Alfred Lord Tennyson

Here you will find the Long Poem The Princess (part 4) of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Princess (part 4)

'There sinks the nebulous star we call the Sun, 
If that hypothesis of theirs be sound' 
Said Ida; 'let us down and rest;' and we 
Down from the lean and wrinkled precipices, 
By every coppice-feathered chasm and cleft, 
Dropt through the ambrosial gloom to where below 
No bigger than a glow-worm shone the tent 
Lamp-lit from the inner. Once she leaned on me, 
Descending; once or twice she lent her hand, 
And blissful palpitations in the blood, 
Stirring a sudden transport rose and fell. 

But when we planted level feet, and dipt 
Beneath the satin dome and entered in, 
There leaning deep in broidered down we sank 
Our elbows: on a tripod in the midst 
A fragrant flame rose, and before us glowed 
Fruit, blossom, viand, amber wine, and gold. 

Then she, 'Let some one sing to us: lightlier move 
The minutes fledged with music:' and a maid, 
Of those beside her, smote her harp, and sang. 

 'Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, 
Tears from the depth of some divine despair 
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes, 
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields, 
And thinking of the days that are no more. 

 'Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, 
That brings our friends up from the underworld, 
Sad as the last which reddens over one 
That sinks with all we love below the verge; 
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more. 

 'Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns 
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds 
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes 
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square; 
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more. 

 'Dear as remembered kisses after death, 
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned 
On lips that are for others; deep as love, 
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret; 
O Death in Life, the days that are no more.' 

She ended with such passion that the tear, 
She sang of, shook and fell, an erring pearl 
Lost in her bosom: but with some disdain 
Answered the Princess, 'If indeed there haunt 
About the mouldered lodges of the Past 
So sweet a voice and vague, fatal to men, 
Well needs it we should cram our ears with wool 
And so pace by: but thine are fancies hatched 
In silken-folded idleness; nor is it 
Wiser to weep a true occasion lost, 
But trim our sails, and let old bygones be, 
While down the streams that float us each and all 
To the issue, goes, like glittering bergs of ice, 
Throne after throne, and molten on the waste 
Becomes a cloud: for all things serve their time 
Toward that great year of equal mights and rights, 
Nor would I fight with iron laws, in the end 
Found golden: let the past be past; let be 
Their cancelled Babels: though the rough kex break 
The starred mosaic, and the beard-blown goat 
Hang on the shaft, and the wild figtree split 
Their monstrous idols, care not while we hear 
A trumpet in the distance pealing news 
Of better, and Hope, a poising eagle, burns 
Above the unrisen morrow:' then to me; 
'Know you no song of your own land,' she said, 
'Not such as moans about the retrospect, 
But deals with the other distance and the hues 
Of promise; not a death's-head at the wine.' 

Then I remembered one myself had made, 
What time I watched the swallow winging south 
From mine own land, part made long since, and part 
Now while I sang, and maidenlike as far 
As I could ape their treble, did I sing. 

 'O Swallow, Swallow, flying, flying South, 
Fly to her, and fall upon her gilded eaves, 
And tell her, tell her, what I tell to thee. 

 'O tell her, Swallow, thou that knowest each, 
That bright and fierce and fickle is the South, 
And dark and true and tender is the North. 

 'O Swallow, Swallow, if I could follow, and light 
Upon her lattice, I would pipe and trill, 
And cheep and twitter twenty million loves. 

 'O were I thou that she might take me in, 
And lay me on her bosom, and her heart 
Would rock the snowy cradle till I died. 

 'Why lingereth she to clothe her heart with love, 
Delaying as the tender ash delays 
To clothe herself, when all the woods are green? 

 'O tell her, Swallow, that thy brood is flown: 
Say to her, I do but wanton in the South, 
But in the North long since my nest is made. 

 'O tell her, brief is life but love is long, 
And brief the sun of summer in the North, 
And brief the moon of beauty in the South. 

 'O Swallow, flying from the golden woods, 
Fly to her, and pipe and woo her, and make her mine, 
And tell her, tell her, that I follow thee.' 

I ceased, and all the ladies, each at each, 
Like the Ithacensian suitors in old time, 
Stared with great eyes, and laughed with alien lips, 
And knew not what they meant; for sti