Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
"If I were loved, as I desire to be"
If I were loved, as I desire to be,
What is there in the great sphere of the earth,
And range of evil between death and birth,
That I should fear,--if I were loved by thee?
All the inner, all the outer world of pain
Clear Love would pierce and cleave, if thou wert mine
As I have heard that, somewhere in the main,
Fresh-water springs come up through bitter brine.
'T were joy, not fear, claspt hand-in-hand with thee,
To wait for death--mute--careless of all ills,
Apart upon a mountain, tho' the surge
Of some new deluge from a thousand hills
Flung leagues of roaring foam into the gorge
Below us, as far on as eye could see.
Poets and Their Bibliographies
Old poets foster'd under friendlier skies,
Old Virgil who would write ten lines, they say,
At dawn, and lavish all the golden day
To make them wealthier in the readers' eyes;
And you, old popular Horace, you the wise
Adviser of the nine-years-ponder'd lay,
And you, that wear a wreath of sweeter bay,
Catullus, whose dead songster never dies;
If, glancing downward on the kindly sphere
That once had roll'd you round and round the sun,
You see your Art still shrined in human shelves,
You should be jubilant that you flourish'd here
Before the Love of Letters, overdone,
Had swamped the sacred poets with themselves.
He thought to quell the stubborn hearts of oak,
Madman! to chain with chains, and bind with bands
That island queen who sways the floods and lands
From Ind to Ind, but in fair daylight woke,
When from her wooden walls,--lit by sure hands,--
With thunders and with lightnings and with smoke,--
Peal after peal, the British battle broke,
Lulling the brine against the Coptic sands.
We taught him lkowlier moods, when Elsinore
Heard the war moan along the distant sea,
Rocking with shattered spars, with sudden fires
Flamed over: at Trafalgar yet once more
We taught him: late he learned humility
Perforce, like those whom Gideon schooled with briars.
Love and Death
What time the mighty moon was gathering light,
Love paced the thymy plots of Paradise,
And all about him rolled his lustrous eyes;
When, turning round a cassia, full in view
Death, walking all alone beneath a yew
And talking to himself, first met his sight:
"You must begone," said death, "these walks are mine."
Love wept and spread his sheeny vans for flight;
Yet ere he parted said: "This hour is thine:
Thou art the shadow of life, and as the tree
Stands in the sun and shadows all beneath,
So in the light of great eternity
Life eminent creates the shade of death;
The shadow passeth when the tree shall fall,
But I shall reign for ever over all."
A Question by Shelley
"Then what is life?" I cried. From his rent deeps
Of soul the poet cast that burning word;
And it should seem as though his prayer was heard,
For he died soon; and now his rest he keeps
Somewhere with the great spirit who never sleeps!
He had left us to murmur on awhile
And question still most fruitlessly this pile
Of natural shows, What life is? Why man weeps?
Why sins?--and whither when the awful veil
Floats on to him he sinks from earthly sight?
Some are, who never grow a whit more pale
For thinking on the general mystery,
Ground of all being; yet may I rather be
Of those who know and feel that it is night.