Alfred Lord Tennyson

Here you will find the Long Poem Lucretius of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson


Lucilla, wedded to Lucretius, found
 Her master cold; for when the morning flush
 Of passion and the first embrace had died 
 Between them, tho' he loved her none the less, 
 Yet often when the woman heard his foot 
 Return from pacings in the field, and ran 
 To greet him with a kiss, the master took 
 Small notice, or austerely, for his mind 
 Half buried in some weightier argument, 
 Or fancy-borne perhaps upon the rise 
 And long roll of the hexameter -- he past 
 To turn and ponder those three hundred scrolls
 Left by the Teacher, whom he held divine. 
 She brook'd it not, but wrathful, petulant 
 Dreaming some rival, sought and found a witch 
 Who brew'd the philtre which had power, they said 
 To lead an errant passion home again. 
 And this, at times, she mingled with his drink, 
 And this destroy'd him; for the wicked broth 
 Confused the chemic labor of the blood, 
 And tickling the brute brain within the man's 
 Made havoc among those tender cells, and check'd 
 His power to shape. He loathed himself, and once 
 After a tempest woke upon a morn 
 That mock'd him with returning calm, and cried:

 "Storm in the night! for thrice I heard the rain 
 Rushing; and once the flash of a thunderbolt -- 
 Methought I never saw so fierce a fork -- 
 Struck out the streaming mountain-side, and show'd 
 A riotous confluence of watercourses 
 Blanching and billowing in a hollow of it, 
 Where all but yester-eve was dusty-dry.

 "Storm, and what dreams, ye holy Gods, what dreams!
 For thrice I waken'd after dreams. Perchance
 We do but recollect the dreams that come
 Just ere the waking. Terrible: for it seem'd
 A void was made in Nature, all her bonds
 Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams
 And torrents of her myriad universe,
 Ruining along the illimitable inane,
 Fly on to clash together again, and make
 Another and another frame of things
 For ever. That was mine, my dream, I knew it -- 
 Of and belonging to me, as the dog
 With inward yelp and restless forefoot plies
 His function of the woodland; but the next! 
 I thought that all the blood by Sylla shed 
 Came driving rainlike down again on earth, 
 And where it dash'd the reddening meadow, sprang 
 No dragon warriors from Cadmean teeth, 
 For these I thought my dream would show to me, 
 But girls, Hetairai, curious in their art, 
 Hired animalisms, vile as those that made 
 The mulberry-faced Dictator's orgies worse 
 Than aught they fable of the quiet Gods. 
 And hands they mixt, and yell'd and round me drove 
 In narrowing circles till I yell'd again 
 Half-suffocated, and sprang up, and saw -- 
 Was it the first beam of my latest day?

 "Then, then, from utter gloom stood out the 
 The breasts of Helen, and hoveringly a sword 
 Now over and now under, now direct, 
 Pointed itself to pierce, but sank down shamed 
 At all that beauty; and as I stared, a fire, 
 The fire that left a roofless Ilion, 
 Shot out of them, and scorch'd me that I woke.

 "Is this thy vengeance, holy Venus, thine, 
 Because I would not one of thine own doves, 
 Not even a rose, were offered to thee? thine, 
 Forgetful how my rich proemion makes 
 Thy glory fly along the Italian field, 
 In lays that will outlast thy deity?

 "Deity? nay, thy worshippers. My tongue 
 Trips, or I speak profanely. Which of these 
 Angers thee most, or angers thee at all?
 Not if thou be'st of those who, far aloof
 From envy, hate and pity, and spite and scorn, 
 Live the great life which all our greatest fain 
 Would follow, centred in eternal calm.

 "Nay, if thou canst, 
 Goddess, like ourselves
 Touch, and be touch'd, then would I cry to thee
 To kiss thy Mavors, roll thy tender arms
 Round him, and keep him from the lust of blood
 That makes a steaming slaughter-house of Rome.

 "Ay, but I meant not thee; I meant riot her
 Whom all the pines of Ida shook to see
 Slide from that quiet heaven of hers, and tempt
 The Trojan, while his neatherds were abroad
 Nor her that o'er her wounded hunter wept
 Her deity false in human-amorous tears; 
 Nor whom her beardless apple-arbiter
 Decided fairest. Rather, O ye Gods,
 Poet-like, as the great Sicilian called
 Calliope to grace his golden verse -- 
 Ay, and this Kypris also -- did I take
 That popular name of thine to shadow forth
 The all-generating powers and genial heat
 Of Nature, when she strikes thro' the thick blood
 Of cattle, and light is large, and lambs are glad
 Nosing the mother's udder, and the bird
 Makes his heart voice amid the blaze of flowers;
 Which things appear the work of mighty Gods.

 "The Gods! and if I go my work is left
 Unfinish'd -- if I go. The Gods, who haunt
 The lucid interspace