Alfred Lord Tennyson

Here you will find the Long Poem The Princess (part 3) of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Princess (part 3)

Morn in the wake of the morning star 
Came furrowing all the orient into gold. 
We rose, and each by other drest with care 
Descended to the court that lay three parts 
In shadow, but the Muses' heads were touched 
Above the darkness from their native East. 

There while we stood beside the fount, and watched 
Or seemed to watch the dancing bubble, approached 
Melissa, tinged with wan from lack of sleep, 
Or grief, and glowing round her dewy eyes 
The circled Iris of a night of tears; 
'And fly,' she cried, 'O fly, while yet you may! 
My mother knows:' and when I asked her 'how,' 
'My fault' she wept 'my fault! and yet not mine; 
Yet mine in part. O hear me, pardon me. 
My mother, 'tis her wont from night to night 
To rail at Lady Psyche and her side. 
She says the Princess should have been the Head, 
Herself and Lady Psyche the two arms; 
And so it was agreed when first they came; 
But Lady Psyche was the right hand now, 
And the left, or not, or seldom used; 
Hers more than half the students, all the love. 
And so last night she fell to canvass you: 
~Her~ countrywomen! she did not envy her. 
"Who ever saw such wild barbarians? 
Girls?--more like men!" and at these words the snake, 
My secret, seemed to stir within my breast; 
And oh, Sirs, could I help it, but my cheek 
Began to burn and burn, and her lynx eye 
To fix and make me hotter, till she laughed: 
"O marvellously modest maiden, you! 
Men! girls, like men! why, if they had been men 
You need not set your thoughts in rubric thus 
For wholesale comment." Pardon, I am shamed 
That I must needs repeat for my excuse 
What looks so little graceful: "men" (for still 
My mother went revolving on the word) 
"And so they are,--very like men indeed-- 
And with that woman closeted for hours!" 
Then came these dreadful words out one by one, 
"Why--these--~are~--men:" I shuddered: "and you know it." 
"O ask me nothing," I said: "And she knows too, 
And she conceals it." So my mother clutched 
The truth at once, but with no word from me; 
And now thus early risen she goes to inform 
The Princess: Lady Psyche will be crushed; 
But you may yet be saved, and therefore fly; 
But heal me with your pardon ere you go.' 

'What pardon, sweet Melissa, for a blush?' 
Said Cyril: 'Pale one, blush again: than wear 
Those lilies, better blush our lives away. 
Yet let us breathe for one hour more in Heaven' 
He added, 'lest some classic Angel speak 
In scorn of us, "They mounted, Ganymedes, 
To tumble, Vulcans, on the second morn." 
But I will melt this marble into wax 
To yield us farther furlough:' and he went. 

Melissa shook her doubtful curls, and thought 
He scarce would prosper. 'Tell us,' Florian asked, 
'How grew this feud betwixt the right and left.' 
'O long ago,' she said, 'betwixt these two 
Division smoulders hidden; 'tis my mother, 
Too jealous, often fretful as the wind 
Pent in a crevice: much I bear with her: 
I never knew my father, but she says 
(God help her) she was wedded to a fool; 
And still she railed against the state of things. 
She had the care of Lady Ida's youth, 
And from the Queen's decease she brought her up. 
But when your sister came she won the heart 
Of Ida: they were still together, grew 
(For so they said themselves) inosculated; 
Consonant chords that shiver to one note; 
One mind in all things: yet my mother still 
Affirms your Psyche thieved her theories, 
And angled with them for her pupil's love: 
She calls her plagiarist; I know not what: 
But I must go: I dare not tarry,' and light, 
As flies the shadow of a bird, she fled. 

Then murmured Florian gazing after her, 
'An open-hearted maiden, true and pure. 
If I could love, why this were she: how pretty 
Her blushing was, and how she blushed again, 
As if to close with Cyril's random wish: 
Not like your Princess crammed with erring pride, 
Nor like poor Psyche whom she drags in tow.' 

'The crane,' I said, 'may chatter of the crane, 
The dove may murmur of the dove, but I 
An eagle clang an eagle to the sphere. 
My princess, O my princess! true she errs, 
But in her own grand way: being herself 
Three times more noble than three score of men, 
She sees herself in every woman else, 
And so she wears her error like a crown 
To blind the truth and me: for her, and her, 
Hebes are they to hand ambrosia, mix 
The nectar; but--ah she--whene'er she moves 
The Samian Herè rises and she speaks 
A Memnon smitten with the morning Sun.' 

So saying from the court we paced, and gained 
The terrace ranged along the Northern front, 
And leaning there on those balusters, high 
Above the empurpled champaign, drank the gale 
That blown about the foliage underneath,