Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology
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Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
 
From The Lotos-eaters

Alfred Tennyson, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
 
.. THEY 1 sat them down upon the yellow sand,
Between the sun and moon upon the shore;
And sweet it was to dream of Fatherland,
Of child and wife and slave; but evermore
Most weary seem’d the sea, weary the oar,        5
Weary the wandering fields of barren foam.
Then someone said, ‘We will return no more’;
And all at once they sang, ‘Our island home
Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam.’
 
CHORIC SONG
There is sweet music here that softer falls
        10
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tir’d eyelids upon tir’d eyes;        15
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Here are cool mosses deep,
And thro’ the moss the ivies creep,
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep,
And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.        20
 
Why are we weigh’d upon with heaviness,
And utterly consumed with sharp distress,
While all things else have rest from weariness?
All things have rest: why should we toil alone,
We only toil, who are the first of things,        25
And make perpetual moan,
Still from one sorrow to another thrown:
Nor ever fold our wings,
And cease from wanderings,
Nor steep our brows in slumber’s holy balm;        30
Nor harken what the inner spirit sings,
‘There is no joy but calm!’
Why should we only toil, the roof and crown of things?..
 
Hateful is the dark-blue sky,
Vaulted o’er the dark-blue sea.        35
Death is the end of life; ah, why
Should life all labour be?
Let us alone. Time driveth onward fast,
And in a little while our lips are dumb.
Let us alone. What is it that will last?        40
All things are taken from us, and become
Portions and parcels of the dreadful Past.
Let us alone. What pleasure can we have
To war with evil? Is there any peace
In ever climbing up the climbing wave?        45
All things have rest, and ripen toward the grave
In silence; ripen, fall and cease:
Give us long rest or death, dark death or dreamful ease …
 
Note 1. Tennyson. From The Lotos-eaters. [back]
 
 
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