Alfred Lord Tennyson

Here you will find the Long Poem The Princess (part 2) of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Princess (part 2)

At break of day the College Portress came: 
She brought us Academic silks, in hue 
The lilac, with a silken hood to each, 
And zoned with gold; and now when these were on, 
And we as rich as moths from dusk cocoons, 
She, curtseying her obeisance, let us know 
The Princess Ida waited: out we paced, 
I first, and following through the porch that sang 
All round with laurel, issued in a court 
Compact of lucid marbles, bossed with lengths 
Of classic frieze, with ample awnings gay 
Betwixt the pillars, and with great urns of flowers. 
The Muses and the Graces, grouped in threes, 
Enringed a billowing fountain in the midst; 
And here and there on lattice edges lay 
Or book or lute; but hastily we past, 
And up a flight of stairs into the hall. 

There at a board by tome and paper sat, 
With two tame leopards couched beside her throne, 
All beauty compassed in a female form, 
The Princess; liker to the inhabitant 
Of some clear planet close upon the Sun, 
Than our man's earth; such eyes were in her head, 
And so much grace and power, breathing down 
From over her arched brows, with every turn 
Lived through her to the tips of her long hands, 
And to her feet. She rose her height, and said: 

'We give you welcome: not without redound 
Of use and glory to yourselves ye come, 
The first-fruits of the stranger: aftertime, 
And that full voice which circles round the grave, 
Will rank you nobly, mingled up with me. 
What! are the ladies of your land so tall?' 
'We of the court' said Cyril. 'From the court' 
She answered, 'then ye know the Prince?' and he: 
'The climax of his age! as though there were 
One rose in all the world, your Highness that, 
He worships your ideal:' she replied: 
'We scarcely thought in our own hall to hear 
This barren verbiage, current among men, 
Light coin, the tinsel clink of compliment. 
Your flight from out your bookless wilds would seem 
As arguing love of knowledge and of power; 
Your language proves you still the child. Indeed, 
We dream not of him: when we set our hand 
To this great work, we purposed with ourself 
Never to wed. You likewise will do well, 
Ladies, in entering here, to cast and fling 
The tricks, which make us toys of men, that so, 
Some future time, if so indeed you will, 
You may with those self-styled our lords ally 
Your fortunes, justlier balanced, scale with scale.' 

At those high words, we conscious of ourselves, 
Perused the matting: then an officer 
Rose up, and read the statutes, such as these: 
Not for three years to correspond with home; 
Not for three years to cross the liberties; 
Not for three years to speak with any men; 
And many more, which hastily subscribed, 
We entered on the boards: and 'Now,' she cried, 
'Ye are green wood, see ye warp not. Look, our hall! 
Our statues!--not of those that men desire, 
Sleek Odalisques, or oracles of mode, 
Nor stunted squaws of West or East; but she 
That taught the Sabine how to rule, and she 
The foundress of the Babylonian wall, 
The Carian Artemisia strong in war, 
The Rhodope, that built the pyramid, 
Clelia, Cornelia, with the Palmyrene 
That fought Aurelian, and the Roman brows 
Of Agrippina. Dwell with these, and lose 
Convention, since to look on noble forms 
Makes noble through the sensuous organism 
That which is higher. O lift your natures up: 
Embrace our aims: work out your freedom. Girls, 
Knowledge is now no more a fountain sealed: 
Drink deep, until the habits of the slave, 
The sins of emptiness, gossip and spite 
And slander, die. Better not be at all 
Than not be noble. Leave us: you may go: 
Today the Lady Psyche will harangue 
The fresh arrivals of the week before; 
For they press in from all the provinces, 
And fill the hive.' 
 She spoke, and bowing waved 
Dismissal: back again we crost the court 
To Lady Psyche's: as we entered in, 
There sat along the forms, like morning doves 
That sun their milky bosoms on the thatch, 
A patient range of pupils; she herself 
Erect behind a desk of satin-wood, 
A quick brunette, well-moulded, falcon-eyed, 
And on the hither side, or so she looked, 
Of twenty summers. At her left, a child, 
In shining draperies, headed like a star, 
Her maiden babe, a double April old, 
Aglaïa slept. We sat: the Lady glanced: 
Then Florian, but not livelier than the dame 
That whispered 'Asses' ears', among the sedge, 
'My sister.' 'Comely, too, by all that's fair,' 
Said Cyril. 'Oh hush, hush!' and she began. 

'This world was once a fluid haze of light, 
Till toward the centre set the starry tides, 
And eddied into suns, that wheeling cast 
The planets: then the monster, then the man; 
Tattooed or woaded, winter-clad in skins, 
Raw from the