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

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Alfred Tennyson

[Arthur Hugh Hallam]

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


      If, in thy second state sublime,
      Thy ransom'd reason change replies
      With all the circle of the wise,
      The perfect flower of human time;

      And if thou cast thine eyes below,
      How dimly character'd and slight,
      How dwarf'd a growth of cold and night,
      How blanch'd with darkness must I grow!

      Yet turn thee to the doubtful shore,
      Where thy first form was made a man:
      I loved thee, Spirit, and love, nor can
      The soul of Shakespeare love thee more.


      Tho' if an eye that's downward cast
      Could make thee somewhat blench or fail,
      Then be my love an idle tale,
      And fading legend of the past;

      And thou, as one that once declined,
      When he was little more than boy,
      On some unworthy heart with joy,
      But lives to wed an equal mind;

      And breathes a novel world, the while
      His other passion wholly dies,
      Or in the light of deeper eyes
      Is matter for a flying smile.


      Yet pity for a horse o'er-driven,
      And love in which my hound has part,
      Can hang no weight upon my heart
      In its assumptions up to heaven;

      And I am so much more than these,
      As thou, perchance, art more than I,
      And yet I spare them sympathy,
      And I would set their pains at ease.

      So mayst thou watch me where I weep,
      As, unto vaster motions bound,
      The circuits of thine orbit round
      A higher height, a deeper deep.


      Dost thou look back on what hath been,
      As some divinely gifted man,
      Whose life in low estate began
      And on a simple village green;

      Who breaks his birth's invidious bar,
      And grasps the skirts of happy chance,
      And breasts the blows of circumstance,
      And grapples with his evil star;

      Who makes by force his merit known
      And lives to clutch the golden keys,
      To mould a mighty state's decrees,
      And shape the whisper of the throne;

      And moving up from high to higher,
      Becomes on Fortune's crowning slope
      The pillar of a people's hope,
      The centre of a world's desire;

      Yet feels, as in a pensive dream,
      When all his active powers are still,
      A distant dearness in the hill,
      A secret sweetness in the stream,

      The limit of his narrower fate,
      While yet beside its vocal springs
      He play'd at counsellors and kings,
      With one that was his earliest mate;

      Who ploughs with pain his native lea
      And reaps the labour of his hands,
      Or in the furrow musing stands;
      'Does my old friend remember me?'


      Sweet soul, do with me as thou wilt;
      I lull a fancy trouble-tost
      With 'Love's too precious to be lost,
      A little grain shall not be spilt.'

      And in that solace can I sing,
      Till out of painful phases wrought
      There flutters up a happy thought,
      Self-balanced on a lightsome wing:

      Since we deserved the name of friends,
      And thine effect so lives in me,
      A part of mine may live in thee
      And move thee on to noble ends.


      You thought my heart too far diseased;
      You wonder when my fancies play
      To find me gay among the gay,
      Like one with any trifle pleased.

      The shade by which my life was crost,
      Which makes a desert in the mind,
      Has made me kindly with my kind,
      And like to him whose sight is lost;

      Whose feet are guided thro' the land,
      Whose jest among his friends is free,
      Who takes the children on his knee,
      And winds their curls about his hand:

      He plays with threads, he beats his chair
      For pastime, dreaming of the sky;
      His inner day can never die,
      His night of loss is always there.


      When on my bed the moonlight falls,
      I know that in thy place of rest
      By that broad water of the west,
      There comes a glory on the walls:

      Thy marble bright in dark appears,
      As slowly steals a silver flame
      Along the letters of thy name,
      And o'er the number of thy years.

      The mystic glory swims away;
      >From off my bed the moonlight dies;
      And closing eaves of wearied eyes
      I sleep till dusk is dipt in gray:

      And then I know the mist is drawn
      A lucid veil from coast to coast,
      And in the dark church like a ghost
      Thy tablet glimmers to the dawn.


      When in the down I sink my head,
      Sleep, Death's twin-brother, times my breath;
      Sleep, Death's twin-brother, knows not Death,
      Nor can I dream of thee as dead:

      I walk as ere I walk'd forlorn,
      When all our path was fresh with dew,
      And all the bugle breezes blew
      Reveillée to the breaking morn.

      But what is this? I turn about,
      I find a trouble in thine eye,
      Which makes me sad I know not why,
      Nor can my dream resolve the doubt:

      But ere the lark hath left the lea
      I wake, and I discern the truth;
      It is the trouble of my youth
      That foolish sleep transfers to thee.


      I dream'd there would be Spring no more,
      That Nature's ancient power was lost:
      The streets were black with smoke and frost,
      They chatter'd trifles at the door:

      I wander'd from the noisy town,
      I found a wood with thorny boughs:
      I took the thorns to bind my brows,
      I wore them like a civic crown:

      I met with scoffs, I met with scorns
      >From youth and babe and hoary hairs:
      They call'd me in the public squares
      The fool that wears a crown of thorns:

      They call'd me fool, they call'd me child:
      I found an angel of the night;
      The voice was low, the look was bright;
      He look'd upon my crown and smiled:

      He reach'd the glory of a hand,
      That seem'd to touch it into leaf:
      The voice was not the voice of grief,
      The words were hard to understand.


      I cannot see the features right,
      When on the gloom I strive to paint
      The face I know; the hues are faint
      And mix with hollow masks of night;

      Cloud-towers by ghostly masons wrought,
      A gulf that ever shuts and gapes,
      A hand that points, and palled shapes
      In shadowy thoroughfares of thought;

      And crowds that stream from yawning doors,
      And shoals of pucker'd faces drive;
      Dark bulks that tumble half alive,
      And lazy lengths on boundless shores;

      Till all at once beyond the will
      I hear a wizard music roll,
      And thro' a lattice on the soul
      Looks thy fair face and makes it still.


      Sleep, kinsman thou to death and trance
      And madness, thou hast forged at last
      A night-long Present of the Past
      In which we went thro' summer France.

      Hadst thou such credit with the soul?
      Then bring an opiate trebly strong,
      Drug down the blindfold sense of wrong
      That so my pleasure may be whole;

      While now we talk as once we talk'd
      Of men and minds, the dust of change,
      The days that grow to something strange,
      In walking as of old we walk'd

      Beside the river's wooded reach,
      The fortress, and the mountain ridge,
      The cataract flashing from the bridge,
      The breaker breaking on the beach.


      Risest thou thus, dim dawn, again,
      And howlest, issuing out of night,
      With blasts that blow the poplar white,
      And lash with storm the streaming pane?

      Day, when my crown'd estate begun
      To pine in that reverse of doom,
      Which sicken'd every living bloom,
      And blurr'd the splendour of the sun;

      Who usherest in the dolorous hour
      With thy quick tears that make the rose
      Pull sideways, and the daisy close
      Her crimson fringes to the shower;

      Who might'st have heaved a windless flame
      Up the deep East, or, whispering, play'd
      A chequer-work of beam and shade
      Along the hills, yet look'd the same.

      As wan, as chill, as wild as now;
      Day, mark'd as with some hideous crime,
      When the dark hand struck down thro' time,
      And cancell'd nature's best: but thou,

      Lift as thou may'st thy burthen'd brows
      Thro' clouds that drench the morning star,
      And whirl the ungarner'd sheaf afar,
      And sow the sky with flying boughs,

      And up thy vault with roaring sound
      Climb thy thick noon, disastrous day;
      Touch thy dull goal of joyless gray,
      And hide thy shame beneath the ground.


      So many worlds, so much to do,
      So little done, such things to be,
      How know I what had need of thee,
      For thou wert strong as thou wert true?

      The fame is quench'd that I foresaw,
      The head hath miss'd an earthly wreath:
      I curse not nature, no, nor death;
      For nothing is that errs from law.

      We pass; the path that each man trod
      Is dim, or will be dim, with weeds:
      What fame is left for human deeds
      In endless age? It rests with God.

      O hollow wraith of dying fame,
      Fade wholly, while the soul exults,
      And self-infolds the large results
      Of force that would have forged a name.


      As sometimes in a dead man's face,
      To those that watch it more and more,
      A likeness, hardly seen before,
      Comes out-to some one of his race:

      So, dearest, now thy brows are cold,
      I see thee what thou art, and know
      Thy likeness to the wise below,
      Thy kindred with the great of old.

      But there is more than I can see,
      And what I see I leave unsaid,
      Nor speak it, knowing Death has made
      His darkness beautiful with thee.


      I leave thy praises unexpress'd
      In verse that brings myself relief,
      And by the measure of my grief
      I leave thy greatness to be guess'd;

      What practice howsoe'er expert
      In fitting aptest words to things,
      Or voice the richest-toned that sings,
      Hath power to give thee as thou wert?

      I care not in these fading days
      To raise a cry that lasts not long,
      And round thee with the breeze of song
      To stir a little dust of praise.

      Thy leaf has perish'd in the green,
      And, while we breathe beneath the sun,
      The world which credits what is done
      Is cold to all that might have been.

      So here shall silence guard thy fame;
      But somewhere, out of human view,
      Whate'er thy hands are set to do
      Is wrought with tumult of acclaim.


      Take wings of fancy, and ascend,
      And in a moment set thy face
      Where all the starry heavens of space
      Are sharpen'd to a needle's end;

      Take wings of foresight; lighten thro'
      The secular abyss to come,
      And lo, thy deepest lays are dumb
      Before the mouldering of a yew;

      And if the matin songs, that woke
      The darkness of our planet, last,
      Thine own shall wither in the vast,
      Ere half the lifetime of an oak.

      Ere these have clothed their branchy bowers
      With fifty Mays, thy songs are vain;
      And what are they when these remain
      The ruin'd shells of hollow towers?


      What hope is here for modern rhyme
      To him, who turns a musing eye
      On songs, and deeds, and lives, that lie
      Foreshorten'd in the tract of time?

      These mortal lullabies of pain
      May bind a book, may line a box,
      May serve to curl a maiden's locks;
      Or when a thousand moons shall wane

      A man upon a stall may find,
      And, passing, turn the page that tells
      A grief, then changed to something else,
      Sung by a long-forgotten mind.

      But what of that? My darken'd ways
      Shall ring with music all the same;
      To breathe my loss is more than fame,
      To utter love more sweet than praise.


      Again at Christmas did we weave
      The holly round the Christmas hearth;
      The silent snow possess'd the earth,
      And calmly fell our Christmas-eve:

      The yule-clog sparkled keen with frost,
      No wing of wind the region swept,
      But over all things brooding slept
      The quiet sense of something lost.

      As in the winters left behind,
      Again our ancient games had place,
      The mimic picture's breathing grace,
      And dance and song and hoodman-blind.

      Who show'd a token of distress?
      No single tear, no mark of pain:
      O sorrow, then can sorrow wane?
      O grief, can grief be changed to less?

      O last regret, regret can die!
      No-mixt with all this mystic frame,
      Her deep relations are the same,
      But with long use her tears are dry.


      'More than my brothers are to me,'-
      Let this not vex thee, noble heart!
      I know thee of what force thou art
      To hold the costliest love in fee.

      But thou and I are one in kind,
      As moulded like in Nature's mint;
      And hill and wood and field did print
      The same sweet forms in either mind.

      For us the same cold streamlet curl'd
      Thro' all his eddying coves; the same
      All winds that roam the twilight came
      In whispers of the beauteous world.

      At one dear knee we proffer'd vows,
      One lesson from one book we learn'd,
      Ere childhood's flaxen ringlet turn'd
      To black and brown on kindred brows.

      And so my wealth resembles thine,
      But he was rich where I was poor,
      And he supplied my want the more
      As his unlikeness fitted mine.


      If any vague desire should rise,
      That holy Death ere Arthur died
      Had moved me kindly from his side,
      And dropt the dust on tearless eyes;

      Then fancy shapes, as fancy can,
      The grief my loss in him had wrought,
      A grief as deep as life or thought,
      But stay'd in peace with God and man.

      I make a picture in the brain;
      I hear the sentence that he speaks;
      He bears the burthen of the weeks
      But turns his burthen into gain.

      His credit thus shall set me free;
      And, influence-rich to soothe and save,
      Unused example from the grave
      Reach out dead hands to comfort me.

    to Verse LXXXI.

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