Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite ;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease ;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold ;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
IN MEMORIAM. 239
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand ;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
It is the day when he was born,
A bitter day that early sank
Behind a purple-frosty bank
Of vapor, leaving night forlorn.
The time admits not flowers or leaves 14
To deck the banquet. Fiercely flies
The blast of North and East, and ice
Makes daggers at the sharpened eaves,
And bristles all the brakes and thorns
To yon hard crescent, as she hangs
About the wood which grides and clangs
Its leafless ribs and iron horns
Together in the drifts that pass
To darken on the rolling brine
That breaks the coast. But fetch the wine,
Arrange the board and brim the glass ;
Bring in great logs and let them lie,
To make a solid core of heat ;
Be cheerful-minded, talk and treat
Of all things ev'n as he were by ;
We keep the day. With festal cheer,
With books and music, surely we
Will drink to him, whate'er he be,
And sing the songs he loved to hear.
240 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
I will not shut me from my kind,
And, lest I stiffen into stone,
I will not eat my heart alone,
Nor feed with sighs a passing wind :
What profit lies in barren faith,
And vacant yearning, tho' with might
To scale the heaven's highest height,
Or dive below the wells of Death ?
What find I in the highest place,
But mine own phantom chanting hymns ?
And on the depths of death there swims
The reflex of a human face.
1*11 rather take what fruit may be
Of sorrow under human skies :
'Tis held that sorrow makes us wise,
Whatever wisdom sleep with thee.
Heart-affluence in discursive talk
From household fountains never dry ;
The critic clearness of an eye,
That saw thro' all the Muses' walk ;
Seraphic intellect and force
To seize and throw the doubts of man ;
Impassioned logic, which outran
The hearer in its fiery course;
High nature amorous of the good,
But touched with no ascetic gloom ;
IN MEM OR I AM. 241
And passion pure in snowy bloom
Thro' all the years of April blood;
A love of freedom rarely felt,
Of freedom in her regal seat
Of England ; not the schoolboy heat,
The blind hysterics of the Celt ;
And manhood fused with female grace
In such a sort, the child would twine
A trustful hand, unasked, in thine,
And find his comfort in thy face ;
All these have been, and thee mine eyes
Have looked on : if they looked in vain,
My shame is greater who remain,
Nor let thy wisdom make me wise.
Thy converse drew us with delight,
The men of rathe and riper years :
The feeble soul a haunt of fears,
Forgot his weakness in thy sight.
On thee the loyal-hearted hung,
The proud was half disarmed of pride,
Nor cared the serpent at thy side
To flicker with his double tongue.
The stern were mild when thou wert by,
The flippant put himself to school
And heard thee, and the brazen fool
Was softened, and he knew not why ; .
242 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
While I, thy dearest, sat apart,
And felt thy triumph was as mine ;
And loved them more, that they were thine,
The graceful tact, the Christian art ;
Not mine the sweetness or the skill,
But mine the love that will not tire,
And, born of love, the vague desire
That spurs an imitative will.
The churl in spirit, up or down
Along the scale of ranks, thro* all,
To him who grasps a golden ball,
By blood a king, at heart a clown ;
The churl in spirit, howe'er he veil
His want in forms for fashion's sake
Will let his coltish nature break
At seasons thro* the gilded pale :
For who can always act ? but he,
To whom a thousand memories call,
Not being less but more than all
The gentleness he seemed to be,
Best seemed the thing he was, and joined
Each office of. the social hour
To noble manners, as the flower
And native growth of noble mind ;
Nor ever narrowness or spite,
Or villain fancy fleeting by,
Drew in the expression of an eye,
Where God and Nature met in light;
IN MEMORIAM. 243
And thus he bore without abuse
The grand old name of gentleman,
Defamed by every charlatan,
And soiled with all ignoble use.
High wisdom holds my wisdom less,
That I, who gaze with temperate eyes
On glorious insufficiencies,
Set light by narrow perfectness.
But thou, that fillest all the room
Of all my love, art reason why
I seem to cast a careless eye
On souls, the lesser lords of doom.
For what wert thou ? some novel power
Sprang up for ever at a touch,
And hope could never hope too much,
In watching thee from hour to hour,
Large elements in order brought,
And tracts of calm from tempest made,
And world-wide fluctuation swayed,
In vassal tides that followed thought.
'Tis held that sorrow makes us wise ;
Yet how much wisdom sleeps with thee
Which not alone had guided me,
But served the seasons that may rise ;
For can I doubt, who knew the keen
In intellect, with force and skill
244 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
To strive, to fashion, to fulfil
I doubt not what thou wouldst have been :
A life in civic action warm,
A soul on highest mission sent,
A potent voice of Parliament,
A pillar steadfast in the storm,
Should licensed boldness gather force,
Becoming, when the time has birth,
A lever to uplift the earth
And roll it in another course,
With thousand shocks that come and go,
With agonies, with energies,
With overthrowings, and with cries,
And undulations to and fro.
Who loves not Knowledge ? Who shall rail
Against her beauty ? May she mix
With men and prosper ! Who shall fix
Her pillars ? Let her work prevail.
But on her forehead sits a fire :
She sets her forward countenance
And leaps into the future chance,
Submitting all things to desire.
Half-grown as yet, a child, and vain
She cannot fight the fear of death.
What is she, cut from love and faith,
But some wild Pallas from the brain
IN MEMORIAM. 245
Of demons ? fiery-hot to burst
All barriers in her onward race
For power. Let her know her place ;
She is the second, not the first
A higher hand must make her mild,
If all be not in vain ; and guide
Her footsteps, moving side by side
With wisdom, like the younger child :
For she is earthly of the mind,
But Wisdom heavenly of the soul.
O friend, who earnest to thy goal
So early, leaving me behind,
I would the great world grew like thee,
Who grewest not alone in power
And knowledge, but by year and hour
In reverence and in charity.
Now fades the last long streak of snow,
Now bourgeons every maze of quick
About the flowering squares, and thick
By ashen roots the violets blow.
Now rings the woodland loud and long,
The distance takes a lovelier hue,
And drowned in yonder living blue
The lark becomes a sightless song.
Now dance the lights on lawn and lea,
The flocks are whiter down the vale,
And milkier every milky sail
On winding stream or distant sea ;
246 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
Where now the seamew pipes, or dives
In yonder greening gleam, and fly
The happy birds, that change their sky
To build and brood ; that live their lives
From land to land ; and in my breast
Spring wakens too ; and my regret
Becomes an April violet,
And buds and blossoms like the rest.
Is it, then, regret for buried time
That keenlier in sweet April wakes,
And meets the year, and gives and takes
The colors of the crescent prime ?
Not all : the songs, the stirring air,
The life re-orient out of dust,
Cry thro' the sense to hearten trust
In that which made the world so fair.
Not all regret ; the face will shine
Upon me, while I muse alone ;
And that dear voice, I once have known,
Still speak to me of me and mine :
Yet less of sorrow lives in me
For days of happy commune dead ;
Less yearning for the friendship fled
Than some strong bond which is to be.
O days and hours, your work is this,
To hold me from my proper place,
IN MEMORIAM. 247
A little while from his embrace,
For fuller gain of after bliss :
That out of distance might ensue
Desire of nearness doubly sweet ;
And unto meeting when we meet,
Delight a hundredfold accrue,
For every grain of sand that runs,
And every span of shade that steals,
And every kiss of toothed wheels,
And all the courses of the suns.
Contemplate all this work of Time,
The giant laboring in his youth ;
Nor dream of human love and truth,
As dying nature's earth and lime ;
But trust that those we call the dead
Are breathers of an ampler day
For ever nobler ends. They say,
The solid earth whereon we tread
In tracts of fluent heat began,
And grew to seeming-random forms,
The seeming prey of cyclic storms,
Till at the last arose the man ;
Who throve and branched from clime to clime,
The herald of a higher race,
And of himself in higher place
If so he type this work of time
248 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
Within himself, from more to more,
Or, crowned with attributes of woe
Like glories, move his course and show
That life is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And heated hot with burning fears,
And dipped in baths of hissing tears,
And battered with the shocks of doom
To shape and use. Arise and fly
The reeling Faun, the sensual feast ;
Move upward, working out the beast;
And let the ape and tiger die.
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, not as one that weeps
I come once more ; the city sleeps ;
I smell the meadow in the street ;
I hear a chirp of birds ; I see
Betwixt the black fronts long-withdrawn
A light-blue lane of early dawn,
And think of early days and thee,
And bless thee, for thy lips are bland
And bright the friendship of thine eye ;
And in my thoughts with scarce a sigh
I take the pressure of thine hand.
I trust I have not wasted breath :
I think we are not wholly brain,
IN MEMORIAM. 249
Magnetic mockeries ; not in vain,
Like Paul with beasts, I fought with Death ;
Not only cunning casts in clay :
Let Science prove we are, and then
What matters Science unto men,
At least to me ? I would not stay.
Let him, the wiser man who springs
Hereafter, up from childhood shape
His action like the greater ape,
But I was born to other things.
Sad Hesper o'er the buried sun
And ready, thou, to die with him,
Thou watchest all things ever dim
And dimmer, and a glory done :
The team is loosened from the wain,
The boat is drawn upon the shore ;
Thou listenest to the closing door,
And life is darkened in the brain.
Bright Phosphor, fresher for the night,
By thee the world's great work -is heard
Beginning, and the wakeful bird ;
Behind thee comes the greater light :
The market boat is on the stream,
And voices hail it from the brink ;
Thou hear'st the village hammer clink,
And see'st the moving of the team.
250 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
Sweet Hesper-Phqsphor, double name
For what is one, the first, the last,
Thou, like my present and my past,
Thy place is changed ; thou art the same.
Oh, wast thou with me, dearest, then,
While I rose up against my doom,
And yearned to burst the folded gloom,
To bare the eternal Heavens again,
To feel once more, in placid awe,
The strong imagination roll
A sphere of stars about my soul,
In all her motion one with law ;
If thou wert with me, and the grave
Divide us not, be with me now,
And enter in at breast and brow,
Till all my blood, a fuller wave,
Be quickened with a livelier breath,
And like an inconsiderate boy,
As in the former flash of joy,
I slip the thoughts of life and death ;
And all the breeze of Fancy blows,
And every dew-drop paints a bow,
The wizard lightnings deeply glow,
And every thought breaks out a rose.
There rolls the deep where grew the tree.
O earth, what changes hast thou seen !
IN MEM OKI AM. 251
There where the long street roars, hath been
The stillness of the central sea.
The hills are shadows, and they flow
From form to form, and nothing stands;
They melt like mist, the solid lands,
Like clouds they shape themselves and go.
But in my spirit will I dwell,
And dream my dream, and hold it true ;
For tho' my lips may breathe adieu,
I cannot think the thing farewell.
That which we dare invoke to bless ;
Our dearest faith ; our ghastliest doubt ;
He, They, One, All ; within, without ;
The Power in darkness whom we guess;
I found Him not in world or sun,
Or eagle's wing, or insect's eye ;
Nor thro' the questions men may try,
The petty cobwebs we have spun :
If e'er when faith had fall'n asleep,
I heard a voice " believe no more "
And heard an ever breaking shore
That tumbled in the Godless deep ;
A warmth within the breast would melt
The freezing reason's colder part,
And like a man in wrath the heart
Stood up and answered " I have felt.' 1
252 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
No, like a child in doubt and fear :
But that blind clamor made me wise;
Then was I as a child that cries,
But, crying, knows his father near ;
And what I am beheld again
What is, and no man understands ;
And out of darkness came the hands
That reach thro' nature, moulding men.
Whatever I have said or sung,
Some bitter notes my harp would give,
Yea, tho' there often seem'd to live
A contradiction on the tongue,
Yet Hope had never lost her youth ;
She did but look through dimmer eyes ;
Or Love but played with gracious lies,
Because he felt so fixed in truth :
And if the song were full of care,
He breathed the spirit of the song ;
And if the words were sweet and strong,
He set his royal signet there ;
Abiding with me till I sail
To seek thee on the mystic deeps,
And this electric force, that keeps
A thousand pulses dancing, fail.
Love is and was my lord and king,
And in his presence I attend
IN MEMORIAM. 253
To hear the tidings of my friend,
Which every hour his couriers bring.
Love is and was my king and lord,
And will be, tho' as yet I keep
Within his court on earth, and sleep
Encompassed by his faithful guard,
And hear at times a sentinel
Who moves about from place to place,
And whispers to the worlds of space,
In the deep night, that all is well.
And all is well, tho' faith and form
Be sundered in the night of fear ;
Well roars the storm to those that hear
A deeper voice across the storm,
Proclaiming social truth shall spread,
And justice, ev'n tho' thrice again
The red fool-fury of the Seine
Should pile her barricades with dead.
But ill for him that wears a crown,
And him, the lazar, in his rags :
They tremble, the sustaining crags ;
The spires of ice are toppled down,
And molten up, and roar in flood ;
The fortress crashes from on high,
The brute earth lightens to the sky,
And the great ALon sinks in blood,
254 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
And compass'd by the fires of Hell;
While thou, dear spirit, happy star,
O'erlook'st the tumult from afar,
And smilest, knowing all is well.
The love that rose on stronger wings,
Unpalsied when he met with Death,
Is comrade of the lesser faith
That sees the course of human things.
No doubt vast eddies in the flood
Of onward time shall yet be made,
And throned races may degrade ;
Yet, O ye mysteries of good,
Wild hours that fly with hope and fear,
If all your office had to do
With old results that look like new ;
If this were all your mission here,
To draw, to sheathe a useless sword,
To fool the crowd with glorious lies,
To cleave a creed in sects and cries,
To change the bearing of a word,
To shift an arbitrary power,
To cramp the student at his desk,
To make old bareness picturesque
And tuft with grass a feudal tower;
Why then my scorn might well descend
On you and yours. I see in part
That all, as in some piece of art,
Is toil cooperant to an end.
IN MEMORIAM. 255
Dear friend, far off, my lost desire,
So far, so near in woe and weal ;
Oh loved the most, when most I feel
There is a lower and a higher ;
Known and unknown ; human, divine ;
Sweet human hand and lips and eye;
Dear heavenly friend that canst not die,
Mine, mine, for ever, ever mine ;
Strange friend, past, present, and to be ;
Love deeplier, darklier understood ;
Behold, I dream a dream of good,
And mingle all the world with thee.
Thy voice is on the rolling air ;
I hear thee where the waters run ;
Thou standest in the rising sun,
And in the setting thou art fair.
What art thou then ? I cannot guess ;
But tho' I seem in star and flower
To feel thee some diffusive power,
I do not therefore love thee less :
My love involves the love before;
My love is vaster passion now ;
Tho* mix'd with God and Nature thou,
I seem to love thee more and more.
Far off thou art, but ever nigh ;
I have thee still, and I rejoice ;
256 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
I prosper, circled with thy voice ;
I shall not lose thee tho' I die.
O living will that shalt endure
When all that seems shall suffer shock,
Rise in the spiritual rock,
Flow thro' our deeds and make them pure,
That we may lift from out of dust
A voice as unto him that hears,
A cry above the conquered years
- To one that with us works, and trust,
With faith that comes of self-control,
The truths that never can be proved
Until we close with all we loved,
And all we flow from, soul in soul.
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 numbered 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 ;
IN MEMORIAM. 257
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 be 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.
Oh, 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.
258 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
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 watched 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 " asked till out of twain
Her sweet " I will " has made ye one.
Now sign your names, which shall be read,
Mute symbols of a joyful morn,
By village eyes as yet unborn ;
The names are signed, 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.
Oh, 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.
IN MEMORIAM. 259
Oh, 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 warmed, 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-favored 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,
260 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
Discussing how their courtship grew,
And talk of others that are wed,
And how she looked, 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 vapor 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 splendor 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,
IN MEMORIAM. 261
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 suffered, 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.
Alfred Tennyson was born in 1809 at Somersby, Lincolnshire, England.
He was educated at home, by his father, and at Trinity College, Cam-
bridge. His first volume of poetry was published in 1830. Upon the
death of Wordsworth in 1850, he was appointed poet-laureate. In 1883
he was made Baron Tennyson of Aldworth and Freshwater. He died
October 6, 1892. His principal poems are The Idylls of the King, In
262 THE BOOK OF ELEGIES.
Memoriam, The Princess, Maud, Locksley Hall, Enoch Arden, and several
Arthur Henry Hallam, in whose memory this poem was written, was
the son of Henry Hallam, the distinguished historian. He was born in
1811, and therefore was by two years the junior of Tennyson. With the
latter, he was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. At a very early
age he translated the sonnets of Dante's l^tta Nuova, and wrote memoirs
of Petrarch, Voltaire, and Burke, and a drama on the life of Raphael.
These were published after his death in a volume of memoirs edited by
his father. He died in Vienna, September 15, 1833.
It is analogous to a series of sonnets, and is composed of 133 "short
swallow-flights of song." The metre is the same throughout, a stanza of
four lines, the first rhyming with the fourth, the second with the third. 1
No number contains less than three stanzas, while one (Ixxxiv.) has as
many as thirty. " The whole spirit of the poem is the spirit of the sonnet
as understood by Dante, Petrarch, and Shakespeare."