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Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

You Ask Me, Why, Tho' Ill at Ease


              1  You ask me, why, tho' ill at ease,
              2    Within this region I subsist,
              3    Whose spirits falter in the mist,
              4And languish for the purple seas.

              5  It is the land that freemen till,
              6    That sober-suited Freedom chose,
              7    The land, where girt with friends or foes
              8A man may speak the thing he will;

              9  A land of settled government,
            10    A land of just and old renown,
            11    Where Freedom slowly broadens down
            12From precedent to precedent:

            13  Where faction seldom gathers head,
            14    But by degrees to fullness wrought,
            15    The strength of some diffusive thought
            16Hath time and space to work and spread.

            17  Should banded unions persecute
            18    Opinion, and induce a time
            19    When single thought is civil crime,
            20And individual freedom mute;

            21  Tho' Power should make from land to land
            22    The name of Britain trebly great--
            23    Tho' every channel of the State
            24Should fill and choke with golden sand--

            25  Yet waft me from the harbour-mouth,
            26    Wild wind! I seek a warmer sky,
            27    And I will see before I die
            28The palms and temples of the South.


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 VUTE.
First publication date: 1842
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP 2.378.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/17

Rhyme: abba


Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson