13+ Best Alfred Lord Tennyson Poems You Must Read Now

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson FRS was a British poet. He was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign and remains one of the most popular British poets.

If you’re searching for famous poems ever that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of most known Robert William Service poems, greatest William Butler Yeats poems, and powerful Benjamin Zephaniah poems.

Famous Alfred Lord Tennyson Poems

The Talking Oak

Once more the gate behind me falls;
Once more before my face
I see the moulder’d Abbey-walls,
That stand within the chace.

Beyond the lodge the city lies,
Beneath its drift of smoke;
And ah! with what delighted eyes
I turn to yonder oak.

For when my passion first began,
Ere that, which in me burn’d,
The love, that makes me thrice a man,
Could hope itself return’d;

To yonder oak within the field
I spoke without restraint,
And with a larger faith appeal’d
Than Papist unto Saint.

For oft I talk’d with him apart
And told him of my choice,
Until he plagiarized a heart,
And answer’d with a voice.

Tho’ what he whisper’d under Heaven
None else could understand;
I found him garrulously given,
A babbler in the land.

But since I heard him make reply
Is many a weary hour;
‘Twere well to question him, and try
If yet he keeps the power.

Hail, hidden to the knees in fern,
Broad Oak of Sumner-chace,
Whose topmost branches can discern
The roofs of Sumner-place!

Say thou, whereon I carved her name,
If ever maid or spouse,
As fair as my Olivia, came
To rest beneath thy boughs.—

“O Walter, I have shelter’d here
Whatever maiden grace
The good old Summers, year by year
Made ripe in Sumner-chace:

“Old Summers, when the monk was fat,
And, issuing shorn and sleek,
Would twist his girdle tight, and pat
The girls upon the cheek,

“Ere yet, in scorn of Peter’s-pence,
And number’d bead, and shrift,
Bluff Harry broke into the spence
And turn’d the cowls adrift:

“And I have seen some score of those
Fresh faces that would thrive
When his man-minded offset rose
To chase the deer at five;

“And all that from the town would stroll,
Till that wild wind made work
In which the gloomy brewer’s soul
Went by me, like a stork:

“The slight she-slips of royal blood,
And others, passing praise,
Straight-laced, but all-too-full in bud
For puritanic stays:

“And I have shadow’d many a group
Of beauties, that were born
In teacup-times of hood and hoop,
Or while the patch was worn;

“And, leg and arm with love-knots gay
About me leap’d and laugh’d
The modish Cupid of the day,
And shrill’d his tinsel shaft.

“I swear (and else may insects prick
Each leaf into a gall)
This girl, for whom your heart is sick,
Is three times worth them all.

“For those and theirs, by Nature’s law,
Have faded long ago;
But in these latter springs I saw
Your own Olivia blow,

“From when she gamboll’d on the greens
A baby-germ, to when
The maiden blossoms of her teens
Could number five from ten.

“I swear, by leaf, and wind, and rain,
(And hear me with thine ears,)
That, tho’ I circle in the grain
Five hundred rings of years—

“Yet, since I first could cast a shade,
Did never creature pass
So slightly, musically made,
So light upon the grass:

“For as to fairies, that will flit
To make the greensward fresh,
I hold them exquisitely knit,
But far too spare of flesh.”

Oh, hide thy knotted knees in fern,
And overlook the chace;
And from thy topmost branch discern
The roofs of Sumner-place.

But thou, whereon I carved her name,
That oft hast heard my vows,
Declare when last Olivia came
To sport beneath thy boughs.

“O yesterday, you know, the fair
Was holden at the town;
Her father left his good arm-chair,
And rode his hunter down.

“And with him Albert came on his.
I look’d at him with joy:
As cowslip unto oxlip is,
So seems she to the boy.

“An hour had past—and, sitting straight
Within the low-wheel’d chaise,
Her mother trundled to the gate
Behind the dappled grays.

“But as for her, she stay’d at home,
And on the roof she went,
And down the way you use to come,
She look’d with discontent.

“She left the novel half-uncut
Upon the rosewood shelf;
She left the new piano shut:
She could not please herseif

“Then ran she, gamesome as the colt,
And livelier than a lark
She sent her voice thro’ all the holt
Before her, and the park.

“A light wind chased her on the wing,
And in the chase grew wild,
As close as might be would he cling
About the darling child:

“But light as any wind that blows
So fleetly did she stir,
The flower, she touch’d on, dipt and rose,
And turn’d to look at her.

“And here she came, and round me play’d,
And sang to me the whole
Of those three stanzas that you made
About my Ôgiant bole;’

“And in a fit of frolic mirth
She strove to span my waist:
Alas, I was so broad of girth,
I could not be embraced.

“I wish’d myself the fair young beech
That here beside me stands,
That round me, clasping each in each,
She might have lock’d her hands.

“Yet seem’d the pressure thrice as sweet
As woodbine’s fragile hold,
Or when I feel about my feet
The berried briony fold.”

O muffle round thy knees with fern,
And shadow Sumner-chace!
Long may thy topmost branch discern
The roofs of Sumner-place!

But tell me, did she read the name
I carved with many vows
When last with throbbing heart I came
To rest beneath thy boughs?

“O yes, she wander’d round and round
These knotted knees of mine,
And found, and kiss’d the name she found,
And sweetly murmur’d thine.

“A teardrop trembled from its source,
And down my surface crept.
My sense of touch is something coarse,
But I believe she wept.

“Then flush’d her cheek with rosy light,
She glanced across the plain;
But not a creature was in sight:
She kiss’d me once again.

“Her kisses were so close and kind,
That, trust me on my word,
Hard wood I am, and wrinkled rind,
But yet my sap was stirr’d:

“And even into my inmost ring
A pleasure I discern’d,
Like those blind motions of the Spring,
That show the year is turn’d.

“Thrice-happy he that may caress
The ringlet’s waving balm—
The cushions of whose touch may press
The maiden’s tender palm.

“I, rooted here among the groves
But languidly adjust
My vapid vegetable loves
With anthers and with dust:

“For ah! my friend, the days were brief
Whereof the poets talk,
When that, which breathes within the leaf,
Could slip its bark and walk.

“But could I, as in times foregone,
From spray, and branch, and stem,
Have suck’d and gather’d into one
The life that spreads in them,

“She had not found me so remiss;
But lightly issuing thro’,
I would have paid her kiss for kiss,
With usury thereto.”

O flourish high, with leafy towers,
And overlook the lea,
Pursue thy loves among the bowers
But leave thou mine to me.

O flourish, hidden deep in fern,
Old oak, I love thee well;
A thousand thanks for what I learn
And what remains to tell.

” ÔTis little more: the day was warm;
At last, tired out with play,
She sank her head upon her arm
And at my feet she lay.

“Her eyelids dropp’d their silken eaves
I breathed upon her eyes
Thro’ all the summer of my leaves
A welcome mix’d with sighs.

“I took the swarming sound of life—
The music from the town—
The murmurs of the drum and fife
And lull’d them in my own.

“Sometimes I let a sunbeam slip,
To light her shaded eye;
A second flutter’d round her lip
Like a golden butterfly;

“A third would glimmer on her neck
To make the necklace shine;
Another slid, a sunny fleck,
From head to ankle fine,

“Then close and dark my arms I spread,
And shadow’d all her rest—
Dropt dews upon her golden head,
An acorn in her breast.

“But in a pet she started up,
And pluck’d it out, and drew
My little oakling from the cup,
And flung him in the dew.

“And yet it was a graceful gift—
I felt a pang within
As when I see the woodman lift
His axe to slay my kin.

“I shook him down because he was
The finest on the tree.
He lies beside thee on the grass.
O kiss him once for me.

“O kiss him twice and thrice for me,
That have no lips to kiss,
For never yet was oak on lea
Shall grow so fair as this.’

Step deeper yet in herb and fern,
Look further thro’ the chace,
Spread upward till thy boughs discern
The front of Sumner-place.

This fruit of thine by Love is blest,
That but a moment lay
Where fairer fruit of Love may rest
Some happy future day.

I kiss it twice, I kiss it thrice,
The warmth it thence shall win
To riper life may magnetise
The baby-oak within.

But thou, while kingdoms overset,
Or lapse from hand to hand,
Thy leaf shall never fail, nor yet
Thine acorn in the land.

May never saw dismember thee,
Nor wielded axe disjoint,
That art the fairest-spoken tree
From here to Lizard-point.

O rock upon thy towery-top
All throats that gurgle sweet!
All starry culmination drop
Balm-dews to bathe thy feet!

All grass of silky feather grow—
And while he sinks or swells
The full south-breeze around thee blow
The sound of minster bells.

The fat earth feed thy branchy root,
That under deeply strikes!
The northern morning o’er thee shoot,
High up, in silver spikes!

Nor ever lightning char thy grain,
But, rolling as in sleep,
Low thunders bring the mellow rain,
That makes thee broad and deep!

And hear me swear a solemn oath,
That only by thy side
Will I to Olive plight my troth,
And gain her for my bride.

And when my marriage morn may fall,
She, Dryad-like, shall wear
Alternate leaf and acorn-ball
In wreath about her hair.

And I will work in prose and rhyme,
And praise thee more in both
Than bard has honour’d beech or lime,
Or that Thessalian growth,

In which the swarthy ringdove sat,
And mystic sentence spoke;
And more than England honours that,
Thy famous brother-oak,

Wherein the younger Charles abode
Till all the paths were dim,
And far below the Roundhead rode,
And humm’d a surly hymn.

O True And Tried

O true and tried, so well and long,
Demand not thou a marriage lay;
In that it is thy marriage day
Is music more than any song.
Nor have I felt so much of bliss
Since first he told me that he loved
A daughter of our house; nor proved
Since that dark day a day like this;

Tho’ I since then have number’d o’er
Some thrice three years: they went and came,
Remade the blood and changed the frame,
And yet is love not less, but more;

No longer caring to embalm
In dying songs a dead regret,
But like a statue solid-set,
And moulded in colossal calm.

Regret is dead, but love is more
Than in the summers that are flown,
For I myself with these have grown
To something greater than before;

Which makes appear the songs I made
As echoes out of weaker times,
As half but idle brawling rhymes,
The sport of random sun and shade.

But where is she, the bridal flower,
That must he made a wife ere noon?
She enters, glowing like the moon
Of Eden on its bridal bower:

On me she bends her blissful eyes
And then on thee; they meet thy look
And brighten like the star that shook
Betwixt the palms of paradise.

O when her life was yet in bud,
He too foretold the perfect rose.
For thee she grew, for thee she grows
For ever, and as fair as good.

And thou art worthy; full of power;
As gentle; liberal-minded, great,
Consistent; wearing all that weight
Of learning lightly like a flower.

But now set out: the noon is near,
And I must give away the bride;
She fears not, or with thee beside
And me behind her, will not fear.

For I that danced her on my knee,
That watch’d her on her nurse’s arm,
That shielded all her life from harm
At last must part with her to thee;

Now waiting to be made a wife,
Her feet, my darling, on the dead;
Their pensive tablets round her head,
And the most living words of life

Breathed in her ear. The ring is on,
The ‘wilt thou’ answer’d, and again
The ‘wilt thou’ ask’d, till out of twain
Her sweet ‘I will’ has made you one.

Now sign your names, which shall be read,
Mute symbols of a joyful morn,
By village eyes as yet unborn;
The names are sign’d, and overhead

Begins the clash and clang that tells
The joy to every wandering breeze;
The blind wall rocks, and on the trees
The dead leaf trembles to the bells.

O happy hour, and happier hours
Await them. Many a merry face
Salutes them–maidens of the place,
That pelt us in the porch with flowers.

O happy hour, behold the bride
With him to whom her hand I gave.
They leave the porch, they pass the grave
That has to-day its sunny side.

To-day the grave is bright for me,
For them the light of life increased,
Who stay to share the morning feast,
Who rest to-night beside the sea.

Let all my genial spirits advance
To meet and greet a whiter sun;
My drooping memory will not shun
The foaming grape of eastern France.

It circles round, and fancy plays,
And hearts are warm’d and faces bloom,
As drinking health to bride and groom
We wish them store of happy days.

Nor count me all to blame if I
Conjecture of a stiller guest,
Perchance, perchance, among the rest,
And, tho’ in silence, wishing joy.

But they must go, the time draws on,
And those white-favour’d horses wait;
They rise, but linger; it is late;
Farewell, we kiss, and they are gone.

A shade falls on us like the dark
From little cloudlets on the grass,
But sweeps away as out we pass
To range the woods, to roam the park,

Discussing how their courtship grew,
And talk of others that are wed,
And how she look’d, and what he said,
And back we come at fall of dew.

Again the feast, the speech, the glee,
The shade of passing thought, the wealth
Of words and wit, the double health,
The crowning cup, the three-times-three,

And last the dance;–till I retire:
Dumb is that tower which spake so loud,
And high in heaven the streaming cloud,
And on the downs a rising fire:

And rise, O moon, from yonder down,
Till over down and over dale
All night the shining vapour sail
And pass the silent-lighted town,

The white-faced halls, the glancing rills,
And catch at every mountain head,
And o’er the friths that branch and spread
Their sleeping silver thro’ the hills;

And touch with shade the bridal doors,
With tender gloom the roof, the wall;
And breaking let the splendour fall
To spangle all the happy shores

By which they rest, and ocean sounds,
And, star and system rolling past,
A soul shall draw from out the vast
And strike his being into bounds,

And, moved thro’ life of lower phase,
Result in man, be born and think,
And act and love, a closer link
Betwixt us and the crowning race

Of those that, eye to eye, shall look
On knowledge; under whose command
Is Earth and Earth’s, and in their hand
Is Nature like an open book;

No longer half-akin to brute,
For all we thought and loved and did,
And hoped, and suffer’d, is but seed
Of what in them is flower and fruit;

Whereof the man, that with me trod
This planet, was a noble type
Appearing ere the times were ripe,
That friend of mine who lives in God,

That God, which ever lives and loves,
One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.

Hands All Round

First pledge our Queen this solemn night,
Then drink to England, every guest;
That man’s the best Cosmopolite
Who loves his native country best.
May freedom’s oak for ever live
With stronger life from day to day;
That man’s the true Conservative
Who lops the moulder’d branch away.
Hands all round!
God the traitor’s hope confound!
To this great cause of Freedom drink, my friends,
And the great name of England, round and round.

To all the loyal hearts who long
To keep our English Empire whole!
To all our noble sons, the strong
New England of the Southern Pole!
To England under Indian skies,
To those dark millions of her realm!
To Canada whom we love and prize,
Whatever statesman hold the helm.
Hands all round!
God the traitor’s hope confound!
To this great name of England drink, my friends,
And all her glorious empire, round and round.

To all our statesmen so they be
True leaders of the land’s desire!
To both our Houses, may they see
Beyond the borough and the shire!
We sail’d wherever ship could sail,
We founded many a mighty state;
Pray God our greatness may not fail
Thro’ craven fears of being great.
Hands all round!
God the traitor’s hope confound!
To this great cause of Freedom drink my friends,
And the great name of England, round and round.

Love and Sorrow

O maiden, fresher than the first green leaf
With which the fearful springtide flecks the lea,
Weep not, Almeida, that I said to thee
That thou hast half my heart, for bitter grief
Doth hold the other half in sovranty.
Thou art my heart’s sun in love’s crystalline:
Yet on both sides at once thou canst not shine:
Thine is the bright side of my heart, and thine
My heart’s day, but the shadow of my heart,
Issue of its own substance, my heart’s night
Thou canst not lighten even with thy light,
All powerful in beauty as thou art.
Almeida, if my heart were substanceless,
Then might thy rays pass thro’ to the other side,
So swiftly, that they nowhere would abide,
But lose themselves in utter emptiness.
Half-light, half-shadow, let my spirit sleep
They never learnt to love who never knew to weep.

The Tears Of Heaven

Heaven weeps above the earth all night till morn,
In darkness weeps, as all ashamed to weep,
Because the earth hath made her state forlorn
With selfwrought evils of unnumbered years,
And doth the fruit of her dishonour reap.
And all the day heaven gathers back her tears
Into her own blue eyes so clear and deep,
And showering down the glory of lightsome day,
Smiles on the earth’s worn brow to win her if she may.

The Sailor Boy

He rose at dawn and, fired with hope,
Shot o’er the seething harbour-bar,
And reach’d the ship and caught the rope,
And whistled to the morning star.

And while he whistled long and loud
He heard a fierce mermaiden cry,
“O boy, tho’ thou are young and proud,
I see the place where thou wilt lie.

“The sands and yeasty surges mix
In caves about the dreary bay,
And on thy ribs the limpet sticks,
And in thy heart the scrawl shall play.”

“Fool,” he answer’d , “death is sure
To those that stay and those that roam,
But I will nevermore endure
To sit with empty hands at home.

“My mother clings about my neck,
My sisters crying, ‘Stay for shame;’
My father raves of death and wreck,-
They are all to blame, they are all to blame.

“God help me! save I take my part
Of danger on the roaring sea,
A devil rises in my heart,
Far worse than any death to me.”

Lullaby

SWEET and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.

I Send You Here A Sort Of Allegory

I send you here a sort of allegory,
(For you will understand it) of a soul,
A sinful soul possess’d of many gifts,
A spacious garden full of flowering weeds,
A glorious Devil, large in heart and brain,
That did love Beauty only, (Beauty seen
In all varieties of mould and mind)
And Knowledge for its beauty; or if Good,
Good only for its beauty, seeing not
That beauty, Good, and Knowledge, are three sisters
That doat upon each other, friends to man,
Living together under the same roof,
And never can be sunder’d without tears.
And he that shuts Love out, in turn shall be
Shut out from Love, and on her threshold lie
Howling in outer darkness. Not for this
Was common clay ta’en from the common earth,
Moulded by God, and temper’d with the tears
Of angels to the perfect shape of man.

The May Queen

YOU must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;
To-morrow ‘ll be the happiest time of all the glad new-year,—
Of all the glad new-year, mother, the maddest, merriest day;
For I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

There ‘s many a black, black eye, they say, but none so bright as mine;
There ‘s Margaret and Mary, there ‘s Kate and Caroline;
But none so fair as little Alice in all the land, they say:
So I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall never wake,
If you do not call me loud when the day begins to break;
But I must gather knots of flowers and buds, and garlands gay;
For I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

As I came up the valley, whom think ye should I see
But Robin leaning on the bridge beneath the hazel-tree?
He thought of that sharp look, mother, I gave him yesterday,—
But I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

He thought I was a ghost, mother, for I was all in white;
And I ran by him without speaking, like a flash of light.
They call me cruel-hearted, but I care not what they say,
For I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

They say he ‘s dying all for love,—but that can never be;
They say his heart is breaking, mother,—what is that to me?
There ‘s many a bolder lad ‘ll woo me any summer day;
And I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

Little Effie shall go with me to-morrow to the green,
And you ‘ll be there, too, mother, to see me made the Queen;
For the shepherd lads on every side ‘ll come from far away;
And I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

The honeysuckle round the porch has woven its wavy bowers,
And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint sweet cuckoo-flowers;
And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray;
And I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

The night-winds come and go, mother, upon the meadow-grass,
And the happy stars above them seem to brighten as they pass;
There will not be a drop of rain the whole of the livelong day;
And I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

All the valley, mother, ‘ll be fresh and green and still,
And the cowslip and the crowfoot are over all the hill,
And the rivulet in the flowery dale ‘ll merrily glance and play,
For I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

So you must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;
To-morrow ‘ll be the happiest time of all the glad new-year;
To-morrow ‘ll be of all the year the maddest, merriest day,
For I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ‘m to be Queen o’ the May.

NEW YEAR’S EVE
If you ‘re waking, call me early, call me early, mother dear,
For I would see the sun rise upon the glad new-year.
It is the last new-year that I shall ever see,—
Then you may lay me low i’ the mold, and think no more of me.

To-night I saw the sun set,—he set and left behind
The good old year, the dear old time, and all my peace of mind;
And the new-year ‘s coming up, mother; but I shall never see
The blossom on the blackthorn, the leaf upon the tree.

Last May we made a crown of flowers; we had a merry day,—
Beneath the hawthorn on the green they made me Queen of May;
And we danced about the May-pole and in the hazel copse,
Till Charles’s Wain came out above the tall white chimney-tops.

There ‘s not a flower on all the hills,—the frost is on the pane;
I only wish to live till the snowdrops come again.
I wish the snow would melt and the sun come out on high,—
I long to see a flower so before the day I die.

The building-rook ‘ll caw from the windy tall elm-tree,
And the tufted plover pipe along the fallow lea,
And the swallow ‘ll come back again with summer o’er the wave,
But I shall lie alone, mother, within the moldering grave.

Upon the chancel casement, and upon that grave of mine,
In the early, early morning the summer sun ‘ll shine,
Before the red cock crows from the farm upon the hill,—
When you are warm-asleep, mother, and all the world is still.

When the flowers come again, mother, beneath the waning light
You ‘ll never see me more in the long gray fields at night;
When from the dry dark wold the summer airs blow cool
On the oat-grass and the sword-grass, and the bulrush in the pool.

You ‘ll bury me, my mother, just beneath the hawthorn shade,
And you ‘ll come sometimes and see me where I am lowly laid.
I shall not forget you, mother; I shall hear you when you pass,
With your feet above my head in the long and pleasant grass.

I have been wild and wayward, but you ‘ll forgive me now;
You ‘ll kiss me, my own mother, upon my cheek and brow;
Nay, nay, you must not weep, nor let your grief be wild;
You should not fret for me, mother—you have another child.

If I can, I ‘ll come again, mother, from out my resting-place;
Though you ‘ll not see me, mother, I shall look upon your face;
Though I cannot speak a word, I shall harken what you say,
And be often, often with you when you think I ‘m far away.

Good night! good night! when I have said good night forevermore,
And you see me carried out from the threshold of the door,
Don’t let Effie come to see me till my grave be growing green,—
She ‘ll be a better child to you than ever I have been.

She ‘ll find my garden tools upon the granary floor.
Let her take ’em—they are hers; I shall never garden more;
But tell her, when I ‘m gone, to train the rosebush that I set
About the parlor window and the box of mignonette.

Good night, sweet-mother! Call me before the day is born.
All night I lie awake, but I fall asleep at morn;
But I would see the sun rise upon the glad new-year,—
So, if you ‘re waking, call me, call me early, mother dear.

CONCLUSION
I thought to pass away before, and yet alive I am;
And in the fields all around I hear the bleating of the lamb.
How sadly, I remember, rose the morning of the year!
To die before the snowdrop came, and now the violet ‘s here.

O, sweet is the new violet, that comes beneath the skies;
And sweeter is the young lamb’s voice to me that cannot rise;
And sweet is all the land about, and all the flowers that blow;
And sweeter far is death than life, to me that long to go.

It seemed so hard at first, mother, to leave the blessèd sun,
And now it seems as hard to stay; and yet, His will be done!
But still I think it can’t be long before I find release;
And that good man, the clergyman, has told me words of peace.

O, blessings on his kindly voice, and on his silver hair,
And blessings on his whole life long, until he meet me there!
O, blessings on his kindly heart and on his silver head!
A thousand times I blest him, as he knelt beside my bed.

He taught me all the mercy, for he showed me all the sin;
Now, though my lamp was lighted late, there ‘s One will let me in.
Nor would I now be well, mother, again, if that could be;
For my desire is but to pass to Him that died for me.

I did not hear the dog howl, mother, or the death-watch beat,—
There came a sweeter token when the night and morning meet;
But sit beside my bed, mother, and put your hand in mine,
And Effie on the other side, and I will tell the sign.

All in the wild March-morning I heard the angels call,—
It was when the moon was setting, and the dark was over all;
The trees began to whisper, and the wind began to roll,
And in the wild March-morning I heard them call my soul.

For, lying broad awake, I thought of you and Effie dear;
I saw you sitting in the house, and I no longer here;
With all my strength I prayed for both,—and so I felt resigned,
And up the valley came a swell of music on the wind.

I thought that it was fancy, and I listened in my bed;
And then did something speak to me,—I know not what was said;
For great delight and shuddering took hold of all my mind,
And up the valley came again the music on the wind.

But you were sleeping; and I said, “It ‘s not for them,—it ‘s mine;”
And if it comes three times, I thought, I take it for a sign.
And once again it came, and close beside the window-bars;
Then seemed to go right up to heaven and die among the stars.

So now I think my time is near; I trust it is. I know
The blessèd music went that way my soul will have to go.
And for myself, indeed, I care not if I go to-day;
But Effie, you must comfort her when I am past away.

And say to Robin a kind word, and tell him not to fret;
There ‘s many a worthier than I, would make him happy yet.
If I had lived—I cannot tell—I might have been his wife;
But all these things have ceased to be, with my desire of life.

O, look! the sun begins to rise! the heavens are in a glow;
He shines upon a hundred fields, and all of them I know.
And there I move no longer now, and there his light may shine,—
Wild flowers in the valley for other hands than mine.

O, sweet and strange it seems to me, that ere this day is done
The voice that now is speaking may be beyond the sun,—
Forever and forever with those just souls and true,—
And what is life, that we should moan? why make we such ado?

Forever and forever, all in a blessèd home,—
And there to wait a little while till you and Effie come,—
To lie within the light of God, as I lie upon your breast,—
And the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.

Hark! The Dogs Howl!

Hark! the dogs howl! the sleetwinds blow,
The church-clocks knoll: the hours haste,
I leave the dreaming world below.
Blown o’er frore heads of hills I go,
Long narrowing friths and stripes of snow ÔÇô
Time bears my soul into the waste.
I seek the voice I loved ÔÇô ah where
Is that dear hand that I should press,
Those honoured brows that I would kiss?
Lo! the broad Heavens cold and bare,
The stars that know not my distress.
My sighs are wasted in the air,
My tears are dropped into the abyss.
Now riseth up a little cloud ÔÇô
Divideth like a broken wave ÔÇô
Shows Death a drooping youth pale-browed
And crowned with daisies of the grave.
The vapour labours up the sky,
Uncertain forms are darkly moved,
Larger than human passes by
The shadow of the man I loved.
I wind my arms for one embrace ÔÇô
Can this be he? is that his face?
In my strait throat expires the cry.
He bends his eyes reproachfully
And clasps his hands, as one that prays.

The Merman

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

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.

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.
Oh! what a happy life were mine
Under the hollow-hung ocean green!
Soft are the moss-beds under the sea;
We would live merrily, merrily.

Epitaph on General Gordon

WARRIOR of God, man’s friend, and tyrant’s foe
Now somewhere dead far in the waste Soudan,
Thou livest in all hearts, for all men know
This earth has never borne a nobler man.

The Blackbird

O blackbird! sing me something well:
While all the neighbours shoot thee round,
I keep smooth plats of fruitful ground,
Where thou may’st warble, eat and dwell.

The espaliers and the standards all
Are thine; the range of lawn and park:
The unnetted black-hearts ripen dark,
All thine, against the garden wall.

Yet, tho’ I spared thee all the spring,
Thy sole delight is, sitting still,
With that gold dagger of thy bill
To fret the summer jenneting.

A golden bill! the silver tongue,
Cold February loved, is dry:
Plenty corrupts the melody
That made thee famous once, when young:

And in the sultry garden-squares,
Now thy flute-notes are changed to coarse,
I hear thee not at all, or hoarse
As when a hawker hawks his wares.

Take warning! he that will not sing
While yon sun prospers in the blue,
Shall sing for want, ere leaves are new,
Caught in the frozen palms of Spring.

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