Best Famous Alfred Lord Tennyson Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Alfred Lord Tennyson poems. This is a select list of the best famous Alfred Lord Tennyson poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Alfred Lord Tennyson poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Alfred Lord Tennyson poems.

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Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

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!
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

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.
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

Beautiful City

 Beautiful city

Beautiful city, the centre and crater of European confusion,
O you with your passionate shriek for the rights of an equal
humanity,
How often your Re-volution has proven but E-volution
Roll’d again back on itself in the tides of a civic insanity!
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

The Mermaid

 I

Who would be
A mermaid fair,
Singing alone,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,
On a throne?

II

I would be a mermaid fair;
I would sing to myself the whole of the day;
With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair;
And still as I comb'd I would sing and say,
'Who is it loves me? who loves not me?'
I would comb my hair till my ringlets would fall
 Low adown, low adown,
From under my starry sea-bud crown
 Low adown and around,
And I should look like a fountain of gold
 Springing alone
 With a shrill inner sound
 Over the throne
 In the midst of the hall;
Till that great sea-snake under the sea
From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps
Would slowly trail himself sevenfold
Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate
With his large calm eyes for the love of me.
And all the mermen under the sea Would feel their immortality Die in their hearts for the love of me.
III But at night I would wander away, away, I would fling on each side my low-flowing locks, And lightly vault from the throne and play With the mermen in and out of the rocks; We would run to and fro, and hide and seek, On the broad sea-wolds in the crimson shells, Whose silvery spikes are nighest the sea.
But if any came near I would call and shriek, And adown the steep like a wave I would leap From the diamond-ledges that jut from the dells; For I would not be kiss'd by all who would list Of the bold merry mermen under the sea.
They would sue me, and woo me, and flatter me, In the purple twilights under the sea; But the king of them all would carry me, Woo me, and win me, and marry me, In the branching jaspers under the sea.
Then all the dry-pied things that be In the hueless mosses under the sea Would curl round my silver feet silently, All looking up for the love of me.
And if I should carol aloud, from aloft All things that are forked, and horned, and soft Would lean out from the hollow sphere of the sea, All looking down for the love of me.
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

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.
'
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

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!
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

The Revenge - A Ballad of the Fleet

 At Flores in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay, 
And a pinnace, like a fluttered bird, came flying from far away: 
'Spanish ships of war at sea! we have sighted' 
Then sware Lord Thomas Howard: ''Fore God I am no coward; 
But I cannot meet them here, for my ships are out of gear, 
And the half my men are sick.
I must fly, but follow quick.
We are six ships of the line; can we fight with ?' Then spake Sir Richard Grenville: 'I know you are no coward; You fly them for a moment to fight with them again.
But I've ninety men and more that are lying sick ashore.
I should count myself the coward if I left them, my Lord Howard, To these Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain.
' So Lord Howard passed away with five ships of war that day, Till he melted like a cloud in the silent summer heaven; But Sir Richard bore in hand all his sick men from the land Very carefully and slow, Men of Bideford in Devon, And we laid them on the ballast down below; For we brought them all aboard, And they blest him in their pain, that they were not left to Spain, To the thumbscrew and the stake, for the glory of the Lord.
He had only a hundred seamen to work the ship and to fight, And he sailed away from Flores till the Spaniard came in sight, With his huge sea-castles heaving upon the weather bow.
'Shall we fight or shall we fly? Good Sir Richard, tell us now, For to fight is but to die! There'll be little of us left by the time this sun be set.
' And Sir Richard said again: 'We be all good English men.
Let us bang these dogs of Seville, the children of the devil, For I never turned my back upon Don or devil yet.
' Sir Richard spoke and he laughed, and we roared a hurrah, and so The little Revenge ran on sheer into the heart of the foe, With her hundred fighters on deck, and her ninety sick below; For half of their fleet to the right and half to the left were seen, And the little Revenge ran on through the long sea-lane between.
Thousands of their soldiers looked down from their decks and laughed, Thousands of their seamen made mock at the mad little craft Running on and on, till delayed By their mountain-like
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

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.
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

All Things Will Die

 Clearly the blue river chimes in its flowing

 Under my eye;
Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing

 Over the sky.
One after another the white clouds are fleeting; Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating Full merrily; Yet all things must die.
The stream will cease to flow; The wind will cease to blow; The clouds will cease to fleet; The heart will cease to beat; For all things must die.
All things must die.
Spring will come never more.
O, vanity! Death waits at the door.
See! our friends are all forsaking The wine and the merrymaking.
We are call'd—we must go.
Laid low, very low, In the dark we must lie.
The merry glees are still; The voice of the bird Shall no more be heard, Nor the wind on the hill.
O, misery! Hark! death is calling While I speak to ye, The jaw is falling, The red cheek paling, The strong limbs failing; Ice with the warm blood mixing; The eyeballs fixing.
Nine times goes the passing bell: Ye merry souls, farewell.
The old earth Had a birth, As all men know, Long ago.
And the old earth must die.
So let the warm winds range, And the blue wave beat the shore; For even and morn Ye will never see Thro' eternity.
All things were born.
Ye will come never more, For all things must die.
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

Ulysses

 It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades Vest the dim sea: I am become a name; For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known; cities of men And manners, climates, councils, governments, Myself not least, but honoured of them all; And drunk delight of battle with my peers; Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnished, not to shine in use! As though to breath were life.
Life piled on life Were all to little, and of one to me Little remains: but every hour is saved From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things; and vile it were For some three suns to store and hoard myself, And this gray spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus, To whom I leave the scepter and the isle— Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill This labour, by slow prudence to make mild A rugged people, and through soft degrees Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere Of common duties, decent not to fail In offices of tenderness, and pay Meet adoration to my household gods, When I am gone.
He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail: There gloom the dark broad seas.
My mariners, Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me— That ever with a frolic welcome took The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old; Old age had yet his honour and his toil; Death closes all: but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done, Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep Moans round with many voices.
Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in the old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are, One equal-temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
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