In Memoriam
Alfred Tennyson




I. through XX.

XXI.through XLI

XLI through LX.

LXI through LXXX.

LXXXI through C.

CI through CXX.

CXXI through CXXXI.

Poets' Corner Scripting
© 2000, 2020 S.L. Spanoudis and
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Transcribed for Poets' Corner
March 2000 by S.L.Spanoudis

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Alfred Tennyson

[Arthur Hugh Hallam]

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


      The path by which we twain did go,
      Which led by tracts that pleased us well,
      Thro' four sweet years arose and fell,
      From flower to flower, from snow to snow:

      And we with singing cheer'd the way,
      And, crown'd with all the season lent,
      From April on to April went,
      And glad at heart from May to May:

      But where the path we walk'd began
      To slant the fifth autumnal slope,
      As we descended following Hope,
      There sat the Shadow fear'd of man;

      The spirit ere our fatal loss
      Did ever rise from high to higher;
      As mounts the heavenward altar-fire,
      As flies the lighter thro' the gross.

      But thou art turn'd to something strange,
      And I have lost the links that bound
      Thy changes; here upon the ground,
      No more partaker of thy change.

      Deep folly! yet that this could be-
      That I could wing my will with might
      To leap the grades of life and light,
      And flash at once, my friend, to thee.

      For tho' my nature rarely yields
      To that vague fear implied in death;
      Nor shudders at the gulfs beneath,
      The howlings from forgotten fields;

      Yet oft when sundown skirts the moor
      An inner trouble I behold,
      A spectral doubt which makes me cold,
      That I shall be thy mate no more,

      Tho' following with an upward mind
      The wonders that have come to thee,
      Thro' all the secular to-be,
      But evermore a life behind.


      I vex my heart with fancies dim:
      He still outstript me in the race;
      It was but unity of place
      That made me dream I rank'd with him.

      And so may Place retain us still,
      And he the much-beloved again,
      A lord of large experience, train
      To riper growth the mind and will:

      And what delights can equal those
      That stir the spirit's inner deeps,
      When one that loves but knows not, reaps
      A truth from one that loves and knows?


      If Sleep and Death be truly one,
      And every spirit's folded bloom
      Thro' all its intervital gloom
      In some long trance should slumber on;

      Unconscious of the sliding hour,
      Bare of the body, might it last,
      And silent traces of the past
      Be all the colour of the flower:

      So then were nothing lost to man;
      So that still garden of the souls
      In many a figured leaf enrolls
      The total world since life began;

      And love will last as pure and whole
      As when he loved me here in Time,
      And at the spiritual prime
      Rewaken with the dawning soul.


      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.


      The baby new to earth and sky,
      What time his tender palm is prest
      Against the circle of the breast,
      Has never thought that 'this is I:'

      But as he grows he gathers much,
      And learns the use of 'I,' and 'me,'
      And finds 'I am not what I see,
      And other than the things I touch.'

      So rounds he to a separate mind
      From whence clear memory may begin,
      As thro' the frame that binds him in
      His isolation grows defined.

      This use may lie in blood and breath,
      Which else were fruitless of their due,
      Had man to learn himself anew
      Beyond the second birth of Death.


      We ranging down this lower track,
      The path we came by, thorn and flower,
      Is shadow'd by the growing hour,
      Lest life should fail in looking back.

      So be it: there no shade can last
      In that deep dawn behind the tomb,
      But clear from marge to marge shall bloom
      The eternal landscape of the past;

      A lifelong tract of time reveal'd;
      The fruitful hours of still increase;
      Days order'd in a wealthy peace,
      And those five years its richest field.

      O Love, thy province were not large,
      A bounded field, nor stretching far;
      Look also, Love, a brooding star,
      A rosy warmth from marge to marge.


      That each, who seems a separate whole,
      Should move his rounds, and fusing all
      The skirts of self again, should fall
      Remerging in the general Soul,

      Is faith as vague as all unsweet:
      Eternal form shall still divide
      The eternal soul from all beside;
      And I shall know him when we meet:

      And we shall sit at endless feast,
      Enjoying each the other's good:
      What vaster dream can hit the mood
      Of Love on earth? He seeks at least

      Upon the last and sharpest height,
      Before the spirits fade away,
      Some landing-place, to clasp and say,
      'Farewell! We lose ourselves in light.'


      If these brief lays, of Sorrow born,
      Were taken to be such as closed
      Grave doubts and answers here proposed,
      Then these were such as men might scorn:

      Her care is not to part and prove;
      She takes, when harsher moods remit,
      What slender shade of doubt may flit,
      And makes it vassal unto love:

      And hence, indeed, she sports with words,
      But better serves a wholesome law,
      And holds it sin and shame to draw
      The deepest measure from the chords:

      Nor dare she trust a larger lay,
      But rather loosens from the lip
      Short swallow-flights of song, that dip
      Their wings in tears, and skim away.


      From art, from nature, from the schools,
      Let random influences glance,
      Like light in many a shiver'd lance
      That breaks about the dappled pools:

      The lightest wave of thought shall lisp,
      The fancy's tenderest eddy wreathe,
      The slightest air of song shall breathe
      To make the sullen surface crisp.

      And look thy look, and go thy way,
      But blame not thou the winds that make
      The seeming-wanton ripple break,
      The tender-pencil'd shadow play.

      Beneath all fancied hopes and fears
      Ay me, the sorrow deepens down,
      Whose muffled motions blindly drown
      The bases of my life in tears.


      Be near me when my light is low,
      When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
      And tingle; and the heart is sick,
      And all the wheels of Being slow.

      Be near me when the sensuous frame
      Is rack'd with pangs that conquer trust;
      And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
      And Life, a Fury slinging flame.

      Be near me when my faith is dry,
      And men the flies of latter spring,
      That lay their eggs, and sting and sing
      And weave their petty cells and die.

      Be near me when I fade away,
      To point the term of human strife,
      And on the low dark verge of life
      The twilight of eternal day.


      Do we indeed desire the dead
      Should still be near us at our side?
      Is there no baseness we would hide?
      No inner vileness that we dread?

      Shall he for whose applause I strove,
      I had such reverence for his blame,
      See with clear eye some hidden shame
      And I be lessen'd in his love?

      I wrong the grave with fears untrue:
      Shall love be blamed for want of faith?
      There must be wisdom with great Death:
      The dead shall look me thro' and thro'.

      Be near us when we climb or fall:
      Ye watch, like God, the rolling hours
      With larger other eyes than ours,
      To make allowance for us all.


      I cannot love thee as I ought,
      For love reflects the thing beloved;
      My words are only words, and moved
      Upon the topmost froth of thought.

      'Yet blame not thou thy plaintive song,'
      The Spirit of true love replied;
      'Thou canst not move me from thy side,
      Nor human frailty do me wrong.

      'What keeps a spirit wholly true
      To that ideal which he bears?
      What record? not the sinless years
      That breathed beneath the Syrian blue:

      'So fret not, like an idle girl,
      That life is dash'd with flecks of sin.
      Abide: thy wealth is gather'd in,
      When Time hath sunder'd shell from pearl.'


      How many a father have I seen,
      A sober man, among his boys,
      Whose youth was full of foolish noise,
      Who wears his manhood hale and green:

      And dare we to this fancy give,
      That had the wild oat not been sown,
      The soil, left barren, scarce had grown
      The grain by which a man may live?

      Or, if we held the doctrine sound
      For life outliving heats of youth,
      Yet who would preach it as a truth
      To those that eddy round and round?

      Hold thou the good: define it well:
      For fear divine Philosophy
      Should push beyond her mark, and be
      Procuress to the Lords of Hell.


      Oh yet we trust that somehow good
      Will be the final goal of ill,
      To pangs of nature, sins of will,
      Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;

      That nothing walks with aimless feet;
      That not one life shall be destroy'd,
      Or cast as rubbish to the void,
      When God hath made the pile complete;

      That not a worm is cloven in vain;
      That not a moth with vain desire
      Is shrivell'd in a fruitless fire,
      Or but subserves another's gain.

      Behold, we know not anything;
      I can but trust that good shall fall
      At last-far off-at last, to all,
      And every winter change to spring.

      So runs my dream: but what am I?
      An infant crying in the night:
      An infant crying for the light:
      And with no language but a cry.


      The wish, that of the living whole
      No life may fail beyond the grave,
      Derives it not from what we have
      The likest God within the soul?

      Are God and Nature then at strife,
      That Nature lends such evil dreams?
      So careful of the type she seems,
      So careless of the single life;

      That I, considering everywhere
      Her secret meaning in her deeds,
      And finding that of fifty seeds
      She often brings but one to bear,

      I falter where I firmly trod,
      And falling with my weight of cares
      Upon the great world's altar-stairs
      That slope thro' darkness up to God,

      I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
      And gather dust and chaff, and call
      To what I feel is Lord of all,
      And faintly trust the larger hope.


      'So careful of the type?' but no.
      From scarped cliff and quarried stone
      She cries, 'A thousand types are gone:
      I care for nothing, all shall go.

      'Thou makest thine appeal to me:
      I bring to life, I bring to death:
      The spirit does but mean the breath:
      I know no more.' And he, shall he,

      Man, her last work, who seem'd so fair,
      Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
      Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
      Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,

      Who trusted God was love indeed
      And love Creation's final law-
      Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
      With ravine, shriek'd against his creed-

      Who loved, who suffer'd countless ills,
      Who battled for the True, the Just,
      Be blown about the desert dust,
      Or seal'd within the iron hills?

      No more? A monster then, a dream,
      A discord. Dragons of the prime,
      That tare each other in their slime,
      Were mellow music match'd with him.

      O life as futile, then, as frail!
      O for thy voice to soothe and bless!
      What hope of answer, or redress?
      Behind the veil, behind the veil.


      Peace; come away: the song of woe
      Is after all an earthly song:
      Peace; come away: we do him wrong
      To sing so wildly: let us go.

      Come; let us go: your cheeks are pale;
      But half my life I leave behind:
      Methinks my friend is richly shrined;
      But I shall pass; my work will fail.

      Yet in these ears, till hearing dies,
      One set slow bell will seem to toll
      The passing of the sweetest soul
      That ever look'd with human eyes.

      I hear it now, and o'er and o'er,
      Eternal greetings to the dead;
      And 'Ave, Ave, Ave,' said,
      'Adieu, adieu' for evermore.


      In those sad words I took farewell:
      Like echoes in sepulchral halls,
      As drop by drop the water falls
      In vaults and catacombs, they fell;

      And, falling, idly broke the peace
      Of hearts that beat from day to day,
      Half-conscious of their dying clay,
      And those cold crypts where they shall cease.

      The high Muse answer'd: 'Wherefore grieve
      Thy brethren with a fruitless tear?
      Abide a little longer here,
      And thou shalt take a nobler leave.'


      O Sorrow, wilt thou live with me
      No casual mistress, but a wife,
      My bosom-friend and half of life;
      As I confess it needs must be;

      O Sorrow, wilt thou rule my blood,
      Be sometimes lovely like a bride,
      And put thy harsher moods aside,
      If thou wilt have me wise and good.

      My centred passion cannot move,
      Nor will it lessen from to-day;
      But I'll have leave at times to play
      As with the creature of my love;

      And set thee forth, for thou art mine,
      With so much hope for years to come,
      That, howsoe'er I know thee, some
      Could hardly tell what name were thine.


      He past; a soul of nobler tone:
      My spirit loved and loves him yet,
      Like some poor girl whose heart is set
      On one whose rank exceeds her own.

      He mixing with his proper sphere,
      She finds the baseness of her lot,
      Half jealous of she knows not what,
      And envying all that meet him there.

      The little village looks forlorn;
      She sighs amid her narrow days,
      Moving about the household ways,
      In that dark house where she was born.

      The foolish neighbours come and go,
      And tease her till the day draws by:
      At night she weeps, 'How vain am I!
      How should he love a thing so low?'

    to Verse LXI.

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