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Best Famous Alfred Lord Tennyson Poems

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by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Tears Idle Tears

  Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.
Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, That brings our friends up from the underworld, Sad as the last which reddens over one That sinks with all we love below the verge; So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds To dying ears, when unto dying eyes The casement slowly grows a glimmering square; So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
Dear as remembered kisses after death, And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned On lips that are for others; deep as love, Deep as first love, and wild with all regret; O Death in Life, the days that are no more!


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star, 
And one clear call for me! 
And may there be no moaning of the bar, 
When I put out to sea, 

But such a tide as moving seems asleep, 
Too full for sound and foam, 
When that which drew from out the boundless deep 
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark; For though from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crossed the bar.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

The Lady of Shalott

ON either side the river lie

Long fields of barley and of rye, 
That clothe the wold and meet the sky; 
And thro' the field the road runs by 
To many-tower'd Camelot; 5 
And up and down the people go, 
Gazing where the lilies blow 
Round an island there below, 
The island of Shalott.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver, 10 Little breezes dusk and shiver Thro' the wave that runs for ever By the island in the river Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers, 15 Overlook a space of flowers, And the silent isle imbowers The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow-veil'd, Slide the heavy barges trail'd 20 By slow horses; and unhail'd The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd Skimming down to Camelot: But who hath seen her wave her hand? Or at the casement seen her stand? 25 Or is she known in all the land, The Lady of Shalott? Only reapers, reaping early In among the bearded barley, Hear a song that echoes cheerly 30 From the river winding clearly, Down to tower'd Camelot: And by the moon the reaper weary, Piling sheaves in uplands airy, Listening, whispers ''Tis the fairy 35 Lady of Shalott.
' PART II There she weaves by night and day A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say, A curse is on her if she stay 40 To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be, And so she weaveth steadily, And little other care hath she, The Lady of Shalott.
45 And moving thro' a mirror clear That hangs before her all the year, Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near Winding down to Camelot: 50 There the river eddy whirls, And there the surly village-churls, And the red cloaks of market girls, Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad, 55 An abbot on an ambling pad, Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad, Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad, Goes by to tower'd Camelot; And sometimes thro' the mirror blue 60 The knights come riding two and two: She hath no loyal knight and true, The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights To weave the mirror's magic sights, 65 For often thro' the silent nights A funeral, with plumes and lights, And music, went to Camelot: Or when the moon was overhead, Came two young lovers lately wed; 70 'I am half sick of shadows,' said The Lady of Shalott.
PART III A bow-shot from her bower-eaves, He rode between the barley-sheaves, The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves, 75 And flamed upon the brazen greaves Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd To a lady in his shield, That sparkled on the yellow field, 80 Beside remote Shalott.
The gemmy bridle glitter'd free, Like to some branch of stars we see Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily 85 As he rode down to Camelot: And from his blazon'd baldric slung A mighty silver bugle hung, And as he rode his armour rung, Beside remote Shalott.
90 All in the blue unclouded weather Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather, The helmet and the helmet-feather Burn'd like one burning flame together, As he rode down to Camelot.
95 As often thro' the purple night, Below the starry clusters bright, Some bearded meteor, trailing light, Moves over still Shalott.
His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd; 100 On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode; From underneath his helmet flow'd His coal-black curls as on he rode, As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river 105 He flash'd into the crystal mirror, 'Tirra lirra,' by the river Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom, She made three paces thro' the room, 110 She saw the water-lily bloom, She saw the helmet and the plume, She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide; The mirror crack'd from side to side; 115 'The curse is come upon me!' cried The Lady of Shalott.
PART IV In the stormy east-wind straining, The pale yellow woods were waning, The broad stream in his banks complaining, 120 Heavily the low sky raining Over tower'd Camelot; Down she came and found a boat Beneath a willow left afloat, And round about the prow she wrote 125 The Lady of Shalott.
And down the river's dim expanse¡ª Like some bold seer in a trance, Seeing all his own mischance¡ª With a glassy countenance 130 Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day She loosed the chain, and down she lay; The broad stream bore her far away, The Lady of Shalott.
135 Lying, robed in snowy white That loosely flew to left and right¡ª The leaves upon her falling light¡ª Thro' the noises of the night She floated down to Camelot: 140 And as the boat-head wound along The willowy hills and fields among, They heard her singing her last song, The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy, 145 Chanted loudly, chanted lowly, Till her blood was frozen slowly, And her eyes were darken'd wholly, Turn'd to tower'd Camelot; For ere she reach'd upon the tide 150 The first house by the water-side, Singing in her song she died, The Lady of Shalott.
Under tower and balcony, By garden-wall and gallery, 155 A gleaming shape she floated by, Dead-pale between the houses high, Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came, Knight and burgher, lord and dame, 160 And round the prow they read her name, The Lady of Shalott.
Who is this? and what is here? And in the lighted palace near Died the sound of royal cheer; 165 And they cross'd themselves for fear, All the knights at Camelot: But Lancelot mused a little space; He said, 'She has a lovely face; God in His mercy lend her grace, 170 The Lady of Shalott.
'


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league, 
Half a league onward, 
All in the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!" he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!" Was there a man dismayed? Not though the soldier knew Some one had blundered: Their's not to make reply, Their's not to reason why, Their's but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volleyed and thundered; Stormed at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred.
Flashed all their sabres bare, Flashed as they turned in air Sabring the gunners there, Charging an army, while All the world wondered: Plunged in the battery-smoke Right through the line they broke; Cossack and Russian Reeled from the sabre-stroke Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not, Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon behind them Volleyed and thundered; Stormed at with shot and shell, While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well Came through the jaws of Death Back from the mouth of Hell, All that was left of them, Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Song of the Lotos-Eaters

THERE is sweet music here that softer falls 
Than petals from blown roses on the grass, 
Or night-dews on still waters between walls 
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass; 
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies, 5 
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes; 
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Here are cool mosses deep, And thro' the moss the ivies creep, And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep, 10 And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.
Why are we weigh'd upon with heaviness, And utterly consumed with sharp distress, While all things else have rest from weariness? All things have rest: why should we toil alone, 15 We only toil, who are the first of things, And make perpetual moan, Still from one sorrow to another thrown: Nor ever fold our wings, And cease from wanderings, 20 Nor steep our brows in slumber's holy balm; Nor harken what the inner spirit sings, 'There is no joy but calm!'¡ª Why should we only toil, the roof and crown of things? Lo! in the middle of the wood, 25 The folded leaf is woo'd from out the bud With winds upon the branch, and there Grows green and broad, and takes no care, Sun-steep'd at noon, and in the moon Nightly dew-fed; and turning yellow 30 Falls, and floats adown the air.
Lo! sweeten'd with the summer light, The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow, Drops in a silent autumn night.
All its allotted length of days, 35 The flower ripens in its place, Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no toil, Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil.
Hateful is the dark-blue sky, Vaulted o'er the dark-blue sea.
40 Death is the end of life; ah, why Should life all labour be? Let us alone.
Time driveth onward fast, And in a little while our lips are dumb.
Let us alone.
What is it that will last? 45 All things are taken from us, and become Portions and parcels of the dreadful Past.
Let us alone.
What pleasure can we have To war with evil? Is there any peace In ever climbing up the climbing wave? 50 All things have rest, and ripen toward the grave In silence; ripen, fall and cease: Give us long rest or death, dark death, or dreamful ease.
How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream, With half-shut eyes ever to seem 55 Falling asleep in a half-dream! To dream and dream, like yonder amber light, Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height; To hear each other's whisper'd speech; Eating the Lotos day by day, 60 To watch the crisping ripples on the beach, And tender curving lines of creamy spray; To lend our hearts and spirits wholly To the influence of mild-minded melancholy; To muse and brood and live again in memory, 65 With those old faces of our infancy Heap'd over with a mound of grass, Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass! Dear is the memory of our wedded lives, And dear the last embraces of our wives 70 And their warm tears: but all hath suffer'd change; For surely now our household hearts are cold: Our sons inherit us: our looks are strange: And we should come like ghosts to trouble joy.
Or else the island princes over-bold 75 Have eat our substance, and the minstrel sings Before them of the ten years' war in Troy, And our great deeds, as half-forgotten things.
Is there confusion in the little isle? Let what is broken so remain.
80 The Gods are hard to reconcile: 'Tis hard to settle order once again.
There is confusion worse than death, Trouble on trouble, pain on pain, Long labour unto ag¨¨d breath, 85 Sore task to hearts worn out with many wars And eyes grown dim with gazing on the pilot-stars.
But, propt on beds of amaranth and moly, How sweet (while warm airs lull us, blowing lowly) With half-dropt eyelids still, 90 Beneath a heaven dark and holy, To watch the long bright river drawing slowly His waters from the purple hill¡ª To hear the dewy echoes calling From cave to cave thro' the thick-twin¨¨d vine¡ª 95 To watch the emerald-colour'd water falling Thro' many a wov'n acanthus-wreath divine! Only to hear and see the far-off sparkling brine, Only to hear were sweet, stretch'd out beneath the pine.
The Lotos blooms below the barren peak: 100 The Lotos blows by every winding creek: All day the wind breathes low with mellower tone: Thro' every hollow cave and alley lone Round and round the spicy downs the yellow Lotos-dust is blown.
We have had enough of action, and of motion we, 105 Roll'd to starboard, roll'd to larboard, when the surge was seething free, Where the wallowing monster spouted his foam-fountains in the sea.
Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind, In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie relined On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind.
110 For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl'd Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly curl'd Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world: Where the smile in secret, looking over wasted lands, Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery sands, 115 Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and praying hands.
But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong, Like a tale of little meaning tho' the words are strong; Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave the soil, 120 Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring toil, Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine and oil; Till they perish and they suffer¡ªsome, 'tis whisper'd¡ªdown in hell Suffer endless anguish, others in Elysian valleys dwell, Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel.
125 Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore Than labour in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar; O rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Blow Bugle blow

THE splendour falls on castle walls 
And snowy summits old in story: 
The long light shakes across the lakes  
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow bugle blow set the wild echoes flying 5 Blow bugle; answer echoes dying dying dying.
O hark O hear! how thin and clear And thinner clearer farther going! O sweet and far from cliff and scar The horns of Elfland faintly blowing! 10 Blow let us hear the purple glens replying: Blow bugle; answer echoes dying dying dying.
O love they die in yon rich sky They faint on hill or field or river: Our echoes roll from soul to soul 15 And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow bugle blow set the wild echoes flying And answer echoes answer dying dying dying.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Summer Night

NOW sleeps the crimson petal, now the white; 
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk; 
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font: 
The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.
Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost, 5 And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.
Now lies the Earth all Dana? to the stars, And all thy heart lies open unto me.
Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.
10 Now folds the lily all her sweetness up, And slips into the bosom of the lake: So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip Into my bosom and be lost in me.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

The Kraken

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millenial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep, Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

The Millers Daughter

IT is the miller's daughter, 
And she is grown so dear, so dear, 
That I would be the jewel 
That trembles in her ear: 
For hid in ringlets day and night, 5 
I'd touch her neck so warm and white.
And I would be the girdle About her dainty dainty waist, And her heart would beat against me, In sorrow and in rest: 10 And I should know if it beat right, I'd clasp it round so close and tight.
And I would be the necklace, And all day long to fall and rise Upon her balmy bosom, 15 With her laughter or her sighs: And I would lie so light, so light, I scarce should be unclasp'd at night.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Come down O Maid

COME down, O maid, from yonder mountain height: 
What pleasure lives in height (the shepherd sang), 
In height and cold, the splendour of the hills? 
But cease to move so near the Heavens, and cease 
To glide a sunbeam by the blasted Pine, 5 
To sit a star upon the sparkling spire; 
And come, for Love is of the valley, come, 
For Love is of the valley, come thou down 
And find him; by the happy threshold, he, 
Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maize, 10 
Or red with spirted purple of the vats, 
Or foxlike in the vine; nor cares to walk 
With Death and Morning on the silver horns, 
Nor wilt thou snare him in the white ravine, 
Nor find him dropt upon the firths of ice, 15 
That huddling slant in furrow-cloven falls 
To roll the torrent out of dusky doors: 
But follow; let the torrent dance thee down 
To find him in the valley; let the wild 
Lean-headed Eagles yelp alone, and leave 20 
The monstrous ledges there to slope, and spill 
Their thousand wreaths of dangling water-smoke, 
That like a broken purpose waste in air: 
So waste not thou; but come; for all the vales 
Await thee; azure pillars of the hearth 25 
Arise to thee; the children call, and I 
Thy shepherd pipe, and sweet is every sound, 
Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet; 
Myriads of rivulets hurrying thro' the lawn, 
The moan of doves in immemorial elms, 30 
And murmuring of innumerable bees.