Alfred Lord Tennyson: Love

Updated September 23, 2019 | Infoplease Staff



Thou, from the first, unborn, undying love,
Albeit we gaze not on thy glories near,
Before the face of God didst breath and move,
Though night and pain and ruin and death reign here.
Thou foldest, like a golden atmosphere,
The very throne of the eternal God:
Passing through thee the edicts of his fear
Are mellowed into music, borne abroad
By the loud winds, though they uprend the sea,
Even from his central deeps: thine empery
Is over all: thou wilt not brook eclipse;
Thou goest and returnest to His Lips
Like lightning: thou dost ever brood above
The silence of all hearts, unutterable Love.


To know thee is all wisdom, and old age
Is but to know thee: dimly we behold thee
Athwart the veils of evil which enfold thee
We beat upon our aching hearts with rage;
We cry for thee: we deem the world thy tomb.
As dwellers in lone planets look upon
The mighty disk of their majestic sun,
Hallowed in awful chasms of wheeling gloom,
Making their day dim, so we gaze on thee.
Come, thou of many crowns, white-robèd love,
Oh! rend the veil in twain: all men adore thee;
Heaven crieth after thee; earth waileth for thee:
Breathe on thy wingèd throne, and it shall move
In music and in light o'er land and sea.


And now—methinks I gaze upon thee now,
As on a serpent in his agonies
Awestricken Indians; what time laid low
And crushing the thick fragrant reeds he lies,
When the new year warm breathèd on the earth,
Waiting to light him with his purple skies,
Calls to him by the fountain to uprise.
Already with the pangs of a new birth
Strain the hot spheres of his convulsèd eyes,
And in his writhings awful hues begin
To wander down his sable sheeny sides,
Like light on troubled waters: from within
Anon he rusheth forth with merry din,
And in him light and joy and strength abides;
And from his brows a crown of living light
Looks through the thickstemmed woods by day and night
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