
In silence; ripen, fall and cease:
Give us long rest or death, dark death, or dreamful ease.

5

How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream,
With half-shut eyes ever to seem
Falling asleep in a half-dream!
To dream and dream, like yonder amber light,
Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height;
To hear each other's whisper'd speech:
Eating the Lotos day by day,
To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
And tender curving lines of creamy spray;
To lend our hearts and spirits wholly
To the influence of mild-minded melancholy;
To muse and brood and live again in memory,
With those [4] old faces of our infancy
Heap'd over with a mound of grass,
Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass!

6

Dear is the memory of our wedded lives,
And dear the last embraces of our wives
And their warm tears: but all hath suffer'd change;
For surely now our household hearths are cold:

Book of the day: