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The Merman

    I

    WHO would be
    A merman bold,
    Sitting alone
    Singing alone
    Under the sea,
    With a crown of gold,
    On a throne?

    II

        I would be a merman bold,
    I would sit and sing the whole of the day;
    I would fill the sea-halls with a voice of power;
    But at night I would roam abroad and play
    With the mermaids in and out of the rocks,
    Dressing their hair with the white sea-flower;
    And holding them back by their flowing locks
    I would kiss them often under the sea,
    And kiss them again till they kiss'd me
        Laughingly, laughingly;
    And then we would wander away, away,
    To the pale-green sea-groves straight and high,
        Chasing each other merrily.

    III

    There would be neither moon nor star;
    But the wave would make music above us afar --
    Low thunder and light in the magic night --
        Neither moon nor star.
    We would call aloud in the dreamy dells,
    Call to each other and whoop and cry
        All night, merrily, merrily.
    They would pelt me with starry spangles and shells,
    Laughing and clapping their hands between,
        All night, merrily, merrily,
    But I would throw to them back in mine
    Turkis and agate and almondine;
    Then leaping out upon them unseen
    I would kiss them often under the sea,
    And kiss them again till they kiss'd me
        Laughingly, laughingly.
    O, what a happy life where mine
    Under the hollow-hung ocean green!
    Soft are the moss-beds under the sea;
    We would live merrily, merrily.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson


The Mermaid

    I

    WHO would be
    A mermaid fair,
    Singing alone,
    Combing her hair
    Under the sea,
    In a golden curl
    With a comb of pearl,
    On a throne?

    II

        I would be a mermaid fair;
    I would sing to myself the whole of the day;
    With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair;
    And still as I comb'd I would sing and say,
    'Who is it loves me? who loves not me?'
    I would comb my hair till my ringlets would fall
            Low adown, low adown,
    From under my starry sea-bud crown
            Low adown and around,
    And I should look like a fountain of gold
            Springing alone
        With a shrill inner sound
            Over the throne
        In the midst of the hall;
    Till that great sea-snake under the sea
    From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps
    Would slowly trail himself sevenfold
    Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate
    With his large calm eyes for the love of me.
    And all the mermen under the sea
    Would feel their immortality
    Die in their hearts for the love of me.

    III

    But at night I would wander away, away,
        I would fling on each side my low-flowing locks,
    And lightly vault from the throne and play
        With the mermen in and out of the rocks;
    We would run to and fro, and hide and seek,
        On the broad sea-wolds in the crimson shells,
    Whose silvery spikes are nighest the sea.
    But if any came near I would call and shriek,
    And adown the steep like a wave I would leap
        From the diamond-ledges that jut from the dells;
    For I would not be kiss'd by all who would list
    Of the bold merry mermen under the sea.
    They would sue me, and woo me, and flatter me,
    In the purple twilights under the sea;
    But the king of them all would carry me,
    Woo me, and win me, and marry me,
    In the branching jaspers under the sea.
    Then all the dry-pied things that be
    In the hueless mosses under the sea
    Would curl round my silver feet silently,
    All looking up for the love of me.
    And if I should carol aloud, from aloft
    All things that are forked, and horned, and soft
    Would lean out from the hollow sphere of the sea,
    All looking down for the love of me.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson


The Higher Pantheism

    THE sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and the plains--
    Are not these, O Soul, the Vision of Him who reigns?

    Is not the Vision He, though He be not that which He seems?
    Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?

    Earth, these solid stars, this weight of body and limb,
    Are they not sign and symbol of thy division from Him?

    Dark is the world to thee; thyself art the reason why,
    For is He not all but thou, that hast power to feel "I am I"?

    Glory about thee, without thee; and thou fulfillest thy doom,
    Making Him broken gleams and a stifled splendor and gloom.

    Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet--
    Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.

    God is law, say the wise; O soul, and let us rejoice,
    For if He thunder by law the thunder is yet His voice.

    Law is God, say some; no God at all, says the fool,
    For all we have power to see is a straight staff bent in a pool;

    And the ear of man cannot hear, and the eye of man cannot see;
    But if we could see and hear, this Vision--were it not He?

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson


The War

    [A call for volunteers published in the London Times, May 9, 1859 --Steve]

    THERE is a sound of thunder afar,
    Storm in the south that darkens the day,
    Storm of battle and thunder of war,
    Well, if it do not roll our way.
       Form! form! Riflemen form!
       Ready, be ready to meet the storm!
       Riflemen, riflemen, riflemen form!

    Be not deaf to the sound that warns!
    Be not gull'd by a despot's plea!
    Are figs of thistles or grapes of thorns?
    How should a despot set men free?
       Form! form! Riflemen form!
       Ready, be ready to meet the storm!
       Riflemen, riflemen, riflemen form!

    Let your Reforms for a moment go,
    Look to your butts and make good aims.
    Better a rotten borough or so,
    Than a rotten fleet or a city of flames!
       Form! form! Riflemen form!
       Ready, be ready to meet the storm!
       Riflemen, riflemen, riflemen form!

    Form, be ready to do or die!
    Form in freedom's name and the Queen's!
    True, that we have a faithful ally,
    But only the devil knows what he means!
       Form! form! Riflemen form!
       Ready, be ready to meet the storm!
       Riflemen, riflemen, riflemen form!

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson


How thought you that this thing could captivate?

    HOW thought you that this thing could captivate?
        What are those graces that could make her dear,
        Who is not worth the notice of a sneer,
    To rouse the vapid devil of her hate?
    A speech conventional, so void of weight,
        That after it has buzzed about one's ear,
        'Twere rich refreshment for a week to hear
    The dentist babble or the barber prate;

    A hand displayed with many a little art;
        An eye that glances on her neighbor's dress;
            A foot too often shown for my regard;
    An angel's form -- a waiting-woman's heart;
        A perfect-featured face, expressionless,
            Insipid, as the Queen upon a card.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson


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