In Memoriam
Alfred Tennyson




I. through XX.

XXI.through XLI

XLI through LX.

LXI through LXXX.

LXXXI through C.

CI through CXX.

CXXI through CXXXI.

Poets' Corner Scripting
© 2000, 2020 S.L. Spanoudis and
All rights reserved worldwide.

Transcribed for Poets' Corner
March 2000 by S.L.Spanoudis

Click to return to Poets' Corner
Alfred Tennyson

[Arthur Hugh Hallam]

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


      I sing to him that rests below,
      And, since the grasses round me wave,
      I take the grasses of the grave,
      And make them pipes whereon to blow.

      The traveller hears me now and then,
      And sometimes harshly will he speak:
      'This fellow would make weakness weak,
      And melt the waxen hearts of men.'

      Another answers, 'Let him be,
      He loves to make parade of pain,
      That with his piping he may gain
      The praise that comes to constancy.'

      A third is wroth: 'Is this an hour
      For private sorrow's barren song,
      When more and more the people throng
      The chairs and thrones of civil power?

      'A time to sicken and to swoon,
      When Science reaches forth her arms
      To feel from world to world, and charms
      Her secret from the latest moon?'

      Behold, ye speak an idle thing:
      Ye never knew the sacred dust:
      I do but sing because I must,
      And pipe but as the linnets sing:

      And one is glad; her note is gay,
      For now her little ones have ranged;
      And one is sad; her note is changed,
      Because her brood is stol'n away.


      The path by which we twain did go,
      Which led by tracts that pleased us well,
      Thro' four sweet years arose and fell,
      From flower to flower, from snow to snow:

      And we with singing cheer'd the way,
      And, crown'd with all the season lent,
      From April on to April went,
      And glad at heart from May to May:

      But where the path we walk'd began
      To slant the fifth autumnal slope,
      As we descended following Hope,
      There sat the Shadow fear'd of man;

      Who broke our fair companionship,
      And spread his mantle dark and cold,
      And wrapt thee formless in the fold,
      And dull'd the murmur on thy lip,

      And bore thee where I could not see
      Nor follow, tho' I walk in haste,
      And think, that somewhere in the waste
      The Shadow sits and waits for me.


      Now, sometimes in my sorrow shut,
      Or breaking into song by fits,
      Alone, alone, to where he sits,
      The Shadow cloak'd from head to foot,

      Who keeps the keys of all the creeds,
      I wander, often falling lame,
      And looking back to whence I came,
      Or on to where the pathway leads;

      And crying, How changed from where it ran
      Thro' lands where not a leaf was dumb;
      But all the lavish hills would hum
      The murmur of a happy Pan:

      When each by turns was guide to each,
      And Fancy light from Fancy caught,
      And Thought leapt out to wed with Thought
      Ere Thought could wed itself with Speech;

      And all we met was fair and good,
      And all was good that Time could bring,
      And all the secret of the Spring
      Moved in the chambers of the blood;

      And many an old philosophy
      On Argive heights divinely sang,
      And round us all the thicket rang
      To many a flute of Arcady.


      And was the day of my delight
      As pure and perfect as I say?
      The very source and fount of Day
      Is dash'd with wandering isles of night.

      If all was good and fair we met,
      This earth had been the Paradise
      It never look'd to human eyes
      Since our first Sun arose and set.

      And is it that the haze of grief
      Makes former gladness loom so great?
      The lowness of the present state,
      That sets the past in this relief?

      Or that the past will always win
      A glory from its being far;
      And orb into the perfect star
      We saw not, when we moved therein?


      I know that this was Life,-the track
      Whereon with equal feet we fared;
      And then, as now, the day prepared
      The daily burden for the back.

      But this it was that made me move
      As light as carrier-birds in air;
      I loved the weight I had to bear,
      Because it needed help of Love:

      Nor could I weary, heart or limb,
      When mighty Love would cleave in twain
      The lading of a single pain,
      And part it, giving half to him.


      Still onward winds the dreary way;
      I with it; for I long to prove
      No lapse of moons can canker Love,
      Whatever fickle tongues may say.

      And if that eye which watches guilt
      And goodness, and hath power to see
      Within the green the moulder'd tree,
      And towers fall'n as soon as built-

      Oh, if indeed that eye foresee
      Or see (in Him is no before)
      In more of life true life no more
      And Love the indifference to be,
      Then might I find, ere yet the morn
      Breaks hither over Indian seas,
      That Shadow waiting with the keys,
      To shroud me from my proper scorn.


      I envy not in any moods
      The captive void of noble rage,
      The linnet born within the cage,
      That never knew the summer woods:
      I envy not the beast that takes

      His license in the field of time,
      Unfetter'd by the sense of crime,
      To whom a conscience never wakes;

      Nor, what may count itself as blest,
      The heart that never plighted troth
      But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
      Nor any want-begotten rest.

      I hold it true, whate'er befall;
      I feel it, when I sorrow most;
      'Tis better to have loved and lost
      Than never to have loved at all.


      The time draws near the birth of Christ:
      The moon is hid; the night is still;
      The Christmas bells from hill to hill
      Answer each other in the mist.

      Four voices of four hamlets round,
      From far and near, on mead and moor,
      Swell out and fail, as if a door
      Were shut between me and the sound:

      Each voice four changes on the wind,
      That now dilate, and now decrease,
      Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
      Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.

      This year I slept and woke with pain,
      I almost wish'd no more to wake,
      And that my hold on life would break
      Before I heard those bells again:

      But they my troubled spirit rule,
      For they controll'd me when a boy;
      They bring me sorrow touch'd with joy,
      The merry merry bells of Yule.


      With such compelling cause to grieve
      As daily vexes household peace,
      And chains regret to his decease,
      How dare we keep our Christmas-eve;

      Which brings no more a welcome guest
      To enrich the threshold of the night
      With shower'd largess of delight
      In dance and song and game and jest?

      Yet go, and while the holly boughs
      Entwine the cold baptismal font,
      Make one wreath more for Use and Wont,
      That guard the portals of the house;

      Old sisters of a day gone by,
      Gray nurses, loving nothing new;
      Why should they miss their yearly due
      Before their time? They too will die.


      With trembling fingers did we weave
      The holly round the Christmas hearth;
      A rainy cloud possess'd the earth,
      And sadly fell our Christmas-eve.

      At our old pastimes in the hall
      We gambol'd, making vain pretence
      Of gladness, with an awful sense
      Of one mute Shadow watching all.

      We paused: the winds were in the beech:
      We heard them sweep the winter land;
      And in a circle hand-in-hand
      Sat silent, looking each at each.

      Then echo-like our voices rang;
      We sung, tho' every eye was dim,
      A merry song we sang with him
      Last year: impetuously we sang:

      We ceased: a gentler feeling crept
      Upon us: surely rest is meet:
      'They rest,' we said, 'their sleep is sweet,'
      And silence follow'd, and we wept.

      Our voices took a higher range;
      Once more we sang: 'They do not die
      Nor lose their mortal sympathy,
      Nor change to us, although they change;

      'Rapt from the fickle and the frail
      With gather'd power, yet the same,
      Pierces the keen seraphic flame
      From orb to orb, from veil to veil.'

      Rise, happy morn, rise, holy morn,
      Draw forth the cheerful day from night:
      O Father, touch the east, and light
      The light that shone when Hope was born.


      When Lazarus left his charnel-cave,
      And home to Mary's house return'd,
      Was this demanded-if he yearn'd
      To hear her weeping by his grave?

      'Where wert thou, brother, those four days?'
      There lives no record of reply,
      Which telling what it is to die
      Had surely added praise to praise.

      From every house the neighbours met,
      The streets were fill'd with joyful sound,
      A solemn gladness even crown'd
      The purple brows of Olivet.

      Behold a man raised up by Christ!
      The rest remaineth unreveal'd;
      He told it not; or something seal'd
      The lips of that Evangelist.


      Her eyes are homes of silent prayer,
      Nor other thought her mind admits
      But, he was dead, and there he sits,
      And he that brought him back is there.

      Then one deep love doth supersede
      All other, when her ardent gaze
      Roves from the living brother's face,
      And rests upon the Life indeed.

      All subtle thought, all curious fears,
      Borne down by gladness so complete,
      She bows, she bathes the Saviour's feet
      With costly spikenard and with tears.

      Thrice blest whose lives are faithful prayers,
      Whose loves in higher love endure;
      What souls possess themselves so pure,
      Or is there blessedness like theirs?


      O thou that after toil and storm
      Mayst seem to have reach'd a purer air,
      Whose faith has centre everywhere,
      Nor cares to fix itself to form,

      Leave thou thy sister when she prays,
      Her early Heaven, her happy views;
      Nor thou with shadow'd hint confuse
      A life that leads melodious days.

      Her faith thro' form is pure as thine,
      Her hands are quicker unto good:
      Oh, sacred be the flesh and blood
      To which she links a truth divine!

      See thou, that countest reason ripe
      In holding by the law within,
      Thou fail not in a world of sin,
      And ev'n for want of such a type.


      My own dim life should teach me this,
      That life shall live for evermore,
      Else earth is darkness at the core,
      And dust and ashes all that is;

      This round of green, this orb of flame,
      Fantastic beauty; such as lurks
      In some wild Poet, when he works
      Without a conscience or an aim.

      What then were God to such as I?
      'Twere hardly worth my while to choose
      Of things all mortal, or to use
      A little patience ere I die;

      'Twere best at once to sink to peace,
      Like birds the charming serpent draws,
      To drop head-foremost in the jaws
      Of vacant darkness and to cease.


      Yet if some voice that man could trust
      Should murmur from the narrow house,
      'The cheeks drop in; the body bows;
      Man dies: nor is there hope in dust:'

      Might I not say? 'Yet even here,
      But for one hour, O Love, I strive
      To keep so sweet a thing alive:'
      But I should turn mine ears and hear

      The moanings of the homeless sea,
      The sound of streams that swift or slow
      Draw down Ĉonian hills, and sow
      The dust of continents to be;

      And Love would answer with a sigh,
      'The sound of that forgetful shore
      Will change my sweetness more and more,
      Half-dead to know that I shall die.'

      O me, what profits it to put
      And idle case? If Death were seen
      At first as Death, Love had not been,
      Or been in narrowest working shut,

      Mere fellowship of sluggish moods,
      Or in his coarsest Satyr-shape
      Had bruised the herb and crush'd the grape,
      And bask'd and batten'd in the woods.


      Tho' truths in manhood darkly join,
      Deep-seated in our mystic frame,
      We yield all blessing to the name
      Of Him that made them current coin;

      For Wisdom dealt with mortal powers,
      Where truth in closest words shall fail,
      When truth embodied in a tale
      Shall enter in at lowly doors.

      And so the Word had breath, and wrought
      With human hands the creed of creeds
      In loveliness of perfect deeds,
      More strong than all poetic thought;

      Which he may read that binds the sheaf,
      Or builds the house, or digs the grave,
      And those wild eyes that watch the wave
      In roarings round the coral reef.


      Urania speaks with darken'd brow:
      'Thou pratest here where thou art least;
      This faith has many a purer priest,
      And many an abler voice than thou.

      'Go down beside thy native rill,
      On thy Parnassus set thy feet,
      And hear thy laurel whisper sweet
      About the ledges of the hill.'

      And my Melpomene replies,
      A touch of shame upon her cheek:
      'I am not worthy ev'n to speak
      Of thy prevailing mysteries;

      'For I am but an earthly Muse,
      And owning but a little art
      To lull with song an aching heart,
      And render human love his dues;

      'But brooding on the dear one dead,
      And all he said of things divine,
      (And dear to me as sacred wine
      To dying lips is all he said),

      'I murmur'd, as I came along,
      Of comfort clasp'd in truth reveal'd;
      And loiter'd in the master's field,
      And darken'd sanctities with song.'


      With weary steps I loiter on,
      Tho' always under alter'd skies
      The purple from the distance dies,
      My prospect and horizon gone.

      No joy the blowing season gives,
      The herald melodies of spring,
      But in the songs I love to sing
      A doubtful gleam of solace lives.

      If any care for what is here
      Survive in spirits render'd free,
      Then are these songs I sing of thee
      Not all ungrateful to thine ear.


      Old warder of these buried bones,
      And answering now my random stroke
      With fruitful cloud and living smoke,
      Dark yew, that graspest at the stones

      And dippest toward the dreamless head,
      To thee too comes the golden hour
      When flower is feeling after flower;
      But Sorrow-fixt upon the dead,

      And darkening the dark graves of men,-
      What whisper'd from her lying lips?
      Thy gloom is kindled at the tips,
      And passes into gloom again.


      Could we forget the widow'd hour
      And look on Spirits breathed away,
      As on a maiden in the day
      When first she wears her orange-flower!

      When crown'd with blessing she doth rise
      To take her latest leave of home,
      And hopes and light regrets that come
      Make April of her tender eyes;

      And doubtful joys the father move,
      And tears are on the mother's face,
      As parting with a long embrace
      She enters other realms of love;

      Her office there to rear, to teach,
      Becoming as is meet and fit
      A link among the days, to knit
      The generations each with each;

      And, doubtless, unto thee is given
      A life that bears immortal fruit
      In those great offices that suit
      The full-grown energies of heaven.

      Ay me, the difference I discern!
      How often shall her old fireside
      Be cheer'd with tidings of the bride,
      How often she herself return,

      And tell them all they would have told,
      And bring her babe, and make her boast,
      Till even those that miss'd her most
      Shall count new things as dear as old:

      But thou and I have shaken hands,
      Till growing winters lay me low;
      My paths are in the fields I know,
      And thine in undiscover'd lands.

    to Verse XLI.

Poets' Corner - Home . The Other Pages

©1994-2020 Poets' Corner Editorial Staff, All Rights Reserved Worldwide