Alfred Lord Tennyson

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

The Princess (prologue)

Sir Walter Vivian all a summer's day 
Gave his broad lawns until the set of sun 
Up to the people: thither flocked at noon 
His tenants, wife and child, and thither half 
The neighbouring borough with their Institute 
Of which he was the patron. I was there 
From college, visiting the son,--the son 
A Walter too,--with others of our set, 
Five others: we were seven at Vivian-place. 

And me that morning Walter showed the house, 
Greek, set with busts: from vases in the hall 
Flowers of all heavens, and lovelier than their names, 
Grew side by side; and on the pavement lay 
Carved stones of the Abbey-ruin in the park, 
Huge Ammonites, and the first bones of Time; 
And on the tables every clime and age 
Jumbled together; celts and calumets, 
Claymore and snowshoe, toys in lava, fans 
Of sandal, amber, ancient rosaries, 
Laborious orient ivory sphere in sphere, 
The cursed Malayan crease, and battle-clubs 
From the isles of palm: and higher on the walls, 
Betwixt the monstrous horns of elk and deer, 
His own forefathers' arms and armour hung. 

And 'this' he said 'was Hugh's at Agincourt; 
And that was old Sir Ralph's at Ascalon: 
A good knight he! we keep a chronicle 
With all about him'--which he brought, and I 
Dived in a hoard of tales that dealt with knights, 
Half-legend, half-historic, counts and kings 
Who laid about them at their wills and died; 
And mixt with these, a lady, one that armed 
Her own fair head, and sallying through the gate, 
Had beat her foes with slaughter from her walls. 

'O miracle of women,' said the book, 
'O noble heart who, being strait-besieged 
By this wild king to force her to his wish, 
Nor bent, nor broke, nor shunned a soldier's death, 
But now when all was lost or seemed as lost-- 
Her stature more than mortal in the burst 
Of sunrise, her arm lifted, eyes on fire-- 
Brake with a blast of trumpets from the gate, 
And, falling on them like a thunderbolt, 
She trampled some beneath her horses' heels, 
And some were whelmed with missiles of the wall, 
And some were pushed with lances from the rock, 
And part were drowned within the whirling brook: 
O miracle of noble womanhood!' 

So sang the gallant glorious chronicle; 
And, I all rapt in this, 'Come out,' he said, 
'To the Abbey: there is Aunt Elizabeth 
And sister Lilia with the rest.' We went 
(I kept the book and had my finger in it) 
Down through the park: strange was the sight to me; 
For all the sloping pasture murmured, sown 
With happy faces and with holiday. 
There moved the multitude, a thousand heads: 
The patient leaders of their Institute 
Taught them with facts. One reared a font of stone 
And drew, from butts of water on the slope, 
The fountain of the moment, playing, now 
A twisted snake, and now a rain of pearls, 
Or steep-up spout whereon the gilded ball 
Danced like a wisp: and somewhat lower down 
A man with knobs and wires and vials fired 
A cannon: Echo answered in her sleep 
From hollow fields: and here were telescopes 
For azure views; and there a group of girls 
In circle waited, whom the electric shock 
Dislinked with shrieks and laughter: round the lake 
A little clock-work steamer paddling plied 
And shook the lilies: perched about the knolls 
A dozen angry models jetted steam: 
A petty railway ran: a fire-balloon 
Rose gem-like up before the dusky groves 
And dropt a fairy parachute and past: 
And there through twenty posts of telegraph 
They flashed a saucy message to and fro 
Between the mimic stations; so that sport 
Went hand in hand with Science; otherwhere 
Pure sport; a herd of boys with clamour bowled 
And stumped the wicket; babies rolled about 
Like tumbled fruit in grass; and men and maids 
Arranged a country dance, and flew through light 
And shadow, while the twangling violin 
Struck up with Soldier-laddie, and overhead 
The broad ambrosial aisles of lofty lime 
Made noise with bees and breeze from end to end. 

Strange was the sight and smacking of the time; 
And long we gazed, but satiated at length 
Came to the ruins. High-arched and ivy-claspt, 
Of finest Gothic lighter than a fire, 
Through one wide chasm of time and frost they gave 
The park, the crowd, the house; but all within 
The sward was trim as any garden lawn: 
And here we lit on Aunt Elizabeth, 
And Lilia with the rest, and lady friends 
From neighbour seats: and there was Ralph himself, 
A broken statue propt against the wall, 
As gay as any. Lilia, wild with sport, 
Half child half woman as she was, had wound 
A scarf of orange round the stony helm, 
And robed the shoulders in a rosy silk, 
That made the old warrior from his ivied nook 
Glow like a sunbeam: near his tomb a feast 
Shone, s