Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1st Baron Tennyson) (August 6 1809October 6 1892) was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, after William Wordsworth, and is one of the most popular English poets.

See also:
Idylls of the King (1856–1885)
In Memoriam A.H.H. (1850)
Locksley Hall (1835; 1842)
The Two Voices (1832; 1842)
The Princess (1847).

Quotes[edit]

  • Where Claribel low-lieth
    The breezes pause and die,
    Letting the rose-leaves fall
    :
    But the solemn oak-tree sigheth,
    Thick-leaved, ambrosial,
    With an ancient melody
    Of an inward agony,
    Where Claribel low-lieth.
    • "Claribel" (1830).
  • With blackest moss the flower plots
    Were thickly crusted, one and all;
    The rusted nails fell from the knots
    That held the pear to the gable wall.
    The broken sheds looked sad and strange:
    Unlifted was the clinking latch;
    Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
    Upon the lonely moated grange.
    She only said, "My life is dreary,
    He cometh not," she said;
    She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
    I would that I were dead!'
  • He often lying broad awake, and yet
    Remaining from the body, and apart
    In intellect and power and will, hath heard
    Time flowing in the middle of the night,
    And all things creeping to a day of doom.
  • Yet fill my glass: give me one kiss:
    My own sweet Alice, we must die.
    There's somewhat in this world amiss
    Shall be unriddled by and by.

    There's somewhat flows to us in life,
    But more is taken quite away.
    Pray, Alice, pray, my darling wife,
    That we may die the self-same day.
  • Have I not found a happy earth?
    I least should breathe a thought of pain.
    Would God renew me from my birth
    I'd almost live my life again.
    So sweet it seems with thee to walk,
    And once again to woo thee mine —
    It seems in after-dinner talk
    Across the walnuts and the wine —
    • "The Miller's Daughter" (1832).
  • mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida,
    Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
    For now the noonday quiet holds the hill:
    The grasshopper is silent in the grass:
    The lizard, with his shadow on the stone,
    Rests like a shadow, and the winds are dead.
    The purple flower droops: the golden bee
    Is lily-cradled: I alone awake.
    My eyes are full of tears, my heart of love,
    My heart is breaking, and my eyes are dim,
    And I am all aweary of my life.
  • Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control,
    These three alone lead life to sovereign power.

    Yet not for power (power of herself
    Would come uncall'd for) but to live by law,
    Acting the law we live by without fear;
    And, because right is right, to follow right
    Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence.
    • "Oenone", st. 14.
  • I built my soul a lordly pleasure-house,
    Wherein at ease for aye to dwell.
    I said, "O Soul, make merry and carouse,
    Dear soul, for all is well."
  • You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;
    Tomorrow 'ill 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.
  • Dan Chaucer, the first warbler, whose sweet breath
    Preluded those melodious bursts that fill
    The spacious times of great Elizabeth
    With sounds that echo still.
  • At length I saw a lady within call,
    Stiller than chisell'd marble, standing there;
    A daughter of the gods, divinely tall,
    And most divinely fair.
    • "A Dream of Fair Women", st. 22.
  • The great brand
    Made lightnings in the splendour of the moon
    ,
    And flashing round and round, and whirl'd in an arch,
    Shot like a streamer of the northern morn,
    Seen where the moving isles of winter shock
    By night, with noises of the northern sea.
    So flash'd and fell the brand Excalibur.
  • Half light, half shade,
    She stood, a sight to make an old man young.
  • Of love that never found his earthly close,
    What sequel?
    Streaming eyes and breaking hearts?
    Or all the same as if he had not been?
    Not so. Shall Error in the round of time
    Still father Truth? O shall the braggart shout
    For some blind glimpse of freedom work itself
    Thro' madness, hated by the wise, to law
    System and empire? Sin itself be found
    The cloudy porch oft opening on the Sun?
    And only he, this wonder, dead, become
    Mere highway dust? or year by year alone
    Sit brooding in the ruins of a life,
    Nightmare of youth, the spectre of himself!
    If this were thus, if this, indeed, were all,
    Better the narrow brain, the stony heart,
    The staring eye glazed o'er with sapless days,
    The long mechanic pacings to and fro,
    The set gray life, and apathetic end.
    But am I not the nobler thro' thy love?
    O three times less unworthy! likewise thou
    Art more thro' Love, and greater than thy years.
  • The slow sweet hours that bring us all things good,
    The slow sad hours that bring us all things ill,
    And all good things from evil, brought the night
    In which we sat together and alone,
    And to the want, that hollow'd all the heart,
    Gave utterance by the yearning of an eye,
    That burn'd upon its object thro' such tears
    As flow but once a life. The trance gave way
    To those caresses, when a hundred times
    In that last kiss, which never was the last,
    Farewell, like endless welcome, lived and died.
    • "Love and Duty" l. 57 - 67 (1842).
My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.
  • Meet is it changes should control
    Our being, lest we rust in ease.

    We all are changed by still degrees,
    All but the basis of the soul.
  • But we grow old. Ah! when shall all men's good
    Be each man's rule, and universal Peace
    Lie like a shaft of light across the land,
    And like a lane of beams athwart the sea,
    Thro' all the circle of the golden year?
  • My good blade carves the casques of men,
    My tough lance thrusteth sure,
    My strength is as the strength of ten,
    Because my heart is pure.
  • I grow in worth, and wit, and sense,
    Unboding critic-pen,
    Or that eternal want of pence,
    Which vexes public men
    ,
    Who hold their hands to all, and cry
    For that which all deny them —
    Who sweep the crossings, wet or dry,
    And all the world go by them.
  • As shines the moon in clouded skies,
    She in her poor attire was seen;
    One praised her ankles, one her eyes,
    One her dark hair and lovesome mien.
    So sweet a face, such angel grace,
    In all that land had never been.
    Cophetua sware a royal oath:
    "This beggar maid shall be my queen!"
  • All the windy ways of men
    Are but dust that rises up,
    And is lightly laid again.
  • Then some one spake: "Behold! it was a crime
    Of sense avenged by sense that wore with time."
    Another said: "The crime of sense became
    The crime of malice, and is equal blame."
    And one: "He had not wholly quench'd his power;
    A little grain of conscience made him sour."
    At last I heard a voice upon the slope
    Cry to the summit, "Is there any hope?"
    To which an answer peal'd from that high land,
    But in a tongue no man could understand;
    And on the glimmering limit far withdrawn
    God made Himself an awful rose of dawn.
    • "The Vision of Sin", sec. 5 (1842).
  • Break, break, break,
    On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
    And I would that my tongue could utter
    The thoughts that arise in me.
  • Break, break, break
    At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
    But the tender grace of a day that is dead
    Will never come back to me.
    • "Break, Break, Break" (1842), st. 4.
  • But oh for the touch of a vanished hand,
    And the sound of a voice that is still!
    • "Break, Break, Break" (1842).
  • Come not, when I am dead,
    To drop thy foolish tears upon my grave,
    To trample round my fallen head,
    And vex the unhappy dust thou wouldst not save.
    There let the wind sweep and the plover cry;
    But thou, go by.

    Child, if it were thine error or thy crime
    I care no longer, being all unblest:
    Wed whom thou wilt, but I am sick of Time,
    And I desire to rest.
    Pass on, weak heart, and leave me where I lie:
    Go by, go by.

    • "Come not, when I am dead" (1850).
  • He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
    Close to the sun in lonely lands,
    Ring'd with the azure world, he stands
    .

    The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
    He watches from his mountain walls,
    And like a thunderbolt he falls.

  • We love not this French God, the child of hell,
    Wild War, who breaks the converse of the wise;
    But though we love kind Peace so well,
    We dare not even by silence sanction lies.
    It might be safe our censures to withdraw,
    And yet, my Lords, not well; there is a higher law.
  • I come from haunts of coot and hern,
    I make a sudden sally,
    And sparkle out among the fern,
    To bicker down a valley.
  • And draw them all along, and flow
    To join the brimming river,
    For men may come and men may go,
    But I go on forever.
    • "The Brook", st. 5.
  • The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
    The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,
    Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath,
    And after many a summer dies the swan.

    Me only cruel immortality
    Consumes: I wither slowly in thine arms,
    Here at the quiet limit of the world,
    A white-hair'd shadow roaming like a dream
    The ever-silent spaces of the East,
    Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn.
  • His deeds yet live, the worst is yet to come.
    Yet let your sleep for this one night be sound:
    I do forgive him!
  • And the parson made it his text that week, and he said likewise,
    That a lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies,
    That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright,
    But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.
  • Speak to Him thou for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet —
    Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
  • Flower in the crannied wall,
    I pluck you out of the crannies,
    I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
    Little flower — but if I could understand
    What you are, root and all, and all in all,
    I should know what God and man is.
  • Love lieth deep; Love dwells not in lip-depths.
    • The Lover's Tale (1879), line 466.
  • Where love could walk with banish'd Hope no more.
    • The Lover's Tale (1879), line 813.
Thou that singest wheat and woodland, tilth and vineyard, hive and horse and herd;
All the charm of all the Muses often flowering in a lonely word.
  • Love's arms were wreathed about the neck of Hope,
    And Hope kiss'd Love, and Love drew in her breath
    In that close kiss and drank her whisper'd tales.
    They said that Love would die when Hope was gone.
    And Love mourn'd long, and sorrow'd after Hope;
    At last she sought out Memory, and they trod
    The same old paths where Love had walked with Hope,
    And Memory fed the soul of Love with tears.
    • The Lover's Tale (1879), line 815.
  • Thou that singest wheat and woodland, tilth and vineyard, hive and horse and herd;
    All the charm of all the Muses often flowering in a lonely word.
  • For nothing worthy proving can be proven,
    Nor yet disproven
    : wherefore thou be wise,
    Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt,
    And cling to Faith beyond the forms of Faith!
  • The shell must break before the bird can fly.
    • The Ancient Sage, l. 154.
  • 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.
  • O young Mariner,
    You from the haven
    Under the sea-cliff,
    You that are watching
    The gray Magician
    With eyes of wonder,
    I am Merlin,
    And I am dying,
    I am Merlin
    Who follow The Gleam.
  • Once at the croak of a Raven who crost it,
    A barbarous people,
    Blind to the magic,
    And deaf to the melody,
    Snarl’d at and cursed me.
    A demon vext me,
    The light retreated,
    The landskip darken’d,
    The melody deaden’d,
    The Master whisper’d
    ‘Follow The Gleam.’
    • "Merlin and the Gleam", st. 3 (1889).
  • Well, Gosse, would you like to know what I think of Churton Collins? I think he's a Louse on the Locks of Literature.
    • Evan Charteris, Life and Letters of Sir Edmund Gosse (1931), p. 197.
  • This laurel greener from the brows
    Of him that utter'd nothing base.
    • To the Queen, st. 3 (1851).
  • And statesmen at her council met
    Who knew the seasons, when to take
    Occasion by the hand, and make
    The bounds of freedom wider yet.
    • To the Queen, st. 8 (1851).
  • Broad-based upon her people’s will,
    And compass'd by the inviolate sea.
    • To the Queen, st. 9 (1851).
  • For it was in the golden prime
    Of good Haroun Alraschid.
    • Recollections of the Arabian Nights, stanza 1, from Poems, Chiefly Lyrical (1830).
  • A man had given all other bliss,
    And all his worldly worth for this,
    To waste his whole heart in one kiss
        Upon her perfect lips.
    • Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere.
  • As she fled fast through sun and shade
    The happy winds upon her played,
    Blowing the ringlet from the braid.
    • Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere.
  • God gives us love. Something to love
    He lends us; but when love is grown
    To ripeness, that on which it throve
    Falls off, and love is left alone.
    • To J. S., stanza 4, from Poems (1832).
  • Sleep sweetly, tender heart, in peace!
    Sleep, holy spirit, blessed soul,
    While the stars burn, the moons increase,
    And the great ages onward roll.
    • To J. S., stanza 18, from Poems (1832).
  • Sleep till the end, true soul and sweet!
    Nothing comes to thee new or strange.
    Sleep full of rest from head to feet;
    Lie still, dry dust, secure of change.
    • To J. S., stanza 19, from Poems (1832).
  • More black than ash-buds in the front of March.
    • The Gardener's Daughter, line 28, from Poems (1842).
  • We are ancients of the earth,
    And in the morning of the times.
    • The Daydream: L'Envoi, lines 231-32, from The Complete Works of Alfred Tennyson (1879).
  • For now the poet can not die,
    Nor leave his music as of old,
    But round him ere he scarce be cold
    Begins the scandal and the cry.
    • To ———, after reading a Life and Letters, stanza 4, from Poems (1850).
  • Mastering the lawless science of our law,—
    That codeless myriad of precedent,
    That wilderness of single instances.
    • Aylmer's Field (1864); reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Insipid as the queen upon a card.
    • Aylmer's Field (1864); reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • O Love! what hours were thine and mine,
    In lands of palm and southern pine;
    In lands of palm, of orange-blossom,
    Of olive, aloe, and maize and vine!
    • The Daisy, Stanza 1; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • So dear a life your arms enfold,
    Whose crying is a cry for gold.
    • The Daisy, Stanza 24; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Read my little fable:
    He that runs may read.
    Most can raise the flowers now,
    For all have got the seed.
    • The Flower; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • "I'll never love any but you," the morning song of the lark;
    "I'll never love any but you," the nightingale's hymn in the dark.
    • The First Quarrel, stanza VI., lines 3-4; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • My God, I would not live
    Save that I think this gross hard-seeming world
    Is our misshaping vision of the Powers
    Behind the world, that make our griefs our gains.
    • The Sisters, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • The golden guess
    Is morning-star to the full round of truth.
    • Columbus, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • No sound is breathed so potent to coerce
    And to conciliate, as their names who dare
    For that sweet mother-land which gave them birth
    Nobly to do, nobly to die.
    • Tiresias, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • A princelier-looking man never stept thro' a prince's hall.
    • The Wreck, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Slav, Teuton, Kelt, I count them all
    My friends and brother souls,
    With all the peoples, great and small,
    That wheel between the poles.
    • Epilogue to The Charge of the heavy Brigade, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • The song that nerves a nation's heart
    Is in itself a deed.
    • Epilogue to The Charge of the Heavy Brigade, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • What use to brood? This life of mingled pains
    And joys to me,
    Despite of every Faith and Creed, remains
    The Mystery.
    • To Mary Boyle, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Be patient. Our Playwright may show
    In some fifth act what this wild Drama means. 20
    • The Play, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • In our windy world
    What's up is faith, what's down is heresy.
    • Harold, Act i, Scene 1, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • A breath that fleets beyond this iron world
    And touches him who made it.
    • Harold, Act iii, Scene 2.
  • Old men must die, or the world would grow mouldy, would only breed the past again.
    • Becket, Prologue, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Ambition
    Is like the sea wave, which the more you drink
    The more you thirst—yea—drink too much, as men
    Have done on rafts of wreck—it drives you mad.
    • The Cup, Act i, Scene 3, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • The night with sudden odour reeled;
    The southern stars a music pealed.
    • The Rosebud, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Death's truer name
    Is "Onward," no discordance in the roll
    And march of that Eternal Harmony
    Whereto the world beats time.
    • The Death of the Duke of Clarence and Avondale.
  • ...none can truly write his single day,
    And none can write it for him upon earth.
    • Unpublished Sonnet (originally written as a preface to Becket), in Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir by His Son, by Hallam T. Tennyson (1897).
  • A good woman is a wondrous creature, cleaving to the right and to the good under all change: lovely in youthful comeliness, lovely all her life long in comeliness of heart.
    • Letter to Emily Sellwood, quoted in Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir by His Son, by Hallam T. Tennyson (1897)

Ode to Memory (1830)[edit]

"Written very early in life" — first published in 1830
  • Thou who stealest fire,
    From the fountains of the past,
    To glorify the present; oh, haste,
    Visit my low desire!
    Strengthen me, enlighten me!

    I faint in this obscurity,
    Thou dewy dawn of memory.
  • In sweet dreams softer than unbroken rest
    Thou leddest by the hand thine infant Hope.

    The eddying of her garments caught from thee
    The light of thy great presence; and the cope
    Of the half-attain'd futurity,
    Though deep not fathomless,
    Was cloven with the million stars which tremble
    O'er the deep mind of dauntless infancy.
  • Come forth I charge thee, arise,
    Thou of the many tongues, the myriad eyes!

    Thou comest not with shows of flaunting vines
    Unto mine inner eye,
    Divinest Memory!
  • Whither in after life retired
    From brawling storms,
    From weary wind,
    With youthful fancy reinspired,
    We may hold converse with all forms
    Of the many-sided mind,
    And those whom passion hath not blinded,
    Subtle-thoughted, myriad-minded.

The Poet (1830)[edit]

The poet in a golden clime was born,
With golden stars above;
Dower'd with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,
The love of love.
  • The poet in a golden clime was born,
    With golden stars above;
    Dower'd with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,
    The love of love.

    He saw thro' life and death, thro' good and ill,
    He saw thro' his own soul.
    The marvel of the everlasting will,
    An open scroll,
    Before him lay; with echoing feet he threaded
    The secretest walks of fame:
    The viewless arrows of his thoughts were headed
    And wing'd with flame,
    Like Indian reeds blown from his silver tongue...
  • So many minds did gird their orbs with beams,
    Tho' one did fling the fire;
    Heaven flow'd upon the soul in many dreams
    Of high desire.
    .
  • Thus truth was multiplied on truth, the world
    Like one great garden show'd,
    And thro' the wreaths of floating dark up-curl'd,
    Rare sunrise flow'd.

    And Freedom rear'd in that august sunrise
    Her beautiful bold brow,
    When rites and forms before his burning eyes
    Melted like snow.
    .

  • There was no blood upon her maiden robes
    Sunn'd by those orient skies;
    But round about the circles of the globes
    Of her keen
    And in her raiment's hem was traced in flame
    WISDOM, a name to shake
    All evil dreams of power — a sacred name.

    And when she spake,
    Her words did gather thunder as they ran,
    And as the lightning to the thunder
    Which follows it, riving the spirit of man,
    Making earth wonder,
    So was their meaning to her words. No sword
    Of wrath her right arm whirl'd,
    But one poor poet's scroll, and with his word
    She shook the world.

Lady Clara Vere de Vere (1832)[edit]

  • Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
    Of me you shall not win renown:
    You thought to break a country heart
    For pastime, ere you went to town.
    At me you smiled, but unbeguiled
    I saw the snare, and I retired;
    The daughter of a hundred earls,
    You are not one to be desired.
    • Stanza 1.
  • A simple maiden in her flower
    Is worth a hundred coats-of-arms.
    • Stanza 2.
  • You sought to prove how I could love,
    And my disdain is my reply.
    The lion on your old stone gates
    Is not more cold to you than I.
    • Stanza 3.
  • Her manners had not that repose
    Which stamps the caste of Vere de Vere.
    • Stanza 5.
  • From yon blue heaven above us bent,
    The grand old gardener and his wife
    Smile at the claims of long descent.
    • Stanza 7.
  • Trust me, Clara Vere de Vere,
    From yon blue heavens above us bent
    The gardener Adam and his wife
    Smile at the claims of long descent.
    Howe'er it be, it seems to me,
    'Tis only noble to be good.
    Kind hearts are more than coronets,
    And simple faith than Norman blood.
    • Stanza 7.

The Lotos-Eaters (1832)[edit]

  • In the afternoon they came unto a land
    In which it seemed always afternoon.
    • St. 1.
  • 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,
    Than tir'd eyelids upon tir'd eyes.
    • Choric Song, st. 1.
  • There is no joy but calm!
    • Choric Song, st. 2.
  • 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?
    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?
    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.
    • Choric Song, st. 4.
  • Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind,
    In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined
    On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind.
    • Choric Song, st. 8.
  • 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.
    • Choric Song, st. 8.

The Lady of Shalott (1832)[edit]

  • On either side the river lie
    Long fields of barley and of rye,
    That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
    And through the field the road runs by
    To many-towered Camelot.
    • Pt. I, st. 1.
  • Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
    Little breezes dusk and shiver
    Through the wave that runs for ever
    By the island in the river
    Flowing down to Camelot.
    • Pt. I, st. 2.
  • All in the blue unclouded weather
    Thick-jewelled shone the saddle-leather,
    The helmet and the helmet-feather
    Burned like one burning flame together,
    As he rode down to Camelot.
    • Pt. III, st. 3.
  • From the bank and from the river
    He flashed into the crystal mirror,
    "Tirra lirra," by the river
    Sang Sir Lancelot.
    • Pt. III, st. 4.
  • She left the web, she left the loom,
    She made three paces through the room,
    She saw the water-lily bloom,
    She saw the helmet and the plume,
    She looked down to Camelot.

    Out flew the web and floated wide;
    The mirror cracked from side to side;
    "The curse is come upon me," cried
    The Lady of Shalott.
    • Pt. III, st. 5.
  • Lying, robed in snowy white
    That loosely flew to left and right —
    The leaves upon her falling light —
    Thro' the noises of the night,
    She floated down to Camelot:
    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,
    Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
    Till her blood was frozen slowly,
    And her eyes were darkened wholly,
    Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.

    For ere she reach'd upon the tide
    The first house by the water-side,
    Singing in her song she died,
    The Lady of Shalott.

  • Out upon the wharfs they came,
    Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
    And around 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;
    And they crossed 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,
    The Lady of Shalott."

    • Pt. IV, st. 6.

Ulysses (1842)[edit]

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
  • It little profits that an idle king,
    By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
    Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
    Unequal laws unto a savage race,
    That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
    • l. 1-5.
  • I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
    Life to the lees
    : all times I have enjoy'd
    Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
    That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
    Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
    Vext 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 honour'd of them all
    ;
    And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
    Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
    • 13 -17.
  • I am part of all that I have met;
    Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
    Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
    For ever and for ever when I move.
    • l. 18 - 21.
  • How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
    To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
    As tho' to breath were life.
    Life piled on life
    Were all too 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.
    • l. 22-32.
  • Souls that have toil'd, 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 hath yet his honor 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.
    • l. 46-53.
  • 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.
    • l. 54-62.
  • It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
    It may be that 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 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.
    • l. 63-70.

The Day-Dream (1842)[edit]

  • The bodies and the bones of those
    That strove in other days to pass,
    Are wither'd in the thorny close,
    Or scatter'd blanching on the grass.
    He gazes on the silent dead:
    "They perish'd in their daring deeds."
    This proverb flashes thro' his head,
    "The many fail: the one succeeds."
    • The Arrival, st. 2.
  • And on her lover's arm she leant,
    And round her waist she felt it fold,
    And far across the hills they went
    In that new world which is the old:
    Across the hills, and far away
    Beyond their utmost purple rim,
    And deep into the dying day
    The happy princess follow'd him.
    • The Departure, st. 1.
  • O eyes long laid in happy sleep!
    O happy sleep, that lightly fled!
    O happy kiss, that woke thy sleep!
    O love, thy kiss would wake the dead!
    • The Departure, st. 3.
  • And o'er the hills, and far away
    Beyond their utmost purple rim,
    Beyond the night, across the day,
    Thro' all the world she follow'd him.
    • The Departure, st. 4.
  • So, Lady Flora, take my lay,
    And if you find no moral there,
    Go, look in any glass and say,
    What moral is in being fair.
    Oh, to what uses shall we put
    The wildweed-flower that simply blows?
    And is there any moral shut
    Within the bosom of the rose?
    • Moral, st. 1.

Lady Clare (1842)[edit]

Full text online
  • It was the time when lilies blow,
    And clouds are highest up in air.
    Lord Ronald brought a lily-white doe
    To give his cousin, Lady Clare.
  • "He does not love me for my birth
    Nor for my lands so broad and fair;
    He loves me for my own true worth,
    And that is well," said Lady Clare.
  • "If I'm a beggar born," she said
    "I will speak out, for I dare not lie,
    Pull off, pull off the brooch of gold,
    And fling the diamond necklace by."

    "Nay now, my child," said Alice the nurse,
    "But keep the secret all you can."
    She said, "Not so; but I will know
    If there be any faith in man".

  • She clad herself in a russet gown,
    She was no longer Lady Clare:
    She went by dale, and she went by down,
    With a single rose in her hair.

    The lily-white doe Lord Ronald had brought
    Leapt up from where she lay.
    Dropped her head in the maiden's hand.
    And followed her all the way.

  • "If I come dressed like a village maid,
    I am but as my fortunes are:
    I am a beggar born," she said,
    "And not the Lady Clare".
  • "If you are not the heiress born,
    And I," said he, "the lawful heir,
    We two will wed to-morrow morn,
    And you shall still be Lady Clare".

Tears, Idle Tears (1850)[edit]

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.
  • 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.
    • St. 1.
  • 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.
    • St. 2.
  • 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!
    • St. 4.

Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington (1852)[edit]

  • Bury the Great Duke
    With an empire's lamentation;
    Let us bury the Great Duke
    To the noise of the mourning of a mighty nation;
    Mourning when their leaders fall,
    Warriors carry the warrior's pall,
    And sorrow darkens hamlet and hall.
    • St. I.
  • Lead out the pageant: sad and slow,
    As fits an universal woe,
    Let the long, long procession go,
    And let the sorrowing crowd about it grow,
    And let the mournful martial music blow;
    The last great Englishman is low.
    • St. III.
  • Rich in saving common-sense,
    And, as the greatest only are,
    In his simplicity sublime.

    O good gray head which all men knew,
    O voice from which their omens all men drew,
    O iron nerve to true occasion true,
    O fallen at length that tower of strength
    Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew!
    • St. IV.
  • That tower of strength
    Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew.
    • St. IV.
  • For this is England's greatest son,
    He that gained a hundred fights,
    And never lost an English gun.
    • St. VI.
  • Yea, let all good things await
    Him who cares not to be great
    But as he saves or serves the state.
    Not once or twice in our rough island-story
    The path of duty was the way to glory.

    He that walks it, only thirsting
    For the right, and learns to deaden
    Love of self, before his journey closes,
    He shall find the stubborn thistle bursting
    Into glossy purples, which outredden
    All voluptuous garden-roses.
    • St. VIII.
  • Speak no more of his renown,
    Lay your earthly fancies down,
    And in the vast cathedral leave him,
    God accept him, Christ receive him!
    • St. IX.

The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854)[edit]

Based upon the military confrontation known as The Charge of the Light Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava of the Crimean War
  • 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.
    • St. 1.
  • "Forward, the Light Brigade!"
    Was there a man dismay'd?
    Not tho' the soldier knew
    Some one had blunder'd:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die:
    Into the valley of death
    Rode the six hundred.
    • St. 2.
  • Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon in front of them
    Volley'd and thunder'd;
    Storm'd at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of Hell
    Rode the six hundred.
    • St. 3.
  • Storm'd at with shot and shell,
    While horse and hero fell,
    They that had fought so well
    Came thro' the jaws of Death
    Back from the mouth of Hell,
    All that was left of them,
    Left of six hundred.
    • St. 5.

Maud; A Monodrama (1855)[edit]

  • Perfectly beautiful: let it be granted her: where is the fault?
    All that I saw (for her eyes were downcast, not to be seen)
    Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null,
    Dead perfection, no more.
    • Part I, section ii.
  • That jewelled mass of millinery,
    That oiled and curled Assyrian Bull.
    • Part I, section vi, stanza 6.
  • One still strong man in a blatant land.
    • Part I, section x, stanza 5.
  • And ah for a man to arise in me,
    That the man I am may cease to be!
    • Part I, section x, stanza 6.
  • Who shall call me ungentle, unfair,
    I long'd so heartily then and there
    To give him the grasp of fellowship;
    But while I past he was humming an air,
    Stopt, and then with a riding whip,
    Leisurely tapping a glossy boot,
    And curving a contumelious lip,
    Gorgonised me from head to foot
    With a stony British stare.
    • Part I, section xiii, stanza 2.
  • Come into the garden, Maud,
    For the black bat, night, has flown,
    Come into the garden, Maud,
    I am here at the gate alone;
    And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
    And the musk of the rose is blown.
    • Part I, section xxii, stanza 1.
  • For a breeze of morning moves,
    And the planet of Love is on high,
    Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
    On a bed of daffodil sky,
    To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
    To faint in his light, and to die.
    • Part I, section xxii, stanza 2.
  • All night have the roses heard
    The flute, violin, bassoon;
    All night has the casement jessamine stirr'd
    To the dancers dancing in tune;
    Till a silence fell with the waking bird,
    And a hush with the setting moon.
    • Part I, section xxii, stanza 3.
  • Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls,
    Come hither, the dances are done,
    In gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,
    Queen lily and rose in one;
    Shine out, little head, sunning over with curls,
    To the flowers, and be their sun.
    • Part I, section xxii, stanza 9.
  • There has fallen a splendid tear
    From the passion-flower at the gate.
    She is coming, my dove, my dear;
    She is coming, my life, my fate;
    The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;"
    And the white rose weeps, "She is late;"
    The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear;"
    And the lily whispers, "I wait."
    • Part I, section xxii, stanza 10.
  • She is coming, my own, my sweet;
    Were it ever so airy a tread,
    My heart would hear her and beat,
    Were it earth in an earthy bed;
    My dust would hear her and beat,
    Had I lain for a century dead;
    Would start and tremble under her feet,
    And blossom in purple and red.
    • Part I, section xxii, stanza 11.
  • A shadow flits before me,
    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.
    • Part II, section iv, stanza 3.

Queen Mary: A Drama (published 1876)[edit]

  • A mastiff dog
    May love a puppy cur for no more reason
    Than that the twain have been tied up together.
    • Act i, scene 4.
  • To persecute
    Makes a faith hated, and is furthermore
    No perfect witness of a perfect faith
    In him who persecutes.
    • Act iii, scene 4.
  • In statesmanship
    To strike too soon is oft to miss the blow.
    • Act iii, scene 6.
  • My lord, you know what Virgil sings—
    Woman is various and most mutable. 21
    • Act iii, scene 6.
  • To do him any wrong was to beget
    A kindness from him, for his heart was rich—
    Of such fine mould that if you sowed therein
    The seed of Hate, it blossomed Charity.
    • Act iv, scene 1.
  • Remember that sore saying spoken once
    By Him that was the Truth, 'How hard it is
    For the rich man to enter into heaven!'
    Let all rich men remember that hard word.
    • Act iv, scene 3.
  • Come out, my lord, it is a world of fools. 22
    • Act iv, scene 3.
  • Unalterably and pesteringly fond.
    • Act v, scene 1.

The Revenge (1878)[edit]

  • 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 fifty-three!"
    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 fifty-three?"
    • St. 1.
  • 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."
    • St. 2.
  • "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 turn'd my back upon Don or devil yet."
    • St. 4.
  • 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.
    • St. 5.

Locksley Hall Sixty Years After (1886)[edit]

  • She with all the charm of woman,
    She with all the breadth of man.
    • Line 48.
  • Love your enemy, bless your haters, said the Greatest of the great;
    Christian love among the Churches looked the twin of heathen hate.
    • Line 85.
  • Charm us, orator, till the lion look no larger than the cat.
    • Line 112.
  • You that woo the Voices—tell them "Old Experience is a fool";
    Teach your flattered kings that only those who can not read can rule.
    • Line 131.
  • Authors—essayist, atheist, novelist, realist, rhymester, play your part,
    Paint the mortal shame of nature with the living hues of art.
    • Line 139.
  • Who can fancy warless men?
    Warless? war will die out late then. Will it ever? late or soon?
    Can it, till this outworn earth be dead as yon dead world the moon?
    • Line 172.
  • Yet the moonlight is the sunlight and the sun himself will pass.
    • Line 182.
  • Is there evil but on earth? or pain in every peopled sphere?
    • Line 197.
  • Is there evil but on earth? Or pain in every peopled sphere?
    Well, be grateful for the sounding watchword "Evolution" here.
    • Line 198.
  • Evolution ever climbing after some ideal good
    And Reversion ever dragging Evolution in the mud.
    • Line 200.
  • Follow you the star that lights a desert pathway, yours or mine.
    Forward, till you see the Highest Human Nature is divine.
    • Line 275.
  • Love will conquer at the last.
    • Line 280.
  • Fires that shook me once, but now to silent ashes fall'n away.
    Cold upon the dead volcano sleeps the gleam of dying day.
    • Stanza 21.
  • Staled by frequence, shrunk by usage into commonest commonplace!
    • Stanza 38.
  • Here and there a cotter's babe is royal—born by right divine;
    Here and there my lord is lower than his oxen or his swine.
    • Stanza 63.
  • Nor is he the wisest man who never proved himself a fool.
    • Stanza 124.

Crossing the Bar (1889)[edit]

  • 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.
    • St. 1.
  • 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.
    • St. 2.
  • Twilight and evening bell,
    And after that the dark!
    And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark.
    • St. 3.
  • 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.
    • St. 4.

The Foresters, Robin Hood and Maid Marion (1892)[edit]

  • Friends,
    I am only merry for an hour or two
    Upon a birthday: if this life of ours
    Be a good glad thing, why should we make us merry
    Because a year of it is gone? but Hope
    Smiles from the threshold of the year to come
    Whispering 'It will be happier;' and old faces
    Press round us, and warm hands close with warm hands,
    And thro' the blood the wine leaps to the brain
    Like April sap to the topmost tree, that shoots
    New buds to heaven, whereon the throstle rock'd
    Sings a new song to the new year — and you,
    Strike up a song, my friends, and then to bed.
    • Act I, Scene III.
  • Forget thee…
    Never—
    Till Nature, high and low, and great and small
    Forgets herself, and all her loves and hates
    Sink again into Chaos.
    • Act I, Scene III.
  • Whate'er thy joys, they vanish with the day:
    Whate'er thy griefs, in sleep they fade away,
    To sleep! to sleep!
    Sleep, mournful heart, and let the past be past:
    Sleep, happy soul, all life will sleep at last.
    • Song.


Misattributed[edit]

  • The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.
    • Quoted in A Dictionary of Quotations, in Most Frequent Use by D.E. Macdonnel (1809) translated from French:
      • Le bonheur de l'homme en cette vi ne consiste pas á être sans passions: il consiste à en être le maître.
  • Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die
    • Misquote of the lines "Theirs not to reason why,/theirs but to do and die" from The Charge of the Light Brigade

About Alfred Tennyson[edit]

  • The news came to the village — the dire news which spread across the land, filling men's hearts with consternation — that Byron was dead. Tennyson was then about a boy of fifteen.

    "Byron was dead! I thought the whole world was at an end," he once said, speaking of those bygone days. "I thought everything was over and finished for everyone — that nothing else mattered. I remembered I walked out alone, and carved 'Byron is dead' into the sandstone."

External links[edit]

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