Alfred Lord Tennyson: II

Updated September 23, 2019 | Infoplease Staff


From that time forth I would not see her more,
But many weary moons I lived alone—
Alone, and in the heart of the great forest.
Sometimes upon the hills beside the sea
All day I watched the floating isles of shade,
And sometimes on the shore, upon the sands
Insensibly I drew her name, until
The meaning of the letters shot into
My brain: anon the wanton billow wash'd
Them over, till they faded like my love.
The hollow caverns heard me—the black brooks
Of the mid-forest heard me—the soft winds,
Laden with thistledown and seeds of flowers,
Paused in their course to hear me, for my voice
Was all of thee: the merry linnet knew me,
The squirrel knew me, and the dragon-fly
Shot by me like a flash of purple fire.
The rough briar tore my bleeding palms; the hemlock,
Brow high, did strike my forehead as I pas'd;
Yet trod I not the wild-flower in my path,
Nor bruised the wild-bird's egg.
Was this the end?
Why grew we then together i' the same plot?
Why fed we the same fountain? drew the same sun?
Why were our mothers branches of one stem?
Why were we one in all things, save in that
Where to have been one had been the roof and crown
Of all I hoped and fear'd? if that same nearness
Were father to this distance, and that one
Vauntcourier this double? If affection
Living slew Love, and Sympathy hew'd out
The bosom-sepulchre of Sympathy.
Chiefly I sought the cavern and the hill
Where last we roam'd together, for the sound
Of the loud stream was pleasant, and the wind
Came wooingly with violet smells. Sometimes
All day I sat within the cavern-mouth,
Fixing my eyes on those three cypress-cones
Which spired above the wood; and with mad hand
Tearing the bright leaves of the ivy-screen,
I cast them in the noisy brook beneath,
And watch'd them till they vanished from my sight
Beneath the bower of wreathed eglantines:
And all the fragments of the living rock,
(Huge splinters, which the sap of earliest showers,
Or moisture of the vapour, left in clinging,
When the shrill storm-blast feeds it from behind,
And scatters it before, had shatter'd from
The mountain, till they fell, and with the shock
Half dug their own graves), in mine agony,
Did I make bear of all the deep rich moss
Wherewith the dashing runnel in the spring
Had liveried them all over. In my brain
The spirit seem'd to flag from thought to thought,
Like moonlight wandering through a mist: my blood
Crept like the drains of a marsh thro' all my body;
The motions of my heart seem'd far within me,
Unfrequent, low, as tho' it told its pulses;
And yet it shook me, that my frame did shudder,
As it were drawn asunder by the rack.
But over the deep graves of Hope and Fear,
The wreck of ruin'd life and shatter'd thought,
Brooded one master-passion evermore,
Like to a low hung and a fiery sky
Above some great metropolis, earth shock'd
Hung round with ragged-rimmed burning folds,
Embathing all with wild and woful hues—
Great hills of ruins, and collapsed masses
Of thunder-shaken columns, indistinct
And fused together in the tyrannous light.
So gazed I on the ruins of that thought
Which was the playmate of my youth—for which
I lived and breathed: the dew, the sun, the rain,
Unto the growth of body and of mind;
The blood, the breath, the feeling and the motion,
The slope into the current of my years,
Which drove them onward—made them sensible;
The precious jewel of my honour'd life,
Erewhile close couch'd in golden happiness,
Now proved counterfeit, was shaken out,
And, trampled on, left to its own decay.
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