Alfred Lord Tennyson Poems
- Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is racked with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.Be near me when my faith is dry,
And men the flies of latter spring,
That lay their eggs, and sting and sing
And weave their petty cells and die.
Be near me when I fade away,
To point the term of human strife,
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.
- Airy, Fairy Lilian,
Flitting, fairy Lilian,
When I ask her if she love me,
Claps her tiny hands above me,
Laughing all she can;
She ‘ll not tell me if she love me,
Cruel little Lilian.
- When my passion seeks
Pleasance in love-sighs,
She, looking thro’ and thro’ me
Thoroughly to undo me,
Smiling, never speaks:
So innocent-arch, so cunning-simple,
From beneath her gathered wimple
Glancing with black-bearded eyes,
Till the lightning laughters dimple
The baby-roses in her cheeks;
Then away she flies.
- Prythee weep, May Lilian!
Gaiety without eclipse
Whearieth me, May Lilian;
Thro’ my every heart it thrilleth
When from crimson-threaded lips
Silver-treble laughter trilleth:
Prythee weep, May Lilian!
- Praying all I can,
If prayers will not hush thee,
Like a rose-leaf I will crush thee,
- Is it, then, regret for buried time
That keenlier in sweet April wakes,
And meets the year, and gives and takes
The colours of the crescent prime?
Not all: the songs, the stirring air,
The life re-orient out of dust,
Cry thro’ the sense to hearten trust
In that which made the world so fair.
Not all regret: the face will shine
Upon me, while I muse alone;
And that dear voice, I once have known,
Still speak to me of me and mine:Yet less of sorrow lives in me
For days of happy commune dead;
Less yearning for the friendship fled,
Than some strong bond which is to be.
- Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,
A hand that can be clasp’d no more-
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.
He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro’ the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.
- I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.
But who shall so forecast the years
And find in loss a gain to match?
Or reach a hand thro’ time to catch
The far-off interest of tears?Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drown’d,
Let darkness keep her raven gloss:
Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss,
To dance with death, to beat the ground,Than that the victor Hours should scorn
The long result of love, and boast,
‘Behold the man that loved and lost,
But all he was is overworn.’
- O mighty-mouth’d inventor of harmonies,
O skill’d to sing of Time or Eternity,
God-gifted organ-voice of England,
Milton, a name to resound for ages;
Whose Titan angels, Gabriel, Abdiel,
Starr’d from Jehovah’s gorgeous armouries,
Tower, as the deep-domed empyrean
Rings to the roar of an angel onset–
Me rather all that bowery loneliness,
The brooks of Eden mazily murmuring,
And bloom profuse and cedar arches
Charm, as a wanderer out in ocean,
Where some refulgent sunset of India
Streams o’er a rich ambrosial ocean isle,
And crimson-hued the stately palm-woods
Whisper in odorous heights of even.
- NIGHTINGALES warbled without,
Within was weeping for thee:
Shadows of three dead men
Walk’d in the walks with me:
Shadows of three dead men, and thou wast one of the three.Nightingales sang in the woods:
The Master was far away:
Nightingales warbled and sang
Of a passion that lasts but a day;
Still in the house in his coffin the Prince of courtesy lay.Two dead men have I known
In courtesy like to thee:
Two dead men have I loved
With a love that ever will be:
Three dead men have I loved, and thou art last of the three.
- Old Yew, which graspest at the stones
That name the underlying dead,
Thy fibers net the dreamless head,
Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.
The seasons bring the flower again,
And bring the firstling to the flock;
And in the dusk of thee, the clock
Beats out the little lives of men.O not for thee the glow, the bloom,
Who changest not in any gale,
Nor branding summer suns avail
To touch thy thousand years of gloom:And gazing on thee, sullen tree,
Sick for thy stubborn hardihood,
I seem to fail from out my blood
And grow to incorporate into thee.
- I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.
But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.In words, like weeds, I’ll wrap me o’er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.
- Dip down upon the northern shore,
O sweet new-year, delaying long;
Thou doest expectant Nature wrong,
Delaying long, delay no more.What stays thee from the clouded noons,
Thy sweetness from its proper place?
Can trouble live with April days,
Or sadness in the summer moons?Bring orchids, bring the fox-glove spire,
The little speedwell’s darling blue,
Deep tulips dashed with fiery dew,
Laburnums, dropping-wells of fire.
O thou, new-year, delaying long,
Delayest the sorrow in my blood,
That longs to burst a frozen bud,
And flood a fresher throat with song.
- Heaven weeps above the earth all night till morn,
In darkness weeps, as all ashamed to weep,
Because the earth hath made her state forlorn
With self wrought evils of unnumbered years,
And both the fruit of her dishonour reap.
And all the day heaven gathers back her tears
Into her own blue eyes so clear and deep,
And showering down the glory of the light some day,
Smiles on the earth’s worn brow to win her if she may.
- SWEET and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.
- I send you here a sort of allegory,
(For you will understand it) of a soul,
A sinful soul possessed 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 tempered with the tears
Of angels to the perfect shape of man.
- WARRIOR of God, man’s friend, and tyrant’s foe
Now somewhere dead far in the waste Soudan,
Thou livest in all hearts, for all men know
This earth has never borne a nobler man.
- Move eastward, happy earth, and leave
Yon orange sunset waning slow:
From fringes of the faded eve,
O, happy planet, eastward go:
Till over thy dark shoulder glow
Thy silver sister world, and rise
To glass herself in dewey eyes
That watch me from the glen below.Ah, bear me with thee, lightly borne,
Dip forward under starry light,
And move me to my marriage-morn,
And round again to happy night.
- When on my bed the moonlight falls,
I know that in thy place of rest
By that broad water of the west,
There comes a glory on the walls:
Thy marble bright in dark appears,
As slowly steals a silver flame
Along the letters of thy name,
And o’er the number of thy years.
The mystic glory swims away;
From off my bed the moonlight dies;
And closing eaves of wearied eyes
I sleep till dusk is dipt in gray:And then I know the mist is drawn
A lucid veil from coast to coast,
And in the dark church like a ghost
Thy tablet glimmers to the dawn.
- Who would be
A mermaid fair,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,
On a throne?
- As thro’ the land at eve we went,
And pluck’d the ripen’d ears,
We fell out, my wife and I,
O we fell out I know not why,
And kiss’d again with tears.
And blessings on the falling out
That all the more endears,
When we fall out with those we love
And kiss again with tears!
For when we came where lies the child
We lost in other years,
There above the little grave,
O there above the little grave,
We kiss’d again with tears.
- I wage not any feud with Death
For changes wrought on form and face;
No lower life that earth’s embrace
May breed with him, can fright my faith.
Eternal process moving on,
From state to state the spirit walks;
And these are but the shatter’d stalks,
Or ruin’d chrysalis of one.
Nor blame I Death, because he bare
The use of virtue out of earth:
I know transplanted human worth
Will bloom to profit, otherwhere.For this alone on Death I wreak
The wrath that garners in my heart;
He put our lives so far apart
We cannot hear each other speak.
- Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel, and lower the proud;
Turn thy wild wheel thro’ sunshine, storm, and cloud;
Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel with smile or frown;
With that wild wheel we go not up or down;
Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great.Smile and we smile, the lords of many lands;
Frown and we smile, the lords of our own hands;
For man is man and master of his fate.
Turn, turn thy wheel above the staring crowd;
Thy wheel and thou are shadows in the cloud;
Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.
- Old warder of these buried bones,
And answering now my random stroke
With fruitful cloud and living smoke,
Dark yew, that graspest at the stones
And dippest toward the dreamless head,
To thee too comes the golden hour
When flower is feeling after flower;
But Sorrow–fixt upon the dead,
And darkening the dark graves of men,–
What whisper’d from her lying lips?
Thy gloom is kindled at the tips,
And passes into gloom again.
- Thy voice is heard thro’ rolling drums,
That beat to battle where he stands;
Thy face across his fancy comes,
And gives the battle to his hands:
A moment, while the trumpets blow,
He sees his brood about thy knee;
The next, like fire he meets the foe,
And strikes him dead for thine and thee.
- 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.