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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 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!


More great poems below...

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.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

St. Agnes Eve

DEEP on the convent-roof the snows 
Are sparkling to the moon: 
My breath to heaven like vapour goes: 
May my soul follow soon! 
The shadows of the convent-towers 5 
Slant down the snowy sward, 
Still creeping with the creeping hours 
That lead me to my Lord: 
Make Thou my spirit pure and clear 
As are the frosty skies, 10 
Or this first snowdrop of the year 
That in my bosom lies.
As these white robes are soil'd and dark, To yonder shining ground; As this pale taper's earthly spark, 15 To yonder argent round; So shows my soul before the Lamb, My spirit before Thee; So in mine earthly house I am, To that I hope to be.
20 Break up the heavens, O Lord! and far, Thro' all yon starlight keen, Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star, In raiment white and clean.
He lifts me to the golden doors; 25 The flashes come and go; All heaven bursts her starry floors, And strows her lights below, And deepens on and up! the gates Roll back, and far within 30 For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits, To make me pure of sin.
The sabbaths of Eternity, One sabbath deep and wide¡ª A light upon the shining sea¡ª 35 The Bridegroom with his bride!


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

O that twere possible

O THAT 'twere possible 
After long grief and pain 
To find the arms of my true love 
Round me once again!.
.
.
A shadow flits before me 5 Not thou but like to thee: Ah Christ! that it were possible For one short hour to see The souls we loved that they might tell us What and where they be! 10


by Dorothy Parker | |

Alfred Lord Tennyson

 Should Heaven send me any son,
I hope he's not like Tennyson.
I'd rather have him play a fiddle Than rise and bow and speak an idyll.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead

 Home they brought her warrior dead: 
She nor swooned, nor uttered cry: 
All her maidens, watching, said, 
‘She must weep or she will die.
’ Then they praised him, soft and low, Called him worthy to be loved, Truest friend and noblest foe; Yet she neither spoke nor moved.
Stole a maiden from her place, Lightly to the warrior stepped, Took the face-cloth from the face; Yet she neither moved nor wept.
Rose a nurse of ninety years, Set his child upon her knee— Like summer tempest came her tears— ‘Sweet my child, I live for thee.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Princess: A Medley: The splendour falls on castle walls

 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, 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! 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, 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 | |

Ask Me No More

 Ask me no more: the moon may draw the sea; 
The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the shape, 
With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape; 
But O too fond, when have I answer'd thee? 
Ask me no more.
Ask me no more: what answer should I give? I love not hollow cheek or faded eye: Yet, O my friend, I will not have thee die! Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live; Ask me no more.
Ask me no more: thy fate and mine are seal'd: I strove against the stream and all in vain: Let the great river take me to the main: No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield; Ask me no more.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

The Princess: A Medley: As thro the land

 As thro' the land at eve we went,
And pluck'd the ripen'd ears,
We fell out, my wife and I,
O we fell out I know not why,
And kiss'd again with tears.
And blessings on the falling out That all the more endears, When we fall out with those we love And kiss again with tears! For when we came where lies the child We lost in other years, There above the little grave, O there above the little grave, We kiss'd again with tears.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

In Memoriam A. H. H.: 105. To-night ungatherd let us leave

 To-night ungather'd let us leave 
This laurel, let this holly stand:
We live within the stranger's land,
And strangely falls our Christmas-eve.
Our father's dust is left alone And silent under other snows: There in due time the woodbine blows, The violet comes, but we are gone.
No more shall wayward grief abuse The genial hour with mask and mime; For change of place, like growth of time, Has broke the bond of dying use.
Let cares that petty shadows cast, By which our lives are chiefly proved, A little spare the night I loved, And hold it solemn to the past.
But let no footstep beat the floor, Nor bowl of wassail mantle warm; For who would keep an ancient form Thro' which the spirit breathes no more? Be neither song, nor game, nor feast; Nor harp be touch'd, nor flute be blown; No dance, no motion, save alone What lightens in the lucid east Of rising worlds by yonder wood.
Long sleeps the summer in the seed; Run out your measured arcs, and lead The closing cycle rich in good.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

In Memoriam A. H. H.: 83. Dip down upon the northern shore

 Dip down upon the northern shore 
O sweet new-year delaying long;
Thou doest expectant nature wrong;
Delaying long, delay no more.
What stays thee from the clouded noons, Thy sweetness from its proper place? Can trouble live with April days, Or sadness in the summer moons? Bring orchis, bring the foxglove spire, The little speed well's darling blue, Deep tulips dash'd with fiery dew, Laburnums, dropping-wells of fire.
O thou new-year, delaying long, Delayest the sorrow in my blood, That longs to burst a frozen bud And flood a fresher throat with song.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

In Memoriam A. H. H.: 118. Contemplate all this work of Tim

 Contemplate all this work of Time,
The giant labouring 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 branch'd from clime to clime, The herald of a higher race, And of himself in higher place, If so he type this work of time Within himself, from more to more; Or, crown'd 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 dipt in baths of hissing tears, And batter'd 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.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Memoriam A. H. H.: 44. How fares it with the happy dead?

 How fares it with the happy dead?
For here the man is more and more;
But he forgets the days before
God shut the doorways of his head.
The days have vanish'd, tone and tint, And yet perhaps the hoarding sense Gives out at times (he knows not whence) A little flash, a mystic hint; And in the long harmonious years (If Death so taste Lethean springs), May some dim touch of earthly things Surprise thee ranging with thy peers.
If such a dreamy touch should fall, O turn thee round, resolve the doubt; My guardian angel will speak out In that high place, and tell thee all.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

In Memoriam A. H. H.: 39. Old warder of these buried bones

 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.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

In Memoriam A. H. H.: 99. Risest thou thus dim dawn again

 Risest thou thus, dim dawn, again,
So loud with voices of the birds,
So thick with lowings of the herds,
Day, when I lost the flower of men;
Who tremblest thro' thy darkling red
On yon swoll'n brook that bubbles fast
By meadows breathing of the past,
And woodlands holy to the dead;
Who murmurest in the foliaged eaves
A song that slights the coming care,
And Autumn laying here and there
A fiery finger on the leaves;

Who wakenest with thy balmy breath
To myriads on the genial earth,
Memories of bridal, or of birth,
And unto myriads more, of death.
O wheresoever those may be, Betwixt the slumber of the poles, To-day they count as kindred souls; They know me not, but mourn with me.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

The Princess: A Medley: 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,
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,
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,
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
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
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,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

Memoriam A. H. H.: 72. Risest thou thus dim dawn again

 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.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

In the Valley of Cauteretz

 All along the valley, stream that flashest white,
Deepening thy voice with the deepening of the night,
All along the valley, where thy waters flow,
I walk'd with one I loved two and thirty years ago.
All along the valley, while I walk'd to-day, The two and thirty years were a mist that rolls away; For all along the valley, down thy rocky bed, Thy living voice to me was as the voice of the dead, And all along the valley, by rock and cave and tree, The voice of the dead was a living voice to me.


by Alfred Lord Tennyson | |

The Princess: A Medley: O Swallow

 O Swallow, Swallow, flying, flying South,
Fly to her, and fall upon her gilded eaves,
And tell her, tell her, what I tell to thee.
O tell her, Swallow, thou that knowest each, That bright and fierce and fickle is the South, And dark and true and tender is the North.
O Swallow, Swallow, if I could follow, and light Upon her lattice, I would pipe and trill, And cheep and twitter twenty million loves.
O were I thou that she might take me in, And lay me on her bosom, and her heart Would rock the snowy cradle till I died.
Why lingereth she to clothe her heart with love, Delaying as the tender ash delays To clothe herself, when all the woods are green? O tell her, Swallow, that thy brood is flown: Say to her, I do but wanton in the South, But in the North long since my nest is made.
O tell her, brief is life but love is long, And brief the sun of summer in the North, And brief the moon of beauty in the South.
O Swallow, flying from the golden woods, Fly to her, and pipe and woo her, and make her mine, And tell her, tell her, that I follow thee.