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Short poem

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

The Princess: O Swallow

              1O Swallow, Swallow, flying, flying South,
              2Fly to her, and fall upon her gilded eaves,
              3And tell her, tell her, what I tell to thee.

              4O tell her, Swallow, thou that knowest each,
              5That bright and fierce and fickle is the South,
              6And dark and true and tender is the North.

              7O Swallow, Swallow, if I could follow, and light
              8Upon her lattice, I would pipe and trill,
              9And cheep and twitter twenty million loves.

            10O were I thou that she might take me in,
            11And lay me on her bosom, and her heart
            12Would rock the snowy cradle till I died.

            13Why lingereth she to clothe her heart with love,
            14Delaying as the tender ash delays
            15To clothe herself, when all the woods are green?

            16O tell her, Swallow, that thy brood is flown:
            17Say to her, I do but wanton in the South,
            18But in the North long since my nest is made.

            19O tell her, brief is life but love is long,
            20And brief the sun of summer in the North,
            21And brief the moon of beauty in the South.

            22O Swallow, flying from the golden woods,
            23Fly to her, and pipe and woo her, and make her mine,
            24And tell her, tell her, that I follow thee.


1] The first edition contained only four of the lyrics: "Tears, idle tears," "O Swallow Swallow," "Now sleeps the crimson petal," and "Come down, O maid." The rest were added in the edition of 1850.

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, The Princess: A Medley (London: E. Moxen, 1847). tenn T366 P756 1847 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto). Alfred lord Tennyson, Works (London: Macmillan, 1891). tenn T366 A1 1891a Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1847
RPO poem editor: H. M. McLuhan
RP edition: 3RP 3.57.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Rhyme: unrhyming

Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson