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Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

To Virgil, Written at the Request of the Manuans for the Nineteenth Centenary of Virgil's Death


              1Roman Virgil, thou that singest
              2      Ilion's lofty temples robed in fire,
              3Ilion falling, Rome arising,
              4      wars, and filial faith, and Dido's pyre;

              5Landscape-lover, lord of language
              6      more than he that sang the "Works and Days,"
              7All the chosen coin of fancy
              8      flashing out from many a golden phrase;

              9Thou that singest wheat and woodland,
            10      tilth and vineyard, hive and horse and herd;
            11All the charm of all the Muses
            12      often flowering in a lonely word;

            13Poet of the happy Tityrus
            14      piping underneath his beechen bowers;
            15Poet of the poet-satyr
            16      whom the laughing shepherd bound with flowers;

            17Chanter of the Pollio, glorying
            18      in the blissful years again to be,
            19Summers of the snakeless meadow,
            20      unlaborious earth and oarless sea;

            21Thou that seëst Universal
            22      Nature moved by Universal Mind;
            23Thou majestic in thy sadness
            24      at the doubtful doom of human kind;

            25Light among the vanish'd ages;
            26      star that gildest yet this phantom shore;
            27Golden branch amid the shadows,
            28      kings and realms that pass to rise no more;

            29Now thy Forum roars no longer,
            30      fallen every purple Cæsar's dome--
            31Tho' thine ocean-roll of rhythm
            32      sound forever of Imperial Rome--

            33Now the Rome of slaves hath perish'd,
            34      and the Rome of freemen holds her place,
            35I, from out the Northern Island
            36      sunder'd once from all the human race,

            37I salute thee, Mantovano,
            38      I that loved thee since my day began,
            39Wielder of the stateliest measure
            40      ever moulded by the lips of man.

Notes

5] Landscape-lover: Tennyson's friend F. T. Palgrave wrote Landscape in Poetry from Homer to Tennyson (1897).

6] he that sang: the Greek poet Hesiod of the eighth century, B.C., author of the Works and Days.

9-12] An evocation of the theme and tone of Virgil's Georgics.

13] Tityrus: a shepherd in Virgil's Eclogue I.

15-16] An incident in Eclogue VI.

17] Pollio: C. Asinius Pollio, a patron of Virgil, mentioned in Eclogue IV.21-22, suggested by Æneid, Book VI.

27-28] See also Æneid, Book VI.

37] Refers to Virgil's birthplace, Mantua.


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, Works (London: Macmillan, 1891). tenn T366 A1 1891a Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1882
RPO poem editor: H. M. McLuhan
RP edition: 3RP 3.110.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/17

Rhyme: abcb


Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson