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Short poem

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Mariana in the South

              1With one black shadow at its feet,
              2      The house thro' all the level shines,
              3Close-latticed to the brooding heat,
              4      And silent in its dusty vines:
              5A faint-blue ridge upon the right,
              6      An empty river-bed before,
              7      And shallows on a distant shore,
              8In glaring sand and inlets bright.
              9           But "Aye Mary," made she moan,
            10                And "Aye Mary," night and morn,
            11           And "Ah," she sang, "to be all alone,
            12                To live forgotten, and love forlorn."

            13She, as her carol sadder grew,
            14      From brow and bosom slowly down
            15Thro' rosy taper fingers drew
            16      Her streaming curls of deepest brown
            17To left and right, and made appear,
            18      Still-lighted in a secret shrine,
            19      Her melancholy eyes divine,
            20The home of woe without a tear.
            21           And "Aye Mary," was her moan,
            22                "Madonna, sad is night and morn;"
            23           And "Ah," she sang, "to be all alone,
            24                To live forgotten, and love forlorn."

            25Till all the crimson changed, and past
            26      Into deep orange o'er the sea,
            27Low on her knees herself she cast,
            28      Before Our Lady murmur'd she:
            29Complaining, "Mother, give me grace
            30      To help me of my weary load."
            31      And on the liquid mirror glow'd
            32The clear perfection of her face.
            33           "Is this the form," she made her moan,
            34                "That won his praises night and morn?"
            35           And "Ah," she said, "but I wake alone,
            36                I sleep forgotten, I wake forlorn."

            37Nor bird would sing, nor lamb would bleat,
            38      Nor any cloud would cross the vault,
            39But day increased from heat to heat,
            40      On stony drought and steaming salt;
            41Till now at noon she slept again,
            42      And seem'd knee-deep in mountain grass,
            43      And heard her native breezes pass,
            44And runlets babbling down the glen.
            45           She breathed in sleep a lower moan,
            46                And murmuring, as at night and morn
            47           She thought, "My spirit is here alone,
            48                Walks forgotten, and is forlorn."

            49Dreaming, she knew it was a dream:
            50      She felt he was and was not there.
            51She woke: the babble of the stream
            52      Fell, and, without, the steady glare
            53Shrank one sick willow sere and small.
            54      The river-bed was dusty-white;
            55      And all the furnace of the light
            56Struck up against the blinding wall.
            57           She whisper'd, with a stifled moan
            58                More inward than at night or morn,
            59           "Sweet Mother, let me not here alone
            60                  Live forgotten and die forlorn."

            61And, rising, from her bosom drew
            62      Old letters, breathing of her worth,
            63For "Love", they said, "must needs be true,
            64      To what is loveliest upon earth."
            65An image seem'd to pass the door,
            66      To look at her with slight, and say,
            67      "But now thy beauty flows away,
            68So be alone for evermore."
            69           "O cruel heart," she changed her tone,
            70                "And cruel love, whose end is scorn,
            71           Is this the end to be left alone,
            72                To live forgotten, and die forlorn?"

            73But sometimes in the falling day
            74      An image seem'd to pass the door,
            75To look into her eyes and say,
            76      "But thou shalt be alone no more."
            77And flaming downward over all
            78      From heat to heat the day decreased,
            79      And slowly rounded to the east
            80The one black shadow from the wall.
            81           "The day to night," she made her moan,
            82                "The day to night, the night to morn,
            83           And day and night I am left alone
            84                To live forgotten, and love forlorn."

            85At eve a dry cicala sung,
            86      There came a sound as of the sea;
            87Backward the lattice-blind she flung,
            88      And lean'd upon the balcony.
            89There all in spaces rosy-bright
            90      Large Hesper glitter'd on her tears,
            91      And deepening thro' the silent spheres
            92Heaven over Heaven rose the night.
            93           And weeping then she made her moan,
            94                "The night comes on that knows not morn,
            95           When I shall cease to be all alone,
            96                To live forgotten, and love forlorn."


1] First published in Poems, 1833, extensively revised for the 1842 volumes. (Poems, 1833, actually appeared in December, 1832. The volume is described sometimes by the 1832 date of its publication, sometimes by the date on its title-page. These notes follow the second practice.) Mr. Nicolson refers to this poem as having been written "in a diligence near Perpignan." Tennyson and Hallam journeyed to the Pyrenees in the summer of 1830 with funds for the Spanish patriots. A range of barren country in the south of France corresponded exactly to the poet's idea of barrenness and desolation.

9] Ave Mary: salutation of Gabriel and Elizabeth to the Virgin Mary.

85] a dry cicala: the cicada, or locust, whose long-sustained trill seems to intensify the suggestion of drought and heat.

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, 2 vols. (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).
Publication date note: 1832, 1842
RPO poem editor: H. M. McLuhan
RP edition: 3RP 3.23.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/13

Rhyme: ababcdcdefef

Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson