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Short poem

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

The Princess: Tears, Idle Tears

              1      Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
              2Tears from the depth of some divine despair
              3Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
              4In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
              5And thinking of the days that are no more.

              6      Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
              7That brings our friends up from the underworld,
              8Sad as the last which reddens over one
              9That sinks with all we love below the verge;
            10So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

            11      Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
            12The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds
            13To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
            14The casement slowly grows a summering square;
            15So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

            16      Dear as remember'd kisses after death,
            17And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd
            18On lips that are for others; deep as love,
            19Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
            20O Death in Life, the days that are no more!


1] The Princess: A Medley, published 1847. 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