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Short poem

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)


"Mariana in the Moated Grange"
(Shakespeare, Measure for Measure)

              1With blackest moss the flower-plots
              2      Were thickly crusted, one and all:
              3The rusted nails fell from the knots
              4      That held the pear to the gable-wall.
              5The broken sheds look'd sad and strange:
              6      Unlifted was the clinking latch;
              7      Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
              8Upon the lonely moated grange.
              9           She only said, "My life is dreary,
            10                He cometh not," she said;
            11           She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
            12                I would that I were dead!"

            13Her tears fell with the dews at even;
            14      Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;
            15She could not look on the sweet heaven,
            16      Either at morn or eventide.
            17After the flitting of the bats,
            18      When thickest dark did trance the sky,
            19      She drew her casement-curtain by,
            20And glanced athwart the glooming flats.
            21           She only said, "The night is dreary,
            22                He cometh not," she said;
            23           She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
            24                I would that I were dead!"

            25Upon the middle of the night,
            26      Waking she heard the night-fowl crow:
            27The cock sung out an hour ere light:
            28      From the dark fen the oxen's low
            29Came to her: without hope of change,
            30      In sleep she seem'd to walk forlorn,
            31      Till cold winds woke the gray-eyed morn
            32About the lonely moated grange.
            33           She only said, "The day is dreary,
            34                He cometh not," she said;
            35           She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
            36                I would that I were dead!"

            37About a stone-cast from the wall
            38      A sluice with blacken'd waters slept,
            39And o'er it many, round and small,
            40      The cluster'd marish-mosses crept.
            41Hard by a poplar shook alway,
            42      All silver-green with gnarled bark:
            43      For leagues no other tree did mark
            44The level waste, the rounding gray.
            45           She only said, "My life is dreary,
            46                He cometh not," she said;
            47           She said "I am aweary, aweary
            48                I would that I were dead!"

            49And ever when the moon was low,
            50      And the shrill winds were up and away,
            51In the white curtain, to and fro,
            52      She saw the gusty shadow sway.
            53But when the moon was very low
            54      And wild winds bound within their cell,
            55      The shadow of the poplar fell
            56Upon her bed, across her brow.
            57           She only said, "The night is dreary,
            58                He cometh not," she said;
            59           She said "I am aweary, aweary,
            60                  I would that I were dead!"

            61All day within the dreamy house,
            62      The doors upon their hinges creak'd;
            63The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse
            64      Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd,
            65Or from the crevice peer'd about.
            66      Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors
            67      Old footsteps trod the upper floors,
            68Old voices called her from without.
            69           She only said, "My life is dreary,
            70                He cometh not," she said;
            71           She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
            72                I would that I were dead!"

            73The sparrow's chirrup on the roof,
            74      The slow clock ticking, and the sound
            75Which to the wooing wind aloof
            76      The poplar made, did all confound
            77Her sense; but most she loathed the hour
            78      When the thick-moted sunbeam lay
            79      Athwart the chambers, and the day
            80Was sloping toward his western bower.
            81           Then said she, "I am very dreary,
            82                He will not come," she said;
            83           She wept, "I am aweary, aweary,
            84                Oh God, that I were dead!"


1] The hints for character and situation are found in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure (III, i, 277).

4] pear to the gable-wall: altered in 1860 from the original "peach to the garden wall," as more characteristic of the Lincolnshire scene Tennyson had in mind.

18] trance: this has been variously explained as "traverse" (E. K. Brown) and "to charm, or hold unnaturally still" (Beck and Snow).

40] marish: marsh.

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, chiefly lyrical (London: E. Wilson, 1830). tenn T366 P645 1830 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto). Alfred lord Tennyson, Works (London: Macmillan, 1891). tenn T366 A1 1891a Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1830
RPO poem editor: H. M. McLuhan
RP edition: 3RP 3.21.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/13

Rhyme: ababcddcefef

Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson