Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
1Comrades, leave me here a little, while as yet 't is early morn:
2Leave me here, and when you want me, sound upon the bugle-horn.
3'T is the place, and all around it, as of old, the curlews call,
4Dreary gleams about the moorland flying over Locksley Hall;
5Locksley Hall, that in the distance overlooks the sandy tracts,
6And the hollow ocean-ridges roaring into cataracts.
7Many a night from yonder ivied casement, ere I went to rest,
8Did I look on great Orion sloping slowly to the West.
9Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade,
10Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.
11Here about the beach I wander'd, nourishing a youth sublime
12With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;
13When the centuries behind me like a fruitful land reposed;
14When I clung to all the present for the promise that it closed:
15When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
16Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.--
17In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
18In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;
19In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
20In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
21Then her cheek was pale and thinner than should be for one so young,
22And her eyes on all my motions with a mute observance hung.
23And I said, "My cousin Amy, speak, and speak the truth to me,
24Trust me, cousin, all the current of my being sets to thee."
25On her pallid cheek and forehead came a colour and a light,
26As I have seen the rosy red flushing in the northern night.
27And she turn'd--her bosom shaken with a sudden storm of sighs--
28All the spirit deeply dawning in the dark of hazel eyes--
29Saying, "I have hid my feelings, fearing they should do me wrong";
30Saying, "Dost thou love me, cousin?" weeping, "I have loved thee long."
31Love took up the glass of Time, and turn'd it in his glowing hands;
32Every moment, lightly shaken, ran itself in golden sands.
33Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with might;
34Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, pass'd in music out of sight.
35Many a morning on the moorland did we hear the copses ring,
36And her whisper throng'd my pulses with the fulness of the Spring.
37Many an evening by the waters did we watch the stately ships,
38And our spirits rush'd together at the touching of the lips.
39O my cousin, shallow-hearted! O my Amy, mine no more!
40O the dreary, dreary moorland! O the barren, barren shore!
41Falser than all fancy fathoms, falser than all songs have sung,
42Puppet to a father's threat, and servile to a shrewish tongue!
43Is it well to wish thee happy?--having known me--to decline
44On a range of lower feelings and a narrower heart than mine!
45Yet it shall be; thou shalt lower to his level day by day,
46What is fine within thee growing coarse to sympathize with clay.
47As the husband is, the wife is: thou art mated with a clown,
48And the grossness of his nature will have weight to drag thee down.
49He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel force,
50Something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse.
51What is this? his eyes are heavy; think not they are glazed with wine.
52Go to him, it is thy duty, kiss him, take his hand in thine.
53It may be my lord is weary, that his brain is overwrought:
54Soothe him with thy finer fancies, touch him with thy lighter thought.
55He will answer to the purpose, easy things to understand--
56Better thou wert dead before me, tho' I slew thee with my hand!
57Better thou and I were lying, hidden from the heart's disgrace,
58Roll'd in one another's arms, and silent in a last embrace.
59Cursed be the social wants that sin against the strength of youth!
60Cursed be the social lies that warp us from the living truth!
61Cursed be the sickly forms that err from honest Nature's rule!
62Cursed be the gold that gilds the straiten'd forehead of the fool!
63Well--'t is well that I should bluster!--Hadst thou less unworthy proved--
64Would to God--for I had loved thee more than ever wife was loved.
65Am I mad, that I should cherish that which bears but bitter fruit?
66I will pluck it from my bosom, tho' my heart be at the root.
67Never, tho' my mortal summers to such length of years should come
68As the many-winter'd crow that leads the clanging rookery home.
69Where is comfort? in division of the records of the mind?
70Can I part her from herself, and love her, as I knew her, kind?
71I remember one that perish'd; sweetly did she speak and move;
72Such a one do I remember, whom to look at was to love.
73Can I think of her as dead, and love her for the love she bore?
74No--she never loved me truly; love is love for evermore.
75Comfort? comfort scorn'd of devils! this is truth the poet sings,
76That a sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier things.
77Drug thy memories, lest thou learn it, lest thy heart be put to proof,
78In the dead unhappy night, and when the rain is on the roof.
79Like a dog, he hunts in dreams, and thou art staring at the wall,
80Where the dying night-lamp flickers, and the shadows rise and fall.
81Then a hand shall pass before thee, pointing to his drunken sleep,
82To thy widow'd marriage-pillows, to the tears that thou wilt weep.
83Thou shalt hear the "Never, never," whisper'd by the phantom years,
84And a song from out the distance in the ringing of thine ears;
85And an eye shall vex thee, looking ancient kindness on thy pain.
86Turn thee, turn thee on thy pillow; get thee to thy rest again.
87Nay, but Nature brings thee solace; for a tender voice will cry.
88'T is a purer life than thine, a lip to drain thy trouble dry.
89Baby lips will laugh me down; my latest rival brings thee rest.
90Baby fingers, waxen touches, press me from the mother's breast.
91O, the child too clothes the father with a dearness not his due.
92Half is thine and half is his: it will be worthy of the two.
93O, I see thee old and formal, fitted to thy petty part,
94With a little hoard of maxims preaching down a daughter's heart.
95"They were dangerous guides the feelings--she herself was not exempt--
96Truly, she herself had suffer'd"--Perish in thy self-contempt!
97Overlive it--lower yet--be happy! wherefore should I care?
98I myself must mix with action, lest I wither by despair.
99What is that which I should turn to, lighting upon days like these?
100Every door is barr'd with gold, and opens but to golden keys.
101Every gate is throng'd with suitors, all the markets overflow.
102I have but an angry fancy; what is that which I should do?
103I had been content to perish, falling on the foeman's ground,
104When the ranks are roll'd in vapour, and the winds are laid with sound.
105But the jingling of the guinea helps the hurt that Honour feels,
106And the nations do but murmur, snarling at each other's heels.
107Can I but relive in sadness? I will turn that earlier page.
108Hide me from my deep emotion, O thou wondrous Mother-Age!
109Make me feel the wild pulsation that I felt before the strife,
110When I heard my days before me, and the tumult of my life;
111Yearning for the large excitement that the coming years would yield,
112Eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his father's field,
113And at night along the dusky highway near and nearer drawn,
114Sees in heaven the light of London flaring like a dreary dawn;
115And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before him then,
116Underneath the light he looks at, in among the throngs of men:
117Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new:
118That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do:
119For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
120Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;
121Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
122Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;
123Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
124From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;
125Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
126With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;
127Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
128In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
129There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
130And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.
131So I triumph'd ere my passion sweeping thro' me left me dry,
132Left me with the palsied heart, and left me with the jaundiced eye;
133Eye, to which all order festers, all things here are out of joint:
134Science moves, but slowly, slowly, creeping on from point to point:
135Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion, creeping nigher,
136Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly-dying fire.
137Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
138And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the suns.
139What is that to him that reaps not harvest of his youthful joys,
140Tho' the deep heart of existence beat for ever like a boy's?
141Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore,
142And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.
143Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and he bears a laden breast,
144Full of sad experience, moving toward the stillness of his rest.
145Hark, my merry comrades call me, sounding on the bugle-horn,
146They to whom my foolish passion were a target for their scorn:
147Shall it not be scorn to me to harp on such a moulder'd string?
148I am shamed thro' all my nature to have loved so slight a thing.
149Weakness to be wroth with weakness! woman's pleasure, woman's pain--
150Nature made them blinder motions bounded in a shallower brain:
151Woman is the lesser man, and all thy passions, match'd with mine,
152Are as moonlight unto sunlight, and as water unto wine--
153Here at least, where nature sickens, nothing. Ah, for some retreat
154Deep in yonder shining Orient, where my life began to beat;
155Where in wild Mahratta-battle fell my father evil-starr'd,--
156I was left a trampled orphan, and a selfish uncle's ward.
157Or to burst all links of habit--there to wander far away,
158On from island unto island at the gateways of the day.
159Larger constellations burning, mellow moons and happy skies,
160Breadths of tropic shade and palms in cluster, knots of Paradise.
161Never comes the trader, never floats an European flag,
162Slides the bird o'er lustrous woodland, swings the trailer from the crag;
163Droops the heavy-blossom'd bower, hangs the heavy-fruited tree--
164Summer isles of Eden lying in dark-purple spheres of sea.
165There methinks would be enjoyment more than in this march of mind,
166In the steamship, in the railway, in the thoughts that shake mankind.
167There the passions cramp'd no longer shall have scope and breathing space;
168I will take some savage woman, she shall rear my dusky race.
169Iron-jointed, supple-sinew'd, they shall dive, and they shall run,
170Catch the wild goat by the hair, and hurl their lances in the sun;
171Whistle back the parrot's call, and leap the rainbows of the brooks,
172Not with blinded eyesight poring over miserable books--
173Fool, again the dream, the fancy! but I know my words are wild,
174But I count the gray barbarian lower than the Christian child.
175I, to herd with narrow foreheads, vacant of our glorious gains,
176Like a beast with lower pleasures, like a beast with lower pains!
177Mated with a squalid savage--what to me were sun or clime?
178I the heir of all the ages, in the foremost files of time--
179I that rather held it better men should perish one by one,
180Than that earth should stand at gaze like Joshua's moon in Ajalon!
181Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range,
182Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.
183Thro' the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day;
184Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.
185Mother-Age (for mine I knew not) help me as when life begun:
186Rift the hills, and roll the waters, flash the lightnings, weigh the Sun.
187O, I see the crescent promise of my spirit hath not set.
188Ancient founts of inspiration well thro' all my fancy yet.
189Howsoever these things be, a long farewell to Locksley Hall!
190Now for me the woods may wither, now for me the roof-tree fall.
191Comes a vapour from the margin, blackening over heath and holt,
192Cramming all the blast before it, in its breast a thunderbolt.
193Let it fall on Locksley Hall, with rain or hail, or fire or snow;
194For the mighty wind arises, roaring seaward, and I go.
1] First published in 1842, it was begun as early as 1830. "Locksley Hall is an imaginary place (tho' the coast is Lincolnshire) .... The whole poem represents young life, its good side, its deficiencies, and its yearnings. Mr. Hallam said to me that the English people liked verse in trochaics, so I wrote the poem in this metre" (Tennyson). (The metre is actually the old "fifteener" line of fifteen syllables.)
4] dreary gleams: gleams of light in the mist are referred to, not the curlews.
8] Orion: a conspicuous winter constellation.
9] the Pleiads: a group of stars in Taurus.
75] poet sings. Dante in his Inferno, V, 121-123, says, "There is no greater grief than to remember happy times when misery is at hand."
121] argosies: merchant ships.
155] Mahratta-battle: The Mahrattas are a people of India with whom the English were at war on various occasions from 1799 to 1818.
180] moon in Ajalon: see Joshua 10: 12-13.
182] grooves of change: When I went by the first train from Liverpool to Manchester (1830), I thought that the wheels ran in a groove. It was black night and there was such a vast crowd round the train at the station that we could not see the wheels. Then I made this line" (Tennyson).
184] Cathay: China.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: Alfred lord Tennyson, Poems (Boston: W. D. Ticknor, 1842). PR 5550 E42a Victoria College Library (Toronto). Alfred lord Tennyson, Works (London: Macmillan, 1891). tenn T366 A1 1891a Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date:
RPO poem editor: H. M. McLuhan
RP edition: 3RP 3.49.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/13
Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson